Monday, February 28, 2011

Jana High School

The School Website:

The Article:

This week’s task to find a K-12 website presenting the history of immigration in the 19th century was surprisingly difficult. I decided that I wanted to look at schools in Louisiana, because it is the second most poverty-stricken state in the United States (2004) but it was difficult to locate school websites. I found a list of all the schools in Louisiana but half of them did not have websites, just dead links. The ones that did have websites rarely had online reports written by the members of the school on any academic subject. If they did, it was unlikely for them to have anything on immigration. So I resorted in using links from the school in which they use for their classes.

I found Jana High School, a school in central Louisiana which had a variety of academic resources for the students to use. I feel that although the school community did not write the information themselves, having it on their website specifically for their students show that they believe in the article and what it stands for.

After the depression of the 1890s, immigration jumped from a low of 3.5 million in that decade to a high of 9 million in the first decade of the new century.”

The article gives a roundup of the nationality of the immigrants coming to America between 1880's to 1920's. First being the Europeans (mainly North & West Europe), as they had been for the past three centuries – although their numbers were decreasing. Moving up were the Canadians and Latin Americans who were in search of a better life. After 1914, immigration took a decline due to the war, and the newly introduced immigration restrictions.

The article goes on to state that the motives of these immigrations were all the same; escaping religious, racial and political persecutions and/or seeking a relief from a lack of economic opportunities from their home-lands.

Many were pulled here by contract labor agreements offered by recruiting agents, known as padrones to Italian and Greek laborers. Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, Bohemians, and Italians flocked to the coal mines or steel mills, Greeks preferred the textile mills, Russian and Polish Jews worked the needle trades or pushcart markets of New York.”

The companies were able to understand the specific nationalities as they started migrating to the states. They learnt various types from the people they met.

Immigrants that could not travel first-class came to the States through Ellis Island, New York. The centre handled roughly 12 million European immigrants, working out as thousands a day. Many being turned down entry because of bad health, the fact that they may be carrying a disease, could be a criminal or being an anarchist.

I think that the children visiting this article will get the facts and figures that most immigration articles provide. But the thing that stood out for me was a quote from an Italian immigrant that summed up the disillusion that most felt:

I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold. When I got here, found out three things: First, the streets weren't paved with gold; second, they weren't paved at all: and third, I was expected to pave them.”

I think that many people believe in the “American Dream” and want their children to grow up with belief in them that anything is possible. But there are some that want to show the difficulties that they are going to be faced with. It isn’t a straightforward road to a happy life, and sometimes people give up.

In spite of the difficulties, few gave up and returned home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lakota Tribes

I chose to look at the Lakota tribe, located in both North and South Dakota. In the mid 18th century there were 20,000 Lakotas, but the number is now around 70,000, of which 20,480 still speak their native language. The Black Hills in South Dakota were sacred to the Lakota tribe, and they objected to any mining in the area, which has been attempted since the 19th century. This linked to our lecture, when John mentioned the settlers often offering payment for land for mining and other purposes, but it would mean the Indians would have to move and they were very earthly and against damage to the land.

In 1868 the US government signed a treaty stopping any whit settlement in the Black Hills, however four years later gold was discovered and the whites descended into the area. It shows that Native Americans are still sort of disregarded. The whites tried to administer non-interference with their policies, but the Lakotas (with Allies, Arapaho and the Cheyenne) defeated the 7th US cavalry in 1876, known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn. However it was a pyrrhic victory for the Native Americans – it ended inevitably in defeat.  It was known as “Custer’s Last Stand”, named after the General that led the cavalry, but it also became the Native’s last stand too, the nation was outraged at the Indians for fighting back so they redrew boundary lines placing the Black Hills outside the reservation and open to white settlement.  The Indians are somewhat misunderstood however, because despite mutilating most of the deceased soldiers’ bodies, they left General Custer’s, they stripped and cleaned it. Some believe they thought he was an innocent soldier, or there is another myth that they left him alone out of respect for his fighting ability.  Either way, it shows a degree of humanity, something that the rest of the world thought they lacked.

The tribe are still located to the West, which brings up old issues they faced regarding the settlers pushing them westward to the more desolate lands across the country, and they are still there.

Little bit of trivia here – the Dream Catcher is actually a Lakota legend!

They were originally referred to as Dakotas when they lived by the Great Lakes in North America bordering on Canada, but American settlement forced them to move west – continuing the westward movement. 

Today, the Lakotas are found mainly found in the five reservations of Western South Dakota:
-       Rosebud Indian Reservation
-       Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
-       Lower Brule Indian Reservation
-       Cheyenne River Indian Reservation
-       Standing Rock Indian Reservation

They are legally, and by treaty a semi-autonomous nation within the United States. Officials elected to councils for the several reservations and communities represent them locally. Each reservation has a unique local government style and election cycle based on it’s own constitution. The fact they are subject to supervisory oversight by the United States Congress kind of dismisses the progress they have made because they still need to run everything past the US government.

Well-known Lakotas: 

Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse
-       American actor of Lakota descent
-       Mostly plays Native roles in films, is he restricted or typecast because of his upbringing?
-       Was raised and is still living in the traditional Lakota way

Billy Mills
-       Second Native American to ever win an Olympic gold medal
-       Former United States Marine, this struck me as odd; the US are perfectly happy for a Native American to go and fight for their country, but they still don’t have enough power to make their own laws without America’s permission
-       Brought up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Chris Chavis
-       Professional wrestler
-       His ring name is the Lakota word for “Bull Buffalo” – Tatanka
-       Descended from the Lumbee Native American tribe
-       His search on Google images comes up with a photo that fans have photo-shopped of him wearing an Indian headdress and facepaint – proud of his roots or mockery?

John Two Hawks
-       Grammy & Emmy nominated, Platinum award winning recording artists
-       Music featured in films by Fox Searchlight, HBO and The History Channel
-       Taken signature brand of Native American flute music to places it had never been, brought it to millions who had never heard it before
-       Influences – moved by music which speaks with power, passion and truth

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Paleo-Indians

The wbsite I found focusses on the Paleo-Indians, the natives that were present in America at tge end of the ice age. Although the area
'...was the hunting ground of several tribes including the Osage, Delaware, Kickapoo, Shawnee, Piankashaw'
as well as others, the tribe that settled in the area of Missouri are often grouped together. the website claims that the native inhabitants camped and hunted alongside the Ozark Rivers since as long as 14,000 years ago.
'The Osage tribe was master of the area. (The Osage Indians were first recorded in 1673 by the French explorers Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette).' However 'The Osage Indians gave up their claim to most of the Ozark Plateau in a treaty with the federal government in 1808.'

The website's primary aim is to attract tourists to the area so that they can explore these lands and know more about the tribes that once lives there. Despite the fact that the website is very informative in the history of the previuos inhabitants, it is also very revealing. The tribes no longer live here so assuming that Native American;s are 'disappearing' from the USA's geopolitical landscape not being as big a part of America's identity as they used to be is not invalid. if they are not disappearing (either, from not being able to cope/survive with what they have access to, to live or by becoming 'urbanized'), it is evident that they are being pushed out of their origninal habitats that were previously spread all over the USA and concentrated into areas, such as mostly west of the Missisipi and predominantly in the state of Oklahoma.

The website also shows how Native American's have to an extent been influenced by modern, urban society. For example using a capitalist method (attracting tourists) to make a profit and benefit those in the area. Advertising available trips, shopping areas, events and entertainment and dining locations, the website is praying and relying on people's love of neophilia for tourists to visit and make the venture a success.

The fact however, that visiting a Native American's previous living location highlights another important point: if it is novel, then Native American's cannot be being currently viewed, not just nationally, but internationally as a conventional part of the US's identity and nation - at least not in the same way that white American's are. it seems that these peoples are endangered, not just of losing their homes, but of losing their ability to be conspicuous as well.

the very nature of this website displays the desperate measures the peoples are taking in order to be remembered and identified, as well as make a business that will enable them to be more financially stable.


The White Mountain Apache Tribe

The White Mountain Apache tribe are a native tribe of Arizona, and who's territory also used to extend throughout New Mexico and Texas. They are now however mainly located in Arizona in a historic park and reservation area known as the White Mountains.

The website of the White Mountain Apache tribe (WMAT) greets us as though we are old friends. It introduces itself with "Dago Te", the native tongue for hello, and immediately treats us as though we are looking to buy a property. We are informed that the white Mountain Apache reservation "offers something for everyone" (more details of this are included in the "Recreation"tab on the left) and by clicking on the History/Culture tab, we can learn a little bit more about the tribe themselves. For example, it now consists of approximately 15,000 members, many of them now living on the reservation itself which, according to the website covers a total area of 1.67 million acres (over 2,600 square miles. This section treats the description of the reservation with great romance and homage, compiling a list of flattering adjectives that treat it like a fairytale. It if it can be said, the word "members" almost treats it like an exclusive club.

The website describes the fact that the tribe itself appears to have evaded elimination by surrendering to cavalry when they discovered that they were to be attacked.
It lists that the most prominent threat came in July 1869 when the U.S. 1st cavalry, led by Brevet Colonel (Major) John Green, were given orders to "exterminate the whole village" and instead of recieving retaliation, were welcomed by white flags and willing workers to cater for their needs.

The way that this particular section concerning the suppression of the Apache people is presented appears to treat the surrender as a moment of glory. I cannot help but think that if this segment were by a devoted Apache tribe member then the way in which it is portrayed would be somewhat darker and possibly with a hint of grimace. Instead it uses quotes from the man who may have been considered a tyrant, speaking his surprise at how delighted the tribe were to be conquered.

This website surprised me because I did not expect the history and portrayal of this tribe to be presented in this way. I feel as though I have been booking a holiday on a travel website, not looking into the culture of a native indian tribe.

White Mountain Apache Tribe website:
Other websites of interest: /

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Official Website:

Newsletter, February 2011:

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBBOI) is a federally recognised tribe from the Odawa Indians. More than 4,000 tribal members still reside within the tribe’s traditional homelands on the north-western shores of Lower Peninsula, Michigan

Their official website is informative and culturally educating. It has everything you may need to learn about the LTBBOI tribe. Which stood out to me, was the paragraph “About Us”, in which it states:

“The freedom to be a part of a people who, with integrity and pride, still have and speak our own language. The freedom to share in common with all other Odawak the customs, culture and spirituality of our ancestors. The freedom we have today we will bring to the future through unity, education, justice, communication and planning. We will reach out to the next seven generations by holding to cultural values of Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility and Truth. We will utilize our tribal assets to provide the necessary tools to become successful, hard-working community members who proudly represent our culture. With these values we will move the tribe forward.”

There is a “Land & Culture” booklet available to read, their h

istory in detail, and what it means to be part of the LTBBOI tribe. It shows their openness to be understood. I think that many tribes are very much kept to themselves and are weary of outsiders. But the LBTTOI invite people to understand and learn about what they stand for.

I found their tribe newspaper on their website and was able to go through them as I please. The most recent being February 2011, in which the most recent issues affecting their people were talked about.

I think this may have been a naïve thought of mine, but I was surprised that they looked, dressed and had the same issues that everybody else faces. I had this vision in my head that they still dressed the way that Native Americans are spoken about.

They have a very modern way of life. The situations they seem to be facing includes getting a budget to start more construction type courses in the area, helping students make the right choices in their lives and finding out the most they can about recently discovered artefacts from their culture and history.

They have poems written in their original language to encourage those to remember their ancestry. As well as an advert for a language conference taking place.

They are just like every other community in America; helping with health care, education and living their lives as they wish. Their values of wisdom and love is shown through their respect for each person in their tribe, whether old or young and regardless of their status.

Another situation I picked up on was the fact that there are native Little Traverse Bay Band Odawa Indian children needing foster homes. But they need to be Native foster parents, so they can embrace their culture and carry on the legacy of their tribe.

I decided to focus on the newsletter as it held the most important recent events the LTBBOI tribe were facing and going through. They are just a community in north-western Michigan living as any other family in America. It was an insight into their lives and culture, really allowing outsides to learn more about them and tribes everywhere.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Women in the armed forces: Then and now

I have chosen several texts based on woman working in the American armed forces during the early eighties and today.

The following website: explores called "Feminism and Women's Studies" focuses and explores various feminist views on topics of interest and gives insightful information into what it is to be a feminist. The particular article I found interesting is under "Facts about women in the military" during the 1980s and 90s.
It states that women's presence within the army became much greater when the male draft ended in 1973, signalling the introduction of the "All Volunteer Force", to which the overall percentage of women in the armed forces increased from 1.6 percent, to 8.5 in 1980, and 10.8 percent by 1989.

The site also says that "In the United States, women in the military are thoroughly integrated into combat support roles and the services depend upon the capabilities of women." I think this point leans towards the concept of gender roles, and would appear to mask this under the word "capabilities". Surely there are few positions within the army that only men are capable of fulfilling where women could not? And if there are valid reasons for this, they are not listed.
It also points out that there are no laws prohibiting women from serving in combat, however there are laws preventing them from having permanent assignments in several divisions, namely the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

The website claims that women's roles within the armed forces are further restricted by policies prohibiting women in from "being assigned to positions necessary or advantageous to advancement and promotion." I personally am very skeptical of this point as I do not think that a person's gender would be a a strong foundation for not allowing them to move to a higher position, even if they outperformed men of the same rank.
According to the website, overall today 50 percent of military jobs are open to women, however these statistics vary by service. It then goes on to provide some percentages to the proportions of jobs open to women in the U.S military service. These are provided by NORC survey results (National Opinion Research Center), and are dated to 1983.
The site continues to provide us with facts and figures as to women's presence within the armed forces, and throughout each comparison that is made between the numbers of men and women that make up the overall recruits, it is clear that men largely dominate every sector.

The second website I've looked at provides a brief history of women's presence within the armed forces that I found informative and interesting which can be found here:
And from the same website, a timeline that also provided some historical information from the 1950s can be found here:
However my main point of focus is of women in the U.S army today, which can be found here:
This I found to be as a not so different contrast to the aformentioned glance back at the last 20 or so years. The statistics of women's presence within the armed forces has not increased very dramatically, despite the fact that more positions have become available to women, following the 1994 DoD assignment rules that allowed for these changes to be made, and have since been followed up to allow 70 percent of positions to be made available for women to get into.

The fact that women's overall presence within the armed forces has increased little over 10 percent in the last 20 years I found to be unusual as I would have expected that with more positions being made available, there would have been a more avid feminine interest, however this would not appear to be the case. One possible reason for this could be the appeal or promotion of the armed services in the way that they are aimed at women.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Woman: Old vs. New

The film Flashdance which was released in 1983, is a story of a girl who works as a welder in a steel mine during the day and exercises her love of dance at a local bar in the evenings. She wants to audition to become a professional dance but cannot as she does not have any qualifications. She soon meets a man who she fals in love with, and who also happens to manipulate people into giving the girl an audition. At the end of the film the girl goes for the audition but it is never revealed if she gets the job or not.
Although at first the film can be seen to represent the working 'grafters' of America (this film can be likened to Ragged Dick and the essence of the American Dream), and moreover the new evolution of the working American WOMAN, the emphasis of the woman succeeding is soon lost to the plot of a love story. What is also noteworthy is that it is the man that gets the auduition for the woman, not her getting it for herself - something which all femininists, if not at least womean striving to be independent do not want to see portrayed as reality. The film seems to portray the woman not as a successful gender, even if at least as successful as men are portrayed to be, but simply as a woo-man, a gender that 'woos' the man, and then in turn acquires what she wants. 'She' is not conveyed as being able to achieve something on her own, without the help of 'he'. Furthermore with her low-paid job the woman here does seem to be portrayed as the 'underdog'. Although the film was highly popular, it still conforms to what was seemingly the norms of the 1980s, that women at least needed the help of a man to achieve and move up the socioeconomic ladder - something many females were fighting against.

Contrastingly it seems that in the 21st century on the supposed 'Post-Feminist Era' women have achieved so much during the years feminism was at its peak that women now want to revert back to being at home ... or at least fantasize about the idyllic circumstances in which this could occur. This is conveyed in the recent American comedy-drama Desperate Housewives. In the series the housewives largely do not work but instead stay at home and look after the children. They are shown as ha[ppy, apart from trvial matters which the women keep themselves occupied with whilst their husbands are at work. When then women are seen to undertake work they are seen to be unhappy and/or stessed. The show portrays that after all the hard work the women's movement has put into gaining equal rights a s men, all they wnat to actually do is stay at home. Was it merely the principle of equality the women previously campaigned for? Or is it that the show is such a success (now broadcasted in England, UK), because it is ultimatey amyth that women wish were true. In reality the home is not as serene and glamorous as what is conveyed on the television series.
In addition feminine role models of today have become more glamorized to the extent that it is almost an unwritten rule. But how far is this the representation of feminist views, and essentially women being treated the same as men? - many may argue that feminist icons of the past were not glamorized, and purposefully so. Now women have (at least) superficially gained equality when compared to men, are they now striving for this ethos to continue or are they scared of offending the opposite sex becuase of all this gained equality, that they are glamorizing themselves in an attempt to bring back the 'offended'/'threatened' male to their 'side'? - hence why modern contemporary female role models usually ooze sex appeal. Are women still fundamentally being controlled by men?

Nurses in America

The two images I have selected are drawn from what is considered by many to be one of the most feminine and respectable job available to women.
Nurses have typically always been women, serving at their doctor's sides, providing a feminine touch to the sterile wards they patrol. They can be found in wars, tending to the heroes of various military campaigns, and they can be found in hospitals, schools, offices, providing a caring, tender touch to offset the pain of any injury.
Or so we believe.
Throuhout modern history, we have been taught through films, books and tv that nurses are one of three things; the blowsy matron (think Hattie Jaques in Carry on Doctor) the ingénue, a sweet woman who seeks only to care and tend, and the sex pot fantasy. However, while we all know this is untrue, it has somehow tainted many people's vision of the nursing profession, and changes the idea of what these woman are actually like when they work.

Image one is a picture taken in a prison camp in Philippines. While the woman is not blowsy, innocent or sexy, she is doing a job and her look of determination shows how she cares for her work. There is no romanticism, no glamour. This photo was taken by a photographer for Life magazine, a publication famous for publishing one of the most famous kiss' ever - post WW2 a soldier celebrating imminent victory in Japan with a kiss from a nurse. A magazine famous for its photo journalism, and for its up close and personal images of world events, I feel that this photo says a lot - taken in 1944, while the wars in Europe and Japan still raged on, women had become more important than ever in the day to day. Women like the nurse in this photo were applauded for their determination and spirit, and they in turn came to enjoy their new independence, however grisly the situation allowing it was. I have chosen this image because it is free of what modern society feels nursing means - it is often unpleasant, nasty work and it takes character to do.

Image two is one made purely to excite. An image born from the minds of those that find the nurse's uniform to be among the most exciting they have ever seen. The example I've chosen is of a glamour model posing as a nurse, and I have chosen it for two reasons. One, the fact that the image of a nurse has been so sexualised, and is treated with an almost sexist attitude. Secondly, that there are women in the world who get paid to look good, have the dream body, and dress up like nurses for the benefit of men. In the image, a model poses in a sexy nurse costume, and it not only reminds me that men are sometimes simple creatures, but that also, as Naomi Wolf states in The Beauty Myth, that women now more than ever are judged on appearance, their figure and whether they measure up to the girls of the glamour industry. Of course, there have always been fantasies about nurses, but now in tv and film, a female nurse is no longer the sweet, homely girl she once was, instead she is the ultimate temptress and a fantasy come to life.

Representation of Women and Work

The first image I found was a propaganda poster created by J. Howard Miller in 1943. The “We Can Do It” encouraged women to enter the workforce, and World War Two changed the role of women. While the military’s need for men increased, the industries had a real need for women to slot in, and from 1940-1944 over 6 million women joined the workforce, filling jobs which were, before the war, exclusively male dominated. The name for the woman in the poster – ‘Rosie the Riveter’ came from a song by The Four Vagabonds (video below), and became a nickname for women in the workforce. Interestingly enough, a male band sings it, and the lyrics that particularly stood out were, “she’s making history, working for victory” and “That little frail can do, more than a man can do”. They refer to women as “frail” but then they can still do more than a man in the workplace. ‘Rosie the Riveter’ became an icon for American women; with the earning of money, confidence and abilities to do a man’s job meaning they changed the American workforce from then on. 

Looking at the image, ‘Rosie’ has a very glamorous face, wearing make up and a headscarf which all looks very feminine, however she either has short hair or hair tied up, which would have been practical, but also quite masculine. She is also wearing what looks like a man’s uniform and has a very stereotypical masculine stance. It looks like she’s showing off her muscles, giving the message that she is just as strong and can do the job just as well. There is also the idea that for women to succeed in the workplace they must adopt male characteristics, something especially fitting here, as women slotted in to literally replace the males in the workforce. Had the women not stepped in, the economy would not have kept going over the years of World War Two, so this represents women at work as heroines, saving the economy from collapse instead of the men, so I see this image as very empowering to women and feminists.

The second image I have chosen is from Rihanna’s video for her current single S&M. The video itself displays the obvious, with numerous scenes of Rihanna tied up, and is generally a very sexual video. However, in response to recent accusations of it being too explicit, it is apparently expressing the idea of obsession in the media world, and a hit back at journalists. The director of the video said scenes were meant to be fun and fictional, but maybe this is all a bit much. However this is her chosen career, and should she be allowed to express herself in any way she wants, as a free woman? The video also features a press conference, in which all the journalists are gagged, so is it her hitting out at the Press, or too explicit for her fans who cannot see a deeper meaning?

Looking back at older pictures of her, you can’t help but think that now she is represented in her career as a sex symbol, because it is popular. Since her previous album, Rated R, she has been portrayed in a more fierce, sexual way. This may have something to do with her being assaulted by former boyfriend Chris Brown three years ago. It may be a slight feminist point of view that she feels destroyed by this male character, so feels somewhat empowered and liberated by her sexuality and feels the need to show her strength through her music and her videos.

However, as a career, is she just putting on a front as a performer? And is it not a human, and indeed a woman’s right to show off their bodies in a sexual way if they feel that way inclined?

These are two totally different representations of women at work, both empowered in a way. Rihanna would not be able to put out songs and videos like S&M had it not been for feminism activists and 'Rosie the Riveter' workers helped pave the way for women to do the same jobs as men, and for females to work full stop.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Women's Decisions

My first item is the trailer to the 1980’s film “9 to 5”. It revolves around three working women living out their dreams of getting even and overthrowing the company’s sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss.

The issues that the trailer show is the fact that even though women are at work, and are in the process of becoming equals, they’ve got a long way to go. They do the work that the men don’t want to be involved in. The men want to be the front cover, the one who gets the credit but doesn’t have to do any work. And the women should be fine with this because they’re getting what they wanted, to have equal rights to get a job.
At the time in which this film was released, women in the work force were rapidly increasing. Between 1980 and 1985, the percentage of women in jobs increased from 15% to 71%. This film proves that there is a place for women in work. Although I don’t believe it is the “right” place. I think men who watched this film who had very old-fashioned views on women at work, may have changed. The qualities that women hold could become useful in certain areas shown in the trailer; such as organizing, putting other people first, obeying orders and being on time.
Throughout this time period, the second wave of feminism was in full swing. Women had added to their equality demands and wanted equal social, political, legal and economic rights. I haven’t actually watched the film, but from the trailer, it seems that the women do not have an equal social standing as the men in the film. Nor do they have economic rights. But I feel that they have same equal societal rights. The way they are dressing and presenting themselves is equal to the rules that the men have to follow.

My second item is a blog post from Bethany Joy Galeotti. She is an American actress from One Tree Hill and uses her voice to share her views. There is a post from January 29th 2011 on the decreasing amount of class that women have in society and within their work choices.

It was at 8.30 in the morning when Galeotti saw a “weathered young woman with bleached extensions, wearing almost nothing, and singing to a hypnotized audience of men, women and children.” And the lyrics were not much better.
It comes with the over load of “trashy” reality TV, such as Jersey Shore that show the type of work choices women are making now-a-days. I think that there is this perceived view that being famous is the “perfect life”. Rich, fabulous and people actually wanting to be them is probably the most aspired dream in today’s life. Women have come so far in their work and social rights – well in developed countries that is – that they’ve been clouded and are heading to a different end then they first dreamed during that first wave of feminism.
They are choosing work that will get them famous for wrong reasons but they don’t see it because they’ve got their 15 minutes of fame.
I believe that following Jersey Shore will come a variety of teenagers exaggerating their lives to have that over-night fame. But surely that is just showing men and the world that the only way to feel recognised is to drink, party, have sex and not have a care in the world after it all? Because that is what feminism, and life, is all about isn’t it. The need to be recognised in the world, to have that belief in yourself, assurance of who you are and that you are destined for something. (And too many people believe they can only feel this destiny and assurance by fame.) Because it’s the easy way out. A way out of finding something that they are passionate about and fighting to become somebody in that world. It’s easier to be on the television drinking and partying, because not many people can fail doing that, and they’re scared they may fail if they try to do something else with meaning.
Coming back to Galeotti’s post; there a women who, because of their new “rights” have lost something on the way. Something, which in turn, made them lose their class.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Defining Masculinity in America

The image below may have been a normal picture of how American life worked in times as recent as the 70's, but now in America, more and more women are earning as much, if not more than their male other half. Looking at the article above, it shows how some people still believe in the old fashioned views of a woman staying home to look after the house and/or children whilst the husband works to provide for the family, and it also shows how the roles have been reversed in many families across America.

In the first family mentioned in the article, the husband has returned to school to study to become a nurse anaesthetist. The first thing that struck me about his masculinity was the fact he's training to be a nurse, something which, in history and even in some cases today, is stereotypically seen as a nurturing, feminine role. Traditionally, men are doctors and women are nurses, because men were seen as more professional and businesslike, whereas women were seen as more caring and nurturing. However this is not the case anymore, as there is a large crossover between male nurses and female doctors today. He describes this role reversal within their home as "unusual, awkward, and frankly, a little embarrassing", having to ask his wife for spending money, something which seems odd given the 'husband-as-the-main-breadwinner' stereotype. From research, in the article it states that for the first time women are set to outnumber men in the workforce, and are becoming he larger if not only breadwinner in the household.

Some men claim in the article that it is not an issue, however more traditional women have slated these working girls, claiming that by "letting her husband take the caregiver role", these women are bad mothers, as opposed to female empowerment. The old fashioned idea that men should earn more than women at the same job is still evident in America today, with the article stating that in 2008, women earned 77.9% of the salary men were entitled to, which has been steadily increasing. One husband claims "We can't make babies, so what can we do?.. We make money" - which gives the very pro-masculine view that all women do is make the babies, and men go out to work and earn money.

In one household, the wife is not only the major breadwinner but does most of the housework too, a very traditional housewife's role. She explains her reluctance to give up her "household duties" which shows that some women in America are still tied to the housewife motherly role. However she does say she wants her daughter to remember her as "ambitious - and as caring". This is interesting because of the idea that women must take on male characteristics in the workplace to become successful, professional, a businesswoman, but she still wants to be a nurturing mother at home. Is it possible to be both? A researcher in the article explains the "'awkward silence,' as pride intermingles with shame. Breadwinner wives can't gloat for fear of embarrassing their husbands" but this hardly seems fair, after all if the roles were reversed this would not be the case.

Looking back at the lecture, especially the classic characteristics summarised by Robert Branton in 1976, I can't help but think that this article shows women with all of these characteristics rather than men. 
No sissy stuff! - I feel like in 1976, training to be a nurse, staying at home, washing, cleaning, cooking, and looking after children may have been seen as "sissy stuff"
Be a Big Wheel - The idea of success, power and hard work, but how is this possible when the husbands do not have a job, but the wives do?
Be a Sturdy Oak - showing no emotion, however they may be taking on a stereotypically feminine role of looking after the house and/or the children.
Give 'Em Hell - compete/take risks - one of the competitors for men would then become their wives, who may be the sole or major breadwinner in the family.

Metrosexuality in America

The website I found was called ironically 'The Onion', maybe attempting to expose America's many layers, and describes itself as 'America's finist news source'.
This article that was published in 2004 is raising the isssue that The Vatican has condemned metrosexuality. Being a largely proportion of the population that are Christian, this has captured a lot of attention in America. The brief snippet of the argument that is shown reads:

VATICAN CITY—Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said Monday that metrosexuality, the trend of heterosexual men co-opting the aesthetics of homosexual men, is strictly prohibited under Catholic doctrine. "The truly faithful will avoid the temptation to adopt this hip urban lifestyle," Navarro-Valls said. "The devout Catholic must remain on the path toward salvation, no matter how good he'd look in an Armani pullover, and no matter how much he might covet his neighbor's set of Williams-Sonoma lobster forks."
Karl Weis, director of the New York-based activist group Freedom From Religion, responded to the ban by stating that "metrosexuality is so 2003."

With Christianity, amongst other religions, being notorious for prinicples along the lines of respect everyone and their differences, and it is the beauty of an individual's persona rather than their superficial appearance. Thus it is somewhat contradictory that the habits metrosexuals choose to have, such as shopping and high levels of male gtrooming (what a man should not at least be knwn to do), matter so much to The Vatican that they have had to denounce it, proclaiming their disapproval. Surely religion is meant to be an all-emcompassing denomination. Weis' use of the word "so" above conveys a metrosexual tone.

Furthermore in the small print at the bottom of the page it states that The Onion is not intended for readers under the age of 18. Although there is satirical content in the website, with articles such as these, it may be possible that this is an attempt to limit the number of resistors/campaigners of such assertions. Additionally with celebrities, with many admirers such as Brad Pitt (both male and female for varying reasons) being referred to as metrosexuals, it seems that establishments are not ready to except the new 'trend of man'. However with such views, and seemingly so many opposers it seems that progression and promotion of the metrosexual, although unwanted by many establishments, and traditionally-minded men, is inevitable.


Masculinity in America

The website I have used to look at masculinity in America today is an article from the Baltimore Sun. It specifically talks about how masculinity is being represented in modern America through outlets such as movies, and how economic change has affected the way in which men view themselves and their roles within the family.

The article argues that since 2008, the economic downturn - here named the "Great Recession", has meant that many men are feeling the pressure when it comes to money, especially those in the middle and working class whose families recognise that they are not very well off and frequently pine their household provider for items they cannot afford. It raises the fact that the financial climate has also meant that those who are unemployed are finding it difficult to get a job, creating a stressed-out and bitter personality in the American man, that the editor of the article says can be related with-and even portrayed in the movie "Capitalism: A Love Story" by Michael Moore.

The article then goes on to claim that changes in gender roles and expectations has also had an impact on the male agenda. Now that big money lies in so called "Soft power" represented by corporate industries, masculinity is now earned by one's position within the social class. Well paid executive jobs favour rich, middle to upper class men of good education and background to work for them, therefore it could be said that masculinity in America's capitalist society today is defined by how much a man earns and his job position.

Interestingly, the article uses a census to suggest that male income has decreased in recent years, however female wages have increased by as much as 25 percent. To correspond with this, The article points out that from the 2007 census, "22 percent of husbands had wives who earned more than they did, compared with just 4 percent in 1970."
This could mean that some men living in households with these cicumstances may feel that they are not fulfilling their role as the main provider for the family as their fathers and grandfathers before them would have done.
With this further blow to male masculinity, men may now be seen as "at risk" of holding a redundant position within the family as "Alpha moms" are capable of achieving both domestic and income duties and could even be seen as the beginning of the swapping of roles within the American nuclear family.

Site used:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hip Hop is Dead

In 2006, the internationally renowned rapper Nas released an album entitled Hip Hop is Dead. Seen at the time as a direct attack on the record industry and the fact that the hit parade had apparently become over run with sub-standard hip hop with the only intention being to sell records. Obviously a title meant to inspire controversy and debate, the album was also a comment on how rap music's overall message had cheapened in the years since N.W.A came straight outta Compton, or the days when it took a nation of millions to hold Public Enemy back. The website I have chosen is an online magazine dealing with human rights and liberties and to a lesser extent popular culture. In the article there is a sense that hip-hop has changed not only due to a different selling strategy employed by the record companies, but also due to a change in the people that listen to it, that perhaps the images of 'Diddy, Cam'ron, DMX and others brag[ing] about wealth and throw bills at a camera while bikini-clad women gyrate in the background' is no longer an acceptable or relatable subject. Therefore it can assumed that the once hyper-masculine images presented in videos such as Big Pimpin' by Jay Z or Still D.R.E by Dr. Dre no longer appeal to a set of men all vying to live in a world where the low riders bounce so high and the women wear so little. In the article, it quotes a study from the University of Chicago from 2007 that claims the changing face of rap is due to the young men that listen to it - that many find the violent lyrics and the way that women are shown to be as unacceptable and unwanted. The mystery and seduction of hip-hop lies in a world in which hard, 'true' men could escape, express themselves and write what some would call poetry but with a difference - it wasn't sissy, or melodramatic, is was what real. Therefore, the article I have selected and the Nas album that I have already mentioned might be a comment on what it means to be a man in the modern era - a healthier balance of street wise gruffness, yet happy to express themselves through lyrics and poetic imagery, without the need for bloody lyrics about senseless murders or how many problems one has but thankfully the bitch ain't one.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Being Gay in America.

The issue of contemporary masculinity identity that I’m focusing on is homosexuality. For that I am using a blog created by a gay male called Aaron.

I use information from both of the blogs.
You don’t really know much about him as a person other than he is gay and has a large interest in gay rights and the issues affecting him and the public.
The first post I found was about the Native Americans and how they had their own same-sex marriages. It was called “Two Spirits” allowing males to marry males, and for that marriage to be as valid as any other in their tribes. So for people to believe that gay marriages and gay rights are new and becoming introduced is actually incorrect. White settlers redefined “marriage” due to religious and racial views and persecuted those who carried on following the Two Spirit life.
Allowing same-sex marriages means to simply include old ideas into a new society, something that America is supposed to be all about embracing.

The blog posts show a lot of the issues that are challenging for contemporary gay males. I believe that the masculinity that is being defined through this blog and through gay people are linked to the challenges they face. They are faced with a lot of diversity and discrimination and because of that I feel that it defines who they are as males.
From the blog, and Aaron, the only thing they want from the public is acceptance. There have been various reports of a “gay agenda” stating that gay people are trying to “convert” others to join them. But this is not true. They only want to be accepted to go through life just like anybody else.

They face being invisible in many senses. They can sometimes feel excluded from welfare services and education services, depending on the beliefs of the workers. But regarding role models and television storylines; only recently have same-sex relationships become very main-stream. 90210, The O.C, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee and Gossip Girl all have gay characters; Gossip Girl having multiple. Linking to a blog post from Aaron, he focused on various celebrities that are gay and real role models, telling their stories. Clay Aiken, an American Idol competitor came out as gay two years ago, at the age of 30, only deciding to open up after the birth of his child. Rick Martin is in a similar situation. He came out as gay only last year (aged 39 years old) after having twin boys via surrogate. Adam Lambert, another Idol contestant, never confirmed his sexuality but instead was seen with his boyfriend. It seems that the role models gay people have are those that are afraid to show it. Thus, believing that there is something wrong with their sexuality which in turn, is put to younger teens and adults for that matter who are closeted.
Another thing to pick up on is that both Clay Aiken and Ricky Martin had children before they went public with their sexuality. This may have been a coincidence, but if you add in the recent Elton John & David Furnish issues, it seems that people may believe that it is easier to have children via surrogate, or any other way, if you are thought to be straight.

Regarding Elton John and David Furnish; they have a son, Zachary, born via surrogate. And as public figures, did a magazine cover to share their story. But one chain store in Arkansas used a “Family Shield” on the magazine – normally used for porn magazines – to protect the young shoppers at their store (Harps is the store). What is that suppose to show to children and families? I personally find it disgusting.

Another issue that are presented as a challenge for contemporary gay men is how they are seen abroad. In November 2010, the United Nations amended one of the minorities that were protected from execution – gay people – to now allowing it to happen. 79 countries voted for gay people to be executed due to their sexuality. Obviously they were mostly African and Asian countries where there are very strict laws about same-sex relationships. And although the States voted for them to be protected, and have their own laws on the subject, these gay Americans are scared to go travelling purely because of the discrimination against who they are and the things they could be faced with.

When you look at the fact that countries and societies allow same-sex marriages and relationships, it shows you that these cultures are only condemning it on the grounds of personal distaste rather than any real danger to the workings of society as they claim it would bring.
For this blog and opinions defining what masculinity is in contemporary America, I have a very Twenty-first century opinion. I believe that masculinity is character. So for each male, gay or not, “masculinity” differs. Real masculinity is defined by acceptance, respect and confidence to show the real person.