Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Grey's Anatomy makes me Emo

I'm pretty sure shows like Grey's Anatomy have legitamised a  type of Emo-discourse (if you will). Take, for example, some pretty typical Grey's quotes;

"Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we're wired that way. Because without it, I don't know; maybe we just wouldn't feel real. What's that saying? Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop.”

"Sometimes reality has a way of sneaking up and biting us in the ass. And when the dam bursts, all you can do is swim. The world of pretend is a cage, not a cocoon. We can only lie to ourselves for so long. We are tired, we are scared, denying it doesn't change the truth. Sooner or later we have to put aside our denial and face the world. Head on, guns blazing. De Nile. It's not just a river in Egypt, it's a freakin' ocean. So how do you keep from drowning in it"

"Pain, you just have to ride it out, hope it goes away on its own, hope the wound that caused it heals. There are no solutions, no easy answers, you just breath deep and wait for it to subside. Most of the time pain can be managed but sometimes the pain gets you where you least expect it. Hits way below the belt and doesn't let up. Pain, you just have to fight through, because the truth is you can't outrun it and life always makes more."

I hardly ever watch Grey's because I can't stand its emo/fluffy/narcissistic crap, but tonight it was on and I watched it. Hearing these types of  quotes again, reminded me that sometimes I am emotional, and I feel it is my right as a woman to wail and cry and throw things and be confusing and unfair to my hubby. 

In our current society I think we have legitimised this kind of behaviour, which has been reinforced by shows like Grey's and other American shows like it. I think this kind of 'woe-is-me' attitude encourages self examination (too much?), self indulgence, and narcissism.

Of course we are human, and we experience emotions and so on, but what I am trying to say (not very well I think,) is that this type of behvaiour (which is often portrayed in movies, tv etc), can shape the way we express ourselves, in an over the top, dramatic way, and can make us very indulgent and inward looking. It is ok to only focus on yourself, make a mountain out of a molehill, expect people to read your mind etc. 

Maybe you disagree, but that's the vibe I'm getting from this type of show at the moment. If you don't agree I might have to go and sob into my coffee and wail about how the world doesn't understand me *sob sob.* But then again, maybe I "just like the pain. Maybe we're wired that way. Because without it, I don't know; maybe we just wouldn't feel real."

Thursday, 14 July 2011

We are beneficiaries too

This post got me thinking about New Zealand, and how often people speak out against those 'tax bludgers,' those who take our hard earned money to sit on their bums, and do nothing all day.

But who are the real beneficiaries in New Zealand? I believe we all are.
In my lifetime so far, here are some examples of the assistance I have received (bludged?) from the government/state;

-Student Allowance
-Interest free student loan
-$300 for emergency dental care
-Annual $500 off my taxes (independent earner refund I think it is.)
-33% rebate on all my charitable donations, annually
- $1-2,000 scholarship from MoE
-Kiwi saver contributions

In the future I would expect to get
-Paid maternity leave
-Working for famalies tax credits

The point I am trying to make here, is that all of us (I assume) have been assisted by the government at some point, in a financial way. But these kinds of 'hidden' help are not as obvious as receiving a benefit, which has a huge social stigma in this country.

Another issue about perception of  beneficiaries is that they are a homogeneous group. I'm sure you all know the stereotype - someone who has never worked a day in their lives, smoking weed, drinking alcohol, ignoring their kids, sitting watching TV all day, evil-ly counting their dollars and vowing never to work when its this easy to get free money.

I truly believe this is the picture many people have in their heads of a benificary when they complain about their 'hard earned money' supporting those people. As with any stereotype, perhaps a few people are like that. However this minority is extrapliated out to encompass all people on a benefit, in many peoples minds.

Having done a bit of work in WINZ offices and the like, from what I see this isn't the case at all. People are struggling to survive on their benefit (which I believe usually comes to about $300 a week), going into debt, people are despondent and wanting to get jobs, and not liking being a beneficiary.

Some people think others should just get a job. But its not that easy - getting a job requires having a marketable skill, experience, confidence in an interview, correct dressing in an interview, and specific social skills. These things can be hard to learn when you are not immersed in that environment. Not to mention many other barriers/discrimination, and it can be very hard to get a job.

And not having a job is like another layer of stigma on top of the benefit stigma. It has been proven that having a job can have so many benefits in peoples lives (beyond monetary) such as pride, social inclusion, ability to be involved in 'leisure' activities and so on. People without jobs miss out on much of these types of social capital and inclusion.

Anyway, my main point here is that people need to re-think how they judge people on benefits, look beyond the stereotype, have compassion, and realise that they too have probably been a beneficiary more than once in their lives.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Why should Maori have special rights?

Love this comment from a blog today, it articulates what I never quite could    

"Why should Maori have "special rights"? Quite simply, Maori are the minority in NZ but by far the majority in every negative stat- crime, violence, substance abuse, poverty, child abuse, unemployment- the list goes on.

We (Pakeha) in general, demand that Maori take equal citizenship in NZ. We demand that they work, we demand that they live more productive lives, we demand that they stop causing problems, we demand that they integrate better and we demand that they be more like "us" but at the same time, we resent them for any programs and policies that are designed to lift them up, we resent them for telling us want they need, we distrust them, we belittle them and we treat them differently. We assume they are all lazy and dishonest, we assume they all drink and beat their children, we resent them for having a seperate and unique culture yet we take from their culture when it suits us and we generally think of them as we do naughty children.

Until we (Pakeha) wake up and realise that we are the problem, then Maori will never rise to their potential and join us at the table. How can they when we constantly sit on their backs? Until we (Pakeha) realise that nationhood is a two way street and that we have as much of an obligation to change the way we think about Maori as much as we demand that Maori change themselves, then Maori in general will never see themselves as more than a reflection of our prejudices."

P.S Mr Ansell, you make me sick

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The White Saviour in Movies

There are lots and lots (and lots and lots), of movies out there that use a common theme - a white wo/man helps the native (backward) people/person, and saves them from a terrible situation. S/he becomes a white saviour - its a common colonial theme, which can be very subtle. Think Avatar, The Secret Life of Bees, Blood Diamond, The Blind Side, Out of Africa, District 9 and so on.

Here is a video that shows the common themes these movies share - meeting the native people, realising that they need White peoples help, a white saviour rescuing them, and the natives gratitude at being saved.

 I think this theme is used a lot in movies, even as sub-themes, that are so subtle we are often not aware of it. I'm trying to think of a movie that reverses this theme - natives realising that White people are doomed and need their help, saving the white people, and showing the White people that their native ways are superior. I can't think of any. I am however, by no means a movie buff, so there may be some out there...?

Monday, 4 July 2011

Rules for being a Man

Hey guys. Listen up. You may have noticed some products made specifically for you recently. Think Beer (ok that's an old one,), Man-trol, Yoghurt and Bread. Now you might mistakenly think you can drive like a woman, and eat women's food, but you would be sadly mistaken. If a 'man-version' of a product is available, you must consume it, or eek, you might actually be a woman.

Helpfully these man-only products give you strict rules to follow to be a man. If you haven't figured it out, don't worry I'll make it clear for you men.
Men - don't drink trim coffee.Don't blow dry your hair. Don't have a man-bag. Don't cry. And don't eat yoghurt unless its man-yoghurt, cos yoghurt is only for women.
Oh wait. My husband has done all of the above things. Did I mistakenly marry someone who is not a real man?

Ok, enough of the sarcasm. And I realise that these adverts might be tongue-in-cheek. But just because something is *obvious* in its wink wink nudge nudge capacity, doesn't mean its not sexist.

Each ad seeks to normalise ideals about masculinity (and in turn what females are not) that are damaging for men and women. Once again, by gender alone, men and women are boxed into social conventions that are harmful, not to mention random (men can't eat yoghurt??). It creates and perpetrates false stereotypes and tropes in order to make a market for a new product. (This is done all the time, not just in these examples.)

I'm hoping to look into more depth soon about the ways media portrays the sexes/genders. I've recently been wondering if these common stereotypical portrayals of men and women began somewhere (perhaps close to something real,) but now these stereotypes have become the informants to new generations of how to act and live our lives. Instead of society informing the media, is the media now telling us what is real, normal and accepted?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Dear Chris Cairns

Dear Chris Cairns

I write to you in regards to the story about you, your wife and (deaf) baby daughter in Women's Day, July 4 2011.

First of all, I think its great that you have told your story, and are positive about your daughter's future. I am glad that you don't see deafness as a barrier and are not 'self-pitying, angry or dissappointed' as the author seems to assume you should have been. I'm sure it was a shock for you, although with your Dad being deaf, I think you would have been more accepting and prepared than the average Joe Bloggs.

I have a few things I would like to ask you though. You mention that if Isabel had been born 25 years ago, you would have used sign language, but because she was born in more modern times, you will take advantage of the great technology on offer (cochlear implant.) I would like to suggest to you that sign language is not old fashioned, in fact many more younger Deaf people use Sign Language happily and openly, than those of much older generations (in my experience,) who have been taught that sign language is shameful. In fact, New Zealand Sign Language is one of our countries official languages, and as such is now an accepted language of which many people choose as their first language. In the last census 28,000 New Zealanders identified as knowing some New Zealand Sign Language.

I say this to you not to condemn you. but to educate you. You mention that you had help from lots of professionals and met lots of families in the same position. Did you meet any families with Deaf children who use Sign Language? Or any Deaf people themselves to tell you what Deaf life is like? I accept your decision for a cochlear implant - you are the parents and I'm sure you're doing what you think is best for your child. However I want you to know, this is not the only way. There is a whole other world out there, with a rich language, vibrant people, who are proud and lead fulfilling lives. You could encourage Isabel to learn English and Sign Language, and let her choose her own way as she becomes older. Many hard of hearing people discover the Deaf world later in life and feel they have finally found a place they can fit in. If you give this option to Isabel early, let her see great role models, then she might have a more fulfilling life.

Thanks for listening to me


Jenn Gilbert

P.S not all my posts will be about Deaf things! These are just a few things that have caught my attention recently
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...