Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reflection: Michael Kimmel’s “What Are Little Boys Made Of?”

I personally really love this piece by Michael Kimmel, as a male and as a human being.  Kimmel pretty much reconfirms many of my personally held beliefs about masculinity and the male condition.  Kimmel says, “When they say boys will be boys, they mean boys will be uncivilized animals.  In their view, males are biologically propelled to be savage, predatory, sexually omnivorous creatures, hard-wired for violence.  As a man, I find his view insulting.”  Before reading this article I have constantly stated a very similar opinion.  When I am told that I have to be or compared to this type of aggressive and obnoxious male model (or when people assume that I already am) I become offended.  Being a male of fairly large stature, I have actually been told that since I do not like typically masculine sports like American Football that I am “big for nothing.”  What the hell does that have to do with anything?  Why am I told that since I’m a larger male that I should be more aggressive and use my stature in a certain way that conforms to what others want me to do? 
Something else that this article has reminded me of is how (at least from what I have observed) Feminism is not really solving the problem yet.  So far, from the small amount of Feminist literature and movements that I have been exposed to, Feminism is not yet really getting to the heart of the problem.  I am not saying that Feminism has not done some important work thus far, but it has only treated the symptoms, and not the source.  It has dealt with issues such as voting, inequality in the workplace and other important issues through mainly legislative activities and bringing awareness to adults.  What I would like to see is action to change the mindsets of all sexes at the youngest of ages in order to change the current ideology.  We need to attack this current ideology where it starts, when we are all young. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The AAA (American Anthropological Association) Statment on "Race"

Above is a video about race that was sponsered by the AAA that can be found on

The link below is the the AAA's Statement on Race that can be found on thier website.  I blieve that this statment was made on May 17, 1998.  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quotes: Gloria Anzaldua's article, "La conciencia de la mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness"

Just what did she inherit from her ancestors? This weight on her back – which is the baggage from the Indian mother, which the baggage from the Spanish father, which the baggage from the Anglo (Anzaldua, 381).

I think that this quote highlights one of the main points that Anzaldua makes in the article which is the inherent cultural struggle and frustration of the mestiza. Being of mixed ethnic origins, the mestiza is stuck in between cultural boundaries where it is difficult to gain acceptance. This is especially challenging when the separate cultural origins conflict one another such as an oppressive majority versus an oppressed minority group. To whom does one relate to? It must be difficult to find acceptance when substituted to all these different cultural and societal pressures.

“Indigenous like corn, like corn, the mestiza is a product of crossbreeding, designed for preservation under a variety of condition. Like an ear of corn---a female seed-bearing organ---the mestiza is tenacious, tightly wrapped in the husk of her culture” (Anzaldua, 380).

Anzaldua uses simple example of corn as a metaphor for the life of a mestiza woman. Like the crossbreeding of corn, the cross cultural ancestry of a mestiza can help her survive. While it comes with its down sides, being born of multiple backgrounds can have an advantage. The mestiza has a foot and hand in separate worlds. Not being entirely accepted by one group, you must grab hold onto the pieces of culture that you do have access to in order to create a self-identity. With this you can create your own sub-culture that doesn’t reject, but accepts others. When your cultural identity is rooted from several diverse places, I would assume that you would be more malleable and willing to accept people of dissimilar origins. This creates a social niche from which the mestiza can find strength in and ultimately survive.

While goods on the U.S. side have become 10, 100, 1000 times more expensive for Mexican buyers, goods on the Mexican side have become 10, 100, 1000 times cheaper for Americans (Anzaldua, 388).

Here, Anzaldua describes the economic dichotomy of the United States and Mexico. This shines light on one of the factors that can create a difficult situation for a people to survive in culturally and economically. Earlier, Anzaldua describes the negative effect that the devaluating of the Mexican Peso had on a particular area in Mexico on the people. Anzaldua describes that she still sees this particular area to be still struggling under the economic conditions. Raw materials and other resources have become increasingly expensive for Mexican residents to buy while it has become cheaper for the Americans to buy goods. This leads to the creation of further pressures against a society that can be reflected in the way that the society treats certain individuals such as the mestiza.

For men like my father, being “macho” meant being strong enough to protect and support my mother and us, yet being able to show love (Anzaldua, 382).

I find this quote to be personally interesting. I understand that in this section of the text Anzaldua is explaining the creation of the more modern concept of machismo by the Anglo population and comparing it to previous forms, but I am unsure if she is accepting of the older form or not. From the words she uses, it can be inferred that there is at least a small level of acceptance of the older ideas of machismo. Even though the man was encouraged to show more emotional affections, he was still viewed as the leader. It is HIS job to support and protect the women and children. This form is not all too helpful to the independence of the female. Perhaps Anzaldua is conveying a preference of the older version to the new one that may create even more oppressive forces. What do you, my classmates, think?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Defining Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience through the view of Adrienne Rich

I believe that Rich was trying to define the concept of Compulsory Heterosexuality through descriptions of some of the social forces that enforce it.  It would seem that Compulsory Heterosexuality is created by social forces that make many women feel as if they have to engage in the male view of heterosexuality in order to gain acceptance and survival in society.  These forces create a situation in which women feel a compulsion to be heterosexual.  One of the impacting forces is the idea that heterosexuality is an innate and fundamentally biological characteristic of women.  Only heterosexual women are normal.  This idea also creates a separation between lesbian women and heterosexual women.  This idea of what is normal means that lesbian women are not treated as normal; they are tolerated, but not truly accepted.  This separation of normal and other compels women to play the role of heterosexuality in order to be accepted.  Rich uses the example of the workplace.  Women are required to play the role of being feminine and heterosexual in order to maintain ownership of a job.  Compulsive heterosexuality also implies a separation of power between males and females.  The way in which our patriarchal society defines heterosexual behavior places men about women.  Women are the object of the lust of men and fulfill a need.  Women are also taught that they must pair with a male in marriage in order fulfill their societal roles. 

Rich also talks about the lesbian experience.  The experience of most lesbians is of being made invisible in mainstream history.  Rich talks about how lesbians are mostly neglected from film, mainstream text, and also by feminist literature.  They are usually cast of as separate from normal women and mostly made invisible through the media. 

 I am not sure if I completely understood what Rich was trying to say.  I found that in her writing it was difficult to extract her exact meaning and that she need to be more clear and straight forward.  I look forward to discussing the topic in class.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Occupy Wall Streat Movment Continues to Gain Momentum

Just to let you know, there are multiple videos and each tells a little bit more about the story (each has a commercial)

Second Video--- Appears that they may be some controversy; some claim that the police lured protesters into a trap from which they could be arrested. 

Also the videos also show exessive force by the police and similar imprisonment and treatment of protesters that we saw in the Feminist movement films.
For anyone who has not yet seen my first post about this subject, you should check this out.  It is especially important since we are discussing socioeconomic problems in class!

Response to Lawrence Mead's Quote

The sociologist Lawrence Mead states that, "If poor people behave rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place." I don't know what evidence Mead is using, but I fully believe this to be nonsense. I don't understand how a sociologist could possibly make such a claim if they are supposed to understand the notion of social class and economic stratification. In general, being poor does not have its roots in irrational behavior, but more often depends on what socioeconomic group you fortunate or unfortunate to be born into. Whether people want to believe it or not we pretty much have a caste system in the United States.  It is my belief that, for the most part,  individuals who are born very low on the socioeconomic scale stay low and those who are born high, stay high. There is some room for movement in the middle, but this is usually much more difficult than we would like to believe and actual social acceptance by another class is also rare.

            The system is designed in such a way that it usually keeps low people down and high people at the top. For example, during the Wasp Lesson section of the film, People Like Us, the high socioeconomic group of the Wasps is discussed.  A Wasp member discusses how people have to be born into the Wasp class. To paraphrase the speaker, it is not something that someone can just become, but that someone just is. The speaker talks about how the process of becoming a Wasp starts as soon as someone is born. The schools, the kinds of people and kids they will interact with and their social paths are all picked out for them from birth. From the very beginning, the children are groomed and shaped into what is desired and what is required for acceptance into their social class. Another example is the part in the film that discusses social structures in high school. In the section, the advantage that higher socioeconomic classes have over lower classes is mentioned. In response to these examples, Mead might claim that the lower class’s lack of privilege may be overcome through rational behaviors and social maneuvering.  In truth, the opportunity to move through social ranks is rare and seldom easy to do. This idea is exemplified by the story of Tammy as seen through the film People Like US. Tammy is born in the lowest of the low working class in the United States. She has had little to no opportunity (or funds) for higher education and for a higher paying job. She must walk over 10 miles to her work place (in a fast food chain). She can barely make enough money to support her small family, so how can she climb the social ladder? She has no means of paying for a higher education for herself or her sons (which is now a requirement for economic and social climbing). She wasn't given (to my knowledge) the type of education from which she could receive scholarships. She is pretty much stuck from my point of view. The best she can do is hope that she can support her children and that they might be able to inch their way up to the next class level. 

In reality, one of the few ways someone could make a jump in the social class system is to obtain an identity or tittle that brings a level of prestige with it such as becoming a doctor. Even this has its challenges. First, you need to have the right educational background and financial funding in order to even try and become something like a medical doctor. The way the field is designed also makes it very difficult for anyone to become a doctor. This is done intentionally in order for membership into this field to be rarer. This exclusivity allows for the field to hold onto a higher level of prestige. In reality though, even if someone does achieve this tittle, they still might not obtain social acceptance among the other members of the class they join. If you really think about it, social class is just a bunch of clubs or groups that stand on one another in a multi-story building. Each club is more exclusive than the next (this allows it to claim a higher level of prestige and superiority over other clubs). It is in best interest of the higher levels to keep members of the lower levels in their place (or at least lower then themselves). This allows the higher levels to maintain their prestige, advantage, and dominance. When it comes right down to it, it is just a game of maintaining deep rooted power and privilege.

In addition, there is an interesting chart provided by The New York Times that displays thier view of econmic class and what characterists label each class.  The link to the chart is, <>