• Cottom’s “The Logic of Stupid Poor People”

    Posted on March 30th, 2014 msmith88 No comments

    Cottom’s article, “The Logic of Stupid Poor People,” starts with a tweet by Errol Louis that says:


    Errol’s tweet suggests that he does not understand why poor people feel the need to buy objects of “status” such as accessories, clothing, and cars. Why aren’t these people spending money on more important things in order to break out of their class? What many in this situation do not understand is that less fortunate people buy these expensive items to do just that—to break out of their class stereotype.

    Not only are people in lower classes judged on the brands they do or don’t have, but they are also judged on their inability to receive respect. For example, Cottom tells her readers that “we could, as my grandfather would say, talk like white folks. We loaned that privilege out to folks a lot.” This is important to note because her family was able to effectively communicate with various classes and received respect for it. Cottom recalls a time where her mother helped a neighbor at the social service agency who was denied benefits for her granddaughter she was raising. She goes on to say that it took half a day but something about my mother’s performance of respectable black person — her Queen’s English, her Mahogany outfit, her straight bob and pearl earrings — got done what the elderly lady next door had not been able to get done in over a year.” Both communication and appearance are key: they act as powerful symbols of status that have the potential to break a person out of a “lower class.”

     Also, Cottom brings up the topic of job interviews. An interviewer is able to form an opinion on an interviewee solely on their outward appearance. This doesn’t seem fair considering people—poor or rich—are expected to splurge on an expensive interview outfit. In a way, it’s almost frowned upon to purchase an outfit at a discount store; brand names have the connotation of power, money, and status. Moreover, in some cases, people get hired because they bought an expensive outfit. A blog comment from Kristen Duvall says, “I’m not educated and managed to land a great job few years ago. I wore a Calvin Klein suit, had a French manicure (my first and only one) and I landed the job. Because of how I’ve been treated prior to dressing that way, I know the name brand helped me. I’ve had bosses tell me to dress for the job I want even if I can’t afford it. So much of this is true and until someone has been there, they won’t understand how hard it is to go from rags to riches. I’ve shmoozed and ended up getting a lot things I wouldn’t have gotten if I weren’t a pretty white girl wearing a nice outfit. I can tell countless stories of this being the case. I had to pretend I wasn’t poor to get these opportunities and to do that, I had to dress the part.”

    It was really interesting to see what comments people added to Cottom’s post. Especially because a majority of the people attest to the fact that their brand name attire sealed the deal in an interview.


  • Dr. V’s Magical Putter

    Posted on March 23rd, 2014 msmith88 No comments

    The articles that were assigned for this week are powerful pieces to read. For me, Caleb Hannan’s Dr. V’s Magical Putter was a very interesting read, but I definitely did not expect Hannan’s findings, which closely correlated with Dr. V’s suicide. Once the story was published, many twitter users had a lot to say as well. At first Hannan’s story was praised by the public, but trans activists and writers coined this piece as “transphobic.” To be honest, I didn’t see that at first—Hannan was a journalist and it was his job to find a story—but my mind was completely changed after reading about Kye Allums, the first openly transgender Division I athlete. Kye’s personal story and past was put on full blast in the media after asking ESPN to respect any personal privacy. This obviously was emotionally detrimental to Allums, which made me think about transgender ignorance that is still present in society and especially in the media. I honestly can’t believe how ignorant I was at first about it. Once Dr. V and Allums were “exposed,” they felt as if they would not be accepted by others. This made me realize that Hannan was overacting on his role as a journalist. He was digging for things about others that were none of his business. Hannan could have easily written about the amazing scientific thoughts and ideas that were put into the Yar putter. Instead, he meddled in somebody’s past that never should have been exposed due to the subject’s (Dr. V’s) emotional distress.

    These articles made me think about writing in general, going back to the fact that it’s important to do your research and write in a non-offensive manner.

  • Butler’s Excerpt from Gender Trouble

    Posted on March 16th, 2014 msmith88 No comments

    Butler’s excerpt from her article “Gender Trouble” was a pretty difficult read for me. I’m not sure that I fully understood some of the points that Butler made. Through the reading, it was easy to tell that Butler has a formal writing style, mainly because she is addressing an academic audience. With that being said, it left me a little confused with Butler’s argument. However, I had an easier time understanding Butler’s main points through Judith Butler Explained with Cats. For me, it was still a bit wordy and technical, but I feel that it was easier for me to focus in on the key points of “gender performativity,” especially because since it put into a humorous dialogue form.

    Butler explains how gender is a doing and not a being and there is no doer behind the deed. With that, she says that gender is “performative,” meaning no identity exists behind the acts that supposedly express gender. If gender is identified as “the cultural meanings that the sexed body assumes, then a gender cannot be said to follow from a sex in any one way.” Also, she explains that sex is different than gender, in that it acts as a label to identify women and men. Butler makes the argument that gender and sex shouldn’t be associated with one another, and I honestly haven’t made up my mind whether I agree with that or not.

    I found it interesting when Butler mentions that “gender is a result of repeated ‘styles of the flesh’ that ‘congeal over time.’ This process makes us think that there is a natural inner truth—“the construction ‘compels’ our belief in its necessity and naturalness.” This really puts into perspective how society has a major impact on an individual’s behaviors as a male or female. In society, men are expected to act a certain way and women are expected to do so as well. I really liked that Butler uses the word compelled here because it is almost as if society’s construction of gender is considered as norm for most males and females.

  • Stereotypes in the Workplace

    Posted on March 2nd, 2014 msmith88 No comments

    In Rethinking Women’s Biology, Hubbard talks about how women’s biology is a “social construct and political concept.” This statement is broken down into three points:

    ·      The idea that “one isn’t born a woman, one becomes a woman”

    ·      The fact that men in the medical/scientific field have described women in ways that make it appear “natural” for them to fulfill roles that are important for their well-being. (Women being characterized as weak, over emotional, pushy, etc.).

    ·      The concept of ourselves as women is socially constructed because of society’s interpretation of what is and is not normal and/or natural affects what we do.

    Overall, the article touches on a lot of great points that stereotype women to be the “weaker” sex; however, I would like to focus on the working world aspect of Hubbard’s article. For one, a lot of women are automatically disqualified from well-paid, heavy labor jobs because they are seen as less physically fit than men. This is quite controversial in society, especially considering that plenty of “women prominent” jobs require some type of strenuous labor. Hubbard uses nurses as an example of this; they may have to lift up patients or immobilized people, which is not a simple task. Also, even housework requires some heavy lifting and carrying. Although there are cases where women are capable of larger physical demands in the workplace, they are still disregarded for these jobs today.

    Not only are women seen to be physically weaker than men, but people also get the notion that women allow their emotions to control themselves. For example, if a woman CEO is trying to push her company for success, she may be seen as bossy, annoying, or a bitch. If a male CEO were to do the same, people are more inclined to think that the male is ambitious, confident, and motivated. Most of the time, social stereotypes hinder women from higher positions.

    To go along with this, I found a profound commercial titled “Labels Against Women” that was created by Pantene. This commercial illustrates gender biases in the workplace. As I said before, a woman who takes charge in the workplace may be seen as a bitch, while a man doing the same thing would be respected because he’s doing his job:


    The background song in the commercial is a cover on the song “Mad World” by Gary Jules. The song sets the tone and illustrates how “mad” or senseless society can be. However, at the end, the video presents a “ShineStrong” hashtag, which encourages women to defy these working stereotypes in today’s society. Pantene’s commercial definitely sheds light on some of the issues that Hubbard brings up in the “Working” section of Rethinking Women’s Biology.