Thursday, January 19, 2012

Occupy Providence

**So as a bunch of us crammed into Ethan's car to head to Burnside, I had no idea what to expect. I honestly wasn't 100% sure what exactly Occupy was even about. The first thing I saw were all the tents and signs (I took some pictures but I don't have my camera at the moment so I'll post those later). All I heard about this was that people were camping here in tents for weeks at a time. When our little group got there, Merylda (spelling? Sorry!!) lead the discussion with one of the campers. He seemed very enthusiastic and passionate about being there. He said they were there to stand up for social injustice. Some of the people that were camping there had actually occupied in Boston and in Charlotte, which I thought was pretty interesting. For these people to travel from Charlotte, to Boston, to Providence, shows true dedication to what they are representing. One of the guys that we spoke with actually said that he considers them as always being there; just fighting from different areas.

**The guy we spoke to the most told us that they're there representing the unfair distribution of money through government to banks who mismanage their money. I was surprised that was one of their biggest focuses, probably because I was expecting something more like the rights of women or homosexuals to be their big focus. Within the passed few years we've all heard of all the major foreclosures and government bailouts. It never occurred to me until this man told us, that banks are mismanaging their money. I'm not sure if I completely agree with that, I would definitely have to look into the topic more, but it was something that definitely got me thinking.

**While we were there it was sooooo hard not to focus on how ridiculously cold we were!! How are these people living here and not getting sick or freezing to death?! The man we spoke with said you'd get use to it haha. He also said that they began with many more occupants back in October when they started. He said some people come and go, due to weather, jobs, family, or other priorities. He then stressed the point that no matter where they are, they are all fighting for justice.

**I either read this on someones blog, or someone said it in class, I cant remember but: The only people I saw there were white males, with the exception of one white woman. This is interesting because in this class we have talked about how dominant groups need to start realizing their are problems that they can begin to fix. So in a way it was kind of cool to see these dominant folks sticking up for everyone's rights. This reminds me of a quote from Johnson where he said "we are prisoners to something, but it's closer to our own making then we realize. And we, therefore, are far from helpless to change it and ourselves". Also, the post we had to do from people like us ties into this because that site highlights the economic injustice. That is exactly what these people are fighting and camping for. It's nice to see activists standing up for what they believe in. I'm interested in seeing what kinds of things they'll have in the spring when it's warmer outside. He said they have a lot of things planned and hope more people join the fight!

**I found this on their site which is kind of cool. It's the even calendar so everyone can access it and see what is next!

"*The Occupy Providence General Assembly is a non-violent movement.  Violent or destructive behavior or tactics are not welcome
*Discrimination based on race, sex, gender, orientation, ability, religion, legal status or age is not welcome. This includes sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, and racist speech, chanting, writing, and action.
*We are (by majority vote) a drug and alcohol free assembly and occupation. Cigarette smokers are asked to please smoke a respectful distance from non-smokers.
*Occupy Providence and facilitators strive towards making this space safe for all to participate, please approach one of the facilitators after GA if you feel this is not being done."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teaching The Conflicts

Teaching the Conflicts
Love & Helmbrech

**I'm doing this blog entry early because I won't have time tomorrow night to get it up before midnight so just ignore it until later! :)

**So when reading this article, it reminded me of a few things that I've experienced. Which was perfect because I needed to do the reflection blog! These authors talk about feminism, and the way it is taught in society. The first thing that stuck out to me was the lyrics from the song "Stupid Girls" by the artist Pink. I love Pink and I was one of those girls who loved that song when it came out because I know I'm not one of those "stupid girls". This brings me to a quote from Love:

"we want women to understand they do have power and agency and that they are strong and capable. Yet we still want students to see a difference between feeling empowered because the media says they are, and actually being empowered..."

**This reminds me of hearing these songs such as "Stupid Girls" or other empowering songs such as "Can't Hold Us Down" that Belle posted. When us girls hear songs like that we crank it up and belt the words on the top of our lungs because we feel encouraged and empowered. However, Love's point is that young women need to learn to actually be empowered versus just singing about it. I can definitely relate to the feeling of empowerment because I personally love these songs. I love songs about girls standing up for themselves and doing their own thing without a man. I think it's natural in us females. I just never saw it as a battle between feeling and actually being empowered.

**Although Love points out that we need to teach young women the difference, she does agree that this media can help. I think seeing our icons sticking up for women's rights can really encourage some of us. Now we just need a little male media sticking up for women! 

"We believe that popular texts, like film, music, and advertising, need to be brought to a classroom where they can be scrutinized, questioned, and studied through a gendered lens"

**However, Love does talk about how media has influenced young women's impressions of feminism. What I wonder, is (even though I LOVE Pink...) how much of this media is true? Couldn't it just be a publicity stunt for attention? Girl power is huge in out society. So naturally songs such as these are going to be top of the chart hits. In this article Love mentions an interview between Oprah and Pink. Oprah calls her out and says Pink has been called hypocritical because she sexualizes herself in her videos, even though she's talking about "stupid girls" and in her video she mocks other celebs like Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton. Pink backs up her argument with this quote:

"My point is not that sexy is a bad thing; my point is that sexy and smart are not oil and water. You don't have to dumb yourself down to be cute...I think it's and act-it makes [a woman] less challanging as a female" 

**Another section of this reading talked about Dove commercials and how they use women's sexual empowerment as a goal for women. She talks about how on the Dove website they have pictures of women that we can look at and judge as wrinkled, oversized, etc. WHAT?? I found this sooo surprising! I personally never fall into those commercials that promise me that I'll look young forever, or the newest brand of this is the best. But that doesn't mean other forms of ads haven't struck a soft spot with me. These ads attack women who find flaws within themselves. As women we are supposed to be flawless and beautiful and thin..blah blah blah. Even the L'Oreal commercials with their stupid slogan "Because you're worth it". Oh ok so I'm not worth it if my make up is uneven? If one morning im too lazy to pretty myself I'm not worth it? Even for their age-defying make up they say "We're STILL worth it". Which gives the impression that women who look as if they have aged a day over 20, aren't worth it anymore. I may have just gone off on a small tangent but those things piss me off!! And the part where they talk about Dove just made me think of those riduiculous commercials that just feed on women's insecuritries.

**Media feeds off of women's need for empowerment. It's as if we are our own worst enemies in a way. Media uses beauty and self confidence to create images of empowerment. However, for those of us who see these commercials envy these women. We wish to look like them; to have perfect skin and hair. How is that supposed to bring us together and help us fight for equality? 

**Point for class: Like we've previously said in are we going to reach out goal for female equality when females ourselves aren'y unified? How can we expect equality from others when we don't even treat our sisters equally?

The Cycle of Oppression

Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: 
The Roles of Allies as Agents of Change
Andrea Ayvazian

**Ayvazian focuses on the concept of being an ally in her reading. She stresses that becoming an ally, as a dominant group, is crucial to spreading the word to stop the forms of oppression that exist. 

"One way to overcome this sense of immobilization is to assume the role of an ally. Learning about this role--one that each and every one of us is capable of assuming--can offer us new ways of behaving and a new source of hope(Ayvazian)"

**According to Ayvazian, an ally is a member of a dominant group in our society who works to dismantle any form of oppression from which she of he receives the benefit. For example, men standing up for equal women's rights, a heterosexual standing up for homosexual rights, a white person standing up for the rights of people of color. She also describes the dominant groups as the ones receiving unearned advantage, benefit, or privileged.  I really liked the point that she brought up within her reading about the opportunity these dominant groups have: "the opportunity to raise hell with others like us and to interrupt the cycle of oppression".

**As we have mentioned in class, the most effective way to end all of this is to stand up and call it out. The dominant groups need to recognize there is a problem and stand up for the underprivileged rights. Due to the social, economic etc, inequality, society will listen to these dominant groups over the targeted ones. 

"Allied behavior is clear action aimed at diminishing the oppression of others in areas where you yourself benefit--it is proactive, intentional, and often involves taking a risk (Ayvazian)"

**Ayzazian also goes on to mention the relationship between oppression and violence. She mentions a group called The Batterers Anonymous where former perpetrators of violence come to talk to current batterers about violence. She also says that statistically, these groups help reduce the acts of violence that these batterers commit after hearing the former perpetrators talk about it.

**Another point she brings us is that we need positive role models who demonstrate equality. She mentions that it is hard for our children to become something they have never heard of or been exposed to. It becomes difficult to fight for the rights of other when you have no experience or prior witnessing of it before.

"The role of ally offers young people who are white, male, and in other dominant categories a positive, proactive, and proud identity. Rather than feeling guilty, shameful, and immobilized as the "oppressor," whites and other dominants can assume the important and useful role of social change agent (Ayvazian)."

**The connection to this article I would like to talk about is to Johnson's Privilege, Power, and Difference. Johnson talks a lot about ideas similar to those of Ayvazian. He talks about us getting along, and the dominants standing for the targets (maybe not in so many words.)

"I've been active in the movement against violence against women and have done diversity training in corporations and universities (Johnson)" 

**I want to relate this quote to Ayvazian's point about violence. She wants to stop violence in order to help to stop oppression. Johnson also participated in such activity. The quote from Johnson that really stuck out to me in relation to Ayvazian's piece was as follows"

"Understanding how to bring dominant groups into the conversation and the solution is the biggest challenge we face"

**Both of these authors are stressing the idea that the cycle of oppression will only end if dominant groups stand up for the targeted groups. I think that is one of the most important things I've learned in this course. I never really thought about that as a solution and it really opened my eyes to the opportunity we are all capable of: being allies.

**I was searching for some videos on oppressions and equality and I found this one of the golden girls talking about marriage equality. I think it's funny :) Enjoy!

**Point for class: How can we expose our children to tolerance and acceptance? I want my children to be sensitive to the fact that inequality exists. How do we teach the younger generations to abolish oppression, before they learn it?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Some Extras!

**So Belle already beat me to this :-P: she posted a song representing female empowerment, and I planned on doing something are a few videos/songs that are related to the topics we have discussed in class.

"Dear Mr. President: Pink"

"All The Things She Said: t.A.t.U"

"Keep Ya Head Up: Tupac Shakur"

"Black President: Nas"

"Just A Girl: No Doubt"

**Then there is the category where the song is just sexist, homophobic, etc. The song may not be directly addressing sexism or homophobia, but you turn on almost any radio station and you can find one of these demeaning songs.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Social Class & Feminism

People Like Us & The Center for Working Class Studies

**Feminism and the struggles of economic inequality are related because feminism stands for equality among many groups including race and ethnicity; which can help/hurt to shape everyone's economic stance. The idea of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer has a lot to do with the imbalance of power and the lack of opportunity and resources the poor have access too. Although there are some resources such as welfare and other government assistance, many people refuse to access those things. On the "People Like Us" site, you can read stories of different people and their struggles among classes. One story, a woman named Val (Be Careful What You Wish For was her story) married a wealthy man and offered to pay her parents back all the money they loaned her to help through her struggles. Her father refused to take any of her money because he was too proud. It seems like because of what some people will think of them, these people still won't take help when it is offered. People such as Val's father may think he will be seen as weak if he is accepting a repayment.

**Our society looks down on the lower class categories. So participating in a government assistance program may be embarrassing or bring shame to the families who need it the most. This article was posted by someone who has some strong opinions about families on welfare. Read it and let me know your opinions. But in this article the author talks about the children who are "victims" of parents poor mistakes leading them to poverty. This pisses me off because the poor and lower class families are not all in those positions because they choose to be or because they are stupid and "didn't use a condom". As a social work major, we are taught to recognize that a number of different things can be going on in a persons life that affects the way they live and work. A family can lose their job due to a sickness, or a poor economy. It's not that every welfare recipient is "cheating the system". That is a poor stereotype that is placed on these people. Yes, there are always going to be those people who do cheat and lie and who can be considered as lazy. But it is not fair to judge everyone receiving government assistance. Like I previously said, stereotypes and ignorant authors such as the one above, can make it hard for some people to get the assistance they need. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying everyone on welfare needs to be chanting around saying they get assistance, but they should be able to feel comfortable with receiving the help without being attacked by upper class citizens who "have it all".

**This brings me back to the stories on "People Like Us". The story if a woman named Ginny is a similar situation to what I am talking about. She lives in a trailer with her children and she brings home a $158 bi-weekly paycheck for her family. She knows her electricity and gas will be continuously turned off but she refuses to get any public assistance. She sees herself as better than her friends who are receiving help. Her family struggles and her daughter is taunted by her friends, being called "trashy" because of her lifestyle. Everyone has their right to decide what they want to do to help their family or how they receive an income. It is just sad that people in our society look down on those receiving help and these people are labeled as stealing, lazy, and people who just make mistakes.

**On another note, I also read about the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University. The goals for this program are
  • Provide models and resources for teaching about working-class life and culture in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and community settings
  • Promote awareness of and appreciation for writing, art, and other creative expressions of working-class experience
  • Advocate for public policies that serve the interests of working-class people
  •  Support research that critically and respectfully analyzes the experiences, conditions, and needs of the global working class
**These goals are striving to teach and inform people about the difference between social classes. By teaching this in schools, people will be exposed to the difference much earlier and can develop an understanding attitude.
**Feminists believe in total equality among everyone of all kinds of groups. The unfortunate stereotypes that it is a woman's lover club, hatred of men, and a lesbian cult make it difficult for some to recognize the real goals that feminism is all about. Social class is an important, everyday struggle for those of lower class. The upper class does not understand the difference and inequality. That's where feminism comes in.

**Questions/Comments for class: What does everyone else think of welfare and other public assistance programs? Do you all agree with the fact that the poor are forced to stay poor? They lack the motivation to go after some of the help because of the riducule and lable that will be attached to them. What do you guys think?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cracking the Glass

In class we talked about this sexist Dr. Pepper commercial:

"It's not for women"

But I wanted to post this commercial that I thought of and see as a type of cracking the glass:

Lesbian Existence; or Lack There of...

Compulsory Heterosexism and Lesbian Existence
Adrienne Rich

**Ok, so when I started reading this article I was really trying to focus on those two concepts above. Since Dr. Bogad scared me and said this reading was difficult I was staring at the words like they would some how make more sense if I did that! I decided to research a little about the text that way I could find some easier language and explanations about what Rich is really trying to say.

**I found this website (feminist dictionary) with the definition for compulsory heterosexism. It basically says that women are forced into being heterosexual. When we are born we are assumed to be heterosexual until there i some other identification that says otherwise (you can see this definition on the link). At the bottom of the page I attached the writer actually mentions Adrienne Rich and acknowledges her for being the one to bring this concept to our attention. Reading it elsewhere helped me to understand a little better about what Rich meant. Take this quote for example from Rich (page 82):
“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”
 **Her quote is backed up by the definition of compulsory heterosexism. The link describes how women are afraid to truly express their sexual desires because they feel "obligated" to be heterosexual. Rich describes that 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.

**One thing that stuck out to me in Rich's reading was her critique of other authors lack of acknowledgment of lesbians when writing about lesbians. On page 83 she says: 
"Of the three psychoanalytically based books, one, Jean Baker Miller's Toward a New Psychology of Women, is written as if lesbians simply do not exist, even as marginal beings"
 **The point I think Rich is getting at is because of the concept of compulsory heterosexism, the lesbian exsistance is ignored. Different text refuses to mention lesbians, completely disregarding their existence. However, I think that idea has changed a bit, or there has been "a crack in the glass". I came across this video of a Miss California contestant and she ran as the first openly gay contestant of California. Now in this video, she is portrayed as "hott". This video does show some acceptance to the fact that she is a lesbian, however, she is still being sexualized by media and the annoying voice announcer on the video. I have heard many different girls and guys say that lesbians are "hott". They don't mind fantasizing about girl on girl, but are they really accepting them for who they are? I doubt it, I see it as pure sexualization, as if women don't have to fight that enough. Even in this video the man narrating it says that she "acts like a guy" and shes "hott". Lesbians are gaining more recognition, yet it still is somehow if it is only a selling point to catch eyes because people want to see sexy people, they want hot contestants running for competitions.

**Here are a few links that I found:
RIC Unity Center

**For class I would like to talk more about the idea of women being sexualized by the media. Society is quick to point and judge a gay couple, yet a lesbian couple can be seen as erotic and interesting. It seems as if sex is the biggest form of power women have. Why is that? What does everyone think?