Monday, May 16, 2011

Contribution to Group Project

Alas, class is nearly over and it is time to reflect on what has been done.

For our group project, I assisted in editing our slideshow and contributed a number of pictures and organizational ideas.  The main thing I wanted to focus on for this presentation was discussion, not lecture.  So I made sure that the group felt comfortable with that and we began trying to figure out the best way to create discussion.  We decided that video clips worked well and since the class has become to used to their use, it would be an easy way to present ideas.  Unfortunately, some of my other ideas weren't included in the presentation, as we wanted to keep consistancy and keep the time down on our presentation. 
Working in a group was at times, difficult and it was hard to accept when certain members took over, excluding some really good ideas or even members from the group.  Overall, however, I feel as though our project turned out well (aside form the controversy it created).  The only suggestion I would have for future group projects is to limit the size of groups, because it was extremely difficult to get everyone together and communicate effectively.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cyborgs and Posthumans: Haraway's "A Manifesto for Cyborgs"

    Haraway’s Manifesto for Cyborgs brings up many interesting points.  Her theory that “there is nothing about being female that naturally binds women together into a unified category” is particularly interesting.  Feminists in the past have tried to seek something to tie them together and unite them in order to fight against a male dominated society.  Women have embraced their femininity or shunned it in the past in an effort to connect with other women.  Haraway’s version of feminism (although somewhat Utopian) is far more practical. Instead of demanding women to form a new stereotype, she asks all people to blend the borders between common ideas.
    This goes beyond just women.  Blacks, Whites, males, females, Chicanas, or whatever people happen to be needs to stop defining us.  This is the only way we will be able to move past the oppression and stereotyping of our society.  
    Another thing that is interesting about Haraway is the following statement: “It is not clear who makes and who is made in the relation between human and machine.”  This concept is intriguing and true especially in our modern day.  Technology has completely revolutionized the way we live, which in turn also reworks our survival needs.  Physical survival of the fittest becomes obsolete and instead those who are able to relate best with technology, not nature, are able to succeed and prosper.  Technology also becomes not only a tool, but an expression of self, and extension of self.  Although we create and enhance technology, we also let it create and define our own personal identity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Analysis #7 Ethnicity Studies/Post-Colonial Theory

    This video clip differs from the thoughts of Gloria Anzaldua, who declares that she won’t be a part of America’s melting pot.  Instead she wants to be an American, but continue to hold on to every part of her past.  Although this video’s message is supposed to be good, Anzaldua would be unable to completely agree with its approach.  Whereas the melting pot blends away differences, Anzaldua believes that the understanding of different cultures in the pasts of individuals is a key part of overcoming ignorance.  Instead of simply blending cultures together, she insists people must be in touch with their heritage and they must also try to understand the heritage of others. 
    Her approach seems to be more of what has been referred to by some as a “salad bowl” approach more than a melting pot.  In her approach there are differences that can’t be blended away, but that remain working together amongst other differing cultures.  Here writing even includes some of this “salad bowl” concept.  Her writing employs different languages that can often be confusing, but serves to show that she wishes to incorporate different aspects of her culture into the same body of work.
    This video also seems to imply that cultures are effectively combined in America, something Anzaldua would have also disagreed with.  Although some individuals have mixed cultures, she recognizes that the dispersal of cultures is not even in America.  They are also not always even in rank.  If America truly was a melting pot, then racism and oppression wouldn’t exist, which it still very clearly does.

 Works Cited

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/La Fronters: The New Mestiza.” Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 2010. 2098-2109. Print.

SchoolHouseRocksKids. “The Great American Melting Pot” Feb 19, 2010. May 8, 2011.  Web.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Analysis #6 Gender Studies/ Feminist Theory

    In her Feminafesto, Anne Waldman asks the question “is language phallogocentric?”  She refers to practice of misogyny in the literary practice, but the phallogocentric nature of words exists in the real world as well as the literary world.  In particular, the army uses many of these types of words and although these practices were more predominant when women weren’t involved in the military, but they still exist.  Phalluses become a symbol of power, while the feminine is used to subvert that power in other terms.
    The phallic and destructive components of war are coded male according to writer Joshua Goldstein in his book War and Gender.  Bombs, missiles, guns all represent the male and are therefore coded male.  Hence the phrase “this is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for fighting, this is for fun.”  The male’s private are turned into a symbol of power and their gun is turned into a phallus.
    Inversely, carriers of these phalluses are coded in terms of the female.  Other coded images are targets, thing male coded objects are intended to destroy and conquer.   Just as Waldman states, there is misogyny and women in war are coded to be mothers, and carries of phallus carriers; whores as receivers of the phallus; and sex objects to be dominated and destroyed by these phallic symbols. 
    This phallogocentric language not only serves as a commentary on gender perception, but also reinforces it.  It supports and reiterates the notion that the feminine/female is something to be dominated by the masculine/male.  Waldman hopes that one day “the page not be empty female awaiting penetration by dark phallic ink-juice.”  It seems, too, she should start hoping that that the enemy is not something to be dominated and destroyed by phallic weaponry.

Works Cited

Goldstein, Joshua. War and Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Print.

Youtube clip:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Feminism and Gender Studies: Butler's "Gender Trouble"

    This is Nina Flowers, she’s a drag artist if you haven’t noticed.  According to Bulter’s theories, drag the Nine uses serves a potentially useful tool in the modification of gender stereotypes.  Characters such as Nina Flower serves as an imitation of the “feminine” in the form of a man dressed in women’s clothing.  They push the boundaries of gender and work to re-establish them. 
    Bulter, unlike many feminists, doesn’t hate men and avoid categorizing women into the broad terms of a “True Woman” “New Woman” or any other popular categorization of women, as all are different.  She encourages men to participate in the equality of women by blurring genders lines and discouraging violence.
    Bulter asserts that gender is not an accurate representation of, but it is rather a performance.  This goes to explain why many people that dress in drag primarily perform in drag shows and competition, it become a performance.  Although these men identify as men in regards to sex, they are able to push the boundaries in order to draw additional attention to the division in gender perception.
    If Butler is correct, the gender imitated by drag artists such as RuPaul does not truly even exist.  It is merely an imitation of an imitation of something that has never existed.  This means that drag imitates a gender role that has been created by a culture as a response to sex.  These gender definitions don’t accurately portray the sex they are attributed.  I’m not all that sure I completely comprehend this concept, but it certainly seems interesting.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Analysis #4 Marxist Theory

    This cartoon was an attempt during the Cold War to defend Capitalism against Anti-capitalististic individuals like Marx.  Although it’s supposed to defend Captialism, it also points out many of the points Marx is uncomfortable with regarding Capitalism.
    Marx would have immediately noticed that the main character, Freddie Fudsie creates a surplus of supply and because of this he no longer has need for the extra product as he already has enough soap to satisfy his personal needs.  This soap can then be sold for profit.  The labor time it takes to make this product and its use to others creates its value, which after time and trade becomes a fairly universal price in relation to other products.  Money becomes the middle-man for trade and its value is established in relation to a dollar making trade easier.
    Since Freddie is able to speed up his production time, he is also able to speed up the speed in which he makes his product, making it possible to create more product and gain more profit.  He is also able to expand his business into new areas.  Doing this also has an effect on the relationship Freddie has with his product.  He and his workers become emotionally divorced from the product their making.  Labor time decreases and the value decreases, but the amount of production compensates for this as society still places additional value on his product for its quality and its brand.
    The video states that the profit motive is the driving force behind the American industry and that this is beneficial to future generations of Americans.  However it is interesting to notice that Freddie’ original goal is to create more time to enjoy his life.  Instead he becomes corrupted by greed.  The future generations, too have no time for enjoyment, as they perpetuate the market that individuals such as Freddie have created, robbing their lives of free time as they become slaves to their profit and the market.

 Works Cited

Marx Karl. “Commodities.” Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 2010. 663-671. Print.

Animation Station. “Going Places” (1948). March 29, 2011.  Web.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Analysis #3 Pyschoanalysis

Freud's theory of fetishism is one that seems unlikely to many in today's society and exhibits many flaws and holes in its research. However, he is one of the few people who have given any remotely plausible reasoning to the development of fetishes in adults and is, therefore, worthy of consideration. The clip for this analysis displays several common and not so common costuming selections for serious fetishists and here, I will attempt to explain their significance through a Freudian perspective . Although some of them many seem initially obscure, Freudian analysis offers an explanation for their presence, whether it is accurate or not.
For instance, the animal costumes or "fuzzies" depicted in this video directly correlate with Freud's hypothesis that a young man's fetish is established by the last thing he observed before he realized that his mother no longer possessed a phallus. The fur in many of these costumes, according to Freud, would be a symbol of the mother's pubic hair which, "should have been followed by the longed-for sight of the pubic member". These individuals have focused their sexual attention on these costumes in order to redirect their fear of castration and deny their homosexuality. By focusing their sexual attention on the fur instead of the women, these fetishists can engage in sexual relations with women while continuing their sexual attraction to a phallic symbol and ignoring their fear of castration.
The latex outfits seemed a little less clear than the fur, as Freud didn't specifically address latex in his writing. They didn't seem to initially represent anything except a lack of hair, which would be contrary to the previous fetish, involving hair. This seemed extremely confusing for some time, however, a little inventive thinking clarified the situation. It donned on me after some time that a person clad in latex could physically represent the phallus itself. Fetishists could literally have sex with a sort of phallus without being considered homosexual or even having to consider the gender of the person they were engaging in sex with.

Unfortunately this video clip also addressed some issues with Freud's theories, not all of the costumes and practices observed seem in accordance with his beliefs. For instance, the balloon fetish don't seem to have any correlation with phallic imagery. Also Freud never considers variation in his fetishists. What if they are already openly gay? or female?
An openly gay man wouldn't need a symbolic phallus, as he has already addressed the desire for a penis. S&M and fetishism is popular in many homosexual circles, so it's not as if gay openly gay men are exempt from fetishes. Is this a fatal flaw in Freud's argument, or has our definition or fetish changed? It is possible that some people just immensely enjoy social taboo in a way that Freud's concept of "fetish" does not include.
In addition I found it interesting that Freud never addresses female fetishists. Although fetishists in the video seem to be primarily male, there is also a woman depicted. Does Freud's theory then become reversed? Do women experience the development of a fetish due to a fear of phalluses and the fear that they might grow some strange appendage from their groin? These incomplete thoughts lead me to question Freud's theories.

Works Cited

Current Media. "Youtube's Creepiest Fetish Costumes" Oct. 30 2009. Web. March 22 2011.
Freud, Sigmund. "Fetishism." (1927). Print. New York:W.W. Norton & COmpany.