Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

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Delinquent Girls

The reading “Delinquent Girls” by Andrea Doyle Hugmeyer is the topic for my entry today. I cannot decide if the policies and reasons within this reading are good or bad. The fact that girls are more likely to be arrested for status offenses could be looked at either way. The positive side for this would be seen mostly in places like Atlanta. In places like this, runaway girls are picked up by sex traffickers within minutes of leaving their houses. In this case, it would be better for these girls to be arrested quickly, rather than picked up by sex trafficking ring leaders. The bad part of girls being arrested more frequently for status offenses would be in places like we live where sex trafficking is not a problem. The problem with these arrests would be the young girls’ psyche. According to Zimbardo’s study on the power of situation, situations that people are in can shape who they are or who they think they are. In his study, he made a mock prison at Stanford University. He used young college age male volunteers. He then had them flip a coin to decide who would be prisoners and who would be guards. He had to stop the study early because the distress of these boys. The guards began to act sadistically toward the prisoners, and the prisoners began to gain new identities of themselves as a bad person who has done bad things. During this study, the prisoners’ developed new identities. I think if this could happen in a study, it could also happen to these young girls. The difference is, however, that the mock prisoners were debriefed and regained their original identities, but the young girls will not have that advantage. If they form these new negative identities, they will probably keep them forever.


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Myths About Violence

I sometimes find myself thinking about and believing in a couple of the social myths involving rape that were mentioned in chapter 10.  The main one that I catch myself thinking is “well, she probably did something to deserve it like dressing slutty or leading him on.”  I know this is not true, but I instantly think it anyways.  I have to stop and make myself realize that this is not usually the case.  I have to put myself in a situation like that and say, “By dressing this way, am I really ‘asking for it’?”

I think that these myths could be a direct result from people’s laziness to actually think about things.  In social psychology, we have been talking about how humans like to conserve their mental energy, so most of the time we use our unconscious automatic thinking processes.  Our automatic thinking process is made up of many heuristics, or mental shortcuts, about everything in our world.  A lot of the time, the beliefs associated with our heuristics are false ideas that we have come to believe are facts, either because we have heard them so many times or they just seem to be true.  I think that these myths surrounding rape victims have become popular heuristics about rape victims’ situations, when in reality, we have no idea about the victims’ situations.  If we would just step back and think for a minute (using our conscious controlled thinking), we would realize that these are just myths and they do not pertain to the majority of rape victims.  The perpetuation of these myths, I believe, is caused by our natural psychological processes mixed with the common beliefs of our culture.  If we all realize this, however, we can overcome these myths.

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Sex Work

Is sex work wrong? This is a question that troubles many feminists and makes them, in a sense, turn on each other-like taking different political sides. In this blog post, I am going to tell you my view on sex work.  Even though sex work might be regarded as morally wrong, it gets food on some families’ tables.  Some women do this work by choice, but others do it to provide for their families. I would rather a woman be performing sex work and making money so that her children have something to eat, rather than a woman not being able to prostitute, therefore her children go hungry. An example of the misfortune cast upon women because of the illegalization of sex work can be found by looking at conditions in Cambodia.  “[T]he U.S. government has pressured some countries to criminalize all prostitution, a proposal that has resulted in disastrous conditions for women in Cambodia with evictions, detentions and reported police abuse” (p 447). Along with the money, there are also danger that come along with sex work.  However, if we decriminalize this type of work and begin to bring about social justice for these workers, “we can begin to advocate for rights in [their] workplace, to fight discrimination, to protect [them] and find recourse when violence is committed against [them]” (p 448).  If we do all of these things to make sex work more safe, it is still morally wrong, but it will make an easier, safer way for some women to make ends meet.

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Reproductive Rights

The reading that I will be discussing is “My Fight for Birth Control” by Margaret Sanger.  This story absolutely broke my heart. Just try to imagine thinking that your only option is to physically, with the instrument in your hands, kill your own unborn child.  This is just mind-blowing.  This woman’s life and cause of death should show everyone the importance of women having reproductive rights and being provided with the knowledge and explanations about sex and methods of birth control that come along with this right.  If someone would have informed Mrs. Sacks about contraceptives, or offered her another way out of her situation, she may not have had to make that awful decision, and ultimately she may have lived a longer life. Margaret, the narrator, could have informed Mrs. Sacks about contraceptives, but society prevented her from doing so. Margaret was too afraid of being ridiculed or made fun of, but is avoiding being socially embarrassed worth losing a precious mother over?  How often do you think, even today, that society gets the best of us?

To some people, society says “women do not deserve any reproductive rights.”  I believe that this is completely untrue. I feel that women deserve reproductive rights and freedoms.  Along with reproductive rights comes knowledge about abstinence and birth control. There is the health department and many other clinics that offer free birth control supplements and contraceptives, which I feel are ways of giving all women their reproductive rights and the knowledge they deserve.

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Power transfer?

The topic I want to focus on in this blog post can be found in chapter four under the heading “The politics of sexuality.” It talks about how heterosexual relationships are organized the same as patriarchal societies and how “the power men have in society gets carried into relationships and can encourage women’s subservience, sexually and emotionally.” I think that because men have power in society, they may be more apt to feel the need for power in a relationship. Men, however, do not always have the power in relationships. Sometimes, women can control men to get what they want. For example, if a man wants sex from his wife, she might make him do something before he gets what he wants. This seems to me like the woman has the power. Sometimes the man depends on his woman for food, clean clothes, and a clean, orderly household. This, to me, seems like the woman is in charge. She has the power to either make him feel like a king, or make his life a living hell. These are a few reasons why I think that men’s societal power does not necessarily carry over into relationships.

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What to wear?

The issue of women being stereotyped or judged by the way they dress has been a strong topic for me here lately.  How should I dress to show my true personality? Will someone take the way I dress the wrong way and draw incorrect conclusions about me from it?  A section in “Oppression” by Marilyn Frye really caught my attention and made me reconsider this topic.  She stated that “if one dresses one way, one is subject to the assumption that one is advertising one’s sexual availability; if one dresses another way, one appears to ‘not care about oneself’ or to be ‘unfeminine.’” Although this is sometimes true, there is more to think about behind the way a woman dresses.  Does she dress that particular way because she feels good about herself or does she dress like that to get men’s approval?  If that woman is dressing a certain way to get men’s approval or attention, is she unknowingly being a victim of our male dominated society?  Is she risking her own safety to make herself appealing to the eyes of men?  My friends and I, guys and girls alike, have had this conversation recently, and we all had different views on this subject.  One guy said, “If she wants to dress like a slut, let her.  I won’t argue against it. I like to look.”  This makes me feel like if I wear racy clothes, that I will be degraded as a human being, and that I will become a victim of our male dominated society.  Even the smallest decision, like what you wear, can make you a victim of this male dominated society, and you don’t even necessarily know it.