I decided to try to post the video I referenced today in class about antisocial phone practices. Short, funny, relevant.
I decided to try to post the video I referenced today in class about antisocial phone practices. Short, funny, relevant.
So I just finished my taking of the IAT and my results were:
Your data suggest little or no association between Male and Female with Science and Liberal Arts.
I can now feel rest assured that I’m not engaging in any gender biases of such nature unconsciously (sarcasm). The response to the result that I’m not biased in what the test is trying to spot is somewhat strange/reassuring/pride-inducing.
I’ve actually taken the IAT before, but it was for a race bias. While I feel sometimes these tests can provide some context for some of the issues they are trying to test for, I think the tests themselves have some problems themselves. Because they rely on finely-tuned motor control, specific societies (Western) who require more developed motor control may have an unfair advantage in how quickly they respond to what they see. Even the leisure in video games can increase your response times dramatically, as I’ve found another study recommending surgeons take up videos games as a hobby in order to increase reaction time and refine motor skills of their digits. Of course, why not combine the two together? While there can be more to say about the methodology of the IAT (order effect, what implications you can draw from the results (like the one I took at the start of my post), etc), I think there can be a place for the IAT in our larger examination of cultural perceptions surrounding gender, race, etc.
Finally, I want to give a quick shout out to the Occupy Wall Streeters in this interview from The Colbert Report, specifically for the use of “female-bodied person.” Righteous use of language with the person who used the phrase emphasized how her embodied experience as a female has shaped her understanding of her personhood. Although Colbert reduces this to sexuality, it seemed very clear to me he was in perfect form of the character he. He can do amazing interviews in this segment-style (see Elenor Holmes Norton).
The stupid embedding isn’t working correctly, so jump ahead to 27:09. Each video is broken up into 2 classes, and the second part of this video concerns itself with commercial surrogacy. My post probably will not make much sense without watching the video, but it’s totally worth the time for anyone, not just Sungold.
An important distinctions exists between the two cases: Anna Johnson was a surrogate to the Calvert’s child, carry the zygote while not contributing to its genetic makeup while Mary Beth Whitehead was Baby M’s actual mother (and therefore not surrogate). I think this would come up as the main reason for the different outcomes in each case, but I think there is enough similarity between the two that the arguments surrounding both cases are transferable to a degree.
In particular, it seems that the idea of informed consent remains as relevant to Anna Johnson as it did to the case of Baby M. There was no possible way Johnson could have known the terms of the contract she had signed. For Whitehead, it was argued that a mother cannot know how she is going to feel once she gives birth to her child, but i think that can be extended to parenthood in general and specifically to Johnson’s case. While Parslow and other others involved in Johnson v. Calvert argued primarily on genetic lines that the child deserves to know and interact with its biological parents, they show little concern for how Johnson feels. I think this highlights the problem/contradiction of their belief in ‘racial nonrecognition.’ Media rumors about Johnson’s welfare fraud ring too sharply of the stereotypical black single mother on welfare. They not only enforce the idea that Johnson is an incapable parent (another stereotype that Hartouni notes is commonly raised against women such as Johnson) for being on welfare in the first place, but that she has been negligent in reporting her income and effectively skirting the system.
In additions to the major doubts I have regarding the impartiality of those involved in Johnson v. Calvert, I think the common issue of surrogacy between the cases deserves very strong apprehension. While I recognize that including a third party can be a viable avenue for a couple having trouble conceiving to alleviate those difficulties, I am not able to accurately write out what is an acceptable means of having that happen. It’s hard for me not to read these stories as comparable to selling human beings (or selling some services that allow for humans to come into being), that it is dehumanizing to allow for market transfers of reproductive rights because we’re equating a monetary value onto them. Again I want to note that this seems to be the first impression I am taking away from these two cases. While there are some similar issues between Johnson and Whitehead, both cases radically devolve from one another as the court proceedings pressed on with perhaps greater controversy arising with Anna Johnson because of the impossibility of racial nonrecognition.
I find myself compelled to share this.
A few week’s ago we had talked about Megyn Kelly’s abrupt change on the issue of parental leave in the United States and joked about how she should have children more often because of their magical liberalizing effect they have on here. I give credit to Kelly for that stance and the one she takes above.
All humor, it becomes very disheartening for me to hear that the arguments forwarded by Keith Ablow are the ones that define the debate surrounding transgeder issues. It blows my mind that we are having this type of debate over someone’s gender. I think first it speaks to a rigidity of gender expectations (binary between male and female) but also places an implicit natural preference toward that binary. It’s saying to kids “There is A and there is B. That is all,” in terms of gender. There’s actually a lot going on in Ablow’s poor comments, but it angers me that at its base, his comments reflect his thoughts that transgenderism is an insipid attack on traditional gender schemes. He refuses to see people who identify as transgender as deserving of respect in their choice (certainly not a libertarian position but distinctly social conservative).
Everyday, transgendered people live in a society that doesn’t accept them, simply because they do not fit in to the binary. They are denied a chance of expressing themselves as they see themselves, their humanity unrecognized. I try to recognize it when I can – every time I see a “Gender” category on a form. But sometimes I don’t want to be judged merely by my gender, even if I fit the biological understanding and accept the cultural aspects of being a male. Gender o blandly constructed fails to describe my humanity or recognize me as an individual, instead it creates a box to throw me in and perhaps quantify my experiences.
As I read the pieces on transgender, for some reason Ockham’s razor came to mind. Ockham’s razor posits that for the most, the simplest explanation to a given problem or subject should be the one most preferred. But Ockham doesn’t work in gender I believe. Instead, we should focus our efforts on creating a pluralistic dimension to gender issue. The issues only get murkier when we include intersexuality, and we can go there with all of these issues – show how sex is socially constructed along the lines of gender. Perhaps my writing this comes off more like a rant that a consideration of the articles we are reading this week, but I think it’s important to the larger movement of trans acceptance that media portrayals of Chaz Bono and other trans-people be represented in society as a member of humanity equally deserving of respect and mutual consideration.
I think what some people have hit about Hamington’s pieces “A Father’s Touch” also resonates with me. I think he limits the amount of space his article covers, but I (and others) would like him to go farther. There are issues surrounding the absentee father that remain unavailable, how to get fathers to embrace their role as dual caregivers, and what this overall moral revolution means.
I think Hamington did this to keep his article concise, but it’s akin to opening a happier version of Pandora’s Box where all of these things get released, but not discussed. There are many issues that become affected by more discussion. I don’t think that Hamington wasted his energy on connecting Gilligan’s work with Merleau-Ponty. In fact, I think that was crucial and that he did that successfully. But i think that is only one aspect of his overarching argument. He takes the notion that men have been socialized to be morally deficient at face value without explaining how that’s been done or it’s effects.
I don’t want to sound too critical on Hamington, because I think what he’s introducing is quite novel. Like many readings in this class, I had little background in phenomenology but have been fascinated by it. It is interesting to see how people see connections between our embodied experiences and our cognitive processes or thought patterns. Hamington kicks off this dicsussion about the intersection of care ethics and male embodiment, so perhaps I am just expect too much too soon and I think there is strength in collaboration and a dialectical process to the development of idea. Hamington is a great first step, but that first step makes you want to take a second one.
Louis C.K. on fatherhood:
Reading this Wednesdays articles, the thing that grabbed my attention my most was the few places in Le’a Kent’s article where she described how the publication of FaT GiRL empowered women who experienced weight discrimination to take control of their abjection through counterabjection where the forces that would normally degrade and humiliate them now become the object of belittlement. As I first read over the “Fat Girl Revenge Cocktail” and later on the birthing of the Barbie baby, I laughed hysterically. These theatrics highlight the absurdity of our current weight politics through something totally unexpected and fresh. I can only imagine witnessing one such or similar act and being left stunned by the result. And I think that’s the effect.
After giving pause to think about it, I’m on fence now. While I see these and other acts of counterabjection as a liberating way for an oppressed group of people to reclaim their humanity in many ways, I fear counterabjection is a zero-sum game, or at least accepts the idea that in order to remove oneself from from the attention of abjection, another object or person must draw its ire. Counterabjection reinforces the notion of power within human relations by transferring the power an individual or group of individuals from one place to the next, rather than recognizing that we should attempt to minimize the effects of power when dealing with other people. Everyone deserves mutual respect, but I’m not one who thinks we can’t call out each other for reproducing oppressive systems. In fact, that accountability needs to occurs although it can be very (who am I kidding, excruciatingly) hard to do because it’s easier to let that one comment pass by than an in-depth conversation about its perniciousness without appearing to high road or grandstand someone.
I could go one for a while, but in summation, I think counterabjection in FaT GiRL’s publication can be a powerful way to understand how an oppressed group of people, specifically women with fat bodies, can overcome their own sense of hopelessness and “Other-ification,” but at a cost. I think it was bell hooks who said something along the lines that women shouldn’t try to becomes equal to men, simply for the fact that not all men are equal. We must rearrange the dynamics of our everyday relationships among one another to reject the participation in a power paradigm. It’s no easy task, but I think an accurate diagnosis can help us understand what type of care we need.
Having read many people’s posts and listening to our class discussion on Monday, I feel somewhat more settled (but on no uncertain terms am firmly rooted) on the idea that plastic surgery is a form of passing and should be viewed as a negotiation of identity, even in regards to ethnic plastic surgery. As Kathy Davis began and ended her article discussing the uneasiness of the topic, I still feel that even as I type. But a few more thoughts.
When we discuss people who are contemplating or have had plastic surgery for whatever choice, I think it is important to recognize what drives them toward such a decision. The motivations we had talked about in class – whether the beauty ideal or internalized racism – need to be recognized as very powerful forces since they can influence people to the point of plastic surgery. I think these roots of the problem of plastic surgery is where we need to focus our attention and work on eliminating their pernicious effects. If we can destroy the category known as “other,” then we can create a society equally accepting of people and the difference among them. To me, the problem with passing isn’t that people engage in it, because I can see why, but that people feel compelled to engage in passing (either because it will make them feel better, as in the case of plastic surgery, or that they gain social capital somehow.)
I like the idea of creating a society where people’s appearance does not restrict their freedom. But I can’t say that I know exactly how to do that. One might start with those who act to conform to the beauty standard or a version of internalized racism, but that doesn’t seem like the origin of the problem. Another person could say it starts with dialogue or education or the role of media. The formlessness of this type of oppression makes it increasingly harder to deal with. Because there is no formal institution that acts as the source of these injustices, it makes our task a harder one, but one that is worthy of our time because of the potential it has.
Reading over everyone’s post (everyone who has posted so far), I’m surprised that Gloria Steinem’s article has yet to be mentioned. It doesn’t deal with the coming-of-age event of menarche so much as it deals with the gender politics of menstruation. As Lee and Young’s writings can attests, menstruation is often a topic of embarrassment and even shame (WordPress has even turned a little red as it underlined my typing of ‘menarche’ as a misspelling, clearly a mistake on my part to bring up such a sensitive (forbidden?) topic).
But I think there is something generational that is helping this issue move from private to public discussions. I think in part that can be seen as a success of feminist literature in creating a more open space for discussion to occur (despite of the creation of docile bodies as described by Foucault). At least in some cases, my women friends can feel open enough to talk about it in public in certain situations, like when they are in a group together. They don’t go into detail, but it’s still progress in my mind. I think it’s that kind of movement toward open discussion that leads to Steinem’s pieces which I think it great. I read it as a senior in high school (roughly four years ago), but I find myself comparing and contrasting it with the other reading we had and my larger volume of experience.
I think there are two definitely positive ways to read Steinem’s If Men could Menstruate. On one hand it’s hilarious. The commercialization of ‘masculine products,’ the “I’m on the rag!” comment, the openness of discussion in pop culture. The majority of her article is written in the fictitious world where men can menstruate and women cannot, and it gives her free reign with insightful comments following. Yet as i am reading, the absurdity of the pieces pushed me to at least see the very seriousness also in it. I used absurdity in the previous sentence to describe how Steinem’s hypothetical world clashes with our own, not in the sense that what she’s writing is unreasonable.
But she brings up another theme that we have discussed in class and found in our readings – the idea of what is natural. Previously we had discussed how people saw gender differences in children and projected that to be a fact of nature, when in fact we had discovered that adults were in fact inculcating children into a world of gender norms and expectations through hidden curricula. I think Steinem brings this out even further with statements like “Logic has nothing to do with oppression” and “logic is in the eye of the logician.” She strikes up a very important point by describing the nature of the argument surrounding this topic and others – that there is some scientific or positivist understanding that the social relations we see are that way simply because they are that way. I see Steinem as attacking those statements that are meant to be descriptive (in the sense that they just explain what is), but are normative at heart. I think it’s an important point to note in order to have a public dialogue so you can frame the argument most effectively.
She ends her piece very effectively, drawing a smirk from me every time I read over it, by moving from this imaginary world back into our real one with the statement “If we let them.” Suddenly this thought experiment becomes very real in the power justifications it has used to mirror the many ways our current world does, just in a way to diminish women rather than exult men. I also take the ending to be a rallying call for women to have these types of discussions because there is a sense of solidarity to be gained from sharing experiences that people often characterize as alienating. I think all three texts pointed out how much better women felt after sharing their experiences with menarche and menstruation.
One aspect that I really wished I had time to discuss here, but do not, is this following clip courtesy of Sarah Haskins. She’s wonderfully smart and comical in her approach and brings up salient point after point. Everyone should watch her small (3-4 minute) clips. I wonder if our discussion today will lead at all into birth control, but the marketing of it definitely throws up red flags for me. Also I apologize if someone’s written about Steinem’s piece since the time I started typing and have neglected any insights they have shared.
Being someone who thinks people should have more ideas than beliefs (nod to Dogma) because of their flexibility, I want to preface everything I ever write by saying my thoughts are merely temporary and could be easily wrong and mistaken. I think conversations are far more synergistic than a blog post. So please consider my writing as permanent as a breeze.
I’m thinking about some of the limitations phenomenology as a methodological tool as I am understanding it. Whenever we call on experience, we are at the mercy of memory and sometimes it misleads us. I recall a study done where psychologists asked people the day after where they were on 9/11. The psychologists would ask that same question about the people’s whereabouts on 9/11 every year. The problem was that people’s stories changed and when confronted with their earlier stories people would not, could not believe themselves. Our memory of our experiences do not always reflect the truth about our past. I don’t think this invalidates the memories we have, but it has to complicate our relationship with them. I think that Young and Kruks’s use of the lived body supersedes the framework of gender because it allows for individual experiences within facticity and further expands on current scholarship. I still see it as a useful instrument. But whether we should let our problems of memory override what we believe our experiences to be seems problematic in its own right, but I think it is to our advantage to acknowledge such troubles.
Another issue that we discussed in class was the possibility for some experiences to occur without discourse. I’m trying to find it in Kruks again as I thought it was there (maybe not), but in class we talked about what if someone doesn’t have the language to describe what their thoughts, feelings and/or experiences were. It happens to me most days, where I can’t seem to grasped the words quite right. The absence of an empowering vocabulary or even grammatical structures/linguistic systems to convey some thought, feeling or experience leaves a void where communicable experiences are privileged. The effect of “lost voice” on someone can be even more dangerous when talking about traumatic experiences where the brief or casual discussion of them may leave someone who has had such experiences speechless and at times physically disturbed by the retrieved memory. References to sexual abuse, physical violence, suicide, etc., all have that potential. Without going in to a larger discussion on innumerable tangents relating to these issues, I think it is fair to say that discourse over lived body experiences is an incomplete discourse.
Regardless, I have enjoyed what we have covered so far and look forward to what we can discover for the rest of the quarter.