"Happy Mind, Happy Life."

Month: January 2021

WEEK 12 (4/5-4/7)

Feminism & COVID
“The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism” The Atlantic

Sadly, there have always been issues surrounding the division of labor, inside and outside the home, and the way in which it affects women and men differently. Like this article highlights, the COVID-19 pandemic just “magnifies all existing inequalities.” During the height of the pandemic, with most institutions shutting down, parents were faced with the burden of childcare (and possibly elder care), causing it to mostly fall on the backs of the mothers and allowing the issue of gender division to grow. I have seen some of this firsthand. In my family, my mother makes more money than my father and works more hours than him per week. Additionally, my parents’ jobs were never lost (they are physical therapists, so essential workers) and my sister and I are both in our 20s, so childcare was not an issue. However, I spent most of the pandemic (March-August) nannying for a family that had a very different situation than mine. I think it is ironic that most of the childcare in the family I nannied for fell to women. For example, when I was not nannying the 40 hours a week I was asked to, the children’s mother was watching the kids because she was a part-time occupational therapist and her husband worked full-time. So, like this article mentions, “women are more likely to be the lower earners, meaning their jobs are considered a lower priority when disruptions come along.” She was the one to relieve me every single day at 5pm. She was also the one to look after them on the weekends, and even had to take some time off to be with them when I wasn’t available. While I was paid for my duties, this mother was not. So, it felt pretty selfish receiving a paycheck each week, knowing she did the exact same thing as me when I left at 5pm every day, except she wasn’t paid. I think this pandemic has really highlighted the fact that we like to tell ourselves that we have grown from the 1950s attitude of men being the breadwinners and women being the homemakers, but really, this system is still in place. And it’s sad.

WEEK 10 (3/22-3/24)

Open Topic: NCAA Unequal Treatment
Just this past week, in the midst of March Madness, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) faced an overwhelming amount of criticism after being exposed by Sedona Prince, a female basketball player, who posted a video on her social media. 

NCAA apologises to women's basketball teams for weight room differences -  ABC News

Sedona Prince posted this video on several of her social media accounts, showing the “weight room” (pictured above) that the women athletes were given compared to the expansive weight room men are provided with. The video shows that women are simply given a rack of a few weights, while men receive a room filled with dozens of weight machines and lifting equipment. The video also explains that after seeing the video, the NCAA came out with a statement that the women do not have much weight equipment due to lack of space, which Sedona clearly disproves in the video. Since this video has been released, the NCAA has publicly apologized for this unequal treatment and provided women with a fairer weight room, seen here and below.

New NCAA Women's Weight Room Revealed in San Antonio

NCAA officials acknowledged what they called a “blemish” in their tournament efforts.

“We fell short this year in what we’ve been doing to prepare,” Lynn Holzman, the NCAA’s vice president of women’s basketball, told journalists Friday. She said the NCAA was “actively working” on improving the women’s facilities, including exercise facilities and food.

Taken from an article from The Washington Post

My thoughts…

When things like this come to light, it makes me sad and shocked to see that unequal treatment between men and women is still so prevalent today. Women athletes are still actively discriminated against. One of the hardest parts for me to come to terms with is the women that are part of the administration of the NCAA that knew of this treatment and did not try to change it until after the world found out about it. The statement above comes from the vice president of NCAA women’s basketball, a woman herself, who explains that they “fell short.” How can we, as a society, fight for women’s rights when not all women are on board? This act of “falling short” resulted in just another public example of the ways in which women’s athleticism, strength, and power are not legitimized because men are the only ones prioritized. It is disgusting and upsetting that this is still happening in 2021.

WEEK 9 (3/15-3/17)

Subversive body image media hunt and response 
What would be a gender subversion to you? Can you find an example/image and write about why it is a subversive image? Connect with some of the ideas we’ve been discussing in class and in the readings.

I discovered these two images in this video included in an email from Dr. Campbell. These two images play on the idea of strength in relation to men and women.  They also create a “gender subversion” in which the “predetermined roles” or “attitudes” of men and women are switched. The first photo depicts a woman next to a bottle, indicating that it is a surprise that women can open this bottle without assistance or struggle. This implies that women are weak and inferior in relation to men. In the second photo, the genders are switched, and the photo depicts the shock that a man is capable of opening this bottle on his own. Therefore, this displays the man as inferior and weak. However, this switch just looks and seems unnatural because of the way gender as a social construct has been ingrained into our minds. It allows us to see gender for what it really is, like Judith Butler discusses. Our class readings over the past few weeks have touched on this same idea of gender being shaped by the media and our culture, “Gender performances are not only what we ‘do’; they are also who we ‘are’ or ‘become.’ This implies that we are what we do, and what we do is shaped by cultural ideas, social practices, and structured institutions that give those everyday actions meaning” (Shaw & Lee 181). Unfortunately, this just reveals the world we live in, where so much of what we think about ourselves is shaped by other people and other opinions, including gender and gender stereotypes.


WEEK 8 (3/8-3/10)

Documentary: Miss Representation & ePortfolio quick fire response
Free write for 10-15 mins, drawing on some of the ideas we’ve been exploring in the reading this past couple of weeks, as well as the class discussion on Monday. In particular, think about what the documentary is arguing, and think about how we can address inequities given their thesis.

This documentary, Miss Representation, argues that women are not properly represented in the media; therefore, they’re misrepresented. The documentary explains that this misrepresentation of women occurs in leadership positions/politics, in movies and the film industry, in terms of their bodies, etc. There was one quote that I felt summed up the argument of this documentary very well; it reads, “If the cards are so heavily stacked against young women, how are they supposed to achieve their potential and become leaders? We can’t turn a blind eye to how the media impacts our culture and harms both our daughters and our sons.” Similarly, much of this discussion of the media deals with the way in which women’s bodies are represented. Women often appear as sexual objects or body props within movies and film, but this sexualization extends outside of the film industry as well, such as when they discussed the clothing of women news anchors. This entire discussion of the media’s influence on these behaviors and concepts is completely relevant to the discussions we had in class and in our readings: the body as a social construct. These goals of a attaining or showing off a “thin waist” or “big chest” are not natural; they are ideas that have shaped our thinking based on the media and way in which women’s’ bodies have been outwardly represented. As our reading for this week mentions, “our understanding of the body cannot exist outside of the society that gives it meaning” (Shaw & Lee 184). Additionally, “what our bodies mean and how they are experienced is intimately connected to the meanings and practices of the society in which we reside” (184). In other words, our visions and feelings about what a woman’s body should look like are entirely shaped by the society and culture we live in. This is clearly seen in this documentary, through the toxic society (created from the media) that has enforced restrictive and unrealistic body types for women. This is how women’s bodies become socially constructed.

WEEK 7 (3/1-3/3)

Open Topic: Taylor Swift and "Ginny & Georgia"
For this week’s open topic, I thought I would comment on a current event that has been flooding my social media. 

A new Netflix series, “Ginny & Georgia,” recently released an episode in which a line from one of the characters read, “What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” After hearing this line, Taylor published a tweet in which she called the joke “lazy” and “deeply sexist” because of the way it degrades hardworking women like her. While she was clearly outraged by this line, it seems her fan base may have been even more outraged…

Link to tweet taken from Buzzfeed News

Taylor Swift continues to be a subject of sexist jokes because of her extensive dating life. Personally, while I feel the comment made in this show is quite offensive to Taylor Swift, I would like to think that was not the intention of the writers of the show. However, that does not excuse the behavior. This line in the episode contributes to the ongoing issue of “s**t-shaming” happening in our world. Women are continuously degraded, criticized, devalued, etc. if they have an extensive amount of relationships with men or women. Having a popular Netflix series feed into this issue definitely does not help with the movement to stop it. So, I stand with Taylor Swift here. 

WEEK 6 (2/22-2/24)

Power Inversions
When looking at the Twitter account @manwhohasitall, I compiled a list of some of my favorite tweets of his: 

THESE TWEETS CAUSE ME TO THINK ABOUT THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS…
So, what it would be like for certain power relations to be reversed? What does it suggest about the nature of gender power?  How do inversions show up the issues we’re still contending with?

As we can see in these tweets that mock what it would be like for power relations to be reversed, it seems the whole “gender world” would be flipped upside down. Society would be completely different. The nature of gender power is very clear and concrete; each gender (male and female) is “prescribed” a certain set of characteristics and duties that have seemed to “stick” as years went on. When @manwhohasitall flips these gender roles, it feels strange and “off.” I think this definitely tells us something about the nature of gender power. Additionally, it makes it clear that these gender inversions are still completely relevant. However, I think it is interesting to see the ways in which they are more challenged in this current historical moment because of the fluidity that is now being given to the concept of “gender.” For example, should a woman that identifies as a woman but has the reproductive parts of a male adopt the gender inversions of a man or woman? In some way, this complexity is helping to erase or combat this natural gender power, which is definitely a good thing.

WEEK 5 (2/15-2/17)

What does the storm on the Capitol and the insurrection tell us about the need for Intersectionality?
When discussing this question, I think that in order to identify the need for intersectionality, it is important to look at this storm on the Capitol versus the BLM protests this past year in terms of police response. CNN sums up these police responses here.
Image result for storm on the capitol and intersectionality

Taken from CNN

When people in the Black Lives Matter rallies were fighting for human rights and justice, they were beaten and given an extreme, aggressive response from police. 

“‘When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets,’ the group said in a statement. ‘Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot.'”

DURING A BLM PROTEST ON JUNE 1ST, 2020…
“Before Trump made his remarks at the Rose Garden last June, police near the White House released tear gas and fired rubber bullets at protesters in an effort to disperse the crowd for the President’s planned visit to the St. John’s Episcopal Church. Earlier in the day, Trump had encouraged the nation’s governors to more aggressively target protesters in their states.”
on June 2ND, 2020…
“Members of the DC National Guard, armed and wearing camouflage uniforms, stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last June, as crowds of demonstrators held a peaceful protest following several days of demonstrations. During Wednesday’s events, rioters had already made it inside the building before the DC National Guard was activated.”
ON JUNE 3RD, 2020

“protesters in Washington, DC, repeatedly faced tear gas. Many were detained. One protest led to 88 arrests. By comparison, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said [during the storm on the capitol] that police have made 52 arrests — 26 of which were made on US Capitol grounds.”

But, when the people that stormed the Capitol last month were threatening marginalized populations and spreading disinformation, the police did next to nothing.

“A livestream video of the Wednesday’s events appears to show a Capitol Hill police officer taking a selfie with a rioter inside the building.”

ALSO…

“Pro-Trump protesters pushed past metal fences and breached the US Capitol building, walking throughout the complex for several hours.”

This distinction highlights the need for intersectionality almost clearly; considering all aspects of the people involved in these two events (race, status, gender, etc.) will help us to see the differences in the ways in which these two groups are treated by societal forces and institutions (like police).

Because it is extremely clear that the mostly white population, seen BELOW, is treated much differently than…
…THE MOSTLY BLACK POPULATION SEEN HERE.

WEEK 3 (2/1-2/3)

How is the personal political for you?

When I heard this question, I thought it would be much better to ask it to the powerful women in my life. Their thoughts below reflect my thoughts exactly.

I’ve seen this question come up before when I took a class on Global LGBTQI+. For me, the idea that ‘personal experiences of women are rooted in their political situation and gender inequality’ makes sense. Your personal life is affected by your demographic’s status in society. That’s why I usually push back on people when they argue that they are ‘apolitical’ or don’t like to be involved in politics. Politics is much more than arguing with your uncles and aunts about who the next president should be. And I think a lot of my political beliefs are rooted in the experiences I’ve had as a woman or the experiences that I can imagine other women having. For example, I am pro-choice because of the fact that I can imagine how it would feel to want to terminate a pregnancy for any reason but not have the right to do so. I don’t necessarily think that men would think this way when contemplating the issue right off the bat. I don’t, however, think that this idea of women inherently having certain political beliefs based on experiences they’ve had related to gender inequality can be a blanket statement for all women. For example, saying that all women would or should feel the same way about feminism, abortion, or their political situation. Many feminists often forget the idea of intersectionality, meaning that I, as a white middle class woman, will experience gender inequality in a much different way than a poor black woman. And this affects my beliefs.

FROM A WOMAN IN HER 20s

I definitely agree that my personal experience (as well as the general experience that comes with being a woman in a society primarily run by white male politicians and leaders) plays a factor in my political beliefs and actions. I would argue that same principle applies to men, which explains why we see so many of our current leaders and their supporters worried about losing that control as our government becomes more reflective of the breakdown of gender and minority populations in the US. I am hopeful that our society will soon find a balance with gender/race in our political representation and be able to move past the conflicts we are currently facing on this front as a result. 

From a woman in her 30s

1. The first incident that came to mind was the time, maybe four years ago, that a male student skipped my class one day. The class went to lunch mid-block, and he never made it back. He hid/spent the rest of the block with his football coach (another student told me that he had declared at lunch that he wouldn’t be coming to class, and that he would instead hang with his coach). I followed up with the coach. He told me that this student had told him that I was a “feminist b****”. But, the way he relayed this stunner is what sticks with me: he said it with a shrug, conveying an air of “What are you gonna do?”. I was floored. I asked the coach if the student had given concrete evidence of my “feminist” offenses so that I could address them and consider them; the student had not.  The coach didn’t ask. Nor did the coach say anything about reprimanding the student for speaking that way about a colleague. I gave a curt “Thanks for all your help” and haven’t really spoken to that person since.
When I followed up with the student, he said it was “clear” from the way I spoke to and encouraged my female students that I was a feminist. I basically told him that was his problem, and not mine. I wrote him up and our interactions gradually warmed a bit, but I have never forgotten that. I think, what really happened, is that my personality was too strong for him, and that when he would make disparaging comments towards others I was all over it. I wasn’t letting him “take it easy” in an Honors class; I was holding him accountable. I was challenging him. I don’t think he was used to that. And so, I became a “feminist b****” in his eyes.
2. My department is largely female; we have two male colleagues. Our team leader is female. For some reason, “we” revere and defer to one of the two males. It’s mostly my team leader and a couple of other department members who do this. The majority of us– 9 out of 11 members– have been on board with ideas and actions. Then, the revered male will speak out against it, and that’s it. We are stopped dead in our tracks.  My team leader immediately takes his viewpoint and it allows it to dictate our actions moving forward.
3. When I was a teenager, I worked at Market Basket at the front. I noticed that only boys were being sent out to do the carriage collection, so I asked my bosses why. I don’t remember the answer that I got, but I do remember nagging them to at least let me try it. They did, and I collected carriages for a few days. It was HARD, but I enjoyed doing it. Sadly, the opportunity never really presented itself after that. Every time I go to a grocery store, I do notice that girls are never collecting carriages. It may be that they don’t WANT to, but I also wonder if it’s even offered.

From a woman in her 30s

So, it wasn’t too long ago that I heard this expression. It came up in the yoga teacher training course that I’m taking — It’s that yoga is personal and personal is political. I haven’t thought too much about it, but here’s what comes to mind: I’m a public school teacher, so I try to inform to inform rather than have a slant … although maybe it’s more obvious than I think.

FROM a woman in her 40s

I absolutely believe that the personal is political – and the personal has really evolved for me as I have gotten older. I’ve always known I was liberal, always been a Democrat. When I was young I was a staunch pro-choice. “Nobody gets to tell me what I can do or any woman can do with her body” voter. Now, I still believe that but it’s also mixed in with new personal worries and beliefs – like gun control. I am fearful of being killed or my girls being killed in a school shooting. Now, I’m also seeing how conservative economic policy can really mess up the working class… so that will most likely be my new crusade. I also want to add that if more people subscribed to the notion and thought about how making political decisions on honest personal beliefs… we’d all be in a better situation!

From a woman in her 40s

WEEK 2 (1/25-1/27)

WGS & UNE

Throughout my experience with UNE, I have found that this school is pretty in tune with Women’s and Gender Studies. First of all, they have an entire minor dedicated to this subject and offered to students. One of the best parts of this minor is that some of the classes students take are already embedded with material from the WGST world. For example, when I decided to pick up the minor, I realized that several of the classes I had already taken count for this minor because of their wide topics around gender, feminism, and women. Some of these classes include Women in the Modern World (HIS 278) and Women’s YA Dystopian Fiction (ENG 235). This means that not only is the minor accessible, but it is also extremely relevant to my courses. Additionally, it is extremely relevant to our current historical moment. I love the courses that are able to connect to what is happening in our world right now, and this entire minor does just that.

Additionally, I know a little about the WGST Club at UNE. I am familiar with the project they worked on recently with providing free feminine products on campus to students. This kind of awareness is not regularly seen on other campuses. I love the content of their Instagram page as well: 

Additionally, I have found it to be quite nice and empowering to have a campus made up of roughly 74% women and 26% men. Being part of a student body almost entirely made up of women is so powerful to me.

Taken from usnews.com

All of these things have, in my opinion, made UNE very aware and conscious of Women’s and Gender Studies. I have been able to gear my studies toward this topic, which is such a valuable tool for my future as an English teacher.

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