Final Podcast + Transcript

Whatsup guys? Welcome back to A Matter of Opinion. A podcast produced here at York University in Toronto Canada. I’m your host Srdjan Soso. To begin I’d like to thank our professor Dr.Bell, my teaching assistant Keith, the Professional Writing department and York University for their hard work and valuable insight into emerging forms of communication and keeping education relevant with current technological demands. Today we will be discussing gun violence in Toronto, and I promise I won’t be bombarding you with statistics and political rhetoric to try and win over votes. Haha. Instead, let's focus on the issue on a deeper level. As someone who had been in a gang for well over 6 years, I can assure you that stiffer gun laws, beefed up police forces and policy changes will not solve the problem. There is more going on behind the scenes that many are not ready or willing to admit and those are the hard facts were going to present here today. So let’s not waste time and get into it! Let’s go!


Welcome back to the show. So you might be wondering why the increase in gun violence and what does it signify? Well, a number of things. A number of failed government policies, over-policing including carding which targets visible minorities often times in low income communities, and even pop culture play a major role in the situation we find ourselves in today. Those are commonly discussed topics amongst Torontonians in relation to the ongoing dilemma. But is that ALL that’s going on? The fact of the matter is there’s more to this pandemic which we fail to realize. Before we get to that let’s rewind and discuss how the government and police have tried to tackle this problem and the role pop culture plays.


For those of you not from Toronto, gun violence has been on a steady rise since the 90’s with an escalation in homicide rates in the past decade. Statistics Canada, Toronto Police Services and politicians alike blame the increase in activity as the leading cause. (Berthiaume, 2018) But what exactly constitutes a ‘gang member’. Thinking back when I was a young teen I often hung around the same group of friends. We went to school together, played sports together, hung out after school, doing ordinary things teens do. We weren’t angels but we also weren’t gangsters. When we entered high school we kept the same close friendships while also being introduced to other groups of students who came from elementary schools in other areas to a bigger and more populated high school in Toronto. One of my close friends had a misunderstanding with another group of young males our age and it resulted in him being ‘jumped’ by a group of four or five of them. When my group of friends retaliated the following day we were referred to as a gang of hoodlums. My point is, we never considered ourselves as a gang nor had any intentions but when the police showed up to school that day we were treated as such. No criminal charges were pressed but we were expelled l. This ultimately led to our peers in and outside of school and within our community to perceive and treat us as gangsters and often times we were feared and seldomly messed with. Long story short, it’s often how society or authority perceive a situation and a group of people which can lead young and easily influenced minds down a wrong path in life. We see many examples of this in pop culture, more specifically related to Toronto since Drake hit the music scene and brought Toronto to the forefront of the Hip Hop industry. Several incidents of local rappers with connections to Drake have been the targets of shootings with two separate incidents claiming the lives of two up-and-coming local rappers. Now, I’m not blaming Drake for this occurrence but what I am trying to get at is the influence that our neighbours south of the border have when it comes to pop culture and gun control.  Toronto, being Canada’s most populated city, provides a large demand for the sale of gun on the black market. The lax guns laws in the US and our much stricter regulations makes us an obvious market for those involved in illegal activities. Throughout my years in a gang I had known several individuals with connections to gangs in the US who would transport stolen and illegally obtained firearms from Michigan. Though significant, this does not account for the underlying causes for gun violence. Bear with me as we examine another aspect affecting our community today.


While it’s easy to blame someone else for our problems, it’s important to also consider the influences from in and around Toronto to narrow down our causes and solutions. The provincial and municipal Toronto government have attempted an array of tactics to curb gun violence. In 1995, then Ontario premier Mike Harris, cut social assistance and dissolved community supports within Toronto. The following decade seen an explosion in gun violence. 2005 was dubbed “Summer of the Gun”, leading local leaders to refer to the shooters as ‘Mike’s Kids’, since they had been the generation directly affected by his policy changes. Dalton McGuinty, who was Mike Harris’s successor replaced the policy with an initiative which saw more funding going towards youth programs but the community volunteer workers were quickly overwhelmed, burnt out and the money used for the programs dried up. 2006 was the year Toronto police chief Bill Blair introduced the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS). This program brought about carding and harassment of community members while the federal government under Stephen Harper increased the mandatory minimum sentences for gun related crimes. This created a drift between the neighbourhoods affected by gun violence and the police. The distrust between the two created barriers and tension and resulted in the worst year of gun violence in Toronto in 2007. (Price, 2018) It’s clear that the issues which plague our community cannot be fixed with a broad brush. In my opinion, the policies brought forth, all lack insight and knowledge into gang activity, culture, and the community. So what can be done to ensure a strong and safe Toronto? Let’s take a look at the root causes which are often overlooked by policy makers and officials.


If Torontonians want to bring about change, then we need to exemplify that change ourselves. Racism, inequality, housing, poverty and job opportunity are all closely linked and related to the violence happening within our city. We hear it day after day on the news, social media, even across the world in other nations. We know the impacts of racism and inequality through well documented American history. And although we often think of ourselves as better than that, and distanced from it, are we really? As Canadians we think of ourselves as polite, accepting and courteous. Sadly, this is a stereotype in which we view ourselves, it is not an accurate depiction of who and what we are based on our actions. Toronto has many low-income housing communities who experience high unemployment rates. This causes stress and tension within households and leads to high risks being taken for small gains. These communities are often times targets of police leading to limited community-police relations due to the distrust. The tipping point came in 2016 when a young black male named Defonte Miller was brutally attacked and beaten by two off-duty police officers just outside of Toronto in the Durham region. (Mitchell, 2018) Unfortunately more instances have sporadically popped up with the assistance of cellphone and vehicle dash cam footage. In order for Toronto to contain the madness spreading across the region we need to evaluate closely the communities affected. No one policy will fix this. Policies, regulations and over policing will not stop racism until our elected officials take the matter seriously. More blood will be spilled on Toronto streets until officials address wage equality, rehabilitation for youth involved in gangs and criminal activity and until community programs geared towards low income families are implemented accordingly.


They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If that’s the case then we need to strengthen impoverished communities and build up our trust and relations as equal members in society. As a troubled youth and young adult myself, I often found myself frustrated when reading news article related to crime and gangs within Toronto. I felt misunderstood and often times angered by society’s perception and quick-to-judge rhetoric. I was labelled as a gangster, treated as one and therefore accepted my fate of living under those circumstances. Fortunately I was able to turn my life around but not until after my best friend had been murdered in the Danforth area of Toronto. Do we all need to lose a loved one in order to see things clearly for what they are? Change is brought about by trying something new, which with the right plan, will bring about positive results. As a society we need to engage with each other as well as the community, we need instances which bring us together instead of divide us apart. It’s only once we begin to understand one another and accept each other that we will begin to see our community flourish once again.


I hope this podcast brought some insight and a different perspective on gun violence in Toronto and remember, nothing changes if nothing changes. Until next time, I’m Srdjan Soso, here to make a difference and I hope you are too.



Sources


Berthiaume, L., (2018, November 21). Statistics Canada blames gang violence, shootings as homicide rate hits 10-year high. CTV. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/statistics-canada-blames-gang-violence-shootings-as-homicide-rate-hits-10-year-high-1.4186494

Mitchell, J., (2019 June 1). Trial for Toronto cop, brother accused in Dafonte Miller assault case set for next February. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/06/01/trial-for-toronto-cop-brother-accused-in-dafonte-miller-assault-case-set-for-next-february.html

Price, N., (2018, August 6) Toronto’s history of gun violence: a vicious cycle of missteps, intransigence and bad policy. NowToronto. Retrieved from https://nowtoronto.com/news/gun-violence/

Tissot, Benjamin. All That. n.d.. https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/track/all-that-chill-hop



Final Podcast

Think for a second how many times you have heard a girl or woman being called a slut, hoe, whore or something degrading regarding her sexual habits. Now think about how many times you have heard this about a boy. If indeed you’ve heard a boy being castigated for his harmless sexual history, do you think it affects his image as severely or negatively as it does the woman’s? 

Hi everyone! From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m Lotanna, and in this episode we’re talking about how women are culturally conditioned to repress their sexuality. 

In 2009, a Canadian sexologist named Meredith Chivers shook the world with an experiment she conducted on a group of gay and straight men and women. Men and women were tested separately in this experiment. So, the women were taken to a room where they sat in semi-reclining chairs with a keypad attached to the arm of the seat. The subjects were to watch porn videos on a computer monitor. The point of the experiment was to record the reaction of women to the different porn videos in two ways. The keypad attached to their seats was to be used to indicate whether they felt aroused or not. Then, a machine called a plethysmograph, which is used to measure blood flow to the vagina and clitoris, was also used to determine arousal. The women watch different categories of porn, from straight to gay porn to sex between a pair of bonobos. All the subjects were turned on by all the videos, according to the plethysmograph. However, almost all the results gotten from the keypads contradicted this. The women said they were not turned on by the videos. Now, it was different with the men. What they indicated with their keypads mostly reinforced what the plethysmograph showed. This made people ask a wide range of questions regarding female sexuality. Were women as sexual as, or even more sexual than men? And more importantly, were women subconsciously repressing their sexual desire?

We live in a society where women’s sexuality has been treated almost like a taboo and has been more or less shrouded in mystery. It’s funny because around 7500 BC, female sexuality was actually revered and played an integral part in spirituality. We can see this in Egyptian, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, and Tibetan history. So how did we go from celebrating divine femininity to having 67% of women faking orgasms?

Let me take it back to the agricultural era. Humans learned to grow crops and preserve them, and needed to protect this wealth, and so they began to settle into family units. This is where the control of female sexuality began. Agricultural families were patrilocal, so the male figure relatively had more power, because the woman was away from her natal support system. So as humans transitioned from the hunter gatherer era to the agricultural era, the structure of society moved from a more or less egalitarian one to a very patriarchal one. Women also had one partner because the men wanted to pass down wealth to offspring they were sure belonged to them. 

This patriarchal order has been maintained for over 10,000 years and is being upheld by a number of factors in modern society. What started out as a necessary means to sustain family structure has morphed into full-blown oppression.

Today, there are practices in certain cultures that aim to keep women sexuality in check but are also detrimental to women’s overall health. Female Genital Mutilation, formerly known as female circumcision, has been a big problem especially in Third World countries such as Somalia, Djibouti and India. FGM is a procedure which alters and causes injury to the female genital organ for non-medical reasons. It has absolutely no health benefits for girls and women. At least, 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone FGM. The World Health Organization says that FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behavior, linking procedures to premarital virginity and maternal fidelity. FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist “illicit” sexual acts. This is such an ugly practice that often comes with even uglier long-term consequences, such as anaemia and increased risk of HIV transmission. And all for what? Just so women could keep the legs closed.

The first time I heard about honour killings was from the video on social media. Random men in Jordan were being asked what they would do if their sister refused to wear a hijab in public. And most of the men in the video casually said they would have to kill her. I actually thought they were joking. But then I went to read up on it and apparently it’s the real thing. I was shook! The recurring reasons for a large number of these killings was a woman asserting control over her sexuality and autonomy. Women across the world have been killed for rejecting an arranged marriage, having romantic relations outside of marriage, even for just speaking to a man. 5,000 women a year are killed in the name of honour and this is just an estimate by the UN. Women advocacy groups suspect it’s actually around 20,000. It’s very disturbing that men can go this far to control women. A lot of men in the Middle East, including teenage boys, defend honour killings, describing it as “morally right”. But as the UN puts it, “honor killings stem from a deeply-rooted social belief that male family members should control the sexuality of or protect the reputation of women in the family.”

Earlier this year, a picture of a young girl seated on the lap of a really old man surfaced on Nigerian twitter. The girl looked about 10 years old and the man looked like could be her great grandfather, which is what I thought before I read the caption. That was actually her fiancé. Her parents had given her to this wrinkled old man and she was to be his wife. It sparked outrage on Twitter, which I was a part of. We were notifying every agency in the country to make sure that marriage didn’t happen. Fortunately, we succeeded and the girl was taken away from the man and put in school. Her parents were also warned and the girl is being supervised, in case her parents pull that stunt again. As scary as that sounds, it’s a reality for a lot of young girls around the world. Every single minute, 23 girls below the age of 18 get married. So by the time you’re done taking a shower every morning, there are 345 new child brides in the world. Apart from young girls being traded by their families for money or other forms of wealth, child marriage is also a way to control female sexuality and to dictate when and to whom a girl shares sexual intimacy with. It also reeduces the chances of a woman getting pregnant outside of marriage, or earning a reputation for being promiscuous and bringing shame to the family. 

All this falls under purity culture, which is a belief that regards anything of a sexual nature outside of marriage as taboo or sinful. I was reading an article which said something that really stuck with me because it’s accurately communicated the problem with purity culture, which I was having trouble trying to do. It talks about how teenage girls are the most affected by this culture because “while boys are told that their minds are a gateway to sin, women are taught that their bodies are. They’re not only responsible for their own purity before the purity of the males around them.“ They are told to cover up, to not put so much effort into their appearance, so they do not draw attention to themselves or tempt others around them. A lot of these ideals are gotten from religious texts and teachings. The Bible has around 3000 characters and women make up less than 10%. And a lot of these women are whores. Gomer, Jezebel, Rahab, Salome, Potiphar’s wife, Jephtha’s mother, Oholah and Oholibah, the whore of Babylon. The bible makes it super clear that it hates whores and demonizes the women who do not subscribe to purity culture. In fact, there’s an entire chapter in the Bible (Proverbs 5) trashing promiscuous women and wanting men to stay away from them. All these women in the Bible were held accountable for their own actions but in the case of King Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines, his promiscuity was blamed on the women around him. A grown ass man. The wisest man in the history. These teachings seep into modern pop culture. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the line in a song about never “wifing a hoe,” I would be Jeff Bezos. And what riles me up is the fact that these men do not hold themselves or other men to the same standards. Just women.

Which brings us into another theme. Double standards. This one really gets me so annoyed. I was watching this video on YouTube about body counts. Someone went around the school campus with a camera and a microphone, asking people the highest body count they’d accept from someone they’re dating. All the men in the video, every single one, gave a definite number. The highest was 8 and they guys that said 8 said that if a woman has more than that, she’s definitely a hoe. And when he was asked what his body count is, he said 26 in all seriousness. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. The answer from most men about the body count limit in a woman they’re seeing was 2 to 3. How ridiculous and unrealistic. The most interesting part of the video is, almost all the women said they didn’t care about body counts, as long as the man didn’t have kids and/or STIs. Only two women gave specific numbers. One said 25 and the other 50, which is very generous compared to what their male counterparts had to say. I watched a couple more videos and the answers were pretty much the same. And this does reflect the society we live in. Women are supposed to be prudes all their lives but magically transform into porn stars after getting a wedding ring. That’s so realistic and makes so much sense. Like, wow. But to be more serious, with these attitudes and opinions concerning female sexuality, of course women are more likely to be cautious about how much sex they have and how openly they have it. While women are beginning to reclaim slut-shaming slurs, most women are just not comfortable with being slut-shamed. Because it usually comes at a cost. Plus, slut-shaming and rape culture go hand-in-hand. You know how when guys hear a girl is promiscuous, they automatically think she would have sex with absolutely anyone? That usually leads to the woman being harassed and/or assaulted or the man claiming “she asked for it.“ And people would believe. People would eat it up. This is actually how white slave masters rationalized raping black slaves who fit into the “Jezebel” category, as opposed to the Mammy stererotype — a more maternal and modest figure. The Jezebels were painted as sexually insatiable, which made them want white men and not just black men. An abolitionist, called James Redpath, said that slave women were “gratified by the criminal advances of Saxons.“ But this was dispelled by other abolitionists and former slaves who confirmed that the slaves were in fact raped. This is just to highlight how appearing to be hypersexual actually puts women at risk, so a lot of us tend to repress our sexual expression.

OK, so two years ago, the Trump administration announce their plan to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all insurance plans must cover birth control without a co-pay, or otherwise ensure access to birth control coverage for women whose employers or schools can legally opt out of providing coverage. The president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, said this would affect 62 million women. It’s no secret that the Trump administration is not a big fan of abortion or contraceptive. However, this move was very unfair and sent a message to the women in and outside of the US telling them that if they aren’t having sex for procreation, they shouldn’t be doing it at all. This snatches away the option of having sex just for pleasure. It reminds us that women are just incubators and baby making machines in the eyes of society and do not deserve the autonomy that comes with being able to choose when, how and with whom to have intercourse.

There is still a lot of work to do when it comes to sexually liberating women. The feminist movement has seen a lot of growth and support in the past years and will hopefully see a lot more in years to come. My biggest wish is that one day — maybe not in my lifetime — women would be 100% free from the control of men and are able to choose the life they want, without these unnecessary misogynistic obstacles. Until then, we have to continue to dismantle the patriarchy however we can and as we frequently as we can. Thank you for listening to my podcast and I hope  I was able to provide insight into how society tries to subdue and police the sexuality of women and girls. 

                            References 


(2012, December 10). America: Oversexualized & Sexually Repressed. Retrieved from http://www.idealmedicalcare.org/america-oversexualized-sexually-repressed-2/ 

Dubick, S. (2018, October 16). How Evangelical Purity Culture Can Lead to a Lifetime of Sexual Shame. Retrieved from https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/pa98x8/purity-culture-linday-kay-klein-pure-review

Ethics: Honour Crimes. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/honourcrimes/ 

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change. (2019, February 09). Retrieved from https://data.unicef.org/resources/female-genital-mutilationcutting-statistical-overview-exploration-dynamics-change/

Honor Killings: Everything You Should Know, and Why They Aren't Honorable. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/honor-based-violence-killings-women-girls-pakistan/ 

 Https://www.unicef.org/media/files/Child_Marriage_Report_7_17_LR..pdf(Rep.). (n.d.).

Maher, A. (2013, June 20). Many Jordan teenagers 'support honour killings'. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-22992365 

Noshamemov. (n.d.). What is Purity Culture? Retrieved from http://noshamemovement.com/purityculture 

“Defunding" Planned Parenthood Defined. Retrieved from https://www.istandwithpp.org/defund-defined

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TAKES DIRECT AIM AT BIRTH CONTROL COVERAGE FOR 62 MILLION WOMEN. Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-takes-direct-aim-at-birth-control-coverage-for-62-million-women-2 

Phadke, S., Taylor, J., & Mhatre, N. (n.d.). Rhetoric vs. Reality: Why Access to Contraception Matters to Women. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2017/11/15/442808/rhetoric-vs-reality-access-contraception-matters-women/  

Sexual Repression. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/sex-dawn/201004/sexual-repression 

 The impact of slut shaming. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.thebruns.ca/articles/the-impact-of-slut-shaming

The Jezebel Stereotype. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/jezebel/ 

Thomson, S. (n.d.). 5,000 women a year are still being killed in the name of 'honour'. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/07/honour-killings-pakistan-qandeel-baloch/

Women Who Are 'Untrue' and the Men Who Love Them. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/articles/201809/women-who-are-untrue-and-the-men-who-love-them  

  


Final Podcast

From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m Amanda, and in this episode, we're talking about social media and whether or not it’s bad for our self-esteem when it comes to visual content.

It’s likely you’ve come across one of the many social media platforms swamping the internet. It’s even more likely that you have at least one of these apps on your phone. Playing around with that beloved dog filter on Snapchat, finding good lighting and posing for the perfect Instagram-worthy selfie, spending hours scrolling through posts and deciding which ones to “like”… sound familiar? These are the culprits of our generation.

So… what’s bad about them, anyway?

There’s plenty of research that argues that social media has a negative effect on self-esteem, which is how you view yourself. It’s an overall idea of how much you think you’re worth--what your value is (Yanal, 1987) as a person. You see, self-esteem is important because it’s related to your body image, which is basically what you think about yourself when you look in the mirror everyday.

Social media has everything to do with this. And with 98% of all digital consumers being social media users (“GlobalWebIndex’s flagship report,” 2018), it’s pretty rare to find someone who doesn’t own at least one social account. To start off, I asked a few friends about their take on the subject.

Does using social media affect your self-esteem? And in what way?

Friend 1: Yeah, I think it does because when we go on social media, we usually see these famous models posting pictures of themselves or their lifestyle, and... they always look perfect in those pictures and it leads us to think that we have to look like them in order to be classified as beautiful and it just… basically makes us feel crappy about the way we look.

Friend 2: Yes, social media does affect my self-esteem, and this is in the way that… I feel like if I don’t get enough likes, then not enough people like me, and my self-esteem just decreases.

Friend 3: Personally, I see social media, as example Instagram, as a way to showcase days when I feel my best and look my best. I don’t think social media is negative in any way or hurts my self-esteem.

So… can social media really influence how we view ourselves?

Today, we’re gonna look at ideals and standards portrayed online, the inauthenticity that comes with it, and the validation we seek through our screens.

The use of social media among teens has spiked up like a rocket since 2012 (Rideout and Robb, 2018). If you haven’t already, I urge you to check your screen time stats on your smartphone. I know--I was shocked, too. A survey from 2015 showed that on average, teens aged 13-18 are online for a total of 9 hours a day (Common Sense Media, 2015). 9 hours! That’s probably more time than most of us spend sleeping! Now, that does include time spent watching TV or videos, and playing games. But out of those 9 hours, roughly 3 of them are spent on social media, which is the case for people aged 16-24 (“GlobalWebIndex’s flagship report,” 2018). To give you some perspective, here, 3 hours is approximately the length of the upcoming Avengers: Endgame movie. That’s quite a long time to be scrolling through posts.

Alright. So you know how heavily used social media is. Now, let’s talk about ideals.

Mainstream media--that includes things like movies, TV shows, commercials, and ads--often sexualize the image of women (American Psychological Association [APA], 2007). They’re dressed in provocative outfits and made to look attractive (APA, 2007).

The standard for what is considered attractive for women is being thin (APA, 2007).

But… this isn’t exactly new. Ideals have been shoved in our faces for decades, long before the internet was even a thing. In the 1920s, appearance was extremely important (Lamkin, 2015), as it is today. Women had the responsibility of maintaining their physical beauty (Lamkin, 2015). Media like films, literature, and advertising always displayed beautiful Hollywood stars (Lamkin, 2015). There was, and still is, so much pressure put on women to make changes to their bodies to try and live up to society’s standards; the “thin ideal” being shown in the media persuades women to diet and exercise to look a certain way, and ultimately achieve “beauty, approval, and self-worth” (Lamkin, 2015).

Everywhere we look, we’re constantly being shown what society wants us to look like. We’re being spoon-fed the message that the closer we get to matching these ideals, the happier we’ll be, and that’s why so many women, and increasingly men, are under such pressure to achieve the unachievable: perfection (Widdows, n.d.).

In 2017, Instagram was the most used social platform, with Snapchat following closely behind (“Instagram and Snapchat,” 2017). Instagram is loaded with “fitspiration” pictures that are supposed to promote healthy, active living (Makwana, Lee, Parkin, & Farmer, 2018), but the hashtag is filled with images of women with thin, toned bodies. And it makes sense, you know? These people work hard for their bodies! If I looked like that, I’d wanna show off my abs, too!

But the way women are portrayed in the media, and what we see on our social feeds, causes us to lose confidence in our own bodies (APA, 2007). We start to loathe ourselves (APA, 2007) because we don’t look the same. We feel ashamed of ourselves because we’re unable to meet cultural standards (APA, 2007). Exposure to these ideals is linked to lower self-esteem, and research shows that objectifying the body also causes girls to experience lower self-esteem (APA, 2007).

Allow me to share this quote with you: “We cannot choose our own beauty ideal – we can only choose to conform to it, embody it, or reject it” (Widdows, n.d.).

We have this endless list of boxes to check off to get to this “ideal.” But the thing is, the ideal is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to live up to. So what do people do? They edit themselves to fake it, which brings me to my next point: inauthenticity.

It might be harmless to place filters on photos to improve the quality, lighting, and colours, but other heavier kinds of editing allows people to achieve beauty artificially (Friedman, 2018). Photoshop has been used for advertising purposes for years, but it has also made its way onto our phones through social media. The Kardashian-Jenners have been called out several times for their “photoshop fails” on their Instagram posts. You can search them up to see for yourself, but the most obvious ones have a curved door frame or something that just doesn’t look right, so you can tell that the images have been photoshopped.

Women tend to spend precious time deciding what photo to post, editing it, and frequently checking their pages to see how many likes they’re getting (Makwana et al., 2018). Women are also “more likely than men to use social media to view others’ photos” and then compare themselves to whom they consider to be attractive (Hogue & Mills, 2019). These habits have to do with the pressure of fitting in on social platforms, but in the end, this just made their insecurities worse (Makwana et al., 2018).

You might have heard of Facetune--the editing app that sells for just over $5 on the App Store. The second version is free, but with in-app purchases. This is what it says on the website’s description of the app: “In only a few taps, you can whiten teeth, remove blemishes, smooth out skin, slim faces – and so much more! Facetune 2 is sure to leave your friends and followers wondering how you look so damn good in every photo – and begging for your secret!” (“The World's Best,” n.d.).

Yeah. These editing apps are magical. But they also set unrealistic expectations for beauty (Friedman, 2018).

How are we supposed to know what’s real and what isn’t when we’re constantly being exposed to these seemingly perfect and flawless images? It is easy to be fooled by what we see online. And seeing so many of these images causes us to set the bar for beauty standards way higher than what any of us can actually reach (Friedman, 2018). The mindset they create causes feelings of “inadequacy” and “dissatisfaction” within our bodies (Makwana et al., 2018).

Think about how many times a day you pick up your phone to mindlessly scroll through your Instagram feed. 46% of 16-24 year olds say that they mainly use social media to pass the time, and 42% use it to keep up with what their friends are doing (“GlobalWebIndex’s flagship report,” 2018).

Research shows that the more time you spend looking at other people’s lives and comparing yourself to them, you’re at a greater risk for harming your mental health (Dodgson, 2018). This isn’t a good thing if so much of what we see isn’t even real.

So. What have we learned so far?

Social media sets standards that we try to live up to. But since that’s almost impossible, we turn to photo editing apps to fake it so that we feel better about ourselves.

Okay. Moving on to validation.

Imagine that you met one of your favourite celebrities or someone you really admire and look up to, and they told you that they like your outfit or your hair, or they complimented you on a talent you have. You’d feel better about yourself, right? That’s because it’s coming from someone you care about. It’s an opinion of someone you idolize--someone you see as valuable or successful or better than you in one way or another.

A pretty big chunk of what builds up our self-esteem comes from validation from those we think are better than us (Yanal, 1987). Now, since we don’t really run into celebrities or sports players everyday, we look for validation through our friends on social media, with the help of a little something called the “like button.” If you’re familiar with Instagram, it’s a little blank heart on the bottom left of a picture that turns red when you tap it. On Facebook, it’s a thumbs-up icon that turns blue.

Peer feedback affects how teens view themselves and others (Stevens, 2017). The University of California, Los Angeles did a study on teen brains while using social media. It showed that teens felt good when they saw that a photo they posted got a large number of likes (Almendrala, 2016). The part of the brain that has to do with rewards and pleasure lit up the same way it would if they were doing any other enjoyable thing, like eating ice cream or winning a game (Almendrala, 2016). Social media allows users to actually have a quantitative measure of how popular they are, or, well… how many people “like” their photos (Almendrala, 2016).

Having a high self-esteem means that you think your “major qualities,” like your abilities and achievements, are valuable… but “minor qualities,” like your appearance, can also affect your self-esteem (Yanal, 1987). This is where we start to go wrong, because we compare ourselves to other people. We lower our self-esteem when we’re lacking something that we want and think we need to have (Yanal, 1987).

Our social media-obsessed generation has trained us to believe that our worth can be measured by the number of likes we get. Teens who aren’t as popular, who don’t have many friends, get less positive feedback on their posts (Stevens, 2017). These teens reported feeling bad about themselves when they didn’t get a large number of likes or comments on their posts (Rideout & Robb, 2018). But more popular teens aren’t affected by social media in the same way (Stevens, 2017). They end up feeling superior to others, which boosts their self-esteems (Stevens, 2017).

It’s funny how a button the size of your fingertip has the power to make you feel better or worse about yourself.

A study showed that if teens spent less than an hour on social media everyday, they were happier (Dodgson, 2018). But there’s a flaw. Remember when I said on average, people use social media for about 3 hours a day? That would mean they’d have to cut down their screen time by two hours, and, let’s be real, that’s easier said than done, considering most of us are practically glued to our phones all day. Unless, you’re really disciplined, that is.

Nonetheless, the results of the study suggest that, like most things that seem to be bad for us, social media should be used in moderation (Dodgson, 2018).

To recap: social media, which most of us spend nearly 3 hours a day using, shows us the ideals and standards set by society. We’re constantly under pressure to live up to the impossible standard of perfection, so we edit our photos to create the illusion of perfection. In reality, though, this only makes us feel worse about ourselves because we don’t actually look like the images we post on our own pages, or the people we see online. Finally, social media allows us to get validation from our peers through likes and comments on the photos we post. As a result, our self-esteem gets a boost.

It is possible for social media to improve self-esteem because teens receive emotional support from their peers (Jacewicz, 2017). And, by choosing to post flattering pictures and memorable moments, social media users focus on the qualities they like about themselves (Jacewicz, 2017). It also helps teens express themselves creatively (Rideout & Robb, 2018). Ultimately, social media has the power to make teens feel less alone and more connected, but on the other hand, it can also make teens feel isolated and inferior to their peers (Rideout & Robb, 2018).

Remember, “we cannot choose our own beauty ideal – we can only choose to conform to it, embody it, or reject it” (Widdows, n.d.). So, in the end, whether social media is good or bad for your self-esteem really depends on you.

From Scratch Media’s A Matter of Opinion, that’s a wrap on social media.

References

Almendrala, A. (2016, June 03). This Could Explain Why Teens Are So Obsessed With Social Media. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/this-could-explain-why-teens-are-so-obsessed-with-social-media_n_574f7084e4b0ed593f134279

American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf

Dodgson, L. (2018, November 12). There's even more evidence that social media increases depression and loneliness. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/social-media-link-depression-loneliness-2018-11?r=UK

Friedman, R. (2018, August 2). Photo-Editing Apps and Their Potential Harms for Teens. Retrieved from https://www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting/photo-editing-apps-and-their-potential-harms-teens/#

GlobalWebIndex’s flagship report on the latest trends in social media (Flagship report). (2018). Retrieved from https://www.globalwebindex.com/hubfs/Downloads/Social-H2-2018-report.pdf

Hogue, J. V., & Mills, J. S. (2019). The effects of active social media engagement with peers on body image in young women. Body Image, 28, 1-5. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.11.002

Instagram and Snapchat are Most Popular Social Networks for Teens; Black Teens are Most Active on Social Media, Messaging Apps (Issue brief). (2017). Retrieved http://apnorc.org/projects/pages/html reports/instagram-and-snapchat-are-most-popular-social-networks-for-teens.aspx

Jacewicz, N. (2017, October 29). Social media can boost self esteem in young people, experts suggest. Retrieved from https://www.toledoblade.com/Medical/2017/10/29/Social-media-can-boost-self-esteem-in-young-people-experts-suggest.html

Lamkin, K. D. (2015). "The Desperate Drive for Perfection: Changing Beauty Ideals and Women's Fashion in the 1920s." Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse, 7(02). Retrieved from http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=999

Makwana, B., Lee, Y., Parkin, S., & Farmer, L. (2018). Selfie-Esteem: The Relationship Between Body Dissatisfaction and Social Media in Adolescent and Young Women. The Inquisitive Mind. Retrieved from http://www.in-mind.org/article/selfie-esteem-the-relationship-between-body-dissatisfaction-and-social-media-in-adolescent

Media Use by Tweens and Teens: Infographic | Common Sense Media. (2015, November 3). Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/the-common-sense-census-media-use-by-tweens-and-teens-infographic

Rideout, V., and Robb, M. B. (2018). Social media, social life: Teens reveal their experiences. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media.

Stevens, A. P. (2017, October 12). Social media: What's not to like? Retrieved from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/social-media-whats-not

The World's Best Photo & Video Editing Apps. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.lightricks.com/products

Widdows, H. (n.d.). The demands of the beauty ideal: What is required of us? Retrieved from https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/perspective/beauty-ideal-heather-widdows.aspx

Yanal, R. (1987). Self-Esteem. Noûs, 21(3), 363-379. doi:10.2307/2215187

Additional Sources

Campbell, D. (2019, January 04). Depression in girls linked to higher use of social media. Retrieved from

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/04/depression-in-girls-linked-to-higher-use-of-social-media

"Navigating Our Culture's Body Anxiety & Finding Body Confidence" ~ Q & A with SUSIE ORBACH. (2011, September 12). Retrieved from https://eatingdisorder.org/blog/2011/09/navigating-our-cultures-body-anxiety-finding-body-confidence-q-a-discussion-with-susie-orbach/

Simmons, R. (2016, August 19). How Social Media Is a Toxic Mirror. Retrieved from http://time.com/4459153/social-media-body-image/

Music

"Clean Soul" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

"Ever Mindful" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

"Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Final Podcast: Is It Really "Just a Joke"? - A Matter of Opinion

NOTE: THE AUDIO FILE WAS WAY TOO BIG, SO I’VE INCLUDED A LINK TO IT HERE

I don’t like the way SquareSpace formats my transcript and sources, so I’ll provide a link to the rest here

(transcript looks v ugly fyi)

(pls just click the links to access my podcast audio, reference list, recommended sources, and acknowledgements)

Transcript:

[Introduction starts with consecutive audio clips of offhanded, offensive comments]

Ching chong— grab them by the pussy— hey, she had it coming, she was wearing a short skirt!—

It’s a joke!

It’s a joke!

It’s a joke!

*distorted* It’s a joke!

*record scratch*

 

KRYSTAL: Is it really just a joke, or is it more than that?

 

From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. Hey, I’m Krystal, and today I will be discussing the use of offensive humour and its potential negative implications.

*intro music*

Imagine you’re in public. You’re in a mall and you see this group of elementary schoolboys, loud as can be, heckling each other, boys just being boys. You see this one guy, he’s a little chubbier than the rest of them, and he’s clearly being picked on. You hear them jokingly nudge him, telling him things like, *mockingly* “You’re fat” or “What are you, gay?” and he’s laughing along with them, like there’s nothing wrong—or so it seems. You continue to pay attention to this boy, and you notice that he’s a little quieter than the rest of the group. He seems nervous, almost scared to speak up while he’s around them.

More than ever, whether you realize it or not, people of all ages have been incorporating problematic, and what others may even consider offensive humour into their lives. It’s everywhere! Sometimes you hear it from a comedian performing a satirical stand-up routine, or you hear a joke from your favourite TV show, or maybe it’s a comment that your sort of racist grandma offhandedly makes on a daily basis. Even I am prone to making jokes like this because it has become so normalized in our society. No matter where you see or hear it, there’s no denying it; offensive humour is everywhere.

 

This is largely due to the various forms of media that surround us every single day.

 

Billions of people around the world now have access to the Internet, which provides us with countless sources of data, information, and lots of entertainment. People are lazy by nature; we crave instant gratification, which makes social media incredibly attractive to us. It’s fast, it’s convenient, and it allows for an even larger audience to be reached, making for a bigger spread of information and ultimately creating a greater impact.

 

We live in a world where everything is connected. It’s a place “…where ideas can replicate, mutate, and evolve, much like the human gene does” (Gleick 2011), at least, that’s how the highly controversial evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains it. He’s the one who first coined and described the cultural phenomenon that we now know as… the meme.

RICHARD DAWKINS: Anything which has that property that genes have of making exact copies of themselves, anything that has that property would do. There’ll be something equivalent to DNA and it may well not be DNA, it may be nothing like DNA. There’s another kind of replicator that potentially could be doing the same job as DNA, and that’s where the meme came from. The meme is a unit of cultural inheritance. It’s anything that behaves like a gene in human culture. The equivalent of the act of reproduction at the genetic level would be the act of copying an idea from one brain to another. I used examples like whistling a tune and somebody else catches the tune, almost like catching a virus, and they whistle a tune and they walk off into the street whistling the same tune, and so potentially you could have the same tune spreading throughout the town (OxfordUnion, 2014).

 

KRYSTAL: And that’s exactly how meme culture works. That’s exactly how pop culture works. Social media is quick and convenient. The spread of information is almost instantaneous, we can share and send anything to our friends with just a simple click of a button. We see so much being shared on our timelines every single day, happy and depressing moments alike. In a single day, you could see posts about your friend’s birthday and how much fun they had in celebration. You scroll down and see that the next post is about your uncle’s dog who just passed away. You keep scrolling and you see something that makes you laugh, and maybe several posts down, you see a Tweet about the latest mass shooting. It can be overwhelming once you really start to think about it. This overload of information collectively desensitizes us, and when you keep seeing these grim and depressing posts, you slowly become numb to it.

 

A lot of people, including myself, become so desensitized to these subjects, so we just start to make jokes about these shocking and horrible things, and for some of us, it becomes a coping mechanism. We can use humour “to deal with the horror of human existence” (Stephens-Davidowitz 2016). We tend to make these jokes, largely because of our constant and passive use of social media. I asked my friend Daniel Pittner, a York student, about how he uses social media, and this was his response.

 

DANIEL: Personally, I like memes— it’s obviously a given. In my daily life, because I’m in engineering, and I have no life, very often there’s times when I’m in class and I just get so bored. So, I decide to go on the Internet like any normal human being nowadays. When you go on YouTube and there’s just nothing to watch, you tend to go on social media instead. Generally, I’d like to consider myself a happy person, at least now. I like to laugh, and I find so many things in our society absurd that when I go online and I see it getting put out there, it just provokes that laughter in me. Like, yeah! It’s so crazy, it’s so absurd that this is happening.

KRYSTAL: The phenomenon he describes is very much a universal feeling. When we’re sad or bored, we turn towards humour and social media to make ourselves feel better. As of March 25th, 2019, 4.3 billion people have access to the Internet (World Stats 2019). A whopping 95% of teens in North America use the Internet, and 81% of us use social media (Madden, Lenhart, Duggan, Cortessi & Gasser, 2013). On average, we use social media for 5 hours every day (Shafer 2017). I’m using all of these statistics to say, point blank, that a LOT of people are active on social media—more than ever before. Think of all these people who are all passively using social media and collectively being desensitized to the boundless amounts of information being spread online. It’s a LOT. It’s no wonder that it comes so easily to most of us to reduce everything to a joke!

It isn’t just teens who partake in the use of dark and edgy humour, again, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. In Israel, ‘Holocaust joke’ is the 12th most popular Hebrew-language Google search (Stephens-Davidowitz 2016), and Jews seek out these jokes way more than anybody else. This data suggests that humour can be used as a means of helping people deal with suffering and fear.

My friend Aish Sampath, who has a background in English and Marketing, hopes to use her assets towards activism. She has worked with special needs children for the past 10 years and at the Canadian Mental Health Association for 3 years. She has provided some personal input to the subject at hand.

AISH: You know how people say that puns are like the least witty type of humour or whatever— you need a certain level of thinking on your feet to be able to come up with them, which is kind of the same thing for edgy humour. When I first came across it, I thought it was sort of like, a strength that people who were capable of joking about certain things that they were going through that were quite difficult. Even me, I feel like it originally gave me a sense of control and strength to be able to be like, "yes, I'm dealing with all of these." I mean, in my experience it's been mental illness. So basically, I'm dealing with these mental illnesses or physical disabilities, and to see people joking about that is a relief. Edgy humor is like, the opposite of empathy sympathy, that's kind of how I see it. It's sort of that kinship that I can get online where people going through exactly what I'm going through, but also being able to find a way to make light of it.

KRYSTAL: I do the same thing; in fact, mostly everyone I know does this, too! It’s human nature to find humour even in the worst of situations because we believe that in doing this, it is helping us in the long run. However, there is a lot of psychological research that argues the opposite (Weaver & Morgan 2017).

Dear listener, I’d like to introduce you to the Prejudiced Norm Theory.

Disparagement humour, things like racist, homophobic, or sexist humour, is essentially humor that denigrates, belittles, or maligns an individual or social group” (Ford & Ferguson 2004). The audio clips you heard in the very beginning of this episode could all be classified under that bracket. They tend to be based on harmful stereotypes and generalizations. So, what does that have to do with the Prejudiced Norm Theory?

Well, Thomas E. Ford and Mark A. Ferguson of the Department of Sociology in Western Michigan University posits that “…disparagement humour is likely to increase tolerance of other instances of discrimination against the targeted group… for people who are relatively high in prejudice toward the disparaged group” (Ford & Ferguson 2004). In other words, being exposed to offensive humour can allow others to view said jokes as the societal norm; thus, making it easier for actual bigots to act on their hatred towards minorities.

 

Exposure to a repetition of a certain idea or mindset does ultimately affect an individual whether you notice it or not. You see this at work everywhere. Let me give an example, say, with social media and body ideals. If we weren't constantly bombarded by the ads, the celebrities, TV shows and movies portraying how an ideal body should look like, then maybe we wouldn't be so concerned over our physical appearance (Makwana, Lee, Parker & Farmer 2018). Multiple studies and theses prove that there's a negative correlation between social media and its causes on body imaging. What does this have to do with offensive humour and the prejudiced norm theory? Good question. Well, the point is when you repeat something over and over again, it can get to a point where you subconsciously internalize these thoughts as your reality.

Let’s go back to the story of the slightly chubby school boy I told you about near the beginning of the episode? Do you remember how his friends kept teasing him about his weight and his femininity? Well, let’s add more to that story. Let’s say that this boy is a closeted, gay teenager who’s struggling with an eating disorder. He hears his friends constantly making fun of who he is, despite them not even knowing the internal struggles that he’s going through. They think that he’s just one of ‘the boys’ and they really don’t mean him any harm, they’re his friends! The thing is, as I mentioned before, exposure to a repetition of a certain idea or mindset does ultimately affect an individual whether you notice it or not.

Slowly but surely, this boy is going to think that he has to act a certain way in order to be deemed as ‘socially acceptable.’ He’s thinking that maybe there’s something wrong with him. He scrolls through Instagram on his phone, as one does, and sees an image of a man who is slim and objectively very attractive. The boy starts comparing himself to that man, feels even worse about himself, and continues to suppress all of his emotions. Every day, his friends are going to keep teasing him, because it’s their inside joke and that’s what boys do. They don’t mean it, they’re his friends! Little do they know… their comments are slowly eating him alive. He hears his parents fighting, they get a divorce, his grades slip and suddenly he’s failing all of his classes, and his friends notice he’s not as happy as he used to be, but it’s too late. One day, he decides to take matters into his own hands and… *gunshot*

Now, I know that this hypothetical situation sounds dramatic, but unfortunately, it’s the reality for millions of people around the world. Suicide rates in the United States alone have increased nearly 30% in less than 20 years (Scutti 2018).  And, while his friends may have not been the main factor in this boy’s death, those stupid jokes may have been the cherry on top that pushed him to the edge.

Some people might hear this and think, “Geez wow what a snowflake! I have freedom of speech; I can say whatever I want. Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t say?” And I agree with that! We live in a democracy, of course freedom of speech is important—but where do you draw the line?

Well, I can’t answer that. I can’t answer most things, I’m just an 18-year-old doing my best. I can say this though:

Humour is subjective, and no one individual should be controlling what can or can’t be said. With that in mind though, offensive jokes aren’t always just jokes. It’s a contribution to a very real system of inequality that continues to persist in this world. Sometimes they’re funny, and we can all have a laugh. Obscenity and a fascination with the taboo have not gone away, and they won't be leaving anytime soon (Harvey 2002). There’s no denying that sarcasm and satire have paved the way for comedy.

Shows like Seinfeld use controversial humour as a means of pushing boundaries. This kind of humour highlights the absurdities that take place in this world, and in doing so ultimately educates others on being better people.

However, we shouldn’t discount other types of humour, either. There are so many television shows that use intelligent and wholesome humour to educate others and do, essentially, what offensive humour strives to do. Shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, and One Day at a Time are all proof that you don’t need offensive jokes to make something funny. These shows all address very real issues in society, things like racism, homophobia and sexism, but they do so in a wholesome way and without hurting anyone in the process!

I’m not saying you should never use edgy humour— actually, when they’re done right, I think some of the funniest jokes ever are somewhat problematic. But who am I to say what’s right and what’s wrong? Who am I to define what problematic and what problematic isn’t? Edgy humour is great. It’s relatable, and it’s funny sometimes—but be mindful of who you’re telling these jokes to and when you’re saying them. Even when it’s with a group of friends, you should always stay vigilant. Unless you know for sure that your friends are comfortable with a certain kind of joke, it’s best to stay away from them. You never know what people are going through.

Social media is so convenient and easy to use. We can share things with friends who are halfway around the world and make them smile despite being in different time zones. Edgy humour is one way to do that, but may I propose wholesome humour? Why not send videos of dogs being cute, or tell jokes about Canadians being way too polite, or send reassuring memes about wishing someone luck in their exams? If you’re that person that’s like, “that’s so bland and so not funny” then there’s really no changing your mind about this. As the name of this podcast suggests, it’s all a matter of opinion. But, there’s a lot of potential when it comes to wholesome humour. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of the most successful and progressive sitcoms on air right now. John Mulaney, a guy who makes jokes about how much he loves his wife, is perhaps one of the most talked about comedians online.

I mentioned before that exposure to a repetition of a certain idea or mindset can affect an individual, so why not put this practice to use?

This podcast was actually inspired by several friends of mine who urged me to stop making jokes pertaining to my clinical depression and anxiety. It was hard for me at first, because self-deprecating jokes are so relatable and they’re everywhere on my social media. Who doesn’t hate themselves? I know I still do! However, in all seriousness, my friends pointed out that because I grew numb to these jokes, I started to believe in the things I was telling myself and I was becoming more miserable because of that. I was so used to being in that negative mindset and it was hard for me to cut through that, but I’ve slowly made the shift to using more wholesome humour in my day-to-day life and needless to say, I’m becoming a much happier person because of it.

Well, that’s all the time we have for this episode of A Matter of Opinion. Thanks for listening!

Birth Control Will Solve All of the World’s Problems… Almost

Unplanned pregnancies are stressful, sometimes even downright scary, especially when you’re young and not in a financially stable place without health insurance. If you live in Canada, or another country with universal healthcare, that eliminates part of the stress, though there are still decisions that need to be made regarding the pregnancy and future of the child. But imagine not having some of those choices, or any way to plan so you can prevent yourself from having to make those choices for that matter. From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m Brianna Thomson, and in this episode we're talking about the challenges of providing birth control for everyone who needs it. Now, back to the topic at hand: what if I told you that lack of choice is the case for 120 million women in developing countries all over the world. That’s right, the Gates Foundation states that 120 million women in developing nations do not have the proper resources to plan and prevent pregnancy (Gates, M. 2017). Now, if you’ve read Melinda Gate’s article “Want to Empower Women Worldwide: Give Them Access to Contraceptives” I know what you’re thinking: “this seems like a pretty easy fix, just give them birth control”, but the issue is so much more complex than that. You see, there are so many factors that go into providing not only readily available birth control, but affordable, and reliable, and safe birth control, that just tossing women a pack of pills, or an IUD and telling them to go nuts, is not exactly an option. So sit back, relax, grab a drink, because in the next eighteen minutes, I’m going to break down four of the biggest hurdles when it comes to providing accessible and reliable birth control to the women who need it most.

            For starters, lets take a look into healthcare in developing nations, and crunch some numbers on contraceptives. According to a 2009 study in the Ethnicity and Disease journal, sub-Saharan Africa boasts about 2.3 doctors and nurses, nay, healthcare professionals in general, per 1000 people. That is less than a tenth of the number of healthcare professionals that North America has. In fact, in countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Niger, there are under 2,500 doctors for the entire country, or less than one doctor for every 10,000 people. Considering how low these numbers are, how high of a priority do you think gynecologists are? Since according to the same study mentioned before, sub-Saharan Africa carries approximately, and I’m quoting, “25% of the global disease burden”, I would think that OB/GYN’s are probably the least of their worries (Saraladevi Naicker, FRCP, PhD; Jacob Plange-Rhule, FWACP, PhD; Roger C. Tutt, BA; John B. Eastwood, MD, FRCP. 2009). The lack of doctors is a problem in itself, but not having people who specialize in women’s sexual health is a huge issue. The burden of protection almost always falls on women, which puts them at risk for not only sexually transmitted diseases and infections, but also pregnancies that have the potential to be life threatening. Also, an IUD, which is one of the most successful and long lasting forms of birth control, that can be kept in for three to five years with a 99.99% success rate and zero room for user error, can be fatal, or at least cause a lot of pain and damage to the uterus and ovaries, if it is inserted or positioned wrong. Not to mention that just having it inserted can be painful on its own. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a procedure like that done by someone who is trained and knowledgeable about how both the products and women’s reproductive organs work.  

            Then there’s cost. A 2015 article from womenintheworld.com by Brigit Katz breaks it down best, explaining that in order to provide birth control that meets individual needs, a lot more funding would be needed. And we’re talking millions of dollars of more funding here. There are still birth control methods that are expensive, and a whole lot more that require either minor surgical procedures or some sort of examination and STI test before they can be used, (sterilization methods and IUD’s respectively), and so they need doctor’s that are trained to perform these routines, as well as the proper facilities that are also easily accessible for everyone. Speaking of which, many rural communities don’t have easy access to doctors and clinics, making it even more difficult for women from hard to reach places to even get to a doctor for anything, let alone every month to have a prescription renewed for the pill, or one of the many other monthly options (Brigit Katz, Why 222 million women can’t get the birth control they need). This would force these women to go with the longer lasting options, which are cheaper in the long run, but are often more painful, and sometimes even have more risks and side effects than the month by month options. In addition, longer lasting birth control usually requires a gynecologist, which puts us right back where we started. Okay, so just send more doctors developing countries and increase funding! Sounds easy enough.

Unfortunately, doctors and funding are only two small pieces in a much larger puzzle.

            So, we can’t just throw doctors, birth control, and money at developing countries; what else can we possibly do? What else do they need? Well as fate would have it, they need better education surrounding birth control. In the same article by Katz mentioned earlier, the author talks about how many women in developing nations have reservations, sometimes even fears, about using birth control. There are tons of women and even doctors in places like Africa and Pakistan who believe that contraceptives cause lowered sex drives, infertility, and even cancer, which makes them less likely to use these things that could help them out of poverty, or even save their life (Brigit Katz, Why 222 million women can’t get the birth control they need). And while infertility may be a risk of a few types of birth control, it is an extremely rare side effect that should not affect whether or not it is used. Another study from 2009 affirms that there are so many reasons that women avoid birth control. This study also states that many women avoid hormonal birth control methods due to the fears of infertility I just mentioned, but some people even have misconceptions that condoms do not prevent pregnancy- only HIV/AIDS. But it also mentions that oftentimes women are coerced or forced to not use any form of protection by their sexual partners. And this doesn’t just go for condoms, which a lot of men refuse to use due to claims of lessened sexual pleasure. The study claimed that some partners demanded their girlfriend stop using birth control and get pregnant to prove the man’s fertility, which is an incredibly selfish thing to do (Lisa M. Williamson, Alison Parkes, Daniel Wight, Mark Petticrew, Graham J. Hart, 2009). Also a 1997 study found that women in developing countries who were looking for hormonal birth control methods or IUD’s were told they had to be on their period in order to get what they were asking for, which is frankly incorrect, and resulted in many of them either becoming pregnant while they waited, or simply not returning once they got their period (John Stanback, Andy Thompson, Karen Hardee and Barbara Janowitz, 1997). But education has to be more than just promoting abstinence as the only way to avoid pregnancy, because, as seen from statistics from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Guttmacher Institute, both in the United States, the states that have abstinence only education on average have higher teen pregnancy and birth rates (https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/reproductive-health-and-teen-pregnancy/teen-pregnancy-and-childbearing/trends/index.html; https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/sex-and-hiv-education). Education surrounding sex and sexual health needs to be comprehensive, covering not only consent and safe sex, but also abortion, and the LGBTQ+ community. Also, sexual health, like mental health, should not be a taboo topic. After all, it is simply another aspect of overall well-being. Plus, oral birth control in particular is used for tons of reasons other than just preventing pregnancy, like: regulating periods, and even treating severe acne. So the attitude that birth control is inherently harmful, no matter it’s form, is like saying that all opiates are more risk than they’re worth: it has a shred of truth to it, but if we suddenly stopped prescribing them to the people who need them, it would create more problems than it solved.

            Now, that MUST solve the problem, right? Well, not exactly. Because, in trying to solve this problem, we’re creating an entirely new problem. I know, complicated. Unfortunately, this problem is one that has been around for centuries: colonialism. You may be asking, “but Brianna, how is trying to help developing nations get access to birth control, doctors, funding, and education colonialism?” And I’m glad that this question is on your mind. You see, as Robert H. Nelson puts it so eloquently in his 2003 article, westerners are constantly trying to “save” African people, quite often from themselves (Nelson, R.H., 2003). While there are definitely areas of Africa, and other parts of the world, that need help, who are we to butt in and start “fixing” things? After all, J.R. Miller states in a 1996 study that residential schools, when residential schools were first conceptualised, were an attempt at “fixing” Native Canadians through the English language, as well as Anglo-Saxon maths, ideals, and other things in an attempt to make them more “white”, but look where that got us: to this day, the harm that was caused by residential schools is still felt, even by people who never had to endure the horrors of these schools themselves (Miller J.R. 1996). White people in general seem to have an issue with people of colour and developing nations thriving, unless we played some role in that success. And if not us, then some higher species (ie. aliens) must have been behind it. As pointed out in an article from 2017, white people have such a hard time believing that the ancient peoples of developing nations, in other words not white people, created amazing structures that are still standing today without any assistance, that they chalk up the design and construction to aliens (Benoit. 2017). There is a belief engrained into white people that anyone who is non-white must be primitive, or less intelligent because of the colour of their skin, and because this belief is there, we believe that developing nations are incapable of solving their own problems, and just like what happens to people with learning disabilities, we step in to help. These countries have not asked for help from western society when it comes to birth control, so why are we so quick to try and fix their problems? I think it comes right back to those colonialist residues that are still left over in North America from our European ancestors. Western society is famous for touting that it’s our way or the highway, which leads us to believing that other cultures need to be “saved”, or “fixed” , which, lets face it, is a massive problem. It also feeds into white privilege, and allows white people to think things like: hijabs are a symbol of oppression, and therefore we must stop women from wearing them, which is uninformed at best. This idea that we must “save” developing nations from their lack of birth control is just the tip of a very dangerous iceberg, especially in the current state of the world, where racism is being celebrated and applauded by people who claim to believe that it is keeping their countries safe.

            And finally, there is the fact that most people making policies and dealing with these issues are men. This presents another massive problem. As mentioned before, there are men who refuse to use condoms, or even force their partners not to use birth control, but this extends much higher, into governmental bodies, including Todd Akin, a republican in the United States who has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t believe women should have access to abortions, even in cases of sexual assault because, and this is a direct quote, taken from a 2014 article by Charlotte Alter: “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,”; Akin was a congressman in Missouri at the time that he made this statement (Charlotte Alter, “Todd Akin Still Doesn't Get What's Wrong With Saying 'Legitimate Rape'”). Also, there was a man who went on a twitter rampage about tampons being free because he believed that periods could be “held in”, as if they were like using the washroom. Betty.me has kindly shared this thread (as well as an excellent list of clapbacks), on their website  (https://www.betty.me/body/guy-thought-hold-period-twitter-totally-schooled/). These are both extreme cases of ignorance, but they are unfortunately not as uncommon as one might hope. In fact, a cursory google search of “misconceptions men have about women’s bodies” turns up five lists, three of twenty or more points, in the first five search results, about strange things men have thought about women’s bodies. But the most disturbing part is, there are men like this all over the place who have next to no knowledge of how women’s bodies function, and some of them are even running extremely powerful countries and taking away important resources because they don’t agree with one part of what they do. Unfortunately, we as women are constantly made to feel as if our bodies are somehow shameful or taboo or wrong simply for existing shapes and forms that have been deemed, largely by men, as inappropriate or dirty, all the while being portrayed as sex objects in the media. We are constantly being fed contradictions: if you’ve never had sex you’re a prude, but having sex makes you promiscuous. Sexual assault is not taken seriously enough, and our clothes and level of intoxication is used to defend predators by the lawyers and judges who are supposed to uphold the law. It doesn’t help that the bulk of politicians are white, straight, cisgender men, at least in North America and Europe, who have very specific views of what is and isn’t right due to their privilege. One of the biggest problems we as women face, not only in the developing world, is men who believe they know more about women’s bodies than women, despite not knowing anything at all.   

            So there you have it folks, the sure-fire way to provide women all over the globe with family planning services: more doctors, more funding, more education, less colonialism, and less men making decisions about women’s bodies.

This has been A Matter of Opinion From Scratch Media. Once again, my name’s Brianna Thomson, and if you liked this episode, make sure to go check out the rest, as well as our behind the scenes blog on Squarespace at From Scratch Media.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Benoit, J. “Racism is behind outlandish theories about Africa’s ancient architecture”. The Conversation. (2017). https://theconversation.com/racism-is-behind-outlandish-theories-about-africas-ancient-architecture-83898

 Betty.me. “This guy thought you could ‘hold your period in’ and Twitter totally schooled him” (2016).  https://www.betty.me/body/guy-thought-hold-period-twitter-totally-schooled/

Brigit Katz “Why 222 million women can’t get the birth control they need” womenintheworld.com: Human Rights. (2015). https://womenintheworld.com/2015/09/26/why-222-million-women-cant-get-the-birth-control-they-need/

Charlotte Alter, “Todd Akin Still Doesn't Get What's Wrong With Saying 'Legitimate Rape'”, time.com, 2014, http://time.com/3001785/todd-akin-legitimate-rape-msnbc-child-of-rape/

Gates, M. “Want to Empower Women Worldwide: Give Them Access to Contraceptives”. The National Geographic. (2017). https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/opinion-melinda-gates-contraceptive-global/

Guttenmacher Institute, “Sex and HIV Education”, as of April 1, 2019, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/sex-and-hiv-education

Hhs.gov, “Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing”, Last reviewed March 29, 2019, https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/reproductive-health-and-teen-pregnancy/teen-pregnancy-and-childbearing/trends/index.html

J.R. Miller, “Shingwuak’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools” University of Toronto Press, 1996, Part Two: Experiencing Residential Schools, 6: ‘To Have the “Indian” Educated out of Them’: Classroom and Class, https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pULxSOj3kqQC&oi=fnd&pg=PP5&dq=reasons+behind+residential+schools&ots=hgXtUCUrPN&sig=rRezsMOyvjT3UUYFfkV1qQMabro#v=onepage&q&f=false

Lisa M WilliamsonEmail author, Alison Parkes, Daniel Wight, Mark Petticrew and Graham J Hart, “Limits to modern contraceptive use among young women in developing countries: a systematic review of qualitative research”  Reproductive Health. 2009. 6:3, https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-4755-6-3©  Williamson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009, 19 February 2009, https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1742-4755-6-3

"Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 Licensehttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Robert H. Nelson “Environmental Colonialism: "Saving" Africa from Africans” The Independent Review, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Summer 2003), pp. 65-86 Published by: Independent Institute Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24562597 Accessed: 02-04-2019 08:16 UTC, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/24562597.pdf?casa_token=Eoy8O2btOUMAAAAA:xciUp5W88R4vb4cbMDyKJsiKFMCyffxaFCrZ5ttRJSOzv1OqOhZKJCxDKakZyAoWJcARoa2GWeVv6GgqGG27C5_3ug_n0kyZiA2MkrBF37EMV6qOnA

Saraladevi Naicker, FRCP, PhD; Jacob Plange-Rhule, FWACP, PhD; Roger C. Tutt, BA; John B. Eastwood, MD, FRCP. “Shortage of Healthcare Workers in Developing Countries – Africa”. Ethnicity & Disease, Volume 19, Spring 2009, pp. SI-60-SI-64. https://www.ethndis.org/priorsuparchives/ethn-19-01s1-60.pdf

Stanback, J., Thompson, A., Hardee, K., & Janowitz, B. (1997). “Menstruation Requirements: A Significant Barrier to Contraceptive Access in Developing Countries”. Studies in Family Planning,28(3), pp. 245-250. doi:10.2307/2137892 https://www.jstor.org/stable/2137892?casa_token=qslw7nD-4rEAAAAA:7xaz6vCSV2lXpzE9xRfZVEI7su7iMD4UUNZM4eu6hOS4M78BDAOh_eZI-iahw6nlBxkUGFgRPfWvFo_rAf6i4EWzUK7W775GADkq2UkWiqWXsj3ZxA&seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Phase Three

Week Twelve

Making a podcast has been an interesting experience. I’ve learned that I am interested in making more podcasts in the future, although I would prefer to do a more comedic podcast, and I have found a number of podcasts that I find incredibly enjoyable. This is also the easiest and most enjoyable research I’ve had to do, and it’s showed me that research can be enjoyable.

Week Nine

I have three sources that have been especially useful for me:

Brigit Katz “Why 222 million women can’t get the birth control they need” womenintheworld.com: Human Rights. (2015). https://womenintheworld.com/2015/09/26/why-222-million-women-cant-get-the-birth-control-they-need/

Lisa M WilliamsonEmail author, Alison Parkes, Daniel Wight, Mark Petticrew and Graham J Hart, “Limits to modern contraceptive use among young women in developing countries: a systematic review of qualitative research”  Reproductive Health. 2009. 6:3, https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-4755-6-3©  Williamson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009, 19 February 2009, https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1742-4755-6-3

and

Saraladevi Naicker, FRCP, PhD; Jacob Plange-Rhule, FWACP, PhD; Roger C. Tutt, BA; John B. Eastwood, MD, FRCP. “Shortage of Healthcare Workers in Developing Countries – Africa”. Ethnicity & Disease, Volume 19, Spring 2009, pp. SI-60-SI-64. https://www.ethndis.org/priorsuparchives/ethn-19-01s1-60.pdf

All three of them demonstrate the limits of modern medicine in developing countries, which is both useful to me, and causes them to complement each other nicely.

These sources could be “characters” to better show the depth and severity of the issues I’ll be discussing.

Just like my podcast is me expressing my thoughts and opinions through writing and speech, all of the sources I am using are also just trying to express themselves or something they are interested in.

Final Podcast- Emily Norton

Transcript:

Hi and welcome to From Scratch Media’s A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m Emily Norton, and in this episode, we’ll be talking about an opinion piece by Johnathon Rauch of The Atlantic which proposes the LGBTQ+ community be referred to solely as “Queer” and examining the aspects of this proposal and the term itself

When I was a little girl I remember hearing this word. Boys in the hallway at school would shout it jokingly at each other, or sometimes they’d shout it with aggression. The first time I heard the word Queer it meant other. A family member was describing a classmate of mine who was a bit of a loner whose interests didn’t match those of the rest of the class. The specific details have left me, but the significance of the moment remains. Queer meant on the outside. It meant odd. It meant unlike the rest.

The Oxford English dictionary defines the word as strange or weird. Right from the start I associated this term with being other. And being other is rarely associated with anything positive

In the article Rauch suggests that by keeping the many letters that represent various identities in the community name, the individuality of each person is diminished and the term LGBTQ+ becomes oppressive. He proposes we drop the LGBT from LGBTQ. Claiming that this switch would actually prove to be less oppressive and more inclusive by loosening the divide between individual identities and instead becoming “one.” But eliminating letters does not seem like the right method to achieve more inclusivity.

Throughout this episode I want to keep this in mind as I delve into a few questions

·                  How is ‘Queer’ experienced and understood by varying identities in the LGBTQ+ community?

·                  The author is a white, gay man, how might his positionality affect the way he feels about this proposed change?

·                  Does ‘Queer’ truly represent all identities? Is it possible to eliminate yet be more inclusive?

First, I think its important to acknowledge the history of the term: In 1894, John Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry, discovered his son was a in a gay relationship with Oscar Wilde. In attempt to prevent a scandal Douglas took Wilde to court. During the case a letter surfaced in which Douglas used the term ‘snob-queers’ to describe gay men. From that moment, with the first written account of queer used as a hate speech brought forward, queer became a slur.

Of course, this was a long time ago, and since then the term has evolved, at least in certain contexts. Later on, as a response to the AIDs crisis and systemic homophobia, Queer resurfaced within the community as a political statement. People were reclaiming the word and using it to empower themselves and their activism. You’d see protest signs with the words “WE’RE HERE AND WE’RE QUEER”. It grew into a way to let people know that Queers were not going anywhere no matter what slurs, violence, or lack of human rights were thrown their way.

In the book “Reclaiming Queer: Activist and Academic Rhetorics of resistance” Erin J Rand writes: “A queer identity, it asserts, is a strategic practice for forging alliances among those who may seem to be quite different.”

Rand also stated: “defining queerness as resistance presents a theoretical quandary: agency’s queerness can be conceptualized and identified only to the extent that resistance can be detected”

Another writer describes queer as “In its most expansive sense 'queer' marks the ways in which so many of us are deviants from a narrow, prescriptive sexual standard, which is not simply about heterosexuality”

But in 2019, The term has also evolved to a point that it now plays a role in identity politics. It is less of a joke for straight people or part of the LGBTQ intra community language and more concrete in people’s minds. Generally, it is understood as an umbrella term, but now at a time when people are individually identifying with the term it raises some confusion and discussion.

In a Journal article published by Edinburgh university press in 1994, Jo Eadie writes: “Identity politics is therefore concerned with purity. It requires stable and coherent positions that people can assume: yes, I'm a man; yes, I'm gay. It requires that everyone occupy one or other of the available positions: male/female; gay/straight; black/white. It polices the marginals, pressing them into appropriate sites of a two or three term topology. Purity might be defined as: any ideology where there are fewer positions than there are people.”

This quote is further proof that Queer has become a form of anarchy. It means “other” in the sense that it challenges people to be more open and understanding of people’s differences. It is a fight against the system that tries to hold power over and discriminate against those it describes.

But some feel that this term has been forced on them and have no interest in calling themselves by the term. Additionally, letting non-community members refer to them as Queer in a “non-discriminatory” way creates a risk of allowing other hate speech to go unnoticed and excused. This is where I find my issue with Rauch’s proposal, despite progress and the joy of reclamation, Queer’s roots are still homophobic and violent.

I asked a couple members of the LGBTQ+ community how they experience the word queer and how they feel about it being a new name for the community. These contributors asked to remain anonymous for personal privacy reasons so I will not be sharing their names on this episode.

One woman I spoke to who identifies as a lesbian, told me she does not personally identify with the term but is okay with it being used to refer to her if she’s being grouped with others. Additionally, she said “I don’t think that’s an ideal community name. I mean it doesn’t make sense to take letters, which represent identities away and replace it with a term that some people have bad memories with”

You see, Queer is a slur. Its hate speech. Regardless of how people are using the word now, it is born from people being uncomfortable with LGBTQ+ people’s identities.

Another person I spoke to who identifies as non-binary said “I really like calling myself queer. I’m non-binary and sometimes don’t even feel understood by the community and this word honestly helps a lot with that and makes me feel like I belong. but I also don’t know if it would necessarily be good for everyone.”

It is important to note that sometimes when someone identifies as queer it refers to their sexual orientation, and sometimes their gender identity. The importance of these differences would be lost with a more vague term being used to describe the community.

Keeping these quotes in mind, I want to mention that the author of this opinion piece is a gay, white man. It is important to acknowledge that there are intra community privileges and he benefits from them which makes it easier for him to propose this change, without fully considering the lives and identities of others. This change is going to feel different for people of different, less privileged identities

For example, trans and non-binary people within the community are socially and politically at a higher disadvantage than gays, lesbian, and bisexual people. Identity politics effect everybody but in the current social climate these members of our community struggle much more and have much different experiences.

It is always important to take your individual privilege into account when speaking on behalf of an entire community and im not certain that rauch has done so.

There are a lot of people within the LGBTQ+ community. Different identities and different individuals. Of course, we share a commonality, but we are also our own selves. While eliminating other letters may be appealing to some, not everyone wants to let go of the importance of their label when it comes to identity politics. But, labels have never been easy, and some LGBTQ+ people are happy to reclaim, identify with, and own Queer.

Still it remains true that Queer is simply not representative of all identities within the community and by eliminating the acknowledgment of varying identities in the name we refer to ourselves to as a community is a questionable path in regard to inclusivity.

The final person I spoke to identifies as a bisexual woman and said “I find queer liberating it is who I am, but I guess I understand certain people not wanting to go by it. I have had hateful words use against that I would never reclaim.”

Being a part of the LGBTQ community may not be seen as “strange” “weird” or “other” in the same way it used to, but there are still people like me who have grown up thinking Queer was bad and associating it with being a person who is not accepted by the norm of society.

The same little girl who listened to boys yelling this word at each other in the hallway and watched pointed fingers whisper it about introverted girls is still inside me, despite the pride I have in my identity.

The ways in which this word has been used against some cannot be erased and allowing people outside of the community, from policy makers to your next-door neighbour to use this term freely is dangerous and simply put, not okay.

Reclamation is an important part of activism and for some people it’s an important part of life with a marginalized identity. But despite our connections through our marginalization and experiences, we are still individuals whose differing identities are important in their own ways

Though the word queer is accepted, and even identified with by many, it is still a word that was and is used against the LGBTQ+ community in a hateful way. It is difficult to encompass everyone’s experience and specific identity when referring to an entire community. However, by removing the letters that represent words that people fought to take pride in, is not the answer. Especially when the alternative is vague and not universal.

As we finish up this episode of a matter of opinion, I want to say thank you to my contributors and listeners for delving into this topic with me today. Be sure to tune in for our next episode, thank you for listening.

References:

Eadie, J. (1994). Queer. Keywords, volume 17 (issue 3). https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/43263443.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A5791debf9e9dc2be052ca0e40d62abff.

Rand, E.J. (2014).  Reclaiming queer: Activist and academic rhetorics of resistance. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press.

Rupp, L.J. What’s queer got to do with it? Reviews in American history, volume 38 (issue 2). https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/40865341.pdf?ab_segments=0%252Ftbsub-1%252Frelevance_config_with_tbsub&refreqid=excelsior%3A5c00b96fed2c98afdba6a5beced0c7fc.

 Music Credit:

"Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Recommended Resources:

Ford, T. (2018) Tyler Ford explains the history behind the word queer [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpE0u9Dx_24

Hall, J. (2016) Tracing the history of the word ‘queer’. Retrieved from http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/32213/1/tracing-the-history-of-the-word-queer 

Obinwanne, A. (2018) Why I’m a lesbian (not queer). Retrieved from https://www.afterellen.com/columns/545781-im-lesbian-not-queer

Final Podcast

                                                     Transcript

 

Hi, my name is Kevin Silva, and this is A Matter Of Opinion. In this podcast I will be talking about how advertisement has grown at a tremendous rate which has resulted in advertisement becoming a form of manipulation. For those of you that don’t know what advertisement is, it is a notice or announcement in a public medium promoting a product, service, or event or publicizing a job opening.  The opinion piece that peaked my interest in creating this podcast was “Advertising and academia are controlling our thoughts. Didn’t you know?” by George Monbiot.

As a kid growing up in the 1990’s technology was prominent but not as advanced as we have today. I mean, I didn’t get my first phone until I was 16 years old, which was my grandmas’ old flip phone, compared to know where kids get a phone the moment they learn how to say “dada”. I would spend most of my time playing outside with friends because that was actually the normal thing to do as a kid. Now kids rather spend their time indoors on their phones or watching T.V and that is when you are more likely to see various forms of advertisement. In a study conducted by CBS news they stat that in the 1970s the average person would look at around 500x ads a day compared to today the average person would see 5000x ads a day. 

Ads can be separated into three forms: Visual, Verbal, and a combination of the two. visual ads are most notably billboards like the ones you see on the always reliable TTC.  A verbal ad is played on the radio which is usually your que to start fiddling through the stations until you hear a song, and lastly, we get commercials which are a combination of the two since you see and hear the ad like Mcdonalds, you see the “M” and you know its MCdonalds but at the same time the catchiest theme song plays in your head. (Sing theme song).

Behind every successful product there is a marketing team that uses various strategies to promote said product. You can say that they are the catalyst of advertisement manipulation. Their main goal is reaching out to people and turning them into customers. They target the most basic psychological demands and in turn makes us want to get what we don’t have. For example, the desire for food is always there, so the marketing team would manipulate the psyche to believe that the demand is not met which in turn would induce you to purchase a specific product. also the use of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs plays a major role in marketing and advertisement it breaks down the psychology of the human mind to showcase ways in which we can be manipulated

The subconscious mind is the marketing teams greatest ally and out greatest enemy, according to Lindstorm, 85% of choices we make are due to our subconscious mind. Many ads are created in a way to trigger our subconscious mind and its done by targeting our emotions. As people we rely on emotions to guide us in making decisions. A stunning 31% of successful advertising appeal to emotions as a way to make us buy a product. The use of colours also plays a major role in ads as it has been proven that 90% of immediate judgements on products are determined by colour. The brighter the colour the better in terms of advertisement because it leaves a lasting impression on the person. Colour can also be used to evoke a specific emotional response for example coca-cola and mcdonalds use the colour red and yellow as they are considered more stimulating and energizing which grabs the consumers attention, showing them how specific products will help them optimize their day.

You know those vegetable chips you buy as a supplement for regular chips because you wanna feel better about yourself and you actually believe that they are better for you, well that is actually an advertising strategy called reframing. This strategy is all about reshaping general assumption, so you think your eating healthier but you’re not. (sorry to bust your bubble) reframing is a technique used by therapists to change the way you think, feel, and behave, so the fact that this technique is found in advertisement is none other than manipulation.

The use of smart phones is very relevant to advertisement because of social media. Social media is a means for us to promote our totally realistic lifestyle to the world. the social media platforms are: social networking ( facebook,linkedin), microblogging ( Twitter), Photo Sharing ( Instagram, snapchat), and video sharing ( youtube). Kids in todays society are exposed to ads through the use social media and that is a lot because they are never not on their phones and like I said before there is no age limit on who gets a phone today. The main way social media uses ads is through celebrities. They would promote a product on their own platform and because people worship them they would go out and buy the product even if they don’t need it.

 you may believe that there is no serious harm that comes from the constant exposure of ads, well you are greatly mistaken as ads leave a lasting impression on a person.

Like I mentioned earlier in the podcast in todays society the average person is exposed to roughly 5000x ads a day. Now just imagine how many of those ads are about alcohol, or tobacco. As adults we know the effects these substances have on the body but kids don’t. these kinds of ads can push unhealthy behaviour in children as the ads promote the use of alcohol or tobacco. Underage drinking is increasing due to the exposure to alcohol advertising and this results in the kids either getting completely drunk, the chances of getting into fights is higher aswell as the chances of the kid missing school. Food advertising also a serious problem as is  one of the main causes of obesity. A kid is exposed to 12 to 14 ads about food and none of them are about healthy foods because the platform in which they use in their daily lives are usually where companies with a lot of money use to promote their product. And what I mean about companies with a lot of money are all the fast food chains. Parents are now becoming more aware of these kinds of ads, but it has become increasingly difficult to protect them as companies market their products on the internet and through our good friend social media.

Ads create a false image, in the way they promote products because these images are often un realistic and unattainable. I mean who would want to own a half a million-dollar car or house, but I guesses if you save up until your retirement there is always a chance.

hey what’s up FOMO. Just joking Fomo is actually an acronym for Fear of Missing Out. Now how does this relate to ads, well you wouldn’t miss out if you didn’t know. And what I mean by that is that ads promote so many things that when a person sees another person with something they seen on an ad but couldn’t buy it themselves  they feel left out so they would attempt to get the same product in order to fit in with the rest. Some ways in which marketers use FOMO to their advantage is by showing that people are buying the product, they would highlight missed opportunites in your messaging, offer you a one-shot deal, promotions like “ free shipping”, images, offer rewards, and by saying that they would make you an exclusive offer. So these were just some marketing strategies in which marketers integrate fomo into advertisements.

 impulse consumption is the biggest problem that arises from ads. Ads are designed make you think less when making a decision on buying a product. Many of us will buy something without thinking about the consequences it can lead to. i once  bought a 65 inch t.v because it was on sale and it was 4K but what I didn’t realize was that I didn’t have anywhere in my room to place the tv so I was left with my living rooms tv which is a 30inch and the tv I bought was put in the living room, moral of the story measure the room before purchasing  a tv or else you wont be able to enjoy it as you thought you would. That was just one occasion in which I personally bought something without thinking rationally but there are many people that grow to possess a personality trait called impulse buying tendency which as you may have guessed means that they have a habit of making impulsive purchases. This is a serious personality trait because like fomo most impulse buyers buy to look good in the eyes of others. The people with this personality trait also suffers from sever anxiety and have difficulty controlling their emotions. Also, these people tend to experience less happiness, so they buy things as a way to improve their mood.

Now I wanna get into ways in which people can reduce the number of ads they see on a given day. In order for you to not become a victim by the cruel hands of advertisments.

 

The most basic and easiest way to reduce the number of ads you see is by using incognito browsing. Advertisers create profiles on each user by tracking their internet history and through cookie profiling. This data helps inform advertiser which products, services, and promotions will appeal to those users. So its not just the FBI that sees your history. But by using incognito browsing it helps keep your browsing history private, preventing online marketers from collecting data.

Adblocking software is another helpful tool in reducing the number of ads you are exposed too. this software is made to help you avoid pop-up ads, banners, videos, and marketing graphics. This software is actually becoming quite popular to millennials as it loads web pages faster and save bandwidth. The saving of bandwith is essential because many mobile devices have capped bandwidth connections, meaning consumers now have a financial incentive to reduce the number of ads that appear while streaming video or consuming content on their mobile devices. Another benefit is that it helps you surf longer on the internet without paying for data overages.  According to a report co-written by Adobe ( a adblocking software) and Dublin based pagefair, they recently published in the wall street journal, that ad blocking software will cost companies $22 billion in lost advertising revenue. So yeah to adblocking software

 The most costly way to avoid ads but also the best way especially when your done school and have a lot of free time is by using subscription services. HBO, Amazon, and Netflix are just a few of the paid subscription services that are becoming known for their content and commercial-free viewing. This is helpful for people that watch a lot of tv as it provides you with ad-free t.v, and it allows you to watch shows and films on your own schedule rather than go by the schedule of the network.  

So to conclude my podcast I will like to summarize the key point of how ads have lead to manipulation as well as the effects and ways in which you can reduce to number of ads you see on a given day. The main point on manipulation was in the way ads use the technique of reframing. This technique is used by professional therapists to help people with their own problems but ads use it to make you believe in bad things are actually good things. When it comes to the effects ads have on us I would say impulsive purchases is the biggest because we are exposed to so a variety of things that you will always have the urge to get something even if you don’t necessarily need it. And lastly the best way to reduce the number of ads I would say is by getting adblocking software like Adobe as it provides you with more content than just blocking ads.

My name is kevin silva and thank you for listening to my podcast

Sources

The Psychology of Advertising,Manipulation in Advertising | StopAd. (2018, May 24). Retrieved from https://stopad.io/blog/manipulating-maslow-how-advertising-is-hijacking-our-heads-and-making-us-unhappy

Taylor, J., Taylor, J., Forsyth, M., Mills, K., & Mills, K. (2015, November 20). The Age of Adblock: 4 Ways People Avoid Ads. Retrieved from https://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2015/08/12/age-adblock-4-ways-people-avoid-ads/

 

Maanasi. (2019, March 14). 9 Negative Side Effects Of Advertising On Children. Retrieved from https://www.momjunction.com/articles/negative-side-effects-of-advertising-on-your-children_00385891/#gref

Monbiot, G. (2018, December 31). Advertising and academia are controlling our thoughts. Didn't you know? | George Monbiot. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/31/advertising-academia-controlling-thoughts-universities

Inkbot Design. (2017, April 10). Marketing and Advertising Strategies. Retrieved from https://medium.com/inkbot-design/marketing-and-advertising-strategies-45242269f5ee

 

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.marketing-schools.org/types-of-marketing/behavioral-marketing.html

 

Chen, J. (2019, March 12). Marketing Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/marketing-strategy.asp

16 Clever FOMO Marketing Examples to Boost Your Sales. (2019, January 07). Retrieved from https://optinmonster.com/fomo-marketing-examples-to-boost-sales/

What Motivates Impulse Buying? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/sold/201207/what-motivates-impulse-buying

Jolly, W., & JollyCEO, W. (2019, February 27). The 6 Most Effective Types of Social Media Advertising in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/social-media-advertising/#the-6-best-social-networks-for-ecommerce-advertising

 

Final Podcast Assignment : Climate Change: To Do or Die

Climate Change: To Do or Die?

By: Nicole Bednarski

Today was the same as every other morning. You wake up, roll over to the opposite side of the bed to pick up your phone and shut off the blaring alarm. Once it’s shut off, you open instagram to see what posts you missed from last night, or maybe you hop on snapchat to see what your friends sent you because you went to bed early the night before. Finally, you open the twitter or facebook app and start scrolling through to see what jokes, memes and news may have occurred throughout the night around the world that you want to be informed on. No matter what social media database you’re using, they still have you on it from the first few moments of waking up to the minute before you put your phone away before bed. 

From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m Nicole Bednarski, and in this episode we're talking about Climate Change: To Do or Die? And see how social media has affected this controversial topic. 

In the 21st century, everyone is connected through social media apps such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. More specifically, people tend to use social media to convey their messages, blog posts and news to people around the world. In fact, even our presidents and prime ministers use twitter to communicate with the general public. Donald Trump has been a controversial political candidate since the day he entered the running for the US presidency. His tweets appear comical to the general public however, he speaks about some very serious issues on his social media. 

Climate change is one of the topics that President Trump enjoys tweeting about and boy oh boy, doesn’t the public love reading into the hidden meanings behind his tweets. The idea of climate change itself has been an issue raised by many people in power throughout the ages and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, there is factual evidence that it does exist. 

In a CNN article named, “Donald Trump Buries a Climate Change Report Because ‘I don’t Believe it’” by Chris Cillizza, we are exposed to President Trump’s opinion on climate change. As stated ever so clearly in the title of the article, the 45th President of the USA believes that it does not exist which creates an issue for the people residing on this earth.

This article states how Donald Trump buried a climate change report and released it on Black Friday, when he knew no one would care to read it. The report had bad news written all over it and the president did not want the people reading about something he doesn’t even believe is real. 

In another article named, “Donald Trump Doesn’t Think Much of Climate Change, in 20 Quotes”  also by Chris Cilliza , he points out direct tweets President Trump has tweeted over the years, starting in 2012-2016. Some examples include; 

"It's freezing outside, where the hell is 'global warming'??" , another quote from his twitter is, "It's late in July and it is really cold outside in New York. Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING??? We need some fast! It's now CLIMATE CHANGE"" (Cilliza 1).

I truly believe that these tweets show a level of ignorance and immaturity for such a powerful person to be rambling on about without proper facts backing him up. In my own opinion, there is a possibility of fear causing these irrational statements, as no one wants to believe that we are destroying our home planet to a place of no return. 

This now creates an issue for the people of this earth as the documentation showing the issues and how they need to be fixed is being hidden by their own president. While President Trump is attempting to convince Americans that this is not a serious issue, there are scientific studies showing the opposite. In the science article, “The relationship of sea level changes to climatic change in northeast Asia and northern North America during the last 75 ka B.P.” (ka = kilo annum) by Stuart Harris, he talks about how climate change in one end of the earth changes the climate in another part as a response. 

One of the major issues is the rising temperature of sea levels due to melting ice bergs in the North. Harris states, “Failure of the movement of heat from the Tropics to the north by ocean currents due to sea level changes can result in spectacular changes in the climate of very large areas downwind to the east.” (Harris 2). This can mean that entire habitats and climates can shift, causing millions of environments to suffer and potentially become extinct. If you don’t think this is a big problem, let me put it into perspective for you. In the long run this extinction includes the human race. 

In another article on climate change, a statement was taken from researchers at the university of Alaska, they tell us about the changes in temperature in the atmosphere causing snow to decrease by 20%-50% within the next 50 years. These researchers state:

“These projected changes are anticipated to result in a cascade of ecosystem-level effects including: increased frequency of flooding and rain-on-snow events; an elevated snowline and reduced snowpack; changes in the timing and magnitude of stream flow, freshwater thermal regimes, and riverine nutrient exports; shrinking alpine habitats; altitudinal and latitudinal expansion of lowland and subalpine forest types; shifts in suitable habitat boundaries for vegetation and wildlife communities; adverse effects on species with rare ecological niches or limited dispersibility; and shifts in anadromous salmon distribution and productivity.” (Climate Change; The Business of Global Warming 1).

While some places around the world are only receiving mild effects of climate change, this is only a temporary situation for them. Soon enough, people around the globe will begin to notice little aspects of their lives changing. One day, you might go to the grocery store and realize you can’t buy fish or certain vegetables. While more time passes and the situation becomes dire enough, there won’t be enough food to keep grocery stores open and people alive at all. So, for now, you may need to “see it to believe it” and you aren’t seeing it, but by the time you do it may be too late to fix it… At this rate we can say goodbye to those white Christmases we know and love.

A lot of understanding and believing in climate change comes from becoming educated on it in school. After doing some research of my own, I went ahead and spoke to different generations of students to find out whether or not they learned about climate change within their curriculum at school. The results I found were exactly what I thought they were going to be, one had learned about it and one hadn’t. 

My first interview was with 13 year old Lilian, a grade 8 student in the York Catholic District School Board and my second interview was with 45 year old Mila, an immigrant from Poland who completed most of her schooling back in Europe, with the exception of her nursing degree here in Canada. 

*Bernie Sanders Campaign Ad*

We are back from the break with our first interview from Miss Lilian.

Interview 1: Lilian

Nicole: So I just have a question for you. Do you learn about climate change in school?

Lily: Um, yeah I guess…

N: What class do you learn about it in?

L: Usually, like, science or geography.

N: Okay so, whats your opinion on climate change, do you believe in it?

L: Okay well, yeah obviously I believe in it because like, science proves it. But I guess like, I don’t know like, I just think it’s stupid that, like, people can be so reckless and selfish? I don’t know…

N: What do you mean selfish? That they don’t care for the environment or they’re just oblivious to the actual issue at hand?

L: I feel like, no people definitely aren’t oblivious to it because it’s such a big thing nowadays. It’s more like they’re ignoring it. Let’s say like, theres 7 billion people on the earth and let’s say they’re littering. Someone decides to litter and they’re like it’s only one wrapper, said 7 billion people. 

N: So then what do you think we should do about the whole climate change and littering situation?

L: There’s not really much I think we can do about it at the point we’re at now. Because pretty soon we are going to be too far gone. We definitely need to spread more awareness because a lot of people think it’s a joke or like I said are being really selfish and they’re like I don’t need to deal with this in my lifetime. But when they’re gone their children will so they should start taking responsibility for their actions. There’s just so much more we can do that can help. 

N: So, how are you finding out all of this information? Is it because you’re active on social media?

L: Oh yeah, of course!

N: Where do you see it? On Twitter? Snapchat stories?

L: Everywhere, like instagram, twitter. I know people look down on social media nowadays but I think it’s a good way to spread certain stories to youth. 

N: I think that so many people are active on social media right now thats it is just becoming a part of our normal lifestyle. I mean Donald Trump is the current president of the USA and he doesn’t believe that climate change is real and makes these very big statements on twitter! Have you seen his tweets?

L: Oh yeah, Donald Trump is famous for these. I have one thing to say about that. Donald Trump is a politician, he is not a scientist. As far as I’m concerned he is not educated in that field and I don’t think he’s done enough research in that field so, even though he’s in this position of such power he should…

N: Become more educated before?

L: Before making these claims because he kinda looks, a little ignorant. 

N: So as a 13 year old going into high school next year. What do you think you can do to raise awareness or do something to stop climate change one step at a time?

L: If we’re going to take the steps to try and fix this problem, I definitely think it’s up to our generation because our parents and grandparents they don’t do enough. They don’t know enough and they’re in denial of this and lazy and leaving it to us. 

N: So you’re kind of saying that they’re just laying the problem onto us because it’s not going to affect them?

L: Exactly so it’s up to us to solve it.

That concluded the end of the first interview. When it comes to figuring out who has to solve the climate change issues, both Lilian and I agree that the millennials must step up and take action to fix this grave issue. 

Following this interview, we spoke to Mila Bednarski to compare the education systems and her opinion on climate change. 

Interview 2: Mila

Nicole: I just have a couple questions for you, when you were in elementary school and high school, did you learn about climate change?

Mila: No, I did not.

Nicole: So when did you come to learn about this situation?

Mila: After high school.

Nicole: After high school? So once you immigrated to Canada or?

Mila: It was when I immigrated to Canada.

Nicole: So, do you believe that climate change is a serious issue?

Mila: Oh, definitely. 

Nicole: Are you active on social media?

Mila: Oh I am, I’m on instagram, facebook, [twitter] and snapchat.

Nicole: Okay so do you see any information about climate change on these social media databases?

Mila: Continuously. 

Nicole: So if you have facebook, twitter, snapchat and instagram, do you see our current president of the USA, Donald Trump’s, tweets?

Mila: Oh yes!

Nicole: He does not believe that climate change is real. What do you think about this?

Mila: Oh, [well] I do believe in climate change. Our climate is changing, I do believe in global warming. 

Nicole: And what do you thinks about President’s Trump opinion on this?

Mila: Well… it’s Trump. 

Nicole: This is the second opinion I am putting out here for people to hear. It sounds like you don’t really care too much for his opinion. 

Mila: No, I don’t. I think he is uneducated on the topic. 

Nicole: I think so too. He is a politician and business man, not necessarily a scientist. So what do you think about his social media outbursts when he goes on those twitter rants?

Mila: I don’t think he thinks of what he’s saying. He’s just kind of acting on emotion and just blurts the stuff out. 

Nicole: Regardless of President Trumps opinion, people are still fighting to make a change so what do you think we can do to fix the issue of climate change. 

Mila: We can use a better vehicle

Nicole: Better vehicle as in an electrical vehicle?

Mila: Yes correct, we can look to use more solar panels for our energy.

Nicole: So clean energy like wind power? Solar panels?

Mila: Yes.

Nicole: I think that all of this is very important and that the information needs to be spread out properly throughout the country. 

In this second interview, I came to learn that only millennials are being taught about climate change from a young age. I believe this did a disservice to our earth because we probably could have done something sooner about the depletion of our ozone layer and melting ice bergs. 

Global warming isn’t only about rising sea levels and worldwide temperatures, it’s also about greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide levela. Now while I know statistics are quite boing, I think it’s important that everyone sees the severity of changes our earth has been going through. In the article “The Consequences of Global Warming Due to Ice-Albedo Feedback and Greenhouse Effect in an Energy Balance Daisyworld Model” by Rueangphankun and Yomsatieankul, they talk about the carbon dioxide in the air by ppm, parts per million. Humanity started testing for CO2 in the air approximately 60 years ago, and now ensure that their readings get posted online so anyone is able to access and read them. 

This is when social media becomes such an important pawn in the climate change game. Statistics and articles are shared to facebook and twitter and gets people reading about this topic. I find it bizarre how everyone lives on the same earth, but don’t know how quickly they’re destroying it. Social media helps push that message to everyone. 

Rueangphankun states, 

“Before the industrial revolution, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was about 280 ppm. When a continual observation began at Mauna Loa in 1958, CO2 concentration was roughly 316 ppm. In 2013, the daily average concentration of CO2 measured at Mauna Loa surpassed 400 ppm. Since then, the monthly average of carbon dioxide levels has periodically exceeded 400 ppm’ (Rueangphankun 1).  

What this means is that humans are using far too many fossil fuels that emit greenhouses gasses, like carbon dioxide and methane, that the earth cannot dispose of fast enough. Like we learn in our elementary school science curriculum, trees absorb CO2 and return it into the atmosphere as oxygen. In simpler terms, with the rate we are going at now, there simply are not enough trees on the planet to help us fast enough. 

In conclusion to simplify everything I have talked about today, climate change is the overall effects of global warming. It is the rising of atmospheric temperatures causing changes in habitats and climates around the world. In a CNN article by Ryan Smith, he talks about the basics. 

“The term, climate change is used to describe a long-term change in global temperatures and weather patterns. The earth's temperature has changed drastically in its 4.5 billion year history, from the Huronian Ice Age that covered vast portions of the planet in ice for nearly 300 million years, to a period about 50 million years ago, when scientists believe that palm trees and crocodiles were native above the Arctic Circle. Today, climate change is commonly used as a term to describe the effects of global warming that have occurred as a result of human activity following the industrial revolution in the 18th century.” (Smith 1). 

While Mr. Smith just gave you the basic definition of climate change, I hope it completes your overall understanding of the topic from today’s episode. So while the earth has been changing over billions of years, within the last century we have caused the most damage to it. So, while you sit on your phone, iPad or laptop now and listen to this podcast, take a minute to see what difference you can make to the world. Use your social media accounts to spread a message to all your followers and friends that the world needs saving. There are plenty of organizations like the Climate Action Network and Citizen’s Climate Lobby that provide the public with information and ways to help contribute to the cause. 

While weather is simply atmospheric changes from our day to day lives, that we live by in order to see what we should wear or whether or not we should stay home, climate change occurs over a longer period of time. With the use of fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, we are draining our planet and making it unstable at its core. No person is exempt from the demise of our planet, so everyone has to get on board and help save it. We need to avoid listening to skeptics like President Donald Trump and listen to political candidates like Bernie Sanders, who believes that climate change is real and happening at this very moment. Litter is the start to all our problems . Whether it’s in a landfill or in the ocean, we need to find ways to reduce the amount of litter we produce. There are 7 billion people in the world and simply not enough ways to get rid of all the waste we produce.

Every little thing counts, whether it’s something as small as recycling your plastic or not using plastic bags when you go grocery shopping. Everyone is able to help in some way, you just need to try. 

From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m Nicole Bednarski, and I hope you enjoyed this episode of; Climate Change: To Do or Die? And understand how social media affects this topic. 

References

Cillizza, C. (2017, August 08). Donald Trump doesn't think much of climate change, in 20 quotes. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/08/politics/trump-global-warming/index.html

Cillizza, C. (2018, November 27). Donald Trump buried a climate change report because 'I don't believe it'. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/26/politics/donald-trump-climate-change/index.html

Climate change; researchers at university of alaska release new data on climate change (climate change implications in the northern coastal temperate rainforest of north america). (2015, May 18). The Business of Global Warming. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/1680784534?accountid=15182

Harris, S. A. (2019). The relationship of sea level changes to climatic change in northeast Asia and northern North America during the last 75 ka B.P. AIMS Environmental Science, 6(1), 14–40. Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/10.3934/environsci.2019.1.14

REANGPHANKUN, T., YOMSATIEANKUL, W., & SUKAWAT, D. (2018). The Consequences of Global Warming Due to Ice-Albedo Feedback and Greenhouse Effect in an Energy Balance Daisyworld Model. Applied Ecology & Environmental Research16(2), 1483–1505. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/10.15666/aeer/ 1602_14831505

Sanders, B. (2019, February 19). VISION | Bernie Sanders 2020. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgJagAiHimk

Smith, R. (2019, February 06). Climate change: Do you know the basics? Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/18/health/climate-change-google-questions-answered/index.html

Music:

"Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Sounds created by and used on garage band, apple MacBook air, 2019. 

(Sounds used Ascension Arp 02, Bittersweet Synth Bass 02 and Back Alley Bass 01)

Final Podcast: Kanye West

Final Podcast Transcript:

I Don’t Ever Want to Try Whatever Kool-Aid Kanye West Keeps Drinking”

Marie-France Leger

            Two words: Kanye West. A name that everyone seems to know, but for what reason? It’s like when someone asks you about the Superbowl and you know nothing about football. But, you know exactly what the Superbowl is because it’s so hyped up and talked about. Yeah, same thing with Kanye. He’s the type of person that no one understands, yet everyone wants to. He does so many things that seem so irrelevant yet become relevant and he knows it. So why not add a little fuel to the fire and talk about some of those things. You may know Kanye from hearing his hit songs such as Runaway, Stronger or Gold Digger playing on the radio on a Saturday night drive, but he’s much more than just a one hit wonder. Kanye West is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, film director, entrepreneur, and fashion designer…but above all things, he is arguably one of the most controversial celebrities of this generation. Why you may ask? Well, you probably already know, so let’s just go down that rabbit hole together.

            Let’s start with his tweets; his obnoxiously funny, asshole, narcissistic tweets that just tie all of his personalities into one place. On a regular basis, Kanye Tweets some of the most heinous things out of self-love for no one other than himself of course, because he believes himself to be truly the most talented artist of this generation. Some of his tweets include: “I open the debate…The 2nd verse of New Slaves is the best rap verse of all time…meaning…OF ALL TIME IN THE HISTORY OF RAP MUSIC, PERIOD” and another: “Have you ever thought you were in love with someone but then realized you were just staring in the mirror for 20 minutes?” And, another: “I’m not even gon lie to you. I love me so much right now.” Yes Kanye, we know.

            Do you hear this? And if you haven’t already guessed, it does get worse. A normal, average human being with no power to their name would definitely refrain from, I don’t know, glamourizing themselves as if they were the second coming of Christ? Don’t you agree? Not only does Kanye adore himself, but the people he surrounds himself with definitely don’t make him any better of a person. So let’s talk about his wife; the lovely, the talented, Kim Kardashian West. A round of applause, please. On May 24th, 2014, Kanye West and social media star Kim Kardashian got married and that was the celebrity couple we did not know we needed…and we still don’t. Kim Kardashian and her family make a living by being self-absorbed for crying out loud. They have a reality show, surrounding their life but that isn’t even the worst part. People actually watch it! If that doesn’t say self-absorbed, I don’t know what does. But I guess that is what Kanye West likes since he really is the exact same, so kudos to you Kanye, you met your match. The worst part about this couple is no matter how many times they fall, they will never have any repercussions that can’t be solved without a simple twitter apology. They are so powerful, with their billions of dollars, who would question them? Because if someone were to, hellfire would most definitely rain down on them. And if Kanye doesn’t come for you, Kim for sure will. Kim always comes to Kanye’s defense in everything even his wrongs. A tweet for example that Kim tweeted after he announced his Trump support (which we will get to in a second): “Kanye will never run in the race of popular opinion and we know that and that’s why I love him and respect him and in a few years when someone else says the exact same thing but they aren’t labeled the way he is and you will all praise them! Kanye is years ahead of his time.” Geesh. We love a supporting wife. But what we don’t love, is a Donald Trump supporter.

            It is no secret that Kanye West is an avid Donald Trump supporter, putting 4 references of Trump in his songs and identifying him as a sign of wealth and power. Like, OK Kanye, Trump is the main source of all wealth and power that you can think of? Stop it. Let’s see here. Trump, Donald Trump. What has he done? Oh yes, he’s a businessman, not a politician, somehow became the president of the United States…let’s see what else. He calls women fat ugly pigs, oh and he is pro-gun despite all the massacres that have accumulated throughout these years. He hates trans, lesbians, gays and the media and is a racist, sexist, boastful man who just happened to be smart enough to win over others of his kind for what people confuse as ‘being honest.’ Kanye takes to twitter with his stance saying: “You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” To which Donald Trump quotes back and says: “Thank you Kanye, very cool!” It just amazes me how Kanye West publicly stated that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” yet supports a man who called African Nations, “Shitholes.” Where is the logic, Kanye? Kanye’s inability to filter himself may be the most real thing that this generation needs, but also, probably the worst. We practice freedom of speech yes, but where is the line crossed? Kanye West thinks he is superior to anyone and adores even the most controversial people such as Trump, although because he does publicly disclose his struggles with his mental health, the death of his mother in 2007 and his opioid addiction, fans still ground him as being down to earth and normal and just like one of us. He can get away with saying things like “I leave my emojis Bart Simpsons color” and get excused, because of his die hard fans. He admires anyone who thinks the same way as he does about Trump. Candace Owens, for example, a leader of the right-wing group Turning Point USA, who has criticized Black Lives Matter, downplayed the problem of police violence against black Americans tweeted: “I truly believe that Donald Trump isn’t just the leader of the free world, but the savior of it as well. May God bless America- the last stand for Western civilization.” To which Kanye tweets: “I love the way Candace Owens thinks” (Placido, 2018).

Besides his views, let’s just address his most controversial moments. The 2009 VMA’s. Taylor Swift. Enough said. If you live under a rock and you have no idea what happened, basically Taylor Swift won the Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me,” beating out Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” Yeah, Kanye didn’t like that very much so he took it upon himself to get up on stage, snag the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech to say, “Yo Taylor I’m really happy for you. I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time!” (Mele, 2018). And ran off the stage. Could you imagine Taylor? Could you imagine her family? Could you believe the arrogance from this guy? He prides himself of being real, of not staying silent because he believes in what he believes in, but it’s one thing to believe in something, and another to publicly humiliate someone as well as yourself in the process of proving your beliefs. But the thing is, Kanye doesn’t care about what anyone else thinks. Do you really think Kanye cares about a ‘bad reputation?’ People are looking at him! People are buying his music. People are streaming him. As far as he is concerned, his bad reputation is making him the most talked about rapper in history, and giving him coin.

Kanye just soaks up the attention. When Jimmy Kimmel asked Kanye about his support for Trump, Kanye sat in silence. People speculate since then if he only supports Trump for the attention it grabs or if he actually does value Trump’s beliefs. We will never know, but we certainly won’t put it past him. In an interview with Rolling Stone he says, “If I was more complacent and let things slide, my life would be easier, but you all wouldn’t be as entertained. My misery, your pleasure.” Sorry, what? He also compares himself to Michelangelo and refers to himself as “Shakespeare in the flesh” because he sees himself as the “number one most impactful artists of our generation” (Murphey, 2016). But one of the biggest mistakes that Kanye ever made was the fact that he said slavery is a choice. This I seriously can’t believe. Kanye is bad, but this bad? In the TMZ headquarters, Kanye blatantly said, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years…for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” To which an employee, Lathan, confronts Kanye saying: “While you are making music and being an artist and living the life you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled, and brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something to me, that’s not real” (Kaur, 2018). And since then, Kanye apologized and all is forgiven but not forgotten. Because that is how Kanye lives life folks, doing things, saying things, believing things, without fault.

So let’s wrap it up here. What does the world think of Kanye West? Well, who cares, because the only person Kanye loves is Kanye. He has his moments, just like we all do, of kindness, empathy, and even talent, but to whatever Kool-Aid Kanye West is drinking, I am not thirsty.

 

Sources:

"Can't Tell Me Nothing": Symbolic Violence, Education, and Kanye West. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03007766.2011.539831

Cane, C. (2018, October 12). Kanye West is no victim; he's a fully-grown, ignorant man-child. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/11/opinions/kanye-west-oval-office-meeting-clay-cane/index.html

"I Am Warhol": On the Arrogance of Kanye « Kenyon Review Blog. (2016, February 17). Retrieved from https://www.kenyonreview.org/2016/02/i-am-warhol-on-the-arrogance-of-kanye/

Jackson, P. (2019, January 02). I Don't Ever Want to Try Whatever Kool-Aid Kanye West Keeps Drinking . Retrieved from https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/i-dont-ever-want-to-try-whatever-kool-aid-kanye-west-ke-1831429952

Kaur, H. (2018, May 04). Kanye West just said 400 years of slavery was a choice. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/01/entertainment/kanye-west-slavery-choice-trnd/index.html

Kreps, D., & Kreps, D. (2018, June 25). Kanye West Storms the VMAs Stage During Taylor Swift's Speech. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/kanye-west-storms-the-vmas-stage-during-taylor-swifts-speech-83468/

Mele, R. (2018, April 20). Kanye West's 22 Wildest, Weirdest and Most Controversial Tweets Ever. Retrieved from https://thetitlemag.com/culture/kanye-west-craziest-best-tweets-twitter/

Placido, D. D. (2018, October 01). What Is Kanye West Trying To Achieve, Exactly?  . Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/danidiplacido/2018/09/30/what-is-kanye-west-trying-to-achieve-exactly/#476eacb93f47

Why do so many people hate Kanye West? | CBC Radio. (2018, November 28). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/day6/why-do-so-many-people-hate-kanye-west-1.3166861

 

 

 

 

Final Podcast Assignment: Canada's Dark History, and the Future of the Leaders Who Enabled It

Ethan Saks

Transcript: Adheres to CP Style Guide - Music Credit Found On Bottom

It’s a warm spring night when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrive at a native reserve in Southern Manitoba. With the help of dozens of government appointed Indian agents, they encircle the camp, blocking off every path leading out of the reserve (Miller 289).

It’s quiet, and then an RCMP officer approaches one of the small houses and bangs on the door. The noise echoes likes explosions across fields of dying grass. Despite the slight breeze, the men are sweating under the weight of their uniforms. People start screaming from inside the house.

The officer pounds on the door again, over and over, and the screaming keeps growing louder, and the individual voices yelling in terror from inside of the house begin to merge into one ubiquitous scream. He stops banging, and waits until the screams die down before yelling to the family inside to give up their children before the situation turns violent. Again, there is only silence (289).

One of the Indian agents walks to the house, and tells the officer to break the door down. And he does. According to a documented account published by Dr. J.R. Miller, the RCMP officers “rush into the house, pry the frightened, screaming children from their parents arms and rush them to a holding area outside” (289). They move to the next house, and repeat the process at “most reserves in Southern Manitoba” (289). After their kidnapping, the children are “assigned a number” and forced into cramped “cattle cars” that will take them to a residential school.

Once you arrived at the residential school, it was difficult to leave. Parents would experience a bittersweet moment when they heard that their child was ill, and would have to come home (Meili 1). They were going to see their baby again, but at what cost?

According to Celia Haig-Brown, many of the students who contracted serious illnesses such as “scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and other diseases… never returned to school” (Haig-Brown 115).

But some children also never returned home. In 1902, three students at Mohawk Institute died due to Bright’s disease, pneumonia, and lung congestion. Another student perished in 1907 when a measles outbreak infected 40 students. Scarlett fever infected students in 1920, and for the first half of 1948 there were significant outbreaks of chickenpox, mumps, and measles (“Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School IAP School Narrative” 14). At a residential school in Spanish, Ontario the flu killed 20 children over the course of three months (Meili 1).

Illness, for some students, was the least of their concerns. Sexual and physical abuse was rampant.

George Amato, a native student attending Grouard Indian Residential School in Alberta was told by another student that one of priest’s needed his help downstairs. Amato, in fear of being punished, followed these orders, and crept downstairs into the school’s boiler room. To quote Amato, the priest took him “into the boiler rooms where he sat down in a chair and undid his bib overalls, pulled them down” (The Metis Experience 49) and then exposed himself. The priest forced Amato to touch him (The Metis Experience 49).

St. Anne’s Indian Residential School, in Albany, Ontario, used a homemade electric chair as a form of punishment. (The History, Part. 2 1939 to 2000, 441). If you misbehaved, the nuns who helped run the school would strap you into the metal chair, and buckle your arms onto the “metal arm rests” (442). A “hand-cranked generator” would pump an electric current through the kids (441). According to an article published by CBC outlining the atrocities that occurred at St. Anne’s Residential School, the electric chair was used frequently from “the mid-to-late 1950s and the mid-1960s” (Barrera, “The Horrors of St. Anne’s”).

Imagine being punished for speaking your native language, and being forced to sit in a chair, while a teacher, or member of the church electrocuted you.

Harper: Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools. The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history (Harper).

That’s the voice of then prime minister Stephen Harper, back in 2008, speaking during Canada’s official apology to the native Canadian communities for Canada’s role in the residential school system.   

Ultimately, there is no excuse for the development of the system, which was so blatantly created to

Harper: Remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into dominant culture” (Harper).

What is the residential school system? To summarize it in as few words as possible, the residential school system was an initiative founded by Canada’s first prime minister, John A. Macdonald and his party, to destroy native culture and assimilate indigenous children into Canadian society. Boarding schools were opened up across the Canadian provinces, which would house native children, and teach them European values. If a native child tried to speak in their own language, they would often be punished. And as I stated earlier, both physical and sexual abuse was extremely common.

Some schools, like Mohawk Institute, envisioned the residential school system as a way to solve what they called, ‘the Indian problem,’ and hoped to utilize the institutions to assimilate the students to be a part of lower-class society (Graham 39).

Some people, especially those who experienced these atrocities, or have been indirectly impacted by the residential school system, are calling for the removal of John A. Macdonald statues and memorials. Specifically, according to Winston McLean of Eagle Feather News, some people want Macdonald’s “statues torn down and his name stripped from streets, buildings and bridges” (McLean). Macdonald has been credited as the architect of the residential school system (Hopper). Furthermore, after system’s establishment, Macdonald openly supported the schools, stating that “When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages; he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn to read and write his habits, and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write” (The History, Part. 1 Origins to 1939, 164).

It’s easy to understand where these people are coming from when they ask for the removal of anything John A. Macdonald related.

Miller: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Aboriginal Healing Foundation have both done studies that show pretty clearly that there is an effect that goes beyond the generations of those who actually attended the schools. Children of residential school survivors who were never in a residential school very often experience some of the same syndrome or some of the same problem. They were often subjected to physical mistreatment by their parents, because that is the only way their parents knew how to raise children, based on their own experience in a residential school. A large number of survivors, including people like Phil Fontaine, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, has talked about that kind of problem carrying on over decades.

That’s the voice of Dr. Jim Miller, whose writing was actually referenced at the beginning of this episode. He’s a leading expert on Canadian residential schools, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

There is no denying that the residential school system was one of the darkest moments in Canadian history. Even prime minister Stephen Harper admitted it. The Native Canadian communities continue to be impacted by the residential school system. But in light of this information, should Canada consider changing or removing anything related to Macdonald?

Miller: I think it’s a bad idea.

Saks: Could you elaborate on that a little bit?

Miller: I would ask first, what is the point of removing Macdonald’s statues? It changes nothing about our history, and there’s always the danger that we would be able to avoid facing up to the negative aspects of our history if we don’t have reminders like that. Another point is that, as Murray Sinclair, the former chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said, really it is just an act of revenge. He didn’t see the point. He thought that it is much better to focus on improving things rather than changing the past.

It is important not to forget our history. It is important to be reminded of our past, especially when it is uncomfortable. That’s why it is also important to remember that, although helping to create the system, Macdonald was not the only prime minister who allowed it to happen. Sexual and physical abuse was rampant long past the turn of the century. The last residential school closed its doors in 1996 (Miller), only 23 years ago. The problems with the residential school system didn’t just disappear once Macdonald left office.

Miller: Things got a bit better in some respects in the latter part of the 1950s and beyond. There was more money available, Canada was more prosperous, the government was running surpluses, and some of the money went directly to Indian affairs to make up for many decades of inadequate funding. But the other problems of alienation, mistreatment, loneliness, and so forth, they didn’t disappear.

Of course they didn’t disappear. The electric chair used at St. Anne’s that I mentioned earlier was utilized in “the mid-to-late 1950s and the mid-1960s” (Barrera, “The Horrors of St. Anne’s”). That’s a pretty big time period, and actually spans three different Canadian prime ministers. The electric chair was used as a method of punishment at St. Anne’s while Canada was under the leadership of Louis St. Laurent, then John Diefenbaker, and finally, Lester B. Pearson.

In 1947, a student at the Gordon’s school in Saskatchewan was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. The student was questioned by a “mounted police officer” and revealed that he had been molested by the school’s “boys’ supervisor,” who in turn, had also been abused in the past by another member of staff (The History, Part. 2 1939 to 2000, 445). William Lyon Mackenzie King was the prime minister of Canada at the time.

In the winter of 1970, a “power engineer at the Alert Bay school” snuck into the female dormitories, pulled the sheets off two sleeping girls, and fondled them (424). Pierre Trudeau was the prime minister of Canada at the time.

“Between 1976 and 1983,” the husband of a supervisor at Prince Albert Student Education Centre, located in Saskatchewan, committed “nine counts of indecent assault, one count of attempted sexual intercourse, and two counts of sexual intercourse” against girls who were living in residence at the school (450). Pierre Trudeau, and Joe Clark led Canada between those years.

These are only a few out of hundreds of examples. Abuse was common in the residential school system throughout the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, on and on. If we remove Macdonald’s memorials, it would only make sense that we remove St Laurent’s, Diefenbaker’s, Pearson’s, King’s, Pierre Trudeau’s, and Clark’s, just to name a few. They may not have helped create the schooling system as is credited to Macdonald (McLean), but they certainly allowed it to continue.

We cannot remove the achievements of man simply because their history gets in the way. In 1939, 907 Jewish refugees crammed themselves into a freight boat headed from nazi-infested Europe to Canada. They were fleeing for their lives. Immigration minister Frederick Blaire denied access to the boat, and prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, aware of the issue, did not force the matter otherwise. 254 of the Jewish passengers aboard that boat died in concentration camps shortly after returning (Beswick, “Canada Turned Away Jewish Refugees”).

Obviously this situation is completely different from that of residential schools, but the point I am trying to make is that no leader is perfect. No part of history is pure. But if the Jewish community called for the removal of prime minister King’s memorials, given his documented anti-Semitic views, and lack of action during the holocaust, the request, in my opinion, would not have merit.

King’s actions during his leadership speak for themselves – his ability to establish a strong wartime economy, and increase Canadian patriotism is worth honoring, in the same way that Macdonald’s part in founding Canada has earned its own place among his statues and monuments. Macdonald’s statues should not be torn down. We cannot forget history. His role in the residential school system is too large. But also, we cannot forget his accomplishments. Without Macdonald, Canada would undoubtedly be very different. His monuments – in fact, all the monuments of past leaders who have allowed atrocities occur – serve as a reminder of both the positives and negatives of their leadership.

To remove these memorials is to try and remove history.

As George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Santayana).

 

"Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 

“Betrayal” Lee Rosevere (freemusicarchive.org)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Barrera, Jorge. “The Horrors of St. Anne's.” CBC, 29 Mar. 2018.

Beswick, Aaron. “Canada Turned Away Jewish Refugees.” The Chronicle Herald, 15 Dec. 2013.

Graham, Elizabeth. The Mush Hole: Life at Two Indian Residential Schools. Heffle Pub., 1997.

Haig-Brown, Celia. Resistance and Renewal. Arsenal Pulp Press, 1988.

Harper, Stephen. “Government Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools.”

Hopper, Tristin. “Here Is What Sir John A. Macdonald Did to Indigenous People.” National Post, 21 Aug. 2018.

McLean, Winston. “The Dashing Chronicles: What to Do with Those John A. Macdonald Statues.” Eagle Feather News, 1 Nov. 2018.

Meili, Dianne. “Residential School Victims [Footprints].” Windspeaker Publication, vol. 32, no. 1, 2014.

Miller, J.r.. "Residential Schools in Canada". The Canadian Encyclopedia, 21 September 2018, Historica Canada.

Miller, J. R. Shingwauk’s Vision. University of Toronto Press, 1996.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School IAP School Narrative. 2013.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The History, Part 1 Origins to 1939. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The History, Part 2 1939 to 2000. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The Métis Experience. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015.

Final Podcast Assignment

Transcript

Fanfiction. It’s a term to describe fictional content involving characters or settings from an already existing piece of fiction. You didn’t like the ending of the latest Start Trek movie? You weren’t too happy with the lack of representation in the Harry Potter franchise? Not a problem: you can rewrite characters and settings to suit your own tastes. Seems harmless enough, right? Well, there’s a surprising amount of embarrassment surrounding fanfiction. A stigma, if you will.

The “embarrassing” nature of fanfiction is everywhere in the online world. There are Vox articles explaining why people are “terrified of fanfiction” (Grady, 2016), Quora threads discussing the embarrassment of fanfiction writing (“Should I be embarrassed about the fan-fiction I write?”, n.d.), Reddit threads of fanfiction writers admitting to hiding their hobbies out of embarrassment (“Do your friends/family know you write fan fiction?”, 2017), and about a ton of other accounts. Seriously, Google it for yourselves, guys—there’s a lot of embarrassment.

I go into this a bit later, but the reasons why fanfiction is seen as embarrassing…. aren’t that legitimate. A lot of the time, people don’t know why they find fanfiction embarrassing, they just do. And that’s dangerous. Nowadays, people adopt opinions and values without looking into them. This herd mentality doesn’t exactly allow for logical and individual thought.

So, is fanfiction actually an embarrassing hobby? Before I answer that, I’ll be analyzing arguments against and for fanfiction, as well as looking at the negative side of fanfiction. And, yes, there is a negative side.

From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion, to the facts. I’m Annie Park, and in this episode, we’re talking about Fanfiction.

Before I really get into things, I thought I’d share a personal connection that I have to fanfiction. I was really into animation in my high school days, so, obviously, I made a lot of friends that also enjoyed animation. Eventually, I met a friend who actually wrote fanfiction based on the animations that she had watched. Now, that was the first time I had ever heard of fanfiction. Stories and characters based on shows that already existed? It was mind blowing. This friend, who I’ll keep unnamed for privacy’s sake, told me all about this online world, and how much she enjoyed putting the characters from the animations she watched into new plots and adventures that she could create.

Now, all of that sounded utterly amazing. I thought it was neatest thing—letting your imagination run wild with characters that you already know and love. I couldn’t have imagined how much embarrassment surrounded fanfiction writing. That is, until my friend begged me to keep her fanfiction writing a secret. At first, I attributed her secrecy to shyness, but I later learned that it was out of shame. Out of embarrassment.

People at our high school thought of fanfiction as a very bad thing. At worst, they thought it was shameful, and, at best, they viewed it as a silly hobby for people who weren’t creative enough to make up their own stories and/or characters. Needless to say, neither perception was flattering. My friend could only tell me about her beloved pastime in whispers or outside of school—away from prying ears.

It really got me thinking—is fanfiction actually an embarrassing hobby? Back then, I couldn’t even imagine it as being embarrassing—it seemed just like creative writing, and it made my friend so happy. Surely, it couldn’t be bad?

It’s been years since I was in high school, but the question still lingers. With proper research, I hope to unravel the truth.

Okay, back to the topic at hand. First, lets look at arguments agains fanfiction. The first seems to be that fanfiction is poorly written and immature—a hobby for kids, both in taste and quality (Grady, 2016) (Berlatsky, 2016). But this accusation ignores fanfiction’s hefty, and rather grand, history. William Shakespeare took several of his plots from other sources (Berlatsky, 2016). Samuel Richardson's "Pamela" was reworked by Henry Fielding—two times (Berlatsky, 2016). Mark Twain—yes, I do mean the Mark Twain—wrote fanfiction about Arthurian tales (Berlatsky, 2016). Obviously, just from these illustrious examples, fanfiction isn’t just a hobby for kids—it can be enjoyed by even the most revered of writers.

 As for its lack of quality and taste, there’s very little evidence to back that up. It seems to coming from personal opinion rather than fact. There is, however, several examples to go against it. Jane Smiley’s novel A Thousand Acres is a retelling of King Lear (“I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.”, 2012). It’s also the winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Literature (“I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.”, 2012)March, by Geraldine Brooks, is a retelling of Little Women (“I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.”, 2012). Lo and behold, it’s also the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for literature (“I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.”, 2012). There are so many more examples of writings celebrated for their prose and quality that fall under the category of fanfiction.

Another prime argument against fanfiction is that it’s too sexualized (Grady, 2016). Apparently, fanfiction is basically pornography written by teenage girls (Grady, 2016). Now, that’s a whole lot of assumptions for us to unpack. While fanfiction writers are mostly female, a large majority of them are actually graduates from post-secondary school—so, no, they’re not all teenage girls (Grady, 2016). To quote a Vox article, shipping "is as straightforward as rooting for Ross and Rachel to get together; it’s as complex as reading between the lines in Victorian literature, searching for the queer subtext and desire coded in that language” (Grady, 2016). While most fanfiction does include ships—ships being the action of pairing one character with another—not all of it is pornographic. I mean, just look at the examples listed so far. There are a multitude of genres in fanfiction, just like there are a multitude of genres in any kind of creative writing.

But one of the biggest arguments against fanfiction is that it’s, well, useless: why play around with someone else’s characters and settings when you could be making your own (Grady, 2016)? Well, the answer to that is as simple as they come: why not? At the end of the day, fanfiction writing is just a hobby, and is no more “useless” than the hobby of creating original works.  

But is there something larger behind the stigma surrounding fanfiction? There’s a lot of people that say yes. Fanfiction is form of feminine media—being mostly created and enjoyed by girls—and feminine media has a long history of being considered frightening and disgusting (Grady, 2016). The idea of females taking part of fan culture is met with wariness and hostility (McMillan, 2012). When females try to join male dominated fandoms, they’re labelled fakes (McMillan, 2012). Ask the dozens of female video game fans who get asked “are you a real gamer?” When females wholeheartedly commit themselves to fandoms that are dominated by females, they’re told that they’re radical (Grady, 2016).

Female fans are given a bad name, which means that the things that they enjoy—including fanfiction—are just bad by association. In an essay exploring fan culture, writer Cheryl Cline finds that female fans of rock music are called “groupies” by both the music press and male fans (Routledge, n.d.). And trust me, guys, “groupies” has a lot of negative connotations. Cline finds that female fans are always characterized as these radical beings, and that these characterizations are designed to deride women (Routledge, n.d.).

So, the ridicule surrounding fanfiction seems to have a rather misogynistic aftertaste, don’t you think?

Okay, so, we’ve gone through the negative side of fanfiction. Now, let’s look at the positives. Fanfiction actually helps English Language Learners develop identity and writing skills (Black, 2006).

A case study done by Rebecca Black, professor of Informatics at the University of California–Irvine, supports this. Black followed Nanako, a Canadian immigrant, as she struggled with the English language and identity. Fanfiction provided Nanako with an encouraging and welcoming environment to practice her English and made her genuinely excited to do so (Black, 2006). In many North American schools, ELLs are seen as hindrances to learning and not taken seriously for class participation (Black, 2006). To make matters worse, there’s a lot of cases of people being separated by official and unofficial lines based on race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and ability (Black, 2006). Let’s just say that the classroom is never really as equal as we like to think. But that didn’t exist in the fanfiction community (Black, 2006). There, Nanako was able to practice her writing skills without judgement, and without being defined by the forced identity of an immigrant—what she wrote about and who she was, was completely up to her (Black, 2006). And this isn’t just Black’s speculations, by the way: Nanako claims, through her own words, that fanfiction had a very positive effect on her (Black, 2006).

 Now, I didn’t just want to take Black’s word on this, so I spoke to an actual instructor of writing.

 “Can you please tell me your name and your occupation, please?”

“Uh, my name is Alina Lemak, and I am a course director for um Genre for Professional Writers….is a second-year course at York University.”

Then I asked Alina about fanfiction writing and whether it could be considered writing practice.

“I think, um, fanfiction could be excellent practice for writing, but, what’s important is that there’s an interaction with the audience. Because um instead of just writing stuff out there without any kind of feedback, it’s important, and um I don’t know if those platforms have this option, that you would get readers’ response and sort of incorporate what that response is to that future writing.”

And what would you know, there’s a lot of evidence to back up this immersive, back and forth environment that Alina talks about. Bronwen Thomas, professor of English and New Media at Bournemouth University, did a very thorough study on fanfiction and had a lot of good stuff to say about its immersive environment: something she called participatory culture (Thomas, 2011).

Fanfiction is not as static or as isolated as other forms of text—it’s constantly changing in response to the social and cultural changes of the individuals who use it. Fanfiction writers are exposing their works to an audience9. They’re often considering the feedback they receive from this audience—their readers—and integrating it into their future works (Black, 2006) (Thomas, 2011).

Basically, they’re doing everything that Alina described as exemplary writing practice. So, as it turns out, fanfiction writing is an excellent source of writing practice.

Okay, but there is a negative side to fanfiction. Some fanfiction writers tend to take things too far, and you’ll see what I mean. It should be noted, however, that the fault lies with individual fanfiction writers rather than with fanfiction itself.

A really good example of this is the fanfiction titled After, by Anna Todd. It was uploaded on Wattpad, which is a fanfiction sharing site (Prance, 2018). The story features singer Harry Styles, and is about a relationship that can easily be perceived as abusive (Prance, 2018). Here’s an actual line from the fanfiction: "He removes one of his hands from my wrists, but his other hand is large enough to hold both. For a second I think he may slap me” (Prance, 2018). And, trust me, that’s actually one of the better lines. The fanfiction gained a huge following and even got a movie adaption in 2018 (Prance, 2018).

Needless to say, a lot of people had a lot of problems with After. The biggest problem seemed to be the romanization of abusive tropes (Prance, 2018). They were upset to see such tropes presented to the, often times, impressionable audiences that After gathered (Prance, 2018). Once the movie adaption was announced, Twitter lost its marbles (Prance, 2018). Twitter users banded together to speak against the abusive relationship in After (Prance, 2018).

I’m going to read out some examples of such tweets, but, fair warning, some of these tweets include swear words and buckets of sarcasm. Okay, so, here are some examples.

“wow yes !! everyone loves a movie that glorifies a toxic relationship !! it's great to know that hardin was literally modelled after harry styles and now he'll be associated w being an abusive piece of shit !!!” (@treasureksj, 2018).

 Just a side note, the movie adaption changed Harry Styles’ name to Hardin Scott to, you know, avoid legal issues.

 And here’s another:

“just a reminder that “after” is based off a fanfic that makes harry styles out to be a horrible person/abuser, please remember that before supporting this movie” (@tattookiisses, 2019).

So, yeah, After seemed to do more bad that it did good. Fanfiction isn’t perfect—but let’s examine the situation a bit closer. Was fanfiction the problem, or was it the way Anna Todd used it? There are plenty of novels that have played with problematic tropes and relationships—say hi to Stephanie Meyer’s novel Twilight and its, arguably, abusive portrayal of relationships (Goodfriend, 2011). But you don’t see people calling book writing embarrassing or problematic—no, it’s the individual authors and books that are the problem. So why aren’t we adopting the same attitude with fanfiction? Kind of makes you think, right? 

Okay, time to wrap things up, but before I do that, let’s go over the main points of the podcast, just in case you forgot them. The arguments against fanfiction—it being poorly written, a hobby for kids, too sexualized, and useless—are very flawed. A majority of the stigma surrounding fanfiction seems to actually have misogynistic undertones. On the flipside, the positives of fanfiction—it helping in developing the writing skills and identity of English Language Learners and providing writing practice—are very well supported. There are instances, however, where fanfiction writers will use fanfiction to promote problematic tropes.

So, fine, we went through all that, but the question still remains: is fanfiction an embarrassing hobby? Fanfiction, in itself, isn’t an embarrassing hobby. It only seems to become embarrassing through the individual actions of certain fanfiction writers.

While I hope the stigma surrounding fanfiction dismantles over time, I don’t really think fanfiction writers care about it too much. Sure, the embarrassment might stop them from revealing their fanfiction writing hobbies to family and friends, but it doesn’t seem to deter them from actually writing fanfiction. Archive of our own (which also goes by the name ao3) is one of the biggest fanfiction sharing sites currently online. There are over 4.5 million fanfictions uploaded on this site, and this number is increasing every day. And that’s just ao3. There are tons of other fanfiction sharing sites to consider too: Wattpad, LiveJournal, etc. etc. Groundless stigmas aren’t going to stop fanfiction writing.

Well, that’s a wrap, but before I go, I do have to ask something of you, the audience. Don’t let this podcast dictate your stance on fanfiction. Decide for yourself, instead of just going with popular vote. Because, as we’ve seen in this podcast, popular vote can often be wrong. Look into fanfiction and generate your own opinions.

This was Scratch Media’s A Matter of Opinion, and I’m your host, Annie Park. Thanks for tuning in! A special thanks goes out to Alina Lemak for agreeing to be interviewed for this podcast.

References

Berlatsky, N. (2016, March 29). 'Batman v Superman' is fan fiction, and that's OK. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0329-berlatsky-fan-fiction-20160329-story.html

Black, R. W. (2006). Language, Culture, and Identity in Online Fanfiction. E-Learning and Digital Media3(2), 170–184. 

Bronwen Thomas. “What Is Fanfiction and Why Are People Saying Such Nice Things About It??” Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies, vol. 3, 2011, pp. 1–24. 

Do your friends/family know you write fan fiction? (2017, July 17). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.reddit.com/r/FanFiction/comments/6nwe8p/do_your_friendsfamily_know_you_write_fan_fiction

Fiske, John. The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. Routledge, 1992.

Grady, Constance. “Why We're Terrified of Fanfiction.” Vox, Vox Media, 2 June 2016, www.vox.com/2016/6/2/11531406/why-were-terrified-fanfiction-teen-girls.

Goodfriend, W. (2011, November 9). Relationship Violence in "Twilight". Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/psychologist-the-movies/201111/relationship-violence-in-twilight

I'm done explaining why fanfic is okay. (2012, December 03). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from http://bookshop.tumblr.com/post/37075331312

McMillan, Graeme. “Introducing The New Face of Fandom: Women.” Time, Time, 12 Sept. 2012, entertainment.time.com/2012/09/12/introducing-the-new-face-of-fandom-women/.

Prance, Sam. “Harry Styles Fans Call out Fanfic Film 'After' for Portraying Him as ‘Abusive.’” PopBuzz, PopBuzz, 23 Nov. 2018, www.popbuzz.com/music/artists/harry-styles/news/after-anna-todd-fanfic-film-abusive/.

@tattookiisses. (2019, April 2). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://twitter.com/tattookiisses/status/1113274439616086016

@treasureksj. (2018, November 22). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://twitter.com/treasureksj/status/1065437537353768960?ref_src=twsrc^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed|twterm^1065437537353768960&ref_url=https://www.popbuzz.com/music/artists/harry-styles/news/after-anna-todd-fanfic-film-abusive/

Music credit

"Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Recommended Resources

About the OTW. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://archiveofourown.org/about

 Rivera, K. (2018, October 1). Fanfiction and alternative worlds. Inquirer Net. Retrieved from https://opinion.inquirer.net/116447/fanfiction-alternative-worlds

Tulley, Christine. (2011). IText Reconfigured: The Rise of the Podcast. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 25(3), 256–275.

Final podcast assignment

Plastic mindset:

Transcript:

From Scratch Media this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m David Rodriguez, and in this episode we’re talking about…the curious case of plastic debris entering our ocean for quite some time.. and the obscured attention it has been given considering… what’s at stake.

In the summer of 2015 plastic straws became a lethal weapon to maritime ANIMALS... The anti-straw movement began when a video of researchers found a turtle with a plastic straw stuck up its nose. The graphic content shows the turtle struggling to breath and aching in agonizing pain as they pull the straw further out of its nose. This video went viral on ALL platforms.. that’s right all… were talking about Social media, News broadcast and much more. It became one of the most watched video on platforms such as; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat… you name it…Although, the video contained graphic content, it delivered a simple, yet effective message. And what was that message you may ask…??? What are we going to do about all the plastic debris in our oceans… I purposely use the word effective because activist began to rely and make this terror on plastics known to every man woman and child… The turtle in the video became and I quote “the anti-straw poster child” (Cuda, 2015)…What’s interesting is that it took a video like that to get individuals to finally do something that has been situated around the endangerment of the environment for decades. I, myself became rather intrigued and did my research on this ongoing problem. I came across an interesting article called “Plastic straws aren’t the problem” by Adam Minter. The article was published on June 7th 2018 and after thoroughly reading it, it raised concerns as to how individual’s reaction is inhumane and despicable. The article mentions the war on plastics that end up in our ocean… however within a broader focus on plastic straws. He says things that just…BASH.. plastics other than straws and does not throw any blame on these.. suckers(funny)…. He states that plastics make up .03% out of the 8 million metric tons are infesting our ocean.(Minter,2018) However, 46% of fishing gear scatters across the ocean…. Aside from that.. The online articles seem to pass the blame onto others products that endanger our ocean. This mindset has a concerning affect in society and personally makes me sick. With so much on the line… how can people be so ignorant? How can we change this mindset?... Because passing the blame to other groups associated with plastics in the ocean does not do anything but appropriate irresponsibility. All this notion does is stall time for the company accusing one another … do we really have time for immaturity? … The answer is…. Well were about to find out… Two wrongs do not make a right.

First we will begin by analyzing Adam Minter’s published article “Plastic straws aren’t the problem”. The author predominantly believes that plastics should not be to blame…And that other plastic debris are more present in the ocean. Although, he presents many facts about the percentage of different kinds of plastics entering he still believes that straws arent an issue. This is upsetting because… ok yes plastic straws are not the main purpose for polluting however, straws do significant damage to our ocean….JUST WATCH THE VIDEO AGAIN… Straws have been around for as long as I can remember but finally they are being banned across some areas such as Vancouver… Not only countries but well known companies such as Alaska airlines have banned plastic straws… I mean its not like there isn’t an alternative… Paper straws are just as effective as plastic straws… Its not as if people aren’t familiar with this new innovation.. On the other hand actually… It is pretty straight forward… Paper straws are the same as plastics.. the only difference is it will not end up damaging the lives of Martine or us. *interview if they have used a paper straw before*…. You see… we have learned that plastics are a danger to marine life… You saw the poor turtle.. But are plastics entering the ocean dangerous for us human beings? And what happens if and when plastic enters our ocean? … Do they just happen to go away overtime? …

After conducting extensive research on the matter I learned that plastic does not just go away when our ocean consumes it. However, its not what it seems… The plastic that enters does break down BUT does not officially  go away…. You see plastic is broken down in the ocean by our suns heat waves therefore producing Microplastics… Microplastics are bits of plastics broken down from a larger debris and stays within the ocean…. So this means the plastic debris may break down but the contamination that comes from that plastic bottle or plastic straw whatever you want to put in there… They will eventually break down into smaller Microplastics and will live inside the ocean forever. Microplastics and I quote “ have been found in many countries; Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia, India, South Africa, North America and in Europe. (Auta, 2017). Microplastics are so tiny.. they are mistaken by marine life as food so they consume it and now that microplastic is within them… Now that Microplastics are within the marine life.. We humans consume them and now we are the ones consuming microplastics. Plastics are the reason for the future distraught in the food chain as we all know. Although, Microplastics are an ongoing investigation for a humans health, it still does not deny that plastics are harming marine life. Though, Microplastics are not yet discovered to be harmful… I doubt you guys will be pleased to be consuming Microplastics… After all who would be? .. I feel like ive talked to much about marine life being compromised with this issue… Marine life isnt the only life that is affected by Microplastics… And neither are human lives… But the lives of birds are also affected as they too mistakenly scavenge for food in the sea. The mistakenly eat the Microplastics because they believe it is a source of food. However, it Is not and just like in marine life respiratory systems Microplastics can damage and I quote “Inhibiting his breathing and sense of smell – a turtles most important tool for finding food” (Cuda, 2015). Now three different species are at stake and we continue to BLAME other companies for dumping plastics. After analyzing the article by Adam Minter, I concluded that he does the same as those who could care less of the environment and pass the blame onto somebody else so that he doesn’t have to deal with the issue. But is it really Mr. Minter’s fault that people choose to act immaturely and not fully process the situation at hand? Are people who dump plastic into the vast ocean educated on the matter? How so?

This is where I would like to shed into light the video of the turtle. Although, the video contained graphic content.... it was seen as influential as it raised the authority through the perception of the proper disposal of plastics. After the video surfaced activists only then began to conduct protests and fight for the war on plastics. Soon after the bans started to happen on plastic straws. And after that more people have become aware of the situation at hand. Before the video, the media was promoting the situation on plastic wrong. They would publish effects on the ocean through outdated sources that people no longer read or at all interested in. These sources include newspapers, news reports, and radio. Out of the three the radio is the most effective because even now radio station still airs news broadcast and is steady… However, radio didn’t and does not impact the world as other sources have… The source I am referring to is that one that changes the way we live life itself. The source that has if not all, then MOST of us spending hours and hours on without losing interest. This source fuels our everyday entertainment levels. This is the source that made a difference. This is the source that will continue to make a difference because of how many people are addicted to it. Before I tell you what the source is, you have to understand that it was not met for news broadcasting at first.. However overtime it was eventually introduced and made an impact especially with the education and awareness of polluted plastics…. OK OK OK…. Ill tell you guys… Are you ready… Get set… Kidding…. Social Media…. That’s right you guessed it… Social media is the new trend to release news. The social platforms was established to only interact with close relatives or friends… however it became larger than just that… social media now lets you do all sorts of things such as; chatting with friends, following your favorite celebrity, posting videos and pictures, and now it even has your local news media…. And if anything ever makes it out of its local rage than it will let you keep up to date with what’s going on around the world. Just think about global issue that have become a crisis…. Think back to the video that surfaced in 2015 that shows the vial image of a plastic straw stuck up a turtles nose… After posting that video.. The people.. that’s right you.. took action and reposted that video on all platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and so on and so on. Now with that being mentioned… the popularity of this video started litigating laws to prevent plastics from entering our ocean. Laws such as a fine for dumping any plastic in the ocean of over 250US $$.... I don’t know about you but if I see a 250$ fine sign then I would think twice… This is only the start of something big… its about starting small …the bans on plastics straw in areas is only a start…Its about small beginnings… Canada has decided to put up an action plan through intervals… The Canadian government implemented that by 2020 and I quote “ sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans” (StatsCanada). This is the government of Canada taking small measures and making it into something larger.. by 2025 they have already planned out their target goals in which they can achieve to make the world a better place…. All this because of one thing and one thing only.. social media.. perhaps spreading education through this platform is more knowledgeable because the other ways have failed… at least this platform got us started, in changing the way we live..  Social media can be the new WAVE….. Im quoting “More than 85% of 18-29 year old’s are active on social media everyday( Bertot, 2011)…. Still quoting… “ In 2010 it was said that Facebook had over 500 million users”. (Bertot, 2011). If that many people are using all these online services then perhaps relying a message that benefits us all through the source that everyone seems to be addicted to may be a good idea. I believe the education on the matter has to be brought up differently so that people can be informed. I believe that it may not be people’s fault that this is an ongoing crisis. In fact, it may be the people in charge of releasing the news. So news broadcaster’s may be the issue… That changed in 2015 when a sea turtle expert named Christine Figgener said and I quote “we needed to wake people up” (Cuda, 2015. Therefore, she went along and aired the graphic video… For some reason it all comes back to the video… That’s because the source was so effective and actually proves that there are other ways to educate the people. Or in her case in Heidi Siegmund Cuda’s article “wake people up” (Cuda, 2015)…. Changing the way we educate plastic corporations like this is the start to changing the mindset and their behavior towards this drastic matter…. You see it all started with blaming other companies for the plastic waste found in the ocean.. However, with the video being brought to light it has changed implications that have been around for years… because believe it or not Plastic straws have been around for as long as I can remember… And because of this plastics have been banned little by little in popular area’s. Now that one source of plastic that enters our ocean is eliminated the next will soon follow the trend… Not allowing people to pass the blame.. instead they must act and implicate a new action plan for their companies…

I think we can all agree that Plastics is going to be a difficult product to live without,, But if we really think about it wont be for nothing… It will be for the sake of humanity and marine life. Although, it has not yet been discovered that consuming microplastic is not an issue…. Were sure none of us would like to be consuming microplastics… Without further ado we learned that it may not be the peoples fault that they are uneducated on the matter but they were just NOT taught or shown through an effective way…. We learned that through the illustration of how news is presented it can be more or less effective… We know that social media had a huge impact on plastics in 2015, by changing laws by fining people 250US$$, banning straws in some places, and just began the acknowledgment war on plastics… Because the war on plastics has been around for decades, The video just brought up the acknowledgment and awareness on the war. We’ may have lost the battles that came but not the war… Not yet.. The war on plastics is a serious matter and we must change the way we approach the crisis. In my opinion, the way we learned about the crisis over the years was the wrong way… However when the video of the turtle surfaced we learned that maybe we should start doing something about the situation. This is in fact a global issue. Think about a better us, Think about a better future, and think about a more sustainably environment.

Hopefully you’ll be riding the new plastic-free wave with us… Thank you for listening to my podcast…

That’s a wrap

See ya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Auta, H., Emenike, C., & Fauziah, S. (2017). Distribution and importance of microplastics in the marine environment: A review of the sources, fate, effects, and potential solutions. Environment International,102, 165-176. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2017.02.013.

 

Bertot, J. C., Jaeger, P. T., & Hansen, D. (2012). The impact of polices on government social media usage: Issues, challenges, and recommendations. Government Information Quarterly,29(1), 30-40. doi:10.1016/j.giq.2011.04.004.

 

Cuda, S., Siegmund & Glazner, E. (2015, November 11). Plastic Pollution Coalition. The Turtle That Became the Anti-Plastic Straw Poster Child. Retrieved from https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2015/10/27/the-turtle-that-became-the-anti-plastic-straw-poster-child.

 

Eriksen, M., Lebreton, L. C., Carson, H. S., Thiel, M., Moore, C. J., Borerro, J. C. Reisser, J. (2014). Plastic Pollution in the Worlds Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea. PLoS ONE,9(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111913.

 

Jambeck, J. R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T. R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., . . . Law, K. L. (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean [Abstract]. Science,347(6223), 768-771. doi:10.1126/science.1260352.

 

Kaufman, R. (n.d.). What ocean microplastics are really made of. Retrieved from https://oceana.org/blog/what-ocean-microplastics-are-really-made.

 

Locker, M., & Locker, M. (2018, June 01). Here are the U.S. cities that have banned plastic straws so far. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/40580132/here-are-the-u-s-cities-that-have-banned-plastic-straws-so-far.

 

Ryan, P. (1988). Intraspecific Variation in Plastic Ingestion by Seabirds and the Flux of Plastic Through Seabird Populations. [Abstract]. The Condor, 90(2), 446-452. doi:10.2307/1368572.

 

Sea Turtle Biologist (2015, August 10). Sea Turtle with Straw up its Nostril- “NO” TO PLASTIC STRAWS. [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wH878t78bw&t=10s.

 

Sheavly, S. B., & Register, K. M. (2007). Marine Debris & Plastics: Environmental Concerns, Sources, Impacts and Solutions. Journal of Polymers and the Environment,15(4), 301-305. doi:10.1007/s10924-007-0074-3.

 

Statistics Canada. (2018, June 06). Goal 14 - Life below water. Retrieved from https://www144.statcan.gc.ca/sdg-odd/goal-objectif14-eng.htm.

 

Wright, E., Khanfar, N. M., Harrington, C., & Kizer, L. E. (2010). The Lasting Effects Of Social Media Trends On Advertising. Journal of Business & Economics Research (JBER),8(11). doi:10.19030/jber.v8i11.50.

Phase Three

Week 9 - Ethan Saks

Discussing the residential school system is difficult for many reasons. The most obvious problem that arose is the fact that I am not indigenous, nor do I have any actual affiliation with the school system. An essential part of creating an effective podcast is narrative writing - turning real experiences, facts, statistics, and stories into more than statements. Having no experience with the school system, I had to turn to people who did in order to properly explore the ideas throughout my podcast.

Two books have been essential in creating these narratives, and have allowed me to introduce different characters throughout my episode. The first source is a book published by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, documenting the history of residential schools from 1939-2000. It is a scholarly source citing hundreds of references, and communicates the history of these schools in both a narrative fashion, and as simple facts. The book provided me with in-depth accounts of the physical and sexual abuse that was present in the school system. The book also provides actual names of those who were impacted. Details about illnesses, cleanliness, and the overall state of the schools are also provided. With these details, I was able to construct characters and stories and integrate them into my podcast.

A second text that has been useful is titled “The Mush Hole: Life at Two Indian Residential Schools.” Similar to the above source, actual accounts of abuse and other negative aspects of the school system is provided. Furthermore, the book provides details about actual court cases that were launched due to the treatment of the students, and through these explanations, provides more stories via the testimonies of the students.

Narrative writing engages an audience. I have utilized these personal accounts extensively to provide listeners with stories rather than statistics. I am able to show them how terrible the residential school system was, instead of simply telling them. This enables my podcast to be more visceral and engaging.

Week 12

Creating a podcast is extremely different from writing an essay; the same quality of research is required, but you need to communicate your findings in a way that a general audience will be entertained. Combining the entire process with music, interviews, and your own personal opinion proved to be a challenge. One of the biggest differences I noticed from creating a podcast versus creating an essay is that the writing needs to be both orally and aurally rhetorical. The writing needs to be adaptable, and persuasive while being read, and performed.

In this sense, I’ve learned that writing is powerful. My opinion, combined with research, and the opinion of an expert can be extremely persuasive, but also captivating. At the same time, my poor placement of music can also impede on the quality of my podcast - again, the aural aspect of the podcast is equally as important as the written, rhetorical aspect.

Final Podcast

Podcast General Script

 

Lindsay: From Scratch Media, this is A Matter of Opinion, your guide through opinion to the facts. I’m Lindsay, and today we’re talking about the potential benefits of making birth control available worldwide. Birth control, as we all know, is a device, procedure or lifestyle that is used to prevent pregnancy. Surprisingly, its been around for a surprising amount of time, dating back to the ancient Egyptian times. They used things like crocodile dung, honey and dates to block sperm, which, in my opinion, sounds very unhygienic but I'm sure they had everything figured out. Birth control can mean many different things to many different people. To some, it's simply slipping on a condom and getting down and dirty. To others, its all about watching the calendar and tracking the dates to make sure that a certain something isn’t going down the tube at a certain time. And to a few, it's going under the knife and tying the tubes up. Being a modern woman living in the modern age of medicine in a first world country, I think I've somewhat taken for granted the available options out there for me. I can choose to be on birth control, or not be on birth control, and I think that people should choose for themselves what fits in best in their lives. In my opinion, I believe that women should have access to birth control worldwide and make use of the potential benefits of the type of birth control that works for them. I will be bringing in a friend of mine to interview to ask him about his opinion on the subject.

Break

Lindsay: And we’re back with From Scratch Media and A Matter of Opinion. I have here with me a male friend of mine, Daniel Kim, who is here to discuss with me his opinion on the topic of birth control and what effects the spread of birth control availability can have on this world. Hello Daniel, how are you?

Daniel: Good.

Lindsay: Let's get right into it, shall we? First off, can you tell me the extent of your knowledge on the topic of birth control?

Daniel: I only know two types, the male condom and the birth control pill for females. I don’t really know anything beyond that other than there were some obscure ones, but that’s all I know so far.

Lindsay: I see. There is the male condom and a female condom. Basically, the female condom goes inside the women instead of on the genitalia of the man. The IUD which stands for intrauterine device is something you insert inside of the female cervix and it blocks semen. There are generally some categories of birth control, tags if you will. Condoms, female condoms, and copper IUDs are non-hormonal forms of birth control. The Nuva ring, birth control pill, injection, and hormonal IUD are forms of hormonal contraceptives. Then a vasectomy and mastectomy are surgical procedures and of course, there's abstinence. There are some crossovers though, for example, in order to insert an IUD you need to undergo a minor surgery, but it doesn’t involve cutting any part of your body open, just opening up the cervix and inserting it. It is considered a form of surgery though. As we know, birth control is something that prevents pregnancy, and it was not widely available in the past, why do you think that preventing pregnancies is important in this day and age, and do you think that birth control should be widely available to the whole of the female population in this world?

Daniel: I believe that is its important, as the media is pressuring the idea of sex at an early age, and I think spreading the availability of birth control will help with teen pregnancy, as teenagers aren't really ready to have kids, as they are basically kids themselves. Not only that, there are many risks associated with teen pregnancy.

Lindsay: I don't know if you heard about Melinda Gates, she is a co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It's a non-profit organization and it focuses on health and education. In February 2017 she wrote an article about how by 2020 they want to get 120 million women to access to birth control across the world. In that article she describes the life of this woman who lived in India named Anita and when she was a teenager she got married and she had her first child went while she was still a teenager and subsequently had like four more children after that. She didn't she didn't get the chance to get an education she didn't really have a life outside just like childbearing and childrearing so her whole life is basically stay at home raising children to watch the children while her husband went to work. Because all of her children were unplanned, she couldn't go out to get the education that she needed because she had to stay at home and take care of the household and raising children. Do you think that women should be the one to choose whether they can get or cannot get birth control?

Daniel: With all the pressure from the media pushing sex earlier and earlier, I believe basic forms of contraception should always be readily available. While abstinence can be done, pressure can arise and can be forced by someone to it. With birth control on hand, pregnancies can be prevented.

Lindsay: Do you think women should be the one to choose whether they can or cannot get birth control? For example, all forms of birth control other than abstinence are banned in Catholicism, preventing women from using the resources of modern forms of birth control. Do you think on this matter, religion should inhibit someone from having access to this?

Daniel: Although again abstinence can be an opinion, and people who believe that premarital sex is wrong, the pressure can make them crack, so birth control should still be available.

Lindsay: Now there are some drawbacks to all types of contraception. For example, with the condom, the price of them do add up if you are a frequent user of them. They do typically cost between 50 cents to a dollar for one. Hormonal forms can cause side effects such as mood swings, weight gain, and irregular periods, and with vasectomies and mastectomies they are permanent, so it would be impossible to have children after undergoing the procedure. Do you think these downsides outweigh the benefits?

Daniel: I don’t think condoms should be outweighed. As for the pill, I'm not so sure, depending on the severity of the drawbacks. It is important to consult a healthcare professional. For vasectomies and mastectomies, however, it should be something that is done after you’re sure you're done with having kids, something that is done later in life.

Lindsay: I want to know why you think this should matter to not just you, but to men in general. When we talk about birth control, we automatically think it is the woman’s responsibility to get the pills, but why do you think that the topic of the potential widespread of birth control should matter to you, and men in general?

 

Daniel: I believe it is important. I don’t believe it is only a female’s responsibility, as the man has a part in the relationship. Since most men have basic information about the condom at least, it's a relief in that regard.

Lindsay: Thank you so much, Daniel, for taking the time to answer my questions, you were a great help.

Break

Lindsay: I agree completely with everything Daniel said, he made some excellent points, particularly on the safety of birth control. Not all forms of birth control are right for every woman and since every woman is different they will require different forms of birth control. This is important to me, however, because I am a woman who is in fact on an IUD, and I am very grateful for the benefits I have reaped from this contraption. I believe that all women should have the option of safe and enjoyable sex without having to worry about a child tumbling out of their womb every time they engage. This has been Lindsay with A Matter of Opinion on From Scratch Media. This was my opinion, what's yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

 

American Pregnancy Association. “Teen Pregnancy Issues and Challenges.” American Pregnancy Association, 6 Sept. 2017, americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/teen-pregnancy-issues-challenges/.

Center for Young Women's Health. “Contraception: Pros and Cons of Different Contraceptive Methods.” Center for Young Women's Health, Center for Young Women's Health, 20 Jan. 2017, youngwomenshealth.org/2009/01/28/pros-and-cons-contraceptive-methods/.

Clain, Lisa. “How the Catholic Church Came to Oppose Birth Control.” The Conversation, 24 Jan. 2019, theconversation.com/how-the-catholic-church-came-to-oppose-birth-control-95694.

Gates, Melinda. “Opinion: Want to Empower Women Worldwide? Give Them Access to Contraceptives.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, 3 Feb. 2017, news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/opinion-melinda-Gates-contraceptive-global/.

Lidegaard, Øjvind, and Carsten Agger. “Hormonal Contraception and Risk of Venous Thromboembolism: National Follow-up Study.” BMJ, Edited by Ellen Løkkegaard and Anne Louise Svendsen, 13 Aug. 2009, www.bmj.com/content/339/bmj.b2890.full.pdf html.

Planned Parenthood. “What Are the Benefits & Advantages of Birth Control Pills?” Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/what-are-the-benefits-of-the-birth-control-pill.

Parenthood, P. (n.d.). Birth Control Pills. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill

Parenthood, P. (n.d.). Condom. Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/condom

Parenthood, P. (n.d.). IUD Birth Control. Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/iud

Smith, Kimberly. “Statistical Reporting by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the OECD DAC.” Aid to Health Data Now Includes World’s Largest Private FO, Apr. 2011, www.oecd.org/development/stats/47539494.pdf.

 

 

 

PHASE Three

The creation of a podcast didn’t really seem that difficult to me when this assignment first started. It still doesn’t. However I knew that I would like coming up with a topic, making a script and working on the technical aspect better than I would actually having to speak. I had no doubt that I would dislike my podcast regardless of the topic and the interesting research I found because I’ve always loathed my voice.

What I enjoyed about this topic was how deep I was able to get about something as simple as Fifty Shades of Grey. This fanfiction/ book/ movie caused backlash and chatter because of it’s erotica but I loved being able to use this literary piece and easily make it bend to the points I was making about rich privilege and consent. Both big topics but I feel as though I was able to connect them carefully and fluidly just like Fifty Shades does.

This podcast process has made me realize I’m quite technology-resourceful. I have never used audacity but I was able to figure out almost everything right away and didn’t have problems with editing, cutting, and placing music in the intended spots. My podcast lacks sound quality and although I’ve tried recording it in several different places I think its prominent that I’ve tried my best to learn about Audacity and use it to make my podcast better.

References:

Khoshaba, D. (2015, February 05). Fifty Shades of Grey. Retrieved February 1, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/get-hardy/201502/fifty-shades-grey 

Rivera, K. (2018, October 01). Fanfiction and alternative worlds. Retrieved February 1, 2019, from https://opinion.inquirer.net/116447/fanfiction-alternative-worlds 

Music:

"Pyro Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

"Ice Flow" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

"Cut and Dry" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Phase Three- Week 12

This podcast has definitely been a journey for me. I’ve never done anything like this before, so it using different tools such as garage band, recording my voice (which I absolutely hated by the way) and using different outlets of research through york library was definitely a challenge for me. I have never done research scholarly about someone such as Kanye West who is extremely hard to find peer reviewed sources for because he isn’t exactly an ‘intellectual’ matter of opinion. I did a lot of digging for this project because he is such a talked about quote on quote ‘icon’ in today’s society, but he isn’t exactly a favourite. I’ve learned to be patient when it comes to doing a project as diverse as this. There are many parts of this final that you would not expect to be difficult, but it truly is. Listening and recording your voice without messing up or sounding too dull was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do (mainly because I absolutely dread hearing recordings of myself). The research is quite tiresome as well and putting together good ideas that engage an audience without trying too hard is also quite stressful. All in all, this project helped my strengths by pushing my limits of seeking peer reviewed sources for not just an intellectual ‘book worm’ matter, rather topics of the world. It was definitely an enjoyable project and a great way to test the ability of pushing your comfort zone.

-Marie-France Leger

PHASE THREE

I found an article called “How Evangelical Purity Culture Can Lead to a Lifetime of Sexual Shame” by Broadly. They introduced a woman named Linda Kay Klein who has spoken a lot on the effect purity culture has on women and girls. She even has a book on it. This helped a lot because other articles that mention her also mention other women, or cite other sources, that address the suppression of female sexuality from a religion standpoint.

Another really helpful source would be Archives of Sexual Behaviour, which contains frequently updated information surrounding sexology and sex research. It is a peer-reviewed journal which was formed in 1971 and gives a lot of insight into the sexual habits of human beings. It has been handy in dispelling the myth that women do not like sex as much as men do. I also found experiments and studies which support my thesis.

Inasmuchas I wanted scientific data, I also wanted nuanced perspectives on this issue, to give it life. Yes, statistics matter but a lot of the time, they are just regarded as numbers and it does not sink in that these numbers represent real people. So, I like that I found sources that address my topic by talking about real life experiences of everyday people.

I could use sources as characters in my podcast episode to introduce fresh perspectives on my topic/subtopics. Sources are used to paint the bigger picture. Just like characters in a novel could enrich the plot, sources do the same and make the podcast more enjoyable and informative. It could also keep the narrator in line with the theme, instead of rambling.

Phase Three

Week 9 - Sources as “Characters”


The topic of guns and gang violence in our society is multi-faceted. For example, an analysis can be made from a sociological, psychological, individual, or an institutional perspective. Sources of information not only help to educate the audience, but they also help in telling a story by serving as a “character” to support the flow of the narrative. These “characters” each have different agendas, and add different layers to the story.

For my episode, the most useful sources are academic journal articles, however I plan to use statistical data, institutional, and primary sources as well in my final product. The academic articles, each present either a sociological or psychological link to the issue of gangs and gun violence in Toronto. On an individual level, that is, from the perspective of a gang member, research shows that crime is actually characterized by an adherence to traditional male values with beliefs supportive of aggression; adolescents commit violent offences in order to protect others and defend themselves (Lopez & Emmer, 2002). Another study describes a victim-fear relationship that is experienced by street-involved youth. It is found that high rates of violent victimization do not directly translate into a higher level of fearfulness of crime; street-involved youth report being less fearful on average than school-based youth, suggesting that fearlessness may be a learned adaptation among the street-involved youth to survive life on the streets (Cook, 2016). Although these experiences can be interpreted as maladaptive behaviour, social distancing and violence are also seen to be rational strategies that are available for youth to use in order to make positive changes to their lives (Kolar et al, 2012).

Finally, another study found that dominant narratives in the media, government proceedings, and research, have actually prevented public discussions about the racialized structure of neoliberal urbanism while enforcing suburban decline. This is accomplished by perpetuating the notion that there are causal links between ‘blackness’, poverty and crime in the suburbs (Siciliano, 2010).


Sources

Cook, S.F. “Taking It To The Streets: A Comparative Analysis Of Violent Victimization, The Victim-Offender Overlap, And The VictimFear Relationship Among School And Street-Involved Youth In Toronto.” ProQuest LLC 2017.


Kolar, K., Ericksona P.G.,  and Stewart, D. “Coping strategies of street-involved youth: exploring contexts of resilience.” Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 15, no. 6, September 2012, pp. 744-760. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2012.677814

Lopez, Vera A & Emmer, Edmund T.  “Influences of Beliefs and Values on Male Adolescents’ Decision to Commit Violent Offenses.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity, vol. 3, no. 1, 2002, pp. 28-40.  DOI: 10.1037//1524-9220.3.1.28

Siciliano, Amy Marie. “POLICING POVERTY RACE, SPACE AND THE FEAR OF CRIME AFTER THE YEAR OF THE GUN (2005) IN SUBURBAN TORONTO.” Library and Archives Canada.

-Srdjan


Phase 3

Week 9

The topic of the podcast that I will be doing is in regard to birth control and the benefits that can be reaped from spreading its availability and benefits across the world. Certain sources, in particular, are quite important to the podcast I want to create, as they provide the listeners with valuable information needed in order to completely understand the topic at hand and create their own opinions on the matter. The first of the sources that will be crucial will be, of course, the source article that I am basing my argument off of; the Melinda gates article on how to empower women through contraception. Many of her outlined examples not only provide listeners to get a basic understanding on the topic but also gives a crutch for them to start thinking about their opinions on the matter, giving them a chance to articulate their own arguments. The second source that will be of great benefit will be the planned parenthood websites that describe the different methods of birth control that exist and that can be available to women worldwide. By listing a variety of different types of contraception, it will be obvious that there will be options for women and any drawbacks to a certain type of contraception that the listener is iffy about, they should know that there are many other options available. Finally, as a counter to my argument, I want to add an article by the New York times about suspicious surrounding planned parenthood. Specifically, these suspicions are on fetal tissue transfer on aborted providers. This is an obviously scandalizing article to be released and has for sure gotten planned parenthood under the spotlight, and not in a good way. By reminding the listeners and the interviewees about both sides of the argument, they can use this information to come to their own conclusion, after hearing both the good and the bad. I believe using planned parenthood as a double-edged sword of a character would be interesting. For example, showing that planned parenthood has been providing a lot of research to the world about contraception, yet also having a dark and shadowy side to it, using aborted fetuses for tissue transplants.

 

 Work Cited

 

Gates, M. (2017, February 03). Opinion: Want to Empower Women Worldwide? Give Them

Access to Contraceptives. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/opinion-melinda-gates-contraceptive-global/

 

Parenthood, P. (n.d.). Birth Control Pills. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill

 

Parenthood, P. (n.d.). Condom. Retrieved from

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/condom

 

Parenthood, P. (n.d.). IUD Birth Control. Retrieved from

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/iud

 

Fandos, N. (2017, December 08). Justice Dept. Investigating Fetal Tissue Transfers by

Planned Parenthood and Others. Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/08/us/politics/planned-parenthood-fetal-tissue-transfers-federal-investigation.html