Social Justice

Guilt, Historical Amnesia, and the Question of Empathy

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Lately, I seem to hear the same voice every morning when I turn on the radio during my daily commute. I can practically feel the pent-up anger, like a suffocating cloud of smoke, filling up my car as Donald Trump’s gravelly voice huffs and puffs through another grandiose yet substantially wanting speech. A few weeks ago, he said he could “relate” to police brutality against black people. Yesterday, he rehashed the subject of building a wall to stop illegal immigrants. Today, the topic was tax reform.

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Pop Culture

Is It OK to Hate Taylor Swift? A Reflection, in List Form

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Let me start off by saying I don’t actually know Taylor Swift on a personal level. Granted, by sheer luck (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it), I have found myself within one or two degrees of separation from her by a) living in the Nashville metro area for four years, and b) inadvertently befriending several folks who do know her. Well, knew her I suppose, back when she was more #solo and less #squad. Thus, I’ve heard, maybe more than most, a somewhat absurd number of reasons why I should hate her.

“She’s stuck up.”

“She’s so fake.”

“She hardly writes any of her songs.”

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Longform

Let’s Talk About Gwyneth Attempting the Food Stamp Challenge

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Now, I don’t know Paltrow’s intentions with her picture or her participation in the #FoodBankNYCChallenge. She could have meant to start a real debate about food access, she could just be bored and want a new Goop entry. As someone who has tried and failed at the SNAP challenge, I believe her heart’s in the right place and, whether she meant to or not, her grocery cart was a well-timed commentary on food issues in the US. Call her participation patronizing, say that she bought the wrong type of food, say there wasn’t enough of it, claim it’s the “most Gwyneth thing ever,” but do not discount the fact that activism is taking place. People are taking this challenge, donating to a very important food bank in the community, and beginning a conversation on food.

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Longform

Whose Bass Is It Anyway? (Or, The Problem with Pop’s Empowerment Anthems)

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This article was originally written as a producer piece for Things Not Seen.

This summer, a wave of up-beat, supposedly empowering pop songs came out. A similar outpouring of self-esteem boosting anthems happened in 2011, with Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way,” Katy Perry’s “Fireworks,” and Pink’s “Perfect.” The music industry has apparently discovered that inspiring confidence is profitable, but like anything that is created to be sold, the message of these songs is often corrupted.

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Longform

On the Corner of Faith and Feminism: An Inclusive Alternative to Femen’s Goals

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Originally, this piece appeared as an essay for a Women’s and Gender Studies class. The content has been modified slightly to better fit an online format for a broader audience.

Janet Soskice opens Feminism and Theology with the observation that “it is no secret that some feminists regard the term ‘feminist theology’ as an oxymoron.” Soskice acknowledges in her introduction that Judaism and Christianity “are cast as prime villains in the Western history of the subordination and oppression of women. Their ideologies, their symbolism, and, above all, their established institutions stand accused of putting a stranglehold on women’s aspirations.”  Soskice notes Gloria Steinem’s telling response to the question of whether feminism had been a success – that forty years could not erase the 5000 of “racism, sexism, nationalism and monotheism!”

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Fashion

Ethical Fashion and the Millennial Consumer

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On my daily inbox scan the other day, I came across this wonderful article about the ethics of fashion by Lucy Collins, a Parsons professor. Her points reminded me of several discussions I’ve had with friends and colleagues about the role of educated, socially conscious, yet student-loan-burdened twentysomethings within this conversation. It’s easy to advise someone to stay away from fast fashion and invest only in quality products, but when you’re living from paycheck to paycheck and need a last-minute, decent-looking blazer for an interview, resorting to the convenience (and low, low prices) of fast fashion can sometimes seem like your only viable solution.

There’s lots of talk about sustainability and ethics with regards to what we eat, but what about what we wear? Once one puts his or her college-educated brain to work, it’s easy to see how fast fashion, on so many levels, just isn’t practical…

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