Thursday, October 25, 2012

Class Discussion, Oct. 24, 2012

     This post addresses the question Abe had posed in class yesterday about why it's offensive to label all individuals from the Asian continent as "Asian" but why the same is not true when we label "Americans" as such, although "Americans" too stem from different origins.  Although I can understand his perspective, truth be told, I believe that the argument is like comparing apples to oranges--Asians, as a whole, are a group of people that have hardly been explored, learned, or taught through the media, so our frustrations stem from the fact that "Asians" are a continent of people who are not only of different origins, but of different practices, religions, traditions, histories, and ultimately languages that divide us and make us incomprehensible to other "Asians".  We are a people of a continent that is always viewed as the submisssive, the aggressors, and now--in current times--terrorists.  The reason why, personally speaking, it's irrelevant to distinguish our origins when we label ourselves as "American" is because of the sheer fact that we have chosen to take on that title, we have chosen to acclimate to those ideals, those cultures, those practices, and all that belongs and is associated with "American" ways (for lack of better words).  WE CHOOSE to let go of our origins to acclimate to the current association of being "American".  Simply put, familarity in being American is why it's irrelevant to distinguish our origins, because although we all come from a different ethnic past that defines how and when we arrived here in the States, we are familiar with the expecations and ideals of this country--the same is not true for the entirety of the Asian continent.  There are no similarities or familiarities amongst the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Indians, Arabians, Iraqis, etcs.  because we are all of a totally different breed. 

--Christina Zachariah

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Media Moment, "Mitt Romney 'Binders Full of Women' "
(You can skip to about 00:58 to hear Mitt Romney speak).

I'm chiming in on this topic a little later than I would have liked to but seeing as no one brought it up, I wanted to spotlight Governor Mitt Romney's responses towards the subject of women in the second presidential debate. I'm sure I was just one of many to be taken aback, but not surprised, by Romney's callous handling of the subject. I think it was one of, if not, his most egregious moment in the debate where his slick talking faltered and the mask slipped. But I don't want to make this into a super partisan, political issue.

From a more objective standpoint, Romney came across as insensitive to women and their roles and rights in the modern day workplace and home life. He seems to be stuck in a different era of thinking, one that believes that women should be constricted to the home, to cook,clean, and wait for her children and husband, the breadwinner, who comes home and provides a salary to live off of. In boasting about his and his colleagues' "concerted" efforts to find prospective female workers for the company, he suggested that it was a difficult task of epic proportions. He made it sound as though there was a dearth of qualified women in the field and that to compensate for such, he and his colleagues had to actively pursue and search for female candidates. That rigorous search subsequently yielded "binders full of women" - a pretty bizarre and perplexing phrase that almost instantly galvanized a torrent of social media reactions (Facebook groups, Twitter trending words/hashtags). But more importantly, Romney's phrase seems to itemize women as though they were consumer goods or stocks (the likes of which he would invest in and trade while hedgefunding for Bain Capital).

He also stressed the need for allowing women in the workplace more lenient schedules so that they can get home early by "5 so they can make dinner" for their kids. Because of course, as the logic follows, it is a woman who has to prepare dinner .Romney's line of thinking removes the possibility that a woman can be single, or not have children, or that, even if she does, maybe it's the father who cooks dinner.  These quotes reveal how deeply ingrained Romney's sexist and old-fashioned views are.

How do you think the balance of women to men in the workplace has changed since the women's rights movement, circa the 1970s? Do you believe workplaces still discriminate based on gender and hire more men than women on average? Which industries in particular do you think are more (in)conspicuously male-dominated?

Asian American Women

In relation to the articles we had due for today's class, I wanted to share this article for those who have and have not yet read about this.

Cops Bust Alleged Online Manhattan Prostitution Ring

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reflections on Class Discussions, 10/3

After watching the video of Chichimanda Adichie's speech, I was moved dramatically.  This is because she stated thoughts and feelings in a clear and unique manner that I have previously felt and reflected upon.  Some of the things she discussed I have experienced first-hand. She made distinct connections between her theories and situations that she had encountered.  "Privilege is invisible to those who have it."  This is brilliant in that it is a simple, obvious statement but so true.  This can play as a bridge between individuals who are indeed privileged and those who aren't.  She characterizes her observations as a 'single story'. This, she defines, is one image of something being retold multiple times.  This is where I questioned certain situations that I've encountered. How often do we tend to make judgments about certain things just based on one encounter?   How many times have we heard that the first impression is the"best" impression?  How many times have we done something one way and wished we could go back in time to alter or change that one thing?  I'm sure most if not all of you are nodding your heads.  Adiche managed to bring forth some simple but very true and relatable topics to light.  As journalists, feminists, students of Hunter College, or whatever you may classify yourself it is very important to think about the simple things that humans do that have great impacts in our lives.  Something as simple as holding a"stereotype" true to all individuals that may apply.  Adiche could not have said it any better.  Yes, stereotypes may be true for many but it lacks in that they are INCOMPLETE.  "They make one story, the only story".  It is very important for us to have a balance of stories.  This will hopefully then illicit human equality ("regain a kind of paradise").

Not that I have personally held stereotypes to individuals but I'm pretty sure people have done it to me.  Often times, I find myself, as a young black female, having to prove my intelligence at school, at social events, with people I meet.  I feel like when people look at me they have preceding thoughts about me based on stereotypes that they've heard.  Am I the only one?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Media Moment, Bitch Bad? Or Bitch Good?

Recently, rapper Lupe Fiasco released a song called "Bitch Bad" from his then upcoming album. Fiasco has always been known to make statements about the larger issues, whether they be race, politics or blood diamonds, in his songs and it is this very quality that makes him stand out for many of his fans.

With the release of Bitch Bad, however, Fiasco's avid listeners were split on the verdict. First, here is the song + music video:

The song essentially discusses the different ways in which a young boy and a young girl interpret the word "bitch" due to their experiences growing up. Whereas the young boy associates "bad bitch" with strength and independence (and his mother), the young girl associates it with promiscuity. He traces this disconnect as the boy and girl grow older. The hook is interesting:

Bitch bad, woman good
Lady better, they misunderstood
(I’m killin’ these bitches)

Spin Magazine instantly published a scathing review, and in the ensuing back and forth, Fiasco claimed that his point was to start a conversation. Much of the criticism surrounding the song and video is that Fiasco seems to focus a little too hard on how proper the young woman is and what her clothing is like - dangerously reminiscent of slut-shaming. His insistence that "lady better" is also odd and weirdly patriarchal, considering the outdatedness of the word lady and his implication that a woman should be a lady (i.e. very proper and feminine).

Finally, another very valid criticism is that rappers and artists within the black community have been having this conversation that Fiasco suggests he is trying to initiate for a very long time - and their contributions have been more radical and effective. Examples of Azealia Banks' song 212 Jay-Z's 99 Problems are given. Whatever good intentions he may have, Fiasco may actually be setting the conversation back.

What do you guys think? Specifically with relation to language and resistance, is it possible to reclaim a word that has historically been used against a certain group? Can only that group do the reclaiming? More specifically with regards to Fiasco's song, how do you view his deconstruction of the word bitch?

**If anyone is interested, this is a piece Jezebel wrote on the same issue, and I find it useful for the extended definition it provides of the word "bitch" as it used in the modern day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Media Moment, "Office Love"

When I first encountered this commercial I was truly confused as to what the actual purpose of this advertisement was.  In the beginning segment all that is encountered is this vague “hairball” looking creature walking amongst a group of people in an office setting, however, seven seconds later we encounter this hair piece looking over its desk to see a clearly formed headless pair of breasts in its field of vision.  Conveniently, as the two become aware of one another Daniel Johnson’s “True Love” begins to play in the background.  The segments that follow are images of how these two items are constantly being divided or prevented from “true love” by others.  What is upsetting and sexist is how contradictory the message of this commercial is, as the end of the commercial states “'Hair. It's what girls see first,'” but then what is it that he first sees?  Well, of course, his field of vision notices immediately his co-worker’s well-formed breasts, apparently the only thing that matters on a woman.  This downplaying of the inappropriateness of defining a woman based upon her anatomical features or better yet, noticing individuals for the vein appears is the message being broadcasted.  The young audiences, particularly the teenage males, who will view this advertisement are led to believe that the elements of attraction and “true love” are based solely upon physical attractiveness, that what is on the outside is all that matters.  Is this really the message that we want to be perpetuating in a society that is now being burdened with single parents, a growing number of divorces, and the exponentially growing number of teenage pregnancies? 

Media Moment: "IKEA removed women from Saudi version of Catalog"

ht ikea catalogue saudi dm 121001 wblog IKEA Regrets Women Erased From Saudi Catalog (abcNEWS)

What happened?

IKEA is being criticized for removing image of women in their Saudi Arabia version of catalog.
People who noticed this complain about unfairly portraying female image in the catalog.

According to news sources, IKEA in Sweden, defended themselves from this situation says "We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the IKEA Group values", and "IKEA Saudi Arabia is run by a franchisee outside the IKEA group".

IKEA apologized for this situation and regret that they offended women customers.

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I think the discrepancy lies not only in the two pictures but also in the media reporting about this issue.

I'd hear more what Saudi Arabian women felt about this picture. Two major news sources I linked this post have not put any quotes from Saudi Arabian women's reaction.

And I curious about this, is this only IKEA's fault?

In my opinion, IKEA respectfully published Saudi Arabian version of the catalog, isn't it. According to abcNEWS's reporting people complained about the retouching of original picture. But this is only their point-of-view (Westerners), but in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations may not allow female to wearing scanty cloth that expose to public.

So, do people right to accuse IKEA's misconduct?

What can be a solution? in terms of marketing in Islam countries.