2/13/15

Sexism in Comics



 

 

Sexism is defined by Merriam Webster as
1 : prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women 2 : behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. I would like to focus on the second half of this definition. Sexism is just one variation of the larger problem which is prejudice and ignorance. Ignorance and prejudice make roots in the minds of individuals most easily when society treats them as truths. Culural prejudices can be seen in art music and entertainment. Comics being a very popular form of creative expression are no stranger to sexist, racist and overall ignorant ideas.




According to DC Comics in 2014 their creative staff was made up ninety one point two percent male and nine point eight percent female creators. Marvel had 10.8 percent female creators. While these are all time highs for females in the field their is still a long way to go. Modern comics tend to appeal to a larger male than female audience. This is largely because of the way in which female comic character are portrayed. If comics are to evolve in such a way that they accurately represents all groups regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender.


 Neil Gaiman's Sandman series is considered ground breaking by many comics fans and contemporary literature critics alike. It is notable because it featured homosexual relationships in a positive light and depicted the struggle of a transgender woman. It also got many women interested in comics and helped to launch the Vertigo imprint of DC and with it a new age of comics.


 With more female creators and comics like Sandman progress will surely march on. Unfortunately today societal prejudice is still reflected in the medium. Ultimately this will become a thing. Comics are a strong tool to express ideas and accelerate social change.



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Image source: http://www.sparknotes.com/mindhut/2013/08/16/sexism-and-diversity-in-comics-a-heated-debate

2/11/15

Lizzie's Cosplay Interview





I recently contacted a young Danish cosplayer named Lisette. She is primarily Doctor Who cosplayer and she's incredibly talented. I emailed her some questions and she got back to me the other day. If you have interest in cosplay and or Doctor who I urge you to read on.









1 What is it about Doctor Who that appeals to you?
I love the morals in it. It teaches the way of life; how we shall treat each other and what goodness mankind can have. It’s not only about a man traveling in a box, but it’s about love and loss and sacrifice. I love the personality of the Doctor and I like that even though he is a rolemodel and a hero, he is not always nice. He is just an alien. It’s exciting to, through the companions eyes, to discover other adventures and to explore the Doctor. I have never been a big fan of Sci Fi but there is just something about Doctor Who that really caught my attention.

2 Why is it that you decided to become involved with cosplay? i have always loved dressing out and did it every chance I had. I didn’t knew about cosplay before I had entered a costume completion on facebook for fun with my Rose Cosplay (which were the reason for how I got my first ever cosplay) and I have loved it ever since. Never understood how big it was until I attended my first convention and saw just how popular cosplaying was and through the compliments I got for my cosplays, my interest grew bigger.





3 You most frequently do variants on the character of Rose Tyler. Do you relate strongly to Rose?
Both yes and no. she is way more secure and cocky that I could ever be but I do somehow relate to her through the series and she just grew on me. I think it’s the difference between her and me that does that I love cosplaying her so much. It’s always fun to be able to be a complete different person than who you normally are.

4 Do you have a personal favorite Doctor Who story? Oooh that is a tough one. I think it has to be Water on Mars because I just love the darkness and the change in the Doctor through that episode. It is so much more different than a typical Doctor Who story and even though I love Rose, I find the stories where the Doctor is on his own (like Midnight and the Specials) more interesting.

5 How long does it typically take for you to complete a cosplay? it varies. Most of my cosplays are bought so it all depends if I need to find it before a con or if I have the time. If I have the time I can be very patient until I find the right alt or better, the SA piece. If I don’t have long I am going for what I can find on the time and hope it will be okay for it but I always prepare at least 2 months before a con. So all in all it takes me between a week and a year to complete a cosplay. I still have many half finished cosplays which I am just waiting to complete.

6 If you were to join the Doctor in his travels where would you want to visit first? Hmmm good question. I think I am more interested in the future than the past. Not my own but just to see how the world evolves and I would of course love to visit other planets. But there has never been a certain moment on my mind when people have asked me the question. I would love to go anywhere as long as it would an adventure.

7 Are there any cosplayers you look to for inspiration?
I look up to all the cosplay friends I have. They are amazing and have always been there to help me including my boyfriend. I never looked for inspiration in particular at anyone. I like to run my own show and put my own touch to my cosplays but I am always open for ideas and help. One of my favorite cosplayers though has to be Starbit Cosplay as she is so talented and is a born chameleon. Haven’t seen a character she couldn’t look like and I can’t help being a bit proud that we are both Scandinavians.

8 If you had to choose a franchise other than Doctor Who to cosplay what would that be?
I think it would be Harry Potter and Marvel but it’s difficult to say as Doctor Who is mainly my life. I have always been a Harry Potter fan so I can’t help starting on that one and I have always wanted to cosplay Black Widow from the Avengers. One thing I also wanna try and cosplay is horror characters as I am a huge horror fan. I am planning on doing a Saw cosplay for Halloween.  



9 Of all the cosplays you have done so far which have you found most difficult to complete?
 
The ones I have found most difficult must have been those I chose to get SA pieces for. Finding SA clothes can be quite difficult especially for Rose and some pieces are rarer than others. I waited a year to finally get my hands on the School Reunion Jacket which is my all time favorite. Another cosplay which is still not complete is the Girl in the Fireplace because I am very picky with selecting jeans and I haven’t found the right ones yet.

10 What characters are you currently working on? I am not working on anything at the moment but I am keeping my eyes out for pieces to my Fem!Master cosplay and I am hoping on starting on my Poison Ivy cosplay soon which is going to be the first cosplay I am going to make myself.







And that's all from this impossible girl. If you want to see more of her work you can visit the Lizzie's Cosplay Facebook page on which she posts frequently. Thanks for reading. If you wish to see more of what this blog has to offer you can follow us using Google plus, subscribe or like Sentience on Facebook. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments. Run!


2/4/15

Supernatural "There's No Place Like Home" Review

I'll admit going into watching the most recent episode of the Supernatural "There's no Place Like Home" I was worried. The trailer had my favorite character Charlie Bradbury behaving very strangely. Supernatural has a long history of killing off beloved characters and Charlie's death didn't seem incredibly unlikely. Look the episode "There's No Place Like Home" did not bring Charlie's death. It did however bring up some good points about human nature and the necessity and beauty of imperfection  This episode presents Sam and Dean with a very peculiar problem.


   Charlie has been split in half. She is two highly dysfunctional people. One Charlie is completely innocent. The other Charlie is a murderous badass representing the dark side. I've got to say I'm quite pleased with how the show handled the philosophical question of what makes us who we are. Early in the episode Sam and Dean are looking into Charlie's past. Sam suggests she was deeply trouble and Dean refuses to believe him saying she was a good kid. The truth of  course was always somewhere in between.







  The episode ends with Dean nearly beating the dark Charlie to death and in effect doing the same to her other side. The "good" realizing the necessity of a dark act murders the evil wizard of Oz and becomes whole once again. After healing some Charlie leaves Sam and Dean Charlie leaves vowing to help Dean with the Mark of Cain which is causing his own darkness to grow to an unhealthy degree.


   Charlie is a strong, badass female character who pushes boundaries and is incredibly lovable. This episode is incredibly effective because it examines her on every level. It does not sugar coat anything or make humans out to be simple monsters. This episode shows us that the end we all must have darkness and light inside ourselves  and we should not fight that fundamental aspect of our nature. Thanks again Felicia Day for another great episode of Supernatural.



 

1/26/15

The Mouth



  I'm heading down a dark tunnel. Fear fills my tiny blue body. I know there is no escape yet I still press on. Why am I condemned to this eternal damnation. Why must I move through this shadowy maze of death? Escape seems impossible. I see him in my peripheral vision. He looks so hungry. He's like a big, fat, yellow shark. I can not reason with this monster. So I run.


   I take a right. I can hear him running after me. His breathing is raspy. I can barely catch my breath. My entire being begs me to stop but I press on. If I stop he finds me. If I stop I die. Sweat is dripping into my eyes. I close them tightly as I run. I don't want to see the nightmare around me. I imagine waking up somewhere far away but when my eyes open the darkness still surrounds me. A little orange fruit is at my feet. I kick it to the side and take a left turn. A wave of relief washes over me as I see three blue figures huddled together less than twenty feet away.


  Any minute now the tables will turn and we will have our vengeance. I run to rejoin the group. The nightmare is nearly over. Suddenly my foot slips. I fall flat on my back. I hear the crunch of my leg as it breaks. I should be in incredible pain but the fear and the adrenaline act as cruel anesthetic. He's slowly approaching. The others have scattered. I know there is no way out.

  When that smiling is no more than a foot away from it chuckles. My body shakes. I close my eyes  tightly and then something makes me open them. I look into that big hungry mouth. I know soon I will be nothing. The mouth closes around me. The Pac-man has won.





 

The World Needs a Salad Fingers




 Throughout history there have been oddities and freak shows which have captured the imaginations of both normies and interesting people alike. In the modern the modern age of Viagra and sexting this grand tradition of freakishness continues. Perhaps nothing embodies the spirit and the art of the strange and the unusual more so than Salad fingers. Salad Fingers is a charming single man who enjoys things in life such as rusty spoons, fingers puppets and watching the red water come out.

Salad Fingers is a cartoon creation of the beautifully fracked up mind of David Firth. It's set in what appears to be some sort of apocalyptic wasteland and focuses on the title character of Salad Fingers. We watch as his weak since of sanity decays and he struggles to find love, fame and rusty spoons. Salad Fingers is produced on the web and is not at all the same sort of thing as most televised  cartoons. It's a creation of the darkened void and it infiltrates our homes like a computer virus infecting our brains and making us embrace the insanity which we love.

We need Salad Fingers in much same way as we need Santa Claus. He's an improbable and odd fellow who is exist in a twisted reflection of this reality. Without things like him the war against the boring and the mundane would have lost long ago. Hail Salad Fingers! Hail rusty spoons!

 

1/14/15

Brony: Friendship is Murder

I apologize to anyone who may have been expecting a new posts since the New Year. I've been busy with school, debate and health issues among other things. To tell you the truth I know I've had time to put something together for you and I'm sorry for not having done so.                                                                                                                 In the hopes of winning you beautiful people back I would like to share with you something I wrote earlier today. It's about a unicorna and it's somewhat dark so it may not necessarily be to your liking. If you're a brony please do not take offense.                                                                                                                                                                  Pain. It's such a short word. Isn't it? It's just four letters. It's like love or hope. It's really a very tiny word but somehow as the gears grind and thick drops of my blood drip onto the white carpeting pain feels so big.                                                                                                                      The room is empty save for myself, the mechsnisms of my agony and a dusty heart shaped mirror hanging on the wall. Written in the dust are the words friendship is magic. The man who wrote those words has been no friend to me. I wish now that I could drive my horn through that fat bastard's skull.                                                                                                                                                         I can remember the leaves rustling in the trees and the cold night air as I stepped out into the light. I tried to run but the car was too fast. When I woke up I was here in this room.I miss nature and the sun and moon. I miss mud and running. Mostly I miss my freedom. Not a second goes by that I do not want to escape. Still I suppose all unicorns are captured in the end.                                                                                                                               I will probably write some more of this story soon. I hope to have an interview with a lovely cosplayer posted very soon. I promise to work on writing posts more frequently. Have a lovely day.                         

12/30/14

Lost River Will Not be Released in US Theaters

In a world completely under my control Matt Smith would always be  a bow tie wearing space geek. In reality Peter Capaldi is now impressing millions of fans with his new and eccentric take on the Doctor and Matt Smith has been trying to build a name for himself outside of his most famous role.                                                                                                                                                    
Matt Smith made the decision to transition from Doctor Who to Hollywood largely because of one particular role. He was cast as a lead in a film which at one point was going to be titled How to Catch a Monster and is now called (ironically for whovians) Lost River.                                                                                                                    
 According to IMDb.com Lost River is about a single mother being "swept into a dark underworld while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town." With an interesting premise like that, Matt Smith starring and professional hunk Ryan Gosling directing you would think this film would be a certain success.                                                                                    

 Unfortunately that does not appear to be the case at all. After harsh reviews from critics at the Cannes Film Festival Lost River's US  theatrical release has been cancelled. It will be available for a limited time in certain theaters in LA and New York and then go straight to video in April. Their is no word as to whether or not this decision may affect other countries choice to show it.

    I for one am extremely disappointed. The trailer looked very interesting and I am eager to support Matt Smith in his career choices. Fortunately for Smith fans he is set to star in the next movie in the Terminator franchise as well as the film adaption of the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Smith's career has still got legs.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
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12/29/14

An Open Letter to Tyler Durden

 Dear Tyler Durden,                                                                                                                                                                          
  I am very aware that you are insane. You are a bad friend and an extremely manipulative person. You're really kind of an asshole. Still as you stare at me from the front  of Fight Club case I must confess that I am as it happens jealous of you.                                                                                                                                                              
  You are willing to do whatever it takes to be truly free. You do not regret anything. You always know exactly what you want to do with your life and you never doubt yourself.  Sure you're a rude and somewhat murderous criminal who makes soap for a living but when it comes down to it you are Brad freaking Pitt!! You have nothing at all holding you back.                                                                                                                                                              
  There is a part of me that wishes I was you. Well the whole arm burning thing isn't exactly my cup of tea but other than that you seem to have things going pretty well for yourself. You really let what doesn't matter truly slide. I find that very admirable. I am prepared  to become like you. I am looking for a near life experience. I am a monkey ready to be shot into space. 2015 will be my year. Tyler is love. Tyler is life.          
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
   I'm not completely sure why I just wrote this. I think we can all learn from Tyler. As you're  trying to accomplish your New Year's resolution or just get by in life you might want to take a step back and look at things from his perspective. Try not to kill anyone nice.

12/28/14

Chivalry Isn't Just a Man's Duty



A man and a woman walk into a restaurant and, plot twist, the woman holds the door open for her date. Shockingly enough the woman pays for dinner too. Why is this so surprising? Maybe it is because modern chivalry is implied to be just for the guys. In the United States, we have policies making strides towards a more equal society. Women should help move this along by practicing modern chivalry in our lives. Because we live in a society that is becoming more equal, modern chivalry should be expected from both men and women

What is modern chivalry? Part of modern chivalry is holding open doors for people. Why should only men be expected to do this? Women have arms, we are capable of opening doors too. I mean, if we approach a door and there is no big strong man to open the door for us, we don’t just sit there and wait for a man to come along and do it. Another part of being chivalrous is offering your seat to others, such as a pregnant women, the disabled or elderly. But if an able-bodied woman is sitting down and an elderly man was standing, would the man be expected to be chivalrous and let her sit? I don’t think so. Let the woman be chivalrous and stand. Who says a man always has to pay for the date? News flash, women can have well paying jobs, women can vote, a woman can be independent enough to pay for herself and her date.

How are we furthering equality in society? Feminism is a doctrine advocating having social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men according to dictionary.com. Basically, feminists want equality of the sexes. This will never happen if men are always expected to pay for everything, hold all of the doors and always offer people their seats. Having men do all of the “chivalrous” deeds will only further the patriarchal mindset of society. When the venn-diagram of gender roles becomes a circle, society will be equal. A good start to this is chivalry being expected of both genders. The United States Constitution has amendments attempting to equalize society. With the 19th amendment, women got their foot in the door with the right to vote. With the 13th, slavery was abolished. With the 14th, no person can be denied the protection of the law. With the 15th, all men could vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. These amendments prove that our society is ever progressing towards equality.

Women and men should be expected to practice modern chivalry. Ladies, pay for you and your date, or at least yourself. Men, let them pay, you can always pay next time. If both genders are expected to cross gender role barriers and practice acts of modern chivalry, equality will naturally follow. Women need to step up to the plate and make this a daily practice. Our society is constantly striving to become more equal and I strongly believe that parallel chivalry expectations is the next logical step in furthering equality.

12/21/14

A Review of the Deleted Scenes from The Perks of Being a Wallflower






 The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a beautiful film based on a beautiful book. I think it translated better to film than a lot of books do in part because the movie  was written and directed by the book's author Stephen Chbosky. Interestingly despite how incredibly fantastic how incredibly fantastic both the book and the film are and the fact that the author had full creative control quite a few relatively big things from the book are not actually in the movie at all. I recently discovered that Chbosky had scripted, filmed and fully edited many scenes that forever whatever reason did not make the final cut. They are all available as special features on the DVD. Naturally I had to see them. Yesterday I got myself a copy of the DVD and today I was finally able to sit down and watch all of the deleted scenes from the film. For the purpose of your enjoyment I will summarize and review what I have seen. If you have not both read the book and seen the final cut of the movie I urge you to do so before reading this this.



       The Scenes are titled as followed.

1 Alternate Opening (Hospital)
2 Susan in the Cafeteria
3 Charlie's Best Friend Michael
4 Best Milkshake Ever
5 After Secret Santa
6 Charlie and Mom on Christmas Eve
7 Brothers(Extended Version)
8 New Year's Day
9 Brother and Sister
10 Home for Dinner
11 Charlie and Mom Leave the Hospital
12 The Poem





1 Alternate Opening (Hospital)


This scene creates such a different vibe than the film's actual opening. It's slow paced and sad and it creates none of the hopeful feelings that final version does. It does however immediately throw the audience into the story and it features some flashbacks which obviously have more meaning in connection with the rest of the movie. I really like one of the flashbacks which features Charlie and his sister in church talking about the transubstantiation of the wine. Whether or not you hold religious beliefs small children and what Catholics hold to be the blood of Christ are symbolic of purity and innocence. Here we have someone who has had innocence stolen from them looking back at that moment and trying to come to terms with what happened to them.

2 Susan in the Cafeteria

This scene is sad and very well acted on the parts of both Logan Lerman (Charlie) and Julie Garner (Susan). Your heart breaks for Charlie but at the same time you can see the pain in Susan's eyes.

3 Charlie's Best Friend Michael

Michael is a huge part of what ultimately leads to Charlie's breakdown. They are outsiders who each battle with intense emotional pain. They rely on each other for support and when Michael kills himself Charlie is left with feelings of loneliness and guilt. This scene especially illustrates how dependent Michael was on Charlie. It's clear that Charlie thinks he could have been the one to help Michael. This scene is a conversation between two friends and it work very well. It and Susan in the Cafeteria really help to build the audience's understanding of where Charlie is emotionally at the beginning of the movie.

4  Best Milkshake Ever

  This scene is short and features Charlie's immediate reaction to tasting the milkshake Sam prepared for him. He says "Holy shit Sam." It's funny but considering all the funny bits immediately before and after where this scene would have been I think it may have been a wise cut.

5 After Secret Santa

  This is a momentary exchange of words Charlie and his mother. As the title implies it takes place immediately after the Christmas party. It's short sweet and to the point. While it may have been nice to see in the movie itself its absence in no way affected the movie's overall quality.

6 Charlie and Mom on Christmas Eve

Charlie's emotional deterioration is very present in both the film and the book but the complexity of his feelings is really highlighted by this scene. The scene is only about a minute long and focuses on a conversation between Charlie and his mother. Charlie talks about his aunt Helen and asks if people can always turn their lives around. The whole time it's clear their is a lot he wants to say but can't.

7  Brothers(Extended Version)
The majority of this scene is present in the final cut. Still the extended version does have merit of its own. In this scene Charlie and his brother talk to each other while sitting at the table. In the extended version we learn that Charlie's father was once a promising athlete before an injury forced him to give it up. This scene's presence would have directly informed the audience's perception of the last seen in the movie.

8 New Year's Day

 In this scene two police officers find Charlie passed out in the snow after his acid trip. It immediately cuts to the hospital where doctors and a police officer are discussing possible reasons he may have been unconscious with his parents. When the officer suggests he may have been using drugs the entire group looks over towards his hospital room and his sister tells him "You are so screwed." While it might work to increase the tension of the following scene it doesn't add anything of significance to the experience of the movie.

9 Brother and Sister

Aside from the rape memories this is one of the darkest aspects of the whole book. Despite this I've always found it really odd this didn't make the final cut. This is when Charlie discovers his sister is pregnant and takes her for an abortion. This scene does so much to build their relationship and inform the audience's understanding of their loyalty to one and love for one another. Ultimately its presence might have caused other parts of the movie to feel more serious than they needed to. I'm very glad this was filmed.

10 Home for Dinner

This is the part that would immediately follow Brother and Sister. Charlie and Candace return home and tell their parents that they went to see a movie together. It's sad but also sweet because they appear to have grown closer. Obviously it would make no sense without the scene prior to it. If you are curious to see how the development of Candace and Charlie relationship would have been handled on screen you should really watch these parts for yourself. You are unlikely to regret it.

11 Charlie and Mom Leave the Hospital

   This part begins with Charlie being released from the hospital. His mother buys him ice cream and they're sitting somewhere in a parked while he eats it. He offers some to her and she asks him if he remembers when he was little and she used to buy him ice cream. It's clear she feels guilty for not protecting him. This scene is about a mother who wants to protect her child from the pain of the world but knows its already too late. So she buys him ice cream and tries to show she loves him.  Ice cream can't solve all the worlds problems but sometimes it really can help.


12 The Poem

I'm really not sure why this was removed. If you've read the book you most likely remember it. It's a lot of people's favorite part of the book. It's good that it was filmed. If no version of this scene existed in relation to the movie at all that would be insane. This scene in particular is a real reward for fans who get the DVD.

"once on a yellow piece of paper,
he wrote a poem and he called it "chops" because that was the name of his dog. and that's what it was about and his teacher gave him an A and a gold star and his mother hung it on he door and read it to his aunts that was the year father Tracy took all the kids to the zoo and let them sing on the bus that was the year his little sister was born with tiny toenails and no hair and his mother and father kissed a lot " and the girl around the corner sent him a valentine signed with a row of x's and he had to ask his father what the x's meant and his father always tucked him in at night and was always there to do it once on a piece of white paper with blue lines he wrote a poem called "autumn" because that was the name of the season snd that's what it was all about and his teacher gave him an A and asked him to write more clearly and his mother never hung it on the kitchen door because of its new paint and the kids told him that father tracy smoked cigars and left butts on the pews and sometimes they would burn holes that was the year his sister got glasses with thick lenses and black frames and the girl around the corner laughed when he asked her to go see santa claus and the kids told him why his mother and father kissed a lot and his father never tucked him in at night and got mad when he cried for him to do it once on a piece of paper torn from his notebook he wrote a poem called "innocence; a question" because that was the question about his girl and that's what is was all about and his professor gave him an A and a strange steady look and his mother never hung it on the kitchen door becaue he never showed her that was the year that father tracy died and he forgot how the end of apostle's creed went and he caught his sister making out on the back porch and his mother and father never kissed or even talked and the girl around the corner wore too much makeup that made him cough when he kissed her but he kissed her anyway because that was the thing to do and at three A.M he tucked himself into bed his father snoring soundly that's why on the back of a brown paper bag he tried another poem and he called it "absolutely nothing" because that's what it was really about and he gave himself an A and a slash on each damned wrist and he hung it on that bathroom door because he didn't think he could reach the kitchen"





12/7/14

Gendercide in India

The United Nations estimates that on average, there are 105 females to every 100 males in most countries.  In India, the gender ratio is a shocking 93 females to every 100 males.  The main cause for this disparity is female gendercide, especially in the forms of feticide and infanticide.  Feticide and infanticide happen for a few different reasons.  These include economic, cultural and social reasons.  Although there are laws and regulations intended to limit and stop these practices, they are rarely followed or enforced.  The horrible practices of female feticide and female infanticide in India have a few factors and although there are laws designed to stop and limit theses practices, they are rarely enforced.
To understand the problem of female infanticide and feticide, one must first understand what female infanticide and feticide are.  Female infanticide is the killing of female infants shortly after birth.  Female feticide is newer, but no less harmful.  It is the killing of fetuses for the sole reason that they are female.  Infanticide has been practiced for centuries, however a relatively new way of killing has emerged.  Female feticide became common practice in the late 1900s with the introduction of ultrasound technology to India in 1979.
Infanticide in India was first documented by British officials in the late 1700s, but there has been a sex preference for centuries.  The severity of the problem of female infanticide became obvious in 1871 when India’s first census was taken.  A significant disparity in the sex ratio was observed: 940 females to every 1000 males.  The female to male sex ratio in 1901 was 972:1000 the gap has gotten progressively larger over 100 years, 2001’s census reporting a sex ratio of 933 females to every 1000 males.  This number is different in rural versus urban areas, rural areas having, on average, 31 fewer females per 1000 males than urban areas.  According to Dr. Sabu George, a public health activist in Delhi, India and China, the two countries where gendercide occurs the most in the world, more girls are killed than the total number of girls born in the United States every year.   More evidence of the disparity of the sex ratio: 25% of girls do not live past puberty and the mortality rate of girls ages one through five is 40% higher than that of boys the same age.
Female gendercide has a few different factors.  There are cultural and social factors and economic factors.  Social and cultural factors include common sayings and religious verses and blessings.  A Sanskrit blessing given to Hindu women at marriage says “Be a mother of eight sons” perfectly illustrating the stress on women to bear many sons, but no daughters.  A common Hindi saying calls a daughter “a burden on her father’s head.”  A religious verse states “let a daughter be born somewhere else.  Here let a son be born.”  When a daughter is born in Rajasthan, it is said that “a thief has come” referring to a dowry payment.   Social factors also include advertisements for sex determination tests.  Another social factor is an ingrained son preference in India.  Families want to keep the property in the family, women are abused if they cannot produce a son, women are coerced into getting sex determination tests and abortions.  Evidence of this gender preference are in the numbers.  Census reports show a clear disparity, but other studies show a preference.  A study done by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences shows that of children who have been hospitalized at least once, 64.6% were boys.  Both girls were found to get sick and injured as often as boys with similar severity, meaning a lot of girls’ parents didn’t seek medical attention because they did not care whether or not they lived or died.
Economic factors include dowry and the cost of living in general.  Dowry is an amount of money or property given to a groom and his family by the bride and her family.  The amount of dowry is usually very high and difficult for families to pay, making more and more families avoid having daughters at all.  Many parents see infanticide and feticide as a mercy killing because of the poverty they are faced with and the inequalities and struggles that are imposed on women.
There are different ways in which females are killed.  One way is abortion, in which the sex of the child must first be determined.  Sex determination can be done in three ways: amniocentesis (extracting amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus), chronic villus sampling (testing of the placental tissue), and ultrasonography.  The first two methods were first developed to determine birth defects, but introduced the possibility of feticide based on sex.  The ultrasound machine has made sex determination easier than ever, and revolutionized the practice of female feticide.  For families who cannot afford the prenatal diagnostic tests or abortions, infanticide is their method of killing.  Infanticide can be carried out in any way imaginable.  Methods include, but are not limited to : feeding infants poison, feeding them unhusked, uncooked rice which punctures their windpipes, suffocating them with wet cloths, strangling them, and pouring acid on them.  When some Indian women were asked to tell of some of the methods they used or heard of people using, they giggled as they spelled out the gory details.  This illustrates how culturally acceptable this gendercide is, that the women are not ashamed of killing the tiny humans, but they laugh about it.
Despite the prevalence of feticide and infanticide, there are laws attempting to limit and stop it.  In an attempt to stop the problem at its source, the Indian government made the practice of dowry illegal in 1961.  Although abortion is legal in India, it is limited to certain requirements due to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) act.  The MTP act made it so that an abortion can only be performed if the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the mother, the child is at risk to be born handicapped, if the child was conceived as a result of rape, or for family planning purposes.  To be lawful, the abortion must be carried out before 18 weeks, when the sex of the child is still hard to determine.  The Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) act was passed in 1994 and made it illegal to determine the sex of a fetus through any diagnostic techniques, requires all owners of ultrasound machines to register the machines, and made advertising for prenatal sex determination illegal.  In his 2010 Academic Journal, Nehaluddin Ahmad states that the Indian Penal Code of 1860 has relevant sections that
can be used to prosecute offenders when: death is caused by a person (Section 299 and Section 300), a pregnant woman is caused to miscarry the unborn baby (Section 312), an act done with intent to prevent a child being born alive or to cause it  to die quickly after birth (Section 315), a quick death of the unborn child is caused (Section 316), a child under 12 years of age is exposed and abandoned (Section 317), [and] the birth of the child is concealed by secretly disposing her/his body (Section 318).
In March 2008, the Conditional Cash Transfer for Girl Child with Insurance Cover (CCT) scheme was announced by India’s Women and Child Development Minister.  The scheme allots  “a total of ≈ 1-2 lakh rupees ($2500-$5000) [to]  be distributed to the family of a girl child provided they meet the conditions of birth registration, immunization, enrolment in school, retention in school and delaying the marriage … [until after the child is] 18 years [old]”.  The CCT scheme aims to end or at least lessen the mistreatment and killing of girls through monetary compensation.  This scheme should have an impact on the amount of feticide, infanticide and mistreatment of girls because one of the main causes of these events is the cost of raising a daughter, and this plan is designed to cushion the financial blow.
Sadly, these laws don’t mean much to the Indian people.  The laws are rarely followed and almost never enforced.  Many physicians simply ignore the laws, conducting illegal abortions privately.  Advertisements still exist, telling of the economic benefits of aborting female children.  In Bombay in 1994, Sonalda Desai noticed posters that advertised sex-determination tests that said: “It is better to pay 500 Rs [rupees] than 500,000 Rs (in dowry) later”.   The lack of enforcement is evident. In the years since the PCPNDT act was passed, very few people have been convicted.  This does not mean there weren’t any females killed or aborted, just that the government doesn’t care if the laws are broken.
The alarming disparity between the world average gender ratio and India's gender ratio has one major cause: the death of females. Whether it be in the womb in the form of feticide, or after birth in the form of infanticide, the population of females in India is significantly smaller than that of males. Feticide and infanticide have a few different causes. These factors include cultural and social causes as well as economic ones. Unfortunately, despite regulations and laws trying to stop and limit female infanticide and feticide, it still continues.  Female feticide andinfanticide have a few different causes and their is little chance of stopping them, despite laws against them.

12/3/14

My Journey Into and Out of Religion

   I know all of you are so interested in what has been going on in my life since my last post so I'll key you in. I have been getting out of religion. It's true, Brandon is entirely done with religion in general and never wants to go back because he is enjoying his life so much right now! I had no idea what all I was missing. I had no idea how good cigars were before I threw religion out my window.  I have learned so much about myself and cigars in these past few months. I've even learned about my sexuality, about bars, and about what not to do while intoxicated. America!!
   A couple months ago I went to my first gay bar and loved it though I'm not quite sure where I fall on the sexuality spectrum at the moment. I'm glad I finally started to wake up and live my life without the shackles of religion pulling me down and dictating the parts of life that are so important like sexuality.  I never would have considered going to a gay bar because my religion said no. Not a very fun or fair way to live your life I have found.
  This whole coming out of the darkness phase happened after I looked at the world around me in 20/20 vision. I started asking myself the important questions like why am I here? How did we get here? And my favorite, why is there so much suffering? The last one did it for me and religion along with my whole high school experience. After high school that was it for me and the religion train. I still believe in God but I don't consider myself religious anymore and don't plan to anytime in the near future. It's way to inhibiting. It blocks the creative self in each of us.
  Religion can and is used in wrong ways everyday. Every circus has it's clown just like every religion has its radical. That's what makes it so dangerous. Not always but a great majority of the time it is dangerous, so I don't plan on brainwashing my children with it anytime soon. I do plan on living the best life I can and enjoying while I am here the rest of my life.
  This article is going to piss a lot of people off I can see it now, so I just want to say that this is the United States of America and I think everyone has the right to practice any religion they choose and do anything they want (within reason) this article is merely a collection of my opinions and what has worked for me.
 
 

My Eternal Love for Harry Potter




I recently reread the first Harry Potter book. Unsurprising it is still incredibly awesome. It's a great book. It's the most popular books ever. Honestly if when its all said and done Harry Potter is what are species is remembered for I can live with that. But why do people love the series and its characters so much? What is it people connect to?                            


For me Harry Potter is something which is very dear to my heart. I think part of that might be because I always felt that I was very different from most other people. From a very young age I imagined leaving all the Muggles behind and making friends who were like me. I think a lot of kids have felt that way. Another reason I like the series is that it really teaches a lot of great life lessons but in a way that's accessible to a lot of people. Kids know nazis are bad but when they read about Voldemort and the death eaters it can feel a lot more real to them and make them understand how horrible people can be to one another. Rowling chose to tackle the big issues and that's something which can be pretty risky for a children's book author.


 J.K. Rowling not only showed kids what real evil looked like but she also showed them the value of love and of friendship, Harry Potter is about being brave even when you're scared. It's about beating the bad guys but it doesn't over simplify things. Tom Riddle was a sad little kid and the man Harry though tried to kill him during his first quidditch match turned out to be one of the bravest and most heroic characters in the entire series.


Harry Potter is a fairy tale that in my opinion has a lot more truth to it then most religious texts. J.K. Rowling opened the door for millions of people to invite magic and creativity into their lives. Sadly I will most likely never get my Hogwarts letter but I have learned a lot more important things from Potter than I was ever taught in Muggle school. Thank you J.K. Rowling.



            

12/2/14

What I'm Thankful For

  I know this post is more than a little overdue but I've been feeling kind of pessimistic lately and I feel like I should do this.                                                                                                                    



1 antibiotics. Thanks science.                                                                                                                  

2 Tom Lehrer's music. Thanks Tom Lehrer                                                                                              
3 democracy. Thanks dead white guys.                                                                                                    
4 Xmas specials.  Thanks invasive theology and capitalism.                                                                  

5 atheism. Thanks logic.                                                                                                                            
6 my friends. You know who you are.                                                                                                      
7 my family. Thanks chaotic universe.                                                                                                      
 8 the first amendment. Thanks again dead white guys.                                                                            
 9 Doctor Who. Thanks Sydney Newman and hundreds of other people.                                                
10 Gravity. Thanks physics.                                                                                                                      
11 Harry Potter. Thanks J.K. Rowling.                                                                                                    

12 Benedict Cumberbatch. Thanks Benedict Cumberbatch's parents.                                                    

13 Gummy worms. Thanks gummy worm sex.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Thanks for letting me waste your time with my optimism. Stay alive for the foreseeable future.