Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Occupy Providence in Relation to Texts We Have Read

I visited Occupy Providence a few weeks ago but I did not connect any readings to my visit so I will do that now. When I realized I had to make this connection to two of the readings, two immediately came to mind: Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: The Roles of Allies as Agents of Change by Andrea Ayvazian and Allan Johnson's article, Privilege, Power, and Difference. Ayvazian discusses being an agent of change from a dominant group. The people camping out at Occupy Providence were mainly men and a majority that I saw were white. Because these white men are fighting for financial equality, Ayvazian would classify them as allies. Johnson would claim these men have privilege and that people with privilege are the only people who can change the system.  These white men are working side by side with people of color and women for equality. This would make Johnson and Ayvazian proud.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

If That Is Who You Fall In Love With

Reflection Format

Teaching the Conflicts: (Re)Engaging Students with Feminism in a Postfeminist World by Meredith A. Love and Brenda M. Helmbrecht was a read that did not seem to fit in well with this class. We spent the last two weeks defining feminism and saying feminism is not just for women it is for equality. This article is all about girls, and it seems only white girls at that. I say that because early on Love and Helmbrecht use an example of white women in society and never addresses another ethnicity again.

Love and Helmbrecht's piece is well researched though. I enjoyed learning that 57 percent  of people who go to college are women. However I was "shocked", as the students she talked about were, to find that women 77 % of what men make. That is absolutely ridiculous and should not be the case in the 2000's. The article talks about how women can be more than skimpy models but should be able to be equal. Love and Helmbrecht go on to use the female artist Pink, Dove's campaign for "Real Beauty", and the movie, When the Devil Wears Prada, to show how mass media has a wide array of effect on young girls.

I have not gotten to the reflective piece yet but I will get to that now. On page 49, Love and Helmbrecht discuss different reasons why student enroll in courses similar to this one. Personally I took this course because I had taken another course with Dr. Bogad and found the course very enjoyable. The previous course was in 2010 and was called the Foundations of Education: Schooling in A Democratic Society. In that course there was a woman named Cindy who had a daughter. One day Cindy was watching Ellen DeGeneres with her daughter and her daughter said something like "Mom, doesn't Ellen like other women?" Cindy said yes and then her daughter asked her "Could I like another women?" Cindy said to her daughter "If that's who you fall in love with." I think that is the perfect answer to give a little child. It lets them know they have the freedom to choose who they love and they don't have to fear backlash from their parents. That answer can be applied to different situations too. Girls should be told they can be scholars or doctors, while boys should be told they can be gymnasts or dancers. They can be whatever they want to be "if that is what they love."

Points To Share

As a class we have covered many of the SCWAAMP categories. However we have not really gone in depth on the "A"-Able Bodied and "C"-Christianity portions of SCWAAMP. We have covered "S", "W", "A", "M", and "P" very well. We have had extensive readings and discussions on those letters. After the final reading, I was just curious why the "A" and "C" mentioned above were never really discussed after the SCWAAMP day in class?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Allies, A Different Definition than from Class.

Connections Format

Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: The Roles of Allies as Agents of Change by Andrea Ayvazian was a good read that made a very strong and intellectual case for being an ally or an agent of change. Ayvazians definition of an ally, or a change agent,  was different than the allies we discussed in class. While our class discussion determined an agent as someone who stands up for someone being bullied, attacked, or targeted, Ayvazian talks about an agent as being someone from a dominant group, i. e. a white person, supporting anti-racist issues. The sames goes for a male supporting anti-sexist issues and so on for every dominant category. While the definition of ally is different it can be very similar in some situations.

I found this reading to be similar to many of the conclusions of other texts we have read. For instance, Johnson has this long article and his conclusion is for dominant groups to do something about problems because they have the power. Same thing with Yamato, she says white people need to "Challenge oppression. Take a stand against it. When you are aware of something oppressive going down, stop the show. At least call it." These conclusions are so similar to Ayvazian's tone of her piece.

Points To Share

At the end of Ayvazian's article she writes, "Like most activists, I carry a dream inside me. As I travel nationwide for my work, I can actually see signs of it becoming true. The dream is that we will create in this country a nonviolent army of allies that will challenge and break the cycle of oppression and usher in a new era of liberation, empowerment, and equity for persons historically targeted by systemic oppression. Within each individual is the potential to effect enormous change. May we move forward, claiming with pride our identities as allies, interrupting the cycle of oppression, and modeling a new way of behaving and believing." After reading that paragraph I was like well that was a good ending and a nice summary to the article. As I was writing my blog I thought "Hey I'll find a video on Youtube to put in my blog.." I went to Youtube and typed in "Antiracism Whites" thinking of course to find a white person supporting anti-racist issues. When I clicked search and found all of these videos instead, I was sick to my stomach. It made me feel like I was searching a dirty website, like if the KKK or Hitler had a website. My first reaction was OMG, quickly followed by WTF! Then I thought do people actually think this? I realized not everyone takes this class or has the desire to take this class. It is ignorant people like this that give white people a bad name. But the video that truly made me feel horrible and made me feel ashamed to be white was this song:

What was your reaction on this find?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bald Princesses

This photo is designed for girls with cancer. Saw it and thought I'd share!

Economic Inequity: A Feminist Issue?

I visited both sites, and, and explored them for awhile, like the assignment said. On the PBS site I immediately went to play the games but only one worked on my computer.  It was the one where you picked things to go in your living room and then you get put into a class based on that. I ended up in the middle class which is what I am and I wasn't very surprised. However the choices are very limited to what I could pick because for some options I didn't like any of them. Also on the PBS site I read some people's stories. I read about Ginie Sayles, who Amanda had posted about.  However I was drawn to an interesting story of a woman named Val because her story had an ending that made me really think.I'll sum Val's story up in my own words but click here to read it yourself.

To start Val is not in the documentary PBS is producing. Instead she is just someone who has told a story about her life. Val comes from an Italian family that always told her to follow whatever she wanted. She went to college, dropped out, married a guy then divorced him until she met her eventual husband, Tom. During the whirlwind of a time before she met Tom, her parents supported her emotionally and financially. However Tom was a wealthy man so when Val and Tom married, Val didn't need her parents financial support anymore. In fact Val tried to compensate them for the money they had given her. Her father refused to accept any money or gifts and Val feels awkward around them now.

I took from that story that sometimes money can tear  families apart, which is something you would not know by watching tv or listening to the media. We live in a material world and money is seen as a must have.

On the Center for Working Class Studies website, there is alot more information to shift through. I found it ironic that their mission is nationally based but much of their research is focused on Ohio because that is where they are located. Don't get me wrong, they have all kinds of literature and different authors who wrote on the working class and they do great work. I clicked here to learn about a law that actually would and should have had only Ohio statistics because it was a state law. This portion of the site was great. It was cool to learn about the 2005 Tax Overhaul and learn how it mainly had a positive impact on the wealthy people and corporations. If anybody finds links relating to other states laws like this on the site can you post them.

On to the main question why is economic inequity a feminist issue? The concept of feminism, while it means different things to others, generally calls for equality. Not just equality for women but equality across the board. There are feminists, who hate men, dislike people of color, and do not like people with disabilities. Those people do not want equality, they want superiority for women. That is different than my definition of feminism but those people are entitled to their opinion. Economic inequity implies that there are haves and have-nots, people with money and people without. However under a capitalist society there are always going to be haves and have-nots so the problem of economic inequity cannot be solved. It is a problem for a lot of people, not just feminists, but feminists do have a share in the problem.

Points To Share

If capitalism is the problem to economic inequity should the system be changed? I don't think it should but there are times you wonder what could be better than the system now. I mean there a lot of little things that could be changed and made better but I'm talking about a significant change to the system. If anyone has ideas feel free to leave them in comments.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Women's Rights?

Extended Comments Format

Adrienne Rich's article, Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence was a very tough read but I managed through it. I came on here and read some blogs fellow classmates had written to get a clearer understanding of what Rich was saying. Merylda really seemed to get this article and her blog was awesome, so I am using her blog as the centerpiece for mine

The beginning of Merylda's blog was exactly the summary of this article that I needed. She wrote: "Adrienne Rich's main arguments are that women are afraid to be who they truly are because of society; compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that women are supposed to be heterosexual without a preference just because they are a woman."  This piece was long and tough to summarize but if I summarized it, it couldn't be any better.

Next Merylda provides a definition for compulsory heterosexuality. She wrote: "Compulsory heterosexuality is when men command and force women's sexuality." This is exactly the definition of compulsory heterosexuality I came on the blog site looking for. Over time it has become socially unacceptable to do anything other than get married to a male if you are a female. There are "cracks in the glass" as Dr. Bogad would say as there are a few states with gay marriage laws. It is also becoming more acceptable in society to date the opposite sex, not just legally, but from a social standpoint.

Merylda wrote about sexual harassment in the workplace towards the end of her blog: "Because of compulsory heterosexuality, women allow sexual harassment in the workplace because they feel that's the only way they can get a job and keep a job regardless of the job description (p. 86)." Because Merylda wrote a specific page number, I felt like I should get a quote to exemplify what she is saying in her blog post here. I did find one at the bottom of page 86, "Thus, women in the workplace are at the mercy of sex as power in a vicious circle. Economically disadvantaged, women- whether waitresses or professors- endure sexual harassment to keep their jobs and learn to behave in a complaisantly and ingratiatingly heterosexual manner because they discover this is their true qualification for employment, whatever the job description." This quote and entire section of Rich's piece and Catherine MacKinnon's story reminded me of an episode of a show I use to watch as a child. The show was Sister, Sister and the episode wasn't about sexual harassment in the workplace but it was about equal pay in the workplace. (NOTE: START AT THE 3:05 MARK)

Points To Share

On Page 84, Rich suggests "heterosexuality, like motherhood, needs to be recognized and studied as a political institution- even, or especially, by those individuals who feel they are, in their personal experience, the precursors of a new social relation between the sexes." As a political science major, this really hit home the idea Rich was getting at.  I realized in all political institutions, there is a hierarchy and Rich is saying men are at the top of the hierarchy. With the help of this metaphor and Merylda's blog, I was able to understand Rich's article. I am curious to know if this metaphor helped at all to other students?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


On the Tuesday before this class began my girlfriend and I went to the Providence Performing Arts Center to see Shrek the Musical. The play was very similar to the movie and ultimately the movie is a better watch (and much cheaper to see.) It is not a Disney movie so I did not want to include it in my Disney Princesses: To Be or Not to Be, That is the Question blog post. However even though it is not a Disney movie, it has many characters from the stories as Shrek is like a parody of Disney. It is my favorite animated film series and its message is better than any of the Disney films. The ending is similar to a Disney princess film but the difference is they are ogres. The ogre Shrek is shunned by society, as all ogres are. He then falls in love with this beautiful princess who becomes an ogre at night because of a spell. In the end she permanently becomes an ogre and her and Shrek live happily ever after. The morale is even someone different and "oppressed" can live happily ever after.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Disney Princesses: To Be or Not to Be, That is the Question.

Hyperlinks Format

In Peggy Orenstein's book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Orenstein examines several key influences on young girls lives and analyzes them. The one I am most interested in that she analyzes is the Disney princesses. I am a Disney buff, as I own most of the Disney classics, on VHS of course, and have to been to Disneyworld in Florida several times. In particular I enjoy the most the Disney princess tales which is why I was so interested in the areas where she wrote about that. My son or daughter will be seeing them all but I was curious to read the negative aspect of Disney. To help talk about this issues Orenstein raises I will be using hyperlinks to other videos, cartoons, and websites to decipher this.

To start I think we need a clear understanding of what Orenstein thinks can happen from Disney movies. She says Disney movies can be promoting traditional gender roles, which tell young girls repeatedly what their role in society should be. I say repeatedly because as a kid who didn't just rewatch Disney movies over and over again. The fear of introducing that kind of sexism to young girls may be subconsciously oppressive Orenstein argues. Even if they don't realize it, the stories may become ingrained in their head until the girls feel limited as to what they can achieve in life. On the flip side Disney princesses can stress the importance of looks and beauty to a young girl. Again the young girl may not realize but that can also subconsciously become ingrained in a girls mind until they do something crazy like this to seek approval.

While searching for things online I realized there is quite a bit more on the subject of the negative influence of Disney princesses than I thought. While searching I found this comic that I thought was perfect for one of my links: it's simple enough that you will not have to read another article but is complex enough to make you think hard about the different Disney princesses. I could easily imagine a comic like this appearing in Peggy Orenstein's book. Aside from Jasmine, all of the other princesses listed in the picture have a story that relates to how they look. As Orenstein's friend says it is not the princesses that are the problem, it is the stories that go with them. But as Orenstein herself points out, you cannot have one without the other.

A comedian named Jenna Marbles did a piece on What Disney Movies taught her. Of course she is trying to get people to laugh so it may stretch parts of Disney movies that are not that bad. However some of what she says is very relevant to what Orenstein is arguing. For example a segment of what she talks about is how the Disney Princesses gave her ridiculous hair, beauty, and life expectations. Towards the end of her video she questions why the Disney princess movies always end with the princesses falling in love and getting married.  She wants to see a Disney princess that is independent and strong willed. Orenstein would agree with Jenna Marbles, specifically on the last segment. NOTE: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE, I. E. CURSE WORDS, SO DO NOT WATCH IF YOU THINK CURSE WORDS ARE OFFENSIVE.

A matter Orenstein touches slightly is the ramifications that Disney movies have on boys. Young girls are the focus of Cinderella Ate My Daughter but Orenstein mentions Disney movies potential effects on boys for one reason: that exists as well. Masculinity is defined for boys in many of these Disney movies and can subconsciously teaches how to treat women in a relationship. I found a video that discusses this on YouTube and it also provides clips from Disney movies that present "masculinity."

Points To Share

Peggy Orenstein brings up good points in her book. But I think if a parent teaches their daughters to be strong and independent women, then they can enjoy all the Disney movies they want. And with proper parenting, children can even be conscious of marketing ploys.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Can't We All Just Get Along 2.0

Argument Format

Something about the Subject Makes it Hard to Name by Gloria Yamato is about the different types of racism. Yamato argues that racism comes in different shapes and sizes. She claims there is blatant racism, subtle racism, "I didn't know" racism, and "I am definitely not" racism. Interestingly enough, Yamato claims that blatant racism is preferred. Subtle racism is when things disappear, such as jobs, that should have been available to people of color. "I didn't know" racism is when white people feel they can do things to people of color, such as touching their hair, that would typically be socially unacceptable. "I am definitely not" racism is when white people try to learn about other ethnic groups cultures and then act like experts in the field when they are really not. Overall Yamato feels racism cannot be beat in a day and encourages people to fight against it.

Points to Share

A section of Gloria Yamato's article appears as if it was taken from Allan Johnson's article. That paragraph is all about power and privilege.

Lastly Yamato brings up internment camps towards the end of her piece. She says white will never need or be allowed to be in them. This made me think of a book I read this summer on the Japanese internment camps in WWII. I was part of Open Books Open Minds, the required reading program for freshmen, as a mentor. The book we read was called When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. I did not particular like it but if you are interested in the subject, you may like it:

Friday, January 6, 2012

They are the 1 percent.

Occupy Providence Post

Today I went down to Burnside Park to check out the Occupy Providence movement. I will try to break this up into three paragraphs, the first with my observations, the second for analysis, and the third for tips on what I would do differently if going again or just tips to you guys. I met a handful of people in the movement and talked to three of them for a while. Their names were Patrick, Jason, and Chuck. There was a fourth guy, but he didn't say much and I didn't catch his name. Jason was the youngest I saw, maybe around the age of 20, give or take and he was proud to say he had been there since Day 1 of the Occupy movement. Patrick arrived a few days after Jason and I am not sure about Chuck or the other guy. Again neither said much, I'll get to that later. I first asked what the age range was of the people who occupied. They said there oldest people were in their 60's and their youngest was 16! I think that is way too young for something like that. They said he had been kicked out of school so it made a little more sense. I then asked how many people were involved in Occupy. They told me right now there was 30 people but it changes almost daily. Patrick said new people joined yesterday. I only saw 1 women there while I was there but there are probably more. The guys told me during the day sometimes people will go advocate and protest across the state, which made sense since there definitely weren't 30 people around. I talked to them at this stand they had set up. The best way to describe it is like a lemonade stand. Lastly I will end this paragraph with a quote from Patrick. I asked him what is the mission of the Occupy Providence. He told me that Occupy Providences goal is to "Help people help themselves."

Before visiting Burnside Park my opinion of the Occupy Providence movement was it was silly and stupid and so are the people in it. After visiting the park I have changed my mind. The Occupy Providence doesn't make any damn sense and I hate it with a passion. It is dumber know than I ever thought it was before. To start off 30 people protesting is not a movement, it is the size of a class at RIC. Secondly "help people help themselves" is a goal that can be achieved by going to college and getting a job, not by camping out. Just because people work hard and make alot of money doesn't mean people should protest about it. Thats just called capitalism, some people "win" and others "lose." Third, and this what outraged me the most, was these people were on drugs. Literally. While I was talking to them they were smoking stuff and Chuck and the other  guy were high as freakin kites. Thats why they didn't say much. Jason was smoking cigarettes constantly. These people don't have jobs because of the economy, its because they are drug addicts! They camp there because they would be homeless otherwise, its not a movement whatsoever. If America had 99% employment, the Occupy Providence people I met would be part of the 1% who were unemployed anyways. If the supposed "1 percent" acted like this video:, then yes America would be ridiculous but noone acts like that. These Occupy movements have gotten out of hand. Go to college and try to make your life better because camping in a tent is not helping ever.

Ok so you all know what I saw and how I feel but I know mostly everyone still has to go, so here are a few tips that I either did or would do differently. I'll just make it in bullet form.

- Go with someone if possible- I took someone and I am glad I did, it can be creepy there

- Try to avoid telling them you are from college, play it off like you are just passing through the park

- Wear gloves- You are probably going to have to shake their hands and they are not clean

- Bring change to park your car

That was my adventure to Occupy Providence. Can't wait to read everyone else's!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation equals Privilege. Privilege equals Power.

Quotes Format

Allan Johnson's article, Privilege, Power, and Difference was an eye-opener so to speak that made me think of things I had never thought of. I had read this piece in another class so I was ready to handle the material, but the first time I read it this stuff was completely new to me. Even though I've blogged before and read this, I'm still a little rusty after the few weeks of break so I decided to do the Quotes format to kick off the start to this class. I chose three quotes that I feel summarize this text and one additional quote I thought was interesting.

"Her misfortune is connected to my fortune; the reality of her having to deal with racism and sexism every day is connected to the reality that I don't." Pg. 8-9 I think this quote is synonymous with the overall tone of Johnson's work. White men have significant privilege according to Johnson and it is at the expense of other genders and races.

" 'No one is white before he/she came to America,' he wrote. 'It took generations, and a vast amount of coercion, before this became a white country." Pg. 21 This is African American novelist James Baldwin, who Johnson quotes. What Baldwin means is Americans decided over time who would be elite in society and that happened to be white people, specifically men. I think Baldwin is wrong to say this though. Of course America would choose white people first because that is what they knew. Historically, Europe had been ruled by white kings and queens. I don't remember reading about an African American European king ever. But Baldwin brings up an interesting point. Who did decide African Americans were slaves? It could have white men if history wanted it. I would say this is history's issue more than America's but America has the chance history doesn't: it can solve the problem.

"Whites are less likely than blacks to be arrested; once arrested, they are less likely to be convicted and; once  convicted, less likely to go to prison, regardless of the crime or circumstances. Whites, for example, constitute 90 percent of those who use illegal drugs, but less than half of those in prison on drug-use charges are white." Pg. 27-28  This entire list Johnson provides is fascinating and seems completely unreal. I chose this one because it can be backed by data, and I feel more comfortable with solid numbers. If true this 90 percent number is outrageous but whats more, many white people get away with it unfortunately. Johnson makes a good case, not just in this list but in the entire article, that there is indeed a privilege among some in society.

Points to Share:

I have two points to bring up and they stay with the Quotes theme of the blog.

"As I suggested in the opening pages of Chapter 1, you can't deal with a problem if you don't name it; once you name it, you can think, talk and write about it." Pg. 10-11  When I read this, I pictured Dr. Bogad earlier in class today. It was as if she memorized and repeated this word for word. Of course I know she didn't because of the strict plagiarism policy that appears on every syllabus like clockwork.

Last but not least:

"Heterosexuals can turn on the television or go to the movies and be assured of seeing characters, news reports, and stories that reflect the reality of their lives." Pg. 33   This point made me think of when my girlfriend and I went to see a new movie, Puss in Boots, last semester. It was not a movie about the gay and lesbian community. It was just an ordinary comedy about a cat who fights crime. However this movie was set in a Mexican town and most of the characters were Latino. My girlfriend noted after the movie that this movie reflected the rise in the Latino population in America and it is starting to show in the media and in blockbuster hits such as Puss in Boots.

As a side note, I recommend the film. The trailer is linked above. See you all in class tomorrow!

Meet Me

Hi my name is Michael Hartley. I am 20 years old and this is my 3rd year at RIC. I double major in Political Science and Public Administration with a minor in History. I am graduating in May and applied to Roger Williams Law School this fall. I enjoy reading, playing video games, and playing cards and board games. Over break I enjoyed celebrating the holidays with family and friends.