Taking it

March 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

At times we often forget that men have issues with gender as well as women. Our focus is constantly on the movements of women that we forget that the patriarchal system affects not just women but men as well. this essay  was very touching in the fact that this was a man that was going through a laming disease but still felt obligated and pushed to be a “man”. What is “being a man” really mean?

Leonard Kriegel happened to think that the definition of “being a man” was to be strong, have no feelings, not let anything get you down. I know at times in a relationship if the guy is showing to much feelings I will tell him to “man up” so I definitely can agree with his definition but I feel that Leonard could have been given a pass. Not only was he an immigrant trying to be “American” but he also had polio. What is so wrong with a man being sensitive and acknowledging that he is not the same. No he has to be just as “manly” as the rest or else he will not be tough. I think fighting of polio was being tough.

(posting #5) “Just Walk On By”

February 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the essay “Just Walk On By” Author Brent Staples analyzes the relationship between his persona as a Black man and the living space around him. He describes stories of pedestrians, often women, who go out of their way to avoid him at night. Staples’s essay directly addresses issues regarding race and the projection of stereotypes. Upon moving to New York, the interactions with other people are simply intensified. Walking around Manhattan at night, Brent recalls the typical encounter with women: “I often witness that “hunch posture,” from women after dark on the warren like streets of Brooklyn where I live. They seem to set their faces on neutral and, with their purse straps strung across their chests bandolier style, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being talked” (pg. 205). The sense of an unintentionally intimidating presence creates an alienated setting for Brent.

The relevant and complicated issue involving race within the essay can also be seen in the 2004 film, Crash. The American drama explores racial and social tensions in Los Angeles, and depicts scenes with similar incidences. A Caucasian Couple known as Rick and Jean walk around L.A. after an evening out. As they walk past two Black strangers, Jean clutches her purse and notably changes her body posture. The Black men discuss racial discrimination, only stopping to suddenly mug the couple.

Here are the clips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr-vqKH56w8&feature=related (Café Scene)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHS1WzGPq2s (Changing Locks)

Jean becomes traumatized by the incident and resorts to having her locks changed by a Hispanic man. She mentions to Rick the whole concept of being scared while simultaneously being aware of any racial tensions. Jean notes had she reacted any differently to the Black men, she would be deemed a racist, yet her fears had materialized. She yells at the locksmith and proceeds to deem him as some “gangbanger”.

When is enough, enough?

February 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

Leonard Kriegel’s essay at first glance was very inspiring. To read of a man that would do anything to overcome his disease is valiant and brave. But the reasons behind this strong desire to conquer are all instilled and expected from an American man, and in my opinion, the majority of men around the globe. Growing up, I remember my father telling my brother to “be a man” countless times, and found myself repeating the same thing to my younger brother even before he reached a ripening age. To be “a man” is to be courageous and to never give up, to always aspire to win, but not all men are this way, and not all men have “what it takes”. I sympathize men because, just like women, they are also under constant pressure from society. They are pushed into becoming this immortal man who’s finely sculpted, to becoming a knight in shining armor, to be more inclined towards the rough and tough, to know how to fix cars and homes, to be extremely intelligent and independent, to make all the money and of course, you can’t cry or show feelings about it like a girl… you have to take it because you’re “a man”.

I honor the man who decides when enough is enough, who shows his feelings and doesn’t mind giving up either to better himself, his family or his community. I admire the man who isn’t the typical Alpha, but the loving Beta; and I respect the man who is who he is regardless of what society may expect from him. I feel that every man and every woman is a completely different individual with unique personal experiences that define who they are. We can’t expect to keep thinking that every man has to be this way and every woman has to be that way, no. These expectations that we have of people can have serious effects on them, such as Kriegel who “burns with pain” because of his desire to be a part of this American way. When will enough be just that?

Just walk on by

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

After discussing this essay in class I went back over and re-read it again in order to get the full effect of the article. I have to agree in saying that this sense of frightfulness we get when a stranger walks by us at night or even in a creepy hall way at Purdue does happen a lot of the time. The stereotyping of people is a very bad part of our society but it is the way people were raised and how they feel about certain situations. When Professor Marlo told us about how a white male was singing out guns on campus and how the typical suspect of on campus shootings are white males I would feel the same because of the stereotype. For women, I feel as though when a male is walking by us at night or when no one is around it makes our hearts beat faster and make rash decisions when really they could be an average person.

The media and news put so much into stereotyping that it scares us as victims because what we see on the news or in movies is what is always in our subconscious. I thought that it was interesting that Brent Staples would whistle a white tune whenever encountered with someone he might feel uncomfortable. This shows that he will not hurt them in any way. But in some situations a person may never know because they could seem nice and then follow the stereotype to hurt you or mug you.

I believe this essay was very enlightening because when I am walking on the street or in an unfamiliar place I would feel uncomfortable but if I were to just smile at the person or if we were stopped together in the same spot to start a conversation to break the tension and provide safety for the other person. I am once again saddened by other stereotyped people Staples mentioned in his essay about a reporter doing a story and then being made out to be a victim. It is the way of the world and I hope someday that people can live and not feel a panic when a stereotypical person walks by them.

The Difficulties in “Taking It”

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

When thinking about various issues surrounding gender, sometimes we forget to consider the hardships that men have also faced as a result of societal norms/stereotypes.  I thought Leonard Kriegel’s essay, “Taking It,” provided some insight into the expectations of men with disabilities, disease, etc.  Nearly everywhere he turned, whether it be to his father or his friends, Kriegel was not met with sympathy or compassion.  Instead, he says, “polio also taught me that, if I were to survive, I would have to become a man- and become a man quickly. ‘Be a man!’ my immigrant father urged” (207).  Here he is, an eleven year old boy with polio who has to spend most of his time in the hospital instead of enjoying life like other children his age.  I’m sure he was frightened and confused by the changes to his body, but he was not allowed to have those feelings because everyone was telling him that he must take it like a man.  An eleven year old boy is being forced to act like a man.

As he ages, he is forced to believe that his masculinity is directly related to his ability to “take it.”  It seems that only his mother took care of him and showed him love, but we only hear a little about their relationship.  Ultimately, I suppose the most frustrating thing for me as I read this essay was that society had succeeded in practically brainwashing this little boy (when he was first diagnosed) into believing that he had to be tough and grow up fast in order to be a real man.  He says, “But it was the need to prove myself an American man- tough, resilient, independent, able to take it- that pulled me through the war with the virus” (209).  I think the key here is the word ‘need.’  It’s not something that he wants to do, but rather is being forced to do.  One can only hope that someday our society will let all children just be themselves and enjoy their childhood without forcing them to grow up too soon in a world devoid of warmth & compassion.

Just Walk On By Response

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

I found essay 20, Just Walk On By, very interesting and saddening. The essay, which is about the author’s personal experience of seeing many people, particularly women become frightened of being near him in an isolated area because he is a black man. The author talks about this notion which he calls altering public space because he believes that because of his race/appearance, people would be afraid to be around him. He talks about how he see’s people purposely walk on other sides of  the street just to avoid him or how women would hold onto their purses very tightly whenever he would be near them.

While the author clearly is not a criminal, I find no difficulty in finding why women in particular would act the way they do when they are confronted with a male in an isolated area. Almost every time you turn on your local news, you can be sure to hear about a sexual assault or robbery crime committed by a man against a woman. Criminals find women in isolated areas as easy targets because in general they are physically much weaker than men. Even I must admit that I sometimes get nervous when I am walking alone in an isolated area and I am confronted next to someone who appears to look somewhat shady in my opinion. While I can comfortable state that one’s race has not effect on whether I think they are shady looking, the way one dresses and presents oneself can frighten me. It was just about a month ago when I was coming back from McDonald’s at around 2am in the morning and a man wearing an over sized Yankees jacket and over sized pants asked me what time it was. Since I had my headphones on, I didn’t hear him the first time so my heart immediately skipped a beat and I was mentally ready to run as fast as I could. While I have personally never been harmed by another individual, I think my fear of people who dress in what many would call ghetto attire scares me because in the media it always seems to be those people who dress a certain way who are committing crimes.

The part I found saddening in this essay was when the author talks about how he takes precautions to make himself less threatening. He talks about how he stays away from people on an empty subway or how he whistles melodies from Beethoven to make himself seem less frightening. I think in many ways this is wrong because you should not have to alter your lifestyle to accommodate to another person’s life. While I find some precautions alright such as keeping a distance between yourself and a female walker at night are ok because there are many threats against women who are isolated, taking many other precautions like the author does simply shows how many problems we still have within our society.

Eating disorders and beauty

February 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

After reading these two essays this past week it really showed a new perspective of how women view themselves. Being a young woman I have seen a lot of things through the media about body image, beauty and how a woman is expected to look. Once you start getting into your teens the body image starts to become a high president in a woman’s life. I saw a lot of girls struggle with eating disorders and trying to have the perfect body starting in 8th grade. After reading these essays I agree with them when they said that some eating disorders are a production from stress but I have to disagree in saying that race and other parts from the essay are from eating disorders.

While reading these essay I felt sadden by what these women went through and how they weren’t considered eating disorders because of their race. When the woman was talking about being beat and would not eat because of it I felt awful and feel as though women are treated poorly. Also, the woman who would compulsively eat after her children went to bed made me feel very bad for her. Being a woman, I feel as though having to provide for a family, or having stress from different things can cause many eating disorders. The media portrays woman to be perfect and having to live up to these expectations. The stress of media and of family life is enough for woman and they should not feel as if they need to be under this pressure.

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