Some animals with behavior issues really respond to SSRIs, and while that's a whole other can of, uh, worms (worms with rudimentary pleasure centers!) – it turns out some animals really like to trip. West African elephants regularly eat the bark of the iboga tree, which has been used by people in the region as a sacred drug: "It's not a fun, pleasant, trippy high. It's inward turning." Siberian reindeer have also been observed to eat psychedelic mushrooms(http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/851202-reindeer-regularly-eat-magic-mushrooms-in-the-wild-research-finds) (leading to some almost certainly incorrect, but interesting speculation that these reindeer are the origin of the Santa Claus myth (http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/events/department-news/968/is-santa-the-personification-of-a-psychedelic-mushroom/)). In both cases, animals behave oddly when they eat the drugs, separating themselves from the herd, twitching, making strange noises – but they do use them again. "There seems to be some drive in us and in critters to alter our perception," Linden said.
Fascinating as that is, how is it relevant to social justice? First, Linden argues, observing animal behavior – and how basic the drive for pleasure can be – can give us a better understanding of the science of addiction. He noted that while just 25 percent of people who try heroin become addicted, 80 percent of people who try cigarettes become addicted – and the reason for that difference is that the drugs activate the pleasure centers in different ways. A single dose of heroin provides an enormous flood of dopamine, where cigarettes provide tiny, rationed neural rewards to the user. "It's like if you were training a dog, and wanted to reward him with a big steak, versus if you cut the steak up into bits and treat him throughout the day," Linden said. Most of us respond better to the tiny doses, and that's why cigarettes are actually harder to quit.
The research also tells us that addiction is highly varied in the way it manifests: that's why, with, say, alcohol, some people can take it or leave it, and some people struggle with it their whole lives. "We are, all of us, subject to various subconscious drives and motivations. The kinds of cravings one person experiences aren't like what another person experiences," Linden said. "If you understand the biology and medicine that makes sense is a disease model, and the only attitude that makes sense is one of compassion."
Cristy C. Road, a Miami-raised, Brooklyn-based, Cuban-American illustrator, writer, and of course, total dreamboat, is no stranger to DIY, punk, queer, zine, and activist communities all over the place, and certainly no stranger to the pages of Bitch magazine. You might recognize her work from covers of books such as We Don't Need Another Waveand The Revolution Starts at Home, or maybe you've caught her on tour with Sister Spit The Next Generation when they rolled through your town, or perhaps you've flipped through an issue or two of Green Zine, or you stole your ex's copy of Bad Habits, or you saw her band play in someone's basement, or maybe you've never heard of her at all, but basically, she's a big deal, not to mention a badass. This is what happened when I sat down for a chat with her on a sunny Friday morning, pajamas on, and breakfast in hand. Cristy shared her feelings about everything from her art, to astrology, to racial dynamics in radical communities, to cats and brunch. It's all here for you to read, so let's get started!
In 1974, upon discovering that many homeless women in Boston were dressing up as men to get into homeless shelters, Kip Tiernan founded Rosie's Place, one of the very first shelters for women in the United States.
Bryant Terry's The Inspired Vegan is aptly named; it's truly, well, inspiring. Terry, who dubs himself an "eco-chef," is more than just a cookbook author, and this is more than just a cookbook. It is a delicious spark of revolution and call to action, and filled with many delectable recipes, along with the music, literature, and art that inspired his menus. It is an ode to movements and people that fight for justice, set to an infectious soundtrack.
A couple of commenters have raised questions about progressiveness in country music. Today, I want to suggest that there are progressive voices, at least in Americana, roots, and alt country music, but those voices are limited. They are almost always white, and usually populist and male. There are a few women in country who arguably identify as feminists. None of these artists are evangelical Christians like some major label country musicians, but faith imagery permeates much of their songwriting. It is often used in visions of a Utopian future, or it takes on a perverse meaning.
Mallika Dutt is the founder and CEO of Breakthrough, an organization that "uses the power of media, pop culture, and community mobilization to inspire people to take bold action for dignity, equality, and justice." Breakthrough has been successfully integrating social justice messages with pop culture and media for years now, whether it's the 3D video game ICED (I Can End Deportation) or the ad campaign Ring the Bell, calling on men and boys to end violence against women. Their latest project is America 2049, an interactive Facebook game that takes place in the dystopic, but not-so-distant future. I spoke with Mallika about the process behind developing America 2049 and how her organization uses popular culture and media to start conversations about human rights.
I have to say, right off the bat, that I have had an outstanding time during this run. It is not often that so many topics of my interest come together in one place as they have here with so many people to discuss them. Gaming, like many elements of pop culture, is a great opportunity to look at many aspects of Social Justice in a broad spectrum, and I was most appreciative to the Bitch team here for giving me a space to present this topic for your amusement.
I've sometimes wondered if the key to getting better video games made is getting a diversity of people into the industry to help commandeer the production. "Just imagine," says I, "if we got together a diverse team of socially and progressively aware people in one room—surely things would even out and games would start to be friendlier to people who are not the so-called primary demographic." If only it were that simple.
One of my endless grievances with games is the ridiculous notion that just because I am playing a woman character I must have this desire to shake my derriere in three inches of Spandex or, better yet, the notorious chainmail bikini. There are few things that make less sense to me than how that the same armor that fully covers and arms any male avatar has my female Draenei running around in a thong.
I don't go looking to video games for entirely accurate depictions of reality. It is an escapist hobby for a reason, as I think it is for most people. I enjoy getting away into a world of possibility and imagination. It probably explains my tendency towards RPGs. I want to enjoy myself. I want to be immersed in a story. Sometimes I want to be the hero. Sometimes I want to raze the ground behind me. Sometimes I want to slay the dragon. Sometimes I want my revenge on the character who really pissed me off.