Sunday, October 18, 2015

Racism and Women's Studies

While reading Barbara Smith's article on racism within the feminist movement, I agreed with many of the points that she made. As a white man, I witness this racism daily and it is extremely relevant to my life. I have never been racist or discriminative of anyone because I am also a gay man, which is a blessing in the sense that I absolutely love my sexuality, but a curse in the sense that I am judged and discriminated against every day of my life. Smith mentions that "racist white women cannot be said to be actually feminist." If any woman is discluded from feminism, then the idea of equality itself cannot be included in feminism, which would crumble its entire foundation. "Anything less than [the] vision of total freedom is not feminism" says Smith. Unless feminism is fighting for all women, not just high class, white, heterosexual women, it isn't actually fighting for gender equality. Just equality for the "elite." She also states that "feminism is the political theory and practice that struggles to free all women" which supports my repeated thought that no woman should be left outside of the feminist movement. Without the support and inclusion of all women, there can't be anything truly accomplished for gender equality, and our society will become unbalanced. "Women's studies is a context in which white and third world women actually come together," a study that shows the unity of all women, no matter who you are.

Below is a link to Beyonce's essay on gender equality. As a black woman and a feminist, her views are extremely relevant to this article.

Beyonce's Feminist Essay

Cumpulsory Heterosexuality

In Adrienne Rich's detailed article on "compulsory heterosexuality" and "lesbian existence" she speaks about just how invisible lesbians are in today's society and how it is believed that people are supposed to be straight. Rich states that "the assumption that 'innately heterosexual' stands as a... block for feminism." This means that by society deeming all women as straight, they are completely deleting any other type of women from American society. "Lesbian existence has been written out of history or catalogued as disease." Lesbians have gone unacknowledged in history and lesbianism has been completely shamed. By deleting women who are lesbians from any type of public representation, is making "lesbian existence" invisible in society. It is so important for the feminist movement to include ALL women. She also states that "heterosexuality has been both forcibly and subliminally imposed on women." By society always characterizing women as heterosexual and glorifying the thought of a women being with a man, it's been made assumed by everyone that women need to be heterosexual. Rich says that "... heterosexual romance has been represented as the great female adventure, duty, and fulfillment." Society makes it so important for women to have a MAN. It's important to marry a MAN. To be as good as a MAN. Nowhere in our society does it glorify a woman being with another woman. We need to include these women in not only the feminist world, but also in the real world.

In this link, I've included an advertisement for Dolce and Gabbona. It is one of the only ads portraying lesbian romance for a high fashion clothing line.

Lesbian Clothing Ad

Monday, October 12, 2015

People Like Us

The "People Like Us" website was very interesting. I was particularly fascinated by the stories. Roberta was an example of a middle class woman who found a man who was in a lower class than she was. She obviously didn't care but his relatives gave her husband a hard time for becoming part of another class. This is a relevant representation of how social influences can keep people trapped in a class, or afraid to move upward. Karen was very interesting in the fact that she had a very mixed life between classes. Since she moved a lot, depending on where she was, she was considered lower or higher. It's interesting how different places have different social and economic classes. Ginny is supporting children off of a minimum wage job and avoiding government help, but her children are starting to catch on to the way they are different from other people. She works hard but is an example of a woman being kept in the lower class, unable to move upward. Charles is a rare case of a downward spiral from upper class to lower class. His decision to start his own life made him start over financially and give him a new standing in a low middle class position in society. Val was able to move up from her downward spiral, but her parents are another example of social influences regarding economic standing. She tried to pay them back but they did not want it and they resented her, straining their relationship.

It is very interesting how social influences and hard work affect a person's class.

People of New York

Above is a link to the Facebook page People of New York, where the stories of all different people of different social and economic classes are shared.

Kristof: Land of Limitations!

      Nicholas Kristof's friend Rick was born into a lower class family. At the age of five years old, his mother died and his father was a drunk, not very involved in his life. He lived with his grandmother along with three siblings, so sharing, compromising, and sacrificing was a part of his life from the start. He went through school with undiagnosed ADD. While he was a very smart guy, he didn't have the accommodations and help that he needed so he dropped out of high school, immediately giving him limited job opportunities. He went through marriages and divorces, having children to support and new expenses. After an accident at work that "mashed" his hand, he "survived on disability and odd jobs." He worked his entire life to take care of others and not himself. He had been taught that he was not the most important person from an early age. He was destined to fail from the Domino Effect due to the fact that he was of low income, had miniscule connections, and didn't get the proper medical care that he needed.

      Kristof mentioned that "what distinguished Rick wasn't primarily bad choices, but intelligence, hard work, and lack of opportunity." By not getting help for his ADD, he was immediately discouraged and didn't have anyone to help him, such as an aid, or a psychologist, because he didn't have the money to pay for those things. He was very smart, he just couldn't learn in a classroom setting. He worked hard his whole life to support children and wives, even giving up money for his ex-wife who needed medical help. He had learned to give up things for the people he loved and to work hard to support not only himself, but more importantly, his loved ones. And since he didn't have a college education where he was prepared for a certain field, he was thrown into the job market as a teenager and forced to make do with what he could find. 

      He was destined to be lower income since the moment he was born. Society just kept keeping him down, unable to rise above. 


Monday, October 5, 2015

Generation M: How Media affects Feminism

In the film Generation M, there are plentiful examples of how today's pop culture and social networks affect the women of modern day America. One of the most prevalent examples is the sexualized portrayal of women in music videos and publicized events. Jean Kilbourne explains how young women are mistaking public sexual representation of themselves as feminism, and a revolutionary way of acting as women. In music videos for musicians such as Christina Aguilera, the Pussycat Dolls, and Rihanna, these women are in extremely minimal clothing, moving promiscuously, and singing lyrics glorifying their sexual endeavors. While these women should not be ashamed of their sex lives, they also shouldn't be representing themselves as sexual objects, as if it is the only thing they have to give to society. Their fans should be focusing on their music, not now they look. By attempting to make themselves known and to gain fans, they are dancing in lingerie and singing about having sex, instead of focusing on their music and their artistry. They are mistaking feminism for sexual glorification. That mistake can be extremely detrimental to feminism. Just as the good, moral housewife who stays home is the sexist portrayal of women, the idea of a sexual objectified girl who is glorifying her sexual means is just as bad of a portrayal of women, This film also lets us into the lives of three preteen girls who are getting ready for the mall. As they start to apply their makeup and do their hair, they begin to resemble the makeup and hair of the celebrities in the current sexualized music videos, and as they listen to these artists' songs, they begin to imitate the dance moves that these girls do. It definitely opened my eyes to how the media and celebrities really do affect the lives of young girls and how they affect feminism.

Pussycat Dolls- When I Grow Up

Question: How has the sexualized portrayal of women changed or been enhanced throughout the years?