Thursday, July 22, 2010

A feminist

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

The Pill

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

Self Defense

By the time I came to college, I had already been a victim of sexual harassment and assault. I was not raped or beaten, but was approached by an older man and did not know how to say no or stop. I was not about to let a similar event repeat itself or to get myself into a worse situation. Several of the girls in my hallway and I decided to join a self defense class run by the JMU police department. We would meet every Tuesday for three hours. This was one of the best things I have ever done, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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

He Hasn't Asked You Yet?

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

The Buisness Woman

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

What kind of opression do you have?

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


As young and confused middle schoolers, we are all obsessed with being normal. We buy the clothes that are "in," we listen to the cool music, and we make sure to get a crush on the right boy. As long as we blend in with the crowd we can make it though this awful phase of changing bodies and getting actual homework assignments from teachers. But what about the little boys who listen to the right music, and play the right sports, but get a crush on Tom his teammate, or the little girl who shops at the right stores and wears her hair the cool way, but starts to care for the cool girl in school more than the cool boy? Aren't they normal? They look normal. We are told that to fall in love with a boy when your a girl is the only way to go. Girls don't like girls like they like boys. It's not normal.
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.


After watching Joy Nash and her fat rant, I'm ready to come out and say: I'm fat. I'm 5'8" and weight 174 lbs. I play water polo and horse back ride, and my favorite flavor of ice-cream is vanilla. I've struggled with my body for a long time. I've always been a bigger girl, but it wasn't until college that I realized how much it bothered me. I hated my body, and I hated that I wore a size 14-16. I felt embarrassed to go shopping, and to get desert at D Hall. The worst part of being big for me is trying to find bracelets. I can only get the kinds that have clasps, because the kinds that slip on wont fit over my hands. I know I'm fat, but I'm big too. We measured the the length of my shoulders against one of my guy friends and they were the same size. I'm not a small girl. I came to college weighing 184 lbs. I literally ate my feelings and they seemed to show up in my stomach and thighs. When I came to JMU, I looked around and said I am really really fat. So when my roommate asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with her I said yes, and I stated to get salads at D hall. I lost a lot of weight in a healthy way, but as I began to lose more weight I felt more insecure. This isn't right. I'm supposed to feel happier when I'm skinny. The truth is I didn't. I started to find more and more things I hated about myself. The way my thighs looked when I sat down, and how they stuck to the plastic desks in class. Fat rolls created by bras became my worst enemy. I was not happy, and it showed.
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

All Blocked In

We are all equal in this country. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe in this statement. The majority of the wait staffs at dinners and restaurants are women. African-Americans and hispanics are the dominant races seen in construction work and landscaping. While white men are the faces of huge companies like GM and Microsoft. We may be equal in the eyes of the law, but some of us are more equal than others.
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

My Privilege

We are all given advantages and disadvantages. Some of us have a talent for playing sports, while others can to math problems with their eyes closed, but it seems that some advantages are valued more than others. I'm guessing that the kid who loves math was not as popular as the quarterback on the football team in High School. The quarterback, blessed with his size and throwing capabilities, was privileged as high school royalty. Privilege is the advantages people have over others based on their status or position in society. Because of his position as quarterback he was popular, or a member of high-high-school society. Let's sat that several years later the strange kid that loved math invented a new computer programing software, and the high school football star wrecked his knees, and is now working as a security guard in the mall of his home town. The kid with the math skills gained advantage through success, while the football players status lowered because of his physical injuries.
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.

Are We a Family?

In today's society, the definition of family is changing. There are families with divorced parents, single parents, families that have parents of the same sex, and many more. But what makes a family a family? In this course we defined family as a part of a kinship system or patterns of a relationship that defines family forms. This definition is very broad because the idea of a family is not concrete. For example, an adopted child might not consider his/her birth mother "family," even though they are biologically related. Families are built from relationships both biologically and emotionally. A family can start with a marriage, or with a birth of a child. Even without children, by our definition married couples are considered family.
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.