Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Dockers has a new "man-ifesto" ad campaign.
Seriously?? *rolls eyes* This is a whole new level of offensiveness in advertising...what is this 1955?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Smile !!!... or Get a Metal Spike to the Head !

Yep….this is a real thing. Lauren McCarthy, an MIT grad, invented the Happiness Hat which when worn will cause a little metal spike to poke you in the head if you stop smiling. The hat is designed with a sensor that detects movement in your face, so when you frown the sensor will trigger the spike and cause you to immediately smile to avoid the painful jab.

After reading more about McCarthy and her invention, I see the logic behind creating the hat. McCarthy got the idea after reading a study that found that people who were forced to smile found reading material to be funnier than people who were forced to frown while reading the same material. McCarthy’s hope is that seeing someone smile will trigger mirror neurons in your own brain, causing you to unconsciously smile yourself.

McCarthy acknowledges that right now it’s more of an art project than an everyday use accessory. But she is working on it, and plans to refine the hat by measuring how much a person smiles in a day and modifying the hat to prick you if you don’t smile for long periods of time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Feminist Film Fail?

Last night some friends and I decided to watch the movie “Jennifer’s Body,” starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. We weren’t sure what to expect, as we had heard mixed reviews. Though, we were interested in investigating the claim that the movie is feminist.

“Jennifer’s Body” is written by feminist screenwriter, Diablo Cody (Juno), and directed by Karen Kusama (Girlfight), and is described as a feminist horror-comedy film.

So, is the film feminist?
Well, the film was written by, directed by, and stars women. Diablo Cody claims to have written the script with feminist messages all along.

That being said, I’m not quite convinced. Local band, Low Shoulder, singles out Jennifer (Megan Fox) at one of their shows to be a human sacrifice, because they believe she is a virgin. One of the band members even makes a comment about how “that type of girl never gives it up.” Since Jennifer is actually not a virgin, she is instead turned into a man-eating demon. Punishment for not being a virgin? *That sounds familiar…
Then there were the constant close-ups of Megan Fox’s body. Next there was “the kiss” scene between Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. Where did that come from? An attempt to draw in male viewers perhaps?

I wasn’t that impressed by the movie. It was funny though. We were constantly laughing at the crazy things that Needy (Amanda Seyfried) and particularly Jennifer said.

What do you think? Is “Jennifer’s Body” feminist?

*Jessica Valenti has written extensively about this topic. For more information see her book, “The Purity Myth”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

World AIDS Day

Yesterday, December 1, was official World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to recognizing and raising awareness of the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic.


"Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The World AIDS Day theme for 2009 is 'Universal Access and Human Rights'. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2007 some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.1

A vast majority of people with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world."

Advocates for Choice hosted and cosponsored World AIDS Day at NIU with the assistance of PRISM, Health Enhancement, and the Women’s Rights Alliance. Together, the groups took part in condom distribution in MLK Commons and screening “Philadelphia,” a film about AIDS discrimination, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Though the looming presence of finals and end-of-the-semester jitters affected the number of individuals that participated, those who did take part were passionately dedicated to informing and educating the campus about World AIDS Day and the need to stay healthy, happy, and educated. Many thanks to all the cosponsors and NIU staff, faculty, and staff that contributed to World AIDS Day!

Recognition, of course, is only the first step in taking counteractive measures to decrease occurrences of HIV/AIDS worldwide; it must be combined with conscientious educational endeavors. provides many great resources for understanding the basic of HIV/AIDS and even has a nifty quiz to test your knowledge.

Here is a list of common misconceptions about HIV/AIDS:
1.) Women can't give men HIV.
2.) Since I am HIV-positive, if I get pregnant, I will spread the disease to my unborn baby.
3.) He doesn't "look" like someone with HIV.
4.) HIV is the same as AIDS.
5.) Both my partner and I have HIV. We don't need to use a condom.
6.) The government produced AIDS to reduce certain groups of people.
7.) Knowing who is on the "down low" will save me from getting HIV.
8.) I cannot get HIV from tattoos or body piercing.
9.) I have HIV. It is best for me to start drug therapy when I get sick.
10.) HIV can be cured.

This site provides answers to such misunderstandings and myths about HIV/AIDS.

Conduct your own research using the sources above as a starting point, keeping in mind the detrimental impacts of AIDS stigma and misinformation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Soapboxing, Ranting, and Yelling At Old Men: Apparently I Never Shut Up

This past Thanksgiving, my extended family came to my parent’s house to celebrate. It was a pleasant evening, though I think I might have annoyed my relatives a bit more than usual. I got accused of ‘soap-boxing’ more than once. This bothered me until I saw this article on Alternet.

I have developed a bit of a reputation among friends and co-workers for my "rants": impassioned mini-speeches on whatever topic has "struck a chord" in me. These rants are at a louder volume than my regular speaking voice, and can sound angry, or perhaps even aggressive, to the untrained ear.

I used to be quieter; I used to just let things go. I am a very laid-back person, and I loathe conflict. But I have noticed myself speaking out a lot more as I grow older, whether it involves soap-boxing at family get-togethers or yelling at old men in bars and movie theatres (they deserved it, trust me).

Last night in one of my classes, we discussed the role of an advocate. It was said that an advocate learns about issues, speaks up, and educates others. As a feminist and employee at the Women’s Resource Center, I am an advocate for women. As a vegetarian, I am an advocate for animals. In my future career, I plan to be an advocate for children. These things encompass a wide range of topics fit for soap-boxing and/or "ranting." I have said more than once to myself that I’d rather live a thousand lifetimes alone than compromise my beliefs. But, if I am lucky enough to keep finding and retaining like-minded and tolerant people in my life, I won’t have to.