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September 29, 2008

Gender as a supply and demand notion

While writing our first assignment of defining race, gender class sex, I can across several papers that dealt with the gender issues and problems on a global scales. One of the articles dealt with horrific practice of infanticide or Sex-selective abortion. In Western countries it is done when a pregnant woman does an ultrasound scan and when she finds that it’s a girls she makes an abortion.

Consider infanticide or Sex-selective abortion in China and India According to a report in 2005, 90 million girls are estimated to be killed in seven Asian countries alone due, apparently, to prenatal sex selective infanticide. The most common method of killing children over the ages has been head trauma, strangulation and drowning. These practices are especially common in places where cultural norms value male children over female children. Because male stay home and take care of parents and females marry in and require a lot of money as a dowry. Then we can see a population as a social construction in a way to emphasize that its composition, and dynamics depends on cultural aspects of society that values males more than females.

Right now China experiences a shortage in girls due to China’s one-child policies and sex-selective abortions a means of population control, so there is a huge competition for future wifes. It is estimated that by 2020 there could be more than 35 million young "surplus males" in China and 25 million in India. So those courtiers are considering relaxing some of the policies to allow more females to be born.
So my main question here is it logical to think of gender or define it as societal value similar to supply and demand notion, do you think if the trend continues and there will be less females then the boys will have less value?

Gender as a supply and demand notion

While writing our first assignment of defining race, gender class sex, I can across several papers that dealt with the gender issues and problems on a global scales. One of the articles dealt with horrific practice of infanticide or Sex-selective abortion. In Western countries it is done when a pregnant woman does an ultrasound scan and when she finds that it’s a girls she makes an abortion.

Consider infanticide or Sex-selective abortion in China and India According to a report in 2005, 90 million girls are estimated to be killed in seven Asian countries alone due, apparently, to prenatal sex selective infanticide. The most common method of killing children over the ages has been head trauma, strangulation and drowning. These practices are especially common in places where cultural norms value male children over female children. Because male stay home and take care of parents and females marry in and require a lot of money as a dowry. Then we can see a population as a social construction in a way to emphasize that its composition, and dynamics depends on cultural aspects of society that values males more than females.

Right now China experiences a shortage in girls due to China’s one-child policies and sex-selective abortions a means of population control, so there is a huge competition for future wifes. It is estimated that by 2020 there could be more than 35 million young "surplus males" in China and 25 million in India. So those courtiers are considering relaxing some of the policies to allow more females to be born.
So my main question here is it logical to think of gender or define it as societal value similar to supply and demand notion, do you think if the trend continues and there will be less females then the boys will have less value?

October 2, 2008

Realizing the Truth

Since reading Roy’s Making Societies, and the movies in class, I have realized how uneducated I am about the true meaning of race, class, gender, and sexuality. It’s very ironic how true it is when we say that race, class, gender, and sexuality are socially constructed. Throughout my life I have always had certain views of race, class, gender, and sexuality-mostly what society has taught us and what my parents have passed down to me. I only saw gender as boy or girl, or race as being something that is real. Since I come from such a small town, before the University of Minnesota I had very little encounters with people who are different from me. Since coming to school here, my eyes have opened greatly, and since reading the text my eyes have opened even more. I will admit that I feel very stupid, and I think most of our population should feel uneducated as well as to the workings of our societies. We, as a whole, have created these systems and categories trying to pass them off as biological or genetic or part of life, when really, there is no evidence backing them. It really hit me hard on Tuesday when we watched the movie and they showed first the science class and everyone thought their DNA would match up to people with similar skin color and gender, people naturally put themselves with people who are “like them?, yet really we are all really alike. That is not to say our personalities and things like that are the same, but we as humans are all equal. It is truly sad however, that all humans do not get treated equally. Next in the movie whent they showed the different brains and body parts of whites vs. blacks it was disgusting to see how they distorted the images to make black people more animalistic, inferior to whites. What I do not understand is why white males, back in the 1700s felt that they needed to make themselves better than everyone else? No where in the bible, anywhere does it say that whites are better than everyone else, or that males are better than females, or that we should have rich people and poor people. In Making Societies, Roy gave great evidence proving how wrong and how socially constructed our views were even of things such as time and space. Before reading his book I never thought twice about how time was created or why it was created, I ignorantly thought that the days of the week and the months were just part of life-that they had existed since the beginning, yet once again I was proved wrong. In many other societies things such as time are different; in other societies they do not have races. It just astonishes me that we as a country and a society live by “rules? that are not necessarily accepted or expected elsewhere. I think that it is a reach to say that we could un-do what we have done, however, I definitely think hat we as citizens need to be better educated in the workings of our world, and we need to see the truth about so many things that come as second nature to us.

October 3, 2008

Race: a product of human invention

“The explanation for racial categorization is to be found in history, not in nature" (Roy 75).

As we have heard throughout this week, race is not genetically or biologically based. We know this because there has been no evidence found to support otherwise. I don't know if I am alone, but this idea is totally new to me! I have always thought, and was probably taught to think, that race was rooted in our genes. But from the in class video "Race the Power of an Illusion", and the reading "Race" in the book Making Societies, by William G. Roy, it all began to make sense to me that race, in fact, was constructed by society. On that note, it frustrates me to think of such a world that we have constructed. Knowing that race does not, in all actuality, exist, makes me wonder what else society has made up and taught us as humans to believe; how many lies have we been taught, and is society planning on fixing the problems it has caused us? I believe Roy did a wonderful job pointing out that “racial categories can be radically transformed and perhaps eliminated…? (Roy 76) because the idea of race is socially constructed. However, since race has been built so deeply into our society, it feels almost impossible that race can be eliminated. Because whether we want to realize it or not, race is part of our everyday lives, and as Roy said, “..it pervades every aspect of politics, work, education, leisure, sports, mass media, family, religion and personal relation? (Roy 75).

Race has been around for quite some time now, and has caused many, many problems within the human species. It is the main category of difference and serves as one of the main reasons inequality exists now! As Roy points out in the reading, “There has never been a society with truly ‘separate but equal’ races…because racial categories were invented as a way of categorizing people who were already conceived as unequal? (Roy 79)…African-American’s for example! Therefore, if we eliminate race and other social categories, would we eliminate inequality? It’s something to think about…or rather dream about.

As a result of the readings, videos, and my own personal reflections on them, I can now officially and honestly say that I HATE THE CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIETY!! And until we do some reconstruction of it I will continue to feel this way. Because if we really think about it, society has influenced all our lives, and the majority of the time they are not good influences. And I guess I may or may not be more bothered by the fact that race is made up because as an African-American, it has had a dramatic impact on my life as a whole.

“Race is a product of human invention, not an objective fact about the world discovered in biology or genetics? (Roy 80).

The elimination of race and other social constructions=equality.

"United" States?

After watching “Race: the Power of Illusion? and reading “Making Societies? by Roy, I found myself kind of mad. How could our society just “make up? race, the topic that has made prejudices and inequalities for centuries? The movie and book just kept saying how race isn’t a tangible thing; it is an illusion, something society just made up to show the differences in people. But what I don’t understand is why would society do that? Yes, I can see centuries ago why they did it because back then they were just trying to find answers to things and they thought just because certain people looked the same meant that they should be put in a separate group. And then later society came up with the idea that because the people in each “race? looked the same meant that the color of their skin and the shape of their eyes or face had to do with biology and genetics. However, now with more recent research it was shown that there aren’t any genetic markers that define race. So why if so called “races? don’t differ at all genetically, meaning all humans are basically the same, why does our society continue to separate our country based on race? Especially because of all the prejudices and inequalities race has caused why wouldn’t our “united? country want to actually be united?

What I also found ironic was that in the movie it talked about human civilization starting in Africa. It talked about how humans started in Africa and then migrated around the world causing mutations in genes, which led people to begin to look different. What I found funny about that was the fact that there are so many people who are racist against African Americans, but the truth is if those very racist people could go back in history, thousands of years, they would most likely find out that they have ancestors who were black. So technically they would be hypocrites.

Overall, what baffles me is the fact that Roy and the educated people in the movie know all of these facts about race; how it is imaginary and has nothing to do with biology and is putting the facts out there to the world through books and movies and still nothing changes. So many people say they want to see a change in the world, well when is it going to happen? I think our society needs to start really listening and realizing what harm these racial groupings are doing to our society and think about what is best for nation as a whole. Our country is suppose to be known for excepting differences and treating all as equals, but what I have come to realize more and more is that our country does the exact opposite.

Relations on College Campuses

I found Ore’s analysis of race relations and symbolic ethnicities on college campuses quite compelling as it gave light to situations that I undoubtedly have experienced as well as many of the students in this class. Ore says that sometimes late at night, drunken groups of White students coming home from parties will yell at single Black students on the street. She goes on to explain that Black students do experience a tension and a feeling of being singled out and that it is unfair that this is part of their college experience and not that of White students. While reading this text, I thought to myself, yes, she is exactly right. I thought to myself, how could situations like these be so systemic within our Universities. As college students, we are afforded the opportunity to experience living, learning, and the exposure of culture from people of varying backgrounds. This type of situation may be representative of a so-called microcosm of the entire United States, as if a tiny group of students were plucked from varying regions of the US and all plopped down here at the U. Now, this may yield results in that these cultures will blend, learn from one another and coexist without any tensions or strife. Conversely, this tiny group or microcosm all plopped down here at the U, could also yield results in that, all the individuals from their differing regions also bring along their preconceived notions of race and this environment only perpetuates already established racial tensions that have been engrained, even before being exposed to different cultures. Unfortunately, for us, the latter exists. It exists because of the matrix of domination that Ore had touched on earlier. In our society, I have noticed that when wronged by someone, even something as trivial as talking too loud in a group setting, it is our immediate reaction to associate that wrongdoing with the person’s race. For example, “Freakin’ Asian cut me off,? its okay people, I am Asian. On the flip side, if a White person were to cut you off, you would just think they’re an idiot, which is due to them lacking noticeable physical characteristics. As bigoted as it sounds, I too, have caught myself participating in this unjust snapshot judgment. Which goes to say, that race is quite possibly the easiest way to attack and establish a sense of superiority.

As students, we all differ, in majors, races, age, etc. which all separate us into categories. It is these categories of difference, that superiority complexes are established. For example, in our society, one’s major is often an assessment of their intellectual capacity. In the Science Classroom Building commodes, I noticed someone had engraved “CLA Arts Major Degree Dispenser,? and it had an arrow pointing towards the toilet paper. In situations such as these, a degree say in Microbiology is seen as more “intelligible? than that of a Liberal Arts degree. Who’s to say which is more important, I am not here to judge, but I do believe that this just serves as another wedge to further complicate our matrix of domination.

Ore also explains, that you can see Black students coming together on campus as both an “ethnic? pull of wanting to be together to share common experiences and community, and a “racial? push of banding together defensively because of perceived rejection and tension from Whites. I believe that Ore is absolutely correct in these assumptions about race. Although Blacks are being singled out for some reason, this notion of assimilation and disbanding is universal to any minority. Therefore, when these groups are seen on campus, stereotypes and assumptions about them are only reinforced. For minorities, it is a constant struggle between being accepted by Whites, but not appearing to betray your ethnic roots. At the same time, we struggle with the assimilation of our race, but must not completely remove ourselves from other cultures by simply excluding anyone who is not of our race.

Skin color as a spectrum

I found it really interesting how in Roy (15), he discusses that race is treated as a bounded category instead of along a gradient. Although skin tones are quite variable, people are classified as either "black" or "white". Somehow this distinction was created along a random line. Furthermore, in different parts of the world, the classification or "breaking point" of being either "black" or "white" is different. This reinforces the fact that it is purely socially constructed.

This ties into what was talked about in the film, "Race: The Power of an Illusion." They discussed how different skin tones developed as people traveled further away from the equator. Although I have heard this before, I never thought about the fact that if someone walked from Africa to Norway, the skin tones would slowly get lighter. This clearly makes sense as we all adapt to fit our environment. I guess the thing that the entire society needed to accept, especially during the eugenics era, was that everything such as intelligence, athletic ability, etc. was already evolved before this migration of people. So really truly, we are all from the same ancestors and then just had some appearance changes later. I don't know what is so hard for society to understand about this! We continue to disregard the fact that race is socially constructed. Despite the evidence that race is NOT biological, it still has serious implications in our world today.

However, I guess I still struggle with how gender and sexuality is almost completely socially constructed. We learn things that become such a part of who we are and how we think that it is really hard to move beyond that. I hope we have another discussion regarding this issue in class; I don't feel that we gave the topic ample time.

October 4, 2008

The History of Time

Since I was a child I had always wondered how it was decided that we had 7 days in a week and 30 days in a month. I wondered why the calendar week started on Sunday and ended on Saturday when the Latin American calendar started on Monday and ended on Sunday. Until I read Roy's Making Societies, I had never considered the fact that other societies (beyond American and Latin American) might have different calendars or week schedules. It is fascinating to me to learn that the names of the days came from the planets, and that in other romantic languages they mean the same thing.
I always assumed the week was based on the Christian religion. Since the bible says that God rested on Sunday or Sabbath, it made sense to me that it would be the first day of the week. It seems however that the Greeks developed the first Angel-European week and then it was spread throughout the Mediterranean but Alexander the Great. The Romans and the Jews eventually fused their calendars through Christianity. The new calendar ended up moving throughout the globe.
I find it so interesting how basically all of our calendars and our schedules depend on the moon and sun. The tides come in the evening and go out in the morning. They are controlled by the moon and they control the rotation of the planet. But according to Making Societies , the calendars, even though they are based on the moon they do not directly correlate with the days of the month or the seconds in the day.
The Anglo-European calendar is linear and the Aztec calendar is circular which also reflects the differences in the perception of time. I must agree with the book that even after having the Aztec calendar explained to me I have yet to be able to understand it.