Big Brother Boys Club

(Feature Photo from CBS.com)

Big Brother (the U.S. version) is nearing the end of its eighteenth season. As someone who has been watching since the very beginning, I can tell you it’s not a terribly prestigious show to be a fan of. Most people my age are surprised to discover that it’s still on the air, since they can’t name a single person they know who actually watches it. But every July, without fail, it returns to the CBS lineup. Year after year, Big Brother is kept alive by a mostly silent but intensely loyal fan base. (It’s sort of like the Nickelback of television in that regard.)

Why do I watch? Because it’s fascinating. It’s a three-month long social experiment that I get to observe while sitting on my comfy couch and eating popcorn. It’s a microcosm of the western world; a (not quite random) sampling of America. It’s a popularity contest with a $500,000 prize, and sometimes, when they get the mix of people just right, the underdog wins.

So who’s the underdog? Well, just like in life, Big Brother‘s underdogs are any contestants who are not straight white males. We can blame the casting process for this, to a point. People of colour are vastly underrepresented on the show, and it’s a rare season that includes more than one sexual minority. Alliances usually form between like-minded individuals. Straight white dudes are typically in the majority, and they frequently decide to work together.

On paper, women get a fair shake at the outset. The cast is always split 50/50 by gender. On Day 1, there are just as many women are there are men, so why are the ladies only pulling out 29% of the wins?

Continue reading “Big Brother Boys Club”

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Why Sexist Comments Sometimes Make Me Smile

In 2007, I was involved in a very minor car accident. I still got whiplash, though. WAD-1, it’s called: Whiplash Associated Disorder, level 1. The doctor who examined me told me to ice my neck, and gave me a short prescription for a muscle relaxant. Cyclobenzaprine. The pain got to be pretty intense, and the drugs made me woozy enough to pass out, so it was a rough few weeks after that.

I was hardcore into Taekwon-do at the time, and had taken a break to recover from my injury. As soon as I started to feel better, I started training again. In the middle of class one night, a move I’d done hundreds of times before went wrong. Something in my back hurt. A lot. I was frozen in pain as the class continued around me, until a friend noticed and helped me off the training floor.

That sharp pain in 2007 formed a muscle knot in my lower back to the left of my spine – a lump which remains in my back to this day. It varies in size, and on good days is pretty hard to find. On bad days, it’s the size of an egg and super painful.

And so began my struggle with myofascial pain syndrome, a chronic pain condition involving the muscles (myo) and muscular connective tissue (fascia). The basis of the pain comes from trigger points – basically “knots” in the muscle – that can spasm painfully, and can even create pain in other areas of the body, known as referred pain.

It started in my back, but it spread. You might have experienced something similar; you’ve got soreness in one part of your body, so you compensate – maybe you limp, or you use your non-dominant hand – which creates a stress on the compensating portion of your body. Or your shoulders hurt, and then your neck gets sore, and then you get a headache. My pain moved. Trigger points spasming in my lower back made my midback develop trigger points, and then my shoulders and neck (already primed by the previous whiplash injury).

Cyclobenzaprine stopped working. I was in a lot of pain, almost all the time. It put my stress levels through the roof. What I didn’t realize at the time was how heavily my stress levels would impact my condition. Continue reading “Why Sexist Comments Sometimes Make Me Smile”