So, today was pretty awesome for me. Not only was it a nice day, which is rare in Vancouver, but I got my new phone. Its an HTC and works pretty fine. I also received my new games, as well. Metal Gear Rising : Revengeance, and Fire Emblem : Awakening. Both of which are blatantly awesome in their own rights. My boyfriend came around and dropped off my late birthday present, which made my day even better! Not just because I got to see him, that’s always a treat. The gift he brought, however, was what really topped it all off. He bought me a Ball Python! His name is Simon and he’s a year old.
Here is just a sample of some of my recent photo project, CONsent, which you can read about here.
Please read and spread the word around. I got to work with some great cosplayers, photographers and fans and I really hope to continue this project if it gains enough support.
Thank you for looking!
I just want to say that as a cosplayer at cons, this is a real issue. The amount of things that get said (and mostly REQUESTED) to us is ridiculous. This deserves a signal boost.
On Facebook a couple days ago BelleChere posted basically asking people to not proposition her. Throughout the comments she noted she was married and neither one of them appreciated creepy comments made toward her. A number of people proceeded to argue with her saying that because she dressed up, it was okay.
I know a ton of people who have dealt with harassment at cons and they feel like they can’t say anything because it’s a convention. WRONG. You deserve to feel safe no matter where you are. Dressing up is not giving someone permission to say something to you or do anything to you.
This is a great project and it gets a boost from me.
I love this project and everything it stands for. I plan on participating in it in the future. Great Job!
No More Steubenvilles: How To Raise Boys to be Kind Men
What can we do to help young men respect women, recognize consent, and have healthy sexual relationships? Teach them kindness to others—and the courage to go against the crowd.
by Kim Simon
When Max was just a few months old, I sat cross-legged on the floor with him in a circle of other mothers. The facilitator for our “Mommy and Me” playgroup would throw a question out to the group, and we would each volley back an answer.
“What quality do you want to instill in your child? What personality characteristic would you most like for your son to be known for?” she asked.
One by one, the mothers answered. “Athletic”, “Good sense of humor”, “Brave”, “Smart”, “Strong”.
The answers blended together until it was my turn to speak. I looked down at the tiny human wiggling around on the blanket in front of me, his perfectly round nose, his full lips that mirrored mine. I stroked the top of his very bald head, and said with confidence: “kind”.
I want my son to grow up to be kind.
The eyes of the other mothers turned toward me. “That’s not always a word that you hear used for boys” one said. “But yes, you’re right … so I guess, me too”. At the end of the day, we wanted our tiny, fragile, helpless baby boys to grow up to be kind. Strong, resilient, athletic, funny … but above all else, kind.
Max is almost 4 years old. He knows nothing about the horrific things that young men did to a young woman on the saddest night that Steubenville, Ohio, has ever seen. He doesn’t know, but I sure do. I know that someone’s daughter was violated in the most violent way possible, by someone’s son. By many sons. The blame for that night falls squarely on the shoulders of the young men who made terrible choices, but it also falls in the laps of their parents.
Sexual assault is about power and control. But it is also about so much more. While it’s true that big scary monster men sometimes jump out of bushes to rape unsuspecting women, most rapists look like the men we see every day. Acquaintance rape (or date rape) accounts for the majority of sexual assaults among young people: in colleges, in high schools, at parties, in the cars and bedrooms that belong to the men who women trust. These men are your fraternity brothers, your athletes, your church-going friends. They are somebody’s son.
Teach your child to go toward a child who is upset, instead of walking away.
Date rape is often saturated with entitlement. It feeds off of the hero worship that grows rampant like weeds on school campuses and in locker rooms. Young men are taught to be strong, to be athletes, to be feared. Young women are taught to be meek, to be feminine, to be small. As our young people begin to sort out relationships with each other and relationships with alcohol, they encounter an endless menu of ways to hurt each other.
As a community we give our athletes free reign. Young men are filled with the heavy power of triumph, their heroism illuminated by the bright lights of a brisk Friday night football game. Young cheerleaders spend hours painting signs for them, adorning hallways with flourescent notes of encouragement. Young men are known by their football number, their last touchdown pass, their ability to get any girl they choose. Young women fill the stands with hopeful smiles, dying to be noticed.
We have created this. We have allowed this. We choose not to demand more from our young men, because we see how big they grow in the spotlight. We give them adult power, without instilling in them an adult sense of responsibility and ethics.
It is time. Now is the time to make this stop. If you are the mother of a son, you can prevent the next Steubenville. It doesn’t matter if your boy is 4 or 14 or 24. Start now.
We must teach our boys to be kind.
A toddler can learn how to use words of kindness. It’s never too early to teach empathy, compassion, and awareness. “Friend, are you OK?” “I’m sorry friend, did you get a boo-boo?” Encourage tiny boys to be aware of how others are feeling. Name what they see. “Mommy is sad right now, honey. Our friend G is sick, and I want her to feel better”.
Teach your boys that bravery can be terrifying.
Courage can be demanded of you at the most inopportune times.
Give children tasks that they can do to help someone in need. Bake cookies to take to the local firehouse. Bring dinner to a mother on bedrest. Choose a toy to share with the new child that just joined your preschool class. Teach your child to go toward a child who is upset, instead of walking away.
When I picked Max up from school the other day, his teacher remarked on how “kind” he was. He checks in on other students. He runs to them when they get hurt. At first I was embarrassed … oh how my husband will tease me for instilling my “Social Worker” traits in our son. He must be brave and tough instead. But I am so proud that he is kind. That he is a helper. That he sees the emotions of those around him. Would he have hurt for the girl in Steubenville? Would he have felt her fear, and said something? Teach your sons to tune in, name emotions for them, give them words to match their feelings.
We must teach our boys what it truly means to be brave.
Bravery doesn’t always feel good. I’ve heard it said that “Courage is being afraid, and doing it anyway”. How many of those young men in Steubenville knew in their sweet boy hearts that what was happening was wrong, but still they remained silent? They were afraid to ruin their own hard-earned reputations, afraid of what their peers would think of them. They were afraid of getting in trouble, afraid they wouldn’t know what to say. Teach your boys that bravery can be terrifying. Courage can be demanded of you at the most inopportune times. Let them know that your expectation is that they are brave enough to rise to the occasion. And show them how.
We must not shy away from telling our sons the truth about sex.
Of course this looks different in a conversation with a 4 year old than it does with a 12-year-old. In our house, we are still working on giving body parts their appropriate names. Making family rules about how we always wear clothes when people come to visit (ok, my husband and I are good on that one, but Max keeps answering the door in his underwear).
As parents, we need to worry about our sons being respectful of their sexual partners, not just about them getting someone pregnant.
As uncomfortable as it is, the conversation needs to evolve as your boy gets older. Sex feels good. Sex is overwhelming. Sex is confusing. Sex tricks you into thinking that you are receiving what you need (physical satisfaction, comfort, companionship, love, respect). Sex education is more than just giving your child condoms and reminding them about STDs. As parents, we need to worry about our sons being respectful of their sexual partners, not just about them getting someone pregnant. Our boys need to know that they will find themselves at a crossroads one night, or on multiple nights. Their body will be telling them one thing, and their partner may be telling them another. It is a young man’s responsibility to listen to his partner. Explain to your son what consent looks like (and doesn’t look like). They need to know what sex looks like. Not the Playboy magazine/online porn version, but the logistics of how it actually works. Teach them to ask their partners. Teach them to check in as they take the next step with someone. Teach them to stop if they don’t think they’re getting a clear answer.
We must give our sons the tools they need to protect themselves, and each other.
Can your teenager call you in the middle of the night, no questions asked? Can they tell you the truth, without you flipping out and getting angry? Do they trust that you are on their team, that you will sit down and talk things through with them, making a calm plan together? Role-play with your son about how to find help, who to go to for help, what numbers to call. An embarrassed, terrified bystander in Steubenville could have quietly snuck outside to call the police for help, or to text an anonymous tip, or call a parent or older sibling for advice.
Instead, at least a dozen sons were paralyzed by fear. And intoxicated. And probably overwhelmed by the sexual feelings of their own that they were experiencing … feelings that they were never given the context for.
Give your son the tools they need to understand that sexuality is a powerful thing, one that they are solely responsible for. Give them a framework for understanding that sex carries an enormous responsibility—not just to themselves, but to their partners. Does your son know what rape is? Does he know what it means? Does he know that it’s not just creepy smelly guys who hide in alleys who are responsible for rape? That it’s his peers? Discuss the ways that a woman can give consent. Pull the curtains back on the grey areas, and demand that your son learns how to protect himself and his partner.
When I found out that I was having a son, I was relieved at first. I thought I had dodged a bullet by not having a daughter whom I would have to protect from the big, scary, violent world that is still so unkind to women. This will be so much easier, I thought. But it’s not.
I am now pregnant with my second son. As a feminist and a mother, a survivor and an activist, a human and a writer, I have discovered that my job in preventing sexual assault is even bigger than it would be if I had a daughter. Because every rapist is someone’s son. We have the chance to fix that, one little boy at a time.
On the importance of Magical Girl Heroines & Weaponized Femininity:
Let me start by saying that officially speaking, Sailor Moon is older than I am. I started watching while living in Singapore while I was four, so I definitely came in around the end of Sailor Moon R and watched Sailor Moon S despite the fact that it was played in Japanese with Chinese subtitles. When I moved back to the States, Sailor Moon started being released and aired in sub and dub form and being young and happy to actually hear a language I understood with a show I already liked, I watched the dubs. They’re not the shining star of any animated dub, but I went back several times as I got older, and rewatched the series, in dubs, in subs, all 200 episodes. I changed my self-identified scout, I understood what got cut out of the show, what was censored, I went back and relived my crush on Tuxedo Mask again…and again. In terms of “formative media” Sailor Moon is probably near the top of the list. I still have the sticker book I had when I was 5/6 that has a page dedicated to these magical girls, and they’ve been with me a lot longer than almost anything else, including Harry Potter, Avatar: the Last Airbender, and most other narratives, superhero, fantasy, or otherwise.
When I got the chance last year, I showed one of my girl cousins (who was twelve) the first episode of Sailor Moon. She came back to me about a week or so later and was maybe thirty episodes into the series, bursting with excitement over everything and every one.
I stopped to think about how much that meant to me. Then I thought a little harder. One of my best friends gave me an opportunity to cosplay as Sailor Scouts, and I leapt at the chance. I accidentally stumbled across the newer series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and marathoned all twelve episodes. Then I made my best friend watch it.
Why does Mahou Shoujo stick with us? The show I loved when I was six is something I love when I’m twenty, and something my cousin who is a tween also loves. For that matter, Puella Magi is, essentially, an update of the classic Magical Girl story, with some genre subversions thrown in. What makes magical girls so important?
It clicked, today, and I think I’m stating the obvious here, when I say I didn’t get a whole hell of a lot of Female Coming of Age narratives in school, in the media, or otherwise. The word bildungsroman is practically synonymous with “story about a young boy who grows up”. It’s not that I can’t relate to those narratives - I can - it’s just that they’re not about me.
The Magical Girl genre is essentially a genre which explores the female Heroine’s arc, the female coming of age story, and the womanhood narrative with varying degrees of success or failure — but it gets explored. I’d be hard pressed to name a whole lot of series that allow women to play every single archetypal role in the heroic book the way say, Sailor Moon does. Because Usagi Tsukino is a regular girl who is sort of clumsy and a bit of a bad student, but kind and loving and sweet. She is the “regular young girl” who begins a journey into becoming a powerful woman. She might initially play at being the virginal Princess type, but let’s face it — her future child drops out of the sky, and there’s never any sort of real play at insinuating she’s a bad person because she grows up. Usagi is a Warrior, a Queen, a Mother, a Lover, a Friend, a Sister - the Heroine of the story. She saves her own boyfriend/consort’s ass regularly from the bad guys. Essentially, she’s the hero, and the story is about her.
It’s more complex than that, of course. Her weapons are pink and shiny and come in the form of compacts and wands with heart and moon shapes. She wears a sailor fuku, she’s got long flowing hair, she’s feminine, beautiful, and when she doesn’t trip first, she’s going to kick your ass in the name of the moon (and love and justice). Being a girl is her weapon. Being feminine and a woman is her weapon. Some of the other Scouts have other presentations of themselves and their genders, but that’s just it - womanhood and girlhood, and gender, and sexuality, and so on — has a spectrum. It’s all there.
Now look at Puella Magi. At only twelve episodes it packs a hard punch, and it’s so easy to claim that Kyubey represents the devil, with a contract waiting to be made to essentially use your soul to fight witches. This claim that the narrative is Faustian isn’t wholly wrong, but I’d argue it’s not all there is either.
Kyubey isn’t the devil. Kyubey is the society we live in, which takes up and preys on young girls at vulnerable times in their lives, and asks them to be perfect. Society asks girls to fight against evil, the icky, awful, and impure, and it keeps asking until we say yes. Yes to being beautiful, and perfect, and good, and pure, and sweet, yes to being a nice young lady, yes to fighting everything that is bad and evil and dangerous - to fighting the things that threaten us and our friends.
Except there’s a catch. We’re fighting ourselves. What they don’t tell you, society, or Kyubey in this metaphor, is that there is no way to prevent yourself from becoming what you started out fighting. You lose, in this scenario, every time. At some point, a young, “emotionally volatile” girl grows up and becomes a woman. One day, you hit puberty, or maybe you haven’t yet, and someone leers at you, or looks at you wrong, or calls after you and you are suddenly made aware of the fact that being a woman is dangerous. Growing up means something incredibly different for girls than it does boys.
And this is something Kyubey himself says, and the implications of it are astounding. Girls become women. Magical girls become witches. There’s no stopping it, the process happens whether you want it to or not. You grow up, sure, but there’s a reason for it. Sayaka Miki fights relentlessly against the evils she sees in the world, but she becomes obsessed with her imperfections and failures, she berates herself for falling short of her own standards, and for standards thrust upon her, and she literally can not win. The standards are always changing, they can’t be met, they’re meant to keep you fighting, but only in a certain way, only the way society wants you to. Sayaka loses her cool, she overhears some men say awful, horribly misogynistic and sexist things about their ‘girlfriends’ on a train, and she loses it. Sayaka reacts to the endless stream of hatred and misogyny set up in a patriarchal society that has been asking her to fight against women who failed to met society’s expectations and while we don’t see the results of her losing her cool on the train directly, we can all imagine that she could have beaten these men up, or she could have killed them. In the end, the result doesn’t matter. The losing her temper does.
You become a witch or a bitch the day you fight back. And even if you don’t fight back, you’re going to become a witch or a bitch eventually. That’s the unfortunate truth of growing up female — sooner or later, society will betray you. And while you might not become Walpurgisnacht, it can be as simple as a hiss in your ear, or a seething message in your inbox. You’re an emotionally out of control girl, you’re evil, you’re bad, you’re a slut, a whore, or a bitch, or hysterical, or over reacting. You become a woman in a society that hates women. And if and when you react, you get tossed straight into the bin of evil terrible things.
Puella Magi is a story about young teenager girls who, while exploring who they are as people, their sexualities, their lives, their desires, hopes, wants, wishes, and dreams — find out that society is going to see them as shitty monstrous plagues upon the world sooner or later. And you can try to stop it, or take it back, or hold out hope, or you can lose your unholy shit and hit back. You can say the idea of witches is complete and utter bullshit, and women and girls don’t deserve that fate. You can fight against it, you can be Madoka Kaname, or Usagi Tsukino and you can fight against people who prey on other girls and women for having anything special or bright about them and try to make it something terrible or wrong.
Magical Girl stories are stories about growing up and becoming a woman, and protecting other women, saving other women, following desires and dreams and wishes and then kicking the bad guys in the face with your high heeled boots. The weapon is womanhood and girlhood and your sexuality because that’s the weapon society gave you and told you you were going to hurt yourself with it. Except the thing is, you don’t have to hurt yourself. You can protect yourself, and your friends, and your ideas, and feelings, and some days, yes, you fall down on your knees and sob messily because you can’t defeat every bad guy on your own, or ever, or alone - but goddamnit you have the ability to take power in your agency and who you are. Society doesn’t OFTEN tell girls that. We don’t often get the message that who we are is okay, acceptable, powerful, or amazing, much less that it’s also okay if we don’t succeed every single time. We know the fight is a part of our lives, but survival is the minimum. Getting stories about winning beyond that is amazing.
This is why I cringe when people complain loudly that there aren’t “Magical Boy” series for them to watch. To start with, there are already several series that involve young boys transforming with magical powers and skirts/wands/sparkles/etc. There’s also an abundance of already available fantasy male heroes who start off on Hero’s journeys that describe the process of growing up and becoming a “man” in society. Magical Girls are a genre that rely on a female narrative, on becoming a woman, on relative experiences of love and sex and dreams and wishes that are influenced by the treatment of women in society. That doesn’t mean men can enjoy these stories, or relate to them, or that people who don’t fall in the binary gender spectrum can’t relate to them (on the contrary, there’s a lot of reliability in not “fitting” gender roles or expectations in the series I’ve just mentioned), it just means that this genre is built on something very specific to a narrative that is not male dominated, that isn’t a male narrative. There’s, uh, a reason why Mamoru Chiba is the major male love interest, and why PMMM features one male love interest who ends up with someone else. The ability to find WOC and QWOC in Magical girl series is also a big part of the genre, and pushes the majority of the focus on female pleasure rather than the dudes. Yes, the Male Gaze exists in much of the genre, but… Tuxedo Mask is also clearly a young girl’s dream man. So is Sailor Uranus. The crushes and loves are often more fluid than they would be elsewhere, and equally important, they’re not in the perspective of Prize/Not prize and give an active role to the women in the relationships.
Magical Girls are important to real girls because they tell us stories about ourselves and our powers, and we need them, because girls need to see themselves as heroes and saviors too.
Here’s hoping that the internet has an answer to a question that I have been wondering for years now. I acquired this piece from a woman at the Fair. She is always there, year after year, with gems and other minerals to sell. She’s been all over and has sources everywhere. I saw this piece and I had to have it. The woman had no idea what it was, and neither did the person she had gotten it from. I’ve tried looking for what it could be, but have come up with nothing. Perhaps someone out there will know.
Hearing hair-cells in adult mammals regenerated for the first time
— Potential treatment for deafness
Harvard Medical School researchers used a drug on the cochlea of deaf mice that stimulated stem cells (that were isolated from the ear) to grow new hair cells within the inner ear. The drug inhibited a signal generated by a protein called Notch and the supporting cells turned into new hair cells. The deaf mice now had improved hearing and the improvements could be traced to where the drug had been placed and the new hair cells grew.
“We’re excited about these results because they are a step forward in the biology of regeneration and prove that mammalian hair cells have the capacity to regenerate,” Dr. Edge said. “With more research, we think that regeneration of hair cells opens the door to potential therapeutic applications in deafness.”
The images are of stereocilia, the bundles of hair within the inner ear that allow for hearing.
Please READ and REBLOG this hard-hitting investigative reporting by journalist Stephanie Woodard on efforts by South Dakota to cover up sexual abuse in non-Native foster homes:http://lakota.cc/Un8TBc. Also please DONATE to the Lakota People’s Law Project to keep us moving forward!http://lakota.cc/VegliV
Enough is enough! We must stand up for our children!!
Speak Up to Save Puget Sound’s Orcas
The rare and playful orcas of the Pacific Northwest urgently need your help. A property-rights group is trying to strip away Endangered Species Act protections for the last remaining killer whales in Puget Sound. We can’t let that happen.
There are only about 86 orcas left in this population — and they continue to face the very real threat of extinction because of pollution, climate change and food shortages. This unique population feeds on fish — unlike other orcas — and their salmon food source has been severely depleted.
Despite these threats, the federal government is considering a proposal by the property-rights group Pacific Legal Foundation to remove orcas from the endangered species list.
Please use the form below to take action and protect Puget Sound’s orcas.
Click link above. Only takes a minute.
PLEASE. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. The Southern Residents are EXTRAORDINARY; they are unique and their culture and heritage so special! I have sponsored 4 of them through the Whale Museum and I have seen them swimming free.
Please, if all you signed this, think of how many more voices would be added to the effort to protect these incredible beings!
5 Posible Scenarios for Multiple Universe (a “Multiverse”)
by Clara Moskowitz
The universe we live in may not be the only one out there. In fact, our universe could be just one of an infinite number of universes making up a “multiverse.”
Though the concept may stretch credulity, there’s good physics behind it. And there’s not just one way to get to a multiverse— numerous physics theories independently point to such a conclusion. In fact, some experts think the existence of hidden universes is more likely than not.
Here are the five most plausible scientific theories suggesting we live in a multiverse:
1. Infinite Universes
Scientists can’t be sure what the shape of space-time is, but most likely, it’s flat (as opposed to spherical or even donut-shape) and stretches out infinitely. But if space-time goes on forever, then it must start repeating at some point, because there are a finite number of ways particles can be arranged in space and time…
2. Bubble Universes
In addition to the multiple universes created by infinitely extending space-time, other universes could arise from a theory called “eternal inflation.” Inflation is the notion that the universe expanded rapidly after the Big Bang, in effect inflating like a balloon…
3. Parallel Universes
Another idea that arises from string theory is the notion of “braneworlds” — parallel universes that hover just out of reach of our own…
4. Daughter Universes
The theory of quantum mechanics, which reigns over the tiny world of subatomic particles, suggests another way multiple universes might arise. Quantum mechanics describes the world in terms of probabilities, rather than definite outcomes…
5. Mathematical Universes
Scientists have debated whether mathematics is simply a useful tool for describing the universe, or whether math itself is the fundamental reality, and our observations of the universe are just imperfect perceptions of its true mathematical nature…
(read more: Live Science)
(images: T - Victor Habbick; BL - RT Wohlstadter; BR - Sandy McKenzie)