Words from Benjamin Franklin Gates

July 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

A long weekend full of adventures without internet access makes for a very quick post. I’m easing back into the week with a bit of National Treasure, so here’s some food for thought:

“If there’s something wrong, then those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.”

Longer post to come tomorrow!

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Current Happeings in Comedy

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

A news story I saw at Feministing this morning ties into my earlier post: this is why we still need to talk about the social context of humor.

Three things:

1. What the woman in the audience did was not “heckling” – this is what heckling sounds like. Okay not exactly, but the Muppets are pretty awesome.

2. Trying to shut down discussion of social concerns by dismissing valid criticism as an uptight overreaction is a crap tactic. In fact it’s a craptastic crap tactic. Yuuup.

3. I think that there are ways of making jokes about the awful things that exist in the world, but this definitely wasn’t one of them.

 

Ironic Humor is Ironic (Ironically)

July 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine over the weekend and, after catching up on her latest adventures and attempts at basil lemonade-making, we spent a long time talking about the legitimacy of our reactions to questionable jokes/attitudes/comments.

I’ve been thinking about humor a lot lately, particularly the kind of humor that involves politically incorrect ideas related to sexism, racism, etc. How can you tell when something is genuinely funny because it plays with controversial topics and when it is just lazy, thinly-veiled “ironic” stereotyping?

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The more things change…

July 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

the more things do not stay the same. At least that’s how it should work with cultural shifts. Maybe the original truism is relevant for personal reflections on relationships or life courses, but not so much with social movements. I hope.

So how can mainstream norms regarding gender, sexuality, inequality, race, class, and so on shift? Or be completely reworked? Or just thrown out altogether? How does change happen?

Attitudes change in response to things like persuasive communication, cognitive dissonance, or social influence. Classical or operant conditioning are more structured ways of actively trying to change behavior. (If you aren’t way too wrapped up in The Office and haven’t had a change to watch Jim classically condition Dwight, it’s a pretty entertaining demonstration of psychology.)

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This is What a Feminist Sounds Like

July 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

For those of you just stumbling upon this, my name is Kate and I’m a feminist. Stick around if you’re interested in discussing sex/gender, the media, pop or the wider soda-less variety of culture (I spent my childhood summers in North Dakota, that’s a Midwest joke), politics, social change, or anything else on your mind. I also have big plans to share pictures that make me smile. The latest is this gravity-defying goat:

Because how else are we going to shift the dominant paradigm of society, if not through the sharing of goat pictures? Seriously.

So. This rest of this is going to be short and sweet – why is it important to me to identify as a feminist?

I’m a feminist because…

  • I believe men and women – and people for whom those labels do not fit – are equal. That’s pretty much the heart of it. There’s a really interesting discussion going on right now over at Feministe about what equality would look like.
  • women are systematically disenfranchised in a variety of ways, and that isn’t going to change unless we talk about it and work to change it.
  • I believe in the rights of marginalized groups in our society.
  • accepted gender norms influence so many aspects of our lives and do not make sense in so many ways…why did the colors of the toy a girl happens to be playing with in this adorable ad change into this?
  • the top Google autofill suggestions after “why feminism” are “is wrong,” “is stupid,” and “is bad” (I was going for “is important to me“). Ugh.
  • power works to maintain the status quo, and feminism works to transform systems that won’t change themselves. I’mma explore that further, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Considering Evolutionary Psychology

July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

As a female psychology student, I had mixed feelings about evolutionary psychology while in college. It would pop up in lectures every now and then, though always with the caveat that some of the work in the field was fairly controversial and not necessarily embraced by the psychology community at large. Media coverage of evolutionary psychology tends to run with the more sensational aspects of stories (completely unexpected, I know) but ultimately I think there are both useful and harmful interpretations of work in this area so far.

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In Case the Benefits of Patriarchy Were Lost on Some Men…

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

…Douglas Kenrick has outlined them for you. This comes after his piece on the 7 worst things about being a male, including “people want to hurt you,” “you feel compelled to make money, and then to throw it away in public,” and two points about how much men think about sex and how sad it is that women do not “reciprocate their urgency” in that regard.

He starts his piece on the worst things about being a male with the following:

The cultural stereotype is that it’s great to be a man. Not only do we have shorter lines at the rest room, but we make scads more money and can reach things on higher shelves in the marketplace. We don’t have to deal with double standards or glass ceilings, and we’re raised to have confidence and high self-esteem, so we can all comfortably act like the Sean Connery version of James Bond. Cooly knock off a few bad guys in the afternoon, then drive our Aston Martins to our expensive hotel in Monte Carlo, where beautiful movie actresses are waiting to throw themselves into our arms…But in truth, it ain’t like that down here in Kansas.

This isn’t just a “cultural stereotype.” Men have all kinds of advantages over women in American society (see: the gender pay gap, the Second Shift, advertising and media images of women, etc.). This is not to say that men don’t have problems, but their problems take placeĀ within the larger context of patriarchy. Kenrick brushes away that context by setting this up as just a stereotype, and what follows is a blind fumbling through some issues that could otherwise have been taken seriously.

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