Monday, March 10, 2008

Gender Diary

This is something we were asked to do in a class, I found it interesting and decided to share it. We were asked to keep a diary for a day and journal anything that identified gender. . .
q Wake up at around 5:30, turn my alarm off before it wakes up my son

q Get in the shower
I shampoo and condition my hair with Samypure, which comes in a bright pink bottle and has a distinctively feminine scent
-I wash with melon and cucumber body wash, which also is in a feminine looking bottle
–Then I shave with a pink razor . . .Its definitely a gender thing to shave my legs and my armpits. . .but I just noticed, I also do it with a pink razor.

q Get out of the shower, brush my teeth, put my hair up in a towel and get dressed
–I put on women’s undergarments. . . that’s a gender thing. . .and then put on nylons, tan dress pants, and a black blouse (blouse. . . now that’s definitely a “girl thing”)

q I go into my son Christian’s room, get his clothes out of his dresser, wake him up, tell him to go potty and then I help him get dressed (these things I do as a mom which is a gender thing, but also because I am a parent, and a single parent, so it is up to me whether I am a mom or if I happened to be a single dad—although, single moms are definitely more prominent than single dads) Historically in two parent families, it was the mom’s job to do these motherly type things anyway.

q We go to the kitchen and I get Christian yogurt and make him a frozen pancake and blow dry my hair. Blow drying is not necessarily a gender thing, but my hair cut which is longer and layered is a pretty feminine hair cut.

q I plug my curling iron in and gather my things, which includes another set of clothes, because I also have to work tonight- Wednesdays are a long day, and get Christian’s things together. Another mom thing, we brush our teeth and I curl my hair (gender thing).

q We get everything we need out to the car, I get Christian in his car seat, and we head out to the babysitters

q Once we get to the babysitter’s house she starts talking to me about a Pampered Chef party she will be having—yuck, if I was male, I can almost guarantee that no one would bug me about going to a Pampered Chef, Lia Sophia, Partylite, Mary Kay, etc. . . blah, I tell her I’ll check my calendar. I give Christian extra hugs and kisses today because I know I won’t get home until after he is in bed (his grandma picks him up Wednesday nights—it’s interesting, he goes to a female baby sitter, my female mother picks him up and watches him Wednesday nights, and when he goes to school all of his teachers and the daycare workers are female)

q I head out to my internship at The Salvation Army. I stop in a park parking lot to put on makeup- gender thing- the parking lot thing is just because it is easier for me to put my make up on without a three year old asking me if he can help and coming at my eyes with an eyelash curler—Yikes. The fact that I even use an eyelash curler seems ridiculous to me when I think about it. . .who decided that women needed to have long lashes. . . and everyone I know that has naturally long and pretty eye lashes happens to be male. Figures.

q I park and grab my purse and tote – my purse. . .also another feminine thing and go in.

q I am a senior in the Social Work program and have had my field practice/internship since September at the Salvation Army working as a social worker.

q The first thing I have this morning is an interview with someone on the waiting list to get into the transitional living program. I interview a male who throughout the interview won’t make eye contact with me and continually calls me ma’am.

q After the interview I call some of the other local agencies that this person has been working with. I speak with several social worker from these agencies, and then it dawns on me that everyone I speak with is female. . . then I think about the fact that all of the social workers at my internship are female—except for the director, who happens to be male. There is only one male in the senior year of the social work program I am in. I the field of social work a gender thing. There are males, but the field really is dominated by women. “Pink-collar” I’ve heard it called. Is that because it is a helping field, and nurturing, compassion, and empathy are historically thought of as women’s traits.

q After my interview I am sitting in my supervisors office talking to her about the interview, and another one of the case workers comes in and starts talking about her husband. She is complaining about how he leaves food out on the counter for hours, and then eats it. We all compare our stories about the stupid food things our husbands/boyfriends do, and make all sorts of generalizations about men in general. I don’t think I would get in on this man bashing if I was male.

q Next there is the case management staffing meeting. The meeting consists of 4 women, including myself, and one guy (he is the Life Skills Coordinator, not a social worker). The meeting starts out in the typical way, where everyone complains about a particular female employee at the Corps. It has nothing to do with the purpose of this meeting, but it happens every time anyway. The whole meeting should only take about an hour and a half, if we all just stuck to talking about our clients, but it ends up taking between 3 and 3 ½ hours every time because it tends to turn into a gossip session, which is, stereotypically, a woman thing to do. Is this gendered? I don’t know, I have a group of male friends who gossip more than any woman I have ever met.

q After the meeting I have to rush out and go to my job. I work at a small bar. I unlock the door and then lock the door again behind me. I make sure I re-lock the door, because I need to change clothes and I don’t feel comfortable being a woman alone in a closed bar changing clothes.

q I go to the bathroom and change out of my definitely feminine clothes into jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. I am almost un-gendering my clothes. I don’t wear short skirts, heals, or low cut clothing to bartend here, yes, I’d probably get more tips, but I’d have to put up with a lot more crap. I throw on a pair of tennis shoes. Then I redo my make-up. Oops, now that’s definitely something that I identify with being a woman.

q I get ice, cut fruit, fill the sinks, turn on the lights, and wipe down the bar. I normally stock the cooler before I unlock the doors (because I don’t like leaving the bar to go to the basement when there are people there), but I don’t have time today because of the meeting that ran way over. So I unlock the doors and wait.

q I start making popcorn right after I open, then someone walks in the front door and sits down at the bar. It’s a middle aged guy, I have never seen before. I say hi and ask what I can get for him. Then he decides he needs to introduce himself, shake my hand, and asks my name. I say I’m Kate, and go get him his beer. I give him his beer take his money and he says, “thanks sweetheart” and I smile and say “mm hmm” but I’m thinking, “why did I just tell you my name if your going to call me sweetheart??” He continues trying to talk to me and keeps telling me some pretty crude jokes and I laugh politely and am super relieved when the popcorn starts popping so I can go take care of that.

q I don’t know this guy, have never seen him before, but he comes off as a little creepy and my sensors are out. I’ve learned to be wary when I am here, especially when I am the only one working (which is usually since I don’t do a lot of weekends since Christian was born). Would I be so sensitive and alert if I were one of the male employees here? Probably not, and I know they are not. If I am alone in the bar with a male who I don’t know, or one that is making me uncomfortable, I am always aware of where I’m standing, what’s around me, how they are moving, and what is in distance for me to grab and hit someone over the head with (seriously), and it happens naturally, I can still talk and smile and be a good bartender while thinking about all those other things. And even if someone is making me a little nervous, I never act nervous—in my experience, in this profession, some men that come in and can tell your nervous continue to try and make it worse and take it as an opportunity. I might feel intimidated, but I never let on, and am very alert of my plan of action if something happens. Once again, if I was one of the guys here this probably would not be as much of an issue. I know all of the other women who work here and are here alone are the same way, they all are confident and assertive, or bitchy as some put it, and don’t ever dress provocatively. It’s a safety thing.

q The guy calls me over again (he calls me “honey” this time) and orders another beer. So I open the tap and it sprays all over me which means its out and I need to go to the basement to change it. I tell him its out and ask if he wants something else, of course he doesn’t. Then he tells me to show him were the barrels are and he’ll tap it for me. I tell him not to worry about it. I grab the keys to the basement and unlock the door when I notice he is walking towards me. He offers again to go do it. (a lot of guys offer to do this for me and the other women who work here—this is kind of a gender thing to I guess, because barrels are heavy and it takes a little muscle to tap them, and women are of course so much weaker than men and obviously can’t handle such a strenuous task *sarcasm). I jokingly tell the guy to go sit down and open the door. I make sure to shut the door behind me because it locks automatically and I don’t need some random man following me down the steps. I go change the barrel and come back up. I give the guy a beer and he says again that he would have done it for me. I say something like I can handle it, I’m tough in a joking way and take his money.

q Thank god someone else comes in the bar now. It’s one of the regulars, I get him his drink and talk to him a little. At the same time the other guy keeps calling me down by him to tell be some crude joke or make some sexually inappropriate comment. The regular, who normally only has one drink then heads home, actually orders another and states that he doesn’t want to leave me alone with this guy. I am appreciative of this, but I know that he doesn’t stay if there is a creepy guy there when one of the male bartenders is working. He feels he needs to protect the women that work here. Chivalry? Sexism? Depends what mood I’m in I guess, but right now I’m relieved. Does that mean I’m feeding the women need men to protect them stereotype? I don’t know, but I’m still grateful there is someone else in the bar.

q A couple of other regular customers file in after a while. All men. They are usually pretty respectful, so I forgive the occasional “thanks hun”, or “hey sweetheart, when you get a second. . .” Now I have a legitimate reason to ignore the creepy/bad joke guy that is still trying to engage me with crude jokes and comments. He’s only on his second beer, so I can’t really kick him out. Now that there are more people in the bar, I feel more secure and relax a little. I don’t think it matters that they are all men, I might feel just as relieved with a group of women that came in (that doesn’t really happen here, so I can’t say for sure), but maybe the fact that there men does of something to do with it. I can’t believe that I’m even considering that as an option, feminist that I am, but now that I think about it I can’t say for sure I feel better that there are more people, or if it is specifically that they are men.

q After work I go home, take my makeup off, wouldn’t be wearing make up if I wasn’t female. . .probably. I type this journal, and now I am going to bed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Blaming the Victim: A Response to “The Linguistics of Blame,” by Kate Clark

Unfortunately, blaming the victim for the crime against them is nothing new in this society, especially when it comes to men’s violence against women. Kate Clark’s article, “The Linguistics of Blame,” looks at the language that media uses to cast blame onto the victim. Clark focuses her attention on The Sun, a British tabloid/newspaper. Although she focuses only on this one source, her ideas can be easily extended to other areas. Blaming the victim is something that many people do, not only the media, often times without even realizing it. It is engrained in western society. Blaming a woman for her own rape is yet another way women are kept oppressed in society.

Clark’s main focus in her article is the use of language and naming as a tool in laying blame. She discusses how language can heighten blame or minimize blame. Some of the names she mentions are “unmarried mum,” “blond,” and “divorcee,” these are labels of an “available” woman (184). In other words, woman who are not attached to men. Clark gives the examples of, “wives,” “mothers,” and “girls” as “unavailable women” (186). It seems to be that there is less blame put on attackers or rapists of available women. In our western society it seems that it is a greater wrong to rape an “unavailable,” woman than one who is “available.” It seems to be less favorable to rape another man’s woman. Clark also discusses the term “Lolita,” which she states that “in Sun language means sexually active under-aged girl” (186). The use of the term Lolita is bringing attention to the fact that an underage girl is either sexually active or dresses/acts in a percieved provocative manner. By bringing attention to these attributes of the victim it is placing less blame on the attacker, because the man was supposedly provoked by the young girl, and more blame on the victim. It suggests that the crime would have been less severe if it was done to a girl of the same age who was not sexually active or did not dress/act in a manor that could be perceived as provocative.

It is not only the media that places blame on the victim. Society as a whole has a tendency to place blame on rape victims. The article, “The Moderating Role of Ambivalent Sexism: The Influence of Power Status on Perception of Rape Victim and Rapists,” by Niwako Yamawaki, Ryan Darby, and Adriane Queiroz, explore what variables seem to cause blame to be minimized for the perpetrator and put on to the victim. They discuss how variables such as socioeconomic status, attractiveness, and relationships between the victim and the perpetrator can effect the amount of blame placed on the offender or the victim.

Yamawaki, Darby, and Queiroz discuss a study in which the conviction rate of unattractive offenders was higher than that of attractive offenders, and another study where the offenders perceived guilt was greater if their victim was attractive (Yamawaki et al, 42). This really reflects on western culture as a whole, where perceived beauty is valued very highly. Yamawaki, Darby, and Queiroz also examine study results which show that victims are blamed more if they are raped by a stranger instead of someone they know (Yamawaki et al, 45). This is especially true if a husband rapes his wife. Many people have a hard time understanding, or even acknowledging that there is rape occurs marriages. This may stem from the historically patriarchal ideal that it is a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband, not a choice. It is especially disturbing that women who are raped by men they know get blamed more than women raped by strangers. It has been proven over and over that higher percentages of rapes occur when the victim knows the perpetrator.

Blaming the victim and minimizing the guilt of perpetrators has happened throughout history. Perhaps it is done to help alleviate the fear of rape, placing blame on the victim indicates that the woman somehow provoked the rape, therefor placing fault on the woman. Perhaps more likely, this blaming the victim has stemmed out of a historically patriarchal society. A society which blames its women victims for their own rapes only to oppress them more. Until more women realize that this is not an abnormal occurrence and start fighting to stand up for the victims, not much will change.

Works Cited

Yamawaki, N., Darby, R., & Queiroz, A. (2007). The moderating role of ambivalent sexism: The influence of power status on perception [Electronic version]. The Journal of Social Psychology, 147(1), 41-56. from EBSCOhost.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sojourner Truth and Intersectionality

Living from 1797 to 1883, Sojourner Truth an important part and a moving speaker on women’s rights and the abolition movement. According to American Reformers, a collection of biographies published by HW Wilson, Truth’s most well known speech, “Ain’t I a Woman,” was given
the National Woman's Suffrage Convention in Akron, Ohio in response to men that spoke before her on the lack of physical strength and intelligence of women. This speech and another of Truth’s speeches, “Keeping Things Going While Things Are Stirring,” are representative of early ideas of Intersectionality. Truth spoke of these ideas before the term was even coined. Truth speaks of her experiences of being a slave and black, and also of her experiences of being a woman. She speaks of both experiences to show her support for the women’s movement and to remind her listeners at the time that no two women’s experiences were the same based on race and economic standing. She was one of the earliest to recognize and speak about the idea of Intersectionality.

In Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” was in response to a previous speaker who had stated that women were inferior due to their weaker physical stature and lack of intelligence in comparison to men. That same speaker also expressed that because of these weaknesses woman needed to be treated with care (American Reformists). Truth makes her first distinction between races when she states, “Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman,” letting her listeners know that she was not treated in this “chivalrous” way because of her race (79). She than points out that she has done the same physical labor that men do and give birth to a child. Truth pointed out the different experience woman because of their race, and still recognizes the oppression that all women have experienced due to their sex.

In Truth’s Speech, “Keeping the Things Going While Things Are Stirring,” she addresses the issue of Intersectionality more. The second line of this speech she points out the differences between the experiences of a white woman and a black woman from the south at the time by stating, “I came from another field-the country of the slave” (79). She later points out the differences of black woman and white woman again when she states that “white women are a great deal smarter, and know more than colored women, while colored woman gets do not know scaresly anything,” speaking on the differences of education between the two groups (80).

She also speaks on the difference between men and women, recalling the times she did physical labor in the fields with men doing the same amount of work, but receiving half of what the men made due to her sex. She speaks clearly about her wish for women’s rights when she states, “I want women to have their rights. In the courts women have no right, no voice; nobody speaks for them,” and then shortly after makes the distinction between the races again by stating, “I am about the only colored woman that goes about to speak for the rights of colored women” (80). She speaks out against black men getting their rights but not black women and about all women not having rights. She makes it clear that she is for equal rights for everyone regardless of race and sex and says so clearly when she states, “I have been a forty years a slave and forty years free, and would be here forty years more to have equal rights for all” (80).

Sojourner Truth played an important role in the abolition movement and the women’s movement. Her speeches moved many and have become part of American History. Equally as important was her ability to not only recognizes the differences between the races but to speak openly about them to black and white women alike. Truth was one of the earliest to see these differences and speak out in order to make a difference.

Works Cited

HW Wilson Company. (1985). Sojourner Truth. In American Reformers. Author. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from Wilson Web.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Response to: What Is Feminism? by Rosalind Delmar

The reading What Is Feminism?, by Rosalind Delmar, was very interesting to read. This reading seemed to be typical of what you would think a theoretical discussion would be. Delmar focuses on the lack of solid definition for the term “Feminism,” and points out that there are many different view points within the group that identifies as feminists. She also raises more than several questions about feminism and feminists, questions that are still relevant to feminism today. One of the main questions she focuses on in this reading is whether or not a group can really be united if there is so much diversity within it. It seems difficult for some to understand that there can be so many different positions in one group, sometimes opposing positions. Feminism has received much criticism about this same lack of unity and solidarity on issues, it is difficult for some to take feminism seriously because of this. Although this was a work from 1979 this lack of solid definition and unity still holds through today, and is something that most likely will continue. It is an important issue and a relevant question for feminists today.

This reading was very typical of a theoretical discussion. Delmar started it off with her title, “What Is Feminism?,” which is of course a question, and ended by stating that it was a question that can’t be answered yet. She also leads the reader to contemplate whether or not there will ever be one solid definition for the term feminism. The reading does much more to create more questions than to give any sort of answer. Delmar attempts to give a basic definition of the term when she states that, “…a feminist is someone who holds that women suffer discrimination because of their sex, that they have specific needs which remain negated and unsatisfied, and that the satisfaction of these needs would require a radical change (some would say a revolution even) in the social, economic, and political order,” but she still can’t state that this is the basic definition that everyone agrees on (p 27). Delmar also questions whether or not any movement made by a group of women is feminism

(28). Or if something done by a group that doesn’t identify as feminists can still be labeled as an act of feminism (29). The reader is left really questioning what the true definition of the word feminist is, or if there can be just one definition.

Delmar identifies an issue that is not a new concept, but one that is ongoing. Although it is not a new idea, it is still one that not everyone is aware of. Young people today may not know how many different viewpoints are in the group that identifies as feminist. They may not understand that one definition of the word feminist cannot and does not truly fit all. Even though these differences exist many still try to assume that there is just one basic definition that every feminist fits into to. Delmar views this as a problem and demonstrates this by stating, “the assumption that the meaning of feminism is ‘obvious’ needs to be challenged” (27). Another issue that is brought up in this reading is the various images of feminists and feminism, which brings up even more questions. Which image is correct? Are they all correct in their own right? Are they all incorrect? Can there even be one unifying image? Delmar believes that the question of what it means to be a feminist must remain “an open one” (34).

Feminists today are still faced with great amounts of diversity within their social movement. Some of the diversity is valued, but some is thought of as conflict and roadblocks. It is an aspect of feminism that receives a lot of criticism and skepticism. There are those that find it hard to take a group seriously when that group can’t even come to an agreement with themselves. Delmar also ponders whether or not what is agreed on within feminism holds more significance than what is not (28). Perhaps this is a question that feminists today need to look at and try to decide. It is an ongoing issue and question within feminism, and it is no less important today than it was in 1979 or even during the first wave of feminism. Delmar raised the questions then, more than a quarter of a century ago, and there still is no one solid definition of feminism.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why I Vote Pro-Choice

Check out other blogs that participated in blog for choice

Most of my life I have taken for granted my right to choose, until recently. The last several year this right has been threatened. Now, more than ever, it is important to me to make sure that my vote goes to secure this right for myself, and every other woman in this country. With the presidential election coming up it is very important to make sure you know who you are voting for. Safe, legal, and accessible abortions save women's lives. My vote also goes to try and get the government to fund comprehensive sex education programs for our youth to try and prevent more young women to have to make that difficult choice, instead of spending millions of dollars funding abstinence only programs with religious overtones. My vote goes to protect the rights of all women. To choose abortion is never an easy decision, but it is the right to that difficult choice that I will continue to fight tooth and nail for. It is nobody elses decision to make.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Flipping awesome

I have been been a bzzagent for a couple of years now and have learned about some pretty cool products. I haven't been as active since they did big makeover of their site, but I still check it out every once and a while. During my latest cruize through I ran across this blog in the frogpond. . . I couldn't stop reading. . .
"Delve into Dooce, a blog chronicling the rise and fall (and subsequent rise) of Heather Armstrong, an ex-Morman web designer turned stay at home mom — with a brief stint in a mental hospital thrown in for good measure. In 2002, the blog got her fired. Now it fully supports her family of three (and their dog, Chuck)."
-Bzz Agent .com

Seriously check it out... Heather Armstrong is a riot and really tells it like it is.

Oh yeah, if you don't know about bzzagent, or the frogpond, check it out here.