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.

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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.”

Halloween Costumes Are Sexist

By: Justin Hall

There’s a lot of debate these days as to what does and does not qualify as “sexist,” so let me break this down. The root of sexism is one simple idea that has been instilled in our society for many generations:

Men are people, to be judged by what they can achieve; women are objects, to be judged by how sexually attractive they are.

Everything that can be described as sexist stems from that tragically widespread notion. For example, let’s look at a few Halloween costumes. There’s actually a convenient Tumblr page called Fuck No Sexist Halloween Costumes that gathers up loads of pictures from costume shops for male and female counterparts of various characters and themes.

Transformers!

Wow, that totally looks like a transformer!

And for the ladies…

Whoa! That looks like a… a woman wearing a skimpy dress.

Okay, let’s try something more innocent and less complicated. How about a Baby theme?

Well the proportions are obviously off, but otherwise that’s pretty accurate, I guess…

… You’ve got to be kidding me.

These are just two examples, of course, but you can go to the website and see for yourself — every women’s costume you can find is designed to be as ‘sexy’ as possible. If you’re a woman and you’ve shopped at a costume store, you’ve probably noticed this trend.

And honestly, let’s just observe this at face value. When designing costumes for men, the objective is to make it look as accurate to the source material as possible; when designing costumes for women, the objective is to make a sexy, skimpy, revealing outfit that looks sort of vaguely like the source material.

The message is pretty damn clear from where I stand: on Halloween, men dress like their favorite characters so they can pretend to be Batman or a pirate or whoever, and women dress like strippers so we can ogle them.

I don’t see how anybody can argue that this isn’t sexist. It’s definitively sexist. It’s the fucking epitome of sexism.

Justin, are you trying to say women shouldn’t be allowed to dress how they want?!?!

Hell no. I’m not slut shaming here. If you want to dress like a stripper, that’s absolutely your prerogative, and I won’t judge you for it. It’s okay to be sexy. I’m not vilifying the women who dress in skimpy outfits; I’m vilifying the corporations that manufacture nothing but skimpy outfits for women, and the culture that encourages, expects, and all but requires women to dress in skimpy outfits.

The problem isn’t that sexy costumes exist. The problem is that they exist at the expense of everything else.

If you want to buy a pre-made costume and you don’t want anything “sexy,” you’d better go to menswear, because that’s the only place you’ll find it. There are some male costumes that can fit either gender, but many are fitted specifically for the male body. And really, do you think you’re not sending any weird or negative messages to women by telling them that by wearing a concealing outfit that actually looks like the character they want to dress as, they’re crossdressing? Because that’s what it says on the sign — Menswear.

Like I said at the beginning, this is a symptom of a larger problem. This is just one thread in the vast tapestry of sexism. But it’s still a thread. Like everything else in our culture, Halloween costumes don’t exist in a vacuum; the way people dress affects our perception of the world. When we see women everywhere dressing in revealing outfits, the message we are taught — whether we consciously realize it or not — is that women’s purpose during Halloween is to look sexy. Maybe this wouldn’t be a huge deal if we weren’t also getting this message from so many other places.

And there’s nothing wrong with women looking sexy, but they should have more options than that, just like we do. Because women are people.

—-

Justin Hall is an aspiring writer. He runs a gaming blog called Ninja Game Den as well as a personal blog called Ninja Lounge House. His dream is to be a writer for a major gaming website. He has worked as a cashier at various retail stores for over two years.

This article was originally published on Justin’s non-gaming blog, here