Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Romance & Relationships

I thought that the article Feminism Keeps My Marriage Together shed a new light on the connection between relationships and feminism. The couple seemed to be equal in their relationship and defied the social constructions of the typical male and female roles towards their relationship. The decision was made by both to get married while they were folding laundry together instead of the man getting down on one knee. This clearly was confusing to the people within her life which led to her questioning the validity of their relationship/engagement. Even though she was fully happy with buying each other shoes instead of the traditional ring bought by the man, her friends and family showed pity towards her situation as if it wasn’t her choice in not having a ring. She began to feel guilty for the traditional things that she defied in her role as a bride. Due to the societal influence that we all are subject to, marriage meant filling those social roles of traditional male/female tasks, chores, responsibilities, etc. Even though they were clearly attempting to be anti-tradition in their engagement, they still fell victim to the traditional roles of wife and husband. Her solution to defeating this was to realize and confront the sexist stereotypes and view their relationship through a feminist light.

I think what she is saying is very true. It is pretty cool to me they have the audacity to defy tradition like that, but she isn’t saying you have to give up the traditional proposal and buy each other shoes if that is not what you want for your future. In confronting the sexist roles that tradition instills in us instead of ignoring them and pretending they are not there, both men and women can feel happy about their roles within their relationship.

I know that personally, I envision for my future to include an engagement that most would consider traditional to our society. The ring, asking permission from my father, and the romance factor, those things are all important to me. It’s not that I need to be shown a ring as a promise of financial stability provided by my husband or that my father decides who I can and cannot marry. I just like tradition. I like the respect that comes from talking to family prior to the engagement and I like the ring as an outward symbol I can share with other loved ones. You can bet that my husband and I will have an equal share in household duties and taking care of children. My boyfriend and I split chores right down the middle. If I am busy studying and don't have time to clean the house, he takes on that responsibility. In turn, if he has been working overtime and is stressed with work, then I clean the house. He makes dinner majority of the time, so I do the dishes. Personally I think that as long as you have a balance and recognize the responsibilities not as gender assigned, it is definitely okay to partake in the traditional roles of engagement.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The 'Norm'

It is a sad world we live in as women to see the effects that these 'beauty norms' have on young women. Beauty norms within Western society today describe the ideal woman as being thin, slender, fashionable, fresh, young, tall, with smooth, tan skin, sleek and shiny hair with a perfectly structured face. The quest for young women today to become that fictional character consumes their thoughts, actions, fears, and goals. This in turn causes young women to struggle with self-doubt and a negative body image that leads to eating disorders and a dispirited personality.
The cause of this stems from advertisements in the media today. They have continuously pushed this fictional character into the everyday view of young women and it has reached a point in which we cannot escape seeing it everywhere. We see it on the television through countless t.v. shows and commercials, we see it on the big screen when we go to the movies. Even in places that are seemingly less likely, we are still subjected to seeing this women everywhere we go. Examples of this range from the airbrushed-to-perfection women on the cover of a magazine in the dentist office, to the women flaunting her body up on the roadside billboard on the way to your family vacation, to the smiling and vivacious woman cut out of cardboard holding an ice-cold beer in your local grocery store.
Young women are subject to seeing this virtually everywhere and the fact that this has gone so easily undetected by so many members in society has only allowed for more extreme uses of this woman in advertisements everywhere.

More times than not men, not women, are the ones that our advertisers have in mind when deciding on their angle of advertising. Even when the audience is female, such as this Dolce & Gobbana ad for woman's clothing, the men here are portrayed as dominate over the woman.

Finally, this Burger King ad that ran exclusively in Singapore and never was released in the United States is an example of the extreme lengths advertisers go to at the expense of women. Clearly this sexual innuendo is aimed towards their male audience with no regard to the effects of female objectification it carries.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The BITCH Manifesto

In reading "The BITCH Manifesto" by Joreen, I was forced to think about the word. More specifically I was forced to think about how it is used in context with our society today.
This article was originally written in 1969 during the second wave of feminism, and because of that it is definitely a great source in regards to better understanding the feminist like Joreen and the people involved with her liberation group.
According to Joreen, "What is disturbing about a Bitch is that she is androgynous. She incorporates within herself qualities traditionally defined as 'masculine' as well as 'feminine'." Basically she is comparing a bitch to a female who shows characteristics of a man.
I feel as if this term today holds so many different connotations. A bitch today could be a "hot girl" if you hear it from a man while he gazes at her and thinks about her with her clothes off. And on that note, women can also call their female friends by that name as a term of endearment. The name is more prominently used to describe a women that is cranky or rude; someone that has a bad attitude. (Which I feel has direct correlation with the women described being a 'bitch' by Joreen)

On the flip side of things a male is often referred to as a bitch by his male friends when he is not acting according to his gender role.

It is clear that the word is not politically correct when used in any sense other than to denote a female dog.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

suf·frage (n.) : the right or privilage of voting

This video on YouTube suggests that our school systems (and keep in mind this was a prep school) are not teaching students about the women's suffrage movement in the United States. This is such a vital part of our nation's history, so why has it become depreciated in the curriculum of so many schools? No wonder these young women at Padu Academy are so ignorant of the definition of suffrage. They cannot possibly be agreeing to "end women's suffrage" they simply are uneducated to what that means.

Who decides what is important for grade school students to learn and why is it that women's history isn't included? That is the real concern here. We need to be proactive in what our society is teaching children because we cannot expect them to appreciate or even acknowledge the progress of women if they have not be educated or exposed to the history.

Keeping Pornography Legalized

The first amendment gives pornography validity in the legal world under freedom of expression. And you know what, that's fine. If someone finds that type of "art" pleasurable, who are we to keep them from enjoying themselves? Certainly the depiction of sexual violence within pornography and the forcing of women to participate against their will is an obvious problem that should be acknowledged as well as forbidden under legal documentation. Definite restrictions should be placed on pornographic content in order to address the connection sexually violent material has with the reoccurring sexual assault of women.

But what would happen to the world of adult entertainment if pornography was made illegal?
One has to think about the aftermath. I believe the aftermath is that it won't just go away.

I strongly feel that making pornography illegal isn't the solution to these problems. If pornography became illegal and yet there was still a large enough demand for that kind of material, you can bet that there will still be people trying to make money from the production of pornographic material. History has proven that the government has a harder time trying to control something when it has been completely banned from society as illegal. In my opinion, it would be easier for women to be sexually harassed and abused in an environment that deems pornography illegal as oppose to a society where pornography is legalized with restrictions.

What would happen to those men that enjoy pornography so much? Do you think they would be happy campers if their outlet for pleasuring themselves was taken away from them? I feel as if those type of men would become violent and search for other means to satisfy themselves sexually, possibly taking action upon innocent and unwilling females.

Personally, I see it as a no win situation. Pornography is definitely demeaning to women, but I see no solution in banning it all together. It is a sad thing to see it as the bright side, but if a women is willing to involve herself in pornography that is her choice and I'd rather a man find satisfaction in her than to attempt to find it from another female that is unwilling to be involved.

Friday, June 18, 2010

So many choices...

I'll be honest, I was not aware of the many types of feminist there are out there. I feel like the majority of people are only aware of the Radical Feminist due to their extreme outlook, which definitely contributes to the stereotypes out there. I don't want to discredit the Radical Feminist because they have some valid points, but from my limited knowledge of feminism (which is pretty much solely based on the things I have learned in this class) they are taking away from the overall message feminist are trying to put out there.
They use childbirth in their argument of oppression towards women. I think that is absolutely ridiculous, childbirth is a beautiful thing that women are lucky to be able to experience and shouldn't be used as an argument of female oppression. Biologically, it's a miracle and something to be proud of as a women, not the cause of women's oppression.

I think it's a good thing that there are so many types. It allows for the many different outlooks to be covered so that women of all backgrounds and experiences can find a place within the feminist community.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

5 sexes??

The article by Anne Fausto-Sterling, The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough is a piece of writing that everyone should consider reading in order to enlighten themselves. Western culture needs to take off the blinders and come to terms with the very real fact that gender is not a binary concept. In believing that there are only males OR females, society is forcing people that do not fall under the two-fold category to live a life of make believe. Yes, it is a very uncomfortable thing for Americans when someone doesn't fit into our predetermined categories. And sure, I am generalizing here but stay with me.

Just like our society pushes for a person to identify as a certain race and then becomes uncomfortable until that person has been placed in a category, (where we have stereotypes to define them furter) the same goes for gender. Only these "herms" and "ferms" and "merms" have no category within our society. So what do they do? They play make believe and try to pass as either male or female. Could you imagine having a constant feeling of subordination? Yes, because as women we have those same struggles. Women have come a long way in our push for equality and recognition, so who are we to deny those things to another gender? Neither men, nor women as humans have a right to interfere with the bodily make up of infants just to ease uncomfortableness. It's downright inhumane and shouldn't be practiced within medicine unless it be medically necessary for the health of the child.

In other classes at JMU I have been exposed to this issue and one of my previous professors showed us this video. It is quite long, but if you have the extra time, it serves as a strong backing for some of the issues I've brought up in this blog.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I am a feminist. And yes, I do shave my legs.

I consider myself to be a feminist because I believe that women are equally important as men and share an equally vital role in society. Any person that recognizes the role of a woman to be important and can celebrate what being a woman is all about as well as identify with the struggles women go through sometimes in order to gain that equality is someone that can identify themselves as a feminist. Feminism is about embracing womanhood and being proud to be a woman. It's being able to have opportunities and make choices that will open doors and pave new roads for other females to do the same.

The stereotypes associated with feminist have it all wrong. All you have to do is Google "feminist" and images like these will pop up:

The fact that feminist are stereotyped to hate men and are automatically considered lesbians that they refuse to shave their legs and even refuse to have children is an unsettling reality that is important to correct in order to gain respect and acknowledgment in the very significant things feminists stand for. I am sure there are even women out there that would stereotype feminist this way. There are feminist voicing very substantial ideas and opinions that become devalued due to this very unrealistic stereotype.

So how can anyone expect people to listen to them if they are automatically dismissed as "man hatin', ball breakin', hairy legged feminist?"
This has got to change.