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Archive for the 'Just noticing: Observations of a blogger' Category

“Just Noticing:” Observations of a Blogger

Posted by Michelle Moquin on 14th August 2016

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Good morning!

It’s been an interesting and exciting week watching the Olympics.

I’m also noticing a few “trends”  - Ok, let’s just call it what it is: “Sexism” – out there when it comes to the comments and remarks made about women and their Olympic successes. Olympic swimmer Katinka Hosszu broke the world record in the 400-meter individual medley, and the NBC commentator Dan Hicks makes a comment that Hosszu’s husband/coach, Shane Tusupis the man responsible.” Really? I remember watching the competition and it seems she won it all by herself.

A few days ago I broached the topic on objectifying women in the Olympics by the media paying more attention to a woman’s appearance than her athletic prowess. Now we’re seeing how women’s successes are undermined, and how they are recognized as a supporting role when they are in reality, the star of the show.

It seems I’m not alone in the “noticing.”

Here’s the write from the Huff Po:

Women, Media Bias And The Olympics

SWIMMING-OLY-2016-RIO

Co-writers Jennifer Cunningham and Nell Callahan

Over the weekend one of us accidentally retweeted the story about the Corey Codgell headline debacle — “Wife of a Bear’s Lineman Wins a Bronze Medal” — with the hashtag Katinka Hosszu. A communications professional wouldn’t ordinarily make an error like that. But it never occurred to us that members of the media had twice celebrated the husbands of different women Olympians.

It shouldn’t have happened once.

You know what else shouldn’t have happened? Swimmer Katie Ledecky — after winning the gold medal and beating her own world record — being referred to as the female Michael Phelps.

It’s tempting to condemn this dismissal of women’s success as deliberately hostile but the trend actually reflects a deeper, more insidious worldview: the media simply does not take women and our triumphs — particularly in sports as — seriously as those of men.

A major issue is, clearly, the way women are talked about. Just days before the Olympics began, CNN reported on a UK study that:

Analyzing over 160 million words from decades of newspapers, academic papers, tweets and blogs …finds men are three times more likely than women to be mentioned in a sporting context [i.e. “strong, big, real, great or fastest,] while women are disproportionately described in relation to their marital status, age or appearance [i.e. “aged, pregnant or unmarried].

The disparity is not, however, simply the language that is used; there is real inequality in women’s treatment as well.

Despite no physiological reason for it, women’s Olympic swimming, running and cycling races are shorter than men’s. Olympic boxing limits women’s participation to three events, men get to compete in ten. The Wall street Journal points out that: “The Rio Olympics will feature 169 events for men and 137 for women, meaning that men will walk away with more than 55% of the gold, silver and bronze medallions handed out.” In that same Wall Street Journal article, a spokesman for the International Cycling Union said “the shorter women’s course makes for a more entertaining race.”

That’s a compelling argument. Is entertainment the same reason the women’s Olympic volleyball team wear bikinis while the men’s team wears t-shirts and long shorts?

There is decreasing tolerance for this treatment, both from women athletes themselves and from the public in general. This past December the U.S. Women’s soccer team refused to continue playing games on dangerous turf, pointing that their male counterparts were never asked to do so. More recently they have raised a fight for equal pay.

Over the past few days the social media response to the dismissive treatment of Corey Codgell, Katinka Hosszu and Katie Ledecky was swift and unequivocal: this was not acceptable.
This response is encouraging but it’s not quite enough — because, again, it should not have happened in the first place. Let alone the second place. Or the third.

Our firm, SKDKnickerbocker, created a specific women’s advocacy practice because we think it’s important to advance women’s issues and leaders. And as women leaders and advocates ourselves, particularly ones who work closely with members of the media, we would be remiss if we didn’t call out a news trend that is not only disrespectful to athletes themselves but perpetuates an environment that is frankly biased against women.

These women are playing at the utmost top of the game. They deserve a level playing field, in every sense.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Readers: Let’s recognize the accomplishments our siSTARS are making and give them the kudos they deserve.

Thoughts? The forum is open. Blog me. 

🌟♀🌟

Lastly, greed over a great story is surfacing from my “loyal”(?) readers. With all this back and forth about who owns what, that appears on my blog, let me reiterate that all material posted on my blog becomes the sole property of my blog. If you want to reserve any proprietary rights don’t post it to my blog. I will prominently display this caveat on my blog from now on to remind those who may have forgotten this notice.

Gratefully your blog host,

michelle

Aka BABE: We all know what this means by now :)

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me

“Though she be but little, she be fierce.” – William Shakespeare Midsummer Night’s Dream 

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Posted in Good Reads and Good See'ds, Human Rights and Equality, Just noticing: Observations of a blogger, Travel | 6 Comments »

Just Noticing: Observations of a Blogger

Posted by Michelle Moquin on 17th July 2016

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Good Sunday morning!

From Vanity Fair:

Is It Wrong to Work with Woody Allen?

Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake just signed onto the filmmaker’s latest project.

woody-allen-kate-winslet-justin-timberlake-movie

From left, by Gisela Schober, by Steve Granitz/WireImage, by Luca Teuchmann/WireImage, all from Getty Images.

If you’ve been waiting for Hollywood’s casting gods to unite a scandal-plagued filmmaker, an Oscar-winning English actress, and a former boy-band member, you’re in luck. On Thursday, in a Mad Libs-style casting announcement, Woody Allen confirmed that he has cast Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake in his upcoming film, along with Juno Temple and James Belushi.

Allen has a habit of keeping details about his upcoming projects close to the vest, and this untitled feature is no different. The only additional details a press release allowed were the city where the film will shoot—New York—and the producers of the project.

It may be surprising to see Winslet and Timberlake’s names together in a casting report, but the actors’ partnership with Allen should not come as a surprise for the following reasons:

  • In 2008, Allen revealed that he and Winslet had originally planned to make Match Point together—until Winslet’s exhausting schedule required her to bow out of the role that would ultimately go to Scarlett Johansson. As for Timberlake, Allen recently revealed himself to have a soft spot for Disney-bred actors/mainstream musicians when he cast Miley Cyrus in his upcoming Amazon series. And with regard to the sexual-abuse allegations that seem to follow Allen wherever he goes, remember that Winslet chose to partner with another professionally esteemed filmmaker mired in decades-old controversy when she made Carnage with Roman Polanski, the filmmaker who pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old decades ago.

While promoting that film, Winslet said she had no doubts about working with the Chinatown visionary.

“When Roman Polanski invites you to join him in any project you really don’t say no,” she said, per The Telegraph. “I felt extremely fortunate to be included.”

At the time, though, several asked why Winslet and her co-star Jodie Foster might work with the filmmaker in spite of his personal history. While the answer might seem obvious—great filmmaking is not mutually exclusive from personal flaw—The Atlantic’s Alyssa Rosenberg offered her own hypothesis:

Ultimately, I’ve come to believe that actors and actresses don’t keep working with Polanski because they believe art is a higher imperative or because there’s some kind of kinship between artistic spirits. Rather, I think famous actors and actresses can justify working with Polanski because they’re privileged enough not to see him, and people like him, as a threat. 

The latest Allen casting news arrives only months after Allen’s estranged son Ronan Farrow called out Allen’s collaborators for continuing to work with the 80-year-old filmmaker in spite of the sexual-abuse allegations that have plagued him for decades. In an essay published this past May, Farrow wrote:

Actors, including some I admire greatly, continue to line up to star in his movies. “It’s not personal,” one once told me. But it hurts my sister every time one of her heroes like Louis C.K., or a star her age, like Miley Cyrus, works with Woody Allen. Personal is exactly what it is—for my sister, and for women everywhere with allegations of sexual assault that have never been vindicated by a conviction.

In 2014, Ronan’s sister Dylan Farrow penned an open letterdetailing the alleged sexual abuse she says she suffered as a child at the hands of the filmmaker. Like Ronan, she also called out some of Allen’s young creative partners.

What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis C.K.? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?

Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

Afterward, as Blanchett sailed towards her Blue Jasmine Oscar win, the actress was asked about the essay.

“It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family,” Blanchett said, “and I hope they find some sort of resolution and peace.”

Her co-star Alec Baldwin took to Twitter to offer his own unfiltered explanation for why he would not be commenting on the essay.

“So you know who’s guilty? Who’s lying? You, personally, know that?” Baldwin responded to a Twitter user badgering him for comment. “You are mistaken if you think there is a place for me, or any outsider, in this family’s issue.”

Earlier this year, Kristen Stewart, who co-stars in Cafe Society,adopted the same strategy in an interview—separating the actor’s work from the personal rumors. “We don’t know any of these people involved,” she told Variety. “If we were persecuted for the amount of shit that’s been said about us that’s not true, our lives would be over.”

Even Lena Dunham, who has said she is “decidedly pro-Dylan Farrow and decidedly disgusted with Woody Allen’s behavior”—suggested to Marc Maron that she can still appreciate his films for their artistic merit. “I’m not going to indict the work,” she said.

Sarah Silverman similarly shared her own internal conflict when Tweeting out Ronan’s essay earlier this year. “My comedy hero Woody Allen, and his untouchable P.R. machine and our not wanting it to be true,” Silverman wrote. “But it is.”

Allen, meanwhile, has a foolproof strategy for separating the allegations and controversy from his life. When we sat down with the filmmaker at the Cannes Film Festival this year, he did not seem to be bothered by the negative press. The reason?

“I never read anything about me, these interviews I do, anything,” Allen told us. “I have moved so far past it. I never think about it. I work.”

If the allegations don’t seem to bother Allen himself, then why might they concern the actors on the other side of his camera?

In 2014, author and screenwriter Rafael Yglesias offered a rare perspective on this moral gray area, writing an essay for Slate about his decision to write a screenplay for Allen’s fellow-in-controversial-filmmaker-arms Polanski, in spite of the fact that Yglesias was molested himself when he was 8 years old.

“Roman Polanski was, and is, one of a handful of directors who have made movies that deserve to be called great works of art,” Yglesias explained, adding that he was so eager to work with Polanski that he even accepted a lower rate for the collaboration than he usually does.

He described the partnership as “an opportunity that was too rewarding to my artistic aspirations as a writer” to turn down. But perhaps the sharpest line, that might explain the rationale of Winslet, Timberlake, and the hundreds of others who have appeared in Allen’s nearly 50 movies, arrives towards the end of the essay.

“Working with a rapist is not the same as condoning rape,” Yglesias wrote. “Actors, writers, and producers are not cops, judges, or jurors. In the work they choose to do, writers, actors, producers, and directors can be held accountable solely for its quality and its ideas.”

*****

Readers: I’m not surprised that men wouldn’t skip a beat to work with Woody. But the women…I would think (HOPE) they would react differently. But then, he is a white men and these are white women. So much more to say here about the article, so I’ll open up the forum and invite you to do the talking.

What do you think? Is it wrong to work with Woody Allen, (the LSOS)?

Blog me.

PS: I’ve had family in town since Tuesday and birthdays all around, so my time has been limited here. But anxious to catch up with you all and respond to some comments.

✌🏽&❤️

 

Lastly, greed over a great story is surfacing from my “loyal”(?) readers. With all this back and forth about who owns what, that appears on my blog, let me reiterate that all material posted on my blog becomes the sole property of my blog. If you want to reserve any proprietary rights don’t post it to my blog. I will prominently display this caveat on my blog from now on to remind those who may have forgotten this notice.

Gratefully your blog host,

michelle

Aka BABE: We all know what this means by now :)

If you love my blog and my writes, please make a donation via PayPal, credit card, or e-check, please click the “Donate” button below. (Please only donations from those readers within the United States. – International readers please see my “Donate” page)

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Michelle Moquin PO Box 29235 San Francisco, Ca. 94129

Thank you for your loyal support!

All content on this site are property of Michelle Moquin © copyright 2008-2016

me

“Though she be but little, she be fierce.” – William Shakespeare Midsummer Night’s Dream 

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Posted in Health & Well Being, Human Rights and Equality, Just noticing: Observations of a blogger, Love, Sex & Relationships, Lying Sacks Of Shit | 47 Comments »

Just noticing: Observations Of A Blogger

Posted by Michelle Moquin on 26th October 2014

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Good morning!

A few topics to sink your teeth into, that I am just noticing. 

When you can’t get the cops to help you, ladies, take matters into your own hands. Social media might be the avenue.

#1 from the Huff Po:

 

Woman Tweets Photo Of Alleged Groper

Julia Marquand (Twitter)

SEATTLE (AP) — Police say a convicted sex offender is a person of interest in a groping incident involving a Seattle woman who turned to social media when she decided a police officer didn’t seem to care enough.

Police said late Wednesday on their website that the man is currently in jail for a violation of his state Corrections Department supervision.

The Seattle Times reported that Julia Marquand photographed the alleged groper with her cellphone after the incident last Sunday and filed a police report.

She says a female officer took down details but had to be persuaded to look at the cell phone photo. So Marquand posted the man’s photo on her Twitter and Facebook accounts, saying, “This dude groped me in Seattle yesterday. Cops didn’t want the pic.”

Within a few hours, Seattle police contacted Marquand and said her case had been assigned to a detective.

Police spokesman Drew Fowler said earlier that it wasn’t the tweet itself that caused police to re-evaluate Marquand’s case, but it alerted the department to a “deficiency” in the way her case was handled.

*****

#2 Need protection? If you really feel the cops aren’t on your side but they are actually against you, like we have seen in so many instances lately, this one company has come up with an idea that could further help prevent police brutality. Will it work?

Also from the Huff Po:

Company Makes Gun Tech That Could Help Prevent Police Brutality

YARDARM SMART GUN

Police may soon start using electronic guns that can track how, when and where the weapons are used, which could lead to greater accountability in investigations of police shootings.

The firearms technology company Yardarm Technologies has developed a new product that can record crucial information about when, where and how police officers use their firearms. This technology could be a welcome tool amid growing criticism of heavy-handed police tactics in the U.S., which were exemplified by the controversy around the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August.

Yardarm’s new system can recognize and record things such as when the weapon is unholstered, when a magazine is inserted, when the first bullet enters the chamber and when and (roughly) where the weapon is fired, company spokesman Jim Schaff told The Huffington Post. Soon, Yardarm plans to give the gun the ability to know the direction and angle of each shot, Schaff said.

Why is it important to know this information? The system can provide an objective record of an incident in which a police officer used his weapon, Schaff said, which could be helpful in an investigation. He added that it “goes both ways” — the data could also be used to exonerate an officer accused of misconduct, or to prosecute a criminal in a court of law.

“We’re there to show what happened, to make an accurate reporting of the event, so that it can be used as necessary after the fact,” Schaff said.

Earlier this month, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department and the Carrollton, Texas, Police Department began equipping some of their officers’ Glocks with the new technology, Yardarm stated in a press release Friday.

“We’re looking forward to what we believe law enforcement is heading towards,” Carrollton Police Sgt. Wes Rutherford told HuffPost. “We thought we might be interested in purchasing this in the future.”

Schaff added that the technology can be also be used to keep police officers safer. When an officer draws his weapon, for example, the gun will send an alert to the police command center and to nearby officers, alerting them to a potentially dangerous situation.

Yardarm does not manufacture an actual gun, but a two-inch long device that fits into the grip of an existing gun. That device detects the gun’s every movement through high-powered motion sensors known as accelerometers.

“It’s the same kind of sensor your iPhone uses to change the screen from vertical to horizontal when you turn the phone to the side,” Schaff said. “But ours is way more powerful.”

Currently, for the sensor to work, an officer must be carrying a smartphone. That’s because the device sends a signal through the officer’s phone and then on to Yardarm’s data servers in Washington and Texas, where the information is stored for future use.

The SENSOR can also detect, to a limited extent, where each shot is fired in relation to the shots that were previously fired. “If you fire a shot and then moved laterally ten feet and fired another, we’d know that you moved,” Schaff said. “But three feet? Maybe not.”

Rutherford noted that the sensor could be helpful in an event where an officer uses his gun on a civilian. “Whenever we investigate an officer-involved shooting, we look for every particular avenue that we can, to obtain the objective information, in order to piece together the whole puzzle of what happened,” he said. “So it could absolutely help, yes.”

One of the most recent major development in police officer accountability is the use of body-worn cameras by officers in several states across the country, a practice that has received greater attention after Brown’s killing. Studies have shown that when officers wear video cameras on their uniforms, they’re significantly less likely to use force in their interactions with civilians. Civilian complaints against officers have also been shown to drop when officers wear the cameras, suggesting that this kind of technology could save cities money by reducing litigation fees.

Dashboard cameras, which became popular in the 1990s, have also proven useful for providing an objective record of problematic encounters between civilians and police: Camera footage often helps cut through the he-said-she-said chatter that inevitably accompanies allegations of police misconduct.

But there is a welter of issues with police recording themselves on the job, includingprivacy concerns and the nation’s complicated patchwork of consent laws. Another problem is that video footage isn’t always as reliable as we think. “Sometimes there can be multiple gunshots and it will sound like one, because they cover each other up,” said David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a police accountability expert.

And even though dashboard cameras have been around for years, they still aren’t used in some places in the United States. Body-worn cameras, a much newer concept, are hardly used at all, though more cities are starting to consider them.

For as long as police officers have carried guns, advocates have bemoaned the lack of data and accountability regarding police shootings. To date, there is still no official data on how many people are shot by cops in the United States every year.

Gun tracking technology like Yardarm’s would add to the amount of data available to law enforcement officers and courts about controversial officer-involved shootings. Knowing where and when each shot is fired could bring greater transparency to investigations of these episodes.

In Brown’s case, the version of events recounted by Darren Wilson, the officer who shot him, has at times been at odds with accounts from witnesses. But it’s not clear that the sequence of events would be any less hazy if Wilson had been using Yardarm’s technology.

“Cameras and sensors on weapons would represent a quantum leap forward in policing and accountability,” said Kirsten John Foy, a civil rights advocate who is also the Northeast Regional Director of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. “But technology has its limitations as well. You can’t understand a person’s intent, a person’s mindset, or the circumstances which that officer felt made it necessary to use deadly force. It won’t record those things.”

“So I think we have to be mindful that policing is not just a science, it’s also an art form,” he added. “And there are other factors that have to be taken into account.”

This isn’t the first time Yardarm Technologies has attempted to develop a firearm to help address public safety issues. After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Yardarm set out to create a consumer “smart gun” that could be remotely disabled using an app. But the company abandoned that plan when it realized how politically controversial the idea was. Compared to the consumer market, Yardarm encountered much less resistance marketing its technologies to law enforcement, Schaff told HuffPost earlier this year.

CORRECTION: This article originally suggested that Yardarm manufactures its own firearm. Rather it makes a small sensor that fits into an existing gun.

*****

#3 This one is shocking and sickening, but no surprise considering what has been heavily in the news lately.

From Think Progress.

Report: Black Male Teens Are 21 Times More Likely To Be Killed By Cops Than White Ones

Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself, his son, top left in photo, and a young child during a news conference Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed in a confrontation with police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo, on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.

Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself, his son, top left in photo, and a young child during a news conference Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed in a confrontation with police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo, on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.

CREDIT: AP PHOTO / JEFF ROBERSON

There’s a lot we don’t know about how many people have actually been killed at police hands in the United States, thanks to woefully inadequate transparency and federal record-keeping. But there’s one thing we do now know: Among those we do know were shot by police, black teens were 21 times more likely to be shot deadthan their white counterparts.

“The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police,” a new ProPublica report explains, noting that if whites were killed at the same ratio there would have been another 185 white deaths, just during that three-year period, just of those in that narrow age range.

To arrive at this statistic, ProPublica analyzed the list of 12,000 police shooting deaths that were self-reported by agencies to the Federal Bureau of Investigation between 1980 and 2012. Because this data is self-reported and departments are not required to submit information, this data likely significantly undercounts the number of shootings. Florida departments, for example, haven’t submitted data since 1997 and New York City hasn’t submitted data since 2007. And the FBI asks only for “justifiable homicide”figures, meaning in those instances where the shootings are most overtly viewed as unjustified or the litigation is ongoing, departments are less likely to report.

Still, assessing available data may provide the best insight we have into how grave racial disparities in police violence are, particularly when it comes to young black men, who were stopped by NYPD officers in 2011 more times than the total number of young black men in New York City. Unsurprisingly, past analyses have also found disproportionate violence against blacks, including a 2007 investigation by Colorlines and the Chicago Reporter in 10 major cities. An NAACP report of Oakland, California, found that 37 of 45 police-involved shootings were of blacks, while zero were of whites. “Although weapons were not found in 40 percent of cases, the NAACP found, no officers were charged,” Mother Jones reported.

Studies of human and police behavior suggest that racial bias is baked into policing, particularly because individuals misperceive the threat posed by African Americans. Nonetheless, a 2012 poll after the George Zimmerman verdict found that that the gap between whites and blacks who think the justice system is biased was greater than ever.

*****

Readers: Notice a common thread here? Choose one to chat about or all three. Your call. Blog me.

Happy Sunday everyone! Go Giants!

Peace out. 

Lastly, greed over a great story is surfacing from my “loyal”(?) readers. With all this back and forth about who owns what, that appears on my blog, let me reiterate that all material posted on my blog becomes the sole property of my blog. If you want to reserve any proprietary rights don’t post it to my blog. I will prominently display this caveat on my blog from now on to remind those who may have forgotten this notice.

Gratefully your blog host,

michelle

Aka BABE: We all know what this means by now :)

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Posted in Good Reads and Good See'ds, Health & Well Being, Human Rights and Equality, Just noticing: Observations of a blogger | 23 Comments »

Just Noticing: “Observations of a Blogger”

Posted by Michelle Moquin on 19th October 2014

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Good morning!

I am in the fashion business and haven’t written about style in a very along time. This write caught my eye. From NPR:

Just noticing…

Sagging Pants And The Long History Of ‘Dangerous’ Street Fashion

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Plenty of fashions adopted by young people get under the skin of adults, but the opposition to sagging often has the feel of a moral panic.

Mary Sue Rich finally had enough.

The council member from Ocala, Fla., was tired of seeing the young people in her town wearing their pants low and sagging, and successfully pushed to prohibit the style on city-owned property. It became law in July. Violators face a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.

“I’m just tired of looking at young men’s underwear, it’s just disrespectful,” Rich said. “I think it would make [people who wear sagging pants] respect themselves, and I would wager 9 out of 10 of them don’t have jobs.”

The rationale behind the ban enacted last year in Wildwood, N.J., was similar. “I’m not trying to be the fashion police, but personally I find it offensive when a guy’s butt is hanging out,” said Ernest Troiana, the town’s mayor, after he announced that his city would very much be policing fashion.

Pikeville, Tenn., switched it up a little: Officials there said they were doing so in part because of health concerns related to the “improper gait” of the saggers. Themayor even pointed to a study from a Dr. Mark Oliver Mansbach of the National American Medical Association that supposedly found that around 8 in 10 saggers suffered from sexual problems like premature ejaculation. One problem: Neither Mark Oliver Mansbach nor NAMA actually exist; the much-referenced study was an April Fools’ joke.

This isn’t merely the hobbyhorse of small-town politicos — no less a figure than President Obama has weighed in on sagging. “Brothers should pull up their pants,” he told MTV a few years ago. “That doesn’t mean you have to pass a law … but that doesn’t mean folks can’t have some sense and some respect for other people. And, you know, some people might not want to see your underwear — I’m one of them.”

For sagging’s many detractors, kids wearing their pants below the waist — or below the butt cheeks, in the case of the look’s most fervent adherents — has doubled as a reliable shorthand for a constellation of social ills ostensibly befalling or propagated by young black men. A dangerous lack of self-respect. An embrace of gang and prison culture. Another harbinger of cultural decline. Those are all things that people say about hip-hop, which helped popularize the sagging aesthetic. And if those are the presumed stakes, it’s hardly any wonder why opposition to sagging sometimes has the feel of a full-on moral panic.

Such is the apoplexy around the styles that many of the most vocal proponents of sagging bans are people who might otherwise be wary of putting young black men into unnecessary contact with the criminal justice system. When Jefferson Parish, La., banned sagging last year, the move got a big cosign from the head of the nearby chapter of the NAACP. ”There is nothing positive about people wearing saggy pants,” he told a local TV station. (The national NAACP, it should be noted, has fought back against bans like these.) And a group called the Black Mental Health Alliance of Massachusetts began airing public service announcements in Boston last year that pointedly used the threat of arrest as deterrent. “Our community and our people are tired of these kids walking around like this,” Omar Reid, one of the initiative’s leaders, told the Boston Globe.

There’s certainly nothing novel about adults thinking that young people’s fashions are distasteful — indeed, that’s often kind of the point. Full disclosure time: Like an awful lot of people in my generational cohort, I used to sag. Here’s what I’ll say about that: Everyone who thought he was cool as a teenager and reaches his 30s will look back at photos of himself from high school and cringe mightily. But that isn’t specific to sagging, of course. Like goth dress, it freaks out old people, and then most of its practitioners move on to other things. The difference is that the anxieties around something like goth dress don’t get codified into laws that threaten jail time.

There’s another argument against sagging, which you can see in this video that’s part of the “Pull Up Your Pants Challenge,” that tries to appeal to respectability and pragmatism: Black kids should jettison the look if only to avoid agitating unnecessary suspicion from police and strangers.

But if history is any indication, that suspicion has proven to be pretty sticky, and it’s attached itself to a bunch of different styles — hoodies, construction boots, do-rags.

Sagging, though, has been a uniquely long-lived source of agita.

The Murky Genesis Of Saggy Pants

Los Angeles police officer Victor Vinson was talking to an audience of local parents, warning them about the lure of street gangs. He told them how they might recognize if their own kids had come under the thrall of gangs. The biggest tell, he said, was their sagging pants.

“Kids today are dressing for death,” Vinson said.

That sentiment sounds a lot like the feelings of Mary Sue Rich, the Ocala, Fla., council member. But Vinson is quoted in a Los Angeles Times article from way back in 1988, one of the earliest mentions of the trend in the press. It’s a reminder that people have been fretting about sagging for nearly three decades.

The world has changed a lot since then. Los Angeles in 1988 really was a violent place, especially compared with today, and much of that violence was gang-related. Hip-hop hadn’t become a staple of mainstream music yet. Fashion has changed, too, as people have moved to more contoured, fitted clothing. Sagging has tracked with that: the huge, baggy jeans of the 1990s have been replaced withskinny jeans and pants today. (Unless, you know, you’re Michael Jordan.)

But let’s back up a bit. The most familiar origin myth for sagging goes something like this: Convicts prohibited from wearing belts often wore sagging prison-issued uniforms, and they carried that look with them once they were back on the outside. Another story goes that some prisoners would wear their pants low to let other inmates know they were sexually available. Both have been tentpoles of “scared straight” arguments against sagging for a long time. Um, literally so in the case of the latter.

“You want to walk around looking like a criminal? Pull up your damn pants!”

“You know that in jail that look meant you wanted to have sex with other prisoners? Pull up your damn pants!”

But it’s murky as to how true this be.

“I don’t think we can definitively say that sagging began in prisons,” said Tanisha C. Ford, a historian at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who researches fashion.

An entry about sagging’s genesis on Snopes, the online dictionary of urban legends, says the trend did in fact originate in prison, but the article doesn’t link to its sources.

Consider the many other fashions that once carried the stigma of imprisonment that have migrated to the outside world. It’s probably not an accident that the mainstreaming of tattoos and body art have coincided with the explosion of the American incarceral state.

Whatever the origins, people have actively courted that connection by positioning themselves against mainstream American ideas of propriety through their dress. But when that fashion itself goes mainstream, what counts as oppositional requires some occasional recalibrating.

It’s highly possible, then, that sagging might still be a thing all these decades later because it hasn’t lost its unique ability to rankle.

When ‘Hoodlums’ Wore Suit Jackets

But all this drama around young brown kids, baggy clothes and crime goes back much further than hip-hop and street gangs. In the 1930s, black and Mexican-American men in California began rocking big, oversize suit jackets, and pants that tapered down at their ankles: zoot suits.

Young men were stripped of their clothes and badly beaten as policemen scoured the streets in Los Angeles for zoot-suited young men they blamed for petty crime.

Harold P. Matosian/AP

Ford, the fashion historian, said the look was born out of improvisation, since many of those kids couldn’t afford tailors. “A lot of kids would just go to the thrift store to buy those suits, and then get their mom or their aunts to taper the pants,” she said.

But Luis Alvarez, a historian at University of California, San Diego who wrote a book on that period called The Power of the Zoot, said that just like the origins of sagging, the genesis of the zoot suit is pretty murky. “Some might argue that [people started wearing it because] it looked better when they were spinning girls around the dance floor,” he said. “I argued with a guy who said they got it from [Clark Gable] in Gone with the Windbecause he was sort of wearing a baggy suit in that movie.”

What isn’t in doubt, he said, is that the look was spread by black jazz musicians as they traveled around the country.

Today, those zoot suits are synonymous with Jazz Age and World War II-era cool. But back then, they were seen as the wardrobe of black and Mexican-American delinquents and gang members. Zoot suiters’ opponents — and there were lots — saw them as harbingers of a moral decline. In his book, Alvarez cites a 1943Washington Post article that was typical of the way the trend was covered in big-city newspapers. The language in it sounds an awful lot like the speech Officer Vinson would give those Los Angeles parents decades later on the dangers posed by saggers.

“Chief features are the broad felt hat, the long key chain, the pocket knife of a certain size and shape, worn in the vest pocket by boys, in the stocking by girls, the whisky flask of peculiar shape to fit into the girl’s bosoms, the men’s haircut of increasing density and length at the neck — all of which paraphernalia has symbolic and secret meanings for the initiates. In some places, the wearing of the uniform by the whole gang is a danger signal, indicating a predetermine plan for concerted action and attack.”

In 1943, Noe Vasquez and Joe Vasquez — both 18 years old but not relatives — told Los Angeles police that they were roughed up by sailors who tore their zoot suit-style clothes. And even after all that? Swag.

“The style is linked to jazz music, it’s linked to urban spaces, it’s linked to a criminal underworld — gambling and numbers-running,” Ford said. And those crimes were associated with blacks and Latinos.

Alvarez wrote that “[z]oot syle came to represent what was morally and politically deficient with the home front during World War II — violence, drinking, premarital sex, and the threat of street attacks.” That distaste for the clothes and the culture associated with it persisted even though a good number of the people in the military and war industry were themselves zoot suiters.

As the war ramped up, Americans were, uh, tightening their belts. (My bad, y’all.) There were strict rations put on textiles and fabrics, which angered zoot suit opponents even more — those baggy, bulky threads weren’t just criminal, but an affront to the nation’s war goals.

“In ’42 and ’43 it becomes a flashpoint for ideas that were larger than just youth style,” Alvarez told me. “This is when it becomes the platform for arguments about who is or who isn’t American.”

That anger exploded into violence in Los Angeles when bands of white servicemen — joined by hundreds of police officers — left their posts to search for young black and Mexican-American men dressed in that style to beat up. People were pulled from streetcars and pummeled by crowds. They were bludgeoned in the streets. The violence went on for more than four days.

“These kids wearing those outfits were stripped by sailors and LAPD and their suits were burned in the street,” Ford said. But the anti-zoot marauders were hardly picky; people who weren’t wearing zoot suits were jumped, too.

Similar but smaller paroxysms of violence would unfold in other big cities across the country as zoot suiters clashed with the police and angry whites. When things calmed down, the Zoot Suit Riots became a kind of national scandal, with both left-leaning folks and conservatives arguing that they might have been part of a plot to sow disunity on the domestic front.

Dangerous Fashion Goes Mainstream

The war ended. Fashion moved on. Ford said that as time went on, looks like dashikis and Afros would come to take on their own aura of black menace, although the threat in those style choices was more about fears of militancy and political unrest than street crime.

“We look at the Afro and the dashikis … as part of iconography of the 1970s, but we don’t remember how controversial and political those were,” she said. Some historically black colleges like Hampton University once placed bans on Afros, and the hairstyle was verboten in Cuba and Tanzania.

Untethered from their contemporary messiness, though, those looks have folded into mainstream life. Afros used to scandalize white folks and older black people alike. Today college-educated women post their ”big chop” pics to Facebook, Instagram or the countless blogs dedicated to natural hair, and they’re greeted with affirmation and cosigns.

And zoot suits? Ford joked that the “Steve Harvey suits” that were the preferred dressed-up look for millionaire athletes looked a whole lot like the zoot suits of the World War II era. “You’d see these huge, 6-8 basketball players walking with the big, long suit jackets,” she said. (I’ve been looking for any excuse to link to this draft night photo of Jalen Rose. Thank you, Dr. Ford.)

You might still see teenagers rocking them, too. “Nowadays I can’t go a week or two in May or June without driving past some kids wearing zoot suits to their prom,” Alvarez said.

I wondered if sagging was likely to ever make that same transition into ordinariness. “Once historians go and tell the story of the late 20th century — which we haven’t done yet — there’s a way that sagging and hoodies and t-shirts will be revered as markers of a particular era,” Ford told me. She said that the hoodie and sagging pants look might even become the way we remember the youth resistance of our time. But, she said, “it’s definitely still going to be tied to [ideas of] criminality.”

Alvarez said zoot suits and sagging share much of the same DNA: They were ways that people made statements about their relationships to other people and their circumstances.

“[For the wearers,] it’s a mechanism to reclaim dignity that’s been taken away from them,” he said.

A lot of people would roll their eyes and shake their fists if you told them that there was anything dignifying about sagging pants, I said.

“Youth culture, in general, is not always decipherable to those outside of the inner circle,” Alvarez responded. “In many ways, our dress and our vocabulary and our vernacular becomes powerful because [outsiders] can’t understand it.”

*****

Readers: Amazing that we can get laws passed prohibiting “sagging pants,” because they are considered “disrespectful” to some,  but we can’t seem to get laws passed about men that are “disrespectful” to women walking the streets. Something is majorly wrong with this “logic.”

With respect to the strictly fashion part of this write, I can tell you I am not a fan of the “sagging pant.” But obviously some women are because men wear them and women go out with the men that wear them. Not me. Never.

In my opinion, the only way we can really have an influence over the men, really boys (Would real men be caught dead wearing these?), to stop wearing their pants that way is if women say something and demand that the men they are dating not wear those when they go out…or ever. They look horrible. Believe me, if women refuse to date men dressed like that, men will stop. But women, put up with it. Or like it for whatever reason. Really? Do women really like that look? If you do, let me know – blog me.

Women for the most part, enjoy looking nice and want to look nice when they go out. I am alsways disappointed when I see a woman who has made an effort to look nice, out with a man and he looks like he hasn’t made any effort. FYI: “Saggy pants” in my mind, is also conidered no effort. I love it when a man wants to look good for his lady.

In fact, I am working with a man who is a husband of one of my clients. During our first meeting he confessed to me that he felt that he has been letting his wife down for years by not dressing well, and wants to up his game so that she can feel good when they go out. I loved that. Granted, he’s not wearing “sagging pants” but you get the point. I wish more men thought like that.

I love getting dressed up for a night in the city. I love getting dressed up. Period. And I am so disappointed when I see a woman dressing her best, putting out all the effort and you can tell the guy didn’t give his outfit a second thought. Whether you know it or care about it or not, your style is making a statement. Did you read the above write, what statement “sagging pants” are making? I doubt many guys want to make that kind of statement with their style, but whether you know it or not, you are. Pull them pants up! I don’t want to look at your underwear.

Let me tell you, I work with many men, and if you’re a guy out looking to get an edge over the competition in any arena, pull up your pantsdress well, be mindful of the statement your style is making, dress on purpose not by default…because most men out there don’t. Losing the “sagging pants” are just part of it, but a huge step if you’re one wearing them.

What are your thoughts about the “sagging pant?” What else are you just noticing in street fashion?

Thoughts? Blog me.

Lastly, greed over a great story is surfacing from my “loyal”(?) readers. With all this back and forth about who owns what, that appears on my blog, let me reiterate that all material posted on my blog becomes the sole property of my blog. If you want to reserve any proprietary rights don’t post it to my blog. I will prominently display this caveat on my blog from now on to remind those who may have forgotten this notice.

Gratefully your blog host,

michelle

Aka BABE: We all know what this means by now :)

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“Though she be but little, she be fierce.” – William Shakespeare Midsummer Night’s Dream 

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Posted in Good Reads and Good See'ds, Just noticing: Observations of a blogger | 33 Comments »

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Posted by Michelle Moquin on 5th October 2014

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Good morning!

“Just noticing…”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is serious stuff but we don’t have to be so serious to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Hey, even theWhite House has been known to illuminate the cause.

 

The North Portico exterior of the White House is illuminated pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Oct. 1, 2012 (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

The North Portico exterior of the White House is illuminated pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Oct. 1, 2012 (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

From the Huff Po. 

These 6 Ways People Are Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month Will Make You Smile

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and some individuals and organizations are going beyond pink ribbons to embrace out-of-the-box ways to stand up for breast health.

We’ve partnered with the makers of Genius 3D mammography to highlight six awesome ways people are doing their part to keep breast cancer a part of the conversation.

1. Check Your Puppies! 

coppafeel
Arguably the best thing on the internet, these pups are bringing attention to breast cancer prevention, thanks to the UK edition of Cosmopolitan and London-based self-examination advocate organization CoppaFeel!. It might seem silly, but their heads (er…hands?) are in the right place: Each month, Cosmo’s Facebook and Twitter followers are reminded to conduct their monthly breast exam with a photo of cute puppies in a bra. Cute animals AND breast health? We’re into it.

2. #itouchmyselfproject

This a cappella take on The Divinyls’ 1990 classic anthem “I Touch Myself” will give you chills. After realizing her diagnosis was terminal, frontwoman Chrissy Amphlett thought this girl-power classic should be repurposed to encourage women to check their bodies for cancer. After her death in April 2013, Australian advocacy group Cancer Council New South Wales collaborated with a local group of singers to recreate this song as a means for self-examination advocacy.

3. Standup (Literally) for Awareness

We were already big fans of comedian Tig Notaro, but the way she announced her breast cancer diagnosis threw her into uncharted onstage territory. The set, which is now available on iTunes, got rave reviews for bringing a touch of humor to a very unfunny topic. From Entertainment Weekly: “…Funny, sensitive, and with a firm grasp on the fundamental absurdity of life.” Not many people can turn tragedy into touching standup, but Tig Notaro definitely succeeded.

4. Turning Lemons into (Actual) Lemonade

lemonade

What’s the only thing more refreshing than a tall glass of chilled sweetness? One served with a side of compassion. Two Texas girls took their end-of-summer lemonade stand to philanthropic heights when they used the classic kid entrepreneur model to raise funds for a local organization dedicated to helping breast cancer patients. The girls put a creative touch on the summer classic — offering customers the choice of pink lemonade (and cupcakes) to help raise awareness for the cause. How sweet is that?!

5. Stiletto Stampede
stiletto stampede

Race for the Cure events will happen in 150 cities around the world this year alone. But organizers in Austin, Texas, really kick it up a notch with “Stiletto Stampede,”their take on the annual fund-race. Now in its sixth year, participants make the 100-yard dash in high heels to help women and men better understand breast cancer and breast health.

6. Cookies for the Cause
mammograhams

We love these “mammo-graham” cookies from blogger Wendy Thomas. Here’s the recipe so you can make your own and spread awareness among your family and friends (or even the office!)

Mammo-Graham Marzipan Recipe

What you’ll need:

  • chocolate graham crackers split in two
  • 1 roll of marzipan
  • white frosting
  • pink frosting gel

To make the ones pictured above, Wendy used one roll of the marzipan cut into 13 pieces and warmed in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Then she says to “roll each section into a ball, and squish while molding it until you have a flat section for between the graham crackers and a bulging section that sticks out. ‘Glue’ the marzipan to the graham crackers with some frosting and then use the gel frosting to make the nipple.”

Genius 3D mammography is available as Hologic Selenia® Dimensions® 3D system. Please consult your physician for a complete list of the benefits and risks associated with mammography.

♥♥♥

Readers: Of course, I love anything with animals and kids…and the song…well it speaks for itself. Tig Notaro interview is a fresh and wonderful mix of raw vulnerability, authenticity, and comedy – a good watch. And those Mammo Grahams are hilarious! Yes, guys, they do get smashed like that in the mammogram x-ray machine.

Are you doing anything special this month to honor our sisters that have been diagnosed with breast cancer or who are breast cancer survivors? Please share. Blog me.

FF: Thanks for taking a step forward to stop the insanity of these thugs with badges. I tried your link to write a letter myself and it isn’t working.

If anyone would like to contact Ohio Governor Kasich’s inbox, click here.

Burne: I can totally relate about voters voting on single issues that affect them, especially when it comes to the repubs that I know. I don’t know the stats of older voters vs young voters though. I have some repub friends and I feel that they are just focusing on one or two issues and using talking points given to them. Usually it is about taxes. Ugh…So frustrating.

In my opinion and experience from the ones I do engage in a political conversation with, they’re really not on top of any other issues except the one or two that is personally affecting them. And if I have to be totally honest, I don’t even think they are totally informed, even on those. Most of my frustration is with women who have no idea because they live with their head in the sand living in a tiny world, too dumb, or just go into denial that their party is mostly misogynists who could care less about them.

But I hear what you’re saying, Marilyn. Young voters are just not voting, and especially when it comes to midterm elections. That is where we can make a huge difference, and win this election, if we can just get the young dems to the polls, especially the women. I will be blogging on this topic soon.

Sandra: It may be foolish to think that it’s going to change but it is worth the effort to get them there because the downside is, nothing will get done in the next two years unless we do. Obama got a lot of young and first time voters to the polls in 2008. Unfortunately they slacked when it came to taking it home at the midterms in 2010, but I have faith.

Lucy, ST: Sorry to hear that. You too, Irene, and anyone else having trouble.  It’s the same same ol’ story. Blame it on those that oppose.

Gary: I like your suggestions of being prepared for voting day.  Repubs may not be able to make it impossible to vote but they sure will try. And if you do vote, they will certainly try and switch your vote to steal the election. We have to all participate this November.

I agree with you - Obama doesn’t have to be on the ballot to make an election important. But people need to realize that midterms are sometime even more important because control can change party very quickly. We saw it in 2010 when the Dems didn’t show up because they were still high from the win in 2008. I am HOPEing that from what we have experienced with a loss in the House, how important the November midterms are are, and get themselves to the polls. Obama just signs legislation; he doesn’t write it. As we all know from experience, with Obama as president and repubs in power, hardly anything will get done, because the repubs would rather see this country fail than a black man succeed.

I feel your frustration over the apathy of the general public. I am frustrated too. We have the right to vote and many don’t exercise that right by using the power of their voice and their vote to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.

I just keep thinking how much Obama has done and how much more he could’ve done, and could do if we can just keep the Senate and get back the House. We have all put in so much effort over the years, we can’t give up now.

Molly: Well said. Loved your comment.

Robert, I: I haven’t seen you here in awhile. Are you around? I HOPE all is OK.

Thanks for sticking around. Peace & Love…

Lastly, greed over a great story is surfacing from my “loyal”(?) readers. With all this back and forth about who owns what, that appears on my blog, let me reiterate that all material posted on my blog becomes the sole property of my blog. If you want to reserve any proprietary rights don’t post it to my blog. I will prominently display this caveat on my blog from now on to remind those who may have forgotten this notice.

Gratefully your blog host,

michelle

Aka BABE: We all know what this means by now :)

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“Though she be but little, she be fierce.” – William Shakespeare Midsummer Night’s Dream 

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