Posts Tagged ‘information’

Advertising’s Image of Women

September 20th, 2010

My friend Kelly posted the video above today on her Facebook page. I started to write a comment on Facebook, but it got longer, and longer…..and longer. So I decided to write a blog on it instead.

There’s always been pressure on women to look a certain way, the Victorian era had extreme corsets, ancient Romans used makeup, the Chinese bound the feet, the Kayan Lahwi place brass rings around their necks.  To imply that advertising is the cause of how women feel about themselves today is disingenuous.  All of the above examples and many more were done decades and centuries before modern advertising.  Before TV, magazines, before books, and I’m sure there were ways that women changed how they look before we even had writing.

Second, where are women in this?  Is the speaker saying that women are so easily manipulated that a mere image destroys their self worth?  That women and girls don’t know and can’t be taught that what they see in advertisements is not real?  If the problems stemming from advertising are so inescapable why aren’t they more prevalent?

Third, “The person is dehumanized and violence becomes inevitable.”  Um, no.  While making a person an object may be the first step in violence against that person, I strongly disagree that it is inevitable.  To agree with that statement you would have to believe that humans are violent against all objects.  That because I think of a tree as an object I have to fight my natural urges to violently attack it?

You know what I think is causing all the self esteem problems in this country?  It’s the dichotomy between what we show and what we do.  We surround people with sex but then we tell them not to do it.  That a women’s body should be looked at, but not touched, even by her own hand.  If the only way you’re allowed to be sexual is through what you look like and what you wear, of course you’re going to take it to extremes.

We need to teach women (and girls, and boys, and men) that sex and masturbation are not bad things.  That feeling good is not something to be ashamed of.  That loving yourself physically is loving yourself mentally.

I think this last part relates to two recent posts by Katie West.

Women are sexualized and objectified to appeal to others.


Women who report masturbating score higher on a self-esteem index than women who do not report masturbating.

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Who was James Sammons?

July 4th, 2010

Yale_Dunlap_Broadside Two hundred and thirty four years ago today The Second Continental Congress declared “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States” pledging “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”  Many heard the call, militia’s were formed, young men ready to give their lives for their country.

One of those men was James Sammons, though you didn’t learn about him in high school.  A third generation American, his Great Grandfather had emigrated from Ireland decades earlier.  James was twenty eight and married in 1776.  His oldest son, Groves, was only seven years old.  And still he fought.

He was a private in the 15th Virginia Regiment.  First seeing action in New Jersey, over 400 miles from his home.  Under the command of General Washington his unit fought the British as they entered Pennsylvania on their way to Philadelphia.  Though unsuccessful in preventing the capture of Philadelphia by the British, James and the rest of the Continental Army spent the winter in nearby Valley Forge


The next spring the British abandoned Philadelphia.  America’s new French allies, and their powerful naval fleet, made the continued occupation of Philadelphia dangerous.  As the British retreated, James and the rest of the Continental Army attacked.  Driving the British back to New York City.

Later, James’ unit was assigned to the Southern Department.  The city of Charleston, South Carolina was a major commercial center, and site of a previous British attack in 1776.  On March 29th, 1780 British troops laid siege to Charleston.  Though James and his fellow soldiers fought valiantly, on May 12th they were forced to surrender.  Thus ending James’ military career.

After the war James returned to his home state of Virginia, his wife Elizabeth and his children.

It is because of men like James Sammons that we celebrate our country today.  And it is James Sammons, specifically that I thank on this Independence Day.  You see James Sammons was my Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather.

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Knowledge is Power

July 30th, 2009

Knowledge is Power

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now.  Things keep coming up that relate to how I currently think about knowledge or information.  I think the saying “Knowledge is Power” is true, but only when that information is not commonly known.  In other words, when information is known by only a few,  that can be immensely powerful, but if everyone knows it there is no power there at all.

A classic example is sexual orientation.  In many parts of the world if you’re gay and you haven’t told anyone that secret, that information is very powerful.  In many countries you can be legally put to death for being gay.  Even in the “civilized” US some people could be blackmailed, lose their jobs, their families, and yes even their lives.  But if it’s common knowledge that someone is gay, there is no power there.  You can’t blackmail Ellen DeGeneres with the knowledge she’s a lesbian because everyone knows she’s a lesbian.

If I tell you that on August 21st, 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse plunging most of the United states into darkness during the middle of the day you’ll probably believe me.  Most people reading this will understand what a solar eclipse is and that they can be predicted.  But that same knowledge, a few hundred years ago or in some of the less educated parts of our current world, could brand me as a wizard, require animal sacrifice or elevate me to the status of a god.

Now how does technology fit into this?  Technology makes it easier for everyone to know.  And that scares a lot of people.

Here in Wisconsin we have something called Wisconsin Circuit Court Access or WCCA.  Anyone can go to the website, input someones name and find all public court cases they were involved in for approximately the last 20 years.  Go ahead and put my name in there.  Josh Zytkiewicz You’ll find a traffic ticket, and an incident where I chose my roommate poorly and we got kicked out of our apartment.  Here is the record for former state Senator Chuck Chvala, you can see why he’s the “former” Senator.  In the past, and in many other states currently, you have to actually go to the county courthouse, stand in line, probably fill out some forms, maybe pay a fee for “copying” or “searching”, and you might get to see them the same day.

Or how about the City of Madison property assessment.  Punch my last name in, find out about my condo I bought last year.  Or find out where our Mayor Dave Cieslewicz lives.  Pull the address up on Google Maps and you can get a nice picture of it from Street view.

Some people call this invasion of privacy.  But it’s not.  This is PUBLIC information, and more and more information about you is becoming public.  I say that’s okay.  I’ll even go further and say that’s a good thing.  But only when that information is truly public.  When everyone can access it, and everyone has an equal chance to find information about others and for others to find out about them.

People say they are afraid of Big Brother.  That’s because it’s a one way street.  Big Brother knows about you, but you don’t know Big Brother, what he knows about you, or anyone else.  I like “little brother” better.  Little brother knows about you too, but you also know things about him, and you both know things about everyone.

Big Brother is the CCTV systems in the UK.  Where the government operates them and no one can see what they see unless they choose to show us.  Little brother would give us the same access to those cameras.  We would get to see what they see, all of us, at any time.  We would be the watchers and the watched.

Can you see?

Can you see?

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