Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 101

President Obama's first 100 days in office are now comfortably settled in that untouchable realm called the past. Funny to think that just a few months ago, we didn't even know if we'd be getting these 100 days.

What do you think of the U.S. President's actions since his inauguration? Organizing for America (run by the Democratic National Committee) set up a website where you can review the changes the Obama Administration has implemented during his first 100 days in office. Take a look at them at the link below and judge for yourself!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Discovering What's Truly Asia

We've all seen those "Malaysia, truly Asia" commercials. My family saw them so much on T.V. a few years back that we decided to actually visit the country to get a taste of a completely different part of the world. We'd seen Europe, America and the Middle East, but Southeast Asia was a place we'd never really had exposure to.

So we whisked ourselves off to Malaysia for about a week to see what it was all about. We stayed mostly in Kwala Lumpur ("KL" for us cool people who know the local lingo), so we didn't get to see as much of the country as we wanted. But even though the capital city is nothing like the rest of the country according to my lovely Malaysian-American friend, even being in the most globalized part of the country was a shockingly "Asian" experience for us.

For one thing, it rained almost every hour or two. It was really weird having to carry an umbrella around in the summer - tropical weather was something completely alien to us. But that's probably why the country was so green. After years of living in deserts (LA and Dubai), seeing all that foliage made us dizzy. In a good, I'm-drunk-on-nature, type of way. Then there was the food. Sweet and savoury - together?! That was completely bizarre to my family's Arab palate. But delicious. Then of course, there were the people, effortlessly friendly and speaking the most interesting language. Their words bounced around like little rubber balls - nothing like the rhythm of English or Arabic. Or French. Or Spanish. Or any other language I'd been exposed to, for that matter. I loved it.

So, I spent a week in Malaysia - I mean KL. That means I now officially knew all about the region. Right?

Gwahaha, I laugh at such foolish thoughts.

Over the last few weeks, I've been getting more "Asian" exposure than I've ever had in my American- and Middle Eastern-dominated world. Just speaking to some friends, attending a lecture, and flicking through random websites - nothing too intense. But even doing that revealed a whole other world operating outside my realm of consciousness. I mean, I know there's a lot I don't know about. But to be almost completely ignorant about a whole region? Wow. Thank god I have a whole lifetime to learn. I'm pretty excited to get to know that part of the world.

Wanna join me? Here's a map to get you started.

And here are some links!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

National Cleavage Day?

I was going through the pages of Alternet when I came across an article on something I'd never come across before: National Cleavage Day.

The blogger who was writing about this was furious. National Cleavage Day (which took place on April 3rd) was a "holiday" being promoted by Wonderbra as a form of female empowerment.

The Wonderbra website explained the campaign with the following:
WONDERBRA has won a firm victory for social upliftment. Their NCD [National Cleavage Day] Party, whose constant, non-discriminatory support policies assure that both the left and the right remain empowered and uplifted, will now be in effect immediately.It was only through this extensive campaigning for a woman´s right to be wonderful, that NATIONAL CLEAVAGE DAY, on Friday 3rd April 2009, has now been declared a PUBLIC HOLIDAY.

Now, I won't deny that Wonderbra's public relations and advertising teams are good with words. That's not my issue here. They're paid to make anything sound good.

What I don't like about this whole campaign is how it attempts to cover up purely commercial interests with flimsy claims of female empowerment. I'm all for a woman's right to choose what to wear (or not to wear), but the way Wonderbra is using women's bodies to sell their products completely contradicts what their National Cleavage Day is all about. Women's movements have long been trying to desexualize the female body in public, and all National Cleavage Day does is promote highly sexualized images of women in the public sphere.

I thought the way the author of the Alternet post presented the issue was rather telling.

I shit you not.

A quote from the sponsor's spokesperson (Wonderbra's Samantha Peterson): "It gives women a chance to be beautiful and glow in the furtive, yet appreciative, glances their cleavage evokes from men," she said.

Male gaze ruled crucial! Film at eleven!


At its core, National Cleavage Day isn't about female empowerment. It's just another campaign following the not-so-ancient adage, "sex sells."

Here are two links to other women who've blogged about this: