How to Bring up Race within Feminism without being Attacked- (hint: you can’t)

Disclaimer* I am all for the great work of artists (including writers and limited to writers that avoid sensationalism and just freaking write) therefore I am just writing in the “stream of consciousness” style so to not appear to be any serious type of author…. though I would like to write a textbook one day or a book of poetry but NO MORE newspapers or magazines for me…ughh too much controversy and a totally negative “space”..

So I should be getting my syllabi together for the new semester in Sociology, however we must as Sociologists learn to follow the trend of social movements being part of social media and involve our students in “tracking” these fascinating ways to be heard and to be part of something.  However, this is not for the faint of heart, and I say this as someone who has been around deviant subcultures; and by deviant, I mean criminal and by criminal, I mean “look over your shoulder, I am scared I might get stabbed” type stuff.  I have learned so much by being “out there” in the field, being “in here” in the interwebs in many ways seems scarier.  This is not because I am older, but it’s because I can guess intent with body language and other nonverbal cues.  I can’t do this online.  We also may see a “herd mentality” or a “conformity of thought” and get distressed.  A very well-written article is attached here to illustrate the history of a specific social movement (Feminism) and a specific way that this was derailed as “white supremacy” (the author remains as “Unrepentant Jacobinism” so I would credit where credit is due, and that is what I have as far as an author credit). I have been “tracking” this particular issue since December when it was #solidarityisforwhitewomen and gained some momentum in the conversation of “intersectionality” and initiated by – Mikki Kendall.

Now when I say “tracking” these issues, I mean like we did in our Spring courses when we had a government teacher that asked us to pick a bill in the state house or senate (should I capitalize that? I’m going with a big fat NO here in Indiana, because our state government is too busy trying to ban same-sex marriage and GRRR).  Anyway, we would track a bill and see if it picked up co-sponsors and other interesting things that can happen with legislation….exciting stuff!  So to not “track” the trajectory of social movements seems wrong, so I use the same sort of methodology.  However I became a “cosponsor” of the Adele Wilde-Blavask “side” because I learned on Twitter there are frequent wars within the Feminist movement and this article prompted some criticism (ok I was  trying to be objective) but then it turned hateful and scary and with that I cannot be a bystander.  So by simply saying “stop bullying” or as it may be better stated “piling on and on and on and on with no sign of letting up until Adele GIVES some person who APPARENTLY knows more about INTERSECTIONALITY her job”.  So I didn’t see only bullying, I saw people who seemed to think they could do a better job of writing than Adele and wanted to take her down.  There seems to be a pattern with this.  I have also seen pretty thought-provoking pieces and some strange, yet artistic stuff on Feminism that has been summarily blasted, as well like Eve Ensler.  HURRY! You may be able to get a book deal too if you can be BETTER than Eve! I am just saying she is artistic and thought-provoking, so I like to be provoked in thought….? oh no

I discover that the Marxist in me rages over this idea that it isn’t about disagreement, it’s about capitalism. and WHY CAN’T YOU SEE THAT?- I need some tea-  Some Feminists think that only by eliminating Capitalism can we be equal and that is because race, class, and gender are all wrapped into one economic system.  So unless you want to have an “econ” conversation, I would like to point out that wealth reigns supreme and takes your “intersectionality argument” off the table, this is about the love of money, money, money FIRST then you deal with the rest (that is if you are a Marxist Feminist).  Me being white- sure it’s something I “check”, but I have an ethnicity too…one (or more to be clear) that I won’t throw down like a trump card to defend against “supporting white supremacy”.  Oh I have also studied this ideological hate group (white supremacists) and we can talk about it, I suppose, but I don’t generally write without getting paid and it’s usually very dry academic “stuff”.  I really don’t even know why I have a blog, because I am anti-Capitalism to the extent that I “get” there are people that blog to make money and do NPR and all sorts of things.  I just do research and try to stay out of the way.  But I will say, when I see someone’s job being threatened because women can’t see that Capitalism is the biggest “B” and instead claim racism is the culprit…I wonder, IS it? Just think about it, I guess.  As far as defending Adele, I am going to simply say, she makes GREAT discussion points and discussion, debate, Feminist discourse= great!  Harassment is not cool, it’s pretty sick that anyone thinks this is ok online or otherwise and seriously what might the Pope say?  Yeah because=Weber and “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” explains a great deal.  I saw Adele bring Buddhism into the debate and I was glad SOMEONE saw this as important.  I will continue to “track” this, and I will go ahead and say- stop accusing people of “defending white supremacy” – start looking at your love for the almighty dollar or whatever currency floats your boat first.  Also I see that Adele is continuing to look at a religious angle, which is lacking in this convo and it needs to be brought up and- out

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Gender Bias- Enough!

Research confirms what many of us already knew, mothers have a much harder time getting promoted than single women and men with children.  There seems to be a strange correlation with single men having issues moving up, as well, although I could not find a reason for this specifically in the research.  From The Chronicle of Higher Education comes this:

“Take two equivalently qualified job candidates. One is known to be a parent. The other is not a parent.

With experimental scenarios like these, researchers have found substantial evidence of bias against mothers. In the studies of Shelley Correll, a professor of sociology at Stanford, childless women were roughly twice as likely to be called back or recommended for hire by an employer. And when childless women were recommended for a job, they were offered salaries approximately $11,000 higher”.

It is a scenario that plays out all too often and is perpetrated by people who are supposed to know that stereotyping and discriminating is just flat-out wrong, academia is mentioned and this is troubling.  This is a double-edged sword with women who happen to be mothers, yet it doesn’t define them and they may be (hypothesis) not exactly accepted by the more (how do I put this?)- maternal? mothers who have made a career out of parenting or portraying themselves as good parents or forgetting that it is their kids that are in high school or middle school not them…yes those women.  I have come to despise those women and it because, yes, they fit a stereotype and they help perpetuate it.  I know I am supposed to feel some solidarity here, but I hate them for it sometimes.  Just like a person who has fallen on “hard times” and is receiving assistance all the while hearing about what scum they are or whatever other people that FEAR the same fate call them, just like that feeling they get when they see a stereotype…or any ethnic group that has had to overcome hatred only to find themselves hating one another, because they HATE themselves and they are just destroying a mirror.  Yes Fear and Hate, capitalized, all-caps even, because these are the most powerful “forces” out there.  I say forces, because these aren’t feelings when they are permanent….they are states of mind.  What sort of progress can ever be made if I fear going outside this maternal box or toward a better future and I end up hating the women that appear content with themselves as a mom and a wife.  Sure everyone deserves to be happy…but my guess is that you are raising the self-entitled jerks that will be oblivious to anyone else, even you, yes you.  This is why some of us (this is for the non-parents)some of us decide to have children, because we are terrified, this is our fear, the fear of “cool women” anyway-this is hard to define but I’ll go on-OUR fear is that THOSE stereotypical and oblivious people will multiply…ever wonder why there is all this obsession with zombies in the popular culture?  Think about that for a second…

It’s a tightrope of being reminded when you go outside the norms of a social group with overt comments like “do you think you’re better than me?” “who do you think you are?” translation: know your place and most importantly do NOT EVER remind us that we may be oppressed in some way.  More covert forms of social control exist as well, being excluded for instance and no one wants that…if your family or peers won’t even talk to you because you are a reminder that MAYBE aspiring to be something different is not the worst goal, how confident can one possibly be with a group of more “superior” aka not oppressed and oblivious people with whom you have nothing in common with?  No wonder people scramble back to a dysfunctional life just to be accepted…being dysfunctional is better than being invisible.  Then you are pigeonholed back into a stereotype that ensures that your kids are stuck…if you have them and I understand why people don’t.  Moms can be as exclusive as any group I have ever met, I would probably have a better chance breaking down barriers with a motorcycle gang…I also have less of a chance of getting promoted and being taken seriously.  I talk about my kids (because they say the darndest things just like ADULT people sometimes) and I get the cold shoulder from the snobs who are above this, those who probably read Tolstoy’s later work and were influenced by the not having children thing and by that I mean the stuff he wrote when he was totally insane and also decided having kids was a bad idea after having 14.  I talk about Tolstoy with a group of mom’s and how the Kreutzer Sonata was also an actual Sonata and how Teddy Roosevelt considered Tolstoy a sexual moral pervert and…. if it doesn’t involve a story their kids wrote about their stuffed freaking dinosaur it is of no importance.  Really? Of course I said this is a tightrope, not every mother is self-absorbed and not every academic will freak out when you mention how your kid’s new hobby has something to do with campaigning for our street name to be changed because they didn’t like it for some forgettable reason, because they have moved on to campaigning for the driving age to be lowered to 10.

We are expected to act like two distinct people, both of these in the public sphere, three people if you act differently in private and gossip about people or whatever some people do… WEB DuBois talked about this idea of a “double consciousness” and as it pertains to race, it makes sense.  This is why Sociologists put gender with race and class….it makes us who we are, divides us, stereotypes us, and brings out fear and hate and strict social control in whatever group you are forced to be pigeonholed into…the illusion of choice is not an illusion if you realize this.  It doesn’t make me feel a deep seated (almost but not quite) hate for these mothers any less knowing this… I don’t think it makes me less of a Feminist for feeling this way either.  I understand the strategy of divide and conquer, but when there is nothing left to divide (if you are a mother with career aspirations and your budget literally leaves nothing TO divide)…all there is left is to conquer and if you aren’t with me, you are against me.  If you aren’t outraged by discrimination or outraged about anything at all, because it isn’t “ladylike” or if you are a snob who feels that outrage is SO low rent, you are an idiot,  Things don’t get conquered by peace, the etiology of the word does suggest a level of high emotion….peace is when the fight is done.  Read the comments on these ‘micro mechanisms” by the ASA. They seem to put this is a more “even” way…I’m still pissed about it.

What I’ve learned: Life Hacks

American Vagabond

002564a5d684112547f34aI could easily write a list of awesome badass “Life Hacks”. A “Life Hack” is a time-saving, money-saving, productivity inducing, or just sanity giving “tip” to help you live your life better. These are usually tips that you already know but have no actual interest in implementing. For example, you already know that spending oodles of time on FaceBook is lame, useless, and bad for your soul – but you do it anyway. You already know that drinking pop (even diet) is bad for you, but you drink it anyway. You are well aware that you could save money (and time and your soul) buy not stopping at Starbucks for your morning latte-chino, but you do it anyway. And, you already know that television is shit, that cable companies gouge your pockets and rob you blind, but you still insist on keeping 1-4 T.V.’s in your home equipped with all…

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The Emotional Component of Intellectual Work

As a Feminist, I am acutely attuned to the emotions or lack thereof when dealing with others.  I have researched gender roles and am continuing this work, I may even begin a new blog on this topic, considering it is not about my more Civic Engagement type of work that I am planning to do.  Point being Civic Engagement= nice, calm, sort of “girly” and Research= not pretty, sort of “masculine”, not calm in the least.  Now I am not talking about research in the sense of circulating surveys and grinding out numbers and graphs, etc… I am talking about qualitative, on the “streets” work that led me to opening doors that many would prefer to keep closed and locked and preferably moved to Cuba.  Now this is not the stuff of superheroes, it is the stuff of Sociologists.  We are supposed to go to the “other side of the tracks”, to understand subcultures even the violent ones, we are just well…we should do it although not all us have taken this road.

So cue in the everyday life of someone (A Sociologist or other research person); we have an idea in our heads, but have realized we have no pen and paper to write down said ideas.  In comes a jovial, bouncing neighbor or fellow parent or anyone who leaves their job at the job.  I am sure we seem aloof and sometimes even rude when we are contemplating such things as terrorism or violent gangs and we are asked about a bake sale.  Similarly confusing to “normal” people are the times I have claimed to be “too busy” to do X or Y and I am spotted in the bleachers watching one of my sons doing athletic training, practicing, game playing, etc… and going to games is important, sure but going to practices and other events, no not even necessary.  To me it is however, as I watch their male coaches and trainers coach and train.  Their lack of emotion (except sometimes anger), use of metaphors such as “you are athletes, not horses!” when they are stomping around, and all around command of respect and space is something to learn from if you have a penchant for sports, leadership, and gender in no particular order or possibly one but not all.

One may have an erroneous idea that coaching sports (especially ones considered more violent and less aesthetic such as football and martial arts) requires no intellectual work and that it is all yelling and throwing chairs and such.  This is quite untrue as these sports are a science and an art, respectively and emotion is expected as a motivator; simply put it is a role and a necessary one.  Enter in female teacher and the opposite is expected by most Feminists; intellectual work is supposed to be all that is on display while emotions are not supposed to be added at all. Now not all Feminist teachers believe this to be true, but they do (rightly so) realize that women are viewed as being “overly emotional” i.e. hysterical or teary-eyed or more concerned with making people “happy” rather than successful.

Stereotypes do nothing positive for either men or women. But it is quite possible to use emotion as a woman in intellectual work, as well.  This emotion does not have to be of the “chair throwing” origin, but it is what I call “fake anger’…I see coaches using it quite a bit.  Now sometimes they are legitimately angry, but in the “pre preseason” as it is now for football; I see that fake anger used for two objectives (1) expect some actual anger later in the preseason and (2) I am trying to motivate you and being nice is not a motivator when push-ups, running, and other not fun activities are involved. So yes this can be translated to women in teaching or any leadership role sans the actual angry which is always counterproductive.  (A) fake anger is good in that it prepares students for the “real world” where people are not going to always be nice and (b) it motivates students to do some work that they may have to do to fulfill prereqs that they may have no interest in doing.  Of course, you have to still “coach” by praising outstanding performance and have some fun here and there.  But the point is when we think of women as emotional, the angry side is often looked at as a transient “she must have PMS this week” type of thing.  Consistency is key and I will attest to this in my classes and in my parenting of 3 boys as a single parent.

I can and will be nice, step out of bounds and I won’t be, it really is that simple.  When I feel legitimately angry, I pull out pen and paper and write, literally write “do not freak out on Jordan for being disruptive in class, count to 10…oh still mad at him? count to 20”, then I shoot “Jordan” a look and move on… same thing at home. Stay in the bounds of acceptable behavior and all will be well, step out and it will be a boot camp situation.  In hindsight, dealing with all the myriad issues of having my oldest son start high school and the middle son start junior high, has been a trial.  The oldest has went from being disruptive and failing to honor roll at this point, the middle one; well his angry outbursts ended when I got radical and took him to the ER, knowing the charge nurse was a fellow parent of kids his age.  After getting a counseling referral and telling him in no uncertain terms “if you want to go to counseling to have people feel sorry for you, you will never be an adult that can function on your own- stop feeling sorry for yourself”. It has worked.  He is also honor roll and doing great.

One final statement on this, Feminists stop, just STOP acting as if parenting is something that is taboo in your world.  Yes, I get it believe me, it sets up back 50 years if all we talk about is our kids, and swap recipes, and read People magazine.  But don’t deny the fact that if you can’t run a “tight ship” at home, don’t expect anyone to think you can run anything else.  Also some might assume that your husband (even if you hyphenated your name or kept your maiden name and the rest of us are confused as to whether you even believe in having children) is doing all the discipline at home then.  No, we can’t have it all, but we can do emotional and intellectual work simultaneously and be better people for it.

Tips for Trauma Fatigue

Being an informed citizen is important, knowing what is going on around us is essential to how we conduct our day to day activities.  From knowing whether to grab the umbrella or understanding the genesis of tragedies that happen in our communities and others, knowing what is happening can be helpful.  It can also be exhausting.  It was a week when passive media consumers and active first responders were all collectively begging that no more tragedies would happen; enough was enough.  While many of us were relieved to discover that the Boston bombing suspects had been taken dead and alive (respectively) either because we were obsessively following the story or we happened to come across it later on, tweets of an earthquake and of bird flu just kept rolling in. It’s enough to give a person “mean world syndrome” or even mild to severe symptoms of PTSD from constantly watching or reading about the events this past week and beyond.

1. Understand that a controversial label ; “media PTSD” has been suggested and children that watched footage of the 9/11 were found to have symptoms of the disorder.  Children should be kept away from images, but not a healthy and age-appropriate dialogue of what is going on around them.

2. It is quite common for people to feel a sense of helplessness when so many things around us seem to be going wrong. We can’t control what others do, but we can control how much media we consume and know when enough is enough.  We can also get our own family, work, and community affairs “in order” so that we don’t feel a domino effect of constant negatives.

3.  We can be helpful to other people in small to large ways, depending on our skill set.  Community Service is a win/win situation.  However, jumping on an internet platform to criticize or stir up controversy just confuses people.  Yes, Free Speech is a fundamental right, but who does that speech help?  If it is just a way of “venting”- find another way; like journaling or talking to a trusted friend.

4. Don’t lose sleep.  It is easier said than done if we believe a storm is going to hit in the middle of the night or if a story if developing and we are afraid we will miss something.  Occasionally there are times when we need to take the family to the basement if a storm is impending, but if you find yourself awake late most nights you may be overly vigilant and that isn’t good.  Talk to someone.

5. There is a difference between hypervigilance and having situational awareness.  Situational awareness is what we employ when we are “defensive driving”; knowing where the cars around us are, the speed limit, road conditions, etc… It is helpful and it keeps us safe.  Hypervigilance is irrational and keeps us on the “edge” when no real threat exists to us.

6. Take your own advice.  If you are a parent or have a career that dictates you care for and/or lead others, it is second nature to give advice and be helpful.  Sometimes those in the “helping professions” can feel better when they are leading and managing others, but we can’t lose sight of our own needs in the process.  Setting a good, strong example is a positive, but we have to take care of our own needs and acknowledge when we are not doing just that.

Now go turn off the computer and relax!

The Diversity of Dialects and Irritating Jargon

American Dialects : Dialect map of American English

The map above was brought to my attention in (of all academic places: Facebook) in the context of how we judge others based on their speech, more obviously the dialects shown in the map.  While there is no such thing as a grammatically deficient dialect, we do still judge people based on where they appear to be from.  This can be especially troubling for Southerners.  Being in a state that has three distinct dialects that I can attest to and the map does well to show, I do find this interesting and valid.  I have always remarked on what I short distance I had to drive to hear people speaking in a different way.

As interesting as dialects are, jargon has recently been an area that I have been attuned to.  Some people (military and public safety people) are very comfortable with speaking in acronyms, something I have never been quite comfortable with doing.  It is something similar to “text-speak” in that younger people seem to be also confident in by using letters instead of words to communicate.  Mentally I can translate and use text speak or whatever you want to call it, because the phrases are not that important in context.  To say LOL (laugh out loud) is not something I would probably say out loud anyway, I would say “that is funny” or “you are funny”…But the jargon used in Public Safety is the stuff that can save lives or the opposite. To me it is just to important to use shortcuts, so I have trouble with this.  This isn’t even touching the topic of the numbers that correspond with crimes in process that police dispatchers use.

Jargon then along with dialect in something to behold in academia.  I realized yesterday while listening to various panel experts at an academic institution that I was listening to not only what was being said, but how it was being said.  I looked for use of dialects or the opposite for common phrases (jargon) and I never really realized I was doing it until I looked at this map today.  Now I was not trying to judge people by their use of language here, I was trying to improve my own public speaking by positive example.  However I walked away feeling like a horrible academic and one that needed to start changing.  In essence, I was judging myself.

This may come as a surprise, but I do have a mentor in public speaking and one that has never been accused of being a good public speaker; George W. Bush.  Yes, I know.  Now what I always liked about the way he spoke was his use of dialect and the way he said “nucelar instead of nuclear”…did he do this on purpose?  I always thought so.  Even if he didn’t, the use of a humorous mispronunciation of words has always been something I employ.  I have always found academic jargon to be pretentious and unnecessary, so I may use “big words”, but when I do I say them incorrectly or make a face when doing so.  For example, rather than saying, “it is fine with me if you do X”, I may say “I may be amenable to this X”; pronounced A-Mean-Able.  I also refer to cohorts as co-hearts.  Am I doing this to seem more human?  Is it because it amuses me or that I would rather be accused of being someone who does not know how to speak than being accused of being pretentious? It’s hard to say, really. Maybe it is because I am a grammar Nazi and I cannot stand words being misspelled on paper or syntax and grammatical errors being repeated, so I have to give a little with the spoken word.

Ironically, the topic of panel discussions was generational differences, a topic that I spoke about a conference two years ago.  Being a Gen X-er, I found it hard or next to impossible to relate to others that claimed to be in my generation.  Not a one said “like”; not as a preface to a simile, but as in “like I don’t know dude, let’s ask the older man, because he was like THERE and stuff”… Slacker subculture speak here?- possibly.  But this is another topic entirely as is sarcasm and other devices that can be employed in rhetoric.  Funny though, when I write I seem to feel more confident than when I am forced to speak and seem intelligent; translation pretentious. Also I can go back and reread what I write, instead of speaking and then asking others “oh wow, did I just say that out loud? LOL!”