Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bethany Mota: Real Teenage Girl

Before to post-State of the Union YouTube interviews, I'd never heard of Bethany Mota. YouTube is my music source, nothing more. When I want social media dialogue I go to blogs or twitter. I only tuned in for Hank Green, but when I found out she was nineteen, I scrolled ahead to watch her parts.
I'm not trying to minimize her accomplishments. I know she travels the world and inspires millions. But while she does all those things, she's a real teenage girl.
If a nineteen year old girl can interview the president, then I can do anything.
We can do anything.
Mota-I'm not calling her Bethany, even though she's in my age bracket-she brought up topics teenage girls actually care about, like bullying and the Boko Haram kidnappings. Naturally, she's received some backlash for not focusing on different issues. Y'know, because we should be talking about pollution and terrorism and the NSA and...and...and...and...
Come on, people. If you've got a problem with this, spend six years building up a viral YouTube platform, and interview the next president. Go on. Shoo shoo. I'll wait.
Oh, and while you're doing that, you may be interested to know that Obama's term ends in 2016. Because, you know. Add the 4 to the 2012. I've been counting down since sixth grade but apparently this isn't common knowledge.
I'm going to close my eyes and pretend most of the searches didn't come from voting-age adults 
Anyway, back to Bethany. Mota. My favorite moment of the interview wasn't when Obama told her, in regards to bullying, "Your voice is more powerful than the President of the United States'." Yes, that was a good one, but the best was she admitted that she "never really followed politics as much."
Yes, there are millions of American voter-googlers who devote significant chunks of brainspace to politics. Mota doesn't. But does she have to? She's a nineteen year old fashion vlogger.

Real teenage girls have shortcomings.
Real teenage girls take selfies.
Real teenage girls are worried about what they're wearing tomorrow, how they're paying for college in four years, and where the government's going to be twenty years from now.
The passions and problems of young women merit just as much attention as GloZell and Hank Green's demographics. The world needs all types, not just political minds. But still, I know plenty of real teenage girls who are more capable than the google-voters making their voices heard right now.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Do You Deserve The Technology You Have?

A short competency test for adults.

1. The above are examples of:
A. Icons
B. Little-texty-symbol things
C. Emoji

2. What is this?
B. Meme
C. A panda...and it's adorable!

3. What can you do with this?
A. Make calls, send texts, and take pictures
B. Play games and change the wallpaper
C. Many, many things

4. Gladys wants to take the text of an email and put it into a word document. For whatever reason, her computer won't allow her to copy the image by right clicking it. What does she do now?
A. Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V
B. Holler for the nearest teenager
C. Begin to cry uncontrollably

5. Jerry has an iPod, which looks quite nice next to the receipts and keychains in his top dresser drawer. He also has a smart phone. which performs all of the functions of the iPod, except it can make calls. All his friends have tablets. What should Jerry do?
A. Learn to be happy with what he has
B. Buy the tablet! Fast! Before they come out with a newer one!
C. Buy the current tablet, wait three months, and then buy the new one

6. While jogging in the middle of nowhere, Tina needs a motivational song, so she looks up a YouTube video from her phone. What allows her to do this?
A. WiFi
B. A data plan
C. Tina can do that?

Now that you have finished the test, please check your answers with a friendly neighborhood teenager. If you scored lower than five , you will be reported to the Tech Nazi Committee, who will confiscate all your electronics in the dead of night and give them to deserving twelve year olds in your neighborhood.
But you'll get over it. In a few short months, you can get the iPhone seven!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Teens and the Tangible

In every argument, there's almost always a tangible and intangible side. When a husband and a wife argue over what color to paint the living room, she's upset because it would honestly look better in green and he's upset because he thinks she doesn't value his opinion. Otherwise there would be no argument at all. If it were really just about color, they'd stand in the living room yelling "Brown!" "Green!" "Brown!" "Green!" for hours on end. When a mother and a child argue over whether or not he deserves a cookie, the child wants the cookie to satisfy his hunger but the mother wants the child to learn discipline.
As children grow into teenagers, we think more about the world beyond our little universes. Suddenly, we don't care about cookies anymore. We argue for the intangible side. Our parents don't know what to make of it. Our whole lives, they've told us we can't have something because it's unsafe, unnecessary, or impractical. Now we're telling them what's practical and they have to argue for the right and wrong.
With the tangible, there's always a right answer. Puke green paint really does look uglier than a warm brown. We may have different opinions at first, but one will turn out better in the end. The tangible isn't about what's right. It's about what works.
When I argue with my parents, I almost never take the tangible side. I've never fought with my parents for permission to go to a party. The most common argument I have with my mother is over my hair. No, not dying or cutting it. Brushing it. I have a hair loss condition called alopecia areata. I'd like to wake up in the morning, dab on my scalp makeup, and pull it back in a ponytail without her touching it. She'd rather I didn't have a gaping patch of flesh in the middle of my scalp.
She's right about the tangible. I'll look better if I keep letting her do my hair. But I'm right about the intangible. Brushing my own hair each morning will help me become more self sufficient and improve my self esteem. Until my senior year, I never did it myself more than a few times a month, and most of those were Saturdays.
Sometimes, I worry I'll run out of things to say here. Have I worn the topic of ageism too thin? Am I touting the same tired old points long after my viewers stopped caring? I have to admit, the biggest issue facing teenagers isn't in the legal system or media portrayal. We've got something else to worr about, something I can rarely talk about.
The place where teenagers face the most ageism is in the home. Yes, all families need to be built on love and respect. But I've seen plenty of parental tyranny. I met a girl once whose curfew was 10:00 P.M. If she came in at 10:01, she was grounded for one day. If she came in at 10:15, she'd spend two weeks locked up. I know a family that takes away their kids' phones if they get anything less than a 4.0. I have a friend whose parents installed a time alert on their door. Even if they're not home themselves, they'll be able to see when she opened it to come home. Most people aren't opposed to parents installing GPS trackers or even spyware on their phones. If the NSA did that, there would be outrage. Why do it to your own kid?
On top of all that, we have the constant reminders that our role in life is to be obedient, submissive, meek. That we are indebted to our parents because they own the food on our backs, the food in our bellys, the phones in our pockets.
Not every teenager has abusive or neglectful parents who supply their lives with real, tangible problems. But no parent is perfect. All arguments are worth fighting. It is by arguing that we learn to cut the umbilical cord and grow into people with our own peeves and passions, not just extensions of them. Even if it's over something as simple as a hairstlye. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Yet Another Post About Teacher-on-Student Rape

So I kicked off my Thursday afternoon with these lovely Whisper confessions.
I'm a teacher and I really think that several of my students would f*ck  me if there were no consequences for either of us...

I'm a teacher and I have a crush on one of my students.

I'm a teacher and 
when the kids go outside for recess,
 I watch porn

I'm a guy and I sext during class. My secret: I'm a teacher.

Then I hit up a local news site, and hey, look, another teacher-on-student rape. My favorite part is the comments.


Kids is not what I would call 16 and 17 year old boys, but we have set the legal sexual adult age at 18 and this is very poor behavior on the part of this woman, especially from a position of trust. Clearly she at least needs some therapy, I hope that is available to her in prison.

I mostly pity the poor ex-husband and her kids!


Saint George, UT
@ 1ket- you're right a teen boy probably isn't thinking anything more than how cool it was to make it with the teacher. However, what long term effects will this have on the young man. Will he be capable of a relationship later on? Will he make a good husband or father? Will this experience cause adverse psychological problems down the road? Will he respect women ?

When young high school age girls and boys engage in sexual activity with older adults, especially teachers, thinking its a good thing, it probably has adverse affects in the long run.


Salt Lake City, UT
As unpopular a statement as the following may prove to be, I'm pretty sure a 17 year-old male would not find the alleged behavior to be a crime. Too bad the law can't recognize that; I think there are many parts of the world where the age of consent is less than 18. Looking at a map on wikipedia, there are many parts of the US where it is 16. Seems to be true for all of Canada, most of Australia, Russia, etc. In many parts of Europe it's lower than that.

If they've reported the rapes to true trusted adults and filed lawsuits, then yeah, I'm pretty sure they consider it a crime. I'm uncomfortably reminded of the Steubenville High rape case. Why are we pitying the perpetrators before the victims?
I know I shouldn't get riled up over a comment section crusade, but I think this demonstrates a larger social problem. I'm not going to get into my opinions because I've already talked about it twice. Here and here.
All students are entitled to sexual safety in school.
Any teacher-on-student sexual activity should be considered statutory rape because there's an imbalance of power.
Seventeen is not to old to be considered a child. We're still treated as minors in every other facet of life, so we're entitled to the same privileges of childhood.
Why am I even writing this? These should be universal truths that stand on their own without some eighteen year old blogger to back them up. Now, if you excuse me, I have homework to do. Because I pass classes the old fashioned way. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Morals, Girls, Morals!

It was early 2009 and Twilight's popularity was at its zenith. Three girls in my seventh grade English class presented reports on books in the saga. When they were done, my English teacher rolled up the screen and turned to face us.
"Girls," she said, "If a boy ever treats you the way Edward treats Bella, run away."
That was the first of many anti-Twilight sentiments I heard.
I've only read the first book and seen the third movie, so if you want to hear it defended, go elsewhere. If you want to hear it criticized, go elsewhere. Frankly, I'm sick of people saying Bella Swann has singlehandedly brainwashed an entire generation of girls into craving abusive relationships. It bothers me because
1. If you need a book to teach you what it means to be a strong woman, you're never going to be one.
2. I've never heard a similar complaint about boys in media.
3. I have, however, heard similar complaints about women in media. Just not to the same extent as girls.
From its humble beginnings as Twilight fan fiction, Fifty Shades of Gray slept its way up the New York Times Bestsellers' list and will hit theaters on Valentine's Day.
For a while, Icing, an accessory shop frequented by mall crawling tweens, carried Fifty Shades of Gray merchandise. Hardware stores noted an increase in rope sales to women. It's also been noted to spark female pornography addiction. I've heard the occasional whimper from conservative religious bloggers, as well as some feminists, about Ana's gleeful submission to Christian. But it can't hold a candle to the wave of concern over Edward's habit of-gasp! Watching Bella sleep! Chastely! For three books and over two thousand pages!

In 2007, seventeen girls at the same Massachusetts high school became pregnant. TIME magazine dubbed it "the Juno affect" after the Academy Award winning movie. Waitress, a movie about an adult facing an unplanned pregnancy, was released the same year. I've heard no complaints there.
Every time a new Disney princess movie comes out, I see articles praising and criticizing the latest heroine for her damselness. This never happens to boys. Does Frozen have a sisters-before-misters girl power vibe, or does it promote lesbianism and unhealthy body image? Is Merida a strong independent woman who don't need no man, or is she a whiny teenager who disrespects her mother, the only other named female in the movie? Sure, Mulan saves her country, but she had to abandon her gender to do it. Plus, she only went to war to help out a man in the first place. And she did it all in front of a preschool audience.

Don't look! If you do, you'll have to look like her!
Teenagers, and specifically teenage girls, are bombarded with this. To say teen girls need strong role models in fiction is to say we don't have enough strong women in real life. They must be created, either by screenwriters or by watchful parents. True equality doesn't mean equals numbers of girls and women in media. It's doesn't mean giving them gumption and goals beyond finding a love interest. It means girls are no longer criticized and overanalyzed for weakness that would be acceptable in a man.