September 22, 2008

gender vs. material power

Karl Marx theorized that one’s power in society is directly related to the amount of material goods one possesses. In Western culture, this theory proves true. A person with much wealth can possess many goods and almost always (if not always) is more influential than one, say, who produces those goods. Those who produce the goods are those who are laboring; yet do not receive much in return thus limiting their access to the goods. Those laboring hold virtually no power in society. Marx believed that equal goods and equal power would be the source of contentment for all.
Johnson’s +5 model is correlative with Marx’s theory. One’s number of “+1’s? determines their place in society. For example, a white, Christian, heterosexual, middle-class male is at a +5 and reaps the benefits of this ranking. On the other hand, a white, Christian, heterosexual, middle-class female is at a +4. She is therefore at a disadvantage in Western culture due to her gender. It is well known that women have a lower income than men in the same occupations. Based on Marx’s theory, men’s greater income gives them access to more goods and resultantly giving them more power. Men indeed hold more power than women in capitalist society.
Why is it that holding an executive position or a position in office as a woman is so impressive? Historically women have had little mobility in the workforce; women have always been the caretakers and the homemakers. Though women’s opportunity in the workforce has increased tremendously in recent times, women are often still limited solely because of their gender. Consequently, they hold less power in society. As a woman, this is infinitely frustrating. Are we not as smart as men? Are we not authoritative enough? Can we not handle it emotionally? Are we going to cry under stress? No.

Week Three Blog

Plumwood thinks that power stems from social organization, and that power is formed through hierarchies. She also believes that power is formed from a dualistic way of thinking. It's when one subject or group of people is compared to another as being better or worse.

In the case of norms, we try to fit these norms as a society. We work, whether we know it or not, to fit in with what the norms are. By fitting these norms it is then when we compare things and make one better or more important than the other which creates dualistic power. The norms create what each group is like and that leads to "giving" certain groups more power by finding the differences between them and other groups.

This affects how we live, because as we "do" gender we are performing in order to fit the norms. We "do" gender in order to be acknowledged as something in our society. We want to be recognizable. By doing this we are fitting into the groups that are then compared with one another. By doing gender we are just fitting ourselves into groups that may have more power or less power than other groups. This is how we work, this is how our society works. It's natural and it's something everyone does, but by making certain groups have more power than others it creates differences in a dominating and sometimes overpowering way.

Blog Three

Instrumentalism is when the superiors needs define the inferior’s purpose. This is when those on the lower side of the dualism put their needs aside for the masters and need to do anything necessary to please the master or centre. They are considered a good citizen or worker based on the needs or interpretation of the master. The inferior’s tasks and goals all depend on the superior’s needs.
This power defines the normative mode of existence in culture because the inferior’s have to live their lives based on the superior’s needs. The superior’s needs are a common task the inferior’s have to fulfill because they fear that they will be judged morally if they do not follow the superior’s standards. They do no get praised for following superiority however they do get judged for not following.
This particular mode of existence interferes with how we act as humans because of the social standards we have to follow. It can definitely limit the way we do gender as power. For example, if a married woman is well-educated and desires to pursue a career in business but her husband works full time and wants her to stay at home as a house wife she will be looked down upon if she chooses to work. Her superior in this case, her husband, needs her to stay at home so she feels obligated to do that because the consequences of her working will be bad whereas if she puts her needs aside to please the master in their house, everything will be okay. Often times, this can be a way to understand gender in the working life, why some women with well-educated backgrounds choose to stay at home rather than work.


Johnson’s model of power as a social hierarchy seems to represent our society the best. Johnson states that power is correlated closely to privilege. Privilege on the other hand is linked to difference. Not everyone can be privileged, because we are all very different and are “valued? or “devalued? differently. He also says that we inherit this power, you are the person you are and that comes with or without a privilege.
This power operates through norms with what Johnson calls the “+5 “ system. In the western world if you are white, man, heterosexual, middleclass and Christian you have all the points you need to be privileged and therefore have more “power? compared to the less privileged ones. I guess this all a result of difference. People have come not to use difference as a positive aspect of our culture instead they are afraid of it. People are “afraid “to approach a homosexual because they are not considered “normal.? People use this deference to reward or punish, value or devalue people.
Johnson’s system of “+5? is a very clear reflection of our society; expect when it comes to gender I seem to disagree a little with him. I guess women do have a harder time since they have to take care of the kids and give birth and all that, but stills that never seemed a barrier to me of reaching my career goals. I never thought that women are devalued and men have more privilege than them. However, I do believe that women have to work harder to take care of the children and have a career. As I remember reading somewhere, men who are lawyers are expected to be aggressive but that’s easy for them because their outside gender role is expected to be aggressive too, unlike women lawyers that are expected to be aggressive, but their gender role is to be soft and affectionate.

Week Three Blog

Johnson’s model of power seemed to stand out the most when looking at the different models of power that we have read during the past week. Johnson explains that there is this “social construction? of reality. This meaning: “unless you live in a culture that recognizes differences as significant and meaningful, they are socially irrelevant and therefore do not exist? (Johnson 21). He goes on to say that these made up thoughts that we have/make, sort of become the way we think about things/people and we start to make these categories placing people in them, based on these absurd thoughts. This is when privilege comes into play “when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to? (Johnson 23).

As Johnson would say, these privileges are what create the +5 system from which power operates through the norms in culture. The +5 system of privileges is basically a system that we operate under, giving “unearned privileges? to the white, males, heterosexuals, people in the middle class and people that are Christian/from the western world. This is how power operates, through this so called +5 system that everyone is compared to. I think that this system is especially relevant when thinking politically. Think of the status of people in power now, they are all/most +5 persons. I do think that politically and looking at the United States as a whole this system applies, but when you look at smaller aspects it might not as much as you would think.

This model of power has many limitations attached to it, and really influences how we act and live as gendered subjects. Because we are constantly being compared to these standards (+5) we seem to be constantly hiding or at least very aware of the – aspects about us, for example a person being homosexual or a different race other than white. This system creates the problem of unearned privileges and power because these 5 categories totally split up the population.

blog 3

I will be discussing Johnson’s theory of power as social hierarchy. Johnson explains that power trough hierarchy does exist and it creates trouble. Basically, power through hierarchy means that the privileged are on top and have the most power while the lower on the scale have less and less power as it goes down. Johnson also points out that this is not a trait or understanding we are born with it is inherited through society and can be negative due to the encouragement of allowing certain groups to tower over the other.
Johnson specifically explains how this system of power as social hierarchy defines the normative mode of existence in culture through his +5 system. The white heterosexual middle class Christian male according to the +5 system is the top and most powerful person according to the Western “norm?. Everyone that is different gets a point taken away and becomes less and less powerful as there points are subtracted. For example on the other end of the spectrum an Asian, homosexual lower class Jewish female would be considered with almost no power in Western society because she doesn’t fit in with the inherited power norm.
Johnson also explains that the reason we create this inherited trait to classify people through power as social hierarchy is because it helps us to understand how to act in society. If we didn’t know that we were a female or male how would we distinguish who is most powerful. Therefore this hierarchy can be linked to performing gender. If a man were classified as a homosexual he would lose some power in the respective +5 norms. Therefore, everyone wants to act like their gender to explain to the world where they fit and how they should be treated.


Johnson discusses the concept of power as a social hierarchy. This theory gives meaning to things (such as race, gender, sexuality, etc) that wouldn't have any meaning otherwise. When certain traits/characteristics are categorized and given meaning, people are able to understand their place in the world.

Johnson's diversity wheel demonstrates the idea that we can label people based on certain characteristics, but that only tells you the "social reality" of a person; it doesn't explain to you what a person's personality is like. People use differences to include/exclude certain people, which is entirely unfair because most of the characteristics are impossible to change. Johnson further explains this notion by describing "unearned entitlements" and "unearned advantages." We know that unearned entitlements are what every person should have, and unearned advantages are the restrictions placed on certain groups.

Johnson talks about the social construction of differences/reality. He explains how most of our "real" experiences are made up. And that unless you live in a culture that recognizes differences as meaningful, they're socially irrelevant and therefore do not exist. I think it's also important to note that history changes who is in and who is out as far as being privileged goes.

September 21, 2008

Blog 3

I'm going to take a a further look into power as dualisms (Plumwood). The general concept behind dualistic power, is that we either categorized as the “in-group? or are thought of as being part of the “out-group?. The view of being categorized as the in-group has with it an associated cultural values which in tern make the “in-group? desirable. We can see that these values are assigned culturally by simply examining two different cultures. This value, assigned by the culture, is what gives the “in-group? the notion of superiority over those in the “out-group?.

Using this model of power to examine gender first leads us to very obvious point. We (as a culture) tend to view male/female as a dualism. This is actually a dualism Plumwood specifically mentions. However, following a few other points of the dualistic model, we can find some other interesting relations. Take for example, the dualistic idea of radical separation. Here, we see process of attempting to hyperseparate gender into a partition consisting of only two categories. From a social norms perspective, this explains the awkwardness of not falling into one of the two categories. The dualistic nature of the culture expects us to fall into one of the two, and in addition to encouraging this, actually self perpetuates the dualism. As an act of preforming gender, we should realize that these expectations are founded on the basis of dualistic ideals, which as seen, acts against the idea gender equality. Since these are self perpetuating, in order to decrease/stop the perpetuation, we need to get out of the this dualistic mindset altogether.


Marxism considers power resulting from material possession. To him, power results from the systems created by people; specifically for us, this means capitalism. In this system, happiness comes from the ability to purchase and own luxury items. Those who are able to produce more goods, therefore, are considered more valuable to society, and are rewarded with money. Money not only provides the ability to purchase more, but it also can be accumulated in order to procure the means of production, thus moving that individual into the upper classes and giving them power with their new-found wealth.
Nothing besides the individual's ability to produce is considered of any real worth. It all comes down to how much one can produce. Whether it's a tangible item in a factory, or providing a service for which people will pay well, one's worth is determined by what they can do to produce tangible profit.
As such, women are disadvantaged in this system. Traditionally, women are responsible for the tasks of maintaining the household, something which detracts from the ability to do whatever it is they would normally do to be "valuable" in capitalist society. Even in a capitalist, but otherwise progressive society, women are biologically responsible for pregnancy and childbirth, something absolutely necessary for any society to continue to effectively function, but, similar to maintaining the household, something to which no concrete value can be assigned, and so it goes unrewarded by society. Even if this were not the case , the fact that women earn lesser wages on average than men gives men an inherent power in the capitalist system according to Marx.

blog three chole005

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels state that power in our society is based on a class system, the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, and the proletariat, who works within the means of production to create value. Though Marx and Engel’s analysis is more complex, this simple relationship could be viewed in terms of Plumwood’s outline on dualism and difference, being that one group is valued above the other and much effort is poured into exaggerating and maintaining this separation. The main problem with this analogy is that although male and female sexes (though not genders) are required for the continuance of the human race, it is debatable whether or not the bourgeoisie serve any worthwhile purpose to this system other than maintaining the status quo and exploitation of the working class (which doesn’t seem to be a very worthwhile goal).

Although this analysis of Marx and Engels in this assignment was meant just to brush on the ideas of class struggle and how it relates to gender, and was limited in terms of detail in the interest of addressing so many philosophies on gender and power in a short span of time, I felt it was somewhat inaccurate. It states that Marx wrote during “a time when many (poor) women left the home to work? when explaining about how the audience of Marx is mostly male. This is certainly true for some of his work, specifically when he was addressing the working class in his time, which was mostly male, but I feel that Marx made it clear that although women weren’t a huge part of the paid labor force at the time, they were still laborers. That is, they wouldn’t need to leave home to work; they had been working, though unpaid, in the home the whole time. Marx and Engels addressed this issue extensively in Origins of Family, Private Property, and the State, which would have been the best work to reference to gain a Marxist perspective on women and power. Origins mentions that a women’s traditional work has been devalued over time by our prevailing economic system. I’m already over my word limit, so if anyone out there wants to know what Marx said about women, you should read that for sure.

week 3

According to Karl Marx, social power is acquired by your value in the market. Whether you have lots of money or you are able to produce products of high demand, power is associated with wealth and your socioeconomic standing. He also notes that social power is not always earned nor fair, yet it dictates and defines who we are.
Achieving a state of wealth is not necessarily fair for all people. To achieve a state of power it is expected that you get a good education and hold a top position in a major corporation such as a CEO. However, people start at different positions and with different opportunities. For example, a son of a rich man probably goes to a big fancy school and has special tutoring whereas a person living in the Bronx goes to a school where maybe the teachers do not care whether or not the student succeeds. Also, women start out at lower points not because of theyre schooling or the opportunities but because of their gender. Statistics show that there are many fewer women in higher positions in the economy than men. Women are forced to choose between family and their careers. If they choose family, they become housewives. If they choose to follow a career path they are hit with what some may call a “glass ceiling.? The glass ceiling represents women seeing the dream but never attaining it.
As a gendered person, we are expected to act certain ways and perform to societies standards. Going with the example of women in the workforce, women are expected to put their work ahead of their families. One of the most famous examples in recent news is Sarah Palin. Many are wondering whether or not she can balance her five children and hold a place in office. These limits set by gender and material wealth in society are used to classify people into groups of the superior and the inferior.

Blog Assignment Three

Foucault's Power as Productive, was one theory that I had an easier time understanding, agreeing with, and that I think still applies well today. Foucault says that "power is neutral," which means that it isn't inherently good or bad. It can be used for both exploiting and helping. Also, he says that power isn't necessarily top down in every situation and is more bottom up. Power is everywhere and is produced through knowledge, in turn, creating more knowledge. Unlike Marx, power isn't always created from economic or social systems. It is created by the people and generated through the ways we use and understand it. We use "discourses" to determine how we interpret and identify things; using them to understand and label what is good vs. bad, normal vs. abnormal, which in turn is giving certain people power over others. Even though Foucault believes people generate the power, he still thinks that there are certain parameters and norms created by structures and that media, schools, politics, etc. effect the way we act.

In our western society today, we must have things labeled, identified, and documented. This is how Foucault says that we are producing power and reinforcing norms. Like the example in the article we read, we operate by diagnosing everything. If someone is abnormal, they must have some sort of disorder, disease, or disability, in which case we must question, label, and treat them accordingly. This gives the normal power over the abnormal once labeled that way, and the one who labeled the abnormal power over them as well to use in future cases. This is also an example of how knowledge produced more power and knowledge.

This effects the way we live our daily lives. Since power is "contextual," according to Foucault, it is constantly changing depending on the situation, the context around us. We act according to the things we've learned and the situations we put ourselves in, giving certain others power over us or vice versa. For example, in early times, if a girl was in school she may not raise her hand in class because this wasn't something girls should do, therefore giving boys power over her. Now a girl may still give a boy power over her, but probably more likely in a social setting, letting him look more intelligent or witty as to come off more attractive to the boy.

Manifestations of Power

Karl Marx shows us that capitalism assesses the value of people according to their value to the market and the wealth they own. People who are worth more are invested with power and thus dictate many societal terms such as the use of wealth and production. Those who actually produce the materials necessary (and unnecessary) to life are placed in the background of the capitalist, whom it is always assumed has legitimately earned his wealth, and deserves to be in a position of arbitrary power. "Work" is defined as paid labor which is why the unpaid labor of women is often overlooked in Marxist analysis.
Society clearly places unequal value on the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Entrepreneurs are praised as being innovative, progressive, and hard working while people who go looking for existing jobs are seen as lazy and lacking initiative. This attitude is seen in popular rags to riches stories and books like Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Women's work, because it is unpaid, is devalued from its real worth as the central industry of society itself. The roles of worker/capitalist have become categories in which to organize people; it is assumed that everyone fits neatly into one of these categories. Capitalism becomes naturalized. The need for owners at all is not questioned, and a profit over people attitude is a legal, acceptable way of going about things. It is normal for 5% of the population to own 95% of the wealth and it is normal for workers to be exploited. Because of the dualistic nature of the capitalist/worker dichotomy, workers are devalued and feminized.
Capitalism informs our lives as gendered beings in large part through the segregation of labor. What is considered a woman's or a man's job and how people are compensated for their labor is largely dictated by gender. How much things cost us and how much we work are also affected by gender, as is a person's potential for class mobility. The overwhelming majority of capitalists are men, and women workers are concentrated in bottom of the barrel, aptly named "pink collar" jobs in addition to their unpaid labor as wives and mothers. A woman may not be hired for a job because she is "too feminine" or not feminine enough, and she may be fired on the basis of her gender as well. In her book, Feminist Politics, Judith Lorber cites a particularly revealing statistic: women do 2/3rds of the worlds work, earn 10% of its income, and own 1% of its property. Global capitalism has successfully arranged a system where women's labor in particular is exploited.

blog 3 yo.

Foucault’s theory on power I believe to be more universal than both Deleuze and Marx, and Johnson’s and Plumwood’s articles are applications of Foucault’s work. Foucault posits that power is discursive, which means that by referring to our cultural sites of knowledge and learning (school institutions, the media, the arts, etc), we inadvertently create power structures. The way that we talk about things, and the institutions we build surrounding what we know eventually become natural, or the “norm,? which leads to the “abnorm.? This relationship is one governed by power.
Also, the more we learn, the more discourses we make, which is followed by the normalizing of that knowledge, which creates more power structures.
Another important aspect of Foucault’s theory is that the structures of power are contextual, and therefore more fluid that one would think. Because power is tied with the production of knowledge, each time we refer discourses, we also create more. For example, the oversimplified, loose outline I am explaining here on Foucault’s theory of power is creating a discourse in itself. The discourse I am creating, when posted on the blog and read in conjunction with everyone else’s posts, will create a completely different discourse, just because of the context that it is in.
Foucault’s theory is more universal because it is inescapable. We will always try to further understand our world, and therefore always create discourses. I think of this in terms of gender by the way Butler describes we “perform? our gender. In our bodies we are creating sites for the discourse of male or female. We refer to one another in order to describe our gender more thoroughly. It is inescapable, because we are constantly referring to what is around us to define how we are. But all is not lost! While this can perpetuate gender dichotomy, there is also room for change. I truly believe that the norms of our culture are transforming. Foucault says discourse is contextual, which means the more we create discourse that promotes gender equality, the more the power structure will shift.

Week Three Blog

The Material Power Model tells us that you need money to get power and in turn you need things to confirm that power. People are considered powerful if they have money and if they are in the right position. The majorities of people in the U.S do not live lavish lives and do not have the money to spend on anything other than the necessities. Therefore those who have power have had the money to begin with; they are usually born into powerful families. Rarely do lower and middle class citizen’s work up to the power position. Society has instilled limits on who can gain power and who cannot. The powerful gain much of their power by exploiting others, especially the lower class, women and minorities who work for very little to make goods that the powerful depend on. Society also tells us that we need to feel good about how much stuff we have. If we have a lot of stuff then we are doing everything right, if we don’t have a lot of stuff then we are not worthy and we should not be happy. Material possessions give us the false sense of completeness, we are ultimately happy if we have stuff. In reality we are lying to our children when we say money cannot make us happy. According to society, money is the key is to happiness, not working hard, not love, not creativity, but money. Not only does material power define that the upper class is the all mighty, but it also defines what sex will ultimately be the most powerful. In society white men are those who are groomed for power, rarely do we see women or minorities as the powerful ones. There are few women and minority CEOs, presidents of companies, or representing the people in congress or the senate. The stereotype of a succefful American is: a white man, in an expensive suite, driving a SUV, living in a mansion with his son who plays football and daughter who is a ballerina and whose wife stays at home and cooks. Children learn at young ages who is the most powerful, because they are shown that white men who are rich will succeed. Most of those white male power players did not get to the position by being creative or unique; they got there because of their money and parents powerful connections at the country clubs. Our society really limits who can have power. We teach our children to be strong, independent, creative, unique, and not dependent on money. Unfortunately our society tells the normal child who has these amazing traits and who dream of one day being a female president or African American male CEO is all well and good but they will never reach that powerful position.

Week Three Blog!

The concept of material power is power at its simplest and somewhat most barbaric form. Material power revolves around the belief that a person is only as strong and commanding as the amount of money and material objects he or she owns. The magnitude of a person’s power also includes the number of people that ruler has working below him. When material power was introduced by Karl Marx, he spoke of power only in respect to white men. I included women when talking about material power for a more appropriate look to today’s standards, but Marx and his followers thought that men where better and stronger than women.
Material power operates through norms in the sense of the corporate industry in today’s world. Sadly many people buy or cheat their way to the top of corporations with a lot of hard work. Most of the time, men are the presidents or CEO’s of businesses and then their strength is afterwords based on how many workers they have and how much money they rake in. Then the respect they earn from peers is based upon the house(s) they have or the cars they drive.
I think material power is best shown in the corporate world because it’s the most cutthroat part of businesses and usually men are the normal dominators, and they become consumed with materials and dominating. This actually keeps the traditional role of men alive even today because in the sense of doing gender men are strong, intelligent, and aggressive in the work force. Most of the time it is very hard for a women to make it to the top or even near it because right away they are stereotyped as weak and not qualified to be a main operator because they are a woman.

Week 3 Blog

Foucault's version of how power works (power as productive) seems to make a lot of sense in a way. It combines Marx's idea of power, that power is a materialistic thing, and takes it a step further and adds the power of knowledge to that. In essence, knowledge is power. People in general spend a lot of time searching to find that answer to why this thing works or why this thing happened. Once they come up with an answer to the question, whether that answer is right or not, they seem to gain more power. For example, if someone were to suddenly find the answer to why people get cancer or find a cure to it or something, that person will find a sudden increase in the amount of power they have in society. This is linked with Marx's idea of power in the sense that much of the time people will get money for that answering those kinds of questions.

This 'power as productive' that Foucault talks about is seen both very strongly in the past (for example, what are things made of, what are atoms, and all other scientific questions and discourses that were explained and gave those scientists more power along with paving the way for more theories to be discovered, debated, and answered) and in the present (for example, all the debate about global warming). On a more personal scale you can gain power by simply solving a disagreement between friends. Those friends will respect you more and you gain power that way therefore proving Foucault's power theory.

Blog Three

In the Allan Johnson piece, he places an emphasis on difference is responsible for privilege and power. By using differences to separate people into groups, the privileged can keep to their own groups while holding themselves superior over other groups. These differences may be based on physical appearance or entities such as wealth or family. Johnson splits privileges between two types: unearned entitlement and conferred dominance. These types determine who has to do what, such as the mother taking care of a child and the father being the breadwinner.

The piece puts forth the +5 system, where a white middle-class male who is heterosexual and a Christian has the maximum score and confer the most advantage and anything deviating from those types lose points and advantage. From the differences in how people fit into this system, privilege and power are bestowed. It's from this socially-constructed scale that Allan Johnson claims disparity in things such as how most wealthy persons are white males. On the flip side, Johson points out that blacks are more likely to be arrested and convicted, women are less likely to be paid equal to their male counterparts for the same job, and homosexuals are more likely to be harassed or assaulted because of their sexual orientation. It's putting down these groups of people listed that Johnson claims has become the norm.

Thus, as the piece goes into a list of how males have more advantages than females, so too does the performance that woman are given differ from males. For example, as I stated earlier, the woman is expected to rear a child and raise it while the male acts as the source of income. Also, if the woman does start working, she can expect to be paid less for the same job as a male. Also, woman have to put on makeup and dress up for the guys. On the other hand, it's supposed to be the guy's job to ask her out. And if a guy puts on makeup, he'd be cast as a metrosexual or homosexual. Thus, gender performance is not just stuck to one side, but a game that both sides are made to play.

Models of Power

In Plumwood's power system of Dualisms, she separates the hierarchy of power into two separate groups she likes to refer to as the master and the slave. She makes the distinction that a dualism is different from a dichotomy because in a dichotomy there is a difference between two things but there is no valued judgement attached to that difference. In a dualism there is a value judgement that says that one group of people is inherently better than another because of their differences. She breaks the logic of a dualism and how they are constructed into neat little categories that allow us to understand them in a rational way. Denial, exclusion, incorporation, instrumentalism, and homogenisation. Plumwood's model of daulistic power defines the norm as the group who's values and characteristics are imposed upon another group as a way to define them. She says that 'it is the slave who makes the master a master, the colonized who make the colonizer, the periphery which makes the center.' This means that the group is taken and broken very mathematically to create a 'normal' to best describe the group as a whole. This is similar to drawing a circle to represent the continuous distribution of characteristics in a group and then saying that the average value of the group lies at the center of the circle. This means that gender plays into the idea of a duality because men are accorded more power and positions in society than women and the only reason is because that is how it has 'always' been. This fact limits how we perform gender by telling women that they have a certain way that they should act and lumping them all together even though some might be more masculinly inclined than others. The duality also makes it seem as though men and women are different species because of the way that they are separated and objectified. We can't escape Plumwood's notion of dualism because the way that we are brought up to think reinforces the definition of dualism. Men are accorded more power than women who are seen merely as tools or objects to fulfill men's needs.

Week Three Blog

I think Marx had it right with power being based on materials. Basically his theory is that the more you have, the more power you have. It can be in terms of how much the person owns or how much they produce. It doesn't matter how hard you work to make the items. It only matters if you make enough money to purchase those items. They use the exploitation of those underneath them. He states that it is not an honest system. The people at the top in this system are not usually out volunteering a lot of their time or being creative.
If you look at the +5 system, the person at the top is white, male, heterosexual, middle-class, and christian or western culture. Who in America is usually CEO of a company? The +5 system basically defines suburbia, which is often viewed as the norm in America. This system of power is regulated through social hierarchy, where the +5 person is at the top. That person is the norm here. Typically the people at the top are not women or minorities. Take the presidential election for example, this is the first year that a woman and a black man have run for the presidency. One of them for sure won't be in office, and the other one may still not make it. For hundreds of years the white, male, middle-class, heterosexual, christian man has been in charge of the country. There is a lot of power linked to that position.
I think this way of thinking of power has the greatest effect on women. They're seen as being the ones who take care of the children and are mothers and can't be business women at the same time. A lot of women give up having children in order to reach their goals of making it to the top. On the news the other day they were talking about Sarah Palin having five children and whether or not she has the time to be Vice President and take care of her children at the same time. Also business women are expected to dress, act, and look a certain way. It can go both ways in the business world: A woman can give up some of her femininity or be forced to do it more. It also effects men. They have to act professional and dress nicely, but women have more pressure put on them in the work place. I rarely see people of other religions in business settings. The women who cover their heads or the Jewish hats are hardly ever seen. This system of power doesn't solely limit how we do gender, but how we are in our beliefs and looks. A man may hide the fact that he's gay in order to get a better chance of getting the higher paying job. I do think this system is in effect in our country, but power should be based on intelligence, creativity, or kindness in a utopian world.

Blog the 3rd

I agree with Johnson’s +5 method of describing power as social hierarchy. His + 5 methods it’s a very good way to describe power. I loved the fact that he used a white middle class person as an example and not use other classes and ethnicity. Because what we do see in reality that has more power, are a white male, in a middle class, a heterosexual and is Christianity. That’s what we see as a normal thing. This social hierarchy clearly defines power through culture, because if we used a Native American male, who also is in a middle class, and a heterosexual, and also a Christianity, he’ll be a + 4.
We lived in a place where we have to accept the +5 method that Johnson came up with. He came up with a very good method of putting social hierarchy. We act and live through social hierarchy to present our gender. Truly we believed or as some believed that acting a certain way and living a certain ways will put you to a higher spot on the chart. If we don’t act in that certain way then that puts us to a lower spot on the chart. For an example in the Hmong religion as I believed, is not all men that are put onto the top chart. But if we were to compare men to men, the smart toward the dumb oafishly the smart one who is educated is on the top list and the dumb one who is not educated is place on the lower list. Men and women have there on separate list in my point of view.
What might prohibit us from acting our own gender will probably be the classes that we have been placed on without noticing it. Sometimes it’s not based on our religion to be placed in the +5 method. We all came from different families who had been taught to act in a certain way of our gender. The other things that prohibit us from acting our gender are when we are with certain people as we said in class. If you are with someone who talks in a good manner than you would also what to talk like that person. If you are with someone who talks slang than you would what to talk slang like that person. I think that acting a certain way, living a certain way and speech is also a way to put someone on the +5 method. If we don’t reach those certain things we will probably be put in the lower +5 method.

September 20, 2008

Blog Three

The model of power that opened my eyes the most was Johnson’s power as social hierarchy. The amount of power that you have is directly correlated with the amount of privilege that you have. Privilege, according to Johnson, is something that you may or may not be aware of. It is something that you or a group has that is of value and is denied to another group only because they are not a part of the privileged group. Many people deny that they are a part of a privileged group only because they believe that they worked hard for everything that has been granted to them.
“We fear what we do not know? is a myth and only gives a reason for us to look at those that are different as weird or inferior. People are drawn to act in a way that will be perceived as normal. They talked about how males are looked down upon if they are “momma’s boys? or if they are controlled by their wives. This is not a part of the normal “man? behavior. Heterosexuals are likely to act in a way that would not let people question their sexual preference as being homosexual, which is thought to be abnormal.
It has become a growing trend for women to act as dominant individuals that do not need men to define themselves. On the other hand, men are still looked down upon by others if they were to be “Mr. Mom?. People strive to be a better or more superior person, therefore it is ok for women to act more manly but it is not ok for men to act womanly. This is still a growing acceptance, and not all think that this idea of women being dominant is ok.

Week Three Blog

The model of power I understood best was the one proposed by Johnson in the excerpt entitled “The Trouble We’re In.? This piece talks about power as a form of social hierarchy and was the one I understood best, especially because of the “+5 System? proposes. Johnson states that we inherit different social privileges and limitations which we are often unaware of. We then pass these privileges and limitations on to those we come in contact with. In order to make changes, we need to accept that these differences exist and become aware of what these differences really mean in our everyday lives. However, differences aren’t always a bad thing. Diversity can also be a very productive aspect of society. If we were all the same, we would all do things the same way, have the same experiences, and make the same mistakes. Because people have differing views of situations and problems, often times the most effective and efficient solution can be come up with through the collaborative effort of a diverse group of people.

Power operates through social hierarchies because it gives more social privileges and opportunities to some than others. For example, a man who has been working in some career field will more than likely make much more than a woman who has been in the same field of work for the same amount of time. This is where Johnson’s “+5 System? made everything click for me. She states that certain characteristics a person possesses entitle them to more social privileges. Things like race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion all play a role. A white, heterosexual, middle class, Christian man will have more social advantages than a man who is exactly the same in every way except for something like race.

Because we are all born into a different social status, we all grow up with different things expected of us by society. Men should do well in school, fly through college and then make good money and provide for their families. Women should go to school, maybe go to college and then settle down and raise children. The social privileges given to us and expectations imposed upon us at birth continue with us through our daily lives and have the potential to shape the way we interact with others, what we accomplish in life, and who we turn out to be as a person.

Week Three Blog

This week we read a work by Val Plumwood describing power as a dualism. A dualism is not the same as a difference, due to the value placed on one member of the dualism. She states, “A dualism…results from a certain kind of denied dependency on a subordinated other.? She outlines five aspects of a dualism: backgrounding, radical exclusion, incorporation, instrumentalism, and homogenization. Backgrounding is when the superior is dependent on the inferior, but makes it look like he is not. Radical exclusion is making the inferior and superior so very different, so that it is obvious that the superior is definitely not close to the inferior. Incorporation is defining the inferior in terms of the superior. Instrumentalism is similar – the inferior is only needed for the superior’s needs, and essentially does not exist outside of that. Homogenization basically is the aspect where differences among the inferiors do not matter.

A few examples of this power structure can be seen predominantly throughout history. For example, a slave’s relation to his master in early America is filled with dualism. Slaves were not thought of as individuals (homogenization), and their one purpose was to help the master (instrumentalism). Slaves were also defined in relation to their masters – that’s the point of a slave (incorporation). They were said to be uneducated or civilized, unlike the white masters (radical exclusion). At the same time, they were also expected to be grateful to their masters for “taking care? of them and providing a place for them, while really, the master needed his slaves in order for his plantation to function (backgrounding).

Dualisms are also present in the way we act gendered subjects. Although not as predominant today, there still exists a dualism between men and women. This dualism has been present in our culture for centuries, and so it is not so easily erased. For example, masculinity and femininity are still defined as being very different. This is an example of radical exclusion. Not only that, but masculinity is valued more than femininity.

Week 3 Blog

For Deleuze, the goal of power is to control, to name, and to know everything. When a theory attempts to assign value or constraints to an object through the use of its label, the real product is not a better understanding of the object itself, but a false construction of human experience. According to Deleuze, the realm of subjective human experience is too boundless to allow paradigms to dominate our understanding. This means that our everyday experience of power is misrepresented if we subscribe to a narrow, yet perhaps widely-accepted, framework.

To respond, Deleuze describes a type of power he terms “counter-power?, where action can challenge the authority of norms deemed ideal for humans. In relation to gender, perhaps an example of counter-power would be to question the usefulness of sex-correction surgery for babies after birth. If the child is healthy, yet presents both male and female genitalia, how can we justifiably “correct? it simply because it’s abnormal? Perhaps it is statistically abnormal, but the power that our society grants to norms forces the child to grow up as a product of power’s grip—which would be a denial of real human experience.

The grip that power holds over our normative experience is omnipresent in our interactions. As gendered humans, power fuels our desire to contain the essence of something within a name. Interestingly, the fact that some people have begun to attempt counter-power through the construction of terms such as “butch girl? or “femm-y guy? shows that we’re finding ways to add nomenclature to what used to be considered abnormal—and although that movement is an example of counter-power, we’re countering the norm with another heavy dose of names, of power. Perhaps as a culture we must struggle with the transition before achieving the kind of freedom that Deleuze describes.

Week Three

The model of power that Allan Johnson writes about in “The Trouble We’re In: Privilege, Power, and Difference, defines the idea of where we fit in a social structure or hierarchy. The problem lies with the inheritance of societal and historical limitations we have learned to view without question regarding the difference between groups or individuals. This is compounded by the inaccurate belief that difference, itself, is frightening. It is what we have learned and the biases we believe to be true that make us afraid.

These groups are configured within a range from privileged to disadvantaged, the haves and have nots. The more privileged or disadvantaged you are is seen in a tangible way when reflected in everyday life.

We inherited a system that not only judges people by their sexual orientation, the color of their skin, the language they speak, what religion they practice, etc. but also ascribes limits to them by these very categories. These categories are given a value. We have a choice by becoming more informed to either perpetuate a system we no longer believe is fair or change our values, behaviors and a system that truly values differences.

Society defines the limitations; we act within the social borders. In other words, the belief system we have restricts how we do gender. If, for instance, I grew up in a household where education was not important for women that would limit my desire to go to college. If I am told that girls don’t play sports, then most likely I won’t so I can live within these borders. If I discourage my sons from cooking because it is not manly, then I limit how they perform gender. It is harder to become empowered when we have to live within the confines of these societal constrictions.

Week Three

This week we looked at a text by Plumwood about dualism. Plumwood makes it very clear that there is a large difference between dualism and difference. She concludes that difference means looking at two things and saying that they are different. This is can be easily looked at in a political lens. For example, democracy is very different from communism. They have different government and create a different society. But dualism, says that democracy is different, and those facts that make it different make democracy better. Dualism has five main themes. They are: backgrounding radicalexclusion, incorporation, instrumentalization, and homagenization. These themes explain how an inferior can be effected through power by the presence of a superior. Plumwood's case seems readily backed because it not only, accepts the existence of a superior and inferior but explains why there is one. It seems as if a chain of this is why we have a power struggle and why we can't break it, even accepting a negative difference creates an inferior and boots the superior. This happens all over the place in everyday life and the history of the humankind. In gender, we see this all over. Men are better than women, because (list any number of differences here)...Hetersexuals are better suited for the job/task Plumwood's standards it is as if differences are put on a pedestal and become dualism, one is better because it is not the same as the other, making the latter the inferior.

September 19, 2008

Week 3 Blog

In Johnson's "The Trouble We're In: Privilege, Power, and Difference," she explains that groups are "pitted" against one another by the way that privilege is organized in society. We have this way of granting privleges to some, but not to others for no apparent reason. In this sense, it all comes down to privilege versus power. This is where we, as a society, put people on this pedistal, or hierarchy, and determine who should be able to do what, without really having a solid reason to back it up. When Johnson describes all of this, she explains that there are "unearned entitlements" and "unearned advantage." Unearned entitlements refer to things that people should just automatically have without being questioned. Unearned advantages are things that people say you are allowed to do, but only because of "x, y, and z." Also, she tells the reader about something called "conferred dominance" where one group has power over another. Altogether, Johnson explains that people are classified into these three different categories even if the outcome is not fair or logical.

To be more specific, some believe that whites have more power over colored people because of the way the world used to be so many years ago. In some people's eyes, that should still be the way it is today. When talking about gender, females are put into this hierarchy where men are "higher" than women are. Once again, this is because of how things were in the past. Difference is not the problem, though. People are just naturally afraid of what we know (again, from our past), that it is hard for individuals to step out of their so-called "comfort-zone" and stand up for what should really take place and what privileges should be granted to everyone.

In today's society, I do not believe that these privileges are as stressed as they were in the past. Equality with power is becoming much more common, at least with females and males. For example, women are starting to enter into more jobs in the work force that in the past men were only to partake in due to them having a certain privilege over women. Women's ideas are also being more valued, which plays a huge part in men not having as many privileges over women as there once was. Gender still plays a part in this since we have these so-called "roles" to fulfill whether we are male or female. As stated before, these "roles" are becoming much less common, and men and women are able to stand up for what they want to do as individuals with their own values and ideas.

September 18, 2008

Blog Assignment Three Instructions

Blog Assignment
Week Three

This week, we explored five different models of power: power as social hierarchy (Johnson), power as dualism (Plumwood), material power, power as productive, and counter-power (hand-out). Each author theorizes power a bit differently from the last. Johnson argues that social institutions and public policies ascribe meanings unto identities that aren’t there naturally. Instead, identities become meaningful when they can be placed and understood in a social hierarchy which, in turn, makes sense of identities- and their differences- by granting some “unearned? advantages while denying it to others. Plumwood takes this one step further. While Plumwood would also argue that privilege and power manifest through social organization, she also tries to answer why Western cultures are so drawn to hierarchies in the first place. Dualistic logic, or the understanding that one group is not only different from but better than another group, plagues Western thought, culture, and language and explains why we have a difficult time seeing people outside of a comparative relationship to others.
The theorists we read on Friday similarly examine the function of power in culture. Marx’s materialist theories of power insist that power dynamics are created through capitalist production. Foucault challenges this idea by arguing that while power may operate on a structural level, its authority is something that we, as subjects, perpetuate. Deleuze latches onto Foucault’s ideas that power is something we enact and suggests that we might begin to think how power can work to our benefit.
In each account of power, there is an explanation of how power operates through norms and becomes “normative? (i.e. the +5 in Johnson is the “norm? from which we all falter, while for Plumwood, the “reason/male/culture? side of dualism is the default mode of existence in Western culture). One might even conclude that power and privilege is not only ascribed- or denied- to the identities that we perform but become fundamental to the way that we understand ourselves and others, such that gender and power are inextricably linked. In a 250-300 word blog, pick one of the five models of power we explored and explain how you might use it to understand gender. In your response you’ll want to:

• Briefly summarize the model of power you’re looking at
• Talk about how that power operates through norms/defines the normative mode of existence in culture
• Talk about how that mode of existence informs how we act and live as gendered subjects (tip: if you can think back to last week, we ended by talking about the limits of gender “performance?- i.e. things that prohibit us from doing gender however we want to. Talking through the limits of gender as power might be a useful way of answering this question)