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FCKH8’s “F-Bomb Princess” video isn’t offensive—it’s exploitative.

crossing frontieres:

Whether or not the T-shirt company gives to charities matters very little. Students who sell their bodies online pay for college. That’s a good cause too! What lessons are they learning except to use their bodies as a commodity to get smart. Continuing to make kids prawns a la jon benet serves adults, not kids. The money donated to charities is on the backs of little girls – a version of child labor which we condemn other countries for. We tell those counties that they’re undeveloped, under developed or developing when they use kids to make profits. we do same in princess costume. Do princess costumes obscure what the real story is? Do we think it is a fairy take if we put them in princess costumes and have them swear like “firemen” as some saying goes? isn’t that female empowerment just a tad undeveloped and under developed as a thought? If feminism wants to challenge sexist ways of society, can’t it employ adult women to do their advertising? must they recruit the young? Have we been reduced to using 6-13 yr old girls to raise awareness of sexism by further commodifying them? Next will be 1 mth to 5 yr olds.

Originally posted on Rebecca Hains:

Yesterday, for-profit T-shirt company released a video called “F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Use Bad Word for Good Cause.” The video features five angry girls, ages 6 to 13, who express outrage at society’s sexist treatment of girls and women while decked out in princess attire.

F-Bombs for FeminismThe video opens with the girls sweetly cooing, “Pretty!” while posing in their gowns and tiaras. But three seconds later, they switch gears and shout: “What the fuck? I’m not some pretty fuckin’ helpless princess in distress. I’m pretty fuckin’ powerful and ready for success. So what is more offensive? A little girl saying ‘fuck,’ or the fucking unequal and sexist way society treats girls and women?”

As the video progresses, the girls review the ongoing issues of inequality, systematic discrimination, and sexual violence faced by women in the U.S. They pepper these facts with more f-bombs, of course.

This combination of pretty pink princesses and relentless use of the…

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Ganjapreneuring or weeding out the capitalists?

recently, standing in line to pay at a health food store, i noticed a magazine with headlines  “up in smoke: female ‘ganjaprenuers’ are taking Colorado’s newly legal weed biz by storm”.

first, ‘preneurs’ is misspelt, and i’ve even seen [in the nytimes i believe] that some are spelling the new word like this gangapreneurs, which is equally incorrect, since ‘ganga’ is the river ganges, considered to wash away sins and bring on moksha or liberation from the cyle of life and death. then again, some might say it does “free” you from life and death, if only for a moment. that way, they experience several mokshas on earth. but, that aside, it is borderline absurd to read that the women behind the weed biz are ‘young ambitious female’ and calling that a new brand of feminism. how would that change or benefit women’s lives across the board?

cannabrand – the advertisement agency which is promoting marijuana headed by these young college educated females – wishes to show the world that normal, professional, successful people consume cannabis. no more rastafari doping up or jamaican students selling weed to pay their living expenses at university or riffraffs at street corners getting high instead of going to school or those men who get busted by plainclothes police officers for selling weed? instead, nothing like zee “french” to infuse sophistication into something previously seen as mundane, like tango performed in brothels in argentina, which became high art once it hit parisian feet. the women behind the weed biz are calling themselves “cannabis sommeliers” and have hooked on to the green rush to de-stigmatize pot of its stoner stigma. they’re saying ‘cannabis’ instead of ‘pot’. ‘consume’ instead of ‘smoke’. ‘product’ instead of ‘marijuana’. but, no matter how you disguise weed or try to infuse it with sophistication a la french, a weed is a weed is a weed, the same way that a rose, by any other name, is a rose. the euphemisms are merely an effort to make ganja more appealing, like they’ve done with e cigarette; the e weed , like the e-cig, slides into a purse or wallet. cannabrand has even rolled out a yoga class called vape and vinyasa, and is currently working on an app so “consumers” could order online and skip lines. amazon and opentable for weed.

the aim of these female self proclaimed connoisseurs is to bring smoking weed from behind closed doors. besides misrepresenting feminism for ‘all’ women, they’ve also neglected a huge sector of american society, who likes to try new things or are under pressure to try new things by friends. how will this sector- teens and kids – play out in this new freedom to smoke weed and get doped in the long run? these faux feminists have not asked themselves, nor each other, whether making weed less stigmatized will remove the harmful result, especially for teens.

is this society is one for adults only? the majority of ‘adult’ americans support legalization efforts in alaska, oregon, dc, colorado and are in the process of exercising ballot measures. these adults who crave “coming out” from behind closed doors must rethink the effects that legalization and ‘prettifying’ weed will have on teens and kids. when alcohol is banned for the under 17 group, why wouldn’t pot? if alcohol and cigarettes are legal for adults, why are they illegal for the under 17 crowd? when i studied psych 101 for education majors at nyu, i remember my professor talking about the habit forming effects of caffeine, pot and nicotine in the long run on students’ brain. many who’ve smoked pot know that it zombifies some with heavy use, and that it can change personalities from just a few years use. we adults who push legalization ought to entertain the notion that mass marketing of weed will breed chickens which will come home to roost in the future, as we’ve seen with guns and alcohol in the hands, mouths, blood and brain of kids and teens. “legal” CAN and DOES cause harm.

while older adults generally demonstrate higher levels of new knowledge than younger americans, we know that things that aren’t instgrammable or tweetable etc will not catch our kids’ and teens’ attention. this ‘read-and-see-only-generation’ with attention spans as short as allowable tweets, doesn’t read anything thoroughly; only headlines. our kids are not hearing about the new developments as they arise, because they don’t read that sort of news. when new developments do arise, they’re filtered down through the vine each time, especially by those who don’t see weed as a future danger and who tend to say any new news in a different way to make it more acceptable or palatable, whether consciously or unconsciously. imagine putting new developments about weed on twitter and Facebook or any medium. who’s going to read anything longer than two sentences? as adults, we’ve learnt to go to the source, but teens and kids won’t, and don’t do that in this social mediated world. and kids in the US, for whom peer pressure is everything, particularly so.

another problem with this legalization of pot is in the numbers: if you consider the fact that ganjapreneurs are selling weed twice or thrice as much means they’re only looking for big profits. this modern day capitalism once again neglects the danger to teens as well as to those who don’t believe in legalizing or making this substance acceptable. and yes, it is a plant and can be medicinal, but so is coca leaves which kills and is highly illegal.

but, by far the most blaring misconception about this new feminism and ganjapreneuring is its racist and discriminatory agenda: when young black men sell weed they are dealers and do jail time. when young white women do the same, they are entrepreneurs [or ganjapreneurs] and we read in articles how ‘clever’ they are. but, clever in this sense needs a qualifier, like ‘clever in capitalism’ or ‘clever in business’.

the legalization rush doesn’t seem to be in society’s best interest as one observer (Michael magnotta in nytimes) notes: do we really need to pair marijuana use with going to the symphony, studying painting or doing yoga? and if that occurs, we may soon have students majoring in ganja-induced painting or music and walking around with green mats on the streets and subways on their way to do ‘high’ yoga or yoga when high.

“Hundred foot” delights

the delights of lasse hallstrom’s hundred foot journey:

the first obvious delight for me is its appeal to “all” the senses: smell, taste, touch, see, hear. i could smell the curries, spices, even the fish and meats, and the béchamel and other sauces, even if you can’t name the five mother sauces of french cooking. you may find yourself breathing heavily during scenes of  wild mushrooms, simmering curries and snow-white béchamel sauce. i could literally taste some of the foods. i could see the abundant colors of what i smell and taste; the beautiful french landscapes, including one breathtaking shot of the sun cascading down, and locale makes the film seem ethereal at times. i could hear multiple languages: french, hindi and english and the music from india and france in the wonderful score, which does what the film is doing: marrying the two warring yet loving cultures to make a culinary and romantic ensemble

maison Mumbai, with its faux taj mahal, booming hindi filmy music and twinkling lights starkly opposes the formal french restaurant, le saule pleureur, with its starched linen, heavy cream, fine wine and perfectly shined cutlery. there, you are not to eat with your hands unless it is to hold a slice of baguette, whereas in maison mumbai you could eat with your hands and even lick your fingers. “hundred foot journey” becomes a place where murgh masala is on par with béchamel sauce, and where Hassan infuses time-tested French recipes with his secret store of exotic spices. the idea of the ‘French not eating Indian food, because they have a food of their own’ as Hassan’s sister believes falls flat on its face when mme Mallory tastes Hassan’s divine omelet.

but food isn’t the metaphor that’s bridging the two cultures. something else is cooking up on low heat. the two love stories which have been simmering throughout the film: the older couple mme Mallory/papa kadam and marguerite/hassan. mme mallory and papa kadam cat-fight and judge each other (only for half the movie), but the young couple – marguerite/Hassan- never judge each other and manage to absorb each other’s tastes quite well. the only thing distasteful in the film comes from the young acclaimed french chef at le saule pleureur, who is fired for his intolerance, his inability to assimilate or coexist, and who reinforces the imperial idea of the other or the marginalized as being ‘less’. his intolerance on which he acted – by spray-painting racial epithets in big black letters on maison mumbai’s walls – earned him not only a job, but something even bigger, a career. he loses the Michelin star, which was everything he ever wanted as a chef! there’s no place for xenophobes who worship french “purity” in this film.

in an age of digital love, voyeurism, and vicarious pleasures it is refreshingly soothing to see a film that explores all the senses, privileging each sense on the same level. if Aristotle privileged touch above all senses and plato privileged seeing as the highest sense, the world of hundred foot journey isn’t insensitive. in a world where seeing has become the theoretical tool of the west- in cinema, social media like instagram, twitter, tumblr etc – and our society is no longer our oyster, but our screen, hundred foot world is multi sensorial. a world where artists, philosophers, writers, musicians, dreamers and chefs feel, sense, taste and act. a world without feeling, tasting, touching, seeing, hearing is a boring, one dimensional world. hundred foot world is a world filled with empathy, vulnerability, sensitivity, tactility and art. to appreciate and savor all that the film offers is to be ‘touched’ by it in every sense, because tactility isn’t blind immediacy nor merely sensorial, but cognitive, too, and savoring has its own pleasures.

agnes varda once asked what someone would see if they open you up in Plages d’Agnès . she said if you opened up some people, you would see countrysides, but if you opened her up you’d see beaches. she then looks into the camera and asks “Et en certaines personnes que trouverez-vous?” [and what will you find in certain people?].   I thought the question odd when I saw that film, but I understand now what she meant. if I was opened up, hundred foot journey would be one of the movies you’d see inside. perhaps because I’ve crossed these two worlds and continue to cross them. perhaps because they offer so much to me, as the movie does to its audience. the plot isn’t overcooked in the wrong person’s hands, but instead is a feel-good fare with plenty of delicieux! for me who have become vegetarian no secret sauce is needed. i just mixed the traditional ingredients of the two cultures and voila! a melting pot of indo-french haute cuisine was uncovered.

bon appetite!

An African American writes about his killer cop white brother

An African American writes about his killer cop white brother.

systemic racism in the US

newyorker on august 11, 2014 reported: Michael Brown didn’t die in the dark. He was eighteen years old, walking down a street in Ferguson, Missouri, from his apartment to his grandmother’s, at 2:15 on a bright Saturday afternoon. He was, for a young man, exactly where he should be—among other things, days away from his first college classes. A policeman stopped him; it’s not clear why. People in the neighborhood have told reporters that they remember what happened next as a series of movements: the officer, it seemed to them, trying to put Brown into a car; Brown running with his hands in the air; the policeman shooting; Brown falling. The next morning, Jon Belmar, the police chief of St. Louis County, which covers Ferguson, was asked, at a press conference, how many times Brown had been shot. Belmar said that he wasn’t sure: “more than just a couple of times, but not much more.”

newyork times reported today that the autopsy revealed at least 6 shots. and the shot to his lowered head may have been the fatal one. belmar [the cop] said “not more than a couple of times”. read again the newyoker account above and the results of the autopsy and determimne whether 6 bullets were necessary. whether 6 bullets had to be fired, one to the head of Michael brown who ran off to avoid being arrested and being forced into the car.

of all the hollywood movies I’ve seen, i can safely say that ONE bullet to the leg somewhere will deter someone from running. last night i watched two guns where denzel washington shot mark wahlberg in the leg so he couldn’t run off, but not 6 bullets! 6 bullets to an unarmed young man and one to the head which was lowered smells of something rotten and dark.

the questions begs us to stare at police motivation in the face.

exactly how often do police shoot unarmed black men?

Today, it’s 18 yr old michael brown from missouri.
Yesterday, it was 43 yr old eric garner of staten island who died from a police chokehold.
and 22 yr old john crawford of ohio killed in a walmart because a toy gun he’d picked up was mistaken for a real gun.
and ezell ford, a 25 yr old unarmed man of LA shot by police.
and 17 yr old trayvon martin from florida shot and killed by a guard.
and 24 yr old jonatahn ferrel of north carolina who was tased and shot 10 times just after coming out of a car accident and banging on a nearby door for help.

and 2 decades ago it was me, only i didn’t die of gunshots, because i was already like the dead, and perhaps luckily for me. i was unconscious and wounded from having fallen asleep while driving and hitting a telephone pole. i was arrested for ‘drunken driving’ straight out of the emergency room at glen cove hospital NY even though i had no alcohol in my blood, as the doctor told the arresting police officer since he’d taken a blood test before giving me meds. but the white police officer’s words: “oh! she’s fucking drunk!’ resounded in my aching head as he wheelchaired me off in handcuffs with my head concussion, throbbing pain & shock and put me in jail for the night.

Racially charged arrests and killings can’t be dismissed as isolated incidents. There’s an intolerable pattern nationally of unarmed black men and women arrested and dying at the hands of police. Fair adjudication of each case is critical as is finding a way to avoid such senseless deaths & arrests by guns or chokeholds or tasers.

Must all colored people hold placards saying “don’t shoot me! I’m unarmed!” or “my name is khan and I’m not a terrorist!”

Mahabharata Knowledge Seeking Adventures: Disdain, not appreciated

crossing frontieres:

The problem is that in Indian culture someone is judged by what they wear, and that someone is usually female. Knowledge and attire should not be a cause/ effect experience. Learning, probing, exploring new avenues clothe the mind, not the body. these days, Americans are getting funded to study in India because of their willingness and interest in exploring something new or differently and they’ll return with new, exciting ways of seeing something that others – dressed for the part- haven’t seen.

Originally posted on itwasjustanotherdaydream:

South Bangalore is known for its traditional set up and that was where I found myself on Wednesday, attending a talk about the characters of the Mahabharata.

It was conducted by a highly religious and learned man, who also happened to be so old that he had no teeth, the character he decided to speak about was Ghandhari.

I got a glimpse of the story from merely the point of view of Dharma, with lengthy explanations about the difference between Krishna and Shakuni. Which as was their intentions, Shakuni’s selfish intentions and Krishna’s intentions of societal good. Which I’ve always understood and never had trouble wrapping my head around.

I had a bunch of questions at the end of the session about Ghandari’s decisions, so I walked into the side room where the old man was sitting and I even got my answer.

What stayed with me was the way…

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Urgent Call: Bir Zeit University Institute of Women’s Studies, Palestine

Originally posted on Kafila:

Statement from Bir Zeit University Institute of Women’s Studies, Palestine


Gaza Under Attack

As we write this statement, 25 days after the brutal incursion on Gaza, over a thousand and four hundred of innocent civilian women, men and children have been butchered by Israel’s war machine and much more are threatened to be killed. The call for raping Palestinian women by the so-called “Bar-Illan University Arabic Literature Professor” teaches us, once again, that Israeli “scholars” and “academic institutions” are an organic and integral part of the Zionist colonial project. Also, the parliament member, who happens to be a woman, advocates the killing of all Palestinian women, a Rabbi calls for mass murder of Palestinians while taking their foreskins as trophies, in addition to the display of many rape references on banners and images (head covered woman from the top while indecent from the waist down with a very provocative statement below)…

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