The Truth About Feminism

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

By reading the title, you might think I’m about to say something negative about feminism, right? Well, if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ll need to look somewhere else. Today, my goal is to identify the most common misconceptions about feminism and put an end to them. What are the most common misconceptions, you might ask? Let’s take a look.

The first misconception is that feminists desire superiority over men. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feminism is defined as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” It made no mention of dominance or inferiority of one gender over another.

That’s not to say that feminists haven’t gone too far, because some certainly have. Take last summer’s movie Maleficent, for example. When I watched it in the theaters, I mentally divided the main characters into these four categories:

A: Female Independents
–Includes Maleficent and Princess Aurora

B: Female Submissives
–Includes the three good fairies

C: Male Independents
–Includes King Stephan

D: Male Submissives
–Includes the crow

If you’ve seen the movie, you might find that each of these characters are portrayed differently based on the category. Looking at the female characters, Maleficent and Aurora—the Female Independents—are portrayed as stronger characters than the Female Submissives. Maleficent is powerful and vengeful, but still has a soft spot under the rough exterior. Aurora is curious, positive, and determined. When she wants something done, she’ll do it herself. On the other hand, the three good fairies—the Female Submissives—are annoying, unrealistically stupid, and a little freaky looking (I don’t know if that was intentional, but do you see what I’m getting at?). With that mindset, the movie implies that Female Independents are far more interesting and likeable than Female Submissives.

Now, if the film said the same thing about Male Independents and Male Submissives, I wouldn’t mind as much. Unfortunately, it implied the exact opposite. King Stephen—the Male Independent—is unrealistically cruel, paranoid, and backstabbing, while the crow—the Male Submissive—is smart, level-headed, cocky to the point where it’s hilarious but not annoying, and a good sidekick for Maleficent to have. This results in the suggestion that it’s better to be a Male Submissive and not a Male Independent, which in turn suggests that women ought to be superior to men.

Am I reading too much into this? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I don’t know how the director views feminism and gender equality. But either way, the result proves that some people have crossed the line whether they meant to or not.

The second misconception is that feminism is unnecessary because the genders are already equal. If that’s what you believe, then I hate to break it to you, but it’s not true. Things have definitely gotten better for women since fifty years ago, I won’t deny it. Be that as it may, listed ten examples of national and international gender inequality ( , and here’s a summary of them. In most workplaces, women don’t earn as much as men for the same quantity and quality of work. In some countries, many parents either kill their newborn daughters or put them in orphanages because they’re not boys. And also in some countries, girls either can’t or don’t get the education that everyone needs. And some of the few that do go to school can’t finish it.

While men don’t face these exact problems, they’re also victims of gender inequality. I’ve already given an example of feminism gone wrong, but that’s not the only bad experience for a man. When a woman faces abuse from a man, most people sympathize with her. But when a man faces abuse from a woman, society implies that he’s either too submissive or too weak to be considered a man. If he’s experiencing emotional problems, he can’t talk to anyone about it because that’s also a reason for society to tell him he’s not enough of a man. Just a week ago, when Emma Watson spoke at the United Nations vying for gender equality ( , she mentioned that suicide is the primary cause of death for young men in England.

At the end of the day, all I have to say is this: before you assume anything, do your research. Think about what you want for your children, regardless of their gender, and see if society is willing to give them that much. And if the United Nations wants to talk about it, maybe there’s something to be said about continuing to fight for gender equality.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

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Top 12 Best Parts of Fall

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

I. Love. Fall. I always look forward to the time of year when the leaves start changing color and rain becomes plentiful, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. And in honor of nature’s awesomeness, I’m giving twelve aspects of fall that, for one reason or another, we can’t help but love. So, in no particular order, here are twelve things about fall that anyone can enjoy.

#1:  New school year

Okay, this is kind of cheating for me since I’m done with school. And I know what you’re thinking: why and/or how do you look forward to another year of experiencing the wheel of torture that is our education system? Well, I think one could argue that the start of the school year is the easiest part of the year. That, and there’s something nice about reuniting with friends after three months of either basking in the sun with family or waking up at five in the morning to go to work. Yeah, the rest of the year isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but there’s still something refreshing about getting back into the swing of things.

#2: Thunderstorms

Oh, rain. Why do we love you so much? Well, there are several reasons. The obvious reason is that it keeps the planet hydrated. But there’s also something about rainy days that give off a nice, earthy smell, as well as a relaxing atmosphere. And there’s nothing like a rainy Saturday where I can curl up on the couch with a few books and a mug of hot chocolate.

#3: Pants and long sleeves

If you’re like me, you’re more likely to bake in seventy-degree weather while wearing shorts and tank tops than you are to freeze in snow armed with only a pair of pants, a t-shirt, and a jacket. And don’t get me wrong, I like wearing shorts every once in a while. But honestly, it’s just nice to wear pants and jackets without roasting.

#4: Corn mazes and pumpkin/apple picking

No matter what season it is, there’s always something to do outdoors, and I just gave you three. You’re welcome. But seriously, it brings out the little kid in you as well as provides you with as much fall produce as you want. Which is a nice little introduction to the next number on this list:

#5: Apple cider

I know I’ve said this a lot in past blog posts, but I haven’t met someone yet who doesn’t like this. Whether it’s hot or cold, apple cider is a delicious little treat to enjoy.

#6: Halloween

Religious controversy and freaky imagery aside, Halloween can be a fun holiday. Not only is it the perfect time of year to enjoy Tim Burton’s magnum opus Nightmare Before Christmas, but it’s also the time of year where chocolate lovers get free candy. And it’s also a good holiday to partake in the activity that Twilight inadvertently made popular: Vampire-tipping.

#7: Thanksgiving

Two days off from work, parades in the city, the best homemade cooking can offer, remembering the good things in life…yeah, it’s Thanksgiving, I think it can speak for itself. Next one.

#8: Some of the Best of Cinema

To be fair, we’ve gotten some pretty good movies this summer. Maleficent was decent, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was a pleasant surprise, and almost everyone went crazy for Guardians of the Galaxy. But with the time for movie awards approaching, this is typically the time of year where film directors want to put their best foot forward. As a result, we get some of the best cinema of the year. And I can’t wait to see what this year has to offer.

#9: Leaf pile jumping

Do I even need to go into much detail about this one? Like going through a corn maze, there’s something about a pile of leaves that’s so innocent and childlike. Bugs and creepy-crawlies aside, there aren’t a lot of people who would criticize this activity.

#10: Warmer café food

If you ever get cold, you can always warm up by ducking into a café for a warm drink, a hot sandwich, or a bowl of delicious soup. As I indicated earlier, it’s easier for some people to heat up than it is for them to freeze. So to have a time of year where one can indulge in warmer food without roasting is a nice gift from Mother Nature.

#11: Color changing leaves

For photographers, any time of year is akin to Christmas. And the time of year where the trees change color is no exception. There’s something warm and inviting about the reds, oranges, and yellows in the trees that no hallmark card, photo, or philosopher could explain.

#12: One step closer to Christmas

Speaking of Christmas, it’s right around the corner! I’ll talk about the wonders of Christmas at another time, but knowing that it’s only one season away gives fall another meaning altogether. We have so much that we can enjoy in the meantime that, to any fall and Christmas lover, it doesn’t feel like a wait so much as a pre-celebration before the real one comes.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “Tis the season to go vampire tipping!”

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The First Impression Syndrome

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

I think it’s safe to say that there’s a little bit of OCD in all of us. We want everything to be perfect on the first try without having to change anything. As a result, the human race runs on impressive first impressions—or as I like to call it, the First Impression Syndrome. The best illustration for this is what women use for them: Makeup. Most girls like to wear various levels of cosmetics whenever they walk out the door. I myself prefer to dab on a little foundation, mascara, and blush before going out in public. And it’s a common mistake for anyone using it for the first time to cake it on, hiding any flaws they might not like. While makeup can certainly do that, it also has another purpose that we don’t learn until we get older: highlighting the good parts. Once we learn it, we take advantage of it. Now, putting on makeup for most women is as natural as getting hungry or sleepy every few hours.

And the proof of First Impression Syndrome doesn’t stop there. We don’t ask people out unless we find them attractive or interesting upon meeting them. We don’t hire a potential employee unless everything about him screams “perfect person for the job!” We don’t recommend a restaurant unless the service and food are phenomenal in the first visit. And many of us won’t walk out the front door of our homes if we can’t deem ourselves worthy of a perfect first impression. When I graduated from college and started looking for jobs and polishing my résumé, I started wondering what our fetish is with the first impression. Why are we obsessed with looking perfect? Why do we want others to look perfect to us? Is the First Impression Syndrome a good rule of thumb to live by?

Well, to answer the first two questions, one must ask why we rely on the First Impression Syndrome. To put it simply, we want security. When we hire employees for different positions, we want to be sure that they can handle the job and improve the company for the better. When we approach people to flirt and talk to, we want to feel comfortable conversing with them. And in a weird way, having the ability to make a good first impression gives us a confidence boost. We want to be admired. And no one is a stronger judge of you than how you think people see you.

Which brings me to the third question I ask on the subject: Is the First Impression Syndrome a good rule of thumb to live by? Not always. Sometimes, it can even be dangerous, for two reasons.

One, first impressions aren’t always reliable. Our perception of and experiences with things can—and often do—change as we grow older. As Lemony Snicket explains in The Bad Beginning, first impressions are often incorrect. Tea, for example, is an acquired taste. You might not like it the first time you try it, and then a year later it might be your favorite drink. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have a habit of finding psychopaths charming and friendly the first time we meet them. But the more time we spend with them, the more we realize that they may not be quite so nice on the inside.

Secondly, this social norm gives us the ability to fool others with the first impressions we make. And even if that doesn’t put our sense of right and wrong at risk, it endangers something else that’s just as important (if not more so): The Lasting Impression. A lot of us spend so much time focusing on how we want to look when we meet people that we forget about who we want to be when they start getting to know us. Should we strive to be good at making friends, or keeping them? Which would you rather have for a companion: someone who’s friendly at first and repulsive on the inside, or someone who’s repulsive at first and friendly on the inside? Which of those two would you rather be?

Just a little food for thought.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

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Why Do We Love The Bachelor Franchise?

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Okay, let me make something crystal clear before the people who know me outside of cyberspace have a heart attack. Yes, I do watch The Bachelor from time to time. HOWEVER, I do not take the show seriously. There’s always been the truth vs. fiction debate when it comes to reality TV, and after the subtle commentary brought to us by Hunger Games, I’m sure there always will be. And The Bachelor is no exception to this.

But whether you watch it or not, you have to admit that it’s still there. It pops up in Celebrity news, Facebook newsfeeds (thanks to the new feature that decided to tell me Andi made a choice), and the tellie. I’m not sure if The Bachelor has gotten cast members from every state in the US of A, but even if it hasn’t, it’s getting there. Heck, it got cast members from countries outside the states.

So yeah, you can’t deny that The Bachelor is well known. But why is it so popular? It claims that it’s a show where the bachelor/ette finds his/her ideal soul mate. So far, we’ve had 18 seasons of the Bachelor and ten seasons of the Bachelorette. And yet, out of all the couples that got engaged on those two shows, less than ten of them are at least still together. On top of that, the editing is messed up, the cheesy metaphors are too many, and the logic is on par with the existence of a rapping dog wearing a jersey in a Titanic rip-off. So why do so many people give this show the time of day?

Well, after a little deliberation, I came up with three reasons for its popularity.

1: The sheer stupidity of it all

The Bachelor has two types of fans: the people who love it and the people who love to make fun of it. This reason explains why we love to make fun of it. Like The Room and almost every movie Nicolas Cage decides to partake in, The Bachelor is so entertaining that even past contestants on the show can’t resist making jabs at it.

I should clarify that it does have serious moments as well. Some of the contestants have a few skeletons in their closets, and of course, over twenty people are sent home before everything is all said and done. Aside from that, this is the crowning achievement of hilarity.

2: Its TV host, Chris Harrison

First of all, any man who can stick with The Bachelor franchise for so long and keep a straight face deserves a round of applause for it. Second, he’s one of the few logical people that got any screen time on the show. If you read his blog, he’s a lot more outspoken on what everyone does than most people would think. And third, he’s never boring. His take on everything is always insightful and sometimes even hilarious. Seriously, this guy needs his own talk show.

Chris Harrison, I salute you for being the best part of the franchise.

3: It appeals to the lowest common denominator

For any book, film, or TV series, the easiest way to become popular is to give people what they want. For example, the Twilight series isn’t any good, but it’s still a financial success. A lot of people are into teenage romance, vampires, werewolves, and eye candy. That’s exactly what Twilight promised, and that’s exactly what it gave. Michael Bay is not a good film director. But again, he gets every inner-manchild to watch his movies because he appeals to the lowest common denominator. He promises action sequences and millions of explosions, and that’s what he delivers. The Bachelor franchise promises romance, drama, and a lot of alcohol, and that’s what it gives us (also, the people who appear on the show aren’t bad looking either). Does that mean these modes of storytelling are any good? Heck, no. But they know what people want, and as a result, they become popular.

So yeah, that’s my take on The Bachelor’s inordinate popularity. It’s stupid, and on occasion I need a big dose of logic and reality check to rebalance my brain. Even so, we have to admit that it knows what to give its audience.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

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