20
Nov 14

Housework: Women’s Subordination Cont’d

It seems to me that, even when great strides are being made toward leveling the playing field, the oppressive group will always cling to some semblance of “normalcy,” keeping them just a bit farther ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping their hegemony in place. That said, it can be quite interesting to observe what these things they cling to are.

According to many feminist scholars, there’s a reason why men aren’t making as much of a fuss when feminists lobby for things like equal pay for women and the deconstruction of the glass ceiling. That’s all going on in a world which doesn’t directly affect them, and even if it did, they know it’s wrong to be uncomfortable about that sort of thing in 2014. The point is, all of it’s happening outside the home. What continues to ensue inside–up close and personal in their everyday lives–is what’s consoling them. It’s the female labor they’re able to control. In other words: Housework.

Today, any kind of housework (that includes cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening–even childcare) is predominantly taken care of by the women of a shared household. You might ask: Are feminists really this neurotic? How is something as trivial as housework subordinating women?

Here’s a couple answers to this FAQ:

1) It’s degrading, dirty work that no one wants to do, but it’s expected that it will be taken care of by the woman–wordlessly implying that the man is above such work. If you walk into a household of a married couple and it’s a mess, you’d be much more likely to hear someone say, “Wow, she really doesn’t care about this place being clean, does she?” than any snide comment directed at the husband. It’s remains a societal norm that women keep things beautiful, and men cause a mess (although obviously this isn’t how it always happens). Therefore, women are often faced with more judgement in the overall way they physically present themselves and their home. This is reflected in our culture in how women often feel more anxiety over the cleanliness of their house/room/general state of appearance than men do. If you’ve never noticed this before, just ask around.

2) Housework is very time consuming work. This means that, while Mom is stuck at home mopping and vacuuming and running after the kids, Dad can go to work for nearly twice as long, or otherwise use his time in whatever way he pleases which doesn’t involve scrubbing his own dried urine off the toilet seat. Consequently, men who don’t do housework have much more time to pursue their careers and develop themselves economically, and the women who do do housework are deprived of this opportunity and instead must work for hours a day without pay, in a very grueling and under appreciated position. Not to mention that giving up her career to stay home, cook, clean, and take care of the kids means a woman ends up economically dependent on her husband, in essence binding a her to the relationship. (You don’t have to be a feminist to figure out why we don’t like that sort of situation).

Keep in mind that this can also happen the other way around: Women can be the breadwinners while men stay home and cook and clean. The reason why feminists are all up in arms about it, is that it’s much more likely for women to be in subordinated position than men–and that’s not always a choice they make for themselves. Luckily, this issue is beginning to become less of a problem as more liberal generations grow up, and men and women start sharing the household chores, although it has by no means vanished. Just keep in mind: if you’re in a relationship and you find yourself doing more than your fair share of the housework, don’t just mutter a complaint. Lay a couple of these points down on your partner. They may find that your arguments aren’t as “trivial” as they seem.

Sources:

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Maid to Order, 2000.

Mainardi, Pat. The Politics of Housework, 1970.


13
Nov 14

Stasis Questions Regarding the Teaching of the Theory of Evolution in Public Schools (Updated)

My group decided to do our Unit 4 Assignment on the teaching (or lack thereof) of the Theory of Evolution in public schools. The controversy, many would say, stems from the first Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which among other things, provides all citizens with the freedom of religion, and effectively separates the church and the state. This means that anything funded by the government, like public education, can’t show any sort of favoritism toward any religion. It would be unconstitutional.

For some background information, rewind back to 1925, when Darwinism was on the rise. People in Tennessee were in an uproar after teachers began to implement the Theory of Evolution in the school’s curriculum. Even though the theory had been basically proven as scientific fact, it contradicted the religious beliefs of the largely-Christian population of the state (In the Abrahamic religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–sacred texts speak of the world being only about 10,000 years old, and of people and animals being placed on the earth by God, rather than evolving from one another. Darwinism renders both of these claims obsolete). The matter was eventually taken to court, in the so-called “Scopes Monkey Trial” of 1925. In it, the court ruled that evolution could not be taught in public schools, because it degraded certain religions beliefs. But however entertaining the trial was, it never resolved the question of whether the First Amendement permitted states to ban teaching of a theory which contradicted religious beliefs.

It wasn’t until 1968, during the Epperson v. Arkansas case, that the Supreme Court ruled such bans unconstitutional, as their main purpose was religious, and therefore unable to be made into legislation. Still, many parents have reservations about sending their kids in to learn about evolution, even though it has now become a foundational concept of modern biology. Many public schools have taken to avoiding the subject by simply never mentioning evolution in the classroom. But whether this is the right thing to do, remains to be seen.

With this information in mind, the stasis questions I’ve come up with for this topic are:

Conjecture: Does it, or does it not go against the 1st amendment to teach the Theory of Evolution in public schools? OR Does teaching the Theory of Evolution degrade certain religions enough for it to be considered a threat to a citizen’s freedom of religion?

Definition: Do the origins of this controversy have more to do with American citizens’ will to protect the first amendment, or the fear of religious citizens of having there religion supposedly upstaged by science.

Quality: Is it more important to inform the nation’s youth of basic scientific knowledge, or to avoid the risk of discrediting parts of someone’s religion?

Policy/Quality: What are the potential long term effects of withholding scientific knowledge from our nation’s youth? Of discrediting certain claims made by a person’s religion? Which consequences are more/less preferable?

And finally, after answering all of these questions, we can ask:

Policy: Should our public schools be teaching students the Theory of Evolution?


06
Nov 14

Visual Rhetorical Strategies

I think the best times to use visual rhetoric rather than or in addition to written/oral rhetoric, is when you are going for an emotional appeal. Pretty much every kind of image–with the exception of graphs or charts, which are innately grounded in logic–are meant to invoke emotions. This could be in the form of photographs, sketches, or paintings, all of which are designed to give us something to relate to (e.g. a person’s facial expression or posture). Other times the pathos might be less obvious, giving us hints of images which compel us to fill in the blanks, and engage the in the text. This less obvious pathos can be found in images, as well as colors and typefaces. You might also consider using visuals when you are more interested in grabbing the attention of your audience, instead of having them think deeply about what you’re writing (Think posters, advertisements, or headlines, rather than the body of an essay).

Ethos is especially evident in photographs, in which you are forced to view the image in the perspective of the photographer. The viewer is compelled to consider why the photographer thought the image something worth taking a picture of, and why they took it from the perspective they did. Visual pathos is the most obvious when images of people are depicted; the viewer can easily imagine themselves making the expression, standing with the posture, and feeling the same emotions as the person in the picture. Logos, as I’ve mentioned, is usually depicted by graphs and charts, as they are often the vehicle for expressing statistical data.

The most interesting thing I learned while reading this chapter were the origins of all the the different typefaces, and the effects they produced. It seems obvious now that I’ve learned about them, but this was something I’ve never considered before.


06
Nov 14

Western Feminism’s Burden

In my blog for my Women’s Studies class, I’ve recently spent a fair amount of time discussing “White Man’s Burden.” The term refers to the deep-seated idea that since white people are the “superior, more privileged” race, it is their responsibility to raise all other races up to their standard of living–which again, is superior to all other lifestyles, and obviously preferable to any chosen “victimized” culture’s current situation. And because of this, anytime white people try to “help” those in different cultures, they should logically be received with gratitude for their charitable efforts. Most people have realized by that this is simply untrue. It’s a colonialist idea that was really only relevant until the end of the civil rights movement. At least, that’s what we’ve been led to believe.

Coming to college, I’ve noticed a few things I was never really aware of before. One of which is the fact that, although conservatives in America are typically thought to be the “bigoted ones,” there’s a lot liberals here who are too. If nothing else, this is because of a lack of information. The thing is, when you call a liberal out about it, it’s a lot harder for them to accept that they’ve said or done something prejudiced, because one of the defining traits they often see in themselves is a fair and just willingness to help others. When they’re made aware of it, they often are ashamed, but at the same time they might feel somewhat justified. After all, they support efforts to help the very people they’re prejudiced towards. Their intention was never to be prejudiced… But that doesn’t mean they aren’t.

The same goes for white/western/upper-middle class feminists. While our intentions may be noble, we will never truly understand who we’re helping until we learn to look past stereotypes. And if we don’t understand people, we won’t understand how to help them. As feminists trying to help women in the “third world” (another subjective term, stemming from the West’s superiority complex) we’ll focus on “issues” we as Westerners would consider problems, or which we find “terrible” (think unfamiliar/foreign). These chosen areas of focus often include the termination of basic cultural norms in other countries, such as the veiling of women or genital mutilation. We could spend all our time on this wasted effort–trying to change a culture which isn’t ours, and once again becoming the safeguarding oppressors of the globe. But in truth, the women of the region themselves may want–and need–different types of support. And unless we’ve talked to them explicitly about those needs, chances are we as Westerners would never consider them a problem, simply because we’ve never had to think about them before. For example, many women spend hours each day carrying clean water back to their homes, just to make one meal for their family. Access to clean water is a constant struggle in these regions, but practically unheard of in the West. In Africa, hundreds of women and children die each day because of a shortage in health care for infants and pregnant women–but this is hardly an issue where we live. We also tend to have relatively safe working environments over here, so we don’t consider things like the structural unsoundness of buildings to be a feminist issue. However, if you’ve been paying attention to the recurring collapses of textile mills in India (which for the most part employ women and children), you probably realize that it is.

If we take the time to see women in other countries as people like us, who all have different needs, we will be able to provide support for our fellow women in a much more meaningful, efficient way. But we can only give people what they’re willing to accept. If we only focus on giving them what we think they need, they’ll never be able to have what they actually need. And if all we’re trying to do is make their culture just like ours, we’re only oppressing them even more.

Sources:

Hooks, Bell. Global Feminism, 2000.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. Under Western Eyes, 1984.

Shiva, Vandana. Our Violent Economy Is Hurting Women, 2013.


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