Why do women in…

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Why do women in today’s society feel the need to live in fear of their biological time clock?

As Judith Halberstam explains, the phenomena of reproductive time, governs the way that people not only construct their relationships but their lifestyles. You go to college, you find your soul mate, you build a career, and then of course women you MUST have babies. BLA BLA BLA bull shit! As a person that values living outside the social constraints of reproductive time I find it hard to believe why women  continue today to be anxious and fearful of their biological time constraint to have children. Do you believe Amelia Earhart’s accomplishments would be any more exquisite if she decided to have children? Of course, anyone would answer no to that question and could argue that if Amelia did decide to have children her accomplishments in aviation could have been greatly impacted due to the time, energy and money that goes into raising kids.

That aside, women are constantly bombarded with news segments, advertisements, T.V. series, and films that address the importance and “responsibility” that we hold in this world to bear children. Check out time marker 2:56 of this CNN news clip and you’ll catch my drift ;).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK6buEZmPd8

-Victoria Brown

In “The Busin…

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In “The Business of Being Born” Michel Odent brought up the crucial question of “What are the basic needs of a woman in labor.” The hospitals today are so concerned with the business side of delivering babies that they no longer base their actions on either the wellbeing of the mother or the baby. It is all about getting the mother in and out of the hospital bed as quickly as they can to free up space for the next paying customer. But in their rush to move the birth along they actually put the mother and baby at an even greater risk, using drugs that cause problems. But most mothers don’t know that before going in to the hospital or during prenatal care. It seems that if more women were aware of how a hospital birth worked and that the care was centered around the convenience of the doctor then they might go the midwife route. I know that after watching that video I thought more seriously about how I want to give birth. The fact that almost all other countries, if not all, use midwives should be a testament to the benefits and reliability of that practice. Midwives promote a style of birth that makes the most physical sense for the ease of both the mother and the baby. Squatting when giving birth makes it easier for the baby’s body to spin around through the pelvis and uses gravity to help push. Doctors don’t put this into practice because it is not comfortable for them, no matter if it can make the birth more comfortable for the new mother.

-Annie Grant

In Lorr…

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     In Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison’s article, The Image of Objectivity, it was presented that there was a reliance on scientific atlas’ in the time where there was an absence of cadavers.  Furthermore, it was worth noting the importance of the images chosen to be in these atlas’ and the debates that were involved in this.  Among these debates, there was one regarding ideal versus characteristic images.  The ideal image seems to be of one that is cleaned up and easy to comprehend.  The characteristic image would be one that is everyday and appears frequently in reality.

     This article presents the work of Bernhard Albinus, in relation to the ideal image.  It depicted how “he is at once committed to the most exacting standards of visual accuracy in depicting his specimens, and to creating images of ‘the best pattern of nature'” (Daston and Galison, 89).  He would find the most normative skeleton he could find, improve this skeleton, and did further comparative analysis to make sure it was a supernormal skeleton.  It is interesting the way in which he chose a skeleton of the male sex to represent what he believes to be the most normative skeleton.  There seemed to be some gender bias going on with this.  In addition, he worked hard “to meticulously clean, reassemble, and prop up the skeleton, checking the exact positions of the hip bones, thorax, clavicles, and so on, by comparison with a very skinny man made to stand naked alongside the prepared skeleton (Daston and Galison, 89).  Albinus went to great lengths to create his ideal skeleton.       

     It is interesting in the way this debate translates into the present-day.  I am an undergraduate teaching assistant for Anatomy & Physiology, and I primarily work in the laboratory with undergraduate students and graduate students.  Within the lab, we work with “ideal” models that depict every part of the human body.  Also within the book, there are images that parallel these models for further study.  For example, we are working on the digestive system, and there are models of what the ideal gastrointestinal tract would look like.  A model of the inside of the stomach shows clear and picture-perfect rugae.  However, not only do we require these potential future physicians and nurses to learn the picture-perfect models, we also require them to learn every body part on our cadavers.  These bodies have been donated so students can learn on real human bodies.  The cadavers and pictures of the cadavers in the Anatomy & Physiology book seem to be representing the “characteristic” images, being that they represent what the body could look like in reality.  It is interesting the way in which this debate of ideal versus characteristic images still exists today.

-Nicki Moon 

The Bra…

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     The Brandon Teena Story is the title to a documentary that is about Brandon Teena, a transgendered person, who was murdered along with two others, in rural Nebraska in 1993.  The story is told through interviews with individuals who knew Brandon, recorded interrogations, trial transcripts, and photographs.  Being that our society has become more image oriented, the advantages of a documentary are that it reaches the visual learner.  Being that I am a visual learner, this documentary allowed me to visualize the message that the directors were trying to portray.   

     It was noteworthy the way in which individuals of authority used their power in an adverse way towards Brandon throughout the documentary.  One example of this was when Sheriff Laux was supposed to be asking questions about the horrifying rape that Brandon experienced.  Instead of showing concern about the rape, Sheriff Laux was crudely interrogating Brandon to find out the “truth” of his identity.  This became obvious when Brandon responded to one of the sheriff’s questions along the lines of how was it relevant to the rape.  Another individual that abused their authority was Lana’s mother.  At a first glance, it was almost as if Lana’s mother was trying to help Brandon through his adversities.  However, it became quite clear that this wasn’t the case when she insisted that Brandon pull down his pants to prove his identity.  How is this scenario even permissible?

     As a result of these occurrences with individuals of authority, it makes this community, as a rural space, seem fundamentally unwelcoming.  One of the few exceptions to this notion could be the mother that was a friend of Brandon’s.  She truly seemed to be concerned about Brandon’s well-being.  This rural space seemed to be primarily a white community, which firmly policed it’s own boundaries.  There was a comment made during the documentary that if any queers were present in the community, they would be escorted out of town.  This comment supports the view that this space was ruled by intense heterosexuality, such as Sheriff Laux.  It seemed to be that in every part of the documentary, from the interrogation by Sheriff Laux to the rape of Brandon Teena, Brandon was always being put back into his place of subordination.  

-Nicki Moon         

Brandon’s Masculinity

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In reading Judith Halberstam’s In a Queer Time & Place, I was intrigued by her assessment of the girls who dated Brandon Teena and their reasons for doing so, as well as his masculinity. Halberstam notes that most media accounts of Brandon’s story fail to tell that he was “actively chosen over more conventionally male men” by the girls in his area, and that the girls who dated him described him as the perfect male (28). He doted on them, knew how to treat a woman right, was again and again described as a fantasy or dream boyfriend. Taking all of this into account, Halberstam concludes that “Brandon’s self-presentation…must be read as a damaging critique of the white working-class masculinities; at the same time…his performance of courtly masculinity is a shrewd deployment of the middle-class and so-called respectable masculinities that represent an American romantic ideal of manhood.” In other words, he offered to these girls than the others around him, revealing the inadequacies of his peers while at the same time utilizing the romanticized version of what middle-class girls expect men to be. In the second chapter, Halberstam adds that he was polite, sweet, generous and respectful, all qualities that are associated with middle-class respectability. In this sense then, he destabilized what middle-class masculinity means.

While I agree with Halberstam’s assessment of what made Brandon attractive, and the ways in which he destabilized both middle-class masculinity and what it means to be masculine in general, I wonder what this says about the expectations our society teaches girls to have for their partners. Should it really be that much to ask for, for a partner, regardless of sex or gender to be polite and respectful? What I took away from Halberstam’s description of Brandon’s relationships is that he was nice to these girls, which seemed to be unusual. I think that, in itself, is a large problem. The fact that a polite, sweet, respectful person was so unusual and unexpected, and yet so desired reveals problems with our conception of masculinity that Brandon rightfully destabilized and challenged, but I think also it raises the issue of female expectations.

Hannah Craddock

“Vanilla” sex is so over.

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Like many of those who posted this week, I also found McClintock’s discussion of S/M particularly interesting. It is not often that we get to discuss fetishism in an academic setting, but the rare occasion is bound to bring up diverse and “disturbing” ideas.

S/M’s increasing rate of appearances in mainstream media has called into question the “vanilla” sex that is promoted by dominant heteronormative culture as of late.  Despite the notion that sex is not just for procreation, but for recreation also is still fairly new, fetishism has become a recent winkle in plans of the rather conservative sexual beings.  However, for those looking to explore all that sex has to offer, the buzz about fetishism has opened up the possibility of unprecedented satisfaction and comfort.  Giving those a platform to discuss fetishes in a safe and nonjudgemental has revealed that most aren’t “just having sex” and those with “sexual kinks” are certainly not alone.

Rihanna’s fairly new release “S&M” (http://www.vevo.com/watch/rihanna/sm/USUV71002981) has generated quite the conversation about fetishism, particularly sadomasochist sexual fantasies.  With phrases such as, “Sticks and stones may break my bones // But chains and whips excite me” and “It’s exactly what I’ve been yearning for, give it to me strong,”  Along with popular media such as Cracked.com claiming, “Bizarre sexual fetishes are a staple of the human psyche–most everyone has them, and with the arrival of Internet porn, all the walls came crumbling down. Suddenly, everyone everywhere could share their sick, nasty fantasies with the entire world, safe under a veil of anonymity,” the pop culture staples bring attention to sexual pleasures that go beyond mainstream ideals of what sex should be.  But are representations and proclamations like this enough to start a revolution of sexual realities?

The truth of the matter is that many highly regarded media health outlets still refer to fetishism as a “disorder,” described as such on Livestrong.com and Discovery Fit & Health.  Perhaps a bright side can be found in the helpful statements about treatment, though.  For instance, Discovery Fit & Health advises, “It’s only necessary to seek help if harm is coming from your sexual habit, says sex therapist Barnaby Barratt – if, for example, you’re clashing with the law or injuring yourself or others. Your off-the-track practices aren’t hurting anyone? In that case, Barratt encourages, ‘Enjoy!'” (http://health.howstuffworks.com/sexual-health/sexuality/fetishes-and-other-sexual-preferences-dictionary.htm)  Well, there you go, the doctor says it’s okay.

The current interest in sexual fetishes may not be enough to open up discussion on the extremely unorthodox or painfully embarrassing, but it does seem to be promising.  Sparking debate on the topic brings forth an opportunity to open oneself up to an exploration of inner desires that had not been deemed acceptable before.

–Elizabeth Nash

Coming Out

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In this week’s class discussion we examined Judith Butler’s “Imitation and Gender Insubordination”. We looked at one quotation in particular and its relation to the idea of “the closet” and whether or not the act of coming out of the closet truly liberates a person. Butler argues, “To install myself within the terms of an identity category would be to turn against the sexuality that the category purports to describe” (pg. 121). In thinking about coming out of the closet, it becomes clear that some people actually just move from one closet to another. Society labels homosexuals and box them into identities, expecting certain behaviors that when not performed receive negative responses such as bullying. We can see these results of coming out of the closet and the harassment many young adults face today just by watching the news. By searching Jonah Mowry on youtube you can find a video posted a few months ago of a young boy about to start 8th grade expressing his fears because of the bullying he encounters for being homosexual. Another young man who posted a youtube video titled “It Gets Better” in hopes of giving other homosexual teens support recently committed suicide from years of bullying. Many lawmakers however are fighting to enact anti-bullying legislations, hopefully we will see a decline in the lives lost from bullying and homophobia