Thursday, July 22, 2010

Final Post

I have to say, I really enjoyed this course.

Originally, within maybe the first week or two I really didn't see myself enjoying it. This being my first Women's Studies class ever, I had no idea what to expect from it. The only thing I had to go on was the reactions from people (mainly men) when I told them I was enrolled in a Women's Studies class for the summer.
And let me tell you, reactions ranged from "Oh gosh, better watch out Austin!" (Austin is my boyfriend) to the more subtle eye rolls and chuckles.
Naturally, without anything to go on other than that, I didn't have very high hopes for this class.

But little did I know the more I allowed myself to open up to the material and the issues presented in this class, the more I realized I had a lot to say. Not only that, but I had a lot of thoughts and beliefs and opinions that went hand in hand to what the course was all about. I had been a feminist all along, without even knowing what it meant. Not only did I enjoy the class readings and writing blogs, but I now know how to argue on behalf of my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions so that hopefully I can enlighten those who might have the wrong idea about Women's Studies.

Reproductive Choice

I think the broadening the discussion of reproductive choice beyond the issue of abortion is vital to the women affected all around the United States and even the globe in order for them to gain control over what happens to their bodies.

It is no secret that abortion is a controversial issue. Nearly everyone has a clear cut and defined opinion on the matter. Although there are obstacles women have to go through in order to have abortions, the fact of the matter is much progress has been made. Multiple court cases have been brought through the Supreme Court in handling this issue's controversy so that ultimately, abortions are legal. I am coming at this topic from a pro-choice stance on abortion, although I would not chose that option for myself but I do feel it is the woman's choice. So in my opinion, the fact that women are legally allowed to have an abortion is a huge thing for the progress of reproductive choice.

Reproductive choice, as defined in our class lecture, involves being able to have safe and affordable birthing and parenting options, reliable, safe and affordable birth control technologies, freedom from forced sterilization and finally the availability of abortion.

The other aspects of reproductive choice should become more of the focus on women's rights to their bodies. I think that because abortion is such an extreme topic of controversy for so many people, it takes the center stage. The reality is, that these other topics have been left in the dust and are in need of making progress towards the improvement, availability and education to women all over the world.

picture credits :

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The "R" Word

For some friends of mine, rape is a rough word to hear people say. I've always had a problem with the detached use of the word and constant way people tend to throw it around in a joking manner. Whether society is causing these jokes to be in television shows or the television shows are just upholding our society’s joking position, either way you look at it, there is an obvious cycle of triviality about sexual assault.

How many times have you heard someone leave a class after they were handed their test and say:
“I got totally raped by that exam.”
Or a disappointed teammate says something to the effect of “Damn, that soccer team just raped us.” after a crushing loss to a game.
The word is thrown around in social situations far too much. It is becoming the okay thing to say when you are trying to express your frustration with someone or something exerting power over you.

The word and the implications of the action are present in television shows as a form of comedy and sarcasm. Take Family Guy, an animated television show that is known for pushing the limits on controversial topics, for example. It is extremely common in any given episode to hear a joke or there be a scene about sexual assault and/or rape making a mockery out of sexual assault.

If you think that I am making a misleading argument about television and pop culture that should could just be fixed with the proper television censorship or the enlightenment of ignorant college kids, this video below should prove my point. It's not just the people of my generation speaking so politically incorrect. Even the politically correct are using this word out of context in a way that can only be considered inappropriate by those who can identify with the struggles that survivors of sexual assault deal with when hearing this word.

***This video is offensive in my opinion, and could be considered offensive to others. I only have it here within my blog as an example of what is present in the media today and to further my argument that the word is used relentlessly without regard to the severity of the topic. ***

There are a multitude of problems with the trivial use of this word through so many outlets of media and communication. Sexual assault and rape are not taken seriously when used portrayed in a nonchalant, joking manner. It chips away at the severity this issue holds over women around the globe, and I know the mere use of the word (whether it be in context or not) causes some survivors to quiver. Jokes about rape and using the word out of context diminishes the reality of the cruelty and the traumatic effects that it holds on people effected by this issue.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Poor Single Mothers

"The feminist I'm talking about form the movement's mainstream. Most are middle-class and white. .. Others march for abortion rights, work for feminist candidates... Some have high political positions --- one is a cabinet secretary, several are members of Congress. Although feminism has many iterations, these feminists often speak for all of feminism. When mobilized, they can wield impressive political clout --- creating gender gaps in elections and saving abortion rights, for example. Yet when it came to welfare, for the most part, they sat of their hands. Ignoring appeals from sister feminists and welfare rights activists to defend 'welfare as a women's issue.'"

This quote comes from Gwendolyn Mink, "Aren't Poor Single Mothers Women? Feminist, Welfare Reform, and Welfare Justice." I wanted to quote here instead of summarizing it because I think she makes an excellent point in these couple of sentences. It amazes me that this very obviously feminist issue can go along so unnoticed or without the appeal and attention that arises with most feminist issues.
One idea is that most of these feminist groups and individual women do not necessarily identify with the struggles these women on welfare face. Most of these women are, as noted in the quote above, middle class white women. No way does that align with the typical woman on welfare. They come from different worlds essentially. These white middle-class women that let this pass quietly by them would have certainly made a stronger effort in the appeal of these acts if they were threatening to their own rights.

It is almost as if this particular group of feminist looked down upon the poor mothers on welfare. The groups that were vocal towards the reform held themselves above those women in need of welfare and took the reform as a step towards improving the lives of these women.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Household Work

There was a statistic given within our lecture that really stood out to me. After marriage, women gain 14 hours of household work on average. Men gain 90 minutes. Now I can argue that this is a male chauvinist construction and how society tells women that the completing the household duties is characteristic of a ‘good wife’, but I won’t.

Instead, I will say this. Women should not have to think that household work is their responsibility. Sure, it’s great if a woman knows how to cook and clean and maintain a nice household for the family. But the same goes for a man. If the man knows how to cook and clean and maintain a nice household for the family then heck yeah, that’s great too. But I know that a lot of women in this day and age don't necessarily have the domesticated skills that a husband looks forward to having in his wife.
From my experience/knowledge on this subject matter, women tend to learn this type of lifestyle after marriage; and the statistics above can be processed accordingly. So as a woman in her first few months of married life, aside from maybe understanding that whites and colors should be separated when doing laundry, you and your newlywed are on an even playing field. It’s new to both of you; so why should the responsibility fall on you? It doesn’t necessarily have to. You have a choice in the matter. And most certainly if the man you now call your husband is not willing to take on these responsibilities WITH you, then maybe you should have kept looking.

On the other hand, maybe you enjoy this lifestyle of household work. That’s definitely alright. I know after moving in with my boyfriend, I was proud of myself for learning how to cook and stuff like that. I felt a sense of domestication about myself that I was able to accomplish those things. I don't see anything wrong with that at all. Just the same, my boyfriend has learned these same things after moving in together. Although he has felt as sense of manliness from them, the same feelings of accomplishment and domestication have come over him as well.

My point here is, this household work isn’t a demand or expectation put on females and newlywed women. In our country, we have a choice. And so goes it for your relationship. You have a choice in the matter. Doing this type of work isn’t necessarily wrong or giving in to gender norms. It only becomes that when you don't make the decision or don't stand up for your own opinion in the matter.

image from:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Global vs. Transnational

Global feminism has trouble allowing for a broad and interchangeable definition to what being a woman entails. When you are discussing women based on a global outlook, there is no way to encompass them into one category because they have extremely different living experiences involving oppression, subjugation, and discrimination. It is hard to give women an identity that can hold accuracy on a global level. Global feminism tends to categorize women as a whole, and in turn ignores the crossroads of other characteristics that also define a woman. These things such as race, class, religion, nationality, socioeconomic status, sexuality, etc. are all a part of being a woman. As I learned in the lecture model for this section, all of those characteristics inform what it actually means to be a woman, both as a practical experience and as an intellectual construction.

Transnational feminism attempts to question the hegemonic stance on feminism that global feminism and take into account the many crossroads associated with being a woman. Not taking those things such as history, culture and economics into account makes it impossible to define “an average third world woman.” There is an attempt by transnational feminist to expand communication across the globe that will create a non-hierarchical platform for communication and understanding.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010


According to the lecture power-point in our Women's Studies class, homophobia refers to the aversion or hatred of homosexuals and their lifestyles, along with behaviors based on such aversions.
I feel as if that definition is important in grasping an understanding of the relationship between homosexuals and heterosexuals. Aside from the groups of hardcore Christians and narrow-minded Republicans, at least in my generation, homosexuality isn’t that big of a deal.

I am going to pull from the lifestyle that I am familiar with, that of a college student. Heterosexual men and women interact with homosexual men and women on a daily basis within the college life experience. Multiple friendships occur between them and they go to lunch together, they work in the library together, they hang out in dorm rooms together, they form intramural teams together, they do all those things that a typical friendship between two heterosexual people do on campus. But rarely do you see these things occur willingly between two people of the same sex if they do not both identify within the same category of heterosexuality. Almost exclusively does this friendship between heterosexual and homosexual individuals occur in a friendship that is also of members of the opposite sex.
I feel that homophobia is the reason for this. I argue that there is an acceptance within my generation of homosexuality. But there is still a great deal of fear for heterosexuals in the idea that someone of the same sex is going to find them sexually attractive, so they avoid friendships with them altogether. But when that person is of the opposite sex, there is no fear they will find you sexually attractive, therefore the friendship is treated just like that of two women or two men.

Generally speaking, heterosexual men have a harder time getting over their homophobia than heterosexual women do. Heterosexual women are more accepting, I feel, towards friendships of the same sex with someone that identifies themselves as homosexual.


In our society that considers being an able body as normal and being disabled as abnormal, we cannot define disability without first defining ability. Just the same as you cannot define abnormal without defining normal first, anything abnormal is, by definition, not normal. So if being able is the norm, being disabled is not normal.

Not to say that it is right, but this is just how our society treats someone and views them if they stray from the norm. In our Women's Studies class we have certainly seen a multitude of different examples in regards to this idea of what is normal. Just the same, there is a beauty norm that women in our society attempt to reach; there is a sexual norm in our society to be heterosexual, and so on. Being an able bodied person is considered the norm as well.

Even when someone is considered disabled, in any spectrum of the definition, our society tries to make their life as close to able as possible. There are laws and rules that govern our society into making public places wheel chair accessible. If a person is missing an arm, generally they receive a prosthetic arm to “live a normal life.”
Say you are a ‘normal’ able bodied person and you walk into a room where the organization of Disabled American Veterans is meeting. The room would essentially be full of disabled veterans. Not only would you be in the abnormal category because you are not a veteran, but also you would be in the abnormal category because you are not disabled. In this case you are abnormal in comparison to the rest of the people in the room.

My point, the majority is most of the time considered to be normal and anything outside of that majority is the abnormal. Case in point, dis/ability.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gentlemen Open Doors

Would it be wrong for a man to open a door for a women that is fully capable in opening the door for herself? Does that inherently change the relationship of these two strangers by making the man the oppressor and the woman the oppressed? Here in lies the largely fueled debate that many feminist have argued is a reoccurring ritual in which women are place in the unable and frail category, in need of a man to do things for them. This man's actions are not genuinely helpful, but instead he is implying that women are incapable of doing things for themselves; that a man should be there to 'help' them.

I am able to see some of the things that Marilyn Frye is saying in reference to this debate in her piece titled Oppression. Sure, sometimes a man will run out of his way to open a door for a fully capable woman. He could even have his hands full himself, but is determined to open the door for this woman. Fryre argues that this man is "pretending to be a helpful service" when really the action is symbolic and doesn't serve any real helpfulness to the women.
Symbolic, I agree. There was no real need for this man to open the door for this women; it was done by him with a purpose all his own.
But, here is where I disagree with Frye's piece. It was not done to symbolize the power he might envision men having over women and it certainly was not a gesture of mocking a woman's typically subordinate place in a hypothetical relationship with this man. From the experiences with men I have encountered in my life, this action is not meant to do any of those things. The act is considered chivalrous, yes. But, I will argue there might be men out there that are sexist and will still open the door for a woman. Those men shouldn't be seen as the majority or the overall inclusive group of men that partake in this ritual. The action was symbolic of this man's outlook for women. He is doing this to show respect for her, to show her that he cares. Sure it might be a bit excessive. But in fact, sometimes men are so aloof with their attraction towards a women, they will open the door for her in place of striking up a conversation.

Is it wrong for a women to open the door for a perfectly capable man? A woman doing it for a woman? A man doing it for a man?
No, it's not. It is just the polite thing to do sometimes and shouldn't be construed any differently due to a man doing it for a woman.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gender Inequalities

I’ve actually had close family friends construct gender inequalities against me. After our neighbor had reached an age where he could no longer take care of his own yard work, many of the people closest to him took up the responsibility of mowing the lawn and weed-eating. My twin brother was the one who ultimately took on the task every week. But there were a couple times that I took care of the work when my brother couldn’t get to it. My neighbor would pay me a total of thirty dollars each time I took on the work. It was a large yard that took nearly 3 hours to cut, so the payment seemed fair to me. It wasn’t until after I had done the job a couple times that I conversed with my brother only to hear our neighbor had been paying him all this time ten dollars more than what he paid me. I saw that as completely unfair because we were doing the same exact work. It very quickly became clear to me that my neighbor was paying me differently than my brother due to our gender differences.

At the age of 13, it was my first personal experience with gender inequality that really stood out to me. The situation was resolved eventually, but the sexist attitude could not be erased from my mind. I realize that he was much older than me and probably had different experiences in his life that caused him to think it was okay to treat people differently based upon their gender, much like racism varies through different generations. Regardless, I am glad that I was able to realize and confront the situation at that age. It could have been easy for me to just internalize the situation to mean my work meant less than my brother’s work. I know that I probably didn’t completely change my neighbor’s outlook on gender but perhaps I made him realize that regardless of his personal viewpoint, it is not acceptable to treat women like that.