Viola Davis: ‘Diversity Is Not a Trending Topic’

The ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ actress speaks out on diversity

Source: Viola Davis: ‘Diversity Is Not a Trending Topic’

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Reflections on Call the midwife!

So or anyone who hasn’t seen it, the first episode of Call the Midwife (I haven’t caught up on the other one yet!) was fairly emotional in my opinion and highlighted some points about disability, how it was, and is, viewed and equality.

Major spoiler alert!!

In this episode a baby was born, healthy and well and beautiful, with just hands and feet but missing arms and legs. This was actually linked to complications caused by thalidomide taken by pregnant women in the 50’s and 60’s I think.

My main reflection was that, on the one hand I couldn’t believe and felt quite emotional about the fathers (and even midwives) reactions. How negative they were! And on the other hand it then made me think about how far we’ve come but how we still have to go. I think that many people still, on seeing children and grown adults with deformities, would be shocked and see it as negative thing. Whether they feel sorry for them, are disgusted or just think that their life must be very restricted.

This reminded me of the social and medical models of disability that we looked at on my degree. Basically the social model is that we should look at disability completely differently, that actually the way society is structured actually makes it harder and more restricting for those people, not their ‘disability’ itself. If more people had this view that it is society that makes it hard, our opinions, our buildings, our routines, then it might create a more positive outlook on people who are basically just a bit different!

Back to Call the Midwife more… They then collected old clothes for the baby that they adapted to make them fit the baby better. But the mother said that because they were old clothes, that people were going to through away, it wasn’t good enough! Meaning that there were no new clothes you could buy for those children. This links to the social model again! If we had made new clothes and sold them in shops to fit the baby then the baby wouldn’t have to fit into the old clothes and it might make the deformity more accepted.

In the story line it was the mothers natural, normal bond and love for the baby that really kept the family and positive outlook going. And that just shows how the baby was the same as any other!

This also reminded me of my own mums story of when my sister was born. My sister, sadly passed away 12 years ago from a brain tumour, had Downs Syndrome. She would have been born about 27 years ago but when she was born because of the Downs, the midwife said to my mum ‘you can have the weekend to think about if you want to keep her!’ This I feel was absolutely outrageous and mum did too. But my main concern was that was ONLY 27 years ago and yes even though it was a while ago it some respects, it really wasn’t in terms of history. This, linked with many other stories you hear today about inequality, makes me think we’ve come on fairly far but have so far to go still!!

Italy Braces for ‘Family Day’ Protest Against Gay Unions

Ahead of the country’s upcoming vote on civil union rights

I suppose as being a young person I still find it hard to believe that in some countries equal rights are not in place. Or perhaps in all countries some aspects on equality are still not achieved! This is relating to ethnicity, gender and disability as well as gay rights.
I also find it interesting that, quote: ‘Civil unions have been on the Italian government’s agenda in some form or another since 1988, but this is the first time a law has a real chance of being approved.’ Why is that? Because the rest of Europe is accepting that it is wrong not for everyone to have equal rights? This is a positive in some respects because it shows how if some people, countries, lead the way others will follow by example?
Also they explained how they cannot go to the EU debating some topics when they have such a burden in their own country. So is the acceptance of civil unions just useful for their own politics??

 

Source: Italy Braces for ‘Family Day’ Protest Against Gay Unions

The Danish Girl!

On Friday my friend Jess and I went to watch The Danish Girl on the cinema.

Ill try not to give any spoilers but this is based on a true story so if you know any history on the subject you might know already.

The real impact of this film on me comes from the fact that it is a true story! And it makes me sort of inspired by someone’s courage, in a time where something is unheard of, to go against the norms and do something that makes you happy! I feel this is what this film reflects overal, do what makes you happy no matter what!

I cant say however that I loved this film throughout. In some places me and Jess agreed it was uncomfortable to watch, – watching someone’s exploration of their gender, body and sexuality! Of course because it is very personal. However on reflection the fact that it made me feel uncomfortable shows how good the film is! Because we feel uncomfortable when we are forced to think about things that are (arguably) still a taboo subject and about something I don’t actually understand! This however is what I feel people should do on a daly basis! (Not in relation to gender and sexuality!! Just everyday things and also our judgements and prejudices.) I learnt a lot from my degree to challenge what people think, the assumptions they make. This could be like not bothering to vote, sighing impatiently at a crying baby and a mother, or assuming women should only work in nurseries (trust many people still think that) or automatically sitting next to a white women and not a mixed race man. To point out a few things that still happen in society according to surveys and social experiments. That’s why if we talk about it and challenge (in a relaxed sense) and make people feel slightly uncomfortable it can help to cause change in societal norms/assumptions.

I cant pretend that I can even begin to offer empathy and understanding to someone who feels that they are the wrong sex. In this case the man felt he was actually a straight woman in a mans body. Which is an odd concept for me to understand how that would feel and why. But my respect for Lilly is very high and I think her story is amazing.

However we are now in 2016 and I know that in the 1920s they did not think Lilly was amazing. Therefore I did feel sympathetic when thinking how difficult it would be to be different back then. It’s hard enough now I would imagine but at least we have improved from putting people in straight jackets just for being transgender!!!

On another note myself and Jess actually felt just as, if not more sorry for his wife. She must have felt like she lost her husband. That essentially the man she knew had died. Yet not. It is such a different unusual situation I cannot begin to understand how it feels. However our empathy was higher for her as I think everyone can understand what it feels like to loose someone. Yet my sympathy and empathy for her husband in his time of confusion and frustration was quite little. Is that wrong? Does that make me narrow minded? Prejudice? Or just shows my own confusion at trying to understand someone’s feelings?

I think the latter. And the fact that I am reflecting on how the film made me feel is a positive thing – challenging and reflecting on my thinking.

On considering the word transgender does this just encourage more gender stereotyping? By saying someone is dressing as their opposite gender is encouraging the fixed perspective that genders have certain dress codes, colours and mannerisms? Yet do we need gender differentiation? If we didn’t have any would it be boring as such? I can’t say I think I would be attracted to a man that dresses as a woman! But is that bad to say?! But if I had been brought up with no gender exposure would I be bothered?

I really don’t know the answers but it’s interesting to ponder! Gender is an interesting subject. Let me know what you think too!

 

 

 

Alternate Visions: Some Musings on Diversity in SF

‘If speculative fiction is about dealing with otherness, with difference, then these voices should be an integral and essential part of the body of speculative fiction, not pushed to the margins.’

Antariksh Yatra

I was recently in the remote Alaskan town of Barrow for an academic project.  Barrow is profoundly different from any place I have been: at 71.3 N latitude, it perches at the edge of the Arctic Ocean.  During April, when I visited, the ocean is frozen as far as you can see.  The tundra is white and flat, and there is no vegetation.  Most of the people who live there are Inupiat Eskimos.  It is as far removed as you can imagine from Delhi, where I grew up, or for that matter, Boston, near which city I now reside.

I was wandering through the bright hallways of Ilisagvik college in Barrow, looking for someone with whom I hoped to speak, when I found an efficient young administrative assistant.  She assured me she would find the person I was seeking, and took my name down.  As is usual in…

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On Professionalism and Good Intentions: More on Education and Journalism

radical eyes for equity

While journalist Nichole Dobo has not corresponded with me since I posted Dear Journalists Covering Education, Let Me Explain, Dobo has posted a Tweet I believe deserves additional consideration:

Dobo’s insistence that her professionalism be respected (which I support fully) raises a key aspect of my concern for how journalists tend to cover education.

Like Dobo, Stephen Sawchuk, a top education journalist for Education Week, bristled at being criticized for education coverage, characterizing the challenges as “pretty offensive.”

Here, then, I am being sincere when I ask: How is the constant and unwarranted drumbeat about “bad teachers,” “failing schools,” and “education crisis” treating educators as professionals? How is the overwhelming lack of seeking teachers and educators as sources in education journalism treating…

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Pondering about New Years Resolutions

Just a quick ponder today – New Years Resolutions!

I was watching/catching up on Downton Abbeys Christmas day finale today. Without giving any spoilers to those of you who may have not caught up on it yet, they sing Auld Lang Syne at the end.

That song for some reason makes me feel so excited and almost emotional! I’m really not sure why! Yes so the thought of a new year ahead is exciting but literally the next day it is all forgotten. Much like any thoughts of new years resolutions I have!  (If interested  my IDEAS for resolutions were to write a blog (hurrah!), to do more running and enter some more events, to compete in more events with my horse and to eat 5 fruit and veg a day!)

However these ideas just get put to the back of my mind when the real life day to day stuff starts happening! Therefore I was pondering over the best way to keep resolutions… (as many blogs/sites have I know.)

But I have decided to use the excitement of singing Auld Lang Syne, all year round! Why not! To keep myself motivated and excited about new things and ambitions I will simply try to view everyday like it is the 1st of January, at 12.02am!!

If this means singing Auld Lang Syne at random times, then even better!

On another thought is this idea of maintaining excitement and ambition with resolutions just another resolution that will get forgotten…. Do we also have to make resolutions on how to keep resolutions!!  Or am i just going round in circles and being daft?

 

Pondering about Equality, Gender and Tradition

So last week me and my boyfriend, Tom, went to London to do a bit of sight-seeing, shopping and catching up with friends we met this summer in America. We went to the science museum and got really nerdy, we went to Covent garden and got tipsy listening to singers, we went to Buckingham Palace to show our USA friends and got all patriotic and wondered around numerous streets and shops in lovely areas of London and got quite poor…

On the first night in our Premier Inn hotel (in Slough because it was cheaper to stay there and get the train in than stay in London of course!), we had a nice dinner. We pigged out on a sharing platter to start (such a good option!) and then I had pizza and Tom had a burger.

Fairly quickly I noticed how the waiter was constantly asking ‘Sir’ if he would like drinks, if he has decided on food, if the meal was ok and if we want the bill. When the bill arrived he also gave it to ‘Sir’ and smiled at Tom and walked away. I then gave Tom cash for my half of the meal and then Tom paid on his card for the whole amount. We generally take it in turns to pay for things or we pay half, I like it that way as I wouldn’t like to feel I wasn’t paying for things. (Or vice versa?)

Tom had also noticed that the waiter, and also the guy checking us in had only addressed Tom when asking if we had everything we need etc. I feel that Tom noticed it as perhaps not being quite right but wasn’t sure what to make of it. And I was the same.

I would generally regard myself as highly valuing equality especially after such issues have been highlighted to me during my degree. However in this circumstance I wasn’t sure how to feel. On the one hand after deeper thought (not involving Tom as to not bore him with my random pondering) I did feel disregarded and did think it was rude and in the 21st century you cannot just address the man and assume the man is paying. It made me think where does this come from – tradition? And how can it still be like this in the 21st century when men and women are meant to be equal? However on the other hand I thought to myself, ‘well I do like it when Tom treats me, I did like it a bit when he used to try to pay when we were going on first dates’ but does that mean I am forgetting my values of equality? Does tradition ignore equality or can we have both? I’m not sure; I don’t have an answer so I am still pondering!!

In the mean time I would like to recommend some places in London! I’m not a ‘pro’ when it comes to London we just discovered some places whilst wondering around so thought I would share!

The first recommendation is to go to the History and Science museums and the numerous art galleries in London! This is a bit of a general recommendation but most is free and if you want to explore for a couple of hours they are perfect!

Whittard, Covent Garden – This is such a cute little shop, they sell a variety of tea, coffee and hot chocolate and also have daily tasting for all three! I tried a lovely fruit tea and if you are in tea varieties or life a freebee to try new things you should definitely pop in here!

Freemasons Arms Shepards Neame, Near Covent Garden – We went in this pub for a drink and sit down before getting the train back to Slough. It had a good busy atmosphere everyone seems to go in there after work and if you’re into sport they have numerous TV screens showing sports. They had a good range of beer and cider and was just a nice little pub with a good atmosphere.

Orsini Vintage, High street Kensington – So this is my step sisters shop just off of Kensington High Street which I of course had to give a mention! She stocks, what I describe as, an Aladdins Cave of vintage designer clothes, hand bags and jewellery. I have absolutely loved exploring her shops for goodies, and names such as Valentino and Gucci.

Hello World!

My aim with this blog is to basically write in a journal format, commenting and speculating on different aspects of life. I will write about issues in society that I notice day to day. I can’t help noticing more serious issues such as those relating to feminism and equality now after doing a degree with Plymouth University. Writing about my experiences in a blog means that I don’t have to bore my boyfriend, family and friends when I want to question, rant or just simply ponder about something. But I’m not writing in a heavy, serious way, I’m keeping it relatable and almost humorous… (If those subjects can be funny? Arguably not?)  I also want to include many other subjects such as friendship, work, food because it is a big passion of mine being a food lover and coming from a farming background, as well as places to visit, to stay and things in life to enjoy. If you’ve got this far down in the introduction that makes me very happy and I hope you will read some more of my blog!!