Thursday, July 22, 2010
This is the last blog post for this class and I would just like to say that the things that I gave learned here have really opened my mind. I am now a declared feminist and have no problem saying it to anyone. Although there are still many stereotypes associated with being a feminist, I think that by educating people about the true nature of feminism those stereotypes can be dispelled. Fear and out lash against a group of people is mostly caused by ignorance. We all fear the unknown, and this fear can be very harmful. I think by educating people about ideas like Equal Rights Laws, and sexual harassment, and the media's perception of beauty will help to irradiate those prejudice thoughts.
We also discussed living with integrity as a feminist. The first aspect of living this way is standing up for your beliefs. If someone comes up to you and expresses their views that they think a woman's place is in the kitchen, speak up! You have the right to speak and you should use it. We can't change anything if we don't challenge it. Keep in mind a world without gender based discrimination. Although some people might say it is impossible, you can't change it until you try. I also thing that keeping an open mind towards people and their views will help to maintain integrity. Listening to people who disagree with you can be very enlightening. Find out why a person thinks what they do, and seeing it from their perspective might help to understand the cause of views.
Feminist are not just butch lesbians, or radical women who hate men. Feminism comes in all shapes and sizes and I think it is important to remember it.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I during the school year I crack open my blue packet of birth control pills every night at 11:30 pm, and pop one of those little tablets into my mouth without a second thought. That pill is my protection. I, unlike many women, discussed going on birth control with my mother. I was going to college where the chance of rape and sexual assault is much higher, and I didn't want to take any chances there. My mother was very supportive of my decision to go on the pill, but warned me about the side effects. I think her support was also rallied by the fact that I had a boyfriend at the time. She didn't want me to be pregnant anymore than I did. Happy on the pill I enjoyed the perks. I knew exactly when my period was coming, and I used 60% less feminine products. I didn't have cramps and my other PSM symptoms decreased dramatically. Other than random emotional highs and lows, birth control worked well for me.
Eventually my relationship went south, and I was a single girl on birth control. My mother began asking me if I was still on it. When I told her that I was, she didn't seem as supportive of my decisions. She asked me why I was still on it? Besides being very awkward I was somewhat shocked by the question. Birth control gave me a sense of security. I felt protected, and liked experiencing periods that wouldn't take over my life for that week. After explaining this to my mother, she still was not happy.
Although I am not currently on the pill, my mother still warns me against taking it again. She doesn't like the idea of keeping my body on additional hormones. My mother and I are very close and I don't like upsetting her, but when it comes to my birth control the moment I arrive back on campus I will be taking it. I'm not ready to risk my body in that way, and although I feel safe at JMU you never know what can happen and I want to know that I am protected in at least one way.
Monday, July 19, 2010
We learned how to defend our selves from attacks coming from the front and behind. They also taught us how to get a man off of us while we were lying down. We could block punches and successfully perform a knee to groin defensive maneuver, which was all of our favorites. The greatest part about this program was the last day. Two or more police officers dressed up in head to toe padding so we could practice our moves for real. They looked like human sized transformers, and in order to complete the course we had to fend them off in three different situations. 1) attack from head on 2) As we pretended to get money from an ATM we were confronted by two men and had to fend them off 3) we stood with our eyes close while one of the padded officers talked in our ears and then eventually grabbed us from behind and took us to the ground. Every single girl successfully got out of every situation. After the assimilation, we ordered pizza and watched what we had done. One of the trainers video taped the session, so we could see how powerful we were. Girls no bigger than 5'5" were lifting full grown men off the ground with their forceful need to groin hits.
I feel completely confident in my abilities to get out of a sticky situation and I would strongly suggest taking this course or one like it.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Women have always been expected to marry. Marriage was even used to keep the peace between two countries. If one king wanted to please another he would offer a marriage proposal between his daughter and the other king's son. This is what happened with Henry V and Kathrine of Aragon. Unfortunately, this marriage did not work out so well.
Marrilee was also meant to provide stability for women. You wanted to find a man that will take care of you, and many people are still looking for that kind of security out of a marriage. The divorce rate is this country is very high, and most likely many people are getting married for the wrong reasons, like money.
Temporary Assistance To Needy Families (TANF) is a welfare reform act that works to help poor families rise out of poverty. This was done by encouraging work and marriage in the family. Work is necessary to get out of poverty, but why suggest marriage? Marriage was thought to bring security, but that is not always the case. The family just become dependent on the marriage, and most of the time the husband to bring home the bacon. By the government shifts from political and economic concerns to social ones they keep the "cycle of dependence" in orbit.
Marriage is not a secure way to ensure economic safety, and it should not be used as a method to avoid finical strain or to cure it. Marriage is not something that should be used as a means to an end, and we would all do well to remember it!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Men have dominated the finical workforce, but now women are making an entrance and fighting their way to the top. The United States has come a long way in defending women in the work force. The Equal Pay Act passed in 1963 made it illegal for men and women to be paid different salaries for the same job. A year later Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed which made it illegal to discriminate hiring a person based on their gender. It was later ratified to included that denying a women a job or firing her because of pregnancy was also illegal. It was again changed to include sexual harassment as a form of discrimination.
Sexual Harassment is "unwelcome sexual advances or request for sexual behaviors." Unfortunately sexual harassment is all to common in the work place. There are two separate kinds of sexual harassment. Quid pro Quo is "submission to conduct of a sexual nature that is made explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of an individual's employment." This could be as simple as a boss saying, "Margaret we would love to hire you, and we expect that you dress in an intriguing way." Many women are asked to dress in cretin ways for their jobs which is often highly sexualized. Another form of sexual harassment is hostile work environment this happens when "conduct of a sexual nature unresaonably interferes with an individuals work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment." Maybe the person in the next cubical over keeps asking Sarah out and she can't get her work done because she is trying to avoid him, or because he followers her around. Sexual harassment comes in many forms, and it is all too common.
This is also enforced by the media perception of business women. They are usually depicted as women wearing skirt suits that are a tight fit, and glasses. The models used are always quite attractive, and put in sexualized posses with their legs crossed, or their heads resting on their hands. Sexual harassment in the work place is a big problem, which is mirrored in the media.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I have talked a lot about oppression and privilege in this blog site, but I have always talked about it from the perspective of an American female. I was outraged by the fact that women weren't allowed to join the Army until the 1970's, and that women do not receive equal pay in modern day society. It is true that American Women face oppression everyday, but we often forget how privilaged we really are.
On a Global Feminist sight, Indira Rana Mager wrote down her story of female oppression. She had been raped by her father-in-law and sent to prison because she had slept with another man, and had been accused of seeking out an abortion. She has already served seven years for her "crime." We are so lucky to live in a country that seeks to protect women from this kind of crime, and allows women to chose for themselves. Mager is in jail because of her rape without a means to take care of her son.
We still need to fight for rights like equal pay, but it is important to remember that many women are not as fortunate. Adultery can be seen as a criminal offense in many places throughout the world rather than being frowned upon like in America.
Global Feminism is an expansion of thought. We need to not only lobby for equal rights within America, but take into consideration the plights of women who are being imprisoned for abortion, adultery, and many other offenses. It is not enough to change the laws forcefully, but we need to inspire a change of thought. Many people believe that abortion should be a criminal offense, but should Mager be arrested because she allegedly tried to get rid of her rapists child? It is not enough to change laws, but we need to understand the definition of feminism in different countries. Global Feminism is all about expansion of thought, and finding equal rights for all woman, not just American.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
This kind of thinking has been hurting boys and girls for centuries. It's called heteronormativity, which means that to be normal is to be a heterosexual. It's what is desired and expected sexual orientation. Guess what, being straight does not make you normal. Look at Marilyn Manson, he's straight, but he is not normal. We are all obsessed with fitting in, but none of us really do. The secret is we are not all alike, and we all don't like each other. The trick is finding the people who you feel comfortable with, and who you can be your normal person with. If Manson can find his crowd, you definitely have a good chance of finding yours.
So weather your gay or straight you are still normal because being normal doesn't mean anything at all.
It took a long time for me to feel comfortable with being 10-20 lbs lighter. I know that I look much better and feel healthier, but I still struggle with saying, "Hey it's ok, so I'm still a double digit size. I look good." Being comfortable with yourself is not easy. We all say that we should love ourselves, and we should, but it's important to remember that we can love ourselves and still get healthy. I wish someone had to me that it's ok to struggle with truly liking yourself, it's worth the hardship. I work everyday on staying healthy, I do better on some days that others, but I always try and remember that I'm ok with me.
Watching Nash was very inspiring. I think she is right on, and I hope that more people can hear her message.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I already discussed what privilege is, and that white people especially are privileged because of their race. This is called White Privilege. There is a distinction placed between privileged and White Privileged because White Privilege is a little more complex and exclusive. White Privilege is "a right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities." White Privilege explicitly pertains to the advantages given to people because of their race. For example, because she is white she can live in this neighborhood. Although it is illegal now to discriminate against someone based on their race, it is still an all to frequent occurrence.
Now I know what you're thinking. Why is she talking about White Privilege in a Women's Studies blog? Privilege is based off of oppression. It is objective, and just like people of color women did not have a choice. People are born into a race, and people are born a boy or a girl. No one gets to choose, but once they are born into a race or gender they are given or denied privilege. It's like an involuntary membership to a club that you have to go to, and is impossible to get rid. The Birdcage Analogy explains this. Oppression is made up of a bunch of don'ts or can't, and lets say that each one of those don't and can'ts is a wire, and all the wires are joined. One don't leads to another don't, so those wires become linked, until all the wires come together forming a cage of don'ts and can'ts.
This particular image did not work for me, so here's how I understand it. I think of a brick wall sealed together with mortar. Each one of those bricks is a stereotype, or a lack of privilege, and they just start to pile up on one another until they from this big wall that you can't climb over or walk around. This is oppression, but what I like about the brick wall metaphor is that the wall can be deconstructed and so can oppression. The tick is that it is hard work, and you can't do it by yourself.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Everyone can be discriminated against based on their physical mobility, metal capacity, race, gender, sexuality, looks, and much more. Privilege is not something that can be earned, nor is it stable. Like in the example or the football player and the mathematician, both people experienced privilege, but at different times in their lives and for different reasons.
I have experienced privilege in many ways. I am a middle-class white American, and because of those three aspects I have had access to a private education, and expensive pastimes like horseback riding and boating. I am very lucky to have had these experiences and the opportunities that have been presented to me because of them. I do not expect to be privilege throughout my whole life, but there are certain aspects about me that will result in my continuous privileged state, like my race. I will always be white, and because of that privileged, but when I gradate from college I will be on my own financially, and will no longer hold the title of middle class. Privilege will come and go, but it is not often fair.
Marriage plays a key role in the traditional idea of family. In many societies, families begin with a marriage. Marriages act as an official statement of commitment and responsibility towards one another. However, what about families that are unable to obtain a marriage license? Gay marriage is a highly debated topic, even though it is legal in some states. There are many families that are unable to marry and make that commitment to one another. Although there are alternatives for Gay couples like civil unions and domestic partnership, there is a stigma attached with marriage. The idea of marriage is meant to bring security to the family. In American society we take marriage vows very seriously, and try to uphold the promises that were made. Marriage is a key element to family in America, and it helps to establish a stronger bond.
Although marriage is not necessary to have a family is tends to make the family seem official. This idea is reflected in step-families. For example, two people with children from previous marriages decide to get married, and new sets of relationships are formed. There are now step brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. But what happens if the parents divorce? The children are no longer related, but are they still family? I don't have an answer to this question, but if anyone else would like to comment and tell me what they think, I would really like to discuss what their "family" situation is in this situation.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
In American culture today, we are obsessed with fat. We like to cook with it, we try to loose it, and some of us try to gain it. Radio stations like PBS warn us about the raising obesity rates, especially among American children. TV is filled with ideas about fat. There are tons of TV shows that surround the idea of being fat. There's shows like The Biggest Looser, and Dace Your Ass Off that show case large people and their struggle to lose weight. ABC Family just launched their new summer sires Huge staring Nikki Blonsky, from Hairspray. Huge takes place at Camp Victory, a camp designed to help overweight teens get healthy. The catch comes when the star of the show, Willamina (Nikki Blonsky) declares that she doesn't want to lose weight but gain it. Why should she have to change herself when she likes who she is?
This show offers a very different perspective on body perception and what makes a person beautiful. I watched the season premiere of this show last Tuesday, and was really impressed. TV has never addressed fat like this. We get a look into the lives and feelings of very overweight teens, and start to understand "fat" a little better. One female camper post pictures of fashion models and titles them as "Thinspriation." We are always encouraged to be thin. The media, and fashion magazine use models that tend to be stick thin as their spokes person or representative. We idolize thinness, and look down upon fat. I think this show will be an extremely good look into America's perception of beauty, and how people perceive themselves.
Before the second wave movement, women were had become isolated. There was not a lot of discussion happening about women’s oppression and position in society, but that soon changed. Radical Feminists in particular adopted the practice of hosting Consciousness Raising Groups, or as the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union (CWLU) refers them, CR Groups. CR Groups consist of a group of women and a topic. Women come together and discuss things like their role in the family or workplace, or even about political issues like abortion. The idea behind CR groups is to get women talking to each other, and break away from isolation.
CWLU hopes to inspire discussions about “the ideas and actions that helped women liberate each other from oppressive beliefs and old social habits.” CWLU encourages women everywhere to start talking. They eve have a FQA section for college students, and a list of colleges that have already started chapters of their own. I think it would be great if JMU started their own form of CR Groups. Our school is mostly made up of female students, and I think we could come up with some really great topics to discuss. JMU is a great school, and I love coming here, but even in some of my classes I feel that I’m being treated differently because I am a woman.
I think starting CR Groups at college campus would benefit a lot of women. As educated women discussing topics like Career vs. Family Responsibilities would be extremely beneficial.
Friday, June 25, 2010
One reason why I chose to write about Anthony was her versatility and dedication. Anthony was not just a suffragette. She was a school teacher, an abolitionist, and writer. She used all of her talents to gian equal rights for all, not just women. While doing some reading on her, I found this quote, and I think it describes the whole attitude of the First Wave. She said, "Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences." To me this quote means a lot, and I found it quite reliant to some of today's issues like Gay marriage.
A recent Supreme Court case questioned the public's ability to have access to the names of the people who signed a petition against gay marriage. People who signed this petition were afraid of "intimidation" and did not want their names released. However, the court ruled against keeping the names privet. They signed a public petition and the rest of the nation has a right see that petition names and all.
Like Anthony said, if you believe in something you have to fight for it regardless of social discrimination, and I have to agree. If you want to make a change you have to be willing to stand for it publicly, and that is exactly what Anthony, and other suffragettes did.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Today women in the army still face many obstacles. Monica Lin Brown an 18-year-old army medic was awarded the Silver Star in 2008. Brown was awarded this honor because she used her own body to shield wounded men while they were under fire. However, there was a lot controversy surrounding this award. Many people believed that the only reason she received this medal was because she was a woman. Including members of her own unit. Some people believed that if she had been a man and done the same thing then she would not have been given the medal. She would simply have been doing her duty. She is only the second woman to receive this honor.
I believe that Brown deserved this reward regardless of the fact that she was a women. At the time of the incident Brown only had 4 months of training and was the only medic on scene, and she was only 18. I think these three factors add to Brown's heroic deed. However in this video one of the men she saved was quoted to say that "women have no business being on the front line." Clearly there is still some animosity in the army related to women soldiers.
Here is the link that will show you an interview with Brown and some of the men who believe Brown received the medal because she was a woman.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
After some soul searching I realized that I was the one monitoring my own behavior. After years of watching Disney, I subconsciously acted passively and never challenge his thoughts. I realized that I was the one repressing myself. I acctually believed that I had to be passive in order to be liked. This was a big eye opener to me, and I realized the long term effect of my Disney and Chick-flick addiction. I don't blame the media for my lack of self-confidence, but that was the image I had in my head. I just forgot that those movies aren't real. I still feel embarrassed about how juvenile my beliefs were, but at the same time it made me realize how important Feminism is.
Being a Feminist doesn't mean you have to be marching up the steps of the capital screaming for equal pay, (although if you do that's great!), it means standing up for yourself.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I still smile when I look at this picture, and at the three beeming faces, but I wonder how happy our parents would be if we had been just a few years older. What if my neighbors were 13 and 14 year old boys who were trying on their neighbors dress? Would they have been so quick to pull out the camera?
Gender roles in America are pretty straight forward. Young boys are tough, mischievous, and active. While young girls are cute, charming, and little. Grils have tea parties while boys play monster trucks. But what about the little boys that play with Easy Bake Ovens, or the girls that want Hot Wheels for Christmas instead of Malibu Barbie? Does that make them any less of a boy or a girl?
No. The little girl is still a girl, but we might call her a tom boy, and the little boy is still a boy we might call him confused, yet what happens when they grow up? Suddenly the girl is butch, and the boy is effeminate.
Our society says that boys should be this way and girls should be that way. This is the way Americans have constructed our gender identity. Gender is not a concrete idea, in fact every culture has its own ideas about what is masculine and feminine. In Japan the famous tea ceremonies were only conducted by men until the late 1800's before the country began to welcome western influence. It was considered a very masculine job, and only male members of the higher class could enjoy. Nothing is inherently masculine or feminine, it is societies influences that tend to push aspects of life like work, looks, dress, and costumes to be associated with gender.