Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Man-Up campaign

The tea party women have adopted a policy to challenge the "man hood" of their male running mates.

Sharron Angle told Harry Reid to "man-up" in her Nevada campaign debate against the senate majority leader. Sarah Palin also told Democrats that it's time for them to man-up.

Christine O’Donnell (Delaware, and the lady against masturbation!) said this about her opponent Mike Castle in September. “These are the type of cheap underhanded un-manly tactics that we’ve come to expect…this is not a bake-off; get your man-pants on.”

The man-up is a phrase is used mostly by women from the Tea and Republican Parties. It’s effective because it not only makes the woman look tough; it leaves their male opponents speechless.

When a woman tells a man to “man-up” there isn’t an effective comeback I can think of that would not sound sexist. For example, he can’t say, “Stop crying.” Or, “Stop complaining.”

ABC News said that there’s more to the “man-up” campaign.

They say its part of the Tea Party format that involves labeling your opponent while defining yourself in likable terms (mother, parent, PTA leader); and then saying what you oppose, like it’s the worst thing in the world. Things like spending, health care and fast train.

Maybe that’s why all the ads sound alike.

This campaign man-up phase sounds similar to the Miller Lite man-up ads.

In the “Purse or Carryall” ad, a guy walks up to the bar, orders a light beer and tells the female bartender he doesn’t care about the taste.

She tells him when he starts caring, to “put down your purse and I’ll give you a Miller Lite.” He takes his beer and makes it through the crowd with a big white purse.

What do you think about the man-up campaign sweeping the nation?

For those of you who like Stephen Colbert as much as I do, his Oct. 25th episide (can be seen on hulu), addresses the "man up" campaign in his "the word" segment.

Jordana's Rationale for Using "Wom(s)" and "Ze/Hir" in Writing

Hi, all!
I wanted to provide you with the written rationale I have created for using "wom(s)" in reference to gender-identified females and "ze/hir" as gender-inclusive, singular pronouns. I welcome any questions or critiques. -Jordana

Wom. Both the academy and public domain have long presumed the normative and inclusive nature of masculine terms. Feminist scholars and activists, in particular, have worked hard to receive acknowledgement of the patriarchal reinforcement that occurs when such terms are used. Indeed, Feminist Theory is steeped in problematizing the “taken-as-given truths” about male superordination and female subordination that are pervasive in the very language we use and remain entrenched because they are not critically examined. (Jackson, 1997) Recognizing that academic conventions (and what is considered worthy scholarship) originated from (and are maintained by) males predominantly, feminist theorists offer critiques to the status quo and suggestions for more inclusive scholarly approaches. (Diller et al., 1996; McCormick, 1994)
The extensive literature for and against using the construction “womyn” instead of “woman/women” in writing is impressive, to say the least. While some dismiss it as an inconsequential attempt by 2nd Wave Feminists to establish “womyn” as equal to and apart from “men,” it has been used widely in Feminist Theory. Both because my own political identity is aligned with many 2nd Wave positions and as I see “woman” as, indeed, a subordinate to “man,” I was initially inclined to use “womyn.” Then, I discovered Deborah Hauser’s (2005) incisive exploration of this topic and have been so compelled by her well-researched argument, that I have elected to work with her suggested “wom” instead.
Hauser (2005) traces the etymology of “woman” back, first to the German and then to the Old English “wifman,” illustrating the complicated nature of the original’s unique meaning and discrete morphemes being conflated into its current meaning:
I break "wifman" down morphologically as a compound word created from a combination of "wif" and "man". It is important to note that the original German usage "wif" referred to a woman as an adult female and not as a wife (spouse). It acquired the present meaning of a female spouse after it entered the Old English lexicon ("Wife," def.). I cannot explain why, if "wif" was the word for a female adult, it was ever combined with "man". "Wif" alone is a root morpheme complete in and of itself. However, when combined with "man" it becomes a derivational morpheme in which "wif", for female, modifies and describes "man" for human. The modern word "woman" is no longer a morphological compound but separates out as the root "man" and an affix "wo" further subordinating the female to the male since the prefix "wo" (unlike "wif") is meaningless on its own. This unnecessary welding of "wif" to "man" has irreversibly corrupted the word "woman" by binding the female prefix to the free male morpheme. "Wif", because of the semantic shift from adult female to "wife", is no longer a viable alternative as a term to describe the female without reference to the male. [emphasis mine](¶. 9)

Additionally, Hauser makes the apt point that it is unlikely anyone reads “womyn” without thinking “woman” (thus, defeating the purpose of the spelling change). She arrives at the possibility of using “wom” because it affords the “wif” morpheme’s original meaning of “adult female” and creates a truly distinct signifier. Hauser writes:
I would offer "wom" not as an abbreviated form of "woman" but as cognate with the word "womb" to entirely disassociate it from the word "man". "Wom" from "womb" would represent not just women's anatomical reproductive capabilities but would symbolically represent women as a "place of origin, development and growth"("Womb," def. 1.b.) (2005, ¶. 12)

Though I feel personal resonance with her rationale for “wom” being a cognate with “womb” (as someone who has had the biological experience of motherhood), I am even more persuaded by the second definition of “womb” she provides, as it represents an affirming inclusion of those (biological or transgender) woms who do not reproduce children. Thus, in the spirit of inclusion and experimentation, I use “wom/woms” when writing about female-identified individuals.

Ze and Hir. While it is no longer academically or stylistically correct to use “man” or male pronouns exclusively, when describing generic humans, there is not a standard and truly inclusive referential technique currently employed. Some writers do the pendulum swing of only using feminine cases, some choose to alternate gendered pronouns from example to example, some choose to put all examples in the plural, and still others use “he/she” throughout. I find all four problematic, when it comes to my academic explorations. First, replacing masculine-normative with feminine-normative terminology may empower some, yet it inevitably alienates more, because it simply replicates the same hierarchical valuation in the inverse direction. (“Othering” in any form rarely is successful in cultivating allies.) Second, because of the predominating force of gender-binary acculturation that so many of us have experienced (particularly in Western, so-called “industrialized” nations, like the U.S.), virtually everyone carries unconscious gender associations, and when reading alternating examples (e.g., one anecdote about a female-identified individual and the next about a male-identified person), there is a tendency to attach the gender-associated attributes one holds to those stories. (I specify the U.S., because there are other cultures that are not as hung up on the gender binary as many “Western” cultures seem to be.) Thirdly, putting everything into the plural is particularly tricky, if certain illustrations are really only about specific individuals. Finally, using the bifurcated convention of “he/she” is not only awkward and cumbersome in writing, but far more importantly, it epitomizes and reinforces a gender binary I categorically refuse.
One of the key exacerbating factors in the disconnect humanity experiences with so many of its relationships is the persistent influence of Modernity’s dualism. Acquiescing to the use of “he/she” perpetuates this duality, which is antithetical to the holism I am seeking. Additionally, it presumes the existence of only two genders. Thus, I elect to use the constructions, “ze” (pronounced “zee”) and “hir” (pronounced “here”), when writing about examples where the individual’s gender-identity is not required or relevant. These pronouns are widely used in the research literature on transgender issues (Boenke, 2003; Bornstein, 1997; Sosin, 2010), and they are recommended in GLSEN’s (the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network) resource materials. They represent my experimentation with gender neutrality in the written form – a potential contributor to deconstructing transphobia, as well as a challenge to taken-for-granted understandings of gendered identity.

Dove campaign for real beauty

Have any of you seen this before? I was introduced to it on good ole facebook.

Dove also has a "pro-age" commercial campaign for their pro-age products:

The pro-age commercial was banned in the US for showing too much skin.

Yes, Dove is a large corporation in the beauty industry, which is an industry that survives by encouraging and playing off of low self-esteem of consumers, but they seem to be making an effort.  I could spend a long time going back and forth between applauding their effort and dismissing it as "too little, too late", or still unrealistic- the women in the pro-age commercial look pretty damn perfect for ladies supposed to be representing how "real" women look- but it is still a commercial.

But on the whole, I appreciate the effort that Dove is making- especially with the "evolution" commercial, to make it clear how much the beauty industry distorts images of women.  It makes me think about a section in the memoir "She's Not There" by Jennifer Boylan that I read for Sexuality and Sexual Outlaws in WB 2008 about the author's M to F transition.   I quoted this chunk in my reflection paper for the book for class:

…[T]he culture had its hooks in me; like it or not. In no time at all I’d internalized many of the things I’d spent years imploring my students to fight against. I worried that I was too fat. I apologized when someone else stepped on my foot, as if it were my fault. My sentences often ended with a question, as if I were unsure of myself. All of these changes transpired without any conscious thought, and if I became aware of them, I felt ashamed.
Partially, I think what I wanted was to belong. If being female—to others, at any rate—seemed to include self-doubt, insecurity, and anorexia, then some part of me felt, Okay, well, let’s do all that, then.
(Boylan, 2003, p. 156)

The ideology of beauty is as pervasive and destructive as any other power structure, telling everyone how they are supposed to be, to look, to act, to be successful and accepted.  It's in the air and in everyone's head, no matter what- Jennifer Boylan had only been taking hormones for a couple months before she noticed the effect of a lifetime of pressure towards women to look a certain way boiling up from her subconscious.  One of the things I love most about Prescott College is that I see so many genuinely beautiful individuals all over campus that don't conform to mainstream image standards. 

What do you think are some good ways to fight against mainstream image standards? How can we bring the philosophy "look real, not good"   (or "look real AND good") to people whose lives are fenced in and tied down by media's dictates?


Hope-Inspiring Media Campaigns

Hi, folks!
Some action-oriented, hope-inspiring media campaigns for your perusal. Thanks! -Jordana

Give A Damn:

GLSEN & ThinkB4YouSpeak Ads:


Fitting Room:

bell hooks' Series on Cultural Criticism & Transformation

Hi, folks!
Some of the links below were used on last year's F-Word blog, and I wanted to share the whole series with you, as bell hooks is a powerful Feminist scholar-activist. Particularly connected to Feminism, check out her critique of Madonna, but many of these links address issues of Feminism & Intersectionality. Additionally, any number of her books are well worth your time. Some of her key works are: Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, Feminism Is for Everybody, Where We Stand: Class Matters, Teaching to Trangress, and Teaching Community.  Here are the video links:

Cultural Criticism & Transformation:

Motivated Representations:

Enlightened Witness:

Dealing with OJ:


Spike Lee:

Rap music:

Thanks!  -Jordana

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dialogue of Reason: Science and Faith in the Black Community

My first post; hopefully I will contribute more to this blog as the semester progresses. (Shout out) thanks to Kelsey for setting up this tool to continue our class discussions -- it seems as though we never have enough time to get everything in. 

One continuing goal I remain to have is to continually revisit the structure of religion and its role in the development of our culture, and more specifically, in our growth in the areas of science and ethics. Understanding religion influences many peoples and governments in their decisions makes it utterly important to understand how it shapes one's thought process. Below is a video of a panel that recently occurred that addresses many of the issues we have been talking about in class; and further more addresses whether or not the "church" did or did not play a progressive role in the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement. 

In this panel, Dr. Pinn speaks at length about the issue, and was absolutely phenomenal. His basic premise was that the black church's theology of redemptive suffering did more harm than good and that humanism was (and is) a more effective philosophy for motivating civil resistance. He also discussed how Dr. King complained about the lack of support by churches for Civil Rights -- a reality that has been largely lost sight of due to the amazing PR of black churches. Here's the link to that discussion again if you haven't seen it yet -- it starts off kinda slow but once Dr. Pinn starts talking...... Well, it is worth watching

He also wrote a book, I am planning to buy, if you ever want to barrow it let me know.

Would love to hear ya'lls thoughts on this,


Friday, October 22, 2010

YouTube Slam Poet Deconstructing "Pretty"

Hi, all!
I hope to have the opportunity to show this in class, but in case we don't get the chance, please click on the link below:
Huge thanks to Emma Gifford for passing this along.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Response to notes on Kyrsten Sinema's lecture

Kelsey, I'm really glad you posted the notes from this lecture.  Even before SB 1070 was proposed it was pretty clear that in Prescott and in many other towns in America, there is a clear “Us vs. Them” attitude toward immigrants that promotes feelings of fear of one group and of justification of privileges for another.  I hope the following paragraphs are relevant to the topic you presented J

I work at a local restaurant in Prescott that is owned by a couple who are very conservative, elitist, and clearly not fans of either President Obama or liberals in general (you can tell by their bumper stickers).  My boss used to complain about border issues and how people were coming into this country, not paying taxes, starting trouble, and not contributing anything positive to our society.  She is a strong believer in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, but as we learned from this week's reading in “Tired of Playing Monopoly?” some people don't even have boots with straps to pull on.  She is a huge fan of Wal-Mart not only because of the low prices, but also because of the fact that it started out as a tiny shop that through hard work and determination was transformed into a huge corporation.  I noticed pretty quickly, however, that all the servers in the restaurant were white, and all the cooks and dishwashers were Mexican.  I had a feeling that they weren't legal either, just between spending time with them outside of work and learning about their wages compared to the state minimum.  Most of them were working at least one other job just to be able to provide for their families, so it was clear that they were using every opportunity they could find to survive.  Like Donna Langston’s article mentioned, there isn’t really a choice of career for those in the working class, a job is a matter of making ends meet.

When I returned in early September after being gone for the summer, I was shocked to find that the whole kitchen staff had essentially been replaced.  I asked where everybody went and was informed that because of SB 1070, some had gone to New Mexico, one person left for California, and others headed toward Nevada.  There were a few reasons for this: for those who didn’t have papers they didn’t want to be deported, for those who did have papers they didn’t want to be harassed, and for both groups the whole direction of the situation was threatening and headed nowhere good, and they were in search of a more inclusive society before things got worse in Arizona.  My bosses were now pressured to higher people who were legal and would not work for less than minimum wage.

I don’t think that many people understand that even if employment opportunities are decreased for citizens due to immigration, the people who get deported could be those who make it possible to pay half the normal price for produce or other things you find at Wal-Mart or other stores.  I know there are other issues involved with big box stores, external costs, and employee rights, and I’m not saying that it’s right to use immigrant labor to make things cheap for U.S. citizens, but I am simply noticing the hypocritical nature of the whole situation and how the seemingly opposite views can coincide for many people.

Between making friends at the restaurant and meeting other people from Mexico who are living in Prescott, I have noticed how there are almost two parallel universes within the town that barely interact with each other.  When reading “Tired of Playing Monopoly?” by Donna Langston and Susan Wendell’s “The Social Construction of Disability,” I could get a better idea of why there is not only a separation between distinct groups in Prescott, but also why particular groups seem to be pushed underground.  Not only are there less opportunities due to the social structure of our culture, but also due to people’s perceptions of the opportunities that are available.  For example, Donna Langston describes her experience of being able to go to any school of her choice, picking a local school, then dropping out due to feeling isolated in such a foreign environment.  I remember asking one friend who immigrated here seven years ago if he ever thought about going to school so he didn’t have to plaster walls all day, but even in my mind the question felt irrelevant.  He just shook his head because it wasn’t something that fit in with his lifestyle or community. In addition, our schools are not set up for those who do not already speak fluent English.

For immigrant workers, the combination of our desire for cheap labor and goods and our stereotypes based on racism, classism, and the basic structure of our society makes it incredibly difficult to find jobs and feel integrated in the community. My boss mentioned a lack of positive contributions in society from immigrants, but why would somebody be motivated to be involved in a community that doesn’t acknowledge them?  Since towns like Prescott don’t show any interest in integrating the different worlds or being involved in issues of all communities, those in oppressed communities are not going to show interest in issues of those that are oppressing them, consciously or unconsciously. I have been to events where most of the participants are Mexican, and experienced cops circling like hawks, even when they are held in areas like the Prescott College campus where other events had been held that were not as highly supervised.  I have seen the living circumstances of those in lower income areas, and how they seem to be pushed aside to places that do not even look zoned for residential properties.  I have seen how people avoid contact and communication with those who are not American, even in situations like ordering food where communication is necessary.  It is amazing how many groups of people, not just those in the Mexican community, get treated as if they are sub-human, simply because our society is designed to include such a narrow category of people. 

I hope that there are more ethnic studies classes offered, and fewer bills proposed that encourage discrimination and exclusion, not just for the sake of people who may turn out like my boss, but for people like me who may be contributing to a segregated world without even knowing it.  Just from seeing and learning about my own advantages in society, and in acknowledging my own stereotypes and biases from the readings, I am already learning how I can change my attitudes and lessen my ignorance to move toward a more inclusive way of thinking.  Since I see a real lack of community in the U.S. I think we need more information and education based on including people of all types into our culture and social structure.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Kyrsten Sinema Lecture on HB2281

Notes on /Themes from Kyrsten Sinema’s Lecture on Anti-Ethnic Studies Bill (HB 2281)

HB 2281 and SB 1070 are continuations of a string of anti-immigrant bills… each a little more extreme than the next, whetting the public’s appetite and creating a climate of hatred, suspcion, etc. Essentially, several years of passing many small bills criminalizing and restricting opportunities of undocumented people has solidified public prejudice. -- It’s easier for white citizens to nurse a hateful & exclusionary “us vs. them” attitude when immigrants are targeted by law-making authorities & institutions. Immigrants are also scapegoats for AZ’s climate of fear around economic struggle, they’re blamed for economic ills.

A few MYTHS being perpetuated about ethnic studies (aka Tom Horne’s arguments against Raza Studies):
  1. Ethnic studies are only relevant to the people of the ethnicities whose history is being taught.
  2. Exposure to alternate lenses of U.S. History (anything but the dominant narrative) is dangerous.
  3. Students are docile angels until they are brainwashed by ethnic studies education…. And then…. ANARCHY!

Let’s break these down a little bit.

1). The assumption that people cannot benefit from learning other’s perspectives/experiences is ridiculous. This idea only encourages self-segregation. Further, the encouragement of people of color to “stick to their own camps” inhibits power in numbers through solidarity. For white folks, a critical cultural lens informs how oppression is perpetuated and resisted. Ethnic Studies give those in oppressor groups opportunities for self-reflection and transformation.

2). Empowering those in oppressed groups only appears dangerous to those who are threatened by equality. It seems the idea here is to discourage any type of critical thinking, lest we begin to critique the way power, privilege, and access to resources are distributed in our society! Ethnic Studies encourages critical & free thinking - the very suggestion that this is dangerous speaks volumes.

3). The idea here is that this Raza Ethnic Studies Program brainwashes students into being angry, radical, socialist rebels who will rise up and overthrow the American government (Kyrsten quipped that this is more likely for anyone taking a U.S. Gov’t course… haha). Kyrsten has a point though, any honest inquiry into U.S. history which brings all the voices to the table would probably motivate one into action towards justice. Again, this is a great example of “white male paranoia” mentioned in our reading “Denials of Inequality.”

-It’s US vs. THEM (inclusion in/exclusion from “circle of the beloved”) …Creating sense of division and an external threat

-The only images&voices we value are those of white males in our communities and classrooms

-People of color (and their perspectives & cultures), especially Latino/a folks, and most of all immigrants ARE NOT WELCOME

-People of color’s histories are separate from / irrelevant to United States history

Employ a diversity of tactics! Educate yourself and others (once you’re informed, you’re pissed off and motivated), get involved with the Aztlan Center on campus (first meeting open to everyone 1:00 @ san juan building on Oct. 15th), vote / write letters to politicians, challenge language of hatred and division (i.e. using the term “illegal aliens” etc.), create an alternate narrative of a wider circle of inclusion (not “us” / “other” but taking care of & valuing each other as humans)... foster compassion… create visions of unity and SOLIDARITY.

Bringing all the voices to the table. Immigrant women are probably the most disatvantaged in our very own prescott community. Politics of inclusion. Critiquing the notion that the only important narrative is the dominant narrative. Solidarity.

anyone have any additions? thoughts?


Monday, October 4, 2010

Welcome to the F Word cohort blog ...of excellence.

F-Worders! Here is our fabulous blog in which we'll be further processing and discussing subjects brought up in class, exploring new questions, connections and ideas, and sharing support, constructive challenges, and insight with one another.

Jordana and my expectations are that y'all post here at least three times throughout the course (though I hope you'll be inclined to engage with this resource further to supplement your learning & pursue curiosities... this blog will only be as awesome as y'all choose to make it... word).

So, what qualifies as a post worthy of credit?
-A thoughtful entry which critiques, builds upon, or provides insight into articles or ideas brought up during class,
-A sharing of a relevant connection from your life/other studies with the course material, or
-A thoughtful, constructive, and substantive response to someone else's post.

In addition, one of your three posts here will be a personal account of / reflection on a "direct action." We're defining a direct action as reaching out to someone with the intent of raising consciousness. Feel free to be creative -- this could be a constructive conversation/confrontation, a letter to the editor of a publication, a feminist-y spoken word performance, whatever you wanna do! The goal is to explore methods of activism, bringing our growing awarenesses into the wider community, and gleaning lessons from each other about what works and what can be improved upon in our activist endeavors.

Guidelines for posting: This blog, being an extension of our class, needs to reflect the same level of respect we would show our peers in person. Please keep posts relevant and respectful. It's okay, even encouraged, to challenge your peers' ideas and opinions, but please do so in a manner that is non-antagonistic, compassionate, and based in a desire to help each other grow. You also need to sign your post with your name. Awesome pseudonyms are cool, but only if you also have your name next to it... it'll be a lot easier on J & me to tally up posts. example: kelsey aka malice paul (extra points for patriarchy-smashing-related pseudonyms and/or references to famous feminists.... like alice paul).

Y'all are awesome, I look forward to working with you!

-kelsey aka bell left-hooks