Category Archives: video

Perhaps a good movie?

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The truth is that I have no knowledge of these producers or any connection to this film.  I saw a mention of their crowd sourcing campaign last week and was touched by the content and some of the scenes.  But, then, I did nothing with it.

The idea, however, of having increased representation of cross-racial, international, queer families, has stuck with me.  So, I decided to share.

Baby Steps is a global, cross-cultural film about building a non-traditional family with the most traditional of values.
Plot Outline: Danny, a Taiwanese-American man, and his partner Tate long to have a baby, but the complex world of surrogacy is further complicated by Danny’s well-meaning but extremely meddlesome Ma who wants to control every aspect of the process all the way from Taipei…

Please find the indiegogo crowd-sourcing site with more info on the movie here.

Elmo Love

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Little Elephant doesn’t get to watch a lot of TV.  Okay, I will revise that statement, she watches almost none.  Until she was 2, she pretty much thought that TV was one of a few videos all in Russian.  She can, in fact, sing along with this:

I am not going to get in to all the reason for so little TV time here (at least not right now).  I don’t look down on people who let their kids watch TV and, frankly, I agree that at times it would be easier.  It simply isn’t a choice we have made yet.  Perhaps I should write something at some point; I am always amazed by the reactions I get when I say Little Elephant never watches TV.

I digress.

She has very recently learned of Elmo and even watched several Elmo videos online.  It has been fun for us too to see all the stars who make appearances on Sesame Street. Basically everyone who is anyone from what I can tell.  That is pretty cool.

To date, Little Elephant has two favorite videos.  She asks for each by name!

Andrea Bocelli’s Lullabye To Elmo

Sing with Me

A Dad’s Sage Advice

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it-gets-better-300x201On the best of day and on the worst of days, my father’s advice was always the same: “Don’t worry. They are peaking. You are going to go on to do great things in your life and they (whoever it happened to be that was bothering me or making me glum) are peaking. Once they leave high school, they won’t make anything of themseves. You, however, are a late bloomer and college and beyond will be amazing.”

Over the years, my Dad must have told me this 4 dozen times or more. Sometimes he would embellish on how this was true for him and how it was true for my Mom. He would encourage me. He believed in me. For that matter, my Mom did too. She gave the same messages with examples of how she has exceeded expectations.

Sometimes I believed them. Sometimes I didn’t.  Somtimes life just hurt.  Sometimes others in my life hurt me.  Many times, my school failed to stop the bullying.

I grew up before the It Get’s Better video series. I also, luckily, grew up before internet bullying became so popular.  I love that the video series exists.  I love that television shows are starting to address both bullying and diversity in a more holistic way.  Still, there is so much more to be done.

If you haven’t seen It Get’s Better videos, do.  Here is one by Google Employees:

PS Turns out my parents were right.  The bullies from my school, for the most part, haven’t made much of themselves and I love my life. What words were of comfort to you growing up?

***This is part of a series on bullying.  Check out the other posts: Intro, Friends vs. Bullies, Physical Violence,  and researching LGBT teen suicide..

Bent, broken, powerless, childlike: Models in the real world

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Messy Nessy did a great piece on What Model Posses Would Look Like in Real Life.  The above video is from that piece and shows reactions of public as average size women standing in public places in these awkward positions.   Check out the piece for the pictures and commentary by the artist who pulled these together.

As I look at magazines on plane trips or in doctors offices, I am routinely surprised by how everything is sexualized, women are made to look powerless or childlike, and bodies that are anorexic are contorted even further.  This is not something I want to aspire to be.  This is something, which now I can say, I am accepting not being.  This is something that when I was younger, I did secretly want.  This is something that I can now analyze and understand as wrong.  Why do we, as a society, accept this as beauty? Even make it the standard?

Who stands like this? It is awkward and uncomfortable.

Who stands like this? It is awkward and uncomfortable.

School girl fantasies. Why do we promote them? What does this teach our girls?  Honestly, what does it teach our boys?

School girl fantasies. Why do we promote them? What does this teach our girls? Honestly, what does it teach our boys?

What are we teaching with Disney Princesses?

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What are the Disney Princesses teaching our daughters? And, frankly, what are they teaching our sons?

Yes, they are shinny and pretty and sparkly. Yes, they have lovely voices, can dance, talk to animals, and seem quite happy. Yes, smiles are plastered on their faces. Yes, they live in clean houses and aspire to (and attain) lives in the upper echelon of society.

No— this is not what I want for my daughter.  I want my daughter to be strong, independent, self-sufficient, smart, and happy!  I want her to make her own choices, dream for a fulfilling career, and put her own worth in her brain and personality as opposed to her body.

Thanks to The Second City Network, there is a series of videos that point out many of the problems I have with the Disney princess and what they teach.

Advice on life from the Little Mermaid:

Advice on life from Belle:

Advice on life from Snow White:

*This last one made me particularly laugh because of the comment on naming the dwarfs on their most prominent feature because in Chile (perhaps in the rest of Latin America) this is the status quo.  My mother-in-law is called “Chica” because she is short.  My husband is “Negro” because his skin is darker.  We have a blondish friend who is called “Gringo”.

Love Random Acts of Peace Corps-ness

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This video is actually from last Earth Day (April 20, 2012); however, I just found it today. The Peace Corps volunteers in Albania planned a flash mob for the center of Tirana (the capitol) to raise awareness about Earth Day. The reaction of the people around was great. Should I applud? Should I join? Should I call my children away from these crazy people?

I really hope they do it again here in Tirana— I would absolutely participate in a Flash Mob. However, I suspect they may try doing it out in the regions. Wouldn’t that be cool? I will try and find out this spring so that I can spread the Peace Corps love.

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

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Being that I work overseas, you might expect that I would use today to talk about Trafficking in Persons in the country I live in currently (Albania). Or, the country I just came from (Kazakhstan). Or, the country where I did research on human trafficking (Chile). Or, the country where I knew children who were trafficked (Moldova). But, today I won’t do that. I want to talk about human trafficking int he country I call home (USA).

The sad truth is that human trafficking continues to be a problem in the US.  Yes, in large cities: New York, LA, Boston.  But also in rural areas of the country, small towns, suburbia.

A few jobs ago, I worked with some victims of human trafficking.  Men who were lured to the US with promises of jobs and money to send home and instead ended up working in slave like conditions in Middle America with their passports confiscated and the door to the house they lived in padlocked from the outside.  After several months, someone put in a tip and they were freed.  They were freed, but they weren’t compensated for their losses.  They were free, but they still had to explain to wives and children what happened to them.  They have been free for years now, but I am sure their experience still haunts them.  Honestly, their stories still haunt me.

An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year. The number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country is even higher, with an estimated 200,000 American children at risk for trafficking into the sex industry. (U.S. Department of Justice Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons)

These numbers are staggering and the realities are bleak. However, in the US, there are places you can report suspected cases of trafficking.  Polaris Project suggests:

If you see any of these red flags, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 to report the situation. Click here to learn more about reporting potential human trafficking situations. This list is not exhaustive and represents only a selection of possible indicators. Also, the red flags in this list may not be present in all trafficking cases and are not cumulative.

Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact

Poor Physical Health

  • Lacks health care
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

Lack of Control

  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)

Other

  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
To request assessment tools and for more information about reporting trafficking click here. For resource packs on human trafficking and how to recognize the signs click here.

Men talking about being taught

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I hear women talk about feminism. I, as a woman, talk about my experiences. I am shaped by them. Feminism is a a piece of a road out that I hope I can build for my daughter.

Too rarely do I hear men talking about feminism, about the female experience.  There are exceptions– my own father being one of those– where men talk about the importance of feminism in their lives and about the way men are hindered by gender roles and segregation.

On Saturday, the annual 16 days of activism against gender based violence began.  Usually my posts revolve around how gender based violence effects women.  And it does.  Hugely!  Do you know that violence kills and disables as many women around the world as cancer does?  That is staggering.

This year, however, I want to start by talking about how gender roles and the way we inflict them on people negatively affects our boys and men.  They may not be victims of violence in the same way— but they certainly are victimized as well.

I came across this video and wanted to share.  Tony Porter is self-reflective, articulate, charismatic, and right.  Please watch.

Educating girls through TV

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Let’s face it: TV influences and educates children. Looking at TV programming, I can only worry about the messaging my daughter will receive. There are so many more Daphnes then Thelmas and even Thelma is second to Fred and Scooby. Where are the bright, hip, self-sufficient heroines that aren’t obsessed with boys, clothes, or being a princess?

Apparently, I am not the only one to see this. Check out the video (yes, it is old, but I just found it):