Monday, October 18, 2010

Angie becomes Geertje

So, this weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that

"Multi-culturalism is dead.... long live multi-culturalism"

no the last bit of the sentence I put in.
She actually said, how guest workers (Gastarbeiters) that came to lift up the economy during the 60s (and till now!) have not left as the Germans had once believed, but now the Germans and the immigrants could not "live happily side by side".

The reasons noted not only by her, but others is that
1. too many come
2. they all bring their (large) families)
3. they eat up all the welfare checks

The thing I would like to know is
1. how many did actually came in the last decades
2. Does the German government believe in splitting up families? So you only want to bring in the young workers, without their dependents?
3. Did you not think of this when you wanted to import (skilled) workers?
4. What exactly is the proportion of migrants on welfare schemes - I ask this, since I know they will not make it easy to get ANY migrants on it
5. How much of the recent/past economic growth can you attribute to the migrant community??
6. WHO do you exactly define as migrants anyhow? Are you saying those who were born in Germany but of different ethnicity are also migrants? - since these days "migrant" is just a way for them to say "middle eastern/muslim"....

about question number 5, and 4
Migrant workers are a great asset, fuel of economic growth when the economy is doing well and there is a worker/ skill shortage. This is when the media and the politicians shut the **ck up about migration issues. On the other hand, in economic conditions such as now, in recession, companies let go of the vulnerable workers first - thus the women and migrants. Also, in times of uncertainty, employers will not employ new workers, but when they do, they go back into the traditional way of thinking - employing white men.
Thus, when we say migrants are on welfare checks, let;s really see who it is to blame. I know that there are asylum seekers that can be categorized as abit different case, but really what is this percentage, and again whose fault is it- their fault or the failure of the integration/training policies? Also, if you fail to accept those in dire situation, what type of world wide brotherhood are we supporting?

but overall, why isn't anyone showing hard proof concerning this at all?
and another thing, who can really define who "immigrants" are? Who are we kidding pretending nations have existed for a long time? its only in the past one of two decades that countries formed their current boundaries. and Even before then, there were loads of mass migrations all over. Do nations really have the legitimacy to say who the country belongs to?
I believe that migration is the easy way out for many politicians when they want to make a grand reform on the current social security/assistance scheme, so it doesn't upset their main voting population. Unfortunately, this whole scheme is working...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How capitalism gets a grasp on you

There is a saying, many of you know different versions of.
it goes roughly

"If you are not a Marxist at a young age, you are an idiot,
if you are a Marxist as an older adult, you are an idiot"

It more or less talks about how as a young person one should dream of the idealism of society, but come to the cold sense of real life when one becomes an "adult".
Having been a Marxist when I was young (yes, despite some entries telling you otherwise, yours truly is not as stupid as one may think), I always thought this quote was preposterous, idiotic and not true. Once a Marxist, always a Marxist. Although I did fear the moment when I have lost my true hearts without even noticing.

Now being in an age where one could be categorized as the "older adult", I understand why this quote comes about. Not because Marxism is too idealistic, but because capitalism really gets a grasp on you, and it is very difficult to escape its reigns.

After graduating, one will find a job. A Job will usually be something about 40 hours, which is what my contract is. It is a rather well paying position, although I am not making banker's bonuses, I do not complain. I would actually like to work shorter hours, but that is not really a possibility for me at this position I am in.
This is also enforced due to that I could not find a cheaper place for us to live. Living with my partner, we tried to find something which is not big, but also not too expensive. However, the housing market is made so there is either rooms for students, single persons' housing, or big ass couple/family housing. At least in Amsterdam, there is no middle ground, especially in the renter's market. Or, what happens is that the amount of money you spend per square meter increase dramatically when the size becomes below 100m2. When children come, it would be worse, you feel that you need to provide for them the best there is... and what about all the other stuff, such as bio-food, stylish clothes, and insurance for when things do not go as smoothly. One cannot but work full time. Especially since when you start working, naturally you do get into the rat race of them all. Its okay when you are not playing at all, but when you do, you feel a need to succeed.

However, working full time, and having a long commute, one really looses the energy to do anything other than work. When one has free time, it is to relax and relieve stress you get from work. Something like watching mind numbing videos and comedy. When you are physically and emotionally burned out, especially due to the increase in work intensity we have these days, one does not have extra energy to go and ponder upon some of the main questions in life and society. This is the reason why one looses contact with one's political ideals.... pure lack of energy.

Everyone I know after 30, when asked how they are doing, the first thing they'll say is "busy... I'm super busy, but otherwise okay".... regardless of what they do, and whether or not they have children. I think it is even considered a merit to say this, to show people that you are not wasting away your life.

After living like this for awhile, you become mind numbed drones, perfect to be blindfolded unaware of how society is being led. Since all you want is some nice food, a nice vacation and some sleep.

oct 12 2010...very very tired.
need to update this later... but thought I will share this though first.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I like it in my own way, thank you very much

So, many of you know that Breast Cancer Research Foundation, or aka the pink ribbon group, has launched a campaign in facebook, which was secretly sent out to ladies, to write in their status where they put their purses.

The original message goes like
"About a year ago, we played the game about what color bra you were wearing at the moment. The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news.
This year's game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home for example "I like it on the couch", "kitchen counter", "the dresser" well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. It doesn't have to be suggestive. I'm going for the vague "on the stairs". The bra game made it to the news. Let's see how powerful we women really are!!! REMEMBER - DO NOT PUT YOUR ANSWER AS A REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE- PUT IT IN YOUR STATUS!"

I didn't know about the last year's campaign and just found out about this years, and have participated. I know some people have had real fun with this, since it was a "inside joke" amongst women, and find it very funny how men reacted. My male friends knew what it was about, and didn't send any questionable remarks.

However, others found this sexist and objectifying women and have made this heard.

Ofcourse as it happens in facebook, this has drawn comments/discussions, and I thought I would share this with my non-facebook friends, since it draws an interesting example of feminist in conflict.

I will try to summarize this discussion, which will really not do anyone justice but again, what is justice anyhow.
Here are the points.
1) campaign was sexist due to its deliberate exclusion of men.
2) it presumes women have either purses and/or sex.
3) It is provoking and has sexual connotations
4) did not help in making the point, which is breast cancer

Let;s respond to this one by one. 1) yes, it is excluding men, but breast cancer is predominately something that women have to deal with, like pregnancy, and the whole point of the joke was to keep it as an insider's joke, which made some people happy. Also many gender equality movements exclude men.
2) I don't think it was sexist to think women can have sex or bags(I've understood this term broadly),
3) I believe women who read this note and put status signs up are able to make this judgement for themselve - they are not stupid
4)Yes, I agree on this issue. it could've been done much smarter, but if the whole point was to draw attention, it succeeded - but I agree it could've been much more linked to the actual cause and abit more stylish. And this point, I think is shared by most people (from the conservatives, to not so conservative, and the times)

Also, my beef with this was that the statement about this whole status update was stated as a "fact" where it is really a "opinion". And the nature of the statement was potentially be offensive to those who participated in the whole scheme. It also had a bullying nature, where it made those who participated feel like they were ignorant and were impediments to the feminist cause.

But more importantly, let's talk about the number 3, provocative and sexual innuendo part of the problem, which is probably the biggest problem the supporters for "the joke being sexist/objectifying" group.
I have always faced criticisms from women on this issue. The example here shows women noting where they put their purse, but give the reader the notion that this is where they would like to have (their bag) sex. This isn't funny at first site, but if you have several status updates doing the same thing, it could be funny.

But whichever the case, even if this were actually about sex, I don't find it objectifying. Definition of objectifying is to make something as if it were an object, rather than a person. Me talking about where I would like to have "it", whatever it may be, does not objectify me. Perhaps it shows that I am a sexual person who may like to share my preferences with others. However, making me into an object it does not. I am also aware that many women are objectified and are objectifying themselves as nothing but something to have sex with. This, if chosen out of ignorance or is forced, it is bad/horrible. But since one of the core human essences are being sexual beings, it is natural to show one's sexual side as well. Ofcourse the stupidity of this is that some women objectifying themselves, may encourage men to think that of other women. However, just because men have dominated the territory of sex for a while now, does not mean that we should shun it as being a wasteland, a place no real feminist goes, unless you want a full on battle to tear down the land - to talk about it seriously.(I am referring to comments such as "If you want to talk about sex openly, admit that you've had it at least once when you didn't really feel like it.Or how you REALLY like it. Or masturbation. Or something"... which indicates sex is supposedly something women should never make light of or joke about). I think women should take the reins of women's sexuality discussions into our own hands but we should also be able to see the lightness in it as well. Thus women in charge of showing women's sexuality, not men in their own fantasy way. The first seasons of sex and the city did improve this aspect... although the later seasons were as if I was watching the video version of Cosmopolitan.

But again, do not discourage women in talking about sex, period, due to the scares of objectifying themselves.The problem with this is that it is dangerously close to the religious/conservative views on how women should be chastised and prude, and women do not have sexuality or their sexualities should be a secret. Ofcourse there are women all over the spectrum of sexual freedom. But to shun the side where one believes women should have fun too and can freely talk and make jokes about sex, to shun those who are not afraid of the male penis, is also not feminism. The problem is that once you do this, once you mark that out of the feminist map, you will have women who will not be able to own their own sexualities, and again this is a battle lost against the conservative male view. Also, it is losing your (potential) freedom to own your own sexuality. Coming from very prudent/conservative countries (I also mean the US here), I know how this could go. Some women believe that equal rights is to make men(and women) fear talking about sex and sexuality, rather than enabling women to take power and lead in the discussion of sex. Where it is believe that sexuality/sexual things are evil, too private to be talked about. This is not a society I will like to live in, nor do I believe is a gender equal society.

Last point I want to make is the ease of calling thing sexist. Being Asian, I also have the god given right to call things racist (no, I don't really but you get my point). Now with both things, its like calling wolf. Once you start calling everything sexist/racist, the gravity of your voice becomes weaker and weaker, since you are thought to be someone who will always be calling "wolf!". Also, the people who can join you in the cause becomes smaller and smaller, since you are excluding diverse views. I believe that this is one of the reasons some women themselves do not want to be categorized as feminist, due to that many "feminists" have marked the line way too strict, restrictive and aggressively and then marked it as being a "general feminist rule". Making feminism something like a totalitarian regime is not something we should aspire to. Taking a strong stand is one thing, being facist is another.

someone posted a blog post on this discussion (from the opposing view) - although I disagree with parts of the point 1 & 3 - first of all sex is the way to catch EVERYONE's attention, and I don't think others were excluded, you could've easily did something such as putting a ribbon on your photo, or a link (again its your choice). which is something I also did. but I understand what he's getting at, and is much clearer than what was being mentioned in the previous discussion, so thanks chris!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Watch out Nederland

"Extremists cause serious damage to you and your society"

Yes, the day that I was dreading is finally here. I mean it was here since a few weeks ago, but the point is that what has once been a feared thought, is now reality. What is it, you ask?

The Dutch government coalition, after several unsuccessful mix matches, which included 6 parties at one point, is now one where the Dutch Conservative party (VVD) and the Dutch Christian Democrats(CDA) is in alliance with the one and only that party with the crazy (fake) blond haired guy, Dutch Freedom party (PVV).
You might think it is really nothing and that everyone knows that he is not meant to be taken seriously. However, I also say that one crazy guy somewhere on his own shouting out things is one thing, him being in the main cabinet coalition is another.

I wonder whether the government understands the gravity of their judgment- I’m looking at you VVD! I understand that for them the main goal was to have a coalition where they can take the majority in parliament to form a cabinet. I’m sorry to say this, but the most important goal in politics is to gain and maintain power- the other political ideals are just small peculiarities that come with the game. Thus, in some way it is understandable that they had to resort to this result.(also I would like to point out some of the members from the other two parties are very against this coalition that they have stepped down – thank you!)

However, it is also clear that this move is potentially putting everyone – yes not only the Dutch but us, the stinking foreigners you guys want to kick out – in danger. Again, one guy shouting obscenities about someone else’s religion is one thing. To have him as a legitimate government party leader is another. Although I am not saying Muslims are aggressive by nature – no, that’s what Geertje is saying. What I want to point out that there are some groups of the Muslim community that have shown that they are able to inflict harm on to society if they feel it necessary. (I also want to point out extremist Christians have also shown this potential several times, and I’m sure other religious extremists are also similar..) Now to have a guy who openly insults that religion and clearly stating that he wants the people who follow this religion, as well as all non-"western"(read blond) foreigners - out of the country he is living in, and to put that guy not only in parliament but also as one of the main government party leaders,… in my opinion that is just putting a big bull’s eye mark straight into the country we call low lands.

What this does is not only putting those who believe in this ideology in danger – which makes sense, since if you want “freedom of speech” as Geert Wilders puts it, you also have to deal with the consequences of your choice – but also others who believe that nut is just plain crazy in danger as well. And this includes those of us who did not even get to have a say in this whole issue.

So, who is to blame here? Of course Geertje is, or his parents or whoever raised that nut case. But also, I blame the sensation seeking news media who has given him too much air time and made his populist ideas go through to the public. Of course the media was the one who had put a stigmatized image on the Muslim community in the Netherlands, showing them off as ganstas and terrorists that disrespect the “Dutch norms”. However, it is also the general public who gave their precious votes to this nut case. I don’t care what type of shit you were fed by PVV or the media. By principle you should never vote for someone whose main message is of hatred and segregation of society. It’s your faults and now it’s the rest of us who have to live with it.

Seriously, I have to take the train to work and take several types of public transportation which could be prone to terrorist activities, and Mr. Wilders you have made my already stressed out life more stressful to think that your voice of hatred will come back and bite, unfortunately not you but us in the ass.
Also, this has not been noted enough, but migrants are not here to use your welfare states. We are here/were here to build up this place, and have contributed so much in terms of not only economic growth but also enhancing society culturally.(not to mention feeding the poorly fed Dutch)

To finish up, Geert Wilders is currently on trial on charges of inciting hatred. I hope, not just for myself but for the sake of all the people who live here, that he is charged. I hope that at least the Dutch judicial system is wise enough to know and show that hatred is not the way to go at things, and it is not okay to trash others, since it does come with consequences.