Posts Tagged With: Creative Blog Posts

Masculinities and Deconstructing the Masculine Mystique

Who is this guy?

handsomemasculinemen.com/very-masculine/masculine-confidence, April 2012

You know him.  I know him.  He is the every man, or rather what Euro-American mass media will have you believe every man aught to emulate.  But if you take a Masculinity Studies course at Hunter College, then you will learn that the proper terminology for one such image is that of hegemonic masculinity.

Hegemonic masculinity reins supreme in our sociopolitical context.  He is born biologically male, his gender is then culturally assigned to him as boy – he grows up to be a man; moreover he is white, middle to upper-middle class, heterosexual, able bodied and more than likely identifies as Christian.  Normative masculinity such as this has been constructed and reconstructed over time and throughout national spaces, namely in the United States.  There is a shameful history of gendering races in America, that is to say that non-white masculinity has almost always been depicted as problematic.  The myth of the hyper-masculine African American was used as justification for nineteenth and twentieth century lynchings here in the United States.  Asian American men are often depicted in movies and television as asexual or uniformly effeminate.  Latino, Chicano and Hispanic men have also historically been constructed as inferior.  Take for example the writings of T.J. Farnham, an American patriot of the Mexican-American War.

“They Wait For Us.”

THE Spanish maid, with eye of fire, At balmy evening turns her lyre And, looking to the Eastern sky, Awaits our Yankee chivalry Whose purer blood and valiant arms, Are fit to clasp her budding charms. The man, her mate, is sunk in sloth— To love, his senseless heart is loth: The pipe and glass and tinkling lute; A sofa, and a dish of fruit; A nap, some dozen times by day; Sombre and sad, and never gay, He seems accursed for deeds of yore, When Mexico once smoked with gore: The blood of many a patriot band, Shed by invaders of their land, Who now, by quick avenging time, Are vanquished by the subtile clime, Which steals upon the manly mind As comes “miasma” on the wind. An army of reformers, we— March on to glorious victory; And on the highest peak of Ande, Unfurl our banners to the wind, Whose stars shall light the land anew, And shed rich blessings like the dew (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401804742.html)

Racism is American as Apple Pie, from Google Images

>__^

But we aren’t simply talking about historical examples here. Many contemporary deployments of raced hegemony are made popular under the guise of… patriotism and [hegemonic] masculinity. An example of this might be that of burqa burning, which is not even spelled correctly in the link provided. One Women’s and Gender Studies Professor at Hunter described the idea behind both examples as white men saving brown women from brown men. Once it was articulated to me in this way, I began to see the American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan a bit differently back in 2010 (i.e. bringing democracy and so-called-universal standards of human and women’s rights; as if the two are somehow different).

However, this gender axis by which men are typically blames is a false [or faulty] analysis for critique and discussion. It is necessary that we incorporate a theoretical framework that is simultaneously critical of racial constructions so that we may gauge a more accurate understanding. Because many Euro-American feminists aim to likewise ‘burn’ or eradicate the burqa, with limited understanding of its plural transnational contexts. Therefore, a Transnational Feminisms course at Hunter might further teach that white women aim to save brown women from brown men under that same guise of so-called-universal human rights [that are outlined by Euro-American voices within the international debates surrounding rights]. Before I get too off topic, let me suggest that the politics of saving women of the global south, or women of non-white racial ethnic groups is all around problematic to say the least. A saving complex reifies culturally constructed social hierarchies that are racially based as well as gendered.

We learn in Hons 201 that men suffer from patriarchal violence just as women do, only in different ways. Lived experiences vary according to complex intersections of social identity markers. Very few individuals fit that hegemonic mold of masculinity. Therefore a relatively young new branch of feminism (i.e. Masculinity Studies) is taking it’s rightful root in academia now, challenging previous conceptions of gender faced by self-identified men.

from Google Images

A great book to read [more on this topic] is titled, Men Speak Out, by Shira Tarrant: a collection of essays by self-identified men challenging and resisting social norms placed upon them as well as contemplating new meanings and [re]constructions of a pro-feminist masculinity.

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The Business of [Westernized] Healing

Me (center) with my two older sisters, Angela (right) and G (left) Galotti

I am the proud little sister of two brilliant future doctors: Angela and G. Galotti, my sisters and closest friends.  Angela is a third year medical student here in New York City at NYU and G. is a second year medical student at Stony Brook, on Long Island – where we three grew up.  Their experiences of working at two different teaching hospitals has educated me on the various cultures of medical schools and of hospitals.  Last week’s class discussion about health care in America and women’s relationships to the health care system prompted me to write this blog post, as I felt that certain important points of discussion were otherwise occluded.

Some of the students in class on Thursday expressed a sentiment of grief with doctors, or rather doctors’ tendencies to pathologize what could potentially be viewed as natural.  It would be unfair of me to assume what other people meant by their reinstating frustrations with doctors, but – from what I gathered – there was a particular sense of resentment towards the medicalization of bodies in the diagnostic/treatment process.  This speaks to the precious relationship of doctor-patient that is all about healing.  I agree with most of those who feel that there is, more often than not, a disconnect between the healer (i.e. physician) and the healing (i.e. patient).

from Google Images

But where might that disconnect stem from?  And is it fair to place sole blame and responsibility on the part of the physician, or rather can we locate the source of such frustrations in the overlapping system of health care in America itself?  Okay, so these questions are obviously leading, to say the least.  But I want to make clear that we cannot discuss physicians as a monolithic group – just as we cannot discuss women as a monolith, sharing in like experiences, when we know that simply is not true.  Analyses, or rather respectable ones, always include context; it is imperative to understand an individual’s physical, social and historical location.  Just ask any Transnational Feminist.

Those physicians who decide to go into primary care (i.e. the doctor you visit annually for a check-up, or your ‘family doctor’) most likely value that doctor-patient relationship.  How is this a safe assumption?  1.)  Primary care physicians adopt further responsibilities/burdens of owning and running their own business as opposed to working for a hospital & 2.) Primary care physicians, on the whole, earn considerably less than those who choose to go into surgery or other specialized fields.  This is why so many mid-level practitioner positions are becoming more and more popular (i.e. nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants (PA’s).

I have been told by my sisters and by other medical students alike that it is less and less enticing for a medical student to pursue primary care, as the overwhelming costs reap underwhelming benefits.  If time is equal to money and patients are a source of money, then more money is obtained by and through seeing more patients in one working day as opposed to seeing less patients per day with whom more time and attention was spent.  So one’s ideals of nurturing that precious doctor-patient-healing-relation tend to diminish by virtue of the cold hard facts that running a [health service] business will inevitably yield.

The problem with the health care industry in America is just that: it is an industry by which to obtain profit.  Health care is viewed as a responsibility of the welfaristic State in many communistic or socialized national states, and not as a business – as it is often viewed here in this country by insurance companies and citizens alike.  This is not to reify yet another false dichotomy of the capitalistic United States versus the socialist Europe and elsewhere, but rather it is to draw attention to this money making business we call healing.  And frankly, many people have [more than] the right to be fed up.  But in crafting one’s argument around the issue of doctors, it is necessary to understand the various factors which contribute to the lack of resources faced by both patients and, believe it or not, primary care physicians on the whole as well.

Me (center) again with my sisters, Angela (right) and G (left) Galotti with our beautiful, late dog, Sandy (yellow dog with the cute face).

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Fem Food For Thought: “The Right NOT To Have Children”

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**The symbol of Madrid en la Puerta del Sol: El Oso y El Madroño

A little less than one month ago, I was lying atop a stiff (and probably dirty) mattress, waiting for my sister to finish getting ready in our Madrid hostel.  I was starving and in order to pass the time, I picked up the August 2012 issue of Vogue I had bought two weeks prior, waiting for our flight to take off into the skies for eight hours, at JFK international airport.  To my surprise and delight, I stumbled upon a feminist critique on the gendered practices currently [re]occurring throughout the field of reproductive medicine in the Beauty & Health section of the magazine.  The title of the article to which I am referring read as follows:

“Q: Just how hard can it be to avoid getting pregnant?  A: Much harder than you’d think.  PAMELA PAUL CONSIDERS A BREWING UNDER-THE-RADAR ISSUE: THE RIGHT NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN.”

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The article itself follows the biographical tale of 27-year-old Erin Iwamoto-Galusha in her search for, “the right birth control,” (Paul, 122).  Iwamoto-Galusha had decided pretty early on in her [young] adult life that she did not [ever] want to conceive children.  Looking for a low-maintenance and permanent solution to the potential problem of [accidentally] getting pregnant, Iwamoto-Galusha sought to undergo the surgical procedure known as tubal ligation – or more commonly called, getting one’s tubes tied.  Much to her dismay, Iwamoto-Galusha encountered a series of obstacles put forward by more than five physicians who refused to perform the surgical procedure upon her request.

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Tubal ligation is one of the most common forms of female sterilization, or the act of making an organism unable to reproduce.  It is, however, a more invasive procedure than its so-called-male counterpart: the vasectomy; this is largely due to the anatomical differences in fe/male sexual organs.  Regardless, tubal ligation is an easier alternative to using condoms, the Pill, intrauterine devices or the diaphragm if one is so inclined as to never entertaining the idea of bearing children.  Erin Iwamoto-Galusha was one of these decisive women.

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The medical community, however, was less than decisive when it came to respecting Iwamoto-Galusha’s wishes.  Among the many obstacles presented to her was, perhaps the most paternalistic in nature, when Erin’s physician required she ‘bring her husband [of five years] into the office’ so as to affirm her conviction.  Could you imagine a man being asked the same question upon requesting a vasectomy?  And the issue does not simply fall upon the axis of gender, as several of Erin’s physicians were female and equally, if not more, hesitant to say yes.  In an equally condescending maternalistic fashion, her female doctors tried to [re]assure Erin that they, too, had once desired the very same childless freedom but eventually found a partner later in life with whom they wished to conceive children with.

There is something to be said about the permanent ramifications of surgical intervention and, albeit, the necessary application of thought and [re]consideration that ought to go into making one such decision.  However, it is also imperative to remain critical of Erin’s [non]treatment by the medical community for several years.  Her doctors’ hesitations speak to a much larger discourse surrounding the ideology of women.  That is to say that women are assumed to be less than capable of autonomously deciding on their lives, bodies and destinies.  That is also to say that women, particularly young women such as Erin, are [subconsciously] expected to physically embody the meaning of the word fruitful.  After all, what purpose do women have – through which to connect with one another – if not [re]producing life?

Of course that last question was [intended to be read as] ironic, but hopefully most of y’all got that part.  The point of this article, I think, is to reinforce the significance of constantly questioning, resisting and challenging those dominant norms set in place by hegemonic institutions like Western medicine.  Erin Iwamoto-Galusha ultimately practiced her autonomy and successfully received the birth control option of her childless dreams.  Congratulations, Erin!  We’re (well, at least I am) sorry you had to endure so many hiccups along the way toward achieving your own personal uterine liberation…but your story serves as a warning to all women who, in the spirit of Sandra Morgen, aim to place reproductive rights back into their own hands.

For another blogger’s feminist perspective on this story, check out BlogHer.

…Besos, kittens!

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Ciao belli e belle…

Hello everyone! I’m Christine…

Greetings to Hons 201 and to anyone else who stumbles upon this blog!  My name is Christine Elyse Galotti – you can follow me on Twitter!  I am an animal LOVER and an undergraduate student at CUNY Hunter in New York City…
When I first entered Hunter College as a freshman in the Fall of 2010, I had dreams of pursuing a double major in English Literature and Spanish – as those two subjects were my forte in high school, having been voted Best Writer by my graduating class!  But as life would have it, my education at Hunter inspired different passions within me, ones which I never would have considered exploring prior to taking my first Women’s and Gender Studies class, with Professor DeLorenzo.  Suddenly, I became enchanted by the social sciences.  A career in Academia would enable one such lucky student of the world to explore the very questions she or he feels like asking, with research and funding and the opportunity to teach at the University level.  Since then, I have been focused on working towards one day earning my Ph.D., hopefully at the CUNY Graduate Centre here in Manhattan.  Currently I am working on an independent study supervised by Professor Chito-Childs, researching the projection on negative female stereotypes in reality television.

Often depicting women as angry, irrational beings with little to no control over their emotions.

I grew up the youngest of three girls in Suffolk County, New York on Long Island in a town called Lake Ronkonkoma – which also happens to be the very last stop on the Long Island Rail Road.  This time last year, I was commuting on that line – two hours there, two hours back – three days a week while balancing my restaurant job on the island.  Then one day, the universe magically clicked and I got a dorm at Hunter’s Brookdale campus on East 25th Street!  Actually, it required a bit more begging, letters, emails and phone calls than that…but it mostly boiled down to pure luck: the right time in the right place kind of thing.  Since then, I have not taken for granted the blessing it is to be able to live in Manhattan for such an affordable price – which, thankfully, has been significantly reduced by the generous assistance provided by the JFEW Eleanor Roosevelt Scholars Program.  It was through this incredible program that I was able to receive the opportunity to intern at New York City Council Member Letitia James‘s District Office in Council District 35 of Brooklyn this past summer 2012.  The experience of working in the field of public policy was an unforgettable one, to say the least.  I had fun, but learned that the office environment isn’t necessarily for me in the long run, if I can help it.

Great show…not my ideal reality, however.

Now I am working on my three majors, which are Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies and Literature (through the Thomas Hunter Honors Program).  While it is my goal to graduate within four years (i.e. eight semesters), the more important thing is what I get out of my education, which hopefully will be something like [the ability to thoroughly grasp] knowledge and to somehow articulate that knowledge well, respectfully and accurately to the world.  And I am not so proud as to possibly believe that the world will one day ever be reading my writing as a basis for anything and/or if at all!   What I mean is that to be published leaves some kind of impression somewhere on someone, and that difference is significant.  It has transformative potentials for critics and advocates alike, which I have experienced first hand as the student and hope to one day reinforce as a voice of [some kind of] knowledge…
Paz y amor,
Christine

PS: On a personal note, I just got back from a two week adventure in Spain with my sister, Geri!  When I got home, I turned 20 years old and got my [first, but not last] tattoo!  It is a strawberry on my hip – because not only do I love The Beatles (i.e. “Strawberry Fields Forever”) but also I enjoy the fruit more so than the average human being.

“Living is easy with eyes closed…” ~John Lennon

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