Sunday, January 22, 2012

Occupy Providence

After the short ride from campus to downtown, when Kayla, Steph, Annisia, Merylda, and I arrived at Burnside Park getting out of my car was like stepping into a whole new world.  Upon the entry of the park there was a strong presence in the air; I felt this strong feeling of desperation.  Not a feeling of desperation in the sense of the cold weather or sub-standard living conditions, but because of the fact that there weren’t nearly the amount of tents or activists that I thought I would be seeing.  It was almost as if there was just a small group of people huddling together amongst themselves trying to stay strong and fight amongst the cold.  To me this was the ultimate form of symbolism regarding the occupy wall street movement taking in place in Providence, Rhode Island; a small group of warriors fighting the enormous battle taking place throughout the vast landscape of the country.
The common theme I gathered from talking to some of the individuals there was this fight for equal rights; equality for everyone from middle class people, lower class people, and even women.    When talking with a gentleman he asked what class we were taking and we told him a class about feminism.  It was truly amazing to recognize the number of similarities between the ideals of the occupy movement and the feminist movement.  So similar that in fact a homeless man with no teeth went on a rant talking about as far back as Leonardo Da Vinci’s opinion that women should be in high control of society and that even Jesus wanted to put Mary Madelyn in charge of all the world’s churches’.
Our group did not necessarily talk about personal lives or backgrounds so it was hard to tell if these people are considered to be “privileged” people as Johnson would say.  However, regardless of their financial backgrounds Johnson would certainly applaud their efforts to stand up for themselves and fight for an important cause.  They are indeed the positive role models that Ayvazian talked about, as well inspirations to the ordinary American citizen who may not believe that they can make a difference.  I think it is safe to say that everyone there was fighting for one cause and that was to “end the cycle of oppression.”
My comment for the class is to not take the hard work, determination, and sacrifice of these individuals for granted.  The lessons learned from our trip to Burnside Park can apply to many things.  Life is what you make it and you get what you put in.  How can anyone expect change if we don’t do our part and make a concerted effort to do so as well as be positive role models for the rest of our peers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Love and Helmbrecht Extended Comment

After reading Ariel’s post there was a statement he made that immediately inspired me to do an extended comment.  He said that “We need to change our greedy, self absorbed, perception, and start caring about morals, values, equality, and acceptance in order to embrace feminism.”  I honestly could not agree more with this and I’m sure many others in the class would feel the same way.  It is almost as if the short sentence is an accumulation of everything learned in class as well as an example for a path to follow.
In reading Love and Helmbrecht work they talked about how there is a huge difference between “feeling empowered and being empowered.”  This goes hand and hand with pretty much every author we have read about (Johnson, Smith, Orenstein, Ayvazian) and their “stand up” attitudes in favor of further equality for different races as well as women.  The bottom line is that according to Love and Helmbrecht women may think they are empowered and equal, but the truth is their not.  They imply that it is nothing short of a big problem in our society for women to honestly believe that they are equal to men.  Whether its salaries, the job market, advertisement, consumerism, or just blatant instances in movies or music videos where they are viewed as objects, women certainly have a battle ahead of them in this male dominant society.
Ariel also says that “people should be compensated based on merit and performance only” and I can’t help but to think that if this was indeed the case how different our society would be.  If this was true maybe there would be even more qualified people working in most of the modern jobs in our world.  All in all I think Ariel does a great job voicing his opinion and offering specific suggestions for bettering our society let alone making claims that not only make sense, but could very well actually work.
My comment for the class is that we all need to be like Ariel when it comes to coming up with our own theories regarding racism and feminism and putting it to good use.  The bottom line is everyone has an opinion and no one is right or wrong.  The best any of us can do is put our best foot forward, do what we think is right, and be an example for one another.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Interrupting Cycles of Oppression" Reflection

After reading Ayvazian’s “Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression,” I learned a lot about how to be a good ally, reduce violence, and be a positive role model.  She defines an ally as a member of a dominant group in our society who works to dismantle any form of oppression from which he or she receives the benefit.  Allied behavior means taking personal responsibility for the changes we know are needed in our society.  After the exercise we did in class that prompted us to write about a situation where we had an ally, bystander, and oppressor I realized how lucky I was and how important it is to have a good ally in a sticky situation.
Upon my reading there was a particular sentence that stuck out to me more than anything else.   “Even a white, able-bodied, heterosexual, Christian male will literally grow out of his total dominance if he reaches old age.”  This description is exactly what I am in society today.  Could I really be considered as losing dominance the older and older I get?  The thought alone was pretty scary to think about I’m not going to lie.  If this does indeed happen how will I react?  I will finally know what it is like I guess to no longer be part of a dominant group and I hope that I will have allies that will stick up for me.
I guess what I’m trying to say that now is the time to for me to start being a good ally and positive role model for others who are not as fortunate as me because one day I might not be so fortunate and be forced to be dependent on others.  I think the main lesson from reading Ayvazian will sound very cliché, but is to treat others how you want to be treated.  Pay it forward.  If I do the right thing for those who need people to stick up for them maybe others will follow in my path.  If I show my younger brother and cousins that I am a good role model I feel as if that’s a great service I can do for them.
My comment for the class if for all us to reflect on Ayvazian’s writing.  No matter what race, class, or gender we can all be positive role models.  Just because I am a white male it doesn’t mean that I can’t learn an important lesson on how to be a better person from an African American woman.  I think if society as a whole develops a similar mentality I believe there will be great progress

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ecomomic inequality.. A feminist issue

After watching the videos on "people like us" the notion of economic injustice for women was further reiterated.  Through our readings and discussions I presumed that economic inequality was indeed a prevalent issue, but what I saw on the PBS website brought it to a whole different level.  We all know that women are treated as equal to men when it comes to salaries and finding high profiled jobs, but to think that a woman working without help of the goverment to provide for her family is veiwed as "trashy" was simply mind boggeling.   The main reason for the differences in social class between a man and woman is due to a common conformity to male dominance in society as mentioned earlier by Adrienne Rich.

The videos on the website prompted me to reflect on a number of different things.  First, I realized the number of different classes there are in and society and the pressures put on people of a particular class to stick and befreind others of that class while looking down or up at other different groups of class.  I realized that people can judge others just by what that person is wearing and can immediately put a stereotype on a particular individual.  Like Johson mentioned in his piece how it was hard to relate to the African American woman he had lunch with I feel it can be equally hard at times to relate to others who may belong to a different social class.

It is the "privelages" as Johnson mentions that women feminist groups are fighting for.  The overcoming of the truly injustices women face when it comes to beating stereotypes and inequalities when it comes to economics.

My comment for the class is that the women who are hardworking, independent, and employed are some of the greatest examples there are for anyone to follow.  As Martin Luther King day approaches and I remember how he fought to equality for the African American people I can't help but to think of women leaders who have fought for equality for others like themselves.