Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Onion Effect: Satire vs. Politics

Something scary is happening in American politics.  And this time I’m not just talking about the war on women, but something that’s even more fundamentally wrong with our collective psyche.  What I’m talking about is the inability to discern satire – or what I like to call “The Onion Effect.” 

I believe this recent phenomena began with this story about Planned Parenthood opening an “8 billion dollar abortion megaplex.”  This article was written by the Onion – a website that exclusively specializes in satire by writing faux news stories designed to mock politics and current events.   But somehow LOTS of people overlooked the clear tones of sarcasm in the article and became outraged – including one member of the United States House of Representatives named John Fleming, who commented on the article saying, “More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale.”

Now there’s even an entire website solely dedicated to the (hilarious) reactions people have to the Onion’s satire when they think it’s for real.  Some headlines that people were unable to accurately interpret as satire include, “Brain-Dead Teen, Only Capable of Rolling Eyes and Texting, to be Euthanized” or “Vatican Dispatches Elite Team of Bishops to Sabotage Contraceptive Manufacturer.” 

I’d like to think that this is just a concentrated epidemic of stupidity that will run its course and eventually we’ll all be healthy and smart again.  But I think this is actually reflective of an ever increasing trend of crazy that has become the norm in our political system.  Can I really blame these people for failing to understand that this headline is a joke when this headline  is actually real?  If we can’t tell the difference between hilarious satire and real life politics, what does that say about the values we’re working with right now?  Legitimate core values like freedom and responsibility have gotten all twisted up into outrageous, ugly politics.  And try as we might, it’s been tough work trying to reclaim them.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m still holding out for the moment when we take a long hard look at our collective self in the mirror and decide we have better things to do with our time and ABUNDANT resources than promoting policies that seem like they came straight out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly news roundup

(Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin. Union Square NYC. 03.21.2012)

"It comes down to this: When the community has failed a patient by voting an ideologue into office…When the ideologue has failed the patient by writing legislation in his own interest instead of in the patient's…When the legislative system has failed the patient by allowing the legislation to be considered… When the government has failed the patient by allowing something like this to be signed into law… We as physicians cannot and must not fail our patients by ducking our heads and meekly doing as we're told.

Because we are their last line of defense." 
(A Doctor’s Manifesto for Fighting Transvaginal Ultrasounds)

"After surveying the political landscape and taking note of who was saying what about women's reproductive rights in America, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that "pro-choice man" is a contradiction in terms. Because with the exception of a very few men — bless you, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Garry Trudeau — there are barely any men speaking out in favor of a woman's right to choose.

But it's not a contradiction in terms. Those men do exist. And last month, I decided to create a space where they could make themselves heard.

Men Who Trust Women is a tumblr where men who believe that bodily autonomy is every woman's right can share their stories. It's not about speaking instead of women, or on behalf of women, but alongside them and in support of them." 
 (Don’t Despair: There Are Plenty of Men Out There Who Trust Women)

"International press reported that Saudi Arabia approved the participation of Saudi women in the Olympics a day after the IOC reported that progress had been made in negotiations with Saudi Olympic officials on sending female athletes and officials to the games. Saudi Arabia has approved such participation as long as their sports “meet the standards of women’s decency and don’t contradict Islamic laws.”" 
(At last, Saudi women in the Olympics)

"The irony: At that instant, my partner Joe and other guys were 50 feet away, filming the video “Sh*t Men Say To Men Who Say Sh*t to Women on the Street”. They were saying things on-camera that I wanted someone to say in life. Right then. To that guy. They were things I could have said. But I didn’t. I hate admitting it but I was afraid. And I felt helpless. And the more I think about it, the madder I get. Because this is not my job. It’s not my job to be on guard every second; to defend myself constantly; to fight against every male gaze on me, wherever I am, whatever I wear." 
(Sh*t Men Say To Men Who Say Sh*t to Women on the Street)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekly news roundup

“The single woman, or “swingle,” as pollsters are now calling her, is already one of the largest voting blocs at 55 million, and that number is growing by almost 1 million voters a year—faster than any other group of voters broken out in the polls.”  
 “The protest is an attempt to change attitudes concerning sex before marriage, especially in cases of rape, where the woman can sometimes be regarded as the criminal rather than the victim in order to preserve the family's honour.”
Morocco protest against rape-marriage law

"The conflict began when the Texas Legislature inserted a "poison pill" into the Medicaid funding bill passed in 2011, which mandates that no funding under the program go to any facility that provides abortion services, even if no state money directly paid for abortions.  If the federal government did not agree to the waiver, the language requires that the program be discontinued."
Texas sues Obama administration in abortion dispute

"Trudeau explained to the Washington Post why he chose to go ahead with the comic:
'Texas’s HB-15 isn’t hard to explain: The bill says that in order for a woman to obtain a perfectly legal medical procedure, she is first compelled by law to endure a vaginal probe with a hard, plastic 10-inch wand. The World Health Organization defines rape as “physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration — even if slight — of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object.” You tell me the difference.'"
Doonesbury Calls Texas Abortion Law 'Rape' in New Comic Strip

"Christopher Collins, vice-chairman, said that while he may take a different view based on his religion or how he brought up his own children, he must act on what he considers to be in the students’ best interest. “We can’t stick our heads in the sand any more,” Collins said."
Free condoms for Springfield students 12 and over gets initial approval by School Committee

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Young Feminists organizing

Hey everyone, sorry for the long delay between posts, a vacation then an illness took me out of the blogging game for a couple weeks, but now I’m back and healthy again.

I just got home from the very first meeting of our newly formed Young Feminism Committee and I have to say, I’m inspired!  It reminded me that surrounding yourself with people who are interested in, or working on causes you care about is an incredibly important part of being an activist. It keeps you motivated knowing you’re in good company. As activists we often like to try and save the world with every action we take, but sometimes a girl just needs a feminist bowling night with some like-minded peers to feel that everything is right in the world. And really, who doesn’t need a few more feminist friends in their life anyway?

At this inaugural meeting we came up with a lot of really great ideas to get our feminist juices flowing and have some fun at the same time. If you didn’t get a chance to make it out tonight, we’re planning our next meeting for the beginning of next month – stay tuned to our Facebook page for more details. In the meantime, here are a few ideas we came up with to tempt you into joining us:
  • The aforementioned bowling night
  • Visit the DIA and discuss women/feminism in art
  • Attend a Detroit Soup
  • Feminist movie nights (movie suggestions appreciated)
  • Volunteer together – possible locations: Michigan Animal Rescue League, Oakland University’s organic farm
Have ideas for other activities for the YFC to take part in?  Want to know how you can get involved?  Let us know in the comments!