Sunday, January 22, 2012

Occupy Providence

Recently I visited Occupy Providence. I am not going to be place in this Tough Guise box; I will admit I was rather scared. I was afraid of the unknown that would be down at Occupy. Before this visit I knew nothing about Occupy. I knew they were fight for something but I was unaware of what.

When I arrived on the Occupy campus located in Burnside Park I was surprised to find how dead it was on a Wednesday afternoon around 3. It looked as if it had been deserted. All I could do was look around at all the tents and just all the stuff everywhere. It was as if I had taken a trip back a few decades, it was a surreal moment really. I took a few pictures of the camp. I finally found more people near what seem to look like an information booth. I walked over hesitant to what I might discover. 

I arrived at the booth and there stood a friendly woman who introduced herself as Mariah. I asked her the big question first: What is Occupy? She told me it was a “movement to enact social change.” I asked what I guess was an even bigger question: Why are you here? She told me that the middle class is disappearing. She has told me how she had a child and she was worried for her generation; OUR generation. She said things were “unjust” in our society and if “things aren’t fixed” then it will only only get worst. She ensures me thought that “good things are going on down there.” 

We got to talking more but she had to take her dog for a walk. I then talked to a girl by the name of “Ping Pong.” She told me Occupy was a “wake up call,” that “things need to change” in our economics. She told me she was from Occupy Boston and once that settled up there she decided to come here to help the good fight. 

Mariah came back and continued to tell me what Occupy was to her. She said,” it is relevant everytime you talk about it.” That even though people don’t think that they are helping they are by talking about it. It is about stirring a commotion and wanting change. She talked about how she felt “her rights were being taken away” by the government, and that this was a land created, “by the people, for the people, and now it’s a business.”
I got to know a little more about Mariah. She is a woman in her late thirty’s. She has one kid who is the complete opposite of her, but her child still wants to fight in the Occupy movement too. Mariah does not live in the tents every night. She has a apartment where she lives and goes to Occupy about every day. She has a tent set up just in case though. 

Mariah had just points to back up what she was saying. She talked about how organic food is expensive, but the government wants us to live healthy lifestyles, we want to live healthy lifestyles, so why can the rich afford this, but a middle class citizen must get a fast food hamburger for a buck. She talked about “Just Cause” a law passed in MA. This law would keep foreclosed families in their houses if they are unable to pay rent anywhere else, so they do not become homeless. Also she says, “movement =forever.” We must remember that we must always fight for this. There is “no end.”  “LOOK AT EVERYTHING. 

I told Mariah I had to go because I was legit going to die from being frozen to death. Before I left she gave me her twitter. She is always retweeting things that are happening at Occupy in Providence and across the US. She thanked me for coming down and I told her I really enjoyed her telling me about this movement. I will hopfully visit soon to see how things are down there. To these people this is camp is a family; people who understand what they are fighting for, and fight with them for a better cause. 

I am an Ally

Final Project Creative Piece. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Teaching the Conflicts: (Re)Engaging Students with Feminism in a Postfeminist World- Love and Helmbrecht (Quotes)

As I post my final blog I am with Merylda on this it is bittersweet. I thought that we should have finished with Avyazian and her article on becoming an ally. As I read, “Teaching the Conflicts: (Re)Engaging Students with Feminism in a Postfeminist World,” by Love and Helmbrecht I understood why this piece was a nice closer. It really brought us full circle back to the feminism and its effect on the youth. The article really focused on how we can help to teach feminism in the classroom. I found it to be very enlightening to see that the people in the woman study classes they were talking about in the article were doing the same kinds of thinking and learning we are doing in our own classroom. I figured I would sum up a few quotes they used to really help bring this idea of feminism full circle.

“Although there never has and never will be a monolithic definition of the term “feminism,” we subscribe to Judith Butler’s simple definition: “Feminism is about the social transformation of gender relations” (204). In other words, feminism should be more than just an identity label. It must do. It must signify action” (44).

Love and Helmbrecht are right, Feminism is an action. We cannot really describe it we just have to do it. We could all sit around and say we are feminist; men, women, everybody, but unless we act on these thoughts and feelings then Feminism will no longer be a move forward. It will remain a distant memory of the past and of all the work people have done to get gender equality to where it is today. It is a transformation and transformations take time; these changes will not happen overnight.  If we stick to this definition and strive to be active instead of passive we can keep this definition alive.

I found a Yoube video that speaks to the idea of people who view themselves as feminist and those who don’t. From discussions in class and in the video I can see that it is the younger people who do not really call themselves feminist. They feel as though it has a negative connotation. We need to change this. We need to educate people that feminist are people who care about gender equality. Hopfully through what Love and Helmbrecht were talking about in their article we can teach women AND men that being a feminist is a good thing for everyone. 

“But the personal cannot remain personal if social change is the goal” (46).

We all love to help the good fight. We like to call ourselves activist on society and do what we as individuals can do to help a great cause. Unfortunately to create a sense of social change we need to ban together and realize we cannot fight this fight alone. To relate it to homosexuality people we remain closeted homosexuals are not helping the fight to show people that this is not just something people choose. The person may donate to HIV and AID organizations, and tell a few close friends but nothing more. That is not helping to create social change. They need to let go of the personal and claim themselves for who they truly are. Only then can they help the gay community to fight for social change. Being an ally means putting ourselves out there for the world to see, it may be scary but for social change to take place we need to take risks.

”And if we lose our drive for social change, then feminism is truly over” (56).

That is what I think this class really helps to change. If colleges still have people to teach women studies and gender studies then I think that the world will keep becoming a better place. This class really focuses on the problems and how to fix them. How we can do so little but help so much. Feminism can never be over if taught correctly to the next generation. Through thoroughly taught pedagogy in the classroom we can never stop think about feminism in our everyday lives. We learn so many things that help us, to not only help ourselves but to help teach others. We are taught to question why, what are the steps to becoming an ally, and even that we have to be true to what we are and what we believe. The idea as we are always told in class is not to “conform” us to be feminist or any other kind of social activist, but how can we sit back and hear about the people fighting for these things and not take a stand and fight the good fight as well. We all want to change the world it just takes some good pedagogy, and the right tools to teach it.

As our last class approaches I feel like we have covered a lot of topics and have been given the tools, even if they are a little hard to handle in such a short amount of time. I guess we can really talk about the important of a women studies course. How it has changed us in such a short amount of time? Do we see the world through a different lens then we did before? I really enjoyed my time in this class I got to learn a lot from many different people; scholars, classmates, and even myself. I have learned from myself that I can “BE THE CHANGE.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression- Andrea Ayvazian (Connections)

First off I would like to say that I loved, “Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: The Role of Allies as Agents of Change,” by Andrea Ayvazian so much that I am actually getting my blog up a little earlier this time. I enjoyed the resolution that was brought to this problem we have been speaking of for the past three weeks; the idea of an ally, someone who stands up to the oppressor and fights for equality among all people. I saw a lot of connections this week that resonated with other things we have read.

One author that stood out in Ayvazian’s work was Johnson. Ayvazian spends a little time in her article going over the idea of privilege, something Johnson knows a lot about. Ayvzain states, “In each form of oppression there is a dominant group—the one that receives the unearned advantages, benefit, or privilege—and a targeted group – the one that is denied the advantage, benefit, or privilege.” Johnson would want us to understand that this happens, it is the dominant ideology. Johnson would agree with what Ayvazian says about how we should use our privilege, “because of our very privilege, we have the potential to stir up good trouble, to challenge the status quo, and to inspire real and lasting change.” What I like most though is Ayvazian goes on to say, “We all know that everyone has multiple social identities.” No one is ever really disadvantaged all the time in a way. We are all different. If you are a young straight African American male then by the ideology you have more power than the straight African American female. Ayvazian also says which I think is one of her best lines in her article that, “Some people are, at some point in their lives, entirely dominant; but if they are, they won’t be forever. Even the white, able-bodied, heterosexual, Christian male will literally grow out of his total dominance if he reaches old age.” We never really look at ageism as a weakness in our society but it is. Even if this man were to live past his prime he is now less dominant because of his age, a natural process, ladies and gentlemen, that he has no control over. How the tables have turned for the SCWAAMP person. 

This article really connected with the Inspired Legacies, “Charity vs. Social Change Philanthropy;” that we can do many things to make a difference in our society. We can do charity which happens on an individual scale. Ayvazian talks a lot about becoming an Ally. She defines it as, “a member of a dominant group in our society who works to dismantle any form of oppression from which she or he receives the benefits.”The person who takes on that role has a hard road ahead of them but they know that it can make a difference for so many people towards an equal opportunity. 

Although this was not one of our authors from this semester Peggy McIntosh was an author we had discussed in FNED 346. She talks about white privilege and the power of the “invisible knapsack.” The idea being that if someone is unaware of the rules of a culture and do not have the right tools then how can we expect them to succeed. Ayvazian brings up towards the end of her article this statement, “I believe that it is difficult for young people to grow up and become something they have never heard of. It is hard for a girl to grow up and become a commercial airline pilot if she has never occurred to her that women can and do fly jet planes. Similarly, it is hard for young people to grow up and fight racism if they have never met anyone who does.”  We need to give children the tools to go out and fight and change the world, to break down the walls of ideology, and to tap the glass one too many times until people listen. Here is a video from FNED 346 which talks about white privilege and how we don’t always see the differences in the world because of who we are.

As I read the article by Ayvazian and read up on the Occupy movement I could not find the connection between the two. It seemed as though the Occupy search should have been with the blog on the social inequality. As I read into Ayvazian I saw that they are connected. These people are activist. They are fighting for what they believe is right. They are standing up and together for a common goal. This Occupy movement is trying to create change in our society’s economic structure. I feel the Occupy movement is something like what Ayvazain is talking about. She says, “What does seem to create a real and lasting change is highly motivated individuals – usually only a handful at first—who are so clear and consistent on an issue that they serve as the heartbeat of the community, steadily sending out waves that touch and change those in their path.” They are all banding together to create this act of change.  

Some points I would like to bring up in class would be the idea of how can we as a class go out and create a social change. By taking this class are we already a part of the change? Can we do more to educate others to help us in the fight without sounding preachy? There are so many unanswered questions that must be why it is so hard to create change. Where do we start? We must, “rise up and shout a thunderous “NO” to the perpetuation of these inequalities.” Together we can make difference like the people of Occupy movement.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"People like Us"

I spent a bulk of my time on the PBS website looking at the documentary “People like Us.” This documentary shows how social class can be factor in our lives. It is a hidden factor though. We mostly talk about the feminist ideas around race sexuality etc., but we rarely ever hear people talking about the social class they are a part of. That is because we usually hang around the places that make us feel most comfortable. We always go to the same places, wear the same things, act the same way, and hang out with the same people. 

While on the website I found a sample of the video. The sample video opens with people judging a picture of a man. They were judging this man on anything they could infer from the picture. They looked at his clothes mostly, but even his body features and where he lived. They assumed from this picture that the man was of middle or lower class. Another picture they showed was of a man and woman. The people this time guessed these people were of wealthier status. One person said that he may have inherited his money. Of course we have no idea if these accusations are correct but the fact that social class has such an impact on how we judge others is shocking. How we can look at someone and say you’re middle class, or you’re lower class etc. As the video says, “class systems exist. It is based on looks, popularity, money, how big your house is, where your daddy works, etc.” 

As the video continued there were different types of judging social class. One way is saying someone has “old money.” Old money is someone who has always had money. They grew up with money and has never known anything other than that. Then there is “Snobbery.” Snobbery is what you own, essentially owns you. The car you drive says a lot. A Volvo says a person has a lot of kids, and a beat up Ford means that you have stolen it. There is “Taste.” Taste really deteriorates as we move down through the social classes. One man has the balls to say that middle class has no taste. The fact that we love gnomes in our gardens and not fine Grecian fountains shows the middle class that they have no taste. “Cliques” are a part of social order. They are based on how someone looks at first glance of where they belong in the social realm. If someone looks like a “dork” then they are of a lower class then the “jock” who can afford the newest clothes. In the sample they talked about “hired help”. This did not occur to me to be a social class but in fact it is. They lead their own lives but still fall into place when we talk about social class. Finally there is “New Money.” New money is one we see a lot. The person who has worked or come into some money and they feel the need to flaunt it. They buy fancy cars, go on expensive vacations, and buy boats to show that they have money. 

I found a few videos from documentary. Bill Bear a plumber describes to us what a yuppie is. “They are self-centered and love wine tasting. They live in real expensive homes, with expensive cars, and no furniture.” This is his way of describing someone of a higher class then him. We like Bill are always making assumptions on how the other half lives, but what we don’t realize is our assumptions usually live up to those standards. David Brooks talks about marriage and class. He says, “Stanford marries Harvard.” The idea that smart marries smart, rich marry rich. He continues saying, “a Magna marries Magna because if they married a Summa it would create a conflict to great to handle.”

The working class studies website talks about the study of the working class. It makes the social structure we all live in shown. It helps to explain why economic inequality is a feminist issue. If we look at the fact that people who work are supporting those on welfare is a reason right there. We are all equal so we should all be working and supporting ourselves. Working class studies is an up and growing field and just like racial inequality the fact that we are all caught in the social infrastructure and unable to get out is unfair and should be fought for. The website states in best, “Even as traditional blue-collar jobs seem to be disappearing, the working class remains a vital part of America's culture and economy.  It includes everyone from an autoworker to the waitress who serves you lunch.  Yet the experiences and views of working-class people are often ignored.” We need to honor these people and help them to be able to live as a blue collar person in a white collar world. 

I was in a show called “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and in the show there is scene where two characters meet from different social classes and they assume how the “Other Half Lives.” This relates because we really do make assumption, but we make them on what we see; how people dress, how they speak etc.

There are many stories we can think of that deal with this idea of social class. The story of the prince and the pauper, parent trap, and many more social economic stories of swapping places to see how the other half lives. It is the unknown secret of is the grass really greener on the other side. 

I would like to elaborate on this more. If we are so about our comfort zone and living where we “belong” why do we see these stories of swapping places and wanting to get out of the social class we are born into. Is it the human nature of curiosity or does it lie deeper than that?