Statement from the President on the House Passage of the Violence Against Women Act | The White House

WAVA - PassageStatement from the President on the House Passage of the Violence Against Women Act | The White House.

The Violence Against Women Act is one of those acts that should’ve been a no-brainer. This bill should have been passed immediately in order to protect women, no matter the woman’s background.  I am amazed and the amount of people who voted against it …. glad they were the minority. Thank goodness the VAWA finally passed the House of representatives. It breaks me heart to see how much we must fight for simple justice and equality.

Rebecca

Teaching Composition using Nontraditional Methods

This is a Storify I created, but for some reason I cannot get it to correctly embed in this site.  Checkout it out here: Teaching Composition using Nontraditional Methods.

Magdalene Laundries- New Report Released

Magdalene Laundry

As some of you know, my first book was on the Magdalene Laundries and this research took me from being an actress, through graduate school, to completing a PhD. The history of the Magdalene Laundries compelled to go back to school. I had a despreate need to understand, as much as I could, how and why places like the laundries could exist. I had discovered a news story about the Magdalene laundries back in 1996, while researching for a play I was writing about Margaret Sanger & birth-control.  This play eventually became my second book, Writing the Diaphragm Blues. It is amazing how life is so very interconnected.

Regardless, the first article I read about the Magdalene Laundries amazed me – how could there still be an institution, in 1996, that basically shamed women for being women? How could there still be an institution that exploited women for their labor, profiting off their backs while calling them sinners? I was also captured by this event simply because all the women in my immediate family had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused in a few Catholic institutions.  As such, these articles hit close to home.

—time and space—

The Laundries and the Report released on 2/5/2013

I am going to dedicate the next few blog posts to the report released yesterday; a report compiled by an Inter-Departmental Committee designed to investigate the role the state of Ireland played in the Magdalene Laundries. I will examine the findings and bring up some additional questions I have as well.  This report ONLY examines the Laundries from 1922 to 1996, or the establishment of the Irish State to the closing of the last Laundry in Ireland. As such, much of the true history of these institutions are lost: how they arose, how inspections did and did not occur, how they functioned as profit centers and the like.  Here are a few basic and important findings of the report, including the state admitting involvement in the Laundries within these five areas:

  1. Routes by which girls and women entered the Laundries; 
  2. Regulation of the workplace and State inspections of the Laundries; 
  3. State funding of and financial assistance to the Laundries (including contracts for laundry services); 
  4. Routes by which girls and women left the Laundries; 
  5. Death registration, burials and exhumations.

Here are the numbers – *Image made from the Executive Summary

The Magdalen Laundries in Numbers

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Readings:

Read the entire report here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/05/magdalene-laundries-ireland-state-guilt

Read “Ryan’s Report” – a related report commisioned to inquire into child abuse within state run institutions in Ireland: http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/

Read my book on the history/ origions of the Magdalene Laundries, how they rose durring the middle ages, were transformed by capitalism, and how they manifested differently in different states (such as England vs Ireland): http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Magdalene-Laundries-Analytical-History/dp/0786444460

Read James M. Smith’s excellent book on the Laundries.  His focus is Ireland specifically, whereas my focus was the roots of these institutions: http://www.amazon.com/Irelands-Magdalen-Laundries-Architecture-Containment/dp/026804127X/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

Me and My Shadow: Malapropism

Malapropism

I have a “disease,”* used by playwrights (From Shakespeare to Sheraton Sheridan) to crack a joke and illicit elicit a laugh, to politicians such as President Bush, Jr. who cracked unintentional jokes: Malapropism.

What is Malapropism?

Basically, Malapropism refers to when a person uses an inappropriate word for the word they really mean. It messes with communication and the message being sent in a normally humorous way. The term was coin coined in 1775 by playwright Richard Sheraton Sheridan for his Play The Rivals.  In this play one of the main characters, Mrs. Malaprop, would make proclamations such as:  “…promise to forget this fellow – to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory” (Obliterate rather than illiterate). Malaprop is the English version of the french word: mal à propos, meaning inappropriate.

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Classic Example: He had to use a fire distinguisher.

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You Must be a Poor Idiot, you Embassy Imbecile.  

Of course, the go to explanation for malapropism is one of ignorance – Like Mrs. Malaprop, an uneducated person who is wishing to sound educated uses words incorrectly in an attempt to pretend that they come from the educated class – miss using misusing vocabulary. For many years, because of this play and also cultural reinforcement of this philosophy, people who have a pretendenity propensity for malapropism are labeled as unintelligent and, often poor (classism being what classism is).  just look at former Pres. George W. Bush – indeed, his malapropism gained him all sorts of grief during his eight years  of his presidency, and it was often cited as a sign of his lack of intelligence. Now, I wasn’t always happy with his particular decision-making capacities capabilities, but one’s intelligence does not necessarily hang in the balance of a well or misplaced malapropism (depending on the point of view, right?  If you are going for the laugh, it is likely well placed).

Indeed, I truly felt bad for president Bush, although I disliked him politically, because of how much he was teased as a result of his malaprop propensity. According to several people, it is theorized that Bush, like myself, suffers from Dyslexia, witch witch which explains his many speech problems!**

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“We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.” – George W. Bush, Des Moines, IA, Aug. 21, 2000 [AUDIO].

(He, of course, was trying to say “hostage.”)

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Dyslexia and Malapropism

People love a good malaprop, and why not … they’re funny. I get it, and I try to laugh at myself all the time, but that becomes harder and harder with every Malaprop because I often fear that people will deem me unintelligent.  The problem is the social stigmata stigma that comes with malapropism.  But Malapropism, especially the kind I have, is often a side effect of Dyslexia, something that I did not know for many years. Actually, it’s only recently that I have tried to confront my dyslexia, as it has been mating making writing difficult, and I am now trying to learn how not to lash out at myself for all the mistakes I make – being a writer, this is a bitch. Not being able to see all the writing mestakes mistakes I make continuously, is what I like to call a “blocker” bitch!

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“Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.”
   Dan Quayle, Vice President

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To Write or To Say the Hell With It?

It is interesting, but people rarely pointed out my malapropism until I landed a job as a composition instructor, and I started to get some of my written work published.  Until that point, much of my malapropism happened on stage while doing improvisation, and people liked it. They may have thought it was intentional and it got me a laugh. Now, it’s just a pain in the ass, and it makes me feel super overcautious over conscious and wary of writing in public, without having the ability to edit obsessively for several hours before posting.  Sadly, social media rather goes against this preferance preference, which is why many of my malapropisms find their way onto Facebook and Twitter.  Last night’s malaprop came in the form of a Facebook post:

“My first homemade produce was a pain slave for, you know, the derby love I get on the track.”

A friend asked how she could “grow” the slave, teasing me for my word choice, and STILL I did not see or register her point/joke – I had to ask her what she meant. It was only after she pointed out my word choice mistake did I “see” it.

So, I guess the best thing to do is to keep educating others AND making fun of myself.  It’s like have uneven books boobs, or having to wear glasses, or whatever, if you don’t make fun of yourself first, the world will help you out.

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NOTE: instead of editing my malaprops out of this post, I have left in the ones that came out while writing, and crossed the word through to demonstrate how often I actually do this, and how much editing I must do in order to catch myself.  Tooks Tools such as “define this word” are helpful, but of course you have to identify that the word might not be the right one for this technique to work well – LOL 🙂

*Malapropism is not a disease, but Dyslexia is a real learning disorder and a side effect of dyslexia.

**Recognizing dyslexia – I placed in italics the symptoms I exhibit 

Use of UPPER-CASE exclusively or randomly. 
■ Letters back to front.
■ Irregular size or awkward shape of writing, poor spacing.
Now that so many people use word-processors, examples of
handwriting may be hard to come by. But written work can still
show dyslexic characteristics even when word-processed or
typed:
■ Random or non-existent punctuation.
Missing letters or words. 
Spelling errors: the same word spelt in different ways, 
letters in the wrong order, phonic approximations, omission 
of syllables, errors in suffixes. 
Use of similar but wrong words – malapropisms. 
■ Non-standard sentence structure, an impression of
inexperience in writing.
■ Misinterpretation of questions.

I have posted this before, but for those of you who may need this resource, here is A Dyslexia Took Box, A helpful PDF on how to deal with Dyslexia.

Princesses as role models? Maybe so!

Last week I had a blog dedicated to a young Facebook friend who wants to be a princess. The theme of the blog was simply this: dear Facebook friend, you do not want to be a princess (read the blog by clicking on this link)! I argued that the life of a princess was very difficult, and the life of the princess that she envisioned, the Disney princess, did not exist.  Keeping with this theme, last night I was delight to read Saraswati Nagpal’s article for the @Atlantic: Princesses Can, In Fact, Be Role Models for Little Girls – Saraswati Nagpal – The Atlantic.

Like my own thesis, Nagpal argues that the mythological Disney Princess is not really what we are looking for. However, unlike my article which shuns the whole princess thing, she argues that princesses can be role models for young girls.

Her argument is fascinating because much of India’s mythology is seriously influenced by patriarchy, making the role of the princesses rather bleak. And, when we consider the amount of mental, sexual, and physical abuses occurring to young women in and throughout India, especially the news stories about gang rapes in India and Globally, we can see how desperately women need good role models – especially for the young, and Indian cultural mythology can, apparently, provide this! Please take a few minutes to read this well written and thought out article by Nagpal.

Rebecca

Can we stop de-humanizing each other?

The following post is from a dear friend and fellow actor: Dustin Moore.  I met Dustin on the Internet, Twitter actually, and I’m delighted to say that we’ve been friends for several years now. He wrote this wonderful journal entry as a plea to all of us, stop dehumanizing each other. It’s a touching post, but it’s also a very important post. I hope you enjoy!

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Dear Journal,

Can we stop de-humanizing each other?

Like many people in this country, I have found myself caught in the crossfire of a gun debate within my family. It is the kind of thing that can suck you in if you aren’t careful. Like abortion or other hot-button issues, everyone has a strong opinion and strong feelings about guns.

Thankfully, I am not going to enter the debate with this entry. I mainly wanted to ask the question: “Can we stop de-humanizing each other?” 

This debate, like many recently in our country has brought to my attention how quickly all large arguments degrade into name-calling and demonization. Ads about how dangerous and evil the opponent to my position is or how hypocritical they are and on and on.

Can we please stop?

Are we really so desperate to defend our ideas, wants, positions and ideologies that we are willing to strip away our opponents humanity?

Strip apart his dignity, self respect and motives until he can be nothing but our worst enemy. That his mere existence threatens your well being and safety. And that you must act. Act to stop your enemy.

Every conflict on this earth; every time a hand is raised against another human on this planet begins with this process of dehumanization.

My dehumanization of you begins when I write a story in my head. In that story I dress you in the clothes of a monster. A monster that is after me and my children. A monster that is wicked and devious and would like nothing than to hurt my family, my well-being or my way of life.

Maybe I don’t have to give you monster clothes, because you are already different from me in some visible way; the color of your skin for instance. Every little difference that makes you special becomes another reason why you are such a monster. Because anything that that isn’t “Me” is wrong.

This enemy I have created, is worth nothing other than destruction. And since I am threatened, I will not hesitate to destroy you to protect myself. Clearly, given the chance you will destroy me first.

This is a story. You are not destroying me. You are not hurting me. If you were actually physically doing those things, I wouldn’t be worried about your ideas, I would be fighting for my life.

We accept these stories as reality. We respond to our fellow man as if they were actually that monster. Not the man or woman that looked on their newborn infant with love and hope. Someone who worried about how they were going to feed their family or make sure their children had a chance to laugh sometimes and feel safe.

The irony of it all is that in creating the story “Monster” in my head and assigning you to that role, I become your monster.

Since you are my enemy, I will stop you.
I will hurt you.
I will kill you because you are my monster, and now I am yours.

Stop.

Can we please stop?

You have a story. But it is so much more dynamic and beautiful than the one I create for you. It is unique in the universe.

When will we start treating or fellow man with basic dignity and respect and love? It is not love to demonize, name call, minimize, and dehumanize. 

Love.

There is risk in loving our fellow man. Because in our humanity we do hurt each other. And to love is to put the well being of others above our fear of being hurt.

I hope that there are people out there that want this too journal. I hope that I am not the only one who wants to talk to the person I disagree with and find the ways that we are the same, not different.

Who knows journal?

I guess I need to overcome my own fears and start looking for those people.

TL;DR: I am tired of all the name calling and dehumanization we do to those who disagree with us or have something we want. 

By Dustin Moore

To my young Facebook friend who wants to be a princess

Русский: Принцесса Шахназ Пехлеви

Trust me young one, you do not want to be a princess. But first, let me apologize to your for what our culture puts forth, markets to young girls. You, beautiful young womanchild, who grew up in the shadows of Disney, and other sugarcoated cartoons that lied to you. You, beautiful unique womanchild, who updates your FB wall, begging to be talked to, complemented, and loved. Where is your prince?  You have asked, while searching on Facebook, social media, anywhere you can to get that the princess fix.

“You are a princess because you’re beautiful like one.”
“Oh, that’s sweet.”

You don’t need to be a princess Womanchild, and you don’t want to be one either – not really. Princesses do not have a great life, certainly not the life Disney sells you. Remember, Disney wants to sell you things, like trips to their fun park, books and magazines, dolls and other frivolous goodies. They search for your parent’s pocketbook, not for any truth.

The real princess is not a woman who can live for herself. She lives for everybody but herself, in her tasks, deeds, and life. Some princesses are pretty, but some are not. DNA, after all, doesn’t care if you’re royal. And the money? Well yes… Many princesses have access to money, but that money comes with a very high price – control over your life, your acts, and your deeds. Princesses rarely have freedom Womanchild, think on that for a moment. When you’re a princess, you’re owned by the Monarch, you’re owned by your country, you’re owned by your father, and you are later owned by your husband; freedom is not intended for the princess. Indeed, her commoners will find more freedom in day-to-day life.

From Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots and yesterday’s Lady Diana, princesses are often treated poorly, hunted, and killed for their power. Desired by millions as an object to be controlled, watched, and manipulated, a princess is often at the mercy of others. She does not always come to a good end. Do you remember Cleopatra? Even the great Egyptian Queen Cleopatra committed suicide to avoid being played upon by powers that were bigger than herself.

Womanchild, take my advice, reject the role of princess now. You will save yourself great grief in the end, because princesses in our world are rare and when they do exist, their life is much more difficult than you or I could ever imagine. The beautiful Princess Kate will spend her life as one in service to her people. She will be in service not only to her people, but to the royal family, and she will probably watch all her personal interests fall to the side. Did she find love? I certainly hope so. But make no mistake, her life is one of drudgery as well as beauty. Everything comes with a price.

Rather, be content to be a strong woman. Glorifying your uniqueness outside of the Disney stereotype of the princess. Do not look for a prince because Disney princes don’t really exist either – if you expect your boyfriend to be a prince, you will likely be disappointed. Such fantasies kill relationships faster than you can imagine. Remember, you live in a world and a time that will allow you to make your own road, your own opportunities, and thrive. Throw off that gown, those fake jewels, and the misguided dreams of royalty– dreams that lied to you since childhood. You do not want to be a princess.

Signed, your concerned Facebook friend.

New Delhi Gang Rape Victim Partly To Blame For Brutal Attack, Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma Suggests

Here we go again:

“Until today I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady,” Sharma said. “Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.”

via New Delhi Gang Rape Victim Partly To Blame For Brutal Attack, Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma Suggests.

Please take the time to read this article by Huffington Post writer Meredith Bennett-Smith.  You know, I am sorry to have to keep posting about rape, slut-shaming, and victim blaming. Honestly, I would much rather talk about the progress I’m making on my new vision board, the process of writing, or the fact that I was lucky enough to have been cast in the play Harvey. But, the world keeps throwing these issues in my lap, over and over and over again.

I feel that we are at a pivotal point in our history: the world is waking up to the horrific and negative rhetoric surrounding victim blaming and shut shaming. The reality about violence against women, a global epidemic, is finally becoming a global magnified discussion – thanks, in no little part, to social media. In the end, this New Delhi lawyer looks like an asshole with his absurd rationale (see quote above). Please read and write about this issue. The more people talk about it, the more we can change things. R