Tag Archives: power

Bullying Intervention summer web blog 1 Intro WGS

Intervention
Posted by Eric Olsen, Marial Williams, Anna Burns, Katrena Gillis at Friday, May 22, 2015 4:39:07 PM CDT
Intervention is defined as the act of coming between as to prevent or alter a future course of events. Throughout the movie Bullying, both child and parents try their best at intervening in some shape or form, usually with little changing. Even involving the administrators of the children, the people specifically set in charge of dealing with bullying situations were not able to prevent or change the circumstances that plagued these bullied children. The degree to which intervention is implemented in schools, of any age where bullying exists, is to create programs that foster anti-bullying and reason with their students on how their actions impact their fellow classmates. This is especially vital in cases of sexual orientation or disabilities where bullying runs rampant and rarely gets prevented. The culture of these institutions needs to be reformatted to include anti-bullying programs to best ensure their students a safe and loving educational environment.
At its core, social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. In regards to bullying, this creates a much more holistic approach that is unfortunately very difficult to maintain and implement. Social justice requires people, in this case adolescents, to see the differences in the people around them and treat all people with the same level of respect and dignity. Currently, children perceive the differences in their peers around them and act on them, resulting in bullying. Children want to feel important and special over the people around them and are willing to achieve this standard, even if it means ridiculing their classmates. If social justice was implemented and accepted, children would understand the effect their words/actions have and would improve virtually every aspect of bullying. With this approach not only would current bullying cease, it would prevent future bullying from happening due to everyone involved understanding the consequences for their actions.
An approach like this would also require a major shift in the views of society. Masculinity has been so ingrained into our society that bullying, to some extent, has been encouraged. It is considered masculine to be dominant and aggressive over those around you. Changing the landscape of bullying would require younger boys to realize that bullying is not the outlet to channel these masculine tendencies, but rather through other outlets like sports or hobbies. Exerting your ability in a hobby is far less harmful than showing your power in degrading another human being. While this will not be easy, through the right programs and determination boys can be changed and can learn that bullying is not a healthy path for anyone.
Social justice directly affects intervention because it teaches all parties involved to be active in confronting the bullying around them. Everyone ‘buys-in’ and takes responsibility for their actions in creating an equal environment for all, refusing to let injustices prevail. A social justice system would also likely be effective, if all accepted, due to its easy conversion to a broad range of factors that involve bullying like sexuality, race, or class. In essence, intervention would no longer be needed because bullying would be eliminated, after the system was in place. However, in the developing stages of a social justice system, intervention would be encouraged from a variety of sources, empowering those to act on the differences they observe.

intersecting identities in ethnographic research

This short (3 min.) digital video story explores my location of self as an ethnographic researcher, an adoptee, and as a human.  I draw on research I conducted in Seoul, Korea and in the U.S. about transnational adoption.

An Intellectual Scavenger Hunt

 

compass of lincoln

Students in Patton-Imani’s Introduction to Women’s Studies were sent on an intellectual scavenger hunt in which they had to explore, analyze, synthesize, and apply connections between knowledge, power, media images and narratives, and individual lives.   Drawing on class discussions about Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, each group was asked to critically consider what we can learn about contemporary society from this narrative, focusing on one of the following:  romantic love, beauty, masculinity, femininity.  The blog posts below share some of their work.  Please leave comments!

Masculinity in Media

http://youtu.be/Zza3GqEL5B0

http://youtu.be/owGykVbfgUE

Masculinity is very prominent in TV commercials. Two examples of this are the Dr. Pepper Ten commercial and the Old Spice commercial. In the Dr. Pepper Ten commercial, in order to get men to buy their diet soda, they make it seem like it’s a really masculine thing to buy, or that the drink isn’t for women somehow. They even made a page for the drink on Facebook where they blocked any women from joining the group. Normally women are the ones who buy diet soda, but by doing this kind of advertisement, it gets men to buy into the “10 manly calories” and purchase the drink that they might not have otherwise. The Old Spice commercial shows the “ideal man” and that by buying the deodorant you can at least smell like the “ideal man”. The other aspect of the commercial is that when he talks, he’s directing it at the women even though the advertisement is trying to get men to buy it. He says things like “Look at your man, now back at me. Don’t you wish your man cou
ld smell like me? Etc” In a way this gets men to think that women desire this type of man, and in order to be like him, you first need to smell like him. These are the type of commercials that control the way men think, and get them to buy products that they may otherwise not buy, because they want to be seen as manly in order to attract the women.

 

Every Kiss Begins With Prejudice

every kiss w every kissaa

 

When you hear the jingle, you hear the music in your head, but do you realize what you are actually watching? Every couple that Kay advertises is a same-race couple but it’s never an interracial couple. If you dig a little deeper, you can see that they play certain races’ commercials in certain areas more than others according to advertisingdirected.com. Also, does it ever strike you that they play out this “romantic love” concept by the simplicity of a kiss between a two people? It is so played out that if you end up with a couple of the same race as you and you buy them this ring, then it will automatically work out! I personally feel that there are a lot more trials you must face in order to be a happy couple that they so easily display in their commercials. I also believe that the couples that they choose are very stereotypical, in that they are always dressed the part of a middle-to-upper-middle class lifestyle; and then when you look at it from a socioeconomic standpoint the advertisers take out more than half of the American population. I think that what Kay Jewelers and so many other advertising campaigns do well is show the cookie cutter couple. When you have the cookie cutter couple, you take out interracial couples, poor couples, same sex couples and so much more. Although it is so easy to remember their little jingle, you have to ask yourself what end goal do they have in mind?

The Kay Jeweler’s advertisements our group found remind me of the White Privilege article by Peggy McIntosh. Towards the end of the article, she writes about heterosexual privilege. From all of the advertisements that our group found, none of them featured a homosexual couple. They all featured the stereotypical heterosexual couple. This creates a very biased view about romantic love and what it’s supposed to be. Advertisements are seen by millions of people, so only showing heterosexual couples establishes that as the norm. Everything else will be seen as abnormal. These advertisements can be particularly damaging to children who are still developing their own view of society. If we are trying to build toward a more accepting and diverse society, only showing heterosexual couples on these advertisements is doing everyone a disservice.  Ending heterosexual privilege isn’t going to be an easy process, but by diversifying the types of couples featured in advertisements will help. If children begin seeing advertisements featuring homosexual couples, hopefully they will no longer see that as abnormal.

The images we see, the images built up and perpetuated by the media, help shape our perception of the world. These images can often work to disempower the lowest of the social strata, and can often have unintended consequences. Pauline, in The Bluest Eye, lapped up the fancy and happy world portrayed in movies. However, it worked to worsen her perception of her own life. Because she could not be “pretty” like Jean Harlow, who she imitated, and her family and marriage could not be the happy, relatively carefree life she admired, she gave up. She found it impossible to identify the beauty and positives in her life. Similarly, those who find themselves excluded in the media, or portrayed negatively, find it hard to accept themselves and their lives. Because mixed race or same sex couples are absent or often stigmatized, it promotes a lack of acceptance in society. Life becomes increasingly difficult for those breaking from “the norm.” More diverse and accepting images could help eliminate the narrow image of the “proper” and “normal” to better reflect reality. This would likely help broaden acceptance and alleviate some of the problems of self-hate plaguing society in this day and age.

 

I think it’s important that we look at this ad in a different way. When thinking specifically about wedding rings and the Kay commercials it is easy to forget that there are many forms of proposal across cultures and some cultures suggest that it’s a better idea to wait to kiss until after they’ve said their “I do’s” at the altar, or jump over the broom, or whatever other cultural norm they partake in at their wedding. In the piece “It’s Not an Oxymoron: The Search for an Arab Feminism” by Susan Muaddi Darraj, she makes a point of talking about the Arab rituals her and her husband went through in order to pay homage to the traditions her family practiced culturally. I think it’s important to remember that not all families, cultures, religions, sexualities will want to have a traditional Christian wedding that we’ve come to be so accustomed to in America. Even though I think it’s easy for Kay Jewelers to get their point across I think it’s important that as a jewelry company that they pay attention to the range in their demographic and how they will connect to their commercials. What kind of messages are they sending across cultures? Maybe not a good one.

Chelsea, Codie, Darshan, and Alex, Intro to Women’s Studies

Prude vs. Slut

 

Prude vs Slup

Prude vs. Slut

It seems that these two words would be considered on the opposite ends of a certain spectrum; however, society does not allow it to be this way. Society makes us feel like there is no in between. A woman can be either a slut, or a prude. But who defines these words? Societal views are mostly created from the views of men. Unfortunately, in regards to the words slut and prude, women tend to have a strong opinion as well. It is not just guys’ opinions of girls; it is girls’ opinions of other girls. As twenty-year-olds in the generation, it is not uncommon to hear girls commenting on the actions of other girls. “She won’t put out, that’s why he is going to leave her.” “Oh my gosh, she is so slutty. She has had sex with every guy on the football team.” The sad thing about these circumstances is that there is no happy medium. According to society, you are either a slut or a prude. Both are looked upon as derogatory terms.

Definition of prude according to Webster’s Dictionary – a person who is or claims to be easily shocked by matters relating to sex or nudity

Definition of prude according to Urban Dictionary – One who will not engage in any kind of sexual activity with a member of the opposite sex, usually used as a discriminatory word, can be used in a fashion as to bait someone into sexual activity.

Definition of slut according to Webster’s Dictionary – a promiscuous woman, prostitute, a saucy girl

Definition of slut according to Urban Dictionary – a woman with the morals of a man,           “Someone who provides a very needed service for the community and sleeps         with everyone, even the guy that has no shot at getting laid and everyone     knows it. She will give him sympathy sex either because someone asked her      to or she just has to have sex with everyone she knows. These are great         people, and without them sex crimes would definitely increase. Thank you  slut, wherever you are.”

 

How do men respond to these words? When hearing the word prude, some men will either stay far away or decide the girl isn’t worth the fight. Others will see it as a challenge. Some may even make bets to see if they can get a girl to hook up with them. When hearing the word slut, a guy sees an easy target. A definite cause. If the girl is intoxicated, she will definitely go home with the guy.

We have asked some men to tell us what they think “slut” and “prude” are and we got a few responses back:

“A slut is someone who can f*** the whole world and a prude is someone who won’t give it up”
“ A slut is a person, male or female, that starts into relationship with the intent of sexual action, sometimes with multiple people, has no intent of commitment but plays the part until becoming bored and leaving to the next, usually destroying not only their life but many others during the process”
“ Slut, just in it for the sex and with many partners”
“Prude = Boring”
“A prude is someone who puts themself above others, makes a point of others knowing it and has no sense of standard humor, everything around them wreaks of negativity and they don’t typically have many friends due to their attitude”
“A prude would be extremely uncomfortable with sexual contact, rather opposite of a slut, a prude would nearly seem gay but isn’t”
“Slut is a girl that will continually sleep with one or many men with no need or want of a relationship not caring who or what she’s with…prude is a women that will not give up even if the time is right and everything is going well but let’s not mistake prude for class cuz there all in a very fine line slut class prude”
When asked if there is an in-between or simply a girl is a prude or slut responses were:
“Those are the hard to find girls  (neither slut nor prude) most guys look for, they are considered “normal” but since, in some locations they can be quite hard to find, one usually has to settle for less. Normal people are much like old muscle cars. Fewer and fewer every day, as such, the value goes up”
“Yea like I said ur a slut or prude”
When asked if men can also be sluts responses were:
“We call them studs”

 

“Everyone just assumes slut to be the girl but a lot of dudes are too”

 

“They call us playas”

 

There are accepted societal norms when it comes to the attire of a woman. For a professional interview, a short jean skirt is probably not ideal. For a beach party, a long black pencil might get dirty and hot. The same woman may own both of these skirts. Does this mean when wearing the black pencil skirt she is a professional businesswoman who is prude and when wearing the jean skirt she wants sex and is a slut? A girl’s attire does not determine who she is. It definitely does not beg for anything.

 

How does femininity impact this?

A woman should be able to wear what she wants without fear of being labeled. The term “asking for it “should never be applied to a woman just because of how short her attire is. If a woman wants to wear dresses, skirts, heels, she should not have to stand in front of the mirror and ask herself if she is going to be thought of as a “slut”, or worry about men thinking she is “easy”.
1 supporting course reading

Oppression by Marilyn Frye

 

This article has a passage in it that goes along very well with our topic of prude vs. slut.  In the article it states:
“It is common in the United states that women, especially younger women, are in a bind where neither sexual activity nor sexual inactivity is all right. If she is heterosexually active, a woman is open to censure and punishment for being loose, unprincipled or a whore. The “punishment” comes in the form of criticism, snide and embarrassing remarks, being treated as an easy lay by men, scorn from her more restrained female friends. She may have to lie to hide her behavior from her parents. She must juggle the risks of unwanted pregnancy and dangerous contraceptives. On the other hand, if she refrains from heterosexual activity, she is fairly constantly harassed by men who try to persuade her into it and pressure her into it and pressure her to “relax” and “let her hair down”; she is threatened with labels like “frigid,” “uptight,” “man-hater,” “bitch,” and “cocktease.” The same parents who would be disapproving of her sexual activity may be worried by her inactivity because it suggests she is not or will not be popular, or is not sexually normal. She may be charged with lesbianism. If a woman is raped, then if she has been heterosexually active she is subject to the presumption that she liked it (since her activity is presumed to show that she likes sex), and if she has not been heterosexually active, she is subject to the presumption that she liked it (since she is supposedly “repressed and frustrated”). Both heterosexual activity and heterosexual nonactivity are likely to be taken as proof that you wanted to be raped, and hence, of course, weren’t really raped at all. You can’t win. You are caught in a bind, caught between systematically related pressures.”
I totally agree with this passage and believe the author got it spot on.  There is constantly pressure for a woman when it comes to sex.
2nd supporting course reading
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
“Everybody in the world was in a position to give them orders. White women said, “Do this.” White children said, “Give me that.” White men said, “Come here.” Black men said, “Lay down.” The only people they need not take orders from were black children and each other. But they took all of that and re-created it in their own image. They ran the houses of white people, and knew it. When white men beat their men, they cleaned up the blood and went home to receive abuse from the victim. They beat their children with one hand and stole from them with the other. The hands that felled trees also cut umbilical cords; the hands that wrung the necks of chickens and butchered hogs also nudged African violets into bloom; the arms that loaded sheaves, bales, and sacks rocked babies into sleep. They patted biscuits into flaky ovals of innocence- and shrouded the dead. They plowed all day and came home to nestle like plums under the limbs of their men. The legs that straddled a mule’s back were the same ones that straddled their men’s hips. And the difference was all the difference there was (Morrison 138).”

 

This passage relates to femininity, sex, and race. It really shows how women, particularly black women, were treated the worst. They were at the hands of their white masters wants and orders, and then came home to also get the abuse from their husband. White men had the power, although it is not as bad as it was, this unfair advantage still exists today.

Femininity – Sarah Sitzmann, Alexandra Kahtava, Victoria Grissom, Sarah Kehm

“Real” beauty

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE

I will be the first to admit that I cried while watching the “Real Beauty” commercial by Dove (Source 1).  I got all teary and sniffly, and felt happy. Or maybe hopeful is the correct term.  Then I read this blog (Source 2), and had to stop and reexamine this hopeful feeling.  The truth is, I initially felt hopeful because it made me believe I am not as hideous as I think I am.  It was telling me that I had more value than I thought I did.  However, upon closer inspection, we see this “Real Beauty” video is merely enforcing a dominant ideology that defines a woman’s worth solely by her looks.  Dove even enforces the typical current standards of beauty.  Descriptors such as “thin, young, and blue-eyed” were considered beautiful, while  “fat, old, or crows feet” were shown in a negative light.  The featured women were all white, and ranged only from young to middle age, which is, in itself, a misrepresentation.  The people of color that were shown in the video all had lighter skin, playing into the “lighter is better” theme that we see in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.  This notion reinforces the young Caucasian standard of beauty that this country has been supporting since its founding.  Additionally, the blogger points out, “Out of 6:36 minutes of footage, people of color are onscreen for less than 10 seconds.” (Little Drops). That is a startlingly low percentage.  Not only does it emphasize race issues associated with beauty but also draws attention to the problems with society in general.  It looks as if the editors thought to themselves “Well, we threw some black people and an Asian in there, so it won’t be racist.”  Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the blogger’s message; women are to too harsh with themselves, but clearly there is still a value system in play that determines how beautiful women are, thus what their worth is.

The Bluest Eye provides page after page of examples of society’s definition of beauty and how it affects black women.  Morrison often describes the differences of beauty within in one race to draw attention to larger issues in our culture.  These descriptions reveal to the reader the system of oppression embedded in a culture that judges and awards value based on the degree of whiteness an individual possesses.  The introduction of Maureen Peal is a perfect example. When Claudia and Frieda recognize the amount of attention Maureen Peal receives, merely because she has a lighter complexion and a high socioeconomic status, they cannot associate with her, believing they are not like her.  “Meringue Pie” does not even seem to be of the same background because she is so much better: “A high-yellow dream child…she was rich, at least by our standards, as rich as the richest of white girls” (Morrison, 62).  Her light complexion helped her to cast a spell on the entire school, white and black students and teachers alike (61).  This is an example of how Frieda and Claudia, as well as all young women, learn to associate skin color with value; they use Maureen’s apparent beauty through her light-skin to prove to themselves they are not beautiful because they have a darker complexion. Initially, Claudia alludes Maureen has no interest in them, so I was shocked when Maureen, even for a minute, associates with them on their partial walk home. When Maureen turned on them and made it clear what she really thinks about the darker-skinned girls, my shock subsided.  “I am cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly black e mos. I am cute!” (73).  Though I’m still not completely sure what “black e mos” means, I know it has something to do with Frieda, Pecola and Claudia’s darker skin tone. It may also have to do with the relationship between beauty and class, which is interesting and troubling because it is at such a young age they are realizing these furtive systems of oppression.  Further, the idea that a person of color is using the “blackness” they too possess to insult another person of color shines a light on the unsettling reality of the racial-self loathing, as Morrison calls it, the young women are learning during childhood (210).

Beyond interactions with peers, these vulnerable young women are faced with many images that insist on what is beautiful, adored and desired.  Like the deeply rooted oppression caused by white hegemony in our culture, exemplified through Maureen Peal instance above, images such as Shirley Temple were sent through the media to perpetuate this white order.  “Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs–all the world agreed that blue-eyed, yellow haired, pink-skinned” was beautiful and normal (20).  This constant bombardment with images of whiteness is especially harmful to young women of color because our society’s ideas of normal or beautiful do not match what these girls see in the mirror, and serve as constant reminders that they will never measure up, never be white enough to be beautiful.  Additionally, how does a child learn to accept who they are and strive for greatness when they are not given decent role models?

Shirley Temple complements the messages sent to young people by the “Dick and Jane” passages at the beginning of each chapter.  They remind us that part of learning to read, part of learning language, includes learning value assignments and social norms.  It is a process of socialization and domestication.  These Dick and Jane beginner books that are referenced and sprinkled throughout the novel are cultural markers or indexes that show what the youngest, most malleable minds of our society are being taught.  These books were all that was available to Americans in the Forties.  From birth, people naturally begin to look for their place in a culture.  When they do not see themselves represented in the media, in books, movies, magazine, etc., they face what the documentary Missrepresentation referrers to as “symbolic annihilation.”  When a child of color reads these books or is repeatedly given a white baby doll or is asked to adore Shirley Temple (our culture’s living definition of “cu-ute”), they receive the message that they are not only ugly in comparison to whites, but there is no place for them in this society (Morrison, 19).  This American narrative does not include them.  Further, these examples remind us of how we can only pursue options we are given and only speak the specific language we learn.  If the language is that of the ruling class, the marginalized groups are forever doomed to use the language of their oppressors, and therefore, only pursue the options they are presented with.  “Black,” unfortunately, is not a word the oppressor associates with beauty.

Works Cited

Source 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE

Source 2: “Why Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” Video Makes me Uncomfortable…and Kind of Makes Me Angry” http://jazzylittledrops.tumblr.com/post/48118645174/why-doves-real-beauty-sketches-video-makes-me

Source 3: Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Source 4: Missrepresentation documentary

Students in Intro to Women’s Studies)

normal

What would our world be like if “normal” were defined differently?  What would it be like if the things we valued the most weren’t things, but relationships and experiences?

I created this video at a Digital Storytelling Workshop for K-12 Educators at the Center for Digital Storytelling, Berkeley, California, June 2013, through a grant from the Olson Fund for Global Service Learning.

This semester students in FYS 15:  Diversity in the U.S. will create digital stories collaboratively with 4th graders at Walnut Street International Baccalaureate Elementary School.  Stay tuned for our project updates.

Students in my Introduction to Women’s Studies course will make digital stories in conjunction with their service learning projects at various local organizations.