Media Monday: Health News-I encourage my children to read this

My local newspaper seemed to be filled with an inordinate number of health related stories, all versions taken from national news wire articles.

Some of the headlines include: (no, I’m not linking them)

Clues to how people bounce back from surgery” by Lauren Neergaard of the AP. I don’t have any surgeries planned in the near future so this one doesn’t interest me.

Dry-roasting might be peanut allergy trigger” by Karen Kaplan of the Los Angeles Times. I take the seriousness of peanut allergies, well seriously, however since learning of toxic mold issues with most peanuts processed in the United States, I avoid those legumes most of the time.

Level of education predicts health outcome, study finds” by Jason Millman of the Washington Post. This one seems like a no-brainer to me.

Think you drink a lot? Top 10% down 74 drinks a week” by Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post. Coming from a long line of alcoholics again not surprising to me personally.

In military related health news we have “Report says services for female veterans fall short” by Matthew Daly of the AP. Matthew, this is not news. Speaking medically right now services for women, in any field, anywhere, fall short.

Agencies launch mammoth study on opioid alternatives” by Emily Wax-Thibodeaux of the Washington Post. This story references the large set of indicators that link the use of opioid medications to addiction in veterans trying to manage chronic pain. The point is to highlight alternate therapies. Hmmm… long-term use of opioids causing more harm than good. Who would have thought that could happen.

Lastly, also personally, and the story my adult children need to pay attention to:

Mental lapses can be warning flags” by Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times. As I read this article I noted that I technically did not fall under the umbrella term used by Ms Healy defining myself as a “senior.” She reserved that label for those over sixty. Regardless of my lack of age, I did pause to absorb a few specific points. A new study in the journal Neurology followed 531 participants with an average age of seventy-three. Those who actually self-reported memory issues during the ten-year study exhibited more likelihood to develop “mild cognitive impairment, and to have Alzheimer’s-like plaques and tangles in their brains upon death even when dementia was never diagnosed” (Healy).

So backing up a bit here, as I read this I understand the article to mean that if I am self-aware enough to be concerned, and more specifically mention out loud those concerns, regarding mental lapses such as misplacing keys, forgetting appointments or difficulty in retrieving words and names, then I may be standing in line for issues later on as I age. The article states that “people who reported memory complaints were nearly three times more likely to develop clinically significant memory and thinking problems” (Healy).

I don’t want to cry wolf, nor do I want my adult children to begin making plans for placing me in an Alzheimer’s care facility tomorrow. I do however, want to be considered among the “cognitive complainers” that Healy writes about, even though I am not yet sixty or above. When I think about that fact actually, the not having reached sixty age limit yet, I find this article even more worrisome. I do forget names and I do find myself searching for a word at times. Not everyday, not with any regularity at all, but sometimes…I find myself in obvious pause, waiting for the word that I know is right there, yet I draw a blank.

The only thing left to say at this point is: Cara, Jeff, Alison-you have been warned.

Healy, M. (2014). LA Times. Science Now. Cognitive Complaints in the Elderly Are Often Dementia Harbingers. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-cognitive-complaints-dementia-harbinger-20140924-story.html

Briefly: Saturday in review

Sunday’s seem to have become my day for blogging. I am boycotting anything related to football at the moment, at least until the NFL can make some strides in educating themselves and their leadership on domestic violence.

The daughter and I went antiquing yesterday, even though I don’t have antiques in my home. We enjoy wandering though, and looking. I enjoy contemplating why people place some things up for sale and on the flip side, why on earth some people desire to buy some of those things.

As I watched other folks buying items at both a rural flea market/antique event as well as a local shop just minutes from my home, I speculated on what they may be planning to do with the odd wire thingamajig that might have once been a lamp shade, or the gaudy piece of jewelry grabbed and clutched to their chest as if it had real rubies and not just glass bangles.

I also like to ponder on where all the stuff came from. Did the vendors (aka hoarders) pull pile after pile out of their attics and garages and sheds and spare bedrooms to sell for profit, (although I don’t think hoarders would be about selling) or maybe they are those clever folk who shop garage sales regularly then resell the wonders they thought they couldn’t live without.

I think back to the time that my house was decorated in the country, farm style. It was good for some time, then the homespun and lace, and knick-knacks began to seem like dust collectors that I just didn’t want to deal with. I look now at generic Home Beautiful types of magazines, try to convince myself that I need to put a picture here, a shelf there, some cabinets and art over by that window, toss more pillows in contrasting prints and strategically place more candles on holders of varied level, size and shape, and then shrug my shoulders and walk away.

My home is a house in transition and really the last thing I need is to fill it with stuff. Besides, I really think that I’m much more of a minimalist, although that might be because I will not dust anything until the casual observer walking through my house would believe that everything I own is whitish-gray.

I used to think that I had some sort of style or theme that I wanted in my home decor. You know, that look that all the designers say I should have if I want my home to be on the cover of a glossy magazine some day. Which I don’t. They tell me that I should want that, and work to achieve it. I have what is necessary to live. For now, that’s my idea of style.

The daughter did find some old albums to add to her growing record collection. I love to listen to her debate with herself when she goes out to browse for such items. She is very thrifty by nature anyway, and she makes me laugh when she struggles with an appropriate amount to spend on an album, especially when it’s one she has wanted for quite some time. Her practical side usually wins.

We ended up taking a rather fortuitous route home from the rural farm stop and came across a used book store. She checked herself and only bought one book, while I found a few on feminism that may show up in a Feminist Friday post in some way or other.

I hope everyone’s weekend was full of fun adventures, and perhaps some interesting purchases, just as ours was.

I feel a rant brewing

I know we all have them, the days when everything wrong with society just roll off your shoulders and you can meander through your day unfazed. Then there are those days where, with something as small as one word, or gesture, or picture, or memory, or add-your-own-noun here, we let the weight o’ the world dump itself on us, the wheels start turning, and a rant bubbles up ready to explode.

My surfacing rant seems to have begun with the now daily news feeds highlighting terrorist threats to every corner of the known world. I am not a warmonger by nature, but I am at the point where I want to scream, “Blow these god damn insane people off the face of the earth and be done with it.”

Related to that is the execution style killings that are coming into vogue, IE: this story or even this one, or the hundreds of others that jump across our respective TV and computer screens each day. Does no one see that there is a deeper, underlying issue surrounding the reason that violence and murder is so prevalent – oh wait, of course we see it, but we either don’t care or can’t begin to formulate reasonable means to change those deep issues.

Speaking of issues, when will white America have the guts to speak up and admit that RACE IS STILL AN ISSUE in this society. It’s an issue because we keep labeling and finding definitions for this idea of race. My skin is darker than yours, so what? My eyes are a different shape than yours, so what? My nose is broad and my hair is curly, SO WHAT? I am a human being and my insides are just like yours white people so stop pretending you are better than, more intelligent than, more entitled than, me.

We have Ferguson in our heads and we all have our opinions. Who wants to debate that this story has absolutely no racial motivation?

I can’t leave women and gender out of this post. My personal struggles in this area are prominent right now because of the essays on menopause that I contributed to. If sexism isn’t bad enough in 2014, add aging to those existing sexist gender issues. A woman who is unwilling, or unable, to conform to societies ideals on aging is done for. You were never equal in the eyes of American society when you were eighteen, or thirty-five, or maybe forty-ish. Reach fifty (that’s a broad estimate) and your status drops so far down the list of social inequality that you can barely see the top of the hole you’re buried in.

I’m focused essentially at this point on the beauty standards ascribed to women. Standards that are not mandated for men as they age I remind you. Standards that women, as purveyors of femininity, must achieve to keep their man and uphold social norms or be ostracized as deviant. Standards that have absolutely no baring on the intellectual status or ability to be female. Standards that society has crammed down the throats and into the psyches of females from Day 1. Even we can hold onto beliefs that have ruled our existence and become the way we must live to conform.

Women age and bodies change. The same things happen to men, but who cares, because men make the rules. I rant not because bodies change, but because I care how my body changes are informed by male standards of beauty, and because I cannot, as of yet, let go of my own need to live up to some of these standards. While I rant at gender ideals and sexism, I also acknowledge my own irritation with myself for caring.

Oh, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I am done though, as I can feel the physical toll of this small post on my blood pressure. I am leaving this desk and this computer for a day of adventure. Thank you all for the freedom to express myself. I can assure you that there will be more rants to come.

Feminist Friday: Feminist roots, and: guests wanted

I don’t have a specific purpose for Feminist Friday posts, other than the fact that they relate to feminism, or women’s issues in some way. My hope is to grow an audience with these posts that can discuss openly, the issues that touch everyone in our society, men included, whether those intended men want to own up to their part in the process or not.

Feminism makes many people of both sexes uncomfortable, and I think that those of us who find truth in feminist ideals as needed change agents in our society have a responsibility to question why that is. We may think we know the answers, at times we often do, but if we choose to close ourselves off to discussion then change is impossible.

On September 5th, when I introduced Feminist Friday, I talked briefly about two texts edited by Miriam Schneir. I think that it’s important to return to these texts, and the essays and lectures contained within them, on occasion.

The first text that Schneir has edited begins with feminist pioneers, or the voices of women she assigns to “old feminism” from the mid 18th century (xvi). It is challenging to me, as someone who wants to give credit to the female pioneers of feminism, and as someone who enjoys research, to strike a balance between the been-there-done-that sort of post, the concepts that unfortunately are still necessary to include and discuss, and my overall desire to keep this feature of the blog fresh. I don’t want to re-hash too much of where we came from, yet I also don’t want to simply replay news stories, magazine articles, and countless shared news feed posts from social media. Of course, we have to be heard, and I have no intention of silencing any voice that chooses to speak to feminism.

I would love to hear what you want to talk about, what concerns you in regards to feminism, rather that be the past, present or future. I have some ideas for guest bloggers who are willing to share their experiences, either positive or negative, with feminism or related issues. Those personal stories can only strengthen what feminism is about: an intersectional approach to women’s place within patriarchal boundaries. I will continue to re-blog other sites that strike me as important, but if anyone wishes to discuss being a guest blogger for Feminist Friday, please let me know in the comments.

To end this post, let’s go back to Schneir and look at a few feminist voices.

Early feminism has long been associated with suffrage, an implied idiom that has often come to mean equal rights for women, but as we know, only defines the right to vote in a political election. Schneir highlights three prominent themes associated with early feminists: marriage as oppressive to women, economic dependence of women, and selfhood for women (xvi-xviii). Does it surprise you that those themes carry over into society today?

How better to illustrate the prolonged, perhaps unending, fight we face even today than to remember Mary Wollstonecraft and The Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Socially acceptable destiny for women in 1792 was locked into the convention that women were to be kept ignorant and servile (Schneir 6). Wollstonecraft took on all three of the themes of early feminism in this publication and had the audacity to ask “…how many generations may be necessary to give vigour to the virtue and talents of the freed posterity of abject slaves” (Schneir 16).

A second feminist who stood out to me was George Sand. Schneir reveals that Sand “was born Aurore Dupin in Paris,” was married at eighteen, legally separated eight years later, and began a literary career in 1832 writing under “the pen name of George Sand” (25). Sand was noted to state that the “laws which…govern a woman’s existence in wedlock, in the family, and in society are unjust and barbarous,” and that any reform of those laws “would be “‘long and bitter…’” (Schneir 26). She got that part right I believe.

In excerpts from The Intimate Journal, Sand discusses love and relationships in 1837, a time when women were considered inferior, and men had absolute rule. In light of the many reports of domestic abuse lately, many of her comments are sadly timely and profound.

Deep in a discussion with her alter ego, Sand finds fault with the idea that women should embrace complete acceptance to subordination and she counters with these three meaningful thoughts:

“Devotion he expects as a matter of course, as his natural right, for no other reason than that he is his mother’s son. She must permit herself to be ruled, possessed, absorbed by him, for the privilege of adoring him as a god” (Schneir 33).

“Most women…are so desperate not to lose the men they love, that they will allow these men to rule their lives absolutely. Her submission, loyalty, tenderness and devotion are received by him as his due. Unless a woman treats him this way, he will not deign to put up with her at all” (Schneir 33).

“Immodest creature, [man] you do not want a woman who will accept your faults, you want one who pretends that you are faultless–one who will caress the hand that strikes her and kiss the lips that lie to her” (Schneir 33).

Work Cited

Schneir, Miriam. Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings. New York: Random House, 1994. Print.

Emma Watson, and; My opinion on gender

I finally just had the opportunity to watch all of the speech by Emma Watson given to the UN. I won’t link it here as it’s easy to find on YouTube and elsewhere.

She was articulate, passionate, and correct in my opinion. Without the help of men, without the process of gender changes and attitudes associated with maleness, women worldwide don’t stand a chance when it comes to achieving the ability to be recognized not only as equals, but as individual human beings and not just an appendage to someone owning a penis.

Attitudes and stereotypes associated with a socially constructed ideal that defines the meaning of masculine or feminine in binary terms are not only wrong, they are ludicrous. Gender is a term that relates to traits and characteristics assigned by cultural and social organizations which then create correct or expected behaviors and actions for the individual labels. Gender does not mean male or female. Gender is not biology. Gender is telling me, you, everyone who defines themselves as male or female, how they are supposed to be, and behave, according to the rules of society.

In fact, in our world today, gender is arbitrary. Gender is in flux. Gender definitions are being re-defined. Yet we still have the ideal shoved into our faces that to be a true woman, or a true man, we must behave in very specific ways.

Watson noted that gender stereotypes and expectations must be addressed from the male perspective. Men must be given permission by both cultural systems and societal systems to formulate new ways of being male. Women must also be given societal and cultural permission to behave in non-stereotypical ways. The big thing here, and I don’t think that Watson is implying that it is all up to men only to change, is that without change in masculine definition and action, women don’t stand a chance to be anything other than second, to be always just a few steps behind, to be led rather than to lead.

Watson’s speech brought to mind some of the research findings I collected in my Capstone on rape. Time after time, in article after article on male rape attitudes, studies would show clear data that many men rape because they were in a situation whereby it was expected of them. Interviews recalled stories of young adults, normal non-misogynistic guys, who in there everyday life would most likely never rape a woman. Yet in a setting (often college campus parties) where a gang rape begins, taunting to be “one of the guys” and fear of being labeled as anything less than masculine or god forbid, as gay, led these men to rape. The awesome power of masculine norms won out over common sense, human decency and personal values.

This is a social and cultural problem, not a male problem. Watson was speaking on a global level, however to change globally, we must change locally as a start.

Is it possible?

Media Monday: Sort of…

I’ve spent some time trolling the internet news feeds, as well as some local newspapers and nothing much is jumping out at me for this Media Monday. Of course I’m not implying that there isn’t anything newsworthy out there. I am saying outright though, that I don’t wish to make this Media Monday a post with negatives. I feel that if I go with commentary on the majority of articles or news lines available though, I will be presenting a post decidedly negative.
In honor of finishing my weekend getaway with nothing but fluff, because why not-we can’t always be opinionated, mindful, socially relevant bloggers- I will share a few topics of import to some from the Sunday copy of the Seattle Times Northwest Arts & Life section.

***Damn, damn, damn! I love my Chromebook but, as in the past, I just inadvertently hit some key that erased two paragraphs of writing and I have no idea how to get it back. I don’t even know what I hit. although it appears to have something to do with my right pinkie finger. What follows is an edited, and actually more succinct version so I am okay with losing my work–this time.

Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times gets kudos for 1/2 of a news page that covers the NEW FALL TV LINE UP as it relates to family viewing. While I am not a huge evening TV watcher-mostly because my sleep cycle begins at 8PM and I drag my body to bed precisely at 9PM-I know that some may care about the coordination of their reality TV schedule and these new programs.

Simply because I mentioned family viewing I must say that did care once, long ago as a child, about the fall TV schedule. The phrase breathless anticipation serves well here. I remember waiting for the new TV Guide to come out with listings of all the new shows. I admit I was more than a little obsessed, and that coordination of my personal TV schedule was important. That was until our family got a second TV and moved my dad into an unused back bedroom- the TV Room- so that sports events could continue their rightful place in the home.

Right next to the McNamara article is a quick guide, just call them synopses okay, written by Chuck Barney for the Contra Costa Times, of the fall line up.  Checking his guide may give some of us the opportunity to set our DVR’s. I admit to being intrigued by Tea Leoni as the Secretary of State in “Madam Secretary,” which actually begins tonight. I may have to watch that one. I thought I might check into “The Mysteries of Laura” starring Debra Messing, because I rather like Debra, but the reviews are less than outstanding.

As to the rest on Barney’s list, meh. Most of them come on after my bedtime anyway.

Moving on and trying to be brief.

This book review article goes specifically to my fellow blogger and outstanding academic The Dancing Professor.

WAIT! STOP! I thought this lovely lady was MIA as I haven’t seen any of her typical daily posts come across my list of followed blogs in quite a few days. Heading over to link her blog for this part of the post, I realized that somewhere along the line, I SCREWED UP & UNFOLLOWED HER!!!! Professor, I apologize, but so very glad to know that you have not mysteriously disappeared from blogging. I even had some concern regarding those feral cat comments we discussed recently. I was contemplating calling in the authorities… Rest assured that my afternoon will be spent catching up on your posts.

Resuming- Katharine Schwab, a Seattle Times staffer, includes her review of Yale professor William Deresiewicz’s newest book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. I deeply like this lines that Schwab includes from the book in her review: “…elite institutions prize ‘excellent sheep’ rather than ‘cantankerous intellectual bomb-throwers…'”

And to end, because why not throw some body-shaming, return-to-Victorian-ways into all this. Jenice Armstrong of the Philadelphia Daily News, and posted in the Times, has graciously chosen to enlighten us on “waist training.”

No more needs to be said.