Belated Happy Birthday aka My Love Letter to America

Hey America,

Happy belated Birthday.

So sorry I didn’t write until now. I was busy hanging out with college friends, eating an undisclosed amount of food, and alternately “oooh-ing” and “ahhh-ing”/ complaining about the fireworks. Also summer school.

But here it is. Happy Birthday.

Thanks for sticking around for 238 years.

I know there’s been some a lot of trouble in recent years.

You’ve been through some hard financial times (Just like me! Twins!)

You’ve been attacked.

You’ve been bullied by your own inhabitants in a variety of ways.

It’s that last one that brings me to this: Your birthday present.

My birthday present to you is the gift of love, which you desperately need, in the form of a letter. So here you go.

Dear America*

I love you.

I love the fact that I can drive an hour and be in a completely different physical environment than my urban jungle. I love that I can drive two hours and be in a different state. Thanks for keeping me from getting bored with my surroundings.

I love that my school is nationally recognized for its diversity in the student population. I love that there is so much diversity within our universities in this beautiful country that there are even rankings in the first place. Thank you for being so open and welcoming.

I love that I have the freedom to go disappear from most of the world for two hours on a Sunday morning without a second thought. That I can tell people I’m a Christian, and I might get weird looks, but I won’t be killed later that night. So thanks for keeping that up for 238 long years.

I love that as a woman, I have the opportunity to work wherever I want to work as long as I’m qualified. It took a hot second for you to catch on to that trend but we’re here and it’s pretty great. So thanks.

I love that you contain little pockets of beauty in big and small places (amber waves of grain etc.). In the Grand Canyon, the beaches of Florida, and the stark urban gorgeousness of NYC, to be sure. But also in the Indiana summer sunsets that take my breath away, the striking drops along the Pennsylvania roads, and the long wooden boardwalk along the pier in the midst of the insanity of Chicago.

I love how our government changes every 4-8 years, with an inevitable backlash of angst from part of the population, and you survive without falling into civil war, unlike so much of the developing world.

I love how everyone hates on you for oversized portions and such (and in all love, it might be getting a bit out of control), but then again you give us great things like cookie dough milkshakes and elephant ears so once again, thank you.

I love that you produce men and women who are willing to be far from home and far from everything comfortable and normal in order to fight for our safety and for ideals they may or may not agree with. But they still remain in uniform and that’s a pretty cool demonstration of dedication and love for a nation so thank you for providing us real-life heroes.

I love that despite all the vitriol that is spit your way at the drop of a hat (or a SCOTUS decision, government change, business scandal, overexposure of a celebrity….it goes on), you shudder, shake it off, and keep charging ahead.

So I guess, really, my birthday present to you is belief. Belief that everything is going to turn out ok. Belief that you aren’t falling apart at the seams permanently. Belief that you and I? We are going to be around, as strong as ever, for another 238 years because Americans are stubborn little pains in the world’s backside and just won’t go away as easily as so many of the world’s inhabitants seem to think (and your own citizens seem to think).

Happy (belated) Birthday USA.

Becky

 

 

 

 

(*does this make this letter-ception. Like Inception but with a letter within a letter?),

 

 

I’m a Duck.

Once upon a time, I wrote sentences like this to start my stories:

“Hi, I am a duck.”

The title of my story was aptly and creatively named “My Duck Story.”

10469401_740909765966295_241595931_oI’m not kidding.

Don’t ask me why I was writing about me being a duck when I was six. Some girls wanted to live in a world of horses (*cough*My Little Pony*cough*) or be fashion-obsessed blondes (*cough*Let’s talk about my opinions of Barbie*cough*). I apparently wanted to be a duck. I’m happy to announce that my disregard for social norms regarding the female gender is still alive today.

Once upon a time, I also wrote things like this:

“If I lived in the ocean I would probably not be able to breathe.”

That gem went on to explain how the fish would probably think I wanted to eat them but I would build a house and everything would be a-ok again. Unlike the old adage, however, my knack for science did not get better with age.

Looking back at these pieces of writing as a junior in college studying journalism, who just successfully completed her first internship, I’m slightly surprised that my parents didn’t quietly take away all writing utensils I owned and shuffle me off into a love for history or something that would do less damage to my self-esteem 14 years later.

But they let me stick with it and let’s just chalk this one up to why parents should just let their kids be kids and not freak out about whether they’re living up to their “full potential” and all of that at six.

So go. Encourage your kids. Encourage your kids to BE kids. Encourage your kids to explore and experiment. Encourage your kids to eat sour gummy worms from the pavement outside the church gym (This definitely was not accomplished by any of my siblings and maybe you should not actually encourage this but you get the idea right?)

Encourage your kids to do what they love before the rest of the world tells them that they have to choose to invest in a trade/major/passion more beneficial to the community, more financially beneficial, more worthwhile “in the long run.”

Who knows. They might go from ducks to Pulitzers.*

 

 

Bonus Round: My superb abstract drawing skills at the tender age of 2 years and 10 months.

10494120_740876419302963_766511037_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Not that I have a Pulitzer. But the entire point of this post is to dream and I’m all about leading by example.

Viva México/España (Spain)/England/USA!

The World Cup is the time I simultaneously become the most unpatriotic and most patriotic American ever.

The problem is, my worldwide sporting event loyalties lie in a number of places. USA because, well, duh. England because of my family and also because most Brits just prefer to be doom-and-gloom about their team’s chances and darn it everyone deserves a cheerleader, even the English. México because México is the love of my life and watching them brings back memories of sitting in a room in the heart of Mexico City in 2007 during a Mexico vs. USA match and being one of two Americans there. And finally, Spain because Spain is about to become the other love of my life (210 days!) and Spain also has had a really good chance of making it to the final (better than the aforementioned teams that is).

But, as the strikethrough should forewarn you, my dear Spain imploded big time. They “laid an egg” so to speak. If Spain was a dragon attacking the town of World Cup, it just poofed out white smoke, not fire (and barely at that).

I was almost in tears (this also might have been due to my allergies). Spain, the defending world champion, is out of the tournament. Netherlands, then Chile, boom. Done. I’ll be done mourning oh, maybe in January when I go to the beach in Spain.

England lost to Italy but otherwise is holding steady. Mexico pulled off the most exciting 0-0 draw in World Cup history against host Brazil (Let’s talk about sports-induced heart attacks). And USA.

Oh USA. How proud I am to be an American etc. etc. etc.

Ghana is the bane of this team’s existence. Little, tiny, freaking Ghana. Of all places to be the kryptonite/Achilles heel/chink in the armor of this team….Ghana.

But no more. After a glorious 2-1 opening match win, the USA has shook off that demon and (KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD) is poised to possibly take down Portugal and advance past the group rounds. Seriously John Brooks (aka Somebody Not Named Landon Donovan*) got the winning goal. A benchwarmer. Check out some epic Wikipedia page edits for Brooks. My personal favorite is “The greatest American since Abraham Lincoln.” It’s a nice touch.

And this is why I love the World Cup, friends.

Teams come out of nowhere. Athletes come out of nowhere. Soccer powerhouses are no “sure thing” (*sob*). And in this golden age of American football and a 43-8 Super Bowl, a 0-0 “fútbol” game can still enthrall me.

So viva la World Cup!

Let’s watch some proper football!**

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Too soon? I’m still not sure if I’m upset by that decision or not but I’m trusting Klinsmann for now. Also a note: I literally was just scrolling through TV channels and came across a show called, “Landon Donovan: la Leyenda” (LD: The Legend). Spanish-language channels know what’s up.

**Joke. Still hardcore American Football fan no worries please don’t bring out the pitchforks

On Why The World Owes Me Nothing

You may have heard of a little social media trend going on these days called “#YesAllWomen.”

This little movement grew out of the Santa Barbara tragedy in which a mentally tortured young adult male wrote an anti-women manifesto and proceeded to stab his three male roommates and shoot two sorority girls.

Let me preface what is to follow by saying that I in no way, shape, or form am trying to diminish the fates of those two girls.

But there are a few things off kilter about this social movement.

1. The original event and subsequent media frenzy

4 men: 2 women. 3 murders of an incredibly personal nature + 1 shooting of a male: 2 murders of random girls who the shooter didn’t know and simply were chosen to represent his hatred of the female gender.

So the first thing that is off-putting to me is that the families of the male victims and the male victims themselves are ignored by the public (even though really, they’re the bigger story. Why did Elliot Rodger kill his male roommates/visitor in such a horrifically personal manner when his troubles were supposedly with women?)

(Side note: The media has also forgotten that Rodger fatally shot a male student inside a store during his spree as well).

(Side note the second: Rodger’s manifesto also included his hatred of racial minorities and interracial couples. Which is interesting as all three of his roommates were not white).

Yet because of Rodger’s anti-women rants within his manifesto and the tendency of the media and American public to jump on anything remotely anti-feminism, the two girls picked at random are the ones cried over in the news and lamented for, while the four men go by unnoticed. And there is something incredibly sad and incredibly unfair about that. A murder is a murder regardless of what manifestos the murderer left behind. It’s equally tragic, equally heartbreaking. And it is disturbing that that the majority of Americans apparently do not acknowledge that fact.

 

Still with me? Ok. Pulling out all the stops for this next one. If you do nothing else today, try to really think through this, especially if you’ve taken part in #YesAllWomen recently.

2. How it really is in the US

I’m going to quantify something for a moment.

If you are a woman living a country that gives you the right to learn, to work, and/or to make your own choices, if you can read, and have a high school diploma (or GED), the world owes you absolutely nothing.

And let’s be honest. Those parameters fit most women in the US, which is where this social trend originated so that’s where I’m going to start with my comparisons.

According to the CIA, women in the US are in school until they are 17 on average (as of 2011).

99% of US women can read. 94.7% of US women graduate high school. The latter statistic is ranked 14th in the world as of 2010, according to the United Nations.

If you’re part of the very, very small percentage of women who lives in the US and doesn’t fit within these statistics: I empathize with you and you can ignored everything from here on out.

Otherwise, listen up.

The world owes you nothing because you, as an American woman, have more freedom, have more rights, and have more privileges than women in third-world countries (and even some second-world countries) could even begin to visualize or comprehend.

“But Becky, why are you going on and on about this when this movement is about women’s rights and freedom worldwide?”

I’m going on and on about this because that may have been the intention of the original poster of “#YesAllWomen” but that is certainly not what this has become nor what it stands for.

The amount of incredibly inconsiderate, selfish, egotistical, oblivious, self-indulgent, woe-is-me tweets and facebook posts and blog posts I’ve seen since this movement started is unbelievable and frankly, pisses me off.

“I’m oppressed as a college-educated white female living in Manhattan because I can’t wear what I want without men gawking at me and getting the wrong idea.”

Boo. Freaking. Hoo.

Let me qualify that by saying that there is no excuse for rape ever ever ever I don’t care what a woman is wearing or acting etc. It’s intolerable and unacceptable and should be punished with harsh measures (as it often is).

But if you’re going to sit there and wear a skin tight dress and flirt with the bartender, and then complain because he won’t/can’t keep his eyes on your face?

Spare me the sob story.

If you’re going to sit there and complain because women are taught not to leave their drink alone instead of teaching men how not to drug people?

Talk to someone else.

There are bad people in this world. And yes, the overarching grand solution is to alleviate that by teaching proper behavior, teach men (AND women) how to be proper, respectful adults. But the fact remains that there are bad people in this world. So to feel downtrodden because you have to take a minuscule precautionary measure is really a bit much.

So what does this have to do with my statement that the world owes you nothing?

Consider the following:

3. Sexual Assault

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, the US ranks first for the number of reported rapes every year (83,425 in 2011). Not a stellar statistic but let’s also keep in mind that that is .027% of the population and is considered accurate.

Meanwhile, let’s consider India. There are only 24,206 reported rapes every year, and in a population of 1.2 billion, that makes .002% of the population. So less than the US. Doesn’t look good for us so far. So why am I making this comparison when it obviously doesn’t go in my favor?

Ponder this: India’s sexual crime rate has increased 7.1% since 2010 according to the country’s National Crime Record Bureau. “(The) time has come that we cannot merely go by statistics of this increasing crime. It is misleading and against one reported rape case there are at least 30 cases which go unreported”National Congress Party’s secretary Devi Prasad Tripathi.

If you go with that ratio (considered to be a more accurate representation), than the rape percentage increases dramatically, and above that of the US, to .073%.

What does that mean in real-life terms?

It means that in the US, most rapes are recorded and the rapist sought after and severely punished if caught. (There are exceptions. But don’t you dare go throwing specific cases in my face because we all know that those are the exceptions, not the rule. Fact is, if you’re raped in the US, you have a better chance than the rest of the world of your attacker being brought to justice).

It means that in India, there’s a high probability that your rapist will never come into a courtroom in the first place, much less be punished. It means that you live in a culture of silence and of fear. Speaking out does more harm than suffering alone.

Also know this: India’s female literacy rate is 48.3%. Only 26.6% graduate high school. So in addition to an increasing sexual assault problem, if you’re a woman in India, you also have very little chance of creating a better life for yourself.

Or Lesotho, a small African nation near South Africa.

Its rape percentage? .08%. Amount of women who graduate high school? 21.8% of the population. Similar situation to India.

Sound scary enough yet for women worldwide?

4. Let’s consider human trafficking and the sex trade.

It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.2 The majority of sex trafficking is international, with victims taken from such places as South and Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Central and South America, and other less developed areas…”FBI. The FBI also adds that it is a growing problem even in Europe and North America.

  • At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor.2
  • About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade.3
  • Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation.4
  • Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.5

(Equality Now)

In 2012, approximately 35% of human trafficking victims internationally were found to be from Sub-Saharan Africa. 69% were from East Asia. (United Nations)

Human trafficking, especially for women, usually equates becoming an unwilling part of the sex industry.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 3.02.21 PM

 

Domestic trafficking (where victims are trafficked within their own country of origin not shipped elsewhere) is also becoming a huge problem. Now women in these countries no longer have to fear just foreigners. They have to fear men and women from within their own country who either A. Are pure evil and simply want to profit. Or B. Are family members who sell their daughters/nieces/etc. for money simply to survive.Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 2.58.07 PM

 

The most terrifying statistic of them all might be this one though:Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 3.10.09 PM

 

You pair that with the fact that 98% of all victims are female and do the calculations.

The overwhelming majority of slaves (sexual and otherwise) from Africa and the Middle East are female children under the age of 16.

 

Ponder all of that for a moment while you watch THIS VIDEO.

 

Now you sit there and tell me that your desire to wear what you want without being whistled at equates to the utter inhumanity all of the above.

You sit there and tell me that watching your drink is too high a price to pay to be able to have fun safely, a luxury most girls do not have worldwide.

You sit there and complain about how the “friend zone” is only made up by sexually-frustrated males and that’s upsetting to you as a woman, while many women do not have the luxury of choosing whom they are partnered with (either through arranged marriages or sexual assault).

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 3.09.48 PM

You sit there and post glib and incredibly untrue things like this when a fetus can be cast aside legally yet there is no punishment in many countries for human traffickers nor rapists.

bullshit

You have the audacity to sit there and post comparisons between women today (as a white female in suburban Indianapolis) and the Jews of WWII (Yes. That was a post I saw. It was subsequently deleted a few hours later. But the damage was done. For the record, women are not systematically killed in a four-year time span nor have they been almost completely eradicated in any one continent or country e.g. Poland).

You sit there and tell me that I, as a white, middle-class, college-educated (on scholarship!) female living in the US with her own job who is not forced into an arranged marriage nor into sex slavery, should feel downtrodden by society and should be outraged.

Forgive me if I do not fall over at your tales of suburban woe and oppression.

Talk to me when you’re an 18-year old American girl in foster care whose single mother was a drug addict and you believe prostitution is your only chance at making a decent living.

Talk to me when you are a 14-year old girl in Cambodia who was sold to the sex industry by her parents.

Talk to me when you are a 30-year old woman in India who cannot write her children’s names.

Talk to me when you’re a mother of four children whose father was gunned down for his religion in Colombia and now you and your family face death threats as well.

Talk to me when you are an 18-year old in Turkey who has graciously been allowed to finish high school by your father but now, you are told that you are to be hidden away for the rest of your life by a husband you did not choose.

Talk to me when you are a young mother here in the United States who is holding down four jobs to support her young children for whom “fun” is a foreign concept.

So no. I will not participate in #YesAllWomen. I will not buy in to the neo-feminist idea that the world owes every single woman all she asks and more. I will not conform to the idea that I am a victim simply because of my gender. I will not compare myself to women around the world who are truly and deeply suffering and being forced to do unspeakable things, or being forced to live with no chance at improving their quality of life via education nor employment.

I will not lend my voice to the masses who cannot see beyond their own self-indulgent viewpoint.

Except for this.

#YesAllWomen have a duty and responsibility not to feel sorry for ourselves and instead, to have compassion for those who truly deserve our sorrow and need our aid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to learn more about trafficking and/or get involved in the fight against the international human rights issue? Or learn more about women’s rights internationally in general?

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls

Purchased (Based here in Indy!)

Polaris Project

Dept. of Homeland Security

Amnesty International

Alliance for International Women’s Rights

There are many, many more organizations around the world working to better the lives of women who have little to no means to do so themselves. These are simply the few that I either have been impacted by personally or have close friends involved with these organizations.

 

On the Fact that WWIII Has Already Started and the Darned Liberal Media Won’t Acknowledge It

Re the second part of the title: I completely hope that all of you are smart enough to recognize sarcasm when you read it. Okay? Okay.

Anyway.

The first part of the above title is completely true. We are living in a time of trial and tribulation and war, my friends, and that’s excluding Africa, the Middle East and whatever the heck North Korea is doing these days (Not to be confused with South Korea, aka “Nice Korea” as my friend calls it).

Anyway x2.

WWI was the “War To End All Wars” aka “Why You Should Never Use Hyperbole To Name Wars.”

WWII was the Axis vs. the Allied powers aka “Why We Should All Be Nice to Jews.”

WWIII is known as Macs vs. PCs aka “The Greatest Computer in the World vs. The Worst.”

I know that looks like hyperbole but I promise it’s not and the nice guys at the Mac Experience will totally back me up on this.

This post is brought about courtesy of the fact that my friend (“Nice Korea” friend striking again) insists on calling my computer a demon and coincidentally owns a PC.

I’m not a very technologically advanced person. I can operate computers and smartphones and tablets without crying but if something small goes wrong or is different than I how I learned to use said devices, I’m hopeless.

So I don’t know much about the internal workings of computers or why I should care about the processor speed or the software programs that work best on said computer or retina displays.

But I do know this:

I am in love with Apple (c) and will forever be a buyer of Apple (c) products and a complete follower of the regime when it takes over the world one day.

The one caveat to that is that iTunes is like the crazy uncle of the family that’s locked up in a psych ward that no one (aka me) likes to talk about because it makes you shiver with dread. A pop-up screen saying “iTunes update available” makes me huddle in a corner crying.

Otherwise, Apple is nice to me.

Apple is logical.

My phone syncs up with my computer perfectly and vice versa.

Apple products are intuitive. I can flip between screens and pages easily.

My computer can handle multiple programs running at once (important for a journalist).

I’ve only ever had one hardware problem with any of my Apple products and that was easily taken care of.

Thus, Apple make sense.

And you will never convince me otherwise.