Margo Page

Our thin wandering trails of experiences
Stretch back beyond the horizon

Criss-crossing each other
Forming the landscape
On which I stand

Looking into transparent water
At feet on top of sand

The world pushes on my arches
To the tip of my head

Where I wonder
Whether the space separating me
From the furthest star

Is more significant
Than the space separating me
From the earth

Greater than any number

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
By Margo Page

As soon as I heard of Lexie Mountain’s plan to break the world record for the longest game of telephone at The Walter’s Art Museum, I was psyched. It sounded silly and fun, and according to the flyer art, would give me an excuse to dress like another animal. But mostly, it was exciting to me because it’s not every day that someone is daring enough to do something so outside of the norm. Few people are brave enough to set a quantitative goal publicly because everyone will know if you don’t reach it, and failure is associated with embarrassment and pity. But in some cases, failing is not a reflection of effort or capability, but instead it’s an indicator that you put yourself out there and attempted something that was truly challenging. And in the process of trying to achieve a truly challenging goal, something entirely different and unexpected might be achieved instead. When it was 12pm and we only had about 400 of the 1331 people we would need to break the record, it was pretty clear we weren’t going to make it unless Lexie’s call out to the baseball team was answered. It was then that I wondered, well if we’re not going to break the record, why does this still feel so important?

Was it because in our individualistic, competitive society, we all have an underlying desire to work collectively with strangers to reach a common goal? Was it because we talked with people we wouldn’t have met otherwise, like Lexie’s mom, Deb, who is super kind, interesting, and has a soul as deep as the ocean? Did it feel special because in today’s fast-paced world, people were taking some time out of their day to have fun as a community? Was it because we were helping someone else reach their goal, not for credit or to feel like a hero, because we weren’t doing anything besides being just a number? A goal that might even sound arbitrary to us, but was clearly important to them. Being there not because we totally understood why, but just because they asked? I think all of these were true for many of us, but it still wasn’t the whole picture.

As one of the volunteers, I was walking around, talking to the people waiting in line, and someone made a joke to me that struck me as super strange. I realized that most of us probably had very little in common. Except that for some reason, all of us – kids and the elderly, people from disparate cultures and parts of the world, belted khaki wearers and people with homemade tee-shirts weaving together references to the telephone game and the song “hotline bling” – were standing on a red line of tape, waiting. None of us had ever participated in a longest game of telephone, social art performance before. But we were doing it, despite feeling a mixture of vague confusion and silliness. I’m sure many people felt a slight awkwardness being next to strangers doing this slightly confusing and silly thing. It was unconventional, this line of people, meandering throughout the sacred territory of an art museum, playing a children’s game. But there we were – 504 of us, standing genuinely open, hopeful, and patient like curious soldiers, without a full understanding of what the importance of this was, or whether it was even important at all. I was asked a lot of questions, like, What number have we reached? When will it start? How long will it take for the message to get to me? Will we break the record? Do you know what kind of message it is? But no one had any of those answers. So there we all waited in relative uncertainty, without answers, without knowing what the outcome would be, just entertaining ourselves. Isn’t that life?

The event was silly and absurd, like the sentence I heard, “Seeing the mount of a goat boat,” and the final sentence, “There is a nurse elite called Eringe Juice.” It was also insightful, like the starting sentence Lexie chose by Hafiz, “What we speak becomes the house we live in.” It was also heartfelt. It was also beautiful. Life doesn’t separate our emotions and hand them to us on separate, labeled platters. Life opens all of our emotions, sometimes all at once. We were inspired, surprised, and touched by the experience, even though we might not be entirely sure of why or how. It emphasized many morals in a palpable way. Let’s be patient, it will eventually be our turn. Let’s accept the unknown, it will always exist. Let’s be gentle and kind to each other, we’re all in the same boat (a goat boat?). Let’s look around, because we might be standing right next to an amazing person, or an incredible, timeless work of art. Let’s enjoy our wait, because that end goal we’re hoping for might never be met, and the only thing that we can be sure of having is this very moment.

Being  a     sorta vegan

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
By Margo Page

Being a sorta vegan is no way to make friends. You’re too vegan-y for the carnivores and too carnivore-y for the vegetarians. They might not kick you out on the curb but you’re definitely going to miss out on the vegan bonding time. But I’ve always enjoyed fence sitting… chain link might hurt your butt but it always gives you the best view. I’m pretty sure that’s a worthless metaphor, but balancing yourself on a high fence is usually hilarious. Ok well now that I’ve sold you on my wonderful judgment I’ll get to the point…

Some negative spins on the concept include being a half-assed vegan, a wannabe vegan, and a cheating vegan. But being a sorta vegan is different. You’re not half-assing something if full-assing was never your intent in the first place, you’re not a wannabe if you don’t really wanna be, and you’re not cheating if you never took the vegan oath. Being up front with your sorta vegan status is much better than claiming veganhood and then having your vegan friend spy you sneaking a milk-based cookie up your sleeve, taking a bite in the bathroom and then solemnly burying the rest in the flower bed outside of the OK Natural Food Store on Preston Street while saying five Hail-Donald Watsons. Vegans are a little more elevated than me morally, and I’m ok with that. Being a total vegan is the ideal. But I’m not and I don’t feel like beating myself up over it now. Maybe in the future I will be, but I doubt it. I highly doubt I will ever decide to pass on all dairy desserts for the rest of my life. If I’ve had a few and someone puts a cheese pizza in front of me, more likely than not, I’m going to eat a piece (about a 90:10 chance, to be clear). And this is hard to say, but, I also eat meat sometimes. This sounds perplexing, I know. Usually veganism is considered so advanced, you’re only even allowed to think about it after you have successfully mastered the entire vegetarianism level. But I probably eat 98% less meat and dairy than before becoming a sorta vegan, so that’s a vastly positive move in my opinion.

Why not vegan                                                                                          gbheart

Everyone knows the benefits of veganism. There are the environmental benefits of eating vegan (reduced water usage and greenhouse gas emissions), the humane aspect of not using animals as slaves, not using selective breeding (warning: sad but not graphic) like breeding chickens so they lay an unnatural amount of eggs, the emotional benefits of knowing that you’re not ingesting another animal or drinking it’s lactation, and the health benefits of paying more attention to what you’re eating and eating food that’s healthier than meat. There’s quite a few invalid arguments against veganism still floating around, like getting enough protein and nutrients (have you ever seen a gorilla), and putting dairy farmers out of business (sorry for your loss, but maybe you can trade in your cow stalls for soybean stalks). Craving meat is often mentioned as a “need”, but as for the psychological aspect of it, slowly weaning yourself off of it does the trick. I’m an advocate for less and less often instead of cold turkey for quitting most things, especially at first. If you have a physical craving for meat, you’re probably low in zinc, iron or both and could use a supplement or alternative food sources. Some people go pale at the mention of not eating meat every day, but gradually cutting back to every other day, and then maybe twice a week is really not that difficult for anyone. Twice a week, that’s every three days… that means you only go two days at a stretch without eating meat. Before I ever ate tofu, I would want meat when I was really hungry. But now I’ve eaten tofu enough that I automatically associate tofu with satisfaction and want it when I’m hungry. Our brains are so amazing to adjust our tastes and preferences based on what we eat.

There are only two arguments against eating vegan that have any merit whatsoever, which are that vegan food products are not as good, and it can be more expensive. However, these are both becoming less and less true as the market demand continues to increase for vegan products, driving innovation for vegan food products, and eventually lowering the cost for them. Plus the majority of a vegan diet is fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains and legumes. So if you spend a dollar more on a vegan food product here and there the difference is pretty negligible. The couple of ways we can continue to influence our society into becoming more vegan is by word of mouth, and the capitalism method of voting with your dollars. Few people listen to me all that much, and I’m not buying truck loads of vegan food items, so like most of us, I’m not having much of an influence any way you spin it. But that’s really not important, because our roles in making this huge world a better place are all about the collective of our itty-bitty influences.

Preferring vegan products

A simple preference for vegan products goes a long way. Even when there isn’t a viable vegan option to buy, asking the servers what the vegan options are because you prefer to eat vegan can encourage store, cafe, bar, and restaurant owners to look into more vegan options. Sometimes the vegan options are kind of irritating and make me a little normous. Like when The Charmery in Hampden offers one random vegan flavor. They’re like “Oh we see you vegans, and we would like to offer you this… strawberry ice cream [smiling sarcastically].” That’s like a schoolyard bully asking if you want a cupcake, and while you are saying yes with eyes gleaming like the light of a thousand suns, dropping that cupcake of delight on the ground and stepping on it with their Sketchers boot while maintaining emotionless, fixed eye contact, and asking you “how ’bout …now?” Strawberry ice cream sounds appealing to me about once every 10 years. And substituting sorbet for ice cream is like eating pasta when you were in the mood for pizza, just no.

Say with your pay Andy Abellow                                  purplepinkheartsBlog

There are so many amazing recipes and recommendations online on cooking and eating vegan. Vegans are usually great cooks because they know such a variety of food and realize that how the main ingredient is prepared is so much more important than what the main ingredient is. Aside from the endless foods that are naturally vegan (the vegetables, fruits, grains, rice, legumes, beans, and nuts which are majority of a vegan diet. Oh, and coffee, alcohol, and chocolate which are food groups too, right?) the market for vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan foods is booming — all due to so many people buying vegan products. And you don’t have to be vegan 24/7 365 to contribute to the movement. Just choosing vegan products sometimes helps a lot. Now we have whole vegan sections in stores with pre-packaged vegan meals. The day of the fat lazy vegans is dawning! I went to MOM’s grocery store for the first time recently, which has so many vegan items, it’s like shopping in a future paradise. Although, I have to say it… the name “MOM’s” isn’t very progressive… I mean let’s not leave out the awesome Guardians and amazing Dads. Wouldn’t “NOMs” be better? Maybe it could stand for Nascent Organic Markets?


Like all food products, some vegan food products aren’t very good, so sometimes people might try one and think all vegan ice cream isn’t that choice. So here are my favorite vegan items so far, I’m sure there are other great ones out there but these definitely don’t disappoint.

Yogurt – Daiya.
I’ve only seen this at MOM’s so far.

daiya yogurt

Pizza – Amy’s Organic Roasted Vegetable
I bought this to make lunch for a few people excited to introduce them to it, but it turned out that two of them actually had it in their freezer at home. So it’s definitely not just me, and once you try it I’m sure you’ll want to get it again.

amys pizza

Cheese – Go Veggie’s shredded mozzarella
I haven’t had a vegan cheese yet that I want to eat alone, like on a cheese board, but it could be because I haven’t tried them all yet. Some of the ones with the best reviews aren’t even sold in the US, so recommending them to a grocery store could be helpful. And as long as we’re keeping up the demand, in the near future there will definitely be more improved vegan cheese options readily available. Even though some of them aren’t in local stores they do exist and some you can order online. For just adding onto pizza and other things though, Go Veggie’s shredded mozzarella is pretty good and available in most stores.

go veggie cheese

Cream Cheese – Daiya, plain cream cheese

Daiya cream cheese

Soup – Amy’s No Chicken Noodle, Amy’s Southwest Veggie
In theory, it’s easy for soups to be made naturally vegan. But for some reason, vegan canned soups are scarce. I guess they think, oh let’s throw some chicken in the butternut squash because what the heck…? But Amy’s has a lot of great vegan soups.

amys soup cxnamys soups sw veg

Eggs – Follow Your Heart
This is the only thing on this list I haven’t tried yet. I just ordered it online from just to try it. It was only $6 including shipping because it was my first order. If I like it enough to buy it again I’m going to recommend it to local grocery stores and see if any of them will consider carrying it.

vegan egg

Butter – Earth Balance buttery spread

earth balance butter

Seitan – Upton’s Seitan, Chorizo flavored
If you’re gluten-intolerant this obviously is not an option for you since seitan is gluten (the main protein in wheat). But if you’re okay with gluten it’s a nice option on occasion.

upton seitan chorizo

Tofu – Nasoya and Organics’s firm tofu
If you’re an OK cook, firm tofu is great.

nasoya firm tofu       organics firm tofu

If you’re a less than OK cook like me ; ) these pre-baked, seasoned and marinated tofu are excellent.

tofu baked chipotle

Jack fruit – The Jackfruit Company
This is a miracle fruit. Now it’s sold pre-packaged with various marinations (definitely at Wegman’s, I’m not sure where else). Teriyaki is my favorite so far. When I made dinner for my parents last month, I put this over rice as the main dish and told them it was pulled pork. After dinner I told them everything they’d eaten was vegan and they were super surprised! You couldn’t fool everyone with this prank, but it’s legitimately good and filling.

Teriyaki jackfruit

Cheesecake – Daiya’s keylime cheesecake
The blueberries were key, and adding raspberry sauce and some other fruit would make it even better. It’s not the best cheesecake you’ve ever have (at least I hope not, for your sake), but how often do you eat your favorite cheesecake anyways? There’s lots of vegan keylime recipes online if you’re so inclined.


Ice cream – SO’s Chocolate Truffle
chocolate truffle

Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter and Cookies. Fingers crossed that B&J comes out with some more vegan ice cream flavors!
ben jerrys

Chocolate sauce (make sure to keep it in the pouch when you warm it up), and Marshmallow fluff.

hot fudge  suzannes marshmallow

And the number one food group… Marshmallows.


Most of these are sold at Wegman’s, Safeway, Giant, Whole Foods, and MOM’s with some exceptions. If you can’t find it, and have time to suggest it to a manager, maybe they’ll start to carry it. The marshmallow fluff is sold online along with a bunch of other vegan products like rice nectar (the vegan version of honey), at Suzanne’s Specialties. There are also a lot of vegan products online at The Vegan Store. More vegan products like vegan mayo, at Follow Your Heart. There’s a ton more great vegan food items out there but if you’re wondering where to start or want to try a few out maybe this could help. Ok well I better go, before this turns into a food blog.

Let’s start living our lives
Living for the future paradise
Praise to our lives
Living for the future paradise
~Stevie Wonder

The Human Race

Monday, March 7, 2016
By Margo Page

One blog article may count for as little as one vote, despite being a lot more work. But here it is, just in case it makes a little difference. It’s too much to completely address all of the factors at play in our current political landscape without doing a dissertation, but here’s my effort. I use “they” as the singular in place of he/she Time word of the year.

The confirmation bias of facebook and the disappearance of conversation
People sometimes go so far as to deselect their vocal friends who don’t back-up how they feel. One friend who de-friended me on facebook explained it like this, “I’m just tired of arguing with you and you keep posting stuff all over my fb. We obviously disagree on most things so lets just let it go.” And, I agree, that at some point you should just agree to disagree. But I think this brings up an important issue: why would someone be more reluctant to ask someone to lay-off their facebook posts, than to “unfriend” someone? I don’t think that it’s because of the greater physical labor in typing than clicking a button, but I think it reflects many people’s extreme conflict avoidance. Someone else posted a video on facebook with this disclaimer: “I can’t find an articulate way to say how i feel about stuff like this without ultimately offending people who don’t agree with me.” I think that articulately summarizes the disintegration of healthy discourse that we are experiencing in our society. When I have expressed views on facebook, I’ve been repeatedly accused by strangers of not being a “real person (i.e. a fake profile),” a “paid troll,” “working for Hillary (which I presume implied that I was ‘doing it for money,’ but ironically, Sanders is the only candidate who pays his interns),” being “too calculating,” using “prefabricated responses,” and I was harassed by someone who took to barraging my public profile picture with memes and strangely demanding that I “state my allegiance.” The hostility towards differing opinions on facebook is very high, and actual discussions are essentially non-existent. Why do people who don’t want to argue/discuss/debate even post political articles? They’re not interested in thoughtfully analyzing them or in having their opinions challenged because their opinion is already made up.

I suppose they think the articles they’re providing are particularly informative/insightful, and if someone disagrees with an article they share, it simply causes them irritation. Because once someone’s mind is made up, discussion no longer has anything to offer them. At that point, there is no benefit to you if someone disagrees with you. It is simply an irritation you are tolerating to be civil. But people make up their minds really early on, almost at the very beginning of a presidential race. After that, they only promote their candidate. So few people change their mind after the beginning of a presidential race, that the entire race is just a bunch of people fighting with each other, trying to be the “right” one, and the “winner.” So when you bring up a valid point to someone, the reaction is either hostile, flat-out dismissed, or deemed insignificant in comparison to their feelings. We feel that never changing your mind is valuable. Admitting that you changed your mind about something is so shameful to us that not only would we loathe to admit it, we don’t even let it happen in the first place. As a result, facebook (in particular) is a culture in which it’s only acceptable to either avoid any mention of controversial topics altogether, or to post material that supports the candidate who is currently most popular amongst your friends, and to comment only positive approval of other’s content. That is really unfortunate, anti-intellectual, and counter-productive.
How facebook makes us dumber
Internet confirmation bias

The “halo effect” and “horns effects” run strong through simplified fast-paced assessments.
It’s a simple psychological strategy: provide an association between someone and something that’s disliked and you have created the “horns effect.” This is often done with just a picture for fast, more simplified statements. Clinton pictured smiling with Trump, Clinton associated with big banks, Clinton is married to someone with a sexual harassment record. Underneath the picture I recently saw on facebook of Clinton at Trump’s wedding was a comment that was simply a devil emoji. This message is constantly being restated: Clinton is bad because of associations. At best this is inane circumstantial evidence — smiling at someone who is now notorious but was formerly was a conservative democrat businessman who donated to her charity means that she’s bad? At worst this is a smear tactic. Getting along with people with different views is not something that should be a criticism, it’s exactly what we need more of today — in politicians and the general public. They were not and are not friends. And that is the main strategy that Sanders’ campaign takes: painting a negative picture of her by insinuating things like she has been bought. He doesn’t need evidence to make it effective, people’s minds do all of the work for him. So he keeps his hands clean, all while negatively influencing people’s perceptions. The power of suggestion and insinuation is very manipulative.

When it comes down to it, the reasons people are supporting Sanders instead of Clinton are based in emotion, and character judgement.
I realize that some people may be very diplomatic and emotionally removed from their opinions, but overall there’s a phenomenon of people very emotionally charged about their candidate choice. Sanders and Clinton have very similar stances on the actual issues, and a difference in opinion on solely their political ideas would not yield the emotional fervor we are witnessing. How the candidates do in fact differ on political issues is seldom even mentioned. The majority of arguments for Sanders are rooted in evaluations of and implications about the candidates’ characters.

I’ve spoken with some acquaintances and friends who are rooting for Sanders, all who seem like reasonable people. The conversations have started off with briefly talking about issues, but quickly reveal that the crux of their stance is based in an emotional liking of Sanders over Clinton. Presidential races are largely defined by the emotional stances people have with the candidates. When it comes down to it, a lot of people listen to their feelings and then find facts to back up how they feel. This is nothing new. Also, I don’t think emotion should be entirely excluded from people’s consideration of who to vote for. But I’m disappointed to see how much it seems to be dominating people’s reasoning, especially seemingly rational, progressive-minded people. I believe in following your gut feelings about a person, but only after getting to know someone a bit. Unfortunately, people often make emotional judgements based on superficial qualities of another person, often without even realizing it. Even the most superficial things can affect our behavior without our even realizing it. (Friends tend to look alike) And in politics, most people’s experiences of the candidates are not even real interactions with the candidate. We are consumers of very processed information of their image, their campaign, other’s opinions of them, friends’ opinions, their charisma on camera, etc. None of these pieces make up a person. Feelings towards a political figure are not based on their personhood. We need to step away from those gut judgements when considering political candidates. Otherwise, we will continue to descend into a celebration of celebrity politicians with superficial qualities instead of learning what their values actually are. But most people don’t realize how extensively their assessments of the candidates are based in emotion, even as they explain their emotional reasons for supporting a certain candidate. So what are these negative emotional feelings towards Clinton?

Clinton wasn’t ever as poor as Sanders has been, so that is reason to distrust her.
In my latest conversation, this person offered some more circumstantial “evidence” against Clinton’s character, saying “I just can’t identify with a person who is worth more money than I can hope to ever make in my lifetime.” If anything, I see that as a failure on their part in not being able to relate to someone else for the superficial characteristic of being wealthy. Well, it’s not important whether you are able to relate to her, it’s important that she can relate to you. And she does. They asked what Clinton has done for working class people, and I sent this link: Clinton lifetime champion of income opportunity, to which they said “It’s full of a lot of neat stuff… Unfortunately, all of the horrible stuff that counteracted all of that good stuff is also something she was a part of”. Ok, well that’s a convenient argument, or rather a total dismissal of the topic.

The expectation that people should be consistent on their political stances from birth to death.
We need to note the difference between “political stances” and “values”. Clinton’s internship with a republican when she was 17 was brought up to me as character “evidence” against her, and Sander’s liberal views when he was 17 were “evidence” that he has better character. Apparently, people don’t take into account that the environment you’re raised in affects you a lot. Growing out of a conservative environment is more impressive to me than someone who has been spoon-fed progressive ideas since birth. Many Sanders supporters grew up in a liberal or mixed household, households where various views are tolerated and perhaps even discussed. These are households in which the concept of having an opinion even exists, instead of just an instilled dogmatic acceptance of what your father tells you. Apparently there is a lack of empathy for the moral revelations of a girl who grew up in a republican household in the 40’s and 50’s. Bernie Sanders grew up with immigrant parents — liberals by inevitability. Hillary Clinton grew up in a household headed by her father — a conservative republican, former military, Senator. In High School, she was a fan of Goldwater. In High School. She was seventeen. Perhaps some people in our country think that being 17 is almost an adult mentally because 18 is the voting age, and the age of legal sexual consent. The law considers an 18 year old an adult, even though 18 year olds are not finished developing mentally. Clinton’s political stance when she was 17 is not relevant to her current campaign, nor is it a legitimate means of assessing her character. Besides the fact that no one should be critiqued on their views at such a young age, that was literally 52 years ago. If you don’t think that a person evolves over the course of 5 decades, how do you have even a shred of faith in humanity? Not to mention, that the reasons Clinton supported Goldwater when she did was because he was more of a rebel than a traditional republican, and she soon became a democrat anyways. Once upon a time, Hillary worked for Goldwater

Hillary is still being judged for her husband’s scandals
It was suggested to me that I watch Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk, as evidence of “what kind of person Hillary Clinton really is.” I’ve written about my opinion on the public’s slandering of Monica Lewsinsky (spoiler: I don’t condone it). But how is this relevant to Hillary Clinton? Based on Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky’s assessment of Clinton, this person I was conversing with believes that Hillary tried to “destroy” these other women, and therefore does not think Clinton has good character. And for some reason, this person didn’t entertain the possibility that the former mistress and Tripp were trying to “destroy” Clinton via catty and/or money-driven revenge. This part of Clinton’s life should stay in the past, and in her personal life. Judgements of Hillary’s personal life But, if you really want to get into it, read this article, Hillary blamed again for Bill.

Hillary should be blamed for staying with her husband.
I really find it surprising that someone would pass this kind of judgment on something as personal as their love life. But here is the text from my conversation with a “progressive” Sanders supporter:

Me: So you’re saying she should have divorced him?
Them: Yes!!!
Me: Oh.
Them: But that would’ve hurt her politically.
Me: And that’s a reason she should not be president. Because she chose to make the personal life choice of staying with her husband.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 8.56.53 PM

Some people have been lucky enough to never have been in the position of forgiving someone for something significant. And maybe some people, despite their acceptance of same-sex marriage, have a narrow idea about what marriage means and what decisions should be made in a marriage. So this person believes that Clinton should apparently have “hurt her own political career” by divorcing her husband because they think that was the right choice for her. But since she didn’t, this person is ready to try to hurt her career by not voting for her, because they are villainizing her for making a life choice they don’t empathize with. That’s a catch-22 if I ever heard one. And it’s built on yet another false assumption about her character. Of course it’s unfathomable that Hillary Clinton is genuinely in love because you know, they already decided she’s a bad person when they found out she has a lot of money.

Then this person says that personal love choices have been relevant in politics since “the dawn of time” and “Anthony and Cleopatra”. Wow, that’s a long time! Well, I guess there haven’t been many new powerful female stereotype molds to chose from over the past 2,045 years. And you know, it’s hard to find information sources outside of Hollywood movies. The implication that Hillary Clinton stayed with her husband to help her political career is nauseatingly sexist. As if women can only be successful with the help of a man, and a woman with a strong career clearly can’t also feel love or have real emotions. Addressing some of these ideas is like explaining a twilight zone, and it’s nostalgically misogynistic.

Because of their strong feelings, they chose to ignore areas that don’t support their beliefs.
When I bring up Clinton’s stronger and more motivated roll in women’s issues, they move onto the next topic, as if I hadn’t said anything at all. Why are women’s rights being pushed off to the side like some icing-on-the-cake issue? These are self-described “progressive liberals”, but they are mum on her progress on women’s issues. Yet Sanders saying its kool for some screaming mom to have her boob out at a rally is somehow impressive. Anyone want some cherries? Just ask your nearest Sanders fan because they’ve been picking them all day.

When I ask about why Sanders is the only candidate to opt out of bank verification (unverified unemployed fill his coffers), and how do we know he isn’t getting donations from the NRA, I also hear birds chirping. Or, more like multiple all-caps hashtags calling me a paid troll, or some lengthy rally-style post that is unrelated to what I said, burying my comment on the thread. Again, it’s as if I hadn’t said anything at all.

The anti-Clinton “progressives” are sure that they are, in fact, feminists.
So then there is the claim that “just because they don’t think Clinton is the best choice, it’s not because they’re sexist, because they definitely aren’t.” Being a woman has surely complicated Clinton’s life and the public’s perception of her, and we should take that into consideration when lauding Sander’s political style because, if Sanders were a woman, he would surely have long ago gained the label of “bat-shit crazy woman” if ever even managing to make it into a political position in the first place. And when I said this, and that it’s more complicated being a woman in our society than it is being a man, I was told that was a “gender binary way of thinking.” Then (sarcastically), “You’re totally right. It’s more complicated being a woman. Men have it easy. Especially in America. It’s totally simple for us. We don’t have to think about anything we do or say or wear or think. We just bop along with our privilege. It’s all good.” I asked, so you don’t think sexism exists? He says “Of corse it does. It’s why we still let pieces of little boys get snipped off. And it’s why women don’t make as much money as men.” I said, yes sexism affects everyone, but it manifests more challenges for women. They said “That’s a matter of perspective”. Then this self-proclaimed “progressive feminist” goes on to say “it’s all gray, I face challenges that you don’t face. You face challenges that I don’t face. The system is rigged to benefit white men the most, financially. In other areas it’s rigged to hurt us the most. I’m not interested in playing a game of who’s got it worse in America.” Again, keep in mind that these are quotes from someone who promotes progressive, liberal ideas.

I definitely believe that being a woman gives me an advantage in understanding various feminist issues on a deeper, empathetic level. I thought this was a fair assumption on my part, but even that was challenged. I was told that “if I consider myself a woman, I am sexist.” I believe they were referring to self-identity, which is different from group identity. Internally, I consider myself a person, but I am also identify myself as being in the category of “woman” because of the medical definition of the word, but also because that is the label I’m given in society. Then this person also told me that “It’s only a difference if you keep believing it is.” Despite that there are some women who are anti-feminist, and that there are some men who are very feminist, I do believe that women are more inclined to give the topic more thought, and that being a woman gives you an advantage in understanding sexism on a visceral level. And I have a unique respect for the men who seem to have a really great grasp on it, in spite of not living as a woman and experiencing that side of it first-hand.

These tidbits of this person’s frame of mind really clarified some things. Someone may claim to be a feminist but if you delve deeper into their their feelings about women, you may soon be hearing that sexism is in your head, and that women don’t face more challenges than men, only different challenges. Now of course there are plenty of “progressive liberals” who recognize that sexism has and continues to present more challenges for women. But coming across this perspective in a conversation with someone who proclaims to be “too liberal to vote for Clinton”, has illuminated an interesting paradox. In some people’s self-proclaimed progressive ideology, there is no room to acknowledge women’s unique struggle. For people who are quite aware that sexism is a real thing that negatively affects women, just realize that the seemingly progressive person who shares a Sanders meme featuring a misogynist joke could have this “we are totally equal, including to the extent that sexism negatively affects us” take on feminism. Some people “just thought they were funny” and gave it no further thought. But since when is it acceptable to pass along jokes without thought? Humor can be a powerful vehicle for change by bypassing defenses and reducing status-quo ideas to absurdity, but tasteless humor has long been the Trojan horse, perpetuating poisonous mentalities with subtle “innocuous” forms of prejudice. Do you think that what you share with your friends doesn’t matter? Because you are just one person among billions? Because what you feel doesn’t affect anyone? Well you’re wrong, it does. Every vote matters, and so does everything you say and share. And while voting is important in discrete way, because it stays inside of a black box, what you say is important in a continuous way. We all need to have the mentality that what we do matters, because we make up the whole.

Speaking of the memes, I missed the whole context of the poser geek girl idea, and so I didn’t understand the joke at first. Even after someone explained it to me, I thought it still doesn’t make sense. So, you’re saying that Sanders is more knowledgable about pop culture and that’s an important trait for a president to have? No, they said, it’s because he “get’s it”. Um, gets what? Clinton is clearly the one of them to get Wall Street, foreign affairs, women’s issues, and how to make an argument appeal to both sides of the deal. Why should it even be necessary for politicians to acknowledge popular culture? Then I was told I was thinking about it too hard. So is that the problem, his supporters aren’t thinking through anything? If you’re that dedicated to giving zero fucks, you should be posting about cats, not politics. This is the version I made. It’s not funny in the same twisted cultural reference sort of way which is good because that’s lame. Instead it actually reflects their opposite styles.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 9.13.51 PM

But like I just don’t like her because like, likability
You know, they “just like Sanders better”. I wonder why, could it be because he looks like Larry David? Or a friendly professor? Could it be that we are used to male leaders and that familiarity translates into likability? Could it be that both men and women have more practice relating to men because in film, people of both genders are usually identifying with the main character who is almost always a man? I know I’m not the only woman who relates more often to male characters than female characters, simply because male characters are usually written from the first-person perspective and are the most relatable, whereas female characters are more often than not a bizarre, dimensionless romantic counter-part with few insights into who they are as a person, but plenty of selective cinematography to clarify how the main male character sees them. Women are more likely to disregard gender in self-reference. I don’t think many people are thrown off by Rita B’s “I’m a Lost Boy” because it’s second nature for women to see through the eyes of a male character. Therefore I think it is easier for both women and men to relate to Sanders than to Clinton, with it being even harder for men.

What surprises me is how people act like it’s perfectly valid to judge a candidate based on an elusive “likability” factor. As if it’s okay to dislike someone for something you just can’t put your finger on, or because you’re not getting a rush of dopamine in your brain like you do when you look at a person you find attractive, or because someone doesn’t smile enough. The latter being literally the most ridiculous criticism I can think of. And it would be the most misogynistic criticism, if her not wearing enough skirts didn’t already take that award. “As a woman, she’s expected to play a very specific part, going above and beyond to soften her image and make herself accessible, even though these aren’t necessarily traits we need in a president.” Why Clinton shouldn’t have to prove she’s likable And this hypercriticism of Sanders is no where to be found. He hires someone to play some over-the-top hate song towards conservatives and that’s cool? The song does describe some far right people’s views, but we are not going to civil war here. We’re trying to bring the country together, not isolate each other and entice anger. So he does this angry propaganda, yet calls Clinton’s campaign “aggressive”. Asking another friend (and while I rarely discuss feminism with friends, they definitely all consider themselves feminists) who they’re voting for, and this is the answer I get: “Well I don’t really know much about it. But I watched a debate, and it seems like they’re for the same things. So I guess it’s just which candidate do you like better. I guess I’ve never really liked the Clintons. (Long pause) I can’t think of anything specific. I just never really liked her.” Pause. “Because she’s a dyke. Haha! Just kidding.” Hmm, are you really kidding, I ask. Then I asked them to tell me the first five words they think of when they think of her. The answer: “Manly.” (Long pause) “Stern. Proper. Independent. Old.” And yet, despite admitting this perception of her, they still don’t know who they want to vote for.

To be emotional or not emotional is not the question, because either way you lose.
Of course sexism wouldn’t be complete without a double-edged sword. Regarding her public personality, Clinton is criticized for not showing her emotions. I wonder why she doesn’t show her emotions more? Maybe going through media hell and being blamed for her husbands affairs put a little damper on her jovial-ness in front of the cameras? Maybe because men don’t pick up on subtleties in women’s expression as well, and so when a woman isn’t full-on smiling this is often interpreted as being in a bad mood, or angry? Maybe because women have been constantly stereotyped for having too much emotion? Maybe because when she does say how she feels, and is honest and straight-forward, she is then criticized for “playing the woman card”. So there is this familiar situation where she can’t win. If she showed all of her emotions, or at least to the extent that Sanders does, she would receive comments about how women are emotionally unstable. So she has always kept her emotions in-check and yet she is criticized for not seeming emotional or natural enough. Then she does show her emotions and express her feelings and people say that she’s going to “cry her way to the White House.”

The idea of critiquing every aspect of a woman is a left-over from days when women had to walk as if balancing a book on their head, and told how to look, how to talk, how to sound and what to say. There are endless studies about whether or not certain prejudices (like Women who negotiate for more are penalized for one example, and Politicians with deeper voices win more), in fact exist. In conversation, women are the most often interrupted by men and women alike. Well, as a woman I don’t need a study to tell me that people see me in a different light and I’m treated differently because I’m a woman. Even recently, I’ve had the personal experience of being told to smile by strangers. A guy called out to me as I was walking down the street, and when I ignored him, he called me a bitch. That’s pretty hostile considering I’m a stranger in a public space minding my own business. These are a couple of examples of how my “unfeminine” behavior has elicited criticism from mere strangers (without even touching on people I know who have also criticized me from time to time). Yet my more “feminine” traits have also caused me problems. A woman working in the police department once mocked me over the phone when I called to make a complaint because of my high voice, telling me I “sounded like a child”. A guy friend of mine once told me “how my voice is a different frequency that they’re in the habit of tuning out.” Just being recognized as a woman has caused me to receive unwanted assumptions. I went snowboarding last week and as I stood strapped in and ready to go on top of the mountain, I took a moment to admire the beautiful view. A guy to my left asked me if I was “okay” (I pretended I didn’t hear him but just went on my way down the slope, which I’m sure answered his question). Expressing opinions in even, unemotional tones has cast me as angry all too often. Women often labeled as angry These are just some of the small, everyday occurrences that reflect the constant criticism women receive for “unfeminine” behavior, or just for being a woman. I’m happy to know people who don’t feel that pleasantness and likability are the most important traits for a female person to have, because smiling, giggling, giving soft-spoken compliments, and serving lemonade are all fun but not my main passions in life. Unfortunately many men and women still feel that likability is most important trait in a woman. Women prefer to be well-liked over being respected

Maybe some women haven’t experienced the same things that I have, or maybe they prefer not to see them. But they are there, ready for you to take notice if you aren’t too scared of them killing your vibe. But I’m saving an article on feminism for another day. This was just some basics on how much of Clinton’s critiques come from feelings and prejudices that constitute a whole lot of crap. And I’m sad to say this but it’s this aforementioned crap that’s most important to the majority of people, consciously or subconsciously. If it wasn’t important, it wouldn’t even get brought up. So, unfortunately, I think actual politics are not particularly relevant to this campaign, and are only referenced for the purpose of providing a guise for some people’s deep-seated negative feelings towards Clinton’s personality, most of which revolve around insinuations that she has been bought, her personal love life, and her political starting point. There are, in fact, some deep-seated effects of sexism that have affected Clinton’s life, political style, and public perception of her. These absurd and bizarre objections to Clinton (like that she stayed married to her husband) are based on emotion and character judgements.

Trying to figure out what your feelings towards Clinton would be if sexism had never existed in the first place is like looking at a blue drink in a glass and trying to figure out if it was blue before the blue food coloring was added to it. You can’t prove it wouldn’t have been blue before, but it’s definitely blue now. Everyone should at least be able to recognize that some people’s feelings of apprehension and distain towards Clinton could stem from residual sexist expectations and judgments of women. But while I’m sure that some of his supporters are not sexist at all, the clever analysis of her politics they are touting were motivated by residual sexist expectations and judgments of women. Despite the puzzling conversations I’ve had, I am absolutely not saying that supporting Sanders, or not liking Clinton means that someone is not feminist. And I still feel favorably towards everyone I know who is supporting Sanders, because I don’t think that any of them are supporting him out of some sort of malice. But the propaganda campaign against her is unrelenting, and no doubt part of it’s driving power are people who are at least still under the influence of sexism. I’m not saying people behind Sanders are all bad, ignorant people. But a lot of the arguments they’ve become familiar with were in fact initiated by ignorant and, yes, sexist people.

I think it’s strange that Sanders supporters don’t see parallels between his and Trump’s campaigns. Trump says that Cruz’ Canadian birthplace is “very precarious”. Sanders implies that Clinton’s wealthy upbringing is something to be concerned about. Trump wants to solve his supporters’ perceived problem of illegal immigrants by building a wall. Sanders wants to solve his supporters’ problems of big banks by breaking them up, as if it’s just a simple solution to an easy problem. Trump and Sanders are both attempting to make their supporters as angry as possible, polarize people even more than we already are, make false accusations, like that Clinton doesn’t have a climate plan, and simplify complex issues. They both want to stick it to the political system and do it their way, so instead of working with people who oppose their views, Trump will walk out of a debate, and Sanders is planning on the Republican congress members volunteering themselves as human foie gras so Sanders can force his ideas down their throats.

The Sanders’ platform is not kosher.

Despite the seeming irrelevancy to many people who are already decided, and prefer to cast their vote primarily based on “likability,” I want to at least summarize a few actual political topics. So here is why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.

Gay marriage. She is now on-board with supporting gay marriage. Simply put, I tend to not hold grudges against people for their feelings or perspectives. I can understand that temptation, considering it’s an emotionally charged topic. But I prefer to herald her for coming around, instead of lamenting that she didn’t do it on the same timeframe as some of us did.

Healthcare. Our healthcare system has a lot of problems. But, it used to be a lot worse. Take, for example, this article I wrote Un-numbing our healthcare insensitivities . And that was just one of my personal experiences. I’m not going to make a list of ways it still needs to improve. Do I think that a single payer healthcare system would solve most of the problems? Being the non-expert that I am, it sounds like quite a good idea. Guess who also thinks it sounds like a good idea? Hillary Clinton. Back in ’94 this is what she had to say about it: “If, for whatever reason, the Congress doesn’t pass health care reform, I believe, and I may be to totally off base on this, but I believe that by the year 2000 we will have a single payer system,” she said. ” I don’t even think it’s a close call politically. I think the momentum for a single payer system will sweep the country… It will be such a huge popular issue… that even if it’s not successful the first time, it will eventually be.” Clinton’s 94 statement on single payer system

Hillary Clinton has had most extensive involvement in U.S. healthcare reform. As First Lady, she headed the Clinton Health Care Plan of ’93. And that’s exactly when some people started to dislike her. The backlash of her working on this healthcare initiative started in 1993. That’s 22 years ago the negative press started to work on Clinton because of her role in this plan, and ironically this long-standing negativity towards her is influencing some people who want healthcare reform to not support her. It’s failure to get put into place taught her about the difficulties in creating such a change, leading to her less naive role in The Affordable Care Act which was obviously instrumental. Now, do you remember when Obama was trying to pass his health care reform?

Government shutdown of 2013

Here is more entertaining narrative of the shut-down. After many challenges, it was finally passed with zero republican votes.

If I were to doubt either Sander’s or Clinton’s sincerity in desiring healthcare reform, I would have to cast it onto Sanders, because I have a hard time buying that he is unaware of the impracticality of his proposal, and it seems to be another stump speech. Sanders’ moral stance on what a government healthcare should do for its’ citizens is precisely what Hillary believes (and everyone else on the planet who has a soul). A single payer health plan is a great long term goal. Clinton has a much better grasp on how to get that vision as close to reality as possible as soon as possible. Clinton gets Healthcare

The national economy and wall street.
I aced the final in the graduate level economics course I took, but the most significant thing that I learned in that class was that economics is much more complicated than the supply and demand curves I learned about in undergrad. My take-away was that economics is multi-faceted, inter-disciplinary and fascinating, and I know nothing about it. So, here is what some experts have to say about the candidates’ plans:

Sanders is late to the Wall Street revolution

Hillary gets Wall Street

Foreign policy.
Again, what I find most concerning is people’s tendency to simplify what are truly complex issues. It seems that some people believe that warfare today and foreign relations are no more complex than the wild wild west shoot-outs in grainy movies. Hindsight with everything is 20/20. And it’s easy for us to sit in our houses and expect to see a perfect scenario play out. I feel like I’m a complete pacifist, but it’s quite likely I would have to make some annotations on this life perspective if I were one of the most knowledgable people on the planet about U.S. foreign affairs. Here’s an interview with Clinton (who served as Obama’s foreign policy advisor as Secretary of State from 2009-2013).

About the vote she cast at the onset of the Iraq War: Hillary’s Iraq War Vote

Free trade.
Free trade has pros and cons. The benefits of it are that workers in developing countries get to benefit from selling to us. Since our dollar is worth more, it boosts their economy. Another benefit is that stationing factories in other countries gives us a say in working conditions that we otherwise wouldn’t have. Also, keeping a close trade relationship with other countries creates an interdependency that encourages friendly relations. So from a humanitarian stand-point, free trade is extremely appealing. The cons are potential loss of factory jobs here, assuming that more of those jobs are not created. If Clinton were really able to enact free community college for everyone, perhaps our country could lean more on education-based jobs than factory work. But those types of jobs are not for everyone, and factory work is a necessary opportunity for some people. On the other hand, factories in other countries could free up real estate here for other business ventures. Having factories stationed in other countries does not necessarily mean that there could not also be more labor work created here.

Optimism for a successful free trade agreement is wholeheartedly humanitarian. Once again we have a creative interpretation of a statement that Clinton made implying that she somehow changed her stance for some ulterior motive, when she simply analyzed the agreement once it was at a more advanced stage of negotiations and determined that it was not in fact good enough. We should have people commending her for being willing to walk away from something that they had already put a lot of work into, simply based on the fact that she didn’t think that the deal would deliver at the gold standard bar that she had set so high. The exact statement she made was this:

“So it’s fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Australia is a critical partner. This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment.”

The entire statement above, and the rest of what she said was in the future tense, because the TPP was in the process of being put into place. It had not been negotiated yet. Can you imagine, that during the negotiation process some things changed?

It’s a desperate move to take a sentence she said and try to use it as evidence to imply that something completely different happened. And considering that she acted in the good faith for workers who would be affected by the deal, it’s shameful to twist what she said into something else to make her look bad when she was doing good for people. And during the negotiations that had to take place for it to be put into practice, a changing view on the deal should be expected. It would be more surprising if the negotiations did not change her perspective on the deal. So, when she stood firm on her negotiation terms which were not met, she’s called indecisive? She changed her mind on the TPP, not on the idea of free trade.

Even if the false accusation that she changed her mind on the idea of free trade in general was true, the notion that we should all have our beliefs fixed since birth and never need to amend them is a false and dangerous one. We are still driven by the childhood pleasure of saying “I told you so,” and we really shouldn’t be. The value as a society that we place on digging our heels into one side of the mud pit and never letting up works against us finding solutions. If we vilify someone changing their mind on issues people become scared of criticism for changing their mind. And it’s often important to change our minds as we observe, practice, and try things out. In unprecedented territory, you can’t predict results, you have to try it out.

Women’s rights are important.
She has been the forefront person in women’s issues, and improving lives of women and girls. Read this is you’ve been sold on her foundation being some money laundering machine. You really can’t undermine the work this foundation has done over the past 20 years in 190 countries:
Illuminating worldwide struggles of women and girls

Too small to fail

Over 30 million raised for Haiti

Bringing new schools and literacy to a million children around the world

And others

The message is clear: money is a very powerful resource, and when it’s allocated to good causes we can change the world.

When you wipe away any impressions you have that were created by slander cast upon her by people since she became the first unconventionally political First Lady, fighting the difficult fight for better healthcare, and you step-back from knee-jerk hyper-criticism of superficial attributes of her personality, you can see her genuine interest in helping others, and her capability to achieve positive change. I’m not judging anyone for who they support, because I believe most people have a genuine desire for our country to improve. I only feel obligated to share what I see, and emphasize the importance of keeping political conversations productive and on-topic.

While my motive for voting for her stands on it’s own, and is certainly not in order to make a woman president, that doesn’t mean I’m not enthused for a woman to be president for the first time. A woman president would not be some feminist gimmick. It would not be an inconsequential event. I’ve seen some people say that they are not sexist, and then say that voting for a man instead of Clinton is somehow proof of this. Some people feel that they are rebelling against some imagined feminist obligation thrust upon them to vote for her because she is a woman. Of course, that is nonsense. But assuming that the majority of Americans see that the best candidate is Clinton, her being a woman will have an enormous positive impact on our society. Some people say it wouldn’t make a difference one way or another. But doesn’t who the head of our country is indeed play an important role in our society’s psyche of what a leader looks like? I think of the time when I was on a plane and the person in front of me had a cheap, plastic, grocery style bag sitting on the floor next to their seat. It was an unusual style for a carry-on which are usually brand name or at least sophisticated looking. But despite it’s humbleness, every time the woman reached down to get something from the bag, she neatly straightened it back up, so it sat tall and unwrinkled, with the front of the bag facing squarely away from her seat, on display. Throughout my entire flight, I had a perfect view of that cheap but meticulously cared for bag. And I had a perfect view of the image on the face of that bag, which was a beautiful picture of the grinning Obama family. The woman was African American and the way she toted her bag with such pride touched me in a way that I will never forget. Voting for Obama gave me a special glowing feeling that I contributed in a small way, through my arguably inconsequential votes, towards a major positive event in our country. I still enjoy reminiscing about the night he was elected. The moment he became elected, Obama and his family had already become a symbol of change. I know I will have similar sentiments if Hillary wins.

Some people say that the time for a woman president will come later, that there is no urgency, because they want to wait for the perfect candidate — presumably this would be a candidate who was born into liberal beliefs, a candidate who is refreshingly brash, a candidate who is always impassioned but without ever shedding a tear, someone who has raised money solely from poor people, a candidate who has been dirt poor at some point in their life but is educated and rich enough to get their campaign off the ground, a radical candidate alleviated from pragmatism, a candidate whose personal history has a porcelain finish, a candidate who has some special je ne sais quoi. Well, there will never be a perfect candidate. There will never be a perfect candidate, because their are no perfect people. And furthermore, there will never be a perfect candidate because these expectations are contradicting, and a single concept of a perfect candidate does not even exist in theory.

Traditionally in our culture, women walk through the door first, order their meal first, and are served first. On important issues, though, women have let everyone else go first. In 1789, European American men could vote. In 1870, African American men could vote. In 1920, women could vote. Gay people were allowed to openly serve in the military in 2011, but prior to that they were never subjected to an investigation determining their sexual orientation. Just months ago, in December 2015, women finally became permitted to serve on the front line. Now the most pressing sexist issues are not sexist laws, but subtle sexism in our culture. Women are allowed to run for president, but our culture can still subvert her candidacy. And this undermining, these insinuations, the irrelevant diversions are all quote un-quote not sexist. It is so inexplicit in fact, that even many of those buying it don’t see what they’re buying into, like a fish trying to understand they’re in water. And that is exactly why this presidential race is the most classic depiction of sexism there could be.

It’s time for women’s issues, from healthcare to education to equal respect and the de-stigmatization of strong women to be made a top priority instead of an aside, and voting into office someone who has made it one of her life missions to improve the lives of women and girls will do just that. And in a year from now, when I’m standing in front of a class of 6 year olds at 8:30 in the morning looking at the flag with my hand on my heart, hearing a bunch of little voices stumble through the Pledge of Allegiance, it will feel great to know that finally there are children in our country who will learn what a President is while learning that, inconsequentially, our’s is a woman.

I’m not voting for Clinton because I like her. I’m voting for her because she is the most savvy candidate, and a powerful philanthropist. She is the candidate with the most valuable, in-depth experience, the candidate with the most nuance and the candidate who refuses to simplify complex issues. I’m voting for her because it is significant and important that she has done the most for women’s issues, and it’s our time to be a priority. I’m voting for her because I have the most respect for her, and I’m beyond confident that she is the candidate who will deliver the most positive change.


Un-numbing our healthcare sensibilities

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
By Margo Page

Right before ObamaCare went into effect, I called multiple insurance companies to inquire about their plans and premiums. I was asked a few random questions off the bat, and they took me on my word that I didn’t smoke or drive a motorcycle. The plan I was interested in was $70/month. Then the sales person told me “oh sorry, actually you are a woman so it would be $90/month”. Excuse me? She explained that I may become pregnant. I was completely abstinent and told her so. She said that it didn’t matter. So they can take me on my word that I don’t smoke, but they won’t take me on my word that I don’t have sex? She said well there is the possibility of rape. So I am paying more in case I am raped? That’s disgusting. But putting their inhumanity aside for a moment, what about second hand smoke? These plans were clearly not governed by anyone for ethics or logic. This gender-based price difference resulted in millions of women choosing plans that were not as good as ones they could have afforded if they were men.

Every man has an equal chance of contributing to a pregnancy as a woman does. So, shouldn’t men also contribute financially to our collective health insurance money pile? The man’s name won’t be written on the prenatal care medical bill, but inherently it exists behind every mother’s name. Planned or unplanned, a man always bears an equal legal weight in conceiving a child. So shouldn’t he also need to pay into the insurance for prenatal care? Why should a woman need to pay twenty dollars more a month or more in case she becomes pregnant, whereas the man pays zero dollars more a month in case he impregnates? What affect does this have on our society? Women get plans with less coverage and fewer benefits than they could have gotten for the same price as a man. And the women are the ones physically carrying the babies, so this results in a negative affect on prenatal care. What kind of society does this to their future generation? On an ethical level it’s wrong, and from a societal stand-point it’s stupid.

Insurance companies are no longer able to deny coverage to women based on pregnancy, c-sections, or previous domestic violence. They are also no longer able to charge women more for the same plan (“gender rating”) for new plans. However, don’t let insurance companies grandfather you into plans that don’t cover policies required under ObamaCare. Even if it doesn’t affect your premium, please don’t support it. As a society, and as humans with consciences, we can’t afford to charge women more for the same health plans. It takes two people to make a baby, and prenatal care should be derived equally from men’s and women’s insurance premiums. Please continue to support positive moves forward in women’s healthcare. Please help people you know stay in touch with their consciences when discussing healthcare.

BCCC: A cesspool of corruption and disorder that needs to be shut down

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
By Margo Page

“You get what you pay for” is not always true, but in the case of Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), it is. The current state of the school is complete disorder. This is not helped by the uninvolvement of the new President of the college, Dr. Gordon F. May. Although Winter Session 2015 is currently in session, Dr. Gordon F. May has been working from home the entire past week, confirmed by his direct assistant, Valerie McQueen-Bey.

Although I have degrees from other institutions, I decided to take a course I need for a certification from BCCC. Although I knew that it didn’t have a great reputation, I prefer to not judge without first-hand experience. I was completely ignorant as to the extent of it’s poor reputation, and that it is currently losing state funding as well as at risk of losing it’s accreditation (4). Therefore, my personal experience was unbiased.

Although I was told by staff in the admissions and registration office that I would be assigned an advisor and enrolled in the class, I was not. Apparently they are not able to keep track of new students and therefore many fall through the cracks. I thought this would be solved by a quick follow-up to the admissions office. As it was too late to enroll at another college, I was determined to straighten out my enrollment at BCCC. Every day for 6 days, I spoke on the phone at length with multiple people (list below article). Each person I spoke with had a very pleasant manner, and promised me they would straighten out this administrative error. However, each time, I was ultimately referred to someone else. I then had to wait to get in touch with this next person as they were often out to lunch, in a meeting, and on one particular day, at a staff funeral. Through this multiple transferring and waiting process, the drop/add period passed. After this drop/add period passed, everyone I spoke with then citied that as a reason that I could no longer enroll in the course. I insisted that I was already told I was enrolled before the course even started, and that since this was an administrative error, an exception should be made so that I could join the course. However, no amount of explaining this simple situation seemed to enlighten anyone I spoke with. Each person promised me they would fix the error, and reassured me that I simply needed to wait for them to get it approved by someone els. Hours or a day later when I called or emailed them again, they robotically insisted that because the drop/add period had passed, I could not enroll in the course.

I now realize that the pleasantry of everyone I spoke with was not a result of general kindness and concern, but instead the definition of passive-aggressive behavior, “the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination… or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible (3).” I was floored at the off-handed treatment I was receiving from the people I spoke with (see list below article). But I thought that if I could get in touch with the President of the college, at least he would surely be able to comprehend this situation and have the authority to correct it. However, he was “working from home” the past week, and did not answer my email personally, but instead had his assistant Valerie send me a rote email response.

Perhaps BCCC’s profound disorganization and lack of regard for students are some of the reasons BCCC has the lowest graduation rate of any higher level institution in the state of Maryland (1). Another student describes BCCC as “Chaos. It is so disorganized, I’m surprised it’s still operating… The school was recently sued for $10 million by a student who claimed that she was discriminated against. The student won, because BCCC never bothered to answer the complaint (2).” In June 2014, BCCC was officially accused of not having “a well-developed strategic plan, which could then help the university better allocate spending (4).”

If BCCC can fork over 10 million to a student complaint without even attempting to defend itself (2), it seems fair to assume that BCCC is corrupt. Interestingly enough, the professor of the course I was suppose to be enrolled in (Professor Virgie Mason) never responded to my email the first day of class, and other staff I spoke with told me that she did not respond to their emails either. Perhaps she is not even teaching a course right now, but is instead pocketing money for a class that exists only on the books. In 2002, BCCC experienced a steep increase in part-time faculty, which, as stated in the audit, “raises questions of adequate supervision and academic quality controls (1).”

BCCC is currently under an accreditation warning. State funding is currently being cut. BCCC is the only community college funded by the state (4). However, an accreditation warning and cuts in funding are not enough. State funding should be cut-off completely and immediately. BCCC needs to be shut down because it is a cesspool of people leeching off of tax payers money. Even worse, this college demotivates students, primarily from Baltimore City, who are trying to further their education by giving these students endless run-arounds and completely disregarding their concerns. Even for students who are able to (by complete chance and staff whim) enroll in courses, the classes themselves have an abhorrent reputation for disorganization and completely inept teachers (2). The state of Maryland needs to investigate and prosecute white collar fraud crimes at BCCC. Working for an organization that you know is corrupt is amoral. Every person working at BCCC is partly responsibility for it’s unethical practices. Corruption in Baltimore City needs to be eliminated. BCCC is an easy place to start.

List of people at BCCC with whom I spoke with directly (excluding people who do not have official titles):
Katie Baker, assistant in the President’s office
Melvin Brooks, Dean
Nicole Cameron-Becketts, Dean, Student Development
Virginia (Susie) Forbes, Administrative Coordinator, Academic Affairs
Clara Joyner, Administrative Assistant III, Student Affairs
Nena Kutniewski, Transcript Processor
Nikita Lemon, Assistant to President for Board Relations
Valerie McQueen-Bey, President’s direct assistant
Tonja Ringgold, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Sylvia Rochester, Associate Director of Records and Registration/Interim Registrar
Carol Taylor, Administrative Assistant III, Student Affairs
Sheila Scott, Administrative Assistant, Student Affairs
Tina Scott, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs

People I emailed or called at BCCC who did not respond:
Gordon F May, President and CEO
Virgie Mason, Associate Professor of English
Dennis Weeks, Dean of School of Arts and Social Sciences
Ron H. Smith, Vice President of Student Affairs






Further reading about BCCC:,0,6393894.story

Further reading about the 2014 President Gordon F May:

The Single Dimension of Time

The Single Dimension of Time
Margo Page

Bleary-eyed but bravely
Leaving what was
Because we can’t live a million
Perfect moments at once

Ready to embrace the changes
And welcome our unclear futures
Because choice is an illusion
But perspective is limitless

If sorrow deepens feeling
And feeling enhances beauty
Then life designs itself
More beautifully than we ever would

Buying Innocence and Jury Ignorance

Sunday, November 30, 2014
By Margo Page

The ethics of our legal system is based on the premise that if both parties have a lawyer then the legal process will inevitably unveil the guilt or illuminate the innocence of the defendant.  However, we are all aware that not all lawyers are equal.  If they were, why would some lawyers be able to demand exorbitantly higher rates?  Some lawyers are more experienced and more savvy, and this usually translates to differences in the verdict.  Despite this common knowledge, we accept that being the economically advantaged party can enable oneself to procure a not-guilty verdict via an experienced and savvy lawyer.  Inherently, we also accept the flip side, which is that many innocent and wrongly accused cannot buy themselves representation that can adequately compete with that of the accuser.  Should each party really be allowed to pay different prices for their legal representatives?  One hypothetical solution could be that if one party desires and is able to pay more, that enough of this money be allocated to the opposite party so that each side has an equal amount of money to pay hire representation.  Obviously there would be necessary contingencies, such as the receiving party providing documentation to show how much they can reasonably pay. But in spite of the unavoidable complications and details, we should commit ourselves to finding a solution.

Also, we are still using juries despite people’s general ignorance to a wide variety of very relevant knowledge including but not limited to human behavior (i.e. lying and persuasion), psychology (i.e. memory and perception), and forensics.  Does emotional conjecture really have a place in our legal system?

The following is a quote from a high-paid, experienced and savvy lawyer.  He no longer works as a defendant, and therefore felt comfortable sharing his manipulation tactics openly in The New York Times Magazine this week (November 30, 2014 issue).  The article is called “The Military’s Rough Justice“, and can be read in full at

Christensen’s early experience in a military courtroom was primarily as a defense attorney, with most of his early cases involving drug possession or use. During that time, he also represented nine men accused of rape. He won acquittals for six of them — the other three cases were thrown out before trial. Christensen developed an expertise in unraveling a victim’s testimony by, among other things, questioning her demeanor before and after the assault. He kept to himself how distasteful he found these moments — how he imagined taking the women aside after the whole thing was over and whispering, I believe you.

But his obligation was to his clients, and so he did what professional ethics demanded of him. The Air Force’s prosecutors and judges were inexperienced — moving on to other areas of the law after a few years — and seldom objected to Christensen’s line of questioning. The jury members, usually men of senior rank, had little sense of the counterintuitive behavior that victims often display. How she might go back to the house where a man attacked her to retrieve her sunglasses, so that he could not hold onto something of hers. How she might still talk to her attacker on the base, even with a smile, so as not to damage her military career. How her heart rate might have been normal during the medical examination following the assault, because, well, the body sometimes behaves strangely. Consistently he exploited the jurors’ ignorance on such matters to win acquittals of men he often suspected of being sexual predators.

We should continuously evaluate the legal system,
and adjust it to improve upon it’s fairness.

• Why are different parties allowed to pay different prices for their representation?

• Why do we still use juries, and why do they still play such a large role?


To Bechdel and Beyond —


Tuesday, November 25, 2014
By Margo Page

The Bechdel Test was never meant to be a test of whether a movie was feminist.  It was meant to point out how many movies fail an extremely basic indicator of feminism.  The Bechdel Test tests just one aspect of feminism in movies and it does so with the lowest bar possible.  The Mako Mori Test was created as another low-bar/minimalist test of feminism.

There are many aspects of a movie which determine how feminist it is.  What if we had ten pass/fail tests, and we could see how many and which tests a movie passed?  What if people creating the movie went through this checklist while writing the movie to see how the movie measured up?  Of course a movie could be very feminist and not pass all of the tests, because there are always exceptions.  However, ten objective criteria would be a good basic check point.  There are foreseeable practical problems with these in particular, since it was just what I came up with right now, but if people really cared, they could be worked out into useable objective pass/fail criteria.  Then perhaps we could recognize what constitutes gender equality in a movie and work towards it.  Suggestions/ideas/comments are welcome.

1.  Bechdel Test:
At least two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

2.  Mako Mori Test:
a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story.

3.  Stereotypes Tests
Stereotypes are not used (i.e. a woman making a horrible mistake in math or navigation).

4. Derogatory Terms Test
Male gender based derogatory terms are used equally as female gender based derogatory terms, and are made in reference to male and female characters equally (i.e. “bitch” is used once, and “dick” is used once; “whore” is used once in reference to a man, and once in reference to a female).

5. Age Test
Average age of the male actors is within 5 years of the average age of the female actors.

6. Casting Based On Looks Test
Average number of male actors’ previous major roles is within 5 of the average number of female actors’ previous major roles.

7. Sexualization Test
An equal amount of on-screen time is given to men as it is to women.  Male and females actors are dressed, shot and presented sexually in equal frequency (i.e. impractical hairstyles and clothing items such as keyhole and revealing outfits, heels, primped hair, seductive posturing, and filming that if the sound were cut out is suggestive of porn, or is shot solely to display the actor/actress).

8. Romantic Involvement Test
There are an equal number of female and male actors whose actual or potential sexual, romantic involvements/interests are not shown, mentioned or alluded to.

9. Decision-Making Test
The decisions made by the female and male actors are equal in frequency and gravity (minor and major decisions).

10. Lines Test
Equal number of speaking lines are given to male and female characters.

The Dress Was Black, The Cum Was White, But The Situation Was Neither

Thursday, October 23, 2014
By Margo Page

Monica Lewinsky’s message was simple. Her message was about standing up for someone when they’re being talked about behind their back, not judging others, and not labeling others. However, her message and situation are related to more issues than that. Her situation served as an example of how polarizing our society is. It shows how eagerly we vilify others. It is also relevant to feminism in many ways. Most important is what she didn’t say in her speech but she demonstrated – having the bravery to stand up for yourself.

I know what it’s like to be manipulated and lied to by someone who was in a relationship, and had I not experienced this first-hand I don’t think that I could fathom how powerful misleading emotional manipulation can be. When you want to be cared about by someone you like or even love, it is very easy to believe they feel the same way towards you when they say that they do, and they act like they do. I have experienced a man telling me he was separated when he was not. I have been manipulated by multiple men into believing that they were not dating someone else when in fact they were. There was a pilot, a doctor, and a future wall-street broker, to name a few. These men were extremely convincing, and it wasn’t even a part of their professional qualifications. I can’t even fathom how conniving a man could be who convinced an entire nation to elect him as President. We shouldn’t judge others when we don’t know them, when we don’t know all of the sides to a story, when we don’t know their feelings, when we aren’t them. We shouldn’t judge others.

As people we naturally use categorical thinking to organize our thoughts and view the world coherently. However, when we sort things into a dichotomy, they become polarized into black and white, when most things in our world are actually grey. This is a problem in our society especially in politics, where we tend to label people and views as democratic or republican, as liberal or conservative. Many people have a mixture of liberal and conservative views. Polarizing in politics is a problem because people feel as though they should dogmatically support one side or another without evaluating an issue on it’s own merit. We should avoid the temptation to simplify and instead, take the time and effort to evaluate situations and issues more carefully. Categorizing the Lewinsky-Clinton situation as a woman having a physical affair with the President is an overly simplified view and an indicator of the more general problem we face as a society that polarizes.

Vilifying people is another form of polarizing. We are not Disney characters in an animated drama. Someone who does something bad usually does not have purely sadistic motives. Monica Lewinsky was not a woman with an evil plot to wreck the Clintons’ marriage. Bill Clinton was not a bad President because he demonstrated this lack of judgment, moral transgression, and betrayal to his wife. These are real people, with complicated emotions, back stories, life views, and experiences that interplayed into the affair they had. Perhaps many people admired Bill Clinton and when this affair was found out, people were upset and felt betrayed that our political head of state disappointed us and lied to us. Maybe people felt that it was easier to harshly vilify Monica Lewinsky because we knew so little about her, and it shifted some blame away from our President who we felt emotionally connected to.


Gender-dependent labels
Why did we use labels like “slut” and “tramp” when referring to Ms. Lewinsky, but not to President Clinton? In fact, what labels does society use to refer to men who behave in ways that society deems sexually unacceptable?

Gender-dependent blame
Would our judgments have been different had the genders been reversed? If Mr. Clinton had instead been Mrs. Clinton, would the man she had an affair with have been blamed? Or would she have shouldered all of the blame? Ms. Lewinsky was at fault. She was wrong. But those are different from blame. To blame her is inappropriate. It seems that many felt she shared equal responsibility in the affair. I believe that we should respect others’ marriages. However, while she did have a responsibility to show a general respect for others’ marriages, Ms. Lewinsky did not have a personal obligation to Mrs. Clinton. It was Mr. Clinton who had the legal and moral obligation to be faithful to his wife.

Staking claim to equal treatment
It takes bravery to attempt to turn an extremely negative situation into something positive. It takes bravery to dare to believe that you deserve respect when most others think you don’t. It takes even more bravery to take action towards claiming that respect. Ms. Lewinsky is smart enough and wise enough now to know that her speech would not be taken as she wished by many people. She knew that it would cause some people to criticize, judge, and slander her again. But she felt that fear and did it anyways. We all need to practice bravery. We need to believe in ourselves when no one else does. We need to dare to speak our minds. We need to practice standing up for others, and we need to also be audacious enough to stand up for ourselves. A man or a woman thinking “I deserve to be treated fairly and equally” is the backbone of feminism beliefs. Saying it confidently to the world is being an active feminist.