Friday, January 21, 2011

Blog Post # 15 in response to Question O

This class has made me realize and understand that various forms of oppression and systemic discrimination exist in our society that I never had taken the time to think about before. I think that everyone can take certain steps to fix these problems that exist in our society. The first step that everyone can take to fight for socio-cultural transformation is to realize that discrimination does exist. If you don’t realize that something exists you can’t do anything either for or against it.

Now that I realize that forms of oppression and discrimination exist I think my next step is to truly try and understand what privileges I have in society. There are so many different privileges that it can be hard to understand them all. Before this class I never gave much thought to even having white privilege, but now I realize that not only do I have white privilege but I also have heterosexual privilege, Christian privilege, able-bodied privilege and the list goes on and on. What I need to remember is that, yes I may have these privileges, but by having these privileges it means that others miss out on the change to have these privileges as well. I am going to try and look at my life and lifestyle from the other end, and I will try and understand how much of a struggle life can be for people who suffer because of the privileges that I have.

Realistically, one person can’t change the world. No matter how much I want the world to be an equal place for all, I alone cannot make that happen. I need to reach out to friends and family and teach them what I have learned from this class. It doesn’t even need to be in a formal setting because in everyday life situations of racism and forms of oppression come up. If I can just point out and make the people around me see how harmful and destructive acts of racism and discrimination can be then maybe they can spread the message to people that they know too. I know that I will be more aware of what goes on around me, and if I see something that I don’t like in regards to discrimination I will say something and fight for it. I don’t need to start a revolution, but I can take little steps to fix the common occurrences that happen because of the inequalities that exist in our society. These little steps are the key to having equality in our society, and if everyone can take a few little steps each day we will be well on our way to a safer, healthier, happier world for all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blog Post # 14 in response to Question N

There are many things that make a good activist. However, I think the most important thing an activist can have is a strong belief that what they are fighting for will make a positive change for all of society. Without belief in oneself and in what cause one is fighting for it will be almost impossible to be an effective activist.

An effective and positive change agent should deal with fostering change, should have awareness, action and analysis, should be allies for all, and should also be accountable for their actions.  As Barbara J. Love states in her article Developing a Liberatory Consciousness “all members of society play a role in keeping a dis-equal system in place, whether the system works to their benefit or disadvantage” (599).  Thus, those who want to change this system need to be “committed to changing systems and institutions characterized by oppression to create greater equity and social justice” even if it means that the change could work to their disadvantage. In the end, the change for equality for will be a benefit for all.

When it comes to awareness, activists must pay attention to all aspects of society, including their “daily lives, their language, their behaviors, and even their own thoughts” because living with awareness means “noticing what happens in the world around you” (600). Not only should an effective activist notice what happens around them, but also taking action to eliminate oppression.

The attribute of action that an activist should have is important because it goes past just being aware and takes the next step to actually put all of the work to fight against oppression into life. Taking action can also include helping others take action and encouraging others that they can make a difference.

An activist should also hold oneself accountable for the lives that they lead and also for the actions they take in regards to discrimination. Barbara Love made an interest point in regards to accountability. She says that people who are “raised on one end of patterns of gender, race, class subordination or domination” can actually use those experiences to provide a different perspective for people raised on the other end” (602). I would never have though to look at accountability this way, but it really does make sense.

Those who choose to be an effective activist can truly help our society “reclaim choice in our values and attitudes” (603). We can all learn from each other and all go through the journey of creating a better and equal world for all.

One of the activists that I admire more and more after reading her work is Bell Hooks. When I first watched her for one of the very beginning assignment we had in this course I wasn’t sure how I felt about her. I think is because she pointed out a lot of privileges that I had in society. I didn’t realize how my unawareness was actually hurting many people in our society and I didn’t like the fact that she explained it so clearly. After listening to what she says though, I realize that she is an amazing woman and I am glad that I have been able to learn from her. I have a lot more learning to do, but this class has made me aware of many types of privilege that exists in our society and that for the world to be a better place we must all play a part to help end inequality, and by doing so we can take the steps to create equality for all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quick Blog # 6

Age diversity has been a very interesting unit that we have studied. My social sphere is somewhat. I am a big family person, so I am with them a lot. My sisters and I are all the same age so I never had the chance to see what living with older or younger siblings are like, but my parents are older and my grandparents are much older. I feel that I have a lot of interaction with my grandparents who are older. I love being with them, but there are times when I recognize that they are older. This is realized mainly, with hearing and the fact that they can fall asleep on a dime, although if you asked them, they weren’t really sleeping. I always enjoyed babysitting in high school, so in some ways I suppose I had more interaction with younger children. But, I think I am set in my own age group and the friends that I have so I don’t feel a need to interact with the your or elderly people as much.
I think that our society is segregated based on age simply because we tend to form groups with people who are similar to us, and a lot of that similarity is based on age. The elderly weren’t always the elderly, they were once youth and then teenagers and then adults but they all had their groups of friends then and it seems natural that in later years of their lives they would be friends with those in their age group who all have common interests. Still, both young and old people suffer from age discrimination and are socially marginalized. I feel that many people think young people are up to no good and that they don’t deserve the respect that adults would get. On the other hand, I feel that a lot of people have respect for the elderly, but many become impatient with them, especially if they aren’t keeping up with the pace of our society and those people voice their frustration.  Young-adults and middle-age adults are certainly privileged due to their age. They are the elite and at the top of the pyramid when it comes to age because that is how our society has shaped itself. I think that everyone feels young-adults and middle aged adults are the ones who are going to be spending the most money, who are the most intelligent, and who have the most going for them.
I think there are certain ways that we can promote the integration of people of all ages and challenge age based segregation. I know it may seem silly, but the game BINGO is something that all ages can play and that people of all ages seem to enjoy playing. This is the same with bowling as well. Why not break down the barriers that exist and let everyone enjoy the same things together. The elderly could probably use a little youth in their life and the youth can learn a lot from the elderly. I think our culture could benefit from realizing that the elderly were once young, and that those who are young now will eventually become the elderly. Everyone is still the same person they were born as, but time changes us physically and mentally. This doesn’t necessarily mean in a good or bad way, but it is in a different way. We need to learn to accept people of all ages, and really we need to learn to accept all people. All people should be treated equally no matter who they are, what they look like, where they come from or how old they are. Everything, all of these isms, seem to come down to the issue of equality so I think what society needs to do is realize that everyone is equal and not just realize it but act upon it. The world would be a better place if we could all just be equal.

Blog Post # 13 in response to Question M

Ageism, also called age discrimination, is stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age. I was deeply touched by the “Once We Were Young” age concern video that was put on as a part of the Age Concern campaign.

I think in our society, we are so caught up with the day to day life,that we don’t always stop to think about what it will be like to actually be older. I don’t think it is so much the fact that we don’t talk about ageism because we are ashamed of it, but more because we don’t realize that it exists. The film states that 1 in 5 older people live in poverty, 5 million older people live alone, and that in fifteen years over a third of the population will be over 50. It is especially sad to think of the scenarios where one older person is left completely alone. I have been fortunate enough to have very healthy active grandparents. My grandmother often gets mistaken is my mom, that’s how good she looks. But, I know from friends that others are not as fortunate. I hear them talking about grandparents losing their memories and not being able to live by themselves and I find it so upsetting. I would hope that I am not ageist. I feel that I am respectful of people no matter what their age is, and growing up close to grandparents who are older has taught me and shown me how wonderful older people can be.

In the film, “Look Us in the Eye”: The Old Women’s Project states that “old women must be treated as equals. We reject both contempt and “respect” on the basis of age, but rather celebrate the honest exchange between generations”. I find it interesting that they reject “respect’ on the basis of age. if I see an older person needing a seat somewhere I’m going to offer them mine, but I never realized that some could be offended by that respect. I suppose if they refuse to sit then that is fine too, it is their life to live.

I think this unit has allowed me to realize that being older is just another stage of life and that older people really shouldn’t be treated any differently. Whether it is discrimination against the young or the old, it should not exist either way. I really like the phrase that the Old Women’s Project used saying they want an honest exchange between generations. I think if people realized and practiced that motto then they would have more understanding about what age really means and how everyone should be able to live their lives no matter what age they are.

Quick Blog # 5

I chose to watch Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality by Gail Dines. In this video Dines discusses the effects that porn has had on men and women in our society, specifically how it affects women and how it affects the way men view women because of porn.

I do agree with what Gail Dines says in her video. There is nothing like seeing the images of hardcore porn that shows how real misogyny and women hating is, which Dines found out when she went to a show, and which I certainly agree with. I understand the excitement and arousal that porn can bring, and I’m not saying all porn shows women in a bad light. But, there is a definite line that exists between what images are going to corrupt men and what images are not, and hardcore porn, to me, seems like it goes past that line. For example, she talks about ATM- ass to mouth and asks what sexual arousal is there outside of the debasement of the women.  I believe that that is a valid point and clearly shows how pornography furthers the problems of sexism and misogyny. It seems that the “sizzle” that porn brings now is the debasement of women and that is why porn continues to present women in a degrading manner. I find it sad that women may bring themselves to that low of a point, and that men seem to think that acts like that are okay, but hardcore pornography is making acts like this more mainstream.

Even those who produce porn are “are absolutely amazed how they are making so much money and how they have not had more lawsuits filed against them”. If those who are producing this material feel this way I think that shows that something wrong is going on in this industry. 

One interesting point she made has to do with the technology that is available to children at a young age which shows the impact that porn is having on young men and how they view women. Boys, who used to look at Playboy, now at the age of eleven, have access to all the hardcore porn on the internet that they could possibly want. At eleven, these boys, are being exposed for the first time to what sex is, but what they are seeing is the dehumanizing and demoralizing acts that a lot of hardcore porn contains. So they grow up thinking that this hardcore porn is what sex is supposed to be and they learn that that is how they are supposed to treat women during sex. Although, I wonder about women and porn.  I don’t think they use it to the extent that men do, but what is that other side of the story?

I also like how she talked about the choices that women used to have and now have about what kind of women they want to be. When Gail Dines was growing up she had some choices, not enough because “she needed the feminist movement”, but she was still able to choose what type of women fit her. Now, in this age, there really is only one type of women for women today to now choose to be and in a society that is so hyper sexualized it certainly doesn’t leave us many options.

Overall, pornography is a tricky subject. I don’t think that all porn is awful and I don’t think that all porn shows women in a degrading light. Again, it is all about the invisible line that exists which takes porn from being exciting in a good way to being exciting in a way that demoralizes women and corrupts both men and women into thinking that the non human and more animalistic, no emotion way they treat  each other is okay.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blog Post # 12 in response to Question L

The video Gimp shows that disabled people may have physical disabilities, but that does not mean that they cannot actively participate in society. In fact, according to Susan Wendell’s The Social Construction of Disability, it is society itself that can “damage people’s bodies in ways that are disabling in their environment” and “the availability of basic resources, or lack thereof, can also have major effects on disability” (Wendell, 477).
When watching Gimp, when the performers were dancing including those with disabilities, it was as if their bodies were transformed into something greater than the human body. The way they moved, how strong they were, and how they used their bodies shows how far the human body can go. The title explains all the different definitions of gimp, such as “a lame person”, “a halting lame walk”, or “to turn or tremble”. Yet, this film proved that those with disabilities, those who are considered to have a gimp, can still do miraculous things which allow them to overcome their physical disabilities. They proved that even though “disability is socially constructed through the failure or unwillingness to create ability among people who do not fit the physical and mental profile of “paradigm” citizens” that that unwillingness can still be defeated (Wendell, 479).
I believe that performances like this can truly help address issues of disability in a progressive manner. These performers, who have disabilities, prove that they are more than capable to be successful in society, and more than that they can be successful in an area that demands they use their bodies each and every day. I think Gimp, and other performances like it, will inspire others with disabilities to strive to do whatever they want in life even if it seems impossible for them to reach their goals. It is clear from Gimp that nothing is impossible. I also believe that those are not disabled can learn a lot from Gimp. They can see that being disabled doesn’t mean that it affects every aspect of a disabled person’s life.  Yes, “much of the public world is structured as though everyone were physically strong, as though all bodies were shaped the same, as though everyone cold walk, hear and see well” but I hope those who are not disabled can learn to see how strong those who are disabled actually are to deal with all the obstacles that are thrown at them because of the way our society is constructed (Wendell, 479).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blog Post # 11 in response to Question K

Beautiful Daughters and “Trans Woman Manifesto” truly depict how transgender women have been stereotyped in America. It seems that talking about transgender women is almost unspeakable, and I have to admit that it is probably the most out of the whole category of gender that I know the least about.

Julia Serano’s manifesto calls for “the end of the scapegoating, deriding, and dehumanizing of tans women everywhere” and I think it is about time (441). I really like the point that Serano makes that no qualifications should be “placed on the term “trans woman” and that it is “downright sexist to reduce any women (trans or otherwise) down to he r mere body parts or to require her to live up certain socially dictated ideals regarding appearance (441).

I never realized until I watched the film and read the article how large transphobia is in our society and I think it is because I never really gave much thought to those who are transgender. In the movie Beautiful Daughters, I found it interesting that some men questioned whether they way gay once they had slept with a trans woman. It surprised me that some trans woman told them that it did mean they were gay. I was happy that the woman who told this story would tell men that she was a woman and that they were a man, and in our society today they would be called heterosexual. I really have no idea the feelings or thoughts of trans gender woman, but to me, it would seem that they actually believe they are a woman.  Although, I suppose that the trans women who still have penises could lead to some confusion for those they sleep with about whether or not they are straight or gay. I think, more than anything, this unit shows that there truly is more to being male and female than whether you have a “y” or “x” chromosome. It is emotions and desires and dreams and what simply feels right that makes us who we are. Everyone deserves the chance to experience life the way that feels right to them, whether that means they spend it the way there were born or if they make some changes along the way. Either way, everyone needs to be happy with who they are and should have the right to live life in whichever way fills them with happiness.

It takes a lot of courage for these trans women to let people know exactly who they are because there is so much hatred and fear of being ostracized that can come along with letting people know of the decisions they made in their lives. The women in the movie showed me how much they had to go through in their lives just to be the person they felt that they needed to be. In the end, we are all human and we all have human emotions and just want to be loved. If those with transphobia could recognize that, it would make the world such a better place.