Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ayvazian and Blanchard: Being an Ally QUOTES

     The articles Combating Intentional Bigotry and Inadvertently Racist Acts by Blanchard and Interrupting The Cycle of Oppression by Ayvazian are perfect for ending this semester on social justice. Now that we've learned how systems of oppression work to keep people "in their place", learning how to break down those walls to free the oppressed and to "crack the glass" gives the semester a solid sense of closure and a feeling of personal accomplishment as a student.
     Blanchard discusses how people who are either totally uneducated on racism or have never had a racial encounter are bound to, well, say something stupid from time to time when they're finally in a situation with people of other races. He believes that people who make unintentional racist slip-ups only do so because they simply don't know any better. They shouldn't be punished or reprimanded, but instead addressed about what they did, informed about why it is unacceptable, and asked to handle the situation differently next time. He feels there is a distinct difference between someone who is intentionally trying to oppress someone by making racist comments, and someone who is doing it unknowingly. "The prohibitions often embrace both the intentional behavior of the committed bigot and the careless behavior of those inexperienced with racial contacts." I agree with his views on this conflict, and feel it can be applied to all aspects of social justice. When in the presence of a "committed bigot", it is very important to stand up and be an ally even if there is risk involved, and even if you think the person will not change their ways. However, because the careless person doesn't understand what they're saying or doing, when you recognize that situation, I feel that it is even more imperative to take responsibility to enlightening that person, otherwise you are allowing it to continue.
     Blanchard also talks about how it needs to be a law that racial comments and harassment not be allowed in the work place, home, or in public, just the same as sexual harassment. He states, “Unfortunately, the federal and state regulations that define and bar racial harassment are neither as articulate nor as encompassing as those governing sexual harassment. Until state and federal rules barring racial harassment recognize how seemingly less-odious behaviors can accumulate to produce an atmosphere of intimidation, codes of conduct that rely on them will restrain only the most flagrant forms of attack.” This is to say that if it is not made illegal for a person to act upon their racist beliefs in any form, that only when people physically harm and kill others because of racial differences, will anything be done against it legally. Sexual harassment is illegal because it not only leads to acts of sexual violence, but because it is socially unacceptable, and people who are victims of even the most "harmless" verbal sexual harassment feel uncomfortable and in physical danger. Is the same not true of racism? Do people who are victims of racist words not feel like they are in danger? Shouldn't there also be inclusive laws making racism socially unacceptable?
     Ayvazian shows us how to be allies and to actively fight these harmful words and oppressors. She says that if in a situation of social injustice you find yourself having traits that are dominant over the injustice at hand, there is a great opportunity for you to be successful is changing the situation. “When we consider the different manifestations of systematic oppression and find ourselves in any of the categories where we are dominant – and therefore receive the unearned advantages that accrue to that position of advantage – we have the potential to be remarkably powerful agents of change as allies.” As we discussed in class and as Blanchard also stated, if you're witnessing an act of social injustice and you do nothing, you are allowing it to continue and letting the oppressor gain strength in their beliefs. They will assume that everyone agrees with them and that they are right. It is important to show people how you feel and express your opinions when you disagree on any subject, but it is crucial to do so when others' comfort and safety is at risk. Ayvazian defines ally behavior so well: “Allied behavior means taking personal responsibility for the changes we know are needed in our society, and so often ignore or leave others to deal with.” If people don't take the risk of standing up for what they know in their hearts is right, then they are abandoning their own beliefs and rendering themselves ineffectual. If you know that a person being bullied or oppressed is worth taking a risk for, and if you know that you are a worthwhile human being, then you shouldn't be afraid to utilize your power for change! Be an ally! Its worth it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Event 2: URI Honors Colloquium on International Healthcare

Living in South Kingstown and having to commute 40minutes to RIC everyday is indeed tiring, but getting to live near the URI campus has proved to be an awesome resource for my education, especially for this class! Earlier this semester I attended a URI Honors Colloquium presentation where Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Medical Director for Partners in Health, was presenting on public health, and how important it is to provide better and more accessible healthcare internationally. She made a huge point about how with America’s advances in medical technology and our capability to help others around the world without such advantages, that healthcare needs to be better recognized as a basic human right. I can’t see how anyone could know that a huge percentage of the world’s population simply doesn’t have any access to healthcare, know exactly what they need, and still refuse to help. Luckily, there are some pretty amazing people who recognize that fact, and are willing and passionate about making their life purpose to help these people that are so often forgotten or ignored.
Dr. Muhkerjee has completely dedicated her life to working in Peru, Uganda and Haiti to not only help cure and prevent diseases, but to also ease the burden that disease has on a community. She emphasized that bringing health care to places where there is none, where disease outbreaks kill and infect people everyday, has to be locally practiced, but globally funded. In some of the examples she gave about HIV/AIDS, cholera, and drug resistant TB outbreaks present in the poorest countries on earth, it was hard to hear about all people that were completely aware of it happening, yet were reluctant to help because of the “cost”. This absolutely blows my mind because the cost in terms of money that programs like Partners in Health need to make the necessary changes, couldn’t possibly amount to the physical and emotional cost that these diseases have on not only the individual person afflicted with disease, but on the local communities and global communities. She mentioned that in Peru in 1994, one of the leaders there actually said that because of how expensive treatment would be to cure one patient from drug resistant TB, approximately $30,000 each, that “the poor people are just going to have to die”. For a leader of a country to say that about the fate of their citizens is incredibly disturbing and irresponsible. It is a global responsibility to provide aid and treatment to all humans, and the belief that allowing people to die is the only way to fix a problem is simply a failure of imagination and a complete lack of effort and concern.
After what we’ve learned in class about feminism and social justice this semester, I’m so glad that as I can look back on this presentation and have it mean so much more to me. As someone who will be educated in nursing and working on relief efforts, I can look at this as an issue of healthcare, but as someone who is learning to be an ally for social justice, the whole picture becomes so much clearer. These issues simply cannot be ignored!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cinderella Ate My Daughter + MissRepresentation CONNECTIONS/REFLECTION

  I can't believe that it has taken me this long to write this blog because this article was one of my favorites, but I'm also glad that we watched MissRepresentation in the time since we read it because they have such similar messages. To me, MissRepresentation was like watching the long-term effects of growing up engrossed in princess culture, and unfortunately many parts seemed all too familiar. I like what she said in the beginning of the documentary about how her experiences are unique, but her struggle is far too common. I've felt this way a lot talking to other girls my age who have gone through similar experiences. It's incredibly depressing feeling like you have no control of what is going on in your life and feeling like you can't relate to people, but upon realizing you're not the only one and that people really want to help is where real healing can begin. :)
Valeria Lukyanova: The Human Barbie
     Some things in Cinderella Ate My Daughter that really stood out to me were the changes that barbie dolls, dora the explorer, and even the female muppets have had as the drive for perfection in young girls has grown immensely. Barbies are getting bigger boobs, smaller waistlines, and longer legs. An impossible look to achieve as a human, and as MissRepresentation showed, even Victoria's Secret models are photoshopped beyond human dimensions and perfections. However, I came across a picture of a model who actually strives to be "the human barbie," and she has come disgustingly close with the help of plastic surgery!
      Dora the Explorer used to be an adorable, adventurous girl who wore shorts, a t-shirt, sneakers, a watch, and carried a backpack with a map inside. She was short with a round face, no eyelashes, and a cute messy bob haircut. NOW, she is tall and skinny, lost the backpack somewhere along the way, grew long thick eyelashes, wears a pink dress, purple tights and flats, has sparkling eyes, long beautiful hair and a pearl bracelet. The creators say she is just "growing up", so is this what all girls are supposed to grow up to be? Even muppets characters have gone from being purple but"fat," to "cute" but orange, until now the latest muppet, Abby, is pink with purple hair, long eyelashes, fairy wings and a adorable slogan to match: "Thats SO magic!"
   When I even just think of the title Cinderella Ate My Daughter I immediately think of the kids I used to babysit. The youngest is 6 month old, "Baby Joey" and the two older girls, Samantha and Sophia are three and four. Their house is the perfect example of the pink and blue separation between girls and boys and the problems of growing up in princess culture. Joey's room is mostly blue with red trim and there are pictures of trains and planes and construction trucks on the walls, his teddy bear is a police man, and he has dinosaur sheets. The two girls rooms are almost identical, like someone vomited pink all over everything. They have dolls and ballerina teddy bears covering their beds, and pictures of ballet slippers, princesses, and their names, well... "Princess Sophia" and "Princess Samantha" in pink wooden letters hanging on their walls. They each also have custom made books where some mystical land of fairies is looking for a new queen and they name off characteristics that "their queen needs to have"; one trait for every letter of their first and last names. They also have books called Pinkalicious and Purplicious.. it doesn't take a wild imagination to figure out what those books teach!
     These kids have the biggest friggin' play room I've ever seen, bigger than my bedroom. The walls are covered in shelves, and the shelves are FULL of every toy you could possibly imagine. No word of a lie, the mother called me to come work for her one day, and the only thing she had me do for the first 4 hours I was there was take a tiny screw driver and put all new batteries in every single one of their toys; every toy that required batteries, that is. There are toys all over their whole house, and its very clear which ones are for the girls and which ones are for Joey. Joey's dad saw me letting him scribble in a Disney Princess coloring book, and without a word traded it for some coloring book "clearly" meant for a boy. I told a story in class one day about how the girls are being taught by their mother to hate poor people and fear that they'll be ugly. She tells them, "If you don't finish your oatmeal I'm going to have to give it to a poor person", and when they resist getting dressed in the morning she says, "I'm going to give your clothes away to a homeless person if you don't put them on!" She also tells that that they'll have ugly teeth and skin if they don't wash their faces and brush their teeth before bed every night, or that they'll have ugly hair for twirling it in their fingers. What we've learned in class about discourse and how careful word choice can completely change messages and meanings has made me think back to this. When I was a little girl and I didn't finish my dinner, in an attempt to get me to eat my parents might say, "Think of all the hungry people in the world that can't afford to buy food", even though it has the same intention from both parents to get their children to eat, saying "I'm going to have to give it to a poor person" has a much different connotation. I eventually told them I was too busy to babysit for them, but it was mostly because the girls treated me horribly, and I didn't really want any part in how their parents were raising them or their son. I guess I could have tried to be more helpful and encouraging for them, but they would seriously threaten to tell their mom I was a mean baby babysitter, and they'd threaten to lock me in closets when their mom wasn't home! I've never been so afraid of a 3 year old in my life. AHH!!


Event 1: URI Honors Colloquium on Women's Healthcare in RI

On Tuesday, November 12, I attended the URI Honors Colloquium for a presentation on women’s health care, unintended pregnancy, and the availability of contraceptives and sex education in Rhode Island, given by First Lady Stephanie Chafee. I was inclined to attend this event for our topic of feminism not only because she has she achieved a position of power from being the Co-Founder and President Emerita of the Rhode Island Free Clinic, being one of the first nurses in RI with a focus on HIV/AIDS patients, and being an advocate for health care among the less financially fortunate population in our state, she was going to talk about women’s health, which I found to be a big issue in the recent election and a very serious women’s social justice issue.
The woman that introduced her made some comment about how she was always disappointed that Stephanie Chafee didn’t graduate for nursing form URI. This bugged somewhat because I’m about to finish my prerequisites and start the nursing program at RIC this spring, and I don’t really understand how graduating with a nursing degree would be disappointing from any school! I got so distracted by that comment thought that I didn’t hear her explanation for why she was disappointed, so I guess I missed the point anyways.
First Lady Chafee started by saying that she was proud of herself for having her husband, Governor Lincoln Chafee, in the audience while she was giving a lecture, rather than the much more common and opposite situation. I thought that was awesome since what we’ve learned in class about patriarchy and the system of male power and privilege would very much go against the night’s circumstances. The lecture given by the First Lady was startling. The statistics that she gave about unintended and unintended teen pregnancies in RI were beyond what I had imagined. She first defined a key term that she used often that night, unintended pregnancy, as being a pregnancy that is either mistimed (where the woman did not want to get pregnant then, but would want to someday) or unwanted (where the woman did not ever plan to become pregnant in her lifetime). She said that while women in instances of mistimed pregnancies are more likely to be better mothers that are healthy and aware of the health of their child, that both mistimed and unwanted pregnancies are more likely to have problematic outcomes than a planned pregnancy, such as negative physical and mental effects on the child as well as premature births.
Here are some of the statistics the First Lady gave about unintended pregnancy in 2011 in Rhode Island:
  • ·      14% of middle school students had already had an intimate experience, and 70% of those had never had any HIV/AIDS education.
  • ·      10% of high school students were involved with more than 4 people
  • ·      20% of high school students were drinking or using illicit drugs the last time they had a sexual experience, and 8.2% of those were victims of domestic or sexual violence
  • ·      75% of RI women who became pregnant before they were 20 years old did not want to or plan to.
  • ·      Once a teen has had an unintended pregnancy they are much more likely to have another before they turn 20 years old.
    •       Most of those women are in low financial standing.
    •    Most of those women have adolescent mothers themselves.
  • ·      77.8% of all births in Providence are at-risk births (compared to 24% in Barrington)

She emphasized the importance of effective sex education in schools because it has been greatly shown that there is a direct inverse correlation between sex education and unintended pregnancy, meaning that the more educated a person is on sex and contraception, the less likely they are to have an unintended pregnancy, and vice verse. It has also been proven that there is a direct correlation between abstinence-only sex education programs and unintended pregnancy, proving them to be entirely ineffective. She said that to her, sexual education should be just as important in school as getting good grades and doing well on standardized tests, which I agree with wholeheartedly. High school pregnancy is the leading cause of dropping out of high school in Rhode Island, which leads me to feel that grade schools should focus more on sex education and providing contraception in schools because if their lack of sex education is effecting their ability to protect themselves, lead healthy lives and make informed decisions outside of school, then getting good grades is much more difficult, sometimes impossible.  The statistics Stephanie Chafee presented also show that in areas of Rhode Island where there is greater financial distress, the rate of unintended pregnancy is much higher, and because of this she feels that there needs to be free birth control in Rhode Island, especially in urban areas where they are at a disproportionate disadvantage.
            Most cases of unintended pregnancy are due to incorrect of inconsistent use of contraceptives, which only strengthens my opinion on sex education in schools. I also feel there should be greater access to a safe abortion when the woman feels it is necessary in a situation of both unintended pregnancy and a pregnancy that affects the woman’s chance of survival. Although I had come in to the lecture already agreeing with the idea that women should have the freedom to decide when they’re ready to have children, the First Lady’s presentation only solidified that point further.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Media and Ideology CONNECTIONS

     In David Croteau’s article, Media and Ideology, he explains that mass media ideologists are not focusing on very specific examples of the messages being taught to consumers, for example individual songs or movies, but the broad, underlying messages within all of them that are often very obvious, but sometimes more invisible and subliminal. “For ideological analysis, the key is the fit between the images and words in a specific media text and ways of thinking about, even defining, social and cultural issues.” This made me think of what Chris was talking about in class the other day about seeing advertisements and media messages not just for this face value, but seeing them as a text. I wasn’t in class the day you all actually discussed this, but what I understood about the funny examples Chris gave the day we talked about sex-positivity, was that even if an advertisement just seems stupid and actually makes you ask “what does that even have anything to do with the product being sold?” there is a hidden agenda in it that intentionally makes you think a certain way about the product, otherwise marketing companies would not use those ridiculous advertisements to promote themselves.

     One quote that struck me was about half way through page 160. “Instead of assessing the images and making some judgment about levels of realness, ideological analysis asks what these messages tell us about ourselves and our society.” This made me think of a documentary that I watched recently with my boyfriend who is taking a mass media class at URI. In the documentary, The Merchants of Cool by Douglas Rushkoff, marketers and market researchers are the merchants being referred to. They are the people who actually go out into society and search for supposedly “authentic” scenes and the people who take their scene to the extreme, known as “trend setters.” Once they find these social scenes and what makes them intriguing and “real” to those certain people, they go back to whatever companies they work for and create products and advertisements that specifically market to those groups. It works extremely well, that is until they have eventually overexploited it, changed it’s meaning, and what was once a “cool,” unique culture is now commonplace and ultimately “uncool.” So the people who were once the “trend setters” realize how overused their look now is, and are forced to again change or suffer from being uncool and unoriginal. This is why, according to the documentary, that youth culture is always changing; because any cultural characteristic that is "real" and unique will eventually be discovered by mass media and abused, driving the uncool-fearing culture in new direction. So after a while, the lines get blurred and the question the documentary poses is weather or not we, everyday citizens, influence the media, or if the media manipulates us. So, because any single illustration of what is cool in society can be used as an example of the influence mass media holds, the message that the sum of the illustrations tells about our society is much more profound and important. [I found the documentary really interesting, but also very unsettling, and I would encourage anyone to find it online and watch it!]

     Another piece of Croteau’s article reminded me of the movie we watched in class, “Tough Guise”. 
“ the Internet expands, politicians continue to condemn the availability of sexually explicit material online and argue that unregulated speech and imagery on the Internet pose a threat to children’s safety and well-being.
     This made me think of Jackson Katz’s explanation of sexualized violence. He said that in many violent movies, such as horror movies, the film makers are advertising to males by showing sexy scenes of women doing things like showering in a locker room together or having a sleepover in their underwear, and just as the peak of the scene is arousing the viewer, a murderer comes in a kills these women in terrible ways. As a woman, I always thought those kinds of scenes in movies were tacky and unrealistic, but I never considered how dangerous pairing the two images could be. I believe that Croteau is completely right, or I guess the politicians are right for condemning easily accessible sexually explicit material to our youth. The developing brains of children are effortlessly influenced by everything they see, and for children to be able to go on the internet and view pornography and movies that incorporate sexualized violence as often as they want and without any discretion, they can actually grow up coupling sex and violence as one, literally training their brains to almost irreversibly associate them together! It is no wonder to me why the rates of domestic abuse and cases of violent rape have been drastically increasing in recent years with those images being pushed on vulnerable minds of kids today.

Overall, the incredible power the media has on us is unsettling. Most of us don't even realize that we're being manipulated by it until we find ourselves consuming the products we were mocking advertisements of. Many more don't ever realize it at all. I'm not trying to tell anyone to stop consuming, but this article has made me more aware of how what we consume and support tells us about our society. Because the influence of the media is basically unavoidable, I find it incredibly important to at least dissect things being marketed to "us", figuring out what they are trying to make you think and feel in order to be more conscious of they ways the media influences the way we act in society.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

obama meme

Can't help but crack up to this! haha

Election Results

Glad to say that I voted for the first time on Tuesday! I had no idea what I was doing at first obviously but I made sure to watch the people before me to see what they did, and I was relieved to see that all you do is fill it out and put it in the scanner haha.. Unfortunately, I have the worst trait from my dad to be embarrassed to ask questions so I was glad I didn't have to! =] I voted against the casinos in Rhode Island and am honestly kinda bummed that one of them got passed. As a nursing student here at RIC I obviously voted yes on question 3 for new nursing buildings! I can't wait to see what they do with the money, and I'll be here for at least 3 more years so I feel that I'll actually be able to see a lot of the change.
When it got to be about 5pm my boyfriend, my parents and I all tuned into the election results. My parents were watching Fox news, which strangely enough I have been warming up to, as long as I watch the other channels too. People say that Fox News is so one sided, (which it is!) but every other channel is just as one sided - just for the other side. So if you choose to watch the news, I think its important to watch more than one channel, but mostly to read the news rather than watch it. Anyways, we watched the whole thing from beginning to end - when it was announced that Obama won. The people on Fox news were clearly a little agitated, and I actually found myself agreeing with them on many things. I support the LGBTQ rights movement, legalizing marijuana, and clearly women's rights, but I really don't trust Obama. I feel like he plays to ignorance, and has mainly made it "cool" to hate Romney and "cool" to vote for Obama. I talked to many people yesterday and it was a shame to hear how many people had no idea why they voted for Obama, and I also heard many people say that "Obamas got 'swag'" which was even more disappointing because that has absolutely nothingggg to do with politics and the issues that this country is seriously suffering from. I also heard alot of people saying that "they would move out of the country if Romney won" but had no idea why they hate him and why they love Obama. I think it is cool that gay marriage is legal in a few places now, and that women will have more rights and freedom to do what they want with their own health (if that is even the case), but I don't think its cool to vote just because the media more than anything else has influenced your subconscious.
Congratulations to everyone who is positively affected by the changes this election has brought! I honestly and truly am happy for you, along with all of my family members who are in similarly difficult situations! Now, lets PLEASE all work together and prevent our economy from totally going to shit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

Proud to have voted for the first time today.

Nala voted too!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sex Positivity

From my understanding of the Wikipedia page and the 8 Ways to be Positive You’re Sex Positive article, being sex positive means that you know what works for you and are comfortable doing those things, but also and maybe more importantly, that you know what doesn’t work for you. If you say you’re “sex positive” just because you enjoy having sex, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re “sex positive” in the way that feminists use the term. White talks about discrimination against LGBTQ, calling people sluts, and people having fetishes, all as examples of things you cannot do if you’re going to properly refer to yourself as being sex positive. She says that being sex positive and policing other people’s sexual attractions and habits is not ok, but policing your own habits and paying attention to your own comfort levels is a necessity!
I do think it’s important to always dig into your own emotions/mind/psyche and assess: What is this doing for me? How do I feel afterward? How is my sex life impacting other areas of my life? Just because you like something sexually doesn’t mean it is good for you. Remember, sex positivity is not sexual hedonism. It’s about ethics and self-development rather than simple pleasure-seeking.”
I feel that this quote really sums up the importance of knowing your limits, when to push them and when to respect them. If you feel the desire to try something new or different, then by all means do it, but you should always pay attention to how you feel and how you reflect on your experience afterwards. It is likely that if you have a negative experience in one situation, you’ll have another negative experience if it happens again, which can be pretty psychologically damaging. So just to be safe, if you know just for a fact that you would be uncomfortable with something, and especially if you know from experience, then be careful to avoid it! I also really like the term White uses, “enthusiastic consent - only having sex in which both parties are enthusiastically consenting,” meaning that if you are consenting to sex but not “totally feeling it” then it is not only your job to say no when you don’t want to go any further, but it is hugely the other person’s responsibility to be aware of that fact and to be respectful and stop, and vice versa.
The article on Wikipedia confused and shocked me quite a bit, especially how much of their definition of sex positive feminism was talk about pornography and images of rape in porn, compared to how little porn was brought up in The Frisky. I don’t really know how to feel about this issue, not being an avid porn watcher myself! But personally I don’t care what other people do in their free time as long as it is not being forced upon me in any way. The page says that feminists want certain restrictions on porn, and I agree that any pornography that is actual footage of nonconsensual sex is absolutely nauseating and should be taken off the internet, but doesn’t White’s definition of being sex positive include respecting other people’s sexual activity such as their desire to watch pornography no matter what kind they prefer? Maybe I’m missing something here… 

Monday, October 15, 2012

What Are Little Boys Made Of? (final) REFLECTION/QUOTES

The author of the article, What Are Little Boys Made Of?, Michael Kimmel, is trying to suggest that feminism offers the “possibility of a new boyhood and a new masculinity based on a passion for justice, a love of equality, and the expression of a full range of feelings,” despite what some male psychologists are saying. Kimmel believes that the idea of manhood and masculinity being an image of independence, courage, invulnerability and power needs to shift to the vision of being raised to confront, “racism, sexism, and homophobia – both in our communities and in ourselves.”
Critics of feminism, such as psychologists Michael Gurian and Steve Bioldulph, say that the biology of boyhood is to naturally be loud, highly active and inclined to perform weird experiments on bugs, and that “cultural meddling – especially by misinformed women – won’t change a thing.” I feel that this is especially ignorant, and it implies that women feminists are all uninformed and are only hurting men, as well as that all boys are crazy and impolite. Kimmel agrees saying that the idea, expressed by Bioldulph, that all “boys will be uncivilized animals,” is insulting and disgraceful. Gurian feels that teaching boys that they are not supposed to be rambunctious is only sending a message that “boyhood is defective,” and that to give them this feeling would give reason for boys to be insecure, depressed and ultimately more likely to commit suicide.
I am slightly confused because Gurian says that no matter what any feminist says or tries to do that “boys will be boys,” but he also believes that corporal punishment for boys, what he calls “spanking responsibly,” should be allowed at home and at school. Bioldulph agrees that boyhood should be accepted for what it is, but goes against himself saying that boys should start school a year later than girls so they can be “on par intellectually”. Both of these psychologists, to me, seem to be contradicting themselves.
Another pair of psychologists, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, feel that boyhood is less biologically influenced and more culturally influenced, and that the difference in emotional paths is due to unearned male privileged. They also recommend that we “allow boys to be boys,” but that they be treated with respect, that discipline should be allowed to build and guide boys in the right direction, and that manhood should be modeled “as emotionally attached.” Kimmel feels this is an effective and feminist approach, because girls should also be treated in the same way. Kindlon and Thompson believe that boys should not only not be taught about their nearly inevitable privilege, but that it should not be addressed at all and ignored.
In spite of the opinions of Gurian and Bioldulph, Kimmel explains that feminism, rather than “wreck[ing] boyhood,” should encourage men of all ages to be more emotionally expressive, empathetic, and to be more constructive with emotional outbursts than violent, “and feminism demands the kinds of societal changes that makes this growth possible.” I am finding myself completely agreeing with him. The fact is that men are advantaged, looked up to, and favored in our society, and saying that masculinity means being emotionally unavailable and forced to “suffer in silence” is seemingly inconsistent with reality. All that feminists are trying to say is that “boys and men can do a little better.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Are Little Boys Made Of? - notes (incomplete)

"Because of feminism, they say, America has been so focused on girls that we've forgotten about the boys."

"By minimizing the importance of basic biological differences, and establishing girls' standards as the ones all children much follow, feminists have wrecked boyhood."

"We've misunderstood boy biology, and cultural meddling - especially by misinformed women - won't change a thing."

"Boy Code" "Mask of masculinity"
    -boys must put on an image of vein independent, brave, and invulnerable
    -teaches that boys are supposed to be in power
    - men's association with violence originates in "the fear of shame and ridicule, and the overbearing need to prevent others from laughing at oneself by making they weep instead."

"Guarian's books disingenuously show one boy of color on each over, but there's nary a mention of them inside."
    -reminds me of Professor Bogad's story of her 'intersectionality slip' with the picture behind her saying "I AM A MAN"
    -also reminded me of Barbara Smith's, Racism and Women's Studies, and how she, a black woman, was invited to speak at a feminists convention, and no one that spoke before her recognized racism as an important topic of discussion


Repudiate, reprimand, punish, ANTIFEMINISM
       -Gurian suggests corporal punishment at home and school, "spanking responsibly"
       -Bioldulph suggests that boys should start school a year later than girls so they would be "on par intellectually"
       "boys will by uncivilized animals" - author, as a male, is insulted by this.
      -Kindlon and Thompson suggest that we "allow boys to be boys," accepting high levels of activity, language, using discipline to guide and build, modeling manhood as emotionally attached
      - **do not address male entitlement

--> the culture of men being "in charge" and following the "boy code" results in men becoming emotionally unavailable, suffering in silence, and being "silent witnesses to acts of cruelty to others"

"Feminism encourages men - and their sons - to be more emotionally open and express ice, to develop empathic skills, and to channel emotional outbursts away from violence. And feminism demands the kinds of societal changes that makes this growth possible"

"half of all teenage boys get into a physical fight each year" - seems REALLY high..

"raising boys to manhood means confronting racism, sexism, and homophobia - both in our communities and in ourselves."

""we believe that masculine violence is intentional, deliberate, and purposeful. It comes from an attempt by men and boys to create and sustain a system of masculine power and control that benefits them every minute of the day." Forget testosterone; it's sexism!"

Gilligan- "violence has far more to do with the cultural construction of manhood than it does with the hormonal substrates of biology."
   -"who, after all, has offered the most trenchant critique of that cultural construction but feminists?"

-Feminists feel that boys and men can do better.
  --> "offer possibility of a new boyhood and a new masculinity based on a passion for justice, a love of equality, and the expression of a full range of feelings."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Racism and Women's Studies ARGUMENT

      This article, by Barbara Smith, discusses racism in women's studies from the point of view of a black, lesbian woman. I wasn't sure how to feel about the article, and I reread it 3 or 4 times. Some of her points were really confusing to me, and I almost took some of it as her being racist towards white women! I'm sure thats not what I was supposed to get out of it, and I'm really interested to see what the other people that read this article felt about it.
     In the article she refers to herself and to other black women as "Third World Women". The fact that she refers to herself as a Third World woman really struck me. I searched her on wikipedia, and she was born in America, a "First World" country. She might be referring to her ancestors when she calls herself this, I don't know, but it doesn't seem right to me for someone who is demanding to not be generalized and put into a category when she is doing that to herself. I don't AT ALL mean this to say that being from a third world country means that you are worth less than anyone else, but it seems like she is putting herself down and trying to get the audience to pity her, which I personally don't feel is the right approach when trying to establish yourself as being equal.
     Another part in the article that bugged me was when she says that, "it's not white women's fault that they have been raised, for the most part, not knowing how to talk to black women, not knowing how to look us in the eye and laugh with us...what is your fault is making no serious effort to change old patters of contempt- to look at how you still believe yourselves to be superior to Third World". I am a white woman, and I was certainly raised to accept people of all different backgrounds. Talking to black people doesn't make me feel any more uncomfortable than I feel talking to white people, or anyone for that matter. She is stereotyping white women to say that all white women are racist towards black people, and she is stereotyping black people to say that they should be talked to "differently" than others, like its a skill or something that should be specifically taught.
     I agreed with her definition of feminism saying that it is "the political theory and practice that struggles to free all women," which is the same thing that we are learning in class about intersectionality. In the next paragraph, however, she says to white women that "racism affects your chances for survival too". I have no idea what she means by this. Is she saying that white people are in danger if they are racist? Who are they in danger from?
     The last piece that bothered me was when she says, "I feel at this point that it is not only about getting Third World women's materials ion the curriculum, although this must be done/ This has been happening, and it is clear that racism still thrives, just as the inclusion of women's materials in a college curriculum does not prevent sexism from thriving... we are at a stage of having to take some frightening risks." This is really pessimistic to me, and I feel like she basically saying, "oh, good try teaching people about racism and sexism, but its never going to change anything. Sure you can teach it more, but white people are still racist and people are still sexist, so whats the point?" This just seemed really negative, and like she feels there is no hope for change, but at the same time demanding change. What are the frightening risks she is talking about???
    I feel that she contradicts herself way too much and in very subtle ways. For example, a tiny detail that I noticed is that "white women" is never capitalized but she always chooses to capitalize "Black women" and "Third World women". That is such a little detail, but it sent me a pretty clear message. I personally didn't enjoy this article very much, and I feel like I got a different message than what was intended for this assignment, but I can't help how I understood it. I'm really curious to hear how others feel about it in class.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sorry, Obama!

Sorry, Obama, but Romney absolutely crushed you in the debate last night.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

stubborn parents!

     When it comes to politics in my family, I only ever hear my mom and my brothers voicing their opinions. My oldest brother Jimmy, who now lives in New Orleans, was the biggest instigator of political arguments at the dinner table. My mom has completely opposite views on almost every issue in politics than Jimmy, so as you can maybe imagine, dinner at the Bold residence was usually more screaming and fighting than enjoyable dining. I have pretty much never heard my dad talk about politics and presidential elections; he and I usually keep silent and try to enjoy our food. Unfortunately,  I have learned from growing up in this situation to hate pretty much all conversation about politics. This class has been the first positive experience I've had with talking about presidential elections and it has opened my eyes to political discussions. Even if I still don't say much in conversations, I'm beginning to enjoy listening to people talk about it, and I find it interesting what different people have to say.
      When I was researching Obama's views on reproductive rights for the blog a few weeks ago, my mom saw me reading an article on the computer and a big picture of Obama was visible from where she was. She asked me, "Are they having you research Obama for one of your classes?" I said, "No, were supposed to pick an issue, pick a candidate, and find out their stance on the issue". In response, and to almost no surprise, she said, "oh it's good you're learning about Obama. It's important to know who your enemy is." "...yeah... thanks, Mom."
     My Dad and I sometimes drive to Providence together in the morning because he works at Brown. The other morning he turned on the radio to a station that was having a heated discussion about the election. I have always been curious about how my Dad feels about politics, and because he works at Brown I ignorantly figured that he must be pretty liberal. I asked him who he was going to vote for in the upcoming election and I was shocked when he said, "A.B.O.: ANYBODY BUT OBAMA!"
I had no idea.. yikes!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence QUOTES/CONNECTIONS

From what I understand and can wrap my head around from the article Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence by Adrienne Rich, is that to some people, “lesbian existence” is merely “temporary” and it is a psychological complex experienced by a woman. Many people accept the Oedipus complex for young boys because it is the first sign of a male being heterosexual, and eventually the boy should be able to move on from it, and not actually wish to kill his father and marry his mother. In the article, Nancy Chodorow expresses that lesbians have experienced the “reverse” Oedipal complex as children. She explains that while boys learn from it to associate male-female relationships as an “exclusive, primary relationship,” “the mother remains a primary internal object [to the lesbian], so that heterosexual relationships are on the model of a nonexclusive, second relationship for her”. I have never thought of lesbianism in this way before, and while I recognize lesbianism as being just as legitimate as any other sexual orientation, I found this view on it really interesting.
Another view on “lesbian existence” that was evident in the article is that lesbian women are just denying men out of spite for something a specific man or men in general have done to harm them in some way. Rich explains through examples from other relevant texts that, “women are “innately” sexually oriented only toward men, and… that the lesbian is simply acting out of her bitterness toward men,” so for a women to be sexually attracted to another woman is unnatural because women cannot reproduce with women alone, and that for a women to be emotionally attached to another women is only the result of men being emotionally unavailable. For so many people this understanding is as far as their discussion about homosexuality goes. Since biologically, the goal of all life in general is to be able live long enough to reproduce, even the “idea” of lesbianism shouldn’t “exist,” and the inability for reproduction to result from a homosexual relationship is the sole reason for it being “wrong.” This is where I feel “compulsory heterosexuality” stems.
It is obviously true that lesbians cannot naturally produce a child, nor can gay men, however, I do not feel that it is only biologically instilled in people that the only legitimate relationship is between a man and a woman, as even Ann Romney expressed in her speech at the Republican National Convention, saying that she and Mitt share a “REAL marriage”. Everywhere you look there are advertisements and messages that condition the mind into believing that heterosexuality is the only right way. This is even including where many women directly get advice on their health and wellbeing: the doctor’s office.
Almost everything that a medical professional advises to women is about how her health will in turn affect the health of her potential children. Rich sources pamphlets written by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English called Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers and Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness, summarizing their thesis that, “advice given to American women by male health professionals, particularly in the areas of marital sex, maternity, and child care, has echoed the dictates of the economic marketplace and the role capitalism has needed women to play in production and/or reproduction.This section drove me absolutely crazy. The more I thought about it, the more bizarre and utterly inescapable it became to me. From what I understand, the economy needs women to be heterosexual so that they will marry and reproduce with men, so that from even before their children are born they can make money off of things marketed to pregnant women; from items such as maternity clothes to special diets to headphones specifically made for a pregnant belly so an unborn child can listen to classical music. From the day their children are born, industries will make even more money off selling diapers, baby toys, baby clothes, baby food, baby lotion, and hundreds of nearly pointless items designed specifically for babies. Companies will continuously make money off parents, especially clothing companies around the ages where growth spurts occur and at the start of every school year. This cycle never ends because eventually these children will be adults, they will almost inevitably be brainwashed by advertisements to buy insanely expensive diamond rings, have insanely expensive weddings and then have even more babies, allowing big industries to make even more money. AHHH! We are in quite the unavoidable pickle, my friends.
I originally had a video up here of a comedy stand up by Bill Hicks on marketing, but i decided it might be inappropriate to post to a class assignment! I personally find it hilarious but I can see how someone could easily be offended by it. if you want to watch it all you have to search on youtube is "Bill Hicks marketing"

Monday, September 24, 2012


       The PBS website called People Like Us showed very stereotypical views of different American classes, and it bothered me a little bit. The living room game was entertaining but I don’t think it really accomplishes much in telling what class we are from. There aren’t many selections to choose between for each category of furniture, such as pet, television and wall decorations, and it is very obvious what the judges will say for each object you select to have in your house. I knew exactly what they were going to say about my selections, which I made as close to the real objects in my house as possible, so I personally didn’t get much out of it. My boyfriend, James, and I were playing around with the living room game and trying to make it look exactly like his house (which it really does! …Except for the beer poster, which are actually band posters in his house, and the electronics shelf, which we decided was the best option to represent his instruments and amps.. He also doesn't have a dog but thought the Elk Hound was cute. A "noble beast" they called it..) Most of the things were said to belong in a trailer park, and according to the game this came as no surprise. The fact of the matter is that he isn’t trailer park trash at all, and I feel this game only makes people think more stereotypically and unfairly.

       Also on this website were “stories” from “real Americans” who told about where they came from in terms of class and how they got to the class they’re in now. Most of the stories ended in how these people are so distraught and how their families don’t enjoy their company anymore or even acknowledge their existence, either because they ended up wealthier than themselves, or because they denied their parents' money and wanted to live simply. My boyfriend and our friend Jay were reading these stories with me, and all we came up with as a lesson from them was to stay in whatever class you’re in, because if you try to break free from it people will inevitable find problems with you. None of us actually feel that way, but the stories, to us, didn’t portray much else.  Jay, a very wise young fellow, said something that I thought was relevant to the lessons we got out of the living room game and the stories from Americans. He said, “There are two ways to get rich: get more or want less.”
    Social class is a feminist issue in many ways, but I really agreed with Sue's example of it dealing with customer service in clothing stores. She said that she and her friend went into an expensive women's clothing store, Cache, and her friend was not dressed as professionally as she was. The sales associates were rude to her friend and were more than happy to help Sue. I have experienced this situation myself, not looking like I have enough money to be in a store, and have been treated unfairly. No matter what a female wears she will be judged for it by both sexes; positively by some but probably more often negatively. I like to think that I don't care what people think about how I dress or look, but that is most likely just a result of me actually caring. Some days I come to school in crappy, ripped, but super comfortable jeans and a t-shirt, and other days I'll get more dressed up just because "I felt like it" that day. But the days I feel like dressing up more than others are no doubt a result of the pressures women face about their appearance, if they have enough money to keep up with current fashion, and where they want people to think that they are coming from. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Obama on Reproductive Rights HYPERLINKS

In this article, NARAL: Pro-Choice America, or formerly the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, fully supports President Barack Obama’s stance on women’s reproductive rights and the benefits that his Affordable Care Act will ensure.  The ACA will allegedly provide more and better health insurance coverage of maternity and prenatal care, cancer screenings, mammograms and contraception without a copay. Obama supports “medically accurate sex education,” and during his term he cut funding for “abstinence-only” programs, which have been shown to be incredibly unsuccessful.
He believes that women are the only ones who should be able to make their own medical decisions, especially on contraception and abortion. He has promised to reject two extreme anti-choice laws that the U.S. House of Representatives passed, one saying that rape victims must prove to an Internal Revenue Service that they were actually sexually assaulted before having the option of abortion, and the other saying that hospitals should refuse emergency abortions to women who would otherwise die. During the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Obama stated that, “we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dream.”

I am not informed on Mitt Romney’s stance on reproductive rights, but I am curious to hear about it in class this week. I support the views Obama has been said to have in this article, and if he is elected back into presidency, I hope that he will follow through with the promises he has made to the women of America. However, this is not to say that Obama has won my vote.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Response to Marilyn Frye's "Oppression" REFLECTION/QUOTES

            Oppression on women's sexuality can be terrifying and overwhelming. It has far too often led many women to feel guilty and deserving of all kinds of names such as "whore" or "prude," and in more serious circumstances as being underserving of legal rights, letting themselves fall right through the cracks of the justice system. 
           In Marilyn Frye’s article, Oppression, she suggests that anyone who is considered by the general population to be oppressed that is sighted smiling and being cheerful is doing so as a way of showing everyone else that they do not feel oppressed.  However, the oppressed are being held to a double standard where if they are viewed to be acting in an unpopular manner then they must be suffering the burden of oppression, and are only acting in accordance with the label that the oppressing society has pinned to them. I agree that this double standard held against oppressed people is unreasonable and Frye's choice of an example relating to feminism is spot on. She uses the unfortunately common occurrence of women being labeled as “sluts” for being sexually active or as “prudes” for abstaining. How can a woman win? I remember one day I was talking with my mom about being judged by men, and I was caught off guard by how bluntly she communicated the same idea. She said, 
           “If you sleep with a guy they’ll talk to their friends about you like you’re a slut, but if you don’t sleep with a guy they’ll say you’re a frigid bitch! So who really gives a damn what they think!”
    Frye also effectively sums it up by saying that young women “are in a bind where neither sexual activity nor sexual inactivity is all right.”
    She goes further into the mess as she talks about how women who are raped that have been consensually sexually active in the past must have actually liked it because they are known to like sex, and "weren't really raped at all." On the other side, women who are raped that are openly abstinent must also have liked it, as if she used the word rape as an excuse because “she is supposedly ‘repressed and frustrated’” Having been sexually active and sexually assaulted, I know this situation and its consequences far too well. It is extremely unfortunate that in the most common incidences of rape, men are too often given the benefit of the doubt because proving in court that first degree sexual assault occurred is very difficult, especially in situations most commonly experienced involving alcohol or other drugs. What is more disappointing is that according to Day One, Rhode Island’s Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center, “more than 59% of all sexual assaults go unreported to police.” 

 This is usually because the victim often feels guilty, and in fear of being harshly judged and getting trapped in the web that Frye discusses, they find it easier to try to pretend it didn’t happen and keep quiet. I once overheard a conversation being held at a party about rape that I could never forget. I’ll pose to you the same question that they were so stuck on: ask yourself,
Is it worse for someone to be wrongly accused of sexual assault and end up being punished criminally, or for someone to get away with sexual assault because the victim said nothing?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner (2004) QUOTES

The first piece in this article that really stood out to me was in dealing with the issue of contraceptives for women and married men. Men were allowed contraceptives in some situations, but distributing birth control to women was illegal.
 “In 1916 Sanger, her sister Ethel Byrne, and Fania Mindell opened the first birth-control clinic for underprivileged women in Brooklyn, New York, only to be arrested and indicted under New York’s Comstock Law, which banned the distribution of birth control and birth-control instructions…Many doctors prescribed condoms to protect men from sexually transmitted diseases when they had extramarital or premarital sexual intercourse, but wouldn’t prescribe them for birth control for married men.”
The fact that Doctors, who were all men at that time, didn’t want to supply married men with birth control, to me, shows how women were looked at as reproductive machines. Once men were married they were encouraged to have many children and their wives were forced to do so. The quote suggests that even if a man did not wish to have any more children with his wife, he would still not be “prescribed” condoms. I feel that this law most likely encouraged men to cheat on their wives so that they were able to have sex without the ties of children that sexual intercourse comes with.
One topic in Rowe’s article that I felt personally connected with discussed women’s sexual appearance, and the ways that different women viewed feminism because of it. On page 25 is a quote from The Good Wife’s Guide, a text from 1955, now credited to Housekeeping Monthly, saying,
“Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work weary people.”
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this. I rarely put on makeup at all or do my hair in any special manner, let alone would I ever “prepare myself” 15 minutes before my husband would come home everyday so he could stand to look at me. I’m glad that I can read that text present-day and laugh at it rather than actually feel obligated to follow its ridiculous instructions. My favorite section came from page 30 where Ellen-? is discussing how today, women often try to be sexy as a way to have their own kind of subliminal control over men. She states,
“Young women see the disapproval of extremely sexy clothing as giving up one of the powers women have. I didn’t even know this was happening.”
After I graduated high school in 2010, I took a year off to work before starting at RIC last fall. Two of the four jobs that I held during that year were at a restaurant called Casey’s Bar and Grill as a hostess, busser and food runner, and at the women’s clothing store, Wet Seal, whose main target are teens and 20-somethings. On separate occasions, both employers sent me home from work to change my clothes because I was not dressed sexy enough as a hostess at Casey’s or as a sales associate at Wet Seal. The manager at Wet Seal actually said to me that my appearance was not, “appealing enough in the eye of the customer [their] establishment hopes to gain the support of.” I was obviously offended, but especially now with the recent scandal over Urban Outfitters’ ‘back-to-school’ t-shirts, I gladly went home and never to return, confident that I was not one of Wet Seal’s or Urban Outfitters’ target consumers.
I found this article to be a really good reminder of the issues women face everyday without even realizing, and a great introductory piece to start the semester. The issues raised in this article on birth control, marriage and a married man’s right to the number of children he wants makes me wonder if love was even a factor in marriage in the past. Also, with the growing number of pregnancies of unmarried couples today, is marriage now becoming the legal bond making having children socially acceptable? Around 11 million women in the United States take a daily birth control pill, including myself, many without ever thinking that at one time, taking contraceptives was illegal, and that someday it could possibly be made illegal again. I am excited to talk in class about birth control, and to see what everyone thinks about its future depending on who wins the upcoming election. Other than the issue of women’s rights, are there environmental consequences that would lead to the possible illegalization of birth control pills?
Here is a video I found on when i searched "women as reproductive machines." HA!