Attribution

Sometimes, we search for meaning. Oftentimes, we can’t find it, or we find something we didn’t particularly want to happen upon. These past couple days I’ve seen my relatives, friends, and strangers alike balk at the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Many are sad, outraged, and confused. Why would someone choose to do this? If we knew with one hundred percent accuracy why that man did it, we would probably have a scarily similar thought process to him. It’s beyond a reasonable explanation, which is what most people feel they’re entitled to. We’re curious people, and we feel it’s our right to understand everything going on around us. But really, most of it isn’t understandable.

I don’t know how I, as a person, came into being precisely. I’m not sure if it was genetics, the environment, or a particular mix of both that made me the way I am today. I certainly don’t know why the sun exists, why the first plants appeared, or why colors are a thing. It’s just kind of there, taken for granted. Many things are confusing to me, but many things are confusing to the most intelligent of humans.

Many times people replace their confusion with a blind sense of faith in some omniscient being. An example of such a person would be my mumsy. In the wake of this awful event, my mom has turned to the Christian god. She’s taken it as an opportunity to examine her faith and speak with me about it, since she knows I’m an agnostic. To her, my agnosticism is a phase I will grow out of. And who knows, maybe it is. But her lessons leave me less than moved. The lesson she chose to give after the shooting in Connecticut was short, but spoke volumes. She said that people have been treating each other horrendously for centuries, but as long as there are some good people who try to make change for the better, it’s evidence of the existence of God. If we’re saying God created everything and watches over everyone, we can’t limit his influence only to the good people in the world. There are many good agnostics and atheists in the world, and there are many evil worshipers of some sort of god. It doesn’t make sense to attribute goodness to God and evilness to man.

I believe in free will. Good people choose to do good, and bad people choose to do bad, in the simplest of terms. And lots of us choose to do inconsequential things. I’d like to think I do a bit more good than bad, but my decisions are still very complex. I’m not entirely good, and I’m not entirely evil. How can we separate man into several different aspects and say only a part of him is attributed to God and the rest is of his own doing? People come to be the way they are through many different means, but usually they play a role in it. I don’t think it’s logical to assume that part of a human is not under their direct control and the other parts are.

It’s usually beyond our grasp when we ask why the world is this way or what’s the meaning of it all. And it’s okay for it to be. It’s quite a chore to understand the motivations of everyone and everything on the planet. I think our time is better spent trying to enjoy what we do have. Instead of wondering why there’s evil in the world, be happy that there’s good too. Even if we all die on December 21st without understanding every last bit of this planet we inhabit I think it will all be okay. It doesn’t affect our happiness now or our ability to lead productive lives.

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Saying “Vagina”

This is my last post for my class Sociology of Gender, but be warned, I will probably continue to write about gender issues, just with less frequency. Entering the class I started out being a feminist. And I must say, I am still a feminist, but a much better educated one. I’ve always aspired to be different from other women, but now I realize that I shouldn’t be trying to outshine other women, I should be supportive of them, and try to make a difference in the gendered way people socialize by just speaking up (politely, of course.) Women who do not come from the same background as me, women who have been taught that they are inferior, and women who feel they need to dumb themselves down to be attractive are not my enemy, the societal rules that told them to be that way are.

Throughout the course, I’ve come to see feminism as more of a collective than individual effort. Sure, each individual has the power to determine how they approach things. I certainly view TV and movies with a different eye, I hear what a lot of guys my age say differently, but I’m not the only one who has to be exposed to gender inequalities, it’s everyone, men too. With this mindset, I have decided to partake in the  Mizzou production of The Vagina Monologues. Yes, that ever restricted word VAGINA. I’m saying it, and I’ll probably be saying some variation of it multiple times on the stage at Jesse Hall in front of my peers and my parents. Yup, daddio will be in attendance. But the main purpose of the Vagina Monologues is to empower women, help raise awareness, and end violence against women. In our first rehearsal, Struby Struble (awesome name, right?) kept using the phrase “feminist collective” which simply meant we were all in it together, not just the women in the room or the women worldwide who participate in V-Day, the umbrella organization, but all women period. I would even venture to say that the feminist collective includes men who are feminists. It’s not about drawing a line in the sand, either around yourself or your gender. Anyone who wishes to end violence or the stigma surrounding female sexuality and abuse is a part of the effort.

If my super masculine father wants to see a show called “The Vagina Monologues” there must be hope for everyone. In the orientation video we watched during our first rehearsal, a police officer was interviewed about the play being put on in his community. He said that his job was about protecting the safety of people, so of course he was supportive of the V-Day movement. If everyone thought this way, there would be much less skepticism surrounding the idea of a feminist movement. It’s not about the fact that a bunch of women are screaming vagina at the top of their lungs, it’s that they’re free to talk about their struggles as women with fellow women and others who care and can help. The freedom of expression in the play is about ending the silence that many abused women endure. If there wasn’t such a stigma around rape, incest, or genitals, abused people all over the world would feel more comfortable talking about and reporting their attacks, which could help with finding a solution.

The words “vagina”, “cunt”, “pussy”, “clitoris”, and “twat” may be hard words for people to hear, but think about why they’re hard to hear. Words don’t become obscene overnight, people are told they’re offensive and shouldn’t be spoken. They shouldn’t be talked about or bad things will happen. When women learn that words for their genitals, their very womanhood, are offensive to the average listener, they tend to become ashamed and introverted on the subject, making it difficult to discuss sexual needs to partners, relationship abuse, rape, or incest. If women are taught it’s their fault, they’re going to start believing it.

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