Should You Vote Hillary?

Americans want money out of politics. While I could provide links to studies that have shown this; I think that- by now- this point is fairly obvious. The problem is that most candidates have promised that they plan to be tough on big business in favor of the middle class. For the purposes of this post I’ll be focusing on why I don’t support Hillary Clinton.

I don’t have the same (at times justified) vitriolic dislike for Clinton that some of my peers do . However, I find myself both skeptical and wary of Hillary Clinton given her record. She’s been relatively inconsistent, fickle even, in terms of her beliefs. Her former anti-marriage equality stance is the most infamous example. As well, her notorious relationship with big businesses and huge investment banking firms  like Goldman Sachs (which payed Clinton multiple speaking fees). Her criticisms of Sander’s single-payer healthcare plan as merely a plan to abolish the Affordable Care Act, were disingenuous.

As well, Clinton’s arguments against Sanders are rooted in the idea that the system is too broken to be fixed with Sanders’ ‘radical’ ideals. Voters should realize the differences between Sanders and Clinton as candidates. Sanders is a candidate who has had an impressively consistent record. He’s fought for civil rights, relentlessly pushed for healthcare reform, was against the war in Iraq, etc. Sanders’ platform stems from a genuine desire to change a system that Sanders believes to be corrupt (as do many people).

Clinton on the other hand is a more traditional politician in that her views change overtime. While some of this may be through reconsideration and evolution, it often times seems that her opinions waiver with change in popular/cultural values. Many criticize Clinton for this, and while it leaves me skeptical of her actual motives, I don’t think this style of politician is inherently bad. Clinton evolves to meet the needs of her constituency (for better or for worse).

However, as I said, I’m still rather reserved about her stances and views. Clinton is quite clearly the establishment candidate. She is a status-quo president who is far more centrist (and more conservative) than even President Obama.  Her views on healthcare and economics are, in my opinion, antiquated. I don’t want a President who has to constantly play ‘catch-up’ when it comes to social justice, economics, healthcare, etc.

I’ll be casting my vote for Sanders, the democratic socialist whose policy plans might actually serve as a conduit for change in a country so desperately in need of a face-lift. I intend to make a post detailing why I support Sanders, but for now I encourage others to read into his policies. American citizens have agreed across the bored that our system is corrupt. A vote for Clinton is a vote for stagnation. Remember to register before it’s your states turn! Happy voting!

Are Video Games Sexist?

bayonetta-2-2014-game-fb-cover

Controversial video game critic, Anita Sarkeesian, analyzes tropes in video games through a feminist lens (YouTube Channel: Feminist Frequency). Often times, Sarkeesian argues that these tropes serve to objectify women. Is this the case, and if so, doesn’t that make them sexist?

To answer the first question, I think it would be disingenuous to argue that women and men aren’t sexualized in video games. Many male characters are rendered with huge muscles and a chiseled abdomen. On the other hand, there is no doubt an emphasis on breasts and the rear-end for women. It’s fairly obvious that the trope of “incredibly fit and attractive” characters stem from human sexuality and it’s prevalence in culture throughout the world. I would, however, disagree with feminist critics like Sarkeesian that argue that this sexualization only happens with women. I would also disagree with the assertion that sexualization, or sexually liberated characters are inherently bad.

One character that Sarkeesian has been critical of is Bayonetta. The character (her box art shown above) is no doubt a rather sexual character. While Bayonetta is, in parts, a marketing ploy- she is also an incredibly powerful character who is unafraid of sexuality and expression. Her very existence seeks to refute the silly notion that women should be submissive and conservative inherently. Her in-game character foil, Jeanne, serves as another strong character who is often times far more conservative in her manner of dress and sexual expression. I can understand being tired of a trope that has been used so much, and we should challenge writers to work harder. At the same time, I can’t find myself agreeing with the idea that a character like Bayonetta objectifies women when so many times male characters are sexualized just as much (ie. Dragon Age’s male character- Iron Bull). There is nothing wrong with a character exploring or being confident in their sexuality, just as there is nothing wrong with a character with a subdued or even absent sexuality.

This post doesn’t assert that video games, or media (on a larger scale), can never have sexist tendencies. I don’t think there is anything wrong with challenging creators that put forth tired tropes and stereotypes without any nuance or substance (Lara Nara, from Xenoblade Chronicles X, comes to mind). It’s important to recognize the difference between a character with an established identity and a poorly written trope, but it’s equally important to recognize that some characters- just like people- may fulfill certain stereotypes  while still remaining their own unique entity. That’s okay too, and the only way to know for sure is to actually play these games for yourself.

So are video games sexist? Sometimes, they can be. Though, I’d save the picket signs and pitchforks until after you’ve had some experience within the community and with the game in question. Happy gaming.

 

Pro-Black: Beauty Standards

Before you hit backspace, eyes rolled upward, try and muster through this post. It’s an important one. From time to time this blog will cover issues of race as it is a large component of identity, and a contentious talking point in contemporary politics. Today, I’d like to discuss black pride or being pro-black and what that means in terms of contemporary standards of beauty.

Growing up as an interracial (half white, half black) child in America can culminate in a myriad of differing identities. However, one thing that has remained a constant for many interracial youths (even more so black youth) is an ingrained sense of inferiority regarding blackness. I would contest that children of all colors have rooted insecurities growing up- from eye color, to hair length, or body type. For black children the insecurities come from a different place however. The pervasive notion that kinky hair textures, larger noses, and darker skin are somehow inferior has been a toxic remnant of black oppression, particularly in the last few decades. One of the most popular reflections of this epidemic comes in the form of multiple studies. This “Doll Test” (See here: Doll Test) asked black children to prescribe behavioral and appearance based characteristics to a white doll and black doll. Most of the children attributed positive traits to the white doll, while the negative traits were assigned to the black doll.

Of course, this is only one example of how black children see race, and what that means in terms of self-esteem. Growing up, many of the darker members of my family and friend group were the butt of jokes aimed at their “crispy” or “nasty” skin color. Even among each other; it was a constant competition to be the lightest black person. Wait, you might say, my friends have made fun of me for my pale skin and how easily I get a sunburn. That is a valid point, but while you may have those personal insecurities, anti-black insecurity is one that is systematically and consistently tied to our identity. Hip-Hop music and videos, film, modelling – even those created by black artists- have quite often excluded darker women on the basis of their skin color being considered ‘unattractive’.

So, what does this mean in terms of being pro-black? It means that we want to uplift black youth to view their black features as natural and beautiful rather than something to be ashamed of. In a country where the majority of people are white, products have a tendency to cater to that audience. There is nothing wrong with embracing white beauty, but the same need be said for black beauty (as well as other ethnic groups and races). Black people should feel confident in their skin, and should know that they don’t have to have the complexion of Beyoncé or Chris Brown to be accepted.

With that said, pro-blackness cannot be anchored to other identities. We can all agree that people are beautiful and amazing across races, cultures and identities. However, we must recognize that black people needn’t be an “in addition to”. We can acknowledge black beauty and black culture without a caveat- whilst still appreciating the beauty of other cultures and people globally.

There will definitely be more article posts regarding pro-blackness, and what that means in varying facets of society. Stay tuned.

“Tl;dr”: The Abominable Straw Man

Straw man argument: an argument made against a prescribed and fallacious opinion rather than an actual opinion in an attempt to make one’s own argument seem more sensible.

This may be intentional or caused by a genuine lack of knowledge and understanding regarding another’s opinion. 

Before reading anything else on this page (read: anything anywhere) it’s crucial to understand the importance of engaging with opinions that you disagree with. So often do I find that the masses would much rather condense your argument to a social-media-friendly mis-quote than actually analyze the content of it. This isn’t just a tendency for one demographic, but rather a product of human nature. It’s difficult to empathize and understand every position. I would even argue that we shouldn’t try to understand every argument. Plenty of beliefs are toxic enough that validating them with a response would only serve to anger you. Anger typically doesn’t produce meaningful and critical discussions. There is, of course, a difference between sifting through bigotry and sifting through an opinion that you may believe to be bias.

With that said, I still implore you to seek out those opinions that go against your own. It’s important to listen to sensible opposition to our core beliefs. Doing so may do one of two things: it may allow skepticism even within your own ideologies or it may help to strengthen your currently held positions. When you find yourself unable to even moderately illustrate the opinions and beliefs of your opponents, you have a problem. This is how straw man arguments arise.

When you read or hear other perspectives, and other points-of-view you may gain an insight on particular issues that you may not have had access to before. You may also find yourself countering their arguments, which proves especially handy around the holidays when you’re “debating” with stubborn family members.

In her Ted Talk presentation, The Danger of a Single Story , Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks on the issue of allowing yourself to see only one perspective (Video Link). Now, Adichie is speaking in a cultural and global sense, but her point still holds true in socio-political debates. It is a danger to both yourself and others when you fail to challenge your beliefs, and are unable to think critically about what others tell you.

It is equally dangerous to try and speak on an opinion (especially an opposing one) with little understanding of the opinion, its context, and the research behind it.

Tl;dr : Beware the abominable straw man, and remember that when it comes to legitimate intellectual opinions, always go for the longer version.

 

 

A Mission Statement

Hello there, for anyone who hasn’t read my About Me, my name is Famous Tillman. I’m a SUNY Plattsburgh student majoring in Political Science. Aside from that I minor in Gender Studies, Spanish, Legal Studies, and Criminal Justice. To get things started on this blog, I wanted to create a mission statement of sorts.

As a politically active millennial, one of my main goals is to provide my peers with insight into my perspective on politics. While I identify as a liberal, I do try and obtain news sources from a variety of outlets and programs on different parts of the political spectrum. When it comes to discussing social issues, I can promise that I will give my honest opinions on the topics I choose to discuss. With that being said, I openly welcome criticism (which is something I wish people did more). No person can ever be right all of the time, and a part of being responsible means recognizing that.

It would be disingenuous for me to pretend that my only interests lie with politics. Like most others in our society, I am a consumer of media. I enjoy contemporary luxuries like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.   As well, I am honestly a huge nerd. I enjoy reading manga and comic books as well as watching anime and (sci-fi and fantasy) movies. Even greater than my love for those mediums however, is my passion for video gaming. I realize it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can guarantee that I will be discussing the video game culture that I’ve grown up in.

So hopefully you’ll stick around and see what I have to offer. I am always looking to learn more information and more perspectives on various topics- so long as everyone is at least decently respectful (though I do realize this is the internet)- everything should be good to go. Anyway, I’m off for now- but definitely look forward to more from me in these upcoming weeks!