Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I have been feeling wishy-washy about my relationship to technology and that all came to a head tonight when I broke my cell phone by dropping it by accident.

The thing is, I've broken three cell phone in the past and each time I've been really upset at the thought of losing my cell phone, but besides feeling momentarily inconvenienced, I wasn't upset this time. Partly it's because circumstances are different now; I have a landline and I can get a pay-as-you-go cell phone for emergencies. Partly it's because I just don't want a cell phone anymore, for the same reason I've been having trouble with the internet lately.

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with cell phones or the internet. In fact I think the internet in particular has brought a lot of amazing things into my life and does a lot of good. Lately, however, I've been really frustrated with aspects of the internet or maybe just how I use it.

I think I may use this kind of technology to spend less time alone with myself and my thoughts. When I am always reading about other people's opinions, I never really have time to form my own. It's the same with the cell phone. Instead of walking by myself and thinking or waiting and thinking, I can just call some one up and chat. There are good aspects to both of these things, of course, I stay informed (or get misinformed) with the internet and I reach out to my friends with my phone. But it seems like (and I don't think I'm alone in this) I am unable to use the internet or my cell phone in moderation or for the "right" reasons.

Besides stunting my ability to form my own opinion, I think the internet has had other negative effects on me. When I read blog comments or visit youtube and look at the comments, I inevitably end up angry or depressed. Some days, being on the internet can be like watching the failure of communication over and over again. I do not understand why strangers feel compelled to try to convince one another that the other person is wrong. I do not understand why I feel compelled to do this. I would not feel compelled to do this if someone on the bus started telling me about their conservative view points, so why do I feel the need to shove my viewpoint down someone else's throat on the internet?

I am not very good at wrapping things up, so I thought I would just end with a thought from Radiant Mind: Essential Buddhist Teachings and Texts. Jon Kabat-Zinn writes,
Where to start? Why not with your own mind? After all, it is the instrument through which all our thoughts and feelings, impulses and perceptions are translated into actions in teh world. When you stop outward activity for some time and practice being still, right there, in that moment, with that decision to sit, you are already breaking the flow of old karma and creating an entirely new and healthier karma. Herein lies the root of change, the turning point of a life lived.
I've been worried recently that we are about to declare war with Iran. Everyone tells me that it won't happen because politicians recognize that it would be political suicide and that the army is stretched thin as it is. If we went to Iran, maybe we would have to re-institute the draft. I'm afraid of that too, but I've also been told that that isn't really a possibility because of the notion of "political suicide." Maybe I am totally paranoid and just plan freaking out about current events, but the argument that the draft will not reappear in our life time because politicians don't have enough traction to get it passed the inevitably outraged population has made me wonder about the country's feelings about the draft in the past.

Howard Zinn writes,

On August 1, 1917, the New York herald reported that in New York City ninety of the first hundred draftees claimed exemption. In Minnesota, headlines in the Minneapolis Journal of August 6 and 7 read: "DRAFT OPPOSITION FAST SPREADING IN STATE" and "CONSCRIPTS GIVE FALSE ADDRESSES."...Senator Thomas Hardwick of Georgia said "there was undoubtedly general and widespread opposition on the part of many the enactment of the draft law. Numerous and largely attended mass meetings held in every part of the State proptested against it..." Ultimately, over 330,000 men were classified as draft evaders."

According to this website, the US had a population of 106,021,537 in 1920. This website tells me that there were about 24 million draft cards on record, about 23% of the population in 1918. So let's say about 25% of the population was eligible for the draft in 1920. That would mean about 37,170,738 men could have been drafted. So, around 80% of the population that could be drafted were classified as draft evaders during WWI.

Today, the US population is around 303,256,320 people. Since only men have to register for the draft (and pretending still there's a fifty-fifty split), that means about 151,628,160 people are able to be drafted currently (ignoring age restrictions as I did above). So if the draft were put in place and the US classified the same percentage (6.23%) of the population as draft evaders as it did during WWI, that means that 9,446,434.4 men would be classified as draft evaders. Or, to put it differently, the entire population of New York City (men and women) and then some would be classified as draft evaders.

So imagine a scenario in regards to draft evasion happening today like it did during WWI. War is declared, the draft is invoked, there are enough draft evaders to equal (and go over) the population of New York City. Yet we still go to war.

As for the Vietnam War, Zinn writes,

By mid-1965, 380 prosecutions were begun against men refusing to be inducted; by mid-1968 that figure was up to 3,305. At the end of 1969, there were 33,960 delinquents nationwide.

Zinn goes onto write that anti-war feelings continued to grow in the nation, which eventually (along with other factors) led to US withdraw of troops. But not before the draft was used and not before so many people were killed.

My point is, throughout history there has been resistance to the draft. Politicians know that it is going to be unpopular. But that has not stopped them from using the draft in the past and I think we are being naive if we think that negative public opinion will stop them from using the draft today.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Reproductive Justice

Over at The Curvature, Cara is discussing the different possibilities for "re-branding" within the pro-choice movement in order to encompass the ideas of reproductive justice.

It reminded me of Loretta Ross, the National Coordinator of SisterSong, who I saw speak in Charlottesville last year during the Festival of the Book. SisterSong is a women of color reproductive justice organization. Here's how they described themselves:

The SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective is a network of local, regional and nation grassroots agencies representing five primary ethnic populations/indigenous nations in the United States:
  • African American
  • Arab American/Middle Eastern
  • Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Latina
  • Native American/Indigenous

When Ross came to speak in Charlottesville last year one of the topic she touched on was SisterSong's involvement in the 2004 March for Women's Lives. Until they had become involved the march was called "March for Choice," but one of the conditions of SisterSong's involvement, Ross explained, was the name change. I remember feeling disappointed when I heard about the name change, because I thought it was about diluting what was to me, the primary issue, abortion rights.

My feelings at that time epitomize why the name change was necessary. To me, and to many Americans, pro-choice had become synonymous with being pro-choice about abortion (focusing on the right to choose to have or not to have an abortion). By changing the name to "March for Women's Lives" and by using the phrase "reproductive justice" SisterSong hopes to reconnect and recognize the links between abortion rights to other social justice issues and to other reproductive issues.

Reproductive Justice, as defined by Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (an original founding member oranization of SisterSong) is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities in all areas of our lives.

In their extremely interesting Funders Briefing Report from 2005 (seriously, read it; it's not that long and it's great), SisterSong explains that the Reproductive Justice framework "spells out affirmative obligations that the government has to ensure the necessary social support for our decisions." (p. 2)

SisterSong writes,

From the perspective of SisterSong, one of the key problems we collectively face is the isolation of abortion from other social justice issues that concern all communities. Abortion isolated from other social justice/human rights issues neglects issues of economic justice, the environment, criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, militarism, discrimination based on race and sexual orientation, and a host of other concerns directly affecting an individual woman’s decision making process. Moreover, support for abortion rights is even frequently isolated from other reproductive health issues. We believe that the ability of any woman to determine her own reproductive destiny is directly linked to the conditions in her community and these conditions are not just a matter of individual choice and access. (pg. 3)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Slander, Libel, Oh My!

Today Gawker did a piece on a blogger who has create her blog in order to publicize the picture of the man she believes gave her herpes. On her blog she also documents that she flyered the neighborhood they live in with a picture of him that says, "I have herpes" across it.

I'm not going to link to the blog for two reasons. First (which will be the substance of this post), I don't want to participate in spreading a rumor and secondly, I'm pretty sure she's mostly doing this because she's blinded by anger and wants attention. (Note to everyone out there [including me], nothing lastingly good ever comes from actions motivated by feelings of anger or wanting revenge.)

Please check out the American Social Health website for information about herpes. The blogger found information that theusual incubation period is about 2 to 20 days, which is how she calculated who (she claims) knowingly infected her. Here are two things that cast doubt on her claim that come from the same website linked above: (1) Although the first reaction usually appears within 2 to 12 days, the symptoms can be so mild that the carrier does not realize that they have herpes until a subsequent outbreak, which can be years later as herpes remains in your system for life. Based on what she's posted on her blog, she cannot be sure that this is her first outbreak and she may have actually contracted herpes years ago. (2) It's estimated that 90% of people who have herpes don't know that they have it. It's likely, therefore, that this guy was not aware that he had herpes.

From a legal standpoint, setting up a blog like this is a ridiculously stupid thing to do. As Gregory A. Abbott, Esq. explains

Defamation consists of the following:
(1) a defamatory statement;
(2) published to third parties; and
(3) which the speaker or publisher knew or should have known was false.

In order for a statement to be defamatory the plaintiff must prove that the statement is damaging to his reputation, but accusing someone of having an STD is defamation per se, meaning the plaintiff is not required to proved damages.

The blogger in this case is not left without legal recourse, however. People have successfully sued others for knowingly transmitting an STD (though it is rare).

I also wonder what is really being criticized in this blogger's posts; the failure to disclose STD status or just having an STD at all. The former is certainly reprehensible. But I often find that just hearing that someone has an STD is enough to get people and their criticisms going. And if you're a sexually active adult, how hypocritical is that? First, chances are high that you have an STD and just don't know. Secondly, if you don't have an STD and you are sexual active, that is a combination of practicing safe sex and luck, but luck
is a factor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Good Earth and the Happy Body (and the Pleased Checkbook)

So I'm a day late with this, but I just heard about it this morning on The Bryant Park Project. Yesterday was Blog Action Day, during which bloggers were meant to discuss the environment.

In my favorite posts bloggers wrote about their tips on how to reduce one's impact on the environment, so I thought I would add one of my own, one for the ladies (sorry, fellas).

Instead of using tampons or sanitary napkins (which has got to be the most awful generic name for a product ever), try the Keeper.

The Keeper is designed to catch your menstrual flow rather than absorb it. Its bell shape allows ...[it] fit snuggly and comfortably up against your vaginal walls, below but not touching your cervix.

The Keeper is much better for the environment then pads or tampons, which come in cardboard boxes and plastic wraps and are thrown out after use. Besides the positive environmental effects, using the Keeper is cheaper than restocking on pads and tampons each time you have your period. (It cost about $35. Pads and tampons costs about $4, right now, so if you use a pack a month for 30 years you will have spent $1,440 on menstruation products. Even if your using half a pack a month, it's still a lot cheaper to buy a Keeper.) Finally, I like the Keeper because I know what's coming in contact with my body. When I use a pad or a tampon, I'm not sure what chemicals have been used to bleach the product white or to make it super-absorbant.

If I've sold you on it, you might be wondering how it works. First, here is what it looks like:

When I begin my period, I wash the Keeper off with soap and hot water and then I boil it for ten minutes (I've read that three minutes in boiling water is safe, but I like to be careful).

To insert it, I fold it in half once and then again (see below).

Then I get into the same position I would to insert a tampon (if seeing a diagram of a vagina is NSFW don't click on that link) and slide it with my thumb and index finger guiding it in. When I remove my fingers, the Keeper pops open and into place.

I have to empty the Keeper twice in a 24-hour-period, which I generally do in the morning and before I go to bed, dumping the contents into the toilet or down the drain while I shower. I wash the Keeper thoroughly before re-inserting. Sometimes I use a pad at night with the Keeper just in case.

The Keeper has a little knob on the end that sticks out of your vagina while it's in (some people cut off this knob). You can grip this knob while you remove the Keeper. To remove it, I simply insert my finger into my vagina and squeeze the Keeper, breaking it's seal, which allows me to pull it out (it's painless).

When my period is over I wash it and boil it again. I store it in a small cloth bag (which by the way, I wash with the laundry the week I have my period).

Here are some things to consider before buying a Keeper:

If you do not like to put your fingers in your vagina or are worried about getting a tiny (and it really is tiny, I've never spilled it or anything) amount of blood on your fingers, this probably isn't for you.

It is larger than a tampon, so it might be uncomfortable to use if you haven't had vaginal sexual intercourse yet. (Although I do have to say, that I do not feel it at all when I have the Keeper in and I am able to feel tampons.)

If you have to change the Keeper more frequently because your flow is heavier, you should be prepared to change it in a public restroom setting just in case. This might mean bringing some extra water and a little bottle of soap with you, so you can rinse and wash the Keeper in your stall.

I have read that Keepers might increase the chance of getting a UTI, but if you are prone to UTIs you can prevent this by just being extra careful (drinking lots of water, practicing good hygiene, drinking unsweetened cranberry juice, urinating after sexual contact, and never holding your urine in for a long period of time).

I really love my Keeper and I'm happy to answer any questions anyone has about it to the best of my ability.

Edit: If you don't want to try to use the Keeper consider making your own pads. All you need is an old t-shirt, pillowcase, or sheets and a couple safety pins. You can cut them to be any length you want and fold them over to make them any thickness you want. Just rinse them out, wash, and reuse! Even if you just do this at night you'll be cutting back on the amount of trash produced by traditional menstrual products.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Just scan and bag, please!

Awhile ago I had to buy a pregnancy test from CVS. When I got to the counter and paid the clerk somberly told me that he hoped it turned out whatever way I wanted it to. I know that the guy meant well, but I can't help but wonder if he says the same thing to some guy purchasing cream for his penis. (Not that they sell "cream for penis" at CVS. Do they? I have no idea. But you know what I'm saying anyway.)

I cannot even begin to tell you how intensely invasive the clerk's well-intentioned remark felt to me. Suddenly there was this new individual who had actively alerted me to his knowledge of and his opinion of what was, to me, a deeply private act (after it involved my urine and my hormone levels; I was going to take the test in a bathroom with the door shut, not at a party or in the street). I didn't want his well-wishes; I want him to keep the silent compact between clerk and customer, that the customer's purchases are her private business.

I don't think it's any shocker for me to say that when it comes to reproduction women's private space is being slowly eroded and has been for awhile. In some states pharmacists whose are personally against Emergency Contraceptives (EC) are legally permitted to turn away women seeking the drug. In these cases, the state is saying to the woman, "here is another non-medical and not personally related to you opinion that trumps your decisions regarding your body, contraceptives, and reproduction." The ethics policy of the American Pharmacists Association requires pharmacists who will not provide women with EC to direct them to a pharmacist or pharmacy that will, but EC must be taken within 72 hours to be effective, so time is of the essence. Also, many woman cannot take time off work to drive all across town to different pharmacies that provide EC. In addition, it must be incredibly demoralizing and humiliating to have to face the pharmacist's implicit disapproval.

Maybe that's at least in part what this law is about. Let's call a spade a spade; this law is not about respecting a pharmacist's opinion; it's about preventing women from effectively using EC. If I think I might need EC, but know that I might have to be humiliated in a store (potentially in front of other customers) and then forced to drive across town to another store to get it (where I might be humiliating again...what's to prevent a pharmacist from "mistakenly" sending a woman to another store that "doesn't stock" EC) all within my ever shrinking lunch hour, maybe I will just give up, bury my head in the sand, and "hope for the best."

For an easier way to get EC, please check out Planned Parenthood here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Well worth the read

I don't have much to say today.

Please check out Russell Shorto's amazing May, 2006 piece in the New York Times, "Contra-Contraceptives." It's long, but that's because it's packed with really interesting information, so I suggest you read the whole thing. Shorto examines anti-choice groups' stance on contraceptives and makes the case that they are really struggling to make all sex marital and for procreation purposes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

National Coming Out Day

I didn't get around to posting on Monday, Columbus Day, and I have something I'd like to post about that, but before I do there's something going on tomorrow that I'd like to alert people about.

Tomorrow (Oct 11, 2007) is National Coming Out Day and the twenty year anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, accompanied by the AIDs Quilt's first display. The AIDs Quilt is a giant memorial to individuals who have AIDs/HIV or have died from it. In addition to being a memorial, the Quilt is also used to raise money for AIDs service organizations.

This year for National Coming Out Day, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is inviting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) people to make videos about coming out and straight people to make videos about being inspired by others coming out. You can check out their website to watch their introductory video and to get information about how to make a video. Also, please check out their Getting Involved/Take Action tab for some information about the HRC's current advocacy campaigns.

On to (or back to) Columbus Day:

Howard Zinn tell us that when Columbus landed in the Bahamas, he was
met by the Arawark Indians, who swam out to greet them. The Arawark lived in village communes, had developed agriculture of corn, yams, cassava. They could spin and weave, but they had no horses or work animals. They had no iron, but they wore tiny gold ornaments in their ears.
This was to have enormous consequence: it led to Columbus to take some of them aboard ship as prisoners because he insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold."

These were just the first of Columbus' prisoners. According to Zinn, when Columbus realized that there was not as much gold in America as he had originally presumed and that he would have to send some merchandise back home he and his men
went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spanairds and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route."

Zinn goes on to say
My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress...that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth."

For some interesting history about the Monacan tribe of Native Americans, who Thomas Jefferson once saw passing through Monticello to visit a burial ground of their ancestors, please check this out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Buddhist in loooooooooooove

Today I listened to the 1998 Valentine's Day episode from This American Life. The shows overall theme was about marriages and relationships after that first bloom has fallen. The third act featured poet Donald Hall who read poems from his book "Without" about the death of his wife from leukemia. Listening to his poems and his descriptions of his wife, I ended up tearing up in my office.

His poetry, and the entire episode really, has made me think about the nature of love. I know that the romantic love we think of today is a product of time and place; rising hand and hand with our (relatively) new notions of individualism. At the same time, we still clearly care about what society has to say about love; gay-marriage activists want society to recognize and sanctify their love and homophobes (sorry, I feel strongly about this) want society to deem homosexual love as unacceptable.

In college, I had this amazing revelation after I broke up with my high school boyfriend. Everything I thought I knew about love was wrong. The catalyst for this revelation was my Intro to Buddhism class where we read a Thich Nhat Hahn essay (page 85) that delved into his ideas on love-sickness. According to Thich Nhat Hahn, love-sickness is a kind of love that is all consuming; we are obsessed with the object of our affection to the point where we can no longer function normally. Love is like a drug and we long to possess our lover. (See also, Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.) I recognized this kind of love. I think it is the same kind of love that is idealized and celebrated by romantic comedies, love songs, and almost every show on television.

It took a long time for me to discard this model of love. I felt like I had thrown away the most wonderful thing in my life and I wanted to get it back. But it wasn't the guy; it was just the feeling. I wanted to feel that way again (minus the devastation that followed when it ended) and it didn't matter with who. The worst part was once I had this feeling again the only thing I was concerned about was keeping it which manifested itself in obsession over the idea that the person I was with was going to leave me. I spent so much time with that kind of obsession that I didn't spend anytime getting to know the actual people I supposedly loved.

[You can put this next paragraph in big "In My Opinion" brackets]

Today I have different ideas about love. When I am in love with someone I try to recognize that I have all the responsibilities to them that I do to a friend and also, that they have those same responsibilities towards me; respect, compassion, and interest in who they are. Love, to me, also means a commitment to set aside certain sexual play or expression for one person (whether that be monogamy, which is what I practice, or specific sex acts). This wouldn't be a commitment or a sacrifice if it didn't feel at times like I didn't want to do it. [Edit: For me, it should resemble a "joyful sacrifice." As I said it is hard at times, but it would be equally empty of meaning if this was something I did completely unwillingly.] Finally, love means to me allowing the person to be at their worst (while still expecting them to be kind when they can) and knowing that I can be at my worst with them (while still always trying to be kind when I can). In short love is basically showing up everyday and trying to be my best because I want to make the other person happy, but knowing it's ok if I can't be my best that day (and vice versus). Everything else is just icing on the sweet sweet (but PDA is still not ok--kidding! or am I?) cake.

And now I'm hungry.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Memphis, TN

There are two albums that my Dad introduced me to in my childhood that I still listen to today, Billy Joel's An Innocent Man and Paul Simon's Graceland. I really got a kick out of sliding around on the kitchen floor in my socks and belting out "I aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmmmm an innocent man" when I was a kid.

Although I still love Innocent Man (I just listened to it this morning), it's Graceland I identify more and more with as an adult. As a kid, I loved the "silly" song "You can call me Al," for what I saw as it's elements of pretend ("I can call you Betty and Betty, when you call me you can call me Al"), it's upbeat tempo, and it's confusing, but engaging imagery ("Mister Beer-belly [beer-belly] /Get these mutts away from me/I don't find this stuff amusing anymore). Now, as an adult, I hear that song as being about identity crisis. I like that I can still enjoy all the elements of Graceland that I did as a child and as an adult (with a larger vocabulary) I can find meaning in Simon's songs. (You can listen to You Can Call me Al here.)

What I also didn't know as a child, is that Graceland was caught up in some controversy involving UN resolutions against South African apartheid. It seems that at the time the album was made there was a cultural boycott of South Africa going on. Simon used South African artists on Graceland, but as none of the money from the album went to support the apartheid government and the album featured the work of black South Africans, Simon was cleared of any wrong-doing.

For some interesting reading on the history of apartheid please check this out. (This article is specifically about how computer technology was used during apartheid, but this page gives a brief general history of South African apartheid.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fit to print

I am having one of those days where I am feeling a little helpless. I have a lot of compassion and energy, but I don't really know what to do with it all the time. I do several of the obvious things to help out (donate, volunteer, try to spread the word), but there are some days when I just feel like a hamster on the wheel.

There are several issues going on right now that I have been following. I don't write about some things because I do not feel qualified (yet) to speak about them, but here are some of the things I have been reading about lately:

1. On Feministe, Jill reminds us that the genocide in Dafur is still happening.
2. At Bitch, Ph.D., the doctor fills us in on the protest in Burma.
3. At Majikthise, Lindsey highlights the disturbing report recently released about Blackwater's activities in Iraq.
4. NPR continues its coverage of people in poverty in Iraq.

On a lighter note, I want to post about a couple of comments I have received, because I know not everyone clicks on the comments to see what people have said. Sean Tubbs commented on my post "Moo" to let me know about the Charlottesville Podcasting Network and one of their pieces on local food. I've really been enjoying their "Voice of Poverty" podcasts.

Also John let me know that Better than Television is alive and well in Charlottesville. They are bringing us Head-Roc War Machine this Friday at the Bridge as part of the Columbus Day Symposium.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Built for Gender-Neutral Play doesn't have the same ring

I was pedaling along on my exercise bike tonight, watching TV when a commercial came on for Tonka Toy Truck. Has anyone else seen this commercial? The one with the motto "Built for Boyhood"?

The commercial begins with what has got to be the earliest example of well-intentioned-man-is-clueless-about-the-house style of advertising, when a toddler tracks dirt all over the floor in order to bring his mom flowers that he's pulled up from the roots.* The commercial then informs us that boys are "just different" and that's why they need the Tonka Toy Truck, which allows boys to do things that are natural to them like selecting shapes...and walking...I suppose the part that the toy makers consider truly gendered (let's hope they don't consider picking out the square to be a naturally male talent), is the last function of the toy, that a toddler can ride around on it and it's shaped like a truck. Didn't you know? Girls only like to ride around on ponies. The commercial then ends with the cheery (yet ominous to me) note, "Let's face it, boys are just different" (so stop trying to efface harmful gender roles and stereotypes, you dirty feminist bitches?).

I guess what really gets to me about this commercial is the last line, the just face it one, and the motto, Built for Boyhood. Both suggest that there are rock solid rules and behaviors to being a boy (and implicitly to being a girl). I feel like the motto has it spot on, but not in the way that the manufactures want. Yes, this is how we build boyhood (or girlhood for that matter), by giving children repeated messages about what is and isn't appropriate for them based on their gender.

I'm not saying that there aren't girls out there who just like to ride ponies or that there aren't boys out there who just really love trucks. Hell, the majority of boys and girls might fit into these stereotypes. I just think that it's much more complicated than that. For example, when I was a kid I loved playing house, but I also loved pretending to be an explorer in Anartica. One year, I desperately wanted to go as a ballerina for Halloween, but then when the actual night was too cold for my costume, my mom made me go as Zorro...and guess what, I loved being Zorro way more than I liked being a ballerina. I had a plastic kitchen, but I also had a creek that I loved to muck around in with my brother. And I know I'm not the only one out there whose childhood cannot be neatly categorized. If it can't be categorized so neatly, then maybe Tonka should "just face it," people are born male and female (and sometimes intersexed), but they are made into little boys and girls.

The moment that you accept that at least some aspects of gender are socialized, the next question becomes, but why do we socialize gender this way? What purpose does it serve? Whom does it benefit? I think there are many different answers to these question and which answers that we chose to see might be as personal and complex as childhood play.

*For other examples of these kinds of commercials please see any commercial where "Dad" does laundry, dishes, or any kind of childcare. I just love how we are still asking if a woman is capable of being president while at the same time we portray men as not being capable of doing a load of whites. Here's an idea, maybe commercial men can't do housework because that helps reinforce the stereotype that woman are naturally better at it. And maybe real life men want that stereotype reinforced because doing housework is a boring thankless job and as long they are considered bumbling fools within the household they can have plenty of time to do all the things that are "natural" to men, like holding political office, making laws, and deciding who gets what money.)