Friday, January 29, 2016

Conclusion Blog Post

Through my Genius Hour process I learned the importance of diligence and time management. The process was interesting for me because I had never had that kind of freedom in a research project before. At first it seemed overwhelming, but once I took the time to think about what it is I am interested/care about personally, it was fairly easy to begin the work. Through this project I've developed a better work ethic and time management skills. Having such a long period of time to complete a project gives you room to neglect the work. Honestly I found myself in this situation a few time, thinking I could do research next time, next time, next time. Once I fine-tuned my topic and picked subject matter that I was genuinely invested in, it was easy to do the research and complete the final product. This, I realized, is the whole point of genius hour. I learned that I work better out of the classroom and that once I get started it doesn't feel like a chore. Being able to do proper research on a subject that I got to pick myself helped me to figure out what research process works best for me. I feel confident that I can apply this personalized process to future research and see positive results.

My topic was that of sexual assault and harassment. I chose to research this issue because it has directly affected people close to me, and being knowledgable on the subject is important to me. I feel like having the knowledge I've collected since the beginning on this project, especially that that I have gained from my one-on-one conversation with my "expert", gives me a stronger base to make progress on this issue.

The class in general has been interesting for me. I could have been better about speaking up in class and taking part in conversation, but I genuinely enjoyed and absorbed the conversations the we had. I also like that it was very hands-on and very much based on real-life. The SNAP challenge was my favorite activity because it taught us how to prioritize and because it had very real limits. This made me appreciate my own living situation more as well as respect those who live off of minimum wage and take care of their family. Since learning about and exploring the sociological imagination, I have become significantly more aware of factors that play in to almost every social event, patter, etc. that I see. I feel that I am in more of a neutral stance in general because I now have to ability to critically assess from either side of the spectrum. Overall, I really enjoyed that class and I think it may be something that I'm interested in studying later on in my schooling career.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Unit 3

1.     People have been racially grouped, isolated and discriminated against since the beginning of time. Race is defined as “a grouping of people who share common biological features that society deems to be important (Textbook Page 320).” To have included in a textbook definition of race that it is determined by what we find to be important speaks loudly of the society we’ve developed and the values it holds. People judge others on a scale of skin tone and facial features because, as seen throughout history, this is what seems to be the deciding factor concerning a person’s intelligence and ability, as well as their value. A commonly made mistake is interchanging the words race and ethnicity. The two have a relation, but are not the same thing. While race has to do with biology, a person’s ethnicity is their “shared cultural heritage (Textbook Page 322).” Ethnicity is inclusive of a culture’s customs and values, while race is a physical, biological set of traits that one can see.

During no span of time has there been an equality and respect amongst all races. One racial group is and always has been ranked at a higher level, resulting in tension and historically and currently, violence and upset. This is a result of the social definition of “race”. Defining races only created caged sections and divide between people and communities. This is the cause of what are commonly referred to as minorities. These groups experience severe discrimination in all aspects of life: workplace, school, walking outside, by the police force, etc. It is still true today that those people immune to these types of discrimination are white people, specifically white males. In the movie “Crash” we see explicit scenarios in which each racial minority faces the actions of others resulting from stereotyping. The minority groups showcased in the film include blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and Middle Easterners. A common theme throughout the movie was that each minority group was either struggling to make honest money, or they were involved in illegal activity to make money, while the white family in the movie consisted of a government representative and a stay-at-home wife with money to spare. Another point to take into consideration is that the minority groups are seen working for the white characters. Sandra Bullock was depicted as the stereotypical white woman, whose biggest concerns include whether or not her lawn has been mowed or if her Hispanic cleaning lady has put the dished away before she wakes up. Bullock’s character is also guilty of stereotyping virtually every single person of a minority race. For example, when she shied away from the two African American men walking towards her and her husband on the street before they demonstrating any threatening behavior, or when she was convinced that the Hispanic handyman had stolen and sold her house keys. These stereotypes are defined as common assumptions about certain racial and ethnic groups that are false and taken as an offense. Another example of the widely socially practiced racism is in the video shown in class about how employers react to white sounding names versus black sounding names. This is due up peoples’ implicit bias. They unknowingly favor white people over black people, even only based on their name. As a result, the employers were much less likely to accept an identical resume headed with a black sounding name than a white one. It is sad realities like these that stimulate and fuel racial tension and discrimination and because of the patterns seen and supported throughout history, the white population remains the racial group with the most power.

2.     This unit has broadened my sociological imagination. I knew the corruption surrounding the American justice system, but never all of the factors that played into it. My knowledge of this system however, has been based off of what I’ve seen on TV and on social media. As a result I haven’t been realistically informed, similar to what Michelle Alexander described in The Lockdown: “Television is overloaded with fictional dramas about police, crime, and prosecutors-shows such as Law & Order. A charismatic police officer, investigator, or prosecutor—shows such as Law & Order. A charismatic police officer, investigator, or prosecutor struggles with his own demons while heroically trying to solve a horrible crime." This made me realize how ignorant I had been towards the realities of the justice system. From what I’ve seen on TV, police officers are genuine and good and therefor glorified, when in actuality there are far too many officers who abuse their power and get away with it. TV shows also often romanticize sexual assault and murder cases, while blatantly ignoring drug crimes. The “war on drugs” in America is present and relevant and deserves to be a topic of discussion. People should be educated on the situation rather than shielded from it. Tens of millions od people in America have been put behind bars on drug charges since this “war” started. Most of these people are categorized as minority racial groups, only fueling the misconception and negative connotations. The government is using its power much to frivolously and as a result minority groups are suffering. Once these individuals are released form jail, their resume is basically useless with a charge that serious. This only sets them up for failure financially and socially, thus giving misconstrued confirmation of people’s misconceptions. The way the system is set up as of now, it won’t ever change. After this unit I feel much more up to date and better able to analyze and understand current events as they are portrayed in the media. I know that what I see on TV is not nearly one hundred percent accurate. I have also become aware of my own implicit biases and have realized how false they are. Now I have the means and tools to form my own understanding and opinions on issues in the justice system that directly affect my generation.

3.     To begin to fix this issue we must to begin to act as a unit. Americans need to pursue in a genuinely united front against discrimination and unjust treatment of minority groups. These actions people take against one another are powering what seems like a never-ending cycle of mass incarceration due to factors like implicit bias, outright racism, and much too widely accepted stereotypes. By putting belief in such systems, people are only worsening the issues facing America concerning racial equality, or lack thereof. I think that building form the bottom is the way to begin solving this issue. Honestly, spending time trying to convert grown men and women to value equality amongst races if they don’t already is wasting energy on the wrong people. Although a slow process, we need to start changing these values by teaching young children not to adopt the discriminatory traits that they may see in their families or even in people around them. Showcasing that each racial group is more than and different from their given stereotypes is the first step. Children should be around other children of all racial and ethnic groups starting the moment they are integrated with other children. This eliminates the uncertainty about one another and builds relationships based on real values rather than physical appearances. I think that this is the way to develop new values that younger generations will practice, and carry out and eventually pass down to their children and theirs and theirs. Again, although a slow process, I think that this is the way to recovery.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

Genius Hour #7

I thought about changing my topic, so I spent the period looking over different options. I was thinking about maybe doing something with children, but I haven't decided whether or not I want to change topics.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Unit 2

1.These problems cannot be solved. They can be dulled, in some areas more than others, but they won't ever be eliminated. It's taken centuries for women to gain as much freedom and equality as we have, and we're still not on the same playing field as men. There is an unavoidable and inherent separation between us. The reason that these issues will not go away is because no matter how much progress we make there are still those pockets of people who are not for the cause and who will teach their children who will teach theirs to view the situation in the same light. Our society is dominated by white males with money. The disconnect starts when we are young, in aries so harmless as toy displays. Recently Target attempted to take a step in the direction of gender neutralization by removing the labels "boys toys" and "girls toys". Realisticly, this wasn't going to change which toys kids are going to gravitate towards, because they've all already become accustomed to like. People surround their children and their friend's children with gender specific toys blindly from the time they are born. Target stores received backlash form the operation and returned to the old displays. The failure this attempt generated is proof that the issue isn't one easily fixed, and that it's not one that everyone wants to be fixed. Major corporations like this have an unsaid responsibility to take advantage of their impact on all people, not just children.

Women are taken extreme advantage of in media and the workplace, not to mention at home. Women in politics are especially frowned upon. They are openly regarded as less able than and inferior to their male peers. Females are scrutinized for being "emotional" and deemed unqualified to hold positions of power. In the Miss Representation video it showed examples of women being ridiculed on live television. The value of female input is much lesser and for different reasons than that of men. Women's value is determined by their appearance. We saw how male politicians and news reporters were commenting on the womens' clothing choices far more than they were acknowledging what they were saying, most of which was disregarded as irrelevant. This sociological barrier, this glass ceiling, is a major separation between men and women. It separates them in terms of income, qualification, and credibility. These misconceptions about women as being feeble and unable are the reasons behind sexist acts of violence. Men feel unthreatened when demonstrating their "dominance" over women, making the misfortune often and severe.

A fair amount of men take "no" for "convince me" when it comes to sex. Because of the way women are objectified and accessorized in mass media, they feel that with our without persuasion women wil comply to whatever requests they might have. Robin Thick's Blurred Lines for example, has been called a "rape anthem". This is because the words suggest to women that they should be "good girls" and go against their initial response "no", because that's what girls do. He's supporting men who pressure women into sex, and encouraging women to agree.

Gender stratification is an issue too deeply rooted to be eliminated. It's current form may change over time, but the overarching values are cemented into our culture, very much so because of the way images of females are presented to males starting at a young age. This issue will evolve, but it will always be present.

The first step in understanding how gender is socially constructed is understanding the difference between sex and gender. The two are often merged and used as synonyms, but have separate meanings. A person's sex is determined by their physical features at birth. Gender, is which category you identify with. In "Doing Gender", Zimmerman and West clarified that "Sex... was what was ascribed by biology... Gender, we said, was an achieved status: that which is constructed through psychological, cultural, and social means." This distinction is important. This confusion is the cause of endless conflict over the matter. The reason this stigma still exists is because we (people) have been socialized to view both genders as individual different groups of people. Men have been at the top of the social latter in our society since it started hundred of years ago, and that's just in America. Removing ourselves from the common point of view and stepping into that of a sociologist, sing our sociological imagination, we can make the connection between the two groups.

2.Learning this has affected my sociological imagination because before I hadn't even thought about there being a difference between sex and gender. Now that I know, I feel ignorant, and it's made me think about how i could have accidentally offended someone and not even realized. I take homophobic jokes less lightly and now that I'm educated on the subject, I feel some responsibility to to educate others. As a white person I have many advantages, but also as a women many disadvantages. I need to use the advantages that I do have to bring awareness to the gender stratification issue.

3. I don't think that the gender stratification issue is one that can be fixed, but I do think that is can be dulled. I think that with people in the industry advocating for gender equality, change is much more attainable. Many of the issues can be solved, but the biggest hurdle is mindset. There are groups of people who have no interest to support the movement, and groups of people who are against it all together and who will pass down their views to their kids and so on. The glass ceiling barring women and people of color from the high paying jobs given to white men needs to be destroyed. People of all genders and races deserve to be judged on their intelligence, free from physical appearance. A huge step in this is promoting the idea through mass media. It is the quickest way to reach millions of people, many of which are young impressionable people. The limiting factor in achieving gender equality is the mass of people against the movement, but that doesn't mean that there aren't enough activists to ensue significant change.

Genius Hour 6

I am making progress on my genius hour project, and am really happy with where I am at. I spent most of last class period's work session researching and brainstorming solutions to my issue. Next time we work on this project I am going to spend most of my time looking for good sources like books, or credible articles.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Genius Hour 5

This class period I continued to skim through the book Mr. Vinluan gave me and take notes. I also tried finding interviews with women and with men about how each of them feel they are affected by the topic.