The Fear Girls

Category: Opinion

Virgin Mary on the Dash

sophia_bicon By Sophia Rowland
I am not religious. My parents came from Catholic families, but it didn’t stick for them so no religion was ever pushed onto me. Certainly at times I have been interested in religion from scholarly perspectives, but that’s about it. I wouldn’t call myself an all out atheist – I just don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. Perhaps this is why my friends think my relationship with the Virgin Mary statue on my dashboard is funny…

My car is a 20+ year-old Lexus. It came with a ‘coexist’ bumper sticker and a statue of the Virgin Mary on the dashboard. When I first got the car, I was pretty decided they both had to go. But then when the guys at the car wash asked if I wanted to take off the bumper sticker, I was filled with guilt. The same guilt I encounter when I occasionally ‘almost’ unsubscribe from Obama’s emails. ‘Come on, is coexist such a bad message?’ I found my inner dialogue saying ‘Of course not!’ And so the sticker stayed.

Virgin Mary

Virgin Mary is about 2.5 inches high, earthquake puttied on, and looks like the previous owner burnt a cigarette on her once. It would be so easy to just pull her off and stick her in a box headed for the Goodwill… Yet, there is something about VM that is kind of like the ‘coexist’ bumper sticker. It isn’t the same kind of statement that a statue of Jesus-on-the-cross or some other controversial religious image… it is just Mary. And Mary was pretty chill. Maybe we can even go out on a limb and call her an early feminist. Yeah that’s right, Mary was pretty feminist in a ‘mother-to-all’ kind of way.

Mostly I think the statue has magic bruja (witch) power. Which is hard enough to say out loud but a little harder to admit to the internet. But seriously… First of all, I do NOT get parking tickets. I have not pushed this theory, but there have been several times where I have accidentally parked my car on my street without putting the parking pass in my car – and no ticket. I have also even seen other cars ticked around my car when I should have been ticked too. No one wants to mess with the Virgin Mary/Coexist combo pack. So what’s the explanation to all this? Clearly Parking enforcement must think I’m a peace loving old lady and they take mercy on the car…. Or the statue is looking out for me. You know, either one.

Taco Truck Kitten Rescue

sophia_bicon By Sophia Rowland
There is a taco truck I frequent in Los Angeles. Not too long ago I realized there was a colony of feral kitties living in the alleyway behind it. Not a lot of people realize, but the Humane Society/the city of Los Angeles does not go around taking care of that cat colony problem. There a thousands of cats living on the streets in LA alone. Not only that, but if animal services is called, baby or adult, the first thing that happens in many shelters is the cat is euthanized. If the colony is left alone, the cats breed like bunnies and a situation of 3 cats can easily turn into 30. And if really left alone that 30 can become 300. It is a very tough problem, and with over crowding in shelter it may seem like euthanizing is the only option… but it isn’t and it shouldn’t be. There are cat groups throughout LA that attempt to rescue from kill-shelters and also take cats off the street. If the cat is feral, you trap it, get it fixed and then re-release it. Honestly, it is the best and most humane method – and it works.

Back to my taco truck – the guys working there were risking getting in trouble with the health department because there were so many cats. Not only that, but a previous batch of kittens had been accidentally run over by cars pulling in and out to park for the truck. The guys were desperate. Mama had 4 kittens (about 5 weeks old) – they needed to be captured, rehabilitated, and adopted out. And mama needed to get spayed and released back to the colony as she is very feral. The guys at the taco truck had called shelters but they were getting no responses and no help. After seeing me hand over some taco meat to mama kitty, they asked me if I had any ideas. Fortunately, I had done some rescue/fostering as a teenager. I told them I would make some calls…

I called dozens of rescue groups / no-kill shelters. I asked if they knew anyone who could foster, or at least help me trap them. No one would help me or even call me back. Even groups I had volunteered for in the past! But right as I was feeling hopeless, I got a reply from the group Luxe Paws. With their help we were able to trap two of the kittens and mama. Later today we will hopefully get the other two kittens. We’ve been going every night, and it is amazing the kind of response we get from the guys at the taco truck. It is not in the safest area, but the guys working there have been so helpful. Even the guys on the side selling bootleg dvds are rooting us on. I’m talking big latino dudes, who you would not expect to give 2 cents about tiny kittens asking us what we are doing this and why while getting totally invested as the kittens inch towards the cage. “Did you get the kitten, blanca? Oh the you got that one – he is the prettiest!” I think I think witnessing that gives people hope. The support I personally received from Luxe Paws gave me hope.

lenny

Lenny is a 5wk old male orange tabby and he still needs a home! If you live in the Los Angeles area and know anyone who is interested please email me -> thefeargirls@gmail.com

Trap, fix, release is a great method. Contacting Luxe Paws (if you are in the Silver Lake area) or any cat group and learning how to set traps, foster kittens, etc. is such a wonderful use of your free time. It is also a great thing to do as a teenager – it certainly gave my hormonal, angsty self a sense of purpose back in the day… Maybe you don’t have the time to do trappings or the space to foster (I know I usually do not) – however there are ways to get involved. These organizations are totally non-profit and get hardly any help. The women who rescue and foster often pay all the vet bills themselves (the city does not help to control the feral cat population at all). Simply liking the group on FB and sharing some of their ‘adopt this kitten’ posts makes a huge impact. Your friend of a friend of a friend may see the picture and decide they want an adorable kitty! It is as simple as that. I know how getting involved can seem daunting but keep in mind that a little bit goes a very long way!

Also – please LIKE Luxe Paws on FB and contact them if you are interested in getting involved/ volunteering / adopting!

My Almost Family

By Zoe Claster

The other day my father and I were going through old VHS tapes that had been piling up in our living room. Most of what we found was old episodes of Roseanne and Becker back when my dad actually cared about watching every single episode of just about anything that came on television. But among the re-runs and award shows from the early 90’s, we’d occasionally find some old home videos from my childhood.

One video my dad showed me was from before I was born–when my mom and dad were still married and my mom was pregnant with my brother, Max. My grandmother had recently sent them an 80’s equivalent of a camcorder that you had to strap onto your body in order to use. She had sent it to them with they intention that they could send her videos of the baby and the house and whatnot. So they made some videos and they creatively called them the “Bob and Kathy” shows, which were essentially my dad and very-pregnant mom being a silly married couple.

As I watched this, I knew that this footage was and always would be incredibly important to me, mainly because I was about two-years-old when my parents got divorced and so I never got to see what they were like as an actual couple. What I didn’t realize, nor was I relatively prepared for, was how much of an emotional impact it would have on me. And during the moment, I couldn’t understand why this footage was suddenly making be sob uncontrollably.

I later realized that I had gotten so upset because, in a way, I was watching the family that almost was and never would be. Here I was– 16 years having grown up with a single Mother and a single Father, never having experienced what it’s like to live with “Mom and Dad” together under one roof, always hearing stories but never fathoming the mere notion of my parents actually living together, let alone willingly, happily, and in love–seeing them start out as the beginning of a real, honest-to-goodness family.

To know that there was a time when my parents were together and happy. Happy and madly in love. To know that there was a time when my dad was young and thin and full of life and optimism. That there was a time when my mom’s laugh was warm and bright, when their marriage wasn’t thought of as such a joke. When my uncle, Scott, was alive and healthy with not a bit of cancer in sight. When my grandmother had the ability to have an interesting and worthwhile intellectual conversations… A time when there was real promise for a “family”– a family that I never got to experience. A family that pretty much fell apart before I was even born.

And to suddenly come back to the present, 22 years later, and know that their marriage would eventually fall apart, that my dad would end up older and heavier and all around bitter about his life, that my mom would re-marry but never really have that warm laugh that she once had, that my uncle and grandmother would pass away too soon, and that our “family” would be nothing but a sad nostalgic reminder of what could have been–just makes me fall apart.

This is not to say that I don’t feel more than grateful to actually have a mother and father that are still alive and well and are not hookers or crack dealers or something seemingly awful and disturbing. Living in a time where 60% of the country’s population has divorced parents, it isn’t terribly unusual to be in my situation and it’s hard to feel terribly sympathetic. Most people just say, “Well at least your parents are still alive!”

I’m not saying that I wish I had parents. I have them, I love them dearly, and I know I shouldn’t complain. But I feel as though I have missed out on a very crucial part of the “family” experience.

My father once told me about a survey that his boss sent him as an anti-social attempt to “connect” with his fellow co-workers. One of the questions that the survey asked was, “Who do you miss the most right now?” My father told me that of all the people that he’s lost this year, including my grandmother in 2005 and Scott this past year, the people that he really misses the most are the kids that my brother Max and I once were and never will be. At the time I thought this was silly because Max and I were still alive where as he would never be able to see Nana and Scott ever again.

It didn’t make sense to me until I watched the home video of my parents and realized what he meant. It is true that Max and I are still alive, but we will never be those cute and adorable little people that we once were. Those kids are still inside us, in a way, but we’ll never say silly things like, “Boo boo” and go on and on about what we learned in school. We’ll never be those little portable bundles of cuteness.

The people that I miss the most are the “Mom & Dad” that I never got to know and never got to grow up with. I feel like, in a way, those people died sometime before I was born, and I miss them terribly.

Back when my Uncle was still alive, I asked him what my parents were like when they were together. I remember that he thought about it carefully for a moment before saying, “They laughed a lot. They were really funny together.” I remember thinking how baffling that was, simply because even seeing them in the same room together just seemed bizarre. But having seen that video, I really understood what he meant. And in some way, it’s nice to know that they started out in a good place, even though I never got to see the “Bob and Kathy show” live.

At it stands right now, my family is and has been broken for some time. Our numbers have gotten smaller as people have died and holidays seem more and more depressing and upsetting than anything else. However, I maintain that we are slowly on the mend. And that with time, like most things, it will get better. Like most children of divorce, it feels like the family dynamic that we often crave is simply unrealistic in this day and age. It’s hard not to feel jaded about the future of romantic pursuits because, if they couldn’t make it work, how do I even stand a chance? Let alone have children to suffer the consequences if it doesn’t work out. Needless to say, it is a crippling concept for those of us who don’t have the hope and encouragement of their parents’ relationship to fall back on. Still, I maintain optimistic with the hope that I will someday find someone that I can trust—to have kids with, to be happy with, to rebuild a family and hopefully have home videos of my own that maybe won’t upset my children as much as they upset me. That’s the idea anyway, isn’t it?

The Hobbit Sized Hole in My Heart

 By Caitlin Clarkson

 While I would probably describe myself as a geek if asked, I don’t know if I can quite say what I’m a geek for. When I was younger, that was such an easy question; Sailor Moon, Pokemon, the Dear America series (and by extension, The Royal Diaries), and above all, The Lord of the Rings.

I used to be a major Lord of the Rings nerd. We’re talking writing names on sticky notes and charting out whole Elven family trees on my wall major. The books and movies were introduced to me at the perfect point, when I was twelve and making that strange transition from life as a kid to life as a teenager. The Lord of the Rings (or LotR) drastically changed my life. I bonded with new friends over it, perhaps building friendships through related interests for the very first time. I pored over my concept art book and was inspired to take drawing seriously (for the record, I now have a degree in illustration). The books were the first my dad could, as one reader to another, recommend and share. As a kid, I listened to him read from The Hobbit night after night; looking back, I’m not surprised he took me to the movies and brought the books to my attention.

So when my dad texted me the other day, asking if I was seeing a midnight screening of The Hobbit, I was almost embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t even thought about it. Was I going to? It depended, what was my work schedule for the next day? Was it playing anywhere nearby? How much was it going to cost? 3D movies ain’t cheap. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I very excited?

Well, there was one thing I was excited for- only a few feet away from work, this popped up.


What could it mean?! A quick Google search told me it was going to be a display of props from the film. Okay, that sounded pretty cool. I kept an eye on the spot, waiting to see what awesome stuff the would put in there. The One Ring? Of course. Sting? Why wouldn’t they? Thranduil’s crown? If I was lucky! My imagination reeled, overwhelmed by the possibilities. I quickly found myself watching the trailer in anticipation and seeking out production photos to get an idea of what I might be seeing.

After days and days of waiting, I made it to the exhibit. And to tell the truth… I was underwhelmed. There weren’t props, but recreations of different objects, mostly jewelry (all of which, conveniently, are available for purchase). But I was taken back to flipping through my concept art book, squinting because the pages were so close, trying to see every little detail. And sure, Thranduil’s crown wasn’t included, but Galadriel’s brooch sure was beautiful. I made a mental note to look into midnight showings again, and to maybe put The Hobbit on my Kindle.

I ran into a coworker while I was there, and he skeptically asked me what I thought of the whole thing.

“You know… I think it’s pretty exciting, actually.”

The Truth About The Gender Pay Gap

 By Edison Mellor-Goldman

The gender-pay-gap debate has been rocking the online newspapers and blogosphere in the past few months. I’ve become especially interested since the presidential debates; I had no idea why, on something seemingly so clear-cut, there was no consensus reached over what was actually going on. After some research, it’s became really clear why both sides are equally insistent the other is wrong. No matter of “fact checking” will really resolve the issue, because neither side is lying. It’s just a matter of which facts and statistics each side chooses to look at.
The liberal argument that I both hear and read the most is simply that women are being payed around .77 cents on the male dollar in this country. Although estimates of this number vary, this statistic seems to make a clear case that gender equality in the workplace is far from a done deal. The most common conservative argument is that a big chunk of this discrepancy can be explained away by the types of jobs generally held by women compared to men, and the difference in amount of hours worked. Interestingly, both arguments are valid, but there is an important nuance that neither side brings up: that both the “explained and “unexplained” elements of the pay gap are very important to look at.

It’s true that much of the gender pay gap can be explained by women working different jobs and fewer hours (more part-time and less full-time) than men. For example, in the field of medicine women with doctorates tend to work as pediatricians more often than cardiologists (who are higher paid). But is this the whole story? The Congressional Joint Economic Committee has found that there is an “unexplained” pay gap that still accounts for 5-7% of the difference across all jobs in America. This is after every other factor has been accounted for, including job differences and hour differences. Although the “explained” pay gap has dramatically decreased in this country in the past hundred years, there has consistently been a 5-7% disparity that cannot be explained by anything other than sexism in the job market.

    The liberal media might be misrepresenting its figures by simply saying that women make .77 cents on the male dollar. It might not be wrong, but it can be misleading; when the number is present by candidates or news outlets, it’s never presented with any disclaimer about the shortcomings of the statistic. In an Obama campaign ad, titled “The First Law”, the narrator says “Women [are] paid 77 cents on the dollar for the same work as men”, and it has been criticized for not being more clear about what that number actually means. Just as misleading is the conservative argument that the pay gap can be explained away, while they ignore the fact that just about every review by the Congressional Joint Economic committee over the years has an “unexplained” pay gap attributed to gender discrimination.

It seems both sides like to play with the numbers, but we shouldn’t forget that there is a big difference in the reasons that these two parties sensationalize the statistics. The democratic party is trying to draw attention to an issue of inequality, and highlight the fact that the battle isn’t won yet. The republican party is trying to shut its eyes, stick its head in the sand, and repeat the mantra that we are in a “post-gender inequality, post-racial” world. Acts like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act have been vehemently opposed by senate republicans, namely because they felt it would bring up unnecessary lawsuits for a problem that doesn’t exist. That act isn’t a matter of giving women an unfair advantage over men, it simply allows employees to file lawsuits past the typical 180-day statute of limitations if they notice a pay discrepancy. It’s not affirmative action for an entire gender, it’s the right to earn what your fellow worker is earning for the same job.

    Republicans will try to attack the fact that “77¢” is often used out of context, when even the “explained” pay gap indicates educational discrepancies and an unequal burden of motherhood and child raising. We should ask why, for example, there are differences in levels of education and why the burden of raising a child is still heavily on women. We should ask why the looming decision of motherhood makes it such that women disproportionately commit to more flexible careers that pay slightly less. Does the “explained” pay gap directly indicate workplace discrimination? Not necessarily. Is it important to look at when trying to figure out why there’s still gender inequality? Of course it is.
Whether one party or the other is misrepresenting statistics is not the issue, both parties are guilty on that count. I personally think it all comes down to this: republicans are using their arguments to smother equality for women and minorities, while they continue to champion the old “man works, women cooks” nuclear christian family archetype. Meanwhile, democrats are trying to accord women and men equal opportunity in the job market. One party wants to have a serious discussion on workplace equality, and the other party wants to pretend there’s nothing to fix. Politicians will be politicians and news outlets may have their biases, but it’s impossible to ignore what each party is trying to accomplish.

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Medicine statistics:

http://www.theheart.org/article/929075.do

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/5/1000.full

http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/compensation/2012/public

“Explained” and “Unexplained” wage gap references:

http://www.jec.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=9118a9ef-0771-4777-9c1f-8232fe70a45c

http://www.nber.org/papers/w5664.pdf?new_window=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male%E2%80%93female_income_disparity_in_the_United_States

Obama ad, and context:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jun/21/barack-obama/barack-obama-ad-says-women-are-paid-77-cents-dolla/