Are You Catholic, Or Nah?

Seriously, I’m getting into way too many Facebook fights lately.
While that’s laughable (a bunch of keyboard warriors engaging in what appears to be a ceaseless back-and-forth dispute, my most recent one was very enlightening.
I identify generally as Christian and specifically as Catholic. No, I do not worship saints. No, I do not believe that Pope Francis, while I love the man dearly, is Christ on Earth. I believe in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the honorable examples that Christ has left. That’s what Christianity, at its core, is all about. So, a fan-page called “Catholic and Proud” is not where I’d expect to wage a fight.
On Monday, September 22, 2014, I was in my apartment, perusing my Facebook new feed, when I saw that “Catholic and Proud” made a post titled “Endless Jihad: The Truth about Islam and Violence.” I’ll admit, I did not read the article or watch the video, whatever form of media this message is. I did not and still do not need to. The title alone is worn, abasing, and going against one of the main points of Christianity, and, if I’m not mistaken, our monotheistic brethren as well: judgement.

“Jihad” is a religious holy war, many believe. Fundamentally, it comes from the Arabic word for “struggle,” and perhaps even “self-struggle,” à la “mien kampf.” Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and ISIS/ISL/whatever name they’re using now, are all jihadist groups. They, ISIS especially, hope for utopian world: one in which sharia law reigns supreme.
To see the jihadists, or “mujahideen,” as they’re known in Arabic, as representative of the entire Muslim faith is to say that all Christian figureheads—pastors, deacons, priests, the whole lot–are pedophiles because some priests were. All Christians then must be as mean-spirited as the Westboro Baptist Church. I struck a nerve there, didn’t I? Good, because I intended to.

This is real life, not a passage from some Roman or Greek epic poem. Synecdoches have no place here. Seeing the mujahideen as representative of everyone who identifies as Muslim is ignorance. SO, I let the people at “Catholic and Proud” know. I commented the following:

” We can’t judge an entire religion based off some of its adherents.
Does the word ‘Crusades’ ring a bell for anyone? How about the
Spanish Inquisition? I’m Catholic, but I don’t agree with this post.
I have a Muslim friend who is as sweet as pie. Doesn’t mean that all
Muslims are like this, or that they’re all bad. You can’t judge the
whole based off a few. Recall the Gospel: you who are without sin may
cast the first stone.”
To that, some girl responded:

“Yes Jessica as the article clearly states not every Muslim is violent!
But a 15 to 25% of these Muslims jihadists would happily cut your head
off for being a Christian. Islam is a huge threat to the western world.”

SO, this girl went from saying that 15% to 25% of these Muslim jihadists (which is somewhat redundant, no? Jihadists are Radical Muslims) would happily cut off my head, and thereby pose a threat, to saying that Islam itself is a threat to the Western world. We went from 25 to 100 “real quick,” as Drake would say. I do not agree with any jihadist, especially since the Quran itself, the Holy Book of Islam, decries coercion as having no place in it. Secondly, no religion that worships a peace-loving God, who is heralded as the ultimate judge, has any right to sentence anyone to death. However, this girl needs to realize that 15% to 25% of the population is not the same as the whole. Sorry, synecdoche, but

Let’s be clear: Islam is not a threat to the Western world. Jihad is a threat to all the world!
ISIS, on its mission of jihad, has slaughtered numerous Christians, Yazidis, and even Muslims who don’t follow Islam as they see fit. Do the deaths of the aforementioned casualties have no validity because of their location in the East? Of course not.

I decry the mujahideen, not the peace-loving Muslims who live their lives hurting no one. I proudly identify as Catholic, but I would hate to have someone assume that I’m going to force my Christianity on him because that’s what the Crusades were al about. Just because some men, under the guise of clerical authority, abused some children does not mean that I am a pedophile ( I like full-grown men at least three years older than I, thank you very much).

I have my faults, but I consider myself a good person, a good Catholic. I am kind and loving. I stand up to injustice in the manners possible to me. I don’t agree with ISIS, but I won’t think that Mesut Ozil, for example, is bad just because he is Muslim. That is stupid. Again, this isn’t an epic poem; synecdoches can get you in trouble. I am proud of myself as a Catholic, especially because I do not judge. Perhaps, this is a lesson. Over the summer, I had encountered a Muslim woman who informed me that I, a Catholic, would go to hell for not being Muslim. Following that incident, I tried to avoid Muslim people at all costs. One of my elementary-school friends converted to Islam a while back, and it pained me deeply to shun her. To this day, I am ashamed of myself for that. I am an American, but I am not like the Unabomber. Synecdoches: uggh, I detested them in A.P. Latin, and I detest them more in actual life.


The Fappening: The War on Women and Why You Shouldn’t Look at the Pictures

Unless you have been living under a rock (which, I might add, isn’t comfortable; see a chiropractor a.s.a.p.) and away from social media, then let me enlighten you: towards the beginning of September, nude photos of Kate Upton and the chosen Jennifer Lawrence hit the internet. Dubbed “The Fappening,” (after the fap , or male manual stimulation), it serves as a glaring reminder that in the world of technology, there really is no such thing as privacy. Numerous female celebrities have been hit: Hayden Panetierre, Kim kardashian, Gabrielle Union, Kaley Cuoco, Vanessa Hudgens, Amber Heard, and Rihanna. These are just a few, the tip of the perverted iceberg. Some might disagree that the hacker/s is/are perverted, for the woman whose pictures have been published v “should have known better” than to take nude photos of themselves. This victim-blaming is despicable because it further emphasizes the notion that women have no right over their bodies. THAT, my readers, is a problem.

I absolutely adore Jennifer Lawrence. While I am not the biggest fan of the Hunger Games franchise (dystopian novels just aren’t my thing), I love what she stands for. She doesn’t believe that one has to fit a certain physical mold in order to be successful, and (cue the cliche) that it’s one’s internal content that counts: courage and valor supersede superficiality. It recently came to light that she has a no-nudity clause in all her contracts, and refuses to ever bare it all for the camera. I applaud her for that. Now, that is not to say that females who do bear themselves before the camera are not as virtuous or noble. There is no correlation here between external appearance and internal character. Lawrence does not need to provide any further explanation aside from “I choose not to,” just as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, whose nude pictorials are public knowledge, have every right to bare themselves as they so choose. The point here is choice. It’s about hegemony. When it comes to the world and any social interactions, these women have the choice as to how they want themselves to be portrayed. Wanna show your areola? Go ahead. Want to not show them? Go ahead. Whatever you want to do with your body.
So, when Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos were leaked, I could hear the utterance of “Hypocrite!” and “That’s what she gets” from miles away. Ummm, semantics lesson. Hypocrisy is turning the other cheek, when one does not practice what one preaches. How is Lawrence hypocritical in taking these in pictures? She chooses not to appear naked on-screen. Nudity, she feels, has no place in her professional life. Whether these photos were taken for a lover, for fun, or even to document some physical journey (weight loss, for example), she did these personally. There is a separate of spheres here, people. Please acknowledge that. Jennifer’s actions were in no way hypocritical. Her body is hers for the using, and what she chooses to do with it is her choice. More importantly, she chooses to whom it is revealed. Whether the iCloud system is faulty or not, the real breach here is both a breach of privacy as well as of ethics.
Now, let’s move on to Kim Kardashian . I’m not the biggest Kim Kardashian fan, just because I don’t like the whole playing-dumb thing. That’s my choice. I don’t agree with her on that, but one, here life is not for me to approve or disapprove. Her life, her choices. She has shown her naked body in magazines, and some of her Instagram shots aren’t exactly G-rated either. Kim Kardashian is her body, as far as her career (TV shows, endorsements, magazine covers) is concerned. Yet, just as the publishing of Jennifer Lawrence’s hacked photos is despicable, so is that of Kim Kardashian’s. A media-loving Instagram junkie, if Kim Kardashian wanted these photos to be public, she would have publicized them long ago. These photos were private, and she had the final say-so as to their distribution. No matter what you think about Kardashian, and whether or not you agree with her choices, she is still a human being with the fundamental right to privacy.

This scandal is an invasion. Gabrielle Union has gone as far as to label this a “hate crime.” I agree completely. If you disagree with that label, consider the following story. Emma Watson, beloved actress and new ambassador to the United Nations, gave a moving speech about gender equality. Quickly thereafter, Business Insider reports that a user on 4chan, the site responsible for the hacking, published a countdown until Watson’s personal photos would be published. Coincidence? Definitely not. It’s as if those behind this countdown thought to themselves, How dare this woman speak out about gender equality? Does she not know that she has no rights? Hmmm, well, she’ll learn pretty soon.

Is this a new war on women? I don’t think so, because I don’t believe that there was a ever an end to the war. perhaps some cease-fires, but that’s about it. This scandal is just reminding us that many in society do not believe that we have the rights to our own bodies. Saying that the aforementioned women should have known better than to take pictures is truly analogous to saying that I shouldn’t use my Macbook Pro in the library–a public space–because someone may want to steal it. If it is stolen and I am physically injured in the process, it is, ultimately, my fault. Yes, we should proceed with caution in all aspects of life, because the hunter-hunted dynamic is always there; however, those who get off on taking away basic human rights are the real despicable ones.