Monday, August 26, 2013

Joyce Carol Oates' calls out Kant on his privledge

Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates)
Though Kant is a "moral absolutist" by his & others' definition, the man's moral relativism is evidenced by his white/ German/ bourgeois

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Literary Twins

I've been fascinated with twins my whole life and have been collecting tidbits for a while.  I'm going to collect the pieces here so they can all be in one spot.  I may try to turn the information into a fiction work in the future but until then I thought I could collect them here and play around with them.

Not since the Sweet Valley High Series have any books fascinated me about twins as much as:

  • Here's an article from the Atlantic about the sex lives of conjoined twins. 
  • Here's an article from the NY Times about two pairs of Colombian identical twins raised as two pairs of fraternal twins after a hospital error. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two Nights of Feminist Theories

Two Nights of Feminist Theories

The governing matriarchy of the Elizabethan era contrasted with England’s established ideals of patriarchal male power. The ascension of Elizabeth to the throne of England dramatically changed society on many levels. Since Shakespeare incorporated societal discourse into his writings, this shift in power inspired him to write about women’s status. Through the comedic lens of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Twelfth Night,” the deeper subject of feminist consciousness was at work. Shakespeare exposed preconceived notions of women as obedient to their husbands, their fathers, and their gender roles. Sexual equality, a new subject to the centuries old male hierarchy, gave way to a multitude of feminist ideas. Although Shakespeare wrote at a time when feminism itself was just coming into mainstream society, his characters Viola and Titania exemplify two of the currently dozens of diverse types of feminism. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Twelfth Night” are as relevant today as they were at the times of their original production in regards to women’s status; except there are now hundreds of years of theory that can be applied to what was, at the time of Shakespeare’s writing, a new concept.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” begins with a stalemate between daughter and father. Hermia loves Lysander but her father, Egeus, wants her to marry Demetrius. To resolve the situation, they all go before Theseus, the Duke of Athens. Egeus demands, “Relent, sweet Hermia, and Lysander, yield / Thy crazed title to my certain right…And she is mine, and all my right of her / I do estate unto Demetrius” (I. i. 91-2, 97-8). Women of this time were thought to be property of men, with the power over them changing from their fathers to their husbands, but never within or unto themselves.

At court, both Egeus and Theseus remind Hermia of the Athenian law. Egeus airs his grievance that she has “turn’d her obedience (which is due to me)... As she is mine, I may dispose of her; / Which shall be either to this gentleman, / or to her death, according to our law” (I. i. 37, 42-5). Theseus agrees with Egeus but adds an option “either to die the death, or to abjure / For ever the society of men. / Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires, / Know of your youth, examine well your blood, / Whether (if you yield not to your father’s choice) / You can endure the livery of a nun” (I. i. 65-70). Both men utilize exclusionary phrases in their speeches. “Our law” and “the society of men” both point out, as a woman, she must abide by laws which have been established by her oppressors and cannot be overthrown. Her decision to run away with Lysander and not conform to the patriarchal laws of Athens would make Hermia a feminist. Hermia’s actions might not appear extreme today, but Egeus’ reaction to them represents the absolute outrage and disbelief among fathers that their daughters did not want to be considered property.

Titania’s existence in the fairy world allows for her to be a strong female although Oberon wants her to obey him. She separates herself from him, stating “I have forsworn his bed and company” (II. i. 63). Titania’s refusal to forsake her changeling boy to Oberon causes him to drug and trick her. These actions exemplified the extremes of what husbands in Elizabethan England would go to in order to maintain control over their newly liberated wives. The placement of this trickery in the fairy world makes the situation less menacing than if it were to have been in the human world where it would have been more likely for the audience to think of domestic abuse. Titania’s role in this play is representative of an ecofeminist. An ecofeminist wants to “focus on human beings’ domination of the nonhuman world, or nature,” along with the domination of females by males (Tong 237). Titania tells Oberon that their arguments are disturbing nature. She says that

“with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport. / Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, / As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea / Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land, / Hath every pelting river made so proud / That they have overborne their continents. / The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain, / The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn / Hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard./ The fold stands empty in the drowned field, / And crows are fatted with the murrion flock; / The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud, / And the quaint mazes in the wanton green, / For lack of tread, are undistunguishable” (II. i. 87-100).

The fairy world is affecting the human world just as the feminist struggle is affecting the male dominant status quo. Also, as a female fairy Titania is doubly oppressed in that she is not male nor human.

Viola’s cross-dressing in “Twelfth Night” is the most obvious defiance of preconceived gender roles because it is physical in nature. Her assumption of the role of Cesario allows for her to be free of the restraints women were under at the time. While acting as the messenger for Duke Orsino, Olivia falls in love with Cesario/Viola, and later when she is revealed as a woman, Duke Orsino falls in love with Viola/Cesario. To add to the confusion, each of the female actors was actually a prepubescent boy dressed in women’s clothing. Each of these situations has underlying tones of lesbianism and homosexuality. The multiple levels of disguise allows for lines to be blurred regarding male /female as well as homo- / hetero- sexuality. Feminism is concerned with the oppression of all people and this defiance of compulsory heterosexuality would have fallen right in line with the oppression of women by men.

Viola’s actions as Cesario closely correlate to a current type of feminism referred to as radical-libertarian feminism. Radical-libertarian feminists believe “an exclusively feminine gender identity is likely to limit women’s development as full human persons” (Tong 50). They encourage “women to become androgynous persons, that is persons who embody both (good) masculine and (good) feminine characteristics, or more controversially, any potpourri of masculine and feminine characteristics, good or bad, that strikes their fancy” (Tong 50). Viola’s transvestism allowed for physical change but she retained her identity, (if only to herself) as a woman. She also did not use her male alter ego for “bad” purposes. Even if she would have, however, she still would be considered a radical-libertarian feminist.

The plays’ endings also reflect societal ideals of the time of production. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” has such a dominant theme of patriarchy throughout the play, especially the theme of marriage as the ultimate achievement. The play ends with three marriages. The implication that children will follow ensures the continuation of male domination and women’s oppression. “Twelfth Night” however, has no domineering father or the heavy tone of patriarchy. The ending is disharmonious with the declaration of three marriages though they do not occur in the play. This is unsettling to an audience of the time because all is not resolved and order is not reinstated at the end of the play. This allows for the analysis of society’s changing ways and an audiences’ need for awareness of a shift occurring in the patriarchy.

Elizabeth’s crowning as Queen of England brought power to her female subjects. The male hierarchy was overthrown and the floodgates of feminist thought were opened. No longer were women to be thought of as property of fathers, submissive to husbands, and expected to fit centuries old ideals of gender roles. Shakespeare managed to capture a myriad of ways the status of women was being reconfigured without preference to any opinion of the time. His use of comedy allowed for an audience to be subjected to the situation without being serious. He gave multiple angles and changing outlooks to his characters to embody the many ways and differing opinions within society as a whole and within each individual.

Works Cited

Johnson, Dean, ed. Shakespeare Riverside Anthology. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1997.

Tong, Rosemarie. Feminist Thought 3rd.ed. Boulder: Westview Press, 2009.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Degree and Order in Shakespeare’s History Plays

Degree and Order in Shakespeare’s History Plays

In Shakespeare’s England, degrees and orders prevailed. E.M. Tillyard addressed these issues in his work, The Elizabethan World Picture. Shakespeare incorporates Tillyard’s “chain of being,” cosmic order and the internal balance of the four humors into Richard II, I Henry IV, and Henry V.

Tillyard’s chain of being metaphor “served to express the unimaginable plenitude of God’s creation, its unaltering order, and its ultimate unity. The chain stretched from the foot of God’s throne to the meanest of inanimate objects” (Tillyard, 25-6). This order and unity is a hierarchy with many suborders, each with a primacy within the order. Tillyard references Richard II to exemplify these primacies with: “Be he the fire, I’ll be the yielding water” (III.iii.58). Then, “See, see King Richard doth himself appear, / As doth the blushing discontented sun / From out the fiery portal of the east, / When he perceives the envious clouds are bent / To dim his glory and to stain the track / Of his bright passage to the occident” (III.iii.62-7). York then adds, “Yet looks he like a king; behold, his eye, / As bright as is the eagle’s, lightens forth / Controlling majesty” (III.iii.68-70).

Shakespeare makes examples with “four of the traditional primacies: fire among the elements, the sun among the planets, the king among men, the eagle among the birds (Tillyard 31). This complex system was specific and allowed for the concept of divine right. A king was perceived as a degree between God and common man. Ignoring this order would not only bring chaos to the kingdom but to the entire “chain of being” in Shakespeare’s England and in his plays.

King Richard refers to his kingship as “my sacred state” (Richard II, IV.i.209. He believes his ascension to the throne is his divine right. This concern with lineage to ensure the rightful heir is continued in Henry V. Both scenes of the first act of Henry V are concerned with Henry’s inheritance of the throne. Henry calls on the archbishop of Canterbury to assure him that he is not wrongly assuming kingship. One could believe his is because Henry is unselfish but it is because he does not wish to defy what Tillyard refers to as the “chain of being.” The Duke of Exeter refers to his nephew’s kingship as one of “the borrowed glories that by gift of heaven” is bestowed upon Henry (Henry V. II. iv.79). Gaunt’s deathbed speech gives England a degree of her own. As “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England / This nurse, this teeming womb of the royal kings,” England is considered a degree between kings and God. (Richard II, II.i.50-1). This belief shows the order of importance in regards to his country. His allegiance to England ranks second only to God.

Shakespeare incorporated this order into his history plays with allegiances. His characters each defend who they believe to be the rightful heir to a throne or rightful rulers of kingdoms. This “cosmic order was yet one of the master-themes of Elizabethan poetry” (Tillyard, 14). Shakespeare’s characters reflect the strong feeling of Elizabethans in regard to cosmic order at the time. “If the Elizabethans believed in an ideal order animating earthly order, they were terrified lest it should be upset, and appalled by the visible tokens of disorder that suggested its upsetting. They were obsessed by the fear of chaos and the fact of mutability; and the obsession was powerful in proportion as their faith in the cosmic order was strong” (Tillyard, 16). If kingship was a divine right, the people of the Elizabethan era were very concerned regarding which king was the rightful heir to the throne. The wrong choice could upset the cosmic order and lead to chaos.

This macrocosm of chaos is also present in the microcosm of the human body. Tillyard quotes the Pythagorean doctrine “Whence, being an amalgam of many and varied elements, we find our life difficult to order. For every other creature is guided by one principle: but we are pulled in different directions by our different faculties. For instance at one time we are drawn towards the better by the god-like element, at another time towards the worse by the domination of the bestial element within us (Tillyard 66-7). Elizabethans wanted to maintain a balance within themselves that would in turn make the cosmos themselves balanced. This belief would understandably be driven by a great amount of guilt. This “correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm, if taken seriously, must be impressive. If the heavens are fulfilling punctually their vast and complicated wheelings, man must feel it shameful to allow the workings of his own little world to degenerate” (Tillyard 93).

This internal balance was exemplified by humours with “a proper mixture of the humours being as necessary to bodily growth and functioning as that of the elements to the creation of permanent substances” (Tillyard 69). Elizabethans believed that “each humour has its own counterpart among the elements” (Tillyard 69). The element Earth corresponds to the humor melancholy, water with phlegm, air with blood and fire with choler. “When they used the words temperament or complexion they had consciously in mind the tempering of one humour…by another, or the intertwining of the humors that was the cause of character. If a man was of a phlegmatic temperament, they meant that the four humours were mixed in a way that allowed phlegm, the cold and moist humour, to be the most emphatic” (Tillyard 70). The belief of humours causing human moods or personalities was carried over into Shakespeare’s writings.

Shakespeare incorporates the use of humours to emphasize the need for balance within a character just as Elizabethans believed they themselves should have balanced humours. Prince Henry jokingly calls Falstaff a “trunk of humours” to emphasize Falstaff’s lack of balance in his life (I Henry IV, II. iv. 449). King Richard refers to humour when he exclaims: “Let’s purge this choler without letting blood” in regard to the dispute between Bullingbrook and Mowbry. (Richard II, I.i.153). This statement refers to the belief of the time that bleeding a patient would relieve them of excess bile, which caused one to have an angry disposition. Choler is Bardolph’s excuse as to why he is quick to anger and dangerous. He justifies his anger with: “Choler, my lord, if rightly taken” (I Henry IV, II.iv. 324). Kate tells Hotspur that “a weasel hath not such a deal of spleen” (I Henry IV, II.iii.78) because he has nervous energy and is being impulsiveness, both characteristics thought to be controlled by the spleen. King Henry validates his impulsiveness by “the start of spleen, / To fight against me under Percy’s pay” to refer to his ill temper (I Henry IV, III.ii. 125-6).

Works Cited

Johnson, Dean, ed. Shakespeare Riverside Anthology. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1997.

Tillyard, E.M.W. The Elizabethan World Picture. New York: Random House.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Portfolio Essay


There are various forms of oppression and in this Women’s Studies class we were presented with forms specifically affecting women. While my four papers appear to be diverse: Captivity Narratives as Political Propaganda, Continued Militarization, Religious Persecution in Salem, and Sexuality in Caramelo, they each contain the underlying theme of oppression.

The two captivity narratives I showed to be political propaganda were Mary Rowlandson’s and Evangelina Cisneros’s. The victimization of these two females in their narratives was intended to incite hatred and anger against an enemy. This feminization of the situation further encouraged the belief of women as fragile creatures in need of being protected.

Continued Militarization drew from the work of Cynthia Enloe. I agreed with and drew on her stance toward America’s indoctrination toward militarization. This paper along with the Enloe readings helped me to realize the concept of military in everyday life. The lack of acknowledgement and indifferent acceptance of military ideals perpetuates a cycle of violence being seen as the answer. Especially women are indoctrinated into these beliefs when they are the told to be “good” wives, girlfriends, etc. and support their husbands, boyfriends, etc. serving in the military.

My third paper was my favorite because the general topic of the Salem witch trials has always fascinated me. The focus on I, Tituba gave a new lens to what I previously only thought was a hunt for white women in Salem. I was most troubled by the paradox of her religious persecution by people who were themselves persecuted for their religion. Tituba’s oppression was especially troubling because not only was she oppressed by her “masters” but because she went into slavery willingly.

Finally, with my paper Sexuality in Caramelo, I found that I most related to this text. The complexities of the sexuality within the family, community, and within each character made the book into a series of microcosms and macrocosms. The oppression trickled down from society to family and then from family to each character individually.

While at first glance my papers may not appear to have a linking theme, the fact that each character and situation I address is unable to fully express him/her/itself. The oppressive forces cause internalization of what is deemed “right” and “wrong” by society. The fact that each of these oppressions is also regarding women specifically shows the larger issue of gender in regards to oppression.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Eliminating Heterosexual Bias in Sex Education Programs

Eliminating Heterosexual Bias in Sex Education Programs

Programs regarding sex and sexuality education in public schools have, until recently, only focused on abstinence. However, abstinence-only education did just that: it abstained from educating. With a lack of results from the “abstinence-only” programs many groups rallied for change. Thirty years after its introduction and no results later most people favor a more comprehensive sex education program. Abstinence-only programs did nothing to lower teen pregnancy rates and are therefore being replaced with a more “comprehensive” form of sex education. What is generally agreed upon as a “comprehensive” sex education program is one that emphasizes abstinence but also includes information regarding contraception. The new curriculum offers basic information regarding reproduction, birth control, disease prevention and (hetero)sexuality. Just as the “abstinence–only” model did not work; the newer programs also fail to include necessary information concerning all sexualities (hetero, homo, and fluid). The new programs are heterosexually biased because they do not give information concerning non-heterosexual sex. The lack of information is both exclusionary and discriminatory.

While the format of abstinence only sex education has been deemed ineffective on many fronts, Hazel Glenn Beh, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii, and Milton Diamond, professor of anatomy and reproductive biology at the University of Hawaii, linked the program to increases in non-heteronormative sex. They claimed one particular problem was that young adults were engaging in non-coital activities in efforts to remain “abstinent.” They support the facts that not only were “abstinence education” programs not working but claim that they were driving adolescents to “riskier” behaviors. Beh and Diamond state:

“adolescents who have undergone abstinence-only education and who later engage in coital and non-coital activity, as most will prior to marriage, are ill-prepared to protect themselves; they may not use a condom because they do not know how or because they mistakenly believe that condoms are ineffective, may be unaware of the risks they experience when engaging in non-coital sexual activity as a strategy to remain "abstinent," and may be more vulnerable to adverse consequences of unprotected sex because they have not rehearsed and otherwise prepared for the contingency that they will not always be abstinent. (Beh, Diamond).

In 2002, Lambda Legal produced a toolkit “Tell Me the (Whole) Truth.” This was “the first action-oriented resource specifically addressing the anti-gay aspects of ‘abstinence-only’ programs and their effect on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth” (New Toolkit).

Beh and Diamond missed the fact that not all adolescents identify themselves as heterosexual. The assumption of their behaviors as “risky” because they are non-coital is off the mark. The risk factor lies in the lack of information as to how they can adequately protect themselves against diseases while engaging in non-heterosexual sex. Lambda Legal begins to offer information to non-heterosexual adolescents in its 2002 toolkit, but it focused on “abstinence-only” programs, and would need to be updated in order to be effective in the new programs. A majority of Americans believed that teaching “abstinence-only” until marriage was a disservice to our youth and have embraced the new comprehensive programs. However, some of these new programs fail to fully address the wide spectrum of sexual identities and needs associated with each. I will address the faults of a heteronormative program and offer solutions for inclusion of all sexualities. I will also show results that could be attained by following or incorporating aspects of the Dutch model of teaching sex and sexuality education. I will also offer suggestions for ensuring incorporation of a non-heterosexually biased sex education program.

A contributing factor to the problem of teen pregnancies was that the “abstinence-only” programs provided false information about the effectiveness of condoms (if they provided any information at all). This combined with a shifting definition of “abstinence” among teens may have lead heterosexual young adults to engage in alternatives such as oral or anal sex. This raised concern and was seen as “risky” behavior. However, sexually active homosexual teens would engage in these acts and need adequate information regarding disease prevention.

There is no need to fully scrape everything when forming a new program. A non-biased program could draw from the previous abstinence model. The program holds valid points. The “abstinence-only” education programs were born out of an eight point definition based on religious idealism. Unfortunately, the “comprehensive” programs are essentially incorporating the same standards with the addition of information regarding heterosexual sex, specifically STD and pregnancy prevention. I believe half of the “abstinence only” program’s outline should be saved and incorporated into new sex education programs, while the other half cannot be incorporated into any program that wishes to include all sexualities. The points that should remain are backed by science, not religious ideals. The expectation of marriage draws attention to the obvious exclusion of large groups of sexually active people. Laws regarding same-sex marriages support this point. The expectation of sex occurring only in marriage excludes not only pre/extra-marital heterosexual sex, but any and all non-heterosexual sex. I believe these aspects constitute indoctrination into religious ideals and a heteronormative culture without regard to nature or science. In order to fully educate our youth about sex and sexuality, we must rely on facts and proven effective programs, not standards of religion.

“The report "Births: Preliminary Data for 2006," prepared by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, and are based on data from over 99 percent of all births for the United States in 2006, shows that between 2005 and 2006, the birth rate for teenagers 15-19 years rose 3 percent, from 40.5 live births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 years in 2005 to 41.9 births per 1,000 in 2006. This follows a 14-year downward trend in which the teen birth rate fell by 34 percent from its recent peak of 61.8 births per 1,000 in 1991” (Ventura). So not only is the “problem” not being solved, it’s getting worse. Birthrates are actually rising rather than falling among teens. These statistics have proven the ineffectiveness of abstinence only programs in regards to not decreasing the rate of teen pregnancy, but the focus on this aspect alone shows the heteronormative bias of expectations. With pregnancy being an obvious result of heterosexual sex, the focus on these statistics draws attention from other sectors. While pregnancy may not be as pressing of an issue for lesbians or gays as it is for heterosexuals, disease prevention most definitely is.

After an “anti-choice, anti-sexuality education and anti-family planning” Bush administration, The Obama administration has promised change on many political fronts, sex education included (Osher). In his inaugural address he specifically stated that he “will stop funding education programs that don’t work.” This would obviously apply to unsuccessful “abstinence only” programs. Obama has a record of working toward more comprehensive sex education programs. “In 2007, as senator, Obama co-sponsored the Responsible Education About Life Act, which would have provided grants to states to provide abstinence-plus education”(Yoder). Abstinence-plus education would still emphasize abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and STDs but it would also educate students about contraceptives and their proper use. Unfortunately, this bill, along with the Prevention First Act died in subcommittee.

When we begin to outline a new “all-inclusive” sex education program for the United States, we need to look to other programs that have succeeded. A great model that the United States could look to would be the Netherlands. I believe that the open forum of discussion about sex and sexuality as represented in the Dutch model is the framework that will lead to educated, healthy, wise-decision-making young adults. An “open-talk” curriculum has been embrace with great results. One example of a class exercise for twelve to fifteen year olds is: “How would you react if your boyfriend refused to use a condom? How do your friends feel about condoms? Write down what you think they will answer and ask them if you were right” (Guss). The program ensures that all students engage in the activities regardless of their sexual identity. For example, both males and females would have participated in the previous questions.

To anyone still unsure of whether the United States or the Netherlands are “winning” let’s look at the figures for teen pregnancies. In 1999, the United States teen pregnancy rates for fifteen to nineteen year olds was 87 per 1,000 (Reproductive), while the Dutch boast “the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe: 8.4 per 1,000 girls between 15 and 19” (Guss). That’s right 87 versus 8, and in this “game” of young lives, a higher score does make us a winner. And while these statistics still focus on one heterosexual aspect of a more all-encompassing program, they should not be ignored. The open dialogue in this one area has yielded amazing results and can be applied to a curriculum that would include all sexualities.

While religious fundamentalists like to hold to the “slippery slope” argument that talking about sex makes youth more likely to engage in sex, some may believe presenting information about non-heterosexuality will encourage more youth to engage in non-hetero sex. We can look to the Dutch for a response to this argument. Jos Poelman of the Foundation for STD control in the Holland says: “Face the facts. We have the lowest number of teenage mothers [in Europe], and Dutch students do not start having sex at a younger age than their foreign counterparts.” With results like these, it’s hard to argue that talking about sex is going to result in rampant sexual outbursts. The same argument can thus be applied to the opponents of incorporating non-heterosexual health information. By providing youth with information the subsequent response is not to enact the practices they have learned but they are now equipped to protect themselves when / if the situations arise.

Beyond the reduction on teen pregnancies and STDs, the Dutch also encourage inclusion of all humans, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background or age. The Rutgers Nisso Groep, the Dutch Expert Centre on Sexuality, “dedicates itself to promoting sexual and reproductive health” and works in cooperation with school systems to give information regarding all types of sexuality” (Nisso Groep). The Dutch have proven that acceptance and education produce desirable results.

There are ways we can ensure that as we change to a more comprehensive format in sex education programs, there is no heterosexual bias. Local school boards are comprised of elected officials. Contact with the board and use of “open-mic” time at these meetings will establish your concerns regarding the need to implement non-biased sex education to our youth. This will also allow networking and rally support for the cause.

The United States prides itself on being an equal nation in regards to race, religion, and sex/gender. While equality in these areas is still widely debated, in regards to education discrimination in these areas would not be tolerated. We must recognize, address, and correct the heterosexual bias incorporated into sex education programs. The United States has been a role model to the world in many instances, but not in regards to teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease rates, or inclusion of all sexualities in Statistics of European nations in regards to these epidemics are admirable. The programs they use are yielding the results that we want in our own country. Children grow to adults and take with them sexual knowledge, or lack of, into their adult relationships. The consequences from not teaching about pregnancy and STD prevention grows exponentially with each group of young adults who go into the world having not been taught how to protect themselves and others. Excluding information regarding non-heteronormative sex endangers those who practice…

Works Cited

Beh, Hazel Glenn, Diamond, Milton. (2006). THE FAILURE OF ABSTINENCE-ONLY EDUCATION: MINORS HAVE A RIGHT TO HONEST TALK ABOUT SEX. Columbia Journal of Gender and the Law, 15(1), 12. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from GenderWatch (GW) database. (Document ID: 1019127841).

Guss, Valk. The Dutch Model. July/Aug 2000. 20 March 2009.

New Toolkit Tackles Homophobia in ‘Abstinence-Only’ Education, Equips Communities to Fight for Real Sex Ed. 9 Sep 2002. 20 March 2009

Osher, Jason. SIECUS 2005 Annual Report. 2005. 20 March 09.

Reproductive Health Outcomes & Contraceptive Use among U.S. Teens. 20 March 2009.

Rutgers Nisso Groep. 2009. 20 March 2009.

Ventura, Stephanie. Teen Birth Rate Rises for First Time in 15 Years. 5 December 2007. 20 March 2009.

Yoder, Steve. Real Sex Ed Returns. 7 March 2009. 20 March 2009.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Continued Militarization

Continued Militarization

Cynthia Enloe challenges readers to identify daily occurrences of militarization in her book The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire. The indoctrination of America with militaristic ideals closes off other options from public thought. Enloe points out that “the rationalization of the use of force has been used to justify militarism, which in turn normalizes and legitimizes secrecy, hierarchy, masculinism, and a culture of threat” (Enloe 184).

Enloe goes on to give examples (education, soldiers’ girlfriends and wives, beauty pageants and cars) of “sectors of U.S. culture [that] have also been increasingly militarized” (Enloe 146). Drawing attention to the enforcement of military ideals in daily life makes one question the true intent. We as Americans need to understand the impact that we have on the rest of the world. We are “forever lecturing other societies—Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico, France—on how they should remake their cultures. U.S. citizens, however, have been loath to lift up the rock of cultural convention to peer underneath at the masculinized presumptions and worries that shape American foreign policies” (Enloe 129). If we don’t stop the rampant integration of militarism in our daily lives in America it will spread to other societies.

Consequently, the non-support of militarization is viewed as being unpatriotic. Enloe states what can be seen in the media: “since September 11, publicly criticizing militarization has been widely viewed as an ‘unpatriotic’ act, as an act of disloyalty” (Enloe 146). One can support military troops and be a pacifist. The point Enloe makes is that “militarism is an ideology. Militarization, by contrast, is a sociopolitical process” (Enloe 219). The fact that military ideals have spread beyond the confines of the military itself and embedded themselves into Americans daily lives is the problem. The glorification of the military causes a society to think in only military terms. Instead of exploring all options to a situation, this sort of society chooses to immediately “solve” any altercation with military force. While it is necessary to have a military we do not need instillation and indoctrination to a set of militarized beliefs that war and aggression are always the answer. As Americans, we are looked to by other countries in regards to conflict resolutions. The continuation of militarization in our society will spread to other societies who look to us as a model.

There are members of society who refuse to allow militarism to run rampant. The fact that “two nationwide activist groups, Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Mothers Against the War, reflects a new consciousness of the roles mothers—and fathers—are expected to play in building up a large military force, as well as a growing sense of the urgent need for alternatives to those scripted roles” shows that Americans are challenging militaristic ideals (Macho, Macho Militarism). The questions are being raised as to the indoctrination of supporting military support. Mothers and fathers have put away their feelings of dread in support of so called patriotism for centuries. Now the tide is shifting in thoughts on conflict resolution. There are many more groups questioning militarization. For example, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Women Waging Peace, and Women in Black, whose Athens chapter was accused of disrespecting soldiers when someone wore a U.S. Army uniform with pacifist buttons at a protest last year, are all looking for alternatives to war and aggressive actions.

Ironically, one of these groups advocating peace named themselves after the militarized homeland security alerts. “CODEPINK emerged out of a desperate desire by a group of American women to stop the Bush administration from invading Iraq. The name CODEPINK plays on the Bush Administration's color-coded homeland security alerts — yellow, orange, red — that signal terrorist threats. While Bush's color-coded alerts are based on fear and are used to justify violence, the CODEPINK alert is a feisty call for women and men to ‘wage peace’” (Code Pink). So, one has to question if this use of military terminology perpetuates militarism or diffuse its power? The paradox of adopting a name that employs a militaristic system can be viewed as taking power from the source or entirely redundant.

This March 8, International Women’s Day, we should all look for ways to diffuse the militarization of daily life and look for alternatives. As a model for non-militarized conflict resolution we can be looked to as example by the rest of the world. By changing our militaristic thinking we can change other countries’ thinking as well. As Enloe so hopefully states, “I don’t think that it’s mere fantasizing to envision a world without war” (Enloe 144). We need to look toward the activist groups as inspiration. By challenging the indoctrination of military ideals in our daily life we will begin to diffuse the unquestioning authority it uses in perpetuating violence. With alternative options available, they merely need to be pursued here in America and the effects will be worldwide.

Works Cited

Enloe, Cynthia. The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire. 2004.

University of California: California.

Enloe, Cynthia. Macho, Macho Militarism.

Code Pink for Peace