Limited by Perceptions of Masculinity

Over this past weekend, I came in contact with the type of person I had never met before. My friends and I hosted boy from a small town, who was visiting American University with his friend. This boy had a connection to one of my friends which lead to his visit. Over the course of his visit, I was dumbfounded when one of his white friends used the derogatory word for a black person that begins with an ‘N’. I did not grow up with this word, nor have I come accustomed to hearing it. I was so shocked by the use of the word that I did not confront the situation, instead mentioned it the next day to the boy staying with us. His reaction to my uncomfortability was simply, “Well yeah, we aren’t like the type of guys you hang out with here we are just regular guys’ guys”. I was unaware of the origin of the initial disgust I had for this reaction until much later.

Our guests use of the words “guys’ guys” linked serious racism, dehumanization and cruelty with the idea of masculinity. This harmful link permeates our society, evident in many’s subconscious categorization of words like ‘strong’, ‘harsh’, or even ‘uncaring’ with the word manly. This correlation is not an excuse for this one boy’s behavior, rather an epidemic that needs to be addressed. After understanding this unhealthy strain masculinity, I also began to realize that I had met boys like his before, not any overtly racist, but many affected by negative masculinity complex’s.

Algerian Disconnect

Recently, while on a facetime call with three Algerian students for a cross cultural communications project, the importance of word choice was brought to my mind. During a conversation regarding the traditional sequence of events in an Algerian wedding, the cultural gaps and misunderstandings I was experiencing were made entirely more dramatic though maybe not the BEST choice of words used by both parties involved.

As the Algerian team tentatively broached the topic of virginity in their culture, myself as well as the other two members of the American team, immediately put our guards up. We had expected this clash in cultural ideals and were able to keep a good poker face through most of the conversation. There was one piece of the conversation, however, in which this was particularly difficult. Ssaad, usual ringleader of the group, had the task of explaining the nitty, gritty wedding night details to the group. In trying to explain that the new husband is to leave the wife alone in her room overnight after the marriage is consummated, Ssaad said, “After the blood the man leaves so that the woman can reflect upon her new fate”. This left our team shocked. We had not prepared for the stark, even depressing description of the event and we found ourselves having to recover very quickly.

While I attribute some of our shock at Ssaad’s statement relating to the culture shock, looking back I think a lot of the shock came from Ssaad’s word choice. While he speaks textbook english and is able to hold intelligent conversations in the language, he lacks the environmental lingo that someone growing up in the United States would have. Like we have talked about in class, definitions of words change based on one’s environment, as do modes of speaking. Ssaad’s form of speech, while appropriate for other topics in our environment, was not appropriate for the topic of virginity to us, in our environment.

The Scandal of American History

The Lafayette Square Tour of Scandal, Assassination and Intrigue!”, is run every spring to fall, it’s tour focusing on the “scandalous” past of the Square. While the rich history of the area can be seen as patriotic or worthy of a national landmark, others like to see the space as an area of intrigue, similar to that of a haunted house with spooky ghost stories. The tour highlights include the mysterious “assassination of a president” as well as, “The sex scandal that wiped out an entire cabinet”. The absence of specificity or context within the highlights of the tour give the square a theme-park tone, not stressing the overarching historical relevance to these acts, simple the mysterious, short-term ripples. This tour, while i’m sure is an okay time, denies the square of its historical integrity in my mind.

Gender Inclusivity and Economic System Failure

This notice posted on a bathroom door of American University indicates the inclusive nature of this specific bathroom, allowing anyone, no matter what their gender identity is, to utilize the facility. While this poster is very inclusive, the word choice of the poster indicates that this inclusivity is not a widespread ideal. The creators of this poster dedicated an entire one third of the page to detail the bathrooms locked door procedure. The emphasis put on locking the door to this “inclusive” bathroom, automatically takes the idea of positive inclusivity that the message begins with, and transforms it into a message of optional, preferred isolation.

The wording of the bottom third of this flier gives the user all of the information they need to know regarding the taboo act of identifying as a non-binary gender as well as the general public’s reactions towards this act. The act of locking the door, physically putting a barrier between yourself and the outside world, is an act of admittance that the bathroom user does not feel completely comfortable being their authentic selves in front of, or even in close proximity, to the general public.

 

“Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?”

 

Root of Sentence:  “continue to be exempt from taxation”

Key Words: “Continue”, “Exempt”, “Shall”, “Providers”, “Taxation”, “Affordable”

 

The Insinuation within this sentence that something being taxed is no longer affordable to the general public is telling in itself. This statement mentions the practice of taxation, something that almost every government that has ever existed has done in some shape or form. This taxation is not meant to harshly impair the lifestyle of the citizen being taxed, simply provide the government with funds for services provided to that citizen. The fact that this taxation can not occur while keeping key elements of the citizens life “affordable” is interesting. In the quote above, it is clear that if the University System was not exempt from taxation, housing would become unaffordable to many. With a human requirement so basic as housing, the question of taxation becomes null to many. Though, the structure of the American economy on a federal and state level disallow for an annulment, and allow for basic needs to become privileges that are up for change at any given moment.

Keeping Korean Pop PG?

Image from profiles.com “EXID Members profile 2017” February 16, 2012

Above: EXID Korean-pop Girl Group

Recently, a friend of mine has introduced me to a new genre of music that I had been previously been unaware of. The genre, Korean pop, often referred to as K-Pop, often features groups of Korean singers and dancers. These groups contain anywhere from three to thirteen members and have completely taken over the music scene of Korea and hold a significant international presence.

Something interesting in the various K-pop music videos I had viewed, is the homogeneity of the beauty standards seen in the video. All of the women seen had similar features that were not particularly Korean. For example, many had visible matching nose jobs, double eyelids and extremely lightened skin. While most Koreans are not born with these features, it became apparent to me that these celebrities had undergone procedures to attain the beauty standards assigned to them. Another common trend I had noticed in the videos, in particular the videos featuring females, was the juvenile trends and tones that the women picked up while performing. This child-like sense of beauty that is considered desirable in the Korean culture was extremely visible in the songs and actions of the females.

 

Failure is the Path to Success

Beckett’s take on failure differs from the traditional definition of the word, not treating as the opposite of succeeding, but as something that you are faced with on the road to success. In this, Beckett encourages others to fail, understanding that it is not the worst possible case scenario, nor is it even a negative one. The punctuation in Beckett’s text serve to create a choppy tone to the writing. Along with this choppy tone, is the fact that in just one line, Beckett switches the directions of his writing and his ideas numerous times. To me, this showed the reader what Beckett was truly trying to do: explain that it is ok to try out dozens of different ideas, approaches, etc.

AIDS and Race

You know the best medicine go to people that’s paid

If Magic Johnson got a cure for AIDS

And all the broke motherfuckers passed away

You telling me if my grandma’s in the NBA

Right now she’d be okay?

  • Kanye West

 

In the song, “Roses” by Kanye West, west details his experience in a hospital room with someone he loves and his heartbreak at the fact that they may not survive. In the first verse kanye Chimes in the the inner workings of the healthcare system, simultaneously tying the socioeconomics of health care to the disproportionate treatment of different races. West states that only those with the financial means to stay alive are the ones that do. He uses the AIDS epidemic and Magic Johnson as an example of this. West alludes to the fact that Magic Johnson was one of the few in the black community to contract the virus and have the means to pay for the treatment necessary to keep him alive.

 

Culture Gap

This week I found myself in communication with three Algerian students, currently attending university in Algeria. My contact with them regards a joint project that I will be completing with them, their team working from Algeria and my time (myself and two others) working from America. Our goal once we are finished is to examine the cultural gaps and differences and how those differences affect our work as a team. Upon opening my first email from the Algerian team, I found that the names of these people were completely, for lack of better words, foreign to me. I was unable to decipher which of the Algerian students were male and female. While communicating with the leader of the Algerian team, I found myself automatically assuming them to be male. As we have not video-conferenced with them yet I had absolutely no idea the sex of this person, but in my mind had already assigned to them a major piece of their identity. This struck me immediately. I had knowingly, walked into this relationship with these three Algerians, understanding that they come from a more sexist culture than I had. I weighed the overt sexims that exists in Algeria, over the covert sexism that is experienced in American society, sexism that I found myself contributing to.