Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kai Myers


Special Topics: Women's Studies

Professor Soyoung Park

What is Masculinity?

      The familiar idea of masculinity can be linked to common cultural and social belief; however, it is not real masculinity. How can one define masculinity, then? Judith Halberstam, in her article An Introduction to Female Masculinity states that true masculinity has many alternate forms and that by examining these gender deviations, then perhaps the concept of masculinity can be better understood.
      In order to begin to comprehend the differences in masculine behavior, the most common idea of masculinity must be dissected: "Masculinity seems to extend outward into patriarchy and inward into the family; masculinity represent the power of inheritance, the consequences of the traffic in women, and the promise of social privilege" (Halberstam, 3). In our patriarchal society, genetically male, heterogeneous people are considered the only types to be able to achieve masculinity. Femininity is reserved for genetically female, heterogeneous people.
     Masculinity is not strictly a male-oriented attribute. Females can be masculine, as well. I myself identify as a masculine, female lesbian. Does this mean I take on all the features of masculinity? No, of course not.
     It is tricky to pinpoint what is truly masculine and what is not, aside from how society deems masculinity and femininity as completely separate.

    Also, check out the neat video of Judith/Jack Halberstam: The intro lists a few of Halberstam's works (published and in progress)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kai Myers
Special Topics: Women's Studies
Professor Soyoung Park

So, What is Gender?

      Gender is something that has several different definitions; however, modern society has narrowed it into two specific groups: male and female. There are many ways to persuade people in believing that gender has strict boundaries. One of these is the physical form of the person. "For the individual, gender construction starts with assignment to a sex category on the basis of what the genitalia look like at birth" (Lorber, 97). I find this notion particularly disturbing because parents (with the aid of modern medicine) can alter a child's genitalia to the preferred gender (of the parents'). Of course the newly born child cannot give consent.
      Another way is through clothing. "Then babies are dressed or adorned in a way that displays the category because parents don't want to be constantly asked whether their baby is a girl or a boy" (Lorber, 97). Furthermore, in addition to all of this, gender roles are forced by use of the media. Have you ever gone down the isle of a toy store and noticed how the girl's section is entirely pink while the boy's is filled with action figures and all sorts of cool things?
      These two specific gender roles also have to do with the basic human need for social organization. The division between male and female is a comfortable system that creates an almost mechanical sense of efficiency. "Human society depends on a predictable division of labor..." (Lorber, 97) So, is this where the idea of male and female stems from?
     The truth of the matter is that gender is more complicated than simply a "he/she" mentality. Gender is based on the various physical make-ups of people (fems, herms, and mems) as well as orientation and so on.
If only modern society would more readily accept roles outside of the male and female ideals.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kai Myers
Special Topics: Women's Studies
Professor Soyoung Park

Film Response

      Color of Fear is a powerful documentary about the ongoing issues of racism. The film was documented in 1994, but the points the men bring up are still relevant and highly important. One particular point sticks with the film for nearly its entity: how whites are blind to the true cause of racism.
Racism ultimately stems from an outside source; the most prevalent of these sources tend to be from the white majority. Why is this? The men in the film try to figure out just what it means to be an American, and the idea that everyone needs to assimilate into one culture is brought up (by a white man, none the less). This presents confusion and disagreement among the group discussing, and I agree with their (specifically, Victor's) reaction entirely. Assimilation is not anywhere close to equality. Why can't a person from a different ethnic background follow his/her cultural practices? Indeed, in the word's of an enraged Victor: "To be 'American' is to throw away your ethnicity." To follow the practices of a dominant, white majority is to bleach out all that makes a person who he/she is. Furthermore, Euro-Americans claim that this land of the United States is theirs. Yes, in a sense it is now, but only after they took it from the Native Americans, the Spanish, and everyone else who's roots originated in North America. In other words, Euro-Americans, the white majority, are in fact, far worse of a threat than they claim everyone else to be.
      I think the reason for this fear of differences is something that is taught, not inherited by genes. The final segment of this video stresses this idea. The white local refers to his father being demanding, brutal, and an over-powering racist. So, in turn, his children learned how to stay safe by agreeing with the notion of racism. More than likely, the father was taught to think and act a particular way and so on and so forth.
      Racism is a slippery-slope that will take more than just an over-night revelation to fix. It will be an extremely slow process that will ultimately yield a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kai Myers
Special Topics: Women's Studies
Professor Soyoung Park

What is Race?

      The distinction of race is a prevalent topic of discussion in today's society. Many people ask questions about themselves or others. "Who am I? Who are you? Where are you from?" These are considered the 'icebreakers' of common social activity. Yet there is still confusion about how people actually perceive race.
Historically, "...race was still largely seen in Europe and North America... as an essence, a natural phenomenon, whose meaning was fixed-" (Omi/Winant, 3). 
       In other words, in the past whiteness was considered common and the minorities were usually subordinate. Today, however, race is seen in two very different ways. Michael Omi and Howard Winant’s article On the Theoretical Status of the Concept of Race states that some believe that race is either an “ideological construct” (4) or an “objective condition” (5). However, this is not the case. Race is neither one nor the other but rather complex a mix of the two notions.
      The idea that race is an ideological construct disregards the impact of historical events in relation to the races affected. If race was an illusion, then … “Why and how did race-thinking survive after emancipation” (Omi/Winant, 4)? Additionally, race cannot be simplified into definite boxes. No person is one of the “five color-based racial categories: black, white, brown, yellow, and red” (Omi/Winant, 5).
      In my opinion, race cannot be pinpointed into one specific category. It is a concept that is a complicated blend of historical, cultural, and personal events. Race can only be defined as unique.


I read the articles had already written up a response before the change to Omi/Winant "Racial Formations".
Will read that, too, but will not post a blog about it unless it is required.