Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Article Out: Critically Thinking About Sex Toys, By Me :)

Remember :) Sex Toy Bingo Tuesday Night after class!!! Bring munchies and friends, it will be a blast.

Whether you're uncomfortable, a total advocate, or somewhere in between and a little interested...this is my new article on sex toys and why they can appeal to everyone!



Can someone help me with embedding? If I'm not using a Youtube video and can't save it on my computer and just enter the embed code, it never shows up as a video on my blog once I publish! Help? : /

Talking Points No. 5/////Hyperlinks--> Michael Wesch's "From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments"

I like that Michael Wesch views the way in which we are educated as ideological. One of his main points is that we are educated in a form that asks us to memorize and regurgitate, and to trust and essentially be submissive to authority. This is particularly true of high school classrooms. There is nothing egalitarian about a modern high school classroom, despite the fact that we have endless amounts of information being created constantly and it is extremely pervasive with new forms of technology. Furthermore, young people are the ones who generally are most aware of what this new technology is and how to use it even though adults are the only people with power and therefore viewed as the only "trusted" sources of information. What Michael Wesch describes as vital to teaching is leaving students with a way of analyzing and interpreting information, a way to constantly interrogate and ask questions. If teachers accomplish the goal of helping students develop a new way of teaching that allows them to essentially think critically for themselves, then that is something they can take out into the world with them that will always be relevant. This is important, since something else Wesch addresses is how modern students often have trouble figuring out the significance of their education. Well, if they are only taught to regurgitate particular viewpoints or methods rather than critically thinking and understanding something for ourselves, then of course it is going to quickly leave our minds.

As I was reading Wesch's piece, I felt as though many things I act on and believe in were being justified for the first time. I was going through the piece thinking "I do that" or "I've felt that way..." and recognizing that the types of behaviors Wesch describes are labeled as social problems when in fact it is the educational system that perhaps creates those problems, not the teenagers. I didn't have astonishing grades in high school because I did not ever feel engaged with the material. I never grappled with any of it. Nobody ever asked me, "So, what do you think of that?" or "Do you think this is true in your life or others lives around you?" I would read whatever was in the textbook, discuss in it class and be bored with it because I constantly had someone telling me what to think about something. This is the what Wesch is describing when he says that we are encouraged to just "follow along."

When we don't just "follow along" and we actually make an effort to understand the things happening around us, and we look at things through our own perspectives, that is when we feel empowered to discuss and to participate in our own classrooms and our own cultures. The young woman who helped spark the recent movement in Egypt was not just "following along," she was actively understanding and using her perspective as well as new media to influence something. She created and disseminated information through a YouTube video, and it was effective.

There are also students in Egypt who have made a newspaper full of voices of protestors, and they do not have government permission to do so. The students are creating media, disseminating their information/ideas/news, and they are doing what Wesch discusses when he says to "explore authority" rather than trust it.

You can find an interview here:

Michael Wesch's article also reminded me of a type of education model I studied when facilitating a Female Sexuality Workshop called "the popular model of education." This form of education involves student/participant experiences, discussion, drawing patterns and observations, adding new information, strategizing a plan for action and taking action. In my experience, using this in the classroom (both the student's using it and the "teacher" modeling it) has eliminated a sense of strict authority in the room and allowed everyone to participate and learn in a way that was significant and applicable. This is the spiral model and the link for more information.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Talking Points No. 4////Hyperlinks: "A Tangle of Discourses, Girls Negotiating Adolescence" by Rebecca C. Raby

 Rebecca C. Raby works to deconstruct what the category of "teenagers" even means in Western culture, particularly north America. Through this, she exhibits all three of the course assumptions since she gets into how it is a socially constructed category enforced by the media that "Others" (p. 10) teens. She uses a lot of detail to show the perceived generational "differences" between grandmothers and granddaughters (teenagers between 13-19), which really allowed me to understand how adults are conditioned to think of teens as people simultaneously "rebelling" (or resisting, p. 445) to find individuality and also going through temporary and hormonal phases. This dichotomy strips teens of their agency, which they are taught they have through things like self expression and thus consumerism. Raby also focuses on how teenagers are lumped together in one category that allows society to generalize about how teens behave innately, as a whole. Fundamentally, I think Raby teaches through the article various ways in which teenagers are in fact an oppressed group. Like other oppressed groups, they are conditioned into believing they have rights, but in fact are not equipped or encouraged (furthermore, are actually discouraged) from participating in social movements or behaviors that in any way don't meet the status quo.

This is a video about Justin Bieber's recent anti-abortion comments in Rolling Stone. In the video, there are several adults making the types of assessments that Raby is talking about specifically in the article.

In "A Tangle of Discourses," Raby talks about how teenagers are taught to "become" and enter new parts of their lives and identities and therefore taught to do things like speak their minds but then when they do they are written off as immature and going through phases. The newswoman in the video discusses Bieber's comment and several adults critique the incident. Basically, he is written off as being too immature to have an opinion on the matter and one of the speakers states that it was "unfair" for Rolling Stone to ask a fifteen year old a question dealing with such a "hot button" issue. Even though I disagree with Bieber's public statement due to the implications this has on young fans of his, I recognize the unfair dichotomy at play that Raby references. Bieber's opinion is supposedly misquoted, and he is first attacked for the statement. Then, his statement is considered illegitimate because of his age. It is also pointed out that Rolling Stone is a music magazine that shouldn't be making sales by asking young teens questions that *oh no* reveal their opinions on things. Well, of course, it is okay here to point out that Rolling Stone is kind of going off on a tangent by writing something so unrelated to Bieber's actual music, however, there is no discussion about all of the other companies capitalizing on things unrelated to their practice. The male speaking towards the end of the video also makes tremendous generalizations about teenagers, starting with things like "What teenager doesn't _______?"

Raby "focuses on five key, dominant, overlapping and, in places, contradictory discourses" including "the storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumption" (P. 431). This anti-drug campaign commercial homogenizes teenagers by presenting them as a group that is in the middle of their confusing and hormonal storm, "becoming" since they are being presented with agency to choose not to do drugs, at-risk of peer pressure/poor health/loss of control/fatality/etc., social problems that must be self-disciplined and "in control," and consuming things other than drugs/alcohol for their own good. This leaves out the possibility that not all teenagers actually have this kind of control or choice, legitimate (not purely hormonal) feelings of depression or alcoholism due to things beyond their control in their surroundings, and infinite other possibilities. Basically, it oversimplifies the American teenager and perpetuates a socially constructed image of what it is to be a teenager.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

3 Quotes/Significance and Reflection on them: Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us

"The "secret education," as Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman dubs it, delivered by children's books and movies, instructs young people to accept the world as it is portrayed in these social blueprints. And often that world depicts the domination of one sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart. After studying cartoons and children's literature, my student Omar wrote: "When we read children's books, we aren't just reading cute little stories, we are discovering the tools with which a young society is manipulated."

The first fundamental point (or "assumption") that must be recognized in order to make progress is that we are in fact being manipulated, or indoctrinated with particular views that shape us. It happens from childhood forward, and as a matter of fact, since deregulation of the FDC was passed during the Reagan era, children are the prime targets of "manipulation." They are easily marketed at and their characters and ideas are developed and dominated by mainstream media. We must also recognize that this quote is significant because it is a reflection of the ways in which everything has a bias. Bias does not necessarily mean someting *bad*, it is always perspective. Once bias is viewed as perspective, people can feel disarmed and capable of discussing the "perspective" that has been provided for them through media, experience and a combination of the two.


"Students keep track of their responses in a dialogue journal. I pose the question: "Do you agree with Dorfman's position that children receive a 'secret education' in the media" Do you remember any incidents that support his allegations?" This is difficult for some students. The dialogue journal sputs them to argue, to talk back, and create a conversation with the writer. Dorfman is controversial. He gets under their skin...Many students don't want to believe that they have been manipulated."

This quote particularly resonates with me because I relate it to feeling victimized. In my first women's studies class, Gender and Society, my professor once said, "Nobody wants to realize and affirm the fact that they have been taken advantage of, manipulated, oppressed or victimized." This gets at a similar idea to the one posed in this quote by Christensen. I do not believe it is a matter of questioning whether we have or have not been manipulated by the mainstream media or dominant ideology so much as it is an issue of willlingness to take ownership of victimization. As someone who has been sexually assaulted, it is clear to me that it is difficult to talk about being a "victim," because what that seems to connote is that someone has taken our control. This is where we have to questions as American it so bad to recognize that someone has stripped us of our agency? In reality, this is something that creates productive dialogue and brings us together. I have only started openly discussing being raped with people in the last month or two, but what I have found is that people are heavily drawn to me who have similar experiences. Although it is hard to accept that perhaps our ideas are not necessarily our own, in the long run this does many things and two come to my mind in particular. One, it significantly allows and inspires others to own their personal experiences, and two, it disperses information in a genuine way that doesn't involve this manipulation. This is what Christensen is getting at by titling the piece "unlearning the myths that bind us." By first recognizing what we have learned that is potentially false and even destructive, we can begin to recognize our similarities and realize that we are not so divided after all. The things that divide us are legacies of privilege and power that have been unfairly and falsely appropriated.

"The possibility of publishing their pieces changed the level of students' intensity for the project. Anne, who turned in hastily written drafts last year, said: "Five drafts and I'm not finished vet!" But more importantly, students saw themselves as actors in the world."

In terms of the masses, I don't think students are as engaged in their work as they could potentially be because that just isn't the way we are conditioned to think. I have always looked at all my pieces of writing and other work in school as things to be saved and edited and possibly used for something like a book at some point in time, but I do this because I recognize how privileged I am to even be part of an academic institution that allows me this kind of practice and leverage. In this country, something that deeply bothers me is the idea that nothing we do really matters because we are so large. We have a large government, a large array of media portrayals that still offer us the same or similar ideology from cradle to grave, large corporations, and are overall dominated and controlled without recognizing it. This is problematic because it seems to override our actions as citizens and as students, terms that do not necessarily have to be separated. We are presented with the idea that even if we are working to make a difference, we are tiny individuals. However, being tiny individuals does NOT mean that we do not have access to power. As a matter of fact, I think it is normalized but however irresponsible to assume that we don't have power. We all have groups of employees...who we participate in dialogue with. We all are students within the same community and social sphere, so why is it that we aren't moblilizing? I chose this quote because it shows how we are turned on by the idea that we can use our voices, write to people and even write in our blogs and it will be seen by others and we can create movements and spread ideas and communicate and formulate! So, if we think the idea of action is so hot, and we dig the attention we get by posting our ideas and learning and creating, then let's take advantage of the opportunity.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grinner's "Hip Hop Sees No Color: An Exploration of Privilege and Power in Save the Last Dance"

     This author Leslie Grinner argues that despite efforts to make Save the Last Dance a film transcending racism and other oppressive -isms, the movie overall reinforces stereotypical, dominant ideology dealing with race/sex/ability/sexuality/religion/property-owning and depicts our not-all-inclusive cultural values. Grinner uses the model she talks about having developed (SCWAMP) to make visible and deconstruct the cultural values inherent to the film. She argues that the usage of SCWAMP on a wider scale is an important analytical tool for studying media. This is the main point of the article, since it is a way for us to see invisible ideological components of what we are exposed to. This is a basic step in recognizing privilege and power and what groups have it in our society. In this way, analyzing media, especially popular media, is a way to almost look in the mirror at what our culture tells us to think and do. For example, Grinner follows the letters of SCWAMP to recognize straightness/heterosexuality, Christianity, whiteness, able-bodiedness, maleness and owning of property in the film Save the Last Dance. Grinner recognizes what things are hierarchically ranked in the film, in other words, what is made a standard in society. The film reflects no other sexuality besides heterosexuality, and the absence of sexualities deviating from this reinforces being hetero- as a standard. Christianity is not directly referenced but morality is, and there are moral standards and moral hierarchy displayed in the characters. Whiteness is a standard for a multitude of reasons in the film. Grinner references the expected sadness on the part of the audience reflected in the tone of scenes regarding Sara's mother's death as an example of this since the same sadness is not present in scenes regarding Chenille and Derrick's mother's jail time and drug addiction. Able-bodiedness is reflected as a norm/standard on a fundamental level since the film revolves around dance. The film reflects the idea that women need men to depend on in order to be successful, and there is competition for men shown amongst the females. Finally, there is the property-owning standard, which doesn't reflect physical property owning necessarily according to Grinner but can also mean economic, intellectual and cultural property, all of which are important values exhibited in the film. The characters that have access to these types of privilege and resources are praised and may seem like protagonist characters that exemplify the achievement of equality in our culture, when in actuality Grinner's argument is that media is complicated and difficult to analyze but SCWAMP is a framework that makes recognition of power and privilege more visible and in turn easier to discuss and works towards fixing.