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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The Gender Wars Just Got Real: or Sociology is Not Social Work

So my youngest had the choice this week (well I had the choice this week) of having my son participate in a musical, for which FINALLY boys had actual speaking roles OR he could continue playing in a football tournament that he was asked to play in for a week.  I basically realized that either choice brought with it some “ism” that I was not happy with and made me look like someone who took issue with EVERYTHING.  It was either the musical with matriarchy and cronyism or football with patriarchy and cronyism.  Since I could no longer complain about the lack of opportunities for boys to have roles in the arts (last year it was Choir and solos I was angry about), I could and did complain, well I pointed out with video evidence that my 10 year old with a flair for the dramatic deserved the lead role.  He was given some token role with 5 lines… I have warned people that I am just as competitive in scholarly and artistic pursuits as athletics and I probably lean more toward athletics, because it seems more normal there.  Yelling at a spelling bee is frowned upon, I found out and challenging a ruling to see if UK English was actually more acceptable, since it was the “King’s English” was almost as embarrassing in hindsight as blaming Dan Quayle for spelling errors.  Although I would much rather dress up and stay inside a warm gymnasium Thursday evening, I am not going to participate in the matriarchy, whiny, cronyism that led to someone, who is a SOMEONE in this town to get the lead even though he can’t string together a coherent sentence.  Of course that is “mean” and someone might literally cry about it, that isn’t fair.  Telling me I hurt your feelings, when you support all that is wrong with America is a total cop-out and a testament to why we have such an “entitlement” problem…let the best man win (or woman or random person who isn’t related to a “somebody”).  I told my son he should he should be allowed to give his spot to a kid that never gets picked to do things, but of course the part went to the head of the PTA’s kid, who is also a doctor’s son….

Then there is football, which as a sport and a culture, has come under fire because of this Richie Incognito fiasco.  Ironically my son is also an offensive lineman and I have been formulating theories on how to coach the O-line lately on my spare time, because it is hard to do all the hard work and get none of the credit.  Enter in the “Incognito” joke, literally.  I think that O-lineman either fall into one of two camps; the protector types that will block to save their QB and running backs and then there are the Richie Incognitos, who are mean enough to play defense, but too slow, and well just mean.  My son isn’t mean and he doesn’t need to be, so enter in patriarchy and the idea that you have be a mean person to play football.  Yeah, ok only if you want to reinforce tired old stereotypes about “jocks” being unintelligent and all the other negative connotations.  On the other hand, if my son, who is a good actor, wanted to continue to be in musicals and such, he would be called something equally stereotypical…  This does actually make me cry and then I see the possibility that my son is likely going to be called a “mama’s boy” and I get angry, because what I am looking for is a meritocracy not a matriarchal society…because I haven’t even thought through what the latter might look like.  Although if there is excessive crying, I don’t want any part of it.  However I am not saying that emotion is bad, I am just saying that using emotion as a weapon can be bad- anger/yelling or sadness/crying… and I am more comfortable with constructive yelling than I am with crying about how I am being “unfair”- when you are being unreasonable, because I said YOU were being unfair… UGHHH this is exhausting.

I have always been for gender equity (equality is not the same as equity people)! I didn’t always know what it was called, but I have seen the effects of trying to force a tomboy to be girly (I have experienced that) or trying to force a boy of any type to be a “machine” without feelings or a working brain, because you know being smart and stuff is stoooopid!- There is an ism for that, but I don’t have the energy to get into it…. Caring about art, music, or (gasp) dance and you may get bullied by an Incognito type person.  Sadly you don’t even have to be a kid, so these campaigns of “it gets better” and so on, well- sorry kids, but the truth just came out.  Sometimes it is worse and it is worse BECAUSE you are an adult and you think to yourself “I am a grownup, what is really going on here?”  I for one am glad that this is coming out, because life should get better when you grow up and the prom queens from the 80’s can stop being so bitchy to everyone and I can (although I don’t want to) discontinue being the person that alternates from yelling at someone when I see an “ism”- to an Emo person that just sees that life is pointless and why not just listen to Nirvana and to heck with those prom queens and WHY is marijuana not legal- like DUDE!?! (to be clear here this is SARCASM and a flashback to my high school self).  Of course there is a race and class element to all of this first…but class is so much easier to understand and even dismiss…oh really?>> you may ask- yes…. I am going to buy my middle son, in the midst of teenage angst the new “Ghost” game that came out today…all his friends have it.  I am not going to be THAT parent that says oh, you don’t have to have everything your friends have, because you DO or they wouldn’t be your friends…they wouldn’t be your friends because you would have nothing in common NOT because they think they are better than you BUT because it is a “bummer” when little Johnny can’t play games with you because they are poor… Do we expect to deal with “bummer” situations all the time? I am not wealthy by any means, but my neighbor or some other person who has to have back surgery every month or so is a bummer to me, because we aren’t in a Back Surgery Support Group and I can probably one-up you with the back problems- because I am competitive and I DO NOT care if I am in my 30’s I can one-up your Dementia too… and this children is why Sociology is not Social Work…. well this is why those of us that are consumed with the Sociology of Sport, who love competition and can spot class/race/gender conflict a mile away because conflict is not a whole lot unlike competition act as we do… Well this is why I act as I do, but after all I am only one representation of my non-Waspy, female, working class, educated, type-A, MBTI ENTJ, and so on and so on- so I can only speak for myself.  Maybe we are all unique snowflakes… Palahniuk.

“Take Nothing But [Fill in the Blank]”

Great article and interesting for the Visual Sociologist!

Book of Ash: Seascripts

How would you fill in the blank? Could you? Catchphrases are intriguing intuitive devices, ingrained within our brains at some indeterminate point in our past. They are not necessarily straight-forward pieces of knowledge: it may take a discord between what we read and what we expect to read to illuminate those intuitions in the first place.

take nothing but photographs kakum ghanaAt the entrance to a perilous canopy walkway in Kakum National Park, a rainforest situated in Ghana, we came across this sign. While the gesture is important from an ecological standpoint, it invoked in me a sense of nostalgic frustration linguistically. Because, a few years ago, the maker of this sign would have chosen a different final word. And in that choice lies a time lapse: a picture of an obsession into which many of us have slid, almost unbeknownst to us. Where the painter has inked, “Take Nothing But Photographs,” my mind supplies…

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Feminism 3.0: Fieldwork

Summer has been overwhelmingly boring, yet stressful; these states of being do not exist well when one jumps from one to another.  I have also been agitated, underemployed, and lonely to boot, reading books and watching films has either added to or subtracted from my overall essence.  Though teaching one online class, strike that, facilitating one has been interesting, my absence in the classroom has led to me to either think a.) I should really be taking a break anyway to avoid possible burnout or b.) I should be doing fieldwork, I have the time.  Unfortunately since I have decided the college attendance gap that shows more women than men are entering and receiving diplomas from universities is a problem and that it begins as a malignant reality in elementary education is itself a problem, since everyone is on break.

Of course, I have been reading what the “other side” says and this is basically that men still have an advantage even without a degree, they can go into a trade, for instance.  Having been married to someone in a “trade”, I still wasn’t convinced that this was something that anyone would really want to do, it’s hard, grueling work.  But then I saw the film The Company Men and I changed my feelings on this for 3 days or so.  I had a week previous also watched the film Margin Call, which like the former film dealt with the Great Recession.  Both made me cry and both made me realize that although men may be less able to accept their sudden unemployment in these times, due to machismo or something, it affected women too and where were we represented? The Recession took away a chunk of my 30’s, not the best time to be idle, really, although I was lucky enough to know it was coming.  Having graduated with my Master’s in August 07′, I went immediately into magazine advertising and other marketing ventures.  I had my hand in no less than 5 jobs out of college with 2 of them being promising on the resume and 3 being transient catering/waitressing/freelancing stuff to make money, so I could keep up the guise of being successful in the 2 that mattered.  Yes, Ben Affleck, we all know the importance of keeping up with your contacts at the country club.

Of course, the people with money and lots of it, were the ones I would go to for advertising space.  It became clear very soon after I began this that people were not letting go of their money very easily.  I was warned….I remember that at some point a very wealthy potential client told me soberly that things were going to “get bad”.  I knew the concept of things getting “bad”, so my only question was “how long?”.  I can’t remember the exact answer of if it wasn’t an answer at all, but just a look.  I was as prepared as any new graduate could ever be, I suppose.  But I never thought that my moving in with my parents in December 06′ on my birthday(my 30th) just a week after my divorce would end up in me being there 5 years.  Had I not had two small children, I would have went to any of the four corners of the earth rather than be there, but they needed stability, life was horrible.  I was the sole breadwinner, not primary, but sole breadwinner.  Only in my darkest hour did I ever ask for child support.  That was over 5 years ago and though I see the same dark cloud looming over me, this will never be an option. So yes Ben Affleck, I felt the same feelings that your character did, I was afraid of my children losing faith in me and I felt like a “loser” too only I didn’t have a supportive wife, who went back to work in the nursing field and I didn’t have an uncle to give me a construction job….a construction job?

I too remember those years of looking for work after the magazine fell apart and the internship at the marketing company in New York just.ended.  I was either underqualified or overqualified and the rejection after rejection ate away at me until I couldn’t even do it alone anymore.  My parents in their archaic baby boomer mentality criticized me nonstop, I was told by my kids’ school that I was technically “homeless” because I was “doubling up” with another family; my parents.  I gained weight, I got a job coach, because I qualified for that assistance.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I realized it when I watched the films that if the Recession had been caused by a terrorist attack, if people actually saw mass casualties right on CNN or Fox or whatever, it wouldn’t have been so bad.  We wouldn’t be looked at as “losers”, we wouldn’t have felt like losers.  People would have seen that this was real and not because of a lack of trying, and trying, and on and on…

But then I got my 3rd choice of a career as a professor, actually we are called instructors where I work or adjuncts or no one realizes we exist, except for our students and the Department Chair.  My career coach or whatever his title was, considered this a success and I did too.  Three years later and my full time teaching load has been cut in half due to Obamacare and every other person unlucky enough to not be full time or tenured is in the same boat.  But life goes on, people understand if a bomb actually explodes in front of your face your life forever changes, but like with the Recession, no one actually sees this.  Life goes on and people go on vacation and they feel secure, and they might blame you as a woman for remaining single, although being a wife was the job I was always the worst at.

Suddenly I began doing odd things like sending off for free samples or clicking on emails to get two cents, because those two cents will eventually add up to that $30 check that can put gas in the car.  I went on more interviews, I was asked if I “had issues with urine and feces” or if I would “enjoy working with small children”.  I felt my Feminism raging because of course I had a problem with feces and I didn’t go to school to work with small children.  Couldn’t I just build something?  What the hell was I thinking even caring about this college attendance gap?  Then today I finished a book and I got an email.  It has changed everything.

I have always been a “field person”, as a Sociologist there is nothing I love more than being “out there” and the farther out, the better.  My first day of Spring Break, I interviewed at a farm, horticultural only.  I was told I could work with migrant farm workers and others come July when the fields were ready to be picked.  I figured it would solve my money problems that always came with the lack of courses to teach in the summer, even if it would only make a difference in buying my boys new or used football cleats or allow us to go to the county fair for a night and actually buy something instead of going just to get free stuff in the merchants tent.  I had just finished reading Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski and I wondered why I didn’t just trek off to Thailand or some other place.  But that email “what is your availability next week?” saved me.  I wasn’t building anything, but it was hard work and it could be again like it was in my first practice fieldwork, I would be immersed in Spanish like I had been with the immigrants that lived just a county away.  Maybe Anthropologists might understand this more or maybe they are as depressed as I was if they aren’t tenured.  But, buying a new pair of cleats is the best I can do for my youngest, who is the only one who hasn’t lost faith in my ability to make their lives okay.  My oldest two have decided that I will always be poor and have given up and given in somewhat to “free fun” like sneaking in to the pool for homeowners and not renters.  Of course when I announced I would be a farmer next week, they assumed I would get something free out of it….we all know that nothing is free, but actually I will get some fresh produce out of it and I won’t feel like a loser, because I picked it in the sun and in the dirt and in the heat and in the rain.  So please don’t tell me I’m not trying.

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!