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Online Artists Robbed of Their Work

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Time and time again, artists who display some of their work or portfolio on popular websites such as Instagram, Tumblr, or even Facebook, are setting themselves up for robbery. Visual Artists and Photographers are the common casualties of getting their work screenshotted, saved, and having the robber add his final touchups or tweaks in photoshop to declare that it is “his or her’s work.” It’s not.

The reason why this happens on these popular websites is because the artists or anyone whoever posts something cannot hold a rights reserved. Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr all own rights to whatever content is posted on each of the websites. Although, Tumblr is now allowing users to go through a process to copyright whatever content is posted. I applaud you Tumblr. As for Facebook or Instagram, videos, photographs, poems, or even memes can get tossed around from one share click to the next, without permission from the artist. Yes, memes are considered an artform now.

Someone asks me, “Why don’t the artists just watermark their artwork?” Here’s why. Watermarks are lame! Not just because of the fact that watermarks are lame, but they tend to be associated with the notion of having to pay more just to get the watermark removed. A lot of serious buyers will avoid work with watermarks. Someone asks me, “Well, why not use the watermark and not have the risk of getting work stolen at all?” Even if you use a watermark, people can still crop out the watermark and use a computer generated touch-up in the latest version of photoshop that will almost precisely generate the background, behind the watermark, that the artist made every time. “Why not have the watermark be slabbed on the entire piece of work on a separate layer and faded?” A simple spot healing brush and clone tool in photoshop is no match for the watermark. Let’s not get off topic. We are talking about ARTWORK, not stock images.

I share my works of contemporary photography on Instagram and Tumblr, and I have scrolled through the stream of postings on Tumblr, and have seen some of my photographs that have been posted by other accounts. NOT REBLOGGED, but posted as if they had been the ones to capture that photograph. I have even seen online magazines on Instagram that have stolen photographs without my permission. A lot of the times, I am not financially credited for my work. Artists have bills to pay too. I already don’t have the time or money for a lawyer to hunt for the person who hasn’t paid me the small sum of money. As far as I know, they live online.

When your work is online, you associate yourself with the shady side of art business. This is where it gets tricky. My friend Mikey Joyce is a renowned visual-glitch artist in Chicago and states, “I could talk your ear off about the countless times that I have been fucked over by people online.” Joyce claims that a lot of big named people in the music industry – their names are disclosed – that have pushed him to his artistic limits, creating and rendering many images and videos for these people, but once all of the possible options of artwork have been virtually spoonfed to these people, they just grab their favorite image or video for their music videos or an album cover, and leave Mikey in the dust, giving him no reimbursement. Some go as far as even blocking his phone number or his online profiles.

The online music industry has its downfall too. It’s even tough for producers to receive payment for the music that they produce for vocalists. My friend Owen Jones is a prominent musical artist and producer in Chicago. Jones claims that a lot of big-name rappers dig his music online via soundcloud, and often times, he goes to the studio to start working on production for them. With the business already discussed, Jones says he usually only asks for a small share of money as well as a repost from the rappers – their names are disclosed – on soundcloud, or even a simple shoutout on twitter. Simple, right? Wrong. Jones stated, “I send them solid beats that I worked hard on, and they just use it and go ghost on me.” In other words, the various buyers and collaborators have failed to meet their small portion of the deal, and again, another artist is left in the shadows.

 

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It’s difficult to say which question is more important on the topic of “catcalling”. For some reason this newfound or newly spoken about form of public harrasment has drawn up two opposing questions. Are women too sensitive (per usual), or are men really that threatening? This video experiment might help you do some deciding for yourself. Catcall Experiment.

For some, it might be hard to say. What is it that so offends women about being “complimented” or openly and publically deemed as sexually desirable? Isn’t that what they all deeply and secretly want anyway? To be wanted?
But really, what is it that drives men to call out to women? What makes them think that it is okay for them, as strangers, to touch and talk to women they don’t know? Why do they seem to enjoy the fruitless action of it all so very much?
Men can’t possibly believe that we, as self respecting women, that we, as women loving women, would ever let ourselves be caught up in their pitiful excuses for seduction. Or can they?  Can decency be regulated?

Between sips of my $3 sangria and bites out of my $1 fish taco special, I argued with my heterosexual girl friend. “Men are just genetically and biologically stupid. They can hardly help it. Everyone knows that boys and men just mature like 3,000 years behind women. It’s a fact.”
It’s not that I despise men. In fact, sometimes I feel genuinely bad for them. It must suck being so low on the emotional scale. Shoulder shrug. Sure, they make more money than us women, they have more opportunities, and they are often viewed as the “stronger” sex in nearly every aspect of life, but with empathy, intellect, and understanding, us women have got all men beat. Right?
“Now, stop it, that’s not true”, my friend protested. “Men are only educated and encouraged to act the way they do. The same way women are conditioned to believe that they should be sensitive, nurturing, and feminine, men are taught to be something like the opposite. It has nothing to do with genetics.”

So maybe men act so ridiculous in their bafflingly offensive attempts at flirtation and masculinity because society allows them to act this certain way. Maybe society does even more than allow men to behave this way. Maybe society expects this behavior from them. The same question still remains though. Does that make it okay? Does society’s expectations of men make it okay for women to walk the streets of their own city in fear of embarrassment or abuse?

As a feminist, I’m all for theories like “doing gender” and cultural imposition and expectation. But I had never previously pondered abusive men through this sympathetic lens before. Or maybe I had, but somehow just still can’t seem to save an individual the blame when they stick their heads and necks out of trucks with horns blaring. I can’t take the aspect of individual morality out of a stranger on the street reaching out across a sidewalk to pull my arm as I walk by. It’s difficult to stop and curse culture when men are circling you in groups to grab at you as you wait at bus stops and train stations. I don’t speculate on society then.

I can feel the power they plan to impose on me. I can sense the way they want their hands to leave imprints on my limbs, forcing me to remember them. They shout out at me in the hopes that their words will pierce me to the point where I can’t forget. They want to touch me, to reach me, to hurt me in a way that will allow them to take something from me in return for the abuse they’ve given. Am I sensitive? Maybe. Am I threatened? Definitely.

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While Hillary Clinton leads in the popular polls by about 30%, the young voters are certainly Feeling the Bern. A revolution has started in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ dogmatic allegiance with the middle class and his quiet fury is proving contagious. But are the reforms Sanders promises idealistic? Sitting on the couch during the debate in my casually chic tuxedo Snuggie, I realize: Bernie Sanders is like the kid in grade school who won the election by promising to put ice cream machines in the cafeteria. That kid had his heart in the right place, no doubt, but that kid did not have a thorough plan. Of course, Bernie Sanders is not a sixth grader, but a sufficiently qualified politician with platforms that, in more cases than not, align quite closely with Hillary’s.

The difference is the practical, clear cut planning and willingness to compromise that’s necessary to actually see those results. The fervor attached to his campaign is one fed, like the ice cream promise, by a similar desire to believe in revolutionary—unrealistic—change. Hillary Clinton’s history with foreign policy is unmatched by Sander’s extensive domestic experience and although, as a generation, we would prefer to cut ties with big money Wall Street, her attachments will prove beneficial in negotiations with conservatives and corporations who, like it or not, still hold 90% of the nation’s wealth (wealth=power). The tides of change continue to shift as we prepare for Obama to pass the torch to the new Commander in Chief. And regardless of the winner, changes—positive or otherwise—are bound to occur during the next presidential term.

But, where is the interest in the how? Social media has provided us with an incredible number of platforms from which to gather and share news, which is a huge contributing factor in Bernie’s growing fan base, but has our attention span overall become soundbite-sized? To hear a politician say “free tuition” or “I want Wall Street to pay!” is revolutionary in itself, but if the article isn’t 146 characters or less there is a massive decline in the number of people who will read it. As a result, there’s a discouraging lack of interest in scratching the surface of those claims to see how one intends on accomplishing those things, or what other aspects of life have to be altered to achieve those goals. Is Hillary’s “cross party” plan to reduced tuition debt, and her clear-cut stance on gun control hurting her likeability? Her focus on clarity as opposed to enthusiasm is clearly having an effect on her polling numbers with younger voters.

The likeability category in politics is critical in winning an election, and whether or not the candidates should feel pressure to appear on SNL or dance on The Ellen Show is debatable, but regardless of opinion, it’s been a deciding factor in several of the recent elections. More than ever the candidates are desperate to reach the young population and evidence shows that entertainment is the route to do it. The number of news platforms is at an all time high so it seems counterintuitive to learn that the number of young people that actually vote is at an intimidating low. The naiveté about the political system’s ability to change over night is reflected clearly in the fervor surrounding Bernie’s bold, lone wolf persona. His promises are incredibly appealing, and his plans for domestic change, particularly his plans to tax the 1%, are arguably necessary to keep the middle class alive. Even looking through his renowned “12 step plan“, leaves me asking, but how?  His prominent desires and concerns are, for all intents and purposes, identical to Hillary’s, and her plans to include the right winged politicians may not be as idealistically pleasing, but stand a real chance of holding water. The real issue, however, is how these candidates are going to grab the attention of the millennials. The answer to this remains unclear, but unless we find a way to create political enthusiasm in our generation, we’re bound to see our candidates on snapchat soon enough. And although my wallet yearns for a future of free tuition, my heart still melts at the disappointment of the ice cream machine fiasco and this time, I’m ready to Chill for Hill.

When you hear about guns, corruption, drugs and drug cartels what is the first thing that comes to mind? Or better yet: What countries come to mind? Probably Mexico or Colombia or other parts of Latin America. Colombian drug cartels ruled during the 70s and 80s, but their powerful and violent past is now buried under years of anti-narcotic laws. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said about Mexico. Today, Mexico holds the title for having the most corrupt and powerful drug cartels of all Latin America. Drug cartels or narcos [in Spanish] are known to smuggle drugs and guns through land, air, and water to various parts of the world.
The exportation and importation of drugs and guns is very common, especially between Mexico and the United States. The demand for guns and drugs is on the rise and cartels such as The Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, The Jalisco New Generation, and The Gulf Cartel, to name a few, benefit from this. They gain power, money, and respect. Since 2006, 85,000 thousand lives have been lost and 8,000 have gone missing due to the violence and corruption brought on by these drug cartels. But why is it that these drug cartels are famed for their violence and brutality? Who keeps them popular and relevant? The answer lies in the glamorization of a subculture called narco cultura, which glorifies what drug cartels stand for through narco films and a special genre of music called, narcocorridos or narc ballads.
“Con un cuerno de chivo y bazuka en la nuca, volando cabezas al que se atraviesa” (With an AK and a bazooka taking aim, blowing off the heads of whoever gets in the way), is part of a song called “Sanguinarios del M1” (The Bloodthirsty M1) by Mexican music group, Buknas de Culiacan. Quite hard-hitting, violent, and threatening, this song is just one of thousands sung by famous narcocorrido bands. The narcocorrido genre focuses on songs by Mexican bands that specialize in composing songs for famous drug cartels, glorifying drugs, violence, power, money, and women.
Starting from the very bottom, narcocorridos began in a small Mexican state called Sinaloa and have risen to become part of a multi-million dollar industry. Interestingly, the popularity of these songs comes not only from Mexico, but from the United States, particularly the Southwest (California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, to name a few). One factor may be that many of the Mexican immigrants in the United States are from a young generation and subsequently, they bring Mexican pop culture with them. The young Mexican generation look to narcocorridos as a way of bringing home with them and the demand is quite high, causing many bands to cater to this demand. These bands include Los Tigres del Norte and Los Tucanes de Tijuana who are California-based, but the majority are actually brought over from Mexico. In cities all over the United States, these Mexican bands play in sold-out shows every weekend.
Now, it may be that narcocorridos remind the young generation of Mexican immigrants of back home, but what else makes them so popular? The answer lies in the idea of drug cartels being the epitome of the “cool, tough guys”. Many are inspired by the tough narc and how he or she (Yes…women also make up a percentage, although small, of narcocorrido artists) have this image that many can respect; the idea that you can come from nothing and work your way up into actually becoming somebody. In music videos, guns, cocaine and weed, and brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ferrari, and Armani are seen as part of the typical narc lifestyle. Although the glamorous side is highly marketed, so is violence and death but in a way that is much more internalized through song lyrics and their imagery.
Glorifying this type of lifestyle is quite ignorant. There are so many social and cultural implications that the music causes. Praising narcocorridos is accepting the everyday murders of innocent people and writing it off as something that is ordinary of Mexican society. It is accepting that seeing decapitated heads and bodies chopped into pieces has become something normal and even cool to look at. It is about Mexican families wanting to travel to Mexico to see their homeland and where they grew up, but cannot do so because they are afraid they might get kidnapped and killed. Imagine not being able to stay out late with friends for fearing of getting murdered or always having to be cautious in what you say and in who you talk to.
The narco cultura in Mexico needs a reality check. With all honesty, as of right now there will not be a quick solution to this problem. As long as there are fans and a market for this type of music, it will not end. But we can still hope that it can end someday, even if it takes time. We need to reach back to the roots of corridos where it praised revolutionary heroes and turn it back into something positive. As my dad would say, “Our Mexican revolutionaries fought to make this country independent of corruption. We need something like that today.” Maybe that’s just what Mexico needs: a revolution.

cultural critique

American Apparel just declared bankruptcy. The epitome of cool American clothing, worn by teens and college students throughout the United States, proudly declared their products were manufactured in the United States, sweatshop free. The company, which was founded in Montreal, is officially broke. As unfortunate as that fact is, it’s equally understandable why patrons are spending their money elsewhere; mom jeans should not cost ninety dollars. The price tag tacked on food, schoolbooks, rent, and miscellaneous activities and events constantly rise, forcing students to search for cheaper alternatives. The same is true for clothing; the cheapest items found, and bought, are found on international online websites, like eBay and Aliexpress.

American Apparel is iconic; the clothes are overpriced, but the satisfaction of the “AA” label makes it all worth it. Finding that same sweater, with the same tag, for sixty dollars less almost ensures the sale. Aliexpress.com manufactures sweaters, pants, shoes, even underwear, at 90% less than the original cost, with American Apparel labels, and quality, identical to the company. “Name brand” attire from dozens of epochal manufacturers worn in the states can be found there, at a fraction of the price. The faceless site never once mentions its workers, unlike American Apparel though. The products are merely made, then posted. Much like Amazon.com or eBay.com, a slew of sellers function on this hub, distributing goods. Working conditions in Asian countries are notorious for their questionable working conditions, but rest assured, the conditions associated with unemployment are equally as horrific, if not worse. Men, women, and children work to survive, not for the lovely imitation clothing their patrons purchase, but for food, rudimentary schooling, and to preserve the homes they live in. Not every seller practices unfair treatment of workers, but the workers that are forced into working long hours for little pay have no other option. They are providing for themselves, and often their family. If the only source of income they receive is depleted, they will greatly suffer, and may die. America has welfare assistance, and a solid minimum wage system; China does not. Just as in America, when unqualified potential workers apply for jobs, they receive the jobs no one else would ever want; the same is true in places like China and Bangladesh and India. The prospect of unemployment in utterly unimaginable: finding another job in a market which caters to over 1 billion people is hopeless. Boycotting a company like this is entirely complex: I believe, and I know you also believe, that these workers deserve better. In their respective countries, there is no better. http://www.learnliberty.org/videos/top-3-ways-sweatshops-help-poor-escape-poverty/. They are not qualified for other positions, and they continue to return to work because without it, the small semblance of a future they have, of the promise of days to come, is forever shattered. Children work in these sweatshops, and many stay to afford schooling, and the opportunity of an education which will save them from sweatshops as an adult, while others work to escape arranged marriages to older men. Why would anyone want that child to quit, just to live an equally wretched life?

Before condemning Made-in-China products, it is important to understand that most athletic shoes, toys, coffee, rugs, smartphones and various clothing are made in the same type of place my $14 loafers were made. They fall under labels like Nike, Apple, Disney, Starbucks, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, and even Wal-Mart. http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/10-major-clothing-brands-caught-in-shocking-sweatshop-scandals/?view=all These companies are incredibly well-known, and prosperous (much more than American Apparel currently claims to be)-the likelihood of the boycotting of these products is minimal; rightfully so. These workers are under horrendous conditions, and that is why they need consumer’s money. Without it, they would have worked 16-hour days for nothing at all. Can you imagine what that must feel like? Probably not. I certainly can’t. As my AA knockoff sweater rests in my closet, at 17.99, I have no intention of returning to American products anytime soon.

hese companies are incredibly well-known, and prosperous (much more than American Apparel currently claims to be)-the likelihood of the boycotting of these products is minimal; rightfully so. These workers are under horrendous conditions, and that is why they need consumer’s money. Without it, they would have worked 16-hour days for nothing at all. Can you imagine what that must feel like? Probably not. I certainly can’t. As my AA knockoff sweater rests in my closet, at 17.99, I have no intention of returning to American products anytime soon.

I have been a swimmer for 15 years.  I have swam for over 10 separate teams, all the way up to the national level.  I have raced thousands upon thousands of individuals.  However, in all my time in the water, there seems to be one subtle detail that for most, flies under the radar: There are very few black people.   I have heard many theories as to why this may be.  People sayBlog1 it’s because of the anatomical difference in muscle density and ratio of fast- to slow-twitch muscle cells that causes black people to only have quick bursts of energy as opposed to a long steady flow of it.  An article on race and physics by Amren news claims the reason is “because blacks have such dense bones, they are less buoyant and less likely to be swimming champions.”   Many scientist claim it’s because blacks have quicker reaction speeds than Caucasians and therefore excel at other sports that require quick reactions unlike swimming.  All of these explanations may be true; however, it does not take away from the obvious fact that white athletes severely outnumber black in the pool.

Swimming is not the only sport that is segregated like this.  Sports such as golf, tennis, track, basketball and football are also very racially oriented.  These days, it’s nearly impossible to find a sport that isn’t racially segregated in some way.  There are many different theories as to why things may be this way.  One of them being that blacks high level of testosterone.  In the Ameren article    (http://www.amren.com/news/2008/02/race_and_physic_1/ ) that was mentioned earlier, it is stated that “Studies have repeatedly found that black men have more of the male hormone testosterone in their blood than whites do. Testosterone is directly related to phyBlog2sical and sexual aggressiveness, but it also combines significantly with intelligence.”  The testosterone allows black males to build more muscle faster and more efficiently than white males.  Which brings me to my next point, the type of muscle built.
There are two types of muscle cells, fast-twitch and slow-twitch.  Fast-twitch muscle cells are used for power movements such as jumping or sprinting while slow-twitch muscle is used for endurance purposes. According to http://run-down.com/guests/je_black_athletes_p2.php in a study of fast-twitch muscle cells in Africans and Caucasians, researchers found, “The West Africans, by a ratio of approximately two to one, had more of the larger fast-twitch fibers. The researchers concluded that the force generating capacity of type-II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers at high velocity, the speed and tempo of movements, and the capacity of an individual to adapt to exercise training are all genetically influenced.”  Another possible reason why blacks excel at some sports and whites excel at others is due to bone density.  Studies show that Caucasian bone is only about 87.5% as dense as African American bone.  This causes blacks to be more agile and gives them the stability needed to run faster and cut harder.  However, this makes them more much less buoyant which gives Caucasians the advantage in aquatic sports such as swimming.  These facts are just the beginning of all the anatomical differences between blacks and whites that cause the segregation of certain sports.

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I will admit, however, there are some exceptions to this ideology.  One example is the Olympic 50 meter freestyler silver medalist, Cullen Jones.  Jones is an African American born in the Bronx.  He is the current American record holder in the 50 meter freestyle and has been on multiple American gold medal winning relays.  Jones may be one of the few black swimmers in the world, but he doesn’t necessarily redefine the stereotype.  It is a well-known fact in the swimming world that most black swimmers are sprinters because of the large amount of muscle mass required for those events.  In 2012, the US Olympic swim team did not have a single black swimmer in an event longer than 200 meters.  Even this follows all the facts stated above in that blacks do have faster reactions and more efficient bodies for sprinting allowing them to overpower the buoyancy issue for a short period of time.

Many people see these facts as disturbing and wrong.  However, the way I see it, it’s simply an effect of evolution and natural selection.  Certain sports are more populated with African American athletes simply because they are built more efficiently for it.  Some sports are more populated with Caucasian athlete for the same reason.  The purpose of sports is to test the ability of an athlete to see who is better.  Some races are built more efficiently than others for certain things, it’s a simple fact of life.  I believe that athletes should not be judged by the color of their skin.  However, I do believe that the color of an athlete’s skin does have the potential to mean the difference in ability.

Have you ever wondered if being ‘feminine’ is something women are basically forced to do? Or is it just a set of rules that women have just become accustomed to because of the sexist attitudes of the past years? As I was growing up, all I heard was ‘you need to be more lady-like, Jacqueline’ or ‘be a girl; stop acting like a boy!’ But, what is it really to be ‘more lady-like’ or ‘feminine?’ image.

Curiosity sparked inside me, so I started to ask my family/friends what it really was to be feminine in their own opinions. The variety of answers I got were interesting yet annoyingly similar. My grandmother told me, “to be feminine is to know how to act in public. Women are supposed to present themselves well mannered to society. Don’t dress so extravagant or talk vulgarly because it ruins your image.” My mother told me, ” I guess to act feminine is to know your place between people. To know when to act like a girl and when not to.” “Acting feminine, as you say, is to be able to respect yourself and know who you are,” is what my father said. My best girl friend told me, ” to be feminine is to be sensitive, to be considered a gentle person, to be more emotional.” The response that most caught my attention, and I wanted to know more about, was my grandmother’s response. Not only because she had more to say but because she spoke of femininity as an expectation that must be followed in order to be a woman. Her response kind of scared me because everything she said, I had never really followed, and I guess that is why she always scolded me when I did something ‘not lady-like’ in her point of view. I understood the point that she was born in the in the 20th century, when the norms of her days were for a woman to stay home and provide care and food for her children and husband. That was the woman’s job in her era, so her response was based with the ideas she was taught with.

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Hope Solo, United States women’s national team goalkeeper, was largely criticized when she performed in “Dancing With the Stars” because she was not “feminine enough,” and according to the judges, she had “too much muscle” to dance correctly. In a Huffington post interview, Solo said,When I did, Dancing With the Stars, everyone in Hollywood was saying I had too much muscle. And I wanted to be, like, I work my ass off day in and day out to win this country gold medals, to win this country World Cups. And you’re proud of that when I’m on the field, but when I’m off the field, you put me down.” This exactly describes how much being feminine has to do with the body as well. A woman’s body should be slim and delicate as an expectation. Hope Solo is one of the most inspirational figures for women because she proves to be not what society expects about every single woman. She unbalances the gender roles by playing soccer and working out a lot; something that not many women do, so it makes the society feel uncomfortable due to the fact that women are assumed to be born and men are made.   image

Women are assumed to have feminine qualities like be sensitive, gentle, or even weak. Hope Solo is the complete opposite, yet she still has womanly characteristics, like be sensitive like any other girl would be. Solo proves to show society that women do not always have to be so weak; they can be strong as well and should not be judged by society because she is not feminine enough. Women should have their own identity and still be considered a woman or feminine. To this day, society has become so accustomed to the idea that women should be feminine that they judge everything about a woman physically. Society, men in particular, cannot see a woman seem stronger or more successful than a man. It is not “normal” and push aside the hard work women put in too to be where they are at.

Femininity is a largely argued topic because now a days, women are becoming independent and do not need a man to make her life complete. Women are now playing sports, are active in politics, are doing jobs that a lot of men would do. These women are the ones that prove the ideas of the 20th century. It is more of a worldwide problem because women are still viewed as sensitive creatures that need a man to be successful.

Back in the days, women could not play sports whatsoever because it just was not right, but now, women of all countries play sports because we are more open to the idea of women doing what they want. This should be the new norm to us because women are much more independent.