Monday, January 31, 2011
I think the fact that I am more aware of the issues is one step in the right direction. I think in my personal life I will try to be more aware of the issues that others face.
I am not going to say I am about to go out and join various organization that are dedicated to ending oppression, I would be lying if I said that. Doing this requires a lot of work and dedication, and I think I do better by working on "small things".
One place I can start is within my social circle, I have some friends who hold beliefs about the issues we discussed in this class (racism, sexism, etc) but are well educated in the topics themselves. I will challenge them to think about it in different terms, the way I had to when I took this class.
Another thing I will start doing is having preconvied notions about people, without first getting to know them. For example I used to think it was odd whenever I saw a girl in a CS class. My friends and I (both male and female) would discuss this issue sometimes and come up with reasons why this might be the case. I see now that a lot of what we were saying was simply reaffirming others beliefs, not challeging them and trying to be more open to the idea of women being computer science majors. I think the attitude that "There are no girl CS majors" is the reason so many of them drop out after freshman year (in my experience we usually get 4 or 5 girls who start out in the program, but all but 1 or 2 drop it after a while).
Take for example homelessness, most of use believe homelessness is a bad thing and should be eliminated, however only a small minority of us dedicate their time, money, and effort to working with or for homeless people, whether that be working in shelters, or petitioning the government or other organizations to help eliminate it.
I think activist should be willing to work within and without "systems" to accomplish there goal. Obviously trying to reform current systems to further their goals, then if they find that can't be done willing to work to do "revoultionary work" (replaceing current systems with new ones). For example I once talked to someone who was convince that the current structure of government in the United States needed to be done away with, When I asked what his specific concerns where, he stated very boilerplate issues (universal healthcare, marijuana legalization, etc) that in comparison seemed small. I explained that it would be much more productive to work though with the government though regular means (petitioning member of congress, etc) to further his goals then replacing the government all together (something that would lead to years of economic and legal instability).
Finally I think activism should be something people do not just for themselves, but for other people in their situation. It is very easy is to fight for something like healthcare reform when you don't have healthcare, but say you get a good job with health insurance, will you still be willing to fight for it?
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Here are links to the movies
First Day of Work, A Woman's Perspective:
First Day of Work, A Man's Perspective:
As someone who is a employee in a industry that is male dominated I have noticed that sometimes when a female employee tend to stick out, and you notice when theirs a new girl in the office. Unfortunately because many of the guys who work in this office are not very social-able, they sometimes turn the only opportunity then have to interact with girls on a daily basis (work) into a dating game.
At first I was only going to do one video about a female entering the workforce, but then I decided that it would be better to do a comparison.
I also didn't the other person in the video to be a manager, just someone who had some experience at the organization. Managers can face accusations of favoritism by dating there employees, while employees with out managerial duties have a more freedom. I also wanted to show how women may come into conflict with others besides their superiors.
I tried to make the two new employees have essentially equal qualifications (just out of college, had a industry-related internship-like job in college, computer science degrees). Notice how the female employee gets assigned the job of doing the "pretty graphics", instead of the more challenging job that the male gets.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I think the reason it is so seldom talked about is because it only recently became a major issue, due to the recent medical breakthroughs that have caused people to live longer. Now with the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age, we are starting to see more and more of the effects of ageism in our society.
I enjoyed watching the video "To Old to Work" (even though it was short), while I though "Living Old" which just talked about old people as sort of a "burden". In "To Old to Work" we can see the the intersection of the issues of ageism and current economic issues and it also shows that older people are valuable members of society. This is another issue why ageism is such a seldom talked about issue, many people will assume that "old people" are anyone over 70 who need to be care for in a nursing home. In this video we are shown how ageism effects those much younger. Many of the people in this movie faced the day to day issue older people face, especially having to deal with hiring discrimination.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
I think this performance helps to show how disabled people are capable of extraordinary things. It should be used as a platform for educating people about disability. After all able-ism it self is another form these "socially constructed" forms of oppression. By not wanting to recognize that people who may have physical or mental disabilities may need assistance (small or large) we treat disabled people as second class citizens and relegate them to a life of poverty and continued dependence.
While the "Tran-sexual Manifesto" talks about many of the problems transsexuals face, and is a call to action to do away with this discrimination, I believe the two movies "Beautiful Daughters" and "Southern Comfort" do a wonderful job of showing just how normal transsexuals are.
We often think of transsexuals as drag wearing, sexual performers who are only doing what they are doing because of some bizarre sexual fetish. While hearing the stories of the women from "Beautiful Daughters" I was amazed to find that most of them led normal lives, some as real estate developers other as computer and electrical engineers. On their road to transition they faced a number of roadblocks, from employment discrimination to drug addition. Why would these women go through all this trouble if they didn't have a deep belief in what they were fighting for?
I think that the first thing cisgender people can do is to help is (obviously) treat transexuals as they want to be treated. I think one thing we can do is to stop think of biological men being masculing and biological women as being feminine, and realize that these character traits can belong to either biological sex in varying degrees. This would not only do wonders for the transsexual community, but other non-heterosexual people. Even heterosexuals them selves would be freed from the ridged exceptions we now put on them.
Finally, I would like to reflect on one last thing. I was disappointed in the number of doctors who refused Robert Eads the medical care he needed, simply because they were afraid of the effect it would have on their reputations. I believe these doctors where ignoring their Hypocratic Oath, and due to their in action were the primary cause of Roberts death.
When I first saw this film I was of the opinion that most of the youths problems where of their own creation, after all it was their misguided choice to come to New York in the first place, and it was their choice to pursue drugs and prostitution. I summed it up as the typical problems of misguided teens who want to rebel against society.
However, after thinking about it for a while I realized that while there was a tad of "adolescent angst" to their problems, I saw that most of the problems they were facing were in reaction to societies oppression, things non-LGBT youth do not have the additional burden of facing.
Whenever I was in crisis or times of need I knew I could always depend on my family as a last resort to help me out of whatever hole I had dug myself into. These youths were cast away from their familes (or had none in the first place) their was no one to relay on. They face all of the difficult task of cleaning themselves up, with little or no support. Their social circles were lacking too, as they were constantly surrounded by others with similar problems, who often encouraged their behavior. They had no role models, no one to look up to.
At the root of most of the problems was societies hetro-sexism. Most of these kids were cast from their homes or circles for being different. They were then denined employment simply because their legal gender did not match their social one. Finally, they where required to fulfill the stereotypical expectations of being "evil homosexuals" by doing drugs and working in the sex trade. This is very similar to a topic I talked about before where oppression and disenfranchisement are systematic and long lasting, due to the fact that those who are believed to be "evil", lack the social support to be anything but "evil".