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Teen Suicide

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh1jNAZHKIw 

 

As a teacher, I find statistics like this heartbreaking.  Discovering who you are in your teenage years was difficult for many of us, aside from being mocked, ridiculed, teased or bullied.  How is it that children are being bullied to the point where they take their life?

I absolutely agree with Rick Mercer in his argument that kids need role models who are out publically.  There seems to be a diluted “acceptance” of homosexuals under the idea of “homosexuality doesn’t bother me, as long as I don’t have to see it”.  Is that really a form of acceptance?  How many people hide their sexual preference knowing that it is not acceptable in society? What is that telling others who are gay?  Every human being should have the basic right to be themselves whether at home, at the grocery store, or at school. 

Rick Mercer rightfully states that there should be an ‘old fashioned’ intervention by assembly.  Yes, there should be grief counseling, but what about prevention on a larger scale?  Every year, there are drug and alcohol prevention classes and meetings provided to students, but what about anti-bullying, racism, homophobia and sexism preventions?  I think these ideas slowly work their way into class projects and discussions, but not on the large scale that needs to be done. Yes, these ideas are in the curriculum, but do students really grasp the idea if they don’t see it past the school walls? What obligations does the community have to reinforce the values we are trying to teach in our classrooms?   

I have a no bullying policy in my classroom.  Making fun of someone’s sexual preference, race, or sex is absolutely not permitted.  How can we translate these values to a no bullying policy for ourselves and others?  Imagine if we did.

The following email is a dialogue/debate I had with a good friend of mine, who shall remain nameless.  My friend and I have known each other for a several years and like to get a rise out of each other, so playing the devil’s advocate and good natured jabbing is always a factor in our conversations.  As my friend well knows, I have some strong opinions on women’s rights.  I sent him an email of an article I wrote discussing jokes against women and the negative consequences that result from these jokes being told.  The following is a portion of that email.  Please keep in mind that the jokes are posted to argue a point, and do not reflect mine, or my friend’s opinion of women.  If you wish to post a comment, please be respectful. 

Friend: 

While I can see your point, I have to disagree. Jokes that ‘promote’ stereotypes are not to blame for any of society’s idea of women, race, religious beliefs, etc. They are humorous in nature because they point out the odd, antiquated notions held long ago, before society’s enlightenment regarding equity of human rights. Perpetuation of such jokes is actually progressive, as it is a reminder of the progress we have made as a society since none of the principles behind these jabs are held as common belief among normal society. In closing, consider the following and how they apply to this subject:

Those who do not understand the past are doomed to repeat it.
If you can’t laugh at yourself what can you laugh at?

Me:
I would first like to address the comment “stereotypes are not to blame for any of society’s idea of women”.  That was not the point that I was making, rather, jokes that are abusive and sexual in nature perpetuate the lower status that women often hold within society, particularly relationships with the opposite sex.  Second, while many of those jokes, as you astutely pointed out, are humorous in nature because of antiquated notions, many of them are still rooted in issues that are prevalent in today’s society.  Women are still the primary care giver to children and seniors of the family, thus tied to the home in ways men are not.  They still do the majority of the cooking, and cleaning; if you look towards cleaning advertisements on television, the target demographic is women demonstrated by the women in the commercials.  Many of women’s magazines are about fashion, the house and parenting, while men’s magazines are primarily geared towards fitness, strength and their career.  The jokes that I listed are highly sexualized towards women….. don’t even get me started there!!!!  There are gender roles within our society that have not been broken down by progression, rather, they are muffled and hidden by the narrow minded view of ‘look how far we have come’.  Yes, we have made some steps for equality, I cannot deny that.  However, there are still large steps that need to be taken.

 In closing, I would like to remind you that these jokes are obviously told from the perspective of a man.  The argument “If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at?” doesn’t hold true here.

In short, thanks for coming out to play.  I use that metaphor with purpose as you are a man and can only wrap your brain around simple sports analogies.

Cheers,

Your ever loving friend 🙂

Article:

Jokes Against Women
 
What does a woman and carpet have in common?
if you lay them right the first time you can walk all over them later

why are women’s feet so small?
So they can stand closer to the stove

How are women and a pile of dog crap alike?
The older they get, the easier they are to pick up!

Want to hear a joke?
Women’s rights

What do you do when the dish washer is broken?
Slap her on the ass and tell her to get to work.

Why did the woman cross the road?
It doesn’t matter, why was she out of the kitchen in the first place.

what do you tell a woman with two black eyes?
Nothin’, you done told her twice.

why cant women ski?
because there’s no snow between the bedroom and the kitchen.

What’s strong enough for a man, but made for a woman?
The back of my hand.

How can you tell if your wife is dead?
The sex is the same but the dishes pile up.

Why don’t women need a watch?
There’s a clock on the stove.

Did you know there are female hormones in beer?
If you drink too it makes you talk crap and drive horrible.

Why do they call it PMS?
Cause mad cow disease was already taken.
 
 

I wanted to show a list of ‘jokes’ that I have heard since I was young that are extremely offensive towards women.  Many of these jokes have themes of sex, violence, objectivity and gender roles of both men and women in them.  They are clearly from a male viewpoint, and indicative of how society has and in certain contexts, still views women.  Since I have heard these jokes since I was a child, it is then obvious that these jokes are passed from generation to generation as a way to mock and ridicule women, thus demoralizing and dehumanizing them.  These jokes tell the next generation of young boys and girls that not only is it okay to ridicule women for being less than equal, it is a woman’s natural position to be so.  These jokes tell us that women cannot drive, her role is in the kitchen, she nags and talks too much, and if she forgets her place, the back of the hand and a black eye is the solution.  Now I realise that this may be an extreme way to look at these jokes; not every joke heard will lead to an abusive husband or a young girl assuming her role is to cook and clean, but the way in which we talk about the women in our lives should reflect the respect we hold for them.  By making a conscious decision not to tell jokes such as these, we are making the decision to end the disrespectful, demoralizing and dehumanizing treatment of women that is still prevalent in our society.

Is this the future of touch screen technology?  While this innovative technology may make information more accessible and easier to share information with friends, I think that if I were able to read the news while brushing my teeth, I would be at the sink for a half hour everyday.  I would probably brush away all of my enamel and by gum-less at the end of one week.   Okay fine, a bit of an exaggeration.  Now you may argue that news that comes in media on the mirror could be simplified to, lets say point form or quotes and simple paragraphs, but would we then be getting all the information we need in order to get an accurate picture of the entire story?  How much information are we really taking in if we quickly scroll through the days news as we brush our teeth or comb our hair?

The concept of touch screen media is wonderful, and I love the way the two men at the end sit next to one another and swipe information back and forth between their two phones.  Also, the concept of a phone that extends and detracts to suit your technology needs is brilliant as well.  I just hope they make it strong and durable enough for clumsy people such as myself.

 

This video is a wonderful way to stretch our imagination of what falls under the illusive definition of art.  From the child creating castles in the sand at the beach, to the artist who narrates Russian history by sweeping her hand through a few grains, our notions of art are always challenged and reinvented.

This is a beautiful video to show 500 years of female portraits in Western art.  Enjoy 🙂

What is Feminism?

Written by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Rogers

Baumgardner and Rogers take the reader back to a simple definition of what feminism; simply put, feminism is seen as “each and every politically and socially conscious women or man who works for equality either within or outside of the movement.”  In many of my discussions with my friends on what feminism is, the common reaction is that feminism is a group of angry, male hating women.  Not so.  Feminism may encompass both men and women working for equal rights, and not all women strive for the same goals as one another.  Feminism is often derived from personal experience, therefore the pursuit of goals are often different. Women in feminism are often seen as an all encompassing term that includes women of all races, religions and classes and as “an organic intertwining of movements for racial and economic equality, as well as gay rights inherent in the feminist mandate.”  Throughout history, this has not been the case.  In the 1950s and 60s, a white middle class woman could not argue for the same freedoms and social equality as a black woman.  Perhaps one woman was in favour of birth control and another woman was not.  One woman may be arguing for equal pay in the work force, while another may be arguing for the right to be a lesbian and a mother.  Feminism should not be used as an umbrella term when describing the different issues that pertain to women.  As such, Baumgardner and Richards set up a simple definition of feminism as a movement of people working to accomplish the same goals, and accomplishing these goals through social and political change.  Feminism wants you to be who ever you are but with a political consciousness.  At the same time, you may be a feminist because you want to be exactly who you are.  You may rather centre your life around other things meaningful to your life.

I think it is important to distinguish the different levels that are contained within the definition of feminism.  Baumgardner and Rogers do an excellent job of setting up a more realistic definition of what a feminist is; one that any modern man or women may identify with.  Essentially, being a feminist entitles you to live the life you wish to live and center it on things that are meaningful to you.  If we begin to strip the negative connotations that are inherit to specific terms, then we may begin to see that these are common goals to everyone, and everyone has a role to play in feminism and the pursuit of equality.

Women’s Issues, Then and Now: A Feminist Overview of the Past 2 Centuries

By Elizabeth Horany

Through education, women have come to realize their self worth and break free from the social constraints that have held them back, such as not being able to vote and hold property.  Through education, women have gained a sense of worth and the ability to change history.  Higher education leads to the empowerment of women today.  In the past, receiving an education would be seen as breaking away from the role society expected of women; in fact it would create free thinking individuals, an act of nonconformity.  Education for women was thought to disrupt the social balance of the time, and women were educated only on the fact that they were the mothers and educators of men, a stepping stone to male knowledge and power.

A noteworthy historical event in regards to education for women was at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, where women’s rights was modelled after the Declaration of Independence, including suffrage, education and employment.  In 1920, women’s suffrage was achieved, giving women a strong foothold in society.

Some statistics in women’s education point to the fact that although there is almost equal men and women at Universities, there are still male dominated faculties such as engineering and architecture.  However, on average, the grade point average of women is higher, making it clear that it is not a discrepancy of grades that keeps women from pursuing these vocations.  It may be a factor that women seek out fields of study and professions that they feel most comfortable in, perhaps resulting from the social expectations of women.  The battle for women’s education will not be over until they feel comfortable to pursue any field of study.

Elizabeth Horany makes some interesting points on the fact that some areas of study at the University are male dominated because women do not feel comfortable pursuing a degree in these faculties, whether it be the attitudes of her colleagues or the gender role society has placed on her.  While this may be true in some cases, I did not find this true for myself.  I was enrolled in the Faculty of Architecture for a year at the University of Manitoba, but found that my passion and interests lay in education.  While education is seen as a “women’s job”, I have a fair number of male colleagues that work in the high school setting.  But I do think that there is a clearly defined gender bias towards early and senior streams of education.  Teaching younger children seems to be a role taken on primarily by women. Why this is, I do not know.  Young children need strong male role models and equal learning opportunities from both men and women.  What better place to start changing ancient definition of gender roles than at the elementary level?