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Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

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Finals Week at The U of U! [May. 1st, 2010|08:39 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

And there is no student parking allowed anywhere near the Marriott Library. Why? To make way for bullshit!

The University of Utah, we'll do anything for the right amount of money. Do you see now why I assigned the final-paper topic that I did? Cripes.

“Dungey Presents Jersey to Governor Herbert at Supercross Press Conference

AURORA, Ill. (April 30, 2010) – To preview tomorrow’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, race from Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah Governor Gary Herbert joined AMA Supercross class champion Ryan Dungey, current AMA Supercross Lites class points leader Jake Weimer and President of the Utah Sports Commission Jeff Robbins at a press conference today.

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Mom why can't you be original [Apr. 30th, 2010|07:44 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
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(no subject) [Apr. 29th, 2010|05:30 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
Sorry Everyone that I left so early on the last day of class but I had a deadline at work, they need the blueprints so they could start building. anyway the Colamina piece, and I no I just butchered her name, was very interesting to me and I would just like to share some thoughts I had about Urban sprawling. Ask any architect and they will say the hate it, I hate it and it has a lot to do with this article . The house we all see on the t.v. is what has made our homes. What does everyone want in their kitchen for example, Grant Counter tops, stainless still appliances, wood floors, just to name a few. doesn't that make you laugh, were is the originality of it all. you know The expo was to show russia we were better then them but isn't having the same thing as everyone else, equally, the basic principal of communism ( I know its much deeper then that and that was just a generalization), If we all have the same kitchen/ house aren't we showing communist traits. I know we aren't even close to communism but in the desire to have what everyone else has we kind of drift toward that idea.

Custom homes make me laugh because in reality they aren't custom homes at all, they still have the same basic layout the same basic structure. the kitchen is the same, the bathrooms, bedroom ext. I laughed when my mom re - did her kitchen because she thought it was so diffrenent then everyone elses, but i beat I could open every architecture, home improvement, or better home and garden magazine and find the same one.

Architects need to be original and different that is what will really make us show well at these world fairs.

My moms pride and joy, and my heartache as modernest. (here are some photos)
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(no subject) [Apr. 28th, 2010|03:24 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

            After discussing the Colomina piece on Tuesday, I felt conflicted.  If one pauses to consider how many distractions there are in modern society, it really is not any wonder why stress is at an all time high.  As society progresses further and further into a technologically efficient (intellectual just didn’t seem to fit) age, people are forced to maintain this incredibly rapid pace of going there, doing this, finishing that, meeting with this person, visiting with that person, and paying attention to this important thing.  Where is the balance in life anymore?  I believe one can train themselves to keep with this arduous pace, but who would really want to?  And how long would it be before one became burnt out?  This technological and efficient culture is continually pushing the limits of what it means to be progressive, and in doing so, I wonder if it is pushing it beyond the limit of human capability.  This sounds like a cliché science fiction movie, but to keep up with this tempo of ever extending progression, is it the future of humanity to forsake our flesh and turn to robotics?   Perhaps this is a bit tangential, but at what point to we define the line between too much and not enough progression?

            Another point that I would like to project would be dealing with so many distractions.  As Brian noted the class, architecture has been altered to mold spaces for televisions, computers, etc.  When we enter our home, we enter our comfort zone.  Usually this means that when we walk through that door, our minds wander off into a peaceful place in an attempt to unwind.  This is why it is never a good choice to do homework in your own room.  Anyways, to get my point, the thought crossed my mind that if we as humans are always detracted by these seemingly innumerable distractions, what does that do to our attention spans?  Do we always need a constant barrage of information to feel as though we are comfortable?  I also cannot help but consider if it also affects our observational skills.  We become attuned to all these commotions that when something profound or noteworthy happens, do we really even notice it?

For your entertainment, watch the below link.  Only a minute and a half long.

Six Million Dollar Man 
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The Second Sex [Apr. 28th, 2010|03:08 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
After reading The Second Sex, I feel that it was one of the more interesting pieces we have studied this semester. It opens the door for a lengthy debate and analysis, and I wish we had more time in this class to study and discuss this and other similar works. What I found most interesting about this piece was the way it presents the plight of women as being different from that of other minorities. As the other notes, women and men are nearly equal in number, and there has never been one great event or conquest that has subjugated women to a lesser status. While racial and ethnic groups, such as the Jews and those of African descent have seen their share of perpetual persecution, these persecutions have typically resulted in horrific events, such as the expulsion of Jews from areas of Europe, and the horrors of the slave trade, the civil war, and the civil rights movement.
The question that this piece asks is how and why women became overpowered by men in nearly every aspect of their existence. While conditions for men and women still aren’t to the level that one could call completely equal, due to the biases and pre-conceived notions displayed by some members of society, the sexes are on a far more equal playing ground than they have ever been before, at least in western culture. Throughout European and Colonial history, women were assigned their place in the world by their husbands or fathers, and largely obeyed the orders and commands that were given them. Even after America won its war of independence, which was fought for the principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” It would still be well over 100 years before women even gained the right to vote. I think what this discussion really ties back to is the notion that a woman’s primary role is to take care of the home and raise children. This tradition has been in place for thousands of years, as men, who possess greater physical strength and stamina, would use their labor to provide for the family, while the wife would take care of the aspects of the household the husband neither had the time or energy to look after.
Now that much of the work of society has become more intellectually focused, and women are more than capable of producing work of a similar or even better quality than men, this discussion comes to a head in the way our culture continues to define gender and family roles. I think this was an excellent closing reading, because in exemplified many of the themes we have discussed throughout this semester. In raising questions and generating discussions into how we view our bodies, minds, and the products of our labor and imagination, this class has given me many new perspectives on life, and I am grateful for the learning opportunity.
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Attraction to Distraction [Apr. 28th, 2010|11:34 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

A few days ago my friend and I were having a conversation about how when we are doing something at home we turn on some music to play in the background or turn on the TV quietly, just to have something else going on. We were laughing about how this helped us concentrate better when you would actually think it would be really distracting. When I read the Colomina piece I just had to laugh to myself in the first paragraph because it says “it seems as if we need to be distracted in order to concentrate” and I found that true. I thought it interesting how she revealed that we actually like to be bombarded with so many things. Back when the exposition went to Russia to be shown people could not believe it with all of the things that were happening at one time. We have gotten used to this and at one point she says that it might not have been enough for people in our generation. I have to wonder if what she pointed out has to do with the younger generations always wanting instant gratification. Do they not know how to wait because there is not constant information flowing at them it has stopped for a small moment? I was really interested by this article because I found a lot of it to be true. Our homes are based around a screen whether it is a TV screen, computer screen, or anything other type of screen. We consciously/subconsciously make the screen a priority and we don’t realize how much of an impact it actually has on us and the pedestal that we put it on until we are told. I think that we are all now attracted to distraction.

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"a new chapter in the history of the human body" [Apr. 28th, 2010|11:19 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

Something I posted for my Intellectual Traditions students. It might be interesting or helpful to some of you as well. Hope so.


I guess what gets to me in these last readings is the double standard. Every piece seems to promote different expectations for men and women. We still somewhat promote a double standard though, don't we?


Yes, our culture still does promote a double standard for men and women. Though I hesitate to use the word still, because there have been certain times in history when this was either less or more the case. Enlightenment culture, for example, did much to work toward a single model toward which to understand both men and women, though this model was later replaced in the Romantic era by a gender model based on polar oppositions. These are the kinds of things I teach in my Gender Studies class. It's hard to read about this sort of discrimination - to risk using a word which is too gentle - in any society, whether it is Western or not. Bynum is very clear at the end of her essay that these are difficult issues for her to stand back an examine neutrally, nor does she claim she is ever able to do so entirely.

Still, Bynum does make the attempt to be objective, because what she has identified in later medieval spirituality is an extraordinarily unique moment in the history of woman, and the history of the human body in general. In the centuries she studies she find a genuine attempt, for the first time in almost a thousand years, to grapple powerfully and passionately, both intellectually and passionately, with what it means to have a human body at all. What she discovers is that for these people to be human at all always entails being at least somewhat female, and that to recognize our true humanity we must recognize and come to terms with our femininity. So much is this the truth for these medieval people, that when God took on flesh to redeem us, he became female. This is why his bleeding, for medieval people was so significant, because is was a loving form of providing vital, indeed saving, maternal nourishment. Images depicting this was seen by later eras as grotesque and morose, but people of the Middle Ages, or so Bynum marshals a preponderance of evidence to content, saw them as sweetly but powerfully moving.

Medieval persons, Bynum argues, had a completely different relationship than us not only to bodies, but also to emotions regarding it. In many ways, it might be quite beneficial to relate Bynum's essay to the Smith & Kleinman piece on managing emotions in medical school. In them we see almost diametrically opposed views of what it makes to have and behold the human body. Medieval people were astonished, curiousity-oriented, appreciative and passionate about their bodies, whereas we today are matter of fact, information-oriented, repulsed and anesthetized with regard to our bodies. The importance of Bynum's work is that it takes a piece like Smith & Kleinman's, which, for all that it is instructive in itself, becomes even more powerful by showing our "natural" reactions to the human body are in fact not so natural at all.

There is, as the entire Zone series of books (from which I select so many of our readings) suggests, no single correct view of the human body, both in terms of how we understand it and also in terms of what it can actually do. The body does not really exist at all before or outside of culture. It is culture, or cultures, which make possible and create various human bodies, each of them unique.

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Splitnik [Apr. 28th, 2010|12:36 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
The question that I kept asking myself through reading this article was,
were they just trying to make up for Sputnik? They (the Russians) won
the space race, well guess what? We won something else. We won the
attention spans and desires of our people, and now we are out to make
your people jealous. Were we trying to make the Russians look bad so
that they rebelled? America is "NOT RUSSIA" [and proud of it] as Brian
would say. This is what it meant to be an American. Fast food at home,
washing machines, dishwashers, color televisions, suburban houses,
lawnmowers, expensive cars, and Pepsi-Cola. The more modern version
would include iPad, laptops, internet... the list could go on forever.
And the real question is, has this changed?

Everything is about compaction and compression, they even compacted the
home of the "Kitchen Debates" into Splitnik, the stage set up for the
debate that, if you ask me, resembled a doll house that you would have
seen from around the same period.

The circus - delight and horror. American homes should be that three
ring circus. Always something going on, and always something a show.
This is especially true for house wives, not only should their home be a
fully functional three ring circus, they are the ring master. If
someone or something fails, it is her fault. Our world, as we know it,
has been planned for us by circus planners. What a mind blow.

The whole gender aspect of this piece reminded me a lot of the Stepford
Wives. Women making lunch for the kids and husbands and sending them
off, always with a kiss, to school or work in their bus or convertible.
And then, like I stated previously, they are expected to run the circus
of their home. So many expectations set for women. Have to have the
latest and greatest equipment and style. This is still VERY prevalent
today. Don't believe me? Try flipping on Good Day Utah, on channel
five after Rachel Ray, it is just gross.

But we can't forget, this is our duty as American's, you better like it,
and you better do it with gusto. This is your patriotic duty.

Please note my sarcasm.
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Powers of Ten [Apr. 27th, 2010|11:23 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

Ironically enough, my writing professor showed this remake of the powers of ten with Morgan Freeman. Interesting comparison, no?
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Retweet: The Powers of Ten (1968) [Apr. 27th, 2010|01:09 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance


The film [Glimpses of The USA] starts with images from outer space on all the screens: stars across the sky, seven constellations, seven star clusters, nebulae, etc., then moves to an aerial view of the city at night, . . . eyes finally descend to the ground, we see close-ups of newspaper and milk bottles at doors. . . . Not by chance, the first signs of human life are centered upon the house and domestic space. From the stars at night and the aerial views, the cameras zoom to the most intimate scenes: "power having breakfast at home, men leaving for work, kissing their wives, kissing the baby, being given lunchboxes, getting into cars, waving goodbye, . . .. As with the Eameses' later and much better-known film Powers of Ten (1968), which, incidentally, reused images of the night sky from Glimpses of the USA, the film moves from outer space to the close-up details of everyday life.

--Beatriz Colomina

All of which is meant by Ray and Charles Eames implicitly to argue what? That the American suburban way of life, epitomized by the nuclear family enjoying the day in a high-tech modern kitchen, is the natural center around which all of outer and inner space, indeed the entire universe, converges. If this view of reality isn't a perfect, and perfectly startling example of IDEOLOGY, then, honest to Christmas, I just don't know what is.

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The "Kitchen Debate" (1959) [Apr. 27th, 2010|12:12 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance


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Who really uses wallpaper anymore besides old people? >_> [Apr. 26th, 2010|11:20 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

            The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilma brought to mind a strong correlation between the reflection of how the main character was treated by her husband and the concept of the Smith and Kleinman article Managing Emotions in Medical School.  If you recall, the behavior with which her husband acts towards his wife is one of the issues that can arise from maintaining the “professional” mask as people who work in medical profession usually possess.  Now, I am not entirely sure if they had the ethical practices yet at that specific time, but it was blatantly clear that her husband was treating her as though she was one of his patients. 

To state the obvious, she was one of his patients in regards to him caring for her during her illness, but it was only amplified by the protective instincts associated with a person or object that is held near and dear.  At that time, women did not possess advanced education or many rights other than the archaic stereotype of the woman homemaker, yet they still had the capability to produce intelligent thought.  In essence, that fact that she was entrapped in the confinements of her own home, she steadily began to get even sicker (and possibly deranged).  At last when she destroys the yellow wallpaper (symbolic to her being a prisoner inside her own home/marriage/self), she either became liberated or went insane—the story leaves it up to the imagination.

How does this apply to modern society?  As Brian noted in class, this treatment of women coupled with the advancement of cognitive processes produced this mass epidemic of mental illnesses.  If one considers the American society in the present, it is not difficult to realize that we are under the same influence of the exact same issue.  Many factors result from this deficiency of psychological misfortune—the idea of being perfect mentally and physically, lack of social contact, capitalism, assault on egos, inability to be an individual without harassment—but, one thing I feel as though I can say without being incorrect is that these mental illnesses derive from oppression, just as women were during that time period.  Still, in this modern, progressive (somewhat) society, we still obligated to fit into preformed mold that isn’t particularly unique, or as John Stuart Mill would say, absent of individuals and their eccentricities.  Because of this lack of acceptance towards true individuality, people who do follow their own path are usually labaled as “weird,” which isn’t to say that the title is bad, but it is essentially a brand that exiles you to a fate that requires you to be “outside the box” (in this case, the box means out of “normal,” conformist society).

If anyone has any questions about what I just wrote, please don’t hesitate to ask.  At times, I become tangential and cannot grasp whether or not my points are clear or vague.

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States of Suspension and Focused Attention [Apr. 26th, 2010|10:57 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance


Claude Debussy
(Ariettes Oubliees)

"C'est L'Exstace"

Gabriel Faure
"Apres un reve"

This curious state of inhibition can at least for a few moments be produced at will by fixing the eye on vacancy. . . . Monotonous mechanical activities that end by being automatically carried on tend to produce it. . . . The eyes are fixed on vacancy, the sounds of the world melt into confused unity, the attention becomes dispersed so that the whole body is felt, as it were, at once, and the foreground of consciousness is filled, if by anthing, by a sort of solemn sense of surrender to the empty passing of time. In the dim background of our mind we know what we ought to be doing: getting up, dressing ourselves, answering the person who has spoken to us. . . . But somehow we cannot start. Every moment we expect the spell to break, for we know no reason why it should continue. But it does continue, pulse after pulse, and we float with it."

--William James, Principles of Psychology, 1878

Claude Monte
Water Lilies, 1915
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(no subject) [Apr. 26th, 2010|10:54 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
I can definitely see Kant poking through in Woolf's "A Room of One's Own": "All desire to protest, to preach, to proclaim an injury, to pay off a score, to make the world the witness of some hardship or grievance was fired out of him and consumed. Therefore his poetry flows from him free and unimpeded. If ever a human being got his work expressed completely, it was Shakespeare. If ever a mind was incandescent, unimpeded, I thought, turning again to the bookcase, it was Shakespeare’s mind." (This quotation probably wasn't the best one I could have used, but it does the trick.)
Woolf is saying that gendered writing is doomed to death because it contains a shadow that prevents it from blossoming, a distraction that impedes its wholeness, or, as Kant might say, an objective. Gendered writing is instructive. In order for writing to be art, it must be free of the shackles of gender. It should exist independently and autonomously. For gender as Woolf sees it is an economy like any other, and writing must transcend that economy if it is to survive and reproduce.
This reading made perfect and beautiful sense to me, and I'm especially amazed at how Woolf managed to treat gender without "gendering" her writing. I wonder, though, how she would reconcile her dissatisfaction with gendered writing with her admission that the world was once a bleak place for the would-be female artist. She'd definitely acknowledge that without the emergence of an angry female voice, she herself wouldn't be writing. Does she simply think that these females have gone too far? Or does she think that gendered voices are important, but don't constitute art?
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Mill On Variety [Apr. 26th, 2010|09:14 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
I'm pretty bummed that I didn't post my thoughts on Mill's "On Liberty" before we discussed it in class, because I was struck by its Darwinist sentiments, and this post would have seemed a lot SMRTR if I had written it before Brian mentioned the social Darwinism evident in the piece in class. That'll learn me.
So I guess I'll just add to the evidence of cultural evolutionism that was pointed out in class: Mill's notions of utilitarianism and political economy and the goal of increasing the standard of living for the average person, which makes evolutionary sense for the success of humans as a species.
To get more granular, I liken the idea of individuality and eccentricity to genetic variation. Without genetic variation, natural selection could not occur (because there would be no variation from which to select, obviously). Genetic variation increases the chances of the survival of a species in the face of environmental change. If all the oranges in Florida are clones of one original orange (which isn't too far-fetched), and disease strikes the orange population, all of the oranges will be wiped out since there is no genetic variation capable of resisting it. It makes sense that the same logic would apply to the mind. If we churn out a bunch of intellectual robots, our cultural demise is much more likely.
For this reason, as much eye-rolling as I do when people start earnestly talking about their horoscopes, and as hard a time as I have socializing with religious zealots, I'm glad those people exist.
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Colomina [Apr. 26th, 2010|08:39 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
Ahhh. Finally some names I recognize.  Oh how I heart you, Buckminster Fuller.
Alright, enough of that.  What was most shocking to me about the Colomina piece was the way it started--going on about the Cold War and how America strove to make itself seem better through consumerism.
It all started here, with the Cold War.  This obsession to be the best.  Maybe it's because I have been having Global Warming and overfishing and all the consequences driving me to guilt in Ecology and Evolution, or maybe it's because I just read the Tragedy of the Commons in my writing class, but all this manipulation of space kind of seemed disgusting to me.  I felt my head spinning at the thought of so many images bombarding my brain.  Can we stop the merry-go-round please? 
I liked the reference to the circus (as silly as that sounds after the merry go round comment) when Mr. Eames talked about how not only did the performer need to take his pleasure seriously, so did the scientist.  I'm not sure why it resonated with me, but I should say we are making a muck of our world lately.  We are pursuing all this science and technology and advancement on borrowed resources.  Fossil fuels are our temporary solution to an overpopulated earth that technology has allowed to survive.
I guess the point I'm trying to make (although it's not coming out as clearly as I would have liked) is now that we have this space of bombardment of images that show us what we should be, we have created a space we don't twice about, a world we take for granted.  We are a world of quick gratification, no matter what the cost.  I was amazed how easily people (including myself) could be so easily visually manipulated..
Ok, enough rambling, I would enjoy many comments to point my thinking in a clear direction.
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Art, Reproduction, Distraction [Apr. 26th, 2010|05:01 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

After reading both the Benjamin (hard) and the Colomina (less hard) pieces I spent some time reflecting on the reproducibility of art, particularly as it relates to my field of study.  I'm a computer science major and I plan on going into video games, so the Benjamin piece began very interestingly to me:

"Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be."

What does that mean for a work of art that begins and ends entirely in a simulated environment? For the sake of argument lets consider games as a whole a work of art.  The game, much like the film, is a sum of several parts all of which may or may not be considered art on their own: scripting, score (music, not points), visuals etc.  But unlike film the video game does not take something from nature and create a reproduction of it; the video game rather begins as a construction of bits on a machine and ends in the same way.  The game is so reproducible that its original is actually identical in every way to the reproduction, at its core the game is math, computing totally deterministic outcomes.  Furthermore, unlike film games are also not innately a reproduction of pictorial images found in nature or that existed in 'reality' at some point but rather are original images produced in a simulated environment that can be created exactly accurately by any computer with some baseline technical requirements.  To the same extent that it "doesn't make sense to ask for the original print" of a photo it doesn't make sense to ask for the original copy of a video game.  In every way that exhibition value displaces cult value for film and photographs that would seem to be true of games, but simultaneously games have value similar to animation or even painting in depicting the real, or cataloging history, which would give it cultural value and expressiveness.

So are games doomed to the worst of both worlds?  Games are infinitely reproducible to an perfect degree of accuracy and seem to be what Marx discusses as the means to dismantle the capitalist system, but games are still just media, or at their best art.

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List of Readings [Apr. 26th, 2010|04:30 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

Here's a list of everything we've read over the course of the semester. As you look over it, you'll notice we've covered quite a bit of ground and discussed issues from a wide variety of fields: art history, medicine, psychology, philosophy, spirituality, contemporary culture, sexual behavior, medieval culture, anthropology, optics, film theory, education, sensibility and taste, feminism, political science, forensics, theater and carnival, political-economy, social statistics, professionalism and domesticity, architecture, etc. Everyone should be able to identify at least one piece of writing that would be helpful to students in their chosen field of study, or at the university in general.

As you resolve upon a final topic, try not to pick a text which is absurdly obvious - "I'm gonna be a nun when I grow up so I really want to write on St. Teresa." Or, if you do want to write on something which is closely related to your chosen area of study, please try to write on it in a way which shows that the text is still controversial. Show how your chosen text raises important questions which our culture or our educational system are failing to ask these days. In a word, try to show why and how your chosen text offers some sort of disturbance to people who are drifting through the world half-asleep, how it challenges them to regain consciousness while it is not yet too late to get a real life.

Again, this is not a research paper. No need for lots of background information. So, for the love of Humanity, please stay away from Cliff's Notes and Wikipedia. Rather than any sort of research, this paper should reflect your own personal engagement with a text. Word it as if you were producing a carefully crafted professional letter. Nothing fancy, nothing excessively technical, nothing flashy or cutesy. Just a good old-fashioned expository composition with a clear thesis, three distinct claims and a response to a possible opponent. Tack on a decent introduction and conclusion and you are good to go. Just like in high school.

OK, good luck with it. I'll be available to answer and reasonable questions and concerns. Just drop me a line. See you soon!

Leo Steinberg -- Contemporary Art and The Plight of Its Public
Alan Smith & Sheryl Kleinman -- Managing Emotions in Medical School
Immanuel Kant -- What Is Enlightenment?
Drew Leder -- Tale of Two Bodies
Rene Descartes -- Discourse on Method
St. Teresa of Avila -- My Life
Jack Hitt -- The Second Sexual Revolution
Ludmilla Jordanova -- Nature Unveiling Before Science
Caroline Walker Bynum -- The Body of Christ in the Later Middle Ages (reply to Steinberg)
Bryan Jay Wolf -- Inside the Camera Obscura
Laura Mulvey -- Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
John Locke -- Essay Concerning Human Understanding / Thoughts on Education
Giambattista Vico -- On The Study Methods of Our Day
Jean-Jacques Rousseau -- Emile
Mary Wollstonecraft -- A Vindication of The Rights of Women
Susan Siegfried -- Engaging The Audience: Sexual Economies of Vision in Joseph Wright
Immanuel Kant -- Critique of Judgment
John Stuart Mill -- On Liberty / Utilitarianism / The Subjection of Women
Florence Nightingale -- Cassandra
Charlotte Perkins Gilman -- The Yellow Wallpaper
Virginia Woolf -- A Room of One's Own
Simone de Beauvoir -- The Second Sex**
Walter Benjamin -- The Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction**
Beatriz Colomina -- Enclosed by Images: The Eames's Multi-Media Architecture

**These are important readings which I did not formally assign because we ran out of semester. I would encourage you to read them if you are able. Both are considered modern classics and they have much to add to our ongoing discussion. If any of you should want to write on one of them for your final - and there are many reasons why either would be an attractive option - please feel free to do so. I have tried to offer a decent introduction to each of these pieces on the journal. Just scroll back to find those posts - one treats high-modernist painting, the other Surrealism. Also, please feel free to ask me for any additional help you might need with these or any other readings.
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Art Which Engulfs and Castrates" [Apr. 26th, 2010|01:32 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

WOMAN? . . . The word female brings up in his mind a saraband of imagery – a vast, round ovum engulfs and castrates the agile spermatozoan; the monstrous and swollen termite queen rules over the enslaved males; the female praying mantis and the spider, satiated with love, crush and devour their partners.

--Simone de Beauvoir

I mentioned in a post yesterday that Virginia Woolf's notions about gender and writing were highly influenced by key works of visual art, in particular French impressionist, post-impressionist and high-modernist painting. A similar statement could be made about the importance of the visual arts on the thought and writing of Simone de Beauvoir. But here the lessons would be almost entirely negative. According to de Beauvoir, the visual arts do not reveal to woman examples of what the autonomous activity of the liberal mind might look like. Rather, visual art, and in particular that of certain schools of modern art, reveals with dismaying clarity the many myths which have been perpetuated about women, and foisted so powerfully upon them that women themselves have come to believe them, to see themselves as the embodiment of mystery. The modern art to which de Beauvoir refers is however not the abstract formal experimentation of high modernism which so impressed and influence Virginia Woolf.  Rather, de Beauvoir is thinking of the art of the surrealists. Key feminists, for decades, have found surrealist artist to represent an absolute nadir in the artistic representation of women, a low which scarcely rises above outright pornography.

Alberto Giacometti
Woman with Her Throat Cut, (1932)
Museum of Modern Art, New York

Hans Bellmer
The Doll, (1936)
Published as a Series of Photographs

It is only quite recently that a certain group of writers, both female and male, have attempted to return to surrealist art and rehabilitate it.  This because they believe Surrealism's depiction of Woman as the "Other" of Man, in a very real way, constitutes a genuine threat to the sovereignty, and indeed to the very survival, of the normative male. Not that these critics are blind to the many sexist aspects of Surrealism. They are, however, interested in ways that the extreme representations and scandalous objects created by surrealism display, in ways both conscious and unconscious, the hidden assumptions and weakness around which male domination is structured. Worthy of note, I should add, are not only recent reevaluations of key male surrealists, but also the recent rediscovery of numerous female artists whose work, though groundbreaking, has until now to remained in relative obscurity.  The same is true of medieval women's spiritual writings, which are only quite recentingly beginning to receive recognition and respect.

In their discussions of mysticism we can see the divergence between Beauvoir's and [Luce] Irigaray's philosophical positions from a new vantage point, for while Beauvoir grudgingly values that agency achieved by some women mystics, Irigaray is much more celebratory of what she views as their transgressive and ecstatic joy or jouissance.I believe, moreover, it is possible to read" La Mysterique," the section in Irigaray's Speculum of the Other Woman devoted to the subject, as a response to Beauvoir's readings of mysticism and religion as "justifications" for women's subordinate position within Western culture.

--Amy Hollywood, Harvard Divinity School

The following books are some of the most challenging and rewarding scholarly writings I've ever encountered. For what it's worth, Rosalind Krauss is as close to an academic rockstar as you'll find on the planet. I have learned more from reading her than I learned in four years of doctoral studies. Though I hate to jump on any bandwagons, she is, for better or worse, one of my foremost intellectual heroes.

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De Beauvior's Link To Race and Ethnicity Studies [Apr. 25th, 2010|09:17 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

I'm thinking particularly of the encounter between the work of de Beauvoir and that of post-colonial African nationist Francis Fanon, though American novelist Richard Wright also comes to mind.

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Live, Realtime, Surrealistic Cinema (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Performance Art) [Apr. 25th, 2010|01:17 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance


A couple of months ago, I participated in a performance called Interplay which was quite different from anything I had ever been a part of before, or even seen for that matter. It was part play, part film and incorporated many artistic elements including dance, music, acting, poetry, and video. While reading the piece about the Eameses, I was reminded a lot of the performance. It’s kind of hard to explain what Interplay is all about, so I’ll just copy the description on Another Language Performing Art’s Company’s website.

 "InterPlay is a multi-faceted event that consists of two or more performances that occur simultaneously in various cities around the world. The performances are concurrently captured, mixed, digitized, encoded and streamed onto the network. The digital mix is manipulated as each video stream can appear in any of several video playback windows. This creates a work that takes individual stories and weaves them into a multi layered, distributed, cinematic performance. InterPlay is similar to the process that the brain performs during the formulation of a dream sequence. Images that have been stored through recent experiences simultaneously emerge in pieces and the brain mixes them into a surreal sequence that loosely resembles a story. Video streams, similar to these emerging images, coming from several sites across the country and the world, are then combined into a richly woven audio-visual tapestry. Another Language has researched this process since 1995, by following the growth of emerging technologies to the present. Through the utilization of Access Grid tm videoconference software and the development of real-time, distributed processes Another Language Performing Arts Company stands in the forefront of this innovation as world leaders in telematic, collaborative performances

 A lot of things about Interplay relate well to the article. Interplay also relies on technological advances to shape art, utilizing videoconferencing technology and adapting it for performance art. Like the Eameses, the directors of Interplay also see art as a form of communication and want to use the latest communication technology to create art.  The creation of space, or a virtual environment, is a big theme in Another Language’s history. The directors of Interplay originally conceived the idea of using videoconferencing technology for performance art when they became tired of relying on traditional physical venues for their projects. With the growing popularity of the Internet, they saw the potential for a website not only to convey information but to act as a theater.

 We pretty much take for granted now that we can easily chat live with someone halfway across the world on the Internet, but Interplay takes this kind of accessibility to a whole new level by bringing performers from all over the globe together to collaborate in a single live performance. The Interplay I was a part of featured video taken by a filmmaker in Japan, poetry read by an actress in Alaska, and music from a flutist in California while I was the only performer here in Utah. It’s an interesting experience to perform with people you never physically meet.

 Some of the most fascinating things about participating in an Interplay were the audiences reactions. Like the Eamses films, Interplay bombards the audience with too many images for them to absorb. The audience must pick and choose what they watch and therefore every audience member sees a different performance. The directors of Interplay, like the Eamses, are also interested in creating art that mimics processes of the human brain, though they are interested specifically in the dreaming human brain rather than the awake, information-gathering brain. Also, the images, music, poetry, etcetera are all related to each other in some way, but the audience is forced to make those connections themselves rather than have them spelled out. This makes for a non-linear and complex experience. Interplay asks a lot of its audience and certainly is not what everyone is looking for when they go to the theater. Some people become really confused and/or get so caught up in the technological aspect of the performance that they miss the point which is why a discussion follows every Interplay performance in order to give audience members a chance to ask questions.

 Another Language has presented an Interplay performance every year for the past fifteen years, and ever one has been a work-in-progress to a certain extent. With a lot of technology comes the potential for A LOT of things to go wrong. The directors continue to adapt the technology to better suit their purpose and push the boundaries of performance art.

 The founders of Another Language, Jimmy and Beth Miklavcic both work here on campus at the U’s Center for High Performance Computing. If you have a chance, check out their website www.anotherlanguage.org and attend next year's Interplay. It’s sure to be an interesting and unforgettable experience.

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(no subject) [Apr. 25th, 2010|12:38 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

The Yellow Wallpaper was so interesting and disturbing. I found it upsetting that this lady was locked up in a room to cure her illness. If anything you would think that would be the worst idea allowing her to think and get lost in her thoughts that just ended up becoming extremely unhealthy. Through out the story you can hear her becoming sicker and sicker. She depended so much on her husband to heal her and make her feel better. In her first journal entry she writes how she cannot wait for her husband to come home. I find it harsh of him to think that locking her in a room will heal her.

She knew that her husband was wrong and she knew that her brother was wrong about her. Nobody knew of her illness and how serious it was. It is scary to think of all the women that may have experienced some sort of mental illness and knew nothing of what was going on in their minds and making them feel so weak and sad. Even today mental illness in women often goes untreated or treated incorrectly. After someone commits suicide it’s common to hear “I never saw it coming, she seemed so happy.”

 I have a family member who has suffered with mental illness and when she was in her worse times nobody knew it. She thought nobody would understand and she did not want anyone think that she wasn’t normal. She was told by a doctor that it was only hormonal and that she was fine and that many women have the same issue. The only way she was able to keep her illness under control was through writing. It was only when she took what she had written to her doctor to let him read that he realized what she was suffering from and was able to help her. I think that mental illness in women is something that is still often misunderstood and often goes untreated. The Yellow Wallpaper, although written in a different time, can still relate to mental illness in woman today.

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Woolf reading [Apr. 24th, 2010|07:49 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

For my weekly journal post this week i would like to discuss the reading by Woolf room of our own. Woolf goes into great details about the trials and tribulations of 16th to 18th century women and how they were seen and treated by society as a whole. Woolf had a difficult time with understanding what exactly the women who lived during this time did with their free time. The role that the English society put on women during that time was to basically cater to their husbands. Even then women essentially had no choice on who their spouse may be, the women were set up between the fathers of the male and female who were participating. Rarely did women during that time choose a partner based on personal affection and genuine love. For the most part the father of the soon to be daughter would be constantly beating his own daughters and wife.This was a way of life for most individuals during that time period reguardless of class, from upper class to the poor women were severly beating as an accepted practice of life. The fathers contradicted themselves when it was time for their daughters to be matched with a potential suitor, it was seen as highly dis-respectful if the daughters would refuse to marry. The fathers point of view into the whole situation would be that the daughter would be given the family a bad name if she did not accept the invitation to marriage, this is just another example of how womens rights during that time basically did not exist what so ever.

The women in the 16th and 18th centurys according to Woolf did not exist in the areas of creativity and story telling such as shakespeare. Woolf would search for writings from Women from that time period but they did not exist what so ever. A womens role in society was set out for her by the certain roles in society that women  were expected to adhere to and attain. Woolf suggested that if a women during that  time had the creativity of shakespeare or any other great writers or actors during that time she would definently not be successful. The men during this time period would mock her and constantly make fun of her for supposedly participating in a males profession. The Women would essentially go crazy by having all this creativity and passion but not being able to use it what so ever. She would eventually kill her self having no hope for her self in the end. Personally i believe this is a sad fact and i am happy that over time humans have realized that reguardless of race, sex, religion, or class that a human is possible of achieving great things and masterpieces.

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Slaptacular [Apr. 24th, 2010|06:19 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

What if Shakespeare were a woman, and was beaten for refusing a suitor? None of her contemporaries would think twice about it, despite her brilliant mind.

So how does gender (of both the victim and the initiator) affect our perception of violence?

The first example that comes to mind is the classic face slap; Imagine sitting in a restaurant with a friend or significant other, waiting for the main course. Suddenly, just as you reach for another breadstick, a woman two tables over cries, “you bastard,”slaps her male dining partner across the face, and storms out. If you're like most people, you may think “wow. That guy must be a real jerk,” as an awkward silence settles over the room. Then you may try to pretend nothing happened and give the poor schmuck a chance to exit with what little dignity he has left.

But what if those roles were reversed? What would you do if you were sitting in a restaurant and a man slapped a woman?
It seems that men who slap women are monsters, but women who slap men are offering a stern reprimand.

These two clips are really interesting. Both show a person using a face-slap as a method of “persuasion,” but what's the difference? Is a woman-on-man face-slap less horrifying because women don't pose a serious physical threat? Or is it because men are expected, as we discussed during our week or so on Kant, to “endure?”

And what if a man slaps another man? The slapper is more of a "physical threat" and the slappee is expected to endure... but it's usually used as a comedic device.

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Response to “Cassandra”, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Room of One’s Own” [Apr. 24th, 2010|05:30 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
     There is a very noticeable recurring theme between Florence Nightingale’s “Cassandra”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”: it isn’t that women are not capable of the same achievements as men, but rather that they are not given the same opportunities as men. In each of these pieces, the author places great importance on the fact that women want to work, want to be active and want to be a part of society, yet these are not even possibilities. It’s interesting that men throughout time have wanted to hold women down in this way. I almost question if some of them were afraid of what women might be able to accomplish.
     In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, it is very clear that the narrator’s mental illness is not being cured from being locked away in a room. In fact, being locked away drives her further into insanity - an obvious symbol of women being weakened by not having the opportunity to be active. When I looked at the Wikipedia article about this piece - I often do this to get some brief background information - I found that it was actually Gilman’s response to her own experience as a patient on the “rest cure”, a practice in which stimulation is literally restricted to only a few hours a day.
     “A Room of One’s Own” examines whether or not a woman was capable of producing the same quality of work as Shakespeare. And again, the main theme here is that women are just as talented, and are only limited due to the fact that they are often not given the same opportunities as men. And, of course, today these same restrictions often prevent women from developing their talents. Although we may not have actual laws or regulations discriminating against women, gender roles are definitely a big part of how our society functions. There are certain expectations for women, that there just are not for men. (And vice versa.) While a woman may not be physically prevented from doing something typically ascribed to a man, it doesn’t mean that she is looked upon kindly.
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Androgyny: Woolf against Gender [Apr. 24th, 2010|02:20 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance


Just as a perspective need not be actually perceived by anyone,
so a 'life' need not be actually lived by anyone.

-- Bertrand Russell

So, what exactly is Virginia Woolf saying about the need to get over gender? Clearly, she has read the feminist writings of the generations which immediately preceded her own. We know this because she refers directly to the work of Florence Nightingale and John Stuart Mill. And, more generally, she refers to the various instances of progressive political activism of late-19th and early-20th centuries. No doubt Woolf herself benefited greatly, both as a citizen and as a potential writer, from key advances made by women and men laboring for social justice. Nor should we imagine that Woolf believed the work of progressive politics had been achieved in her own day and an equitable society achieved. Because Woolf, though she mingled from her youth with her nation's greatest minds (the famous Bloomsbury Group), never had the benefit of a formal higher education. Women in 1900 did not get to attend university. Why then, does Woolf seem so opposed not only to the macho political writings of her day, which she saw as intrinsically fascist, but also to women's political writing? Why does she seem to argue that women need to get over their gender? Why does she insist great writers must become androgynous?

The answer to these questions is very involved. Let me attempt here at least a partial answer, and let me begin by referring to Woolf's avowed admiration for the ideas of the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who figures so prominently in A Room of One's Own. Coleridge, to this day, is broadly considered the father of English-language literary criticism. His ideas in many respects are uniquely English, nevertheless in numerous crucial respects they derive from the ideas of Immanuel Kant, whom we discussed not only earlier in the semester but also in class just the other day. Working off of Kant's notion of the autonomy of pure Reason, Coleridge famously developed a theory of "poetics" which argued that the mind is an organic form which veritably brings all external reality into being, actively shaping that reality through a force which he called the "esemplastic power of the primary Imagination." This power can demonstrate itself in a mediated form as it concerns itself with Utilitarian worldly affairs such as politics and economics. The mind is able to reveal itself, its active and autonomous efficacy, in it purest and most immediate form, only in the creation of art. In genuinely great art - which exists not for any mercenary, practical or even moral purpose - but strictly for its own sake, we see the mind functioning at its highest level.

All of us live the vast majority of our lives in quotidian reality, caught up in the cares of the world. However, a small number of us are at times able to rise about the fray and sweat and anxiety of the world and occupy and exalted purely mental realm of artist creativity, one in which the think and to act become identical. It is only in these instance that the mind reveals it truly is living force whose environmental niche is not a physical world of solid objects such as table and chairs, but rather a purely mental world populated by "phantom" tables and chairs which exist in the modality of pure "percepts". The world itself, Woolf believed as a result of her interaction with the logical-positivist philosophers best represented by Bertrand Russell, was nothing but the totality of these possible points of view, along with the mental sensations which they occasion. To dwell unperturbed in this realm of unencumbered consciousness as fully and frequently as possible, this was, for Woolf, in the most literal sense, to live the "life of the mind."

Woolf, though she recognized that her access to the intellectual realm depended enormously on the work of her activist sisters, nevertheless refused to see their Utilitarian goals as ultimate ends. The Women's Movement did not bring women true freedom but was only a necessary precondition to the possible of women experiencing the highest form of freedom, which could be experienced only in the realm of the intellect. To experience true freedom, and to create aesthetic objects which would offers a lasting record of the experience of true freedom, each women needed "a room of her own." Yes, this did indeed entail a some sort of personal physical retreat from the duties of the world, but more properly it meant an intellectual retreat from anything that did not concern the free activity of the mind itself.

I have argued that Woolf inherited these notions of hers from key philosophers, in particular Kant and Bertrand Russell. Nevertheless, it is also important to acknowledge another tremendously important source of Woolf's ideas regarding aesthetics and the life of the mind - modern painting. Modern painting, as I mentioned in class, was first brought to England by Woolf's close associate Roger Fry, who organized several important exhibitions of French painting in England, the very first to be held in that country. The body of works Frye brought home from France to exhibit in London was compromised of artists and styles extending back to Manet's Modernism, and Pissaro and Monet's Impressionism; and forward to Gauguin and Cezanne's Post-Impressionism.

Paul Gauguin
Self-Portrait with The Yellow Christ, 1889
[Christ as wallpaper? B.K.]

Woolf considered Frye's discover and exhibition of these paintings, and the purified "non-objective" aesthetic which they represented (they were not "of" objects in the world, but simply used these objects as "occasions" or materials upon which the mind could direct is plastic powers) that she wrote a book entitled Roger Frye: Biography. Many readers today find this book highly austere, singularly lacking in the kind of minute detail which is the very stuff of serious biography. But Woolf's book must be understood not as a somatic biography so much as an intellectual biography. The book must be highly abstract, because according to Woolf's understanding, there is no other way to produce a portrait of the life of an unique are highly sensitive mind.

Though Woolf's prose never becomes entirely abstract and also retains some slight reference to the external world, it is nevertheless important to situate her historically not only alongside Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters, but also the rising generation of purely abstraction painters such as Kasimir Malevich, Wasily Kandisky and Piet Mondrian - each of whom writes an influential manifesto of the nature of non-objective painting. Woolf's own writings, whether fictional, biographic or essayistic, should be read with this famous manifestos of modern painting clearly in mind.

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A Room of One's Own [Apr. 24th, 2010|12:19 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
In this piece by Virginia Woolf, the question that is repeatedly asked by the author is whether women are able to, or even have the freedom to, produce work that is of the same quality as that of men. I found it interesting that she uses Shakespeare as her archetype in this sense, given that he is often given the status of being the greatest writer of prose in the history of the English language. In her evaluation of Shakespeare, Woolf notes that while Shakespeare's female characters are some of the best written in all of literature, the very notion of women being able to produce characters and scenarios of an equal quality is largely thought of as too lofty a goal by mainstream academics and critics. In this vein, Woolf supposes that had Shakespeare had a sister who possessed equal or superior talent to that of her brother, that her imagination and ideas would be discounted for the simple fact that she is a woman. I think what this piece illustrates above all else is the difficulty of woman have in trying to break into a field that is traditionally thought of as male dominated. Even though women have a more equal playing field than ever before, the opportunities present to women vs. that of men still display a great deal of disparity. To illustrate this point, i recently heard that of CEO's of Fortune 500 companies, only 21 are women. Also, in certain art forms, such as literature and film, women have consistently failed to grant the favor and recognition they deserve. The question Woolf asks is whether there is anything innately different about women that causes them to be viewed as less capable of producing work equal to or superior to that of men. As is clear today, the majority of this view is due to social stigma, and not to empirical evidence. But the question remains, why are women viewed as being inadequate? It is clear that because men have dominated women in nearly every aspect of culture throughout history, the ability to produce art of a similar quality is only one aspect of this disparity. Because women were not allowed into the universities and educational circles that men were, they were shut out from the opportunity to cultivate and enhance their natural gifts and talents. Had women been able to have these opportunities, who knows what women could have accomplished? Perhaps their could have been a female Shakespeare, who would have met or exceeded the talents of her "brother."
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Behind the Scenes [Apr. 23rd, 2010|10:08 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

I really enjoyed listening to the Yellow Wallpaper piece. She was mentally sick because she didn’t do anything productive. Even worse her husband dismisses it and puts her in a room which is the very opposite of what she needed to have done with her. From the very beginning when the room she was staying in was being described it was like she was in a prison. As the story progressed I couldn’t help but think about the book Jane Eyre. It was like hearing Bertha Mason’s story. It only showed how wrong it was to put her in that room because at the end she was identifying herself with wallpaper. Do we do this today in a social aspect? Instead of locking someone in a room do we lock people out of our groups? Do we in a way create people today that have something like this or another disorder? I know these might be odd questions but I thought it might relate to the disorders that we see sometimes today. I mean this lady was intelligent as we can tell from her writing bit that doesn’t mean she is immune to the mental problems.

On another note I liked the movie that we watched on Thursday. It appeared as though this household was caught in the middle of the changing of time. Yes, asking the father to marry his daughter was kind of like a business deal but at the same time it wasn’t because it was like the daughter was in control. In the other aspect of action in the house with the boy getting caught stealing, everyone was so scared of him. I think that it was just interesting that it was a one foot in and one foot out of the changing views. 

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Postathon [Apr. 23rd, 2010|05:48 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
I'm behind on posts due to the end-of-semester shit-storm, so you'll probably be seeing a few from me over the next several days.

I guess I'll start by commenting on some passages from Cassandra.

"The progressive world is necessarily divided into two classes - those who take the best of what there is and enjoy it - those who wish for something better and try to create it. Without these two classes, the world would be badly off. They are the very conditions of progress, both the one and the other. Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better."

I find the above statement a little difficult, specifically the last sentence. If no one was discontented with what they have, why would we need to reach anything better? Wouldn't pushing for more when everyone is content simply be progress for the sake of progress? Or is Nightingale saying that social progress is evidence of a dissatisfied class and that we'll know when everyone is happy because we'll have stopped progressing?

"The family uses people not for what they are, not for what they are intended to be, but for what it wants them for - for its own uses. It thinks of them not as what God has made them, but as the something which it has arranged that they shall be. If it wants someone to sit in the drawing room, that someone is to be supplied by the family, though that member may be destined for science, or for education, or for active superintendence by God, i.e. by the gifts within."

This statement echoes the corporate sentimentality so clearly it's almost frightening. I'd never really thought about the family as a corporation before, but it does make a bit of sense. I've known plenty of people who won't "defy the family" (come out of the closet, shun their religion, become a pineapple picker instead of a doctor, etc.) because they're afraid they'll be "fired." The family uses individuals for some sort of gain: figuratively, in the form of status (when your friends whip out the family photos, you draw your wallet with pictures of your well-dressed, clean-cut kids out of your pocket like a gun out of a holster) and/or literally, in monetary form (if your son is a doctor, you'll get to live in his fancy guest house some day.)

"We set the treatment of bodies so high above the treatment of souls, that the physician occupies a higher place in society than does the schoolmaster. One would think we had 110 heads or hearts, by the total indifference of the public towards them. Our bodies are the only things of any consequence."

This reminded me a lot of the Drew Leder reading and discussions about med school. Why do we place so much emphasis on the body? Is it because it's a tangible, physical symbol while intellect and emotion are ethereal and scary? Why is it that a woman's body was the all the reason needed for her banishment from work and intellectual endeavor, despite the fact that her mind was obviously capable? What is it about the female body that makes her mind inconsequential?

"Blind passion, as it has most been called, seems to come on in man without his exactly knowing why, without his at all knowing why for this person rather than for that, and (whether it has been satisfied or unsatisfied) to go off again after a while, as it came, also without his knowing why.
The woman's passion is generally more lasting.
It is possible that this difference may be, because there is really more in man than in woman. There is nothing in her for him to have this intimate communion with."

The first part of this passage more or less says that the reason men were less faithful than women and didn't pine over women the way women pined over men was because, due to their extremely sheltered lives, women were boring. This implies something interesting about the state of men, I think. That they preferred to own and oppress rather than to experience the danger and excitement of a romantic relationship with an intellectual equal betrays a kind of monotony of character. It also seems like men were more comfortable with opposition when it involved large numbers, such as in war (does the mathematical sublime apply here?), but if true opposition occurred between husband and wife, that would be too much to bear.

"With the man's political ideas, if they extend beyond merest party politics, she has no sympathy.
His social ideas, if they are "advanced," she will probably denounce without knowing why, as savouring of "socialism" (a convenient word, which covers a multitude of new ideas and offences). For woman is "by birth a Tory," - has been often said - by education a "Tory," we mean."

I just liked this last bit because it reminded me of Sarah Palin.
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AT WAR WITH GERMS (LAST READINGS OF THE YEAR!) [Apr. 23rd, 2010|05:19 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance


At the bottom of this post you will find the last essay of the semester, by Beatriz Colomina: "Enclosed by Images: The Eameses' Multimedia Architecture." Had we more time I would have assigned two additional pieces, each of which leads in Colomina's remarkable essay. These two works are linked beneath the pertinent images below. Please feel free to read them, ask questions about them, are write on them for your final. Though not technically assigned, I will be happy to help you with them in any way possible.

Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, if you do read it, will make much sense to you because of things we have read and discussed prior to now. In particular, St. Teresa of Avila's mystical writings will have given us a great preparation and important insight into de Beauvoir's classic instance of feminist theory. Her general thesis is that the category "Woman" has consistently functioned within Western culture as a means of representing the "other" of "Man". Whatever does not conform to the normative male standard has been disowned by Man, projected onto Woman and understood as "pathological" In particular, all that is viscous, fluid, unhygienic, and linked to the death and decay of the body, has been understood as feminine:
The word female brings up in his mind a saraband of imagery – a vast, round ovum engulfs and castrates the agile spermatozoan; the monstrous and swollen termite queen rules over the enslaved males; the female praying mantis and the spider, satiated with love, crush and devour their partners; the bitch in heat runs through the alleys, trailing behind her a wake of depraved odours; the she-monkey presents posterior immodestly and then steals away with hypocritical coquetry; and the most superb wild beasts – the tigress, the lioness, the panther – bed down slavishly under the imperial embrace of the male. Females sluggish, eager, artful, stupid, callous, lustful, ferocious, abased – man projects them all at once upon woman.

Note that de Beauvoir's mid-century-modern era, as is amply exhibited in the excellent study above, is typified by a drive toward efficiency and cleanliness, a general project to which she herself was tied, because de Beauvoir, though curious about the viscosity of bodies, was not especially comfortable with any those qualities deemed "feminine" and "pathological". Nevertheless, she is deeply curious about them, and her exploration of them will begin a general course of investigation which will lead to the radical reassessment and appropriation of the "pathological" by French Feminists of the following generation - (click for more).

"The Second Sex"

Another piece I would also assign is the German critic Walter Benjamin's extremely famous and influential essay "The Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction". Benjamin argues in it the the identify and function of art has changed radically over the years with the rise of new technologies. Gradually, the authenticity and uniqueness of the original work of art have disappeared as artworks are increasingly result not from the labor of individual craftsmen but rather teams specialized laborers distributed across the world and connected through vast transportation and communication networks. Benjamin's argument is that the inevitable result of this division and distribution of labor is internalized within the work of art which is now cut, pasted and spliced together into a wholly composite form of art best exemplified by the large-scale, high-budget motion picture. The studio-produced movie is, by definition, a factory-produced movie, one whose existence is only possible within a universally mobilized society.

In brief, all major motion pictures, irrespective of their ostensible theme, are in essence "war movies". The Hollywood blockbuster is only possible with a society ready to fight a world war. In essence, the film industry and the industrial-military complex are inextricably bound together, and major motion pictures are produced specifically to muster patriot fervor which can be directed, both abroad and at home, toward the war effort. This understood, it become incumbent upon critical thinkers to use everything they know about film production to counter its implementation as a weapon of war. The famous concluding passage of Benjamin's essay is this:
“Fiat ars – pereat mundus”, says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.

"The Work of Art in The Age
of Mechanical Reproduction"


* * *

Beatriz Colomina
Princeton University - Architecture
"Enclosed by Images: The Eameses'
Multimedia Architecture"
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Cuz it's all yellow... [Apr. 22nd, 2010|12:25 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
Before class I had listened to the wrong piece, so I got to play a bit of catch up with this one.
The first time I listened to this piece, it freaked me out. I listened through it twice to see if she had mentioned her having a baby at the beginning, and I had just missed something.
The second time I listened to this piece I was a mixture of upset and sad. After I realized that this poor woman was suffering from postpartum depression, and was being forced into trying to live a normal life, I was very saddened. Her descriptions of the room were awful. It was clearly not intended as a nursery, and sounded like she was being locked in there by her husband and doctor out of spite that he could not control her behavior, and thought that she should be fine. The oppression that she was facing is not unlike what many women and mothers still face today. Women are told that they should love their children and have all of these motherly instincts, but some women go into a psychosis that they just cannot control. It is heart breaking and eery to listen to her journal entries as they unfold. Putting together that she is the one that has done the destruction to the room and the wallpaper.
The family tried to find different reasons as to why she had this “nervous condition,” and the woman believes that her sister in law blamed it on her writing. There are constantly minimizing her, referring to her as a little girl and constantly monitoring her actions.
The creepiest part of the whole piece was the very end. I have a suspicion that she killed her husband and sister in law because she said nothing was going to get out alive... What do you guys think?
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Woolf, Religion, Intersectionallity, Gender Roles [Apr. 22nd, 2010|12:15 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

This started as a response to another post, but it started to get beefy so I decided to post it as a standalone thought.  The context is a discussion of religion as an institution of oppression to women (and similarly, the post said, in a previous incarnation, of blacks).

So while a specific discussion of racism isn't always going to be immediately germane to a discussion of patriarchy I think the intersection of these to flavors of oppression is incredibly interesting.  I think the Woolf reading could readily be applied to the overwhelming view of blacks during a similar period of time.  The idea of being superior doesn't really change much depending on what group you think you're better than; intellectual superiority tends to be the highest form (or at least most popular) form of superiority; after all that is what separates humans from beasts right? And that tends to be how groups make themselves definitionally better than some other group, by defining themselves as smarter. In Woolf's case women are seen as incapable of thought in the same way as men.  I claim this viewpoint could have been easily extended to black slaves in their day.

So racism and patriarchy tend to be germane discussions to each other. Next part of the conversation: Religion and Gender Roles. 

The claim made in the other post was (not quite made this strongly) that the LDS church perpetuates this type of oppression.  Perhaps not so candidly, but by suggesting to women that their place is in the home and taking care of children they are also suggesting that their place is not in academia or in industry.  I think the LDS church definitely does this to an extent, but there are some big qualifiers.  The LDS church always suggests every member get as much education as they can, but it also definitely defines specific gender roles.  Any church member can tell you that men are almost without exception expected to serve a mission, women do not have this expectation.  Women are welcome to serve a mission once they turn (21? someone correct me if this is wrong) but my personal experience with the institution of the LDS church would have me believing these women should instead be looking for a nice return missionary (think Prince Charming and Nightingale here) to marry instead of going out and doing the work all men are expected to do.  Once marriage occurs the LDS church tends to suggest that once again more classical gender roles (woman as a home maker, man as the bread winner) are appropriate.

The LDS church also offers (and lets be clear its not the only religion doing this type of thing) specific privileges to men (the priesthood) that are not offered to women (and for a time were not offered to blacks).  Black men later received the priesthood due to new revelation.  Women on the other hand are commonly told that men need the priesthood to be equal to women because women have the power of childbirth, a power men cannot be given.  Nightengale's thoughts are still pretty relevant here: woman's best natural power is something which necessarily keeps them in the home, and keeps them away from doing intellectually challenging work.  From my understanding of Woolf I think this is slightly less problematic (though the gender roles are still an issue).  Tthe claim of superiority is actually going the other direction - women are supposed to be naturally better than men, unfortunately I think the implication here though is that god then decided that it's unacceptable for that to be the case, so lets give men some supernatural powers. 

In so many ways religion defines peoples lives, and its a worthy intellectual pursuit to ask questions about both the religion you proscribe to and religions you don't.  I can only speak for myself but my perception of patriarchy within the LDS church was THE major factor in my decision to leave the church, both in the expectation the church has for women, and in the stance on homosexuality.
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Mills/Subjection of Women [Apr. 21st, 2010|02:35 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

Okay, so I know that most, if not all, of my posts refer to religion and God. The reason for this is because I am taking a Philosophy of Religion class this semester and EVERY gender class discussion we have mentions something that we talk about in my religion class, or triggers me to think of something that ties both classes together. So, I am not out to get religious people or God, just trying to share where my views are coming from.

Our discussion Tuesday talked about how women were so repressed back in the day and were stuck in roles where what they were allowed to do was very limited. I think this is very similar in a lot of religions today. Mainly, I am speaking of the LDS religion where so much emphasis it put on women being stay at home moms. But, I think the reason this pressure is there is because it has stuck around since the olden times, not because it's how God wants it to be. I think it would great if churches came out publicly and said that they are wrong, and things are different now than in the 1800's.

On another note, I think it would even cooler if the LDS church came out and said they were wrong for not allowing blacks to have the priesthood until 1983. Couldn't it be possible that God didn't instuct them to restrict blacks? Couldn't it be possible that the reason blacks were so picked on was because when the LDS church started....slavery was the in thing?

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Mills/Subjection of Women [Apr. 21st, 2010|02:22 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

Our discussion yesterday about Mills, reminded me of religions and in some of them, women are see as the lesser of the sexes. I think the reason that women are pushed into the homemaker role today in religion is because it's what is was done back in the day when the religion started. NOT because God wants them to be stay at home Mom's. I think it would be super if religions would come out and say they are wrong and that they are going to change their policies on men/women inequalities in religion.

I think the same thing happened with Mormonism and Blacks not being able to hold the priesthood until 1983. It's not because of something that God told them to do...How about that when the LDS church started, slavery was the "in" thing and so blacks have been unaccepted from the get-go?
Another thing that the LDS church would be really cool to come out and say they were wrong.

This class really ties in to my Philosophy of Religion class in our discussions....so that's why our discussions tend to hit me in a more religious manner. I know I sound like I am always ranting about religion 8)

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Florence nightingales "cassandra" response [Apr. 20th, 2010|10:25 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
I know this posting is kind of over due but i've just been swamped with finals, studying for finals, writing papers and all that good stuff college is about. Any who, I found florence nightingle's "Cassandra" a very interesting read,although in her time maybe Nightingales idea of family being an unnatural and unhealthy modern institution is something that might have been true in her time but now a days I dont feel that it is relevent and I'm going to have to disagree with her. A family is a social institution that is found in all societies that unites people in cooperative groups to care for one another which obviously means children.I also see where nightingale is coming from saying that women don't have any opportunities but that is also in her day, in our day and age women have a shit ton of opportunities in fact more women attend universities then men and through out the years women have become well represented in many fields of studies that once excluded them these fields include mathematics,chemistry, and biology, though I do agree that even though women have developed quite a name for themselves in these fields men still predominate in fields that include engineering, physics and philosophy, and women excel in fine arts including music, dance, and drama women also excel more in the social sciences including anthropology and sociology. Look basically what I feel is that from birth till death gender shapes human feelings thoughts, and actiongs, even children quickly learn that their society considers females and males different kinds of people. I think whether we are male or female we are all assigned to gender roles which is the attitudes and activies that society links to each sex. Even when we are born, we are either cuddled up in the pink blanket or blue blanket we are all assigend and expected to act and participate in activities that are appropriate for our gender, does that make it right, I don't think so, because I find it curious that we are taught to think of gender in terms on one sex being opposite to the other hence the term, "men are from mars women are from venus," but i find it interesting because once looking at it women and men have so much in common, in fact studies have shown that men are more attracted to women who have feminine and masculine traits and women are more attracted to men who have masculine and feminine traits. I think Nightingales thoughts were interesting but I dont completely agree that they apply to todays day and age, saying the home is a prison is something that I don't agree with I know she was like a major participant in feminism but for me I think feminism is about choice there are some women out there that are educated but like staying at home, and there are educated women who choose to have a career and of course there's the women who do it all and have a career and raise there families, but whether you choose to be a career women or you choose to be a wife and mother I think the important thing is that we have a choice now, in Nightingales day they didn't really have a choice but now we do and I think that choice really is the core of feminsim
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Response to John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” and “Utilitarianism” [Apr. 20th, 2010|09:38 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
(A little bit of a late posting for last week, mixed with some ideas discussed in class on Tuesday.)

      In “Utilitarianism”, Mill describes two aspects of life that limit human progression: wretched social arrangements and wretched education arrangements. It seems like these conditions are also those that limit the individuality Mill so strongly argues for in “On Liberty”. Whether we have specific terms for it or not, there is certainly a division of class in America. We live in a consumerist nation with a wide demographic of wealth, and have political and economic systems that often promote the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. How can a people ever progress when we are pinned against each other in this way? It’s an odd situation for a country that is supposedly “free”.
     As discussed in class, according to Mill, history, specifically anthropology, is one of the most important fields of study because it allows us to look at past societies in such a way that connects the individual to humanity. In the United States, social science classes are taken throughout our entire education. However, I think our education system often misses the most important lessons that history can teach us, focusing on dates, places and people rather than the consequences of our actions and how they affect the human race as well as the world around us. These classes offer only the trivial, when we need to be challenged with the analytical. Our education system limits human progression by basically dumbing down its own people, keeping its own people from ever demanding more. We now live in a nation where half of the citizens felt “scared” by the election of President Obama. A nation where we can’t admit to or sometimes even recognize our failures and therefore can’t make changes to progress.
     Maybe all of this is a stretch, but it feels like Mill’s philosophies are highly resonant in the world today. It’s interesting that Mill worried about individualism right before the rise of industrialism. What does that say about a country whose lives are ruled by mass-production?
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The Yellow Wallpaper [Apr. 20th, 2010|09:26 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance


The narrator reading The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins added great dimension to the story. If I were reading this passage I would have missed the emotions associated with the wallpaper. The inflection in the description of the wallpaper for the first time was especially good: “This paper looks as if it knew what vicious influence it had. There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lulls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl. And those absurd unblinking eyes are everywhere!” It was really nice listening to one of our readings. I feel that I was able to pick up on a lot more of the subordination of women during the Victorian era that we have been discussing in class.

The narrator in this short story repeatedly talks about her writings:

 “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little more. It would relieve the repressive ideas and rest me…It is so discouraging not to have any advice or companionship about my work.”

 “There comes John’s sister. Such a dear girl she is and so careful of me. I must not let her find me writing…I verily believe that she thinks it’s the writing which made me sick. But I can write when she is out and I can see her a long way off.”

“I don’t know why I should write this. I don’t want to. I don’t feel able. And I know John would think it absurd but I must say what I feel and think in some way. It is such a relief but the effort is getting greater than the relief.”

I think about how writing in college is one of the main focuses that both male and females are required to communicate their understanding. I think I could do without most of the writing assignments in school but I can’t imagine a world where I couldn’t write down my thoughts. All those great books written by female authors would never have been read or enjoyed, if not for changing our outlook on women’s role in society and their capability of producing amazing words of work. I suppose one has to take the good with the bad and simply appreciate the ability to be able to write openly and whenever.

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I'm an idiot. Sorry. [Apr. 20th, 2010|02:55 pm]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance

Sorry not to have given you the Mill essays we discussed in class today. You were good sports about it and active participants anyway. Thank you. I'll post those readings now. Don't consider them mandatory assignments, but do feel free to read and write on them, either on the journal or in your final, if they interest you. Our reading for Thursday, by Virginia Woolf, is below them.

John Stuart Mill
(1806 - 1873)
"One The Subjection of Women"

Virginia Woolf
(1882 - 1941)
"A Room of One's Own" (1929)
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Mathematical Killings [Apr. 20th, 2010|10:02 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
This journal post is associated with the readings and movies we watched in class last week. Sorry it is a little late i have been packed with homework preparing for finals. The information that i learned last week that really caught my attention and stuck with me throughout the week would be the documentary we watched on the bombings done by U.S. forces against the japanese. Previously i had no extensive knowledge on the large amounts of damage that were inflicted on the japanese. The material that we have covered in the class for the most part has educated me on topics that i previously had zero knowledge about. For example i had no idea what so ever that our military system was based on mathematical equations. It particularly struck me on exactly how much damage had been done to the numerous japanese cities. When the documentary production compared the size of a large number of american citites to japanese and the percentage of the cities that were destroyed, i was in complete shock. Our military system as stated in the documentary is designed to maximize the amount of damage done to the enemy in the most efficient ways. I interpreted this to mean, to shock the enemy first by killing a large amount of people before they can fight back by then they will have no moral in the troops and will most likely be discouraged to continue fighting back at the enemy. This concept to me at first bothered me alot imagining mass amounts of individuals such as my self being completely wiped  out and dying, including most likely generations of families. After contemplating the atrocity's that occured during the mass killings i reminded my self that this is the point of war to destroy your enemy and potentially win the war. A country wins a war by killing the enemy to the point where they either forfeit or accept defeat.

Another part of the documentary that interested me was the main character  who was a war vet during the war. I could personally tell he had a personal sense of remorse after killing hundreds of japanese during the war. I also reminded my self that even though he had a sense of remorse he most likely detached him self from the killings. He most likely thought of it as a duty from his country that he had to follow reguardless of his personal feelings. I sometimes ask my self if i could detach my self so much from reality and place my mindset to kill hundreds of thousands of individuals. These are just some simple thoughts though tell me what you think.
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(no subject) [Apr. 20th, 2010|06:06 am]
Brian's GNDR 3690 - Gender, Text, Performance
Well this is the second time I have written this thanks to some stupid computer glitch. but anyway to get to the point.

The Yellow wall paper was a reflection of how women at this time were trapped or impeded my social norms, it seemed that men 'new best' and the women was only subject to his thoughts or ideas. by finding no personal meaning in life this woman was forced to spend her times in isolation with nothing more then 'Yellow Wall Paper' to study and observe. the wall paper became a metaphor for her life and her situation trapped behind patterns and traditions that she only hopped would be piled away to set her mind and desires free from cultural norms. To deal with her depression she could only resort to this because it was put on her by he husband, so she begins to go mad but by going mad she finds a safe place were she can be free from the irrational traditions of the world. it is not outside but in secret that she can learn, think and do as she pleases.

women today still face cultural traditions that impede them, but i believe very little or nothing that cannot be overcome. as time goes by we will see more acceptance of free thinking, not just from women but from any cultural, religious, ethnic back ground. I would hope that we don't forget that these things do not just apply to women, but apply to any minority in in situation at any time. we know that African Americans were suppressed for 100s of years and found it very difficult to advance and achieve because of social expectations and traditions. Many religions in the world at the beginning of their practices were discriminated against and in many cases persecuted, Christians in Rome, Protestants, Jews, Muslim, even guess what Mormons. so it is something that effects us all in one way or another. but as the barriers are gradually piled way out in the open and not in secret places we can become a more accepting progressive society. 

I know I took a big tangent but deal with it, and I hope you understand what i am trying to say.
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