Friday, May 2, 2014

Teens Talk Back!

All semester we've discussed what dominant ideologies we have of teens and how these ideologies are pertetuated though the media. Media doesn't do well with good representations of teens, almost every day on the news we hear about teens doing drungs, teens finding new ways to "get high" or consume alcohol, or the teens shoplifted or stole something from someone, but we never hear about the good things teens do. Researching how teens talk back was actually very diffucult and time consuming because productive things teen do aren't easily accesable. I did a lot of research and found a talk show that aires online and on TV (couldn't find what channel), TALKBACK4TEENS gives teens the opportunity to discuss and voiove their opinions on the topics that are important to them, it is a discussion by teens for teens. I watched a few episodes thoughout the last couple of days and felt really proud of these teens for standing out and speaking about issues that we often forget affect teens just as much as they affect us as adults. In one of the videos the teens are discussing why teens are often involved in selling drugs and/or violence, one of the girls says its because they live in poverty which in turn leads them to steal things for money. Another teen says he feels it has a lot to do with the lack of role models they have at home, he gives the example that a lot of teens are growing up with just a single mother or father, leaving them with little to no support. These teens really have some powerfull and intelligent things to say in all their episodes and I strongly recommend talking a loot at their website, even just for entertainment purposes. These teens are proving that teenagers aren't just this alien life form, they too listen to the news, sometimes more than adults and have their own valid and intelligent opinions about what goes on in the world, a world that they are going to live in for a lot longer than we are.

My museum exhibit and final project both were based on cyberbullying so I was interested to see what I could find online about it in reguards to how teens have stood up and raised awareness on this issue. I found some information about a thirteen year old girl, Britney, that had been bullied for about two years and decided to stand up against it. She created G.I.R.L.S (Girls Inspiring Real Leadership Skills) and basically what she does is speak to other teens about her life experice and help empower them to be themselves and not allow bullying to stand in their way. Check out this two minute clip where Britney talks about how she decided she was going to use her life experiences to help others going though what she went through.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hip hop Contraversies

Dr. Tricia Rose is a well respected professor of Africana Studes at Brown University, previously Dr. Rose has taught at NYU and the University of California. Rose attended Yale University where she received a Bachelors in Sociology, she then proceeded to attend Brown University to receive her Ph.D in the field of American Studies. Dr. Rose has published four books along with various articles discussing hip hop culture. Dr. Rose is most famous for her ground-breaking book Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Her discussion of hip hop culture in this book is so rich that it is considered a foundation text for the study of hip hop and is said to have defined what has now become a serious field of study.

In the YouTube video, Rose begins her talk by talking about popular culture, one of the subjects we've discussed in depth all semester. She says talking about a race/gender in a multi racial/gender/orientation setting is so difficult because what we all have we share is popular culture, we don't actually share lived experiences "We think we know each other through it"her quote really made me think about how this same rule applies to how we view teenagers, popular culture completely dictates our views on teenagers. This idea made me think back to the dominant discourses Raby discusses, those discourses construscted based on what we think we know about teens through what popular culture teaches us.
Dr. Rose argues that although she's "romanticizing" the evolution of hip hop by discussing the creativity that goes into the making of this musical genre, "this is a profoundly destructive period of time for black America" due to the crisis of segregation and racial discrimination. This dynamic genre of music expresses an awful lot of pain and anger which is something I think is often forgotten when we talk about hip hop now. In my senior year of high school I took an Urban Sociology course in which we discussed many "old school" hip hop artists and songs. While listening to this talk, I dug up my old high school binder in which I found some of my old work. One of my reflection papers was on a fairly recent song called "Speak Your Mind"(2001) by Immortal Technique. This song lyrically addresses many of the realities true for black youth such as being judged based on skin complexion, religious beliefs government (where they come from) etc. Another fairly recent song by rapper Papoose is "50 Shots" which talks about the controversial Sean Bell case. Both these songs, I think, illustrate the crisis of segregation and racial discrimination that Rose discusses in much more recent times than the 60's when hip hop was born.
In the Time Magazine interview with Dr. Rose she is asked why Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, etc don't sell as well as Jay-z or 50 cent she responds with the argument a certain kind of violent behavior defines black culture and there is a pleasure in consuming these ideas. Sexist images, sexuality, sexual domination and racial stereotypes all sell which makes for a consolidated market. As the interview goes on, Rose mentions that Jay-Z has admitted to dumming down his music to sell records and now rather than beong fun and play, hip hop has become an "economic industry where people get involved for the money than for the cretivity". Thinking about how hip hop has evolved, I began to think about our class a few weeks ago on Princess culture. Similarly to hip hop, princess culture also changed from fun and creativity to a multi billion dollar industry as it is discusses in Cinderella Ate My Daughter. We've come to a point where industries/companies only care about making money, not about what they are selling and how it can be damaging to not only our youth but to all memebers of society.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Queeer Representation

One of the key issues I found is discussed in all four articles is the misrepresentation of queers in the media. First off, I want to say I feel very uncomfortable using the word "queer" because of the negative connotation that is associated with the word. I've always thought the word queer was an offensive and derogatory term used to speak about, or rather ridicule, the Homosexual community, so I did some research and realized the LGBT community is slowly reclaiming a term that was turned so ugly, nasty and mean. I must admit, although I have friends and family one family member whom identifies with being homosexual, I've never had the interest in reading about how they are represented in the media and how damaging these representations can be. The media portrays any group of people (IE: minorities, teen moms, teens) etc in the worst imaginable way possible, and homosexuals are not an exception to this. What I mean by this is that the media exaggerates certain "traits" that identify that specific group. In the case of homosexuals, media has portrayed them as being promiscuous, rebellious, sick, careless, unfit etc. An example of this is seen in this commercial. The couple in the clip are discussing how "gays" are ruining this world, which is something we hear often when discussing gay marriage rights. The woman then goes on to say "I don't want to get a divorce and become a lesbian and marry a woman", as if homosexuality was contagious. I related this to a class discussion we had with Dr. Millers class in which we watched movie clips on how teenagers are portrayed. We saw teenagers as literally being the worst people on earth! In one of the readings ( I can't remember which one) I remember reading about how teenagers were always up to no good and these dominant ideologies that were instilled in people reguaring teens. Well that same is true for homosexuals. People have created these dominant ideologies that homosexuals are these awful people and they are re represented in the media. The article I enjoyed reading the most was Queer Representation in the Media because it shines some light in the improvements that we've seen over time in media portrayal of homosexuals however it also clearly demonstrates how much work is still needed.

"If the representations in question utilize humor, are queer people in on the joke or are they the joke?" This question is one I've asked myself several times in the past year or so with the increase in gay characters in TV sitcoms, movies etc and this is why...

In this video, (Embedding was disabled by used, sorry!) we view various clips of fairly recent TV sitcoms like Modern Family, Will and Grace, Mean Girls etc where we see gay men as being portrayed as overly feminine. I've met gay men and women and I know not all gay men are overly feminine. So my question is always are they ridiculing gays? In one of the articles assigned for this week, we says lesbians are portrayed as being butch and masculine but not every lesbian is acts like that. After all these isn't a rubric or certain standards to meet in order to identify as lesbian or gay! In my opinion having these stereotypical portrayals of homosexuals is actually taking a step back from the improvements we've seen in media portrayal. At the end of the day, we are just internalizing these damaging stereotypes. 

One of the reading discusses how the queer community is being targeted by marketing which is something we discussed early on in the semester when we read Palladino "Where Did Teenagers Come from". In this article Palladino talks about how marketers were targeting teens because of how lucrative that group of people was, the same is true with the queer community. In the reading this is described as being a double edge sword which I completely agree with. As in with teenagers, lower/ middle class queers might feel marginalized by not being financially able to purchase what is being marketed towards them. 
The above add by JCP, caused controversy when it was published but why should it? I see nothing wrong with the add, do you? 

As a side note I just want to say that by re representing these negative stereotypes and thus internalizing them we are pushing teens to be afraid of "coming out" and possibly pushing them into depression, self hate/mutilation and even suicide. Although it homosexuality is becoming more common, we still must realize how much of a judgemental society we are as a whole and how damaging that can be to not only our youth, but to all humans.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Princess Culture

For this blog post I decided to write a personal reflection on what I think as well as connecting this piece to not only Unlearning the Myths that Blind us, but also class discussions I have had in other courses.

To begin with, princess culture has been one of my biggest concerns throughout motherhood. Growing up I wasn’t exposed to as much princess culture as I see my daughter exposed to now, partly because I grew up in another country.  When I was growing up, I grew up playing outside with my cousins, helping my mother cook, clean etc and watching cartoons. Thinking back on my childhood, I remember playing with dolls, however the dolls I grew up with are nothing like Barbie Dolls, American Girl Dolls etc. These dolls are what I remember growing up with, very different than the dolls that girls here in the US played with right?
 When I moved here to the US I was my daughters age, 6, and remember learning about Cinderella. I eventually stopped playing with dolls I was used to and began to play with Barbie Dolls, Princess Dolls and began demanding to be dressed in super girly clothes. I soon became infatuated with Cinderella and wanted to be just like her! Its funny how fast I forgot about my wash rag dolls and because fascinated with Cinderella. 

Now as a mother of a little girl, I've been faced with the challenge of learning how damaging princess culture can be to young girls and deciding what I can do to protect my daughter from the damage of Disney Princess' while still allowing her to enjoy these imaginary fairy tales that are so popular in our society. Peggy Orestein begins this chapter by telling us that she avoided telling her daughter the story of Snow White because of what she stood for, yet she finds her daughter reenacting the role of Snow White. This made me instantly think back to the reading Unlearning the Myths that Blind Us where some of the girls demonstrated how tough it was to dissect these princess stories and realize what they really stand for. In this case, it was Peggy, Daisy's mom keeping her daughter away from these stories. 

One of the part of the reading that really stood out for me was Mooney's quote on page 16 where he argues that both boys and girls go though Princess and Power Ranger phases and this actually helps girls expand their imagination and end up becoming lawyers, doctors etc. If this is the case, why isn't there a Disney princess that is a doctor? Why is the role of a doctor always a male role in stories, movies etc.? 

Later on in the reading Orestein discusses the limitation of being a boy and being a girl. I was very impressed she included this in a book about Princess Culture because I have not heard it being discusses simultaneously. I agree with Orestein that boys are in a sense more limited than girls because although girls are taught femininity, beauty etc there is not really much that girls can't play with that boys can. I like the examples Orestein uses in her chapter about a father buying his daughter a set of Hot Wheels but being devastated if his son asked for a tutu. My daughter and nephew are very close in age and since they're both only children, they spend lots of time together. My nephew and daughter have come up with this system of play in which my daughter will play what ever my nephew wants to play whether it be cars, building stuff even wrestling for a while and then it is my daughters turn to choose what to play. My nephew then plays dolls, dress up, tea party absolutely anything my daughter has chosen without complaining that it is too "girly". I find that in today's society, we are infatuated with making sure girls are feminine and boys are masculine and if either one steps a little out of their box we must push them back into what they are "biologically" supposed to be; it is either black or white, there is no gray area and that just simply is not true. We see this separation in toy stores, day care center, schools even places like the toy section at your local pharmacy. We should not be telling our kids what toys are appropriate to be played with if you're a boy or a girl, it just isn't right. 

The point Orenstein argues about parents encouraging this princess play/culture really made me think of my own experience as a mother. Orenstein argues that parents like this Disney play because it makes parents relive their childhood and I must admit I am completely guilty of this. My daughter has had princess parties, princess costumes, princess accesories etc and I've found myself loving the entire experience because now I have my own life size doll to dress up and play with (please don't judge me, its awfull I know). For those few moments while playing dress up with my daughter I think of how I felt at her age. Before taking these Gender Studies courses I never thought of the underlying message these Princess' delivered to me and are delivering to my daughter and I know most people, like Orenstein would opt to avoid princess' at all cost but it is nearly impossible nor do I want to take my own childhood memories away from my daughter, so all I can do is plan to educate my little girl as time goes on.  

While on the topic of moms playing dress up with their daughter, check out these pictures of a girl dressed in princess costumes her mom hand made her. Her father is a photographer and took these photos of her at the Disney park.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Internet bullying Vs. School yard bullying

Group members: Lauren, Jessica and Heidi

1. Academic Article on History of cyber bullying

2. The Rise of Cyber Bullying 
3. A Timeline of Bullying 
4. A blog with link to personal stories to victims of cyber bullyng 
5. Statistics on cyberbullying 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cycle of Outrage (quotes)

I didn't particularly enjoy reading this text beacuse of how it generalizes that all teenagers are criminals. For this blog post I picked to discuss a quote/question that really stood out to me. Weren't radio, films, and especially comic books, responsible for the frightening changes in the bahavior of our youth?(Gilbert 23).  This is a question that really sums up what this entire class is about, yet we dont have a concrete answer to it. Can we really blame just radio, films and comic book for the changes in teens behavior? What about consumerism? Gilber discusses in the text how "hot-rod" culture fueled youths needs to individualize and modify their vehicles. Similarly to what Raby discusses in her text, this can be seen as teens growing up too fast and balancing on the thin line of adulthood and adolesence. Earlier in the text, Gilbert discusses how adolecents were getting married at younger ages and having premarital sex which changed the mores and icons of adolecent subculture, thus we see how teenagehood was being shortened as teens moved into adulthood faster. In my opinion we canno just blame radio, films and comic books for the chages that were occuring in teens. Palladino talks abou hwo marketers began to make teens their targets, which led to teens getting jobs at earlier ages to be able to purchase what was being sold to them thus leding them right into adulthood. 
Another quote that struck me was in the Juvenile Delinquency Films chapter when the 1949 film Knock on Any Door was discussed. The film employs flashbacks to explore the tragic and destructive influence of the slums (Gilbert 181). It later goes on to explain that the main character whom is accused of murder was a product of "the slums" meaning he came from a bad enviroment of immigrant background. This struck me beacuse I come from immigrant background and have never found myself, even in my teenage years to be involved in criminal acts. Was the film writter trying to say that all teen criminical came from the same socioecomical background? 
There is also a part in the text that stood out for me when Gilbert says "jor-riding" led to morre criminal activity amongs teens. I disagree with this completely! At this age, teens are finding who they are, what they are interested in and give socialization priority. Why is it impossible to think teens want to go out for a "joy ride" with friends to talk? 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pray for Venezuela

I'm sure most  of you have seen or heard the phrase "Pray for Venezuela", which has been trending in social media but do you guys know what is really going on there? I didn't. I usually refrain from watching any world news or TV in general because off all the sad stories reported daily, but I decided to look into what is going on in Venezuela because of all the attention the younger age group was giving this issue and because it sits close to home for me. In class these past few weeks, we've talked about the dominant discourses, preconceived ideas and overall assumptions we have of teenagers in the US but what about in other countries? I'm sure that some, if not most of what we've talked about in class will probably still hold to be true in other countries but lets take a look at what these teens in Venezuela are doing for their country and their freedom. Please take a couple of minutes of your time to watch this video and PRAY FOR VENEZUELA! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Tangle of Discourses

I'll begin my blog this week by expressing how frustrating it was to read this entire text because of how lenghthy and wordy it was (even a bit unclear to me), however I was very interested in the material Raby presented.  Raby examines five dominant Western culture discourses: the storm, becomin, at-risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumption. Personally, I think people come up with titles to define every stage of children's lives since the day they are born till the day they turn 18. For instance terrible two's where kids are expected to act up, have temper tantrums ect. then we have the big girl/boy stage and so on. The stormy teenage years have always been blamed on the teens because they are "flooding with hormones" however Raby mentiones Steinbergs research "which suggests that the teen years are 'stormier' for the parents than for teenagers" (p431). This came as a shock to me because adults/parents are NEVER blamed for anything so how dare Steinberg say that the parents of these hormonal teens are going through a very similar hormonal imbalance that causes mood swings, changes in behavior etc.? But it make's A LOT of sense! My mother always told me I gave her "gray hairs" from all the stress I caused her in my teenage years and I've always felt awful for it but can it be that her greys were a sign of her aging at the same time I was growing up? 

In recent years we've seen a significant increase in teen pregnancies which means those teen mom's wll be raising their teens well before they reach their midlife issues, will the same be able to be said about them?

I was very bothered by the fact that Raby does not include any other races like Hispanics/Latinos or Asians because I know those teens and grandmothers opinions would differ than those of these women that were interviewed for this research. As a person of Hispanic decent, I was considered an "at-risk" teen because of where I grew up and where I am from, which exposed me to violence, sex, drugs etc. more often. Raby doesn't says in the beginning of the article that the women and girls she interviewed all  considered themselves "middle-class" (p427) why not include working class families also? I know she mentions in her intro that it was hard to find both a granddaughter and grandmother willing to participate but I think adding this to her research would've provided more insight on the real at risk teens and what that really means. I searched at risk teen PSA's and found this one I liked and wanted to share with you guys. Raby also talks about pleasurable consumption and how marketers are specifically marketing teens. For the middle-class family, this is not as big of a problem as it proves to be for working class families that really can't afford anything that is targeted at teens. These "at risk teens" living in poverty are usually surrounded by violence and some (not all) will turn to violence to get what it is that they want so they can fit in to what everyone else has. Palladino also lacked the talk of race in the article They're Getting Older Younger, when it discussed how teens have become the target for marketers. I grew up hearing seeing my peers fight over a pair or Jordan sneakers, why isn't anyone addressing the issue of class and race when it obviously plays such a huge role? (And if it is mentioned it is not disused in detail)

All in all I feel like teens are always in a lose lose situation where they will always be blamed for everything because of how they are represented in the media. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Unlearning the Myths

Throughout my Gender Studies classes, media portrayals have been a hot topic always touched upon but never discussed in detail.  Last semester in one of my courses we spent a class period discussing the topic at hand in this article; Disney princesses. Here is the video that we watched in that particular class which began to open my eyes to what Disney has taught us and continues to teach our children. 

While I was reading this article I realized I felt the same way Justine did. I didn't want to dessect these movies I grew up watching and loving, I felt like i wast tearing apart my childhood memories, but I know it is necesary in order to change what we will teach our children, a whole new generation that can break these stereotypes. 

I remember when I was younger, I loved watching Cinderella. It was my all time favorite movie. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. I often expressed this to my parents and they were completely supportive of me. My father especially always wanted to see me in dresses, my hair long and staight with a matching hair piece on my head. I realize now, my father was just feeding into the stereotypes that we are taught as children. Even now at 23 years old my father still expects me to be his little princess and he alsways expresses how he expects me to marry a man that can take care of me and treat me like a princess.

The messages in these legendary movies about what a girl is supposed to look like (light skinned, blue eyes, long haired and thin) how they're supposed to act, what theyre supposed to do etc are burried under these glamorous and magical scenes that it is really hard to believe how damaging they really can be to young girls. Young girls are growing up believing that in order to have the "happily ever after", they must look a certain way and if they don't, it is impossible to be happy which is wrong! 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A little about me..

Hey guys! My name is Heidi, I am a full-time student at RIC majoring in Gender studies with a minor in communication. I'm taking this class not only because this is a requirement for my major, but also because the subject is very interesting to me. When I am not on campus I am at work. I work at AAA in the call center and I also work with the elderly at a Nursing home in East Providence, so as you can imagine I'm a busy body.  I really look forward to all the discussions we will have as a class this semester. :-)