Gender Hierarchy: Another Tale of Women’s Struggles

Even with the leaps and bounds that women’s rights have taken, women still suffer at then hands of men. We are pushed down and ridiculed in society as many of the previously agreed upon social norms try to force their way and once again squeeze them into a box. Be it within social relations in the house, at work, or simply just in general, women

This picture clearly illustrates the differences in life, attitudes, and status of the man and woman involved.

are facing the challenge of age-old misogyny.

As it was before, people look down on those few women with legitimately revolutionary as wild and crazy idealists with no real basis for her arguments. Women are looked at as objects, opinionated and expensive objects, but objects nonetheless. In this day and age, women are referred to in movies, music, art, etc, as things, either stay at home moms, prostitutes, tramps, a “good woman,” the list goes on.

I understand and agree that if a woman wishes to be a homemaker or something of the sort that it is her right to do so and will not reflect poorly on her by any means. What I do have an issue with is people, not always men either, feeling that it is one of the limited things that women are good for. This is an issue that I believe will take a long time to remedy. We’re trying to change the way that a whole world perceives women; it’s a colossal task, although it will eventually be accomplished. It has to be.

There are a few articles in which this is looked into. There was one in particular which I thought was rather good.

Also here is a link to a video discussing some old “Tips to be a Good Housewife.” It’s rather comical in its absurdity.

Adams, Terr M. and Douglas B. Fuller. July 2006. Vol.36, No.6) “The Words Have Changed But the Ideology Remains the Same: Lyrics in Rap Music” Pp. 939-957 in Journal of Black Studies. Published by Sage Publications, Inc.


Religion: What It Is Composed of and Nothing Else

Religion, it’s one of those topics that you never want to bring up in a conversation because then there is sure to be a rather heated argument. Most people have their own opinions on the subject and most of them are rather strong. In this particular post, I do not plan to discuss the raging ideals between the many different religions, but I don plan on discussing the foundations of al religions as a whole.

First of all, you need to realize that all religions started with a prophet, someone who by some manner, by some

This is a representative of all the different religions in the world. I am aware that not all of them are included here, but I felt that the feeling was rather self-explanatory.

miracle, had direct access to god, or gods, or whatever the omnipotent intelligent being is. They then have laities, those who follow them who originally follow the words of the prophet, but then turn to the watered down version of the priests. The priests are people who come out of the clergy. They take the ideas and teachings of the prophet and turn them into sentiments which are easier to swallow, things which do not stand so starkly against the mainstream culture. These watered down sentiments continue to water themselves down as the religion grows in size. These changes in the basic foundation of the religion probably occurs due to the desire for a larger group to join in on the religion and  a tendency for those in the mainstream to be sincerely opposed to things preaching against it.

While the fine points of the religions may be different they all also have four major parts top their theology. These parts are cosmology, eschatology, salvation, and theodicy. A cosmology is an account or theory as to what the origins of the earth are. Eschatology is the part of theology concerned with what will happen to man after he is long gone. Salvation is usually a deliverance from sin and its consequences, although what you have to do in order to gain this deliverance is different for a lot of religions. And finally, theodicy is a story as to why there is evil in the world; this idea is why so many believe that evil is a necessary evil.

The Roles We Play

What makes us who we are? Is it the role we play? Or even the role we choose not to play? Is it the decisions we make, the people we know? Or a process of “discovering” one’s self through perceived values, strengths, positions in society, etc.?

It seems that the self may be a combination of these. You develop your sense of values, of culture, through your life and while you grow up. During this time is when you lay the foundations for who you will become. Now this stage of acculturation is strongly influenced by those around you, such as friends, family, and teachers, though it is mainly through the family that you learn your underlying values.

Now these values and set culture will help pave the way towards who you will be in society—what role or roles you will play.  And these roles, will help to form the basis for who you will be perceived as and possibly, who you will be “back stage.”

In everyone’s life, we play more than one role. We have a different face for every group of individuals, for every situation and every instance. These faces determine where we will stand within the “pack,” of what level in the group social hierarchy we will hold, and it may be different levels for different groups even. For example, some of the different

What face will you put on today?

roles I play include college student, sister, daughter, aunt, employee, friend, cousin, and grandchild. And within these many roles I have different social statuses. As a college student I am below the one teaching, but above high school students, as a sister I am above my younger brother and below my older brother, as a daughter I am below my mother but above my sister-in-law, as an aunt, well I am the only aunt so I am as high as one can climb on their own in that regard, as an employee I am below my boss and, as I am a new employee, I am below my other co-workers as well, as a friend I am higher than those who are not very well tied in with the group, but I believe that I am on par with the rest of my friends, at least I hope I am, as a cousin I am above the younger ones and below the elder, and as a grandchild, I humbly concede, that I am above all my other cousins in the eyes of one of my grandparents, almost non-existent in the eyes of another, a decent presence to another, and one of her “favorites” according to my last one.

All of these roles, all of these positions in these roles, somehow I do not get them mixed up; somehow I manage to play my part well enough. And we all do it, sure there are times when we mess up, overstep the boundaries, or just generally confuse the situation with an ill-timed or incorrect response. Erving Goffman has a wonderful take on the social interactions which garner and contain these roles, these faces. He describes the situation in the form of a play—a metaphor that I believe to be very fitting when talking about the game of life.

Wait a Second—I Should Look Like What??

The extent to which this man has altered his physical appearance in an attempt to look more and more like a tiger--does this go beyond the acceptable limits? Or is it merely an expression of his own personal beliefs?

Society has come up with a norm, a norm which it wishes to enforce on all of us and everyone. Society and the media has come together to form what they view as beautiful, at least that is how it is in our culture, I am sure that beauty is determined by other such factors in other societies. And in such, beauty is a conforming property. But where do we draw the line? Where do we say enough is enough and decide that we are fine the way we are, no matter what that means in relation to others’ view of beauty? And is there a point at which we can say someone has gone too far?

We live in a postmodern society and in such the extent to which we feel the right to say no to what one wishes to do to their own body is limited. All that we feel the right to do, and even that right is small, is discuss it, to look at it with all its pros and cons and decide what to do with it.

What do you do when someone has gone so far with plastic surgery that they are no longer themselves? What do you do when someone feels the need to remove body parts in order to accomplish their own personal beautification or to fulfill some sort of personal belief? It is by definition personal, so what do we do?

Within reason, I believe that it is perfectly fine to let them be. Or even when it is in extreme excess, so long as they are not harming others or themselves too greatly. We are our own persons and, I guess, by that logic no one should be able to dictate what it is that we should look like. That very sentiment alone is rather ironic, in that it is typically other’s perceptions that dictate what it is we want to look like. As Mr. Ratchet said in Robots, “Why be you, when you can be new?”

There is so much pain involved in the process of changing who you are--is it really worth it?

Ethnocentrism: The Idea That Your Culture is the Best

This is one of the many examples of the ethnocentrism. Looking here at its results, it is no wonder that is can cause such horrid things in society.

The white man’s burden, think about it, why did that idea even exist? Oh yeah, because we have a tendency to let our pride into our science and philanthropy. It’s a struggle that many face—because of the way that we’re raised to do things a certain way, for a certain reason, when things are done contrary to those things we freak out and scream that it’s wrong or backwards. But who is to say that we are not the ones to do it backwards? Each culture is unique and valuable, just like our own, and who is to say what those cultures should or shouldn’t be like? It was ideas like that which led to colonization and imperialism which in turn led to countless deaths of indigenous peoples, sometimes to the point of blatant genocide.

The English government is guilty for this in many accounts, as are the French, Dutch, American, Spanish; the list just goes on and on and on. For example, consider how many Native Americans perished from disease fromEuropeas well as the Europeans’ attempt to “help” them, to further their society and make them more modern. Think of all of the class struggles that colonization has set into affect. Think of apartheid, think of the genocide instigated by the class separation that the Dutch settlers created, think ofIndiaand all the struggles that they faced under English rule, think of the native Australians, the Aborigines.

It seems that whenever one culture has the upper hand strength wise, they try to use it to enforce their rule over the other one, or they try to assimilate the “weaker” culture into their own. But if history has shown us anything, it is that forcing one people to be like another, when no human rights have been desecrated on, leads to disaster. All that forcing assimilation or instilling a new class separation where the indigenous peoples are below the new comers will do is create tension, strife, and other horrific consequences unique to the time and place.

One of the many effects of colonialism is a lack of national identity, of which many people struggle to discern who they are and what their culture is. One particular example of this is the Philippines.

Ethnocentrism also causes some racism and in different treatment between races in the workplace.

HEATHCARE!!! Do We Have It? I Think Not!

Okay, I lied. We do have healthcare, it’s just not very efficient. That is why I was struck by the success of other healthcare systems compared to our own, according to Ezra Klein’s “The Health of Nations.” I know that our system lacks some significant things and I was aware that our healthcare system was rather pathetic; however I did not realize the degree to which it lagged behind the other systems in many other Industrial societies. The simple ideas which garner so much advancement in the healthcare astound me. I mean, how is it that so many other countries manage to have healthcare systems so much better than our own? What is it about our society and government that makes it so difficult for us to manage positive change?

I believe that our system has such a difficult time adjusting to the changes in healthcare due to the privatization of the insurance and whole medical system, including the doctors, medicine and procedures. It also seems that our nation is so stuck on ideas of free trade and fear of anything which might be remotely considered socialistic that run away from a reformed healthcare, all the while knowing that something needs to be changed.

           We have the most expensive healthcare system with over $2 trillion dollars spent a year, which is impressive in that we also have a large percentage of our population not ensured. We spend money on medicine which is not all that much more effective than the previously used and cheaper version. We look to help those who are sick, ignoring the preventative measures, and yet our insurance companies seek to only insure the healthy, not the sick. Our system is composed of oddities and conundrums which will one day cripple itself to the degree that it could no longer function.

On further investigation as to the state and possible solutions of our dwindling healthcare system, I came across an article which pointed out some added faults and possible solutions. The statistics in which he mentions is also startling and creates a sense of urgency in his arguments.

All in all, it seems that we cannot continue on like this and that we will need to resort to some sort of change—possibly even moving to a more socialistic one. Whatever or solution will be, let us strive for it to be a good one. There is one good thing about our coming into the realm of healthcare reform after our neighbors; we have the luxury of looking at the pros and cons of the many other systems

Klein, Ezra. 2007. “The Health of Nations” Pp. 17-21 in The American Prospect.

Vertical and Horizontal Mobility (Ascribed Vs. Achieved Statuses)

In a society such as ours, a society in which people have the opportunity to move up in social standing, there are opportunities for everyone to make their lives as they wish it to be. However, there is the problem of ascribed statuses, the status that you are born with. This status determines where you start out in life, what resources are available to you, both the economic and social resources.

This picture depicts the different “roads” down which you can choose to follow throughout your life due to social mobility—you can climb upwards in society (vertical mobility) and even change fields (horizontal mobility).

Now one can argue that due to our ability to climb the social ladder, our ascribed social status means nothing. You could argue that where you land in society is entirely dependent on our skills alone; however, what about the ideas of the starting line? When you consider all the advantages that the upper class, you can quickly see that their ascribed status will give them a head start on their journey up to their achieved status. They will begin their lives with more prestige, more economic capital, more cultural capital, more capital in general than those who were not born into a family as affluent as their own.

Now this socially “superior” individual, let’s call him Frederick, has the ability to either stay within his own social status, a place which is nothing to sneeze at of its own right, or he can climb even higher and become one of the elite members of society. While at the same time, someone in the middle class, let’s call her Susan, has to work that much harder simply to make it up to the upper class, the class whereFrederickwas born into. In order to reach the elite class, Susann will have to work even harder, and the chance of success is that much smaller, so her possible chances of vertical mobility are thusly constrained. And those in the lower classes, of which I would discuss in more length, but their plight alone could consume a whole paper, will also have to work that much harder to work their way up; they will first have to make it up to the middle class, then to the upper class and finally to the small elite group.

Those who are in the middle class have far more flexibility in their achieved statuses because they are placed in situations in which they have more access to the means to move upwards and are many times close enough that they can see the upper classes and therefore have a basis for their ambition. Their ambition combined with ingenuity and hard work can be combined to create those forces which push them up the social ladder.

The upper class seem to have some incentive to move up, as it would be so “easy” for them to do, yet if they can keep their ascribed status, that’s alright as well because, frankly, it’s still higher than what many others could ever hope to attain.

The lower class will either eek out an existence in their current social level, or move up to the middle class, possibly to an office job or something of the sort.

“Climbing the Social Ladder”

All in all, the different levels in which you are born into, in which you start out with help to determine where you will end up in life. It’s like a race. No matter how face you may be, or how much better you are at running, the guy in the front still has a lot shorter distance to run to get to the finish line than you do. And that difference may just be enough to ensure that you can’t finish the race, at least, not in the position you would have liked to have reached. As discriminatory and unfair it may seem, that’s the way it is, it might change some day in the future, although I highly doubt it, but as it is, you can struggle your way to the top, constantly under the foot of the guy who started his climb above you in the first place. Not a lovely view is it?

I thought the following two videos exampled this quite nicely. My Sociology Professor had asked us to watch them and I thought that they were quite excellent.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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