This is where thoughts become things.

Hi, I'm Daniela. Welcome to my personal lair on the Internet. This is where I write about storytelling, activism, technology and pop culture. Sometimes I post videos. I update my lair when the mood strikes me. Follow me on Twitter for daily updates (@dcap).

Tag : discussion

Brain Leaks: Parenthood On Facebook — Pt 2 — Social Gaming Consequences

A recent headline inspired me to take a weeklong Facebook Detox, starting today: A northern Colorado woman who was playing a game on Facebook while her 13-month-old drowned in a bathtub was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison. Shannon Johnson, 34, was so consumed by that day’s session of Café World that she didn’t think twice about leaving her baby alone in a tub full of water.

AP reports that Johnson put her son in the tub for his bath a little after 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 20. She then left him unsupervised as she went to another room to share videos, check status updates and play Café World on Facebook.

So while her child drowned, Johnson was enjoying the psychological rewards of being in charge of her own virtual restaurant, making her way to the top of Zynga‘s fake culinary world.

Zynga, the creator of FarmVille and a lot of other social games, has a talent for ripping off products from other companies and creating their own addictive Facebook games that are particularly popular with mothers.

Let me just preface the rest of this post by saying that I’m not into slippery slope talk. Obviously, not every parent who enjoys social gaming on Facebook is going to make the same negligent mistake that Johnson did. However, I’m bringing this up anyway to raise a concern that I have about how social gaming impacts family life and the gamer’s view of his/her own abilities.

There are many studies being released these days about the cognitive benefits of gaming. Quest 2 Learn, a digital school in NYC, uses gaming as part of their curriculum. So clearly, gaming isn’t the enemy. Games didn’t kill little Joseph. Negligence did. Before gaming hit the mainstream, parents went to jail for accidents that happened while they watched TV. Today, it’s happening all over the world because of gaming addictions. Same problem — different platform. (more…)

Brain Leaks: Parenthood On Facebook — Pt 1 — Free Therapy

I bet you $10 that today you saw a “cute baby” photo or a parenting-related status update on your Facebook News Feed wall. Maybe your old friend from High School was posing with her newborn in the hospital, or her status update revealed her interest in cloth diapers.

Parents these days think nothing of sharing the most intimate details from their home life with their wide network of friends. Estranged pals who haven’t seen each other in years will know what each other’s kids had for breakfast this morning. And we’re all OK with that; it feels totally normal, doesn’t it?

This post isn’t about privacy — if you’re not familiar with your Facebook privacy settings by now, God help you. No, this post is about being on Facebook and being a parent. The question I’m presenting isn’t if one is affecting the other — they most definitely are. My question is, beyond the statistics, how is Facebook tangibly changing parent behavior and why?

Over the next few days, I’ll be releasing a series of posts on the ways that the construct of Parenthood is being affected by living life on Facebook.

1. Misery Loves Company: Free “Bebe’s Kids” Therapy

Don’t front — sometimes your little one acts like an obnoxious hellion. Thirty years ago, mothers didn’t have a place to vent where they could receive instant feedback and support, wherever they happened to be. They had to suck it up and take lots of valium.

True, they could meet up with friends for lunch or call someone, but sometimes (especially in today’s uber-connected world) you DON’T WANT physical human interaction to get through a bad head space. You want validation & empathy, yes — having to actually go meet someone, no. Unlike the oppressed/Internet-lacking moms of yesteryear, today’s parents can go to Facebook for all the unlicensed counseling they could ever want.

Facebook gives you free reign to spill any grievance, anytime, and then check back later for any kind words or “Likes.”

Facebook as free therapy in the battle of the (very much loved) brats seems to be a crucial tool in many a parent’s arsenal. (more…)

Brain Leaks: Fear & Femininity

related post: Girl Antagonists In Cinema

I’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite films, books, videos and works of art have to do with a fear of the mystical/”unknown” aspects of femininity.

Frequently, the content creator is preoccupied with his/her discomfort around femininity and is outright with it or tries to disguise it with symbolism.

One of my guilty-pleasure bands, The Horrors, have several (cool) videos that show women as objects of fear or loathing. (ex: Sheena Is A Parasite)

I recently stumbled onto this video on Vimeo called “КУБИКИ” that is visually striking. I can’t understand what is being said but it keeps cutting to a feminine face and a doll who is rapidly undressed in stop-motion, covered in in a tar-like substance and then burned.

“КУБИКИ” from cuccumberass on Vimeo.

The first time I thought about femininity in a “scary way” was when I saw the episode of “DuckTales” called “Home Sweet Homer” about a Siren-like creature. The gang is sailing and Scrooge McDuck becomes enchanted by three women in the distance who are singing “Pennies, nickles, quarters, dimes — Come to us, while there’s still time!” He almost ends up being killed. Seeing these feminine figures suddenly become a gross monster was something that really struck me. The realization that femininity could be constructed as a guise to distract for hidden purposes was both disturbing and kind of empowering.

That show was awesome, FTW.

What is it about representations of femininity contrasted with extreme violence that affect us in such a strong way?

Films like The Shining and most recently Shutter Island used images of femininity in the context of aging/death to induce a very uncomfortable or fearful audience reaction.

I could never quite put my finger on exactly why that hallway scene in The Shining was so disturbing to me. Now I think I know why — Aside from the implied fact that they were ghosts who (in their previous life) had been murdered by their father, it was their interaction with the little boy that bothered me so much.

“Hello, Danny. Come and play with us.” They stood side by side, immobile at the end of the hallway. Unlike him, they were not afraid. They didn’t seem to realize they were dead.

We then saw rapid cuts of what Danny sees – the girls lying in the hallway, covered in blood. The scene keep cutting back and forth between their butchered bodies to rapidly encroaching shots of the girls staring straight ahead, not moving a muscle.

“Come and play with us, Danny. Forever, and ever, and ever…”

Danny covered his face in horror. The contrast is too much.

In Shutter Island, there were similar shots — a blood-soaked little girl who can walk around and talk to the protagonist.

Mythical figures such as Sirens, Medusa and the Succubus are constantly reinterpreted in books and movies.

Throughout history, the ruling class in every nation created laws at some point that rid society of “abnormal” women (see Salem Witch Trials) and to justify injustices in the name of protecting femininity (see History of Lynching).

Conflicting ideas about mystical/”unknown” aspects of femininity and our desire to protect/preserve femininity are threads that will continue to be played out in the arts.

In related news, The New School is finally recognizing their Gender Studies Program.

Initially to be based at Lang College, the Gender Studies Program of The New School serves all undergraduate divisions. Lang students minoring in Gender Studies will take six courses, distributed as set forth in this requirement doc. Courses are chosen in consultation with the Director of the Program. Students must submit a plan to the program director for their course of study when they declare the minor.

To celebrate the return, there will be a a two day conference featuring various well known gender studies experts.

“No Longer in Exile: The Legacy and Future of Gender Studies at The New School”

DATE: Friday, March 26th 6 PM -9 PM and all day Saturday, March 27th
LOCATION: Theresa Lang Center – 55. W. 13th St. (NYC)

Just a few of the themes to be addressed include the task of historicizing feminism, including the particular history of Gender Studies at the New School; continuity and rupture across feminist generations; the impact of feminism on research methodologies in the social sciences; gender and design; the relationship between scholarship and activism; dilemmas in the project of institutionalizing Gender Studies; and gendered structural and institutional policies in the New School university.

I am looking forward to listening to information provided by the following panelists (there are more, but these are the ones I am psyched about):

* Susan Faludi, author of Backlash and The Terror Dream
* Bonnie Thornton Dill, Professor and Chair of the Women’s Studies Department and Program and Direction of the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland
* Judith Halberstam, Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at USC and author of In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (2005)
* Valerie Smith, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, Department of English, Princeton Center for African American Studies

Fan Gender Studies at The New School on Facebook to stay updated on conference details and other news.