LShirockywrite

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Final Philosophy paper:

Lauren Shirocky
Dr. Beatty
Political & Social Philosophy 363
Longer paper
May 1, 2006

Subsisting Oppression: Women’s Failure to Outsmart Modern Culture

Entangled in a web of loose netting may accurately describe how many women in modern society would describe their feelings concerning their freedom. The feminist movement first began in the early 1900’s and since then many has made considerable advances in women’s equality. Women have gained respectable amounts of autonomy with the ability to vote, increased freedom in the workforce, and an overall greater respect of capabilities. Women are no longer confined strictly to being a housewife or stay at home mother, but have the freedom to possess more career and goal oriented endeavors. Women are now corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, astronauts, and numerous other professions, originally restricted primarily to men. The culture we currently live in is more open to women participating in a variety of activities.
Although advancements have been made, many feminists adamantly agree that women still have a long way to go before they can claim equality with men. Women may by law are equal with men, but culture and society show otherwise. Susan Faludi, author of Backlash, a highly acclaimed feminist novel, explains that feminist movements have made advancements, but that the overall composition of our culture even today continues to impede and restrict women. Underlying impediments of sexual objectification, stereotyping, and cultural domination, continue to place restrictions on women. The oppression of women is still a prevalent reality in our culture that women must acknowledge and work to eliminate if they wish to obtain equality with men.
Such oppression isn’t always easy to identify and hence is difficult to correct. One must look through a macroscopic view to see the ways in which women’s oppression continues. Correcting oppressive aspects of our culture is extremely difficult and is a deeply rooted problem. The best solution, according to Young is a gender conscious approach of embracing the differences between men and women in a way that doesn’t subject women to inequalities. This is a tumultuous task that doesn’t have a simple answer.
Women are obviously oppressed by various underlying messages within culture, but the real question is what to what extent does oppression have on women’s autonomy? Oppressive measures are not enforced in any written form, but are implied in more informal ways. Many women are not even aware of the hidden pressures and restrictions that continue to oppress them and may feel that they are free to act in any way they choose. These oppressive factors complicate women’s lives in many ways. Many disorders, health problems, and overall unhappiness can be attributed at least partly because of oppressive causes. Body image problems and eating disorders can be attributed to the underlying message the media sends to women, setting ideals for how women should look. The media presents a certain beauty conformity in which women are expected to adopt. This ideal creates turmoil for women who do not fit this mold. Mental disorders such as depression can also be caused by some of the messages our culture.
Bartky in her article “Psychological Oppression,” affirms that women are indeed oppressed in a similar way as black people. Bartky equates sexism to racism, claiming that both define a person almost solely by their color or gender. Hence an authentic choice of oneself is not possible if oppressed by racism or sexism (128). Bartky examines how women are oppressed through cultural domination, stereotyping, and sexual objectification. Bartky carefully defines oppression as a restriction that “becomes habitually extended into every area of her experience,” thus attributing an aspect or part of a woman for her whole self. These “light forms” of oppression that exist are not “immediately [classified as] economic or political” (127). She adds that these “light forms” of oppression are further complicated by fragmentation and mystification, both forms of psychological oppression. Fragmentation is the splitting of the whole person into parts of a person, giving a false representation of a person, representing only part of them (128). Mystification is the systematic obscuring of both reality and types of psychological oppression so that a person’s sense of self is depreciated.
Our cultures languages, institutions, art, literature, popular culture, are all sexist according to Bartky. She says that this may sound a little extreme, but in actuality is not. The limits that culture places on women restrict the women’s opportunities. Since women have always lived in a male dominated, patriarchal culture, they haven not been exposed to any other potential influences. This patriarchal culture has greatly contributed to the static nature of progressive movement towards equality.
Sexual objectification or identifying women based solely on their physical and sexual attributes is prevalent in our continually male supremacist society. A synecdoche, or using part of an object or person and identifying it as a whole, is a form of oppression. A synecdoche can be associated with sexism and racism, since a person is being reduced to one particular attribute instead of the many that they are comprised of. Complications of sexual objectification often cause body image issues and sometimes an obsession with one’s appearance. Our culture suggests that women should always “make themselves as pleasing to the eye as possible” (Bartky 131). Such suggestions can cause preoccupations with one’s physical appearance, placing less emphasis on other aspects of one’s life. Women are restricted in this way, feeling they have to abide by certain ideals. Other attributes might have value more if women weren’t acculturated with expectations of physical perfection. Unfortunately, Bartky demonstrates that since women have never known anything other than these oppressive means, are socially acculturated to such expectations, and think nothing of continuing to support such behaviors.
Although such cultural pressures are not inherent laws or enforced in blatant ways, the effectiveness of such messages is undeniable. Women are constantly bombarded with messages from a multitude of sources, all conveying certain expectations of women. Women are expected to be beautiful, be proper, raise children, and provide for their husbands. Such messages are conveyed by parents, grandparents, the media, other women, and of course men themselves. This is undeniably an oppression that manipulates and greatly impacts women’s behavior.
Many women are not even aware that they are in any way oppressed by culture. Women have never known anything other than the expectations that are indirectly conveyed to them and do not believe that they are in any way restricted. Several weeks ago while in class I initially claimed that Bartky’s article on psychological oppression was quite harsh and that the oppression she was depicting was unrealistic and needed to be updated to our more modern and accepting society. I now assert that my claim was wrong and can clearly see that Bartky’s assertion fairly accurately conveys the realities of culture. This example of my initial thoughts demonstrates the ignorance many women continue to affirm. Women claim that they are free to do whatever they want with their lives, but unfortunately such freedom doesn’t truly exist in current culture.
Can women conduct they lives freely? In theory women are free to choose whatever lifestyle and career that they desire. Unfortunately they may find that many times if women do not choose lives that are considered established roles for women, they may result in unpleasant complications. For example if a woman wants to become a corporate lawyer a prestigious corporation, they are legally eligible for such a position. Although a woman is eligible for such a respected job, culture still on some level associates men more often than women. Thus, for a woman to obtain such a job, she may have to work a little harder than a male counterpart would. Stereotypes such as this one impede or restrict women from obtaining high levels of success.
There are numerous examples in which I have experienced and continue to experience cultural oppression. Since birth I have been acculturated with certain expectations of how I should look, act, and exist. I accumulated such ideas from a variety of sources that all conveyed a similar message. These are all subtle forms of manipulation, giving specific instructions on how to fit into our culture. There are certain benefits that are more advantageous to success and happiness by being in congruence with one’s culture. To rebel against typical expectations is to face difficulties that conformists cease to worry about. In this way, women are subtly directed by our patriarchal culture to have certain ideals that have been established for centuries. Although more subtle than they used to be, such restrictions still continue to impede women’s freedom.
Interestingly in our culture, men are not the sole oppressors. Women in many cases enforce, enhance, and promote their own oppression. Women are one of the most critical judges of themselves and other women. Women are in competition with other women in relation to men, jobs, and appearances. Women are harsh judges and tend to embrace and enforce expectations, reducing other women to stereotypical roles. Women are in many cases cause impede equality to a greater extent than men.
So the question is what can we do to counteract the various forms of oppression present in our deeply rooted culture? Young suggests we take the gender-conscious approach of embracing differences within the sexes in a way that doesn’t give advantages to either sex. Young discourages assimilation of the sexes, claiming that establishing any universal standards will only perpetuate discrimination (457). Assimilation is like “coming into the game after it has already begun,” putting the newer group at a great disadvantage. Thus, Young supports the establishment of group-specific policies which would support social equality. We should embrace the ideal of a heterogeneous public and not ignore the differences present within the sexes.
One inherent question that cannot be overlooked is whether differences between the two sexes actually exist or if the differences initially resulted because of gendered stereotypes. Gender differences could have resulted because of cultural influence and may not actually exist without these deeply ingrained characteristics. Wasserstrom in his article “Racism and Sexism” claims that sex differences are neither natural nor necessary. He claims that we should develop and defend standards of equality among the sexes and apply universal standards to both groups equally. Hence, Wasserstrom questions the necessity of sexual distinctions within society.
Applying universal standards on both men and women is not without complications. One must consider the obvious physical differences present between mean and women which do exist naturally. Women are biologically made to produce children, while men are not. Women are built to supply their children with milk in their initial stages of development while men are not. Such physical differences cannot be completely disregarded. One may be able to overlook stereotypical emotional and personality stereotypes placed on particular genders, but one cannot overlook the differing physical attributes between the sexes. With such unavoidable differences in physical composition, is it possible to place universal standards for sexes? Placing universal standards on both sexes puts women at a disadvantage because they are unable to physically keep up with standards that associated with men. Thus, it is impossible to develop completely universal standards for both sexes if equality is the goal.
Young’s suggestion of embracing differences among sexes is a much more practical idea. Establishing gender-neutral parental leave according to Young, would allow women to take maternity leave to have children, while allowing fathers to participate in such tasks by also being allowed to take leave. Allowing both parents this opportunity to take leave doesn’t highlight the physical difference present between men and women and allows women to essentially be on equal ground as men. The only objection to the suggestion of gender-neutral parental leave is that while on parental leave women have a different role that men have. Women have the physical burden of delivering babies, while men are simply spectators in such endeavors. Men are at an advantage by not have physical obligations, which greatly tire and impede women. Men in a sense get a holiday while women are occupied giving birth. It may be slightly extreme to claim, but this could give men an advantage over women in recovering at a faster pace when conceiving children than women. This in turn allows them the ability to accomplish more work and places women on unequal status with men again. Although gender-neutral parental leave is not without complications, it does offer a solution to gender differentiating maternity leave that many jobs currently offer to women expecting a child.
A much more daunting task than finding a solution to the inequality of maternity leave is the how to solve the overall oppression women. What can be done to counteract underlying messages that have been ingrained in culture for centuries and have established a web of interlaced boundaries which women are expected to follow? The oppressive measures that are present are so intricate and difficult to illuminate. Given this, it makes it even more difficult to actually pinpoint oppression and find adequate solutions to do away with it.
Bartky suggests that the only way to successfully eliminate women’s oppression is to overthrow the whole cultural system. This claim isn’t discussed in greater detail so it is unclear exactly how Bartky formulates this claim and how one would actually overthrow the whole system. Such a task seems impossible to imagine, because so many aspects of life and culture would change instantly. Hoe does one overthrow a culture that isn’t a tangible or easily grasped entity? Although Bartky seems to have the right idea that the source of oppression is our whole culture, it is not realistic to suggest that we somehow overthrow an entity which is not tangible. Thus, one can claim that women still face various forms of oppression in our modern culture. One can see that these forms of oppression are not always obvious. The lack of blatant oppression allows for many women to be unaware that they are still in some ways oppressed. Women need to be made aware of the oppression that continues to occur and act to end such restrictions. Various suggestions have been made as to how to free our culture of oppressive measures, but there does not seem to be any one solution to absolve oppression. Thus, we are stuck with what the best possible solution is to stop the oppression of women.

Postscript: I am overall very certain that women are indeed oppressed within our current culture in many subtle ways, but I am sure how to mitigate this disturbing problem. I have thought about the various ways that one could potentially stop oppression and have found none that would adequately solve this problem. Thus I am left without a solution and this is troublesome. Of course, one must consider that is there was an easy answer to this question feminists would be rushing to carry out the solution.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Style Summary, lesson 10: Ethics of Style

In this lesson, Williams emphasizes the importance of clarity and mentions that "good" writing does not always produce clear and concise writing. The example of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is used extensively to show that although a great deal of Lincoln’s manipulation of his text is complex, he is not wrong in shaping his text this way. Lincoln was not clear with many of the points in his address, which Williams points out is intentional to make his reader/listener think for themselves about what he is trying to convey. Thus, it is not an easy task to define what constitutes “good” writing because there is not one absolute definition.
Williams advises to “write to others as you would have others write to you” (179). It is important to maintain a reliable ethos, which is the character that readers infer from your writing. Several potential defenses of writing with complexity are highlighted. Salutary complexity states that the harder one must work to understand what we read, the more deeply one must think to understand a concept. Williams quickly refutes supporting such a concept. Subversive clarity states that clarity is a device that sometimes oversimplifies concepts for readers, not allowing them to form conclusions independently. Williams essentially refutes both of these claims and suggests that a compromise between these two extremes is ideal.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Making revisions to begginning of narrative:


“The young lady that is receiving this very prestigious award has many shining qualities that are exceptional and rare. A strong, confident individual, she will do great things with the rest of her education.” I could feel my palms sweating as I anxiously gripped the sides of the plastic auditorium chair. “The recipient of this award has displayed great leadership abilities, is a model citizen, and very confident and well spoken for such a young age. It is with my privilege and honor to present Lauren Shirocky with the American Legion Award. Congratulations!!” Shocked and extremely pleased, I quickly stood up and proudly walked to the stage as my mother beamed from ear to ear quickly following behind me. Mom eagerly followed me to the stage and proudly pinned the American Legion badge to the left side of my dress as the audience clapped and cheered loudly. This is only the beginning I thought…I am ten years old. I have so much to do with my life and I honestly can’t wait to begin.
I loved elementary school. I had good friends, was usually teacher’s pet, was in the “honors” program at our school, usually made the straight A’s and was fairly happy with my life and my accomplishments. I was enrolled in gymnastics, horseback riding, played piano, sang in the choir, liked to run in gym class, and went over to friends’ houses on the weekends. My schedule was busy but I thrived in almost every activity I tried and my confidence seemed to increase with every skill I mastered. Competition was always fun and exciting and I felt fairly confident in my ability to take on other students as my competitors. I thrived off of competition and would get excited at the thought of competing in a timed mile race, a spelling bee, student of the month, or to be the best recorder player in music class. I wanted to be the best at as much as I could and most of the time I was. I was not happy with being second best, I always strived for more and more and this strategy seemed to serve me well. I was happy and things seemed right in my life.
Aside from school and an array of activities, going to friends’ houses was one of my favorite things to do. Daniel Talomie, a neighbor down the street, was one of my best friends. On the weekends and sometimes even after school I would walk to his house and spend hours watching jeopardy, a science fiction movies that would put me to sleep or lose me in its complexity, sit at his computer as he read me his latest master story about dragons or space travel…evenings with his Dad, eating amazing tv dinners and endless snacks that always seemed to be present in the house. Daniel’s mom fixing us dinner as Daniel relentlessly made fun of me in any way he could. “Shorty Spaz,” he later began to call me, one because I was indeed pretty short and also because he said I was somewhat uptight; I needed to learn to relax.
Daniel would come over to my house and we would watch movies, play Sega Genesis, and have dance parties where I would break out my gymnastics leotard and parade about the room without a care in the world. We would take walks together and play on the swing set in the backyard. I had my first Dr. Pepper with Daniel, him promising me that I would like the “peppery” taste. Dr. Pepper became my favorite soda all because of Daniel. Towards the end of fifth grade I gradually noticed slight changes in the way Daniel related to me. As always we hung out all of the time, but I would catch him staring at me for a little longer than he used to and the constant teasing turned into more of a flirting gesture. I thought very little of these changes and continued my life and friendships as I usually did.
I often wonder where I accumulated my confidence and strength from. I knew who I was and had a clear definition of myself. This clear identification and awareness very gradually would begin to alter. Two months before graduating from fifth grade, teachers thought it would be a great idea to plan an informal dance for our class. The dance took place during school hours so everyone in the fifth grade attended. “Cotton-Eye-Joe” played as the fifth grade cautiously entered the gymnasium. Oddly, girls drifted to one side of the room while boys slowly shifted to the other side. This separation of the sexes was something new and unfamiliar to all of us. I had had friends of both sexes for as long as I can remember and there were seldom divisions between the two. Of course girls liked Barbies and boys like Power Rangers, but except for these inherent differences, this awkwardness between the two sexes had never existed before. Several of our fifth grade teachers thought it would be cute to pair some students together, a boy and a girl, to dance together when a slower song came on. We all nervously, yet excitedly watched in amazement as some of our friends had their arms grazing the shoulder of one of our classmates. The beginning of an ever growing uneasiness infiltrated my consciousness that day and even now, over ten years later I can assert that it will never will completely dissipate. Relations between classmates changed at the fifth grade dance in a way that divided classmates into boys and girls which would soon enough be men and women. It had begun…
An obnoxious, screaming siren went off around five thirty in the morning. I quickly turned it off and drifted back to sleep. Twenty minutes later my mom frantically woke me, informing me that I had overslept again and that I better get up quickly if I was to make the school bus. She wasn’t going to take me to school yet again, just because of my slow, sluggish behavior in the morning due to my lack of enthusiasm and sheer dread of what the day might bring. An uneasiness spread from my stomach all over my body and I sat up in bed. After taking a long shower, I spent an forty-five minutes agonizing over my wardrobe, complaining that I had nothing to wear and that none of my clothing looked good one me. I wasn’t sure if anything would look good on me anyway…
Staring at myself in the mirror, I was overall dissatisfied with what I saw. I saw a shapeless, pale, frail, weak girl with cold, distant, hopeless eyes staring back at me and as much as I didn’t want to look at my reflection, I couldn’t help myself from shuddering slightly at what I saw. Every outfit I tried on, didn’t fit correctly or made me look too young, skinny, or just plain awkward. I dreaded getting up in the morning, dragging myself out of bed just to go to school where numerous boys and girls would prod me with their eyes, wondering why I was so skinny and shapeless at the age of thirteen.
I nervously walked through the dismal hall of my middle school as I heard the sound of the first tardy bell. I slid into my seat in the back of the class and avoided eye contact, knowing that the boys in the classroom if not the girls as well probably thought my outfit didn’t fit correctly and that I should just go home and back to bed. I just wanted to curl up in my bed and stay there forever. I could escape the probing eye of boys who no longer were concerned with having friends that were girls but in fact girl friends. Ever since that fifth grade dance things had never been the same and it seemed they never would. There was this new feeling in relations between boys and girls that never went away. It didn’t matter if the subject was school, sports, entertainment, parties, clothes…anything…everything was infiltrated with a sense that image was everything. No longer could you be strictly friends with a boy. A boy only wanted to be your friend if you were pretty, wore the latest trendy clothes and was overall attractive. Any other quality or matter of importance came second and only mattered if you had this first highly essential asset. If you were one of those girls that looked good then you were set. Disregard that you were the smartest, fastest, nicest, funniest, that didn’t matter. Essential qualities had dramatically changed and the friendly environment based on one’s successes and personality was gone forever. Appearance is everything for a girl. Abercrombie, American Eagle, Gap, Covergirl, Maybelline, Hollister, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Glamour, cartoons, Power Rangers, Barbie, music, MTV, Vogue, Dawson’s Creek, Friends…almost anywhere a girl turns she is bombarded ith a reminder of how she should look and act. Girls are supposed to be foremost pretty and if they have this most important attribute, then everything else will surely follow. Our culture conveys this message to young girls every day and suddenly the girl with a less than perfect complexion and the girl with a slightly flabby butt doesn’t measure up to standards. Up to whose standards is another question?
Perfection. A word that describes the ultimate dream that every girl tries to obtain at some point in her life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to float through life with the perfect slim physique, smooth tan glow, and radiant, gorgeous face? Manage to be bubbly and full of energy all of the time and always be well put together physically as well as mentally? Although this goal seems highly impossible to obtain, women attempt to obtain some level of this goal every day. Unfortunately they discover all too quickly that they cannot live up to this out of reach obtainment and find themselves depressed and hopeless…
This hopelessness and feeling of being lost has been a prevalent theme throughout the women’s history in the United States. Virginia Wolf, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century, states “once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.”.(link to rest of article…)

The history of feminism as noted by more recent feminist authors such as Susan Faludi in Backlash and Betty Halcomb in Not Guilty, originated in the early twentieth century with the establishment of the National Women’s party campaigning for an equal rights amendment. Substantial progress has been made in the last century in the establishment or more equal rights between men and women. Women won suffrage in 1920 and acted as replacements in many jobs when men were sent to fight in world war two. In the last several decades women have made even more substantial gains in the workplace: obtaining a multitude of job opportunities. Women have gained ground in many ways, but the overall underlying message that society still pronounces suggests there are still obvious inequalities. A woman may be able to be the corporate executive of their prosperous company, but you better believe that in such cases the woman probably had to sacrifice a great deal to accomplish such a task. Yes, women have the freedom to obtain any position that they want to, but they will most likely have to work harder than a man would for a similar position.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Journal for my Chaucer class (beginning):

Chaucer’s Objectification of Women and Power Struggles within Legend of Good Women

As is seen with all of the women depicted in Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, the Legend of Lucrece portrays a woman who has many virtuous traits that are suggested that all good wives possess. Chaucer throughout this text highlights and emphasizes Lucrece’s virtuous nature and attributes this to what he states is “wifly chastity” (1737). Through his characterization of Lucrece in this way, it seems that Chaucer is suggesting that women’s responsibilities consist of being a good and virtuous wife as well as being beautiful. Chaucer’s depiction of women in such a manner undermines any power or authority that women may be allowed to possess.
Lucrese is described as “trewe,” and praised for her “stedefastness” as a wife (1686-7). Her beauty, virtue, compassion, honesty, and nobility are all described, not allowing any description for characteristics describing her thoughts or qualities that distinguish individuals. Lucrese is essentially objectified by the description in which Chaucer gives.
Interestingly, Tarquinius as king states that life is nothing more that an idol life and “no man dide there no more than his wif,” suggesting that although women are objectified in this text, men ultimately realize that in some ways they are enslaved by their affection and devotion to their wives. Although women are objectified almost solely by their appearance and chaste nature, they also hold a kind of power over men. As Tarquinius admits in the text by stating that his wife is essentially his life and that without her he has nothing. This suggests that women, even in this oppressing time period, did have some autonomy in relation to their husbands.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Journal Article Major Peer Review for Rachel Powers:

Dear Rachel,

Overall I think your article does a good job of grabbing the readers’ attention by using a descriptive, interesting narrative in the introduction. Using an example in the beginning gives readers an example that they can hopefully relate to. I gather that your general thesis or claim is that men and women speak, act, and think differently and this causes great conflict in communication and specifically work environments. You explain how men and women view communication in very different ways and how this impedes women and men communicating affectively. I like the example that you use of your job at Ukrops, but some of the ways that you use it to support the ideas of social hierarchy and communication barriers between men and women do not work as well as other examples might. If you do use the example of your job at Ukrops you may want to explain more in depth how the boys you worked with were trying to maintain social hierarchy or how communication barriers caused the sexual harassment you experienced from the boys. I think that the points that you make concerning communication barriers between men and women, and the concept of social hierarchy are good ones…you may just need to elaborate on your examples or find new ones to support your points.
The journal appears to be mostly informative of two authors’ claims and not so much a central claim that you are making. You may want to be more forceful in stating your claim and use more evidence to support your claim. I realize that this is just a rough draft and I am sure that you have a lot more that you would like to incorporate into your journal, so I am sure that you are aware of this.
You state two main ideas concerning interactions between men and women in the workplace: social hierarchy and communication barriers between men and women. I think that the interaction between men and women is probably a lot more complex than what is represented and you will establish better credibility with your reader if you inform them of the complexities involved in these interactions. You do a really good job of establishing yourself as a credible writer with they way you depict yourself in your example of working at Ukrops.
You establish what the article is going to be about in the fourth paragraph on the second page. You begin by discussing Malcah Yaeger-Dror’s article about how men and women speak in different ways. You may want to have a couple sentences (or one) that somehow transitions the narrative to Yaeger-Dror’s article. By the end of your article I have a clear sense of what you are claiming.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dreary Weather causes less than chipper attitudes

I have made the obvious observation, as I am sure many others have, that when it rains and the weather is disgusting, people tend to be less cheerful and welcoming as normal. I know that I also fit into this category of not being in the best of moods when it rains outside. There are numerous reasons for this lack of good cheer. One reason is the obvious added hassle of having to lug an umbrella to classes, possibly tie those duckboots, and find the rain coat that has been thrown somewhere in the cluttered closet. Our hair gets 'messed up' due to the rain gear or lack of it, depending on how prepared you were for the weather. One has to be careful because they may slip and fall due to the moisture and puddles that accumulate in the hallways and classrooms.
Added hassles occur when one has to drive somewhere. One must make sure their headlights are on, that they have set windshield wipers to the adequate speed and continue to adjust these as the rain increases and decreses. In addition people drive more slowly in the rain and more accidents usually occur, causing an increase in traffic. Rain overall impedes the task of driving places.
In addition to the many extra little tasks one aquires when it rains, rain typically has some psychological effects on people as well. Part of the moodiness and grumpiness may be attributed to some of the added discomforts listed above, but even without many of these, I believe there would still be an overall more somber effect on rainy days than sunny ones. Tests have been conducted that support this overall finding. The sun has been shown to stimulate more amiable moods, while cloudy skies, rain, and a lack of sun promotes the opposite.
Due to all of these obvious reasons, I hope that in the last few weeks of school we have a great deal of sunny days to promote an overall cheery nature on campus...otherwise we may be finding a lot of grumpy, unhappy people.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Journal Article (very rough draft)

The young lady that is receiving this very prestigious award has many shining qualities that are exceptional and rare. A strong, confident individual, this lady will do great things with the rest of her education. I could feel my palms sweating as I anxiously gripped the sides of the plastic auditorium chair. The recipient of this award has displayed great leadership abilities, is a model citizen, and very confident and well spoken for such a young age. It is with my privilege and honor to present Lauren Shirocky with the American Legion Award. Congratulations!! Shocked and extremely pleased, I quickly stood up and proudly walked to the stage as my mother beamed from ear to ear quickly following behind me. Mom eagerly followed me to the stage and proudly pinned the American Legion badge to the left side of my dress as the audience clapped and cheered loudly. This is only the beginning I thought…I have so much to do with my life and I honestly can’t wait to begin.
I loved elementary school. I had pretty good friends, was usually teacher’s pet, was in the “honors” program at our school, usually made the All A Honor roll, and was overall fairly happy with my life and my accomplishments. I was enrolled in gymnastics, horseback riding, played piano, sang in the choir, liked to run in gym class, and went over to friends’ houses on the weekends. My schedule was busy but I thrived in almost every activity I ever tried and my confidence seemed to increase with every skill I mastered. Competition was always fun and exciting and I felt fairly confident in my ability to take on other students as my competitors. I thrived off of competition and would get excited at the thought of competing in a timed mile race, a spelling bee, student of the month, or to be the best recorder player in music class. I wanted to be the best at as much as I could and most of the time I was. I was not happy with being second best, I always strived for more and more and this strategy seemed to serve me well. I was happy and things seemed right in my life.
Going to friends’ houses was one of my favorite things to do other than school. Daniel Talomie, a neighbor down the street, was one of my best friends. On the weekends and sometimes even after school I would walk down to his house and spend hours watching jeopardy, a science fiction movie that would put me to sleep or lose me in its complexity, sit at his computer as he read me his latest master story about dragons or space travel…evenings with his Dad, eating amazing tv dinners and endless snacks that always seemed to be present in the house. Daniel’s mom fixing us dinner as Daniel relentlessly made fun of me in any way he could. “Shorty Spaz,” he later began to call me, one because I was indeed pretty short and also because he said I was somewhat uptight and I needed to learn to relax.
Daniel would come over to my house and we would watch movies, play Sega Genesis, and have dance parties where I would break out my gymnastics leotard and parade about the room without a care in the world. We would take walks together, play on the swing set in the backyard. I had my first Dr. Pepper with Daniel, him promising me that I would like the “peppery” taste. Dr. Pepper became my favorite soda all because of Daniel. Towards the end of fifth grade I gradually noticed several changes in the way Daniel related to me. We hung out all of the time, but I would catch him staring at me for a little longer than he used to and the constant teasing turned into more of a flirting gesture. I thought very little of these changes and continued my life and friendships as I usually did.
Two months before graduating from fifth grade, teachers thought it would be a great idea to plan an informal dance for our class. The dance took place during school hours so everyone in the fifth grade attended. “Cotton-Eye-Joe” played as the fifth grade cautiously entered the gymnasium. Oddly, girls drifted to one side of the room while boys slowly shifted to the other side. This separation of the sexes was something new and unfamiliar to all of us. I had had friends of both sexes for as long as I can remember and there were seldom divisions between the two. Of course girls liked Barbies and boys like Power Rangers, but except for these inherent differences, this awkwardness between the two sexes had never existed before. Several of our fifth grade teachers thought it would be cute to pair some students together, a boy and a girl, to dance together when a slower song came on. We all nervously, yet excitedly watched in amazement as some of our friends had their arms grazing the shoulder of one of our classmates. The beginning of an ever growing uneasiness infiltrated my consciousness that day and even now, over ten years later I can assert that it will never will completely dissipate. Relations between classmates changed at the fifth grade dance in a way that divided classmates into boys and girls which would soon enough be men and women. It had begun…
An obnoxious, screaming siren went off around five thirty in the morning. I quickly turned it off and drifted back to sleep. Twenty minutes later my mom frantically woke me, informing me that I had overslept again and that I better get up quickly if I was to make the school bus. She wasn’t going to take me to school yet again, just because of my slow, sluggish behavior in the morning due to my lack of enthusiasm and sheer dread of what the day might bring. An uneasiness spread from my stomach all over my body and I sat up in bed. After taking a long shower, I spent an forty-five minutes agonizing over my wardrobe, complaining that I had nothing to wear and that none of my clothing looked good one me. I wasn’t sure if anything would look good on me anyway…
Staring at myself in the mirror, I was overall dissatisfied with what I saw. I saw a shapeless, pale, frail, weak girl with cold, distant, hopeless eyes staring back at me and as much as I didn’t want to look at my reflection, I couldn’t help myself from shuddering slightly at what I saw. Every outfit I tried on, didn’t fit correctly or made me look too young, skinny, or just plain awkward. I dreaded getting up in the morning, dragging myself out of bed just to go to school where numerous boys and girls would prod me with their eyes, wondering why I was so skinny and shapeless at the age of thirteen.
I nervously walked through the dismal hall of my middle school as I heard the sound of the first tardy bell. I slid into my seat in the back of the class and avoided eye contact, knowing that the boys in the classroom if not the girls as well probably thought my outfit didn’t fit correctly and that I should just go home and back to bed. I just wanted to curl up in my bed and stay there forever. I could escape the probing eye of boys who no longer were concerned with having friends that were girls but in fact girl friends. Ever since that fifth grade dance things had never been the same and it seemed they never would. There was this new feeling in relations between boys and girls that never went away. It didn’t matter if the subject was school, sports, entertainment, parties, clothes…anything…everything was infiltrated with a sense that image was everything. No longer could you be strictly friends with a boy. A boy only wanted to be your friend if you were pretty, wore the latest trendy clothes and was overall attractive. Any other quality or matter of importance came second and only mattered if you had this first highly essential asset. If you were one of those girls that looked good then you were set. Disregard that you were the smartest, fastest, nicest, funniest, that didn’t matter. Essential qualities had dramatically changed and the friendly environment based on one’s successes and personality was gone forever. Appearance is everything for a girl. Abercrombie, American Eagle, Gap, Covergirl, Maybelline, Hollister, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Glamour, cartoons, Power Rangers, Barbie, music, MTV, Vogue, Dawson’s Creek, Friends…almost anywhere a girl turns she is bombarded with a reminder of how she should look and act. Girls are supposed to be foremost pretty and if they have this most important attribute, then everything else will surely follow. Our culture conveys this message to young girls every day and suddenly the girl with a less than perfect complexion and the girl with a slightly flabby butt doesn’t measure up to standards. Up to whose standards is another question?
Perfection. A word that describes the ultimate dream that every girl tries to obtain at some point in her life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to float through life with the perfect slim physique, smooth tan glow, and radiant, gorgeous face? Manage to be bubbly and full of energy all of the time and always be well put together physically as well as mentally? Although this goal seems highly impossible to obtain, women attempt to obtain some level of this goal every day. Unfortunately they discover all too quickly that they cannot live up to this out of reach obtainment and find themselves depressed and hopeless…
This hopelessness and feeling of being lost has been a prevalent theme throughout the women’s history in the United States. Virginia Wolf, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century, states “once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.”.(link to rest of article…)

The history of feminism as noted by more recent feminist authors such as Susan Faludi in Backlash and Betty Halcomb in Not Guilty, originated in the early twentieth century with the establishment of the National Women’s party campaigning for an equal rights amendment. Substantial progress has been made in the last century in the establishment or more equal rights between men and women. Women won suffrage in 1920 and acted as replacements in many jobs when men were sent to fight in world war two. In the last several decades women have made even more substantial gains in the workplace: obtaining a multitude of job opportunities. Women have gained ground in many ways, but the overall underlying message that society still pronounces suggests there are still obvious inequalities. A woman may be able to be the corporate executive of their prosperous company, but you better believe that in such cases the woman probably had to sacrifice a great deal to accomplish such a task. Yes, women have the freedom to obtain any position that they want to, but they will most likely have to work harder than a man would for a similar position.
(NEED A BETTER SOURCE TO SUPPORT THIS CLAIM) –philosophy of women’s oppression

Feminists still have a great deal of work to accomplish to alter the underlying message of society which attaches specific characteristics, labels, and responsibilities with particular genders. So what are the obstacles oppressing women and continuing even in our modern age to restrict women?
In this modern age with advanced forms of communication, allowing almost any information at our fingertips, it is surprising that we are not able to effectively alter the messages sent by various sources concerning women. Ellen Riordan claims that “certain images of women have remained the same even while undergoing changes to fit the times” (Riordan 81)…(problems w/ media representation)


Communication, media, economics, education, environment, ethics, law, multiculturalism, literary criticism, philosophy, political theory, science, psychology, postmodernism, religion, sexuality, the list goes on and on for the subjects where feminist issues are present…
-technology promotes existing social conventions/relations

Judith Lorber in Breaking the Bowls: Degendering and Feminist Change, suggests that that gender distinctions structure our lives more than we may initially think. On personal, institutional, interactional, and symbolic levels women and men are expected to have certain inherent characteristics and duties. Lorber says that women must form an alliance against such gender labels and understand how other inequalities intersect with gender issues.

-Ellen Riordan’s article on “the woman warrior” –power feminism
-different feminist waves & discrimination –need to distinguish different waves but also highlight similarities between waves to maximize change
-need more encompassing feminism-more pluralistic (multi-voiced &
multiple-situated subjects)
-Keating- “Coalitional Consciousness Building” vs. “Raising”
-tie in narrative from beginning & expand