Monday, August 24, 2009

Pass The Mic!

It’s wonderful that Americans are engaged in a sorely needed discussion about healthcare reform. Yet the voices of reputable professionals have been notably diminutive in this debate. The opinions of physicians, nurses, scientists, public health policy experts, etc., are infrequently solicited, perpetuating the ignorance of the masses to larger, potentially more deleterious issues.

For instance, reasonable individuals identify inefficiencies in our current healthcare system as problematic; still we fail to have proper discussions about the nature of those deficiencies and how to correct them. It’s painfully evident to me as a scientist that there is a glaring inefficiency in the government’s return-on-investment for the $30.5 billion it spends annually on biomedical research. Much of that research is conducted in academia on rare diseases for which there is no available treatment. Often, these are the same diseases for which pharmaceutical companies have little to no financial incentive to investigate. As academicians are seldom concerned with profit, much of the $30.5 billion ends up in publication oblivion. In other words, huge potential for therapeutic discovery is lost between the academic’s thirst for knowledge, and industry’s requisite for profit. This isn’t an unfamiliar phenomenon to biomedical scientists. In fact, we often mock the gap between academia and industry by describing the collaborative effort to communicate ideas between the two as “throwing it over the fence”. This problem is far from beyond repair. Easily, the government could offer enticements that would promote collaboration between academia and industry, thereby encouraging the translation of a larger chunk of that $30.5 billion into tangible therapeutics.

That’s plainly obvious to me, and I’m just a Ph.D. candidate. Imagine what a Nobel Prize winning biologist could add to this discussion.

I don’t hesitate to place blame on healthcare professionals for allowing their voices to be muted. Yet, I also recognize that we as a people effectively silence the commentaries of those which are most desperately needed. We are magnetized to sensationalism, rather than verity. Resultantly, “Joe The Plumber” becomes a household name, while in the midst of a storm of controversy around healthcare reform, few can identify the current Surgeon General.

If we want real solutions, we must engage those who have been most aptly trained to provide them. So the next time somebody wants to discuss Bill Maher and Sarah Palin’s position on some aspect of healthcare reform, you should ask them about Steve Galson and Regina Benjamin’s stance on the same issue...they’re the acting and prospective Surgeon General (I figured you might need to know who they are).

Often, those with the loudest voices are the least worth listening to.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What’s Really Wack About “Basic Bitch”

If you haven’t been privy to the latest phrase in feminine degradation, don’t worry, you will be. Comedian Lil’ Duval has popularized the slang term “basic bitch” as a colorful descriptor for what we’ve commonly referred to as a “hood-rat” – a female of pitiable stature who has failed to recognize or rise above her underprivileged upbringing (see video below). As the comedian Spank pointed out, it’s not the “bitch” part that’s troublesome (women are immune to that one), but it’s that word “basic” which really burns our bums.

It didn’t bother me at first, because the phrase obviously doesn’t apply to me. But then I thought about the subliminal message that’s sent when we attach negative connotation to a term that literally implies simplicity and fundamentalism, and then use it to degrade women.

Our society debases independence and assertiveness in women and celebrates mediocrity. We exalt women for their physical perfection, not their intelligence, ambition, eloquence, leadership, or even education (so what if perfection includes a few nip-tucks here, or augmentations there). We go so far as to tell independent women with standards that they’re “stuck-up bitches”. We even punish them with isolation and ridicule.

Yet when a woman gives you exactly what you requested, you demean her by calling her a “basic bitch”.

Silly me. I thought men appreciated qualities like natural beauty, politeness, and traditionalism in women. I thought being pleasant and easy to please was a feather in a woman’s cap.

The fortunate thing about this term is that women will indubitably rebel against it. They’ll position themselves as such that they can only be described as something other than “basic” - which will unfortunately create more disparities between the sexes in the African-American community where the idiom originated.

Men who throw this expression around really need to check themselves. Real talk fellas, if you degrade women for being simplistic or conventional, you’re probably going to transmogrify them into something you really don’t want to deal with – AGGRESSIVE BITCHES! Just like how y’all turned “suck my d*ck” into a derogatory phrase...and then wonder why black woman have an aversion to oral sex. Gag me with a spoon.

Just sayin’…

What if women as a whole demanded more from men as a whole? What if we refused to spread our legs for anything less than an educated brother, pulling down a comfortable salary, and demonstrating lucid potential for a successful future?

Could you imagine what the world would be like?

This is not an unexplored concept for me. As one of my best friends frequently points out, this strategy is doomed from the start. There will always be some hoe-rat that thinks she can make a man fall in love by breaking the rules, not realizing that the rules are actually orchestrated for her protection.

I commented yesterday that “p*ssy is power”, and you know what was thrown back at me? “All women don’t have to use their p*ssies to get what they want.” *sigh* Clearly this individual has misconstrued the raison d'ĂȘtre for this phrase. The point is, the longer you keep your legs closed, the more you present a challenge (within reason, of course). When you present yourself as a challenge, a man will either rise to meet your expectations, or kick rocks. Ladies, don’t be deceived into thinking you can put something on him that’ll make him love you. Generally, male minds don’t work like that – ours do. I guess what I’m saying is, giving it up too soon is completely counterproductive. For everybody (you’re ruining it for everybody!! (insider) lol). Remember when it brought shame upon a woman, her father, and her family name to engage in sexual intercourse before marriage? Remember that thing called chivalry? Just sayin’…