Let’s Talk

Let’s Talk!

Talk with the old

Talk with the young.

Whoever you talk with you’ll learn something fun.

Just  a reminder for those of you preparing for the holiday season, and talking with family.

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Motivational Mondays-Reverse Psychology

I’m amazed by this.  As someone who loves libraries and public literacy, this project is awesome.

Motivational Mondays-Give a Book this Holiday Season

English: Students in an elementary school clas...

English: Students in an elementary school classroom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge advocate of childhood literacy.   Students who don’t learn to read by the end of third  grade are statistically unlikely to graduate high school.  Half the fourth grade curriculum (at least in the United States) is inaccessible for those who cannot read on grade level.  At some of the schools I have been to, there have been amply filled libraries, ones that I could never finish reading, no matter how hard I tried.  At other schools however, there haven’t been enough books for students to read.  How are children supposed to learn to read, to enjoy reading, if there aren’t books to be found?  As one of the students I worked with said, “Books are for school.”  And that school was in the process of developing its own library.  That girl deserves a library so that she can learn how to read and be successful.

In the spirit of the holiday season, you can donate books to children’s classrooms.  So I’ve rounded up a few resources for you to donate a book from the comfort of your own home.  Donors Choose is a great option that allows you to pick the project you’re donating to.  There are amazing pictures and stories of the students you’re helping.

Another option is Fill the Shelves, in which you simply add an order to your Amazon cart and the library of your choice receives your donation.  This holiday season, they are matching donations.  So go and donate a book to help a child learn to read.  Give the gift of reading this holiday season.

Time for a Party-Picking a Theme

College Party Themes are Terrible

Toga party

Toga party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My roommate and I want to host a party.  So we found many suggestions for party themes.  They fall into four categories: Non-offensive but overdone, Sexist and Offensive, Just Plain Offensive, and Just Because it Rhymes, It Doesn’t Mean that it’s a Good Idea.
Non-Offensive, but Overdone Party Themes
You can find these in every depiction of college life ever.
  • ABC parties
  • Letter parties
  • Rubics cube parties
  • High School Steroeytpe parties
  • Blacklight parties
  • Decade Parties
  • Toga Parties
  • Movie Themed parties
Sexist and Offensive Party Themes 
These parties provide two options for costumes, one a slutty female costume, and the other, a powerful male complement.  They inevitably have the word “Ho” in the title.
  • CEO’s and Corporate Ho’s
  • Pimps and Ho’s
  • Kingtuts and Egyptian Sluts
  • Lawyer Bros and Prison Hoes
  • Lifeguard Bros and Surfer Hoes
  • GI Joes and Army Hoes
  • Gangsters and Flappers
  • Golf Pro’s and Tennis Hoes
  • Pirates and Wenches
  • Yoga Hoes and Workout Bro’s
Just Plain Offensive Party Themes:
These parties are built on stereotypes of cultures and treat these cultural trends as novelties, instead of real people’s lives
  • Crossdress party
  • Colonial Bros and NavaHoes
  • Fiesta Party
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • White Trash
Just because it Rhymes, Doesn’t Mean it’s a Good Idea Party Themes 
These party themes are either pointless, mix unrelated things or have unsavory implications.
  • Bathing Suits and Cowboy Boots
  • Kegs and Eggs
  • 80’s Lady or Pagent Baby-Three words-Honey Boo Boo.
  • Guys in Ties and Girls in Pearls
  • Black Out or Get Out-Because nothing says fun like alcohol poisoning.
Roommate and I aren’t big on drinking and want to host a party that doesn’t emphasize drinking and is still fun, clever and creative.
Any ideas for a fun, inclusive and novel party theme?  Tell us about your best parties in the comments.

Motivational Monday-Stop -splaining and Start Listening

For People Who Like to Explain Things

I’m particularly fond of the word priv-splaining.  It is a useful term describing a wide variety of communication problems.  In short, it means someone with privilege speaking to someone with less privilege, and they assume the other person ignorant.

I have been guilty of priv-splaining, to a boyfriend.  I’ve probably priv-splained more than I can remember, but this particular incident stays in mind.  We were at an awards ceremony and I assumed that he didn’t know about classical music.  I told him something that turned out to be wrong, and I found out when he revealed that he knew more than I did.  Oops.  I felt weird at the time, but I couldn’t put a finger on what I had done wrong.  I priv-splained.

So, that’s why I found this checklist particularly useful.

1. Do you know how much the other person knows about the subject?

If you don’t know how much they know about the topic, you should find out first.

2. Are you using your supposed expertise to prove something?

If you’re out to prove something, find a more subtle way to talk about the subject without turning into a college lecturer.

3. Are you actually listening to what the other person is saying, or are you already formulating your response?

You have to listen to the other person and then figure out what you’re going to say.  Or else you’ll miss information.

4. Are you talking about your own experience, or are you universalizing about how everyone feels? Are you explaining an experience of theirs to them?  

  Actually listen to the other person’s words, and don’t explain their experiences to them.  They have no doubt thought of your very insightful criticism before.

5. And most importantly: Do you actually know what you’re talking about?

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you shouldn’t pretend you do.

So here you go.  Simple guidelines for having a polite, productive, and positive conversation.

Bears, Sharks and Vodka Tampons, Oh My!

It’s Not Rocket Science: Unless Your Name is Todd Akin

For my non United States readers, Todd Akin was the conservative Republican Senator who sits on the science committee, who proudly professed the belief that women cannot get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because the body has mechanisms to shut down unwanted pregnancies.

Todd Akin was, of course, wrong about pregnancies resulting from rape.  In the United States, 32,000 pregnancies a year result from rape.  But Todd Akin is far from alone in his ignorant beliefs about the female reproductive system.  I’m not going to go into great detail of all the ignorant things that have been said about rape in the US Election cycle, because that’s three posts on its own, and Todd Akin lost his re-election bid.

Instead, I shall talk about the other demonstrations of ignorance about women’s bodies.

  • Stephen King: The Infamous Locker Room Scene in Carrie.
    • Nobody bleeds that much.  Unless you’re miscarrying a baby, having your internal organs sliced to pieces, or in a Stephen King horror movie.  Who came up with this notion that women bleed buckets and buckets of blood?
  • If you’re emotional, it’s because you’re PMSing so you’re clearly “on the rag.”
    • PMS means PRE, pre as in before.  Before your period, you are not using “the rag.”  Semantics, people.
  • Shark Attacks:
    • Seriously, we can’t swim in the ocean because the shark will smell the blood on our tampons and eat us?  Who comes up with this?
  • Bear Attacks.
    • So we can’t swim because of Jaws, but we can’t go camping either, because our periods might attract a bear.  Why leave the kitchen?
  • Vodka Tampons
    • This had to be designed by a man.  Because whoever designed this has no understanding of how tampons actually work.  Tampons expand when they absorb liquid.  If they have absorbed liquid, they are too big and lose their insertability.  Also, alcohol burns.  Who wants to burn one of their most sensitive organs?
  • PMS and Mood Swings:
    • No we wont’ kill you.  We’ll just be a bit more moody than usual, although whether or not PMS is real is the subject of academic debate.
  • Women don’t poop or fart.
    • Sorry to bust your illusions, but we’re human beings first, women second.
  • HPV/Plan B makes women, especially teen girls, sex addicts, hosting orgies.
    • High on fantasy fodder, but low on evidence.
  • Women only take oral contraceptives because they’re having sex and don’t want to get pregnant.
    • Ovarian cysts, irregular bleeding, acne, …there are a myriad of reasons women take birth control, none of which are your business.
  • Asprin between the knees works as a contraceptive.  (Seriously?)

It’s not just women’s health that many people fail to comprehend.  Many people conflate statistics to justify fears about autism and vaccines, call evolution a “theory,” not understanding that the scientific and vernacular uses are different.  A large proportion of the United States population believes that President Obama is not a United States citizen.

Where is this culture of ignorance coming from?  Why is innumeracy and illiteracy so common?  Shouldn’t it be a source of shame, rather than pride?  I read somewhere that in business, there is such a stigma on not knowing something that people are compelled to make up information, sometimes with disastrous results.  But this doesn’t seem to be the case in politics.

This culture of ignorance is especially tragic when the resources to gain this knowledge are so ubiquitous.  I understand that not everyone has the abilities to spend hours pouring over Machiavelli and mathematical theories.  However, when these ignorant statements come out of those with platforms of speech, platforms where people take their word as truth, and have the ability to get the correct information, this ignorance is just sad.

Seriously, it’s not rocket science.  Unless you’re Todd Akin.  In which case, you really should resign from the House Science Committee.

Tell me, Readers, what other baseless beliefs have you heard?

Motivational Mondays-Random Acts of Literacy

As a child, I loved to read.  So much so that my parents had to institute a rule that I was not allowed to read before school, or I would be late.  So I’m a huge advocate of childhood reading.

But not everyone has books in their home like I did.  I’ll never forget the response I got when I asked one of the students I was working with what books she read at home.

“I don’t have books at home, Miss Cafeaulait.  Books are for school.”

Books are for school.  This attitude limits the options available to my doe-eyed, mischievous student.  That’s why I’m a huge advocate of Random Acts of Literacy, a plan to give books to children on public transportation, and in parks and schools.

For the story that inspired this post, go to: http://thenotebook.org/blog/114260/sharing-joy-reading-during-daily-commute

For more information on the project, or to help out, go to http://www.randomactsofliteracy.org/index.html

Dear Men, 12 Pieces of Advice for the Men in Our Lives

Film still from the famous restaurant scene

Film still from the famous restaurant scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Update: I thoughtlessly posted this, not realizing how heteronormative it is.  My apologies.  The piece was intended for the clueless daters of any gender who prefer to date those that identify as women.

  1.  Aretha said it best; RESPECT.  Respect us, our bodies, and our opinions.  Also, remember that we are more than the sum of our reproductive organs.
  2. Women do not communicate directly.  We communicate in a more round-about way, designed to allow for disagreement without conflict.  So when we say, “Gosh, it’s late and I’m exhausted,” we mean that it’s time to call it a night.  Take the hint.
  3.  Learn to read body language; if you try the sneaky overarm movement (and believe us, we know you’re faking that yawn,) and we slide away, take the hint.
  4. Don’t call us crazy.  Unless we’ve torched your car, shaved our hair into designs of goldfish, or attempted to eat the cat.  Those are crazy actions.  Yelling at you because you’ve been dodging our calls and we just found out that we’re pregnant does not give you the excuse to say “B****** be crazy.”
  5. The exam did not rape you.  You are not going to have forced sexual intercourse with the other players in xbox live.  All you are doing is enabling rapists to get away with rape.  So stop.
  6. Our periods do not invalidate our emotions.  They just diminish our ability to tolerate things.  Besides it’s not like men don’t have hormonal cycles, either.  Ironically enough, PMS is an influx of testosterone.
  7. Women are not monolithic entities.  What makes one woman happy may not work for another woman.
  8. Women do not owe you their attention, time or affection.  Even if you have been her friend forever, you are NOT entitled to her love.  So stop whining about the Friend Zone.
  9. Women generally like sensitive men.  That does not mean, whiny spineless symphocant.  It means a man who stands up for himself, is respectful, and understands how to communicate.  The whole whiny spineless slob versus the puppy kicking, womanizing jerk is an arbitrary binary.
  10. Some women don’t want to have sex with men.  That does not mean that they just need the Right experience (aka with you.)  That does not mean that they will fulfill your fantasies.  So stop asking them that.
  11. The same goes for women who do want to have sex with men.  If they have not expressed any interest in sex with you, don’t ask them.
  12. Saying something offensive is like stepping on people’s toes.  Sometimes you did it intentionally.  But most of the time, when you step on someone’s toes, you didn’t mean to.  But you apologize anyway because regardless of your intent, you hurt them.

What do you think?  Is there anything else I missed?  Leave advice in the comments!

Good News!

Good News!

Malala Yousufzal, the fourteen year old girl shot by the Taliban in her efforts to promote education for girls, is doing well, and her doctors say that there is no brain damage.  Go Malala!

For the rest of us, we can fight.  We can win.  At the end of the day, the fact that we are still standing is proof enough that we have won.