Recently in Norms Category

No really...

Check out this video in which the U of MN Social Justice Ed Classes & Dean Jean Quam are discussed on The O'Reilly Factor (with John Stossel).

Prepare to be angry... and maybe a little proud of the U.

"So if I'm a heteronormative..."

Hold on until that three minute mark, when O'Reilly reveals the top secret reason why America is the best country ever.

Maybe don't queer this... just enjoy.

Annotated Bibliography #3

The selections that I have chosen below for this annotated bibliography were inspired by a recent conversation I had with someone regarding homosexuality, the law, and religion. An argument I am sure everyone here has heard, which is what I heard for the thousandth time the other day, is that homosexuality is a sin and should therefore not be allowed or legalized (as in marriage). This got me to thinking about how that is such a deeply rooted argument that I hear often and yet I hear it a lot from people who do not go to church or even read the bible. This argument has became an accepted norm in our society so I thought it would be interesting to delve into the root of that norm more closely.

"The Sources of Normativity"

before delving into the different aspects of normativity and how it affects our laws and beliefs, I thought it apropriate to find a definition of normativity that deals with what the following sources will be discussing. One that I found stated the following about normativity:

"Normativity pervades our lives. We not merely have beliefs: we claim that we and others ought to hold certain beliefs. We not merely have desires: we claim that we and others ought to act on some of them, but not on others. We assume that what somebody believbes or does may be judged reasonable to standards of norms. So far, so commonplace; but we have only to go a little further to find ourselves on the high seas of moral philosophy".

"The Pure Theory of Law"
According to "The Pure Theory of Law" by standford:

"The law, according to Kelsen, is a system of norms. Norms are 'ought' statements, prescribing certain modes of conduct. Unlike moral norms, however, Kelsen maintained that legal norms are created by acts of will. They are products of deliberate human action. For instance, some peopl gather in a hall, speak, raise their hands, count them, and promulgate a string of words. These are actions and events taking place at a specific time and space. To say that what we have described here is the enactment of a law, is to interpret these actions and events by ascribing a normative significance to them".

Basically, what they are saying is that the law is not based off of an inherent moral truth, but instead is based on a set of cultural beliefs and understandings that we hold about the world. Furthermore, the laws change as our cultural beliefs and understandings change throughout time and adapts to it's new surroundings.

"For The Bible Tells Me So" documentary
"For The Bible Tells Me So" is a documentary focusing on conservatism, gay practices, and the bible. The main argument of the documentary is that while the bible is most often used as the argument for why gayness is morally wrong, the bible actually does not say that at all. This point is made by many theologians who argue that people are taking what the bible says in a different way than what it is actually meant to be interpretted as. They say this happens because when we read the bible today, we are reading it through the lens of our current society and ways of speaking, but since the bible was written a very long time ago and in a very different culture, it needs to be read through that perspective taken into account. They give several examples of certiain words or cultural beliefs of that time are mis-interpreted to what makes the most sense for out time. In a nutshell, whenever gayness is mentioned in the bible with a term like "abomination" they are actually not talking about being gay as being what is bad, but somehting else entirely. This goes along with norms because the reason we are mis-interpretting a text written a long time ago is because we are looking at it through our norms and current culture, which is leading to misunderstandings.

"queer temporality and postmodern geographies"

"Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies", written by Judith Halbertstam, "makes the perhaps overly ambitious claim that there is such a thing as 'queer time' and queer space'. Queer uses of time and space develop, at least in part, in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction". Furthermore, Halbertstam goes on to define these new terms as the following:

"'Queer time' is a term for those specific models of temporality that emerge within postmodernism once one leaves the termporal frames of bourgeois reproduction and family, longevity, risk/safety, and inheritance. 'Queer space' refers to the place-making practices within postmodernism in which queer people engage and it also describes the new understandings of space of space enabled by the production of queer counterpublics".

I find this notion to be both very fasciniating and obvious all at the same time. On the one hand, I find it very intriguing that there are point in one's day or life that can be described as "queer time" or "queer space". It is interesting to view the time that one spends doing queer things as a separat enetity from the rest of the time when they are doind, what I would define as something such as "normative time". And then to think about how much of one's day that they are most likely in the process of doing "normative" compared to "queer time", obviously depending on the person (I myself would be on more "normative time" than anything else, which is rather lame) is intriguing and makes me wonder. I like how the concept makes one step back and take a look at one's life and hwo they ar espending their time and perhaps even why they are spending their time in that way.

On the other hand, however, I find the term "queer time" to be rather obvious in nature: when one is engaging in queer activites the time they are spending on said activities is queer and therefore can be defined as "queer time". It just makes logical sense. However, I find it interesting how until something is distinctly called queer it is assumed to be normative. One would never really talk about "normative time" unless they were also discussing "queer time" or the absence of. I find it interseting that "normative time" is so deeply engraved in our culture and society that it does not even need a name and is not thought of at all because it just is.

queer times, queer assemblages

"Queer Times, Queer Assemblages", written by Jasbir Q. Puar, discusses how "queer times require even queerer modalities of thought, analysis, creativity, and expression in order to elaborate on nationalist, patriotic, and terrorist formations and their intertwined forms of racialized perverse sexualities and gender dysphorias". Furthermore, he states that the reasoning behind his above stated position is as follows:

"One, I examine discourse of queerness where problematic conceptualizations of queer corporealities, especially via Muslim sexualities, are reproduced in the service of discourses of U.S. exceptionalisms. Two, I rearticulare a terrorist body, in this case the suicide bomber, as a queer assemblage that resists queerness - as - sexual - identity (or anti-identity) ....Finally, I argue that a focus on queerness as assemblage enables attention to ontology in tandem with epistemology, affect in conjunction with representational economies, within which bodies, such as the turbaned Sikh terrotist, interpenetrute, swirl together, and transmit affects to each other".

While I do agree with the majority of this article, I do take issue with one point: the discussion surrounding the commentary to the Abu Ghraib "sexual torture scandal". The author of the article begins talking about why he views it to be so problematic:

"Even more troubling was the reason given for the particular efficacy of the torture: the taboo, outlawed, banned, disavowed status of homosexuality in Iraq and the Middle East, complemented by an aversion to nudity, male-onmale contact, and sexual modesty with the rarely seen opposite sex. It is exactly this unsophisticated notion of Arab/Muslim/Islamic (does it really matter which one?) cultural differences that military intelligence capitalized on to create what they believed to be a culturally 'effective' matrix of torture techniques".

But then after stating that he finds it to be very problematic that the military intelligence believed such sexual practices to be a "culturally effective matrix of torture techniquues" he goe son to state the following:

"Faisal Alam, founder and director of the international Muslim lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning organization states, that 'sexual humiliation is perhaps the worst form of torture for any Mulsim...Islam places a high emphasis on modesty and sexual privacy. Iraq, much like the rest of the Arab world, places great importance on notions of masculinity. Forcing men to masturbate in front of each other and to mock same-sex acts or homosexual sex, is perverse and sadistic, in the eyes of many Msulsims".

By his own admission, this, what appears to be a very credible source to me on middle eastern norms and cultural beliefs surrounding sexuality, agrees that what the military intelligence believed to be an effective torture technique, indeed was. It is very possible that I am reading this section of the text wrong, but it appears to me that these two points greatly contradict one another. I am of course against the fact that our military used torture techniques, as I am sure most, if not all, of you are as well, but when I hear a quote from the founder and director of the international Muslim lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning organization state that the torture techniques used, were indeed very effective in terms of their culture, I am going to believe them. Do I disagree with the fact that they used torture: yes, but I do not see how their approach was ineffective.

Annotated Bib #2

The three sources that I chose for this bibliography focused on the social construction of gender and the gender norms that result from it. I chose two research studies regarding the socialization of masculinity and it;s affects and one regarding the socialization of femininity. All three articles go together in that they all deal with the affects that our culture and society have on creating one's gender and how that greatly affects one's life.
Examining Masculinity Norms, Problem Drinking, and Athletic Involvement as Predictors of Sexual Aggression in College Men

"In this study, college men's sexually aggressive behavior and rape myth acceptance were examined using conformity to 11 masculine norms and 2 variables previously linked to sexual aggression: problem drinking and athletic involvement. Results indicated that men who use alcohol problematically and conform to specific masculine norms (i.e., having power over women, being a playboy, disdaining gay men, being dominant, being violent, and taking risks) tended to endorse rape myths and report sexually aggressive behavior." This study was done, "because men account for the overwhelming majority of arrests for sexual violence against women, and because many of the rape myths contain assumptions about masculinity and men's power over women, it seems logical to examine how masculinity may contribute to these concerns." Since it is men who are committing a lot of these crimes, it only makes sense to see why it is mostly men and not women. The study found that "results from the first root of the canonical analysis supported the hypothesized relationships between masculinity norms and problematic alcohol use as predictive of sexually aggressive behavior toward women and rape myth acceptance."
Development of the Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory

"This article describes the construction of the Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory (CFNI), which was designed to assess womenrsquos conformity to an array of feminine norms found in the dominant culture in the United States." Similar to the last study, this one found that socialization greatly affects gender norms of femininity. It found that, "gender role norms share the characteristics of social norms, which are described as 'rules and standards that are understood by members of a group, that guide and/or constrain social behavior without the force of laws.'" Furthermore, they also found that
"gender role norms are important in the lives of women and men in that they foster identity development."
Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men's well-being: a theory of gender and health

"Men in the United States suffer more severe chronic conditions, have higher death rates for all 15 leading causes of death, and die nearly 7 yr younger than women. Health-related beliefs and behaviours are important contributors to these differences. Men in the United States are more likely than women to adopt beliefs and behaviours that increase their risks, and are less likely to engage in behaviours that are linked with health and longevity. In an attempt to explain these differences, this paper proposes a relational theory of men's health from a social constructionist and feminist perspective. It suggests that health-related beliefs and behaviours, like other social practices that women and men engage in, are a means for demonstrating femininities and masculinities." Not only does the social construction of gender affect how one lives their life, it also can affect the quality of life that one has, in terms of health and behavior.
"It further proposes that the social practices that undermine men's health are often signifiers of masculinity and instruments that men use in the negotiation of social power and status. This paper explores how factors such as ethnicity, economic status, educational level, sexual orientation and social context influence the kind of masculinity that men construct and contribute to differential health risks among men in the United States."

reading response #4

"Introduction: Performing Disidentification," written by Jose Esteban Munoz, focuses on current feminist politics and theory and how the two work together in today's age. In his work, Munoz focuses on discussing, "Feminist thinkers of the new symbolic type would appear to believe that the way to do feminist politics is to use words in a subversive way, in academic publications of lofty obscurity and disdainful abstractness. These symbolic gestures, it is believed, are themselves a form of political resistance; and so one need not engage with messy things such as legislatures and movements in order to act daringly. The new feminism, moreover, instructs its members that there is little room for large-scale social change, and maybe no room at all. We are all, more or less, prisoners of the structures of power that have defined our identity as women; we can never change those structures in a large-scale way, and we can never scape from them. All that we can hope to do is to find spaces within the structures of power in which to parody them, to poke fun at them, to transgress them in speech. And so symbolic verbal politics that is really possible." He then furthers his ideas about where feminism was and where it is now by analyzing what, "we wonder what has become of old-style feminist politics and the material realities to which it was committed, it seems necessary to reckon with Butler's work and influence, and to scrutinize the arguments that have led so many to adopt a stance that looks very much like quietism and retreat."
One of the theorists that Munoz spends significant time discussing is Judith Butler. In regards to her work, he states: It is difficult to come to grips with Butler's ideas, because it is difficult to figure out what they are. Furthermore, he believes that, "It would seem that she is addressing a group of young feminist theorists in the academy who are neither students of philosophy, caring about what Althusser and Freud and Kripke really said, nor outsiders, needing to be informed about the nature of their projects and persuaded of their worth." The target audience of Butler's work is unclear. Also, Munoz concludes that, "in this way obscurity creates an aura of importance. It also serves another related purpose. It bullies the reader into granting that, since one cannot figure out what is going on, there must be something significant going on, some complexity of thought, where in reality there are often familiar or even shopworn notions, addressed too simply and too casually to add any new dimension of understanding." To me, this appears to be the norm in current feminist theory. It seems as if the more confusing and less relatable a work is, the more highly it is praised. In my mind, this norm of feminist theory is hurting feminisms ability to appeal to the masses.

While Munoz makes good points throughout his article and back all of his claims with logical conclusions, I do not believe that he is hard enough on Judith Butler. My belief in this comes directly from the fact that I strongly do not like the way she write or believe that it is serves much of a purpose. In large, it seems to me that Butler is preaching to the choir and nothing more. While she may have good ideas, the way that she explains them, to me, feel like feminism without application and if one cannot apply it to the better good, I just do not see the point or what good could possibly come from it. As a result, I feel that her work turns the average person who does not know much about feminism away from feminism because her thought appear to be incoherent. T o sum it up, I think that her work would serve a better purpose if she spent more time attempting to connect and explain things to the masses better so her work can be better understood and more thoroughly circulated.

Anotated Bibliography #1

The three research articles below all deal with research done on gender norms. They constitute three basic areas which are frequently brought up when gender norms are discussed such as economic opportunities, the sexual double standard between men and women, as well as at what age children are able to recognize gender norms and the consequences behind that.

"Assessing Care: Gender Norms and Economic Outcomes" - Badgett M.V.L.; Folbre N.

This research article focuses on how gender norms can and do affect how much money individual men and women make and also the fields of jobs that they go into. It was found in this article that, "in societies that link femaleness to familial altruism, women tend to be disproportionately represented in caring occupations. This reinforces occupational segregation, sex-based pay differentials and the very norms that dictate appropriate behavior for women and men." An example of this that they found in their study is that, "a daughter who neglects her parents, a wife who leaves a husband, a mother who abandons a child -- all are considered more culpable than a son, husband or father who does the same." In their research they found that, as can be expected, gender norms do in fact affect the economic status of men and women. Because men and women are viewed in certain ways and there are specific characteristics that are linked to them (i.e. women are caregivers whereas men are providers), this affects the types of jobs men and women are encouraged to seek out as well as whether or not they will be hired and how seriously they will be taken in that profession. After conducting their research, "their analysis of the relationship between caring labor, social norms and economic outcomes leads them to advocate not only reassigning responsibilities for care, but specific measures to protect caring work, including strict quality standards on the provision of marketed care." It is their belief that in doing this things, there will be more equality in the job market that can help to fix some of the problems they found.

"Children's Beliefs About Violating Gender Norms: Boys Shouldn't Look Like Girls, and Girls Shouldn't Act Like Boys" - Judith E. Owen Blakemore

The purpose of this research article was to figure out at what age the knowledge of gender norms and their consequences become prevalent to children. "This research examined 3 - to 11 - year- old children's knowledge of and beliefs about violating several gender norms (e.g., toys, play styles, occupations, parental roles, hairstyles, and clothing) as compared to social and moral norms. They have found that children can identify males and females shortly after 2 years of age and acquire a great deal of basic knowledge about gender norms in the years between ages 2 and 5." The young age at which children become aware of gender norms is very important in the study of gender norms because it demonstrates how pervasive these ideas that are embedded in us truly are and that it begins right away. In their study they also found that, "knowledge of the norms and understanding that norm violations were possible increased with age." This is significant to the study because it shows how the longer one is socialized with these gendered beliefs of what men and women should be and do, the stronger these beliefs become. This is particularly important to feminism because if one is to fight gender norms one must understand when and where they come from.

"Sex and Punishment: An Examination of Sexual Consequences and the Sexual Double Standard in Teen Programming" - Jennifer Stevens Aubrey

This research article sought out to, "examine sexual consequences on teen programming." More specifically, they set out to learn if the double standard does exist in teen programming and to what extent. There were two clear goals of this research. "First, the types of sexual consequences in teen programming were investigates. Results showed that emotional and social consequences far outnumbered physical consequences. Second, the portrayal of the sexual double standard was investigated. Negative consequences were more common in scenes in which female characters initiated sexual activities than in scenes in which male characters initiated sexual activities. As was expected by the researchers, there is a sexual double standard in teen programming between men and women. They found that, "sexual activity among young men is tolerated and encouraged, whereas for young women, sexuality is controlled, restricted, and subjected to censure if norms are violated." These findings were expected because of the gender norms places upon sex. While this research was important in factually proving that gender sex norms are still pervasive in teen programing, I believe the research could have been more effective if it had engaged in more research surrounding on how this can and be fixed and why it should be fixed.

Direct Reading #2

In the essay, "Whats Queer About Queer Studies Now?", the authors, "insist that considerations of empire, race, migration, geography, subaltern communities, activism, and class are central to the continuing critique of queerness, sexuality, sexual subcultures, desire, and recognition." In this reading they focus on several essays that confirm their belief that the demands for a "renewed queer studies is ever vigilant to the fact that sexuality is intersectional, not extraneous to other modes of difference, and calibrated to a firm understanding of queer as a political metaphor without a fixed referent." They state that "while queer studies in the past has rarely addressed such broad social concerns, queer studies in the present offers important insights." Furthermore, they state that a renewed queer studies should, "broadened consideration of the late-twentieth-century global crises that have configured historical relations among political economies, the geopolitics of war and terror, and national manifestations of sexual, racial, and gendered hierarchies." It is the belief of the authors that what queer studies in the past has focused on needs to be opened up to a broader context or umbrella which can fit more ideologies within it, which will make queer studies that much more rich and diverse in depth. This idea presented in the essay fits well with the term of norms because it deals with the dissection of a word whose very purpose is to "challenge the normalizing mechanisms of state power to name its sexual subjects: male or female, married or single, heterosexual or homosexual, natural or perverse." Therefore, as a result of the authors attempting to open up the term "queer" even more, they are attacking the normalizing mechanisms of state power even further. I agree with the authors that the term "queer", in the past, has been used in a limited fashion and that by opening it up further, some of the limits that go along with the term will disappear.

The purpose of this article, written by Patrick Johnson is, as he puts it, to "offer an extended mediation on and an intervention in queer theory and practice." While he does this, Johnson discusses the background of queer theory as well as the lack of discussion in queer theory on race and class. In addition, the author discusses the term "quare," coined by his grandmother and the meanings that lie under this term.

Overall, I would have to say that I agree with the arguments made by Johnson in the article dealing with the meaning and use of "queer". I like how he started the article out by stating that, "queer is a catch-all not bound to any particular 'identity,' a notion that moves us away from binaries such as 'homosexual/heterosexual' and 'gay/lesbian'". I found this to be an interesting argument for the term queer that I had not thought of before. I used to think that "queer" was, or at least how I had only ever really heard it used, was a borderline offensive word that was tossed around. While it of course can still be used in a negative way, as most words in this subject matter can be, the concept that it challenged binaries had never crossed my mind and after giving it some consideration, I can now see how using a word such as "queer" that removes said binaries can be rather beneficial. This thought is furthered in the article by stating,
"The preference for 'queer' represents, among other things, an aggressive impulse of generalization; it rejects a minoritizing logic of toleration or simple political interest-representation in favor of a more thorough resistance to regimes of the normal."
This goes along well with my term of "norms" because in using a term which reject binaries, one is also rejecting the norms that both create and are created from the use of such binaries.