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The Nature of Being

rethinking the facts of life

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Introduction to the subjects

(1) Gilmore Girls and the Postfeminism Context

Gilmore Girls has been produced and consumed within a context of so-called ‘third wave feminism’. First wave feminism is said to have begun in the mid-1800s, during which time a Seneca Falls convention as one of the first of its kind was held, to focus on women’s legal rights to own property, sue, form contracts, and vote. Increased women’s activism work followed, expanding to public sphere demands for education and access to middle-class jobs. The consequential fight for the women’s vote concluded in the 1920s. First wave feminism made significant gains for women, including growth of education opportunities, entry into previously all-male professions, some legalisation of equal pay, and some availability to contraception and abortion. Feminism is then said to have re-emerged in the 1960s in its ‘second wave’, in the context of rising identity politics and ‘new social movements’.  The first wave gains acted as conditions to aid the continuation of feminism, and its second wave is characterised by continuation of these rights. Further, realization grew about women’s ‘personal’, ‘private’ matters as politically-determined, and components of a larger system of patriarchal practices. Finally, feminism developed to a third wave around the 1980s. The Western movement became increasingly intersectional; recognition rising about oppression of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and class as interlocking. Importantly for Gilmore Girls is the development of feminism within the distinct context of technological development, popular culture and post-modernism. And critically, Western women within this third wave distinctly know more entitlements to equality and self-determination, which previous generations of feminists fought for.

This last development has led to the rise of postfeminist ideology, which theorises first and second wave gains eliminated the need to continue the political movement. This is also related to representation in media and popular culture; which are to postfeminism spheres of empowerment and success for women. Gilmore Girls intersects with these postfeminist theories in a number of ways. Firstly, the emphasis on female relationships and independent, strong female lead roles can suggest women’s empowerment. The leads Lorelai and Rory Gilmore are intensely close and dependent on each other, which remains as the men in their lives come and go. They are portrayed as a non-nuclear family, as Lorelai raised Rory alone. She also creates her own successful, entrepreneurial career at the same time, by managing and eventually owning her own Inn. Further, a significant amount of the town’s small businesses are owned by women. Such aspects of the show exhibit empowerment of women based on success of the liberal feminist issues labour and childcare. They are presented as a postfeminist norm, absent from the reality of gendered struggles for such accomplishments. The women of Gilmore Girls exist in a fictional, small suburban town; seemingly a utopia, within which the female characters face no oppression based on their sex.

The remaining blogs will deconstruct this context of Gilmore Girls’ postfeminist utopia, through examining its intersection with heteronormativity, race and ethnicity, and class. With these intersections, Gilmore Girls serves as a critical illustration of feminism within a context of popular media and culture; and of both contemporary political gains and challenges.

References:

Dicker, R. & Piepmeier, A. (2003). Catching a Wave: reclaiming feminism for the 21st century. Boston, USA: Northeastern University Press

Kemp, S. and Squires, J. (1997). Feminisms. New York, USA: Oxford University Press

McRobbie, A. (2013, June 3). Angela McRobbie on the Illusion of Equality for Women. Retrieved from http://www.socialsciencespace.com/

Nicholson, L. (2010). Feminism in “Waves”: Useful Metaphor or Not? New Politics, 12(40)

Stern, D. M. (2012). It Takes a Classless, Heteronormative Utopian Village: Gilmore Girls and the Problem of Postfeminism. The Communication Review, 15(3)

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Man’s Interactions with Technology

Hello, my name is Aaron Vorse, and I am a second year college student currently doing an exchange year abroad in Germany. I am an engineering major with a planned German minor. I have to say that I never thought I would end up in this sociology class, however I am very glad I did. The readings and discussions have given me insight into topics that I never would have touched in my major classes.

Although a bit ambiguous at times, I found Donna Haraway’s texts very interesting. Much of her writing centralizes around the idea of gender. She also focuses on man’s interaction with animals, and how shifting gender roles over time have shaped the modern, scientific world. I particularly enjoyed when she would elaborate on human nature and the manner in which people and society think and interact.

Haraway briefly touched on the idea of “machines”. Although her use was more through metaphorical means, I would like to pick up where she left off. With my next few blog posts I would like to investigate man’s relationship with technology. I will explore how society explains its interactions with machines, as well as how we define the difference between man and machine.

 

“Culture remakes the animal; this is the universal foundation of human unity and the structure of the persistent western dualism of nature and culture, resolved through a self-making productionist dialectic. Man is his own product; that is the meaning of a human way of life.”

– Donna Haraway

Introduction Post

To start with the question, if there would be fewer society boxes, what could we be?

Hello everyone, my name is Selina and I am 24 years old. I’m now studying Sociology in my first Master Semester. I live in Tübingen, that’s a beautiful little city in Germany with a huge university. I am interested in gender studies, because they question and explain our whole world. There are so many things in this world, of which we once believed they were all true – because we never questioned the “facts” we were told. But when we think about some of these facts and take a closer look on them, the world isn’t so simple to “explain” anymore.People have to put everything in boxes, so that the world is easy to handle. But what about the people who do not fit in this boxes or do not want to?
My preferred sentence of Donna Haraway is: “Part of the reconstruction of gender is the remapping of biological sex. Biology is an historical discourse, not the body itself.” [1] And that’s really interesting, because as soon as somebody explains something with biology or natural science in general, people believe it. But is the world really that simple?
In my blogposts I want to look at those boxes, which society makes up and what they do with people who doesn’t fit in. I want to write about arguments of groups which state that their way is the only right way. It’s also about the possibilities to open boxes or mix them up? Although I want to look at the standards, which are often used, the white heterosexual man and how the differences to this “standard” in the world are shown.

thinking-outside-the-box
[2]
The world defines us and we define the world. It’s a journey, so let’s look where we end.

 

[1] Haraway, Donna (1990): “Primate Visions. Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science”, Routledge.
[2] Graphic  https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/3/005/05a/344/1070a4c.jpg, 26.01.16

Societies Manipulation of Thought

My name is Maranatha Croomes. I am a Third year Student, originally from Southern California, on my second year on exchange in Tuebingen. I am 20 years young going on 21 in about 2 or so months. I have explored many different horizons on my years abroad and so I am not surprised I ended up in this sociology class that has opened my eyes and broadened said horizons even further.

I feel as if society has manipulated the general mind set of what is accepted and what isn’t and it is only within the last few decades its been deemed, only by us ourselves of course, to fight back against it, go against the grain so to speak. But it make me wonder as to what have we gone against and what is imbedded into our mindset so much we fail to realize it is even a problem. Using a variant of example this is what I aim to pinpoint.

One of my favorite quotes from the texts was in Chapter 15 which is :

” a woman as a natural mother- a being consumed and fulfilled by dedication to another; a being whose meaning is the species, not the self; a being less than and more than human, but never paradigmatically man-“.

In this quote I feel as if there is so many things said and it incorporates what old time Female culture was. For example what they believed they had to be doing as their duty as a woman, like taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, and things like that and how they never had a right to themselves but always to dedicate themselves to another for their purpose to be fulfilled in life. Using this as starting point ,to open up the mind to what we are dealing with, quotes from readings like this ,as well as what I have perceived in my time as a student, I will make connections in what our societies and cultures aim to force down our throats and see where it began what it started to become and is currently changing to be.

Who am I?

My name is Monique Shifflet and I am 21 years old. I was born and raise in Southern California in the US. I am studying for a year in Germany and normally I study math, but a sociology class never hurt, right?

Upon signing up for this course, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get myself into. It was hard for me to get into some of the readings, but I was particularly interested in a certain one. I took an Anthropology class while I was studying in California and had learned about Jane Goodall. When she appeared in our readings, I was overjoyed to read about her again. I find her perseverance fascinating and admirable. She started from the bottom as a woman scientist and worked to the point where her name is known worldwide. Therefore, my favorite quote from Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions is:

But “Jane” is even more determined. Goodall is called by the familiar first name constantly, marking her status as girl, even while she is engaged on a quest that will change the definition of man.

To me, this quote says a great deal about Goodall, Haraway as a writer, and science in general. I will be basing my next 4 blog posts off of this quote and off of Goodall herself. I will be researching and writing about how women, especially Goodall, have truly impacted the fields of anthropology, sociology, and science as a whole. Women should be recognized for their achievements, even if it is on a blog post written by an exchange student.

Introduction post

„Gender is kind, syntax, relation, genre; gender is not the transubstantiation of biological sexual difference. The argument in Primate Visions works by telling and retelling stories in the attempt to shift the webs of intertextuality and to facilitate perhaps new possibilities of the meaning of difference, reproduction and survival for specifically located members of the primate order –on both sides of the bio-politics and cultural divide between human and animal“.

Donna Haraway (1990): Primate Visions. Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. Routledge, p. 337.

 

In Donna Haraway  gender is a pretext in order to investigate the way in which men build their own knowledge and, by reading her work, we can get the feeling of this web of intertextuality: gender categories, which are social categories, influence our way of life and knowing in different fields. But at the same time it’s also clear that there is a performative relationship between us and reality.

If it’s true that the way in which we know things is conditioned from historic and social dynamics, it is also true that the way in which we know ourselves can transform our own reality and life. Basically, if we are not honest with ourselves, we’ll never know who we are. But there are fields in which it’s as much difficult as important to be sincere and I think sexuality is one of these. My purpose is to investigate some reasons why is it like that.

So, what I would like to do with my 6 posts is to speak about sexuality and the hard relationship between the discovery of our sexuality and social prejudices. Often I will discuss these problems by telling and analysing the plots of some good movies that I’ve seen about that. Sometimes my observations will be presented like in a sort of film-column. What I find particularly interesting, relative to my subject, is the bond between sexuality and feminism, between sexuality and religion, and, in general, between conservative mentality and individuals freedom problems. I hope to can capture your imagination too!

Oh, I’ve forgot… My name is Dorotea, I come from Sardinia (Italy) and I study philosophy.

A nice day everyone!

Dorotea

images

 

Introduction to my topic: “Media representation of women and men – obsolete perceptions in the 21st century?“

Hi, I´m Marcel and my favorite quote from Donna Haraway´s Primate Visions is:

“Primates existing at the boundaries of so many hopes and interests are wonderful subjects with whom to explore the permeability of walls, the reconstitution of boundaries, the distaste for endless socially enforced dualisms (3).

I think this quote nicely describes human´s inconsistency and points to the fact that humans are not the exclusive rulers over the world. Rather we depend on animals in order to explore the human world – and instead of just understanding the behavior of animals, they often help us understanding (and questioning) our own behavior.

My topic for our Nature of Being – Blog is called “Media representation of women and men – obsolete perceptions in the 21st century?” In general, my topic will investigate how women and men are represented in media nowadays.

Showing media representations against the background of the dualism between male and female, my blogposts are aimed at the question of how far media representations still refer to „traditional“ gender roles in which women are naturally seen as the weaker sex which has to take up a subordinate role to men. Moreover, I will explore how certain gender identities are created, what they look like and how male and female identities are separated by media.
For this purpose I will chose different types of media. I will focus on women and men magazines but also do some excursions to advertisements for women and men and two TV channels. In the end I will summarize this interesting topic with the help of an expert.

Instead of doing an extensive study of different media, individual contributions will be selected in order to illustrate interesting aspects of media representations of women and men nowadays.

I hope you will have fun reading my posts and in the end you will question magazine covers like the following…

Cover_Introduction Post
[1]

References:

[1] = Picture taken from http://cdn03.cdn.justjared.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/wilde-cosmo/olivia-wilde-cosmopolitan-april-2011.jpg, 02.01.2016

Homophobia in german Hip Hop

Hi, my name is Hauke. I am a student of sociology and criminology in Tübingen. My blogposts will be focused on homophobia in german hip hop. Homophobic terms of all forms have always been a well used stylistic device in rap music and still are. Although I am really into hip hop I always felt bothered by this and would like to get a deeper insight and a better understanding of the topic.

I will have a look on different artists, which forms of homophobia you can encounter, statements and what others who dealt with this topic found out. I will also look for reactions/statements by others. Based on this I hope to deliver a good commented overview on the issue.

 

The “Other” Animal – The Dichotomy between Human and Non-human Animals as an Origin Story for the Human Identity

“In the beginning, there was difference, and so began the struggle of some individuals to gain advantage over others”[1] Donna Haraway

There is an inherent paradox contained in the relationship between „human” and „animal“. On one hand it involves a variety of features establishing an antagonistic, irresolvable distinctness, or “otherness” of the two, but on the other hand there are areas of overlap, where the two concepts touch and contest each other. Within this field of discursivity it is that we can feel the other aspect of this paradoxical relation most intensely as we are allowed to succumb to our desire to draw near our discursive adversary. In fact, “man” needs the “nonhuman animal” as a complement, as much as an adversary. As every given power relationship requires some framing in order to reproduce its legitimacy [2], the humankind, as a discursive entity, heavily relies on reinforcing the demarcation line towards nonhuman elements, i.e. nature, “the” animal etc.

Therefore, my hypothesis throughout my posts will be that we humans discriminate non-human animals as a means of (re-)producing the identity of the human species and securing their legitimacy by emphasising the differences between human and animal, i.e. by using the discursive mechanism of Othering[3]. I will understand Othering as „a process of differentiation and demarcation, by which the line is drawn between ´us´ and ´them´ – between the more and the less powerful – and through which social distance is established and maintained”[4], referring to a definition by sociologist Ruth Lister. The narratives in which these differences are expressed can therefore be seen as origin stories for the human identity[5].

Why though, if hegemonic imbalances are inherent to the constitution of identity, why should one even strive to deconstruct a concept so fundamental to our comprehension of the world, to our ability to manage our everyday-lives? I want to argue with Donna Haraway that it can help to retell narratives in order “to shift the webs of intertextuality and to facilitate perhaps new possibilities for the meanings of difference, reproduction, and survival […] on both sides of the bio-political and cultural divide between human and animal.”[6]. By displacing hegemonic structures and highlighting marginalisations within the discourse, we may open up new possibilities for redefining the identity of the human self.

I find it rather questionable, whether the othering of the nonhuman animal leading to exploitation and suffering of a multitude of beings in favour of satisfying human needs and comforts, really should be necessary to define what is human. Is it not ironic, that, while our notions of animals and nature are so deeply sedimented as inferior, less worthy and subordinate to us, on the other hand, the concept of humanity is connoted as that which inspires kindness, empathy and compassion?

However, if we view the concept of “nature” – here translated into “species” as the object of knowledge of consequence – within its respective cultural and historical context, i.e. taking away its universal, naturalistic and timeless connotation, we might find that this strategy of othering may no longer be necessary in order to reproduce the human identity. As feminist Donna Haraway puts it:

“When the human-animal boundary is not culturally crucial, two things change […]: First, „nature“ cannot be constructed as a health spa for the ills of industrial society” and, secondly, “the reliability of scientific knowledge does not depend on enforcing the boundary against the forbidden desire of touch with nature”.[7]

Stated in a more intuitive fashion, I want to look at why, when we are children we feel drawn to animals, we empathise with them, we feel connected to them; yet, as we grow up, we get taught to eat them, to wear them, to torture them or simply not to care about them – that we are superior to them and that they do not deserve our love, respect or even our compassion. It is quite curious, that we seem to think, that, in order to be, we must sacrifice the integrity of other beings. Or, to put it in the words of Pam Ahern, a pioneer in advocating kindness towards nonhuman animals, I have often been wondering:

“If we could live happy and healthy lives, without harming others – why wouldn´t we?”[8]

Footnotes:
[1] Haraway 1989: 376.
[2] Noakes/Johnston 2005: 18.
[3] The discourse-theoretical concept of Othering was first used by Gayatri Spivak deconstructing british archive material in postcolonial India in 1985.
[4] Lister 2004: 101.
[5] Cf. Haraway 1989: 288f. for the significance of origin stories.
[6] Haraway 1989: 377.
[7] Haraway 1989: 247.
[8] Pam Ahern is the founder of “Edgars Mission”, a farm sanctuary in Australia.

References:
Haraway, Donna (1990): Primate Visions. Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. Routledge.

Lister, Ruth (2004): Poverty. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Noakes, John A. and Johnston, Hank (2005): Frames of protest: A road map to a perspec-tive. In: Hank Johnston and John A. Noakes: Frames of protest. 18, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (1985): The Rani of Sirmur: An Essay in Reading the Archive. Histroy and Theory, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Oct. 1985): 247-272.

http://www.edgarsmission.org.au/

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