Poem Warmup 2

The breeze is blowing in from without

Without a doubt

The world is inside out

Shaken like the branches that

Held a chime once upon a time

and you thought it was silly all this

The talk of weather

until it stormed and you has to ask

Whether we should or maybe

it would rain and the answer

would just fall just like that

and you ask if it’s cold and I know

you mean what I think

because the breeze is blowing and

you left your jacket at home

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

How Many Sub-Disciplines Again?

Ok so I decided to “brand” myself as a Sociologist and in doing so map out my remaining years of research and work (I am in my 30’s, so this feels like major commitment)- for those of you “pop culture” people and parents I am feeling like Squidward hearing SpongeBob’s shriek of “FOREVER!..” But that is alright, otherwise who knows where I might end up.

So this “branding” happened in a very public sphere and, yes, this is a public sphere, as well, but we are talking Twitter- which people may actually read…this blog? probably not so much.  So new Twitter “bio” =Sociology Instructor- Sociology of Sport, Social Construction of Competition, Disaster, Violence, and Terrorism, Art in Social Movements, and Gender Studies… So no, no, and no, this is not an excuse to watch sports.  Sports helps me understand competition in the Social Psychology “in-group and out-group dynamics” in collective narcissism, cronyism, and “good ole boys stuff”…thank you very much.  We can look at ethnocentrism and how it may lead to violence, of extreme nationalism and its role in terrorism.  Disaster…may be due to Terrorism or something else.  Sports is my building block, so wrap your mind around that.

Art in Social Movements…let’s see 60’s music, anti-globalization pop art, Communist theater, AIM’s music and dance, and on and on and on… so I can make art (or try) and also partake it.  I could do this for FOREVER…no problem.  Finally, gender studies and I am stuck with my sex and gender pretty much locked in, although (ironically) become more feminine and less “competitive”….still conceptualizing at this point.  I am also stuck with the 3 boys and a plethora of information on gender roles and masculinity.  I am somewhat fascinated by my youngest, who can play football like a pro and then in the next breath tell me about his audition for a musical.  He loves costumes and uniforms, I will give him that…what a case study, that one.  My oldest is absolutely obsessed with a healthy lifestyle and doesn’t play a sport, but he lifts weights every single day (even on Sundays when I am trying to watch football).  He criticizes what is in the refrigerator…regular yogurt and not low-fat?  He talks about carbs and buys nutritional supplements.  I am too busy trying to keep up with the B vitamins he is on to study him, but wow-

I may write some poetry, although I am currently reeling from the loss at the local poetry contest.  I feel the need to redeem myself…I may write in the style of the Dark Romantics…since they are my favorite this time of year.  Scarlet Letter? yes, yes…that is perfect.  Random, which isn’t a sub-discipline, but if it was, I would be the Chairperson of randomness although out of chaos comes something…. which is what I am trying to prove here.

Common Ground: Gender Research

I promised, promised not to ever make this blog a journal type thing aka; a place to vent.  But when I use my “sociological imagination” I can connect back almost every issue to something, so there’s that.  As of late, I have been patiently observing, not researching, although always looking for issues that I can connect to something I am passionate about.  To be fair, I have evolved quite a bit.  It is fair to say I moved on from the more generic “terrorism” and “gender” to more specific aspects of the two.  I have deleted terrorism almost entirely and inserted _____ “disaster response” and “disaster medicine”, and “disaster and gender”.  Terrorism need not be involved, although it can and this should not be a surprising topic to chose since I began my studies at my Alma Mater in August, 2001.  9/11 happened and it had it’s effects, I have also moved past the idea that “fear-mongering” has anything to do with my research interests.  When something quite novel happens to your country 3 weeks in to your University study, well “let’s figure this thing out” is an obvious reaction.  I do have trouble finding this “common ground” with the “end of days/apocalypse crowd” although they seem to have some of the same concerns.  The only separation here is that there is something rational underneath research and the rest is completely emotional outside of disaster studies.

Gender too is so generic as a research interest that one would be careful to jump right in without thinking this one through and without alienating 50% of the population or if your hypothesis is particularly controversial, 100% of well everyone.  So two genders and two research interests; what is the most obvious common ground research word that pops up?- violence.  Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) has been the topic of many research reports, studies, and activist campaigns.  I, myself, even spent some time in a domestic violence shelter to see what kind of observations I could make.  Five weeks later and I was convinced of two things (1) sometimes even the most well-meaning people can completely mess things up if they don’t know what they are doing and (2) it would be only fair to go to ANOTHER shelter to see if things were similar/different if so how? etc… I wasn’t getting paid for this and it was highly depressing and irritating.

I decided to stay with “violence” as a theme still and in doing so, hold off that second trip to another shelter, where my story was not imaginary or made up, it was almost 20 years old though.  Reliving THAT was inflicting violence on my mind, really, so just- no- capital “N”.  I decided to enter into the world of violent sport to see if I could find some sort of definition or pattern to violence that I had missed since I already had some working definition of what it was.  Maybe I had to rethink it, maybe I had to see if American society was getting more violent or maybe (I know, I know many maybes here) – but perhaps 9/11 had some effect on making things seem more violent or it was possible that people were just quicker to throw up their hands and proclaim “everything is just so violent and senseless”.

How does one prove that? I have no idea really.  But what I do know is that when I entered in to the world of MMA (the same world some researchers in my field get paid to do) I realized that when you acknowledge violence exists it changes everything in that physical pain does not equal violence…as in sometimes it is just a means to an end of winning or getting up a hill or something that involves enduring pain. It is so much more complicated than this, so working from a hypothesis with violence in the opener is worthless without defining it first.  So that 45 seconds I spent in the ring getting punched and kicked and feeling somewhat humiliated, was worth it in that I learned that had all the ingredients of violence, but it wasn’t violent.  I simply lost in a sporting competition.  I also learned that I had given myself too much credit in the way of self-defense and I think every women should learn to protect herself and every guy too.  This was exactly a year ago.  I remember like it was yesterday though, the feeling that everyone was staring at my black eye and then later reading that MMA was easier for men outside the ring in that people didn’t make such a huge deal with men’s injuries than with women’s.  Someone actually got paid to come to this conclusion.  Really?

Much more can be polished from this so-called “violent subculture” courtesy of UC Berkley and if I had the time I would polish it.  However, as with IPV, things are only important in the context of something else, there must be something to compare it to.  I thought that possibly doing some participant observation of nurses (with the idea that I could put a bow on all of this) would be just the thing.  My research angle would be that yes, more women than men abandon their work roles during and after a natural disaster AND with so many women in nursing this is literally dangerous.  So I could conceptualize gender roles in MMA fighters (masculine) and in nurses (feminine) to see how to change this.  I also could sprinkle a dash of men can handle “x” amount of stress where women’s threshholds were somewhere else generally.  I can say that personally and apparently I have a high threshhold for pain, but very little desire for inflicting it.  Maybe this is the opposite for men?

So I went on like this for awhile, acutely aware of the possibility of making either men or women or both mad with these claims.  Then a wise professor at Indiana University pointed out that this problem of women leaving their nursing duties during a disaster had more to do with the collapse of “community” than gender.  It just was not feasible to expect anyone else to care for family than the family unit, itself.  I immediately had the fleeting thought that if we just taught our families martial arts than they could defend themselves, karate chop away debri, etc… then we, as women, could continue working.  That thought came and went quickly.

But, I realized I had all the controversial ingredients of gender, concepts of violence, and something else “important” in my own home.  This was something that has snowballed lately and I realize I have to tread more lightly and maybe solicit money this time; fighters have to pay for physicals, HIV and Hepatitis testing, women have pay to take pregnancy tests, and people like me that remain uninsured have to pay for medical care if they believe they ruptured an eardrum- I didn’t and that’s another story…none of my other participant observation research cost anything per se.  For instance, my learning about the Hispanic Immigrant experience was more about not getting paranoid when others were speaking a different language than anything.  It was also about learning how to remain detached in this kind of research, as you have to eventually walk away.  You also are well served not to get involved with people’s problems in that you change the trajectory of the very thing that you are studying.  I do chalk a lot of what I have done as “practice” and no one should get paid for that.

So after all this practice, I am trying to remain detached, well BECOME detached and it is not working so far.  New hypothesis “The college attendance gap that shows a decline in male students is partly due to the “feminization” of education”.  Sub out nurses, enter in teachers in elementary school and we still have something to work with, something with numbers to use (this always helps)… But being the mother of three boys makes this difficult, it also makes me vehemently believe it to be true.  I will admit when I am wrong, but it is my new “m.o.” to pounce on a female teacher and cry “gender bias!” when my boys get in any sort of situation I see as gendered; music and art work well as examples for the most part.  Physical Education, strangely enough has also been an area of concern before I even contemplated looking at widespread gender bias in schools and an ensuing distaste for the classroom by all boys who have experienced or witnessed it (as a hypothetical of course). Even though I am, again, convinced there is some validity to this…I have to watch myself in word and in e-mail.  I am sure one female teacher, who may or may not secretly despise “normative boy behavior”-whatever that means- will not be the straw that proverbially breaks the camel’s back and pushes my boys or any other young man into the military rather than college.  My oldest has already decided on the military and can conceivably go in 2 years, although his father can certainly afford to pay for his college.  Therefore when I feel that the school environment for the younger two is becoming inhospitable and a female teacher is to blame; I see red.  But I also see a pattern.

If I can somehow disentangle the two and just look at patterns (and my own students, even the female students almost 100% agree that teachers are all harder on male students when this comes up in class); something can come of this.  Common ground can be found in that a teacher is studying other teachers, carrying the torch of “I treat everyone the same!” and “why don’t boys ever win awards in Choir?” and “you think that is violent? do you live in a bubble?” “zero tolerance?” that sort of thing.  I just halfway wish I could take back the email to my 12 year old’s English teacher; the one standing between his straight A 9 weeks.  He would have had straight A’s last 9 weeks also, barring the “B” he received and the semester before as well if not for her and her brother, the PE teacher.  I didn’t tell her how Donnie and Marie Osmond strange that was, so I don’t really want to take back that last e-mail after all.  That last e-mail from her by the way did not address his lack of doing good “English”, but instead implied his behavior was not that of an “A” student, since he was too “social”.  Yes, I know there are some people that will simply say “the teacher doesn’t like your son ____ fill in the blank of which son we are discussing…and personality conflicts happen”.  The REASON why they aren’t liked and made to “suffer” in some way is what is important.  If it even comes close to gender as a factor and this affects young men’s college decisions, I am all over it.  At least I would be doing this anyway, although any monetary donations would be appreciated! 🙂

Why Journaling as Therapy may not Work for Everyone

Writing a journal as a form of “self-help” is a common homework assignment given by therapists.  I am not in therapy, though I utilize self-help techniques to become a better person~a blissful person as this blog reminds me… However, writing as self-help has never been something I could do in any medium, although I have never tried with a typewriter and maybe that is the trick, who knows? When I type on a computer, I always search for a “theme” for my feelings which then translates into a thesis, which then leads to references to cite why I am having X emotions at Y time and why.  It becomes academic. It’s inevitable.

Worse is what transpires when I put pen to paper- or pencil or colored pencil or even crayon and yes, I have thought different writing instruments might supply different results. I end up analyzing the doodled mandalas I create attempting to find the secret meaning of that duck or anvil or what is that? Then I give up, move on to crayon or something else and some horrible haiku ensues that makes me question the artistic importance of haiku in the first place.  How can something so “choppy” be art? So I give up things like meter and rhyme or syllable count and just write with my marker or whatever new utensil I have found.

The rest was just a warm-up, I tell myself.  I then end up writing like a person with hypergraphia causing me to wonder if, indeed, I should be seeking mental health attention.  Then to my chagrin, I end up with some horrible Greek Tragedy of a past relationship that turns to a existential crisis with some major Freudian undertones that would make Freud himself blush.  This is rock bottom at this point, since life is apparently hopeless and tragic.  There is nothing left to do but grab a highlighter and some post-its and write self-affirmations like “it could be worse” “at least you don’t have cats” “whatever” “don’t put this on your mirror” “never do psychology on yourself again” “write only self-deprecating humor and/or academic pieces”…and so on.  Not quite self-affirmations, but it’s why writing as therapy doesn’t work for me.  But maybe I am just doing it wrong, where’s the typewriter….?

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!”