Look to science to learn the truth about the most important thing we do: EAT

Food: it’s a touchy issue for humans. Our bodies require nutrition, and food is where we get it. We know specifically what nutrients we need and how much of them because of science, and yet most people eschew that science and eat what tastes “good.” I put “good” in quotes because our palates have learned to enjoy rich tasting food: we call it “good.” The problem is that food that tastes rich is often the least rich in nutrients.

Rich tasting foods are animal flesh, animal milk and cheese, white flour, whole eggs, pressed oils, fried food, and any salted and/or highly processed foods such as you would find in the refrigerated or frozen section of your grocery store. These kinds of foods taste so good that we end up consuming excess calories, and then our (potentially) overweight bodies lack proper nutrition. Science tells us that without proper nutrition, nutrient-deficient bodies both fat and thin become grounds for disease and degradation of muscle, bones, ligaments, neural tissue, skin, internal organs, and other physiological components, including the brain.

So when I read an article like this one on Medium.com, You are the problem with fat people, I feel the impulse to write and reply: No, I am not the problem. In fact, I will be so bold as to say that I offer the solution.

I am not the problem, because I am empathetic toward Ms. Toal, the author.

I am aware that many people have injuries or congenital conditions that keep them from exercising; some may never be able to walk or use their upper body for exercise. It is always heartbreaking to hear these folks’ stories. (As a matter of fact, as I edit this story, I am recovering from a bad fall that has left me unable to jog for nearly two months.) Furthermore, before I embraced a sound, scientific approach to nutrition, I was afraid to learn the hardest truths about what I was ingesting. I previously had made small dietary changes that, as it turns out, are relatively unimportant when it comes to nutrition. What I was afraid of was doing a major overhaul in my eating regime: giving up rich tasting food for the stuff my body really craves: nutrient-dense, plant-based whole food.

I am not the problem, because I acknowledge that Ms. Toal was able to recover to a point where she can exercise and is doing so.

Part of her challenge, as she writes about it, is the people who ridicule her for being fat — while she is working out in the gym. I find that this all-too-common practice of fat-shaming is immature and lacking in both human empathy and education, and thus is unacceptable. Instead of these shamers applauding her for her effort to make healthy change, they belittle her, and that’s just wrong. This is a problem with our divisive culture of trolling and rushing to judgment: “othering” is a facile cop-out in our society.

But here is where I must take another step regarding Ms. Toal’s experience: she didn’t even discuss her diet in the article I read.

Based on my experience and education, exercise alone is not always enough to shed excess weight. It all goes to the science of human nutrition, a formula that Dr. Joel Fuhrman reduced to H=N/C; that is, Health equals the ratio of food Nutrient density to Calories. So, if we eat the nutrient-rich foods that our bodies need rather than stuff that only tastes rich, we will achieve optimal health. AND we will receive the benefit of dropping extra pounds of fat. Yay!

Dr. Fuhrman’s plan is called Eat to Live, and it’s based on the most comprehensive, long-term study about food and nutrition. The China Study is so thorough, and Fuhrman’s vernacular translation so digestible (pun intended!), that meat-and-dairy proponents try to debunk it in a variety of ways. Yet the science is sound, as long as we take into account some minor achievements in scientific understanding of cholesterol, for example, that have occurred since the study was conducted, analyzed, and interpreted. One wonders, as I do, if the animal food industry and related corporate behemoths are behind people’s uninformed questioning of the study — and of the choice to be vegetarian or vegan. If you wonder, too, please keep reading.

Disclosure:

I live the whole plant-based, vegan, nutrarian Eat to Live lifestyle about 90% of the time. While I would love to be a purist, I find it limiting to my social life, so I will eat a slice of homemade cherry pie (my favie!) that a friend baked just for me, or dribble some store-bought ketchup on grilled potatoes, or eat a 3 oz. lamb burger a few times a year, or sample a goat cheese appetizer at a party. I also think it is healthy to indulge (again, about 10% of my entire diet) in my cravings for air-popped popcorn with a bit of real butter, processed vegan cheeses, and seafood, including a passion for sushi, so add white rice to my list. But these examples are the exception, not the rule: I do not consume rich food every day. I do, however, drink wine every day, so I am no longer at my ideal weight of 102 lbs; I weigh closer to 110. Alcohol consumption is not recommended in Eat to Live, it’s just one of my pleasures that I choose to not feel guilty about. Even with the extra 8 pounds on my frame, my blood pressure today was 97 over 61 . . . at the dentist’s office! Also, I don’t work for Dr. Fuhrman or sponsor his ads, and I don’t make any money or receive any other benefits from talking about Eat to Live, except that I hope to inspire readers to buy his book and take the 6-week challenge.

weekly_menu_board
Typical weekly menu at our house. Add a night of salmon or swordfish, and we’re loaded with nutrients, AND leftovers, without excess calories! Side note: The lasagna dish uses vegetables in place of the pasta, because, white flour👎. The “meatballs” were made with soy crumbles.

My intention is not to shame Ms. Toal or anyone trying to lose weight.

I simply want to say that a lot of people have not been taught proper human nutrition, and therefore succumb to eating a nutrient-deficient diet of rich-tasting food as their mainstay. Why is that? I argue that in the US there is little profit in telling people that eating animal flesh, olive oil, pasta, and cheese is not required for superior health (nor is it recommended by scientists). Corporate America is all about profit over people, winner-takes-all competition, and even miseducation if necessary to achieve those two conditions.

(For some background, please read my paper “Is ChooseMyPlate a Good Choice? How Private Industry Drives the U.S. Government to Mediate a Nutritionally Poor Diet”. ChooseMyPlate is the updated version of the USDA Food Pyramid. In the paper, I argue that Big Ag, by way of the USDA, contributes to nutritional and health poverty in our nation. I cite numerous reputable sources.)

Another challenge is that people all over the world claim they know proper nutrition — information they have been taught by their government/school/parents — and they say, look, we aren’t fat or sick like Americans! But as other countries adopt the American Standard Diet (ASD) of fast food, processed food, salt, white flour, sugar, and meat/poultry/dairy, with too little of nutritionally excellent legumes, leafy greens, other vegetables, fresh fruits, and moderate amounts of whole grains, they, too, gain weight and decline in overall health.

Skinny-bitch-shaming vegans and vegetarians as “too thin.”

This “too thin” claim has nothing to do with the thin person’s health; in fact, a plant-based whole food diet of proper nutrition is what the body wants us to eat so that we maintain optimal health and do not carry around excess body fat. But this is a scary notion to ASD consumers, most of whom are addicted to salt, sugar, bread and pasta, processed meals, animal products, and other rich-tasting food. It is easier for people to point a finger at thin vegetarians than to give up eating “tasty” stuff even though that tasty stuff is bad stuff. ASD consumers wonder out loud that if I don’t eat animal flesh or dairy products, where I get my “protein” — but they probably don’t know that protein is a not a food group, as the USDA would have us believe. Protein is a micronutrient necessary for a healthy human diet; it can be found in in beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Even broccoli, pound for pound, has more protein than cow meat. Science AND grandma tell us pretty much the same thing: eat your vegetables!

In 2008, my husband and I began the Eat to Live lifestyle after reading Dr. Fuhrman’s book of the same name. We decided together that we did not want to die of cancer or heart disease if we could prevent that. We didn’t want the food we eat to increase the chance of contracting Type II Diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis, or arteriosclerosis. We chose to eat food that optimizes our health. We had great success during the initial six-week period. My husband lost 42 pounds — it was totally dramatic! I shed 27 pounds off my 5’2″ body! Yet I have had people tell me that I am “too skinny” after losing all that weight, while I exude a healthy glow, and feel lighter and stronger than ever before in my life (even better than when I was jogging every day while continuing to eat animal products and processed, fatty, salty foods).

This kind of skinny-bitch-shaming is equally as disgracing as the gym folks fat-shaming Ms. Toal. Skinny-bitch-shaming overlooks all the health benefits of my eating lifestyle and implies the false claim that all thin people are malnourished and therefore “doing it wrong.” This is the complete opposite of my reality. After the six-week Eat to Live nutrarian diet challenge, my lab results came in and my doctor said I was in optimal health.

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Lasagna Style Main Dish with Zucchini Crust. Loaded with vegetables, seasoned well, and so delicious!

“But my 99-year-old grandmother ate eggs, meat, cheese, white bread, and butter at every meal for her entire life!”

Further energizing the argument against a nutrarian lifestyle, every person in the western world probably knows at least one other person who ate red meat, salt, fat, eggs, dairy, white bread, fried foods, and sugary desserts at every meal, drank coffee with cream and sugar, imbibed on hard liquor and soft drinks, and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, yet lived to be 100 years old. To which I counter: There are four reasons such people thrive:

1) they engage in physical activity for most of the day and/or

2) they really do just have good DNA and/or

3) they eat tiny portions, keeping their caloric intake to around 1,200 calories or less per day, and/or

4) they are not eating processed food or only in extremely small quantities.

These people are the exception, not the rule. (Read Eat to Live!)

Besides the questions of protein and exceptional grandmothers, people wonder, as did I before learning about and choosing to Eat to Live, whether plants are enough to make me feel full for hours at a time. I mean, I don’t eat pasta or bread for carbs; I get most of my carbohydrates from beans. Yes, occasionally I have a whole wheat pita or lavash or a few baby potatoes. But the truth is that when I eat the proper amounts of fruits and vegetables, I get full — REALLY, REALLY FULL! Seriously, I can go 7-8 hours between lunch and dinner without feeling the need to snack, and I often did so on school days when I ate lunch at 10:30 AM before leaving for campus for the rest of the day. I would always carry a piece of fruit and/or raw nuts with me but I rarely felt the desire to eat them, because I was full-filled with the proper nutrition. It is comforting to know this.

“I’m fat and that’s just fine with me.”

If a person is fat, even if they exercise now and then, they may have convinced themselves and others that they accept being fat as their natural “body type,” and that self-love is important for well-being. Is this an excuse for continuing to eat rich-tasting food? Same goes for often damaging quick-fix rich-food diets like Paleo and Adkins, among others. In my evaluation, none of these arguments are valid because they don’t follow science. Because there are universally accepted laws and principles comprising realities like gravity, the life cycle of centipedes, and why you don’t have to remember to breathe while you sleep (which is especially convenient and comforting).

GOOD NEWS!

For Ms. Toal and everyone interested in enjoying optimal health, I highly recommend doing the 6-week nutrarian Eat to Live program and then sticking as close to it as possible afterward. First, a plant-based eating lifestyle going to assist you in rapidly achieving your ideal weight. Second, fruits, vegetables, beans, greens, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds are wicked good at flushing toxins out of the body, killing cancer, and obliterating artery plaque, not to mention numerous other conditions. Third, these foods actually help prevent nasty things like cancer cells from ever finding a home in your body! How crazy cool is that?!

Even cooler is that people who are unable to exercise for some medical reason will still lose excess weight and keep it off while doing the Eat to Live lifestyle. And continuing the nutrarian lifestyle is easy when you remember that you are preventing heart disease, cancer, obesity, and other life-threatening physical conditions from ruining what ought to be an amazing experience as a human being on planet Earth. To boot, you will help reduce the raising of animals for human consumption, which is extremely costly to the environment in numerous ways — water use, waste water, methane production, and so on — and far more costly than growing plants for food.

See? I am not the problem with fat people, I’m part of the solution: Eat to live in optimal health and disease prevention! If only I was perfect and dumped out the glass of red wine I am sipping 😉

Ode to Sculpterra: “Mega Focus”

Bees.
Flies.
Fuckin’ food chain…
Glorious food chain
Flicking off a fly and
Ting! The sound
of my fingernail
grazing the rim
of my almost-empty
glass of red wine
Green grass and orange-tipped yellow roses
now visible
through that cupped emptiness
Beauty and tragedy
together again for the very next time
See it, taste it
in two more long, slow sips
Lick your lips
Life is rich and full
Words exist
to describe it perfectly
(“If you speak French!”
Haha, funny,
Tu et amusante)
Bugs, like pin-pricks
in size but not in pain,
except as my mind makes them so
(Go! Away!)

No. Stay.
My last sip
Clock ticks, time flies, fly time is over
I rise to go
Time stands still
(As the memory will:
I was a grape,
must be Syrah, ah,
made into wine, flown in
by flies from France
that dance now
around my glass
and on my page.
I fling them away
with another ting
but they can’t stop
prancing!)

Screeeeeech! Nope. I am
in California
El Paso de Robles
and the flies are local
like the ruby Rhône varietals
once swirling in my now-empty glass
It is clear: a grape I have become
We are one
in DNA
The moment has arrived
to take my double-helixes
back home
to the piano,
and play

# # #

-Sharine. (May 2016)

How the Mainstream Media Helped Me to Formulate My Personal Ideology

When I was just a child, I watched footage of the Vietnam war and, later, the killing of protestors at Kent State in Ohio — on network television. Viewing these atrocities bolstered my stance of “diplomacy first, war never.”

A rhetorical context for these televised horrors was the technological advancement of journalistic equipment for filming such truly newsworthy events. At the time, the media was not in a position to turn away this content.

At the same time, the western world was experiencing counterculture: call them “hippies,” “drop-outs,” “bra-burners,” truth-seekers, or whatever; our world was suddenly teeming with people whose ideas, activism, and conversations bucked the hegemonic system. These folks were creating vocal and visible backlash to the rapid modernism taking over our culture and our planet, while fighting the forces of oppression, whether racism, sexism, or other forms of discrimination against non-white, non-male persons.

Of course, the filming and televising of utterly horrific exterminations of Vietnamese people and American college students was not the beginning of the counterculture, which had its roots in 1950s during McCarthyism. Poets, musicians, artists, actors, and other peace-not-war minded people, along with people of color (or Blacks, or African Americans, whichever you prefer), were already speaking and acting out against McCarthy’s “House Un-American Activities” initiative and other witch-hunt policies, in addition to the overt “Whites Only” / “Blacks Only” segregation tactics. Then, in the 1960s, our nation was moved into the Civil Rights Era; and in the early 1970s, into the Women’s Movement, otherwise known as first wave feminism.

But I digress. Television footage of these Vietnam and Kent State events brought reality into our homes. People saw not only the scale and shocking violence of the war, but the magnitude of the protests against it — and the degree to which the powers-that-be would push to try to stop those protests. Yet after millions of viewers saw it all, there was no way to make them un-see it, and the political tides turned quickly to end the Vietnam war.

Calcareous_Purple_Green
Pretty clouds — Not mushroom clouds. What kind of world do you want to create?

Today, the media — specifically, the mainstream media (MSM) — is for all practical purposes incapable of broadcasting such truth, and so it is difficult to change public sentiment about the numerous wars, atrocities, and military occupations perpetrated by power moguls in our nation, and beyond. Soundbites, newswire stories, and happy-human-interest bits round out what most networks call “news,” and viewers have become accustomed to the routine: it’s familiar, it requires no critical thinking, and it usually ends with jokes and joyful fluff. All of these qualities are comforting to the average viewer, who becomes shielded from the realities of the world while being entertained — and Americans are very good at staying entertained.

In fact, when we see snippets about war and violence on tv, it appears as entertainment simply because it is on tv. This a topic which Neil Postman wrote about in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. (It’s a great read, and I highly recommend buying a copy now!) Basically, Postman says that television is a medium designed for human amusement, and so anything we see on it, including “the news,” becomes entertainment.

Now, we see new terms entering our vocabulary, like “tragedy porn,” which involves photographs, film clips, or gifs of people, places, and things that have been ravaged by human caused violence or natural calamity. Most recently, it is the Syrian “boy in the ambulance” who, adding insult to injury, will likely become another victim of tragedy porn, his image forgotten in tomorrow’s “news.”

Unlike tragedy porn, the vast majority of viewers did not forget the horrific televised images of the Vietnamese massacre and Kent State protestors being gunned down. In a similar manner, viewers in 2001 saw footage of the Twin Towers free-falling on 9/11, as television, satellite, and cable stations broadcast the destruction 24/7 for several days. Although the reasoning behind televising both events, roughly 40 years apart, was completely different, these were two unique times when tv became more than just an amusement screen while never succumbing to the current trend of tragedy porn.

As I see it, a significant difference between the Vietnam/Kent State and the 9/11 broadcasts is the two distinct cultural contexts: the earlier including a large, organized activist counterculture that focused on a single issue at a time (the war, in this case); the latter being made up of a scattered, sociopolitical disconnect in which there are SO MANY ISSUES do deal with, many people feel powerless to effect change and thus blindly follow the dictates of leaders (“go shopping,” for instance, was then-president George W. Bush’s urging to the American people). In other words, I argue that the counterculture revolution of the 1960s/70s actively resisted the fear-based messages of the hegemonic forces, while the majority of Americans in 2001 embraced fear and accepted the messages.

For myself, viewing the Vietnam/Kent State footage anchored me in my ideas of creating peace and resisting the call to violence. As a Communication Studies scholar, I wholeheartedly advocate for diplomacy first and war never: this goes to my vision for a planet and all of its inhabitants living in harmony and evolving in love. I know, we have a long way to go, but we can start now.

-Sharine.

On Shaming Victims of Sexual Violation

I am angered to my soul’s core that anyone, let alone a presidential candidate [Trump], would have the audacity to publicly vilify Gretchen Carlson and other women at Fox Corporation who have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment by Roger Ailes. Not only that, but Trump praised Ailes in an attempt to discredit the brave women who have come forward with their stories of disgusting, systematic sexual abuse — just to get and/or keep a job in Ailes’ creepy corporation.

As a survivor of sexual trauma at the hands of falsely empowered, narcissistic white males, I can say that I never asked to be violated by these barbaric individuals. My experiences with sexual violation include verbal and nonverbal sexual harassment that are both personal, like cat-calls, obscene hand gestures, and facial expressions directed at me, and impersonal, the kind that are around me constantly in the media like in tv commercials for hamburgers, magazine ads for perfume and clothing, and films that portray women/girls as second-class, sideline characters who are either voiceless vixens or shrill shrews who, again, deserve punishment and silencing from the male characters.

Even music (no! say it isn’t so!) contains lyrics that openly degrade, dishonor, defile, and disown females as if we are all mere f**k-holes who deserve to be beaten, raped, and killed just for existing. It is downright unethical to claim that such music can be produced and marketed as “entertainment.” If the authors of such violent are simply recounting a personal experience, their production should be classified as “educational” — and by that I mean “a story that we as humanity want to learn from and do not EVER want to recreate.”

But are we learning? It appears that the answer is no, we are not learning. The power moguls in our culture prefer to keep females under thumb. Now, Donald Trump publicly said that Ailes’ sexual assault victims are lying, and that if they are not lying, they should quit complaining and appreciate having such great careers. As Judd Legg wrote,

…Trump has altered our sense of morality. Conduct that previously would constitute a cataclysmic event — a presidential candidate defending and justifying sexual harassment — does not even register. . . . He has successfully created cultural space to argue that women should be grateful to be treated as sexual objects in the workplace.

This “normalization of white male supremacy,” as Legg calls it, has a flip side: it’s called “cooptation of feminism and normalization of hyper-sexualization of females.” It is a double-edged sword that simultaneously defends a culture in which males dominate females while threatening their very existence. (I will write more about this topic in future posts.)

My own experiences with sexual violation include sexually charged physical, psychological, and emotional abuse, and rape regardless of what the perpetrator used to violate my body and especially my sexual organs. And I am done, DONE standing back and not speaking up about American rape culture, cooptation of feminism, and the normalization of hyper-sexualization of females. Every human being that is victimized by a sexual predator needs every victim and advocate to speak out. This is the step that I am taking today.

On a grand level, our nation, our world, needs to see through the oppressive rhetoric that targets anyone for oppression and violence or enslaves people in repressive, vulgar institutions. We need to see that people like Trump, Ailes, and those who defend sexual harassment or any kind of disgusting manipulation and violence while condemning the victims, they are dangerously regressive. People and the planet need more love, less hate; more peace, less fear. Communication is the answer. Let us put aside our differences and talk with open hearts and open minds. This is the only way that we can achieve harmony. Anyone who chooses to fight to keep females down, I believe, is on the wrong side of human evolution, for we will prevail.

Thank you for reading and for posting your thoughtful comments.

-Sharine.

 

 

Music Industry Post #1: The Tip of a Very Big Iceberg

Yesterday proved to be another busy day in the world of politics, culture, and postmodern living in general. I sipped my morning decaf almond milk mocha while reading headlines about everything from more of Donald Trump’s xenophobic, racist, sexist, violent spewings, to a female rape victim (of a convicted serial killer) being thrown in jail for thirty days because she broke down in court while testifying and fled the room. I know that I am not alone in my feelings of anger at the constant barrage of stories and pictures and videos of human divisiveness leading to violence and, at the very least, bad decisions that adversely affect humans, animals, and the planet.

Meanwhile, our culture remains addicted to entertaining ourselves in order to drown out the noisy inhumanity. While I make every attempt at using my free time to be creative rather than consumptive, I find myself binge watching Tim Minchin. With Tim, I get (mostly) enlightened messages and (some) logic cradled in his virtuosic compositions and performing abilities, so I can count my viewing as not merely mindless entertainment!

Back to yesterday. I went online to our local CraigsList postings. The “Musicians” category is usually rather amusing, with posts about “lame bands” next to “book my band” posts and calls for “metal drummer” or “old school blues guitarist.” This morning, I saw an intriguing post titled “Where are all the female musicians?” As you can read for yourself, the author is Howard Sterling, owner of Musician’s Contact service. Sterling writes that in 1975, he predicted “by the year 2000 there would be just as many females as males in bands, and there would be just as many all female bands as all male bands” and he invites readers to offer their ideas why his prediction was way, way off. I could not resist the temptation to reply, and here is what I wrote:

Guitar_Lyrics_Frame_Small
Nothing like a Strat and poetic lyrics to jumpstart songwriting … and Photoshopping.
Dear Mr. Sterling,
Thank you for your thought-provoking post on CraigsList.
As a female musician (not just a lead vocalist, but that, too), I have over 15 years of experience living in Los Angeles and working hard to “make it” in the music business. After leaving the area in 2003, I can see that the situation has not improved and has actually gotten worse.
While there are “token” female musicians in professional posts, such as Felicia Collins of the CBS Orchestra (1993-2015), most female artists are offered a narrow role by Hollywood. This, of course, involves hyper-sexualization and what Kristin Lieb, author of Gender, Branding, and the Modern Music Industry: The Social Construction of Female Popular Music Stars, calls the “short-term person-brand.” This model is based on the notion that female music performers don’t have much of a shot at stardom; that if they do achieve celebrity status, chances are they won’t stay there for long; and that if they do last, it’s because they and their handlers learned to successfully manage their person-brand. Tragically absent from the organizing principles of short-term person-brands: requirement of significant musical talent. Perhaps even more disturbing is that women music performers (ostensibly) knowingly trade their hyper-sexualized bodies as a productized money-making person-brand in order to maintain their status within the music business, which largely benefits a patriarchal system that stifles women while exalting, and excessively rewarding, mostly males and a few token female performers such as Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Miley Cyrus.

I recently returned to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to earn my BA in Communication Studies, where I wrote extensively about such topics (see my research paper attached). Since I am a trained singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, all of my friends and family assumed (erroneously) that I would get my degree in music. Certainly, there would be some benefits to being able to teach “band” in junior high and high school, but having a BA in Music would not confer any clout on me in the music industry—not that I am at all interested in being part of an industry that would surely productize me and my work. During my time in Hollywood, I had my share of “casting couch” opportunities with degrading male A&R execs, club owners, and others, not to mention auditions with probably 200 male musicians who made it quite clear that being in a band or songwriting partnership with them meant I was consenting to sexual relations with them, and when I did not consent, the music making opportunity vanished. Being female, I learned quickly that it is an unwritten contract in our entertainment culture to accept that my talent alone is not enough, that I would have to sex it up to get in and hope to stay in. After so many years of living in that stifling, self-destructive environment of power play and whimsy, I had to get out. Wisely, I had done the actual hard work of music along the way, and I continue to write, produce, perform, and record.

As I began to wrap up this message, I started to apologize to you for putting a feminist spin on my reply to your ad—but I am not sorry. What I am is saddened and, yes, even angered, by the twisted social construction of female musicians at the hands of industry power mongers who have coopted the second wave feminism upon which your prediction was made. In other words, you probably would have been right (or at least close!) if some brilliantly (/snark) oppressive industry insiders hadn’t seen Madonna’s early—and beautiful—assumption of power and turned it immediately into the hyper-sexualized model for all female music artists. Of course, they knew that if they didn’t do it, someone else would. Way to go, guys (and their blindly following girlfriends, wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters): way to keep women down at the expense of not only a diverse, thriving music industry, but a better world, period.
Mr. Howard, I respect the business that you have built and kept running for over 45 years (as is posted on your website), and I respect that you would be so bold as to post what you did on CraigsList. Even though your post was also an advertisement for your business, I appreciate your taking the time to think and write critically about this cultural problem and to ask for comments from your readers.
/end quoted message
I also attached for him my December 2015 research paper, “On Coopted Feminism and The Normalization of Hyper-Sexualized Female Music Artists.” Not only am I proud of the work I did under the tutelage of Dr. Lauren (Archer) Kolodziejski, who is a brilliant rhetorical critic, I believe it is vital for people to understand how sexism in the music industry is overt but it is also disguised as third wave feminism or “female empowerment.” This goes to my argument that the music industry has successfully coopted feminism and normalized the hyper-sexualization of its productized female artists and in the way male artists depict women. (I will publish my paper in subsequent posts, but for a teaser, the paragraph in my letter to Mr. Sterling that begins “While there are ‘token’ female musicians in professional posts…” is taken verbatim from that paper.)
I love being a musician, and I had many, many positive experiences while living in L.A. and doing the Hollywood thing, trying to obtain that elusive major label recording deal with all its fame and fortune. But I cannot ignore the dark underbelly of an industry that remains a microcosm of female oppression throughout society. And, as I told Mr. Sterling in my letter, I will not apologize for shining a light on that darkness.
Thank you for reading and for posting thoughtful reflections! Please come back and keep the conversation going.
-Sharine.

Welcome to “Sharine Wonders”

THE BEGINNING

Recently, I graduated from Cal Poly SLO (California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo) with a B.A. in Communication Studies (COMS). Being a research-and-writing junkie, my initial plans upon graduating included grad school starting in fall 2017. The ultimate goal was to earn my PhD in the same field and teach at Cal Poly.

After much research, finding the perfect school for my MA, and meeting with many of my favorite COMS professors and best friends for advice, I woke up on a Monday morning with the realization that I do not want to leave my home and family for several days each week over the course of 2-3 years. And this commitment would just get me through the Master’s program; the Doctorate would require another 3 years minimum, and I hadn’t even thought about where I would complete that part of the plan.

Did you hear my heart break?

So, I reached down and lovingly picked up my academic dream, which laid on the floor like a nearly complete thesis torn into thousands of bits. I put it all in sheet protectors in a 1″ three-ring binder, and went for a walk in my neighborhood park.


Clock_in_Culvert_DreamyThe image just above is an amalgamation of two photographs that I took on different days. The first is a clock that hung on the wall of a California Central Coast wine tasting room, and I Photoshopped it into the image of a culvert in a desiccated drainage field in my  Atascadero neighborhood.  The time reads 3:15. I wonder what that could mean? In light of California’s drought (and perhaps our ailing planet in general), I say this is “the 11th hour.” It is time to change our use of water in commercial agriculture, especially, and even to stop the privatization of water for sale. Who owns water? What does the image mean to you? Feel free to leave inspired comments.


As the days went by, I realized that my need for cerebral exercise is greater than I had imagined. While eating lunch, I was struck with the idea of blogging about social and cultural issues that urge me to wonder, to ask difficult questions, to seek answers from those who have gone before me as well as divine my own interpretations, arguments, and evaluations, and to connect with people who are interested in my same quest for knowledge, truth, and justice, for a world with more love and less divisiveness.

I selected a particularly broad category because I have diverse interests that I intend to explore in this blog: music and the entertainment industry; race issues; environmental issues; rape culture; education; power structures; and more. I love rhetorical criticism, and this world abounds with incidents, topics, and personas to shred! Please join me in looking critically at culture and social issues and ideas, and exploring ways to create change in ourselves, our communities, and the world at large. I promise to engage with respect, honesty, fairness, and a bit of humor in the conversation, and I hope that you will, too.

Oh. And one more thing. Sometimes I use swear words, so consider yourself warned.

Thank you for reading, and please come back again!

-Sharine.