A Meditation on Beauty

By Kate Ringer

 

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My polished and flawless sister

I was a little shaken after doing my last blog post, My Week With Makeup. It was really hard to see two pictures of me, side by side, where I looked completely different. When I looked at myself wearing makeup, I felt like I finally measured up to the other girls I see walking around campus, the girls who look flawless. I looked older wearing makeup, and certainly more put together. I have a younger sister who is seventeen, and whenever we meet new people, they assume that she is older. Why? She wears makeup, she actually curls or straightens her hair in the morning, she’s polished and flawless and put together and so people assume she is older.

 

 

This worries me. Continue reading “A Meditation on Beauty”

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My Week with Makeup

By Kate Ringer

When I was a little girl, all I wanted was to be a teenager. I pictured my future self as a popular cheerleader, a girl who had an endless stream of boyfriends, a gaggle of giggling girlfriends, and a closet full of fashionable clothes. As I got older, I realized that my fantasy wasn’t really me. When I was young, all I wanted to do was wear makeup, but my mom made a rule that I wasn’t allowed to wear it until I was in seventh grade. Through my sophomore year of high school, I experimented with makeup, but I never really felt comfortable wearing it. I wasn’t good at putting it on, and it just never really felt like me. Now, I’m in my sophomore year of college and I haven’t really worn makeup since my junior prom.

After reading “My Week Without Makeup,” I was struck by the idea of doing the opposite experiment. What would it be like if I wore makeup for a week? So, after over a month of deliberating and worrying, I finally decided to do it. Continue reading “My Week with Makeup”

A Discussion of Language and Inclusion with Activist Madeline Scyphers

Last week I had the privilege to meet with Madeline Scyphers, an activist for the queer community. I had a lot of questions about her community, and Madeline had a lot of answers. I started out by asking Madeline what her identities are so I could get an idea of where she is coming from. She has many, and her response was, “I identify as trans. I identify somewhere between a transwoman and someone who identifies as nonbinary transfeminine. What that means to me is I do feel like the binary gender system of being a man or a woman does not necessarily fit me as a descriptor all the time. I never identify as someone who is a man  or a boy, and I really hate it when someone does gender me that way.”

That’s just one aspect of her identity. When I asked her about her sexual orientation, she responded, “The best word I use is queer. I do and have always primarily dated women, but I’m attracted to most people, at least some of the time, but not all people all of the time. Bi and pan don’t really encompass that; only if you explain it to someone. Since I have to explain it to someone anyways, because it’s [the terms bi and pan] implying things that I don’t want it to imply, why don’t you just use the term queer, which is purposefully vague? I can use it, and you don’t make assumptions about what it means.” There’s more to Madeline than her sexual orientation and gender identity. Madeline said, “I also identify as an activist, I am a math student, and that’s really important to me, and it plays into a larger identity of feeling like kind of a nerd.” Continue reading “A Discussion of Language and Inclusion with Activist Madeline Scyphers”

The Sexualization of Children and Sex Education

By Kate Ringer

A concern for many parents is the sexualization of children, which is defined by the American Psychological Association as occurring when, “A person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, a person is held to a standard that equates 

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An illustration of a popular doll for children

physical attractiveness with being sexy, a person is sexually objectified, or sexuality is inappropriately imposed on a child.” As this article points out, children are not inherently sexual. When we see babies’ upper thighs in their onesies, we aren’t concerned with people thinking that our babies are sexy, and it should be the same exact way with a child. A child wearing short shorts and a tank top isn’t inherently sexy, but they become that way when the child is taught to engage in inappropriate behaviors, such as the dance routines on Toddlers & Tiaras. Children do not behave that way unless they have been taught to behave that way through the constant media bombardment of sex culture, whether it’s through video games, movies, television shows, advertisements, or their toys. There was a study conducted by Bandura in the sixties that showed children mimicking, or “modeling,” the behavior of adults after being exposed to short video of adults playing with a doll happily
or violently. If they viewed the adult being violent with the doll, they were much more likely to be violent when exposed to the doll in their play. This concept of modeling can certainly be applied to the sexualization of children as well. Children whose parents and the media model behavior that model sexualized behavior may transfer the behavior to their own actions, according to Bandura’s theory of learning. I can remember as a child wanting to wear lipstick just like my mom, and it felt so special when I got to wear it for a special occasion. That is an example of modeling. 
Continue reading “The Sexualization of Children and Sex Education”

Positive and Negative Liberty and The Handmaid’s Tale

By Kate Ringer

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a novel dating from the late eighties that I read recently with my book club. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the most fantastic book I’ve ever read, but it certainly made me think. It tells the story of Offred, a middle aged woman who is struggling to find her place in a society in transition. This novel was fairly dystopian, but what made it different than other dystopian novels that I’ve read is that I felt like this is something that I could see happening in my lifetime, practically at any moment. It was realistic, and it said something about American culture that scared me. Continue reading “Positive and Negative Liberty and The Handmaid’s Tale”

Why do we encourage women to become engineers but we don’t encourage men to become teachers?

By: Kate Ringer

Let’s set something straight: I have wanted to be a teacher for a long time, longer than I can remember. At first I thought I’d want to teach elementary, but once I made it to high school I knew that I had found my home in my English classrooms. Plus, I’ve always loved school, as school is where I could succeed.

This is important. Continue reading “Why do we encourage women to become engineers but we don’t encourage men to become teachers?”

Male Circumcision in the United States and Consent

For the past two weeks I’ve talked about consent in the context of sex and how consent relates to individuals who are intersex. This week I want to broaden the discussion on a child’s right to decide what happens to their body through an exploration on circumcision.

During the Victorian Era, circumcision became a widespread practice as a treatment for masturbation. At this time, it was the belief of many doctors that masturbation led to many diseases, and that by removing one of the most sensitive parts of the penis, it could be prevented. Male circumcision was not just prevalent in the United States, but in all English-speaking countries at the time, such as Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. However, the practice decreased significantly in all of those countries except the United States in the following years. Now, between 60 to 90% of American boys are circumcised, depending on the region they live in, but only 16% of boys in Great Britain are circumcised, even though both countries were influenced by the ideas in the Victorian Era. So why is the United States still engaging in this practice? Continue reading “Male Circumcision in the United States and Consent”