Friday, July 23, 2010

Theorizing Activism

Before this class, I had some understanding of the various concepts addressed such as oppression and privilege because of Sociology classes I have taken. However, this class delved much deeper into types of feminism I had never heard of, various feminists of the past, how far we have come and still need to come, and ways in which I can provoke some change in my daily life.
I think that many people have thrown in the towel of feminist change so to speak. This is especially true of people in the US because we are certainly privileged when compared to developing countries. Despite the fact that women in the US can now vote, go to college, and start careers while raising a family is a big feat. However, there are gender stereotypes, the media, and attitudes of our culture that are harmful to women. Women can never truly be themselves because they have to speak, look, and act like a woman. Women are still discouraged from working toward certain “manly” careers as we can see from the low number of female computer science majors at JMU for example. You can even say women’s lives are becoming more stressful because many have to juggle both a career and the screaming children.
Educating people about feminism is not enough to promote the change we need. Both men and women alike must be aware of their dialogue, communicate to our partners that responsibilities should be shared, and be mindful of the media and musical culture and how it can subconsciously reinforce our gender stereotypes. We must appreciate the differences of all people and embrace a future of social change.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reproductive Rights

Women too often base their reproductive decisions on the stereotypes of a patriarchal society. Women are identified as the nurturers and caretakers. Therefore, they are pressured into becoming a mother even if it is not in their cards, is damaging to their health, etc. If women have problems conceiving, they often feel like they are not a true women and they won’t ever be desired by a man. Women are looked at by many men as sexual creatures and unfortunately can mainly be defined by this aspect.

Due to class and race differences, some women don’t have the choice in their reproductive rights. Women in impoverished situations are often denied birth control and adequate care if they are expecting. This variation of opportunities women have seems to say, “This wealthier white woman’s health and judgment is more important.” In our capitalistic society, this makes perfect sense because everything is driven by profit and morals are thrown out the window.

Reproductive choices are important for women because it gives them a sense of entitlement. So many aspects are life are controlled by men that is nice to be in control of something so valuable and unique to women. Also, many women become pregnant due to rape which is directly influenced by our patriarchal society. Women don’t often have control over rapes but they certainly should have control of the consequences.

Gendered Violence

When women are immersed in violence in their lives, where women are the victim most often, it seems to strengthen the ties of patriarchy. It makes women afraid and therefore timid and submissive to the man. Therefore, it makes women vulnerable and many women don’t trust any men due to harsh experiences they have had with violence. Violence affects behavior to such a degree that women keep pepper spray on hand and think twice about walking alone at night. However, due to our society’s acceptance of men being more aggressive creatures, it is easier for women to make excuses for men’s outlandish behavior especially when it comes to domestic violence such as wife beating. After all, the dominance of men and the gender stereotype of the “masculine” man I think is the main explanation that the man is usually the abuser.

JMU has several awareness programs about abuse that I’m sure are quite helpful. There are also emergency phones scattered throughout campus so that students can get help if they need it. However, the dorms are easily accessed by perpetrators because many students either hold the door from them to be nice or they follow another student in that has a card. Much to the inconvenience of students, I think that all dorms should have number codes, because this may provide more safety for all. Another thing to keep in mind is what happens on the weekends. When alcohol comes into play at parties, women are at their most vulnerable to abuse by men. Police can only help with underage drinking outside of apartments and school property, but who is going to help those other college women inside those apartments? The bottom line is that we women must be careful in situations such as these, look after ourselves, and stay with a group of trusted friends who care about your well being.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Social Welfare

Welfare reform should be considered a feminist issue because the majority of those in poverty are single women. These women are faced with serious issues such as not having a partner for financial or emotional support, having limited jobs because of their gender, and providing childcare if they do find work. TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) tries to improve this problem through many tactics, one of which is to encourage marriage. I don’t think that anyone, even the government, should force marriage onto anyone. Chances are, if these people are already in impoverished situations, the last thing they probably have on their minds. Day to day survival is what should be on their minds and gradually swimming out of that deep pool of troubles they are entrenched in. This is why I don’t believe TANF’s policy of no cash entitlements. I think that people need a little cash to get themselves going, but of course this should be put on a time limit so that dependence, or taking advantage of the system and being lazy, doesn’t occur. Lastly and most importantly in my opinion, people on welfare should not have to discuss intimately personal details of their life because it is a violation of human rights. However, if it is something important that affects the safety of their children, it is another story.

Socioeconomic Status

Systems of inequality are present both inside and outside of the home for women. Because domestic work such as cleaning and childcare is said to be a “woman’s job”, the responsibilities of the man and woman in a relationship are usually not entirely equal in this day and age. Sure, men are gradually doing more and more around the house. However, when they do so, he receives responses like, “wow, you are so helpful”. This implies that he is just helping the woman and he should be praised but not obligated to perform these domestic tasks. Women do this work constantly and usually do not receive recognition for it, except for maybe Mother’s Day.

Outside of the home, women at work often work in more menial jobs and if they don’t, they are still getting paid less. The attitudes employers and other male employees have toward them is also not acceptable. Too often, women face sexual harassment and just a general idea that women are mentally or physically inferior to men when on the job.

When I was working as a server at a restaurant, I noticed that my jobs were limited and that I faced a bit of discrimination because of my gender. For example, on a positive note for me, I was not forced to do any heavy lifting. However, there were also distractions that affected my productivity. My fellow employees would be likely to flirt with me to the point of being obnoxious. I also noticed some women flirting with their customers just so they could receive bigger tips. I tried to never to resort to that one for that purpose. I valued the efforts I put into my job and I think all women should do the same; by not taking advantage of the treatment they can receive just for being a woman. This kind of attention may seem nice, but it is counterproductive because it feeds into sexual stereotypes and the inferiority of women.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Feminism is often widely critiqued because it questions the importance of being identified as simply a woman. Too often, this is what people see when first meeting a woman; her gender and nothing else. This completely ignores the diversity of all women which should be welcomed, acknowledged, and celebrated. There is no such thing as an “average” woman and transnational feminists strive to get this point across. If we were all docile, sweet, non-confrontational, and submissive, then there would have been no progress in our fight for equal rights. As the transnational feminists believed, a commitment to activism and stretching our networks across the borders of the world is very necessary. These coalitions can be difficult because of some of the attitudes women have with other women in different societies. Women in places other than the North or the West understandable can feel out of the loop and inferior because of Hegemonic feminism. They are called “third women”. These feminists who reside in the west feel that they are the ones that can decide who is a true feminist and those who need to be liberated. According to them, progress has been mainly achieved in the US. They consider sexism the most important form of oppression which tends to ignore some of the obstacles “third women” go through because of their race, class, economic status, etc. I can see why this would be a problem because these women in more impoverished areas may feel that they don’t have an ally in the US and would probably lead to a feeling of even bitterness toward them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


The socialization of gender affects relationships in that you can never truly be yourself with your partner. Because of gender roles, the man and the woman are expected to act in different ways. What if a man makes less money, is more loquacious, or more expressive than his female partner? This could cause people, or her, to question his manhood. In our society’s gender norm, women are supposed to be the ones who are meek and wait for the guy to take charge in initiating a relationship, but all personalities are different. A shy woman therefore has extreme and sometimes unreasonable pressure to flirt and be open and giddy like women are supposed to act. Same holds true for men of personalities not typical of gender stereotypes. This can surely cause conflict in a relationship or even with your social circle who doesn’t approve of or understand the unconventional way that your relationship works.
Homosexuals probably don’t feel as comfortable with their PDA as heterosexuals do because people tend to judge them negatively. They face a complex, yet most likely freeing situation in their intimacy because they are more likely to be equal and not pressured to take on concrete masculine and feminine roles. Attached to homosexuals, however, are negative attitudes because they are not following the traditional male-female relationship, but do not follow they typical gender roles.


I believe that disability can be defined as anyone who is different from how a society views a person’s mental and physical health. In this definition, many people are disabled in varying degrees. Many people have anxiety disorders, broken bones, and drunken nights where they cannot act normally. What is unfortunate is the stereotypes and presumptions people have about people who are severely disabled and therefore “abnormal”. For example, I watch a few TLC shows about dwarf families and they are more than capable of doing anything that average height people can do. Society needs to get rid of the assumption that they are weak and need to be talked down to and help them in useful ways like catering to their lifestyle needs such as height adjustments in cars, houses, etc. I feel that many obviously disabled people are pitied and stared at. Sure, they have a few more challenges than the average person, but who wants to be average anyway? I think that fatness, especially extreme obesity is most definitely a disability. Fat people are often not anymore lazy and unmotivated than skinny people, it could be a result of millions of things such as genetics, a thyroid problem, abuse they’ve experienced, or just a severe addiction to food, etc. What obese people need is as many supportive people as possible by their side and for people not to look at their body to judge what kind of person they are. The extreme pressure to be thin in our society leads people to be desperate for diets that are not maintainable and destined to backfire. For people who don’t physical look like what society deems as beautiful, the truth of the matter is, are treated like they have a disability. In conclusion, the word disability I think is a very broad statement.

White Privilege

Even though our culture today seems to make an effort to emphasize the importance of diversity and equal opportunity for all, the way it operates still meets the needs of what is a “typical” white American. This unfair advantage for whites is called white privilege. In our law system, whites do get arrested but tend to get off the hook easier than other races. Our school system is supposed to be equal, but standardized tests cater toward children whose first spoken language was English. An important standardized test like the SAT or ACT may be harder to pass for students of different backgrounds but it is a way for our capitalistic society to set a limit on equal education. Very alarmingly, employers who are white tend to veer toward judging the black person poorly at an interview. Unfortunately, this results in a black person losing out over a white person for a job who is just as or less capable. However, with the exception of a few shows starring black families, the lifestyle of the typical white person is portrayed in our culture and media. For example, even the black models in the magazines are more often seen with sleek, smooth hair and many African-American women desire to “tame” their poofy locks. In movies, more often than not, white characters are playing the lead and the black ones are more likely to be poor, the comic relief, or criminals. Discrimination is far from over and you can tell this is true when people are fearful when a black man walks behind them, when people judge the white or Asian person is naturally smaller than a black person, and the millions of racial stereotypes that kill people’s self esteem and make them want to fit an image other than their culture. Sure, whites are faced with stereotypes, but they are trivial because the important things in society still ring in their favor.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Theorizing Privilege

Growing up in Northern VA, I feel that I was not as exposed to hard core prejudice. This is because at my school, I was so intermingled with people of numerous ethnic backgrounds and languages. I am Caucasian, but I had friends of a range of cultures that I surrounded myself with. Throughout my schooling, I watched countless multicultural fairs and lectures that celebrated the achievements and unique contributions of different races. However, because I am Caucasian, I probably couldn’t tell you the whole story of how certain groups were treated at my schools. I’m sure there was certainly still race discrimination. I have noticed that, due to a high percentage of Asian students present in my schools, there have been comments, not necessarily negative about their culture. They most likely face pressure and encounter annoying situations where other kids will try to sit next to them during a test because the stereotype is that they are all very smart. The problem I see with stereotyping is that draws attention to what should be important, the uniqueness and variations of each individual person. Stereotyping is like taking a person and seeing them as part of a group of a very specific type and ignoring the person’s true self.

I do recall experiencing gender inequality in my life. For example, I started Tae-Kwon-Do when I was five years old. I was especially weak even for a girl but I think that I was treated differently as opposed to the boys in my classes. For example, we were not made fun of if we did the “girl” pushups with our knees on the floor but there was no excuse for the boys. Also, they seemed to baby us more and have thinner boards for us to break. I think the instructors expected more of the boys and therefore pushed them to be superior to us..this can be applied in many things in life. Just because women are very rare in the Computer Science field doesn’t mean they are less capable, certainly many are. They are just not pushed hard enough or are discouraged from society to pursue the field.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Romance and Relationships

At a young age, parents, whether intentionally or not, talk and interact with their sons and daughters differently. Mothers talk to and pamper their little girls more and therefore they generally are the more verbal gender. Fathers take their sons to sporting events and don’t coddle them as much when they fall down playing soccer. Chores that children of different sexes have also vary. Fathers are more likely to makes sure the son knows how to do things like changing a tire or mowing the lawn. Girls are encouraged to learn to cook, clean and be nurturing to those around them. These reinforcements of stereotypes translate into the dating world as the child gets older.

I truly believe that how a man treats a woman while dating reflects the gender expectations he was raised with as well as the role he expects to play in marriage. Although dating roles are becoming slightly less traditional, oftentimes the man plays the dominant role. Perhaps the modern woman will take some initiative and ask the man out herself or make the first phone call. Usually, however, once at the date, the man will be the one driving, holding the door open, paying for the meal, etc. Early on in a relationship, men tend to want to feel masculine, in charge, and generally more powerful than their female partner. It is also more normal for the woman to be the most expressive and loquacious in a conversation while the man sits and admires her beauty; the sex object in front of him.

Once a couple is married, the man carries this attitude into their social life where still today; women usually take over the responsibility of inviting friends over and setting the social calendar. When married couples have disputes, again the man more often than the woman will shut the topic out and bottle things up inside instead of communicating.

This is why it is so difficult to carry through an equal marriage. In order to do so, men and women have to question taught values and gender characteristics that seem to be a given piece of them. The truth is, men and women usually have a mixture of both feminine and masculine traits but repress certain ones because they feel it is inappropriate in our society. An example of this may be a woman holds in a belch and dirty joke at the dinner table or a man who pretends to have an object in his eye when he cries during a sad movie. This repression can truly be a sad way to live, because we are all actors in this big game of life.