Before It All Started…

Has anyone watched the movie “The Internship“? It’s about two unemployed individuals who land an internship with Google, with no background whatsoever about computer programing. This movie portrays a horrifying fictionous reality that shows how comptetive the internees can be when they want to win a fulltime position.

For someone like myself, who has never taken on a “real” internship in my field, I can honestly say that I am mortified xD

However, movies are just movies…right? I will dismiss the horror portrayed in this movie, and I will start with a fresh mind, The Internship.

I will update the readers (if any are out there) every week about my experience as an intern in one of the big 4 accounting firms.

How I landed My Internship?

Well, this is an interesting story.

Here’s what happened: Recruiters came to visit my university; I dressed professionally and had an updated version of my resume; I drank a cup of coffee to get my energy pumped up; I spoke to every single recruiter, and asked them questions about the firm and the opportunities offered to students, gave them my resume. Next thing you know, they were contacting me.

Some tips: 

  1. Make sure your resume has no grammar or spelling errors, this is not your blog!
  2. Keep your grades up, at least try your best to get B and above in your major classes
  3. Take an advantage of the recruiting events in your school; even if you don’t get a call back from the firms you wanted, you’re still getting experience.
  4. During the “meet and greet” event, make sure to leave a lasting impression on the recruiter. You can only do that by being yourself.
  5. Just stay positive; sometimes things don’t workout the way you wanted, but sooner or later, you’ll get the internship/job that best suits you

Dominant vs. Oppositional [Music Videos]

In the book, Practices of Looking: an Introduction to Visual Culture, Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright write “Through looking we negotiate social relationships and meanings. Looking is a practice much like speaking, writing, or signing. Looking involves learning to interpret and, like other practices, looking involves relationships of power.” The relationships of power could be the division of power between male and female in music videos. Today, many of the music videos portray women as the passive subjects while men as the active subjects; thus, empowering males over females. Such state was reached since many of the music videos are captured through the heterosexual male perspective, resulting in the male gaze. On the other hand, there are music videos that follows the oppositional gaze by redefining the role of male and female subjects in the video to oppose the dominant gaze. In the music video “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce, the dominant gaze is used; while in the music video “Take A Bow” by Rihanna, the oppositional gaze is used.

“Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce is song that calls for women empowerment through it’s lyrics; however, if one were to critically analyze the music video, they would realize how the video emphasizes the heterosexual male perception of the female body. Thus, influencing the viewers to accept the scopophilic male gaze. The introduction of the video shows a strong contrast between the women and men; through their positions and outfits. The women, who are mostly women of color, are dressed in corsets, garters and stockings; while Beyonce is seen wearing exotic outfits where gold headdress and dark eye make-up are highly stressed in the look, as she stands in the center in a sexual, unnatural position. Contrary, the men in the video are fully clothed, at times wearing riot police uniforms, and standing in a very serious, manly postures. The music video is filled with various scenes where the women are dancing sexually by sliding their legs open, tossing their hair and undulating their hips towards the audience. In one scene, Beyonce says “you’ll do anything for me” as she and the women are dancing while the men are standing and watching these women display their sexuality. Thus, Beyonce is implying that in order for women to run the world, they need to depend on their body as a way to provide the men with sexual promises in order for the men to do “anything” for the women. Furthermore, the way the camera is shooting the music video adds to the males gaze. Many times, the camera practices between the legs shot on Beyonce, such a shot is highly sexualized as it dehumanizes Beyonce through the use of fragmentation. In addition, the camera is always shooting from the men’s perspective, meaning that the position of the camera is placed on the men’s side in the video; thus, causing the audience to view the dancers from the men’s perspective who are watching them. Consequently, this places the women in the video, including beyonce, in a submissive position. As a result, the music video is disempowering women by sending out the message that women who desire to run the world must be confident about displaying their bodies as it is the only way to reach power.

Bell hooks introduced the idea of “oppositional gaze” for black women where she encouraged them to actively critique their stereotypical representation in the film industry. Today, black women are represented in music videos as sexual objects from a heterosexual male perspective; creating the dominant gaze. However, Rihanna’s music video “Take A Bow”, challenges that dominant gaze by placing Rihanna in the assertive position, while the male subject in the submissive position; thus, changing the dominant roles of male and female in music videos. The camera focuses on Rihanna’s face throughout the music video; thus, dismissing the sexually dominant shots that focuses on the female body parts rather than the face. In addition, there are many shots where the male subject is being shot from above; thus, emphasizing Rihanna’s (who is a female) superiority in the video. In other times, the camera shoots the male subject from Rihanna’s perspective, further placing the subject into a submissive position. In addition, Rihanna is the one who starts the violence in the video by burning the male subject belongings, while the male subject struggles to set off the fire. Such a scene is definitely opposes the dominant idea where men are the ones who are violent, while women are the passive objects. Thus, such a video confirms the oppositional gaze idea of Bell Hooks by having the video shot from a female perspective; which dismisses the stereotypical roles of black women in music video. Consequently, this video empowers black women as they portray them in a nonsexual nor dehumanizing perspective.

In conclusion, the constructive observer is the one who determines whether the gaze that will be portrayed in music videos falls under the dominant gaze or the oppositional gaze.

[Ahh..I miss my Popular Culture Class!]

A Different Kind of View on Female Drivers in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Women Fighting for their Right to Drive

Saudi Women Fighting for their Right to Drive

Being the feminist that I am, I completely support women in Saudi Arabia who wish to drive vehicles. However, today I was exposed to a different view that made me feel sympathetic  towards individuals who are against women driving in Saudi Arabia. Before you make any judgments, understand that I still stand firm regarding my support for female drivers. However, I felt the need to share someone’s opinion, and to reflect back on it.

I met an individual today who spent most of his childhood in Saudi Arabia, where he spoke highly of the family oriented environment that he experienced growing up. While I enjoyed listening to that aspect of the conversation, I could not help but cut-in and ask about his opinion regarding Saudi women driving, and that was his exact response:

“Men in Saudi Arabia are sexually oppressed as a result of the country’s laws regarding the seperation of men and women. Thus, by allowing women to drive, you are literally giving the sexually oppressed men the opportunity to sexually harrass the female drivers”

Can I just say “Bravo” to his conclusion? It is actually right on! As someone who lived a portion of her childhood in Egypt, I can completely agree that the minute men will get the chance to interact with women, they will abuse it! Eighty percent (if not more) have reported being verbally or physically harrassed in Egypt as of 2011, despite that the laws in Egypt are more lenient regarding the relationship between men and women. Yet, it is a known fact that the majority of Egyptian men are sexually oppressed for various reasons, which include (but are not limited to) the difficulty in getting married.

However, back to this individual’s conclusion, Saudi women WILL get harassed while they are driving, and they WILL face difficulty getting accepted by the society, and there WILL be cases of violence against female drivers… but, until when?

Rememeber way back in the 1960s when schools were segregated in the United States? Now, think deeper and you will remember that little girl, Ruby Bridges, who was the first child to attend an all white school in the south. How did that go for her? She was violently harrassed and threatened, until president Eisenhower had to send U.S. Marshals to oversee Ruby’s saftey. It was not easy for Ruby, but because of her bravery and strength, we see kids today from different backgrounds and ethnicities learning together inside one classroom.

It will not be easy in the beginning for female drivers to change the society’s views and stop men from abusing them as they drive; however, it is possible. There is light at the end of the tunnel so hold on there.

Bullying At its Record High

Rebecca Sedwick

Rebecca Sedwick

As a kid, I was bullied; however, my bulling was never as horrifying as the kind of bullying kids face these days. The worst statement that I would get was “You’re a loser!” and while such statement did hurt me as a child, it never drove me to have suicidal thoughts. However, when I read about stories of young children, suiciding, because of the amount of bullying they receive from their peers, I become extremely horrified and worried about my little sister. For whatever reason kids bully, it will not be completely stopped; but the level of bullying can be decreased. How can a child or teenager, encourage someone  to commit suicide because they are “overweight” or “ugly”… kind of hard to imagine that kids can be that cruel, but it is the reality today.

Opening the news this morning, I read about a young middle schooler, Rebecca Sedwick, who was bullied to death by her peers. Her mother, and school administrators, tried to help Rebecca, but to no vail. Her mother even got Rebecca pulled out of her school; but that did not stop Rebecca’s peers from bulling her. Instead of face-to-face bullying, her peers used social media and cell-phones in order to destroy Rebecca’s esteem. Rebecca’s last text message was sent to a 12 year old online friend “I am going to jump, I can’t take it anymore”. The last time Rebecca’s mother saw her was the night before she jumped off a tower.

It is not the first time I read stories about children who suicide as a result of being terrorized by their peers. However, the horror I feel each time I read about these stories never decreases. It drives me to think of how my little sister will deal with such situation, god-forbidden, if she faces it. Thus, I try to encourage her not to care about what others think, and to love herself despite how others feel towards her; but is that enough? Rebecca’s mother, and many parents with bullied children, try their best to improve their children’s self-esteem. However, that was not enough to help Rebecca love and value herself; so what is the solution?

While schools today try to raise awareness about the consequences of bullying, it has little impact on the bullies themselves. A kid who constantly bullies others does not simply “stop” after hearing an adult lecture them about the wrongness of bullying. But, that child was not born as a bully; such behavior is developed from the kind of environment at home.

While those that bullied Rebecca are now going to face jail sentences (very thankful for that), these kids are also victims. The environment at home shapes a child’s personality. Children often learn by watching their parents’ behavior: if  parents are violent with each other or towards their children, whether in words or physical action, the child will take that behavior to school. Thus, parents need to be educated about the cause of the issue and how to prevent their children from developing such behavior.

First, parents need to develop a safe and loving environment for their children. If children are raised in such environment, their is no way that these children will become bullies at school. Second, they need to constantly speak with their child about bullying and how such behavior can devastate someone else’s life. Lastly, it is important for parents to monitor their child and be aware of their child’s behavior at school and online.

Rebecca’s bullies and their parents are at fault, and the bullies definitely deserve to be jailed (even if they are only 12-14 year olds); but I hope that parents can learn a lesson from this devastating event.

Muslims, Christians and Jews Can Coexist in Egypt

Islam Judaism Cross NO BOX(a)

The Egyptian culture is founded based on the religious values and beliefs of the majority of the population, whom happen to be muslims. However, there are eleven million egyptians who consider themselves coptic christians; they make up about 10 to 11 percent of the population. Furthermore, there are about 200 jews living in Egypt (this number could be higher or lower as it is fairly difficult to get a valid public estimate about the number of Egyptian Jews). The egyptian culture, as a result, is very conservative since each one of these Abrahamic religions support traditional values; such as the traditional family values and sanctity of marriage. However, the point of this article is not to talk about the Egyptian culture, but rather to discuss the discrimination that happens against the two religious minorities in Egypt, coptic christians and jews, and to provide a solution for this problem.

As a child, I attended a school called “Bader El-Islam” which is translated to “The Full Moon of Islam”; as a result, there were no coptic or jewish children in my school. Thus, I viewed coptic christians as literally, aliens. I remember going home in the school bus as a fourth grader and pointing at the cross to one of my older friends and asking them what this symbol means; their answer was “That’s a cross, you’ll find it placed on churches where coptic christians pray”. Furthermore, I viewed Jews as inherently evil, since the media does identify the differences between jews and Israelis and it only portrays the negative image of Israeli soldiers, who are mostly jewish, killing the Palestinian civilians. The fact that I never interacted with both minority groups, and the lack of education and awareness about these groups made me extremely closed-minded in the early days of my childhood. Fortunately, my family immigrated to Canada when I was ten years old; thus, I was given the opportunity to meet and interact with other children who come from christian and jewish backgrounds. As a result, I was able to learn how to accept others, regardless of their religious background. However, what about the other children in Egypt who are closed-minded due to their lack of interaction with children from minority groups?

The current situation in Egypt, regarding the level of acceptance of minority groups such as jews and coptic christians, is dissatisfying. The attacks on Egyptian churches did not stop after the revolution, nor did the hate towards jews from the media decrease. The lack of awareness and education in schools about the history, values and beliefs of coptic christians and jews is the main cause for creating a closed-minded, discriminative adults who violate the natural rights of jews and coptic christians. Furthermore, it will be hard to move an uneducated population to take a strong stand when violent events take place against these minority groups, such as the burning of a church.

Article 43 of the constitution in Egypt states “The State shall guarantee the freedom to practice religious rites and to establish places of worship for the divine religions, as regulated by law.” but realistically, if the majority of the population does not believe in the rights of coptic christians and jews, how can the law stop the discrimination and violence against these two minority groups? The answer to this problem is through education. Children in schools need to learn the history, values and beliefs of these two minority groups. All the Abrahamic religions call for similar values such as the love for one another; these values need to be stressed in schools through all grade levels. In addition, the three religious symbols should be placed on top of classroom boards; a star and crescent, which is the symbol for Islam; a cross, which is the symbol for christianity; and the star of David, which is the symbol for judaism. For children to grow up seeing these symbols every day will be the starting point for a more accepting culture and a better Egypt.

Staying Cool and Efficient

business race on a blue track Starting a business is not easy, especially if you are alone. Often times the process of getting a business off the ground is challenging but adventurous. I do believe that if one develops these two skills, they will have a good shot at moving from the idea phase to actually launching their business.

First, One has to be extremely cool. As an entrepreneur, you will face challenges as you try to move forward from the idea phase to launching your business. However, nothing will compare to the amount of negativity you will hear from the people you trust in your life, such as your friends and family, regarding the potential failure of the business. You have to learn to dismiss their thoughts, as their thoughts are often times based on speculations that have no evidential support. Thus, allowing these negative thoughts to get to you means that you choose to end your business before you even start it. Furthermore, you need to stay calm when challenges arrive at your door step. Starting a business is not a smooth process, and you have to stay cool in order to find solutions to the problems that will arise on the way.

Second, you have to be very efficient and productive with your time. Often times, entrepreneurs have to take the initial steps alone. This is because many people in the beginning do not have faith that your business will succeed; thus, they will not jump on board from the very early start. As a result, you will have to do many of the initial steps before attracting others to work with you. This is the point where each entrepreneur must sacrifice their sleep or social life to get a lot of work done. It’s okay though, once the business is off the ground and the millions are coming in, you will look back at this step and smile.

So staying cool and efficient are the two basic skills that an entrepreneur must
develop. One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that each business brings an adventure and excitement to ones life regardless of whether the business succeeds or fails. Thus, enjoy every minute of the process and stay positive.

Having Problems Communicating Your Ideas?

There are times when millions of thoughts run through our mind about a particular idea, and every thought makes complete sense to us. However, once we try to share these thoughts with others, we begin to face difficulty communicating them. This difficulty often arises when we assume that the person, whom  we are communicating with, have a basic understanding of what we are talking about; thus, we skip explaining each thought in detail, leaving the person feeling confused. It is similar to telling someone a story by informing them about the beginning and the end while leaving the middle portion of the story out. The solution to this problem is to allow yourself to step back and observe the main idea and it’s details. You can begin by painting a picture of the main idea to your listener, then go into each detail while fighting the urge to skip some of your thoughts. The details are the main components of each idea; thus your listener will be able to understand the idea you are trying to communicate if you orally build the idea by putting the components together in front of your listener. The trick is to break down each idea to small components then build it once again in your mind before you try to communicate your thoughts with others.

I read this article in inc. magazine, Lessons in Learning How To Program, where the author connects programming to communicating. In order to program, one has to break down each thought and explain it in details to the computer, a machine that knows nothing. Thus, if one wants to communicate their ideas effectively to others, they have to break down each thought and explain it piece by piece without rushing or assuming that the listeners is capable of reading the speaker’s mind.