Women's Sociology, Caste, Feminist Vision Research Viewpoint

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Response to The Five Sexes Revisited

The article expanded my knowledge for human sexuality. I now understand the vast spectrum of human sexuality that is beyond that of male and female. It enlightened me on the complexity as well as the ambiguity that exists within sexuality. It created an awareness of the difficulties that the intersexual have to go experience in a society that is focused on a system of two sexes. Intersexuality is viewed as a problem that needs to be corrected rather than a normal aspect of a person’s identity that should be embraced. Fausto-Sterling has a very strong and straightforward argument. Approximately 4% of annual birth are intersexual which calls for a definite and recognizable minority of the extant human beings. However, the more we learn about the subject, the society continues to repress it. Fausto-Sterling explains that the Jewish law acknowledged the intersexual in which it provided rules and regulations governing their behaviors (Shaw and Lee, 138). None of the Jewish reading suggested that intersexual should be altered physically or socially. They were accepted in the society and treated as a different group from male and female. In contrast, the contemporary society wants them ‘corrected’ immediately thy are born so that they can be conformed to the two dominant genders. It is not an easy decision for parents who give birth to intersexual. Many prefer saving their children from prejudice and humiliation by subjecting them to a surgery that will make them ‘normal’ to letting them grow just as they are born. However, if we embraced the society advocated by Fausto-Sterling, there would be no need to alter the intersexual when they are born since there would be no inherent prejudice since they will be perceived to be normal minority. However, I feel it will take many generations for these minorities to be accepted and integrated into the society because as Nietzsche explains in his Will to Power, ‘We despise the secret and the unrecognizable’ (Nietzsche, 156)

Response to A Day Without Feminism

Reading the article left me in a shock to realize what women had to go through 47 years ago. It is hard to believe in such a short period, so much has changed. In 1970’s, feminism did not exist and women faced a lot of obstacles and criticism. Women in that generation faced a lot of doubts. Those who were lucky to get a job were left with two option in a situation where their bosses demanded sex. They could either succumb to their bosses’ demands or quit the job (Shaw and Lee, 36). It is hard to believe that teachers lost their jobs or demoted for being pregnant because the children they taught were not supposed to think that women engage in sex.  The fact that married women could not seek credit without the authorization of husband is disheartening. The era Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards describes is an era I thank God, I did not belong and sympathize with the women of the days. The article shows how the rise of feminism brought positive changes in the lives of women. I believe feminism should be perceived and celebrated as a great accomplishment. It is all thanks to women movement that women are where they are today. Although they have not achieved it all, what they have accomplished is credible. I agree with Linda Nochlin in her response to why there are no great women artist when she says women greatness is not ‘in our stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycle, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our educations’ (Nochlin, 232).

Response to Fundamentalism and the Control of Women

Karen McCarthy focuses on religious fundamentalism in her article Fundamentalism and the Control of Women. She explains that definition of religion fundamentalism is difficult while journalists and scholars think that they know it when they see it. McCarthy explains that religion was a tool used in the past to control women. The place of a woman was at home since she was perceived as a homemaker. They were denied to own property, initiate divorce, testify in a court of law and they did not have authority to control their reproductivity. She attributes the fundamentalism experienced today to the failed promise of Enlightenment rationalism. McCarthy suggests that religion has consistently sought to control the reproduction through women. The anti-abortion movement in the United States is a religious based movement that was established in the 1970s with the aim of objecting abortion (Shaw and Lee, 652). Some states in the US have legalized abortion in which women can terminate pregnancy at their own free will. However, the religious leaders argue that abortion is a sin because it amounts to murder. Religion holds that life begins right from conception and thus abortion amounts to killing an innocent child. McCarthy views fundamentalism as a religion of the disoriented, stressed and those that feel that the world has overwhelmed them. She says that fundamentalist represent those disappointed by the promise that human beings have the capacity to control the world. I agree with McCarthy in the sense that religion fundamentalism has contributed to the predicaments that have faced women for a long time. The teachings of women to be submissive to their husbands have only subjected women to patriarchal rule in which it places man above the woman. 

Response to Queering Black women Heterosexuality

Kimberly Springer focuses on the black women sexuality as well as the limitations of the mummy vs. Jezebel stereotypes. She also addresses the appropriates queer discourse with an aim of finding a solution to black women sexuality which is a false dichotomy (Shaw and Lee, 358). Although the article is directed to heterosexuals as the primary audience, I found it quite interesting in the intersection between sexuality and race. Before reading the article, I used to view race and sexuality intersection with a sexuality perception. However, looking at the intersection with the queer perspective gave me insight in which I understand the queer political movement and queer culture can be more inclusive by considering the differences between race and ethnicity, religion and age in the queer community.

Springer describes queerness as a stance or a position rather than an identity. Besides, she uses the word queer as a verb but not a noun. Therefore, it cannot be used to refer to something or someone but something we can do. Springer aims at changing the perception Americans have towards the sexuality of black women and girls. She acknowledges the reverberations of the human atrocity in the structure of a black family. I would not say that am comfortable with using the word queering to mean being outspoken because I believe queer people tend to be more outspoken too. However, I like the manner in which Kimberly Springer uses the word to mean the unexpected in the black women heterosexuality in which she challenges those who stick to the mummy-Jezebel stereotype. In particular, she challenges the middle-class women who are in the category of mummy asexual, to step out and speak about sexuality and sexual desires and getting off the instead of getting the men off as in Jezebel stereotypes. The sex positivity in article is incredible in which it challenges racist as well as sexist assumptions.

Response to No More Miss America

The fact that the article represents the opinions of a group of protestors in which some were Second-Wave feminism makes the article quite interesting. It describes a protest that took place during a Miss America pageant in 1968. This was a few years after the introduction of the birth control pill and a few years before Roe v. Wade (Shaw and Lee, 34). According to the Miss America Organization, the event influenced the change that has been experienced in the organization. During the protest, no male authority was allowed except for the group of male sympathizers who offered their cars and drivers as well as funded the protest through donations. I appreciate the rejection of the male police officers during the protest considering the fact that women police officers in the Atlantic city had no authority to arrest anybody. The protestors did a remarkable job by bringing about the issue of inequality into the light.  However, it is not right that men were barred from the protests yet the protestors accepted their money and cars.

The reasons that the female protestors give for not allowing male protestors makes one view men as their enemy. I would wish that any political movement does not discriminate on the basis of gender. Shunning away the male protestors and ye accepting their financial help makes women seem to be participating to the wrongs they were up against. Besides, the women were complaining about the Miss America pageant in which all the winners happened to have something in common, they were all gorgeous. However, it would have been better if the competition stopped judging women solely on the physical appearance and focus on other attributes as well. The crowning of an African American as miss America in 1984 shows that the protest actually yielded some fruits. It paved way for crowning of Miss America to be done regardless of the race.

Response to Opening Pandora’s Box: Adding Classism to the Agenda

Felice Yeskel seems to invite people to talk about their class issues with other people. She explains the stereotypes as well as the prejudices put on the lower or the working-class people which leads to internalized prejudice which in the end cause self-shame, blame and low expectations. Yeskel encourages people to form groups similar to hers that consist of eight people in which four are multi-millionaires and the other four are working class (Shaw and Lee, 98). The group meets every month for a span of six and a half years where they learn each other’s experiences as well as the strategies that made the four multi-millionaires rich.  It was a great idea to have such groups even in the contemporary society since it would allow exchanging of experiences and sharing of ideas and strategies that are beneficial to a person regardless of the social class.

 I believe there are many lessons an upper-class person can learn from a lower-class person that would enhance the quality of his or her life and the same with the people in the lower class. They can learn important aspects of life from the upper-class people. Besides, such groups will encourage cohesion in the society and bridge the gap that is brought about by classism. During one of the group meetings, Yeskel tells of her experience in which she was embarrassed to invite her friends to her house because of where she lived. She was surprised to learn that another member of the group was also embarrassed only in her case, she was embarrassed because of the luxurious life she had. The shared experience is an indication that at some point, we face the same societal problems regardless of the social class. When the author says opening the Pandora’s box, she is encouraging people to disclose their classes without fear of being discriminated or treated differently.

Response to Too Poor to Parent

Gaylynn Burroughs is an attorney representing parents who have been accused of child neglect. She argues that such accusations are national social problems that need to be addressed rather than making them personal failures and end up punishing both women and the children. She feels that it is a misconception that women who are not financially stable should not have children because if she does so, then she becomes bad mother (Shaw and Lee, 618). Many people consider a child as a risk factor to poverty since it is quite expensive to raise a child. I agree with the author that being poor does not make a person unsuitable parent. However, what makes one a bad parent is neglect or abuse which is not dependent on the amount of money one have.

I do not dispute that it is not alright if a mother cannot afford to give her child three square meals in a day, but it would be much better to increase the food stamps rather than taking the child away from the mother. Similarly, it is a problem if a mother cannot afford better healthcare for her child. However, outing the child in a foster home would not solve the problem but it will only worsen the situation. I believe that the reason behind limited opportunities for children from low income earners in terms of education as well as employment does not lie with the parent but with the structures in our institutions in the society.  The goodness of a mother should not be based on wealth. Women are loving and caring mothers and those who cannot afford a life of luxury their children should not be denied the opportunity to be close to their children by sending them to a foster home. However, the government and the society should support such mothers.

Response to Maid to Order

Barbara Ehrenreich discusses the increasing trend if outsourcing domestic workers in her work Maid to Order. She finds it interesting that people sought professional help to keep their houses clean. Ehrenreich provides a summary of the cleaning agencies as well as her experience working with one of the companies in the cleaning industry (Shaw and Lee, 516). The title as well as the introduction of the article suggests that the author would focus on the gender inequalities. However, Ehrenreich concludes that the impact on the society for hiring domestic workers is not on the basis of gender but on social class. The author begins by stressing on the issue of gender in which professional cleaners are usually called cleaning ladies yet thy can as well as be male. She illustrates how gender issues and feminism relate to her topic but in her conclusion, she warns her readers that the wealthy class intends to create a class of servants in which children are raised with an attitude that there is a low class of people who are deemed to serve them. I agree with the author on this point. The upper-class people tend to look down upon the people who work as cleaners and servants in their mansions. In some cases, they hire servants who work for them for so many years and becomes almost a part of that family. however, their opinion does not count especially when there is an argument between the family members and they are constantly reminded their place in the house. The greatest problem when the owners’ children grow up and have eyes for a maid’s daughter or son. Such a relationship will be rejected on the ground that she or he is a maid’s child. Conclusively, Ehrenreich argument that hiring domestic workers is more of a social class thing than a gender issue is very true.

Response to Southern Discomfort

The article analyses Juanita Davis and how she has gone out of her way to educate people about HIV/ AIDS. She designed an innovative approach to HIV/Aids education. The southern US accounts for 36% of the country’s population and most of the people living with HIV in those areas. The conservatism about sex and sexuality is the greatest challenge that HIV fighters such as Davis face in the south (Shaw and Lee, 396). That is why it was important for her to design a method in which she can use candies and chocolates to represent the body part which conservatism does not allow her to mention. Carl Gaines, the author of the article explains that poverty also influences the rate of HIV in the Southern part of the United States. Health care is quite expensive for the people living with HIV. The situation in the South motivated Davis into establishing a new approach in which she will pass the untended message without breaking the rules of in the society. I appreciate the work of Davis. She is a hero in trying to save her society from the calamities of a deadly disease. Davis presents a strong woman who is ready to face all odds for the sake of her society. She does more for the people of South than the government has done in relation HIV/Aids. I believe she is a typical reflection of how far women can go to protect their children, husbands and the society at large.

Response to Lullabies Behind Bars

The heading of the text gave me the image of a woman serving her sentence with her new born baby. I would be lying if I say I like anything about women in prison with their babies. Beth Schwartzapfel focuses on the increase in nurseries in prison which provides a connection between mothers confined in a prison and their newborn babies. She explains of Gabriella, an inmate, who was lucky to keep her child after giving birth (Shaw and Lee, 467). The nurseries program in prisons gives an opportunity for an inmate mother to keep her child. I will argue against the idea of nurseries in prisons from two viewpoints. The first one is that it is not safe for children to be raised in a prison. I agree that incarcerated mothers should be given an opportunity to be with their children in their first years after birth. However, the boning is not worth with the risk that face such children. The fact that the conditions in jails is not fit for the prisoners makes it even worse for the children. Schwartzapfel points out that Washington state allows women to stay with their children for three years in which they live in a different wing which is brightly colored. A different wing and a colored one would not convince me that a child should be confined in a prison for three years for the purpose of bonding. Such a child will have a past that he or she will never erase in her life. I would prefer she has memories of visiting her mother in prison than living there with her. Secondly, the nurseries are being used by women inmates as scapegoats to lessen their punishment since they spend more time at the nursery than in serving the nation. Although I believe in feminism, I would not support children to suffer their mother’s consequences for committing a crime.

Response to Power Plays

The article analyses six different ways in which men in the corporate world holding big positions keep women from attaining the same positions. The first way described by Martha Burt the author of the article is that men have been in the corporate world for the longest time possible considering the fact that before the rise of feminism, women were perceived as home makers and their place was in the kitchen and to look after children (Shaw and Lee, 526). Therefore, men are more likely to be hired as corporate leaders than women. Besides, men believe they deserve power more than women and that it is theirs by right to be above women. Secondly, she points out that these elite men have loyalty to each other and the chances that a woman will apply the same position with a man and the man is selected as the best candidate despite having the same qualifications are very high. I agree with the author because it has never been easy for women to rise to the top. The patriarchy in the society which inhabited itself in the olden days where western men presented the woman as the weak and vulnerable sex, is still a challenge for women. P McIntosh, in her article on white privilege explains that there are male privileges that makes it difficult for gender equality. She asks if men would be willing to give up their privileges to have gender equality (McIntosh, 32). It is not possible for men to abandon their so-called privileges and I believe that women have more to accomplish for there to be gender equality.

 Response to Facebook For Women Vs. Facebook Designed by Feminist

The aim of the author is to explain distinction women and feminists or different and revolutionary. C.V. Harquail’s says that if Facebook was designed by a woman, it would express emotions as well as the importance of social relationships. On the other hand, if it was designed by feminist, then it would advocate for and respect the privacy of every individual (Shaw and Lee, 44). The article seems to explain how much feminism has changed over the years. The author explains that with the third wave of feminism in the 1990s, the foundation of feminism would have been much stronger if social media was used as activism. I agree with the author when he says that the idea of women is still taken for granted even in the social media and patriarchal leadership is still persistent in our societies. The author challenges us to drop the idea of women and adopt feminism whose focus is different from that of women. I would present myself as a fighter and a go getter of what I want in life rather than sit back and complain of a society that is unfair to me because I am a woman. Great women leaders were such as Hilary Clinton and Margret Thatcher were not put in their position because it was important to have gender equality, they fought for those positions and that is what should be the spirit of woman. Barbara Walters conquered a male dominated media and she gave a new look to the television and media personalities.

Works Cited

Nochlin, Linda. "Why have there been no great women artists?." The feminism and visual culture reader (1971): 229-233.

Nietzsche, F. (1968). The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufmann and RJ Hollingdale. New York, NY: Vintage.

McIntosh, Peggy. "White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack." (1988): 31-36.

Shaw, Susan M, and Janet Lee. Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. McGraw-Hill, 2012.

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