Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Here are four possible meeting times:
Wednesday at 5:30-7:00
Friday at 5:30-7:00
Saturday at 3:00-4:30
Sunday at 3:00-4:30
Please vote! Indicate the ONE meeting time that is your preference. Please also indicate which of the other 3 you would be able to attend. Vote either here on the blog or in an email addressed to me. Votes are due this Friday by midnight, anything I get after that will be too late.
If you cannot make the meetings, don't fret. You will still be able to participate in club projects and get service learning hours. No one will be left out in the cold.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!
1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.
And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are committing a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
UCF's Feminist Agenda presents "Talk Feminism To Me..."
With yer hosts of the evening:
Debonair, White Chocolate, Bianca & Ari
Monday, September 28th @ 8- 10pm
Topic of the Night:
What is Feminism?
Confront the "I am not a Feminist but syndrome..."
Community Activism: What's going on with the folks in at UCF...?
How can you get more involved?
A little this. a little that. All mixed together with some bad ass muzic :D
Call us @ (407) 823-4585.
Requet a song.
Ask a question.
Discuss a current issue.
Let us know what you want next weeks topic to be.
I dont care.
and tune in Monday night (even as some cool background listening).
Holla. <3 Arielle
PS- If you have any weekly events going on in your organization from now until Monday- email me at email@example.com and I'll send a shout out!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Just read this article on on Salon.com and found it interesting and maybe a little annoying. What do you all think?
"What do you make of the so-called boy crisis?
I think there is something to the boy crisis. Girls are told, "You can be anything," but when we tell boys that, we don't really mean it. We actually mean, "as long as you're not a preschool teacher, as long as you're not a nurse." As girls move into more and more realms, boys retreat. That's because of the traditional idea that boys need to separate themselves from girls to feel masculine. The only way out of that is just a massive reeducation."
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tonight we had our first men against rape meeting! We do not have a set meeting day or time. Ross will be posting his available dates within the next week. Tonight we went over;
- MAR should be a group where men can have space to openly talk about violence, and to reach out to men that are not in the feminist scene.
- Our main goal is to get visability at UCF, examples would be; tabeling at orientation, tabeling outside Student Union, Facebook, bulletin boards, and interfacing with Greeks and other organizations?!
- We would like to hold small events for such organizations so everyone can see what MAR is about, for example getting Michael Freeman and Dr. Young to speak.
- We dicussed having just the men in the group going to the frats and men only being able to be appointed officers.
- We want to promote on our advertising by including strong messages & direct images.
- We plan on all raised money to go to Animal Safehouse.
- We all agree this should be a consensus democracy, meaning everyone agrees!
Hope to see everyone at the next meeting! Feel free to e-mail Ross with any questions.
I have talked to a few people from class about this and most of them agree that something should be done to make sure people who have not spoken during class can speak. I suggest using the white board to write names down as they are in stack and also as a visual to those who do dominate the conversation. How do others feel about this? Is this even a real problem? Does everyone feel ok with taking stack?
This is when the lone car in the right lane slows down next to me. This is the instant I notice that the windows are down. “Hey faggot! You walk like a faggot! Faggot!” the harsh voices call as the car accelerates away down a side street.
My first panicky thought at times like this is always, “However did they know?” Almost immediately I realize that I’ve merely been emasculated, which is not nearly as bad as being discovered. “Ha,” I think, “The jokes on them!” Only as the adrenaline wears off do I realize that I have not really been emasculated, either. I have been terrorized.
I have been terrorized because I am alone on a dark street. I have been terrorized because every headlight in the distance is a returning car full of drunken frat boys who will torture me, rape me, or kill me. I have been terrorized because should I survive the encounter, the police officer on the scene will have a good chuckle before burying the case. Most of all, I have been terrorized because what was before a dark, welcoming night has become a haven for every fear I can conjure.
Emasculation is terror. Emasculation is the forcible removal of the armor that protects us from the unthinkably violent world we create. On a whim, three hooligans have made me feel mortal terror. What is the appropriate response? In the light of day, retributive justice is only revenge and the celebration of Lorena Bobbitt’s frightful deed is sophomoric Roiphist feminism. But alone, in the dark, as the taillights speed away, Lorena Bobbitt makes a lot of sense.
Emasculating the emasculators. The wicked, primitive logic of the idea steadily stifles my humanistic doubts. This evil grows inside me as I walk back to my apartment, foretelling a night of clenched teeth and red dreams. But the proprietor of the local sports bar, unaware of my struggle with internal demons, chooses this moment to turn on the outside speakers. The sweet notes of Carlos Santana’s guitar drift across the street and remind me that there is beauty in the world. Perhaps instead of hitting Greek Row with pliers and duct tape, I’ll write about this on the blog.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
According to the author, "it was as though the repressed had decided to erupt with a vengeance, straight from the collective unconscious, in all its most disturbing, marginal, anxiety-laden forms."
Indeed, this image must have disturbed millions by shaking their previously conceived notions of gender.
Shortly after this movie was released, the infamous case of John Bobbit, whose wife decided to cut off his penis, came to media attention.
Indeed, the penis finally came out and about after years of repression, albeit in a disturbing, shocking manner.
Now, over 10 years later, the penis seems to be all over the silver screen. Whether it is displayed dismembered and brutalized such as in the film Teeth, or in a comical or obnoxious manner such as Scary Movie or Bruno, movie makers are having less and less qualms about showing penises in their films; in turn, us viewers are being desensitized to what was once a forbidden and mysterious object (at least to us girls). However, the manner in which penises are portrayed is, of course, problematic (in the previous examples, brutalized or obnoxious isn't exactly an accurate depiction of the male sex organ). Further, the fact that in Teeth it is seen as a symbol of sexual violence that can only be stopped by cutting off the penis (rather than, say, educating the man on why sexual assault is bad) perpetuates the stereotype that the penis has a mind of its own, and that, indeed, "men think with their penises."
However problematic these depictions may be, at least the penis has "come out of its closet" as a body part in which its existence is no longer repressed. On the other hand, the vagina is an organ that is still very much repressed. Even in the movie Teeth in which the protagonist is empowered by her toothed vagina which she uses to castrate the men who rape her (I know, this is problematic), we never actually get to see her vagina. But we do see a hell of a lot of penis. Currently, I do not know of any movies that show the nude vagina. Do any of you?
In conclusion, while the penis has seemed to come out of its shell as a reproductive organ that is no longer repressed as "dirty" or "gross," the vagina is still very much repressed, at least in the evidence of the absence of its image from movies. Maybe it will just take a bit more time for the vagina to come out of its shell as another body part that no longer needs to be repressed?
(I could talk more about The Vagina Monologues and personal vagina-related anecdotes here, but this is a masculinities class, after all).
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m a sucker for cheesy horror movies. I mean really terrible, poorly written, highly un-feminist movies that I know I shouldn’t like but do anyway, thus fueling the fire of my feminist guilt. For this simple reason [as well as the killer soundtrack boasting some of my (way un-cool) favorite bands], however, I was intrigued when I began reading early reviews of Diablo Cody’s newest flick, Jennifer’s Body. Cody promised to bring together two of my greatest passions – guts&gore and feminism – but as soon as the first trailers were released, feminist bloggers were already up in arms over the potential problems to be expected. Feministing questioned if Jennifer's Body could "cross the finish line in covert feminist style [or] ... resemble all the other horror flicks despite feminist intentions" while Bitch posted an online poll asking readers whether or not its "feminist" points ("grrrltastic songs in the trailer") outweighed its non-feminist ones ("makes light of bi-sexuality"). This is actually another entirely issue entirely, but I will address that later.
Needless to say, I was curious - and sold. As I sat with my little sister in the theatre on opening weekend, I was fully prepared to mentally take notes about the objectification of women/the reclamation of grrrl power/the struggle against patriarchy-influenced men/etc ... but I was not prepared for what was in store. I could write a thesis on how profoundly - and surprisingly - introspective the two main female characters' relationship was, but Feministing has already provided an excellent review. Besides, what really grabbed my attention was the positive portrayal of masculinity within the movie, and the lack of attention afforded to this in both popular and alternative reviews.
Often compared to the movie Teeth, in which a teenage girl uses her vagina dentata in order to exact revenge on the men who sexually abuse her, Jennifer's Body varies drastically from this comparison. The first main act of violence Jennifer commits is against a fellow classmate. As their high school is shown in mourning the following day, one of the most poignant moments of the film occurs when the deceased student's best friend - and male head of the football team - is shown crying. Although several audience members did chuckle, the scene is not played for laughs, and is followed by a tryst between Jennifer and him on the football field. As Jennifer approaches him, he is not afraid to open up to her emotionally and confide in her all of the grief he is feeling. Subverting the typical masculine "jock" stereotype, he is also very hesitant when Jennifer begins seducing him and continually asks for her consensus before engaging in any sexual activity with her. His willingness to discuss his feelings and his respect for Jennifer is extremely male-positive and a breath of fresh air for Hollywood, especially within the horror genre.
In much the same vein, Jennifer's victimization of Colin, an underground "punk" boi and classmate, debunks stereotypes that men are sex-crazed and will do anything to sleep with a beautiful woman. After arriving for a movie date at Jennifer's house, Colin is wary when Jennifer immediately begins removing her clothing. As she begins to seduce him, Colin stops Jennifer and asks "if she even knows his last name." This type of behavior, typically relegated to females in movies, is important in challenging the socially-constructed ideas of how men/women are "supposed" to act in sexual situations. Rather than showing the man as wanting nothing more than a one-night stand, Colin is shown as having actual feelings for Jennifer and wanting to be more than a random hook-up. He has self-worth and respect for himself, as well as for her, and this should be praised. This scene is not about judging people for their sexual choices to have sex or not to, but rather about acting based on how he feels as a person rather than a pre-determined prototype of what he "should" want as a male.
Continuing this theme, the character of Chip, the protagonist Needy's partner, deserves the title of "feminist-boyfriend-of-the-year." Not only does he actively talk about -and approach! - the topic of safe sex with his girlfriend, but when losing their virginity to each other continually asks if she is ok and makes sure that he isn't hurting her. After a rough patch in their relationship, he denies the come-ons of another girl because he still has feelings for Needy and respects her as a person.
There is much to be said about Jennifer's treatment of the male characters in the movie, but it is important in dissecting masculinity not to view them through their relation to her but rather based on their own merit and varying forms of masculinity. Yes, there are males in this movie who are evil (quite literally). They are violent, perpetuate the virgin/whore dichotomy in their treatment of Jennifer, and commit a heinous act of violence. It is difficult to watch their actions, but it is also relieving to see men - a football player, a punk, a sweet "boy next door" - portrayed as dimensional characters with emotions, sexual - and consensual - desires, and varying personalities. It is also important to note that Jennifer's Body does not use men as forces for destructing the girls' best-friendship, a tactic that is often employed in movies to explain why girls' friendships are often broken up.
If anyone could find any critiques of Jennifer's Body that center around masculinity, I would love to read them, because so far not one of my searches resulted in any luck. I feel that this is something that needs to be addressed, especially within the feminist movement, because if we leave men out of this discussion, there will never be an incentive for them to get involved. In feminist circles we often discuss the media's effect on women, but I believe it's time we begin to include men in these analyses as well. Not only that, but it's time for us, as consumers of mass media, to call attention to the portrayal of masculinity within popular culture. Men, too, are affected by the patriarchal systems of power which reinforce strict gender roles, and it's high time we begin to include them, as well as people of all gender-identities, within our discussions.
This is where I have to critique Bitch magazine for their pre-determined bias of the movie. By claiming Jennifer's Body looks feminist because "the main cheerleader appears to be using her powers to seek revenge against jerk-y guys," and because it's "directed and written by women," Bitch is, first of all, promoting violence against men as the answer to their behavior, and, secondly, assuming that women's work = feminist and men's does not.
It is with this in mind that I want to ask YOUR opinion on the movie if you've seen it, or what you felt about it based on the trailers, as well as your thoughts on the exclusion of discussion of masculinity from a feminist perspective on this film or any others. I look forward to hearing your thoughts :)
One of the first things we discussed in class was the hypothetical situation of looking in the mirror, and what your reflection said back to you. Some of us saw the melanin first, identified as latino/a, black, white. Others saw more feminine features; some saw simply a human being. We came to realize that those identifying as the last type are oftentimes white men, those typically representative of privilege. We supposition that they see no identifiers because they are the status quo, but have we ever thought about the fact that maybe the reason why they see nothing to identify is because they feel nearly invisible?
We all know the privilege afforded to men throughout history, so there is no need for me to discuss that, all I ask is for readers to have an open mind when thinking of men’s relationships with violence (sexual and otherwise) and issues with praise, self-worth, and body image.
The last fight I can recall having with a significant other revolved around my feeling underappreciated and undervalued in our relationship. I felt that the longer the relationship progressed, the less I was receiving compliments or praise. After the third or fourth time of bringing this issue to light, he retorted back with something that turned me upside down: “Well, you never compliment me.” Wait, I thought, confounded, I had to? Up until that point, I hadn’t considered how necessary it was to reciprocate, I naively (and with sexist tendencies, too) assumed women needed the support system of compliments more. Luckily, this caused a mental overhaul.
I stumbled upon a blog entry by Hugo Schwyzer in which he touched upon this topic. He explained in his blog titled “Of never feeling hot: the missing narrative of desire in the lives of straight men,” that we, in America “don’t have a culture in which many young men grow up with the experience of being seen and wanted.” He emphasizes a man’s experience with being raised to think of his body as functional rather than fluid. A main notion of male sexuality revolves around the way their drive is portrayed as nearly animalistic. This leaves men with two options: let it free and “score”, or abstain heroically by being a man “in control.” As Schwyzer points out, rarely is it explained that a man may in fact have a third option, being the object of a woman’s lust, particularly in terms of their bodies. A discourse never discussed slowly evolves into an option that rarely occurs due to perceived standards.
I independently surveyed some males I know to get their opinion on this topic, and the idea was further corroborated: “I feel women tend to compliment men less, especially in public or when they feel genuine sexual attraction, due to the fear that they will break a social norm or come off as desperate, slutty, or aggressive.” – FH, 21 (white, heterosexual)
Schwyzer continues to point out how many men only get the most solid and steady praise from individuals in their life like their mother and that this does not fulfill more desperate needs in terms of sexual and physical appreciation. Additionally, he explains another unique phenomenon, which I wasn’t personally aware of as holding truth until I followed up with males I knew. Schwyzer explains: “Most young men grow up with what might be called the ‘Brad Pitt Discourse’: the idea that a small subset of particularly attractive men are the objects of women’s desire.” While many women I have come to know usually consider males and females in very separate places in regards to self-esteem, ideas like this introduce the similarity amongst the sexes in publicized notions (that are often grossly unfair) that they (willing/are forced to/etc) subscribe to. It may not be as obvious since a great deal of advertising dollars go into the female market, issues of inadequacy and self-worth know no limitations in terms of gender. Independent research proved this point, too, to be accurate. “I feel that many men feel that they are unattractive or undesirable. I remember the first time I was in a serious sexual relationship it blew my mind that a girl I found sexually attractive could find me sexually attractive. In our society the norm is for men to woo the women but a lot of guys are afraid to do this because they feel such intense sexual desire for women that they couldn't fathom a woman having the same feeling for them.” – FH, 21 (white, heterosexual)
Lastly, Schwyzer discusses his sexual experimentation with men and women and the vast differences between them in terms of receiving as well as types of desirable praise. He explains that when he was with a woman, he seemed to have to establish a causal relationship to bring on her praise, instead of it having to do with preexisting personal desire. With the man, it changed and was exclusively desire-based and therefore felt more explicit and also genuine to Schwyzer. “She said encouraging things like ‘You make me feel so good.’ When I first was with this older man, he said something that rocked me: ‘You’re so hot, you make me want to come.’” Concluded in the survey of a male friend who identified as a 4 on the Kinsey scale (predominantly homosexual but not incidentally heterosexual): “My own experience with women is limited. Whenever I was with them, it was easy for me to compliment their body, to say things like “You're hot”, “you're sexy”, etc. But whenever I heard compliments from them, I didn't believe them. I never thought I was handsome or good looking. It was only until I started seeing men did I believed the compliments and the praise. It felt more honest hearing it from them than from a woman.” – SK, 19 (white). It appears that in addition to Schwyzer’s explanation of men being inundated with the idea of their bodies being tools with a purpose from youth, it is most often only liberated by two individuals on the same side of the problem sharing sexual and physical praise.
In our textbook “The Male Body,” an additional point is made based on the “armor”- related tendencies of the male body. Whilst analyzing dual advertisements including men and women with their pants down for an underwear ad, author Susan Bordo notes that when men in ads strip for erotic display, they “tend to present their bodies aggressively and so rarely seem truly exposed”. Additionally, their bodies “are a kind of natural armor.” (30). As we have discussed repeatedly whether through veins of machismo or in familial influence according to orchestrating a child’s gender displays, it is clear that one of the main issues is related to the generalization and feeding into men as stones. This characterization finds itself mimicked and expounded in terms of violence. The causal relationship between men not feeling praise for themselves and their physical form, and their eventual predisposition towards multiple forms of violence is undeniable.
Some of the factors listed that can cause a propensity to physical and sexual violence on Stop Violence Against Women’s website are as follows: a preference for impersonal sex, poverty, lack of employment, lack of institutional support, associating with sexually aggressive peers. To quickly tie them together (so as to not make this too much longer), it is clear that a preference for impersonal sex can be borne directly out of a man seeing his body and being raised to understand his body as nothing but an instrument. The aspects of poverty, unemployment, and a lack of institutional support corroborate the idea of low self-esteem and self-worth and the environments that propagate it. Lastly, the association with sexually aggressive peers is likely to come out of this cultural predisposition to socialize all men in the same way regarding their bodies and self-confidence which exacerbates the issue on an aggregate level.
My ultimate suggestion and interest in this subject comes to rest in the understanding and support of establishing body image workshops for young men, in the same way they exist for young women. Sexual education overhaul could also help to improve this. I have read of discrepancies (even in The Male Body) in which boys are shuffled off to a class to look at STI damage and women are brought together to bond over their menstrual cycles. All children should learn to love their body, develop a more personalized relationship with it, and see use beyond the science.
I think that equal praise should also be brought to these types of workshops or organizations. One common complaint, regardless of race or sexual preference, was the lack of even praise in terms of gender constraints.
“[We’re taught] it's okay to compliment women on their looks. When men are complimented it is typically about some sort of skill or status they possess, and when men compliment other men then you're bordering homosexuality. I feel it takes away from our humanity.” – KA, 21 (heterosexual)
“From my experience, men compliment women just as much as women compliment men. I even see women compliment women all the time. I see a gap in men complimenting men, probably because it is seen as a queer thing to do.” – SK, 19
Men and women taking part within feminist struggles have already begun to establish relationships related on patriarchal institutes that harm women as well as violence-related movements that find a lot of blame being put upon men. I think it is time we see the causal relationships at play, and begin bringing self-esteem and praise into the paradigm of pro-feminism/male feminism as well. It's easy forget for some feminists that the men beside us aren't invincible due to all of the wealth and benefits they've accumulated within the system. However, as people who sing a battle cry of "Equality", we should be first on board to establish environments that give men an equal opportunity at feeling good about themselves.
(*Note* Due to time and length, I included some extra interesting quotes that were unused below.)
“I certainly feel like I am more likely to be generally complimented by females when exhibiting more feminine traits (I think this is less typical maybe) I think that it's personally because I'm naturally more feminine than most males I know, therefore when being more feminine I guess maybe it seems genuine and it sticks out. I certainly appreciate any compliments given on my behavior, but I also believe that it is natural for men (even myself) to especially enjoy compliments regarding one's masculinity, I guess because it makes a man feel more appealing to the opposite sex when receiving praise for his role as a male. It seems to me that men want reassurance that they are competent enough to hold down the masculine side of things because we feel it's important for it to be known that we can fill that spot in a traditional relationship.”
“Now though it may not be praise, a man's sexual performance is certainly more talked about.”
- JS, 23 (self-identified as heterosexual)
“I feel as though women are taught to not feel as though men need compliments because are to be emotionless stalwarts of masculinity that require no form of support. I personally believe that men need it, whether they admit it or not, and I thrive on it.”
- KA, 21 (heterosexual)
“It is seen as chivalrous and appropriate for a man of any age to pay a woman a compliment such as "You look very pretty today". However for a woman, particularly a younger woman (especially an attractive younger woman) to tell a man he looks "handsome" is seen as provocative.”
- FH, 21 (self-identified as heterosexual)
“I find that I get more compliments from girls whenever I act ‘feminine’ in that way, but whenever I'm around gay men, I get more compliments when I'm ‘masculine’.”
- SK, 19 (self-identified as a 4 on Kinsey scale, predominantly homosexual)
“I can't really remember the last time I was complimented for doing something masculine. Again, not that it matters much to me (a compliment is a compliment), but it seems as though acting feminine gets you a gold star while acting masculine just gets you by.”
- JF, 20 (self-identified as asexual)
This is for whoever decides to post a comment on the film we watched last week in class. I felt as though the film deserved discussion so what better way to kick it off! I couldn't find the complete youtube video like we saw in class but this one leads to all 6 parts.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I like Ariel's idea for boosting male membership: everyone bring a guy! Everyone probably knows a forward-thinking guy or two, so see if you can get them to come along. I hope that all the guys in our class are able to attend, even if they don't plan on basing their SL on it.
Ooo-maybe we could make this into a potluck?! Perhaps that's just wishful thinking, but it would be fun if everyone could bring a little something, homemade or no.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
check it out and it would be AWESOME if at least one person could go!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Presumably, O-teamers discussed this topic with us to prepare us all for coming in contact with a more diverse group of people, which for some of us, might help bring us out of our "comfort zones," as Jorge mentioned in his presentation. We were split up into groups, and there were about 20 of us students in the room with 3 O-teamers.
The memorable part was when we came to the discussion of what I consider homophobic language. The facilitators asked, "what do you all think about using words like "gay" and "straight" to refer to things that are "bad" and "good," respectively? From what I remember, the responses of my peers generally amounted to, "well I don't mean anything by it," "everyone uses it," and "what's really so bad about it anyway?" This angered me, and I knew I had to voice my opinion. I raised my hand and said that I thought it was offensive and that this language should be avoided because it perpetuates negative ideas about those who identify as LGBTQ.
No one seemed to agree with me.
Ever since high school, I have thought of language as incredibly important. As Morris says in his essay on Gender Discourse in Jakharta, "the things we say and the language we use reflect the reality we participate in." In particular, Morris' essay deals with cross cultural ideas of sexuality and feminism. In his essay, the author recounts a memory of a casual conversation with a fellow research colleague in Indonesia in which the colleague makes a comment implying that he thinks all women who wear jilbab are sexually chaste. Another memorable comment was one of a US Foreign Service Officer in which the officer says that social programs motivated by feminist ideas may not be suitable for Idonesian women, implying that all Idonesian women do not believe in or even understand the concept of their right to equality. Both individuals were males who thought of themselves as progressive and pro-women's rights.
As the author says, these men are not alone in their failure to recognize the implications of their language. According to the author, "most disconcerting about our speech is how oblivious many of us can be about how our language reflects existing power relations." Indeed, the language we all use reflects our place of priviledge in the social system in which we all function. Perhaps the reason it is so difficult for many of us to realize the implications of our language is that the words we use are second nature to us; after all, we have functioned in our respective levels of priviledge since birth.
However, in the essay "The Enemy Within: On Becoming a Straight White Guy," the life experience of the author provides fascinating insight into what it can be like to move from one position of priviledge to another. As a FTM transgender man, Marshall experiences a stark change in how he is treated by others when he changes from a lesbian woman to a straight man. The author writes, "men grant me greater respect and are willing to see me as an authority...women to longer appreciate me expressing my opinion." Further, through his transition from one place of priviledge to another, the author realizes the importance of language in curbing inequality. For instance, after switching from a woman to a man, Marshall realizes the extent to which femininity is feared and viewed as subordinate in our society. As Marshall writes, homophobia (at least, as implied, in the case of that of a male to another male) is nothing more than fear of being "feminized by another man's sexual gaze (35)." As the author wonders, "what exactly is so bad about being a woman?" Having been one prior to becoming a man, he of all people would know that there is nothing wrong with being a woman. The author urges that "until being called pussy, girl, fag, and pansy isn't the worst thing in the world, we won't eliminate misogyny (35)."
Knowing this, couldn't we all agree that a small-but-necessary step towards an egalitarian society would be for us to stop perpetuating our hierchical social system through problematic language?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
My biggest concern is that I expected more about…well…men. Much of our time seems to be spent examining men and masculinity from a female perspective, rather than looking at the male experience directly. Consider this week’s blog prompt. Most of the articles we read this week were about queer men’s sexuality. The prompt does not even mention this topic. In fact, out of the prompt’s three parts, one is gender-and-orientation-neutral while the other two are implicitly heterosexist and directly mention only the female gender. Out of all the listed blog prompts on the syllabus, only one does not center on feminism or the female experience. The problem isn’t just online. Our class discussions seem to evolve into conversations about feminism, with masculinity as an incidental topic.
I understand that there are reasons for this. Masculinity is impossible to understand without examining its relationship to other gender roles. Our instructor and TA are women, as are most of our peers, so most of us are approaching this from a woman’s point of view. This class has a strong activism component, so pondering the role of men in the feminist movement makes sense. Most significantly, the study of male gender has its origins in feminist theory and is therefore couched in feminist language and defined by feminist ideas.
Nevertheless, I feel like we’re missing out on what this class could be. Activism is important, but this is also an academic space. Men are worth studying for more than just their utility or threat to the feminist movement. While masculinity has meaning through the negation of femininity, and vice versa, neither is a pale reflection of the other. This class should seek to delve directly into the rich, unexplored country that is masculinity rather than becoming, as my wry peer put it, “Third Wave II.”
Thanks for reading this. I don’t mean to put anyone down, just voice my opinion on how this already great class could be better. If you also have some suggestions or gripes, or think I’m dead wrong, please post your thoughts here.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Wondering how others feel about his book and his portrayal of women.
Friday, September 11, 2009
The first half of the meeting will be ideas: what the club should be about, what it should do and how it should be organized. I’ll share my ideas with you, and you’ll share yours with everyone else. Everybody’s thoughts will have equal weight without exception. Then we’ll reach a consensus through some good old fashioned face-to-face democracy.
The second half of the meeting will be action. We’ll divide up the things we’ve decided need to be done among individuals and groups. Hopefully by the end we’ll have some reasonably defined long-term goals, sort-term objectives and organizational structure.
Where and when? I’m happy to host at my sweet pad. I live in Riverwind Apartments at 120 Riverbridge Circle. It’s on the East side of Alafaya right after you enter Oviedo. As for when, I thought that throwing out a date and time right now would just conflict with everybody’s busy schedules. If you’re interested, please post when you are available so we can choose a time in the coming week that’s good for everyone. And please, bring a friend who’s interested!
Food for thought: Having such an active feminist scene at UCF is great, but it puts this club in an awkward position. More women want to join than men! What should women’s role be in Men against Rape? Should we just ignore the question and swallow the irony of the name (or change it for that matter) and become just another anti-rape group? Should women be relegated to an unequal, supportive role in order to preserve constructive male space? Should this become a United Front against Rape with a male caucus and a female caucus? I favor the last option, but it’s for everyone to decide. Please think about this, and feel free to post any other options that you can think of. This is the most important topic we need to address starting out.
Thank you again! Post anything: ideas, comments or interest in attending. Especially let me know what time is best for you.
We do all this talk about men IN feminism... but what about the THEORIES OF MASCULINITY?! I think this video is a great leap into our course!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Blogging (20%) 20 points:
Students will post one blog per week related to the issues raised in the texts and class discussions. You may post critical responses to the issues/texts, examine images/advertisements/cultural products related to men/masculinity, comment on relevant current events, and more (within the guidelines provided).
1) does student include a well-developed blog that actively and explicitly engages the texts and integrates textual passages/quotes and examines these textual moments specifically? is it evident that student read and is engaging the texts through his/her response? student doesn’t have to address ALL assigned texts, but must address at least one and should make connections when possible.
2) does student go beyond his/her own personal feelings about the readings and issues and discuss the broader social and theoretical context(s), including discussion of tensions in the texts (statements and assertions that are problematic, contradictory, etc), as well as addressing those they may support and/or agree with?
3) does student exhibit proper spelling/grammar/language use/diction? avoid sloppiness and proofreading errors?
4) does student use unique subject lines when starting their own discussions rather than “Week 2,” “Week 3,” etc.? does student have an avatar and/or is it clear who is posting for grading purposes?
We have 14 weeks of blogging. Students will be graded on TEN at two points each. We can either drop their lowest grades or they can choose to only post the ten required posts.
Grades: 0 points, 1 point, 1.5 points, 2 points
2 points: Student exceeds minimum requirements
1.5 points: Student meets minimum requirements but could develop blog post, integrate texts more explicitly, and/or has some spelling/grammar issues
1 point: Student does not meet minimum requirements, but does include a blog post or response