Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Activism: I am an Ally (Talking Point 12)

Although I have always believed myself to be somewhat of an ally to others, this class has really solidified that concept for me.  I remember back in grade school, around 6th or 7th grade, my class was asked to write a persuasive paper on any topic we wanted, and most kids chose topics like why they should get to stay up an hour later or why they shouldn't have to do homework.  What was my persuasive paper topic?  Why should gay marriage be legalized in the United States.  Even at an early age I felt like everybody should be treated the same no matter what.  My teacher, Mrs. Myers, took me aside when she found out what I wanted to do and tried to talk me into another topic but I was determined and she explained to me that it was going to be a challenge.  And it was.  But it was worth it...  I ended up writing this paper my Freshman year at RIC for writing 100 on same-sex marriage:

Noelle Patenaude

Professor Collins

Writing 100-08

3 December 2009

Gay Marriage:
Saying, “I do” to same-sex marriages

What would you say if you were denied the right to marry the person you fell in love with?  Well for at least ten percent of Americans across the United States this is a very real problem.  These people are being denied their right to marry because they are “different”, “unusual”, or “not the same” as those around them.  They are being denied their right to marry because they are gay.  Gay marriage should be accepted as legal unions nationally because everyone has the right to legitimize their relationships.  It gives same sex couples the legal rights they deserve, and it would increase tolerance towards gays in American society.
What does it mean to be gay?  According to MedicineNet.com the definition of gay or homosexual states that being gay is when someone is attracted to a person of the same sex.  It is more commonly referred to as being lesbian for females, and queer or homosexual for males. 
Many people who are against homosexual marriages argue that same-sex marriages would weaken the traditional definition and respect for marriage.  However, no matter what gender orientation an individual has, they have the right to legitimize their relationship and become a married couple.  The Google definition of marriage supports this by declaring that the state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life (or until divorce); "a long and happy marriage"; and "God bless this union."  Shouldn’t gay couples have the right to legitimize their love for each other and be married? 
When these homosexual couples are together and not married, America’s society usually views them as just being short-term relationships.  To many people, it is seen as nothing more than a common high school relationship or “fling,” even though they could be living together, have a family together, and plan to be together for the rest of their lives.  If gay couples were allowed to marry these couples would be able to move beyond being viewed in short-term relationship and move to something more acceptable in American culture.  They would become something real and legitimate in the eyes of other Americans.  The couples would be able to move to a committed lifetime partner relationship in today’s society.
Not only are the gay couples being denied marriage but also they are being denied all the same legal rights that go along with marriage, which all heterosexual married couples have.  All in all gay couples that are not married do not have the same legal rights as a heterosexual married couple.  Unmarried gay couples do not have the same rights pertaining to property, visitations and major decision making in hospitals, taxes, money and financial issues, last will and testimonies, and health and medical care. One extreme case where unmarried gay couple’s rights were taken away happened on November 11th of this year, Governor Donald L. Carcieri of Rhode Island, vetoed gay couples the vital legal right to bury their partner.  From the Providence Journal: An opponent of same-sex marriage, Governor Carcieri has vetoed bill that would have added "domestic partners'' to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other. In his veto message, Republican Carcieri said, "This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue."
Same-sex couples are not only being denied their marital rights but their own natural rights as U.S. citizens are also being violated.  They are being denied the right to marry whom they love.  Their right to the separation of church and state is also being infringed upon.  According to balancedpolitics.org the separation of church and state sets apart one’s own values of religion and the values of the government.  Some religions, including Islamic Sects and Christianity see homosexuality as unacceptable.
Some people who are against gay marriage because it is against their religion believe that homosexuality is a sin, and according to the bible and many religions, it is.  However over the years many situations that were once seen as sins in earlier years, have become a decent and regular part of America’s society today.  When before people who were different because of race, religion, ethnicity, pre-marital sex, and parental status were once utterly frowned upon, they are now seen as normal everyday occurrences.  We are now seeing interracial marriages, interethnic marriages, and many people having sex before marriage, and single parents by choice.
If every state in the United States were to allow same-sex marriage the tolerance towards these couples in society would be increased. One extreme example of the discrimination of homosexuals occurred in 2000.  The headline, “A 17-year-old northwestern Pennsylvania boy is suing a school district for failing to intervene with anti-gay harassment” which was said to have driven him to try to commit suicide. If same-sex marriages were legalized nationally, it would also lower the harassment and public humiliation that is normally seen towards these same-sex couples.  
As of 2009, up to six states have legalized same-sex marriage in the United States, Rhode Island has become an island of inequality surrounded by states that treat their gay and lesbian citizens with dignity and respect by affording them an equal right to marry.  Marriage is a significant social status and provides security that gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders deserve to have as human beings.
Having same-sex marriage illegal in the United States, goes against the words of our founding fathers.  The denial is in direct disobedience with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Declaration of Independence, the two documents that built and were foundations for our country.  When the Declaration was written, those men wanted our nation to not only follow but also live by the words they had written.  They foresaw a future where “all men are created equal” as well as being able to have the “pursuit of happiness”, whether that is being with a partner of the same sex or a different one.  They did not envision a country where our government does not allow people to marry and be happy in a lifelong partnership together just because they were different than those around them.  It counters the very words, “the land of the free,” as well as “with liberty and justice for all,” which as a nation we have striven to stand behind. 
Think back to your own wedding, or being a young child and envisioning your wedding day.  The bride would look beautiful in a stunning white gown while her soon to be husband in his handsome new tux.  Would it make the special day any less magical if it were two brides or two grooms?  Would they be any less in love?  So why does our government have the right to deny them the right to express their relationship and love for one another?  Shouldn’t they have the right to prove to the world they are truly committed to one another?

I have always felt like people shouldn't have to hide who they are and that is one of the reasons who I am studying to be a social worker.  

It's stories like this that are just horrifying.  I wonder now, if this boy had an ally, just one friend to stand up with him, would he still be here?  

Feminists & Their Hair Continued...

So I had written a random post about women and how much their hair means to them back in October and this weekend I saw this video and it really did make me so proud.

I think it is so great that they were willing to do this for their coach and to raise money for leukemia research!!

On a side note a little girl, about 9 came into T's (the restaurant I work at) wearing a cancer scarf on Saturday with her mom and her sister, and I have no problem telling my story to people.  So I went up to the table and asked her where she got her beautiful scarf and at first her mom was really taken aback and wasn't sure what to make of the situation but the little girl was explained that she had Leukemia and I could find them online if I googled BeauBeau.  I then explained to her and her family that I had a bunch of them at home but none of them were pink like the one she was wearing and it was my favorite color and I was super jealous!!  The little girl must have gone on for about twenty minutes after that about how her grandmother had learned to take apart the scarf and had made a sewing pattern and designed scarves just for her!!  In the end I told her that I was going to look online that night and find a pink scarf and buy it so that we could be twins!!!  I think that made her day.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Boys being brides

I was at work yesterday and there was a little boy maybe 5 years old who came in and was sitting in a booth with three other women.  I assume one was his mom and I'm not sure who the other women were.  And every time I walked by the table they were in hysterics because of what the little boy was saying.  He kept saying how he wanted to be a beautiful bride and have his dad be his Prince Charming.  I immediately thought of this class.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vocabulary, what you say hurts

There are a few words that when people use them, if I hear it I will stop and confront the conversation because it's just not right in my opinion.  After this last surgery there were multiple severe complications that could have left me mentally handicapped so this one above all hits close to home...

Rich (Talking Point 5)

So I know this is late but at the time I read this I really wasn't too sure of myself.  So I waited and now I've gone back and reread it and I'm taking another shot at it.

The phrases "compulsory heterosexuality" and "lesbian existence" were foreign to me before reading this piece by Adrienne Rich, and like I said I really wasn't sure what to make of it at first.  So I looked up the definitions of the words in the titles:

Compulsory: Required by law or a rule; obligatory.

Heterosexuality: A sexual attraction to (or sexual relations with) persons of the opposite sex.

Lesbian: A homosexual woman.

Existence: The fact or state of living or having objective reality.

It is obvious that society is pressuring us to be heterosexual, whether we believe it or not, through media, news, "straightness" is everywhere.

I now this is a kind of goofy video but I though it was funny.

Personally I was raised with an open mind.  And I have always fought for gay rights.  Ronie said it best when she said in her blog, "The fact of the matter is that lesbianism does exist. Women who are lesbian are no less than women who are straight. When people say that they want to be a feminist and fight social injustice and issues, they have to face the fact that inequality to lesbians, AND GAYS, is a feminist issue. They are people, with emotions, feelings, rights, opinions, and thought. We should treat them like we treat every other human being."  

Monday, November 12, 2012


I found these videos on Croteau's Media and Ideology:

In the second video they begin to talk about media representations and Kayli related it to Cinderella Ate My Daughter in her blog.  Television and media directly advertises to the different sexes.  For females especially, society has unwritten rules for what is deemed beautiful, classy, sophisticated, acceptable, etc.  From young ages girls are bombarded with pictures in the media that tell them, "in order to fit in, you need to look like this".

I completely agree with Kayli that women and girls need to learn to be comfortable in their own skin because we are all beautiful.  Media and advertising can be used as both a weapon and a source of knowledge.  It really depends on how we use it.  When we create media that is violent and destructive like Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP, we create violence, see Mike's blog.  However, I believe we can also create advertisement that is good for society.  Like Dove's Real Beauty Campaign.