Thursday, July 23, 2009

Theorizing Activism

My experience in this class has had a tremendous impact on me. Before this class, I never really thought about the certain stereotypes given to women or the fact that changes can be made by women to free women from certain societal oppressions. I just did not think there was this huge movement out there that was working to gain more rights for me. Now that I know more about the feminist movement, I am a huge supporter. I think it is so important that we start to ‘glorify’ women in the media instead of ‘whorify’ women in the media. There is a lot more to this gender than what the media represents. By reading the experiences and thoughts of my fellow classmates, I see that there are a lot of strong and intelligent women who have hopes and dreams for themselves and for society as a whole. I think it is important that society begins to recognize this.

I suppose that is also how I envision a just future. One in which the media, men, and other women view women as independent and free beings that are powerful, wise, and beautiful. Not beautiful in just appearance, but beautiful in their creativity, intelligence, and personalities above all else. A just society should transcend gender and see people only by their individual attributes. This would be a just society. I think we can get there if everyone does their part. I don’t think that men should have to fall on their knees, admit their mistakes, and beg for forgiveness. Men just have to be supportive. Just like we, as women, should be supportive of all women all over the world, men should be supportive and encourage us while we make ourselves known in society and create benefits for us in society. I don’t think we should have a system of ‘Oh hey, this person is a female, that means we have to give them a job’ or ‘Hey, this person is a race other than Caucasian, we have to give them a job’ in order for this to work. That type of system solves NOTHING, and I see it all too often. It just creates more problems. No. The type of things that we should be doing is granting equal opportunities for everyone and disregarding what they look like, what gender they are, and what race they are. That shouldn’t even be a slot on the job application anymore. The different aspects of the human race should NOT be presented as a quota that a company has to fill. A company should base their quotas on who can get the job done based on their skill sets.

I sometimes go off on these rants, and inadvertently answer the next question in the prompt. I think the above would be my feminist priority. While I love the enduring and successful women of this country, I want equality for everyone. I don’t want to kick white men to the curb, either. If you have the skills, then I think it is absolutely great that you have risen to the top of your career. However, people must EARN these top-notch positions. If you are an African American woman, and your skills are incredible and you have proven that you can handle the job and handle it well, then there is no reason that you shouldn’t rise to the top of that career. Society, however, has not seen this. When we are not pushing white men to the front of the line, we are pulling them to the back of the line and quota-filling other races in at the front. Stop with these races (no pun intended). I want the person, the human being, that will work the hardest, communicate effectively with others, and present skills in a manner that ensures success to work in the highest position of my corporation. If that means they are Caucasian, African American, Mexican, Asian, Native American, a male or a female, I don’t care. Just prove that you can do it. That’s all I ask of society. Let go of race, and look at skill. Let go of prejudice, and look at personality. I know it’s a lot to ask, especially since we love our prejudices and our racism-debates, but at some point in the future, let’s move on! We only have so much time on this earth, let’s spend it being productive rather than creating barriers.

Integrity, for me, means being the best at what God or whatever you believe in, has given you. The people that achieve integrity are those who set out to use their skill sets to the best of their ability. Also integrity involves being mindful of others and giving praise, compassion, and love where these attributes are due. No one rises to the top with skills alone. They have family and friends that also help shape their road to success. If we don’t give back to these people, and give them the praise they deserve, we fall victim to self-absorption and the startling fact that we might be at the top and be completely alone.

I think integrity affects my ‘justice’ goal precisely in the sense that – in my definition – I didn’t mention race, color, or appearances once. This is because it doesn’t matter. People try and make appearance matter, but it really doesn’t. People have to come and realize that they need to work with what they have and accept others for what they have. Not everyone is going to be the most attractive person in the world in the eyes of everyone else. But, one person’s bronze is another person’s gold. As long as people can see themselves as gold, and make others recognize them for being gold. Then the world can start to shift to a better place.

I would recommend this course to everyone and anyone. You don’t have to be a female to take this course. If my friends asked me about taking this course I would absolutely advise it (and tell them to take Ms. Alysia Davis! : - )). I think, despite the focus being on women, I learned a lot about the different races and some aspects of society that create challenges for other people, besides women, as well. Also, I think that this course high lighted some extremely important issues that should be prevalent in the minds of men and women alike. This course has taught me so much about being mindful of domestic violence, environmental issues, the economy, poverty, health care, welfare, relationships, disabilities, privileges, etc. These are a lot of topics that not many people know about. I certainly didn’t know about a lot of them, and it has definitely shaped my way of thinking.

I think this course encouraged me to participate in political activism more heavily, because I see that my actions and opinions really can make a difference in the world. I have come to realize that ‘woman’ does not define who I am. ‘Woman’ is just a lable. I am me, and people should see me for who I am, and not for the ‘woman’ that I am.

This education is definitely a form of activism. I feel so encouraged to make changes, and perceive things differently. I see myself as being so much stronger than I originally had. This course has made me realize how important I really am. Before, I didn’t value myself or appreciate myself nearly as much as I do now. It is definitely an empowering experience, and I highly recommend this course to EVERYONE!!!!

Policy Issue: Reproduction and Reproductive Rights

Patriarchal norms constitute a threat to women’s health because of the notion of biology as a woman’s destiny. So, in other words, because women have breasts or because women get their period, certain medical issues are inevitable, and therefore looked down upon by men or male physicians. This also ties into the why women are treated differently in the health care system. Because women get their periods and are moody or go through menopause and are ‘moody’, they are prescribed way more medication that alters moods than men. If men get angry or upset because of changes in their body, no one hands them over prescriptions for different mood elevating drugs.

Racism has a tremendous impact on the gendered experiences of women of color in the health care system. More women of color are poor and uninsured when it comes to health care and are therefore denied health care. Also, women of color are stereotyped as having excessive amounts of children when they should not and are therefore seen negatively in that light as well.

Reproductive choice is important for women because there are some situations in which women need a reproductive choice because they are just not ready for children. A lot of women might use contraceptives when they first get married (or even if they aren’t married) because they do not believe that they have enough financial stability to support a child at that certain point in their life. Also, some women might not want children period because of certain health risks that they are afraid of passing on to their children. Also, women who choose to terminate their pregnancy might do it because of – again – financial instability, rape, or because serious medical complications may occur that might result in permanent health damage or even death if a woman cannot terminate the pregnancy.

It is important for feminists to try and broaden discussions of reproductive choice beyond the issue of abortion because many people only see that aspect of it. If people knew more about the issues of contraceptives, they might realize that a contraceptive is extremely important for women who are just not ready to become parents.

Policy Issue: Gendered Violence

Violence and the threat of violence exert social control on women by forcing them to do things that that would not normally do out of fear that they will be injured if they don’t. I think that many feminists suggest that acts of violence against women are actually hate crimes because of how sexual violence and violence in general is seen as more examples of male domination and how males should act not only in dominating their careers or being the man of the house, but they must also dominate their women as well. This is because men are seen as being better than women, so they feel that they must exert that power on women.

I think violence against women is so prevalent in society because of what I discussed about the dominance of males in both the media and in stereotypical roles, and because there hasn’t been enough coverage of domestic violence. Most domestic violence cases or incidences are covered by women and not men. Considering women are already overshadowed by men in the media, it is easy to see why these stories are not given as much coverage.

Recently, there was a story about a woman who killed her husband out of self-defense in New York. She reportedly shot him 11 times because he had threatened to kill her and had raised a gun to her. She grabbed a different gun and shot him 11 times to defend herself. There was a long history of abuse in this family from the husband. Her husband, however, was a NYPD police officer. Naturally all of his friends from the police department sided with him and said he was a nice guy. She is set to appear in court, but I am not certain when, or if she has already been to court. None the less, I sincerely hope she wins her case. Even her daughter reported evidence of being abused by her father and seeing her mother being abused by her father. If they put this woman behind bars, I will be extremely upset.

I think these instances are perpetuated by men because they know that in terms of physical strength and in terms of how women are characterized by the media, women are weaker than men. They thrive in the fact that they have power over these women. Myths about violence against women silence women and perpetuate sexist systems of oppression by making women feel guilty and ashamed of who they are and how they act.

Some steps that I think need to be taken in order to address the issue of violence against women are extensive media coverage about it, and I think women should be required to take a course or a seminar at least about abusive relationships in either high school or college so that they are aware as to what signs to look out for and how to deal with the situation.

I actually think JMU is doing a much better job when it comes to trying to prevent sexual assault. There are programs to inform women about the dangerous of sexual assault and to inform men so that these men will try and help women. There are also stations around the campus where you can call the campus police at any time. The only negative thing is that there are still a lot of parties that go on where any thing can happen.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Policy Issue: Social Welfare

Welfare reform should be considered a feminist issue because welfare is usually limited to women because of criteria that discriminate against women in receiving welfare. I think that the 1996 welfare reform definitely had its good points. I think it was important to establish guidelines that ensured that people weren’t just taking money because they wanted it, however, I think that punishing the children because their parents did not meet certain requirements, is awful. It’s not as if the children failed to meet the requirements, so they should not be punished. If anything, the 1996 welfare reform should have established a way to allot the money to the children without the parents being able to touch it, much like we see in a lot of practices today (not necessarily in welfare, but in other things, like inheritance..etc).

In anti-poverty policy, the appropriate role of family-formation is the two-parent family formation. I do not believe that this helps poor women’s economic status. If anything, it damages it. Most poor women that have children with a man cannot count on that man to stick around. If these two people were forced to marry, the man might grow resentful and abuse his wife both verbally and physically and he might use his earnings in the job market for his own gain instead of for his wife or kids. I do, however, think paternity establishment is important. If women can obtain child support from their children’s fathers, than it may definitely help. If child support is stopped being paid, however, the women need the support of welfare. I do not, however, think that the description of a woman’s ‘sexual encounters’ or activity should be elaborated to a government official. I think it should end at who is the father of the children, not every partner that the mother has been with.

The relationship between privacy rights and poverty is that women that are embarrassed to reveal the intimate details of their private life often do not receive welfare, and are therefore impoverished because they do not meet that specific requirement in earning welfare.

Socio-economic Status

Systems of inequality are evident in women’s work inside the home in many areas. In my own home, for example, my mother does all the cooking, cleaning, gardening, laundry, etc. You name it, and odds are, my mother has performed the task in our household. My mother also holds a steady job. I do not, however, resent my dad for his non-participation in these tasks, because a lot of men see the household in the way that they saw their own households when they were children. Also, my dad worked hard to get where he is today, and his background (his childhood and early adulthood) had a lot of rough bumps that he had to plow through to get where he is today.

Also, my mom was one of those mothers that chose to stay home with the kids instead of continuing to work. When my mom left her job, she was making more money than my dad. If she had stayed in that job, I’m sure she would have still been making more than my dad. Their decisions, however, were made because they wanted to have children and my dad was gaining a lot of opportunities in his office. My mom chose the domestic life because that’s what she wanted, and she enjoyed it. When her children got older, however, she had a lot of free time on her hands and a part of her wanted to go back to work, so she did. It wasn’t easy, but within four months of getting her new job she was already promoted to the head of her accounting office. If that doesn’t scream success, then I really don’t know what does. I am so proud of both of my parents.

I do wish, however, that my dad would try doing some of the typical ‘woman jobs’ around the household. I think that he probably did during the year or so that he had to live in Virginia by himself while we finished school in New Jersey before moving down with him (he got a promotion and we had to move to Virginia, but my oldest sister only had one more year of high school and I only had one more year of middle school so we decided to finish them in New Jersey). During that year, he had to do his own laundry, cooking, & cleaning. I won’t say he gained a greater appreciation of my mother (because he has always appreciated her, endlessly), but I think he understood more about what kind of difficult tasks she performed on a daily basis.

Wow, and that was only the first question. To get back on track, I think women experience sexism in the paid labor force because, on average, their salaries are a few thousand dollars less than that of men. Which is extremely unfortunate. It honestly perturbs me that this is the way it is in society. I think ‘colorism’ (haha), shapes the ways women experience sexism in the paid labor force because they are sometimes paid even less than that of white women. I don’t know why we see status this way, it is very inhumane. I can’t say that I have experienced discrimination in the work force. Partly because I don’t know the salaries of my co-workers, and overall I haven’t been sexually harassed or asked to do a different task than a male because it would better adapt to my skills.

I think the perception of ‘women’s work’ has affected women inside the home by allowing household tasks such as the ones I mentioned before, fall into the hands of women by default. Outside the home, women usually take jobs that don’t involve too much manual labor because these jobs are seen as being predominantly male. They think women are too fragile to handle such jobs. I think women are more at risk for experiencing poverty because they attempt to hold jobs, care for their children, and put their children through school all at the same time. It is way too much to ask of a woman.

To make things equal, I think wages need to be given that are equal in annual salary for both men AND women. I also think that all daycare should be free, so that women aren’t forced to pay money out of their checks (that they use primarily for the survival of these children and themselves) that could be better used for things such as food and education.


The difference between global and transnational feminism is that transnational feminism does not lump common interests together and instead attempts to form autonomous affinity groups across boundaries the world-over. In order to get past the identity problem when it comes to the identity category of “woman”, feminists must think only about the diversity associated with the different experiences of each individual woman. Every woman has experienced a different path in life, and must be judged by those experiences and not by their gender.

Some critical parts of a gender justice framework, in my opinion, should include the importance of deterring racism and race inequality as well. While we always highlight the importance of establishing feminine equality among the male race, it is always important to remember that the prevention of racism should work hand in hand with these efforts. Although racism is no where near as bad today as it was in the past, it is still a prevalent issue in America. It is not just with African Americans either. Racism involving the black community receives a lot more attention than racism involving the Hispanic and Asian communities.

Also, I must add, my best friend (who is an African American) and I had a discussion last night and she told me that she hates the term ‘racism’. When I asked why, she stated, “We’re all of the same race. We’re all of the human race, so it doesn’t make sense to call it racism.” I have to agree with her. I never really saw it in that perspective before. So instead of calling it ‘racism’, we started a new term. We are now substituting ‘racism’ for ‘colorism’. Colorism is the act of discriminating against an individual for the color of their skin.

To get back on track, I think that ‘third women’ are resentful of Western feminists because sometimes Western feminists try to force their ideals on ‘third women’. Instead of forced coercion into adopting certain ideals, Western feminists must focus on instead giving support to third women by supporting the ideals and achievements that these women make. I do think that the earlier theories of feminism presented in this course were a bit hegemonic. None of the feminists really talk about the issues that global women find to be most prevalent. The feminists in these lectures mostly talk about the issues in the United States. If we took the opportunity to examine what these women all over the world see as the most pressing issue, we might be able to find a common ground with these women and would be better adapted in supporting their own motives.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I think the personal is political in my relationships, because I do not follow the stereotypical patterns in a relationship. Instead of being “girly” (as we discussed in previous modules – putting on pretty outfits, make-up, etc) and getting all dressed up to go out to dinner and expecting the guy to pay, I would be okay with playing video games for a couple of hours and both of us paying for the meal, or taking turns paying for meals on different dates.

I think socialization into gender affects intimacy in relationships because socialization tends to favor the man as being the dominant, heroic type. Girls are supposed to be “swept off their feet” because of the romance of the guy. Girls, in return, are expected to act cute or sexy in order to appear pleasing to the man. However, recently, I think that a lot of this has changed. Now days, some guys spend just as much time trying to look good for their significant other and try to act ‘sexy’. Girls also pay for their significant other’s meals more often now days as well.

I think homophobia discourages intimacy because it can be seen as ‘arrogant’ by other people, and it turns them away from that person. A lot more people encourage acceptance of all people, than others think. So when homophobia is acted out negatively, a lot of people are offended by this and their feelings for the homophobe are affected negatively. Also I think in general, people have a hard time being friends with someone of the same sex who is gay. For some reason, I believe that they fear that that person will hit on them or flirt with them, which is actually not true at all. If a gay person knows that you are straight, then they wont make any move to become intimate with you. That does NOT mean that you cannot be friends with that person.

Before college, I was definitely afraid to become friends with a lesbian because of some of the fears I listed above. Going into college, however, there were three lesbians that lived on my hall. When you live with three lesbians in your hall for a year, you start to realize that gay people are just people, and even more importantly they are people you can become good friends with. There’s no point in trying to discourage friendship with another person just because they are interested in members of the same sex as you are. Like I stated before, if they know you are straight, they won’t try and hit on you and it won’t make you gay by hanging out with people that are gay.