New Momism/Involved Fatherhood

January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

I was struck by the readings “The New Momism” and “Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood.” It seems to me that although women have now entered the workforce and many women are encouraging their partners to share housework and childcare duties, our gender norms and social structures have not caught up. Even the perspectives each essay takes are telling. In “The New Momism” childcare is described as a type of labor working women are expected to do—and do it well. For the men of “Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood,” childcare is something they (as working fathers) are not expected to do, but something they want to do. It is not described as work, but rather as the state of being an “involved father.” What does it mean that when we are discussing these issues, childcare given by mothers is described as a type of labor and childcare given by men is described as a state, a way of being for the father?

Even so, the new image of motherhood in the US is also a state of being, one that includes the childcare women provide. In addition to childcare though, the mother should be a worker, busy but flowering in perfection. There is no new image of fatherhood. Good fathers are still fathers who pay all the bills and provide for their children financially. Fathers who want to become “involved fathers” have no images or ideals to work from. They are diving into unchartered territory; their path is not yet a socially recognized one.

As more women realize the ideals of motherhood as presented to them by the media are unobtainable and more men strive to provide more of the childcare in their marriages, will the structure of labor change? Will workplaces make changes to help both mothers and fathers?


Pride and Privilege

January 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

In my opinion a major issue when anyone, myself included, sits down to unpack their backpack and take inventory is being able to decouple their pride from what they have accomplished.  From the time they are children most people are taught to be proud of their accomplishments and to embrace their strengths.  This helps them to develop into self confident adults that have a strong sense of self worth and a good concept of their strengths.  When we look back at our lives the default perspective is one that tells us to be proud of what we have accomplished.

It is a difficult task to look back at all your proudest accomplishments and wonder if you truly did accomplish them only on your own merit.  The task becomes even more difficult when you push past the initial layer of success.  For example I was admitted to Purdue and have done quite well academically.  Would I have been admitted to Purdue if I was of a different group?  I would say more likely than not yes.  Would I still have been able to meet Purdue’s admission requirements if because of being in that different group I went to a less privileged high school?  Would I still have even been motivated to apply if my primary education was not as good?  The easiest and most comfortable answer is yes but that does not mean it is the right one and I cannot honestly say I know the answer.  Of course I would like to assume that I would still have grown into the same adult but that may not have been the case.

This can apply to anything that feels like an accomplishment.  It is hard to take something you are proud of and look at it a again from the perspective of “Have I worked hard enough to deserve this.” instead of “I deserved this because I have worked hard.”.

White Privilege

January 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

WARNING: The video I have uploaded does include swearing.

I just recently watched this video a few days ago and it is a response to the original parody of “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls”. The original video was made as a sort of joke portraying a few phrases that may be commonly said, given the context, but some of the phrases may not be used or said but everyone. I found it relating to one of the first reading, “White Privilege Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, and its relation in aspects of mass media. It also relates to the video presented in class by Jay Smooth. The white gentleman who made the video argues on behalf of black people and the video not being racist by noticing the disadvantages and also noting a few things located in his “knapsack”. A really good example he uses is that “being white is like being a blank slate.” Meaning a white person can walk around and act however they want to and they will be judged upon their actions, whereas, a person of different race are likely to be judged on how they look rather than actions.

A person commented below this YouTube video with this, “That’s pretty poor logic, friend. And if you think this video and not the institution of white privilege is what’s dividing us into groups… then you live far from the reality of American life.” This statement I believe did not critically watch and think about what the video was saying. The author of the video in turn responded, ” i never said the video is what is dividing society. I said according to a general definition of racism, the video (or anything that claims there are white, black, and other “races”) is racist. Or looking at real political and economic issues, like wealth distribution and social class, and saying this is based entirely on skin color, is racist (and simply untrue) do you know where the social construct of “race” first took shape? hint: a certain institution in the colonies.” To be honest, his response has deep issues presented.

I feel like this video and the video with Jay Smooth are great examples of this topic and really help to explain a few factors dealing with race and white privilege.

My Invisible Knapsack

January 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

One the way back to my office after class, I thought about some of the items in my invisible knapsack.

Because I have no physical disabilities, I am able to assume that I can go anywhere I want in the world with no physical obstacles or barriers. When I enter a bathroom, I can assume there will be several stalls available to me, and on occasion if there’s a line, I’ll use the stall marked for disabled people. I can also assume that people don’t look at me with pity or shame because of a visible disability.
Because I am a cis-gender woman, I never have to worry whether someone will misread my gender at work or in other public venues. (Not sure what cis-gender means? Check here.) I also never have to worry that people assume that they know my sexuality based on how I dress, wear my hair, or other outward appearances.
Because I am a light-skinned black woman, my black family and black community don’t denigrate my beauty or tell me I’m “too dark.” When I see black films or music videos, most often women portrayed as “beautiful” have a skin tone similar to mine.
Because I am an American, I can assume that many places I travel in the world, especially as a tourist, that I will be treated with more respect than the people who are from that place.
Because I am a native English speaker in the US, I can assume that my intelligence will not be questioned simply because I have an accent.
Because I am a Purdue professor, I can assume that my status will ensure better treatment and more respect at stores, restaurants, and other businesses in the area. (This class privilege often helps me deal with my experiences of oppression and discrimination because of my other identities — such as race or gender)

Prof. David

White Privilege in Reality-Reading Response 1

January 18, 2012 § 8 Comments

If you take a moment and just look around our WOST 380 class, it shows white privilege in reality. Look at it, the born opportunity, the first choice, the easier path, and the “norm” of America’s society. You might just see it as Purdue being a predominantly white institution, but I see it as an open atmosphere of white privilege, with a few speckles of color.

McIntosh states that whites aren’t taught to recognize the fact that they have white privilege. To test this theory I asked four of my fellow peers, two whites and two Blacks, if they thought Purdue was diverse. The two whites said yes they did for reasons such as “two Asians in my lab group” or “3 Blacks on my floor.” The other two girls came to reason that Purdue wasn’t diverse because it was a predominantly white institution and “a few international kids don’t make things different, everywhere you go its all white people.” The perspectives of the girls were very opposite and it seemed that the statement McIntosh said was true. The white girls were oblivious to the fact that it was a predominantly white institution, but noticed maybe one or two people that were different than them. The Black girls saw Purdue as a whole and recognized the fact that it was predominantly white and had little diversity.

I agree that it will take a lot of efforts and realization in order to “redesign social systems and change racism.” The white privilege would have to be brought to light and other races will have to be sure to stand for equality so that justice is truly done.

-i am open to opinions an comments. no offense, non taken.

Reading Response #1

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

White Privilege: An Unclear System

   The subtle and overlooked system of “white privilege” is addressed within the essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. Author Peggy McIntosh introduces to the reader the notion of how “white” people may experience specific societal advantages. (The privilege itself is compared to a knapsack, a metaphor that communicates a survival resource.) Throughout her essay, she analyzes the nature of “white privilege” and integrates aspects of her own personal life.

   McIntosh parallels the existence of “white privilege” to that of patriarchy. She concludes that people who benefit from such systems are either ignorant of their existence, or defensive of their involvement. In her acknowledgement and analyses of the disparity that exists between races, Peggy creates a list of her own advantages. The list includes not having to represent white race to not constantly being associated with a lower economic status.

   I found the essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” to cause a surprisingly personal impact. Peggy McIntosh clearly and eloquently places the existence of “white privilege” in a way that makes its existence undeniable. Not only did the essay serve to remind me of such systems that occur realistically; it actually made me feel uncomfortable. While I agree with everything the author had to say, I couldn’t help but feel somehow put on the spot as a “white” person. It is easy to forget the existence and impact that such systems can have on a society.


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