Published? Maybe…

Hello Friends,

I hope everyone is doing well. I’m thrilled to announce that one of my short-stories, “Uncle Carlos’s Liberty Avenue,” has been published on the La Galería Magazine. Click on the link and check out my contribution. Let me know what you think!

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Best,
Steph

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A Shameless Call to Writers…

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well. This is my shameless attempt to build some sort of writers’ support group. Are you a writer? Do you love to write? Please send me a note.

Last year, early in December, I had a conversation with a dear friend, and she kindly pointed out that I’m letting my fears dictate my actions. My fears focused on whether I could combine all my interests together. Could even call any of them my passion?

Those of you familiar with my blog know that I’m interested in film and media studies, women’s issues and that I love reading. I started this blog so I could practice my English while writing about the subjects I love the most. I often worried that my interests were too scattered. I feared that I wasn’t as persistent or as dedicated to these subjects to feel proud about them.

Did you ever have a passion that you desperately wanted to deny? Perhaps because pursuing such passion would be a difficult task or a huge risk? These were the feelings I shared with my friend during a heart to heart section over dinner. I never called myself a writer. In my heart, I felt that my writing was not good enough, my grammar was (still is) outrageous, and that I had nothing good to say anyway.

It didn’t matter that I was always writing short stories. It didn’t matter if a respected institution ever thought one of my stories was good enough for an honorary mention. I wrote and directed a couple of  student films in college. I had my share of criticism (good and bad), but I had made up my mind. I didn’t have it, whatever it meant. I didn’t understand that writing is a skill that can be learned. The it factor is the moment we become skilled.

At times I felt like my ethnicity alienated me. English is not my first language, so I thought my writing wouldn’t appeal to anyone. My obsession with grammar (read adventures of a rookie blogger) kept me in place. I also wrote a lot of fanfiction, but I never even called myself a fan fiction writer, which I am.

So, today I accept the tittle. I’m a writer. I love reading. I would like to engage with other writers, improve as a writer, and have fun while doing it. Yes, I love film/filmmaking and media studies, and I’m passionate about women’s rights and education around the word. These days, I don’t see a reason why I should define myself by only one thing. In fact, nobody can.

Thanks for reading!

Best, Steph

Wadjda – Film Review

An enterprising Saudi girl signs on for her school’s Koran recitation competition as a way to raise the remaining funds she needs in order to buy the green bicycle that has captured her interest.  –IMDb

I first heard about this film through Girls’ Globe, a site dedicated to raising awareness and educating others on global issues about the rights, health, and empowerment of women and girls.

Wadjda is the first feature fully filmed in Saudi Arabia. Haifaa Al-Mansour is the first woman from Saudi Arabia to direct a feature film. This was not an easy task. Women are not supposed to work with men in public. Haifaa directed all exterior scenes from the inside of a van. She watched the actors on monitors and communicated with them via walkie-talkie. Nonetheless, she received government approval to complete the film in the country. Although cinemas are not permitted in the country, audiences can see the film on television.

Wadjda is one of my favorite films this year. The film is thought provoking. It carries a heartfelt message about what it means to grow up as a woman in a country where women have plenty of restrictions. For example, women in the kingdom are not allowed to drive. Wadjda wishes for a bike, but she’s constantly told that girls “should not drive bikes.” The notion of a giving a girl a bike is frown upon by society. “You will not be able to have children,” her mom tells her when Wadjda persists on getting a bike. It’s a beautiful metaphor about a girl’s pursue for agency in her society, to make her own destiny, and find her voice.

It features great actors. Waad Mohammed plays Wadjda, a ten years old girl living with her mother in a middle class suburb. Waad Mohammed and Reem Abdullah (Wadjda’s mother) deliver a wonderful performance. The moments between mother and daughter are sweet and transcend all cultural differences.

This film depicts the life of men and women under the politics and spaces given to them in their society. Wadjda’s mother is devoted to her husband, yet her movements are restricted to what’s expected of her as a married woman. She fears that she will lose her husband due to her invalidity to give him a son. Wadjda’s school plays a big role in enforcing gender restrictions, where a strict principal sets the rules and expectations how girls should behave.

Wadjda is now playing in selected theaters. I urge everyone to go and see this film. You will not be disappointed.

And no, this is not a “girl’s movie.” It’s a film about women’s issues, which happens to have a female lead. Please, do not feed on this idea that films about women (or female leads) are only for female viewers…  Plus, women watch plenty of superhero films. Go watch Wadjda. It’s a wonderful film

Also read: Dana Stevens’ Review

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Objectification & The Media: Blurred Lines of Advertisement

I don’t write these types of post. So, please bear with me for a few minutes. My young sister showed me a video yesterday. In this video, a group of teenagers watch the music video for the song, Blurred Lines.

I know the arguments about the “Blurred Lines” video are exhausted. However, I felt compelled to write after watching these kids react to the video and add to the conversation. Firstly, I would like to praise the creators of  “TheFineBros” for encouraging young people to become aware/conscious of the messages in the media.  I was able to find many interesting videos on their Youtube channel.  Secondly, the Blurred Lines song is catchy, but I’m not a fan of the song or video. Similarly, I do not intent to demean the video neither defend it. In fact, this post has nothing to do with the song or the video. My intention is to highlight the “blurred lines” of female and male objectification in the media. How do we decide which images right for ? How do they make us feel and/or react? 

Yes, I believe we can use the “blurred lines” phrase to describe the role of women in media advertisement.

Here’s where things get complicated.

This      and  this   

Can you tell the difference? While these two images are representing only one type of body image, these images have different connotations. The victoria secret ad sells sexiness, which seems fitting for a store that sells underwear to women. However, the conflict arrives when these images are overly photoshop, creating unrealistic expectations for men and women. This happens often. I also take issue with the lack of diversity in the fashion world.

The second picture is a problem.  Well, I don’t understand what that’s selling.

In some instances,  the images in certain advertisement seem to glorify (for lack of a better word) violence against women.

Dolce & Gabbana ad.

The picture has a BDSM feel in its composition. The female model seems forced into a vulnerable position. All four men desire the same woman, while one man pins the woman down in what appears is against her will. Granted, my problem is not BDSM. My problem is with the “against her will” emotion this image evokes. We see these types of imagines every day on television, on billboards, and shopping malls. We see it so often that we might become uncaring about how people perceive these images, especially children.

American Apparel is known for using provocative pictures for advertisement. The positions of the models are too suggestive for me to focus on the clothes alone. Am I supposed to ignore he’s holding her legs like that? Are these pictures selling sex or clothes?

These types of ads make me feel a little devalued. No, this is not me feeling victimized. I’m making an informed comment, based on observation and research. In media advertisement, the body of a woman often equals her value. If the female body fits the standards of beauty, then the body becomes more  profitable/valuable. Ultimately, that is the message women and men everywhere receive.

Let me be fair. It’s not as popular, but men’s bodies are also objectified in the media. The response is usually the same. These images raise unrealistic expectations about how women’s and men’s bodies should look like and how they should behave according to their sex.

 

I hope I’m making sense here. The objectification of bodies in the media is hardly a secret. Nonetheless, the discussion  is still relevant. If we ignore the discussion, then nothing will change. We might become desensitized to these images and how we see them… The discussion about it will continue. These images set a standard for young boys and girls. It’s the reason posts like this one continue to exist. I would love to hear your thoughts on their matter.

Thanks for reading.

Best,

Steph

Can Online Videos Change the World?

Girls' Globe

Women and girls around the world are increasingly raising their voices online in an effort to enhance women’s rights.  This is a compilation of a few of our favorite recent videos. If you know of other inspirational videos, we would love for you to post them in the comments section below.

On Women in Movies and Television

On Child Marriage

On Gender Inequality in Toys

On Music

On Domestic Abuse

On Street Harassment

On Feminism

On Reproductive Health 

On Women in Sports

On Real Beauty

On Breastfeeding

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Chris Hadfield- Space Oddity Cover = Amazing

Hello everyone!!

I hope all of you are doing well. Life is overwhelming at times. The stories on the news are usually quite gloomy. However, the kind actions of people around keep hope alive. We should take some time to sit down and take a deep breath.

Now, if you are into anything and everything space (like me), you might find this video quite enjoyable. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield posted a video on Youtube, a cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. It has already gone rival with more than 10 million views. Hadfield is an advocate for education and a great role model. He even has an online series to teach adults and children about how astronauts live in space and many subjects related. I recommend checking them out.

I wish I could travel to space and do all the fabulous experiments people like Mr. Hadfield have the opportunity do at work. It must be quite humbling and breath-taking to wake up and see the Earth in its entirety and beauty. Congratulations to those involved in the making of this video, it is a great video. This is the first music video recorded in space.

“Oh My Stars!” Who or what is Clara Oswin Oswald?

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Important: Spoiler Alert

“OH MY STARS!”

Who or what is Clara Oswin Oswald? The Doctor is so intrigued, he spends his spare time (time not saving planets and people) trying to figure out an answer. The same happened with the mystery of River Song, except Clara’s mystery is more frustrating. Why? I think there’s a possibility that Clara is family. Perhaps, she’s a family descendant, related to his lost granddaughter or child.

We have seen the Doctor’s dynamic with his friends and past companions. We have seen him interact with strangers, but we know little to nothing about this family. In The Doctor’s Daughter episode, the doctor suddenly and unexpectedly becomes a father. What happens to his daughter after she wakes up? The Doctor still thinks she’s dead.

Okay, I have no evidence to support this theory. However, I pondered this question enough to entertain various thoughts.

There are many theories out there, many.  As these start to pile, I’ve selected my top five favorite and fun theories circulating in the net.

1. Family. This is mainly wishful thinking. The idea has me hoping that the Doctor’s daughter will come back, at least for a last round. The Doctor blames himself for the lost of the Time lords, Gallifrey, and his family. I’m intrigued about how the Doctor would deal with a family member on board. There have been subtle hints. Let’s not forget about the small bassinet the Doctor keeps in the Tardis (Good Man Goes to War), or how casually he mentions his granddaughter in the latest episode. Could she be the Doctor’s daughter? Grandchild?

Tardis-tardis-6289829-1024-7682. The Essence/Soul of the Tardis. The Great Intelligence continues to make its presence known.  What does he want? The last time we checked in with the Doctor, the intelligence wanted to take over the world and to kill the Doctor himself. One of the theories circulating the net suggest that Clara is the result from the Tardis’ first interaction with the great intelligence (possibly from The Doctor’s Wife episode). I don’t know how this would work, but it idea sounds awesome/brilliant.

3. Creation of the (Doctor’s) mind. Did the Doctor conjured the perfect companion? This is a reference to the episode, The Abominable Snowman. In this episode, Clara and the children give life to the snowmen with the power of their minds. Is Clara a combination of all the previous companions? If so, this might be a sad  realization for the doctor.

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