Friday, May 7, 2010

Blog 8: Violence, Rape, Sexual Abuse

Women as victims of physical and sexual violence occurs too often world-wide. With only a small fraction of rapes and abuses reported, statistics and recognition of the issue is undermined. When unaffected people hear about women who are victimized, they cannot believe or understand to what extent the consequences entails. From psychological to social issues, rape and abuse leaves a permanent mark on women who experience the power of these actions. But how can we solve this overbearing problem?

Gendered Based Violence (GBV) is the biggest battle we have to conquer because this what is victimizing millions of women every day. According to the World Health Organization, GBV has caused more deaths and disabilities among women 15-44 years of age than any type of disease and war combined. This shows the intensity of GBV's consequences and how women are being effected whether it be through death or a long-term disability. There are many types of GBV that takes place across the world, but all have the same goal of targeting women. An example from the readings is infanticides. This is when a female infant is killed in order to eliminate its existence within a patriarchal society. The practice of infanticides is most prevalent in Asia and North Africa where an uncountable number of infants have been killed due to the their gender. This technique of gender elimination and domination is inhumane and incredibly accepted by male-dominated societies. Just think of how many baby girls have not been given the chance to see the light of day due to the unfortunate fate of their gender.

Another example of GBV is domestic violence, where the abundance of female victims reinforces the struggles of this battle. The effects of race and class leave domestic violence victims to face an intense amount of stigmas. These generalizations only give excuses for not fixing the situation and avoiding getting involved. For example, in one of the readings, a Korean woman who is abused by her husband does not want to ask for help because she believes it will create a stigma against her and other Korean women. Although the physical abuse was evident through her bruises, she denied any such abuse in order to keep herself away from racial stigmas. She did not want to be associated with whatever type of stereotypes that are given to Korean females who are being domestically abused. This example shows the difficulties in battling the war of GBV. How can we progress if the victims will not or cannot come forward? The pressure of the patriarchy and social stigmas are silencing the ones that need to be heard the most.

Is there any way that this issue can be solved? The first step I believe that should be taken is giving victims a voice. This does not mean representatives within the government sign a piece of paper that gives minimal funding to women's shelters and health clinics, but realizing the extent of the aftermath of GBV. Women need more than a place to go, but a place where they can feel guaranteed to be heard. If we ignore the root of the problem, being the lack of reporting incidents, then the cycle of violence will only continue. Yes, we do need shelters, clinics, and funding for other resources. But the focus should be on preventing women from becoming victims, not helping them after they have been attacked. In order to push forward in the war of GBV, we must start from where it begins. Thus, the prevention of victimization is vital for the elimination of gender based violence.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Blog 7: Body Modification Pt. 2

Body Modification can be a complex process both physically and psychologically. People who decide to modify there body through medical procedures must pay large amounts of money for specific procedures. The process of getting body modification is turned into complete consumerism of buying “pieces” of the body. A human’s body is not only turned into an object, but individual body parts are being also being changed and altered like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. American society has turned body modification into a materialistic process by treating the overall body like an object.

A person who chooses to modify their body through medical procedures must deal with gender and social stigmas, but still as the individual choice of going through the process. America does give citizens the right to their freedom of choice, but is this freedom being broken through itemizing the body? The informational website on body modifications that we looked at for class, describes these procedures in great detail. But the format of the website categorizes many of the body parts based on price of procedure. Descriptions of procedures often include warnings along the lines as; “it’s a financial burden, but if you decide to bare it then do this…” shows how the choice of body modification is not necessarily promoted. But if a person does decide to bear the financial burdens of body modification, then the website can lead them to a variety of procedures that may be done through categorizing specific body areas.

Another example of body parts being itemized is through personal stories of transgender. People who choose to physically modify their body in order to appear a specific gender. Going through a transformation of the body through extensive surgeries, medication, and other techniques of a transgender can be a psychological battle. By making the body an object makes decisions and procedures even more difficult. The personal stories discussed in class did not specifically mention body parts as objects. But the way the stories focused around altered body parts as defining a person’s gender reinforced the notion of itemizing body parts. If a person has the time and money to get reconstructive surgery on specific areas of the body, then they can be what ever gender they want to be. This is how easy the change in body parts makes a transformation for a transgender to achieve.

American society has stripped down and turned the body into a tangible puzzle that can be reassembled through medical procedures. In order to identify a person’s gender, one must identify the body parts. Many resources for body modification information cannot help but categorize physical procedures as if they are individual objects to be added, removed, or adjusted on a person’s body. Even though the choice of modification lies in the hands of the patient, society is pressuring people to feel the desire for itemizing their bodies. Transgender people are a perfect example of a social group that is being pressured to itemize their bodies through gender-alterations. The medical procedures may be expensive, but the way in which it is advertised sounds so simple. A cut here, a stitch-up here, and you are a new person with a new gender! But it is not this simple and body parts are not pieces to a puzzle. Instead, body parts are features that may enhance a person’s gendered appearance, but does not solely define a person’s gender identification.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog 6: Body Modification

Who has the power and authority to say what is right and what is wrong within a culture? Technically, no country should have power over any other country’s cultural and social existence. The issue of body imagery causes debate on whether America is normalizing their own practices and pointing fingers in disbelief towards others’. For example, if an American citizen took a bird’s eye view of the techniques used to maintain, enhance, and display “correct” body imagery, I would strongly predict that this person would realize how blinded they are by their culture. From an outsider’s view, things such as artificial tanning, body-building, extreme dieting, and cosmetic surgery appear to make no sense, and even cause unnecessary harm on citizens. But the variety of choices many Americans can make towards how they uphold their body imagery shows the individualism within our culture.

Individualism, in relation to body image, means that each citizen is mostly concerned with them selves, and therefore spends the extra time, money, and energy to maintain or change the body they have. This may be done in the ways previously stated, but also in many other techniques that come in a variety of forms and styles. Although many of these body-imagery practices are technically unhealthy on many levels, our culture accepts it and therefore normalizes the physical and mental obstructions of our bodies.

In contrast, American views towards indigenous countries’ body-imagery practices will most likely be negative and ignorant. So is America enforcing their generalization upon other cultures? I believe so because American citizens are used to individualism. In contrast, many other cultures and societies focus on the collectivism of its people. For example, in ancient China, females starting from the early ages of childhood would begin the process of foot-binding. This entails of breaking the arch of the foot and tightly wrapping the foot in bandages, which would cause excruciating pain. An initial reaction from an American may be, “I can’t believe they would do that to the women!” But one must take into account that the females didn’t necessarily have a choice, due to social rites of passage and the dominance of the patriarchy. Also, it was something Chinese women did as part of their culture, whether or not it was healthy and humane to do so. But women did in order to be a part in their community.

In comparison, women in America who have breast-augmentation surgery will go through pain after their surgery, and even loose sensual feeling in that area. Not only is there a major difference of modernization verses ancient history, but also the fact of an individual’s choice. The woman is focusing on increasing her chances to be successful through her body-imagery, but does not necessarily need the surgery to survive among her people. Women in ancient China did not exactly have a choice to not have their feet bound because they would risk losing their rite of passage within society and having a family. Not only would it greatly decrease a woman’s chance of marrying, but also of the possibility of being disowned by her own family. This shows how the practice of foot-binding does not focus on the individual, but on the community as a whole and for the better of the people.

Body imagery is a complicated topic to justify, explain, and even comprehend. But this does not mean that there is any one country that has control over all other countries of what type of body imagery is appropriate. But I think there are many contradictions towards the safety and humanity of the people who are personally experiencing techniques for their body image. This does not mean American citizens have the right to degrade and undermine others’ practices, because that would be contradicting themselves into thinking their practices do not affect one’s health. A country’s history of culture always needs to be taken into consideration, not just the action itself of someone’s body image. We have to ask ourselves if body image is being expressed and practiced through the individual, or through a whole community.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Blog 5: Body Image

An individual's body image is controlled by the physical power over their body, which creates their self-identity within society. This control is being done both by the individual and the culture they are living in. For example, the reading about the football players and other male athletes shows how males are forced to physically control their bodies and restrain to reveal pain in order to uphold their masculinity within American society. The masculine body image creates the ideal for self-identity for these male athletes and pressures them to silence and endure their pain, even to hazardous levels. Pain/injuries are then being normalized within American society and by individuals in order uphold the self-identity of a masculine body image. This image also increases the competition for "successful" images of masculinity through aggression, strength, and unhealthy levels of endurance, which are pathways to self-identity as a male. Not only are male athletes straining themselves to be extremely masculine men, but are silencing themselves, or by coaches and peers, of showing and expressing any amount of pain. Male athletes even go so far as to denying pain and injuries and "intense pain is controlled an masked" (Sabo and Gorden 173).

An example of female body control is anorexia. Anorexia serves as a pathway to achieving a cultured self-identity through the physical control over the female body. Again, both the individual and culture is controlling the body because society is controlling the stereotype and norm, and women are then controlling their bodies in order to gain their self-identity within the stereotype. Women are typically associated with their bodies more than men, and therefore anorexia fits perfectly into the trend of women being associated with the thinness of their bodies. Anorexia is a way to help them achieve, in an unhealthy manner, their goal of self-identity by cutting of food intake through self-control over the mind and body. The control over not eating or having an unhealthy and irregular diet are the main skills needed to be an anorexic. In order to have control of establishing self-identity, a woman must have control over her body image through the physical control through something like anorexia.

Both women and men want an identity, but the pressure and force of American society and culture defines identity as self-control over the body. Therefore, men and women must learn how to either silence their pain or starve themselves to gain their self-identity through their bodies. The imagery of the body has taken priority over the male and female health because the physical control of the body is being attained through unnatural and unhealthy techniques such as injury-endurance and eating habits. Physical alterations and unnatural control are being naturalized, which creates the body image that establishes a person's identity. Men and women must then unnaturalize themselves in order to become the redefined version of what is physically natural for one's body image. Body image within American society is distorted and inaccurate, yet it has become the norm that pressures citizens to uphold the stereotypes in order to gain self-identity through their body.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reproduction and Health Pt 2

Positive and negative views of reproduction systems/process is based off of which gender is being discussed. For example, in the readings on the female reproductive system has a negative label because the menstrual cycle and menopause are burdens to women.
The media reinforces the side effects of menstruation as "bitchiness", mood swings, and having emotional out-breaks when a female has her period. The media does this through advertising medications that will help control the emotional "problems" that women may encounter once a month. The problem is that why try to control things that are happening naturally to a female body? And why is there such a negative condensation of the experiences women go through due to their reproductive organs? American society has caused the naturalness of females to be unnatural and bad; something to watch out for and avoid. Not only are women expected to take medications or alter the levels of their side-effects during menstruation, but other people should be aware and cautious too, according to class discussion.
Also, the media reinforces these stereotypes through television, such as the Golden Girls clip viewed in class. In this clip, the female characters discuss the burdens and struggles women endure during menopause. They mention the side-effects of hot flashes, mood swings, and losing some of their femininity after the menopausal process is completed. Through this discussion, it was obvious that they were trying to mock and make fun of the fact women go through menopause, turning a natural process into a joke. This is another way in which media causes American society to perceive reproduction systems of females as a negative occurrence.
On the flip-side, men have been catered way to enhance their reproduction bodily functions such as products that can increase sperm count, sexual arousal, and anything that indicates the increase of a man's masculinity. Men are expected to increase their natural reproductive organs that produce sperm and cause erections, which would enhance and sustain their reproductive ability. As discussed in the past week's readings, there are legal drugs that may be prescribed by a doctor to help a man sustain his sperm count and his ability to have an erection. These medications are given a positive label through the media's advertisements and other sources of marketing such products.
Male reproductive systems have been given positives labels because men create the patriarchy that rules American society. Men must sustain their masculinity through the performance of their reproductive organs in orders to uphold the patriarchy. Women and their reproductive systems are looked down upon because the natural process of their cycles are a burden to both the female experiencing menstruation or menopause and the person not experiencing. As for men who are given priority of attention towards upholding and sustaining their reproductive systems as a positive process. Importance and positive labels is given to the males; the patriarchy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blog 3: Reproduction and Health

I will state the obvious and say that sex sells in Western society. But why is it selling and what are the negative and positive views towards the reproduction organs that are actively being utilized? First off, men dominate once again within a patriarchal society and are put on a pedestal when it comes to importance of tending and pleasing them. Their sperm count is virtually endless as they reproduce millions of their little “mini-me’s” inside them every day. The man is granted leadership roles when discussing sex and given priority for sexual pleasure. So what happens when their sexual needs are not being met due to age or becoming “rusty?” Men go to the doctor and are diagnosed with a condition called andropause, which means that they lack testosterone levels and simultaneously have a low sex drive. But wait, men can’t be seen as weak or non-horny! They must be cured to stay on top (pun intended).

Male reproductive systems are given first priority within the gendered world of sex because science is allowing the patriarch to continue dominating. Doctors have created products for increasing and replacing lost amount of testosterone within men that is being sold on the market. Their sexual lives and manliness cannot be lost with age, and must be maintained through keeping up their libido and sustaining their testosterone levels which define their masculinity. Losing control is negative, but upholding a good sex life and manliness is positive, therefore making their sperm count and amounts of testosterone a health concern with positive reinforcements of treatment.

Women, on the other hand, have everything but priority when it comes to medical attention to enhance their reproductive systems. Their monthly cycle of menstruation is not their forte or sign of womanhood, but instead a sign of weakness. Medicine and other products relating to women’s monthly cycle of menstruation are perceived as negative and embarrassing; a time to take medication to cover up women’s symptoms of womanhood. This particular time of the month they will not only become a sensitive and emotional female, but also a bleeder. There “mini-me’s” are not congratulated or recognized, but silenced and degraded as women are pressured to take medications that will control their emotions and prevent them from become a complete bitch (excuse my language, but this is an honest label put on females who are menstruating).

Both menstruation and menopause are considered painful, discomforting, and emotional points in time that hinder a woman physically and mentally as her feelings are metaphorically bleeding out her mouth and eyes, if she cries, and her egg is literally bleeding out of her body, or the process of menstruating is coming to a stop all together. A woman’s libido and her pleasure are rarely, almost never, taken into consideration, when reviewing the types of medications offered to women and their monthly cycle. Sex is not something that raises importance when discussing menopause, unlike a male going through his aging process of testosterone levels.

Both male and female reproduction organs are natural ways of living and one’s health. Why then is there a bias towards male reproduction organs as priority and concern when levels drop, compared to a woman who is losing her eggs every year and eventually will not be able to reproduce after a certain age? The patriarch reinforces the notion of male reproduction systems as critical aspects of a man’s masculinity. But a woman is degraded by her outburst of emotions and a sense of internal and external ugliness she must experience throughout her lifetime of menstruation and menopause.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blog 2: Sexuality and Health

We cannot ask ourselves this question enough, but who is spreading HIV/AIDS? It cannot possibly be you or me. It must be someone else that I do not know or lives half way across the world. Unfortunately, this is not true and Americans cannot expect to have complete confidence in doctors to explain the spread of this epidemic because the public is equally just as important in the search for these answers.

Traveling and migrating to new places can play a surprising role in the spread of HIV/AIDS because if the people who are travelling come in contact with the infected, they contract the disease typically without knowing. For example, the reading about Oaxaca, Mexico discusses the migrant workers who traveled to the US boarders. In their free time they found themselves bored and able to hire prostitutes for entertainment. The specific men who told their stories admitted having sex with the same women during an evening of pleasure. There is a high chance the men contracted the disease through one another’s semen. This does not necessarily mean that these men had sex with each other, although sex between two men is another prevalent cause of spreading HIV/AIDS, but their semen was spread to one another through having sex with the same women.

Also, by the public admitting to how they contracted or spread the disease challenges the stereotypes and assumptions in the world of science of how HIV/AIDS is spread. Some of these confessions include sexual contact with a spouse or intimate partner in which, the disease was transmitted, or an over-all lack of using condoms properly and consistently. Every victim or carrier of this disease have different backgrounds and reasoning as to why or to whom they passed the disease onto, but these people are included in all types of categories ranging from prostitutes to workers to married couples, showing the diversity of who is involved and infected by the disease. This challenges generalization that only the poor and underdeveloped countries are suffering.

In South Africa, there is a heavy blame put on females for spreading HIV/AIDS within the country, but in fact these women are contracting the disease from someone else such as a husband, boyfriend, or male acquaintance. The men had it first and then gave it to the women, therefore the accusations are incorrect and needs to be reevaluated as to who is carrying the disease to the African women? Not only are gender inequalities within South Africa degrade females, but also globally is hindering the care for women who have contracted the disease. “In every country, women with AIDS tend to be more socially and economically disadvantaged than men-younger, poorer, less educated, and less employed than men with AIDS. In consequence, women do not have the same access to HIV testing” (Lorber and Moore 110).

According to the South African traditions and views discussed in the reading, women have the highest rate of becoming victimized by HIV/AIDS, but have the lowest rate of attention and medical care provided for them. Also, the sexual intercourse the females have with a particular male is not always voluntary. The women are frequently forced in a variety of social and economical ways, and also the overriding desire of bearing a child.

I find it extremely important for the world outside of science and medicine to take part and feel just as important as conquering the battle of HIV/AIDS, because the public is who it is effecting and the doctors who are only there for limited support due to access, funds, and resources. Although doctors are the ones who help treat and research the disease, they can only do so much for spreading the word on the streets. Therefore, I believe everyone should take advantage of their right as a human to demand to be informed, aware, and surmount this extreme and devastating epidemic of HIV and AIDS.

I have never met a person with HIV or AIDS, but know that they are somewhere near me. The readings helped me grasp the reality of how close this disease may be to you or me and are not something that solely exists in underdeveloped countries. I also believe that when fear becomes a reality or when someone you know personally becomes a victim of HIV/AIDS, the whole spectrum of having a shield against this disease is torn down. The rawness and bona fide reality of this disease is present and may affect anyone at anytime. So don’t think that the sorrowful television ads of African people suffering from HIV/AIDS are not also making a family or friend in America suffer at the same time.