UH Living Archive Series
Youth Culture – Panel Discussion
[BEGIN TAPE #1 SIDE A]
Embry: Okay, do I just start now? I guess. Okay first of all I guess the four of us have been trying to define youth. So, we were kind of, I guess the consensus we came to actually, I know Sehba and I came to actually were less, I guess we were really focusing on 18 and younger, as youth. As I mean it is not a general, would you all agree that that is the culture? But the funny thing is I guess all three of our panelists communicates youth. So I guess with that that’s kind of a common denominator there. But first of all I just wanted to ask each of you how you communicate to young women today. We’ll start with Anissa.
Gorden: Wow, I mean that is something that I have to do, like I was telling you, every single day at my job because typically it is the young women in America and internationally speaking, who we try to market our products to, you know. So, you know, everyday we have to challenge ourselves to figure out all right, what is the personality of this youth culture, do you know what I mean, and we just try to put our finger on it and make music that they buy, that they want to buy, you know.
Sarwar: Well I do a lot of different things with young women actually. Most importantly I have been running for the last years, I have been offering a writing workshop for young women at Imprint and it is called Making Noises. The whole workshop began because at that time I was teaching at Jones High School and one of the girls in private shared with me a date rape, a date rape experience. And then as we started talking about how few, few opportunities there are for young women to talk to each other or to talk to an adult, and that is how the workshop started. And that workshop is in its third year of closing down, so it has been a while; and I have seen these girls from being freshmen to seniors, you know, to seniors. Oh, and right now I am also doing a residency at Furr High School, which is a whole different population of kids, very low income, a lot of different issues; so that is something that I do, and I have also done residencies at Sharpstown High School and then I do some work communicating with youth in Pakistan. And then also through my organization we always feature a young artist so, in a lot of different ways, that is really what 50% of my work is, if not more.
Zepeda: Well, I work on the Web mostly so far and I think that is as natural a medium to youth culture as magazines or books are to our generation. And strangely even though I have had my online journal for 5 years, it seems like history on the Web is compressed. So I am only 31, but I am a venerable old sage of online journaling because when I started doing it, it was hardly being done, and it has just exploded in the last five years and I am constantly having young people write to me and say, “Well, I know if you link to my site, other people will read my site, and I know I can ask your advice on what to do.” So that is kind of strange. And for a while I worked as a, I worked as a staff writer for a site called Television Without Pity, which our goal was – our whole mission statement was to attack bad TV, because there is a huge phenomenon among today’s youth of watching bad TV shows and knowing that they are bad, and watching them anyway. So we lovingly dissect each show in great, great detail; and we have a huge following among teenagers, and I felt like whether we wanted to or not we were influencing these people, just because of the nature of the forum online. If people, if the kids, if they didn’t behave themselves they were thrown off, so I think we were able to shape them in ways that we probably weren’t asking to do at the beginning.
Embry: Okay, so everyone is communicating, that means with, I guess, with young women so that means you are getting some feedback, I guess, from young women. I guess musically speaking what type of feedback are you getting from young women, what are they wanting?
Gorden: That’s funny…
Embry: From their __________ [word inaudible]?
Gorden: …because like I work in an industry that isn’t terribly positive, do you know what I mean?
Gorden: I mean, like everyday we fight with, you know magazines editors and record label executives that expect our artists to portray themselves in a way that we feel, you know, is kind of distasteful. Depending on who you are, you know, I mean, you can say a lot, and believe me I am not here to be a cheerleader for Destiny’s Child; but you know I do happen to know that of all the mainstream music that is out there, I mean they are probably one of the most positive groups out there because there are some pretty tacky stuff, I mean, you know B&T is not on in my house during the day because it is soft pornography in my opinion. You know so uh, some of the feedback that we get is generally really, really good. I mean, a lot of the kids, you know they are saying thanks, I mean, you guys are probably one of the few artists that my parents, like basically 100% endorse me going to a show or, you know, buying their products, so it makes you feel good you know when, like today, we got a call from the Make A Wish Foundation, and you know this child’s dying wish was to meet Kelly Rowland, I mean so I think you have to say that the feedback that I am getting, it’s relatively positive, you know.
Embry: I’ve had two more questions for you on that. Okay, so Destiny’s Child, they are doing something right. What are maybe three things that they are doing right to uh…
Embry: …promote, I guess, healthy attitudes? I know a…
Gorden: Right. Well I think, number one, you have to have very high self-esteem as a young women. Do you know what I mean? You can’t say well I know in order to sell this record I have to show my this, and my that and you know just do things that are really degrading. I mean, I think it starts at home and I think that these ladies have really solid, you know, morals and standards and – sure, they push the envelope but they are growing up, they are women now and you know they think they are a little bit more sexy than, you know, they were maybe five years ago. But I think the three things that you have to have, you just have to come from a really good support system and have good self-esteem and really just have you know good self-worth, do you know what I mean, which I think those are all three you know synonyms for one another.
Embry: Or you are saying so many, I guess youth-targeted musicians out there who maybe aren’t promoting, you know, healthy attitude, uh…
Gorden: Listen, when you get into, especially it is really frustrating when you listen to music coming from my culture and it is all about the bling, bling and the this and the that, and I am like what the hell, you know what I mean, there is so much more out there but I think if you go to some of these high schools they think that is the only way. If you, if you drive a Hummer and you have a bunch of chicks on your arm and you got all this gold and bling, blings and that, that equates success. And I think that some of the things – and even I, use what I do to kind of get that message out there because there, there are other forms of wealth and I think that is another thing that maybe the girls kind of put out there.
Embry: So what don’t they want from their, I guess stars, their music stars? Are you ever hearing young women, I guess speaking of Destiny’s Child, are they comparing Destiny’s Child to other stars and if so, what don’t they want? Does that make sense?
Gorden: I think so, I mean I can tell you this, like when the girls kind of went out on their own and did solo things, it confused a lot of the kids because they are used to this really bubble gum, pop kind of thing and you know they see this video of Beyonce with a hoola hoop and they are like whoa, what’s going on, you know what I mean. So I think a lot of kids, they don’t want to see, you know, them out there and that’s not, you know, they don’t want to see the risqué stuff; if they want the risqué stuff they will go to Little Kim or you know LeChante or whatever, I don’t know, I don’t know, you guys chime in. I don’t know.
Sarwar: That was the music side.
Gorden: Yeah, that was the music, you know…
Gorden: But it, but it, but you know the thing is that you would be surprised how important this stuff is to these kids. I mean, you say okay, do you want to go to a concert with so and so or go to a workshop and really talk about things that matter, they are going to probably go here and that is probably why it is so powerful and so important, do you know what I mean, like the Website stuff, it is so powerful if you use it the right way, it can be really cool.
Embry: What are women expressing in the creative writing class? Is there something common, a common theme that you run across, or common youth woe that you see over and over again?
Sarwar: Well it is kind of like what you said, Anissa, I mean it is like there is a surface of boys, boys, boys, but when you get under that, there is so much more. And I think really it is hard to just talk generally about young women, because I think I worked with so many different classes of women, I think class plays a big – affects what they talk about. So for example the workshop that I was running at Imprint targets, it doesn’t necessarily target, but has attracted young women who come from educated families. A lot of these women drive, I mean they are young, I call them women because that is just my training, I can’t really quite see them as girls because they are young women.
Sarwar: And so their issues are completely different, I mean they have eating disorders, they can get into, you know they have, they have major depression issues, they have you know sexuality, clothing and when we get past all the surface stuff you know and I think that the workshop has been incredible because the girls have decided to run it, so it is not me coming in and saying so today we are going to talk about such and such, you know it is more them saying well no we want to talk about this and so they lead the workshop. I am just there to open up the building and kind of facilitate. And it is amazing some of the stuff that they write so that particular group of girls have chosen to write about body image, about and their bodies, about food, depression, stuff like that, the body image was a big thing. And that was great because you know they ended up really celebrating who they were and just really supporting each other because you just had to look around the room and see that only maybe one was a size 2 and every body else was you know ran the gamut of sizes and so that was, it was really powerful and actually I brought a couple of anthologies that we did and we might be able to share some pieces later.
Sarwar: But they did, so that is the kind of stuff that they were writing about, the experience that I am having with some of the really low income schools is completely different because those girls don’t have a voice, you know, you say what do you want to write about and they don’t have a voice, I mean and if they write, they write, they write very privately and they will just show say, they will just show it to me, but they will never show it to the class, and it is usually about love you know. But if you, sometimes you can get past that and it can be about anger, it can be about, I am mad because nobody listens to me, I am mad because you don’t understand me, but it is very much in the developing stage, same age, different class, different issues and no sense of voice, and like you said in that culture it is the boys, you know the boys, who lead the classroom discussion, the boys who takeover and I feel like these girls would move so much faster if I could just move them into another room, close the door and have a separate workshop from there, for them.
Sarwar: Because they come from, I mean these are Latina girls, these are African American girls and they don’t have voices in their families, they don’t have voices in their homes. And it is really hard, you know a lot of them are cooking, cleaning, looking after their baby brother and sisters, driving their moms to the hospital, I mean they are doing everything and they’ve can’t even begin to write about that because it is too hard, because you write about it and then you got to feel it, when you start feeling it you got to respond to it, and when you start responding to it you are going to break down. And you can’t break down because if you break down then you can’t do what you have to do, and I am just really learning new stuff everyday. Right now in that neighborhood and, I have rode all over the city, I have never experienced the hopelessness, I guess that I am experiencing there, it’s, it’s you know, it’s hard.
Embry: Any similarities among these women that you would find when you were their age? Speak, I guess talking to your friends, any similarities, any issues, I guess?
Sarwar: Well, I think it’s the whole, again it’s the whole class issue, I grew up in Pakistan, and the other issue I wanted to bring up into this is that the young women who are new immigrants are completely different also because they have a tighter household, they have more households of __________ [word inaudible], and so they might not have a voice but they have a home, they have a sense of home, so that is something also to you know, to keep in mind when I am working with these kids, is you know is just the different cultures that they have, and they tend to write more about family. And so as far as I am concerned I don’t know, I mean I think I was very sad as a girl too. So, and I wasn’t writing, I didn’t think I could write, I was reading so, I don’t know if that answers your question.
Embry: Why don’t you think you could write?
Sarwar: Well I grew up in Pakistan and I went to an English __________ [word inaudible] school and you know in Pakistan the class structures are very defined and we were definitely upper class and we read English books, books that came from England, English Literature and you know we never read world literature and there was no exposure to, there was no idea that oh, so I can be from where I am and I can still write in English because that was the language I was studying. So it has come to the experience that maybe a Latina girl has here when she meets Henry Cisneros for the first time and goes oh my God, I can do this, I can put Spanish words in here, you know I didn’t have that experience, it was when I came to college as an undergrad that it was like, that I began writing for the first time and since then I have been writing and my novels, now being shopped around but you know it took me a long time, so.
Embry: Would you say that the Internet is connecting, I guess the youth culture that we’re…?
Zepeda: Definitely, I think, to me the Internet is so valuable, I mean just personally, and I can see among other people it is so valuable in connecting different cultures that normally would not connect and I think the main reason for that, and I hate to say this but I think the main reason is we are moving visual bias. As much as I wish I could help teenage girls, I can want that all day but when it comes down to it, when I go out and I see teenagers with nose rings or with the weird hair, I mean there is a slight bit of intimidation and certainly, I mean I can be the coolest adult in the world but if they are going to look at me and judge me by my clothing or you know whatever the new trend is then they are not necessarily going to look to me for guidance but in talking to young women it runs the gamut from I think when they start out on the Internet the first thing they are looking to do is join in with whatever they think the conformity is and you hear a lot of okay well Christina Aguilera is a slut because she slept with M&M and, and I think it is easy, it is easier on the Internet for me to say well why do you say that, you know.
Zepeda: And then to question them without them saying well she is old so I don’t really care and what I find when I get to know these young women is that so many of them of are starving for adult attention, and so many of them are on the Internet for hours each day and my older friends and I talk about well you know what kind of family life must she have that she is on the Internet for hours each day and her parents don’t even ask. Sometimes we talk about racy things on our forum and who is stopping her, but at the same time I mean if you care as a women, of course you are going to care about young women and you can’t help but reach out to them, and I really think the fact that we don’t see them and they don’t see us, I think we are able to talk about things we would never talk about in real life, or at least I can’t talk about in real life as a non-educator, I mean, as a regular writer.
Embry: How about some negatives, but I guess this generation is experiencing more with the Internet, with this freedom of the Internet I guess, that’s our generation and older generations didn’t?
Zepeda: I think they are so exposed, I mean in the same way that it is good to be exposed to different ideas, they are so exposed to sexism, it is so rampant on the Internet, it is just disgustingly rampant. You can’t get on the Internet, whether you want to or not without seeing a pop up add telling you, you are not valuable unless you are having sex with me, for me and doing something for me, and I think if you are young it is hard to, I mean everything is just on the Internet and I am old enough to look at the things and say okay that is someone ridiculous out to make a buck, that is someone sick you know, this is someone I want to get to know and I am not sure that they always have the same judgment and practice so I just hope they find good people before they find bad people, someone to help them wait it out. I mean that is like real life isn’t it?
Zepeda: At least they are sitting behind the monitor and not out on the street talking to these disgusting people so.
Embry: Exactly. Do you ever worry about the time that, I mean obviously you did mention the amount of time that youth are spending on the Internet, does that ever concern you?
Zepeda: No, I mean I think of worse things they could be doing, I mean when I was young we didn’t have the Internet, I walked the streets, when I first got married I was on the Internet a lot. I was unhappy and now I am able to look back and say okay, well that was you know unhealthy but, I mean there was so many ways for a person to medicate herself, I can think of way worse ways than being on the Internet a few hours each day.
Embry: In your own lives I guess, I guess we can start again with them, though we haven’t heard from you in a little bit, I guess when you first started on in your career, what was the most eye opening, I guess aspect of the workforce to a young women entering the music industry?
Gorden: Wow, I guess that would have to be the day I quit SFX, because, and I hope no one is in here but, but you know I had been begging you know these people which SFX, you know that is a pretty big company. They are now Clear Channel, but you know a very, very big company at the time and you know I had been begging my male white bosses to give me a shot, you know what I mean and they didn’t and so I went to you know this African American man who was starting his own business and he gave me you know that shot. And the day that I resigned all of a sudden it was well wait a minute, wait, wait, wait you know let’s talk, what is it that we can do, and it is like why didn’t you hear me for three years. You know, I have been here as an assistant, which I’m assuming was very safe for you, you know and when I, when I challenged you and asked for more it was always overlooked.
Gorden: You know why does it take me walking away from the table for you to take me seriously, you know and of course you know I moved on but that was the most eye opening experience for me because I realized that even though I am not working in corporate America so to speak, you know, you know not a bank or you know whatever, still corporate America you know, and all of the really you know high level positions were all men but everyone underneath them were women. I mean you have 20 women that support this one dude and it just used to piss me off you know. So you know I think but once you come to grips with what society expects of you as a women and then you understand, okay but wait a minute I have this to offer and you don’t buy into that, I mean it is a very liberating moment so...
Embry: What would your advice be to a women, entering the workforce now?
Gorden: Well in the music business, I mean it is tough man, I mean I am a single mom with a 19 month old and they don’t care, you know it’s like look either you do your job or we find some guy who can do it and so it’s really, it’s really hard and it was really sobering for me you know being pregnant working where I was, where it was, so I thought a lot of support but then after he entered the world and it was like well wait a minute you know, so you don’t want to travel so much any more, or no, I can’t stay past 6:30, my daycare closes, do you know what I mean. And uhm, that was really sobering to realize that most people don’t give a flying fig what your commitments are outside of the workplace, you know what I mean, they pay you and they expect they own you so my advice is just to really you know if you want to get into the entertainment business, just in general you just really have to have a great support system or you got to be free, a 100% free you know.
Embry: Free as in…?
Gorden: Free as in nothing tying you down, you can move around at any given moment. Because I have colleagues that I work with that you know they are childless, they are not married so yeah, they get the cool stuff to do, you know what I mean where as you know my life has changed tremendously within the past 2 years and you know it is what it is.
Embry: Tell me about the pressures of being a women, and did you ever have to face of choosing between two lives almost?
Gorden: Sure, sure, sure. I mean I can recall right after, it is just tough, it is tough enough being a chick in this world anyway you know. But whew, when you work with and I don’t know if I will offend any men, but I mean we really live in this testosterone driven world you know, and to try to fit into that can be really difficult and I mean I can recall coming off of maternity leave with a 3 month old and I was told you know you’ve got to go to New York, and I was like, you know, I am still going through my postpartum thing technically, you know. But he did not care, look bring the kid with you, that was his response to me, you know, bring the kid with you, you know. So I, I, I tell you it is, it is really tough being not only a women, but a women of color you know in this world, and I am not saying it’s, it’s not the blatant stuff so much you know, it’s not the people walking up to you saying these you know, racial slurs or these gender slurs, it’s the like, on the low, low subtle stuff you know where you know you see your colleague who doesn’t – like I said she is not tied down and you know she is traveling around the world and she is getting the good stuff you know. So it can be difficult but you just can’t let it break your spirit you know you just got to keep moving.
Embry: Advice for the, I guess high schoolers entering, I guess some will go on to college, some will go onto a job or a career, what advice…?
Sarwar: Some won’t make it through high school.
Embry: What advice are you giving them?
Sarwar: Well, I think the most important thing is to slow down and to question, look around you and just question what you are being asked to do constantly, question what you are being asked to do because like you said that this world, I mean the environment around us is driven by a man agenda, you know. And so I think that the sooner young women can realize that and the sooner they can know that it doesn’t matter whether you say yes or no, the guy is still going to what whatever he wants. You can actually pick the terms of what you are willing to give you know, and I think that most young women don’t know that, the ability to say no, the ability to say I need time. For anything, I am not just talking about sex, I am talking about anything, well so, I think that is the most important thing and then they be reminded to express one’s self.
Sarwar: I think women are so accustomed to just saying oh well that is life you know. Like I was with a young women in my workshop and I had taken her to talk more of racist [sounds like], and I had picked her up for a ride for the workshop and I, she is Vietnamese and I took her into a dry cleaners and the guy made some really horrible racist remarks and she just kind of looked at, didn’t even look at him, kind of stepped out and just waited for me outside. And it took me a moment to realize what was going on and then I realized, I wasn’t sure if I read it correctly so I went out and I asked her was that what I just heard, did you hear what I just heard? She said yeah, but it doesn’t matter I hear it all the time. I was like wait a minute it matters, it matters now, it matters before, it matters the 100 times before today that you heard this, it matters, it matters, you know. And I went back in and I just said I am not coming back to do business here again, give my shirts back, you know and it’s like, but for her to think and for her it was the first, she has experienced that kind of racism everyday.
Sarwar: And for her it was like, she ended up writing a long piece about it. About why she doesn’t normally write about it, why she doesn’t normally think about it, but it is like, what it causes you to do is to slow down, and it is forcing you to stop you know. And I think that that is hard for young women to do.
Embry: Tell me about limitations that young women put on themselves and about limitations that are placed upon them by outside forces?
Sarwar: Oh, there are so many, I mean the expectation that of course you are going to get married, of course you are going to have kids, of course you want this, of course a boyfriend is what you want, I mean those are society limitations, and they aren’t really limitations per se but when you are 20 and you are pregnant, or you are 20 and you are choosing to have protected sex, you know the limitation is well, get married and you won’t have to worry about that and it is all taken care of and that changes a women’s life, the man goes on, a women’s life is changed and that is a societal thing, I think young women end up talking to the Internet, you know the images they jump on, you always see the really perfect bodies, you always see the, you know the perfectly made up Internet, you know these beautiful faces and bodies and you look at that and you think oh my God, I could look like that what, do I have to do to look like that?
Sarwar: And I think that that is a really, I remember that as young women, as a teenager, I remember constantly looking at weight, oh my God, I, you know, I mean, that’s an obsession. That, that, I don’t even think it is limited to young women, I think it is an obsession for all women, you know. So, and I think that is something that we take on ourselves, we allow that, we put that on ourselves and we say yeah, this matters, it matters what they think of us, it matters what this guy thinks of how I look, or how much weight I put on, or didn’t put on. You know whatever, I mean that is all just crap, and that, those are limitations that we have to know about but it takes, it takes __________ [word inaudible] it takes living to process that, I don’t think you can just know it, process it and get over the other side you know, you, at 16 if you are barely aware of it and you are scraping the top of the iceberg, that is all I think you can really do, you know.
Embry: And I guess the Internets, online media that you were working with, is there, I don’t know if there is a difference, do you feel more anonymous ever?
Zepeda: I think the most important thing, I mean talking about limitations that women receive in writing, as I already planned to say this so I don’t want you to assess me, thank God for Sandra Cisneros because if it wasn’t for her, I mean now people can say, oh you are the next Sandra Cisneros, but if I weren’t getting that it would be oh you are the female David Sadares, oh you’re the housewife so and so, oh you are the poor Latina whatever, you know and it is constant qualifiers like you can’t just, there is this constant pressure on you that your experience is not legitimate, because you are not a white man. And I think the most important thing about the Internet is, I mean if it weren’t for the Internet I wouldn’t have gotten my book deal because, I mean the Internet makes everyone free to publish and if you can’t speak your mind there, then where can you?
Zepeda: I think that was the first time I said you know what I am going to speak the truth about myself and I am going to act like I have a legitimate experience to talk about and if people don’t like it they don’t have to read my lips, like no one is paying for it, so even then apologetics. Well you know if people don’t like it, they don’t have to read, I even wrote it on my site, if you don’t like this you don’t have to read go to this site instead. And then you know all it takes is a few people like you to say, you know what, I do like it and thank God you said that because if you didn’t say it who would and I think the Internet teaches you, you don’t have to apologize for your experience, I don’t have to say I am a writer but also, I am half Latina and half white and I am a housewife and I grew up poor, I don’t have to say that. I can say you know what I am a writer, read my writing, you don’t like it, go read somebody else but you know, I just, I think, personally, I think it should be the law, I think the government should provide everyone in America with a computer and Web space because I mean once you have learned to express, that is why so many, so many women, so many poor people, so many people of color retrieve into the arts because once you learn the power of self expression and being accepted through that your life changes and you never go back.
Embry: How about working in this, I guess online environment, tell me a little bit about that?
Zepeda: My only, well let me see I have had two bosses that were women and bosses that were men and again, I mean the removing of the visual bias. I mean I can sit at home and be fat and have my three kids and be breastfeeding someone and I know I am not going to get overlooked for the pretty young blond women __________ [word inaudible]. I mean I know I am not going to be judged on my looks, I mean the only thing they can see is what I choose to present, it is my writing and I am judged on my writing on the Internet or on my skill with HCML, my skill with flash, animation, whatever so.
Embry: What would you tell young writers today?
Zepeda: Don’t apologize for who you are, every single person alive, I think even the most boring people have something to say because you want to know wow, how are you so boring. I mean and you look at reality TV even though it is mostly trashy, I think that’s because of the Internet, I mean and it is pointing to every single person has a story to tell. Don’t apologize for who you are don’t try to be someone else, tell your story and someone out there will like it even if it is only people exactly like you who just want confirmation. So just tell your story and don’t apologize.
Embry: Okay, off the subject, I guess professions, now that you have brought up reality television…
Embry: No I mean it is just, I mean it is rampant, and at the moment I guess when you enter, I guess youth, your youth stages, your youthful years, all right that is when you really start dating and you know exploring everything associated with dating and sexuality and what are these television shows teaching youth about relationships, it scares me?
Zepeda: That dignity is for sale, that is what I am learning now.
Gorden: I mean just in general, I mean the images that are put out there are just so awful, do you know what I mean, I mean it makes me, like God if I were a teenager now I would probably be bulimic, anemic and suicidal, I mean really the expectations to be number one beautiful, you know and to be cool, and I mean the pressure is just so high right now for these kids.
Embry: You think it is higher than it was when you were say in high school?
Gorden: You know, I think it is because when I was growing up, I mean at the most you had to have Gloria Vanderbilt’s you know, or Jordache, but it wasn’t to the point where the kids were puking in the stalls, do you know what I mean? To be a size 0, and I mean everyday you know being even behind the scenes with these images that are put out there, I mean I see what these women in particular, I mean it makes me angry that you can be fat, a fat man and sell a gazillion records but you will never see a fat women do it, unless you are some kind of music dinosaur, you know what I mean. But listen, there was a chick on the scene that I remember like four years ago and I don’t recall her name but she was kind of this Tracy Chatman, she was morbidly obese, you know what I mean and she couldn’t get a record deal to save her life because, listen, we live in a world where 2% is talent.
Gorden: Look you can put your voice on __________ [word inaudible] and crank out a decent record, you know 90% is, are they marketable, and what does marketable mean, it means can you sell products for these companies, and these companies want really beautiful things selling their products. So if you are beautiful and you have just a smidgen of talent, oh my God you got it made, you know. So I think it is just really, listen it is just really disgusting these images and especially the music videos and if you are not a bombshell in a bikini then you are just not it, do you know what I mean, and it’s…
Zepeda: Look at American Idol, and I mean it is driving me insane that Ruben is the velvet teddy bear but Frenchy and Kimberly Locke are too fat, and they are not the type. That, it drives me insane every week.
Gorden: And you know what’s even…
Zepeda: I have to keep my finger on the pole so I never give up.
Sarwar: I can’t even do that, I can’t even do that.
Zepeda: That is the only one I can say on a line.
Gorden: But you know what these reality TV shows are like, have you ever seen something disgusting and you know you shouldn’t look but you can’t help it, like this is what this is all about, because I mean I swear to God, I am not even this real big TV person, but this show was on Help, I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. And every night I am like okay turn to Channel 13, I mean it is like watching these people get exploited it is just, it’s like you, it’s painful to watch but you can’t help it, you know what I mean, it’s like oh my God.
Zepeda: It’s a train wreck.
Gorden: It is, it is a train wreck, and it says so much about our culture, how you know these network executives, they exploit these people who, they know the jobs are slim and they know, listen I am going to offer Emmanuel Lewis this, his job and I am going to exploit the hell out of him because this man wants to eat, you know what I mean and it is just, it is disgusting.
Embry: I guess, going back to the dating, I guess, scene and youth culture right now, how has it changed, I mean since you are directly affected or I guess in direct contact with I guess women experiencing this for the first time.
Sarwar: I think everybody likes to say that they have had sex, whether they have had it or not, they like to say it, it is just about saying it. The girls will say it and the boys will say it and everybody will say it, but for example in my group when they finally came down to it, we really weren’t, somebody said well really who’s gone that far? Two out of 10 had actually you know, but it’s like the thing to say, it’s the thing, you’ve got a front, you know you have to do the front, I mean it is all about fronting you know and it’s, and it’s sad because since that is your constant front, you don’t know, you don’t really know when you are going to draw the line for yourself, you know.
Embry: Do you ever think that they are kind of desensitized by the entire I guess, you know dating world and relationships and sex and do you find that to be true or…?
Sarwar: Well you know again it is a class issue, for example, in the low income neighborhoods a lot of the girls really pride themselves on pregnancy and they choose to keep a child, you know they choose to have, to have a child, they also are very tough on girls who get pregnant and who are upset about getting pregnant because they will just say you know if you are old enough to do it, you are old enough to keep it you know and basically it, that is just how it is, you know. It is very accepted, and a lot of them stay with long-term relationships, I am surprised, you know at age 16, I have about, I am working with four girls, maybe five girls who have had boyfriends, the same boyfriend for one year. Over a year, which is a long time at that age you know, it is a very long time, so.
Embry: What are you finding from chats online or…?
Zepeda: The, the weird thing is there is the, the overexposure to sex but what you are saying and yeah this is probably just maybe only among lower class people, but there is, at the same time this really hard core pressure to immediately be in a relationship which seems like it goes against the sexiness, but I just, I read a lot, I love to collect antique books on etiquette and things and in the 50’s it was always about you don’t want to go steady too soon, and if you can have a different guy taking you out every weekend you are popular, you are doing well, you are a good person. And now it is that, on the one hand you have to have sex when you are 12 years old, but on the other hand if you haven’t nailed this guy down into a relationship and you are not even planning to keep him and it’s, I don’t know it’s like almost forcing people into abusive relationships I think, because it’s like okay you are going to have sex and then you have to control each other because if you don’t control him through sex then you are a loser and if you are seeing more than one guy it is because you can’t keep one.
Zepeda: And to me, I mean, I don’t want to sound like there is a big conspiracy going on among men, but it is a means of controlling women, it’s like okay you can be sexy but then you better hurry up and get pregnant and then you better get married and then you just sit there, you know, once you have been sexy and now you have your kids, now you sit there and shut up. And that will exploit this new crop for women. And then we will get them married and they will sit there and have their kids and shut up.
Gorden: But you know what can I just say that I think for the lower income people, I think it is more of like needing to be loved and accepted, because I know like I used to teach kindergarten, a while ago, and like it was my first real job out of college, and one of the things I walked away with was I could always tell the little girls that were getting attention and love at home because they could give a crap about Ms. Gorden, you know what I mean, I mean they don’t need to come to me for love and attention and hugs, but it was the kids, like you touched them once, like oh honey, and they’re, you know you can’t shake them, like they are with you for the rest of the school year you just cannot shake them. And I think these lower…
[END TAPE #1 SIDE A]
[BEGIN TAPE #1 SIDE B]
Gorden: …going on like you were saying.
Sarwar: And if you talk about it at the local level that is the majority of Houston.
Sarwar: That is the majority of this City.
Sarwar: Which is like a real shocker for has been you know.
Gorden: It, it’s, I don’t know.
Zepeda: Men are being taught that sex is the only way to get that.
Sarwar: That’s right. But I mean and the boys do play around and they boast about it, whether, well whether they do it not, I mean it is cool for a boy to play, but for a girl…
Gorden: What does that say?
Zepeda: That women are being trained that their only value is through sex.
Gorden: Yeah, yeah.
Zepeda: I mean that is what it says.
Gorden: If you do it and get it over with then you are cool, not.
Sarwar: And I think you bring up a very important issue though, I think you talked about it also earlier, which is the communication with adults, I mean more and more this society is very structured, I mean it is very layered, it’s like to a certain age you hang out at this age, you have __________ [word inaudible].
Sarwar: You know it is very, very divided so when you are in the age, which means, say 14 and 18 and you are going through all these body changes and you are going through, you have all these questions, the last person you are going to go through is your mom you know.
Sarwar: And that to me is bad. You know I have had, and this applies in my experience with the work that I have done because from both of the educated classes and lower classes I mean most of them, some of them do of course have very open relationships, a lot of them don’t you know. And their first step in the workshop that they have never shared with their mother and that is sad you know, because they are living on the edge, you know with the stuff that they are dealing with is incredible pressure and then when you know, you know of a certain class ultimately there is the whole pressure of college, and car, extracurriculars and all this, I mean this, it is an insane life. I am so grateful, I am so grateful, I mean oh, it is really very sobering.
Sarwar: I feel for them and I really, I am really glad I have this opportunity to work with, actually both populations...
Gorden: Uhm, yeah.
Sarwar: …with a variety of populations, including the international community of immigrants.
Zepeda: The thing that makes me sad is while you are talking about that, and we are talking about not having adult guidance I think, there is a bust, BUST Magazine, I am sure ya’ll have heard of that, and they’re, they’re realizing they have a lot of teenagers on their forms and they are taking steps to reach out to them and then there is hipmomma.org. and they are like liberal feminist moms and they are starting a teen group. Because I mean it is sad when they, when they have to find out how many teenagers are secretly reading this site, because they need that kind of guidance, but what makes me sad about it, is yeah that is great but how many people can’t afford a computer, how many people can’t get on the Internet and that just makes me want to cry. I am like okay, great for the upper middle class girls who have computers at home and whose parents don’t care if they use them but what about everybody who grew up in my neighborhood, what are they getting?
Sarwar: Actually, just to say this, this should add into that, some of the girls that I work with at Furr High School have access to computers in my class and some times I let them you know just…
Sarwar: …a lot of times, yeah a lot of times they just surf. I mean you know especially there are a couple of them who are very quiet and who do their work and then don’t want to do very much else, and they just look around and enjoy you know whatever, you have access to something at home and enjoy it, you know.
Zepeda: Yeah, and I mean and that’s yeah…
Sarwar: I mean that is where the expression does become much freer, this is somebody the girl I am thinking of is somebody who claims she hates to write, but put her on the Internet, she is writing, I mean she is writing nonstop, she was writing from, you know if she would write for 3 hours if she had the Internet for 3 hours.
Zepeda: Yeah. I mean and then I guess at the same time you can balance it, the lower class people have the non-profits because that is who we work for and the upper middle class girls if they can’t talk to their moms, they are not talking to you, they are not in your workshops so…
Sarwar: Well some of them are.
Sarwar: But that is only 10.
Zepeda: Yeah right.
Sarwar: Taking the girls to the __________ [word inaudible].
Woman: I want, I am not on the panel but can I pitch in?
Woman: I just want to say that why does it take people like you to do something that can be implemented in the schools at another age?
Gorden: I don’t know, I mean I am a conspiracy chick, right, and I think we really need to look at these issues, I mean why is it that there are certain things that young women and just people of color in general are not taught in school, do you know what I mean, why is it not on the agenda, why do we learn only certain things, but not, like we never really get the full picture and that is why I believe, you know really you can’t rely outside of yourself to parent your child and to teach your child, because they will never get the entire story, you know, I mean. Listen I am going to, I pay taxes and I will send my child to school but I can’t expect them to instill, you know that self-worth, that I want my child to have, I can’t expect them to teach him everything I want him to know about African American history or you know whatever.
Gorden: I mean I think that we have a responsibility you know as parents, and that is the problem in my opinion, no one is really parenting their children any more. It is like we look for, well not we, but I am just saying like we, as in parents in general, you’re always, you are so caught up in your own lives.
Woman: Yeah, but these first graders need to start learning how to parent [sounds like], do you see what I mean?
Gorden: Uh hmm.
Woman: If, if the teacher can hold their whole class conversation with a word they learn to express themselves to ask questions, that is lacking, it is lacking.
Gorden: Yeah, I agree.
Woman: Why do they get to high school and then they haven’t been even taught to touch their emotions and it takes a problem like hers to do it, they have got to call to live and they never touch those emotions.
Woman: Why don’t we have a whole army of counselors in the schools instead of one per grade?
Woman: I know I am not supposed to, but I am a social worker in school, I represent an agency called __________ [word inaudible] in school. I am at a middle school and we do have groups for girls __________ [word inaudible], we have Girls, Inc. of course it is __________ organization but also, we have lots of __________ [phrase inaudible] couple of __________ [phrase inaudible] those in high school, and there is stuff happening, but at first you know there is lack of resource centers you know __________ [phrase inaudible] next year __________ [phrase inaudible] so there is stuff going on, it is just like she said and half of Houston is in that lower income.
Sarwar: Probably more, 70%, 70%
Gorden: Yeah, how do they…?
Woman: They have to because hi, I work for CIS to build an office __________ [phrase inaudible]. The government community school teaching and we have great programs that reach out to kids primarily in schools that have, our economy __________ [phrase inaudible] background __________ [phrase inaudible] and there are programs good and fantastic programs with their entire __________ [phrase inaudible] they are there for young men as well, you know community __________ [phrase inaudible] and it is __________ [phrase inaudible], the President’s Club and __________ [phrase inaudible], girls on the stand
Sarwar: And also, I want to just say that I hear your concern and I think that if there could be programs like Girls, Inc. and communities in the school and more funding for counselors within the school system, because there aren’t any counselors there are certainly nobody that I can refer to the girls that I work with, I don’t have a class there on the school campus, and normally I contact the organization I go in.
Woman: …school counselors, I called her school counselor because she is having to do stuff like TAAS test and scheduling and things.
Gorden: Uh hmm, uh hmm, right.
Sarwar: That’s, that’s where the failure of the school system is where the first note, there is not there, and not there for us to handle the needs of the school there are definitely programs.
Woman: Or is it that the needs are being defined by a man?
Zepeda: I was going to say, I don’t want to be cynical but I mean our school systems are part of the status quo, I mean…
Zepeda: …we know…
Sarwar: That’s what I mean.
Zepeda: …that teachers aren’t getting paid enough because they are mostly women and the principals are mostly men and the people on the school boards or the superintendents are politicians, they are not people who care about, well I don’t know I can’t say they don’t care about children, but they are not mothers, they are not, not that you have to be a mother to care about children, but I mean it’s, it’s part of our rotten system anyway.
Gorden: They think that it is important but it is only important to a small group of people and I think unfortunately the decision makers you know, I don’t – maybe they don’t get it.
Woman: …people, you know like you said they are parents and they are paying their taxes and they are sending their children to school and today they, many people will say they care, I want there to be physical counts for when I am at school but you don’t see Bottoms or Smith at the __________ [phrase inaudible] out there working.
Woman: You know Becky does not have a good Girl Scout group and I know that there are lots of girls that need a Girl Scout group, I am going to become a troop leader. You don’t see that.
Woman: And you don’t see that and you don’t see a lot of community organizations like that and so you have a few people who are highly invested in helping young men and young men deal with issues of self-esteem, sexuality, self-expression, all of these issues that there resources are just being past the massive and the very thought of turning over to one child from your you know reach out workshop, just tears you to pieces that you look at you, and 25 girls, if you look at the ones on your right, sit on the floor and come on in…
Gorden: Uh hmm.
Woman: And, and so a lot of times it is like you said it is parents that really such a small group that really are trying, and so many people that want there magically to appear something.
Zepeda: It’s, and you know the 70% of the population that is underprivileged I don’t even think as a single mom myself, it is not that I don’t care enough, it’s that every single day it’s like well I can lead a scout troop or I can work that freelance work and make sure we have enough money to pay our bills this month.
Gorden: Yeah, that’s what I mean people are so caught up in their lives, I mean who has time to raise a kid, you know what I mean, you send them to school and that is what you pay taxes for…
Gorden: …listen, that was the most discouraging thing I found as a teacher was you know everything I worked for during the day was torn down at night and they would come back the next day and I had to start all over again because what I cared for and wanted for these children, they didn’t get that from mom and dad, you know what I mean. And I worked at a school in Fifth Ward, you know with, you know very, very low income, I mean you know where kids are stealing lunches because they are hungry. You know and so I think that unless we address you know some real social issues you know that start way before the kid gets in school…
Gorden: …because unfortunately we live in a culture where you know the government really doesn’t think it is their responsibility you know, and that is why I say it starts at home. I mean my child will be a star and a winner because I say so, not because I send him to the best private school in Houston. You know what I mean, and until people take that…
Sarwar: Yeah, and I know what you are saying, I think what you are fighting is a huge battle because the school system is set up as a, as a baby-sitting service because you know you, the child goes in at 8 comes back at 5 depending on how far the bus and it is also that corporate America can function in just the way corporate America can function…
Sarwar: …you go to work everybody, you know, sign and leave, and I went to school 8 to 1:00, 8 in the morning to 1:00 and I am very well educated I think, quite articulate and I don’t think that I lost out by not having those 3 or 4 hours in the afternoon, which was spent in my house. So you know but that is because I came from a culture where 9 to 5 jobs were not a going thing, you know, and I think that the time that the kids put in school and the energy that they lose, it is a baby-sitting service, I have done full time teaching and I couldn’t do it. And that is why I do what I do which is I contract and I go in for short workshops that I can take intensity and then I can leave, I still carry that stuff with me but I know what people deal with, I have done it to go from 8:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon every single day. How many sad stories can you hear because you got to go the next day again and teach and again and teach. So I just think that the whole system really needs restructuring and it won’t be. So then we have programs like communities in the schools and Girls, Inc. and organizations that you know are just going in to try and save what they can. So it is sad.
Woman: __________ [phrase inaudible].
Embry: Yeah, I think so, I think it is incredible, I could change it so.
Sarwar: Any comments from the girls since we are talking about you? Do you think girls speak less or more during any, do you talk out loud in your classes? At school?
Girl: …like a program where they choose like a computer but __________ [phrase inaudible] you could __________ [phrase inaudible] to see how it is, how they like feel and then how at __________ [phrase inaudible].
Sarwar: That is good.
Gorden: Uh hmm.
Zepeda: There is more starting, that is wonderful.
Sarwar: Where do ya’ll go to school?
Girl: Different schools.
Sarwar: Different schools, yeah.
Girl: The last school, there was a girls club on __________ [phrase inaudible]. You know so, __________ [phrase inaudible].
Sarwar: It takes a lot of guts for ya’ll to do it right now. To say thank you.
Gorden: Uh hmm.
Woman: Just take a minute, I am sorry to give you some, they are part of another program, which is the program that I have that is called Writer in Futures and but let me just __________ [word inaudible] of them because I would like to expose them to other women, you don’t have __________ [phrase inaudible] things that hopefully will __________ [phrase inaudible], but it’s kind of __________ [word inaudible] program, kind of tomorrow, because we have it for a very long time, __________ [phrase inaudible] last year right, we __________ [phrase inaudible] the organizations that program and we had our own __________ [phrase inaudible] that they are going to it from high school. So it is kind of a you call it kind of parallel parenting program.
Zepeda: Like mentoring. Long term mentoring like.
Woman: Yeah __________ [word inaudible]. Now she is working the program.
Woman: __________ [phrase inaudible].
Zepeda: It is really nice to have you over here.
Woman: Should I just ask this person or should I bring it to you, I wrote it down?
Embry: All right, okay.
Zepeda: What influence does audience demand have on what corporations want to sell’s worth? Okay, so what are companies trying to sell right now?
Gorden: It was like I was telling you, like these companies throw week long conferences to figure out how do we get these kids’ money you know and you got major companies like Frito Lay, Reebok, Nike and they, they really kind of take these kids in and pick their brains so they can figure out how they can market and package their products for these kids to buy them, I mean, so the thing is that I don’t think kids, like our youth, they understand how important their voices are, I mean they can dictate everything that is on the shelves pretty much at the grocery stores, they can dictate what kind of clothes, they dictate music, they dictate what is on the Internet, I mean I see youth culture is probably the most powerful, you know what they call the teens in particular is probably the most powerful you know consumer demo that is out there.
Gorden: I mean because these are the people, you know Dad give me $50 to go buy some CD’s or Dad, let me get the Jordans that are out, I mean so I don’t know if that answers your question but I think that how important the audience is to like how you get your product out there, I mean it means everything, I mean it means everything to the point where they really sit sometimes in these board rooms and they come up with an idea on a musical act, like right now boy bands are hot so let me go find four guys that look, one Latino, maybe one black, I mean they really kind of like put these things together to get your money, and I am like wake up America I mean you are totally getting pooped.
Woman: Okay so we are talking about you know the buying, the selling the you know being sucked up, everything that pop culture that you know throws at us every day, are there any or do you all see any positive you know factors from pop culture, I mean pop culture is you know, it is not a new concept, it has been around, you know there has always been trends, there always been you know, new ideas, you know are we seeing any positive benefits you, are you seeing any positive benefits to a pop culture?
Zepeda: I think, again I have to say if it weren’t for the Internet I wouldn’t be getting published now because every single agent and publisher I tried up until now have has said well are you the next Wally Lam, do you have the next Chicken Soup for the Soul? Okay then we really don’t want to hear it, you know and I think, okay here I go with the Internet again, I am here to talk about the Internet, I am representing the Internet today, I think that is people regaining their voice and saying you know what, we would buy something, we would buy this and so many people who used to only be on the Internet now have book deals, I mean I am certainly not the first because it gives you a way to prove that you have a market instead of just, I mean instead of just hoping Oprah will pick up your book and enough people will buy it, you know. That is the positive that I am seeing is that people have more of a voice, they have more of a vote through new technology than they had before.
Gorden: But I have a question for you, what do you think about, do you think the Internet is forcing people to be less social with respect to really dealing with each other…?
Zepeda: No, well…
Gorden: …in person, do you know what I mean, I mean you can shop online, I mean you don’t ever really have to leave your house.?
Zepeda: Maybe less physically social and I don’t mean sex wise…
Zepeda: …I mean seeing each other but okay, my perspective is I was a housewife for ten years in the sticks, in a very controlling, emotionally abusive relationship.
Zepeda: And I, my self-esteem was at an all time low and even if you had given me a chance to go out and meet people I would have said no I am too fat, I am too ugly, I am too stupid.
Gorden: Right, right.
Zepeda: And I mean I had made so many friends through the Internet and I, I mean it is hard to admit, it is still kind of hard to admit, but the younger people I talk to can admit it, they are like oh I met her through the Internet, you know I met her on this Chat when we were talking about this and then yeah we went and met each other and it is becoming, I hate to say this but it is almost like high school because in high school you are forced to be with a bunch of your peers and you are put into groups and you are well I am with these people because we both take Algebra the year before we are supposed to or we are all in Spanish Club so I get to meet these people. I think the Internet is like that whereas an adult, as an adult it’s like if you’re lucky you go to your stupid corporate peon job and you can meet people who get along with you and if you are not, you don’t and you go home and you watch TV.
Zepeda: I think the Internet lets you meet people with similar interest that you have never really would really get a chance to meet in the way our lives are structured now. Well in corporate America.
Sarwar: Right, right.
Zepeda: I mean yeah in non-profits you get to meet people with similar interest. I used to work for a nonprofit and now I work for corporate America, so it is like thank God for the Internet.
Embry: Do or can young women ask for anything different than the traditional sexist fare?
Sarwar: I think it is happening, I think it is happening among certain groups, I don’t think it is a prevalent trend, I think that the more role models there are the better it is, I think that it is very, I don’t think that it is a trend but I think that certainly you can look at, I can talk to five women and five young girls and out of them three will say well I want to be a dentist or a doctor and that is because somebody in their lives, a teacher in their life, a teacher at one point said you are smart, you deserve better than you know being, working in a sweatshop or whatever you know, and I think that, I think, I have hope, I know I said I feel hopeless with the groups that I work with but I think with more, I think education is the answer, that’s the route, I just don’t think that doors open without it.
Zepeda: Well Destiny’s Child is selling so there is our, we are moving.
Sarwar: Well that’s pop, I mean you know.
Gorden: Yeah, yeah.
Embry: All right, does any one else have any…?
Woman: I have a comment.
Embry: Yes. Go ahead.
Woman: Actually I have a question about __________ [phrase inaudible] girls.
Gorden: I think I said a prayer.
Woman: And maybe you guys are good speakers, you need to comment that those that are afraid to speak out because they are __________ [word inaudible] and whatever, can you voice your opinion, I mean what do you think boys will take in? Do you think that it’s that their pressure is __________ [phrase inaudible].
Woman: But what do you, what makes you able to do that? What makes you able to just sort of shun them off, you know?
Woman: Because __________ [phrase inaudible].
Zepeda: Yeah we haven’t figured that one out. I am 30 and I still don’t know why they do that to us and they still do it, so.
Woman: __________ [phrase inaudible] guy.
Zepeda: But I see my 10-year-old son rolling his eyes at the question. What are boys thinking when girls, and he is like video games.
Embry: Don’t call on me.
Zepeda: That’s it, we’ve answered it all.
Woman: Well I have a question, in terms of the kinds of things that Destiny’s Child, that what do they do, is there like a foundation, is that where they copy on woman or is there anything more…?
Gorden: Yeah, I mean, actually that is how I rack up my good karma points, you know because like, I am on the inside and when people come to us with offers, you know I can help facilitate it you know a lot easier so, we work with so many different organizations, AIDS Foundation of Houston is really high on the list and you know the cool thing about the girls is that they don’t just give money, you know what I mean, they like totally give back with respect to time and you know we deal with Make a Wish Foundation, one of the things though that we are trying to get the girls involved in and if any of you know of what an organization is, you know some sort of like cultural arts type of foundation, we have worked with Project Row House in the past, but something where they can deal with young women and girls and to kind of, you know anything sort of like exposing the to the arts or whatever so, but yeah the ladies do quite a bit, I mean I would have to say they are pretty cool in that respect.
Woman: We will probably have just so many questions we don’t know how to __________ [phrase inaudible] how to __________ [word inaudible].
Zepeda: I am thinking it is because we just summed up all the world’s problems.
Gorden: Right, there you go.
Woman: Well what happened to like all the difference that the 60’s and the 70’s were suppose to make for women? It isn’t just that their youth is so harder and everybody just has to grow up to get the point and say I think you should have said that where they, where may we still say that, but you get there and you have to get through life in order to know what your, what your options really are is that with just a, a…
Sarwar: I think with, with society in this country is facing anyway right now is the changing social, the social fabric of this country is changing in a very, very different way, Houston is already 50’s, 55, 50% Latino and in 20 years this country they are predicting, this country is going to be what are they saying, 60% or something, the entire country is going to be, the Latino population is going to be 50% or more, and with that comes issues of language, comes issues of culture, comes issue of what assimilation, what does it mean to be American, what does it mean to have another country, I mean all of those issues, those are the issues that the girls are dealing with everyday, you know.
Sarwar: It is like, and not just girls, I am even thinking about some boys right now, one boy who refuses to be called Antonio, because Tony is in, you know, and I mean those are really, you know, it is like I don’t listen to Latino music, I listen to rock, I listen to heavy metal, you know it is just like those, those, I don’t think, I maybe had those issues growing up in Pakistan, but I don’t think ya’ll had those issues of which culture has music to listen to, you know. It was more a day-to-day work of apart from whatever, I mean it wasn’t about culture and language you know. I – maybe you did, but you know what I am saying, I think it is more prevalent today.
Zepeda: Well I, of the 60’s and 70’s obviously we couldn’t, would we be sitting here or being able to talk about these things without people throwing eggs at the windows but I mean talking about that really is what it is, there are new cultures blending in and you can’t just blend things seamlessly and when I was young, first of all I didn’t expect to go to college and if I knew Gloria Steinem’s name it was because Archie Bunker was making fun of her on TV.
Gorden: I know yeah.
Zepeda: And I was like well yeah I have heard of feminists, that’s those white women who do things at colleges and yeah, I have to go make dinner for my dad and my brothers now, so. I mean I think yeah, well hopefully, hopefully we are reaching a point where the new cultures coming in are saying I want to come here because women have advanced so far and I can partake in that but at the same time there are a lot of issues, I mean you don’t want to abandon your culture when you enter a new culture, I mean there is still a lot of, I hate to say this, it is kind of a secret but there is still a lot of stigma against being too white. And yeah I look perfectly white, I pass as white every day but there is a lot of stigma, do I want to be too white, if I, if I join now and go to colleges and speak at U of H functions am I too white? I don’t know, you’ve got to walk the fine line, there’s, I think all the pressure that women had, that white women had in the 50’s a lot of us still have now, a lot of non-white women just have every single day now so it is almost like the same battle being fought all over again.
Gorden: And I think the media has torn down you know a lot of work that our mothers and grandmothers may have you know a lot of things that they went through and a lot of the sacrifices and I mean unfortunately we live in a culture where you are a better women if you find a man that can pay for everything for you and if you get, if you accomplish things that way rather than doing it yourself and working hard and listen I have too many girlfriends who are very proud of the fact that they are kept and that they have several men that pay for a lot of their things, you know what I mean and I just, I really believe that the media is the culprit, you know what I mean because they put those images out there, and if you don’t have a good home life that is what you are banking on, you are thinking that is the way it is.
Zepeda: Well it’s like if that is the way the world is then yeah you are really a bad ass if you can make your way in that world. Wow if can be lucky enough to be the pretty girl that guys want to buy something for I am working in the world that I have around me and I rule. I am at the top of the heap and it takes a lot of courage and a lot of education to fight against that world.
Gorden: Yeah it does.
Woman: What media are you talking about?
Gorden: I, when I, I mean when you know like, listen you know what’s been interesting to me is like this whole war thing you know, because you, you watch NBC and ABC and you get one story and then you go and you find alternative you know forms of media and it is a completely different story.
Gorden: I mean it is just amazing to me like I would just, when I say media I mean like KPFT, you know, just as an example do you know what I mean, or different websites that are more liberal and they don’t have to fear the ramifications of really speaking out because of losing corporate sponsorship, you know what I mean, so I guess when I say media I just mean like with my job it means from you know, no offense but the Houston Chronicle to, I mean because you have, you have advertisers and that pays your bills so you have to, you know, you kind of have to do what they say, I mean and you have TV, these images that are out there just general entertainment you know.
Woman: You are talking to another Houston Chronicle, I am sorry.
Gorden: I am sorry, that is why I am a saint. But no, I mean no, it is just my personal opinion, you know what I mean and again I mean I guess you know you flip the TV channels and you flip through the magazines and it is the same story, you know what I mean like everyone agrees with the same thing, the same idea of beauty, the same this, the same that and you just have to wonder, what the heck is going on?
Zepeda: It is everywhere, I mean why is it, I you just look at the way, I mean because I am always looking examining pop culture, you just look at the way okay, any celebrity hooks up, okay like Princess Caroline or whatever sleeps with her body guard and everybody is like, oh my God, and you know and Jennifer Lopez, everybody is like oh thank God she is finally with Ben Affleck because he makes the most money, he is the most appropriate and you know, I mean Princess Caroline, why can’t she sleep with whoever she wants you know. Because you know because we need to be with men who make more money than us so yeah they can take care of us.
Woman: It’s Stephanie.
Zepeda: I am sorry, I was going to say Stephanie and I was no Caroline. Grace…
Woman: I have a question, it sounds like a lot of what is dragging this is profit, so I am going back to your comment about the children’s focus group to see what to be __________ [phrase inaudible] so I will need, who is driving what we want, is it us telling them, to demand what we want or are they telling us?
Sarwar: I was thinking about this too, it is pretty much chicken and the eggs because you know what, who shapes, who’s child, this generation is shaped by parents who are shaped by the previous generation and the media at that time and it just kind of rolls in that way.
Woman: I don’t necessarily want to write about reality TV but it is all of our…
Woman: …the writers say who, who have we got, __________ [phrase inaudible] we have to, so it is going to live.
Gorden: That’s right. And you know what, and listen, listen I worked in an industry where radio is so important and these program directors have said, it is what they want to hear on the radio, you know it is really, so these kids and they are soaked and brainwashed, oh my God LeChante I am like, okay, Ernie.
Zepeda: It’s like you grow up with your dollars but if there is nothing, it is like voting for the President and we have two bad candidates, well you got to vote for somebody and you are voting with your dollars and what is there to buy, trash.
Zepeda: So ya’ll buy my book. The message I want to leave ya’ll with tonight, we will change the world starting right here right now.
Gorden: Aren’t you right.
Speaker: Well if people don’t have other questions, we can go and ask you more questions and have cookies in there.
[END TAPE #1 SIDE B]
UH Living Archive Series: Youth Culture – Panel Discussion Page 1