Press Pause

Stabber goes on rampage. One college freshman is dead.

Childhood friend dies of cancer following his 10 year battle.

Boyfriend of four and a half years breaks up with me.

It took everything for me to get out of bed this morning. My mind is occupied by a hundred different things on top of final exams happening. Like now. It seems as though every day brings bad news even worse than the day before. I know I should be studying for my Italian 4 exam right now but I just cannot focus on that until I get it all out.

So here it is.

In reality, I have never met Harrison Brown or his family. I had never even heard of the kid before Monday. But seeing his simple video of him singing and playing guitar circulate really got to me. This was someone’s child who was mercilessly stabbed to death for no reason. None.

Three weeks ago, one of my childhood friends released news that he had three weeks left  to live. Having fought leukemia since he was 10, his body is frail and years of fighting has worn him down. The news is still extremely painful, and even though we haven’t talked in a while, I still care very much. Tobin was one of two friends to attend my graduation party in high school that was mainly family. He was the only boy my parents let me study with outside of school. He invited me to his Halloween party every single year without fail. And they were some of my favorite high school memories. His family was known for being very funny and wholeheartedly generous. And part of me is guilty for growing further and further from him every year.

I wish we could have kept in touch. I wish our paths had crossed more often and like everyone else, I wish my time wasn’t up with him.

On a more personal level, things are starting to fall apart. My boyfriend, whom I started dating in 2012, is no longer my boyfriend. Compared to everything else going on, something like this would normally seem irrelevant. However, I take relationships very, very seriously and have only ever had long term relationships. This one was one I thought I would have forever. Especially now, during a time when I need the most emotional support, his absence is taking a huge toll on me. I lost a piece of me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

All of this combined is very heavy on my heart, and more than anything I just need a huge ‘pause’ button specifically for life. I want everything to stop. Take a break. Just for a day or two while I recollect myself. But this is the real world, and just like there is no Command Z, there is no pause button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Feelings (Blog Post 1 for GRM)

by Cassie Rodriguez

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When I first signed up for Gender, Race and Media, I was so excited and thankful that I could finally take this class. Ever since I found out freshman year that our department even offers this class, I’ve always wanted to take it. However, as a recent transfer from the school of music, I wasn’t sure if my degree plan would allow for me to take more of the fun classes until later on. Or really, until my last year here. Upon finding out that GRM would be offered during a semester where it would actually fit in my schedule, I was overjoyed. And here is why.

This class and what we learn in this class are so much more important that we can even say. Especially now, when so much tension between races and genders exist, and the social climate of our nation is undergoing massive change. It is vital for us to not only be in tune with what is happening, but to also educate ourselves on the concepts of prejudice, stereotype and framing, all of which (and much more) we have covered in this class.

 

I walked into this course already knowing what I wanted to write about for my research paper. While I have never done a research paper of this volume before, I plan on doing my best to make my paper up to par. My topic is the sexualization of Hispanic women in media and what effects they have on younger media consumers and their views on these women. This is an issue that has been on my heart for quite some time, and I feel like it really needs to be looked at in greater detail.

It all started when I was looking for what defined a Latina and what defined a Hispanic woman, and more importantly what the difference is. This was maybe two years ago or so, but that was when I discovered the horror of simply searching that one word: Latina.

Latina. It has somehow become a dirty word, a filthy image. Latina. Just hearing the word can invite dirty thoughts nowadays. The meaning has evolved from a definitive term of proud heritage and feminine strength to something almost directly pornographic and explicit. I was appalled. Who said that this was okay? When did this happen? Why is this happening?

More importantly, how does this affect young women and how they view and value themselves? I feel like this is a very important discussion to be had, and I am very excited (but also nervous) to explore this topic in further detail. I also want to look at the positive aspects, and what is being done to stop negative views of Latinas and harmful stereotypes. Honestly, there is so much to be studied, but I have never felt like anything I have studied has been this important.

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Asian Moms and their Stereotypes

Representations of Asians on YouTube and in media

by Cassandra Rodriguez

Asians moms, like all moms in general, are often caricatured and stereotyped in media, as we found out in chapter 6 of our textbook.

Moms have always been the center of most family drama and scrutiny, however, when that family happens to be Asian, the mom role takes on a whole new set of expectations and mannerisms that are otherwise foreign to non-Asian media consumers.

Tiger Mom

While there are many YouTube videos and Vines that poke fun at these stereotypes, many Asian Americans find that most of these stereotypes and exaggerations are based on a certain degree of truth– which is what makes them so entertaining.

While for non-Asians, these types of videos serve as comedic exposure to the realities of others, for Asians they serve as a way to laugh about how true these stereotypes are.

These videos above are part of a multi-video series created by the Fung Brothers about the many different things Asian parents say and do. I have watched all of these videos, and have found that Asian moms generally have the following characteristics:

  • Being very frugal with money (cheap, saves every bit of food and doesn’t use the AC)
  • Being very strict with their children in terms of academics and behaviors
  • Having high expectations for the future of their children’s (Doctor only mentality)
  • Being hypercritical of their children (physical appearance, friends, expecting perfection)

In the media, Asian women often fall under the Tiger Mom or China Doll stereotype, meaning that their characters are often either strict mothers or pretty faces, but not much else. Other times, they are given the Dragon Lady stereotype, as seen in these movie stills.

Dragon Lady

Hu_Li.jpg        ece5b5435a0b93ccf0ed2191702e7017.jpg

In movies, Asian women are hardly on the side of the protagonists. The Dragon Lady stereotype portrays Asian women as being highly skilled in martial arts, often as sexy villains who are dangerous but beautiful. Another thing to note is their general mannerisms- they are quiet, speaking little to no words, and often speaking in their native language when they do. They are cold, unfeeling, unkind and only have their own interests in mind. Hu Li from Rush Hour 2 is a great example of this stereotype. She is a spy on a mission to kill agent Carter and agent Lee, and does so by being manipulative, stealthy, and ruthless, often showcasing her mastering of martial arts.

Model Minority

Asians generally have the “model minority” label on them, as it is often portrayed in media that Asians study hard and make the best grades. Culturally, this stereotype can sound very positive, but can actually have negative effects on Asian children.

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With this model minority label, Asians can experience more pressure than other races to perform well academically and be perfect. This high expectation can cause them to question their worth if they perform less than flawlessly, and beat themselves up for underperformance in school and even in music skills or extra curricular activities. It can also result in them being disliked or outcast by their peers.

In The Proud Family, the Chang triplets are a perfect example of this stereotype. They are known as being the smartest kids in school, and are naturally gifted at everything. Penny and her friends consistently express their annoyance and dislike for the triplets. Their successes are often obnoxious and aggravating for the other kids. Sadly, as a result of this, the Chang triplets do not have any real friends, other than each other.

Asian Diversity 

Another problem in media is that Asians are often represented as a single nationality– often Chinese or Japanese. The “Asian” label lumps together dozens of different nationalities and cultures, when in fact they are all vastly different and unique from one another.

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To simply categorize all of these countries and their cultures as a single, unified culture ignores the fact that Asians come in many different colors, sizes, backgrounds and faces.

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It is important that we recognize these differences and educate ourselves on the diversity of Asian people. Asians represent a majority of the world’s population and 49+ different countries, and should not be culturally limited to a single or even a few stereotypes.

 By Cassie Rodriguez

“We want more actors of color in roles that don’t continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes.” – Gina Rodriguez

A few weeks ago, I was asked to research tweets pertaining to my topic of sexualization of Latinas in mass media. When searching #latina or just latina, many pornographic images popped up, which is truly disturbing and disappointing. This further proves that Latinas are ruthlessly oversexualized whether we like it or not.

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When searching “latina stereotype,” many tweets showed outrage and disappointment over how Latinas continue to be stereotyped in the media and how often times, these stereotypes do not represent the Latina population as a whole.

The long-standing root of all problems when it comes to the misrepresentation of Latina/Hispanic women in media comes from archetypes and stereotypes often used in media. These stereotypes are often seen in one of three forms:

  • The old maid/abuela who can’t speak english (Consuela, Family Guy, Flor, Spanglish,  etc. ) In the 1980s, the long-used black housekeeper “Beulah” stereotype began to be replaced by elderly Latinas representing domestic workers. Late actress Lupe Ontiveros estimated that she played a maid over 150 times on television and other media. (race relations.about.com)
  • The sex-crazed, submissive Coke bottle-shaped “take me now!seductress. This stereotype arguably proves most problematic due to the effects it has on the way Latina women are viewed and treated. The more we present Latinas as sex objects, the more Latina women find themselves objectified and unheard- not taken seriously as a result of the media’s idea that we are only good for one thing.
  • Spicy. Fiery. Temper, temper, temper. This stereotype enforces the idea that Latina women cannot control their anger, and have short fuses and are likely to make drastic, irrational decisions and definitely make a scene. This is very similar to the “ghetto” stereotype media and society has placed on African- American women when they are angry. I once had a friend who told me she almost felt like she “wasn’t allowed” to get angry in public without the accusation of her being ghetto. This is a feeling I started to encounter as I got older, late teens/early twenties. It sometimes feels like Latina women cannot get angry without immediately being written off as “irrational” and “crazy.” Oh, don’t take her seriously. She’s just spicy. You know how they are.

https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1082669498435175/

The main problem with these stereotypes (the second and third ones in particular) is the impact it can make on young Hispanic/Latina girls who view this media. What happens when a generation of girls are given the notion that they are expected to be sexy, perfect, submissive and dirty? This is a toxic environment that we are creating for our girls and it can really hurt them in the long run. Living with these expectations can often times lead to girls trying anything they can to speed their development, look more like adults and desperately seek acception by their peers. With this idea in mind, girls also give in to sex earlier because that is what they believe they are supposed to do. All of this inevitably will lead to the surrender of childhood, and growing up way too fast. What’s at stake is their self esteem and linking of their self-worth to their looks and more specifically, their sexiness. This means we could potentially create a generation of girls who lack self-confidence and devalue themselves if they don’t fit the mold.

http://www.wearemitu.com/mitu-voice/when-youre-a-not-so-curvy-latina/

Other Twitter reactions spoke words of encouragement to today’s Latina youth, and understood that the current model of Latina representation is potentially dangerous.

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Solution? Yes please.

One of the best ways we can avoid the broad stereotyping and negative images of Latina women in media is by creating more inclusive roles for Latinas that have a much more dynamic range. Shows like Ugly Betty with America Ferrera and Jane the Virgin with Gina Rodriguez do a great job of putting Latinas in a positive light in the sense that these characters are NOT any of the stereotypes we are so used to seeing. We need to let young Latinas know that it is okay to be awkward. It is OKAY to be weird or like reading over makeup and yes, it is okay to say no. And it is okay to get angry. You are allowed to have feelings and you should never feel the need to fit some oversexualized idea America (and the world) seems to have about women of color. Hispanic/Latin heritage is something to be celebrated and proud of, and the day we can tell our girls that they are “Latina enough” just by being themselves is the day we can start building a better, more inclusive future.

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More importantly, having positive roles in the media that are non-stereotypical opens up a world of better representation and opportunities for Latinas.

“The only thing separating women of color is opportunity.”- Viola Davis

#Latina #LatinaStereotypes #latinasinmedia

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https://renaefordays.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/too-sexy-or-not-sexy-enough/

 

Gender, Race and Media (post 1)

After searching #gender on Twitter, I was actually very surprised and impressed with the positive posts that I saw.

I was expecting there to be lots of negative posts, especially following all the backlash that has been seen in response to trans-talk becoming more acceptable. There was a post about pregnancy (as in the context of not calling women expectant mothers because it might offend trans people) and many posts about reassurance to people of all genders, races and religions that they are cared for and loved. There were also a lot of posts following the #WomensMarch that just happened, including a pretty awesome magazine cover of a black Rosie the Riveter wearing a pink hat (the New Yorker.) Other tweets included:

David Cope Retweeted Women’s March London

Great that so many from and community were .

Many posts called for the need to encourage little girls to pursue STEM based interests and make children’s programs less #gender biased. There is a definite need to make science and math more achievable for little girls, and to change the mindset that only boys can excel at math and science. Overall, I found the tweets for #gender to have a positive and hopeful tone to them.

As for #feminist, the results varied a little more.

Why these So called are born Hypocritical ??😬😬

Someone needs to teach those marchers what a real looks like 🙌❤️✊

If you’re not a you disgust me. feminist (n.) a person who believes in the social, political & economic equality of the sexes

Overall, while the tweets containing #feminist were either good, bad or ugly, across the board there was one thing in common: passion. People either really, really hate feminists and the concept of feminism or they have their heart and soul invested in the progress of women and the fight for equal rights.

Some gravely misunderstood the idea behind feminism and publicly outed them as hypocrites, saying things like “You wouldn’t be such a feminist if they decide to draft women into the army!” (I had to exclude many tweets for harsh language) Others criticized those who did not identify as a #feminist, and pressed for them to act now and join the movement.

I think a good place to start in order to clear the negative connotation of #feminist would be to neutralize the overall tone altogether. Although passion is great, it can be highly overwhelming when you get a mix of positive and negative feedback arguing over one another. Some of the posts I saw where strictly informative and educational, and I think this is a good place to start. Many times, people fear or neglect what they do not understand, and first educating the masses about what feminism truly is and then advocating for it would be a great formula to clear up misunderstandings.

Unexpected

Being in college has honestly felt like a lifetime, but also a string of quick glimpses and moments strung together by semesters. I think of the person I was two years ago, or even the person I was yesterday and I am amazed at the amount of change I witness.

I started off generally happy, rebellious, emotional and very headstrong when I came to college. As the oldest of four, it was nice to finally experience some me time to work on myself and my future. One of the biggest things that surprised me, or at least took some getting used to, was how quiet it was. I had a silent first night in my dorm, and that was the most pleasantly unexpected change I had then experienced. I also felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. Being the first to go to college, I had an example to set for my siblings. I had to show them that college is doable, and success is possible. I love my family and my siblings, and the last thing I wanted was to disappoint them.

I started off as a music major, and was beyond excited to get started on my path to becoming a music teacher. Initially wanting to study Public Relations, I had been convinced and persuaded to go into music school during my senior year of high school. Being a choir director was something I thought I would love and be good at. I auditioned for Texas State, U of H and Baylor, and got accepted to all of them. Not expecting to get into Baylor’s Music School, and definitely not expecting to pick Baylor, I weighed my odds and found that Baylor would be worth the price and would pay off in the long run. I got so many scholarships, and hoped that this would help with the financial strain that I knew college would have on my parents.

When I started my freshman year at Baylor, I was so happy for the first week or so. I was excited, there was adrenaline, joy, and the new taste of freedom. It wasn’t until my third or fourth week of school that things changed. Its alright, I thought, college isn’t easy, and isn’t meant to be. So I kept working hard. But looking back, I know I wasn’t meant to be doing the work I was doing. Theory was hard. Piano was impossible. I was at ’16’ hours when I was really at 21. As a freshman. I was barely sleeping, was eating horrible food at horrible times of the day (and night), and I had very few friends. I was generally in a bad mood from being so sleep deprived and stressed out. I was fighting with my mother almost weekly. I began to think, I should not be hating college this much. It should not be THIS impossible. I should not be stressing out over something as dumb as the way I stand when I sing, and how my voice teacher was all over me for the most redundant things. Then I thought about taking the same sort of classes I was taking for the next three years, and it literally made me cry. Also, being a teacher was not going to provide me with the income I needed to pay off my student loans. Thats when I knew I needed to change majors.

This was probably the worst part about freshman year. This transitionary period that occurred about halfway through the semester, when midterms were in full swing, I got the flu worse than I ever had before, and developed a cyst right below my stomach. I had called my mom and told her I wanted to switch majors, and she absolutely freaked out. She stole all of my money out of my bank account, money I had worked for and saved up for two years as a waitress at Outback Steakhouse. I was sick, penniless, alone, tired, and cannot remember a time when I was more stressed. I thought about suicide a few times, because to me that was better than being the disappointment I was becoming, along with being friendless and having no source of happiness left. I hated singing, when I used to love it so much. I hated people, and envied their happiness and how easy others had it when I once thrived off of being around others and loved company. I was at the lowest point in my life.

I had agreed to go to Christmas on 5th with my roommates when December came around. I passed all the tables with their merchandise, when I passed a group of familiar faces and a girl looked directly at me.’Hey Cassandra,’ she said. I felt nervous, but also bad because I hadn’t remembered her name. It was one of the sororities I had met at Late Night, a small group of girls called Kappa Delta Chi. I remember being completely shocked that she remembered my name, when she must have talked to a hundred other girls that night. I said hi back, and she invited me to come to some of their rush events. Rushing a sorority wasn’t exactly on the agenda, but I thought, at this point I really have nothing else, so its worth looking into.

I began hanging out with these girls, Vanessa, Brenda and Yvette, by doing things like painting picture frames, eating Chick Fil A together, and talking about Hispanic culture and its presence (or lack of presence) at Baylor. I had never been around girls that just… got me during my time at Baylor until I met them. As I got to know them better, I got to know their hearts, which were kind, loving, and so generous. I look back and I thank God that these girls where placed in my life when they were. It was also during this time, second semester of my freshman year, that I had finally changed my major to Public Relations and was doing better than ever in my classes. I had professors whom I loved, and who wanted to help me succeed, and I was so much happier. I loved what I was learning, was set on what I was doing, and had no doubt in my mind that this was where I was meant to be.

Although they’ve all graduated now, and I’m not really involved in KDChi anymore, I still cherish their love and friendship as one of the best things I had in college. Crossing as part of four girls entering the sorority, one ended up transferring and another went inactive. So it was up to me and the fourth girl I crossed with to revive the organization during my sophomore year. Vanessa was a senior in nursing school, which is in Dallas. We did the best we could and in the end, I took on way more than I could, and my grades suffered the consequences. I decided that while I do want the sisterhood and the experience, the task of reviving an organization was much too large for one person, or even two. And I’m in college to get my degree, to do well in school so I have a higher GPA and the chance at a better job. Although it was very, very hard to do,  I knew that walking away was the best thing I could do. I love every single one of those girls so much, but I needed to do this for me, and rethink my priorities. Or else I’d become just another dropout, and just another statistic of a girl who couldn’t cut it.

The next semester, now my second semester of sophomore year, I absolutely thrived. I put all my focus on school, and work, and even started training for the Bearathon 5k.  I felt better, was prouder of my grades, and actually ended up making the Dean’s List. I had saved my scholarships, and my chance to continue my education. Everything was on the line, and the stress that came with that was drastic, but I told myself that I was bigger than that, and I would do everything it takes, give everything I had in me to save my education. And I did. It wasn’t easy, but I had never fought harder than I did that semester for my education. I also started attending church, and exploring my curiosity about God and what God means, as well as faith and religion. I was so intrigued, so overtaken that I had to learn more. I met with the priest, Father Daniel, and arranged to begin RCIA courses in the fall. I couldn’t be more excited. I was working out, running, studying, going to church, and doing everything that made me happy.

The following semester I started my junior year. Over and over again I looked at my course sequence to make sure I was on track. So far, its been foolproof, and all the summer school I take helps a lot. I actually decided to attempt studying abroad in Italy, something I never, ever in my entire life imagined myself doing. So far, I have applied to 12-13 different study abroad scholarships. I really want this to happen, and have done everything in my power to do it. I participated in a pageant that got cancelled, but also made some amazing new friends from being a part of it. I go to RCIA every week, and Bible study whenever I can.

I have definitely felt God’s presence in my life stronger than I ever have before, but that does not mean everything is perfect. I experienced very drastic changes in my living situations, but quite honestly, they were for the better. I am so much happier now.

I am so lucky to have been brought up by parents who believe in hard work, discipline, and high expectations. I am so lucky that they instilled this work ethic in me, and I want to do every single thing I can to make them proud.

 

Cheers to Good Health

Striving towards good health is something most people make a goal out of. Whether it be trying to gain muscle mass, get leaner, lose weight/inches/body mass, improve speed and flexibility, or just to feel better, health is one of the most important things we obsess over in Western culture.

I am the same way. Although you wouldn’t tell at first sight, I love how it feels to be sore. I love knowing that even though I run slower and that I am bigger than everyone else, I’m still getting out and running or doing yoga/pilates. These are things I like to do. It makes me happy and distracts me from everything going on inside of my body.

I am 20 years old. I am 5’3. The last time I weighed myself I was 223 pounds. I suffer from hormonal imbalance, GAD, a severe iron deficiency that has lead to pagophagia, and a thyroid disorder.

No, I am not trying to make up excuses for being overweight. I have struggled with my size since I was about 8 years old, and continue to struggle as an adult. I have worked as hard as I can on weight control in the past with little to no success, and am trying again. There is one exception to this- I do have one success story. My junior year of high school, I succeeded in losing 31 pounds in the course of three months. I was obsessed with calorie counting, working out twice a day, and looking good for my boyfriend. Somehow I wish I could go back to that time, when my first priority was shedding pounds, whereas now my priority is making the best grades I can at my private Baptist university.

I take Levithyroxin for my thyroid disorder, Metformin for other reasons, and normal birth control. Although I have put off being screened for medicine to help with GAD, part of me just doesn’t want to add more pills to the pile. I also want to avoid putting more of a financial burden on my parents. Counseling is something I have wanted but have never truly considered due to the fact that I don’t want to waste my parents money on more health problems of mine. However, my school clinic does offer a few free sessions, and I’ve been meaning to swing by. With my schedule of an 18 hour course load and a work schedule, it has been difficult.

GAD- General Anxiety Disorder- is more than just the pacing back and forth picture most people have in their heads. Many symptoms of GAD include excessive worry, sleeping problems, irrational fears, muscle tension, chronic indigestion, panic, self-consciousness, disturbing flashbacks, perfectionism, compulsive behavior, and self-doubt. All of which I experience on the daily. I’ve been conditioned by my family to believe that mental illness doesn’t exist, and that the biggest solution to these problems would be to “get over it.” For a while I agreed with them, until it began to affect my relationships with other people, as well as my emotional stability in the past few years. My heartbeat freaks out when my phone rings. I get freaked out when people walk too close beside me or behind me when I go to class. I can’t stand people looking at me, yet I love people. I doubt myself in every single thing I do, and I am constantly worrying about something. There is just so much to be worried about. My grades, my scholarships, how I am going to pay for my next tuition bill, whether or not I’ll find a good job, what people think about me, if things are okay between me and Mom, the list goes on.

I think the worst thing about it is being self-conscious, which coincides with my weight problems. When I workout, I refuse to go when the sun is out, or go where people can see me. I go at around 11pm-12am, or sometimes a little earlier. I run to a secluded spot where no one can watch with judging eyes. I avoid the campus gym at all costs so that I won’t have to run alongside 95 pound girls and be judged by every guy thinking, “what’s this fat girl doing here? New Year’s resolution much? She won’t be here long. Look at how much she jiggles while she runs. Gross.”

I once had a close guy friend of mine tell me that he would never date me because I don’t “take care of myself.” He meant this in referral to my size. This is something that has always stuck with me because, honestly, you can’t tell how well someone takes care of themselves just by looking at their size. I could workout seven nights a week and I will still look exactly the same, and people will look at me and assume that I do not “take care of myself.” I think that’s the worst part. You can bust your ass night after night trying to take care of your body and improve your health but if you don’t look like a model, no one will see you as anything other than fat. Needless to say, I am no longer friends with him.

I am not posting this to complain. I am writing this because it is only fair that I share my story and explain why it is more difficult for me to lose weight, and what makes it more difficult. I am still trying. I am still getting better. Good health comes in all shapes and sizes. I think once more people realize this, less people like me will feel the need to workout in the dark.