I have recently been spending my spare time sitting on my couch, waiting in anticipation for the new “Resident Evil” survival-horror video game to release. I played the demo of the game last week, and it was great! I was tense for many hours after, but it was worth it. I love a good scare, and in video games there is the sweet feeling of starting over again even after failure, so there is usually a feeling of relief. After playing it though, I started thinking about video game characters throughout time, and how they kind of always typically find a way to make everything look good. Continue Reading »

When my mother first began feeling weak, I remember no one at first took her condition seriously. For the most part, we all took it as a normal aging process since she had just turned sixty-nine and was on medication for a high blood pressure diagnosis. She herself didn’t give it too much thought, I remember her dismissing some of her symptoms as “side effects of my medication.” While away from home, I would often speak to her on the phone, and would ask if her health was improving, but she would always reply yes, only adding that she was feeling “a little weak on my left side.” one day while at work this past summer, I received  a call from her telling me that she had a stroke, but that she was doing fine. When I finally got the chance to visit her, it was immediately obvious that her health was in serious decline despite all that she had told me. What made things even worse for us was the fact that her application for health insurance kept on getting rejected, without any coherent reason. I remember one time driving her to the social workers office with hopes of finally getting a clearer picture of what was wrong with her application, and why it was taking so long for it to be approved, only to return empty handed without any answers, but with instructions to keep in touch with them.

All this time her health remained in steady decline as we could not keep up with follow up appointments and other mounting bills. After waiting in vain for her application to be approved, and because she could no longer perform simple activities of daily living like cooking or cleaning, we decided as a family to move her in with my eldest sister. Because it was a different state, we decided to reapply with hopes of finally getting approved. Because she already had an application being processed, it was demanded that her file be sent over for a reevaluation. A quick review of her old application revealed one small discrepancy; apparently while completing the application she had mistakenly wrote down my father’s social security number instead of hers, and surprisingly, while she was being denied health insurance, no one had the patience of accurately checking her application before forwarding it for approval.

Evidently in not being prompt in their response and professional in their approach to her case, they had neglected their duties and failed to see the disabling effects of their actions on an individual whose advanced age and align health had severely impaired her ability to adequately complete the application process. Though subtle and usually done unconsciously, such oppressive and discriminative tendencies against the disabled especially those with limited mental capacity remains rampant partly because it has not been adequately defined and identified. In the “social model of disability”, Tom Shakespeare accurately identifies “the neglect of impairment as an important aspect of disabled people’s lives.” He furthers this notion by adding that “while other socio political account of disability have developed important insight that people with impairments are disabled by the society as well as by their bodies, the social model suggest that people are disabled by the society, not their bodies.” Though there is unanimous consensus among sociologist that there can never be a world devoid of such oppressive tendencies towards the disabled, until there is some alternate model which properly address this issue people like my mother are bound to remain oppressed by the society. Her ordeal accurately Exemplifies the psychological and physical torture millions of impaired individuals endure before they are fully acknowledged.

After identifying the discrepancy, my mother’s application was finally approved and she could finally get health coverage through Medicare. However, by his time, her health had gotten even worse, and her symptoms were more evident. After visiting with her new physician, her MRI revealed she had Encephalopathy, with early stage Parkinson’s disease. It does appear as though her lack of proper health insurance had landed her an inaccurate or incomplete health care, leading to a wrong diagnosis. When I visited her again in December, she had been prescribed new medications and her tremors were improving. Though she was still quite frail, she was gradually gaining some strength. As always, she blamed everything on the side effects of her medications, but at least I now know what she is going through, and can personally adjust so as not to be disabling in my approach towards helping her meet her daily needs.

road trip map

This long weekend I went on a three day road trip with my dad. My parents own a furniture store in Columbia. Someone ordered a sectional (large couch) and wanted it delivered to Texas. My parents had to choose between hiring someone to deliver and assemble it or do it themselves. Originally, my dad was going to take one of his employees but then I offered (my mom suggested it and I said yes) to go. Continue Reading »

r-kelly-cellphone-video-sweat   Understanding the complexity of African American politics in today’s conversation of sexual violence is vital as the politics of this community shapes how the group responds to African American public figures (mostly males) committing these acts of violence. Recently the docuseries on the singer/songwriter Robert Kelly known as R.Kelly has revealed information about his past and present that shows he has sexually abused past partners and acted violently towards multiple women. This information is not necessarily new as articles from the 1990’s to the early 2000’s noted that R.Kelly had been  depicted Kelly as a sexual predator. In 2008 he had a criminal trial has he was being charged for child pornography but once again slipped through the public’s dismay and remained a loved public figure. This acceptance of people such as Kelly leaves me with deep worry as the women who he assaulted still live in fear and live without justice. Acts of sexual violence such as rape are looked over when the victims are African American women, we see this as the most high profile cases of rape have involved White women though “…approximately 60% of Black girls experience sexual abuse by age 18. According to a 2014 study, about 22% of Black women reported being raped and 41% experienced other forms of sexual violence.” ( EndRapeOnCampus.org). Continue Reading »

My friends joke all the time about wanting huge boobs like me and how I should ‘share’ some of mine with them. Little do they know I suffer serious back pain and life is just more expensive with huge breast. By expensive I mean physical therapy and finding clothes that will actually fit. Trust me, you’d be baffled at how many places wont carry bra sizes and bikini tops that fit comfortably and supportively for DDD breasts, or best yet don’t even sell sizes exceeding past DD’s. Being an athlete my whole life, I always struggled working around my boobs and it became more of an inconvenience the older I got. As a 22-year-old, having large boobs might be ‘great’ to some, but not for this gal. So where does this leave me? Thankfully, breast reductions have become increasingly popular for those who suffer like me. Research has found that breast reduction relived symptoms of back, shoulder, and neck pain, posture problems, and bra strap compression. Best part about the whole thing is that insurance covers most of it. Sounds like a miracle! 

So why haven’t I planned the appointment yet?

I have lived with having big boobs my whole life so how do I live without them? Physically, I know that it is the right thing to do for my body, but there’s so many what ifs. What if my breast come out disproportional from each other? What if I choose the wrong surgeon and they botch my reduction? Can I deal with the scars I get from surgery? Yes, I know this may sound vain. But after reading various blogs, I found I’m not the only one with these anxieties or thoughts. Boobs have been apart of my physical identity and changing them could mean changing how I view myself, or vise versa how the world will view me. The Body Reader has a great quote that may explain why I am feeling this, “the proliferation of stylized (ideal- ized) images of the body via the media (advertisements, fashion magazines, popu- lar film, television) constantly and relentlessly inundate individuals like never before. This process reinforces the ideology that if the body is maintained cosmetically, it will reap a number of rewards such as thinness, beauty, increased sexual potency, and overall healthiness.” It truly is hard in todays society not to compare yourself to others. Breasts have become so overly sexualized and me getting rid of some of mine, may make me feel less womanly and unsatisfied with my body. 

I just wanted to talk to you guys about masculinity and why American society puts such a heavy image on men’s masculinity. I am really in to makeup and I came across a guy makeup artist, James Charles. He is the complete opposite of what the normal masculinity is supposed to be. He is very sassy, not muscular, high pitched voice and loves makeup. He honestly is better than a lot of girls I know with applying their makeup. Men typically have traits of toughness, independence and competiveness. 

As we watched “Murderball” and reading “ Coming to Terms Masculinity and Physical Disability” by Thomas Gerschick, it made me compare men I know to what I have learned from the two. I learned a lot about Paralytic disability and how it counter reacts to masculinity. Paralytic disability men aren’t typically fast, strong, active or independent. Although, in “Murderball” , these men were very active and touch while playing rugby.

My mom’s friend’s husband is paralyzed from the waist down because he wrecked his motorcycle when he was younger. He reminded me a lot of the guys in the movie because he acts the exact same way. He is extra loud and tries to be extremely aggressive towards others because he is upset about his disability. I can understand why he is upset but like they stated in the movie, you can either move on from it or don’t.

Comparing the make-up artist to my mom’s friend there is a huge difference, which means that all men don’t have to fit this perfect role of masculinity. The men in the movie and my mom’s friend both fit the role of hegemonic masculinity. They want to really prove themselves because that’s the one way they think they can. If a guy who is paralyzed wanted to makeup, I personally think that would be inspiring and awesome to see. I hope one day we as a society can put less norms on things like masculinity.

The movie “White Chicks” is very relatable, as well because it’s two men, who are super masculine and have to fill a part of two women. It’s very funny how masculine men tend to act in a less masculine way. As females I feel like we also have a role to fill but it’s not as strong as a man. I’m not sure why society is the way it is.  

“Men with physical disabilities are marginalized and stigmatized in American society.” This is the first line written by Thomas Gerschick and Stephen Miller in their chapter titled “Coming to Terms”. And for Joe Swanson, a character in the popular cartoon show “Family Guy”, this hits close to home. For those unfamiliar, “Family Guy” focuses on a crazy family pictured here. 

The husband named Peter Griffin, wife named Lois, and three kids named Chris, Meg, and Stewie live in a Rhode Island home on Spooner Street. They get into all sorts of crazy shenanigans but them aside, ever since I started watching, my favorite character has always been Joe. This deep voiced and friendly neighborhood cop, that also happens to be paraplegic, consistently struggles with his physically impaired identity. This, in part, is because of the inconsiderate and sometimes plain mean people around him. In fact, many jokes on this show directly make fun of his disability. Here, for example. Poor Joe…

Coincidentally, this character reflects some of the things that Gerschick and Miller had to say about the relationships between men, disability, and masculinity. According to these anthropologists for disabled men, because of societal stereotypes, “being recognized as masculine is especially difficult, if not impossible.” And in Joe’s case, this proves to be especially true. Countless times, he is shown to be in need of care from his wife, Bonnie. Others in the show, including his friends Peter, Quagmire, and Cleveland, repeatedly make fun of him for this and portray him as useless. Multiple times, he has relationship troubles with Bonnie with the inability to sexually pleasure her being the issue of contention. As Gershick and Miller have established, Joe’s “hegemonic masculinity” is being endlessly challenged. Many times he reacts violently and harshly when his masculinity is questioned, shouting loudly, and shooting his gun. In these times, in the logic of these authors, he could be described as someone in the state of “reliance”, where he “internalizes” hypermasculine ideals and acts with those in mind.

However, what is lovable about this character is that ultimately, he always disproves the stereotypes of disabled men being “weak, pitiful, passive, and dependent”. And often times, he does so not with internalized social expectations of masculinity but with grace. A prime example is the episode of when Joe and Bonnie were fighting about Joe’s disability, thus a perceived of the lack of masculinity, hindering their love and they were close to divorce. Joe recalls when he he first met Bonnie when she was a stripper in a police bust of a strip club, a time when he was still able to walk. She gave him a lap dance. To make things right, Peter took the initiative to plan to have both Bonnie and Joe go to the same strip club that day to recreate such a romantic scene. But when he gets there, instead of having her give him another lap dance, he gave her a lap dance instead using his hands to maneuver his legs. I would say that Joe is in a state of “rejection” at this point. He refuses the social expectations of masculinity and able-bodiedness and instead, developed his own masculine and disabled identity by doing a lap dance which is normally seen as feminine but is masculine to him in that he is assertively trying to fix his marriage. And it works. They go home together afterwards.

Instances like these happen time after time again to Joe. And this leads me to believe that his depiction is relatable to the “Coming to Terms” article. He constantly goes through both physical and emotional hardships and reacts in ways that are consistent with the patterns of literally coming to terms with his disability and living on. And that is what he does each and every time. Say what you want but Joe Swanson is inspiring to me. I’m not going to say that he ever gets to live happily ever after. But he is challenged with societal challenges that attempt to invalidate and debilitate his very being, his very identity. Disabled. Male. Husband. Person. But through utter defiance and a strong will, he is able to live on, defy these restrictive and problematic notions, and ultimately overcome.