Saturday, January 21, 2012


My experience at Burnside Park in Providence was an interesting one. I went expecting to find groups of people living in a commune type society, all having a common interest in protesting an injustice of some sorts. In reality, what I did find was something completely different.
The first time I had heard of the Occupy protests was from a friend who was very interested in this new happening that he could relate to. He was glad that these groups of people were ticked off and were actually doing something about it. They were 'fighting the power', so to speak. My friend and I are big fans of peaceful protests, like the ones performed by people protesting the Vietnam War and Civil Rights in the 1960s and 70s. The idea that there would be a similar type movement in our time was exciting and we wanted to be a part of it. My friend took off for Occupy Boston a week later. When he returned he told me stories of protestors arguing constantly, fights breaking out, and never hearing the same story of why people were there protesting. He never said that any of the time he was there was ill-spent, he just walked away with a feeling of disappointment.
My friend lost faith in the Occupy movement after his adventure in Boston. I never got the chance to up to Boston since I was working the days he was up there. My chance to check out the Occupy protests in Providence came just last week and I can't say that it was any better. The whole affair seemed to be patchwork at best. I never saw any of the people living up there fighting or arguing at anytime. I was also suprised to see that there wasn't that many people up there at all. It was pretty cold the day I went up there so many of the protestors could have been seeking shelter and warmth nearby. I did get to speak to three of the people there that day. One gentleman who did not want to be named, was protesting the equality of the wealth and how there is too wide a space between economic classes these days. Another gentleman by the name of Mike told me that he was there for many reasons for him being there, one of which was taxes and another would be the shortage of jobs in our country. Just like my friend, I never heard the same thing twice. There is nothing wrong with this but most of my time at the park, many things they did seemed like it was thrown together at the last minute. It was not very inspiring. I don't think about the many people that was once there. I don't want to say that all of their protesting has been for nothing, their opinions count just as much as others with higher power. All I can say is that maybe the whole movement would be taken a tad more seriously if they had a common goal and had more organized gatherings. Right now, in my opinion, it's people hanging out in tents that don't like things that are happening in our country.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Meredith A. Love and Brenda Helmbrecht's writing on the state of feminism in the modern world that we live in got me thinking. How can I be a feminist in a world where being a feminist is somewhat in the past. Well, Love and Helmbrecht point out how even though, we're in a time that could be considered the "Third Wave" of Feminism, we can still see the remnants of decades past.

One of the quotes at the beginning of the article really struck me. "If representational visibility equals power, then almost-naked white women should be running Western culture." The quote from Peggy Phelan got me thinking about the kinds of imagery that's pumped out at us all day, everyday. Look at this Victoria's Secret commercial. It's scary how small these women are. I don't mean small in the sense of short or in build. Those women are REALLY THIN. Too thin. Honestly, when was the last time you saw a woman THAT thin? Maybe it's just a Rhode Island thing, but I haven't seen a woman looking like that for quite some time. Besides that, why are they in lingerie in the desert? Oh wait, Michael Bay directed that. Never mind.

I liked how Love and Helmbrecht mention the Dove commercials and how they used "normal" women in their ad campaign. Not these ultra-thin, seven feet tall supermodels, just women that you could easily see any day of the week. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind looking at a skinny, towering blonde in high heels walking around the desert but I would much rather hear from a woman that could be a classmate or a next-door neighbor. I find the latter much more believable.

Discussion Point: This made me think a little more. What do women think about these ads? What is the point of having a particular looking woman in those commercials? Does anybody else think that Victoria's Secret could benefit from having more normal looking models instead of the ones that I already mentioned?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ally(ed) Forces

Andrea Ayvazian's article on being an ally to those who are gay or basically anyone who could be defined as being 'oppressed' is something that more people should read. The entire article could easily be looked at as a blueprint for not only a peaceful society but also a way for those who do reach out to others to do it the right way. Ayvazian provides a few great definitions. One of which is the initial definition of what an 'ally' is. She says that it is someone who reaches out to someone (or a group) to help them and to solve a problem in a society that so many others "so often ignore or leave to others to deal with".
A group that I had never heard of before is also defined later in the article. The PFLAG is defined as the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. The PFLAG is said to be "the perfect example of allied behavior". The group is said to be mainly heterosexual people that speak in various formats in favor of securing rights for gays and lesbians. This kind of behavior could be seen as a great example of groups that should be around. The kind of groups that exist to help others to make a better, more unified future.
A great quote that the author uses in the article is from William Stickland. It's basically sums up the overall message that Ayvazian is trying to pass along by writing this. "When a critical mass of white people join together, rise up, and shout a thunderous 'NO' to racism, we will actually alter the course of history."
My discussion point for the class: has anyone else seen other examples of groups that stand up for others in other forms? I wish I had heard of this group beforehand since I have a few friends that are gay/lesbian and I would join that aforementioned group in a heartbeat. I also would have to talk about the usage of the word ally in the article and how, for some reason, it had a strange impact on me. I never thought about what that word meant until I read this article and now the meaning has changed completely. Has this happened to anyone else?
This video is awesome. Have a watch.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Economic (In)Justice

"I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good." -Martin Luther King Jr.
The problems that feminists face every day are simliar to those who struggle to pay their bills every month. They do not have the same social standing as others in their community. It's true that class warfare still exists. You just can't see it. It's become an unsaid issue that America seemingly has gotten used to. All you have to do is turn on the television and see the endless ads for 'help with credit card debt', Montel Williams appealing to your wallet and even opera singers asking if you NEED CASH NOW. It's everywhere.
Behind all of the dollar signs hides the real problem: money=power. This unsaid power is understood by the flaunting of riches. The fancy cars, the expensive clothes, Rolex watches, etc.
Feminists deal with a similar understood power. It's the power of the privileged. As we covered earlier this week, author Allan Johnson defined that the privileged are powered by the fact that they have something that others are denied. In the battle of the wealthy versus the less fortunate, it's a privilege of money. In the sense of men versus women or even African American Vs. White it's a privilege of rights. In both cases a particular group is deprived and whenever someone is denied equal rights, it's always a feminist issue.
I included a famous scene from the film "Wall Street" that contains a motto that many people and companies still live by. A motto that is part of the problem: "Greed is good."
My discussion point for the class would have to be does anyone get the sense of unbalanced power that I mentioned. Is it easier to see today or does one have to look into the past?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lesbian Existance

Adrianne Rich's "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" was not an easy read by no means but the author's message behind it all is actually very simple. She wanted to prove, without a shadow of a doubt that women didn't always have to fall in love with a man. She wanted to show that some women actually attracted to other women and coincidentally not all men are attracted to women.

Rich's writings that in our culture, heterosexuality is a 'compulsory' action can be connected to the princess arguments that we covered in class on Wednesday. The traditional Disney Princesses always fall in love with a very handsome and(most of the time) wealthy Prince. There has never been a Princess that fell in love with another enchanted Princess. It's almost unthinkable. I actually don't think I will ever see that happen in my lifetime. It would be realistic and gay marriage is seemingly more and more accepted everyday but it will never be show in a movie or television show by a family oriented company.

You may find yourself asking: Why? Why won't somebody make something like that? Don't you think it's about time that these people wake up and smell the coffee? I know I have. Rich makes the point that our culture "demands heterosexuality" and "women's choice of women as passionate comrades, life partners, co-workers, lovers, community, has been crushed, invalidated and forced into hiding." It's a shame that Rich wrote that line in 1980 and it is still meaningful and valid to this day.
Discussion points for class:
Did anyone else make these same connections or am I going out on a limb here? Did anyone else have a very hard time reading this? I felt at times like I was going back to pre-kindergarten and learning to read for the first time again. I also was wondering if anybody else found any other connections to other class discussions. Here's some helpful background info on Rich and the article we read.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Misleading Fairy Tales

In Peggy Orenstein's "Cinderella Ate My Daughter", the author talks about the many ways mainstream culture (with a great amount of help from Walt Disney) and society in general tries to almost brainwash younger kids (especially young girls) into a world where not only is it very important to be materialistic but everything has to be pink and shiny.
Another brilliant student in my class, Ethan Smith, pointed out in his blog the many things that aren't usually pointed out in today's society. I think what I took away from Orenstein's book was similar to what Ethan got out of it as well. Ethan said in his post: "I believe that my sports wallpaper, power ranger toys, violent video games, and love of Hercules may have been nothing short of  assigned gender roles as well as a separation from "girly"  kind of things."
It made me think back to when I was younger and how my friends and I went from GI Joe to Mortal Kombat video games to rated R movies. The restricted movies was a big leap. I remember thinking that I was a pure renegade when I watched any of the "Terminator" movies. Ethan also had a great point when he mentioned what other people would have thought if he had liked a princess movie like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" instead of a more manly "Hercules". I think this is valid since I always got treated strangely when I tell people "Beauty and the Beast" is one of my favorite films of all time. Somehow that just doesn't sit well. I later realized that all of these movies are Disney movies and in the end, Disney wins anyway.  
Ethan, I completely understand where you're coming from when you mention the crimes of Disney directors. I really enjoyed the video you had in your post. It is a shame that those movies have such an undercurrent in them.
Here's a video blog with a very foul mouthed host with an opinion that I happen to share. Have a listen she has some very good points.
My Discussion Point for class would have to be if anyone else in the class room disagrees with the author of the book? Does anybody think there's nothing wrong with the way Disney makes their films? Did anybody find the video in my post funny or is she going a bit too far with the Disney stuff?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Master's Tools

"For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change."
This line from Audre Lorde's The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House, reveals the entire reason for the author to write an article like this one. The author mentions earlier in the writing that while attending a humanities seminar, she realized that when women of the world were defined in there, the many differences between them all are grossly exaggerated. Lorde's argument is a good one. She describes herself as a "Black lesbian feminist". So, in essence she is confined to the smallest possible category imaginable. I cannot even begin to fathom how she felt when she realized that according to society, she is "..outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women..."
The concept that she isn't a part of a greater group is a sad showing of our society's ignorance to those who fall outside of what we consider norms. That really isn't what Lorde wants us to know in her article but for all of us to realize that we need to stop having norms and accept everyone for who they actually are. We need to understand that people are still people whether they be black, white, gay or straight, woman or man. Or in Lorde's case, three out of six.
Here's a link to a website that I found that really relates to this article. It's a few months old but it's another sad fact that needs to stop: