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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rich's "Compulsary Heterosexuality Lesbian Existance." Quotes

“I am concerned here with two other matters as well: first, how and why women's choice of women as passionate comrades, life partners, co-workers, lovers, community has been crushed, invalidated, forced into hiding and disguise; and second, the virtual or total neglect of lesbian existence in a wide range of writings; including feminist scholarship”

This quote is relevant to the text because Rich is describing how women in all type of different groups are all affected in the same way becuase they are part of the lesbian community.  She is saying that these women whom are lesbians are normal just like any other women aside from the part that they have their heart set on other women.  She is saying that it is wrong and a crime for society to look at a women co worker different just because she has a relationship with a women.
"A woman's choice to be with a woman in any kind of passionate relationship is not accepted; seen as wrong; forced to go away."

This quote goes directly with the idea of compulsary heterosexuality.  She says that basically from the time we are babies to the time we grow old and wrinkly we are pressured and forced to be heterosexual, in fact in her opinion there is no other option or no way to fight it.

"This heterosexual preference and taboos on homosexuality, in addition to objective economic dependence on men, make the option of primary sexual bonds with other women unlikely."

I believe this is the most heavy and important quote of the three.  In this sentence Rich is implying that until we as a society have a great epifany or decide to change the world will continue to be the same.  Because most of society is heterosexual the homosexual and lesbian community will continue to suffer.  Society needs to recognize that there is nothing wrong with a woman loving another woman or a man loving another man and in fact there is nothing more that seperates a heterosexual to a homosexual other than their sexual preference.  Rich main idea is that she wants our society to understand and realize that Lesbians too exist and it is not just a bunch of taboo.  We need to treat them with respect, dignity; just how we treat everyone else.

My comment for the class is that I as a heterosexual male will make more of a concerted effort to be more attentive to homosexuals and their feelings.  I admit at times like most of the world can be a bit homophobic, but after reading Adrienne Rich write about her feelings and how we should everyone no matter what their sexual preference the same and I buy into this.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Orenstein's "Cinderella Ate my Daughter" Hyperlink

After reading Peggy Orenstein's "Cinderella Ate my Daughter" and hearing about the issues she raised regarding gender roles and sexism in children's toys I could not help but to take a trip down memory lane.  As a kid I loved all Disney movies and felt that it was a real positive part of my upbringing.  The fact that the hero always beat the villan and came away the princess allowed all of us young boys to dream that one day we could do the same.  I can't help, but to think now that maybe who I am today was determinded by gender roles that I got accustumed to seeing in some of my favorite movies.  I beleive that my sports wallpaper, power ranger toys, violent video games, and love of Hercules may have been nothing short of  assigned gender roles as well as a seperation from "girly"  kind of things.  Would I be a different person now if my favorite movie was "Snow White" as oppose to "Hercules?"  How bout if i played with Barbie dolls instead of Ninja Turtles?    Would I be a sissy of my toys had said beautiful, smile, and happy instead of power and hero.  I don't know the answer to these questions, but what I do know is that I was never given the option.  I was always reinforced to watch and play with certain toys by my friends, parents, and sometimes soceity (advertising commercials).  I beleive that Orenstein's article focuses to a "T" on this very broad idea of "Feminism."

Like I mentioned before we all know that Disney and Toy companies try to program this idea of gender roles to our kids, but what I found extremely interesting was how blatent and obvious it is.  Here is a video of scenes from a ton of different Disney Movies that showcase masculinity and sexism.  One part shows a scene from the movie Mulan where they talk about what their ideal women will look like.  One character says "I don't care what she looks like as long as she can cook."  These frightening statements and subliminal messages in Disney movies back up Orenstein's problem with gender roles.  What is a little girl to think that one day all she will be expected of from a man is to cook?  She has to be as pretty as a Princess?

My comment for the class is that I have found a new and sincere appreciation toward all women who are part of a feminist movement.  Watching that video I posted is truly disgusting.  The things that the Disney directors get away with is nothing short of a crime against humanity (mostly young girls who do not know any better).   I think it is absolutely amazing that women are as sane as they are today after growing up in this society where it is an absolute norm to be sexist.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

*Barbara Smith's "Racism and Women studies" Connection

I made a mistake by calling my last post a reflection.  I meant to make it a connection response.

Barbara Smith's "Racism and Women Studies" Reflection

After reading Barbara Smith’s “Racism and Women’s Studies” there was a particular quote that caught my eye.  The quote seems to be an underlying theme so far according to our readings and class discussions.  Her quote is as follows.  “What is your fault is making no serious effort to change old patterns of contempt- to look at how you still believe yourselves to be superior.”  This goes hand and hand with Johnson’s idea that “we are all part of the problem” when it comes to dealing with racism and oppression.
In the eyes of the author’s Smith and Johnson not talking about the issue of racism does not make this huge issue go away; it is still as Johnson would say the “elephant in the room.”  Barbara Smith says that this is not a “guilt trip,” but rather a “fear trip” simply because it is not an issue that most feel comfortable discussing. Just like Johnson, Smith is not afraid by any means to bring to the surface the issue of racism and oppression.  In fact, she is even more willing to convey her opinion as well as relate to the subject at hand due to the fact that she is an African American woman.  Johnson mentioned in his article that he felt “awkward” and “could not relate” to the African American woman he had lunch with.  Barbara Smith would not at all be surprised with a statement like this because she feels that white people have been “raised not knowing how to talk to Black women, not knowing how to look us in the eye and laugh with us.”  According to her, being “polite and civil” to Black women does not mean that a person is not racist.
All in all what impressed me the most about Smith and Johnson was their ability to shed light on an ongoing problem that the world and our country can’t seem to fix.  Although Johnson was a bit more conservative in his approach I think it is good to hear and learn about individuals like Smith’s experiences.  Maybe the more information we get regarding the emotions of those affected by racism will help us to learn about more about ourselves and how we can shake the fact that we “are part of the problem.”
My question for the class is how do we stay away from being part of the problem?  What actions can we take as a group?  What can we say?  Are there any signs of encouragement?  I believe there is progress being made, but after reading Barbara Smith’s work maybe there isn’t

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Allan G. Johnson Privelage, Power, Difference


Allan G. Johnson's "Privelage, Power, and Difference" forces it's readers to reflect upon how sometimes we can all be so ignorant and blinded from the constant oppression that goes on in our country.  Racism and sexism truly is the "elephant" in the room except instead of the room it is society.  We all see it, but no one wants to address it.  However, Johnson is not at all afraid to address it, in fact he is more than willing to talk about his own experiences.

After reading the part when he talked about the awkwardness during a lunch he had with an African American woman I could not help, but to think of how the same sort of thing has happened to me.  I have always felt since a young age that I could talk and relate to anyone it didn't matter what race they were.  However, what I feel that sometimes goes forgotten is the fact that although I may be able to talk and joke with a minority for a few moments our places in this "powerful" society are so different.  I know that I am a "privelaged" person and sometimes I tend to take it for granted. 

Comment for tommorow's class
We all grow from our expereinces; postive or negative there is always a lesson to be learned.

The first post

My name is Ethan Smith and I am currently a junior at Rhode Island College.  Over break I had time to hang out with friends who are home for break as well as spend time with my family for the holidays.  When I am not in class I am usually at the gym working on my fitness, playing sports, or eating.  I am taking this class to stay busy over my break so my school skills do not get rusty.  I also am in dyer need of some more credits.  I look forward to the next few weeks of class!