Sunday, April 29, 2012



Oral contraception has revolutionized women’s reproductive and social freedoms. They are very safe, effective and widely used. There are, however, some rare risks that women taking these medicines should be aware of. It’s important to thoroughly discuss your and your family’s medical history and all the medicines you’re taking with your health care provider.
This is a summary of what the medical literature shows. As usual, some of the findings are contradictory, but patterns do emerge.

Breast Cancer
Large studies show that the risk of breast cancer with birth control pills (BCP) is very slightly increased, but diminishes back to normal after stopping the medicines for 10 years. It’s important to note that women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors appear to have no increased risk of cancer from BCP compared with women taking BCP who have no risk factors.

Ovarian Cancer
The risk of ovarian cancer is reduced with BCP. The risk drops after just a few months of use and adds up with time. The longer the use of BCP, the less the risk is of ovarian cancer.

Endometrial (uterine) Cancer
BCP have a protective effect and reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, even long after a woman stops taking them.

Cervical Cancer
The risk of cervical cancer in women using BCP is very slightly increased in women who are Human Papilloma Virus positive. In other words, women with HPV infections and taking BCP may have a slightly higher risk for cervical cancer than HPV positive women not taking BCP. But the risk for women without this infection who are taking BCP is not increased.
(Get the vaccine and practice safe sex!)

Cardiovascular Disease
The data here is conflicting. If there is an increased risk for cardiovascular problems such as strokes or heart attacks, it is very small and usually occurs in women over 35. But if a woman has high blood pressure or smokes, then the increased risk is real. Bottom line, if you smoke, you should understand that you are increasing your risk of cardiovascular problems if you take BCP. If you have high blood pressure, it should be well controlled before you start taking BCP.
When a woman stops taking BCP, the risk of a cardiovascular problem returns to normal.

Deep Venous Thrombosis (Blood Clots)
The risk for a serious clot is increased 4-5 times in women taking BCP. Keep in mind that this is a rare (1 in a thousand), but serious event. Smokers or women who have a genetic predisposition to clotting are at even higher risk. The risk is highest during the first year of use and drops to normal after stopping BCP. Symptoms, when they do occur, are usually leg pain and swelling.

Reading all this may be frightening, but feel reassured that the risk of problems while taking BCP is pretty much the same as not taking them except for venous clotting. It’s no surprise that smoking increases the chance of these rare problems occurring. Yet another reason not to smoke.

BCP do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, only pregnancy. Practice safe sex!

The Doctor Behind the Medicine: 
Dr. Martin went to medical school at UCSF. He has now retired from his long and brilliant career as an anesthesiologist, now playing guitar and making bread on his spare time. Dr. Martin and three associates have started a delicious commercial wine, MC4. For those who are 21 and older, I advise you to check out MC4-- cheers!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

THE LEGAL WORLD : Sandra Day O'Connor


The past months I’ve focused on how the law affects women. Today, I’d like to dedicate my article to a woman whom I’ve admired for a long time, Sandra Day O’Connor. She was the first woman to become a member of the Supreme Court of the U.S. Not too shabby, huh?
July 7, 1981 marked a change in history. President Reagan nominated O’Connor, keeping his promise of appointing the first female member of Court. O’Connor’s nomination was opposed by some groups, especially pro-life groups. They argued that she would vote in favor of upholding Roe v. Wade. But (this is something that I always remember of her) she played her cards right, never explicitly mentioning whether she was for or against abortion. She was a smart cookie! 

A couple of months later, on September 21st, she was confirmed by the Senate.
Of course, O’Connor’s battle had only just begun. Even when a life changing event had passed, America still seemed unable to grasp the concept that a woman had managed to make her mark in a ‘man’s’ world. Two years after she was confirmed, newspapers were still describing the Supreme Court as the “nine men”. Politicians and the media still depicted the Court as driven by solely men. Now, I can’t say whether it was carelessness from their part or if they purposely wanted to ensure that people knew men still dominated; but, I can say that these barriers were the ones Justice O’Connor had to overcome.

Within the Court, O’Connor was the deciding vote in many cases, some of which were high profile. These include: Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000)-she determined that the Boy Scouts of New Jersey had the authority to discriminate based on sexual orientation; Bush v. Gore (2000)-basically, determined that Gore lost the presidential election; Lawrence v. Texas (2003)-she wrote the concurring opinion (describes majority opinion, but has emphasis on a particular judge’s reasoning, in this case O’Connor’s) which stated that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment was violated. In other words, she might have been the only woman in the Supreme Court, but she was an (if not the) important piece to the judiciary system during her time.

Sadly, O’Connor retired in 2006. She remains active by giving speeches at noteworthy universities such as Georgetown and her alma mater, Stanford. She maintains that it is a great honor as well as a great responsibility to be a Supreme Court Justice. She speaks highly of her job and states that it is not easy at all to interpret the law the way the law was written and not to interpret the law the way congressmen want them to be interpreted. It’s amazing to see the achievements this woman has accumulated under her belt. She’s truly an inspiration for millions of women like me who wish to make a difference in the legal world.

The Woman Behind the Legal World Section:
 Christina Ontiveros is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. She is double majoring in Legal Studies and Anthropology, and is an excellent and dedicated student. She is passionate and loyal; we can all count ourselves lucky that one day she might just be our lawyer! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

FITNESS: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The pressure is on. It may be finals time. Or a few weeks before that summer vacation. Basically, you have a lot of work to do, and fast. Either way you are probably not in your best of conditions. Hygeine may have become a word temporarily lost from your vocabulary. Maybe you wouldn’t be the best candidate for that Neutrogena commercial. Your hairbrush hasn’t been seen for weeks (and let’s admit it, you haven’t really been looking…)
But no matter what you do…let me repeat… NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO. Do not let this stress channel enough energy through your fingers to allow you to dial the number for that shady pizza place down the street. With the cheesy bread. And creamy garlic sauce. NO. I REPEAT. Do not let it affect what you eat. Because that pimple will eventually go away with some acne cream. But that five pounds could take months to go away. Thunder thighs are not necessarily a reminder that you want to have….especially if you failed that final.
So what to do? Maybe at this point getting an A+ on the test is what is most important to you, more important than your health. But lets think about it, if you let yourself have that attitude at any stressful point in your life….what will the result be? Maybe every time you see your mother in law, you will treat yourself to a cookie…or 5. Or maybe when you are making that presentation at work…
But now, let me take a look into your future…
It's not good.  It's not good.
You have to learn healthy ways to handle your stress at some point, so why not start now? Start off by identifying what is prompting you to grab the Doritos. There may be some bully in your head. His (or her) voice is soft at first, and then gets progressively louder until you are forced to listen. Those [insert shitty food] look so good. They will make you feel better and relieve this stress.. They might even make you study better…
But the bully is not smart. All he/she cares about is immediate satisfaction, now. Not your future happiness.  So here are some recommendations I have so you do not make regretful decisions in times of stress:
1.     Think twice. Why do I feel this way? Will this really help relieve my test? Doritos = A+? (Not the most logical idea)
2.     Take a break! Do something that makes you happy that doesn’t involve food (like exercise, a short walk, lying in the park, go in the sun!). Take a 30 minute break! Fresh air may take your mind of off your stress.
3.     Try taking a few deep breaths. Count four deep breaths in. Hold for four. Breath out of four. You may be perfectly capable of distressing yourself through your own breathing.
4. Imagine what unhealthy food does to your body. What's more stressful? The immediate stress you have welling up inside you now? Or the self-loathing you will feel, that will too cause stress, when you realize how unhealthy you feel when finals are done? Just take care of yourself!
Hope this helps!

The Woman Behind the Fitness Section:
Samantha Salis is a Psychology Major and Political Economy Minor at UC Berkeley. She is a dedicated young woman, ambitious and sharp as a whip. Our dear Samantha tutors high schoolers and works at a Psychology lab at UC Berkeley. Even with this busy schedule, Ms. Salis creates the time to divulge to us her passion about the fitness and health of women, and is (fortunately for us) very well informed on these topics. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CULTURE : Delivery Hotline 101


            For those who are thinking about investing in “girlfriends/boyfriends for rent” business (more information please check out my previous article on girlfriends rentals), here comes the great news. Taobao, the Chinese version of E-Bay, is hiring good looking girls to deliver packages that specially demand “Hot Girl Delivery”. When there is no major festival or family reunion coming up, which means you have no desperate excuse to have a pretty girl around, you can always order a 60-cent pen off E-bay and pay $60 extra to have a hot girl deliver your pen for you. As this system is developing, you may also make specific requests for these girls: what they are supposed to look like, how tall they should be, or even what kind of dress they should be wearing. Everything in this service guarantees that, when you open your door for the package, you will surely feel like you have found “the One”... for thirty seconds; or if you are a loyal customer, you may find “the One” multiple times a week.
            Most of these special delivery girls are models or so they claimed to be. You can see their faces lining up next to the little button called “payment option”. We are all familiar with the magic of Photoshop which can basically transform Jabba the Hutt into Princess Leia. For this reason, there might be some surprises, not necessarily pleasant, when you open the door and claim your package. But come to think of it, this is a very clever move for Taobao as the biggest online shopping website for China. Currently there are around 40,000 members who are hired as regular “Hot Girl Delivery”, most of whom are from the major cities of China where e-commerce is much more developed. Before this service was launched, there was a competition among hundreds and thousands of girls who post photos of themselves in different poses and dresses, participating in Taobao’s show, and hoping to be hired. This phenomena generated a lot of internet stars and promoted Taobao at the same time. After all, who doesn’t like pretty things?
            Long before Taobao, KFC in China launched the “Hot Guy Delivery”. Customers, when ordering online, can specify what type of delivery men they like. Shy? Emo? Sunshine? Athletic? Bookish? They have got them all. Girls started to order more and more Colonel Sander’s fried chicken, took a picture of the hot delivery guy, and shared them on the internet. I remember there was one episode of Friends in which Rachel asked the pizza delivery to send a very “Abercrombie & Fitch” guy to deliver her pizza---I always thought it was too good to be true. I’m very well aware that I sound extremely bitter in this article, that’s because the only personalized delivery that I’ve ever got is a special pizza box with a drawing of Nyan cat puking rainbow at a unicorn. Well in retrospect, that doesn’t seem too bad after all. 

The Woman Behind the Cultural Perspectives Section:
Asheley Gao is an extremely creative young woman, currently attending UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, a long way away from her home country of China. She is double majoring in Political Economy and History of Art. Her interest in life and exuberance is evident, not only in her work as an artist and academic, but also a friend and co-worker.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CREATIVE WRITING : The Monologue of 'Yellow'-- A Man and His Bee


Please respect : copyright 2012


For a creature so small, he tugs hard. Look at my finger: the string is wrapped around it so tight—the tip of my index is bluing! All because of my Bee. Look at him fly! Look at him rocketing up to the crater-dug moon!

Now, wait a second. Wait just a second! There is absolutely no need for condescending looks… Do you mean to tell me—No! It can’t be… Do you mean to tell me that you’ve never seen a Bee on a leash?

Let me introduce you to Man’s Greatest Invention. Here’s what you gotta do: put a Bee in your freezer until your conscience tells you otherwise. When you take that Bee of yours out of the freezer, it will still be shivering. When a Bee shivers, it can’t fly—that’s just common sense. So you go ahead and tie a string around it. Easy: Bee on a leash! Just look at him soar!

Hey, come on now, I said look at him! Look at me too, don’t turn away like that. Look at me! What do you have that me and my Bee here don’t? Look at me! Look at my leather skin, tough enough to break a nail gun. Look at me! Me and my spindle hair and knotted barb—it’s OK to look. Lean closer and look! You don’t want to? At least, feel my beard! Yank it; I promise it’s real. Lean closer, take a look for yourself! You’re afraid I have bad breath? Well, I don’t. It smells like whiskey and wine. And that smell, my friend, is irreplaceable. One of a kind! It’s one of those smells that smacks you off your feet, and within a couple minutes, it flat-lines and you barely even smell a hint. How do you like that? So, lean on closer. Look at me! It’s OK!

…You know, you remind me and my Bee of The Daughter. She’s a good girl, my daughter. You both have that confident look about you. Your chin never seems to drop. And, your arms are always covered by those long fleece gloves, crossed tight about your waste—you girls look like you have wooly bowties glued to your stomachs. Nothing fazes you girls, neither. And, when you walk into a crowd? Everyone notices. Because you bring a presence with you—the kind of presence that turns everybody watching purple because they forgot they’d been holding their breath. But, you girls? You never really look at anyone—you just look beyond all those faces… beyond at the cityscape. Beyond at the crater-dug moon.

What are you looking at when you overlook all those faces? At the full, green posts of the florescent streetlamps?  No? Then maybe you’re looking at the entryways of hotels? Those extended red carpets they have always feel like fake grass below the toe. No? Maybe you’re looking at peoples’ grocery carts moving by you, filled with burnt orange yams, still-bleeding steak, and the hard celery that leaves its strings wedged nicely in your teeth? Another ‘No’…Fine, you girls look so far up, maybe you’re staring at the washers who sponge down the thick, Plexiglas of ‘scraper windows.

Did you know that my old man was a window washer? He was up on those ‘scrapers all the time. He was afraid of heights, my old man, always shouting below to me, “Damn it Yellow, you better be holding that ladder like it’s a part of your frickin’ arm. You better not let it wobble one inch. Or else I’ll—.” He called me Yellow. I think it was his favorite color. And my old man didn’t have enough time to dabble with things that weren’t his very favorite things. So, all the time he had was soaked up by those favorite things—but I can tell you, washing windows was not one of them. Imagine being so far up, the people below look like small, shriveled peas and imagine you’re afraid of heights… Guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

I don’t think he ever really knew my real name… all he knew was: Yellow, don’t let my ladder slip! My old man was the worker who stirred up a week’s worth of ruckus back in ’89. He was the man who fell from the tiptop of the giant… what was it called… the towering giant, triangular-like, and dotted with windows like pines on a snowy hill… so many windows… and when it rained, the water fell down its surface like oil… what was that giant… I used to stand in its shadow and let it devour me. Such a giant… Ah, now I remember. The tip of my tongue always comes through: Transamerica Pyramid! That’s what it’s called. He fell from the tip. Just like that.

I’m sure you read about it. I still have the Chronicle clipping. Let me find it. No, no, don’t move away. Give me a second! I’m telling you, it’s worth it—the journalist who wrote it really has a knack for words. But, hold my Bee. Oh, come on now, don’t look at me that way! Just hold it! It won’t take more than a minute. Come on, give me your hand! Hold the string, just so—exactly. Oh those eyes of yours! You don’t even have to talk, they do all the talking for you—and they’re damn chatty. Just like The Daughter, always with the washing machine eyes.

Hold on. The article is in my pocket here. I always keep it in my breast pocket because it’s the warmest, and if you put your hand atop it? You can feel my heart thump thump pound pound. Owieee! I knew I’d left that beer bottle cap in here. Look at that crimson cherry syrup, it cut me! Owieeeee! No, no, don’t help me! Keep holding my Bee! Man, those caps are sharp! Wooowieee! But, I do love my beer—Mississippi Mud, molasses on the tongue, and—Ah! Here it is: San Francisco Chronicle’s 1989, “Window Washer Defenestrated!” Those newspapers always seem to take all the sad and twist it into pure clever. Here, take the article, read it! Take it before I dye it red. Come on now, I don’t want to ruin it! There you go. You can have it. I don’t want it anyway. Wait, give me my Bee back, now. … Please. My momma always told me to say please and thank you, and I still forget it to this day. And, look at me! Wiry grey hair that could scare a pigeon away.  Well, I’ll remember now: my Bee and I thank you.

Well, this is my stop:  Rockridge. Are you getting off too? No, no, it’s fine! Keep the article. I said I don’t want it. This is Rockridge right? I can hardly hear the BART announcements anymore. The announcer used to have a burley man’s voice; he roared—lion in a cage! But, this new voice? Sounds like the falling of a pin: no sound at all really. It’s a lady now too! These damn women need to speak up. These women should use their pipes! Dear Lord, I know they got ‘em.

Alright, alright, come on Bee, this is our stop. Say goodbye to our friend here. That’s right, just like that—go on waving your wings goodbye. Hey friend, before we go—you got any spare change for my Bee and me? Even a quarter would be just fine… Mmmm, my friend let me tell you, it’s the birds and the Bees, and it will always be the birds and the Bees. 

    The Woman Behind Unleashed and the Words                       
   I am a Practice of Art Major and Creative Writing Minor at UC Berkeley. My passions are writing and the arts in general. I created Unleashed for the empowerment and enlightenment of women everywhere. I am the editor, designer and contributing writer. I truly hope this magazine speaks to each and every woman.  Sasha Martin      

Monday, April 23, 2012

THE POLITICAL WORLD : Political Exercise


Let’s say you are so fascinated by politics and follow so many issues that you are virtually a human switchboard of connections and investigations into policies, issues and people in politics.

But, let’s also consider that you live without thought of politics.
Maybe you are a college student and feel you have no time to research political issues, or you just have no interests in politics in general. Maybe you consider yourself even staunchly apolitical. Maybe you grew up being taught politics is a dirty subject.
Whatever your reason for neglecting politics, you nevertheless live in the thick of it.  Always. Every day. Everywhere.
If you live in any kind of society at all, from group housing, college, town, etc., you live in a political world. If you spend money and are a consumer, you are exercising political power. From issues on drinking age, student loans, jobs for graduates, birth control, the air you breathe….it’s all inextricably woven in with politics.

Some politics seem easily accessible like candidates in elections.  But so much of the politics that affects us all for years to come and sets the path for the country’s direction, works behind the obvious scenes. This kind of politics needs some detective work to reveal connections, financial sources, who really benefits---the political trails.

Remember Unleashed had an earlier entry about how Kommen for the Cure organization was about to help destroy Planned Parenthood but because of political pressure from the public (that public is you), Kommen decided to support PP after all.
Remember another Unleashed entry about the behind-the-scenes organization called ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council) that has a right-wing agenda with copious corporate and organization support  (like the National Rifle Association) that helped make Stand Your Ground law in Florida---remember the teenager who was shot and the shooter was not even put in jail until public outcry forced the Florida legal system to reconsider and the shooter is now going to court for 2nd degree murder.

So, how might you become more informed on political issues that do or will affect you and your whole life?
Here are some links that are a great start to becoming informed:

The New York Times has great articles and opinion pieces on current issues:

ProPublica, “Journalism in the Public Interest” is a free collection of very informative articles written by diligent, well-respected journalists on current issues. Check it out and sign up for the free newsletter:

The Nation Magazine has a free publication of concise articles on hot issues, many on women’s political issues as well. This publication is a great source even though it has more of a political slant. Check it out and sign up for the free newsletter:

Research groups like:

Common Cause, “Common Cause is dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard in the political process.”---from CC’s website

The Center for Media and Democracy, “Reporting on spin and disinformation since 1993”---from CMD’s website

The Woman Behind the Politic World Section:
Lesa Martin, after retiring from a career of professional ballet and graduating from UCLA, has sparked a wonderful career as a multi-media artist. She has shown her work in the SF Momma Rental Gallery, and has many ambitious plans concerning enticing new paintings people are itching to see! Multi-faceted Mrs. Martin is also deeply engaged with politics, nose buried in the New York Times daily. Here, she brings us a real, accessible woman's perspective on politics. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

THE LEGAL WORLD : A (Wo)Man's World


One day I want to become a lawyer. Be able to defend people; possibly own my own legal firm, and ultimately end up as a judge. Thanks to the women who fought so hard to give me my rights, I’m able to contemplate what I want to be later on in life. But, even though I’m pretty sure about my future in the legal world, I know it won’t come without a cost.
I’m used to being treated as an equal by my peers, family, and professors. I can’t really say that I’ve experienced discrimination based on my gender. So I’m a bit worried that when I become a lawyer I won’t know how to handle myself in a “man’s” world. Let’s face it, women make up only a fraction of the legal profession. Women comprise 29.1% of all lawyers according to the American Bar Association Research team. That means that less than 20% of these women are named partners within their law firms, and only 11.1% actually make it as judges (U.S. Supreme Court included). The odds of me becoming a judge are a bit slim, statistics-wise, but not impossible.

And so, I actually want to talk about why it’s important for women to have a voice within the legal world to make this possible. The few women who are already lawyers, judges, paralegals are placed second to their male counterparts, simply because of gender. Women are criticized on their education, their clothes, their ability to simultaneously be a mother and a partner. What’s worse is that even though the law supports women when it comes to motherhood and other circumstances, the perspective of their male coworkers often times devalue the nature of the regulation. Take for instance the FLMA (Family & Medical Leave Act). It clearly allows for women to take time off one they are pregnant, in labor, and after their pregnancy. In fact, it is mandatory for each work place to have this (it can also be for men who need to take care of their families). But, even with this law, women are discriminated. They are seen as weak and undervalued.
And because of their underrepresentation, there really is no avenue for them to change the perception men have about them. Women need to realize that they have just as much power as their male counterparts, and the sooner they take a stand within their legal professions, the sooner they will have respect. Women have to stand tall. If former women who had no rights to fall back on were able to FIGHT for their rights and defy all stereotypes, what’s stopping us? We have the rights, we have leverage! We’re in the legal profession for a reason. If men try to bring us down by stereotypes, then we can easily pick ourselves up using logic and the law. Women are lawyers, paralegals, judges…they should act like it. I know that retaliation, being ostracized, discrimination can hurt and can make for a horrible environment to work in. Still, it’s not enough anymore to be the one who understands men, who goes out of her way to make things more peaceful in the work environment. Doing that doesn’t solve anything.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that women shouldn’t walk around with a burden on their shoulders and shouldn’t take anything from any male coworker (of course only when she’s disrespected). She obtained a position for a reason, and she should remind herself of that reason every time she feels as a minority.

The Woman Behind the Legal World Section:
 Christina Ontiveros is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. She is double majoring in Legal Studies and Anthropology, and is an excellent and dedicated student. She is passionate and loyal; we can all count ourselves lucky that one day she might just be our lawyer! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

FITNESS : If You Can’t Say It, Don’t Eat It

If you can’t say it, don’t eat it
Somehow, the label “Sugar-Free” or “Sweetened with Splenda” has created a luring effect for American shoppers. The thought process for the “sugar-free” customer is probably along the lines of: “Sugar-free. That means it’s a diet/healthy food. It tastes good (if you like the flavour of cancerous chemicals) and will help me toward my goal of being a healthier, fitter person. What a deal.” Well now, go ahead and flip over the box and read through that long list of ingredients. 
Polydimethysomething? Sodium Pyrophosphawhat?.
Do you know what these things are? Well, your body doesn’t know what they are either.
Think of it this way. Your body’s process of digestion is kind of like the process that occurs when you clean your room. You probably have a closet where you put your clothes. Maybe you have a desk where you put your office supplies. For the most part, everything you own has a designated place with maybe a few miscellaneous exceptions. Lastly, perhaps you have a “junk box” where you place all these miscellaneous items until you have the time and energy to find their proper place. Well your body goes through a similar process. These chemicals are the miscellaneous exceptions. Except that they are being consumed way too often. They may even be a part of the majority.
When your body is “organizing” with what you consume, these strange chemicals are placed directly into the junk box, aka your storage of fat. Now let’s circle back to where these harmful chemicals originated---oh right, the “health” food.
In conclusion, you want to only eat foods in which you can pronounce all of the ingredients. Ideally, you want to eat a food that contains only one ingredient. Think of all the foods that dieticians encourage you to eat: fruits, vegetables, lean proteins—do any of those have a long list of ingredients? 
If a complete stranger came to your house, would you let the stranger in without knowing any information about him or her? Probably not, unless you are a person who is very reckless. So based on that same logic, if you didn’t know anything about an ingredient, would you let it into your body?
Unfortunately, we cannot trust others for protecting our health. Popular food brands are not non-profit organizations; they are businesses. Therefore, no matter what labels they place on the box, or how happy the actors look in their commercials, you can assume that the brand’s first priority is not your health, but their profit.
If you want to be fit, you have to do it yourself. No fairy dust, weight loss patch, or magic cream is going to do it for you. The world can be a cold, cold, place. But no one but you is holding you back from being hot, hot, hot.

The Woman Behind the Fitness Section:
Samantha Salis is a Psychology Major and Political Economy Minor at UC Berkeley. She is a dedicated young woman, ambitious and sharp as a whip. Our dear Samantha tutors high schoolers and works at a Psychology lab at UC Berkeley. Even with this busy schedule, Ms. Salis creates the time to divulge to us her passion about the fitness and health of women, and is (fortunately for us) very well informed on these topics. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012



RINEKE DIJKSTRA---A Retrospective

SFMOMA February 18 - May 28, 2012

            It is a widely shared belief among some Native American tribes that photography can steal a soul and imprison it within the film. Members of these tribes refused to be photographed during their life time and established a set of practice to “recover” the soul once it is in danger of being captured. One of the reasons why photography, in their point of view, steals the soul is that, unlike mirrors, photographs do not reflect the image. Once the image is taken, it stays forever on the film.
            Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra challenges this notion of permanence in photography by capturing the state of transition in her photographs. She follows many people for several years, recording their life with her photos, and exhibiting them one by one in the order of time on the wall of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. All of her subjects are in the state of transition: teenagers, women undergoing pregnancy, young soldiers and so on. As all stages of transition are laid out on the wall, the soul, “trapped” in her films, seems to be liberated, little by little, by the change the subjects are going through.
            Dijkastra’s beach series is a group of work with great simplicity yet significant depth. Teenagers in bathing suits stand in front of the camera in a relaxing pose, either looking straight into the lens or deviating their glance to the side. The background in this series is constantly seascape under an overcast sky. On one hand, the nature elements in this series, which is the ocean and the sky, suggest permanence, which sets a great contrast to the teenagers on the foreground who are undergoing a transition. On the other hand, the subject of ocean, which is consisted of water, implies change, flexibility and the state of flux: perfectly facilitates the teenagers in the foreground. The simplicity of the composition and the depth of nature give this series much sensitivity and subtlety.
            Her series on soldiers in different countries continues the simple composition of portraitures. For instance, Dijkastra followed a teenage boy named Olivier when he first enlisted in the French Foreign Legion in the summer of 2000. He is posing in front of the camera wearing a navy blue shirt against a plain background. His muscle structure is unclear under his shirt and his big brown eyes set a great contrast with his pale, almost porcelain like face. Dijkastra recorded his life in the army for following two years, during which Olivier’s physical appearance and mental state went through significant transition. In the photo taken in the winter of 2000, Olivier, with extremely short hair, is slightly frowning at the camera; his face is partially covered by camouflage and his uniform signifies his broadened shoulder. Two years later, in the summer of 2002, Dijkastra took another portrait of Olivier. This time, his face is a lot more angular with a wide and strong jaw that permeate a sense of strength and maturity. His neck is more rounded as well, joining his angular head with his bulging chest muscle, which is visible under his army green t-shirt. The last photo of Oliver in exhibition is taken in the summer of 2003, three years after the Oliver enlisted in the Legion. This portrait of him resembles Vin Diesel, barely visible hair, square and strong jaw, muscular arms and a solid chest under his uniform which is now in a higher military rank. He twisted his eye brows and look into the camera with slightly squinted eyes: the wonder boy image from the first portrait back in 2000 is gone without a trace. Maturity, power, steadiness and strength replace the innocence and youthfulness of young Olivier. What the audience sees is the subtle transition of Olivier, the development of his soul from 2000 to 2003, instead of just one moment of his life that is frozen and framed by the photograph. In other word, one single piece of photography can never capture the soul: it only represents a moment of the soul, here and now. Through transition of time and space, the soul will be fully captured, and freed at the same time.


William Bobos

The Woman Behind the Cultural Perspectives Section:
Asheley Gao is an extremely creative young woman, currently attending UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, a long way away from her home country of China. She is double majoring in Political Economy and History of Art. Her interest in life and exuberance is evident, not only in her work as an artist and academic, but also a friend and co-worker.