Month: June 2010

Save Our Children: End Prostitution!


 

I just read about a great event on Feministing.  The “Girls Educational & Mentoring Services” (GEMS) organization will be hosting the “End Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Day” in NYC.  The program will take place in Central Park (Merchant’s Gate Park 59th Street entrance), 12 – 4 pm this Saturday, June 26, 2010.  Such events help to raise awareness about the ills of the commercial sex industry.  It’s an opportunity for like minds to gather and inspire change.

 

To learn more about the exploitation of children, and about GEMS, watch the film, “Very Young Girls.”  Following is a trailer of the documentary.  It is a stark reminder of the realities of prostitution.  Even though our culture attempts to normalize the sex industry, it doesn’t take much research to uncover the ugly truth.  The average age of those who enter prostitution is 13 years old in the U.S. (“Very Young Girls”, 2007).  The world over is filled with young children who are being trafficked in the sex trade.  To learn more about the connection between prostitution and trafficking visit the “Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.”  The more we learn about the industries around us, the more we can end human rights violations.  And no cause could be greater then the rights of a child.

 

Crafting a Gender Inclusive World


I read a great post on Sociological Images: http://contexts.org/socimages/2010/06/17/the-daintification-of-masculinity/

 

It’s a close up on artist Nathan Vincent who is bringing the “masculine” touch to craft arts.  He crochets, sews, and appliqués beautiful works of art.  He uses motifs such as weapons, hunting, and sports to attract the male view to these “feminine” arts.  His are iis a reminder that gender is a social construction, that limits the choices that are deemed acceptable.  But as more and more people challenge the gender norms of society, individuals will be able to express themselves more freely, regardless of their genitals.   The power of art is truly unbelievable.  We can explore such deep social issues and also enjoy aesthetically pleasing creations.  Readers, what gender norms have you challenged lately?

 

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http://contexts.org/socimages/2010/06/17/the-daintification-of-masculinity/

Sickening Sites Promote Eating Disorders


 

I am definitely not a news watcher, or as I call it, "the sames.”  But I was in earshot of the TV, and heard a very disturbing story.  There are websites that are promoting anorexia and bulimia, called “pro-ana" or "pro-mia.”  They form communities that help people suffering from eating disorders worsen their condition.  The message of these sites is that “thin is in” at all costs: a support group promoting disease.  I cannot believe how terrifying this is.  Children are so impressionable, and can be negatively impacted if viewing such sites.  If you suspect a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder guide them to great sites such as “The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness.”  Also visit ehow.com for ways to protest these sites.  Following is a poem I wrote on the subject of eating disorders.

 

Hungry Child

 

Little child with no control.

The pain is deep, can’t let go.

Crying softly on the floor.

Fingers reaching down the throat.

Food is flooding in the bowl.

Stomach paining, tied in knots.

 

Slowing pushing, and pulling in.

Beyond the simple depth of thin.

Pictures showing mirror image,

of the disease that’s within.

 

Elders looking to be the same.

Many to hold the burden of blame.

Corporate concoctions to sell useless things.

Girls  have one purpose…to be sold to and seen.

 

The glossy covers of magazines,

see that same broken teen…

as we cry and we scream.

What does this life mean?

To destruct everything?

 

Build a picture of the truth.

Show the strength to our youth.

Love, it comes from one’s heart.

Not external body parts.

Protect the mind of innocent.

Raise our children’s consciousness.

 

6/23/10 —–Preeti Pathak

Enlightenment on Any Budget


 

I have to admit I love perusing stores selling “tools” for enlightenment.  I love all the yoga mats, meditation music, therapeutic oils, and such.  But being broke prevents me from making any purchases (as well as my desire for minimalism).  I’m a master of procrastination, so I tell myself, “well once I get money, I’ll buy all those things, and then start meditating at home.  When I’m super motivated, I head over to the Philadelphia Shambhala Meditation Center.  Their beautiful space helps me to feel the tranquility needed to sit still.  But during times like now, when I have limited energy and resources, I can’t make it to the center or create a space at home.  So for some time I have been falling behind on my goals.  Meditation is such an important tool to calm the mind, restore balance to the body, and help to process emotions.  It is an important part of my healthcare.  Tonight I finally had it with myself.  I threw all my excuses in the garbage and got to work.  I pulled the rug from my kitchen onto the patio.  Next I grabbed my incense, a glass of water, turned on my music, and I was good to go.  I laid down on the rug and the cool evening breeze made it the perfect temperature.  I looked up at the sky and was mesmerized by the swirls of white clouds with dark blue sky.  I breathed deeply in and out, and let my mind clear.  After about 30 minutes, I lifted from a trance-like state.  I slowly came to the remembrance of all the things around me.  I had spent those minutes deep within myself, and now awoke refreshed.  I realized how silly my excuses were.  Nothing is needed to meditate but yourself.  No special tool or place is necessary, just your mind.  By being grateful for all I have, I was able to create the perfect meditation space without a penny spared.  What goals have you been avoiding and what excuses lie in the way?  Asking ourselves such questions can help to keep us on our path to our purpose.

 

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Patriarchal Messages in Urban Outfitters Clothing


 

Urban Outfitters is a store known for it’s eclectic fashions at premium prices.  I have spent many a times sitting on one of there comfortable couches skimming an interesting book…waiting for my brother to finish his shopping.  I love much of the clothing, but the price points are not within my budget.  After reading a post on Feministing, I feel very disappointed by this organization.

 

Urban Outfitters is selling a top with the following message: “Fathers it’s up to you! To preserve your daughters’ virginity!” 

 

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http://www.feministing.com/archives/021349.html

 

Such archaic notions are rooted in our history of patriarchy.  It begs the question of why these messages are being sold, and what implication it has on our society.  We live in a world where females are told their sexuality is something to be feared and protected.  A father should protect his daughters, and eventually marry her off to a man who can then protect her.  In an idealistic society, gender would not matter.  Whether you have a vagina or penis, you are first and foremost a human.  That is our commonality.  But the first “great thinkers” interpreted the physical differences between women and men philosophically.  Traits, clothing, fragrances, body movements, speech, everything was broken down into two categories: female and male.    Along with this came the notion that females are weak, defenseless, and need to be protected by males.  Women were commodities, to be sold for sex, to be owned by a father, and to be given to a husband.

Gender training starts from day one, when the first pink or blue blanket is wrapped around a child.  Girls are told that in this world, they are different, outsiders to the patriarchy.  They are told to be soft, delicate, submissive, and to follow.  The fear projected onto a girl is hard to fight.  With time she herself feels she needs this protection as well, after all it’s the story she has been sold.

What isn’t influenced by these notions of femininity?  A young girl may endure a female circumcision to “prove” her virginity, pledge her virginity to her father in events such as Purity Balls, or be labeled a “whore”, “slut”, “easy” and the likes for having sex.  And on the other side of the equation boys are taught to look at sex as the ultimate consumption.  With time girls become just body parts, and humanity is lost.  A boy is told he should lose his virginity as soon as possible, with as many as possible, for as long as possible.  Tragic outcomes such as not being able to process sexual assault properly leave boys in a whole other world of pain. 

What needs to happen is an integration of both sexes, to see each as the same, and not to impose false belief systems on either.  Girls and boys should be able to explore their sexuality, decide what’s right for them, and feel no shame about their decisions.  Differences in individuals should not equate in blanket beliefs of any group.  In the end sexuality, clothing, fragrances, cosmetics, interests, and such do not make you male or female.  These are just societal constructions.  There is no definition of what makes one a woman or a man, just what makes us human.  We are all individuals, and the sooner we let go of the stereotypes we have been taught, the sooner we can learn to accept people on their own merits.  And once this happens, messages promoting patriarchy will end their terror on fashion.

 

Side note: during my research for this post, I came across two other interesting posts about Urban Outfitters.  Please check them out, and make sure to research the companies you support.  Our dollars dictate the business practices around us.

 

http://citypaper.net/blogs/criticalmass/2010/03/25/hilarious-rant-suck-it-urban-outfitters/

 

http://www.feministing.com/archives/021437.html

Philly Lot Clean Up Success


 

Thanks to all those who made it out to the clean up!  We had a great turnout and cleaned up a lot that bordered on jungle.  The weeds were so overgrown you could not see through the fence.  With a positive attitude and a few tools, we cleaned up the lot in about two hours.  And next weekend we will be having another clean up: https://preetispurpose.wordpress.com/events/

 

I also wanted to share a “Secret” moment that I had.  I decided to sit on my front stoop to enjoy the breeze.  A group of neighbors were coming out from what appeared to be a meeting that turned out to be with Rep. Kenyatta Johnson. The were meeting to discuss local problems.  The group gathered across the street in front of the lot we planned to clean up.  I overheard their conversation, introduced myself, and told them about the clean up.  They had actually seen the flyers posted and were wondering who put them up.  Rep. Johnson gave me his information and said if I contacted the office, they could help with the next clean up by providing supplies.  They also plan to take down a problem tree on the lot.  I put the positive action of planning an impromptu clean up, and the universe sent me resources.  I learned yet again that the only limitations are my own thoughts.  If I believe in my goals good things will follow.  I can’t wait to see what the universe has in store next!

 

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Dancing was my destiny, well at least for this evening.  I hit Fluid Nightclub in Philadelphia.  My dear friend Dianne introduced me to this hotspot in Philly and it never disappoints.  The DJ plays awesome music –  reggae, soul, r&b, and so much more.  Even the website has a great mix playing.  The $5 shots beat many Center City prices.  Nothing like getting out with friends to dance and have a good time, especially after a fulfilling day’s work.  Hope you had an enjoyable night filled with great memories.

Preeti’s Poetry: Writer’s Paradise and Agony


 

Wherever I am, I am always carrying paper and pen.  I am an analytical, introspective person and I always need a way to capture all my thoughts.  Writing is my freedom, my release.  I just enjoyed the cool breeze tonight and was lost in thought.  I was doing my daily “gratitude thinking".”  I think of all the things I am grateful for, all I have, and also reflect on the present moment.  As I did this tonight, I saw a shooting star across the sky.  I was so moved by this sight…thankful I was able to experience it.  Of course I journaled about the experience.  And I was reminded how writing is part of my gratitude.  It is my way to express the feelings I have, and to capture a piece of my personal history.  One day I will look upon my words, and be grateful for this nostalgic gift.

 

In relation to writing, I wanted to share this poem on the experience of it all: the highs and lows of the observing mind. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

 

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Writer’s Paradise and Agony

 

Why do words come out of me?

What do they mean?

Where will they take me?

 

I hate these words inside my head,

But without them I would be dead.

A bittersweet existence, so I must write.

No matter the level of my despise.

Can’t stop the fingers,

Can’t stop the mind.

The path of story,

To which I’m blind.

No sense of control,

But it’s me who decides.

 

Who is the voice,

inside this mind?

Who is the one,

holding the strings?

For I’ve left my body,

something’s taken over me.

As the hours pass,

And my eye lids drop.

My fingers keep moving.

I just cannot stop.

 

As I release letters to words.

My mind mixes into a blur.

A spiritual experience,

a frightening thirst.

To share the secrets of my verse.

 

6/14/10 —–Preeti Pathak

Philly Gay Pride Parade 2010


 

I attended the Philly Gay Pride Parade today, June 13, 2010.  What a great event!  The floats and cars were awesome, the performances were amazing, and the crowd was amped.  I’ve posted videos of the event on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/preetispurpose so check them out for a taste of the action.

 

Check out some pictures of the event here.

 

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Enjoy and support equal human rights for all!

Preeti’s Poetry: Two Cities, Two Hours, Two Sides


 

I am a frequent traveler to NYC, and a resident in Philadelphia since 2006.  As a child I visited both cities as the outsider looking in.  I was always mesmerized by all I got to see.  But living in a place is the only way to truly understand it.  I learn something new about my two favorite cities everyday.  Among my reflections, I often think about the quality of life we receive.  Depending where you fall on the social ladder, your living standards can range from bleak to bountiful.  As we all go about our business, we may feel little control over our lives, let alone the universe at large.  We all see the truth about our surroundings, but busy ourselves to numb the sight of pain.  I can never get used to seeing those who have to resort to living in the streets, families struggling just to make ends meet, or the unhealthy (as myself) who are barely holding on to security.  And there are endless examples of the unfortunate realities that exist.

 

As a sociologist, I often think in terms of social change.  So while dreaming about the possibilities, I came up with an idea.  I am sure others have thought it, and are even doing something about it.  When we see all the help needed, and don’t know where to start, we get overwhelmed.  Sometimes too many decisions lead to indecision.  Where to volunteer, who to donate to, how to get involved…the questions can make your head spin.  I was in this place recently.  I have been unemployed due to health issues, and I needed a consistent activity to do once a week.  The goal was to help me maintain a schedule while I am healing.  I started looking on www.volunteermatch.com and found many great opportunities.  I picked a few, and then mulled over the best choice.  I wondered what I was most interested in, what I was willing to commit to, what could help me in the future.  Weeks passed, and I was still stuck thinking.  The universe realized I needed direction, and sent an arrow my way.  I ran into my neighbor and friend, and we caught up on what’s new.  He mentioned wanting to clean the lot at the end of the block.  He remembered how I was involved in organizing such events, and asked for my help.  By the end of the conversation, which included several other neighbors, we made a decision.  We picked a date and time, and I agreed to create flyers to post.  In a one hour conversation I was shown the way I could give back within my abilities.  Volunteering in my neighborhood once a week is low maintenance, if I get tired I can come home easily, and getting there’s a snap.  It would help built community with my neighbors.  And since this is our home, we have a vested interest to stay involved.  So the light bulb went off.  What if just five people on every block got involved in all the issues related to their block?  Cleaning, crime, events, and other happenings that effect the neighborhood.  How much of an impact could this have?  A team of five cleans up a lot, paints the benches and picnic table.  Then the word gets out that this space can be used.  Next we plan a party for the kids and adults, get music, refreshments, and people.  As people get to know each other we learn to protect our neighbors.  The potential for growth is endless.  If we all learn to focus on just what is around us, do what we can to change things, then nothing is impossible.  I pass the community garden down the street and I imagine a future where we can learn to create sustainable communities.  No longer will we have to suffer in silence over the injustices, because now we take a stand.  Please enjoy this poem on the subjects discussed.

 

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Two Cities, Two Hours, Two Sides

 

New York – the bright lights, big city spreading so far, so chic,

as to hide the reality of the city streets.

But a different story around the bend,

where the city ends.

 

Philly – dingy, dirty, beyond those center city streets.

Not enough to hide the reality.

 

People…they don’t forget their streets.

The tourist town not large enough,

to flood the conscience to deny the truth.

 

These cities, our cities when will they destruct?

How far can you push out poverty,

misogyny,

bigotry,

reality?

 

How long can you forget…downtown borders are connected to outskirt boroughs?

This isn’t the city they paint for you,

or paint for me…

but what about childhood residency?

What happens to those who stay and live here,

call this place home;

not just a poster in the travel agent’s window?

 

Can’t forever pretend the brochures are fact,

that things are ok,

that we will all last.

 

Now all the synapses are firing hard.

Because now I live here, I’m not on tour.

I’m seeing my home, I’m seeing my place.

I’m seeing that what you’re seeing, is not the same.

Because I used to stand over there…outsider looking in;

what a pretty city it can be then.

 

But scratch the surface and learn the facts.

Learn that crime is not a cloud.

Can’t push it further and hope for no rain.

 

It permeates the soil beneath,

because the soil belongs to we.

But monarchs decide where the ladder extends,

and let those fall off at the end.

City dollars, budgets, plans…

for a more beautiful core…

what about the edge?

What about the middle?

What about the whole?

 

The city pushes, pulls, and sways.

The people in rhythm…with every movement.

A city beats and breathes as one.

Each resident connected in soul.

 

Even as we close our doors,

turn our eyes,

forget the world.

The city is deep, the roots of our parent.

For we are all children of the same seed.

When we each reach for freedom,

We grow our own dreams.

 

3/23/10 —– Preeti Pathak

Preeti’s Purpose Events Page


 

Dear readers, I just wanted to update you on the latest addition to my blog.  I have added an events page in order to keep local readers informed of events I am organizing.  The latest event is a neighborhood clean up project.  Read the events page for more information: https://preetispurpose.wordpress.com/events/ 

I just moved back into my old neighborhood and while talking to my great neighbors, we created some positive ideas.  We decided it would be great to start doing regular clean ups around the area.  This particular lot we are starting with was worked on in the past but has once again been neglected.  It’s so hard to keep up the momentum to maintain a space.  Health problems, work, time, living all become obstacles to our involvement with that outside ourselves.  But when we love the spaces around us, nurture them, and protect them, we learn to do the same for ourselves.  If you don’t live in the area, why not start your own clean up?  Just make a poster (draw one or create one on the computer), make copies, and post them around your block.  Pick a date and time that works for your schedule as well as others, talk to those you live near, and spread the word.  Then grab your tools and get out there!  It’s amazing what a handful of people can do with a few hours.  Here are some pictures of the first clean up we did for this space:

http://picasaweb.google.com/thunia23/82308VolunteerDay1620SReedStCleanup#

 

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