Miss America: I may have judged too quickly

January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was browsing TV.com a couple Saturdays ago looking to catchup on all of the shows I didn’t have time to watch during the week when I happend across the “What to Watch Tonight” section. That is where I discovered that the Miss America Pageant would be airing that very night. After a quick text to a friend who I knew would be just as excited as I was, it was decided that we would be grabbing some snacks and settling in for a nigmiss_america_picht of bad commentary and fake smiles.

The excitement I feel every year when the Miss America Pageant rolls around stems not from my fascination or real interest in the beauty pageant world but instead from the confidence boost it gives me. I may not be acing my Numerical Methods class, but at least I’m not saying stupid things on television or parading around in a bikini, right? I used to think that these women were all the same. They all say the same things, have the same talents, and seem to fit into a single mold. But this year, I started to think that maybe I had judged this whole thing a little too quickly. I was pleasantly surprised when I actually thought I might really like one of the contestants. Miss New York, Mallory Hagan seemed very down to earth compared to the other contestants and got me to thinking that maybe these women are not as shallow as they can come across. On the surface, a pageant is a pageant and yes there are women walking around in ridiculously skimpy swimsuits, putting on some really ugly evening dresses, and performing the same talents as all the other contestants, but Miss Hagan seemed not too take all that as seriously as some of the other woman. She was loud, funny, and even surprisingly intelligent in her question response. Instead of becoming flustered and making a  huge gaffe for the newspapers to ridicule as is usually  the case, she  responded intelligently to a tough question regarding gun control. All of this got me thinking that maybe, despite its questionable relationship with feminism, the pageant might not be ALL bad.

Yes, I admit that it might take “poise” and “beauty” to an extreme that can detract from the hard work woman have done to make us more than just something to make the office look nicer, but I realized that some of these woman might actually be able to balance that extreme with doing some good with the position. I realized that, if I looked behind all the pomp and ridiculous circumstance, the pageant might really be able to have an effect on these woman’s lives, and through the organization’s charity work, on the lives of others as well. Am I saying that beauty pageants are great and everyone should place as much importance on how a woman looks? Of course not, I for one do not have the body of a Miss America Pageant contestant and would like to think I still have something to contribute to this world. All I’m saying is that instead of scoffing and settling in for a night of laughs and judging evening gowns, perhaps pageants and things of this nature have some merit and I should admit that. After all, aren’t these women working toward something just the same as the rest of us? And isn’t that really what women want the freedom to do: to work toward something without our gender holding us back? So, despite my initial judgment of the pageant as nothing more than a boost to my own ego, I’ve realized that just because it isn’t my “thing,” doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad “thing.”

– Kim U.

3rd Annual MLK Day of Service

January 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

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MLK Day of service is a day to reflect on the life, legacy, and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The impact that he created for generations to come in the fight for civil rights will forever reverberate in our hearts and minds. While many of us participated in other activities like watching the annual MLK commemoration service at Ebenezer Baptist Church or watching the inauguration of America’s first African-American Commander in Chief, others like myself went out to volunteer in our local communities. I went to volunteer at the Center for the Pan-Asian Community Services(CPACS).

The day started out with a small presentation from the MLK Planning Committee. This was a great way to reflect on how Dr. King has personally impacted our lives. Next we did a short networking activity. After that, we headed out with our groups to volunteer!  So I thought that I would be doing in-door volunteer work (i.e. carpet cleaning), but instead I got a chance to plant trees. This was one of the few days that I allowed myself to do free manual labor, but I had a great time. I got a chance to meet new people and to make a different in my community. I even got a chance to hear some of the inauguration on the bus back to Georgia Tech!

As I reflect back on that day, I will always see MLK Day as a day ON and not a day OFF.   What I loved about that day was seeing the faces of so many undergraduate students. I saw people from all different ethnic backgrounds, skin colors, heights, classes, socioeconomic statuses, etc. Seeing these students is living proof that without the work of activists like Dr. King, these students and myself would not be able to attend such a diverse school like Georgia Tech. After 52 years of the matriculation of African-American students into Georgia Tech, and after 51 years of the integration of women, Georgia Tech continues to strive for excellence, inclusion, and diversity, all of the values that Dr. King himself believed in.

The Gender of Valor

January 25, 2013 § 3 Comments

Women in CombatWar is hard. We shouldn’t be making it harder.

This is the attitude of many Americans on the newly lifted ban for woman in combat.  In 1994, Les Aspin (Defense Secretary under former President Bill Clinton) signed a policy memo that excluded women from assignments to units below the brigade level if the unit would be engaged in direct combat. Although the ban has now been lifted, not everyone is ready for women in combat. Jerry Boykin, retired Army Lieutenant General and Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, argues that men should not be forced to fight alongside women because it will distract from the mission, specifically because it will make soldiers feel awkward to defecate in front of the opposite sex:

Societal norms are a reality, and their maintenance is important to most members of a society. It is humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades; one can only imagine the humiliation of being forced to relieve yourself in front of the opposite sex.

Was it not societal norm to discriminate against colored individuals in the military? Was it not societal norm to exclude women from the military? Was it not societal norm to exclude homosexuals in the military? Is it not societal norm to exclude transgendered individuals in the military today? Societal norm is constantly changing, and it is irrational to halt progress on this basis alone.

Leon E. Panetta stresses that “not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier, but everyone is entitled to a chance…We are renewing our commitment to the values our service men and women fight to defend.”

General Dempsey states that by lifting the ban, “we are acting to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.” Dempsey reassures that “we will extend opportunities to women in a way that maintains readiness, morale, and unit cohesion.”

Will this lifted ban help further the careers of women in the military? Dempsey stresses that “we will integrate women in a way that enhances opportunity for everyone…this means setting clear standards for all occupations based on what it actually takes to do the job.”  Many Americans are concerned that women are not physically “up to the challenge” of combat assignments. However, gender-neutral standards will ensure that if women can meet those standards, then they are similarly fit for the specified duties.

Is having women in direct combat such a radical idea?  Israeli Defense Forces are the only military forces in the world with a mandatory military service requirement for women. Since the Israeli state was founded in 1948, women have fought in their armed The reality on the ground...forces. The 2000 Equality amendment to their Military Service law states that “The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.” Now, women comprise over half of all military positions in Israel. It is ironic that, for a country that stresses freedom and equality as much as we do, that we are over a decade behind that of Israel on the inclusion and equality of women in combat zones.

Have women not already proven that they are ready and willing to serve in combat?  More than 150 women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and over 1000 wounded in recent wars, fighting for our rights so that we can sit here and read blogs about whether they should be allowed to or not. Now this change is expected to open 230,000 front-line positions to women.

Dempsey said it best…”we all wear the same uniform, fire the same weapon, and more importantly, take the same oath.” President Barack Obama considers this yet “another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality.” Let us make our all-volunteer force an all inclusive one. If women are willing to volunteer to defend our country, let us give them the rights that they are fighting for. Valor knows no gender.

-Brandi S.

The Real Fixer

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

ABC's "Scandal" - Season Two

As a true TV fanatic, I have found several shows that have interested me over the years. I watch everything from drama to comedy, kid shows to adult shows. But there is one show that has completely caught my attention. ABC’s hit show Scandal has become one of my favorites.

Scandal is a show in which the main character, Olivia Pope, is a professional “fixer.” Clients, normally politicians or celebrities, come to her when they have a problem, such as a scandal, and then she fixes it. Pope opened her own firm for crisis management after she quit working in the White House with the president.  She has her own team, most of which have their own problems to deal with. You find that al

most everyone has their own secret/is caught up in their own scandal including Ms. Pope herself.

There are two main reasons why I truly enjoy this show. The first reason is Kerry Washington. Kerry Washington has become one of my favorite actresses. I started to somewhat follow her career after I saw her in The Fantastic Four. On Scandal, Washington plays a strong, powerful, beautiful woman. For me that combination is a rarity on TV, though,  I will admit to seeing some, but there are not that many. I have to commend her for her skills in playing this character. She portrays Olivia Pope very well. When I look at the show I see a woman who is confident, ready to help her clients, and knows what to do and when to do it. Washington’s character is not without her own faults which makes her a little bit more real. Olivia Pope is a woman who is strong, but can also be vulnerable especially where her love interest is concerned. She is someone who will show her support for others, but will also show you what is right and how things are supposed to be done. I do have drawbacks to the character where her scandal(s) are concerned but who wouldn’t.

I absolutely love Kerry Washington and she has totally made this show for me. When Kerry Washington is not playing Olivia Pope, I am still drawn to her. Though I do not know her personally, I like to believe that she is as nice and sweet as she appears in other settings. I can’t wait

to cont

inue to watch her career grow because I believe that she is going places.

The other reason this show is one of my favorites is because there is a real fixer like Olivia Pope that this show is based on. It has actually just recently come to my attention that there was someone out there who is known as a fixer. Her name is Judy Smith. Smith is now claimed as America’s number one crisis management expert. I am truly astounded by Ms. Smith. She is a true inspiration. Smith cliental includes Michael Vick, Monica Lewinsky, and so many more. She has been working as a consultant for her clients for over 25 years. Just doing this job alone is something to be proud of let alone for doing it for over 25 years. To me, Judy is a truly phenomenal woman.

I acknowledge both Kerry Washington and Judy Smith as true inspirations. If you haven’t heard of the show or would like to see it for yourself I encourage you to watch it. It ma

y not be your cup of tea but I think it’s worth the try.

For more info on Judy Smith you can visit:

www.judysmith.com

2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Annual Celebration – A Reflection of Issues

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

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2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Celebration

I volunteered to be the Student Chair of the 3rd MLK Student Celebration Annual Student Celebration. I was in charge of recruiting the student performers, emailing the student representatives to participate in the CandleLight Vigil ceremony, editing the program, creating the script, contacting Mr. and Mrs. Georgia Tech, deciding what food to use for the reception, deciding what decorations would best suit this occasion, and act as a “producer” for the event. It was a lot.

I got a chance to hear from student speakers and guest performances, including the Nu Mu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, God’s Influence Flowing Through Every Disciple (G.I.F.T.E.D) gospel choir, my personal friend Shreya Ahuja, and the fabulous Dean Stephanie Ray, who performed a dramatic monologue of Coretta Scott King’s first moments after finding out her husband was assassinated.

What I personally loved most is the inspiring student speakers. There was a common theme in all of the speeches that as a society, America has come a long way in the fight for equality and civil liberties for all, but we still have a long way to go, thus the theme for the event was themed “The Dream and the Journey Continue.” One issue that was mentioned was the inequality and gender discrimination that women still face. Women are still earning 77 cents less than her equal male counterpart. The good news is that our current president is working with Congress to establish legislation that seeks to eliminate gender inequality.

Another issue that was mentioned in one of the student speeches was discrimination based on sexual orientation. While it is still a hot-button issue in today’s society, studies show that more and more Americans are favoring same-sex marriage by small margins. This is due largely in part of more and more LGBT Americans coming out to family and friends and new marriage equality laws being slowly passed in state legislatures.

Of course, poverty is always an issue. Many of us can empathize with low-income, lower-class and middle class families. Poverty may be an issue that may never go away, but I became inspired to help the homeless man on the street corner just by giving him something to eat.

In summary, change does not happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? So change for equality will take time as well, but that does not mean that we should sit back and act ambivalent. It was once said, “If you don’t stand for something, then you will fall for anything.” I challenge myself to make my voice heard louder on more issues we as Americans face today, whether it be gender inequality, sexual orientation, poverty, or ambivalence. I just hope that Dr. King himself would be proud of my efforts. Dr. King told his wife “Coretta, don’t tell people that I graduated from Morehouse College. Don’t tell people that I got my Master’s degree from Boston College. Don’t tell people about my Nobel Peace Prize or my various other awards. Instead, tell people that I tried to feed the hungry. Tell people that I tried to clothed the naked. Tell people that I was a drum major for justice, and tell people that I tried to help somebody!!”

– Alfonza L.

Women in the Halls-Lobbying for a Better Standard of Living for Women

January 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Women in the HallsThe Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Georgia has sponsored a special project called Women in the Halls, seeking to entice more women to the state Capitol during the annual legislative session (January-April). Women in the Halls holds lawmakers accountable to the women of Georgia for the decisions and policies that are made. Many of which, overlook the concerns and the disastrous affects these policies can have on women.

Every Wednesday during the legislative session Women in the Halls will join a lobby training hosted by progressive groups. Afraid that you will be too uniformed to effectively lobby? Do not fear, Women in the Halls is here. Everyone attending will be briefed on relevant legislation and how to lobby your elected officials. You will also be armed with talking points, facts sheets, and other important information you will need to convince the members of the General Assembly.

Want to get involved? Women in the Halls meets every WEDNESDAY during the legislative session at 9am in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Room 306 which is located across the street from the Capitol on Mitchell Street. Contact Nikema.Williams@ppfa.org or 404.688.9305 ext. 310 for more details.

Together, we’ll fill the halls and fight for responsible legislation for women!

– Brandi S.

 

I <3 Tina Fey

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty

Last night I tuned into the Golden Globes. I was mostly looking forward to seeing all of the dressed up celebrities, the winning films, shows, and actors/actresses, and of course Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the evening, and to get some laughs out of the few hours. I have loved Tina Fey since she was on SNL and would tune in just to see her on Weekend Update. She was brilliant in Mean Girls, I thought her autobiography Bossypants was fantastic, and I catch her in 30 Rock nearly every week (as well as watching past seasons on Netflix). So I was really excited to see her on the Golden Globes, and was expecting nothing less than awesome from them. What I didn’t expect to get, however, was an increased respect for Tina Fey (and Amy Poehler).

We know that girls bullying other girls is a big problem in this country, and often that catty behavior transfers into adulthood and the workplace. I found a Scientific American article about a study that found women were “overwhelmingly compelled to retaliate by attacking the offender’s reputation, mostly through gossip.” Tina Fey famously and hilariously tackled that issue in Mean Girls; and in her own way, she stood up against the same issue last night at the Golden Globes.

This morning when I came into the WRC, I stumbled upon an article on the Huffington Post, recapping the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster’s speech following receiving the Cecil B DeMille award, and the witty method of Tina and Amy’s humor in hosting the event. They could have gone the way of many past hosts and been malicious in their humor, or cliché. They could have made fun of the other actresses and the stupid things that they had done. Instead, they were sympathetic in their jokes, laughing about the things they had gone through. For example, “They noted that Meryl Streep couldn’t attend because she had the flu … though they heard she was “amazing in it” — the flu, that is.”

What most impresses me about all of this, and what inspired me to therefore write a blog about it, was just how much Tina Fey seems to really “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.” I think she is a great role model, and someone that everyone, especially women, can look up to.

– Melissa G.

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