Monday, May 18, 2015

What is Feminism?

At my school, our freshman year we have an end-of-year project in English instead of finals, where we are supposed to identify a problem and make a change in my community. After giving it some thought, I came up with this: I feel like the younger generation doesn't have an accurate understanding of feminism.

Maybe they have never heard of it. Maybe they aren't clear on what "feminism" really means. Maybe they are not comfortable enough with the concept to really affiliate themselves with it. After carrying out my project, I decided to create this blog post to educate you, my readers.

I'm sure some of you are feminists (you go!). But if you're not sure of what feminism actually is, here's a simple definition:

Feminism: The belief that men are equal to women, and should have the same rights, opportunities, and treatment.

Not so complicated, huh? That's the basic principal. Women, quite simply, deserve to be treated as equals to men. Below, I've pasted the information I wrote to put in a brochure for my project.


What is Feminism?
Feminism, quite simply, is the idea that there should be equality between the genders. It addresses issues like the wage gap between men and women, the over-sexualization and objectification of women, unrealistic and unfair standards of beauty and femininity, reproductive freedom, sexual assault and harassment, representation of women in the media and politics, and much more.

Am I A Feminist?
Do you believe that men and women are equals, and should be treated as such? If so, you, my friend, are a feminist! It doesn’t matter your gender, as the name “feminist” might seem to suggest, as long as you understand and agree with feminism’s core beliefs. There’s no shame in calling yourself a feminist--be proud of it! You are helping this society grow and evolve in a positive direction! 

Why Do We Need Feminism?

We need feminism because women in the US get paid 78% of what men do. Because women make up only 19.4% of the US Congress. Because the US has never had a woman president. Because only 3% of rapists go to jail. Because women’s bodies are constantly objectified, scrutinized, and over-sexualized. Because women are afraid to admit when they have been sexually assaulted. Because women are shamed for having sex, while men are congratulated. Because women are still commonly expected to take their husband’s last name. Because it is still unsafe for a woman to walk home alone at night. Because panels of only men are deciding women’s reproductive rights.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
Stereotypes About Feminism
There are many stereotypes around the word “feminism.” Feminists do not hate men. They do not think women are better than men--they believe the two are equal. Female feminists are not “less feminine.” There is no standard feminist--feminists can be anyone, with any appearance or background or the like.
 There you have it. Those are the basics of feminism. Just because women can vote doesn't mean we've achieved equality. We still have a long way to go--but you can be part of the solution! Be a supporter, an activist; speak out against misogyny* and sexism. Speak up when you hear feminism being misrepresented or misunderstood. Educate your peers. It takes everyone to change the world. 

While you're at it, take my survey and tell me why feminism is important to you.  Your answers will be recorded anonymously, and maybe I'll make a follow up post.

Go gender equality! 

*misogyny: dislike of or prejudice against women 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How to Have the Best Summer Ever

If you're anything like me, the moment April 1st comes around, you're itching for summer. The end of the school year seems just around the corner--all you have to do is slog through three projects, hop stepping stones across the raging stream that is finals, and then you're home free! Your summer stands ahead of you, long and never ending and full of possibilities and potential. This summer you'll finally build that tree house, write that novel, go on that cross-country adventure with your friends, try out water skiing! It'll be jam-packed with fun and excitement.

Or will it? I build up summer in my head. I envision it to be countless hours of enjoyment, bonding, camps and activities. Usually it turns out to be short, boring, and lazy. All the fun I imagined myself having adds up to maybe a week, leaving the other eight or nine empty. It's a let down. A disappointment.

Maybe you have this problem too. So, for both you and me, I decided to compile this list of summer activities. If you're bored during the summer, pop over and take a look, then pick something that you feel like doing. Some activities are challenging, some simple. Some require a friend, others you can do alone.

Without further ado... Ella's List of Things To Do In Summer!

Larger Commitments

1. Volunteer somewhere. If you're in high school like me, you need a certain amount of community service hours to graduate. There are plenty of places you can volunteer, which will get you those hours and give you something to put on your college resume. Research organizations and events to volunteer for online. Some things to get you started: your local Humane Society, Boys and Girls Club, your local library, running, swimming and other races. Call them or go on their websites for details.

2. Do A Summer Camp. There are summer camps for all ages, and plenty of programs for teens that are a ton of fun and cover lots of topics. Art camps, film camps, nature camps, sleepaway camps, you name it. If you don't want to actually participate in a camp, then volunteer to help out at a camp for younger kids. Some camps will hire teenagers, so you might even get paid.

3. Get A Job. There are plenty of jobs for teenagers in the summer. If you're interested in working for a summer camp, go online to your local Parks and Recreation site. Parks and Rec runs lots of camps and usually hires teenagers. If you're not interested in a camp, go to the website for your local mall and look for job openings at the shops there. Maybe you have a favorite store that you're interested in working for (and as a bonus, you'll get a discount when you buy their products!)

Fun, Easy Activities

1. Go to the beach/pool.
2. Go to the fair/amusement park.
3. Go to brunch with your friends.
4. Have ice cream.
5. Go shopping.

Outdoor Activities

1. Sailing/surfing.
2. Swimming at a pool/beach.
3. Bike ride/run/walk.
4. Camping. 
5. Rollerblading. 

For the Crafter/Artist

1. Learn to knit/crochet/finger knit/weave
2. Take an art or crafting class. Look up classes online or check in with your local art studio.
3. Learn to make pottery. There are lots of classes for this and it's a ton of fun.
4. Have a craft fair! You can set it up like a lemonade stand, or you can try to snag a spot at a local farmer's market or craft festival.
5. Submit artwork to your local fair/expo. I know the fair in my area lets kids, teens, and people of all ages submit their artwork to be displayed at the exposition. As long as your art meets the guidelines, everyone gets in! Look it up.
6. Submit your artwork to magazines. Some literary magazines like Cicada and Cricket have art contests you can enter, and sometimes they just ask for open submissions. Visit the magazine's website for more information.

For the Writer

1. Work on that novel!
2. Edit that novel!
3. Submit that novel for publication!
4. Take the summer as an opportunity to write, write, write. Submit as many stories as you can to as many contests and magazines as you can. If you don't know where to start, read my post on places for teens to get published.  You can also submit to writing contests put out by Cicada, Cricket, and other magazines, which often have poetry and story contests for their readers.
5. Attend a writing course, class, workshop, or camp.
6. Start a mini newspaper, either in print or online. Or start a newsletter for your street or neighborhood.

Earn Money

1. Arrange a streetwide yard sale! Get everyone on your street to clear out their old junk, and then set a date and advertise, advertise, advertise!
2. Volunteer to walk a neighbor's dog, or look after their pet while they're on vacation.
3. Mow lawns, either yours or your neighbors.
4. Get a babysitting gig.
5. Start a business! If you have a passion, chances are that can be shaped to help you turn a profit. Pair up with a friend if this seems like a daunting task.

There you have it! Some ways to make your summer a good one. Anything I missed? Let me know!

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Music

Hey there. As most of you might know, I'm in a band with my friend Marika. We play the baritone and soprano ukuleles, and she plays piano. We write all our own songs, and some of you have been requesting to listen, so I present to you--two songs from our new YouTube channel!

Hope you enjoyed our music! Share and subscribe!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Music and Mother's Day

Yesterday, my bandmate Marika and I played a couple of our songs at a showcase downtown, for a yearly fair-type thing, for kids in the community. It happens the day before Mother's Day--you know how everyone is always like, "Why isn't there a day for kids?" Well, that's what this is.

Anyway, it was really fun, and I think we did a good job. I wasn't too nervous for once.

Today, of course, is Mother's Day! I had a nice breakfast with my mom, gave her a little card, you know.

I apologize if I haven't been posting as much. My teachers are throwing projects and papers at me left and right, and final exams are next week, so blogging isn't my top priority right now. As soon as summer comes along and I have actual news, I'll update you.

For now, this rabbit in a rain hat will guide you.
Peace out. See you after finals.