December 16, 2008

Final Blog : (

I had always been aware that gender dualities and oppression had existed, but it wasn’t until I took this class that I understood exactly what they were. Oppression is more than just domestic abuse or a glass ceiling; it comes from a normalized way of thinking about sex, gender, and sexuality. Mythical norms have been created and internalized by people, and they are used to create “inherent? dualities. People perform gender because it is believed to be natural, and they place that accountability on others as well as themselves. As a culture we produce and regenerate these ways of thinking and acting, and it shows its face in social systems.
As a global studies major, and future study abroad student, I hope to take what I’ve learned about gender and power and see how it compares to other places on an international level. I have previously studied women and religion in the Middle East, and I think I now have a better understanding of how both religious and secular states impose different oppressions on these women. Also, I have an invested interest in the women of my home state. I’ve advocated for women’s reproductive rights there in the past, and I hope to continue as abortion issues continue to resurge in South Dakota. I understand now how laws shaping reproductive rights are really a way of controlling women and accessibility. Another issue near to my heart is the neglect of women’s issues on the reservations. A friend from Pine Ridge, SD, opened my eyes to the sad situation last year, and I hope I can advocate for those women in the future. I hope my schedule will allow me time in the future to get involved with the women’s groups on campus.

December 15, 2008

Final Blog

This class has really opened my eyes to a woman's situation in our society and how it is affected by power in our everyday lives. I can pretty safely say that I have led a pretty sheltered life so far. My dad has always treated my mother with respect and I honestly can't recall a single time that I have seen him yell at her or openly argue with her in front of us children. They disagree and have different ways of doing things, but my dad usually stays out of her way and lets her have her say. In a way I think that this, although a great thing, has blinded me and given me a false sense of how things really are. After having gone through this class I can see that I need to step it up and make sure that I treat women the way that I know they deserve to be treated. I know that at times I have been guilty of playing into the patriarchal system that exists in our society, but I have never had the whole way it operates laid out so clearly and poignantly. What I need to do is give myself a self evaluation and see where I’m at in the scheme of things as it relates to patriarchy and do my best to reduce the ways in which I contribute to its cycle. This class has taught me a lot about the state of our society, what kinds of things are really going on behind the curtains, and how these different issues perpetuate themselves and affect our everyday lives.

Thanks Katie and Rebecca! You've taught me a lot and I appreciate the things I have learned in class. :)

December 12, 2008

last blog

I know guys back home who are quite sexist in their remarks and though they claim to be joking there still seems to be a bit of truth behind the kidding façade. I always tried to point this out to them, show them how bad these so called jokes really are but since I didn’t really know much about the subject it was usually brushed off. I feel that this class gave me the tools and knowledge I need to speak up in situations such as that and have my words carry more weight.
This class has made me realize more than ever that I need to speak up when I witness oppression in my everyday life. According to Johnson’s plus five system, I am a plus four which I feel gives me a certain amount of responsibility, as several the author’s stated, I must take accountability. Perhaps I can speak up for those woman who society may not be as willing to listen to due to their rank in Johnson’s system.
This class has also made me more aware of the gender roles that I act out and see in my everyday life. I just recently watched the movie “She’s the Man? and viewed it in a completely different light than before I took this class. The different ways “Viola? was treated when dressed as a boy and the different ways she had to act to pass as a boy were astonishing and I couldn’t believe I’d never noticed it before.
One other important thing I took from this class was what actually counts as domestic violence. Ann Jones article made me aware of just how many negative actions count as abusive behavior and it really made me examine my previous relationships for such behavior. I feel that because of this class, I now will have a better idea what to do if I find myself in such a situation.

last blog post gwss 1001 for chole005 =(

One of the most important things I took from this class was how issues such as race and income affect gender, and I certainly look at this now in a new light. Something that has also stuck with me is the idea of how gender is something that we perform (Candice West, Judith Butler). I think this has changed how I look at people everyday, and hopefully has not only allowed me to understand some of the strange things they do, but also hint at the reasons they may do them and to accept how their perspective is much different than mine.

A few other things in this class changed the way I looked at gender and every day life simply because they were things that I thought I knew about, but really didn't. The readings and statistics behind gender and how it relates to violence (Ann Jones, Barrie Levy/Denise Gamache)were very shocking and even disturbing. I think issues like rape and domestic violence are things that all of us want to think of as 'out there', when really we have to face the fact scary fact that it could happen to us, it likely will happen to us in one way or another sometime in our lives, and what we might do if and when we end up in such a situation.

Overall this class really did give me many tools to understand gender and how it relates to us and to society every day of our lives. Before I took this class I liked to think that gender was something other people were really concerned about, and not something I was controlled by. The truth is that it is something that is inescapable, but doesn't have to be something entirely limiting or bad. Thank you for teaching this class.

November 24, 2008

blog # 10

Mr. Summers,
I think it important to note my shock and disappointment when learning of the remarks you made when addressing the absence of women in the hard sciences. I would have thought that a person in such high position at such a prestigious institution such as Harvard would at least have the sense to censor oneself when talking about such a delicate topic such as this if only to protect the integrity of the institution. Not only that, but I had hoped that such a highly educated person would realize the flaws behind such logic as women’s brains lack the attributes needed to obtain the higher level positions in the hard sciences. As Bublick points out, you have at your disposal the best research and researchers in the nation and yet instead of using them as a source for your rationale, you use your own firsthand observations of your young daughter’s behavior. Does it not occur to you that, as Bublick points out, your conclusions about your daughters behavior may differ from the conclusions anyone else may draw from the same observations? It is not so much your views that upset me, although the belief that women are biologically wired to be good at liberal arts while men are biologically wired to be good at math and sciences does irritate me, but that you put such an obviously small amount of effort into figuring out an explanation to a problem or issue that I feel deserves much more attention.
Here is a concrete example of how men and women are treated differently in the work force and the president of the most strived for institution of learning in the nation attempts to explain it away with logic that resonates with a tone from the past. If anything this is a clear indicator that equality has not been reached, no matter how much we all hope to believe that it has been.

November 20, 2008

Blog Nine

Mr. President:
I would like to start by thanking you for taking an interest in what I feel is a very important issue plaguing society today. As you may know, there is a common misconception that mothers of low socioeconomic standing, that is below the poverty line, who cannot provide the typical home environment for their children are “bad? mothers. They are punished by the system for aspects of their lives that are out of their control and often this very system worsens these aspects. For example, in Annette Appell’s piece “On Fixing ‘Bad’ Mothers and Saving Their children? in many cases it seems that it is the institution “DCFS? which works to help such children but only makes the situations worse. They set impossible goals for the mothers, which, if they work towards fulfilling actually make them worse mothers because they do not have time to see their children. The many goals set for the women often contradict each other, for if she is busy attempting to complete one of them she doesn’t have the time or resources to complete the others and then the system deems that she is still a “bad? mother.
I believe a new system needs to be implemented to help these women for life is not as some believe it; it is not always possible to “pull yourself up by the bootstraps?. The system claims to be trying to protect the fetus, help the fetus, yet once the baby emerges from the womb there are no programs set in place to ensure the child has a “good? life. There needs to be a program that actually succeeds in improving the quality of these children and their mother’s lives by helping the mother and child stay together while also helping them rise above the poverty line. Expectations of what can be expected from the mother need to be realistic and the system needs to help the mother instead of criminalizing her. A whole new way of thinking about the situation is needed with caseworkers who are not stretched so thin that they don’t have time to care about the people they are working with. Our current system has never worked, currently isn’t working, and if left unchanged will never begin to work. What we must remember as our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for mother and child with the utmost importance being placed on keeping them together.

Note to instructor: Just a reminder of our email correspondence okay-ing this being late.

November 16, 2008

blog 9 for chole005

In On Fixing 'Bad' Mothers Annette Appell tells the stories of several disadvantaged mothers who lose custody of their children for one reason or another, and get lost within a system that fails both them and their children. What struck me about each of these stories is that these agencies claim to be representing the best interests of the children, but what the children actually say they want (which is usually to stay with their mothers) is either not considered as a valid opinion or is one of the last things considered. In all situations, the focus is on the acts of the mother, even if this behavior is not endangering the children.

I think what would be most helpful in fixing child services is making the desires of the children, even if they are very young, the most important thing in deciding their fate. With all of these mothers, if the state were to offer these mothers the help they needed, there is no reason they couldn't have kept their children or had they children back within a reasonable time. Also, there needs to be some kind of peer review of social workers. In Annette Appell's article, I couldn't help but think that some of the social workers were motivated to make decisions more based on their own opinions and feelings towards their clients than any protocol. This isn't fair to the children, or the mothers, and needs to be addressed.

November 2, 2008

Blog #8

In Koedt’s essay “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm? and Dworkin’s essay “Pornography? both authors argue that in our patriarchal society, women are seen or portrayed as objects meant to accommodate men’s sexual desires. Dworkin uses the way women are portrayed in pornography to demonstrate her point while Koedt points to the inconsistencies surrounding society’s ideas of the vaginal orgasm as well as explaining why men allow the myth to continually be perpetuated.
Men maintain the myth of the vaginal orgasm because it benefits them sexually. Penetration of the vagina is needed for the man’s sexual pleasure. Even if the man is aware that it is not causing the female to properly climax, he probably won’t really care, or choose to please the women over getting pleasure himself. Women are then made to feel abnormal because they aren’t climaxing from coitus and that they are at fault. Koedt sums it up by saying that women are “simply afraid to establish their right to equal enjoyment, seeing the sexual act as being primarily for the man’s benefit,? (180).
This theory works with Dworkin’s ideas of pornography as portraying all women as whores because both ideas place men as the “main character? and cast women as “secondary characters?. Dworkin argues that pornography always shows women as a “graphic depiction of the lowest whores? (183). She relies on the ancient Greek meaning of the word pornography which states that “porne? means “the cheapest..least protected of all women, including slaves,? (183) to back up this point. She views all porn as objectification of women.
If a woman is just an object, her pleasure is not important. The two essays work together to validate the point that women are viewed as objects designed to pleasure men. This works in society because pornography makes women into objects and its is not important for a simple object for orgasm, so long as the main character, the man, is happy.

chole005 Blog Eight Assignment

What stood out to me most in the article by Suzanne J. Kessler titled “The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants? is that being born with extra or ‘ambiguous’ genitalia (i.e. those that were neither completely male nor completely female) was treated like a disease or a deformity. When the medical establishment reacts to this infant, they are doing so in a society that considers male and female to be the two sexes, with no grey areas in between.

Kessler talks about how many medical workers are ill-trained on how to deal with such a situation, though within this male/female binary context, I don’t feel that this is really possible. Not only do doctors and nurses and those who assist with the birth need to change their idea of the sexual binary being the norm, society itself has to accept the fact that intersexuality is not a disease, and can’t truly be ‘cured’ by hormones or surgery.

Although the medical establishment is partly to blame on how we deal with intersexed infants, they are trying to cater to society and ultimately make the lives of the child and parents easier in the long run. If they were not to do this, the parents, if they were desirous of a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ child, would go to a doctor that would.

One thing that upset me about this article is that the way Kessler describes how our bodies are sexed, which I would summarize as:

Penis = male (of ‘proper’ size)
Lack of penis=not male

Anyone with any medical training should know just how untrue this is. Things will not get better until the medical community as a whole accepts the idea of intersexuality, and society is able to accept a human being that identifies as such.

October 17, 2008

blog six for chole005

Paula Gunn-Allen's article "Where I Come From is Like This" gives us a taste of how gender and power interact in native American society, speaking from her 'hybrid' perspective in between western and indigenous cultures. The consciousness she has gained from this perspective is unique because of her ability to look outside of the western power systems we take for granted. Because of the different viewpoints presented to her during her lifetime about the gender and society, she is able to draw her own conclusions and form a bi cultural identity in spite of the legacies of colonialism all around her.

In her article "Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Redefining Difference" Audre Lorde shows us how as a lesbian feminist women of color, she has experienced oppression under systems of power in ways many of us will not. Her consciousness, like Paula Gunn-Allen's, has been formed by her ability to see the role of gender and power in the western world from more than one viewpoint. This is how Lorde comes to the conclusion that differences are dividing us not for their own sake, but because we are unwilling to accept and embrace these difference and view them as positive rather than as barriers.

Both of these authors push the reader to examine and understand gender and power and how it effects them from a less familiar standpoint. They achieve this by being able to confer a sense of their unique perspective, and by showing us the the importance of recognizing and understanding these voices.

September 28, 2008

week four blog assignment

I think Alice represents what many of us were once like before the ideas of gender and how it defines us and our world were set in a concrete way in our mind. The movie was very realistic, but in the same sense, it was sad that she didn't have many positive role models to solidify what her gender should mean to her, and how it should define her (if at all).

Through her eyes we were able to see that gender and power do define so many things in our everyday life, things that were new to her but would be taken for granted by us. These things have become so common to us that unlike Alice, they are part of what Henry Lefebvre talks about in his article "The Everyday and Everydayness", mundane, but not mean meaningless.

What might be considered as Alice's 'failings' to perform gender seem to prompt the adults around her to impress upon her their ideas of gender and how it should define her. I don't think that Alice's frustrations were specifically due to gender and her learning the correct ways to perform it, but in an indirect way, her troubles with her so-called best friend do reflect gender issues, since these problems are very different for young boys when compared to young girls. However, these tensions between her, her best friend, and her best friend's 'new' friend also had a lot to do with her being raised by a single mother with limited income. I feel that this was also an important factor to her lack of power in day to day situations, as well as her age and gender.

September 22, 2008

Week Three

The Johnson text used the plus five system to show what we consider normal in our culture. If one is not white (+1), male (+1), middle class (+1), heterosexual (+1) and Christian/western/?first world? (+1), that specific person(s) are denied some privileges that those “normal? people have. It is the base-level understanding of power that creates a social hierarchy. It is believed that those people at the top of the social hierarchy triangle have unearned advantages than those who aren’t white, male, middle class, heterosexual and Christian. It’s true in the real world, take the workplace as an example. Let’s say that a woman and man are hired at the same time, for the same job by a company that’s been around for years. It used to be very likely that the man would receive a considerable amount of money higher than the woman hired at the same time with the same, if not more qualifications than the man. This happened at not such a high level to my sister once. She had applied for a life guarding position down in Madison (where she goes to school) at the same time as a lot of others did. She was hired as a head guard because she had life guarded for four years previously. That day, a guy was hired into the same position as my sister (with less experience) and received more money. The only reason my sister knew about it was because she was accidently given his paycheck, not hers. She took the issue to her supervisors, fought for better wages, and received them because she was more qualified that the other. In actuality, the social hierarchy that Johnson describes sets up the culture understanding and almost forbids women, and men, from not acting their gender. Some women are content knowing that where they are working at the time is no the best they can be doing because if they tried, they know that they would have to “put on the pants? and do a man’s job. I think that this idea is very ignorant and that it’s time for everyone to step out of their gender and comfort zone and do what they do best.

September 15, 2008

Week Two

Gender is a performance…I believe that we do act the way we are “supposed? to act in front of others. If we act among others the way we act among our friends, then some might be repelled to how we act. Girls in front of their friends and guys in front of their friends will act way different in front of group of guys and girls, or just one’s close group of friends as opposed to one’s professors and family friends. For example, one of my friends always burps in front of us, but she would never do that in front of her grandparents or other respectable people. According to some people on my floor, women are expected to smell good and be nice whereas it is acceptable for men to be smelly and rude to others. We perform to uphold the standards of society. While gender is inauthentic, it also produces the very real social conditions we live in. It makes life “real? because everyone does it and that’s what we’ve grown up knowing—we know nothing else. It is an understood bias that we act differently in front of others to make good impressions upon others. Gender performance is connected to social actions; I believe that the way we present ourselves to others impacts the way others treat us. If we treat people like dirt, we shouldn’t expect to be treated any nicer. It’s like the golden rule “treat others as we would want to be treated?. If we act like “white trash?, expect to be treated like white trash right back. If you act nice to others and treat them with respect, you should be treated with respect right back. If we change the way we “do? gender, I don’t think it would change the knowledge we have about gender. People act so differently on such a wide spectrum that I don’t think anything knew would “shock? us anymore, we’re just used to it by now.

September 13, 2008

Week 2 blog assignment for chole005

Gender as performance, as described by Candace West in “Doing Gender?; is a façade put up by human beings as a result of societal pressure, rather than what she refers to as our “essential sexual natures?. These acts are used to form our identity, to portray that identity to others and perhaps prove it to others or ourselves.

The reward for satisfying this coercion to conform to an ideal that insists our sexual organs predictably dictate the core of our true self rather than performing biological function as any other organs we possess is the acceptance of our peers. In a society where a male/female dualism is the standard and a country where heterosexuality between these two parties is the only legally recognized demonstration of human sexuality, the either/or gender identity is not truly a choice, but a mandate.

Gender is the construct in which we manifest ourselves and our sexuality to others. Even if it is a performance, the fact that we view the world through the pane of terms like gender allows this construct to deeply impact both our society and how we see ourselves in it.

An objective view of gender would show the flimsiness of this construct as a ‘fact of nature’. Definitions of gender have been just as capricious as any human trend or superstition, being fully dependent if not defined by the popular beliefs of the time.

In my opinion, gender’s most compelling effect on humanity is that of a tool that has been utilized by those in power to exploit humanities’ need to categorize ourselves and others along imaginary lines, frustrating any collective outcry against the status quo.

September 4, 2008

Week one blog

My name is Nae Ree Yang. I am a freshmen this year at the University of Minnesota. This is my first gender study as you have mention on Wednesday during class. I am excited to start learning in this class. I really do not know what kind of material will be cover in these kind of class. I decided to take this course because I know that in my culture the sons is more important than the daughters and I would like to know more about gendered life in America. To see if I can compare and contrast it with my culture. For me gender mean the difference between male and female. I would usually think about the female for this study because many places and in the past it was always the female that did not recieve equal treatment. When I look at Power, I am also reminded of the status of male and female. Men always seem to have more power over women. Power also remind me of racial issue. The last part of the title Everyday life kind of sum up the meaning of these two idea for me. It is saying this is our everyday life. The issue of power between female and male and race happens everyday around us. This is how we have to learn to live each day.

September 3, 2008

week one blog assignment for chole005

Name: Stephanie
Major: Biochemistry
Year: Junior
Education: Associate of Science

I have been at the university for a few years, since not a lot of my credits ended up transferring from Colorado. I work at the University for the DEHS as well, and I live in the west bank. I didn’t go to high school, which has made college more difficult.

I don’t have much to say about gender, power and everyday life. In fact, I’m not sure exactly what the class is going to be about. I think that judging someone based on gender was wrong, just as it would be to judge them on their color or religion. I befriended the editor of a feminist publication when I spoke with her about women and health care at Wayne State a few years ago. Since then she has asked me to write a few articles for her, and although I have a lot of writing experience, particularly on political issues, I didn’t know and still don’t know all that much about feminism. I hope to gain some understanding of what exactly feminism is and how gender issues apply to our lives on a daily basis.

That’s all I have to say… I could ramble about random things that have a very slight resemblance to this subject in order to fill my 250 word requirement, but I respect your time enough not to. If this is not acceptable please let me know.

August 11, 2008

Blog Assignment One

Blog Assignment One

For this assignment, you will introduce yourself to the class. In a post that is between 250-300 words, please be sure to include the following:

• Your name
• Your major or general academic interests
• Any other interesting facts you’d like the class to know about you
• Most importantly, your definitions of/insights on gender, power, and everyday life

You do not to read anything prior to posting your blog entry; in fact, we’d prefer if you think through these terms without the help of the readings. If you’d like to push yourself, try to draw some connections between gender, power, and everyday life- i.e. How do power and gender work together to create everyday life? Do you have any personal examples of gender and power in your own life?