Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Yes Men

I love them.

And I loved them last year, too.

My man Arun Gupta from El Brechto interviewed them for The Indypendent, which you can pick up at your neighborhood bagel place, provided that your neighborhood bagel place is Native Bean on A between 4th and 3rd. I know mine is.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Group Projects in Sociology Class, or Why People Get Uncomfortable Around Me

In Sex and Gender class this morning, we were asked to list the three major differences between women and men among "people like ourselves." My list looked like this:

The phrasing of this prompt is objectionable because
1) it assumes a commonality among all of our working definitions of what is "women," what is "men," and what is "people like ourselves";
2) the use of the the dual categories of "women" and "men" encourages and validates the acceptance of the sex and gender binary, a flawed social construct if I've ever seen one; and
3) the only actual differences are perceived and not necessarily real (oh hey, Aristotle).

Then we had to break into groups of four and come up with a group response to the same prompt. My group was really hip to putting down "reproductive organ differences," "social expectations," and "how women are more future-oriented and men are more impulsive," citing the need to "do what the professor wants us to do" in opposition to what I suggested, which was to submit my own list of reasons as to why the assignment was in fact a futile exercise (see above). I of course made no friends in my grupito. But no matter! A year and a half at Bryn Mawr gave me a minor in Sex and Gender studies. For all of you who haven't gone to a women's college, this minor also can be earned through being a perceptive human being and/or experiencing oppression based on your sexual identity and sexuality.

The professor made an interesting effort at slowing down the decadent genderizing going on during the "sharing" part of the classtime (in which the groups presented their collective lists to the rest of the students), offering a somewhat classist interpretation of our struggle to create the lists. He chalked up our arguing to the fact that we are all overeducated, and that the same question posed to a less educated pool of individuals would produce less discussion and more concrete entries to the lists. He said that people get most nervous when they encounter an individual with ambiguous gender. I would say that's true because our assumptions of sex and gender so thoroughly inform our perceived comprehension of others' identities. However, combining "sex" and "gender" identities is problematic because it presumes too many social rules and adherents to (un)said rules. Moreover, eliminating the components of race and class from such a conversation detracts from the full and thorough understanding of what are the differences between men and women, or between men and men, women and women, or whatever. My whiteness is often more important than my womanness, depending on the situation. Do people pay more attention to me when I speak than when a black woman does? What about the fact that I am older or younger than this black woman? What about the fact that I have better or worse teeth than she? Whose level of education matters in the situation? I'll defer now to Nancy Seifer's account of how she came of age as an anti-hegemonic feminist, and the many difficulties she encountered when she tried to launch a political activism project: "It became apparent that it was not only liberal biases that made it so difficult for me to get strong support for what by then seemed like such a logical course of action to take. There was also some bias against me. I did not have a law degree or any other special credentials...I was also young and had the least seniority. And I was a woman."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I will never get a job if I keep posting so haphazardly

Welcome back for the semester, my comrades in American Apparel -clad arms at New York University. I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's first-day-of-school fashion show, and by thoroughly enjoyed I of course mean was shocked and appalled by the parade of excessive consumption so pervasive on campus, and perhaps exemplified best by the LITERAL FASHION SHOW we had in one of my (Gallatin!) classes, in which two students were invited by the otherwise respectable professors to stand on the table and explain their outfits to the class. That wasn't the only confusing part of my day; I also was concerned about the Sternies, and why three hours into the term they already looked like they're carrying the weight of Jesus himself on their backs. Okay, Great Recession, blah blah. We in the Gallatin School for Individualized Study - or as I like to call it, Dinner Party College - have long resigned ourselves to the inevitability of under- and unemployment, so why not the rest of you Bobcats? The non-profit sector can't be that bad, especially if the entire membership of the Bryn Mawr Alumnae Association works for it! I'm sure there are plenty of opportunities to screw things up for poor people without working for Lehman Brothers!

Anyway, I am happy to report that these past two days have not been a total bust for the future of intellectual America. I had a lovely chat with my sister at the stroke of midnight of her 21st birthday, in which we discussed the merits of mixology, and why we screen calls from our father on midnight of our 21st birthdays. I also re-fell in love with Vietnam War history, and anything else JPeck can teach me. It's laundry time in the East Village, and I have 150 pages of Bourdieu to read for tomorrow. Until next time, I remain your rainy-day correspondent.