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Subpar…


After reading the prompt, one glaring incident of sexism stands out from high school.  I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where it is not uncommon to see two men kissing on the street and a black lady holding hands with an Asian man.  Tourists and out-of-towners definitely take note, but for residents, it is normal.  San Francisco is notoriously liberal in its views on social policies and therefore, most people who live in the area are liberal thinkers particularly on social issues.  This is why the incident of sexism stands out to me.  I believe sexism is still a pertinent issue in the Bay Area where other issues facing the nation seem to make huge progress.

I just picked up the game of golf last year, but many of my friends in high school were on the mens’ and womens’ golf teams.  I attended public high school and my government teacher was the coach for both teams.  While we were discussing the womens rights movement, he told us why the boys and girls teams have different home courses.  Both teams play at courses in the same town, but the boys’ course is within walking distance of our school while the girls’ course takes about 15 minutes to drive to.  The boys’ course, (Hillsborough country club…no website only phone number) is situated in a quiet, residential area while the girls’ course (Crystal Springs) is next to a freeway and at high altitude where the weather is much more windy and foggy.  My teacher (the coach) asked the Hillsborough club to allow the girls team to practice and play at their course.  The response he got from the club was, “If you want the boys’ team to continue playing here, you won’t ask that question again”.

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Does God like Sexism, Racism and Inequality?


 

I repeatedly find myself following the political pundits and updates from the campaign trail. This is especially true with the crucial 2012 Presidential election upcoming. There were two speeches made by Rick Santorum which elicited frustrated responses from me. One thing that amazes me as I listen to the candidates out on the campaign trail is some of the inflammatory remarks that are made which are both untrue and offensive. These comments further stereotypes and alienate historically marginalized groups from the mainstream. The most consistent repeated culprit is Rick Santorum. I want to use this blog post to examine the some of the comments that he has made, question their validity, and put them in the broader context of realities about gender and race in the United States. Furthermore, I will prove how these archaic and bigoted remarks will lead to further inequality in our country which is still recovering from both the civil rights and women’s rights movements.

The first video above provides Rick Santorum’s remarks following a Pentagon decision to allow military women to serve in important roles closer to front line combat. While many would believe that this is an important step towards equality in our country, Santorum immediately communicated “concerns” about this change citing “other types of emotions that are involved.”

Santorum said: “I want to create every opportunity for women to be able to serve this country.” He followed that statement up with: “I do have concerns about women in front line combat. I think that could be a very compromising situation where – where people naturally, you know, may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved.”

Santorum continued his shaky defense by saying: “probably, you know, it already happens, of course, due to the camaraderie of men in combat.” He concluded by saying that women serving on the front lines is not in the best interest of any party involved.

Santorum must have ignored the fact that women were already serving in the roles granted to them by the new Pentagon guidelines in temporary positions prior. He certainly didn’t cite any evidence that the “camaraderie” was disrupted or that “emotions” prevented unit cohesion. His claims are not grounded in fact but rather scripture.

To this day, in 2012, women cannot serve on the front lines. The new guidelines further restrictions on women in infantry roles, for example. This begs the question: If women want to serve on the front lines; why can’t they? I know plenty of strong women.

The problem is leadership in this country that clings to archaic and outdated approaches to life which aren’t in line with the current views of the US citizenry. Santorum tries to portray individuals fighting for equality as “elitist academics” instead of looking in the mirror and seeing who truly is trying to enforce their life views on others. 

Santorum followed up in another interview that: “It’s not a matter of putting women in dangerous roles.” He mentioned in an interview that women were certainly able to “fly small planes.” It seems like Santorum; however, would like to keep the heavy weapon clad aircraft for the men. It is not surprising that a Santorum continues to employ a staffer that once claimed that: “having a female president is against God’s plan.” The gender roles of men and women are socially constructed and can be reversed.

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Are We Okay? Well, I Think I Will Be…


Reading the prompt, my immediate thought was, oh I know where this is going. We are still racist. We are still sexist. Women are treated as inferiors, but feminism is a trigger word for debates and piss-poor attitudes. And I will certainly agree that we are not all equal, not in terms of race or gender, religion or sexuality, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. As you can tell from the posts, we’ve all seen it ourselves. I could tell you the typical stories of being advised not to travel without men whilst abroad, of higher auto insurance rates for men (read an article on anti-discriminatory insurance rates in the UK here), of being afraid walking outside at night. But I’ll leave that to my classmates. Instead, I’ll use this time to talk about horses! (Are you sensing a theme in my conversation habits yet?)

I am a three-day eventer – a good basic explanation of eventing can be found here. I have ridden for 14 years, across just about every riding discipline you can imagine, and finally settled on eventing 7 years ago. I’ve ridden all four collegiate years on Bucknell’s equestrian team, serving as secretary and then captain for the years before I went abroad, and now serving as (the unofficial) show team manager. I also ride three days a week at another barn in Milton, and while I’m home, I am at the barn every single day. Horses are truly my life. Laugh all you want, but when you find the one thing that motivates you to get out of bed every morning, that gives you hope for your future when everything seems to be going wrong, you know what I’m talking about. So what does this have to do with our blog post? Continue reading

High School Track in the ‘Burbs


Race wasn’t an issue for me in high school track, save maybe one instance.

Back in high school, I ran track.  I specialized in sprinting (100m, 200m) and the polevault.  I know what you’re thinking.  I’m short, white, and don’t look particularly fast.  Well, those things are all pretty much true – but I wasn’t a terrble sprinter.  In today’s America, we are predestined to beleive that African Americans are better sprinters.  They’re faster.  And history (as far back as they were allowed to compete), doesn’t really tell us any differently.  Is this fact?  Or Is this racist?  First, I’ll tell my story. Continue reading

And You Think You Know Someone…


This week, like some of the posts already up, I want to talk about my upbringing. Of those I read, they mentioned private schools and predominantly white schools and/or areas. My experience was the quite the opposite.

I went to public schools all my life, until coming here. I grew up in Pottstown, which is a relatively small town in south-eastern PA. Pottstown is a diverse town. There is a main street that runs through the town, “High Street.” People would associate each side with “the bad side” and “the good side” of High Street. I lived on Cherry Street which happened to be on the “good side”. Thinking back, the majority of my neighbors and my area were predominantly white. The “bad side” of Pottstown was primarily black. Further down certain areas were also bad areas I was told not to go to at night with friends. I never thought of it in racial terms when I was younger.

I attended Edgewood Elementary School from k-almost all of 6th grade. Mod’s were built at the elementary school temporarily as the middle school underwent construction. This school was very mixed in terms of race and ethnicity. Some of my closest friends were other races than my own. As I mentioned in one of my comments, I believe to Dana, I actually was envious of having such pale skin and freckles (I don’t ever tan- I burn) compared to the bronze skin of some of my friends. Continue reading

“Chink in the armor”


“Linsanity” — how many times have we all heard this phrase, either on TV or in the news?  Even if you’re not an avid NBA follower, which I certainly am not, I’m sure at least some of you have heard this phrase at least once within the last couple weeks. However, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Jeremy Lin, I’ll give you some background information:

After graduating from Harvard in 2010, Lin went undrafted into the NBA.  That summer, Lin played for the Dallas Mavericks on their Summer League squad before signing a two-year contract with the Golden State Warriors, his local NBA team growing up.  In early December of 2011, Lin was picked up by the Houston Rockets, but was later waived to the New York Knicks, right before the new year.  Lin saw some action in the beginning while playing for the Knicks, but by no means was he a standout player.  Nevertheless, Lin received a shot to prove himself after the Knicks faced a losing streak, and was promoted to starting point guard.  Lin excelled on the court, and went from being a barely known basketball player to one of the most famous athletes in the NBA overnight.

The linsanity phenomenon has created so much media attention, both in the US and abroad.  Many sports critics argue that the amount of media attention Lin is receiving is mostly because of his race.  On the contrary, some people argue that all this attention Lin is receiving is simply because he is excelling on the court.  Regardless of what people believe, the fact is that most of the media attention Lin is receiving is centered on racial stereotyping.  ESPN, probably one of the most well respected American sports networks, was forced to apologize for an anti-Asian slur directed at Lin, following one of the Knicks’ losses.  Written by Anthony Federico (who has since been fired), the headline “Chink in the armor” appeared TWICE in an online story about the Knicks’ loss.

You’d think that anyone intelligent enough to land a job at ESPN would know that making racist comments is completely unacceptable.  An article written by Hadley Freeman at The Guardian points out something interesting about racism:  while it certainly isn’t anything new in sport, Freeman argues that racism against Asian Americans is different, compared to racism against African Americans, for example.  Her claim is that because racism against Asians is not confronted as much, it is somehow seen as acceptable.  People might even be totally clueless to the fact that what they’re saying is hurtful to someone of the race, perhaps because Asian Americans are barely represented culturally.

Jeremy Lin has had to face stereotypes not only from the media, but also other businesses, like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  Like ESPN, the ice cream company admitted they made a mistake with its Jeremy Lin-inspired ice cream flavor.  Apparently, the company received a great deal of criticism for adding fortune cookies to the flavor — an act that many people viewed as politically incorrect.  According to a Yahoo News article, Ben & Jerry’s stated that they weren’t trying to offend anyone with their limited-edition “Taste the Lin-Sanity” flavor.  Maybe Hadley Freeman is right — are people just completely oblivious to what is okay and not okay to do or say regarding the Asian race?

Thinking back to the initial prompt for this week — I don’t think everything is OK when it comes to racism.  I think the US has made a lot of progress in this category, but on the whole, racism still exists today.  I think the Jeremy Lin example is so interesting and relevant to this debate.  Can no one be appreciated for just being good at something? Or do people always need to stereotype.  It shouldn’t matter where someone is from or what they look like.  If they’re good at whatever it is — sport, in this case — nothing else should matter.  Someone shouldn’t receive more or less attention because they are male, female, black, white, whatever.  I hope people start to appreciate Jeremy Lin more for his talent, instead of focusing on where he is from.

Entirely Way Way Too Much Politically Correctness


I was watching Conan O’Brien a couple days ago because there wasn’t anything exciting on the TV.  The show started with this clip.  I thought that Deon is dead on.  We are entirely, way, way too politically correct.

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My Polly-Pocket Perspective


When I first discovered what we were supposed to be writing about this week, I was not excited. That hasn’t changed. Therefore, I apologize in advance for any lack of enthusiasm that will be exposed too from this post. My main lack of excitement for this subject is simply because I think people get too focused on it. This subject distorts people’s vision of the world, and the negativity involved in this area is too frustrating. This subject is too concentrated on subjective experiences, preconceived notions, generalizations, and assumptions that I prefer not to dwell on it. And it is easy for me to restrain from worrying about gender and racial issues mainly because I am a white male, so I admit that my own perspective is riddled from the lack of subjective experiences I have had. Also, I do feel awful for those individuals who have experienced the sting of false racial or gender biases. However, focusing on the philosophical side of such an issue innately turns me off.

To put it simply, I don’t care. I don’t care if someone is black, white, yellow, or green, male, female, or androgynous, or tall or small or skinny or fat. Each and every one of us is living our own life, with different backgrounds, experiences, demographics, interests, and talents. Therefore, we should all make the best effort possible to appreciate one another for what we bring to the table. Do we have to like everyone? Nope. But how can you truly rationalize to yourself that you have any negative (or positive for that matter) opinion about who an individual is simply based on his or her appearance? Continue reading

Pass the Chicken Nuggets


My internship in the financial sector was a complete frat house. On the surface, everything was very professional – fancy ties, shined shoes (a man paid by the company actually came around multiple times a week to shine everyone’s shoes. We’ll leave that story for another day). However, under the façade of uptight corporate suits, these middle-aged professionals often acted like they were in college again. Everyone had nicknames, and if they didn’t have one, they were called by their last name. On Mondays, stories would be exchanged about planking taxicabs over the weekend. And important to this story, almost all of these ‘suits’ were men. In the part of the company I was working in, I was 1 of 2 women. We didn’t have nicknames. Continue reading

Typical Chit-chat and a Robbery


The best way that I have been able to contextualize the issues of identity and race in America is to relate them to the problems other countries have. For my blog, I am going to share a few personal experiences from studying abroad and then describe how they made me think about American society and the problems we have here. The first experiences are the conversations I participated in with my Spanish family about race, and the second experience is an identity/crime issue.

If you read my last blog post, you know that I lived with a host family while living in Granada. My family was very curious about everything, from my religion to my thoughts about gay marriage and politics. Before this experience I had no idea about the problems other countries had about race. I can tell you now that America is certainly not the only country with issues. I remember watching TV with my Senora one day and there was a story on about an interracial couple facing some sort of legal issue. My Senora became enraged, and started telling me about these two people she knew that used to date, and one was “so white” and the other was “so black”. She made it seem like the whole city knew about this scandal, and that it was seen in such an awful way. The way she expressed herself with no filter made me think that this was typical chit-chat in Spain, and talking to her about this issue really made me realize how much America has grown since slavery. I believe concepts like interracial relationships will become more and more accepted as time goes by. I told her that in America there are undoubtedly people against interracial relationships, but that there has been progress in its acceptance among society. It didn’t seem like there had been much progress in Spain.

Now, onto identity issues. I do not know much about law, but I was shocked at the lack of legal importance in Spain. One night when I was out in Granada, I was walking home through the Albaicin (which is the old quarters of the town) and a man went after my friend and tried to rob her. I went back to help and was pushed over in the man’s attempt to grab my purse. We got away fine because a group of guys came down the hill and yelled at him to get away, but the memory still frightens me. I think this can be related to an identity/gender issue, because if it were men that were walking along, they would not have been attacked (according to my host family). When I told them about this experience they said that there really was nothing that could be done, and that filing a police report would be pointless. From this experience, I began thinking about the differences between Spain and America. This event really surprised me, because I believe that in America it would not be taken so lightly. I know that there are differing ideas about identity between countries, but the complete what seemed like lack of respect for women was appalling to me because everyone talked about it like it was just something that usually happens. In fact, when I told my host family (all women), they fed me numerous stories of their own about getting robbed, and practically blamed it on themselves. I think in the America there is still a problem of women being seen as prey and not as respected as  men, but I do believe that our legal system is helping to combat this issue. I am certain that identity and gender roles have evolved to different extents in different countries, and that our country is one of the most developed. But has it developed enough? Should we be proud of our development in relation to many European countries, or is this not an accurate way of measuring right and wrong?

White Walls


For this week’s post, I wanted to track my education, starting with elementary, and see how this has enabled or disabled  me to succeed relative to my status as a White man. As you may or may not know, I am a Texan and damn proud of it. I’m from good ole San Antone where the heat and taco stands are as prevalent as the rain and squirrels are here in Lewisburg. I grew up in what has become the “Bubble” of San Antonio in Alamo Heights. As the name alludes, the area is predominantly home to middle-class Whites who send their children to the notorious, Alamo Heights School District (AHSD).

I attended AHSD in elementary school and up until middle school where I switched to private school in 6th grade. I created many lasting friendships while at AHSD, and in fact I still keep in touch and hang out with many of the kids I grew up with. This transition from public to private school is what I credit for “making me the man I am today”. Continue reading

I Hate Being White


Race is not a biological category.  There is no Black “race” nor White nor Asian nor Native American.  One way you can tell is that in my lifetime the numbers of races keeps fluctuating.  Growing up in the South in the 1970s and 1980s, we would hear about the “White man, Yellow Man, Black Man, and Red man.”  This, mind you, was in the context of treating all “colors” the same.  Well, what in the hell are the new waves of immigrants, the “Latinos,” then?

This post is a very raw, un-researched post on my part. Continue reading

Are women incapable or do men just thrive on control?


For the post this week, rather than offer a particular personal experience tied to gender or race in America, I decided to talk about certain aspects of gender roles that have always bothered me.  To be blunt, I don’t like the idea of men doing stuff for women.  And while I will be the first to recognize that it is changing somewhat with our generation when you compare it to the extremes of the past, I still believe that there remain unresolved issues.  For more on changing gender roles, click here!

First, I don’t like the concept that the man is supposed to pay the bill when on a date.  Why can’t you split it or each pay for your own meal? (This is actually referred to as “go Dutch”.)  Second, I don’t like the notion that men are supposed to drive women places.  Let me guess…you’ve never thought about it, right?  You see females driving cars all the time.  But, how often do you see a man (of legal driving age) in a car that a woman is driving?  I don’t understand why women have to be driven around.  What’s the big deal?  And finally, I disagree with the practice of men opening and holding doors (cars included) for women.  While I will admit that it’s nice to have someone open the door for you and many women will view such an act as very “gentlemanly”, I believe that the underlying message is inherently wrong.  Continue reading

Mrs. Silverstein… Is Dana Black or White?


If you think going to Bucknell for four years was like living in a bubble, then you never grew up in Rye Brook, NY. Being raised in this homogenous community and attending the same school district, there was only one African American family in town The family, who actually lived around the corner from me, had four children; two of them graduating from my high school while the youngest two transferred before senior year. One of the girls who transferred was actually in my grade and in my kindergarten class in 1995. (In order to protect the identity of this girl, I have chosen to not use her real name. So for the purpose of this assignment, I will refer to her as Alex). For those of you who don’t know me well, I tend to get absurdly tan when I go away to tropical climates and completely change skin color (I am too embarrassed to post a picture to blog so if you are truly interested in my transformation, I’ll email you a picture)! I will never forget this story, since it’s my mother’s favorite to tell. I had just gotten back from President’s week vacation in Puerto Rico in February of 1995. Being my usual self and despite wearing massive amounts of sunscreen, I came back chocolate brown. Alex and I took the same bus to school each morning and waited together at the bus stop. The first time she saw me, she gave me the weirdest look and for the rest of the day, as we colored pictures of our vacations and ate snack, she could not stop looking at me. The next morning while we were waiting for the bus, Alex asked my mom a simple question, “Mrs. Silverstein, why is Dana black and you’re white?” Continue reading

Pass me the ball, I’m open!


Athleticism is one of the main components of my personal identity. I consider myself to be pretty athletic and very competitive when it comes to sports. I grew up playing three sports (water polo, swimming, and softball) and succeeded in all three. Over the past three summers I have been a beach lifeguard in Corolla, NC where I have participated in big lifeguarding competitions and placed in multiple events in the South Atlantic Region. At Bucknell, I am a co-captain of the women’s water polo team (where we just went 4-1 this past weekend!) and have started all four years. Sports have consumed and play an important component of my life.

From my personal experience, I still see a large part of American society being sexist towards women’s athletics. For example, during high school gym class, we would play all sorts of co-ed sports including softball, basketball, handball, volleyball, and tennis. When it came time to the team sports, I would always become very frustrated. During handball for example, the boys would never pass me the ball even when I was wide open, in a scoring position, and calling for the ball. It was discouraging and frustrating and I ended up just walking back and forth on the court since there was no hope for me to get to participate. I have not only experienced this discrimination on the field but also by the attendance to female sporting events versus men. The men’s water polo team here at Bucknell will have the stands packed during their home games while the women’s team will have maybe a quarter of the attendance (mostly family). Continue reading

Prompt for Blog 6 (session 7)- Are We All OK? (race and gender in the usa)


Obama won, and Clinton almost did.  I guess race and gender equality are “OK” now, right?  We’re all OK?

Sparked by the conversation around Dana’s feminism post, the blog council decided to take up where one of her comments left off.  Something to the effect of “most of American history is written by and about White men.”  Given that identity shifts over time and is both a social and a deeply personal topic, we invite everyone to reflect on identity.  This prompt is actually deeply in sync with some class topics: firstly, to understand one’s own biography in the context of how the history of identity unfolds requires a healthy dose of sociological imagination; secondly, as we touched on social movements, we can see that they are essential to the creation of alternate or changing identities. (Side note: see how I use a colon and semi-colons in above.  🙂 )

For this week’s blog post, we ask you describe an event or personal experience (one that you have direct knowledge of) that reflects the broader realities about identity in America, especially race and gender.  (We can leave others like class or sexuality or religion later, if we want).  That connection to a broader reality can reflect either “progress” towards more equality, or the persistence of “-isms,” or new wrinkles in the fabric of American culture (for example, the rise of inter-racial marriages).

A) Talk about a personal experience (of which you have direct knowledge of) and explain how this effected your perception of identity – whether it be having to do with gender, ethnicity, etc.

B) Americans talk about how everyone is too “PC” and how there isn’t really that much racism in America anymore.  Or at least we’re taught that in high school.  Is everything really OK?  Is racism (or sexism, etc.) still a large part of American society? A medium-sized part?

Just to get the ball rolling, I could easily write about: Continue reading

Blog Council Awards


Hi All,

The following are the awards from Blog Council this week.  Also, the prompt for next week should be up later today as well.

The Best Post:

Derek’s Psycho-Ethics, deemed the most influential influential post. (The repetition is on purpose).

Other Awards:

Most Thought Provoking: Beth’s Just Do – What? and Dana’s Oh Crap, Is She Talking About This Again?

Most Pugilistic Commenter: Joey’s comment on Beth’s post. (But we like intense debate.)

Most Serendipitous: Amanda’s Like to travel? Wanderfly.  Amanda may have given them some new users!

Idea with the Most Potential: Caitlin’s Samasource: Ending Poverty by Global Outsourcing Differently

Have a great weekend!

-The Blog Council (Patrick, Ben, Chris, Jordi)

Samasource: Ending Poverty By Global Outsourcing Differently


This week’s prompt allowed me to discover an intriguing business concept as well as its leader – Samasource, founded and led by Leila Janah. Samasource works as a go-between for a company that needs some sort of technological work and a woman, youth, or refugee living in poverty. Essentially, Samasource intends to end poverty by providing the underprivileged with jobs, and therefore, an income. Well, duh, you might think – not exactly a novel concept when you get right down to it. Yet Samasource has found a clever and productive way to go about its mission. Continue reading

Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND)


After reading the Shell case and learning more about the Nigerian government and people, I decided to look for an individual whose mission is to make an impact on Nigerian society.  Hafsat Abiola’s determination to help Nigerian women become leaders and decision makers within Nigeria’s society caught my eye.

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What are YOU the first to do?


In browsing through the “people to watch” I came across someone I find inspiring. This someone is 25 year old Tammy Tibbetts who was featured in Meet The Change Generation. She founded She’s The First in 2009, bringing together ideas and experimenting with creative ways to raise money. This money is used to fund girls in the developing worlds be the first in their family to graduate.

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BLOG INSTRUCTIONS

Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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