The Problem of Misapplied "Mercy"

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You know, for a society that claims to be so tolerant and open, we sure have a funny way of showing it!

It seems like I’m seeing reasons why we need mercy, compassion, and forgiveness everywhere. Over the long weekend, the internet exploded over the death of a gorilla. Suddenly, everyone becomes an expert in parenting and handling gorillas.

I don’t deny the fact that there could have been ways to prevent all this from happen, but as things stand right now, I feel a lot better that the child is okay. I feel sad that the gorilla died, but all the chatter I’ve been seeing on Twitter is reminding me of something George Orwell said in: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

*sarcasm mode* Oh brave new world that has such people in it. *end sarcasm mode*

It’s hard for me to understand what people are saying sometimes. It’s hard for me to understand people in general. And yet, for the most part I want to give the benefit of the doubt. There are very few exceptions to the rule (*coughDRUMPFcough*), but I can’t help but feel like Alice stuck in a nonsensical wonderland.

Have we forgotten that all people are created equal? Equality doesn’t mean sameness. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of the happiness don’t give us free license to do whatever we want at the expense of everyone else. We all have the capacity to lose a child in the mall or at the zoo. We have to allow parents to make mistakes and not judge them for slipping up because, guess what, we all make mistakes. Why do we always say that “Only God can judge” when it comes to the LGBT+ movement and everything that comes with it but not allow that same tolerance to parents when they take time to go out on dates or when they make a mistake?

This lack of mercy also applies to those who are conservative as well. I wish that people could be more open-minded about the situation with all the Middle East refugees. I want both Christian and Muslim refugee families to be in a safe place. My heart broke more over the death of the 400 refugees who drowned in April rather than the death of one gorilla because humans, as far as I’m concerned, are created a little lower than the angels and higher than the animals.

I’m not saying that I’m above all this. When I saw the internet exploding over the various newspieces in the zietgeist, I wanted to weep for humanity. I assumed that the situation was preventable.

That’s the thing about assuming, though. As the saying goes: Assuming makes an ass out of you and me!

Why do we misapply mercy and not understand what it really means to be merciful, forgiving, and compassionate towards others?

It’s because we don’t really know what we can control.

Simcha Fischer said this brilliantly in another response to the current zeitgeist:

You never will be completely in control, and if you don’t make yourself accept this fact, then you are perfectly primed to snatch control anyway by unmaking another human being. And when you do it, you will not be stronger. You will not be in charge. You will just become fodder for that insatiable mouth who first told you that damnable lie — the lie that you can be in control.

This is why I’m not an existentialist. Existentialism is selling that lie that we are in control of what our lives mean because the universe is indifferent to us. The fact of the matter is, there is something higher than us, offering us a second chance at a constant basis. This mercy is given to everyone. Even Donald Drumpf. It’s not something we are entitled to. It’s a gift given from unconditional love and it’s not something that any of us deserve.

When we are given a second chance, we are called to pay it forward by being merciful, compassionate, and forgiving towards someone else. It doesn’t mean forgetting what happened in the past. It doesn’t mean allowing dangerous things or people back into your life. It can be something as simple as giving a mother the benefit of the doubt and hoping that the child and his family will get out of all the media speculation soon. It can be something as big as allowing a refugee into your home, even if it just means advocating for their asylum in our country.

People always talk about tolerance as a form of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. They keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what they think it means. I wish people could understand what compassion, forgiveness, and mercy really mean and what these things demand from us.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Jesus, Divine Mercy, I trust in You.

What Defines Gender?

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I have a legitimate question for anyone and everyone who is arguing about bathroom policies and similar issues relating to the transgender movement:

How do you define gender?

All the other questions in relation to this topic are founded on this. How exactly is gender defined? Is it by how we feel we are or how we should be? How we perceive ourselves to be? What do we compare ourselves to when it comes to who we think we are and what we’re not?

Can gender be defined by science? What does science have to say about gender? Do you figure out the gender you perceive yourself as by the gender roles society dictates? Is it psychological? Is is sociological?

The point of this blog post is this: I want to know how you define whatever gender you perceive yourself to be. If we’re gonna argue about what bathrooms we think we should use, we have to have a better foundation for our arguments than whatever we feel like we are. Feelings are very fickle. Whatever arguments you have about gender need to be grounded in reason and logic.

While I have my own way of defining what gender is, I don’t want to say that right now. All I can say is there are some ways in which I do not define myself. I do not define myself by what my current society dictates a woman should be like because society has a lot of contradictory gender roles when it comes to women. I also don’t define myself just on my biological sex alone because it’s only part of who I am. I also don’t let other people who don’t really know me try to define who or what I am either because only those who are closest to me can help me with whatever I need.

So feel free to comment and answer me this: What is “gender” according to your standards?

Why Seeing Red Is The Worst Episode of Buffy: Defending Spike Part 1

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This is the first of a series of essays anonymously defending the character of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer written by my friend Scholastica and edited by me. To this day, the fandom is divided about whether Spike was better as a villain or as an anti-hero, whether Buffy and Spike really loved each other or not, and especially about what is called “the bathroom incident” or “the attempted rape scene” in the Season 6 episode Seeing Red. There are mentions of abusive relationships, sexual violence, and other uncomfortable “trigger warning phrases” throughout this series of essays. However, Scholastica and I feel that these things need to be said because we both love Buffy, the titular character, and the character of Spike. So please read these essays with an open mind. Civil discussions are welcome, but keep in mind I moderate comments here.  You have been warned.

 


One of the most controversial plot lines of Season Six of
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the torrid and abusive affair that springs up between the newly-resurrected titular hero of the series and the soulless but chipped vampire Spike.  The half-season story arc involves violent and secretive sex between the two characters, angry verbal spats, and one brutal scene in an empty alley.  All of this ugliness culminates in the horrific bathroom scene of Seeing Red, in which Spike attempts to assault Buffy.  In the aftermath of this painful scene, Spike journeys to Africa, and audiences are led to believe he is trying to remove his chip so that he can return to being the Big Bad.  Instead, the vampire undergoes strenuous trials and ends the season by regaining his soul.

Internet commentary reveals that Seeing Red is one of the most divisive episodes of the show.  Former fans of the character often find themselves unable to forgive Spike’s actions.  For the vampire’s detractors, the attempted rape is proof that his love for Buffy was never real.  “Spuffy” shippers who continue to love Spike after Seeing Red are sometimes accused of justifying or dismissing rape.  Now, I have no intention of excusing Spike’s actions in Seeing Red.  He attempts to rape Buffy and needs to undergo penance.  I believe he does. However, the episode does not change how I feel about him or his relationship with Buffy.  This essay, the first in a series that defends Spike as a character, explains why.

Before beginning, however, I would like to put forward a disclaimer:  I view Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a practicing Catholic.  I do not mention this fact because I am trying to convert anyone or dreg up controversial Church teachings, so I would politely ask that no one troll this essay or the next ones about subjects they do not address.  I realize that Joss Whedon is an atheist and that, like most shows on television in the twenty-first century, the bulk of the romantic relationships depicted on Buffy are illicit by Catholic standards.  I happen to believe that Christians should still engage with art that disagrees with their worldview, and the wonderful thing about the Slayerverse is that it brings up all sorts of fascinating moral and philosophical issues that viewers from diverse backgrounds will likely interpret differently.  I bring up my own religious background mainly because it would be impossible for me to address such topics as the nature of love and morality, free will, ensoulment, and redemption without drawing openly upon the Thomistic philosophical tradition that undergirds so much of my Catholic faith.

Ironically, these issues are much easier to explore in rockier relationships than in easy-going ones, making Spike and Buffy’s romantic entanglement a perfect avenue.  The “Spuffy” relationship exemplifies in many ways the increasingly complex moral universe of the show itself. Throughout seasons Two through Four of Buffy, all soulless vampires were claimed to be incapable of moral good.  By Season Five, this assumption no longer seems set in stone.  Moreover, as the series progresses, it portrays more and more human villains.  By the end of Season Six, even the heroes are shown making serious moral mistakes.

Set against the backdrop of this increasing moral complexity, the attempted rape in Seeing Red seems like an awkward late-series attempt to restore the paradigms set up in the early seasons of Buffy.  For the past two seasons, the writers themselves have appeared unsure how to treat the “monster” who wants to be a man for his beloved.  The bathroom scene is apparently their answer to the question of whether or not Spike can be good without the oft-mentioned soul.  Unfortunately, it does not really accomplish this task because the scene itself feels forced and unnatural.  Like many viewers, I consider the attempted rape to be borderline character assassination of Spike.  Not only do I object to the way it is presented on the show, I also believe that it does not fit with what has been slowly established about Spike’s background and personality through the past seasons.  Thus, for the rest of this essay, I will explore my manifold objections to the scene.

 

Objection #1: The Scene is Unnecessary to Advance the Narrative

This objection is actually the least bothersome for me because I do understand the sort of hero’s journey the writers were trying to tell:  A beloved character hits rock bottom and commits the most heinous sin the show’s feminist universe can imagine.  It should be unforgivable, but the possibility of forgiveness is raised nonetheless.  Confronted with his own interior ugliness, the character goes on a quest to redeem himself.  Most of the psychological force of this narrative is blunted because the writers were also trying to trick viewers into thinking Spike was on his way to Africa to remove the chip.  Nevertheless, it would make for a good story if it were not for the other objections on my list.  The point of this objection is not that the story they were trying to tell is lacking in cathartic satisfaction.  Rather, it is that it was not the only way to spur Spike towards redemption.  The beauty of fiction is that writers have an infinite number of ways to get characters from point A to point B, and while not all stories are equally compelling, there were plenty of other options for Spike that could have served just as well.

For instance, there were a number of Spike lovers who would have preferred a soulless redemption for the vampire.  I actually have a lot of sympathy for this position.  This may surprise some readers, given that Catholics are generally pretty big on souls, but I think it makes a lot of narrative sense.  Because I plan on delving into the issue of vampire souls in more depth in my next two essays, I would prefer not to spend too much time discussing it here.  Suffice to say that I believe the soul canon in Slayerverse is sufficiently murky that a soulless redemption could have been believable.  Moreover, a good portion of Spike’s appeal is due to his ability to defy the apparent norms of vampire metaphysics, and a soulless redemption would have seemed like a natural extension of this aspect of his character.  I am not saying this is my preferred solution, but it would have been a plausible option.

The general impression I have gotten from fans who prefer soulless redemption is that a lot of their objections to Spike’s ensoulment have to do with the heavy effect it has on his character.  Whatever else the acquisition of a vampire’s soul may bring, it does seem pretty intertwined with feelings of intense guilt. While I do consider contrition a necessary component of redemption, I can also understand why advocates of soulless redemption dislike the guilt-fest.  In Season Seven, the newly-souled Spike is put through a tremendous among of physical and mental suffering, retreating in the first half of the season to a dank basement where his insanity is given full play.  He comes dangerously close to being transformed from a fun-loving punk rocker to a brooder like Angel, Buffy’s first vampire lover.  I’ll admit that I loved seeing Spike get his taste for a good fight (and his awesome coat) back in Get it Done.  With or without his soul, I prefer to see the sort of penitence that fits his personality, not Angel’s.

For me, the real advantage of a soulless redemption arc, however, is less about avoiding all the Angel-style broodiness and more about how the other characters react to the change.  For so much of Season Six, Buffy and the Scoobies justify their mistreatment of Spike by citing his presumed soullessness.  One of the unfortunate side effects of him getting his soul back is that it allows Buffy to change her opinion of him without having to confront the past cruelty she inflicted upon him.  While she does admit in one scene of Never Leave Me that his changes began before his ensoulment, she does not really dwell on his pre-soul moral growth.  Instead, whenever she addresses his detractors in Season Seven, her defense of him always begins with “It’s different now.  He has a soul.”  The soul comes across less as a requirement for morality than something all the cool kids have to have in order to please their peers.

Despite these considerations, I do have a slight preference for souled redemption because the quest to regain his soul works very nicely with the chivalric tropes I believe underline Spike’s character.  However, I still dislike using attempted rape as the catalyst for this soul quest, when there were a number of other ways to push Spike to embark upon it.  For instance, our boy could have continued to backslide into lesser crimes, much like the ones he committed in Season Five.  Such a narrative would make his decision to seek a soul the result of the realization that his good intentions were not enough without a moral compass.  Instead of reversing all the moral progress that has been made, his soul quest would be the natural culmination of the previous season’s character arc.  Alternatively, he could have sought the soul after the brutal beating Buffy gives him in Dead Things, either as an effort to understand her pain or to prove her harsh assessment of him wrong.  He could also have sought it after her rejection of him in As You Were, in order to be considered worthy of a continued relationship with the Chosen One.  He could even have sought it after the painful post-Anya scene in Entropy, when he seems so depressed that he almost welcomes death at Xander’s hands.  Any of these options would have seemed more in character with Spike in Season Six.  Regardless of what alternative one prefers, the point is that there were many ways of getting him to that cave in Africa without the bathroom scene.

Objection #2: It is only partially true that Buffy is responsible for stopping Spike

This is another relatively minor point, but one I cannot help making.  Technically, yes, the whole horrible scene ends because Buffy gives Spike a good kick that brings him up short.  Personally, I would have liked to see Spike stop himself (barring, of course, completely eliminating the scene altogether).  However, I suspect that the writers ended it the way they did in order to show a woman successfully fighting off a potential rapist, and I think that is a worthy enough message to send to female viewers that ultimately I accept the need for Buffy’s kick on those grounds.  A woman should never assume that words alone will end an assault and victims should fight back.  However, I will point out that Buffy’s kick might only have halted the attack temporarily.  She does not kill him or incapacitate him in any way.  Nor does she immediately try to escape.  If he had truly wanted to rape Buffy, the kick might only have given him a moment’s hesitation before he tried again.  In fact, I suspect that many real-life rapists might actually become more enraged by the kick.  Spike is clearly horrified.  So while her actions do (rightfully) halt the attack, I think it should be taken into consideration that the vampire is not evil enough to try again.  This does NOT remove his responsibility for the original attempt and I am not trying to argue that he should be given credit for not continuing his attack.  What I am saying is that perhaps it should give us pause that plenty of souled human males would have gone back for a second round of struggling.  I think this reveals something about his understanding of the situation and his intentions, which I will explore in a later objection.

Objection #3: The scene feels out of character for Spike at this point.

I actually think that it is out of character for him at every point in his personal evolution, but especially so by Season Six.  I am not saying that their relationship is a particularly healthy one or that Spike’s evil inclinations are fully in the rearview mirror.  What I am saying is that raping the woman he loves no longer seems like something he would try to do, if it ever had been part of him to begin with.  I found his attempted rape out of character for at least three reasons: 1) the scene does not fit with how sex has been connected to violence in their relationship up to this point 2) the scene provides no plausible motive for the attempted rape that fits either Spike’s personality or his relationship to Buffy and 3) the scene ignores the character development that has happened through the past two seasons.

The Other Side of Recovery

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When I shared my commentary about Kesha’s struggle to break free of her contract and desire to be free of her alleged abuser, a friend of mine reminded me that I had to include compassion towards those who have been raped and sexually assaulted. So this follow-up post isn’t just a letter to Kesha, but to all victims of rape, assault, and abusive relationships (physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, etc.).

My dearest sisters and brothers,

If you’re reading this, you probably feel broken. The world is not the same anymore. There were times that you felt like your mind and your body were not your own. You want to blame yourself for what happened. Why didn’t you see the red flags? Why are people blaming your behaviors? For a time, you were completely helpless. You probably still feel helpless right now.

You are not alone.

Just because there is a lack of evidence of this trauma does not negate the fact that this happened to you. The pain will not go away overnight. It’s a process, but believe me when I say that you will find your way out of the dark.

What’s most important right now is protecting yourself and finding a way to let this traumatic experience make you into a stronger person. It’s so easy to cut yourself off from the world, to build a giant wall around your heart and not let anyone in. But the first step to recovery is to find people who will support you. Reach out to a friend who will listen. Go to counseling or some kind of support group. It’s important to have a sense of community because pain and misery grow from constant isolation.

Once you’ve regained some strength from your support community, pay it forward and start helping your local community through volunteer work. Reach out to the less fortunate, offer to tutor your neighbor’s kids, or work for a blood drive. If you feel strong enough to help others who were in your situation, start training to work those crisis hotlines. Through serving others, you’ll find that you get a better sense of self and a sense of purpose as well.

The hardest part of recovering, I think, is finding a way to let go of the past. While there is a time and a place for catharsis, the feeling can only carry you so far. This is probably gonna sound impossible. Unimaginable even. But at some point, you need to forgive the person who has hurt you. I’m not asking to forget that it ever happened. I’m not asking for you to try and make amends with them. I’m not even asking you to contact that person again.

Forgiveness means letting go of all the anger and hurt. It means no longer plotting revenge or wishing that the worst will happen to the people who’ve hurt you. And yes, it’s really, really, really hard.

But here’s something I learned. The people who’ve hurt me in the past were all broken in some way. They suffered a traumatic childhood or had their own set of problems that I had no idea about, or grew up without any sense of direction in their lives at all. The people who have broken you have been broken themselves. And instead of choosing to try and get past all the hurt, they instead chose to hurt someone else. Misery loves company, after all. And misery may be all that they know.

So when I ask you to forgive the person who has hurt you, I am asking that you hope that the also find their way out of the dark. That they are no longer broken or defined by their circumstances. They may all seem like monsters right now, but there is still humanity within them, just as there is humanity within all of us. Let go of your resentment and anger and one day, you’ll find that the pain will soften to the point of being nonexistent.

The emotional growth you will receive will come when you least expect it. And trust me when I say you will not see it coming. Something good always comes out of something bad. Just know that you are already finding your way out of the dark. You are not alone.

 

An Open Letter About #FreeKesha

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I am not a big fan of Kesha. I liked a couple of her songs and thought that she was doing well with her latest album.

But given the latest controversy surrounding Kesha trying to get out of her contract,I feel like I need to give my 2 cents about this.

As we all know, in the criminal justice system, people who are charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. This means that it’s up to Kesha and her lawyers to provide evidence of Dr. Luke allegedly assaulting her. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get hard evidence of assault and abuse.

One thing that I liked about Jessica Jones is that it captured the issues that lie behind rape and abusive relationships. It’s not just about non-consensual sex, but about the effects of manipulation and living with the fear of your mind and your body no longer being your own. The people of America pride themselves on being independent and free to do whatever they want. But the flip side of that mentality is a sense of entitlement, that they can have whatever they want as well.

Regardless of whatever you may think of Kesha’s music, she is still a person. If she wants to get out of working with Dr. Luke, she should be free to do so. She is not something people can use to make a profit. As a person, she should have the dignity to no longer associate with someone she doesn’t want to be around. In the very small chance that you are reading this Kesha, go work with those other producers who are making their offers. Don’t be afraid of Dr. Luke overshadowing you. I hate that Zayn got out of his contract so easily, but his contract is probably different from Keshas. A friend of mine said that Prince made a way out of his contract issued by releasing albums under “The Artist Fomerly Known as Prince.”

Sometimes, freeing yourself from abuse does not mean calling that person out on their actions, but just getting out of that situation altogether. I give Kesha applause for being brave enough to take action against the person who assaulted her. Very few people have that courage. On the other hand, it’s important to have proof. It’s hard to make a case when there is no evidence.

In spite of the ambiguity of this situation, I always believe that something good always comes out of something bad. No matter how far we fall into the darkness, a light shines through and it’s through that light that we start making our way out of the dark. On her Facebook page, Kesha said this:

I think about young girls today – I don’t want my future daughter – or your daughter – or any person to be afraid that they will be punished if they speak out about being abused, especially if their abuser is in a position of power.

Unfortunately I don’t think that my case is giving people who have
been abused confidence that they can speak out, and that’s a problem.

But I just want to say that if you have been abused, please don’t be afraid to speak out. There are places that will make you feel safe. There are people who will help you. I for one, will stand beside you and behind you. I know now how this all feels and will forever fight for you the way perfect strangers have been fighting for me.

Yes, I am very much a feminist, but more than that, I am a humanist. I believe in supporting my fellow human beings in being SAFE.

We’re all in this together. You are not alone.

I love you and thank you.

Now that kind of feminism, I can get behind.

#FreeKesha

 

An Open Letter To NARAL

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Warning: Don’t read if you don’t have a sense of humor. This blog post is loaded with lots and lots snarking.

Dear NARAL,

I hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl last night. I know I had a decent time. But I had a lot more fun looking through social media and watching everyone else’s commentary. While browsing through the interwebs, some friends of mine shared this tweet from your Twitter in regards to the Doritos Ultrasound commercial:

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Did we watch the same commercial?

Because from what I’m seeing, it’s a comical commercial about two parents who chose to have a baby, that the baby is coming “any day now,” and that apparently, the baby has a thing for Doritos.

It kind of makes sense that the mom is kind of “uptight” in this commercial cuz, you know, women who are expecting a baby aren’t exactly pictures of perfect serenity. And the clueless Dorito-eating Dad is just part of the comedy. You really wanna make drama out of this?

How is any of this antichoice? Parents get ultrasounds all the time when they’re expecting babies. I mean, it’s like expecting abortion clinics to actually meet standard health codes that also apply to hospitals. What do you think women give birth to? Puppy monkey babies? (That commercial was awful, btw. Maybe you should complain about that.)

But really, I don’t have time for this. All I really want to do now is just laugh. Because I seriously cannot comprehend what is going on in your twisted minds right now.

Have a nice day!

Photo credit: Nogwater via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Seven Quick Takes on The March For Life

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In case you haven’t heard, a serious winter storm advisory has been put out throughout the DC Metropolitan area. In spite of that, the March For Life is still going to happen. I know that I haven’t lived in the Mid-Atlantic for over a decade, but I hope that everyone who’s in the Washington DC area stays safe! So for my Seven Quick Takes, I want to look into the March For Life and the Pro-Life movement in general.

 

— 1 —

Many people are cautioning people to think before travelling to the DC area. Deacon Greg Kandra and Joe Grabowski give their two cents on why it’s better to be safe than frozen and sorry. Granted, I only marched at a Pro-Life rally once. And it was during a time when it was seriously hot in Houston. While I applaud those who are going, I don’t want anyone getting hurt or injured in the name of the unborn.

That being said, for those who are already in the DC area, my prayers are going out to you. 

I expect to see a lot of this going around:

Or this:

brace yourselves

— 2 —

So for those who aren’t going to DC or a March for Life in general, what the heck can we at home do? Marge Fenelon and other Catholics are promoting #FastFriday. Taking on an old Catholic tradition, be willing to fast in some way in solidarity with the unborn and those marching for life this weekend. If you have dietary issues like me, figure out a way to fast if you seriously feel like you can’t go one day without meat. You can fast from snacking or from sweets. Other things you can fast from today include, but aren’t limited to: texting, social media, Pinterest, television, gossiping, pornography, smoking, talking about politics, etc. For more ideas on what to fast on, check out this post! (It’s also a great thing to read if you want to get a head start on figuring out your Lenten resolution. Remember, y’all, Lent’s coming early this year!)

— 3 —

If you want to know what kind of prayers you can pray for today in particular, Divine Office has a list of prayer intentions for all the mysteries of the Rosary. Have a bit of reluctance when it comes to praying the Rosary? Read up on 10 Ways You Can Pray The Rosary from my archives! Other prayers you can offer is the Angelus, usually prayed at noon, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, usually prayed at 3PM. I highly suggest praying throughout the day. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray without ceasing.” This website lists off a lot of good short prayers, but remember, don’t rush through them. Pray with your heart as well as with your mind and lips.

— 4 —

Being pro-life isn’t just a thing for old, Republican white men. LifeTeen has a funny guide on How to Be Bro-Life on Youtube targeted towards young men:

Fellow brothers in Christ, be more involved in the Pro-Life movement!

Same goes for teenagers and young adults: Check out the Prolife Youth website.

— 5 —

Never overlook opportunities to evangelize. Check out this article from Aleteia which shows someone having a pro-life conversation with someone who is decisively pro-choice. The ending might surprise you.

Speaking of surprises, check out these videos from a pro-life feminist YouTube channel called Consistently Quirky. These ladies are not your typical pro-lifers–their crazy hair being the first indicator! There’s also an interview on Aleteia with the president of Feminists for Life.

So yes, there is such a thing as a pro-life feminist. We seriously need to redefine what feminism means. I hope being pro-life can be one step in changing that definition.

— 6 —

Don’t forget to reach out to those who have suffered from the trauma of abortion. I’m not just talking about the abortion survivors like Claire Culwell. I’m talking about the women who had abortions and the families who suffered the aftermath of it. Lysa Terkurst recently opened up about her own abortion on her website. I also have a friend who has a blog dedicated to the siblings of aborted children called Surviving Sibling which I highly recommend you check out. Finally, if you or someone you know used to work in the abortion industry or is seriously considering leaving said industry, check out And Then There Were None. It’s a nonprofit founded by former abortion leader Abby Johnson.

— 7 —

While I was gathering stories for this post, I saw that while #MarchForLife is trending, some pro-choice hashtags are also trending such as #Roe43 and #reclaimroe. If you’re not going to fast from social media today, make #whywemarch a trending hashtag. Post on Instagram and Facebook about why you’re pro-life. However, I would caution against using graphic abortion images. Read this article from Simca Fischer to find out why.

An Open Letter To Rowan Blanchard

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Dear Rowan Blanchard,

You don’t know me. I’m a huge fan of Girl Meets World and I love your character. I also love that you’re using your status as a celebrity to promote gender equality with He For She.

However, there are some things I want to talk to you about. I am really, really glad that you came out as questioning your sexuality and that you were honest about how you see yourself now. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for you. I know right now there are a lot of parents who are probably concerned about you questioning your sexuality. What concerns me more, however, are the people who want you to just pick a label.

You said “In my life – only ever liked boys. However I personally don’t wanna label myself as straight, gay or whateva so I am not gonna give myself labels to stick with just existing.”

The problem is that we live in a world of labels. There is nothing wrong with being a woman or being of a certain race or ethnicity or even being attracted to the same gender. The problem is when we choose to define ourselves by just these things. The things that are in our lives are just parts of who we are and not the sum or the whole of who we are. So while you are in the process of defining yourself, you need to find something that’s constant. I’m not talking about the culture that you’re in now, though. I’m not even talking about believing in yourself.

I know that the people you hang around with aren’t exactly keen on the idea of God, let alone religion. But God is the one constant in life that you’ll find that you can always count on. He never changes. He is a merciful God and he loves you as you are right now, questioning sexuality and all. So if you’re trying to figure out who you are, look to God. See how He sees you. You might be surprised at how your life will change when He is at the center of your life.

Sincerely,

Monique

And The Oscar Goes To…

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There’s been a hashtag going around you might’ve seen called #OscarsSoWhite. This hashtag was made in response to the lack of diversity in this year’s batch of Oscar nominees. Directors such as Spike Lee and actors like Jada Pinkett Smith are calling for an Oscar Boycott.

While I agree that there are movies out there that may not have deserved the Oscars they were nominated for (Looking at you, Birdman), it’s not like movies with diverse leads have never been nominated before. Last year, Selma was nominated for Best Picture. The year before that, 12 Years a Slave won 3 Oscars.

Straight Outta Compton may not be nominated for Best Picture, but it’s still up for Best Original Screenplay, which is saying a lot because it’s competing against Bridge of Spies, Ex MachinaInside Out, and Spotlight, all of which are really good movies.

So it’s not like the Oscars have never considered films with diversity before.  So my first question is “Is this proof of an issue or projecting?”

We have seen evidence that diversity in media can work on its own merits. Biggest example being Hamilton, which is universally appealing, but doesn’t shove its messages of diversity and feminism down the audience’s throat. What makes Hamilton work is the characters, the music, the familiar tragic storyline, and the real message: Legacy depends on your actions and those you leave behind to tell your story. You can’t just go around complaining that people are being unfair and say “Screw you guys, I’ma going home.” I’m not completely sure if boycotts work, but last time I checked, the African-American acting community has their own awards going on.

Not to mention that there’s also this question: What about other ethnicities? America Ferrera and and Eva Longoria made a joke about how Latina actresses get mistaken for other Latina actresses. There are people out there making independent short films and diversity in television, so the constant laments about the lack of diversity in Hollywood aren’t always well-founded.

Hollywood (or at the very least the people of Twitter and Tumblr) can never be satisfied when it comes to representation. It’s crazy enough that a movie like The Danish Girl and Carol are even getting the attention that they’re getting, but according to social media, it’s not enough because the leads aren’t played by trangender/lesbian actors. Mad Max: Fury Road is actually nominated, whereas most of the time, action movies would probably get the snub or just get the token “Special Effects and Sound” nominations. Jennifer Lawrence is nominated for being the lead in a movie about a female entrepreneur and yet it’s not enough. I am mad that Charlize Theron isn’t nominated for Best Actress, though.

You know what I’m actually more angry about when it comes to the Oscars? The fact that Fifty Shades of Grey  is still getting attention through one of the songs from the movie getting a Best Original Song nomination. I’m also not a big fan of Chris Rock and I’m already cringing at the jokes that might come from him. I’m also mad that Star Wars: The Force Awakens got the token “Sound Editing/Mixing” and “Best Visual Effects” nominations. Highest grossing movie of the year and you’re just gonna give it those awards? At least give a nod to the actors who played Finn and Rey and Kylo Ren.

If you want to give voice to issues relating to diversity, there are bigger issues to deal with such as why is more attention being given to Donald Trump rather than the more sane presidential nominees? How can we balance out violence caused by the police and the retaliations that happen because of police killing innocent kids? What about abortion and the fact that most abortion clinics are in poor communities and that most babies who are aborted are black?

I’m not completely sure if I’m gonna watch the Oscars. I am rooting for a good number of movies to win. But given the bad taste in my mouth from Neil Patrick Harris’s hosting and the fact that the award show goes on forever, I might just find better uses for my time.

Temperamental Teresa Comments on The View

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Usually, when I step on my soapbox, I make a warning that I’m probably gonna sound like a word that starts with “B” and rhymes with “witch.” Well, right now, I’m not gonna step on my soapbox. Instead, I’m gonna introduce you to Temperamental Teresa who is not as sweet as I am. She has some things to say about some recent events.

Hi! I’m Teresa Delacruz! Like many Filipinos, I am a nurse. I was so happy to see a real working woman in the Miss America pageant. Finally, a woman with actual brains in a competition where the winner is usually judged on how well they look in a bikini! However, I wasn’t so happy when I heard some backlash from some women on The View.

First of all, Miss Colorado did not sound like someone reading her emails. A typical e-mail looks like this: 

etsy email

Yes, I subscribe to Etsy. A nurse has to have some hobbies.

And another thing: we nurses have our own stethoscopes. Do these ladies even watch Grey’s Anatomy? (Personally, I’m a Scrubs fan myself.) Or do they know any actual doctors? Doctor Oz doesn’t count, you know. Maybe they do watch Grey’s Anatomy, but only pay attention to the eye candy and not the actual, you know, medical stuff. 

Do they expect nurses to look like this?

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I thought these ladies were feminists. Isn’t feminism supposed to be about supporting women who go beyond the norm? If anything, they should be celebrating Miss Colorado for showing that women are more than just their bodies. I mean we’re talking about the largest scholarship program for women in the United States. John Oliver says so.

Irregardless, as they say in Mean Girls, I’m gonna feel very sorry for these women. I mean they might end up in a hospital someday. And well, let’s just say not all nurses are going to be as friendly as Florence Nightingale.

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But then again, that’s none of my business!

P.S.: Miss Colorado. You may not have gotten the crown, but you’re definitely a queen in the hearts of all of your fellow nurses!