October 2011 Archives

Genocidal Rape and Sexual Exceptionalism

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I found our class discussion on the reading "Women and the Genocidal Rape of Women" by Laura Sjoberg really interesting. Upon reading this article I realized I was one of the people that had never pictured women as the perpetrator of genocidal rape. Whenever I thought of genocidal rape I had always thought of men as the perpetrators and women as the victims. When the reading discussed women's motives I was surprised that women couldn't commit these crimes just because they felt like it, but because they fell into specific categories of craziness. Women committed these crimes either because they were nurturing mothers caring for their men, severely psychologically disturbed or due to erotic dysfunction (pg 23). However, after our discussion I realized that even though it is unnatural and unheard of, women can commit these crimes without falling in the above motive categories. I think in order for society to realize this, we need to analyze feminism more and the change of power women are encountering.

On a slightly different note, I found it appalling regarding sexual exceptionalism that there was such an abuse of power involving torture. The fact that the US soldiers raped and tortured Muslims knowing that it is the most shameful and humiliating thing for them. I do realize that there is torture going on in war but I think it is stepping the line when they resort to sexual torture and sadism. I also find it unfair that women are constant victims of rape and are rarely recognized compared to the event at Abu Ghraib. There are more occurrences of women being raped then men and women receive less media and less recognition from society. It's as if society realizes that women are being raped but that its not as big of a deal because it happens all the time.

Thoughts on Native American sexual violence

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I have little experience in learning about the Native American culture and so Andreas Smiths article " Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide" really caught my attention to not only a part of the Native American culture I didn't know about but also to a whole new level of how responsible racism is for sexual violence. When colonizers took over Native American land they were already beginning a time of racism with their essential destroying of so many parts of Native American culture. Although Native American men are responsible for acts of sexual violence against women of their own race, white males are the dominating criminals. Later in her article Andrea Smith talks about how the colonizing of not only Native women, but women of all minority races, is "part of the project of strengthening white male ownership of white women." The power that men gain through dominating women of less power, gives them even more strength and ego to dominate women of their race who have some power. A quote on page 12 of the article that states "As a consequence of this colonization and abuse of their bodies, Indian people learn to internalize self-hatred, because body image is integrally related to self-esteem." After colonizers took over their land and essentially life, Natives felt powerless and whites were the root of that problem. This feeling of weakness in the Native American community turned over into a feeling of weakness in other areas such as body image and thus it became easier for Native women to be taken advantage of. Whites essentially had all power against Native Americans and committed numerous rapes against women. According to this article, numerous Native Americans are ashamed of being a Native American, and whites have a lot of responsibility for that in the way they have taken advantage of Native American women.
Because of little exposure to these events before recently I assumed everything had changed over time and had assumed today it could be said this has been taken care of and was just a matter of the century they were living in. However that is not the case. As of today if a violent sexual act is committed on a reservation, a white cannot be touched by law enforcement. This fits right back into racism and how it is still such a problem in our society today. Rape is not an issue that should be taken lightly, no matter where it happens or who it happens to. However, with laws like that we are still putting whites at an advantage over another race because the feeling of superior power is still present. Yes, rape does occur by Native American men to Native American women as well but I chose to focus on the aspect of white power and sexual violence which ties all the way back into Kevin Graham and Cathy Cohens articles on respective issues of White Supremacy and Marginalization. "Because Indian bodies are "dirty" they are considered sexually violable and "rapeable" and the rape of bodies that are considered inherently impure or dirty simply does not count." How does this even become? Where do these ideas of a Native American stem from? The answer is all in the history of White take over and domination of the Native American culture and that history has lead to the horrible results of enormous amounts of sexually violent acts against Native American women.

While looking into some more statistics and information about Native American women I found this helpful and interesting article on the National Organization of Women's website.


An Example of Rape on the Reservation

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I came across this article and found it to be a perfect exemplification of the essay: "Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide" by Laura Sjorberg. In Sjorberg's essay, she describes how the rape of a Native American woman is "an attack on her identity as a Native" beyond an attack on her identity as a woman. Marvin Smith notes that this type of identity attack, makes it difficult to prosecute rape. Smith refers to a "stigma" associated with Native women that makes the prosecution of rape difficult. This idea is seen numerous times throughout Sjorberg's article as she describes the normalcy and acceptance of rape throughout Native American tribes where community members believe that "in Indian country.. sexual violence is 'traditional'". Although women are often leery about reporting rape, many reported rapes go without prosecution. In the case of the Kyle girls, the federal prosecute refused to bring the case to court because of "lack of evidence", although the crime scene itself remained untouched for evidence collection. Sjorberg, affrims this, by stating "not only have local police made no effort to solve the cases, they appear complicit", this can be seen clearly in the case of the Kyle girls, when the local police cleaned the crime scene before any evidence could be collected. The tragedy of such cases lies not only in the individual devastation, but also in the mere accumulation of these crimes gone unpunished. Both Sjorberg and Rick concede that there is an obvious dearth in the amount of rape cases that receive judicial recognition. The roots of this gap can be traced back to the stigmatization theory mentioned earlier, where the historical rape of Native women seems to have built a culture tolerant of rape and sexual violence. This historical rape, as seen through this article, has instilled itself in society and continues to have tragic implications today.


Human Trafficking

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I really think the photographic essay by Kay Chernush is not only interesting but also very thought-provoking. It sheds light into the idea that human trafficking is not just someone else's problem, but something we, as Americans, need to deal with as well. Many people view prostitution and human trafficking as something others have to deal with and that it doesn't affect our country, but it does. The saying that a picture tells 1000 words is so true; it makes us feel more connected and puts faces to the names and stories we hear about that we believe to be so distant from us. It also makes the situations more relatable; I see girls around my age in those pictures being trafficked from country to country and it makes me relate to that and want to help them. It's quite depressing how many of us just disregard the problems with human trafficking because some of us live in areas where we have never seen problems arise with human trafficking like the ones we hear in the news. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, in my own town I obviously never saw prostitution but one would think that going in to the city a lot to visit, I would see it but to this day I never have. I usually stay on the better side of town and therefore am never exposed to the issues that happen in Chicago everyday. Seeing and reading into this photographic essay about human trafficking is a great way for people to understand the issues that every country faces, including the US.

Women's Freedoms and Prostitution

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Lucinda Peach's essay, Sin, salvation, or starvation, suggests that prostitution is not always intertwined with human trafficking. In many cultures, especially Eastern ones, as Peach points out, sex work is not considered inherently wrong or evil. Instead, it can be viewed a choice that some women make and isn't reviled or disdained. However, the situations that lead these women into such circumstances are generally out of their control and are shaped largely by their patriarchal cultures. Whether women are sent off to temples at a young age, economically forced into sex work because it pays better than other occupations available to women, or are excluded from "normal" marital society from having lost their virginity in one way or another, very few women engaged in sex work-- past or present, in Western or Eastern cultures-- can be said to have freely made their decision.

While being open to the idea that prostitution can be a personal choice, as well as taking away its Christian moral stigma may be a progressive step in our society, the ubiquity of sex work is a clear indicator of heavy, male-dominant oppression.

sexual exceptionalism

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While reading articles and news of Iraq and other Middle East countries, I could see that they ignored the human rights of women with considering them as second-class citizen. I was really bothered of the fact in most of Muslim countries that woman who committed adultery can be executed or killed by her brother in public, while there isn't such a rule for man who commits it.
For me, I did not have many chance to witness sexual exceptionalism. It just scares me how the person's rights could be ignored easily by men or state in some places. All humans are born with the same basic necessity by common sense. So people should be treated fairly concerning their rights and choices as individuals.

rape of women as opposed to the sexual harassment as men

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While reading the previous blog of sexual exceptionalism, the concept of rape of women being unrecognizable was brought up and it truly bothered me. Abu Ghraib was such an issue, and the events that took place at the prison camp was completely awful, degrading, and horrific. The men of Abu Ghraib were sexually humiliated and their culture was degraded. These men were assaulted in way which totally violated their beliefs and culture to the most extreme extent. While these events are horrible, the rape and assault of women in Iraq are totally going totally unnoticed and passed over. Over time, the sexual assault of women has been repeated and became apart of certain cultures, and certain groups of women have been actually been recognizable as more "rapable" the others. Women are not meant to be assaulted in the first place, but they are then placed on levels of priority on the social scale by the government on how they should be treated when they are assaulted. The women being assaulted in Iraq by men, some being our American Troops and men of their country are being completely unrecognized, because many feel they do not "deserve" to be recognized as rape, some even believe that they "deserve" to be raped. Sexual assault is sexual assault on any level and whoever it happens to, no matter the culture or age. Our world as a whole needs to adapt to the concept of recognizing all women as individuals and treating them as an equal.


Re: Systemic violence blog for Nov. 1

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I have to read all of Andrea Smith's book, "Conquest" for another class, and it simply enrages me.
When we were discussing torture in Abu Ghraib, Connor and Hannah both made excellent comments that made me think more deeply about Smith's book. Connor connoted our militarism to white privilege: deeply engrained, socially accepted and a system that actively and consciously must be undone through the rejection, awareness and pursuit of alternatives by all of us who partake in daily acts of violence. Hannah reinforced this, by commenting how the desire for violent revenge permeated all aspects of our culture, including country music.
Violence is something that is so central to who we are as a nation the only way to shock people is to add a sexual element. However, even this doesn't necessarily hold true- which not only confuses me, but further upsets me.
In Smith's account, women of color, in this instance, native american women, are somehow not deserving of the shock the American people displayed when finding out about torture in U.S detention centers. Part of me thinks America was only embarrassed that the international community saw our most base, crass systems at work. But here at home, nobody who "matters" can find out our secrets, our violence, our rape of land and people. Most American's do not know- few people in MN know that for a time, Fort Snelling was a concentration camp for the Dakota peoples. In so many senses, we are the white people of privilege, refusing to acknowledge we have consciously forced some to the margins in order to get whatever we want ("Manifest Destiny").
The fact that white men have total impunity in acts of rape against native women, and the formal U.S legal system stand idly by, only reinforces the messages behind Abu Ghraib: Domination, violence & hypocrisy truly is the American Way. Historically we have seen this, and our support of dictatorships and industries that promote Gender Based Violence recreate this ideology.
Today's discussion about gender justice drew more similarities to white privilege, do we all need to be the equivalent of "race traitors" and accept all of us in a privileged position play a role in the perpetuation of violence and militarism, regardless of gender? Those of us who are members of the colonizing group are all part of the system- what do we have to do to break it?!

sexual exceptionalism..

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The documentary that we watched in class about Abu Ghraib was not shocking to me, it was just interesting to know that our United States "straight and narrow" militia were the ones who were sexually assaulting men. The United States overall is a homophobic nation, thus the events that occurred in the Abu Ghraib were most "appalling". Americans were disgusted by the photos and video that surfaced, not because prisoners were being raped, not because prisoners were being tortured beyond reason, but because soldiers were engaging in sexual acts with male prisoners. What bothers me is that I know that had the prisoners been women the scandal would have blown over very quickly. Americans would not have been so shocked and puzzled had the soldiers been violating female prisoners, because that kind of behavior is what? normal? expected? accepted? or all of the above? All of the above would be my answer.
The article by Jasbir Puar cited a prisoner who divulges how much the he hated being treated like women. He said that being treated like a woman was the worst insult. It angers me that the world feels that rape and sexual violence is reserved for women; as though those acts ought to be performed on women. Therefore, to rape a man is unheard of, but to rape a woman is commonplace and easier to swallow. Which is exactly why Abu Ghraib got the publicity that it did and that is exactly why it was as scandalous as it was. But if those prisoners were women, America, hell the world would have turned a blind eye.


NY Times Blog on Anti-Gay Bullying

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While researching for my discussion paper, I found a very compelling blog from 2009 by the NY Times columnist Charles M. Blow. The blog was in response to two 11 year olds' (Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera) suicides in the spring of 2009-- both as a result of anti-gay bullying. In reading another article by Charles Blow, I was very captivated by his intense style and the depth and meaning he conveys in parts of his writing. I think on the topic of bullying his style serves an important purpose in elucidating the emotional struggle and the seriousness of this particular issue.

Part of his 2009 blog:
"The sad ends to their short lives shine a harsh light on the insidious scourge of the homophobic bullying of children.
Children can't see their budding lives through the long lens of wisdom - the wisdom that benefits from years passed, hurdles overcome, strength summoned, resilience realized, selves discovered and accepted, hearts broken but mended and love experienced in the fullest, truest majesty that the word deserves. For them, the weight of ridicule and ostracism can feel crushing and without the possibility of reprieve. And, in that dark and lonely place, desperate and confused, they can make horrible decisions that can't be undone."
"We, as a society, should be ashamed. The bodies of these children lie at our feet. The toxic intolerance of homophobic adults has spilled over into the minds of pre-sexual children, placing undue pressure on the frailest of shoulders."


I thought this was an interesting article to reflect upon and his words truly resonated in me. Aside from statistics, the story to this issue is very important to hear and I wanted to share it for anyone who might find the article as compelling as I did.


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I have to admit I haven't paid much attention to what is happening in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Israel...I still don't know much about it now. However, after the video we watched on the conflict in the Middle East, my eyes have definitely been opened. I feel that seeing images and films, more than just reading about events, makes me realize exactly how extreme the problems are over there. The fact that the US is over there, for no reason, except to show who's the underdog is definitely America trying to colonize these people, just as Israel is trying to colonize the Arabs. I'm surprised as to how people can just contain others, and pen them up like cattle, like the police has done with the Palestinians. I have the idea in my head that this is the twenty-first century and extremes like this only happened in the past, but to the contrary, it's happening today. Innocent people are dying, and cities are turning into ruins, and for what? The invasion of Palestine by the Israelites, reminds me of the article we read by Andrea Smith; the example that sparks a recollection is that of Columbus and the Indians. During Sling-Shot Hip Hop, a rap verse stood out to me, "I'm the terrorist," used in sarcasm towards the army who took over Gaza, they invade their homes with weapons of destruction, kill their wives and children, demolish their buildings, and take over their schools by placing police at that location. All of this is done and yet the Arabs are the "terrorists." It just shows how power is abused, how power is craved, how power is addictive; stopping is not an option.

Neoliberalism and Micro-loan Programs

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Lecture Notes on Globalization and Neoliberalism

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Brief Notes on Sexual Exceptionalism

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Something to think about


I came across this photo today after class and it really struck me because this is basically what we talk about on a daily basis and it goes to show that nothing is really changing in our society. Powerful and rich people get away with many things that they should be held accountable for. I think the picture explains itself. 311031_2052589630476_1116581580_31749088_878844972_n.jpg

Blog #4 : DAM's message

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The video we watched in class on DAM was really interesting. I never really understood what had happened or what the fighting was over, really what the underlying issues is, in the Middle East, more specifically in Palestine. It is heartbreaking what this group of people has had to endure. I don't know what sort of backlash would occur if a small town here had to be uprooted to make space for a different group of people. Although, I completely understand that the Jewish people needed to leave their places of oppression; I think it is sad that another group of people are now oppressed. DAM is trying very hard with the use of their music to bring this issue to light. They have become internationally known and address the big issues through their music. Their lyrics are powerful and completely influenced by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also speak about the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality. Not only do they discuss these HUGE issues they are also touching issues such as terrorism, drugs, and women's rights. "Min Erhabi" made me look at the situation from the perspective of the Palestinian people and I can understand what message they are trying to convey and why. The lyrics of this song have a really deep meaning and essentially this rap group is bringing light to ongoing struggles of their people. Another song, "I am not a traitor" that I followed on YouTube is directed in a large part at the grater Palestinian community, especially those in exile or in the occupied West Bank and Gaza who quietly view the "48 Arabs" of Israel as weak. It is the most pronounced reference to their predicament as Palestinians with an Israeli citizenship.
This is an article describing why people really enjoy the message of DAM and what their music means to them being Palestinian and dealing with these sufferings.

The United States and Terrorism (Blog #4)

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A particular quote sticks out to me in the article "Abu Ghraib and U.S. Sexual Exceptionalism" by Jasbir Puar. She writes "Amid Bush's claims to the contrary, the actions of the U.S. military in Saddam's former torture chamber certainly narrows the gap between us and them - between the patriot and the terrorist; the site, the population, and nearly sequential time periods all overlie quite nicely to drive the point home." As I read, I kept becoming more and more interested in the alternate point of view Puar suggests. In a way, American society is shown the biased vision. We are taught that the United States is correct in all matters, whether that be political, social, religious, or any number of other categories in which the U.S. considers itself "elite." Yet, Puar brings up the point of view not advertised, essentially, the one we are not taught as children or hand fed by the media. We were told, as was the rest of the world, that the horrific events that took place in Abu Ghraib were not a depiction of the nature of the United States as a whole. And while most educated citizens would (hopefully) agree that the degree of torture and the general way in which these prisoners were treated was morally wrong, it is unsettling to hear that the only thing rare about Abu Ghraib was the fact that this time, they were found out. As a soldier pointed out in the PBS documentary, these types of situations occur in even less controlled environments quite frequently, without the tell all camera there to record the damage. What this information provides me, is a complex view of terrorism and how it relates to this country. I can honestly admit that my opinion of the "War Against Terrorism" was at one time very one sided. As a third grader, I didn't understand the complexities of war, however, I was shown the awful events of September 11th and was naturally prone to believe that we had every right to enter Iraq and Afghanistan. But this article has opened my, now much more matured mind to the "eye for an eye" mentality that this nation obeys. And I start to question, at what point is the United States itself becoming a terrorist? And at what point did we overstep our boundaries as the "moral police" of the world? The example of Abu Ghraib, where torturous interrogations were performed on individuals who were not afforded a trial by jury, who were not given the right to be innocent until proven guilty, is the perfect example of a very thin line, one which I believe we crossed and then some long ago. The simple fact that we have no idea whether or not the tortured individuals actually had information makes this situation even more dire. I've always been disturbed by the death rates since the war in Iraq started, a country with no real connections to September 11th. We entered with the idea of giving the citizens freedom. In fact the conflict is named "Operation Iraqi Freedom." But a disturbing fact is that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens, innocent people, have been killed. While that certainly doesn't mean I don't respect the American soldiers who have lost lives in the conflict, it makes me wonder if our actions are justified. In the process of trying to give Iraqi citizens the American definition of freedom, we have taken away their most inherent right, life. And in the years since the war has started, the quality of life for Iraqi citizens has not improved from the years of Hussein's rule. The murderous ruler was replaced by a less obvious, yet still detrimental ruler, one that hides behind its high moral standards. And so I wonder at what point the United States is actually acting in a way it believes is moral or if it is simply hiding behind this facade of moral superiority in order to make its actions justifiable to the public.

Does gender matter?

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It seems to be a recurring theme that gender is coupled with at least one other issue. Watching the video today and reading the articles magnifies what the United States has done to reiterate terrorism and how it is done in engendered terms. The atrocious acts performed by and to male prisoners in Abu Gharib exemplify this concept. It is one terrible thing enveloped in another.

This also seems to speak similarly to the gender bias against Abeer from DAM. The fact that she cannot perform or participate in shows with her group demonstrates the lack of respect for females in their community. It would be too dangerous for her to take a role in what she wants to do with performance, but she still takes the time to participate with community outreach with her fellow band members.

It shows us that gender does matter and that the cultural definitions are often combined with other factors to determine their weight. Navigating these waters can prove very difficult for many women, but it has not stopped them from standing up for themselves and the beliefs they maintain. Gender matters in many other ways as well, but the Middle Eastern connection piqued my interest.

Origin of U.S. "Moral Standard"

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The U.S. seems to position itself at the pinnacle of moral value and it often seems that the U.S. uses this self-proclaimed identity not only to validate actions but also as a means to deem other country's actions as acceptable or unacceptable.
World War II is often seen as the event that began the United States' conception that it not only possessed the highest moral standards, but that it also possessed the highest capability of projecting and enacting such standards elsewhere. The United States undeniably played a major role in the effort to disable the tyranny of Nazi Germany and her allies, and it would be ludicrous to disavow the U.S.'s contributions to such efforts such as: Navajo Code Talkers, Industrial Supplies, and physical aid. The U.S. had entered WWII less exhausted than other countries who had been struggling to recuperate since the closure of WWI. The U.S. delayed entrance into WWII, but when she finally joined the war effort, she came well rested and in a greater economic state than her allied counterparts, appearing as somewhat of a savior to the exhausted Allied army. With the addition of the U.S. to the Allied Forces, the warfront changed considerably. With the new insurgence of U.S. troops and artillery, the Allied armies were better equipped for battle against the enemy. As the war drew to a close, the U.S. was indeed revered as a savior, not only for her help in the European theatre , but also as having been an obviously critical component in in the surrender of Japan to Allied forces, a trigger to the debacle of the Axis forces. The U.S. had emerged as a superpower: in stable financial condition and with a booming economy. Save for Hawaii, the U.S. did not have any damage to her land, a stark difference when compared to her allied countries. It is the culmination of the U.S's "savior-like" entrance, swift execution of tactics, and seemingly untouched exit on the winning side that likely triggered the "Perfect Morals" view with which she was later tagged.
The U.S. undoubtedly was proud of her victory, and of her stance in the postwar world. Having been the "savior" to the allied forces, and having won a war based off of that premise, the U.S. seemed to perpetuate this idea into a national identity. One that seemed to read "If we can save the world from Nazi harm, we can save the world from any harm. And should not it be our duty to do so?" This moral duty, self-imposed, can be seen promulgated in the U.S.'s action to "end terror". The manner of executing this goal of terminating terror has most notably included torture to those suspected of terrorist acts. The U.S. took it upon herself to cure the world of the moral decay caused by terrorism, enacting her "moral duty/high capablity to perform such an act. She did herself a major injustice, however, when she entered the arena of terrorist battle armed with the Bush Doctrine's theory of "eye for an eye, and then some" which, as Chomsky points out has led the U.S.'s "natural friends" to procure a "deep mistrust in the U.S.'s intentions and policies" to which the U.S. responds, when called into question regarding such issues, in one of two ways; one, the terrorist act(s) are due to a few bad seeds that should not be attributed to the U.S. as a whole or two, the U.S. is only acting in such a manner as a form of "counterterrorism". Understanding the U.S.'s origin of "moral superiority" helps to determine why exactly it is that the U.S. seems to be excused from reprimand on issues regarding inhumanity. It seems that the world has a forgotten the "moral standard" of the U.S. was self-proclaimed. No law proclaims that the U.S. cannot be questioned about such standards and I think it is high time that those questions be asked, and answered.
A Palestinian view of the "American Double Standard" : http://thepeopleofpakistan.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/america-has-as-many-moral-standards-as-there-are-countries-in-the-world/

The US and terrorism


Until my high school AP United States History class I did not realize how much the US interferes in other countries businesses, affairs and government. But that class only went into slight depth revolving around involvement in the past, not current issues. Growing up in the US, we are raised with the attitude that we are THE ultimate power and always have the right viewpoint, but the media, government and military hide many issues from the common citizen today.
The video about the conflict in Isreal opened up my eyes to a new viewpoint. I was not very informed about this war going on, but now I realize that the United States is not helping the conflict over there, and is actually hurting the Palestinian people in Isreal. The hiphop music video demonstrated this and totally caught me off guard, I had no idea that there were people staving and living in completely unbearable situation.
Also, the documentary we watched in class and the article we read relating back to the Iraqi prisoner camp Abu Ghraib demonstrated another monster in the United States that is hid from the public. The American Guards treated these Iraqi People like animals without even reconsidering the morals of their actions, and they then documented their horrific actions on cameras and video tapes.
It is hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that the US could do such terrible things, and it makes me reconsider the term "terrorist", because the acts that the US has been committing is not very far from that.

Slingshot Hip Hop

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The clips from Slingshot Hip Hop really opened my eyes to the conflicts going on in the Middle-East. Before watching, I knew that there was some sort of Israel-Palestine conflict but I never knew it was to such a large extent. The group Dam expressed the pain and distress felt by the Palestinian people in their music. In their song, "Who's the Terrorist" it really became clear the hardships that the Palestinian people are experiencing and that they were moved from their homeland where the only way they can resist is by throwing rocks. I think it is really good that Dam is working to get kids off the streets by creating clubs or other hang-out spots, they are really compassionate about improving life.

Abeer Al Zinati is a female singer/rapper who cannot even perform her music outside of her own home because of being female. Her family prohibits her from performing and she is constantly trying to assert her female identity. Palestinian women are very oppressed and are often stuck under male control. Abeer tries to sing about the oppression Palestinian women experience and is a strong woman figure because she works so hard to gain her independence from male control. Palestinian women are very discriminated against where they are not able to have certain jobs, they cannot wear what they want and do not have much choice over their marriages. I think it is really inspirational that Abeer is trying to be an independent woman and at the same time singing about the oppression of Palestinian women. The following article is really interesting in the fact that it discusses many of the oppressions Palestinian women face.




I feel as though the US often victimizes ourselves in situations. We act like we do nothing wrong at all when in fact, many of the terrorism that occurs in the world happens because of us. The article "Terrorism and Justice: Some Useful Truisms" definitely brought these acts to my attention and affirmed my belief that the media makes the citizens of the United States think we are the best and can't do wrong. Although we cannot correctly define "terror" or "terrorism", I feel like terrorism in general is a huge, unspoken problem with many countries that try to make their citizens feel like they haven't done anything wrong. Although, in my opinion, the US has not committed any acts of terror coming anywhere close to the detrimental results of 9-11, acts of terror are still committed by the US on other countries such as Lebanon and Afghanistan. The fact that we went to war on Afghanistan before we were even positive they had anything to do with the September 11 attack really says something about our country. We had to create some rebuttal to the attack right away and just assumed Afghanistan was part of the attack so we went killing innocent citizens in bombings. The US failed to mention they weren't positive it was Afghanistan that attacked us until months after they began attacking them. This kind of secrecy the government had makes me question a lot of other activity going on between the US and other countries. I feel like if they hid that from us for almost a year, they could be attacking other countries for the wrong reasons as well and not letting the media or anyone outside of the government know.

Refocus on Peace

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As a Jew, I feel like I have a bit more personal take on the conflict in the war-torn middle east. Moreover, it is difficult to see the hatred and lack of understanding on both sides propagated by leaders on both sides of the issue. The mainstream media, often victimizes Israel and like Noam Chomsky points out, fails to point out they are engaging in terror as well. He makes a good point, it seems that "an eye for an eye" is really only one-sided is only justified for the State in power.
But the media also fails to address the movements like DAM and feminist groups that are working toward addressing differences and working proactively as non-state actors toward peace. Mogadam Valentine's article addresses the occurrence of WOMEN, not militarized men defending "opposing masculinities" who have reached across ideological and religious lines to build a better future- in a land where the two peoples have holy sites and long,powerful histories.
Although it is easy to point to the radicals on both sides, DAM, Women in Black and other groups that look to alternative modes of protest than violence, are the way of the future. State sponsored terror will not end unless the people refuse to support the governments that partake in it & refute fallacy behind the ideology of war.
It is too bad the oppressed have become the oppressor, defense and war sometimes appears to be the easiest way to move forward- but it has proven to isolate and destroy to nations- who in the bible are descended from brothers. As Chomsky and Valentine suggest, there is another way in the globalized world, another way to connect and change the current situation- it just involved people over guns and power.

WOMEN IN BLACK: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/supreme-court_n_1015953.html & THEIR WEBSITE: http://www.womeninblack.org/en/vigil

I think, metaphorically, the most terrifying shade in the world is grey. It's inconsistent; it contains a mixture of nothing and everything which creates an undefined something. Black or White, that's easy to understand, to wrap yourself up in its blanket of knowing security. First you learn the differences: which one is supposedly superior, which one is most relatable, which one is desirable and which should be shunned. Next comes pity, comes a new understanding for the undesirables and their diseased leprosy. Thirdly comes equivalence, easily summed up here
"And I Told About Equality
And It's True
Either You're Wrong
Or You're Right"
In Michael Jackson's hit song Black or White. But still there's no grey. You only have two options and, of those two, the correct answer is both. What could make you feel better, more enlightened than that?

Still, there's still grey. For every blending between white and black, you inevitably produce indeterminate sums and shades of grey. Of something that, when shown to you, resembles little more than chaos. In the story of your life, that is little more than a pencil smudge and that shit needs to go. away. To be defeated by the eraser, to be squashed to the margins, or in worst-case scenarios, thrown away so you may start anew.

Now, when I say you, I mean me. Every step, filled with confusion and (pseudo?) enlightenment, I took and now I'm here, terrified at the uncertainty grey provides. I'm past universal truths; I'm past pride and propaganda; I'm now listening to articulate, contradictory sources and it's scary as fuck. What do I believe in when I read articles like Noam Chomsky's "Terrorism and Justice: Some Useful Terms" and documentaries like Slingshot Hip Hop, among other things, that tell me of a country, my country that has deliberately manipulated its people in order to protect its hegemonic hold. It's hard to believe in that country, it's also hard to believe in world where people, including me, have advocated for the right to freedom and, in the same breath, taken that hope away to protect myself--my pride, my economic interest, so that I can sustain a luxury-consumption lifestyle.

DAM had an effect on me. I don't listen to hip hope, I don't understand the language, yet it provided a much stronger and more real connection to me than any of my beloved B*Spears tracks. It showed me a world where the same liberties I enjoyed were not offered to the people, and were taken by our government from them. Before this, I had no connection to olive trees or the livelihood they provide for; now, it's just as real as destroying a family's farmland in front of me. Something despicably evil. Before this, I had no connection to the destruction, the brutality faced by the people. Having a brother there seemed to only make our counterterrorism more just, as if they're rebellion was such a crime that they deserved punishment for speaking out against this great country of ours. Before this, it wasn't real--it was just a bunch of pictures tied to another tired story that blended in with the countless other reports since we started.

So, where is the grey? Why not simply assimilate the Middle East into our color palette as a distinct hue deserving of its own respect and care? To me, I can't help but feel this is still a grey issue. Perhaps part of my motivation comes simply from the late hour of writing and my desire to not give up this damn metaphor. Perhaps, despite all reason, I still want to desperately cling to that decaying pillar of blind pride. Perhaps it is truly grey.

But if it is, how do we know? Do I decide? What facts do I need, how much, from what sources? Where will my pride lie and how much will remain after this? What will I do?
I don't know.

Israel-Palestinian mediators to miss 1st deadline

Here's a link to an AP news article on current talks between Israel and Palestine. Part of the conflict revolves around Israel's expanding settlements and Palestine's petition for U.N. recognition as an independent state. It seems Obama and his administration are quite adamant about joint peace talks versus separate, and Obama has vowed "to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution recommending U.N. membership for an independent Palestine." To me, it seems like joint peace talks would be preferable, but I wonder why you can't have them separately if joint has so far failed to work.

DAM and War Overall

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I thought the documentary Slingshot Hip-Hop was very powerful. I always knew there was a war in Israel but never understood the main reason why the people were fighting. The story of DAM impacted me because they expressed the hurt and pain that has been caused of the war. Sometimes in war, you never really think about the civilians that are going to be affected from all the violence. I really had empathy for the civilians especially the man who was so upset that an olive tree was destroyed. It was really hard seeing the pain on his face as he reminisced about memories of how that tree was a source of food. Who knew the littlest thing can mean so much too people.

The one thing I really like about the DAM group is how they are able to spread positive messages though their rap. I also like how they were able to let Abeer join them since it is not common for a woman to do in Israel. I thought that Abeer had a lot of courage to stand up for herself and not let anybody take advantage of her The group DAM and Abeer have a lot of humility for starting up a community club that takes kids off the dangerous streets. They are great role models who want to change the norm about war. I think the US covers up so many events that happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that we would be more supportive towards the war. I know that there are many civilians in these countries suffering like the Palestinians. I feel that Americans are set to believe that war solves all our problems. I think it makes our problems worse because violence does not necessarily solve anything.


This article talks about the civilians of the Afghanistan war are affected. Many of them have lost their homes and do not have good healthcare. There are many crossfires and shootings that make it hard for civilians to leave or to get the basic necessities.


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I was eleven years old when the attacks on the World Trace Centers happened occurred. At the time it didn't affect me and I really had no idea what was going on, all that I remember was that my sister who was in college at the time was very emotional about it. At that time I had understood terrorism to mean something along the lines of people attacking the USA unexpectedly and for no reason. I hadn't really thought about this until I took an American Studies Course, History of September 11th, when we talked how not just one thing led to this attack, but there was a tangled web that became 9/11. Ever since that class I have not viewed the US political system in the same way.

I hadn't given much thought to this topic until we watched Slingshot Hip Hop in class and then it brought back how I had once felt about this topic. I feel as though the US is full of contradictions, for example, The War on Terror was given that name by the media although it was not declared a war by the President of the US. Although the US wants to help other countries gain a political system such as ours, who are we to say that our way is better than others?

I understand the need to stick up for one's self and to not be bullied around, but there is a very fine line between standing up for yourself and bullying others. There is a quote that is along the lines of "A person's rights stop when they start impeding on someone else's." Where does the right of the US stop and where does the right of other countries begin?

Searching the internet for articles that are anti-USA aren't that difficult. The article I have posted below describes the War Against Terrorism and what people did or didn't do during it. I have to stop and ask myself, if the USA doesn't approve of terrorism, why is it that the death tolls from 9/11 are nowhere near the death tolls that the US has racked up in the middle east? Is justice being done?


A couple statistics from the article:
-Jan. 1, 2004 to Dec. 31, 2009 there were 109,032 conflict fatalities
-60 percent of those fatalities were civilians.
-700 civilians included pregnant women being transported to hospital to give birth, children and a number of mentally ill individuals

Watching the video in class we could see the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs. Listening to their raps I could tell how much passion they felt about the words they were saying, it was very different from American rap. Anybody can listen to Eminem or Snoop Dogg and not really feel like they are sincere about the issues they are talking about, but watching this documentary about these peoples lives and reading the translated words wowed me. These people aren't just rapping because they are good at it, they are rapping to try and save their people and spread the word about the injustice being done to them.

Sabreena da Witch

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Through the film Slingshot Hip Hop, I was introduced to a lot of different ideas. Prior to the film I was unaware of all of the unjustices Palestinians were subjected too. I knew about the wars and hardship going on in the middle east right now, but I was unaware that this group of people was forced to live in such torn down cities with so few resources, and were not allowed to speak with family members that are located (because they were forced to be) in cities of other countries. I've never heard about this issue from a Palestinian's point of view, so I really enjoyed this film.

The group Dam is very interesting in that they are taking something that they love, hip hop music, and turning it into a movement. They are trying to make their community better by raising money to do things as simple as filling pot holes. Dam is also working to get children off the street and to turn them away from drugs and violence. They are trying to get people to realize the turmoil they are forced to live in and help change that for future generations. I think it is really important for us as Americans to read about, and see films like this, because we tend to only hear things from our government's point of view, which can be very biased. Seeing both sides of a conflict is important in any issue, and I do not think that many Americans realize the hardship and oppression this group of people is facing, because they are only told of the violence that this group has participated in, and no one really questions why they might be acting in such violent ways.

Abeer Al Zinati, "Sabreena da Witch", is an extremely inspirational person. She is being marginalized and oppressed in almost every way possible, yet she still is optimistic and does everything in her power to help her community. She is doing what she loves and isn't afraid of how people perceive her. Hearing her story made me realize how often Americans take for granted the resources we have just by living in this country. She is fighting all male powers, which is a very challenging and risky thing to do, yet she openly takes on the issues with no hesitation. Everyone should act a little more like Abeer in their everyday lives, even if the issues are not as important or substantial.


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Growing up in the US we are constantly told to believe that terrorism is when the "enemy" invades and tries to hurt us...hurt our country. But in reality we are the terrorists as well. Our country sends innocent people to other countries to control, kill, and oppress them. That doesn't quite make sense to me. For one of my other classes we had to read an article, "Myanmar's River of Spirits". In the article it talked about Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner who has been under house arrest for 10 of the last 17 years. Myanmar is a totalitarian country that is being controlled by generals. The article said that the supporters of Suu Kyi were killed or injured in the "Black Friday" event by the government supporters. People are being targeted and forced to leave their homes and flee to other places. This reminded me of the terrorism we saw in DAM. In the US we are often times sheltered from the "outside world". We become naive to what is happening to other people in other places and we tend to only focus on the terrorism that happens on our own soil, like 9/11. Yes it was a tragedy and yes we should remember but we should also be thinking about how good we have it in comparison to others. Terrorism is everywhere and in many forms. Just because we ignore and don't acknowledge that it's there doesn't mean it's not. Myanmar has been named on of the world's six "outposts of tyranny". Myanmar.jpg


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Palestinian Arabs seem unusually similar Jews during the Nazi-era.
Palestinians have been pushed into "ghettos" called refugee-camps (cities), denied access to their friends and loved ones outside of their respective areas, beaten (both emotionally and physically), and killed. These circumstances sound similar to what was happening to the people of the Jewish faith during the Nazi-era. No, Israeli Jews have not gone so far as to create concentration camps and human ovens to annihilate the Arabs, yet they have taken their right to live and fee free (in a sense), sheer hypocrisy.
How it is possible to create a situation for Arabs that somewhat mimics what Jews went through during the Holocaust and no one has stepped in? Are the super powers of the world that careless? This Arab-Israeli war is openly hypocritical and it does not seem to be bothering anyone outside of the Middle East.
I am not well versed in this conflict and I am only going off of what we discussed in class Thursday, yet I cannot understand why this is being allowed to happen. But annihilating the Palestinians is genocide. Haven't we learned from our mistakes?



A glance at women in post-revolution Arab nations

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I found this article at The Economist regarding the role of feminism in the uprisings that overthrew many Middle-Eastern and North-African nations earlier this year:
It's gist is that, while fighting for human rights, these groups were more and less concerned about specifically women's rights in the process. Now, as new constitutions are being drafted in Egypt and Tunis, there are no women taking part in it's formulation. While some feminist activists downplayed the importance of women-specific rights during the revolutions in order to foster unity among all of the revolutionaries, now they should fight for representation in the new laws-- especially since they played such an integral role in toppling the former regimes. If they don't, women in these countries may not be a whole lot better off under their new rulers.

Mogadam Valentine's article addressed both the negative as well as positive aspects of globalization.
I agree that globalization has awakened much of the western activist world to the broader, deeper, intersecting aspects of activism and how actions by the State impact communities a world away.
Valentine states that " Global civic society is 'the sphere of cross-border relationships and activities carried out by collective actors...they are cross border, moving from shared values and identities that challenge and protest economic or political power and campaign for change in global issues" (32).
I love reading, discussing and challenging globalization, the role of the State/the future of the State. I realize that with globalization, & the rise of the internet, activists have been able to realize their role as oppressors in a neo-imperial sense as well as challenge fundamentalism home and abroad.
But I struggle with this reality. It confuses me how globalization can have a enlightening as well as narrowing impact on society as a whole. I feel like we can go abroad & fight for justice, but when someone "different" or outside the normal power sphere, or normative ideal, seeks justice here in America there is a backlash or people in positions of privilege forget, ignore or are oblivious to their stories, issues etc. Cultural relativism & respect for a variety of experiences seems to apply abroad with global justice, but not here at home.
Is it just too hard to extricate ourselves from our own, intimate social fabric to see our own roles in the complex web of society in America and what needs to be done to change things here at home? Which might I add, no doubt will have ripples across the world.
I found this article, which is narrow in many ways, but offers a glimpse or at best a limited example of what I am trying to say.


Three Feminists Peace Activists Win Nobel Peace Prize

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The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work. We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.

In October 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325. The resolution for the first time made violence against women in armed conflict an international security issue. It underlined the need for women to become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa's first democratically elected female president. Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women. Leymah Gbowee mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women's participation in elections. She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war. In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the "Arab spring", Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women's rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.

It is the Norwegian Nobel Committee's hope that the prize to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realise the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.

Oslo, October 7, 2011



I found the documentary that we watched to be very interesting. I thought that in a world full of nasty labels, and the disapproval of having so many labels, one would think that this Aggressive subcultural would frown upon that as well. For a minority of this sort, I assumed that labels would be something that offended them, but it was something they encouraged. The documentary gave many examples to refer to transgendered/gender exploring (?) like aggressive, fem queen, butch queen, and many others. I was surprised that these women kept saying they didn't want to be men, but then again they weren't all women. Comments like that confuse me, however, the women kept saying "I know what I am," and I guess if they know what they are and they feel comfortable with it, it's not my place to be questioning such things. Although, I am interested with how they classify themselves. I caught myself comparing this documentary with the article we read in class about a week ago, about the Meat Market article. These women kept saying "I know who I am," as well, but they really didn't seem like they knew who they were at all. This group compared to the documentary on aggressives weren't as hugely into labels, being as they didn't know which category they fit into at all.

Gender Identity (Rant)


Throughout our discussion of gender, my recurring thought was how little gender classifications matter and how superfluous the very categorizations are. Reading about David (I will refer to him as David because that is how he identified) only solidified my thought because all of this commotion and incredible trauma was created only to put David in a box that could be easily categorized by mainstream society. If there was no pressure to categorize David's gender, he would probably not have suffered such a traumatic existence, one that resulted in him ending his life. Upon reading the article about the transgendered sex workers, I was also struck with the superfluousness of gender categories. The author kept pressing the individuals to choose a category, but why!? Our society feels the need to have everyone be legible so that we can immediately figure them out and put them in to our own personal boxes. Some people's identities (whether related to gender, sexuality, race, etc.) are more complicated than that and simply do not allow simple categorization. Some people identify with categories that the mainstream hasn't even heard of yet! (Ie. gender queer, gender fucked, etc). I understand that everything is more easily identifiable when categorized but what good has that done to us? Our social construction of binaries has created inequality where one aspect of the binary is always more important and superior than the other.

In conclusion, I feel that we spend so much unnecessary time trying to categorize people in easily identifiable boxes, rather than simply accepting people for however they perform their gender, race, sexuality, etc. (I also realize that utilizing "etc." is fraught, I use it to try and encompass all forms of identity).

Gender Identity

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Currently in Australia, a court case is deciding on rather or not two Australian transsexuals can be legally recognized as men, without needing to have their female reproductive organs removed. I find it quite bothersome when we have to bring the government into the equation. When we are born we are merely a number to them, so why are they so concerned about our genders? A human being is born into their gender, however, the way they choose to live it should be no concern to the government or society for that matter. Although I know that people are never going to accept people who are "different," they should butt out of other people's business.

On the other hand, our class discussions on gender identity has made me more aware to the differences between transgender, transexual, lesbian, gay and such. Before it I hadn't concerned myself with this topic because I lived on an island, there wasn't much. Also discussing this has made me realize how society has molded me into a "female." There were instances when I was little when people thought I was a boy because I had short hair and I dressed like a tomboy. I felt misplaced, I was a girl, but why were people calling me a boy? So in order for society to accept me, I grew out my hair and started dressing more like a girl, because that was how I was suppose to be. Don't get me wrong, I like who I am now, but it just makes me happy to realize that people don't give in no matter how "abnormal" society thinks you are. It may sound ignorant, but hey, that's what I think.

Gender Identity

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Although racism and oppression were pretty controversial and hard hitting discussion topics at times, I think that the gender identity one has more people going "whaaaaat??" At least that is what I had been thinking as we read the articles and watched "The Aggressives". Not because I disagreed or was disgusted by the material, but merely because some aspects were quite confusing. For example, while reading "I Know What I Am", I was very engaged with the issue and the interviews but would sometimes get confused by all of the participants. They would often contradict themselves, such as Mona when she would refer to herself as a gay woman who identifies with butch queen men. It was easy to see that the author was also baffled at times, but I almost think that the confusion was the underlying reason for conducting the study in the first place. There was still a big question that I pondered after finishing the article, however. If a woman has sexual reassignment surgery and identifies herself as a heterosexual male, is she just a lesbian? Or is she still heterosexual? Is gender changeable and malleable? I doubt questions like this will ever have just one answer. There really is no black and white, male or female, gay or straight, and right or wrong when it comes to talking about gender identity and the sexuality of the human population.

I thought the movie "The Aggressives" led to a great discussion on marginalization. With most of the ways people think in today's society, gender must be classified into two categories: male and female. Maybe those people will never change their minds about how they feel regarding the topic of gender identity, but will we ever reach the point when society in general will no longer care about what gender implies? The women in the video can go on and live their life disguised as a male if they want to be seen as a male, but at the same time they continue to be marginalized because it causes those in the normative group to ignore the issue and not acknowledge that these groups exist in the first place. In the article "I Know What I Am", an interviewee named Renee says "the transexuals have to come together and start their own shit up...a lot of the gay organizations, they don't give us any support." I think this is really sad; even though they should feel included in the gay community, many times the transexuals are still being marginalized. They are minorities within minorities. Why is it that even within the GLBTA community, many transexuals still may not feel welcome? All i can say is that even though I still have many unanswered questions about gender identity, I really appreciate the class discussions on this topic because they really open my eyes and help me understand terms and concepts better! Sometimes the topics can be hard to wrap my head around, but it helps to read articles like "I Know What I Am" and watch movies like "The Aggressives". The more information and material I have to work with while learning about gender identity, the more likely I will be able to define it in my own words and contribute my ideas.

Spent: Life in Impoverished America


"Work hard. Do the right thing. Homelessness is something that will never happen to me. Sometimes, all it takes is one life-changing experience to land you on the streets: a job loss, death of a loved one, divorce, natural disaster, or serious illness.
Next thing you know, a chain of events sends your life spiraling out of control..."


I want to talk a little bit of games and how/if they are effective when talking about issues of inequality. For the majority of this post I'll be talking about Spent, a flash game put together by the Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) in conjunction with McKinney, a media/advertisement firm. Throughout the game you are asked a series of questions and faced with the inevitable repercussions of your answers. When you play, think of these questions: do you feel a connection to the situation? does it strike a nerve differently than if you were to attend a seminar on poverty and homelessness?

Spent starts off with a statistic, that "Over 14 million Americans are unemployed."
You are now one of them. You have no job. You have no house. You are a single parent.
You have $1,000 left to help make you through a month. Can you do it?

You continue on and try and find a job: server, laborer, or temp.
Do you have the skills?
Can you make the hours?
Can you live on your wages?
If you can't, do you have any other options?

I like that this game talks alludes to the failure of a true meritocracy here in the U.S. Though it doesn't address racial and other factors that contribute to poverty, I think it still proves to be an effective tool for teaching others. I played it for the first time a couple of months ago and I remember the panic that I had with each decision. What sacrifices do I make? Are they good for my child or am I failing them? I grew up in comfortably middle class family--I never suffered from want or need. There was always food on the table and always job security. The few brushes I've had with money problems have been minor, but even then have terrified me to the point that am determined to have that never happen to me and my future children.
So, I can't imagine being impoverished; I've never had that experience. So this game is effective for me, probably more so than a speaker. After all, this puts me in the position where I have to make a decision with real ramifications, versus experiencing them second hand through another's recount.

Other games to consider playing:


You start off as a lone dissenter in a crowd of others. Working your way against the crowd, you are able to recruit one and then another. Continuing one, you begin to amass you own followers that begin to rival the crowd. But what happens when you take over the majority?


You start off in a calm forest. You begin to climb higher and higher up the trees until you reach above the clouds and float contently in paradise. However, you can't float forever and eventually must come down, and when you do, you fall deep into a dark sludge pit that engulfs you. Your movements now restricted, your chances escape seem especially grim. Should you get out, the process repeats only the highs get harder and the lows threaten to consume you. Put together by Singapore-MIT Gambit Game Lab, the game serves as a metaphor for depression.

Gender Identity

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Before our discussion about gender identity in class, I had never thought about this topic before. Being a heterosexual female this topic has never been something that I have had to deal with. Once reading the David/Brenda article, I started thinking, who has the right to decide what gender someone will be or "portray" to society? And if it is just a portrayal of who you are, are we just conforming to societal norms subconsciously? I am the youngest of three daughters in my family, and my father always wanted a son, so I was the daughter chosen to try to fill that void for him. When I was younger I mostly enjoyed things that were stereotypically meant for boys. I even got called a boy when I was in public with my father, although I had really long hair. It wasn't until the age of about thirteen that I had even considered wearing a dress or skirt and letting the color pink touch my body.



I think that gender identity is influenced by society and the environment that one is raised in, but I believe that "nature" (nature vs. nurture) ultimately takes over and one becomes their true identity and self regardless of society. I think that not only gender identity, but identity in general is something that comes from the inside and radiates to the outside of a person. Unfortunately it is judged from the outside looking in. For example, in the link that I have posted, it says:
"A surgical procedure to alter the genitals or other gender characteristics is not required of an applicant for a recognition certificate." Recognition certificate?? To tell someone what gender you are? When would the need for a recognition certificate be necessary and how would this make the certificate holder feel? Maybe they would feel proud to get a certificate saying that they are now "officially" the gender that they have always wanted to be. Maybe they feel that society feels the need to mark them as F or M so that they will be more comfortable with the alterations being done on their body. Regardless the reason, I don't see the absolute necessity to mark someone as A or B. I think labels make people try to conform to the central idea that each label provides, regardless if they have the same beliefs or values. I think that people should be themselves and live through their identity without question of what society will say.

Globalization - the continuation of manifest destiny


Globalization is sometimes thought to be this manifest destiny of the current day. I think this comparison is interesting and accurate in the most part. When we look back at 19th century idea of manifest destiny, we often think about its glorified outcome. We forget to mention though what it cost to achieve this "destiny", how white settlers destroyed anything in their paths (namely Native Americans) and how its negative effects are still shown in present day society. Is that what globalization is doing today? Are we pushing aside minorities, less privileged countries, women's rights, values, morals etc ... in order to gain global power? Is it worth it? The article "Globalization and Collective Action" did mention how globalization does have a good side, in that it gives the opportunity to members of oppressed groups to communicate, work together and ultimately be a stronger combined force. It seems though, that at the same time that globalization is benefiting these marginalized groups, it is also further oppresses them. The practice of neoliberal capitalism feeds into the negative effects of globalization because giving economic freedom is basically giving more power to those with power. And because of the gap created by globalization, the power is sucked to one side, leaving the powerless powerless. It's almost like we need a globalized force in order to fight globalization.


SlutWalk - you're so edgy, racy, vulgar, and...privileged? Here go the white females again, forgetting about their other sisters. We did it back during the suffrage movement and it seems as if we haven't learned from our previous mistakes. Has anyone asked if the black women want to be invovled and what it means for them to associate with the label of "slut" and walk around in skimpy clothing? Well, according to them; no.
After a Tornoto police officer suggested that women shouldn't dress as sluts in order not to be victimized, a revolution started. Women across the world began participating in slutwalks in order to reclaim the word and reverse the blame of the victim. What organizers seem to have left out is the thoughts and identities of black women. As much as females would like to unite together and believe we travel similar paths, this is simply not the case. White privilege is a blindfold; sometimes we realize we can't see the world in its entirety but more often than not, we forget its there. I find its intresting when confronted with the racialized reality of the slutwalk, one of the organizers states, "[w]e have always been inclusive. We've always said anyone is welcome to come to our meetings, we've never excluded any group. It's unfortunate that some people have that perspective and don't feel welcome, but our message is to end sexual violence." I am wondering in what aspect this particular organizer feels is inclusive? Have organizers connected with the black community asking how they identify with the message of a slutwalk, what it means for them to "reclaim the label", or dress in little to no clothing? If I could guess, I would assume that no, no one has asked. Because, clearly black females are speaking up and no one appears to be listening. Why do we, and I say "we" as a white female, blind ourselves to the lives of black women and not open ourselves up to understanding? We appear to still be encourgaing separate movements and are not as racially inclusive as we'd like to imagine. I would love to hear more from women of color to understand their position more clearly. slut-1.jpg

"The Aggressives"

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Watching the documentary "The Aggressives" in class was a very eye-opening experience. I grew up in a very religious household and so anything have to do with homosexuality, transgender individuals, and even sex was extremely taboo. Talking about topics like these and many others that we discuss in this class have been quite enlightening. I really enjoyed that I got to take such a close look into something I really knew nothing about. I have seen one transgender person in my lifetime and it was a customer I helped in my hometown's grocery store. I remember how awkward people seemed when she was near them and also, how everyone seemed to talk about it after she left. I wasn't really affected by the fact that that woman standing in front of me sounded and resembled a man, but I can't say the same for my coworkers. I do not understand why society makes such a big deal over gender. I feel that individuals are so intricate and complex that something so minor, like gender, should not be given so much hype. This is just another way that people are taught to dislike who they are. There are already enough pressures on how to live and look, that we simply cannot handle more. People need to stop learning to be unsatisfied and learn to embrace themselves and their uniqueness. Self-empowerment is what we need to be preaching. I really believe that the individuals in "The Aggressives" were promoting self-empowerment. They are living how they want to live and being who they want to be. They are not conforming or hiding who they are, but doing thy opposite. They are proud about who they are and won't back down because the world isn't ready to accept them yet. I think that society needs to shift from criticism to acceptance.

Gender Identity (Blog #3)

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Our discussions in class about gender identity have made me realize just how complicated the whole idea of gender classification can be. Quite honestly, I was often confused when reading the article "I Know What I Am" because I would basically lose track of the individual's biological identity. But then I began thinking maybe that brings up a point, that gender identity on a larger scale is not simply male or female. What I've learned is that gender identity is not an easy element of one's being. For many the question, "what are you?" extends much further than the general responses, "I'm a girl" or "I'm a boy." Before our discussions, I hadn't put much thought into the answer to the question of gender. For me, I have always been very comfortable with my status as a heterosexual female. However, I now realize that many individuals struggle with pinpointing who they are. The documentary we watched last week in class called "The Aggressives" was one more example of the complex nature of gender. For the women in the film, their seemingly similar identities were dissected into subsets that made each unique. None of the women could simply define who they were; each had a very unique outlook on how she defined her gender identity. The film brings to light how complicated this subject can be and how underrepresented this group of individuals is in social and political settings. It also alerted me to the difficulties that can arise when someone associates with a group considered to be outside the "normative" genders. For example, finding jobs can be difficult for an individual who labels himself or herself as transsexual. And that made me think of some of the simple, everyday aspects of life that could be difficult for someone that isn't considered to follow the norms established by society. Overall this whole discussion has made me well aware of how gender is not solely determined by biology. While our biology is easily defined, gender identity is not.

blog 3 - is marriage the best fight to pick?

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Our conversation about The Aggressives last week brought up the fight for gay marriage, and whether or not this was the best place for activists to focus their energies.
Gay marriage is a great idea. Marriage should be a basic human right. The fact that same sex couples are bared from this cultural institution is terrible. They should be allowed to have beautiful weddings, file taxes together, settle down and adopt or otherwise acquire small children, have the whole white picket fence American dream thing. Blah blah blah, et cetera, et cetera.
I believe all that, I really do. It's just that there are more urgent topics that LGBT activists should be focusing on. There is no national Employment Discrimination policy regarding sexual orientation or gender presentation. There is no Housing Discrimination policy regarding sexual orientation of gender performance. A proposed Student Non-Discrimination Act would protect queer youth from bullying, hopefully bringing down the high number of suicides. Only since 2009 has there been a national hate crime law that includes gender, sexuality, and gender identity. The number of hate crimes commited against LGBT individuals has actually been increasing. All of these issues seem more critically in need of attention than the right to marry.
Marriage is an assimilative act. It makes gay relationships function on the same level as straight relationships, as should be their right. (And with divorce rate at 50%, who's to say marriage is so great anyway?) Also it likely appeals the fairly comfortable liberal middle class who has the time to petition the government for their rights. While people like those in The Aggressives would benefit from same sex marriage, they would benefit more from something else.
One questions to ask is should activists work towards a policy will make the difference to what can semi-oxymoronically be called the "gay mainstream," or the should they be working towards making a real difference for less vocal LGBT folk who's priorities are their safety and their livelihoods?

Blog 3 Gender Identity

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I believe identity is a compilation of individual characteristics by which a person can be recognized. I think identity includes personality, intelligence, physical appearance as well as factors such as religion, culture, family, class, and ethnicity to name a few. I can easily say that I never knew the extreme mental stress that people of the transgendered community face. This course has easily shown how frequently this group of individuals always has to define what or who they are to everyone and it really is unfair. I can appreciate the two articles we had to read during this class because it was a huge eye-opener. I really haven't throughout the course of my life seen unkindly acts towards the LGBT community until my later years. I remember being first introduced to it in university when the LGBT school group put on a drag queen fashion show/competition. I actually thought it was wonderful but it was the first time that I also saw the stigmas people have against these communities. Some people were offended and tried to boycott the whole performance, some tried to get it banned. It is really sad to me when our society is so judgmental and feels they have a right to comment on issues like this at all. In "I Know What I Am", I thought how hard it must be for these men in the article to try to define themselves in a different way, or not understand who they are. To have to get counseled to understand what the different definitions are and what category they fit in. Mostly after reading this article my thoughts went directly to Chaz Bono, a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. I thought it was completely outrageous the way people went about this whole situation. I would turn on the news and see people calling in about boycotting the show and how it is an awful example to set for their children. OneMillionMoms.com has called for a boycott of the show, calling his casting, "completely unacceptable and Christians should not watch the show, no excuses!" I am pretty sure Christians, like most other religions, are supposed be accepting and consider each person a child of God. At the end of the day, watching Chaz may help a lot of children that are having gender identity issues. He is a pretty positive person even though this entire time he has been hearing this very illogical nonsense and continues to be positive. I think that is a great role model for a child struggling with these issues. Another very memorable moment in regards to this topic for me was when I went to India with my mom in 2006. I attended a wedding where there were transgendered men dressed as ladies who would entertain and put on shows. They are paid entertainment and are, more times than not, expected to show up to wedding events. It's actually quite accepted to be for example, a man who acts like a woman over being gay in India. When I asked my mom to explain she easily said, "Well they are born that way." However, she couldn't understand that when it came to gay/lesbian communities. In retrospect, most Asian countries are not very accepting of gay/lesbian individuals or relationships but from what I have personally seen, they seem more inclined to accept transgender communities. I also travelled to Thailand and "lady-boys" are really accepted. Some of them are quite stunning and you would never be able to guess they weren't women. The saying that went along with lady-boys was "same same but different". Everyone, locals and visitors, wore t-shirts with the saying on it like it didn't really matter. It really strikes me as odd that North America is so diverse but so much more prejudice and judgmental towards these diversities.

Blog # 3 Gender Identity

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Coming into this class I never really thought that gender identity would be something we spent a lot of time discussing. I think this is mostly because the thought doesn't cross my mind as much as racism or bias based on economic class when it comes to justice. I have never done much thinking about gender identity and the justice that should be served with it.
The "I know what I am" article and the movie "The Aggressives" really has made me think about justice on a whole new level. In the article "I Know What I Am" I was amazed at all the unique names and identities they had for them selves and how each one was so proud of their own. They always had reasons for why they identified themselves the way they did and I had never been exposed to that type of gender identity before. It made me consider how I identity myself and made me think about if there should be more to my identity then I think there is. Identity is such a powerful thing, we each have one but do we really think about it as much as we should? These men and women have thought about it a lot because they know what they want to be, they know who they are and I believe their happiness comes from that. In the movie "The Aggressives" it made me extremely happy to see how proud and happy each of the women were about who they were. I think in a society that is still so harsh towards homosexuality it is hard for a lot of people to open up about who they truly are. These women had no problem with who they were, they knew exactly who they wanted to be and they were that person. To me that was incredible to see. I had never heard of anything like the women in the movie before (which really goes to show the type of society we live in here) so to watch a document of their everyday lives and the struggles and triumphs that come with it, while each one kept a smile on their face almost the entire time, really made me hopeful. Hopeful that the world can keep opening up more to all identities because then it will be easier to have justice for all. These people are happy because they have figured out their lives. So many people live in shame or hiding of their identity that they never truly get the chance to be happy. If we can spend time focusing on gender identity justice like we do trying to gain justice for race and class, I truly believe, as cliche as it sounds, this world would be a much happier place.

Gender Identity.

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Addressing the issue of gender identity that his such a limited amount of information in regards to the history allows for an easier confrontation of bias and preconceived notions. Examining the articles and the film have provided for the understanding of socialization and conditioning that has influenced traditional upbringings. Dissecting information related to intelligible and unintelligible gender identities proves to be difficult for most people. Our society demands that all people recognize and claim one of two gendered terms, but The Aggressives, the situation of Brenda/David, and David Valentine's article articulate that language does not dictate everyone's sense of self. Now, one must ask, what is society's benefit of everyone claiming femaleness or maleness, and what impact does it have if someone refuses? I believe that the film and the readings support that there might not be the need for cut and dry information. Although it can be argued that identities that fall on the binary of female and male create comfort for those that clearly identify with one term or the other, it must be noted that this can only occur at the exclusion of people that do not identify on the binary. Therefore, I argue that gender identity is not a binary, but is a spectrum that is fluid. In the Valentine reading it was emphasized that many people that can be labeled "transgender" fill differing roles in their lives based on many factors. This should be more reason to step away from the need for a label to meet a standard that seems arbitrary and useless. If we truly live in a free society that is based on non-discriminatory practices, then all people should be allowed the freedom to express themselves in an intelligible or unintelligible way without repercussions. It is important to me, personally, to begin removing the bias that is prevalent in our gendered language. It feels difficult to cut against the grain in which I was raised, but I believe it is necessary to provide equality to all. I have really enjoyed the information that we have been presented with thus far and am greatly looking forward to piecing together this information about gender identity with other forms of oppression and injustice.

Blog #3

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Over the past couple of weeks, I have been very captivated by the discussions about gender identity. I like how I have a new perspective about people who are trying to identify who they are as a person. I never really thought about how lives can be difficult for the people who consider themselves transgender, bisexual, fem queens, gay, and butch queens. I found it interesting in the “I Know What I Am” article when fem queens can switch into becoming a butch queen for personal reasons but not identity. This shows that being one gender can be superior to another, in this case male. I also thought it was interesting how the people in the Meat Market fit in the norm of naturalness by looking “hard” or “soft”. I feel that there is a lot of pressure for these people to look a certain way. This can affect their self-esteem because they know that they are already different in our proclaimed society. I think self-esteem had a lot to do with the people in the film “Aggressive”. Many of them have weak family ties and felt different from the norm of growing up.

I also feel that the topic of gender identity is really informative. I think that many people don’t know of the sub groups inside of LGTBQ community. I feel that this is the new group in our society that is heavily marginalized. I feel that if people are more educated and not judgmental, then these people will get the same rights as everyone else. We as individuals should be able to live our lives the way we want if it is not hurting anyone. There is always going to be stereotypes and discrimination in our culture, but people should be treated with respect and humility.

Gender/Sexual Identity


I consider that most Asian countries have quite conservative cultures.
Korea is one of them. Gays or lesbians are afraid of coming out their identity
because people around them would not understand them.
Of course, few chance to see gay or lesbian in Korea isn't necessarily meaning
that there are less of them.
I want to share an interesting incedent which happened several years ago.
There was one male actor who came out as Gay a decade ago.
His feature was masculine and skinned-head. People didn't have much chance
to see someone who claimed he was homosexual in public.
He used to act in many drama and appeared in the shows.
But, after the coming-out, he was rejected by TV broad casting companies.

A few years later, a multi entertainer whose nationality was originally Korea debued in Japan and got very famous. He was female transgendered.
She was very well known for beauty - very skinny, long hair and glamorous.
Later, she got really famous in Korea, too.
Playing a role in many dramas and movies and also released the album.
She's got really rich.
Then, the gay who was rejected by TV was interviewing and complaining about the
inequal treatment done on him.
Since there are not many gays or lesbians in public, people don't even have
much education about their identity. Maybe the girly looking transgender was more
acceptable to them because people thought it was odd to see a macho looking guy
revealed him as gay.

Still, a lot of people make fun of them about their voice and looks, even though
we now have a lot of chances to see them on TV.
Korean society is in the throes of change of its culture.
Now, people started to more understand about the identity of the homosexuals.
However, there must be a lot of people who are suffering from their identity
since there are certain roles of gender set by the society and they are harsh for the
sexual mionorities.
I seriously think that they need to be more educated about the identity of gender.

Globalization And Its Overlooked Effects

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Globalization is perhaps one of the most timely issues discussed in class thus far. As detailed by the reading "Globalization and Collective Action", recent attention to previously overlooked effects of globalization are sparking flames into an already raging fire of controversy surrounding the concept.
Perhaps the most prominent of issues in the debate over globalization, is the compromising of humane labor laws and practices. When a multitude of countries engage in a global market, there is a good chance that each country has a unique set of labor practices/enforcement policies already in place within their nation. For example, in the poorer countries of the world (India for example) labor standards are not enforced as heavily as they are in the more developed nations (U.S.A. for example). This can be seen through the exploitation of workers in sweatshops in various countries such as China or Thailand. The enforcement policies in place in these countries are often feeble at actually enforcing established labor policies. However, due to the high demand for jobs, and small job opportunity base, the workers at many facilities in these countries are subjected to work in factories neglectful of such laws. This type of accepted exploitation accounts for the low wages that workers receive. In a globalized market, this would be a highly coveted asset to a developed economy (say the U.S.A.) looking for a low cost production line. A developed country would now have access to cheap labor not available to a developed country due to its strict labor practices. This cheap labor is often responsible for much of the outsourcing seen in the United States where jobs, once occupied by workers who were paid fair wages and given decent working conditions, are shipped to factories where workers can be paid at drastically reduced wages, making profit larger for the developed economy. This profit becomes the driving factor for outsourcing economies, despite the negative toll it takes on the workers of the poorer countries. This profit-over-worker's-rights approach casts an ugly shadow on globalization as a whole, and is one of the main reasons behind the controversy of its instigation.
This same scenario accounts for the hierarchy established due to globalization. In the latter example it is obvious that the more economically rich nation controls the people of the economically poorer nation. This creates a global class system that furthers to distance underdeveloped countries from developed countries.
In addition to the effects on the general work force of underdeveloped countries, other groups are specifically affected, many times indirectly. As the reading indicated; countries that base much of their power on their military's size and presence often project a hegemonic standard to their population. Such a standard works to put the male population in direct correlation with the countries wealth and progression. This not only suggests that females are not as vital to the economic economy as males, but it would seem to put a rather unfair pressure on the male society. A pressure to conform males to their common stereotype as the economic supporters. This same concept can be said to place women into their common stereotype, as the subordinate economic receivers.
Globalization, due to its direct correlation to the capitalistic market, is unstable at best. It is a transaction with few policing agents. It is a massive project still in its infancy. It will require work from ALL nations if expected to succeed. Many stipulations and laws will need to be in place before globalization can be expected to work and benefit all equally, and even then it remains subject to violations that, even through the smallest thread, could unravel the delicate tapestry of global transaction.

Gender Identity

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The article about David/Brenda really caught my attention because I would not have necessarily considered this a problem of gender identity. David was born a male and that was the ultimate gender that he wanted to be. The doctor severely messed up a procedure that cut off his maleness and his parents chose to follow the advice of Dr. Money to transform David into Brenda. I believe sex is something you are born with based on genetics. Gender however is a feeling that a person has that shapes their decisions and personality. There should not be distinct labels on gender, as everyone is different. There are many woman who act "manly" by being aggressive and dominate and have interest that fit into the male category, and there are also many men who act feminine. These people should not be discriminated against because of the feelings they have or the way they portray themselves to the public. Who has the right to judge? What makes the way the majority of society acts the only acceptable way to act?

On another note, there have been studies done on fruit flies that have determined a "courtship" gene. Males have a certain form of the gene that is different than that of females. However, mutations (mutation is not necessarily a bad term in science) arise that cause the male gene to be turned on in female or vice versa. Scientists were able to extract this gene and do experiments that resulted in females acting like males in courtship and males acting passive and looking for the courtship of other males. If this experiment can be repeated in humans, the laws against gay marriage might fall under the category of genetic discrimination with is illegal.


Conundrum of Globalization

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In the context of social justice, globalization has shown to be both instrumental in joining global social change groups, as well as destructive in its ways of distributing wealth and power. The reading "Globalization and Collectivce Action" provided solid data that showed how severe the lack of improvement in dealing with social injustices were; it states that of 18 countries, Chile was the only country that managed to decrease inequality as well as have high growth. On the other hand, globalization has allowed human rights groups to mobilize, create larger movements with more impact, and gain global followers. This to me is a conundrum. How is it that a society is able to move forward and expand if they cannot address social injustices? Is it the global competition that brings forth the worst in our governments and allows those willing to push the marginalized aside to rise to the top? While it is described to be a cyclical economic movement, I do not understand how we, as an observing audience, are unable to put a halt to the final step of capitalism to better society. We are now at the stage where we have history books, we should be able to learn from them.

Blog 3 - Gender Identity

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Prior to taking this class I had never been fully introduced to the idea of gender identity. I found it really interesting when we studied the Brenda/David case, that there are situations where the parents have to pick the gender of their child and try to raise them into this gender. I also had never heard of intersexed children before and it made me think about what would I do if I was this parent and had to make the decision of what gender my child was going to be. After listening to our class discussions it made me realize that children should have the choice to pick their own gender so it feels most natural for them, even if it is not necessarily normal.

"The Aggressives" film was really interesting because it showed the views of many transgendered people. I had heard of transgendered people but I didn't know that there were sub categories they place themselves in such as butch, femme queens, hard, soft, or aggressive. I realized these people have been marginalized and pushed aside from dominant heterosexual society, but why should they be pushed aside and not given equal access to resources or institutions, when we are all human beings. The only difference is that they live their life in a different gender which is something that usually feels more natural to them. I think part of the reason that they are not overly integrated into our society is because their gender identity makes people feel uncomfortable and they are not sure how to act around them. Often we do not know the correct pronoun to address transgendered people but I think if the world became more knowledgable about transgenders, they would be more welcoming and accepting of them in day to day life.

Gender Identity (Blog 3)


From a very young age, we are taught specific mannerisms and norms based on our gender. By the time we can talk, we know what is acceptable for boys and girls. This YouTube video is a perfect example of how society conditions us almost as soon as we come out of the womb. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWc1e3Nbc2g

Even today, in our progressing world (or so we claim), gender barriers are still very much in place and limit those who find themselves questioning what their parents have taught them. How can we be a progressing society if we cannot even accept people as individuals, especially if they transcend gender boundaries? For whatever reason, people are extremely unwilling to release their tight hold on typical gender identity, and feel it is necessary for each and every person to fit perfectly into the neat little box of "boy/blue" or "girl/pink." Personally, I think it is ridiculous that we cannot accept people for who they are, regardless of whether or not they want to be a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, or something entirely different. The gender one follows does not in any way shape his or her personality. It is merely an external appearance, and a way to express themselves. It is not a defining aspect by any means.

Society, and especially the media, needs to stop trying to define people in such restricting ways. There is no way every single person will neatly fit into one category or the other, so we just need to stop categorizing and allow people to be who they will be. We should be focusing on their characteristics and personality traits, and the ways in which they contribute to society--not on the external genitalia and stereotypes we deem acceptable.

Gender Identity (Blog 3)

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From a very young age, we are taught specific mannerisms and norms based on our gender. By the time we can talk, we know what is acceptable for boys and girls. This YouTube video is a perfect example of how society conditions us almost as soon as we come out of the womb. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWc1e3Nbc2g

Even today, in our progressing world (or so we claim), gender barriers are still very much in place and limit those who find themselves questioning what their parents have taught them. How can we be a progressing society if we cannot even accept people as individuals, especially if they transcend gender boundaries? For whatever reason, people are extremely unwilling to release their tight hold on typical gender identity, and feel it is necessary for each and every person to fit perfectly into the neat little box of "boy/blue" or "girl/pink." Personally, I think it is ridiculous that we cannot accept people for who they are, regardless of whether or not they want to be a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, or something entirely different. The gender one follows does not in any way shape his or her personality. It is merely an external appearance, and a way to express themselves. It is not a defining aspect by any means.

Society, and especially the media, needs to stop trying to define people in such restricting ways. There is no way every single person will neatly fit into one category or the other, so we just need to stop categorizing and allow people to be who they will be. We should be focusing on their characteristics and personality traits, and the ways in which they contribute to society--not on the external genitalia and stereotypes we deem acceptable.

David/Brenda Blog 3


When we read the David/Brenda article I was especially shocked at the whole secretive process and the things David suffered from. I found it very shocking that so many children were born unknown genders. I think of all the babies that I know have been born and think what if these kids were born unknown? How would I handle this? I like to think I would be totally accepting and that as the child matured the child would make a decision of the life they would lead. Everyone likes to put themselves in to a position and think they would have done the right thing but in reality if is very unrealistic to think that is true.I have babysat my whole life and I think about what I would have done if I was asked to babysit a child with no gender identity, what the parents would have done? Many parents want a daughter or they want a son, they don't want a child that doesn't have a specified gender.

After class I was thinking about it further and I was thinking about all the social turmoil a kid like David would go through. Its sad, but true, that a boy that didn't live up to the "size standards" of other boys would suffer a lot in the locker room. Men (and woman) point out and make fun of others just to put themselves above others.

So why does gender identity have to be such a black and white thing in society? Why can't anyone be accepting of something other than male and female? Everyone that heards the David/Brenda story will talk about how horrifying that is and how someone should never have to go through that. If that was really true then David/Brenda wouldn't have gone through that because he would have been accepted in society no matter what medical accident occured.

The Aggressives - blog #3

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I really was intrigued by the video "The Aggressives". I think it is a topic that is more on the unheard-of side because many people don't accept this type of lifestyle and therefore don't want to bring to attention the discrimination these people go through. It seems like living aggressively is difficult not only emotionally but also physically. The amount of stress one of the female's put on her body to become so physically fit that her body looks like a male's body now must have been so aggravating and hard because you see boys everyday working out and a female can work just as hard and not get the same results. They also experience serious marginalization because people assume they are "outsiders" because they don't fit into the typical "societal norm" of female or male.

Although I do feel they are marginalized, I do not believe that the aggressives are marginalized for the race. I think the video focused on people of color and different ethnicities but in real life, there are probably just as many Caucasian aggressives as there are people of color. That being said, they are marginalized in a similar way to people of color though. They both are seen as outsiders by people who are ignorant to their culture and way of living. They both also have daily struggles because of the way they look. Although we have made great strides in equalizing the world for people of all races, we have a long way to go and an even longer way to go with the aggressives in my opinion, mainly because they are a new topic to most people.

Neoliberalism is the answer? (kemp & berkovitch)

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Because we did not have class today, I thought I would bring my comments on today's reading "Economic Empowerment of women as a global project" to be talked about on the class blog.

I really liked this essay, and although I though Berkovitch and Kemp did a fairly good job not only examining as well as critiquing Micro-Finance and Neoliberalism, I am still wary and doubtful. Maybe it is just my intense negative bias against neoliberalism and its practices of deregulation, commodification, and commercialization that made me question the lasting productivity of mico-finance.
I have read a lot of good things about the idea and I have in fact donated to micro-lending causes through different websites. I just question whether it really addresses the issues facing women at the root, rather than try to temporarily fix them. While the markets are good, and the good necessary for production the women around the world will do well. As they augment the family's income the inevitably will gain respect and standing with their husbands as well as the wider community. Moreover, they will gain agency- the ability to make independent judgement calls about their lives. Like getting an education, family choices and what skill sets they want to use to create their business. I also like that micro finance is built around community and the support of fellow business-women.

But I wonder is what happens when the market for that good collapses or the raw materials go up, or disappear? When the market collapses, what will be there to provide a safety net? After all, this is supposed to replace welfare or government interference. Also, I feel like the institutions of patriarchy such as violence against women, male breadwinners and the like will return... because they were not actually overturned, just tamed while the times were good.

Moreover, what influence will institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF have on these countries and inspiring women? I see both as powerful, hegemonic and symbolically male structures that are now leading the way to empower women globally. I am confused...I personally feel like many current situations facing women (in America but also abroad) were facilitated by Capitalism and are fueled by neo-liberalism! Prostitution, lack of health care, access to clean water and welfare politics all come to mind.

I really believe women are the answer to so many of our global issues. I also believe in investing in my fellow women-both here in the U.S and abroad. But is it safe to rely on such an unstable solution like Capitalism, neoliberal capitalism more specifically?!
I do not believe that "needs can be turned into markets". Because markets boom, and then they bust. And frankly, when it comes to feeding families, being safe from violence and having access to clean water/health care I do not think we should leave it up to chance or the "invisible hand". Like the authors so aptly write "does micro finance challenge existing gender power structures in a way that benefits and really empowers women? On this question, the evidence still remains inconclusive"(174).
The best I can suggest is a diverse selection of answers. Micro finance is a great option, but it needs to be supported by movements that directly challenge violence & patriarchy, access to clean air/water and a future free of neo-imperialism. I don't know what that looks like or the best answer- but the detriment of a single option or a forced option could be terrible.

What does everyone else think? Am I just a pessimist and disillusioned member of a Capitalist society?



I found the fact that Scott Walker got brought up during one of our discussions on marginalization was quite interesting. I think that there are many ways that this could be brought up. Someone mentioned how there family was marginalized because they're were state workers. Well it can go both ways. I could say my family has been marginalized forever because we pay 100% of our health insurance and other things that state employees don't have to pay or pay very little for until Scott Walker came along. It's not that he wants to "hurt" those people by making them pay for more of their health care and not having collective bargaining. He wants to even the playing field for every one! Why should some people pay for all of their health care when others pay nothing. My dad had a heart attack when he was 44 years old and now he has to be on high risk insurance. He also owns his own small business and doesn't get health benefits and a retirement fund like other people like state employees. My town is mostly democratic and it was funny because most of the people that care the most and have the biggest issue with Scott Walkers plan is teachers! They think that they're being somehow "punished" or "marginalized". I don't think that's the case. My best friends mom works for the state as well as her dad and they understand what Scott Walker is trying to do. He's helping the state so why no pay 10% of your health care cost. It's not the end of the world!

lives in transition..


When we watched the documentary film "The Aggressives" in class last Thursday it was an interesting view into a world that I have already been exposed to. Transgendered men and women are no different to me than heterosexual men and women, lesbians, gay men, White people, people of color, etc. They are in transition, as are most people in this life. All people are transitioning from one place to the next. From one job to the next. From one love to the next. From one house to the next. From one weight to the next. From puberty to adulthood. From innocence to maturity. No matter how anyone views it, all people are living a life in transition. So why is it that so many people feel conflicted when trying to understand or accept transgendered men and women? After all, they are simply living their lives in transition. Yes, one of the transitions that these men and women experience is on a physical level, but ALL people change physically at some point or other.
The documentary gave me a new insight into the world of lesbianism and transgendered people. I have never heard of aggressive lesbians, butch-aggressive, femme-aggressive, and the like, however it was very cool to know that this category of lesbians exists. I wonder how many of my classmates were appalled, angry, confused, conflicted, uninterested, or uncomfortable because of this newfound information about the LGBTQ community.
I wonder what would happen to these women if their parents had been like the parents or David/Brenda, loving parents that concealed their gender identity from them. Would they have tried to "fix" them? Would they have paid for extravagant medical attention and genital reconstruction to fit their natural tendencies? Would they have changed their names from Flo to Frank, or Tiffany to Tim? Would aggressive-lesbianism be considered fix-able... or does the world already believe that homosexuality is a way of being broken or impaired? Even though that is not the case.
All the questions can be asked about the aggressive-lesbianism lifestyle, and to me there is a simple answer. These women are living their lives in transition. And they are changing to accommodate the lives they have been afforded and the desires they want to attain, just like you and me.

Revenge and Consequences

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In Valentine Moghadam's chapter "Feminism On A World Scale," there is a statement from the Women's Center suggesting that it would be best if America, in response to the World Trade Center attacks, would "accept responsibility for the fallout from past foreign policies and ... refrain from military retaliation against Afghanistan..."

This has some validity in regards to America's past meddling in Afghanistan's political affairs during the Cold War. Also, violence in response to violence can't be the best approach to justice. However, if America were to just stand back and say "Yeah, we deserved that. Truce?" it would set a terrible precedent of there being no consequences for killing thousands of people other than some general international scorn. I'm not condoning war-waging, but it's the only way that people have been dealing with these issues for thousands of years, so it's very difficult to come up with and enact new methods. Also, the US military tries very hard to mitigate it's impact on innocent civilians via precise strike-groups and stringent intelligence collection. This at least centers the retaliatory violence toward specific, targeted people responsible for other acts of heinous violence. Again, war is a horrible institution that we must be able to do without somehow, but it's very deep-rooted in our civilization-- and murder should not go without consequences.


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Given our last few class discussions surrounding the struggle to define justice, fight for justice and expand our understandings of what justice could be- I thought I would qucik blog about the Occupy Movement.

I am sure most, if not all of you are aware that in NYC there have been protests going on against corporate greed, power and influence. Occupy Wall Street has been functionally ignored by the mainstream media (not surprising as mainstream media is controlled by a total of six corporations). Anyway, Minneapolis will be having a solidarity demonstration October 7th at 9 AM. Here is the link to Occupy MN & more information: http://www.occupymn.org/

In my limited experience, the protests and active resistance/community organizing that I have participated in has been some of the most empowering and valuable experiences of my life. Community organizing, if done effectively, engages voices that have been silenced. I feel as if these protests are similar to the ones that occurred in 1999 around the country and the globe, protesting the World Trade Organization. If anyone wants to get involved this would be a great experience.

Corporate influence has played a huge role in tax policies and lobbying influence that works against the average American, and further marginalizes the voices of those who are already facing racial, economic or gender injustice. Corporations have played a role in destroying our earth, eliminating indigenous lands and cultures in the Global South and have perpetuated the fallacy of meritocracy. Moreover, Corporations reproduce power hierarchies as the CEO's are usually white, heterosexual men. These white, wealthy males have enormous power in Washington and globally. The implications are huge. I think that part of living in a democracy is being able to shift it and alter the ways of those who govern when those paths no longer work for the people. If we don't speak up for ourselves and those who we see having injustice, and if we don't do so collectively and across social/racial/economic spheres our voices will continue to be silenced. No society can prosper when the majority of people are ignored, and specific groups are marginalized- limiting the production of human & social capital. What will the future look like if we stand back and allow such injustices to take place- even if they do not impact us directly?

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