America's Next Top Model & Violence Against Women

Listed below is a link to some of the photos on the crime scene show and the judges inane comments. It is unbelievable to read "she doesn't look dead enough," or "she is supposed to be beheaded and she looks like she is taking a nap." I guess we have to decide where we draw the line. I don't have all of the statistics to spout off, but I do know that here in Pernambuco in the first 24 days of 2006 30 women were killed. I think that in 2007 the statistics are similar.

30 women in 24 days.

This has really been on my mind lately because it is a big part of the media reform movement here. The media's use of women to buy/sell/exploit has been on the radar for awhile now, and yet little has changed. It isn't a beer ad unless a semi-naked women is holding the bottle. Women are products. It seems that the media industry commits so many crimes against women that Top Model's "crime scene" photos unveil the real agenda.

They will depict women in any way that is profitable to them.

It also seems like just one more crime the beauty industry commits against women. This is not a place where women are celebrated. They are scrutinized, demeaned, told they are too old, not thin enough, not pretty enough, etc. just to sell more products. Top Model sells at least one new product an episode through its format. I am sure that this is just another publicity stunt for the show in which media people and feminists get upset, and the majority of the desensitized public sits back thinking, "what's the big deal?"

I guess that is the question. What is the big deal?
The big deal is that it makes violence against women appear beautiful and acceptable
The big deal is that if a picture is worth 1,000 words, what did we just learn?
The big deal is that it is another media depiction of violence that makes the real thing "normal"
The big deal is that violence against women is real, and this is fashion mocking the reality of so many
The big deal is that right now thousands of women die everyday around the world from preventable violence while shows like Top Model tell the models that they don't look "dead enough"
The big deal is that how many women have died in Iraq? Where are their pictures? Where is "blown up by cluster bombs" crime scene photo? Or is that not pretty enough?

Write to the CW network (CW is a CBS company) and tell them what you think: feedback@CWTV.com

NOW's page on Violence against women
Crime Scene photos with judges commentary


Another blog snatch...

Blog Snatching

Reading other blogs you always run across some cool stuff. I did this awhile ago and now I don't remember where I got it...

Pretty pathetic huh? I obviously have some traveling to do. Hopefully we will get over to Africa soon to visit friends and then something has to be done about Asia...that one tiny red country doesn't seem like enough.

I grabbed this off of someone else's blog (http://parisparfait.typepad.com/)
I think it is hilarious...


I have been wanting to write, but I also feel that I have very little to say. I guess no one reads this blog (except you Ali) so it is really like writing for myself. I guess I am also a little afraid of sounding as whiny as I feel. I am stuck. I want to do so many things, and yet everyday the routine continues. The routine is okay, but something about being here really makes me want to do MORE. It feels like everyday opportunities are slipping by, and I don't have that much to show for my time here.

I think part of it is teaching. I feel like teaching sucks your soul. First of all, you are always working. I am either teaching, planning to teach, or correcting what I have taught, repeat. Second, it is emotional and makes you feel vulnerable. It is amazing what a group of whispering teenagers can do to my self-esteem. A bad class throws me for a couple of days. I am getting better at letting go, but the feeling of having taught a bad class sucks. I seem to have a lot of those. Third, you are constantly giving much more of your energy than you receive in return. At this point I have been doing this for awhile, and yet I do not feel like I am getting any better.

What to do? I have been contemplating auditing a class at the university, signing up for a gym ($$$), taking some kind of art class, doing art on my own, trying to get my research started, etc. I have yet to do any of it. My community media literacy project is dragging along, but we haven't really done much. Hopefully we will finally finish our first workshop CD so that we can move on to the next one.

Alright, enough whining for now. Tomorrow is the next mutirao and I am going to attempt to use mostly spray paint. Could be a disaster. Last night we went to Olinda and danced to forro and coco at Xim Xim da Baiana--very fun. We are also going to Petrolina for 3 days over Easter. I am really excited to see another town in the interior of the state. So, some things are looking up!


Saramandaia Mutirão

The last Mutirão de Graffiti was the best we have been to so far. It was in Saramandaia, a favela in Arruda/Campo Grande. It is the favela where the guys who robbed our friend live. We went over to their house and drank coffee for a couple of hours waiting for everyone to get organized and then walked over the bridge to Saramandaia. It is always an interesting moment when you enter the favela. It is obvious that we are not from there and people STARE. It didn't help that the foreigner to Brazilian ratio was 5:4 that day. We wandered through the maze of houses and mud asking for directions along the way until we reached one of the highest points in the favela. They already had the turntables and microphones set up and were engaging the community in a dialogue about why they were there and the issues specific to that community. We were standing on the side in a narrow path when out of the corner of my eye a machine gun barrel appeared over my shoulder. I pulled the 2 other foreigners visiting out of the way as the police made their presence known.

There were two of them that crept slowly into the plaza guns drawn and fingers on the trigger. My heart started pounding as I tried to position myself behind the wall while keeping an eye on the situation. They crept around and put some guys up against the wall, searched them, and then crept off in a different direction. It was amazing how slowly they were moving--like a top secret spy mission in the middle of a group of people freestyling and playing music. It probably didn't help that the guys freestyling started talking about the situation while making siren noises. Apparently they came back later in the day and lined everybody up against the wall and searched them. This led to a dialogue about police presence in the communities and how any gathering of people has a negative connotation. Everybody was unfazed by the show of force and the day continued on.

We all broke up to find walls to paint on. The walls in most of the communities are not smooth. You are lucky if you get rough concrete that sucks up paint, rotten wooden boards, and if you are really lucky a smooth metal surface. I never am quick (or aggressive) enough to get a good wall. I ended up painting on someone's house/store with a friend from Ilha de Deus.

I would love to say that I painted this by myself, but it was really a combination of me, a friend, and Sam. I end up painting with brushes and some spray paint--I really have to learn to use spray better.

Sam has gotten really good. He painted the guy below and the crab. Everyone loves the stuff he paints. He painted the crab so quickly--I turned around and there it was.

This was such a good mutirão because there was so much going on. The DJ played music all afternoon, there was a dance presentation from a group in the community (photo), rosas urbanas and nacao break did a break dancing presentation, there was a roda de capoeira, and at the end of the night canal capibaribe (community tv station) played videos on the wall of the dance school. There was a very strong community presence and dialogue--exactly what the mutirão should be. Too bad it only happens once a month!