Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson Decision equates to Boycotting Black Friday?


I thought this article tied nicely into our discussion tonight (i.e., how we talked about how digital technologies have the capability to promote change, we, as a society, have just not effectively used them as such--at least not in the US).

I don't want to make it seem like I am questioning the goodwill or good intentions of the people who are attempting to protest by boycotting Black Friday. What I question is why they think putting pressure on corporate America will effect the police force and the judicial system? I also doubt that sitting out one day of Christmas shopping will make a difference, because I don't think many people will be willing to forgo Christmas shopping altogether, and then doesn't that defeat the purpose?

Anonymous Hacks KKK's Twitter Account

All I want for Christmas is...a scarred, freckle-faced, redheaded Lamilly doll?

I caught the end of this news story the other day, reporting on the new Lamilly dolls. Apparently, you can add "marks" to the doll to make it more realistic.

Notice how the doll doesn't represent disabilities or racial and ethnic minorities. It also reinforces gender norms.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NFL's response to domestic violence

I’m a huge football fan, and like many fans this season, I’ve been disappointed in the NFL’s response and handling of the players involved with domestic violence, most notably Ray Rice. I’ve noticed the effort they organization has put forth to right the audiences’ perceptions of the League by their promotion of the “Say No More to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault” campaign. The first few PSAs that aired boasted players and celebrities saying, “No more” this and “No more” that. It was a fairly diverse group of individuals (as far as celebrities go). However, more recently, the League has aired a player only PSA. This is the one I struggle with. It’s only males (23 of them to be exact), and the majority of them (16) are Black players. The only player to speak twice (once at the beginning, and once at the end) is Eli Manning. 

My concern it that this reinforces the assumption that black men are the “abusers, while white men are the “fixers” or “leaders.”  As Cloud notes, “Race and sex have always been overlapping discourses in the United States” (57). I think this is an example of overlapping and perpetuating troubling assumptions. Why not have an all women PSA?

I curious to know what everyone thinks about this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Developing the Citizen

When I started reading the introduction to Roberts-Miller's Deliberate Conflict, I was brought back to an interview that Kelsie and I conducted a few weeks ago with our 103 mentor. A quick background, in our 601 course we have been working on creating Dynamic Criteria Maps for our mentors. What that means is that we have been collecting data based on their syllabi, assignment sheets, feedback on student papers, and an interview to determine what their belief and values are concerning teaching composition. During our interview Kelsie had asked a question about how our mentor viewed the values of the Writing Program. In her answer our mentor began to delve into the value of teaching argument. More specifically she said, "I think you have to be able to do that [be able to develop an argument] as…to be a citizen, to be an employee, to be a parent, to be anything. So I think argument, the essence of argument, all things are argument is critical. I think it’s very valuable to any student." It struck me that some of the very things that Roberts-Miler was discussing, the debate on teaching argument and teaching students to be citizens, was one of the values that my mentor had just recently discussed herself. In her introduction Robers-Miller even talks about how students and some instructors "do not see college in of for citizenship." While I may not agree with all of the points that she was making I do think that she is right in this aspect. Students don't go to school to learn anymore. College is a stepping stone, something to get through on the way to somewhere better. The problem is that in combining that with Habermas's discussion on a switch from culture-debating to culture-consuming, our future generations, and current generations, are not taught how develop themselves as effective citizens and don't seem to care. Habermas makes the point that "news media deprives the public of the opportunity to say something and to disagree." His discussion on the fall of the literary sphere shows the timeline of the public (in his case the bourgeois class) losing its want and ability to be an active and influential citizen. As we've moved further and further into the consumer culture our ideas of discussion and debate have waned and become very negative. We've kind of become this society of observers that would prefer a more hands off approach to citizenship. I definitely agreed with my mentor when she said, "…it’s a little discouraging when students say I’m in college so I can get a better job. Yes, that’s true, but be in college so you can learn things and be a more interesting person."  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fraser's "Rethinking the Public Sphere" and a multiplicity of publics

In "Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracies" Nancy Fraser discusses four assumptions that Habermas makes in his conception of the public sphere. Assumption number two is "that the proliferation of a multiplicity of competing publics is necessarily a step away from, rather than toward, greater democracy, and that a single, comprehensive public sphere is always preferable to a nexus of multiple publics" (62). Fraser re-examines this assumptions and believes that stratified societies benefit more from multi-publics and what she calls subaltern counterpublics.

I found the concept of subaltern counterpublics interesting, especially in the example that Fraser gives of feminist fighting for a larger public awareness of rape and sexual violence. She explains these feminist movements first had to begin in a counterpublic before it gained acceptance and awareness by a larger public.

Although I agree with Fraser, I find a multiplicity of publics necessary, I wonder what the limitations of having such stratified publics are. In other words, not all publics are going to be viewed in the same way, so wouldn't that create a power structure that not all counterpublics may not be able to overcome?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Problematic Discourse

The other day, I was conferencing with a student about his draft for the unit on proposals I was teaching in my mentor's class. He was proposing that Ball State should have a group on campus where people of the LGBTQ community and heterosexual people could come together to learn more about each other, specifically, for heterosexual people to learn more about "homosexuals," so they (heterosexual people) could be more accepting. (Btw, I informed him that such a group does exist--SPECTRUM--which he ended up including in his final draft, but essentially wrote they weren't doing enough.)

The word, "homosexual," was used quite a bit throughout his paper, even after I responded on several of his drafts to consider using more affirmative words such as "members of the LGBTQ community" or even "gay" and "lesbian" and "transgendered." He adopted one of these terms once in his proposal.

Now a bit of background: my assignment was themed, Social (In)Justice. When we started the unit, we did an activity where students took on "identities" that were apart from the heteronormative/able/white/male ideology. The students were to walk around campus for one week, seeing the campus and the community through the eyes of the identity they drew. The student in the above story drew a "lesbian student" as his identity.

As we worked on this assignment, I sensed engagement from most students and also some resistance from other students. As I planned the unit, I tried very hard to create a unit that opened discussions about "otherness" and that provided opportunities for students to see practices and identities inherent and privileged by the institution. For the most part, the unit ran smoothly.

Now, though, as I reflect on my unit and in thinking about this week's readings, I can't help but think I only perpetuated and reinforced a heteronormative discourse by asking students who (for the most part) don't identify--through gender, sexual orientation, race, or ability--with the students they were proposing changes for. It kind of reminds me of the historical instance reported in Brueggeman's introduction about the cochlear implants: how they were seen as a gift from the gods and also an evil invention that could harm Deaf culture, an invention created by hearing ("normal") people to make Deaf people ("abnormal") "normal,"without consideration for how Deaf people might respond.

Due to the time constraints, I also didn't have students do any field research, which further makes the assignment problematic--the voices of those being written about were silenced and unaccounted for. But, how do you account for those voices without singling out a person based on a physical appearances, that is, if some "disabilities" are invisible, if gender is performed, if skin color says nothing about race?

I'm afraid I put students in the position to feel like they can speak for people whom they themselves can't identify with or as, instead of taking the position of ally or advocate and speaking with. I'm afraid I helped construct a problematic discourse.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

More thoughts on Sexism and Rhetoric

I came across this article on MSN news, "12 Sneaky Signs He'll Never Commit to You."


There are many things that could be said about this, but since we just read bell hook's piece on sexism/racism I thought it would be interesting to look at in that light.

The interesting thing about this article is that there are many others just like. What I mean is that there are these "advice" and "tips" articles for women in relation to men. What I find unfair about these articles is that both men and women are usually portrayed in a stereotypical way. Women are given advice with how to cope or handle maleness.

Since I identify as a feminist, I normally do not find myself taking up the banner of defending maleness. However, I find it equally alarming when any gender, whether it be female, male, or trans, be portrayed as flat, unshifting, fixed, or static.

Most alarming though, is that these articles portray maleness in a fixed state that must constantly be coped with by femaleness. While femaleness has been defined by maleness for quite some time, I do not think that giving women advice due to assumed victimization is helpful or useful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More on Catcalling.

So we discussed the video of the woman & NY street harassment.

Here's a video of a model in New Zealand who recreated the experiment in her country.
The difference in the two countries is pretty interesting. What do you think makes American men in NY feel more comfortable harassing women on the street? Is it our foundation? Or influenced by culture?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Critical rhetoric

Raymie McKerrow, in discussing six principles of critical rhetoric, names two that I particularly find interesting. Principle four centers on the fact that naming things is a way of interpreting them (105). There is some truth to this. I usually try to find humble words to say what I'm discussing. I could call a college a school, a university, or an institution, and I choose to call it a school more often than not. There is some degree of interpretation in the word I choose. If I call it a university, then I am differentiating it from primary schools, secondary schools, and other types of colleges. I decide on "school" because I prefer to connect college education to education in general. I was learning before I came to college and will continue to do so after graduation. "School" implies that continuity for me. This principle can be extended to countless other matters where interpreting a word implies what that concept means to the speaker.

Principle six concerns how "absence is as important as presence in understanding and evaluation symbolic action" (107, emphasis in original). McKerrow relates this to the fact the prime TV is missing a variety of body types and races. This is problematic for countless reasons, the main one being that the U.S. population is diverse, and mainly featuring white people of average height and a specific type of physical appearance is not acknowledging the true reality of the range of individuals in this country. McKerrow implies that rhetoric can consist of what is not shown or not discussed, not just what is presented. I'm thinking of our previous discussion of women being excluded from the rhetorical canon. While I still think the present is more important than what's in the canon, I consider how in that case, what is absent is communicating something. And thus my hope for future discourse is that women and men would both be represented strongly. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Oops! (bell hooks & Gloria Steinem)

Apparently they've just posted the link for the bell hooks & Gloria Steinem dialog! Here's the link if you want to check it out. There's a whole series of talks with bell hooks through the New School to check out. They talk about feminism and how it's problematic today. Favorite quotes: "Patriarchy has no gender" and "Patriarchy is not static."

This video is fantastic. You should watch it.