Thursday, December 10, 2015

Power, Privilege, and Difference by Allan G. Johnson - Reflection

Well let's start by agreeing on the fact that we've all been institutionalized since birth. Johnson relates this institutional asylum we call our way of life to a "kind of paralysis" (vii), and is sure not to leave anyone out by suggesting that "all of us are part of the problem" (vii). Well that's for damn sure because if you have even asked, or been asked, "what is your race?" Or even if you checked a box containing either of the letters M or F and never happened to think, "why is this being asked of me and/or why should it matter?" Because I have probably only a handful of times, and every other time it was like changing my underwearhabitual and redundant. It's a clear indication that we have become numb to the systemic and fundamentally devious, yet cleverly methodical social structure, which we have designed for ourselves to the benefit of few. Maybe you have naturally solved this equation some time ago, but most likely you haven't; and if you have, well what have you done about it since then? I know, it was an unfortunate ugly truth for myself. To make matters worse, I happen to be the biggest asshole in the book. According to Mr. Johnson if you're white, male, and/or heterosexual you belong behind door number one—the privileged class! Sadly he right. I cannot do anything about my situation, I just happen to be and white and heterosexual male who happens to have Christian beliefs.

Although I know that because of my classification status I will always be considered as part of the privileged class and I will have an advantage over many others who deserve to hold just as equal rights, there is still something I can do about my situation. If there's a way to help others who do not have the same opportunities and equalities as I do then the best way I can help is becoming more self-educated on the other gender, race, sexuality, and any other classification that is considered to be less fortunate than me. Unfortunately this is not something that is going to ever go away
—it has been and always will be our way of life. What we can do to make our society a better place is acknowledging the system, taking the necessary steps to self-educate, and spread your experiences and knowledge with others alike. 

The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy: Women, Politics, and the Future: A Tsunami in History by Kristin Rowe Finkbeiner - Quotes

Well for one, I really dig the title of this book, The F-Word, written by Kristin Rowe—and no, I did not clone her concept to my keyboard as my own. The chapter, "A Tsunami in History," was a good read to open the floor, gain a better understanding, and acquire some sort of appreciation for the optimal feminist. Still, there were some specific things that really stood out to me:

When discussing the opportunities that are now available to women as a result of the sacrifice and service paid by many earlier feminists, Finkbeiner raises concern 
with young women today not understanding the gravity and significance of their involvement in bringing this movement forward and the responsibility that bears with taking on the role as a feminist. Finkbeiner talks about how the women in her family pass down a symbolic ring that represents the power and obligation that expected of her: she calls it "a gift, and a responsibility." She suggests that it is every young and adult woman's duty to honor all of the past women who sacrificed and fought relentlessly to bring women where they are in world today. In fact, I stand firmly behind Finkbeiner. She illustrates the timeline on women's liberation and feminism through three waves: the first wave was getting the right to vote. When these women started this movement men and the rest of society did not have tolerance for it and women had close to no authority. Many women were uneducated so it made having a powerful voice a rare breed in feminism. These optimal women not only battled against sexism and misogyny, but even led abolitionists in the fight to end slavery. Many women were arrested, beaten, and victimized mentally and physically. Finkbeiner makes known that it would only be a women not doing her part if she were to preoccupy her life with all the advantages the older feminist made possible. 
Kristin Rowe Finkbeiner writes that it isn't just important to honor these women of the past by continuing their legacy, but it's important to take advantage of the opportunities that have been made available in order to open new/more doors of opportunity for the future generations. Although getting the right to vote in 1920 was probably the most monumental achievement, it didn't happen overnight. "The amendment was reintroduced every year for the next forty years before it finally passed:" and when it did there were many stipulations to hinder women from being able to vote, mainly the women who desired change the most. 
The second wave took place during the civil rights movement. Women fought for equal opportunities within the workforce, against segregation and homosexuality. Finkbeiner states the third wave is a little harder to define. "The feeling that individual concerns ass up to societal issues in need of electoral (legislative, voting, and candidate) action has been lost, along with flower power and rainbow suspenders, as the second wave fades." This may not sound too bad at first but if you really think about what's being said it's pretty scary. The way I perceive it is our society is basically saying, "hey, look, you got what you wanted, we gave you what we think is fair and it was your choice to bombard us with gay and lesbian rights so you'll just have to be happy with what you have."

It's also pretty clear that many people believe that we have already obtained pure equality between men and women. Unfortunately we have a long way to go. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Jackson Katz, "Tough Guise 2" and Michael Kimmel, "What Are Little Boys Made Of?"

If there’s anything today that can make a man second-guess his behavior and impose an entirely different aura for how men should be conducting themselves, it is the film by Jackson Katz, “Tough Guise 2.” And yes, the title of this film is inspired with every pun intended, as “guise” is a term for an appearance or projection, quite like a mask, to disguise the true identity of something; and in this case, it is the toughness, which men are, and have been convinced from adolescence that needs to be achieved and sustained in order to climb the ladder on the manhood-totem pole.

It’s really not up for debate when Katz reveals the simple fact that ninety percent of violence is committed by men. As we see all of the violent acts that take place every day it is without a doubt that the media euphonizes the true root of these acts through expressions, which Katz elucidates as “violence in America,” or “kids killing kids,” or “youth violence.” In “Tough Guise 2” Katz says, “All of this is part of the functions how dominant ideologies work linguistically to conceal the power of dominant groups.”  Of course, when women commit such crimes, though they are just as morally wrong, the media likes to capitalize on these incidents and magnify the subject matter because it’s outside the lines of our social norms—it makes headlines—headlines make news—news makes money. We all know about these social norms and dominate groups, as they were covered in class a while back: straight, Christian, white, able-bodied, (American), male, and property holding, which formed the acronym (SCWAMP), all remain invisible when mentioning addressing the problem. Many would agree with Michael Gurian, a therapist and author of A Fine Young Man and The Wonder of Boys, mentioned in Michael Kimmel’s What Are Little Boys Made Of?, as he mentions that we should let “boys be boys” and the education system is being ruined by feminists. Gurian is said to argue the fact that “our educational system forces naturally rambunctious boys to conform to a regime of obedience. With testosterone surging through their little limbs, boys are commanded to sit still, raise their hands, and take naps.” It’s almost comical that there are grown men out there willing to blame feminism for the “supposed failure in manhood.” It’s as if these guys couldn’t let go of the fact that their little sister beat them in a game of checkers thirty years ago and haven’t had their opportunity to reclaim their title as the “Checker-King.” I almost feel that this behavior actually makes these guys look like the “little bitches,” the ones you lost all their sense of security to women wanting to be paid the same to do the same job. So what’s the proposition? Should we let “boys be boys,” accept the reasoning for testosterone playing the leading role and cheer them on while they wreak havoc on their schoolteachers like little gremlins? Believe me when I say, I was probably one of the most reckless little boys growing up, and my father, definitely had a good dose of masculinity to punish me with. He didn’t accept my behavior, my mother didn’t accept my behavior, and although I said I wouldn’t be a thousand times, I am thankful for their discipline.

The problem that seems to be more relevant in this situation is the parenting—it usually starts within the home. The one thing Katz, Kimmel, and Gurian would agree with is that this is mainly psychological. I don’t argue with the fact that we are seeing a major increase in depression with young boy today. I do believe that the reasons for the lack of confidence and early stages of depression in young boys are more so because we have installed the idea that they must become more successful, stronger, powerful, athletic, and in all ways, more dominant than women; correspondingly, we have a much more competitive structure with females, young and old, in all areas of society including sports and education, which fashions a smaller margin of victory for boys over girls. In addition to dealing with the stresses and peer-pressures to conform to our societal analysis of manhood, it is because of this reason that young boys feel failure: rather than the idea of just loosing to an individual, if they are overachieved or outplayed by a female it becomes much harder to accept because they will be looked at as a “pussy.” It’s as if the favored team just suffered a major upset in the championship game. If the expectations did not exists in the first place then the loss would be less impactful. Of course the losing team isn’t going to feel so hot about the loss. As humans we still need some type of motivational drive to excel in life, just not the wrong ones. Take away the expectations then the fear of failure and shamefulness will dramatically decrease, which would also generate more time for young boys to focus on the areas where improvement is needed rather than focusing on masking their image just to appear suitable for our “manhood challenge.”

Having a better understanding for equality and feminism will only educate men and help us learn to control our frustrations and anger by gaining a new and adding to our perspective. Many want to blame the masterminds behind the video games, movies, and the media and music industry but I believe this goes much further than them—it’s a cultural. I don’t believe many of the normalizations are all intentionally scienced to hypnotize everyone, although there are many that are, but it seems that most people are desensitized because of the social norms we have created for ourselves. What sells sells and is going to capitalized on if the consumer is taking the bait.

This is a video clip from the iconic mobster movie "Goodfellas," where Tommy, played by Joe Pesci, is challenged by a young bartender while playing a game of cards. Tommy's character, like a majority of roles played by Joe Pesci, is a colonel of violence, dominance, and ego, which is challenged by "Spider." Tommy reacts to Spider telling him to "go fuck [himself]" by shooting him after Tommy's friends (Robert Di Nero and Lay Liotta) cheer Spider for standing up for himself, which pressures Tommy to use the only method he knows, violence, when reacting.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hogeland, "Fear of Feminism"

Lisa Maria Hogeland's article, "Fear of Feminism: Why Young Women Get the Willies," uses the term "Noah's ark" when describing the mindset many young women may have when choosing a committed lifestyle of a feminist. "When you live on Noah's ark, anything that might make it more difficult to find a partner can seem to threaten your very survival." What Hogeland simply means is that women have to be mindful to the idea that when becoming a feminist it may be difficult when finding a partner, mainly of the opposite sex. For the ideal feminist, it is hard for a woman of such dominance (strong willed) to find a man who will tolerate and except her lifestyle or beliefs, the way our society has been programed is that the man in the family or relationship is of dominance and the woman is submissive. For a feminist, this would cause a great deal of conflict of interest. For a relationship to work there both partners must support each other: it would be very difficult for a man to except a woman as his partner if he truly did not support beliefs and intuitions. Of course, as a man, having high political affiliation or holding a job or career that is portrayed to be dominated by males, it would actually be very intimidating to entertain a relationship with a feminist because for one, it could hurt their reputation, which would hurt their chances for opportunities such as a job promotion. Just as Hogeland stated, “The fear of political reprisals is very realistic,” as this statement was directed towards feminists, the same would apply someone who chose to affiliate themselves with a feminist, or more so a male choosing to be in an intimate relationship with a feminist. For a man, it would be a whole lot easier to just avoid that whole situation entirely. If a feminist were to settle for a man of less self-worth, who demoralizes women, or for the most part, can ignore the issues that women face in the battle of equality, it would be settling for less, which inevitably loses creditability and makes their position in the women’s liberation movement transparent. For women who have experienced men’s violence first hand, may have a more motivated choice to choose the lifestyle change of a feminist.

Unfortunately I feel that many of these women are waived by society as holding a grudge against all men for the actions of one, making their motive just the outcome of an emotional experience. Much like the process in selecting the jury for a trial, if any of the jurors have had any emotional or related experiences to the trial, they are removed from the jury because those individuals’ decisions may be influenced by someone else’s actions, impairing their judgment to make a fair and educated verdict. For young women in this case, their creditability may have a higher ceiling, thus having a greater impact on society as a feminist. Hogeland makes a strong argument about the fear of feminism, which I believe is undoubtedly a real issue that has been hindering many young females from becoming potential feminists.

The famous poster above was a great advertisement created by J. Howard Miller during World War II to promote women joining the workforce. The relevancy is that although the image serves its purpose in the advertisement, it also shows a masculine side of a woman while flexing her bicep. The way our society is today, even more so the way it was during the 1940's, many men may find it intimidating to partner with a woman who can out perform them in a physical presence.

Background on the Blogger

Well for one, I'm about as far from a blogger as they come; in other words, I've never had one, nor did I ever think there would come a day I would have one. I'd rather invest my time in fantasy football, unloading some lead at the shooting range, play sports, "veg out" and watch sports—with a beer in hand, go on a week long survival excursion, and about a hundred other things that I would rather preoccupy my self with—but that's not the case.

At twenty-seven years old, I am currently beginning my second semester at Rhode Island College, the first college I've ever attended and I'm primarily the first one of my immediate family to go to college, so the pressure is on. Being a scholastic-award-winning art major I was excepted by some great art schools, one being RISD (Rhode Island School of Design); but that was strictly by the art department only—who knew an art school cared about grades? Needless to say, I was better off.

After many conversations with different Army and Marine recruiters I decided to join the Coast Guard Reserves in 2007, which was undoubtably the best decision I made for my future. I was assigned to a strictly deployable unit, where we were either deployed to provide support during war, responding to hurricanes or any type of natural disaster that we are called upon for, or we were training for our next rotation to deploy. I've traveled to many places most can say they haven't gone, or would go. I've made many lifelong friendships, some of the greatest stand-up individuals I know, and some of the most interesting. I started working in the restaurant business since I was fifteen; worked as a barber in a professional barber shop and part-time in the military; now I currently work at the Providence VA. As of now, I am only taking general education courses have not declared a major. Truthfully, I chose this course because I didn't have many options but I'm starting to appreciate the way it worked out. Although I do not foresee being converted to a feminist by the end of this class, I do already see a positive change in how I view the issues with diversity and inequality in our society today.