Guys, Gals, and Non-Binary Pals

Happy Trans Visibility Day!
*blows party blower*

Please check out my post from last year, as it establishes that I, as a cisgender person, am not the final word on any of this. I just like to bump the voices of people saying important things.

I’m like Darius:

But! Even though I can’t really talk about the experience of being trans, since I haven’t had that experience and don’t know much about it, I can talk about something else I know: media!

*gasps of shock from the crowd*
Yes, I know, very outside my usual wheelhouse, but I’m trying something new.

As with most posts involving media I write on this blog, I will echo this statement: Representation matters. I’m not going to delve too much into this, as I talk about it literally all the time, so I’m just going to feature some creators and content that normalizes trans identity in media.

Now, I don’t want to get into the history of trans identity or ancient Egyptian trans mummies (which totally exist)* because that’s a post for another time and this is supposed to be light-hearted and about the present. So.

I don’t have to list the most visible trans personalities in the world right now (Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox, Caitlin Jenner) but here is a trans author I like, Katie Rain Hill, reading things she wrote when she was a kid. It’s Jonas Brothers fanfiction and I love her.

That loud “YES!” after she says ‘Jonas Brothers’ is me. I was very excited.

Chris Colfer’s new Young Adult novel, Stranger Than Fanfiction, features a trans protagonist! You can read my review of the book here. Or just buy the book yourself, I’m not your mom.

We all know how I reacted to Alex Fierro in Rick Riordan’s novel, The Hammer of Thor.

And there are so many youtube and social media personalities encouraging people not to assume gender!

From this vine:

To Thomas Sanders ending every vlog with “Take it easy guys gals and non-binary pals.”

Trans identies are accessibly in media now more than ever. And we can only improve from here!

-JM
 

 

*Please excuse my lack of sources, I’ve tried looking, but I’ve literally been writing this blog post for five hours and I’m tired. I would never lie to you guys though, I swear.

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World Bipolar Day

Today is World Bipolar Day, a day created to bring about awareness and show support for those suffering with the disorder. There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to bipolar disorder, and it is often used in improper context. We say that someone who is moody is bipolar, and we say that the weather is bipolar when it constantly changes, but bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that affects over 5 million adults and 2 million children each year.

There are different types of mood disorders, such as bipolar I, bipolar II, rapid cycling bipolar, etc. I’ll run through the basics of those three as they are the most common. First is bipolar I, characterized by manic and depressive episodes. Mania consists of elevated energy levels, elevated mood, grandiose thoughts, poor judgement, reckless behavior, inability to concentrate, restlessness. It can cause auditory or visual hallucinations in some cases. Each person cycles at a different rate, some faster than other, and some periods last longer than others. No experience is the same.

Bipolar II is categorized by hypomania and depressive episodes. Hypomania is very similar to mania, just less severe. However, it can be just as debilitating. The depressive episodes are relatively the same as bipolar I.

Rapid cycling bipolar disorder can occur in those with bipolar I or bipolar II, and it causes moods to change at a more advanced pace. For some, it happens daily, for others a few times a month. Surprisingly, nearly 20% of individuals diagnosed as bipolar disorder are rapid cyclers.

Now that I got the definitions out of the way, let’s discuss myths.

Myth: Bipolar disorder is the same as mood swings. However, bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance of the chemicals in one’s brain. They are more severe, longer lasting, and impede every day functioning.

Myth: Mania is always happy. Unfortunately this is not the case. There are often mixed states, in which one experiences the elevated mood of mania (or hypomania) with the depressed thoughts. There is often irritability corresponding with mania, and sometimes agitation.

Myth: Bipolar disorder is an excuse to act how you want when you want. This is a stigmatized assumption for those who wish to discount those with mental illness. Those with the disorder often have difficulty regulating their moods and the actions resulting from those moods. This is not voluntary, and can ruin many relationships be it familial, romantic, or platonic.

Myth: There is no way to treat bipolar disorder. Although it is a lifelong condition, there are ways to regulate the disorder. This could be through medication, therapy, or a mix of the two.

Managing bipolar disorder is not easy for those with the diagnosis as well as for those with a loved one who has a diagnosis. The best way to work through it is communication. Be open and honest about what you need, and be receptive to those who are expressing their needs. Be patient with yourself, and be patient with other people. Surround yourself with people who are understanding and kind, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t control your emotions. Just know that you are not alone, and that each of your emotions are valid.

– JB

A Return to International Women’s Day

Well.
We certainly are in a different place than we were last year, aren’t we?

I guess, first of all, happy first birthday to this blog! It seems crazy we’ve been going at it for a whole year. But, seeing the posts we made on this day last year, it certainly gives us an opportunity to reflect.

Everything Jessie and I said last year still applies: we still need more inclusive feminism, we still need more visibility, we still need to know more about women’s struggles in history. This year, we also have the additional struggle of our current POTUS.

Last year I praised Barack Obama’s outreach and empowerment.
This year we have an orange lizard man in the white house, elected after numerous accusations of sexual assault primarily by white women.

Things are different. Morale is low.

But! Since last year, we’ve also had the Women’s March, the largest outpouring of feminine support the world has ever seen. We’ve had the United States’ first ever female presidential candidate nominated by a major party, even if she didn’t win. The movie Hidden Figures spotlighted remarkable women of color and was a huge smash at the box office. lnhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim woman elected to a state legislature with her victory in Minnesota. Young women and girls everywhere are learning that there is no limit to what they can do and they are taking this with gusto, flooding the STEM fields with women and running for their local government to make sure their voices are heard.

Yes, congress is trying to repeal Roe v. Wade and repeal the healthcare that allows women accessible birth control. Yes things are horrifying with a rapist in the oval office. Yes it feels less like we can trust white women since an unbearable amount voted against their own favor and especially against the favor of non-white women.

But we can stand together and continue to make change. We can continue to educate and protest and chip away at this gender bias. We are not defeated yet.

Happy International Women’s Day.

-JM

Magnēt-no

Screenshot 2017-03-06 at 9.25.58 PM

Something we haven’t really covered much on this blog: anti-semitism.

The only reason for that is we, or at least I, think it’s pretty obvious. Nazis are bad. We try and cover subjects we feel don’t get very much coverage or recognition, you know what I mean? Representing the voiceless, those lessons we had to unlearn from elementary school about how Christopher Columbus was a rad dude and white people invented everyone except peanut butter. But you learn in elementary school all about the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing. A 13 year-old could tell you that Nazis are bad.

And yet-

You don’t need me to tell you about the rise of the alt-right and increased swastika graffiti and the vandalism of that Jewish cemetery in Philly. You probably already know about Shia Labeouff’s art installation “He Will Not Divide Us,” a live-stream in New York that was supposed to run for the entirety of the current presidency, and how it had to be taken down because there was too much anti-Semitic harassment and it was becoming unsafe. You know about the bomb threats and the punching of Richard Spencer. Punching a Nazi: as American as apple pie. So American, Superman has done it. So American, Captain America has done it.

And yet-

You might not even need me to tell you about comic book writer Nick Spencer (no relation to Richard that we know of), and how, back in May 2016, he released Steve Rogers No. 1 – a comic that revealed to us Captain America had been working for Hydra (a Nazi organization) all along. You might already know about the backlash and the criticisms and actual Captain America Chris Evans being distraught.

But what you might now know is that Nick Spencer has DONE IT AGAIN!

But this time, instead of taking this nice gentile Golden Boy and turning him rotten, this ‘writer’ has taken Marvel’s staple Jewish character, the one that survived the literal holocaust, Erik Lehnsherr or Magneto, and made him a member of Hydra.

There is no literary value in this! There was no literary value in Hydra-Cap, either. It’s shock value. It’s pandering to the grim-dark fanboys. It’s disgusting and terrible story-telling.

I didn’t write at all about the Captain America thing back in May because it already seemed like everyone was talking about it. I didn’t cover it on here because it already seemed pretty well covered. And maybe it’s because the news only broke about Magneto twelve hours ago, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is particularly bothered. Which makes no sense.

Erik is Jewish. Erik escaped Auschwitz. If Steve couldn’t be Hydra because he was an allegory to fight Nazism back in the day and was created by Jewish writers, then Erik definitely couldn’t be Hydra because he was an actual victim of nazi power. It’s not science!

Maybe it’s because Magneto is a villain. Maybe it’s because Magneto’s villainous creed includes his own form of ethnic cleansing by way of a genocide of all non-mutants. This still doesn’t mean he’s a Nazi definitely doesn’t make it okay to sensationalize the Nazi movement, especially in today’s social climate.

Comic books are important. They have a historical significance that rivals newspapers, because comics were accessible to kids and kids were the ones the built the future. These characters have a historical significance that is just being spit on and disrespected for no other reason than a guy seeing an opportunity to drop some jaws. That’s not art. That’s not entertainment. And anyway, shouldn’t the support of an already oppressed people be worth more than that?

In today’s climate, with anti-semitism becoming more and more prevalent, is now really the time to try and be edgy by making traditionally anti-nazi characters nazis?

-JM

Things to remember when engaging in political discourse on Facebook.

If you are a person alive in 2017, you have a social media presence. Probably Facebook, if nothing else. Here’s how to Facebook responsibly:

  1. Clear out the clutter.
    We all know we have friends on Facebook just because. Maybe you had a chance encounter for thirty seconds your first day of college orientation. Maybe you had to friend an old coworker to ask them if they would cover your shift three years ago. These people don’t know you, they add nothing to your life. Unfriend them. This will help you both as now you don’t have to see the Islamophobic Facebook statuses of a boy your sister had a crush on in high school and they’re spared from your vicious, vicious clapback.
  2. Pick your battles.
    To anyone who actually knows me or is my friend on Facebook, this may seem like a hypocritical statement. Oh, if only you knew how many battles I’m not picking.
    There are some easy indicators of battles to stay away from:

    • If you have Facebook friends who you don’t really care about but can’t unfriend because of some reason or another (family, work, school), don’t bother. Unfollow them so you don’t have to lay witness to their problematic statuses. Your ignorance will protect you and you can continue to like them.
    • If there’s already debate happening in the comments, just back away. Obviously, lend your support if you feel like there’s unwarranted attack or something, but you can just like a comment and keep scrolling. Someone’s already saying something, you don’t need to repeat it.
    • If a person is hopeless, don’t waste your time. You’ve argued with this person before, they either don’t get what you’re saying or are too stubborn to understand. It’s not worth it. Unfriend them. Or resign yourself to their stupidity and scroll through their feed when you need to build up a good rage.
  3. Remain objective.
    Now, this applies to any argument, but it’s especially difficult in text communication to remember. If you have to say something, if you have to comment or put in your input (no judgement, I understand the impulse) it’s important to remember that you are not attacking the person, you are attacking their argument. I am not arguing with you, a person, I am arguing with this status or meme you posted. I do not care if you are a mother or served in the military or have a black friend, I care about what you’re saying. I do not care if you are my Aunt or my sister’s boss or my mother’s childhood friend, I care about how you’re speaking to me. Furthermore: I don’t need disclaimers. Yes, I know you still love me, but I’m going to respond to this diatribe condemning millennials. Yes, I know you still love me, but climate change is real and I’m not going to let you pretend it isn’t.
    It’s not disrespectful to ignore your tragic backstory if you’re trying to use your tragic backstory as a defense for your argument. I don’t want that defense, I want an actual defense. If I’m taking the courtesy to divorce myself and my personal stake in this debate, you should do the same.
    And I know, in ever class we’ve ever taken about persuasive writing, we’re told that pathos is how you sway an audience. But in my experience, giving a sob story only opens up a door for the other side to claim you’re biased and undercut your entire thesis. I have been dismissed in arguments because I was the ‘middle child.’ I have been dismissed in arguments because ‘you just want to vote for a woman because she’s a woman.’ So, no, I don’t exist in an argument. I’m just a mouthpiece. Attack my words, because there is not a person here.
  4. Leave the mess where it is.
    Facebook does not exist in a vacuum, it’s true: you actually have to see these people in real life, eventually. Leave the Facebook arguments on Facebook. It’s possible to be a fully functioning human being and have conversations outside of whatever drama got you heated. This doesn’t make you fake or two-faced, it makes you an adult. This doesn’t mean you’re going back on your beliefs or taking back anything you may have said, it means you know how to conduct yourself in society. Off of Facebook, I am a person. There is a personality behind the mouthpiece and this person knows how to artfully dodge uncomfortable topics when the time doesn’t call for it. There’s a time and place, your mother’s birthday party is not that.

Basically, don’t be a bully. Remember that your arguments are not you and if you’re being called out, examine why that might be. And don’t get mad when people call you out: you’re the one who posted something controversial, do not be shocked when there’s controversy.

And maybe step back from Facebook if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You’re responsible for yourself first.

-JM

(Disclaimer that these views and opinions are strictly the views and opinions of Jessie Maggio. Jessie Brokenshire barely uses Facebook. She’s smarter than me.)

The Consistency of Self Worth

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this account, mostly due to the hectic nature of my life as a senior in college. However, I’m on break right now and in light of some recent events I want to discuss individual self-worth and how the opinions of others do not fluctuate that self worth.

As a human, we all naturally have self-worth. We are taught both consciously and subconsciously from a young age that appearance has a lot to do with measuring this worth. Whether people find you attractive, whether you fit into the right clothes, whether you fit a certain stereotype. Although physical attributes are often evaluated, these evaluations have no impact on your actual self worth. For example, one person may find me attractive while another may not. Neither of those things makes me better or worse, because they don’t fluctuate your worth.

A person has self-worth whether they have “desirable” characteristics or not, being physical or inner. What someone thinks of you has no bearing on your actual worth. What you look like outwardly has no bearing on your worth. We are taught that skinny is good, and that pretty is good, and that long hair is good, and that following gender norms is good. But if you don’t do those things or aren’t those things it doesn’t make your worth as an individual go down. Not being conventionally attractive or not being “skinny enough” *insert eye roll here* does not make you worth less.

It is important to challenge these thoughts that are taught to us and consciously make an effort to judge the worth of a person less on appearances and more on characteristics that go beyond that. It’s unfortunately natural for us, even me, to immediately judge the worth of a person based on their looks. Pretty people get hired first, skinny people get complimented first, it’s the nature of our society today. However, those things don’t have any actual bearing. Looks fade and weight fluctuates, styles will change a million times in the next ten years. When you base your worth on your outward appearance you are bound to be disappointed because of the constant changing of beauty standards. That’s why it is important to begin evaluating people from a deeper level than what is on the surface. This includes yourself. Don’t let your physical appearance be your only way of feeling good. Don’t go the rest of your life hating what you look like or feeling less than because you don’t exactly fit the perfect stereotype of beautiful.

Active ways to challenge this need to happen within yourself, but also outwardly. Start complimenting people on characteristics other than physical one’s. Do the same with yourself. It’s easy to equate a bad grade with a lack of self-worth, or someone calling you a “potato” with being worth less than someone who is traditionally beautiful. Make yourself aware that those factors have absolutely no impact on your worth, because it is constant and non-fluctuating. Make yourself aware of your accomplishments and achievements, and let those be your anchors to reality. It is more than easy to get swept up in appearance or someone else’s interpretation of you, but practice believing in the inflexibility of self-worth and it will go a long way.

It’s perfectly ok to take pride in your outward appearance, I highly encourage that. Just not when it is the only factor being taken into account. Your beauty is not the absence of mine, just as my beauty is not the absence of your own. There are more ways than one to represent beauty, and there are more factors to self-worth than anything physical. Take the time to evaluate where your judgments come from and take time to be actively aware of the consistency of your own self worth.

-JB

Donald

I don’t know about Jessie, but this is probably going to be the only time I talk about the President-Elect-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
Donald Trump.
And that is going to be the only time I type out his name because his name is his brand and I would literally rather die than enforce that brand.
So Donald.
I didn’t talk about it much, because I signed a confidentiality agreement I’m not sure I really understood, but from July right up until the election, I worked for a political SuperPac that aimed to fight Climate Change. And while climate change is definitely a social issue it’s not really social justice so I didn’t really think too much about blogging about it here.
Really cool stuff happened in my time there: I met really passionate, like-minded people. I was given the opportunity to inform young voters on the issues and get them registered. This woman actually asked if she could hug me, nearly in tears, because she was so moved by what we were doing. It was very rewarding.
Except for the part, in the early hours of November 10, when the wrong candidate was declared president.
A couple of facts about me: I am very passionate. I believe very much in things. Like so much. And when I care about something, I have to throw everything I have into it. It’s why I co-run this blog. It’s why I spend so much time and emotions on television and films. It’s why I was very very good at getting people to register to vote. Because I cared. And it showed.
So imagine giving every part of yourself to a thing – every ounce of passion and fear and belief and faith – and then seeing it go the other way. Seeing the entire country (or the electoral colleges) telling you it doesn’t matter.
And then, the next day, being told it’s okay! It’s a set back! We just have to keep fighting!
KEEP FIGHTING?!
I had been fighting! For months! For years it felt like! I am tired. Physically and emotionally exhausted. Scared, anxious, depression flares, my friends are leaving because the job is over, I have to go home for the holidays to my parents who voted third party. And you’re telling me to just buckle up, we’re ride or die tonight? I’m at a point where I’m kind of at ‘die’ right now.
I will get my fight back, I know I will, but it would be so much easier if I could just shut it off for a little bit. Just get away. I used to be a Twitter monster but I have barely looked at it in the past three weeks because I can’t mentally deal with all of the #notmypresident stuff.
And that’s so my stuff! I would be so in this! I want to be! I care so much about this and I want to be doing everything I can but I… I just… I can’t right now. I don’t have enough in me.
And I’m telling myself it’s okay. I’m allowed to put myself first.
But it’s hard. It’s so hard.
This loss was a major hit. On me. On the entire LGBTQIA+ community. People of Color. People of Islam. Women. Children.
I’m making myself upset again.
The point is: yes, we should fight. We should fight and we should never normalize Donald and we should call neo-nazis what they are and we should never be complacent.
But I’m tired. So I’m going to take a break. Be back later.
-JM