Thursday, February 28, 2013

Name It

With Quvenzhane Wallis coming into the spotlight, she brought her complex name into the media spotlight. There's been some discussions about media dubbing her "Little Q" to her directly. This shouldn't be a big thing when Jennifer Lawrence is now J Law, and you have Brangelina. On the other hand, here's one article about the importance of your name and owning it.The author brings forth this quote:

“Give your daughters difficult names,” Warsan Shire wrote. “Give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. My name makes you want to tell me the truth. My name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right … Give your children difficult names, so the world may learn how to unfurl its tongue in the direction of our stolen languages.”

Well, I'm one daughter who received a difficult name. Growing up in the US, when the substitute or new teacher paused while reading the attendance, I knew it was my name. It's fairly easy once you've understood how it's pronounced. Ye, I've heard all sorts of variations - Ashoni, Ashina, Ashanti, Sheena. When people asked if I had a nickname, I always said no. "Ash" reminded me of a plate of dirty cigarette ashes. In the digital age, I've accepted the nickname Ash or Ashi since it's easier to type.

Indians tend to call me Ashwini, since Ashini is so unique. So, my first comment is "no W". It's a fine name, but just not mine. So, they're just as confused with my name and usually call me Ashwini anyway.

Professionally, I haven't had any noticeable issues with my name. When I introduce myself on calls, I usually say "I'm Ashini, etc." I've learned to take a pause because some people thought it was Mashini. Recently I acknowledged a client who said my name perfectly out of the gate. He joked that he noticed one of the other team members calling me all sorts of variations on my name. When that happens, I take it as a flaw on the person's side - not mine. I have no problems saying my name.

With that said, I've had fake names in my back pocket if I don't feel like spelling or explaining my name to the hostess at the restaurant who just needs to put my name down or the barrista who has to write on a cup. I used to use "Ashley" or "Jeeni" (off my maiden name Jani). When I got married, I hijacked my husband's nickname of "Sandy" since I know I've started acknowledging that one when the hostess calls us.

Last week, I noticed something unusual for me. I was travelling for work and was asked by the Starbucks barrista holding a cup and marker, "Can I have your name?" I responded "AJ" and that worked. I loved it! I don't know where it came from. Those are my initials for about 3/4 my life, so it makes sense. However, it was buried and just came out when I was away from home and alone.

So, thanks for allowing me to indulge in my own name for a bit. But I think that's my response to 'give your daughter's difficult names". You may give her the name, but how she chooses to wear it will be up to her.

On that note, I love that Annika has been specific about the pronounciation of her name since she was little. She's Annika - rhymes with Monica and Hannukah. She's been called Ann-ika or A-nika, which are common pronounciations. Then, she surprised us by using "Nikki" as a avatar names.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lyrics Gone Wild

I started blogging when my daughter was 4 and I captured all those delightful moments of being 5 and a princess. Now, she's on the brink of 12. We're entering a new phase of everything!

She's into the boy band One Direction. I don't mind them - cute British boys with fun haircuts and their lyrics are inspiring for young girls.

One Direction: "What Makes You Beautiful":
You're insecure,
Don't know what for,
You're turning heads when you walk through the door,
Don't need make-up,
To cover up,
Being the way that you are is enough..

In a time when there's a need for perfection and eating disorder, it's important to have a cute guy say that directly to you.

On the other hand, I'm greatly disturbed by the songs out there and the lyrics. I've told her for years that it's important to follow songs that have good lyrics. I point out unnecessary words that are repeated just for the sake of filling a song. Now, songs lyrics are just sexually edgy for no reason. I know we have the parental warnings on the rap and hard rock songs. Kids would have to find a way to obtain those to begin with. I'm focusing on songs that are played on Top 40 pop stations.

People say 'Don't let your kids listen to it" if you don't like it. Of course I can change the station in the car. But, I have no control over what the bus driver plays (usually just pop station) or what kids have on their iPods at lunch time. Or, the ice skating rink plays pop radio or a store at the mall. So, I was suprised early (3rd or 4th grade) by her knowledge of pop songs. And, now in 6th grade, I'm desperately trying to catch up and understand what's hip.

I know we had Madonna in my generation - the fuss over "Papa Don't Preach." But I think you could fairly focus on Madonna and George Michael for the hypersexual lyrics.

Here they come. Seemingly innocent pop stars. Songs that have a catchy rhythm, "good beat you can dance to," and it's on commerical radio and TV. The songs below are ubiquitous.

Marroon 5 and Christina Aguilera "Moves Like Jagger"
Take me by the tongue
And I'll know you
Kiss til you're drunk
And I'll show you
I've got the moves like Jagger.

Rihanna "S and M"
‘Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But chains and whips excite me.

Bruno Mars "Paradise"
Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on deny
But swimming in your world is something spiritual
I'm gonna get every time you spank the night

Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make feel like, I've been locked out of heaven

The Bruno Mars song disappointed me because I really like this song and Annika and I sang it together in the car. It has a old school Police feel to it, but really heart felt. I had a problem with the word "paradise" because it's 3 syllables and it should be 2 like "heaven," and we talked about it. And, I'm a dork who thought he was saying "your scent takes me to paradise", until I looked this up.

I would find some Nikki Minaj lyrics, but I really don't have time. She's just bawdy and rude, yet dresses like a cupcake which attracts young girls. I understand the artist's right to self expression, but when you've crossed over into the mainstream, pay attention. She's well aware toddlers are singing "Super Bass."

There's a small light in the tunnel of madness. We love Kidz Bop. We just downloaded the latest Kidz Bop and guess who's on there - Bruno Mars! So in "Paradise", they replace the words with G-rated lyrics like "your love takes me to paradise." Seriously, why couldn't they have done that in the first place? Bruno, you know it's going to be on the radio and your grandma and everyone is going to hear it.


Dignity Lost - Addendum

I forgot to add to my other post. There's a great quote by Gold Meir that's been coming to mind a lot recently.

“Once in cabinet we had to deal with the fact that there had been an outbreak of assaults on women at night. One minister …suggested a curfew; women should stay home after dark. I said, “But it’s the men who are attacking the women. If there’s to be a curfew, let the men stay at home, not the women…”
- Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir

This says it all. Why are all women being punished due to the actions of a few men?

It's like the attitude that is rising now after - Don't tell women how not to get raped. Tell men not to rape. Understand where the root cause is and work on that. All we're doing is a putting a band aids on the wounds, but we need to take away the knives that are hurting.

I also was disturbed this week by an article written by a father of young girls. He's brought more issues to light and more fears, acknowledging the culture has changed for this generation. Technology has made it too easy and anonymous. The pop culture now has more open sexuality and graphic lyrics. (New post coming!)

However, reading this, my thoughts are "Where are the boys' parents in this?" Why are their alarms of conscience not ringing that this isn't right and girls should not be treated this way?  You can work on preventive measures for the girls, but you also need to take preventive measures by working with the boys from the time they're young. They're succumbing to peer pressures and losing their own moral compass.

One of the key judges of a character is what someone does when they think no one is watching. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do it. If you know you're better than that, you should act like it.

By the way, there's a brilliant video floating around from Modern Primate blog that is honest and real talk about the rape culture and young men. (Start at 2:00 to get to his real argument). I found it refreshing to hear a man just speak plainly about this.


Saturday, February 02, 2013

Dignity Lost

There have been so many different news stories and issues that I wanted to address, I've been keeping drafts of blogs until I had time to write. This one seems "old" to me already, though it's less than 2 weeks old.

It's been heartbreaking to read the traumatic story of young woman in Delhi who was brutally assaulted and died from her injuries. This experience is what we don't wish on another human being. I'm so proud of Indian men and women who are speaking against violence against women and the misogynistic attitudes that reign in the streets. It's not going to change over night and will take some time. However,acknowledgment of the issue is the first step.

I was listening to human rights activist talking about violence against women in all parts of the world. A caller pointed out how Indian society added to the humiliation of the crime. The couple that was thrown off the bus was naked on the street and overlooked by passerbys. They were gawked by police and didn't receive medical attention until family stepped in. What kind of people do that?

The activist agreed this was shameful, but she said in her mind, this was the same type of humiliation that the young student in Steubenville, OH felt. There are videotapes and photographs of her rape and the rapists who participated. These photos were downloaded and viewed online by many people. Isn't that public humiliation? Where is the semblance of humanity in that action? What kind of people do that?

Here's another article that draws this parallel.

It's 2013 and as much progress we think we're making, we're not. To know that one person is still suffering misogynistic actions, we should all be ashamed for the lack of progress in the world. I read Hillary Clinton's farewell speech yesterday and gender equality was not forgotten:

And that is the final lever that I want to highlight briefly. Because the jury is in, the evidence is absolutely indisputable: If women and girls everywhere were treated as equal to men in rights, dignity, and opportunity, we would see political and economic progress everywhere. So this is not only a moral issue, which, of course, it is. It is an economic issue and a security issue, and it is the unfinished business of the 21st century. It therefore must be central to U.S. foreign policy.
I hope that John Kerry will not lose the momentum and focus the State Department has gained under Clinton's leadership. It is In the US, the "War on Women" was alive and well with 2012 political games. The Republican party has totally lost their footing on being rational. For example,  birth control became a questionable need for insurance coverage. I'm sure no one questioned the need for Viagara. Women's health is considered an afterthought and health clinics are used as political chess pieces, as I mentioned elsewhere. They shut women down to make 'problems' go away.

There is a great organization, The Girl Effect, that promoted this video. I think this says so much. If we want to progress as a global society, we start by helping the smallest members.