State of the Union 2015

Obama gave his second-to-last State of the Union address last night, amid his highest approval ratings in eighteen months.  I haven’t watched it yet–I wasn’t feeling well that night so I went to bed early.  I did record the speech though, so maybe I’ll watch it at some point.  Honestly, I get annoyed by all the stoppages for clapping, and the stupid cheering at parts that one party likes, and the pans to different people in attendance, and the derp look that Joe Biden has coupled with that stupid shit-eating grin of John Boehner’s throughout the entire speech.  I wish we could have a fireside chat sort of thing where the President is by himself so he can speak to the American people without interruption and without all the staged drama.

Anyways, I did read the transcript of the speech that was sent out to the media.  Overall, I thought it was a very good speech.  It was positive, inspiring and empowering.  The President mentioned a lot of the successes our nation has had in recent years, and how we are becoming a responsible and respected world leader once again.  I liked that he spoke about the necessity of building our nation’s future by continuing to invest in the middle class–particularly with policies that help women and young people.  I also liked that he challenged himself and all members of Congress to stop acting like such petty, stubborn children and start leading our nation through bipartisanship.  In other words, he challenged them to do their jobs.

The unfortunate truth is, however, that Congress will continue to not do their jobs, and since the GOP is against most of what Obama talked about, everything the president hopes to accomplish his last two years in office is not likely to happen.  And Obama will probably veto most of what Congress sends his way.  Ugh…will it ever end!  Well, maybe.  It could end if we had different leadership in Washington.  But when so many Americans refuse to participate in our democracy, this is what we get–and what we deserve.  Our generation could change that.  If we start voting more, and if we start holding our leaders accountable more.  And, as I stated in the previous post, if Millennials start running for office and challenging the Old Guard for power in Washington so we can more aggressively push our generation’s agenda, maybe, just maybe, we will finally get the change we seek/need.

Below is a video of the STOU speech if you want to watch.  Or you can read the transcript here.

 

It’s Time For Millennials to Lead

The year was 1982, and a new generation of Americans was just starting to be born.  They would eventually become known as Millennials.  Since they first started arriving on the scene, a lot has changed in the United States–and in the world.  Unfortunately, much of it hasn’t been good.  It’s been pretty disastrous actually.  There have been devastating terrorist attacks; busted economic bubbles and record household debt; the greatest level of wealth disaparity and the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression; an insane amount of national debt that, if it continues to go unaddressed, will bankrupt the United States in about 40-50 years; skyrocketing college tuition rates and student loan debt; stagnate wages and a shrinking (and struggling) middle class;  increased racial and religious tension; and a let’s not forget about the tiny issue of our planet warming at an alarming and accelerating rate.  All in all, the future isn’t looking too bright for this young generation.

No one would blame Millennials for being angry.  Not only are they inheriting this heaping mess, but they have spent the last decade-and-a-half watching relentless partisan bickering in Washington as our elected leaders have failed to do anything substantial about the ever-growing pile of urgent issues facing our nation and the world.  Not surprisingly, most–if not all–of these issues have only gotten worse.  There was that one time at band camp in 2008 when many Millennials thought that, finally, there was a politician who truly cared about the people, and who was going to work hard to make a real difference.  But he didn’t deliver as promised, and Millennials have become increasingly disenchanted.  They wanted so badly to believe that this one man was the answer.  However, it’s very hard for one person to completely change the course of our nation in just eight years–especially when his opposition is hell-bent determined to stall him at every turn.

So what are Millennials to do?  They clearly can’t trust our elected leaders.  And that seems to be the real problem in our country:  We have a crisis of leadership.  Our elected “leaders” care more about lobbyists, special interests and their own agenda than the wants and needs of the American people.  And yeah, you can say that this is just “politics as usual” and point out the the naive Millennials should have known better than to put so much hope and faith in a single polician, but the main reason why nothing ever changes in Washington is because the American people continue to put up with the perpetual BS that is Washington politics.  They don’t demand change.  Millennials don’t have the luxury of being complacent like this.  They have to hold their political officials accountable.

The encouraging thing is that Millennials absolutely have already made their voices heard on many issues like student loan debt, college affordability, net neutrality, marriage equality, gender equality, racial equality (I’m seeing a pattern here) and marijuana decriminialization–and their advocacy has made a huge impact.  And while it is great that they aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo by pushing their generation’s agenda, if Millennials want real change then the best solution is for them to start challenging older generations for leadership roles.  Yep, that’s right–Millennials need to start running for office.  They may be young, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective and empowering leaders.  And Hell, can Congress get any worse?

I am glad that I am a Millennial. I wouldn’t want to be a member of any other generation.  This may shock some people but I truly believe that the Millennial generation is capable of cultivating powerful and positive change in the world.  And I truly believe that we will.  I feel this way because what Millennials liked most about Obama wasn’t the man or the politician, but his message–that a better future is possible.  That even though the road ahead is filled with tremendous obstacles, Yes We Can overcome this.  It may seem like a bunch of BS to many older people whose once youthful idealism has been replaced by unbending cynisism.  But if you don’t believe that you can change things for the better, then you won’t.  As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

jon steward

What excites me most about being a Millennial is that I am part of a generation who has the opportunity to change the United States and the world in a really profound way.  Not many generations have an opportunity like this.  But because we are in the midst of a crisis, the times are ripe for change.  Millennials must take advantage of this. We need to recognize that even though our generation is inheriting one enormous and complicated mess, this is actually a blessing in disguise.  And if we play our cards right (as shitty as they may be), we will likely be regarded as one of the greatest generations that ever lived.

In his most famous essay, Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote:  “We have it within our power to begin the world over again.”  I love this quote because it is so true and so relevant.  The world needs a new beginning–I hardly think anyone would disagree with that.  And Millennials are the best hope the world has to foster constructive and enduring change.  Why?  Because we are practical yet idealistic.  Because we are engaged and confident.  Because we are accepting–not just tolerant–of other races, religious beliefs, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender preferences.  Because we are seekers of knowledge, justice and peace.  Because we are global and interconnected.  Because we are innovative and progressive.  And most importantly, because we don’t just accept the status quo.  It may bother older generations that we have the audacity–especially at such a young age–to push our own agenda.  But when your agenda is undeniably destroying our country, the world and our planet, we Millennials simply are not going to stand for that.  So tough shit–get used to it.

Another favorite Thomas Paine quote of mine is,  “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”  As Millennials push more and more for the changes we want to see, it is becoming increasingly necessary for us to step up and be leaders.  We can’t afford to be followers, and there is no way that a generation of 90 million young people is just going to get out of the way.  I think most Millennials are more than aware of the disastrous consequences of our generation doing nothing to address the many issues plaguing our nation and the world–or of not doing enough.  And we also know that time is of the essense, so we need to start leading the charge for change now.

Whether we like it or not, the fate of the United States and the world is dependent on us rising up to tackle the myriad of challenges we face.  And this will require us to sometimes make tremendous sacrifices and some very tough decisions.  It will take a lot of hard work, and we absolutely must find a way to set our differences aside so we can work together for the greater good of humanity and our planet.  It isn’t going to be easy, but no matter how tough the road ahead, we have to keep moving forward.  In the wise words of FDR, “One thing is sure: we have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment…If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.”

Future generations need us to be resolute, and united in purpose.  Our children and grandchildren are counting on us to be great leaders who won’t be afraid to implement drastic changes when they are needed, and who won’t give up no matter how difficult the task at hand.  Humanity has proven time and time again that nothing is beyond our reach.  Think about how far we’ve come in just the last 100 years.  In the beginning of the 20th century, humanity was just learning to fly.  Seventy years later, we landed on the damn moon!  And today we have a robot cruising around Mars, regularly sending information about the red planet back to earth.  My point is if we believe a better world is possible, then we can create one.  But if we lack faith and vision, then we are dooming ourselves and all forthcoming generations to a very bleak future–and in the worst case scenario, no future at all.

Great leaders don’t always make the most popular decisions, they make the right decisions.  They hold themselves–and all of humanity–to a higher standard, and they uphold this standard by leading by example.  The leaders of the last half-century have said a lot of wonderful and inspiring things, but more often than not they haven’t backed up their words with action.  Millennial leaders need to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.  We can’t just say that we are going to fix our nation’s long-term fiscal problems, we need to put policies in place to actually do it.  And we can’t just say that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need to take the steps to make it happen.   There are a lot of serious issues that need our urgent attention.  We simply cannot continue to pay lip service to these issues–we have to actively do something about them.

The time has come, Millennials, for our generation to start kicking ass and taking names.  Remember:  we have it within our power to begin the world over again.  Honestly, I believe that is our generation’s destiny–to give our great nation and the world a new beginning that leads to increased peace, prosperity and sustainability.  So let’s stop wasting time and get to work on fulfilling our very important destiny.  And while Millennials are unapologetically stepping up and taking the lead, we humbly ask that members of older generations please do us a favor:  either follow our lead, or get out of our fucking way!

generations

Thanks to Attn: for the Jon Steward image.

Remembering Dr. King

dr. king

Like I said in a previous post…don’t ever be afraid to speak up.  Dr. King’s voice changed the course of history.  Your voice could do the same.

There is a great article at Upwrothy that has compiled some more inspiring quotes of Dr. King.  It is definitely worth checking out.

Health & Fitness 2015

It’s that time of year again when gyms across the country are packed with new members hoping to make 2015 the year they finally get into shape/lose weight/live healthier.  In the past, I have written about health and fitness at the start of the New Year hoping to aid people by giving helpful tips and advice for how to kick-start a new healthy lifestyle. If you want to read those posts, go here and here.  Again, I want to state that I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist.  I am just someone who knows a lot about exercise and nutrition and I am confident that what I say below will help anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle.

(1)  Diet is more important for weight loss than exercise.  This doesn’t mean that exercise isn’t important–it absolutely is and I’ll discuss that further down–but if your main goal is to shed pounds, your main focus should be your diet.  I have a friend who recently gained back all the weight she had lost a couple of years ago.  As the weight was coming back on she kept saying how she needed to start working out again–as if that was the sole reason for her weight gain.  I respectfully pointed out that what was really causing her to gain weight was the fact that she going out all the time (not just on the weekends, but several times during the week as well), and therefore was drinking alcohol far more often than she used to, and even more detrimentally, she was eating out far more often than she used to.  This was the main culprit for her weight gain, not lack of exercise.  She dismissed my advice repeatedly, but when she had gained back every pound she had worked so hard to lose, she finally realized that it was indeed due to her poor diet.  Without a doubt, the best way to lose weight is by adjusting your diet to be rich in healthy, wholesome foods.  Exercise is very important for your overall health, but without a healthy diet exercise won’t do much (if anything at all) in terms of weight loss.

(2)  Don’t “diet”.  I put diet in quotes because there is a big difference between having a healthy diet and going on a “diet”.  “Diets” don’t work in the long-run.  Sure, you will likely lose a bunch of weight really quick, but not eating carbs, or limiting your fat intake, or severely restricting your calories isn’t healthy, nor is it realitic over the long-term.  You just can’t maintain a diet like that.  However, having a healthy, balanced diet does work.  A healthy diet means eating things like fruits, vegetables, lean protein (specifically poultry, fish and lean red meats), foods with healthy fats like nuts, legumes and certain oils, healthy carbs like whole grains and brown rice, and limiting the amount of alcohol, sugar and processed foods you consume.  That doesn’t mean you can never have alcohol, sweets or processed food, it just means that you should drink/eat those things only occasionally.  Follow the 80/20 rule–80% of what you eat should be healthy, with 20% of your diet consisting of whatever you want.  I have a massive sweet tooth, so there is no way I could go without any sweets.  But I don’t eat them often so it doesn’t hurt me when I do indulge–plus, I enjoy it so much more!  By changing your diet to be healthy instead of harmful (and things like super low-carb diets usually are), you will have a much better chance at success with weight loss, and with maintaining a healthy diet in the long-term.  It may take your longer to lose the weight, but it will be a lot easier to maintain the weight loss.

(3)  Don’t go from eating really unhealthy to eating super healthy in 24 hours.  Many people assign a specific date for when they are going to radically change their diet.  I know you want to lose the weight quickly–after all, the quicker it comes off the more motivated you will be.  But if you go from one extreme to the other, you aren’t likely to maintain your new diet for long.  Gradually ween yourself off of the unhealthy foods.  If you eat a lot of processed foods high in sugar, cut back to half of what you used to eat, and then cut back another half a couple of weeks later.  This is far more realistic than a cold-turkey approach, and it won’t feel like you’re completely depriving yourself.  And as stated above–you don’t have to deprive yourself at all.  It is okay to occasionally have “bad” food. Just make it one meal during the day instead of the whole day, and only do it a few times a month.

(4)  Keep a food journal to get an idea of what your diet is like, and what areas of your diet need the most improvement.  This means writing down everything you eat–even those three cheetoes that your co-worker offered you–and about how much of everything you ate.  There are plenty of websites and phone apps that give you approximate calorie counts, along with the amount of fat, saturated fat, sugar, protein, fiber, sodium etc.  Add all of it up and see where you stand at the end of the day.  Do this for a couple of weeks and it should help you start to make better choices regarding your diet.  You won’t need to do this for a long time, because when your diet is mostly healthy you shouldn’t need to keep track of what and how much you eat.

(4)  Consult a physician and, if you are financially able, hire a nutritionist and a trainer.  While it is possible to do this on your own, if you want to lose a significant amount of weight and if you are just starting to work out for the first time in a long time–or ever–you really should seek professional help first.  You want to make sure you are doing this in the most healthy way possible.  Moreover, the journey to a healthier lifestyle isn’t easy.  I tried and failed three times before I got it right.  You will likely have much more success with this if you have professionals helping you.  At the very least, talk to a family member or a friend who is fit and healthy and ask for their advice and support. Trust me, they will love to help you.

(5) You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. As noted above, when it comes to losing weight, diet is by far more important than exercise. But exercise does help. To lose weight, you need to decrease the amount of calories (and the kinds of calories) you consume. Exercise burns calories, so if you exercise you will have taken in less calories during the day than if you don’t. What people get wrong is thinking that they are burning far more calories than they actually are, or that because they just ran three miles on the treadmill, they therefore can eat that cheese danish they bought the day before as a reward for their hard work. A three mile run on the treadmill will typically burn about 300 calories–and that’s about half of what is in a cheese danish. So when you indulge in that cheese danish, you are not only erasing all the hard work you just put out, but you are also netting an additional 300 calories.  Exercising doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want (unless your training for a marathon or something).  This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight.  You absolutely should exercise because combined with a healthy, balanced diet, it will help with weight-loss.  But more importantly, it will help improve your overall health.

(6)  When you start working out [again], start slow.  Most people are too aggressive when they start a new exercise regimen.  Then they are really sore for a few days and can’t work out during that time, and they become discouraged.  Or they are discouraged because their workout is so hard and they absolutely dread doing it.  So don’t push yourself too hard at the onset.  Start with easy to moderate exercise for 20-30 minutes a day, like going for a brisk walk outside or incline walking on the treadmill.  Any type of physical activity coupled with a healthy and balanced diet will aid in weight loss and in building your strength and endurance.  When your workout becomes easier, increase the intensity and/or the amount of time you are working out.  (Note:  Form is so important when exercising.  Ensure that you are using the proper form when doing things like squats, lunges, push-ups and burpees–not only will it prevent injuries but you will also get so much more out of your workout.)  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t be able to get into shape in one day.  It takes time, patience and determination.  But the rewards to your overall health are well worth it.

(7)  Mix up your workouts.  Men are partial to strength training and women are partial to cardio.  In reality, mixing up your workouts with cardio, strength training, resistance training and interval training is the best way to go about it.  That doesn’t mean you have to do all four in the same workout, but don’t exclusively do just one.  Focus on one discipline one day and another the next day, and so on and so forth.  Or better yet, combine interval training with resistance training (for example, doing three sets–or intervals–of resistance moves like push-ups, squats, lunges and planks), or cardio with strength training (for example, jog or run for 20 minutes on the treadmill, then switch to the weight machines or dumbbells for strength work).  This way you are hitting several different muscle groups in one workout, and you are keeping your muscles guessing.  If you do the same things over and over again, your workout will become less effective due to muscle memory.  By mixing it up and by regularly increasing the intensity of your workouts, your muscles are forced to work harder and thus will build strength and endurance.  And you will build more lean muscle, which in turn accelerates your metabolism so you are burning calories at a faster rate.  In other words, you’re aiding your weight loss by burning more calories and you’re toning your body at the same time.  It’s a win-win!

 (8)  You don’t need to join a gym.  It is completely unnecessary to join a gym.  There are ways you can workout at home, and the best is through fitness DVD’s.  These can be bought in stores like Target and Walmart, or online through reputable fitness companies.  My favorite fitness company is Beachbody.  They have so many different types of workout programs by some of the best trainers in the world.  I have a few Beachbody programs (I’m partial to trainer Debbie Seibers–she is awesome!) and they have been invaluable in getting my butt back in shape, and in maintainng my fitness as well.  That being said, I am a gym member…but at Planet Fitness where I only spend $20 a month for my membership (they have a $10 a month membership but it doesn’t have the perks that the $20 a month membership does).  I’m not spending a ton of money and it’s great for bad weather days, like right now when it is 8 degrees Fahrenheit outside!  So if you can afford $10 a month for a gym membership, I say do it.  But you don’t need to.  You can spend $60-80 one time on an excellent fitness program and you’ll have that for life.

(9)  Be realistic with your goals.  Like I said above, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Changing your life with a new healthy diet and a consistent exercise regimen is difficult, and if you want to lose weight it is going to be even more difficult.  The best way to keep yourself from becoming frustrated and discouraged is to make sure you are setting realistic goals.  So if your goal is to lose 100 pounds, give yourself the whole year–that’s about 9 pounds per month.  A healthy amount of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, so you are right on par if you lose 9 pounds per month.  And remember to not dramatically change your diet overnight.  Give yourself time to cut out the unhealthy foods.  Regarding exercise, again, start slow and work your way up to more advanced workouts.

Additionally, don’t fall for the “You only need to workout 8 minutes per day” scheme.  If you want to lose weight and/or get into shape, you will most definitely need to workout more than 8 minutes per day.  In order to lose one pound per week, you need to cut out 3,500 calories during the week, which is 500 calories per day.  Along with a healthy, wholesome diet, you will likely need to workout about 45-60 minutes, five days a week, in order to achieve weight loss.  But don’t be surprised if after a few weeks you aren’t losing as much weight–that is normal as your body starts to adjust to your new lifestyle.  It could even mean that you need to eat more calories, because when you aren’t getting enough to eat your body goes into starvation mode and starts to hang onto fat.  So try eating a few hundred more calories a day if you hit a wall with your weight loss.  It is also important to remember that everyone’s body and genetic make-up is different.  So just because your friend Sue lost 25 pounds in three months by utilizing some special diet and exercise program, doesn’t mean it will yeild the same results for you.  Lastly, if you have a few bads days, or even a few bad weeks, don’t get discouraged and give up.  Just get back on the horse again.  You’re only human so you aren’t going to be perfect.  The more realistic you are, the higher your chances for success.  Patience truly is a virtue.

(10)  Make these lifestyle changes for the right reasons.  I finally had success with maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly when I started doing it simply because I wanted to live healthier.  I didn’t care about what size my clothes were, or about a number on the scale.  I just wanted to be healthy. Remind yourself that food is fuel, and without the best fuel your body isn’t going to function as well.  The same goes for regular exercise–without it, your body will become rusty and slow.  With a healthy diet and regular exercise, you will look and feel better, your body will function better and you will have more energy and a happier disposition.  If you don’t feel this way, you probably aren’t eating right or aren’t exercising enough (or possibly too much).  Balance is key, and it might take a while for you to find the right balance (it took me a few years), but keep working at it.

There is so much more I could write on this topic, but hopefully this overview helps to motivate and educate some of you.  Perseverance, dedication and determination are the virtues you need to harness the most as you embark on this very worthwhile journey.  And remember, slow and steady wins the race.

In a future post I will discuss the necessity of having a healthy mind as well as a healthy body.  So stay tuned!

2015 Forecast

Happy New Year!  As I have for the past couple of years, I am once again posting the 2015 numerology forecast, from Numerology.com.  I know most of you probably think this is a bunch of BS, but I think it’s fun and rather interesting and inspiring.  So read on to see what 2015 has in store for us!

The year 2015 is an 8 Universal Year in Numerology. The number 8 is considered the number of money and power, which is true, to some extent. However, the essence of the 8, first and foremost, is balance. (Like all symbols, including letters and numbers, its shape tells you much about its nature — the 8 stays upright only when it is in balance.)

 

Balance is missing when one scale is loaded too heavily and the other too lightly. The most dangerous imbalance today is, without a doubt, between our enormous technological advances versus our almost imperceptibly growing awareness of human and moral values. Mankind today is like a little kid with a Ferrari: immature, and holding the keys to very dangerous toys.

 

Other growing imbalances exist between the rich and the poor, the tolerant and the intolerant, the powerful and the helpless. The list goes on. Almost every aspect of humanity reveals widening gaps between one side and the other.

 

Bringing back balance

The year 2015 will rectify some of this imbalance by adding to the light side of the scale while removing excess from the heavy side. Since this is an 8 year, it will affect the economy most predominately. The global economy will catch the brunt of the 8’s push for balance, and it will not be an easy time for many people. Expect the financial markets to experience ups and downs that will make investors and economists dizzy.

 

The 8 will seek balance in other areas too. The call for gender equality and gay rights will get louder, the fight against racism will intensify, and moderates will begin to speak more vehemently against religious extremism. Even the U.S. and other countries that have been relatively stable will begin moving toward a type of civil unrest not seen in a hundred years. Countries that are more fairly balanced, with a large middle class, a high level of tolerance, and minimal corruption, will remain relatively stable. Western Europe and Scandinavia fit that category, although their economy, too, will feel the squeeze.

 

Expect powers to continue to shift. Countries that have been ruled for centuries by small, powerful factions will rise up to force changes. China and Russia will be forced to deal with their power structures as well.

 

If you feel that much of this has already started, you are correct. However, where the main culprit in 2014 was religious extremism and political ideology, as is to be expected during a 7 Universal Year, this 8 Year will see turmoil arising from — and affecting mostly — the economy and issues of justice and fairness.

 

I am aware that my prediction seems full of doom and gloom, and this is true for the short term. The long term looks much better, because humanity as a whole is maturing … albeit too slow for our comfort.

 

The heart of humanity

For a thousand years, from 1000 through 1999, every calendar year and every person’s birth year started with the number 1, the number of individuality and independence (the positive side of the 1), as well as aggression and egotism (the negative side).

 

Fifteen years ago, in 2000 AD, humanity began a thousand year range during which every calendar year and every new person’s birth year would begin with a 2, the number of brotherhood/sisterhood and peace, as well as separation and greed.

 

As thousand-year cycles go, a shift from one cycle to the next is extremely gradual and takes decades. (Only those younger than fifteen currently have a 2 as the first number in their birth year. It will take at least a hundred years before this applies to everyone.) In addition, the outgoing number tends to peak several decades before it ends, and can last quite a few years after the end of its term, as if the fading number insists on going out with a bang.

 

Looking back on the last thousand years, from a very wide perspective, we note growing individualism, a need for independence, and devastating acts of aggression (with two world wars during the last century).

 

The recent arrival of the 2 will shift the focus toward unity and peace on one hand (the positive side of the 2), and separation and greed on the other (the negative).

 

This millennium, with the number 2 as its only constant, we are on a path to peace, tolerance, unity and cooperation. And it will happen sooner rather than later, not because our politicians or our business and religious leaders push us in that direction, but because we are conscious, and because we have been blessed with such qualities as understanding, generosity, sacrifice, love, and compassion. Those qualities, slowly but surely, will bring us the peace and stability we want.

 

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosporous 2015!!!

A Plea to the Rational People of the Country

 

Rational (adjective):

1. agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible

2. having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense

3. being in or characterized by full possession of one’s reason; sane; lucid

4. endowed with the faculty of reason

5. of, relating to, or constituting reasoning powers

6. proceeding or derived from reason or based on reasoning

In light of recent events, I thought it necessary to post the definition of rational.  As I discussed in the last post, whenever radical change occurs, there is a period of extensive unrest.  We are in the midst of that right now, but unless we can disclipline ourselves to regain rational thought and action, the upheavel will continue.

Pointing fingers never solves a problem.  The tragic deaths of two New York City police officers is not the fault of anyone but the gunman.  It’s not President Obama’s fault, or Bill de Blasio’s fault, or Eric Holder’s or Al Sharpten’s fault.  The gunman acted on his own will and power.  I never heard the President, or Bill de Blasio, or Eric Holder, or Al Sharpten tell anyone to kill police officers.  They never advocated violence of any kind toward anyone.  They simply pointed out that police brutality is a problem (and it is) and that this problem needs to be addressed–in a sensible manner.

The assassinations of those police officers was an absolutely horrendous act of violence by a deranged man.  If he was sane, then why aren’t more sane people killing cops?  There are a lot of angry individuals out there, and many of them are hella pissed at law enfrocement, but they not killing police officers because they’re not crazy.  If someone assassinates Bill de Blasio and claims it was to avenge the death of the two NYC cops, can we then blame de Blasio’s death on all the people in positions of power and influence who are right now blaming him for the deaths of the those police officers?  That’s what this kind of logic dictates, right?

I think the majority of us agree on the real issues at hand:  that racism is still a problem in this country; that police brutality is a problem in this country; that not all minorities are thugs, but are law-abiding citizens; that the vast majority of law enforcement officers are brave, selfless individuals who make tremendous sacrifices to keep us safe (and don’t get near enough credit for doing so).  You can be against police brutality and still support law enforcement.  And you can acknowledge that being a thug has nothing to do with the color of your skin, but also acknowledge that we all-too-often incorrectly associate it that way.

Right now, the discussion over the above issues is being dominated by people who represent the extremes (which, admittingly, has a lot to do with how the media is portraying recent events).  Unless more rationally-minded people speak up this is all we’re going to continue hearing, and the discussion will never progress beyond finger-pointing and a ridiculous merry-go-round blame game.  We need more rational voices to take over this conversation so we can restore reason, sensibility and empathy.  Only then can we have respectful and engaging discussions that lead to positive results.

 

Don’t Ever Be Afraid to Speak Up

Damn, I didn’t realize it has been a month since I last posted.  Sorry, but this time of year is so crazy!  There was Thanksgiving, then my birthday (I turned 29…again), and of course Christmas is upon us.  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” exclaimed no sane person ever.

Anyways, a lot of big news has unfolded lately, and it’s been hard to keep up with it all.  If I can’t write a post about something within a few days of it making news, then I feel like I’ve missed the window of relevancy of the story–which just goes to show how fast our world moves now.  But there is one big story that has dominated the news over the last month or so.  I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about.

I understand why so many people are angry about the Michael Brown/Eric Garner Grand Jury results.  Regardless of whether you think the officers in question are guilty of murder or not, one thing is for certain:  racism is still a problem in this country.  It’s blatantly obvious that it is.  The justice system treats whites and minorities (especially blacks) very differently.  And if you are a white person (as am I, by the way) who disagrees with this, then you must live in a world where unicorns exist, and where Santa Claus is getting ready to make his once-a-year trek around the world to deliver presents to all the good little boys and little girls, in one night, guided by flying reindeer.  How magical that world must be!

White privilege exists, folks.  And as a white person, I’m accutely aware that I benefit from it every day.  I don’t feel guilty about the color of my skin because I had no hand in deciding what race I would be.  But if I choose to ignore the fact that I have certain privileges because of my race, and if I choose to ignore the fact that racism is still pervasive in our society, I would–and should–feel guilty.  As uncomfortable as it is to admit these things, I know I must.  Remaining silent only makes me part of the problem–and I want to be part of the solution.

Some white people like to believe that because the Civil Rights Act was passed 50 years ago, and because we have a mixed-race president, that means we live in a post-racial society.  But that just simply isn’t true.  And unless more white people open their eyes and see that racism is still a very big problem in this country, no progress will be made on this issue.  And I know that some white people who read this will say, “But I’m not racist at all!”  And I believe you.  I think the vast majority of white people aren’t racist–especially in the Millennial Generation.  But what many white people either refuse to acknowledge or are just plain unaware of is that just because most of us aren’t racist doesn’t change the fact that white privilege does exist in our society.  Being white is definitely an advantage.  And until the color of our skin has no bearing on the opportunities we have in life, or how we are treated by the police or the justice system, racism will remain a problem.

I fully understand that all races have a role to play in making progress on racism.  It isn’t entirely on the shoulders of the white population to address this issue–and any non-white person who thinks that it is, is living in a fantasy world also.  But when I see so many of my white friends making comments on Facebook about how the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner had nothing to do with race, and that black people have to stop playing the race card, I shake my head in disbelief.  They completely miss the point.  It’s so much deeper than the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police offiers.  And it’s so easy to say that these incidences have nothing to do with race when you live in a country whose society favors your race on every level and in every way.

If you’re a white person who disagrees that our country favors the white race, let me ask you this:  If you were black, do you think your life would be the same as it is as a white person?  Would you still have all the same opportunities and receive the same treatment as a white person would?  If you answered yes to both of those questions, you really do live in a fantasy world with unicorns.  And that remains our biggest problem regarding racism–white people don’t want to leave this fantasy world.  We are comfortable here because we are at the advantage.  But here’s the truth, my ignorant white friends:  unicorns don’t exist, but racism still very much does.  Just because you don’t experience it, and just because you, individually, aren’t racist, and just because you refuse to open your eyes wide enough to see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  Racism is real, and your ignorance (whether by choice or not) only exacerbates it.

That being said, I also entirely disagree with how a lot of people have responded to the Grand Jury decisions on the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  The looting, violent protests/rioting and threats against police are not in any way helpful to this situation.  If we want to cultivate change, this isn’t the way to go about doing it.  It is entirely counter-productive, not to mention a slap in the face to the families of these victims, whom I’m sure don’t want people to react this way (in fact, Michael Brown’s father made a video appealing to people to not react this way before the Grand Jury decision was announced).  This kind of behavior is senseless, hurtful and damaging to the progress that has been made regarding race-relations in this country.  On the same token, the reactions that some people have had about the protestors is equally as abhorrent, like saying that the protestors should “get run over” because they are standing in the street (note:  we have a First Amendment right to peacefully protest).  Also, white people sometimes riot too–and for really stupid reasons, like because their football team lost, or because of something to do with pumpkins (I’m not kidding).  Seems like there may be a double-standard in how we perceive black people protesting/rioting, and white people doing the same.

rioting

Whenever radical change begins to take fruition, there is a lot of upheavel.  To begin, there is a “shit hit the fan” type of moment (a catalyst), followed by extensive unrest, and then eventually people begin to turn to reason and logic (as opposed to their intial emotional response to the catalyst, causing the upheavel) and things start to calm down.  Then finally–hopefully–the necessary changes are put into place.  We can see this happening right now.  The death’s of Michael Brown and Eric Garner (along with other unarmed black men by police officers) and the Grand Jury Results in these cases were the catalyst, and now we are in a period of unrest.  But we are already starting to see some reason and logic come into play.  Most importantly, people are finally starting to talk about racism as a serious issue that needs to be addressed, instead of pretending it is an issue that was solved decades ago.

Change is never easy, and when it is societal change it is accompanied by a lot of chaos and turmoil as we finally face the realities that we conveniently ignored for so long.  Despite this, change is usually a good and necessary thing.  Our nation and our world are in a state of crisis right now (something I discuss in the Millennial Crisis section), and as such we are indeed experiencing a lot of chaos and turmoil.  But trust me–this is a good thing.  We truly are progressing as a nation (and as a world), and in the process we’re experiencing some intense growing pains.  I know that’s hard to see because everything is so f-cked up right now, but this crisis is good–and unavoidable.  It was going to happen one way or another.

It’s so easy to focus on all the negative, especially when that is essentially the entire focus of the media.  But what about all that is good in the world?  Even when awful things happen, the silver lining is that we always come together to help those who were affected.  For example, remember how the world responded to tragedies like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and Superstorm Sandy?  Our compassionate and humanitarian response to these events proves that most of us are good people who genuinely care about others and are willing to do our part to help whenever and wherever we can.  And think about all the donations that are collected this time of year as so many people do what they can to help those less fortunate.  This is what gives me so much hope for the future.

When we focus on the negative, we attract more negative energy into our lives.  I know that sounds like a bunch of BS but it is so, so true.  We need to start shifting our focus onto the goodness of humanity.  Overall, most of us are kind, compassionate, accepting and generous people.  One of our biggest problems is that we oftentimes fail to speak up when we witness injustice.  And our silence is more damaging to our progress as a species than any terrible act committed by any terrible person(s).  If the number of good people far outweighs the number of bad people (which, as far as I can tell, it absolutely does), then why is there so much pain, suffering, inequality, injustice, violence and hate in the world?  In my opinion, it is because most of the good people chose to remain silent when their voices are needed most.  But if we can grow some balls and start to stand up for what we believe in; if we dare to speak the truth even though the truth hurts; if we are audacious enough to go through some temporary discomfort while we push for a more tolerant, peaceful, equal, just and loving world, then we will progress further than we could have ever imagined.

The Millennial Generation is the most diverse in history.  More than any other generation, race is meaningless to us.  We don’t care about the color of someone’s skin because we know that doesn’t matter–that it in no way defines them.  Not only are a large chunk of us mixed race, but we also grew up having friends from other races, other ethnicities, other religions, and other sexual orientations.  If there is any generation that can lead our country into a true post-racial society, it is our generation.  We need to remember that no one’s life is more or less important than any one else’s, and that injustice to one person is an injustice to everyone.  And most importantly we need to remember that our nation will be far better off if everyone had the same opportunities for success and happiness in life, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.  Isn’t that why we are proud to be American–because our nation stands for equality, liberty and justice for all?  It is time we truly start practicing what we preach.  It’s almost 2015 for crying out loud!

Before I end, I want to say that I am completely aware that most police officers are good, honorable people who bravely put their lives on the line everyday.  They deal with people at their worst, and they otentimes have to put up with more bullshit, more tragedy and more violence in one week than most of us will see in a lifetime.  And they sometimes have to make split-second decisions in order to potentially save their own life, or the lives of others.  Their job is dangerous, stressful and many times, thankless.  I have the utmost respect for what they do.  But it is also true that there are some police officers who abuse their power, or they use unjustifiable and excessive force.  In these cases, the police officer(s) in question shouldn’t be put above the law.  If a police officer is in the wrong, they should be held accountable.  I’m not in any way saying that the police officers in question in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths were right or wrong, I’m simply pointing out that sometimes police officers have little to no justifiable reason for their actions, and this problem seems to affect black men more than any other segment of the population.  We need to fix that.  It may be more convenient to turn a blind eye to this issue, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  Ignoring a problem never solves it.  That only makes it worse–as we are now witnessing.

So here we sit in the midst of a crisis, worried sick about the future and waiting for change.  But as it says at the top of this website site, “Things do not change; We change.”  And we are changing, whether we realize it or not.  What remains to be seen is if we will ultimately change for the better or for the worse.  I believe we will change for the better, because I believe in the goodness of humanity.  We have unlimited potential, we just have to stop being afraid to tap into that potential.  Our generation has an incredible opportunity to use this crisis to advance our nation and the world in a positive and lasting way.  So let’s make sure we do that.

Open your eyes to the world around you, instead of thinking that the world revolves around you.  Try to always be thoughtful and kind.  Listen to others with compassion and empathy.  And when you witness any injustice, or suffering by another, say something.  Don’t be afraid to use your voice.  Speak up.  The absolute worse thing you can do is remain silent.  At the very least, your voice will help someone in need, and at the very most your voice could help change the world, just like Malala Yousafzai’s.  If you aren’t familiar with her story, she is a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head in 2012 because she believed that girls should have the right to an education, so some people who disagreed with her decided they would silence her for good.  Fortunately, she survived the attack, and since then she has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the issue of childhood and female education.  Her courageous efforts have rightfully earned her this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.  Please, watch her inspiring acceptance speech below.  Malala isn’t afraid to be the change she wants to see in the world..and neither should you.

“Education went from being a right to being a crime.  But when my world suddenly changed, my priorities changed, too. I had two options: One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millennials and Feminism

There has been an uproar over feminism lately–and ironically it has mostly come from women.  Apparently, some young women today don’t want to be called feminists because they consider it to be a negtaive thing.  They also seem to believe that there is no need for feminism, mainly because, they think it does more harm than good.  Honestly, I’m really having a hard time comprehending this.  When did feminism become such a terrible thing?  And why are so many young women today publicly and proudly shunning feminism?  I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this just doesn’t make much sense to me.  Don’t these young women realize that without the feminist movement, our generation of women wouldn’t have the opportunities and the rights we currently enjoy?

We’re living in a much different time today than we were 40 years ago.  Millennial women aren’t like other generations of women before us, largely due to the fact that we absolutely have had more opportunities than any other generation of women.  And it was the brave and determined women (and men) of previous generations who gave us these rights and opportunities.  Their tireless fight for gender equality made it possible for us to be the most educated generation of women ever, and the first generation in which the women are more highly educated than the men.  The pay gap has also closed among men and women in the Millennial Generation, taking it to the smallest it has ever been in history.  This is a big deal, ladies, and a very, very good thing.

So now that the vast majority of Millennials are adults in their 20’s and early 30’s, the feminist torch is being passed to us.  It’s now our turn to take this movement and make it our own, and that is exactly what we need to do.  We need to give feminism a 21st century facelift.  But before I elaborate on that, I want to first dissect the reasons why there has been a recent backlash against feminism from Millennial women.

Let’s start by discussing what feminism actually is.  At its core, feminism simply is a social movement that aims to establish gender equality and to eliminate sexism.  However–and I really don’t understand why–some young women believe that feminism’s actual goal is to take rights away from men to in order to empower women, and they also believe that if you’re a feminist that automatically makes you anti-men.  Um, no.  That’s just ridiculous.  Feminism isn’t fighting against anything–it is fighting for something.  A little something called equality.  You may have heard of it.  It’s kind of the backbone of our democracy–you know, that idea that all men are created equal.  And while women may have been considered second class citizens when this famous phrase was penned in the Declaration of Independence, I think we can all agree that times have changed slightly in the 238 years since then.  So it isn’t just men that are created equal; men and women are created equal.

feminism

Women gaining equality in no way takes away from the rights of men, and it would be anti-feminist to advocate for stripping anyone of their rights.  A more equal society is better for everyone, men included.  If you’re a woman who thinks that feminism is bad because it somehow disenfranchises men, then you’re an extremely ignorant of what feminism actually is.  And from what I’ve observed, this appears to be why so many young Millennial women are against feminism–because they have no clue what it is and why it is has been so important to the progression of our country.

I can sort of understand how women catching up to–and, in some cases, surpassing–men could be threatening to those with XY chromosomes.  After all, men want to provide for and protect their significant others and families.  That’s just their nature and has been since the dawn of humanity.  And now that women are becoming more independent and are able to provide for themselves (and their families in many cases), men probably feel emasculated by this new reality.  But I must point out that if you are a man who is threatened by women gaining equal rights, then you need to recognize that you are an extremely insecure man.  If you were a confident, secure and more evolved man you would advocate for equality (for everyone) and you would treat women with the respect and dignity they deserve.

In addition to the false belief that feminism aims to disenfranchise men, there are some women who claim that we no longer need feminism because women are already considered equal to men.  Well, there is a big difference between being considered something and what is actually the truth.  And truth is women still aren’t equal to men–we’re far from it.  We still don’t make the same amount of money as men for doing the same job and having the same level of education.  And we still don’t get promotions at the same rate as men, regardless of job performance.  And as soon as we start making babies, our prospects for a promotion plummet, as does our salary.  Speaking of babies, our reproductive systems are now more regulated than guns because apparently we can’t be trusted to make sound, responsible reproductive choices–so the government will take care of that for us.  The only area where women have surpassed men is in education.  Overall, women absolutely are not equal to men.  Have we made significant progress in the last few decades?  Absolutely–and that’s great.  But we still have a ways to go.

Another popular misconception about feminism is the belief that feminists look down upon traditional female gender roles like taking care of and nurturing others.  Again, that’s ridiculous. I love taking care of people. I’m a woman–nurturing is in my nature. Just as men still want to provide for and protect their families, women still want to care for and nurture our families. Those gender roles have not changed–although admittingly they are more blurred today because women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners of the family, while more men are staying home taking care of the family. However, our insticts are still very much the same as they always have been. So a woman can cook a nice meal for her man and still be a feminist. And a stay-at-home mom who spends her whole day taking care of her family can still be a feminist. Feminism isn’t about what you do, it’s about what you believe.

And it is worth pointing out that women have different strengths than men. Men certainly are physcially stronger than women, but various studies have suggested that women handle stress and pain better than men (could you imagine a man having to endure childbirth?).  But what sets us apart most from men–and what I believe is our greatest strength–is that we are (generally speaking) far more compassionate, caring and empathetic than men. Being a strong woman doesn’t mean you sacrifice those feminine qualities.  That would actually make you less of a woman because those feminine qualities would be diminished. Our compassion and empathy, our ability to emote and to understand human emotions at such a deep, personal level–that is truly what makes us women. And I firmly believe that the world would be a much better place if it were run by women instead of men. I imagine it would be more peaceful, tolerant, equal and–dare I say it–advanced.

What is worse than gender inequality, however, is the rampant amount of sexism and mysogyny in our society, and the backwards attitude we have regarding sexual abuse and violence against women (or anyone for that matter).  When a teenage girl is gang raped, for example, there are some who say she was “asking for it”.  In other words, it’s her fault that this happened, not her perpetrators.  Furthermore, 40 percent of sexual abuse cases go uninvestigated at colleges and univerities because…well I don’t know why.  I guess it just isn’t that big of a deal to these schools that such horrible, dehumanizing things are happening.  So why bother looking into it, right?  Rape–who gives a shit about that?  Recently a bill was introduced in Congress that would force colleges and universities to investigate cases of sexual assault on campus.  It’s pretty sad that we have to introduce legislation in order to make this happen.

Let’s take a moment to dissect the logic behind the belief that when a young woman is raped she may have been “asking for it”, either because of the clothes she was wearing or because she was drunk at a party.  So, according to this logic, if someone decides to drive his car to go visit his grandmother and is hit by a drunk driver and killed, then he was asking for it because there was a chance that it could happen?  Or if someone is walking down the street at night to go to the convenience store and is murdered during a robbery then he is asking for it because there was a chance that it could happen?  Like these two men should have known better then to drive a car to grandma’s house, or to walk two blocks to the convenience store, just like the girl should have known better than to drink at a party because there might be a young man (men) that would take advantage of her while she was drunk?  And the girl who wore a figure-hugging dress and was raped should have known better because slutty clothes automatically mean you are inviting someone to rape you.  It’s not the drunk driver’s fault, or the robber’s fault, or the rapists’ fault–it’s entirely the fault of the victims because they put themselves in a situation where there was a chance that they could get raped or killed.

Let’s be very clear about something:  NO ONE ever asks to get raped.  And NO ONE ever asks to be sexually abused.  When a woman wears something that shows off her figure, that is not an excuse for men to sexually objectify or abuse her.  There is NEVER, EVER any reasonable excuse for a man raping or sexually abusing a woman.  And the fact that we teach woman to not wear certain clothes to work, or out for a night on the town, because that may lead to sexual abuse or violence, and that we tell young women that they are asking to be raped because they were drunk or wearing “slutty” clothes, instead of teaching young men that there is never any excuse for sexually abusing, objectifying and/or raping a woman is fucking ludicrous, and it speaks volumes to the ridiculously high level of misogyny in our society.

Guys and gals, if you’re not entirely sure what constitutes rape, read this handy little chart below. It explains what rape is in a very straightforward way so that even the simplest of us will understand.

consent

I, like probably every woman, knows what it is like to be sexually objectified.  Every time I go out for a run–despite the fact that I am super sweaty and disgusting–I endure some form of verbal sexual assault.  And if I go out with friends and I’m wearing clothes that highlight my figure, the level of sexual objectification is usually worse.  I’m a strong, secure woman so I can handle it, but it is still humiliating and dehumanizing.  It really does make you feel like less of a person.  It is ok to tell a woman–in a very genuine, respectful way–that she looks nice.  Don’t, however, cat-call or whistle at her and say inappropriate, gross shit that will make her feel like shit. Complimenting someone else is fine, but again, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.  Be respectful and sincere in your compliments. Build a woman’s confidence instead of making her feel like a possession that you are entitled to have.  And please, guys, understand that when women wear “sexy” clothes, we (usually) aren’t doing it for your attention.  Personally, I never do.  I work very hard to be fit and healthy, so when I go out I wear clothes that show off my body because I am proud of it, and because it makes me feel good about myself.  I don’t do it for male attention–I do it for myself.  As do most women.

Of course, some men are also victims of sexual abuse and violence, and this is, unfortunately, all too often overlooked.  And it is also true that some men are victims of verbal and physical abuse.  Feminism is just as much about fighting for their rights as it is the rights of women.  Someone who truly believes in gender equality would never say it is more acceptable for men to be victims of violence and/or abuse than it is women.  But the truth is that sexual abuse and violence against women is more frequent and more extreme than it is against men.

I was watching NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” one time, and a male comic made a joke about the different worries men and women have when they go out on a date with someone from an online dating service.  He said men worry that the woman he meets isn’t going to look like the woman in her profile picture, whereas women worry that they’ll be murdered.  The audience laughed, but I failed to find the joke funny.  I’m not Sean Penn or Tommy Lee Jones–I have a good sense of humor–but I couldn’t laugh at this joke because what he said was true.   And that’s really sad.  A woman shouldn’t have to worry about her safety when she goes out on a date, but the reality is, women do have to worry about it.  And God forbid she wears something that shows off her body (which women tend to do when we go out on dates because we want to look and feel good), because then she is inviting her date to rape her, right?  Isn’t that what we preach.

feminism2

 

To reiterate, at its core feminism is about fighting for gender equality and to eliminate sexism and misogyny.  So to all you young ladies who say you aren’t feminists, let me ask you a few questions.  Do you believe that women should have equal rights and opportunities to men?  Do you believe that sexism, in all forms, is wrong?  Do you believe our reproductive choices should not be dictated by the government?  Do you believe that we–as women–have an obligation to fight for gender equality and an end to sexism so that our daughters will never know what it feels like to get paid less for doing to the same job as their male co-workers, will never know what it feels like to get passed up for a promotion that they rightly deserve because they have a vagina that might birth a baby or two one day, will never know what it feels like to be sexually objectified (or worse, raped) because they decided to wear shorts on a hot summer day?  If you answered yes to all of those questions then I’m sorry to break it to you ladies, but you are feminists.  It’s ok.  That’s not a bad thing.  Embrace it!

Now more than ever, young women absolutely need to embrace feminism, and as I stated at the beginning of this post, we need to update it.  Feminism should still be about fighting for gender equality and an end to sexism–because we are clearly still battling for both of those things–but we need to take the fight global.  Millennials are the first truly global generation, and sadly we live in a world where most women are treated far less equally than we are here in the United States.  Hundreds of millions of girls around the world don’t even receive an education.  This is partially due to poverty, but in most cases it is because it is believed in their respective countries or cultures that women are not worthy of an education.  Women are also raped and sexually abused at higher rates and in much more brutal and gruesome ways, like what has unfortunately been happening in India recently.  Our world will never get better and will never progress unless women are given equal opportunities to men and are treated with the same respect and dignity as men.  By denying women equal rights, we are severely holding our world back.

Obviously, it is unrealistic to expect cultural and religious attitudes to do a complete turnaround in one generation’s time.  But we, as a generation, can certainly make important progress, and this is a serious issue that has significant implications for the future of the world because, without a doubt, women gaining equality will greatly benefit the world and everyone in it.  And it is for this reason that men should be just as invested in the feminist movement as women.  You don’t have to be a women to be a feminist, just like you don’t have to be gay to advocate for same-sex marriage.  If it weren’t for straight people (who make up the vast majority of our population) all the recent wins for marriage equality wouldn’t be a reality.   In just the past few years, state after state has passed marriage equality laws, or struck down laws that would ban same-sex marriage, largely because of the increasing number of straight people advocating for equality of marriage.  However, while women make up a slight majority of the population, we aren’t the dominant sex.  This is why we need men to step up and make their voices heard on this issue as well.

Again, our generation needs to make feminism a priority, because the more we hold women back the more we are holding our country and our world back.  So come on guys, stand with us ladies!  One day some of you will have daughters.  Wouldn’t you want them to have every opportunity to happiness and success in life that your son has?  And wouldn’t you want them to never have to experience any degree of sexism and misogyny?  If you answered yes to both questions, guess what–you’re feminists.  And we need your support and your voices.  In fact, I would say that men are more important to the progression of the feminist movement than women.  Without the support of men, women wouldn’t have made it this far, and we won’t go much further unless more men join the movement.

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A significant part of the reason why there has been a recent backlash against feminism is because many women simply aren’t willing to put up with continued gender inequality and sexism, thus prompting those who disagree with them to speak up.  And they are–very loudly.  Whenever things begin to change, those who want to maintain the status quo are scared that they are losing that battle.  So they become desperate and radical.  But the simple fact that we are having such a robust conversation about this issue is encouraging.  It’s a conversation we need to continue having.  And from what I can tell, it is young Millennial women (and men) who are largely pushing this conversation.

I hope to have a daughter one day, and I hope she that lives in a different world.  I hope her world is full of more opportunity, more respect for others, more peace and more love.  If women continue to be held back, that won’t happen.  But Millennials can make a big difference starting now.  We can begin a new era by putting increased emphasis on the ideals of feminism, both at home and abroad.  If we are successful, humanity will truly begin to soar.  And who would argue against that?