Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bleeding Eyeballs and Bleeding Hearts

Itz hard beeing a gurl. Anytime i haz ideez 2 share i haz to werk so hard. I meen OMG 1D is so HAWT and i just no if i say just the rite thing 1 of them will call me. And then there is my nailz. OMG they are awesom. And I keep sharing pics of them on instagram but no1 ever coments on them. They all coment on the posts about bullyz. Wat is the big deel about dat. I meen if u look like a skank or ur fat peeple r gonna say stuff about u. Git over it. Oh wait lemme take a selfie. Ok im back. My mom says i should pay more atenshun to my skool but my skool is fine cuz im popular. Ok i gotta go now cuz Brad just comented on my selfie.

Yeah. I couldn't go any further with that because I was losing too many brain cells. If you need to take a break before you read further, I don't blame you.

Seriously, this is what some people expect out of our youth, especially young girls. Some people think no teenage girl could possibly use coherent sentences to form paragraphs and couldn't possibly read information and form an opinion. Others expect girls to not speak up about any important topics. If we do, we're being "disrespectful" because "nice girls" don't challenge the opinions of adults, and if we do, we need an "attitude adjustment." I've even gotten a message that said, "Stay home and play with your dolls." These people may not realize what they're doing, but they are directly attacking the future of our country.

Every young citizen deserves to be told he or she is capable, valuable, and should be encouraged to pay attention, participate, and use his or her gifts and talents to make a difference. Every young person deserves to be able to define himself or herself. When we relegate young people to a certain set of choices based on what we think they "should" be doing, we're limiting the potential for a beautiful future. I take selfies. I like shopping. I enjoy doing my nails. I like boys. I don't like One Direction but there are bands I do like, such as Panic! At the Disco.

I also happen to enjoy writing. It's something I've always liked to do. The reason it hurt my brain to type the paragraph (can we even call it that?) above is that I care about words and how ideas are expressed. If people were to watch me do math, no one would ever say I was amazing. There are a lot of fantastic teen writers out there. Some of them you might see on blogs or other media, but some of them write things not many people will ever see. Just because a lot of people read my blog and I've had articles shared around the interwebs, that doesn't make me a better writer than any of them. There are also a lot of young people expressing themselves in words who might not have a good grasp of grammar or style yet. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of situation. If you're young and share something fairly well-written, people will accuse you of not writing it yourself. If you share something that has a lot of mistakes, people will pick you apart for your mistakes. Is it any wonder why many young writers are like I was for so many years? I didn't share anything because I was afraid.

Well, now I'm not afraid. The negative comments about me really don't bother me much personally. They bother me because of what they are saying about young people in general. If the only thing I accomplish in everything I'm doing is to get more young people to not be afraid to speak out, I will consider that a success. I don't care if they're Democrat, Republican, anti-choice, pro-choice, atheist, Christian, whatever. We need our young people paying attention and getting involved, and I will stand up for their opportunity to do that. We can disagree about ideas, but one thing we should all agree on is that we should be encouraging the next generation of leaders to share their ideas.


  1. This is brilliant stuff -- keep doing it and get louder. Rock on.

  2. Madison, thanks for representing the thoughtful intelligence that is often ignored, hidden, suppressed or unfairly discounted within our youth today. I have no idea how busy your schedule is, having only just heard of you, but would ask if you could consider - once in a while - crossposting some of your thoughts to Daily Kos ( and occasionally participating in discussions there. There are a couple younger folks there - not many - and your voice could help build a stronger presence & participation among younger folks.

    The site has a huge progressive voice, and your voice, your thoughts can add valuable insight from American youth to the conversation.

    I'm not an employee over there - I write & post there simply as any other contributor - but my topics range from care-giving (Alzheimer's) to pets, from education to voting rights and climate change. I'd very much like to see more voices like yours..

    Regardless, please continue to do what you do, and know that your efforts are appreciated as well as effective.

    If you celebrate Easter, have a blessed one. If you do not, or if you celebrate any other holiday this weekend, I hope it is fantastic.

    My faith in America's future, and its youth, is renewed when I encounter voices such as yours. (, if we could only fix our educational system, before it's dumbed down too much farther...)


    - GreyHawk
    (professional irritant, writer, technology consultant)

  3. I second Greyhawk. You'd fit right in and reach millions on DailyKos. If you join, it helps to browse the Kos "Welcome New Users" blog to get your bearings, because the it can be overwhelming.

    Meanwhile, keep fighting for progress!

  4. Dear Madison, I am so glad I came across the video of you speaking about teen voter registration in North Carolina and your blog. I would like to invite you to an international conference this summer in Switzerland that brings together children and youth precisely like you from all over the world. The conference is titled "Young Advocates for Change" and it is a part of a 5 year series of conferences called "Children as Actors Transforming Society." This is the 2nd year of the conference which lasts one week and is held in a palace outside Geneva that reserves space each summer for conferences to promote positive social change. I am on the organizing committee and can see you fitting in perfectly. Children and youth are coming from all over the world (literally) who work in issues as varied as children's rights, ending the practice of child brides, fighting exploitation of child workers, etc. It is a space for children and youth to learn from each other and exchange ideas on best practices to bring about change in their home communities. Among the invitees is Malala, the Pakistani girl wounded by the Taliban because she spoke out for girls' education. Here is the link to the conference: If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I live in the Chicago area, but am working on this international project. My affiliation is with the Child-to-Child Trust which is based in London. You may contact them as well and say that Celine had mentioned the conference to you. I really hope you can join us in July!

    1. I hope Madison accepts your invitation. She's too big for just North Carolina!

  5. Madison, I am so proud of you. I was you 40 years ago. I wrote letters about issues I cared about, but not enough. I was too shy to speak about my concerns, but I had many. You inspire me so much to know there are still girls out there that will kick Go get 'em! *HUGS*

  6. Madison: I just found out about you from Daily Kos, and I just wanted to say... you're amazing.
    Please know, even in your darkest times, that you have supporters & friends in all ages, shapes & sizes. Keep up the good work and that support will only grow.
    I'm a 46-yr old male artist, and I can tell you with no reservations that YOU inspire ME.

  7. Dear Madison:

    Like a few of the commenters above, I have only just heard of you via DailyKos and would also encourage you to contribute to the site as well. I am a father to a pair of young girls that I hope will be able to express their thoughts, hopes and dreams as eloquently as you do. I was a precocious child myself and I know that one's age shouldn't detract from the value or merit of their ideas. Bookmarked... And thank you for validating my opinion that children are capable and appreciative of much more than we adults would believe.

  8. Madison, I'm spending my morning reading through your whole blog. I enjoy your writing very much, and I'm kind of surprised that you aren't getting thousands of comments per entry. I'm sure it won't be long until you are. Do you find that every new adult who "discovers" you feels compelled to try to give you advice or tell you about how they were just like you once? I feel compelled to do those things, but I'm trying to refrain, because it feels like something you probably get a lot.

    Your clarity of vision and gift for verbal expression are remarkable. Whatever you choose to do with your future, I'm certain you will inspire those around you to stretch further and become better versions of themselves. My most selfish hope for you is that I get the chance to vote for you someday.

    Respectfully yours,

  9. You are a brilliant, productive thinker, and a terrific writer. You structure your essays and speeches so well, drawing people in with relatable items and ideas, and deftly unfolding them into unifying themes. I am one of the thousands, and soon to be hundreds of thousands and more, of people inspired and excited that you are emerging as a strong voice for civil rights and for active political involvement. I would say I can't wait to see all the things you do, but you are already doing them, and I will try to help anyway I can.

    A Huge Fan,
    Miriam Edelstein (Philadelphia)

  10. Hi Madison! great job! I just sent you a message on facebook about participating in a feminist mythology art series. I thought i'd let you know here in case you check comments more often or don't accept friend requests from people you don't know on facebook. If you'd like to contact me I can be reached at and my website is

  11. Well, the hemorrhage ended at the end of the first paragraph, thankfully and a quick transfusion from the local emergency treatment facility resolved blood loss issues. The blood loss from my ears was cauterized by the live steam exiting, so there was minimal loss there. My brain had leaked out of my skull around two decades ago, courtesy of my children who were teens at the time. ;)

    The rest was highly intelligible, intelligent and more concise than this half-century and change old could manage!
    Keep up the good work and keep thinking always on how to improve our world!
    My grandchildren are relying on you, as my generation and my parents generation have managed to turn the lot of things into a pigs breakfast.
    Whenever I offer a suggestion, I end up with "your a commie", which makes me want to take the Samson route, beat the speaker to death with his/her own jawbone, for they are most assuredly an ass.

    But, in a rather dark time in my life, even darker than my life was in times during our recent wars, you've given me a special gift I can never repay.
    For, you've given me hope for the future of our nation, when I was beginning to abandon hope for it.
    That in and of itself is notable, as we were selected for our utter inability to ever quit.
    But, nearly 28 years of service in extremely hostile environments did instill further of that which was never quit, later, contracting reinforced it, only to be overwhelmed by an elderly father suffering from vascular dementia after he quit trying and my return home was nearly insufferable.
    Nearly only because of your many words, repeatedly spoken and only recently heard by me.

    My perspective was one of a stranger in a strange land. I departed for five years of horror, some amount of which I played a significant part of inflicting, due to the nature of war.
    Imagine my partial shock, I had heard the CNN nonsense of a party openly discussing insurrection (if we lose, we still have our second amendment remedies), calming men down as they were preparing to go on patrol (I can never, ever, *ever* forgive the tea party for that!) and coming home to this divided land, where equality means equal for a few or some and others are without worth.
    It was something beyond objectionable to me, who defended this once great nation, it was an utter abomination!
    But, I'm stuck here, away from the civilized world. Seeing a father ripped away from me, minute by minute, in a very literal sense. Spending three years caring for him until he became violent and I had to worry about police response and conflict and harm to him, resulting in a first for me in five decades and change of life, breaking my word. My word to let him die in his own home.
    For more fun, my own home was ransacked, emptied of furniture, emptied of wire and pipe (copper is *really* expensive to replace!) and left with a house that was uninhabitable.
    That was an annoyance, but not significant, it could be repaired eventually, but family is first. So, my wife and I moved in with my father to care for him, as my mother had died a month after their 50th anniversary. Two months after 9-11.
    I had returned home after learning from my children that my father was faring poorly and had been ignoring congestive heart failure. He was what medical personnel call a "frequent flier", someone who gets an ambulance call frequently.
    His ignorance of things medical caused other declines, as he wasn't faithful in taking his blood pressure medication, wasn't faithful in taking his diabetes medication, etc. That had a disastrous effect on the circulatory system in his brain, the blood vessels were saturated with glucose, which causes them even now to break down.
    Hence, the minute by minute loss.
    A man who was gregarious in the extreme eighteen months ago turned into a nearly mute person six months ago, he's even less communicative now.

    So, I've very nearly lost hope.
    Then, someone showed me your words.
    Now, there *is* light at the end of the tunnel and it most certainly is not an oncoming train.

  12. The first thing I read of yours was your response to Phyllis Schlafly's contention that women need to worry about finding a man. I was floored. Not because of the substance of your piece, because all women (young and old) should feel insulted by Schlafly's words; I was floored because I've become very jaded about the state of literacy among young people, which seems to be gravitating toward the verbal bowel movement of your opening paragraph.

    I was in junior high at the beginning of the 1980s. I learned formal grammar in Grade 7 and academic essay writing in Grade 8. My class was one of the last to do so. As I progressed through high school and into university, where I took a teaching degree, I saw a steady degradation of the English skills of many of my peers. I knew university graduates who were functionally illiterate. I met certified English teachers who couldn't tell an infinitive from a gerund.

    When I read your reply to Schlafly, it gave me some hope for the younger generation. It appears that the craft of forming a coherent written argument is not lost on all of today's youth.

    Keep writing. Your style is very easy to read and highly literate. Your arguments are well structured and very pointed. Inspire others with your writing. Foster a community of informed, literate young people who won't take the condescending crap that's thrown at them from 'on high'.

    You'll get your share of negativity from people who are afraid of the critical thinking you represent, but it sounds like you're weathering that breeze already. Beware though; as you get more active, especially about political matters, that breeze will become a storm. Steer straight into it and laugh.

    Keep up the great writing!

  13. You dear, are amazing. Hearing young people like you speaking out strongly and loudly gives me hope for the future.

  14. Madison, I hope you are aware that over 650,000 grownup Americans living in DC (mostly just ordinary people), which is larger than the population both of Wyoming and of Vermont, are not allowed to vote and participate in our country. None of us living in DC can be a Congressional Representative of
    DC, nor a Senator representing DC, because the 650,000-plus ordinary Americans living in DC are not allowed representation.