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!