Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Makah people.

The Makah tribe are a native American people who are located in the most north westerly point of continental United States, in Washington state. Because they were situated so close to the sea they used marine life to provide their wealth and survival. From the sea they used the fish to eat both at that time and to preserve it by drying it and eating it weeks or months later. They also ate porpoise and seal and used otter fur to trade as well as use it as chafe guards which were worn under the clothes. A further use of the sea was the whaling industry which was and still is something the Makah pride themselves on. The Makah used nearly every part of the Whale; the meat and blubber to eat, the oil was sold and was very profitable, and bones were used for things like combs and war clubs. 

The website presents the Makah as a very successful group. This, they claim, is down to ''their ability to adapt, survive and flourish.''  (Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula) An example from their website which suggests success by adapting is their ability to adapt and survive following a substantial amount of the tribe who were wiped out as a result of diseases like influenza, whooping cough and small pox being brought over by the European settler. And as it was a disease the tribe had never encountered before, thousands of tribal members died. They claim this resulted in old ways being lost. However, the tribe has survived and has adapted their ways because of it.

The Makah still claim on their website to be successful and still pride themselves on their ability to adapt and survive. The Makah still profit greatly from fishing and whaling as they did centuries before, but they also have adapted to modern day lifestyles and own various shops, restaurants and hotels to encourage tourism to the area. The Makah seem a people who have been successful in adapting to modern influences of the Europeans as well as influence from the western world today. But they have also kept traditions of fishing and whaling that their ancestors lived by. 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Powhatan Tribe

The Powhatan are a tribe originally occupying the New Jersey area. They have since spread out across the U.S. During the 17th century they were largely wiped out first by foreign disease, then by war and famine. Yet they try very hard to keep their culture and their language alive today. From reading articles written by their chief, Chief Roy Crazy Horse, they seem to be an extremely proud people, very proud of their heritage and very reluctant to allow it to die out. In 1982 the Powhatan Renape Nation negotiated an agreement with the State of New Jersey to take over 350 acres of state owned land in the town of Westampton. Today the Powhatan take a large role in the community and schools attempting to educate people about their culture.

Interesting the Chief also explains that the famous legend of Pocahontas was part of the Powhatan tribe. However he sees the Disney version of the film as being largely falsified, and doubts that the real life Pocahontas, who's real name was Motoaka, ever really saved the explorer John Smith's life. He claims that John Smith actually reported that when starving he was taken in by the Pohatan people and treated as an honoured guest. The Chief instead believes that John Smith made this story up after her death. She did in fact marry an English man and move to England for a period, but it was not John Smith, it was a man named John Rolfe who forced her to wed him while she was being held captive, in order to gain her freedom. The Powhatan people seem to therefore see the version of this story which has been popularised by Disney, as being offensive to their culture. "It is unfortunate that this sad story, which Euro-Americans should find embarrassing, Disney makes "entertainment" and perpetuates a dishonest and self-serving myth at the expense of the Powhatan Nation." - Chief Roy Crazy Horse.

The Klamath Tribes

The website of the Klamath Tribes, found at , includes details on three separate tribal groups (The Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin) which are united under one collective name, with common aims. The Klamath Tribes can be found in the Klamath Basin of Oregon (the second most north-westerly state in the U.S.)

They did, and still very much do, believe in striving to work hard, with success and survival their just rewards for hard work and high levels of productivity. '"Work hard so that people will respect you" was the counsel of (their) elders.' Historically, in the harsher winters, they survived due to their prudent reserves, harvested in more habitable climates. For years, three branches of tribal groups lived together, with everything that they needed to survive contained in the area that they inhabited. Things changed in the nineteenth century, however, when 'in 1826 Peter Skeen Ogden, a fur trapper from the Hudson's Bay Company, was the first white man to leave his footprints on (their) lands.' The website goes on to show a distinct level of dismay and anger when highlighting the effect of thousands of white settlers 'leaving their marks on the lands and the Klamath Tribes.' Decades of hostility seemingly occurred after 1826, resulting in the eventual loss of 23 million acres of Klamath Tribal land in 1864. They entered what is dubbed "The Reservation Era" but did still 'retain rights to hunt, fish and gather in safety on the lands reserved for (them) "in perpetuity."'

The picture painted about living on the reservation is actually surprisingly positive. It is shown that many members of the tribe took advantage of the new economic opportunities such as cattle ranching (which is still a key part of their activities today), with many people also taking up vocational training that was offered, and ending up with jobs at the Fort Klamath military post. In their words, 'The quest for economic self-sufficiency was pursued energetically and with determination by Tribal members' seemingly in any way that became available.

Times moved on and eventually, in 1954, the Klamath Tribes lost their federal recognition. The Klamath Termination Act was passed, and along with losing their federal recognition and all the associated supplemental human services, their 1.8 million acre reservation was also taken. However, just over thirty years later in 1986, they successfully regained federal recognition for their tribes. The land base was not returned to them and were encouraged instead to find ways to regain their 'economic self-sufficiency.'

Today, this strive for self-sufficiency has seemingly paid off. The tribe has approximately 3500 members and contributes 'about $25 million per annum to Klamath County's economy.'

"The mission of the Klamath Tribes is to protect, preserve, and enhance the spiritual, cultural, and physical values and resources of the Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin Peoples, by maintaining the customs and heritage of our ancestors. To establish a comprehensive unity by fostering the enhancement of spiritual and cultural values through a government whose function is to protect the human and cultural resources, treaty rights, and to provide for the development and delivery of social and economic opportunities for our People through effective leadership."
-Mission Statement
On the front page of the website, there is a link to the casino, run by the Klamath Tribes - the Kla-Mo-Ya Casino (, situated in Chiloquin, Oregon and opened in 1997- highlighting their modern day, economic success.
The 2000 Census revealed that only minimal members of the Klamath Tribes actually live on reservation land (The Klamath Tribes recently entered into an agreement to repurchase the 90,000-acre (360 km2) - of Mazama forest, courtesy of; with only nine people residing on its territory, five of whom were white people. It seems clear, therefore, that anyone who wants to be, can be a member of the Klamath Tribes, with no (or little) importance placed on an individual's heritage or blood line.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Seminole Tribe

The above website is about the Seminole Tribe which have six reservations throughout Florida.

The first piece of text you see on the website’s homepage states that “The Seminole Tribe of Florida is a Federally Recognized Indian Tribe, the only tribe in America who never signed a peace treaty”. That this is the first piece of information on the home page shows that the Seminoles have great pride in the fact that their ancestors did not make any deals with the government and therefore chose to keep fighting This fighting spirit is also shown throughout the history section of the website, which displays facts such as, when the military actions against the Seminole tribe finally ended, it was most costly military campaign in the young country's history. Headings in this section such as “No Surrender!” and “Survival in the Swamp”, shows that the Seminole tribe want to display that their tribe didn’t give up and fought until they were overwhelmed. This therefore could indicate shame towards the other Native American tribes which did eventually sign treaties with the government and stopped fighting.

"This never give up spirit is once again shown on the website, in this case in the sections which talk about the current situation of the Seminole tribe and what they are trying to achieve in the future. These days, the battleground is often a courtroom, where the Seminole Tribe has proved a vigorous defender of its sovereignty. The proud, "unconquered" Seminole Tribal community remains, as always, a valuable legacy of Florida's rich and diverse heritage and a national leader among American Indian tribes striving for self-reliance. "

This paragraph taken from “the future” section of the site shows that the Seminole tribe are still fighting the government even if it doesn’t involve actually physical combat. An example of this is that they won the legal challenges which were made against their gaming which the Seminole people believe “opened the door for dozens of other American tribes to follow suit” and therefore gave them the opportunity to make a fortune. This amongst other things such as in 1967 Betty Mae Jumper of the Seminole tribe was the elected to the position of chair, making her the first woman to occupy this position in any tribe in North America, reinforces their statement that the tribe is at the fore-front of Native American Tribes Finally it is interesting that in the above paragraph the Seminole people call their tribe “unconquered” and make repeated statements that their tribe defends their customs etc yet the Seminole people have a good standard of living as a result of their hotels and gaming enterprises. Some people would view this as the Seminole tribe turning their back on their customs and community and therefore being “conquered”, not by the Americans they fought nearly two hundred years ago, but by the desire for money and to have a decent modern lifestyle

In conclusion, the Seminole website presents its tribe as being a type of role model and standard bearer for other North American Tribes. This comes across in the way they present their history and current situation, by repeating the acts of defiance their ancestors took part in, such as refusing to sign a treaty with the government, and the way their tribe has progressed, through winning landmark battles in court and by electing women as important members of the tribe.

The Apache Indians

This website evaluates the Apache Tribe today, a web page is a very modern form of communication for Native Americans when we look back at their history and connection with nature. Fort Apache is a reservation, this must not be forgotten when viewing the website. This is an area of land designated for Native American people to live on, away from civilised society. When the Europeans settled America they drove the native people off of the land and used up many of the resources of the natives who lived off of the land.

The website actually advertises tourism and visits to the reservation. It promotes family trips and outdoor activities such as camping and white river rafting. Arizona is a beautiful state year-round and is a very popular place to visit. However we do not think of an Indian Reservation as a holiday resort. It is almost ironic to imagine the poverty and hardship of Native Americans juxtaposed with a resort for tourists, but that is a popular way to earn money. Many Native Americans succeed in the tourist industry.

Alongside family activities, there is a casino, a very American Indian dominated business. This also has some irony, as they are a tribal culture who live off the land, are at peace with nature and lived quite simplistic lives. However, in modern America, people must do what they can to survive.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Representation of Women and Work

This image provides a look at the role of a woman in the workplace around the 1950s.

The woman in the image is a smiling character, obviously trying to sell the jobs as a happy environment. However, it portrays the domesticated role that many women would be used to in the home. Washing dishes, cleaning, cooking and being a housewife. The woman in the image looks satisfied with her role, but it is a mundane, boring work. It adopts the attitude of the time that that's probably all women could do.

After WWII, many women came out of the workforce, allowing their husbands to go back into work and the male role as the provider of the household, while the wife cared for the home and the children.

This image portrays the idea of why women work, a very old fashioned viewpoint but true to the time of the early 20th Century. It presents the view that a woman's main concern is her family and home life. Of course this is a fair point to make, if a woman has children, they should be their first priority. However, this does affect men too. Parents hold a great responsibility to care for their children.
This image does not tell us women need to work in order to support themselves or get ahead, it tells us she works in order to better her and her husbands standard of living or earn a little extra in order to help the husband. There is an increase throughout the 1900s of working women and an enormous increase over the past 60 years after the equal rights movement and the suffrage of women. If one in five or six married women worked in 1940 it has increased hugely, if now women make up around 50% of the workforce in the US. However, as we read in Nickel and Dimed, men and women have different roles and responsibilities in the workplace in many cases. Most women in low wage America hold jobs such as cleaners, waitresses and shop assistants, where many find male managers. There is still an unfairness in gender and the workplace.

American Masculinity

Psychology Today's article by Ray B Williams presents the American Male Crisis, or the male crisis that many western countries are experiencing. Williams draws from the under-achievement of boys in school and the change in expectations of role of the husband. On average, women read more than men, do better in school and only make up 40% of University applicants across America, Canada and Australia. With a female dominated education system it leaves men out of education and often out of work. The workforce as a whole is 50/50 between men and women according to Williams. This, he feels has repressed men in the 21st Century.

However, is this a negative statistic? Girls do well in schools, therefore earning their place in Universities rather than being born into the right gender for higher education. Women still do not have equal pay in the workplace and often still experience the glass ceiling. Which is something difficult to perceive in the modern world.

Williams feels that, "In a post-modern world lacking clear-cut borders and distinctions, it has been difficult to know what it means to be a man and even harder to feel good about being one." Gender roles still have some truth, and for many men, being the provider is still a very important role, many would feel de-masculated if their wives earned more or 'kept them'. Although many are happy to earn an equal amount and most families today find it a necessity to both work and contribute to house payments and bills. There are not many working adults who could afford to run a family home alone. So does it really matter if he has to change a few nappies or feed babies as well as have a career?

Women and work


Indeed, advertisers of the 1980's and 1990's still took their messages where the readers were. The percentage of women who worked may have crossed the 50 percent mar in 1982, but marketing research proved they continued to cook, clean, and care for spouses and children. By the end of the 1980's, the management of 'Good Housekeeping' had asserted that ''the country was returning to their magazine's view of the world.'' and that American women ''had had enough of the blatant careerism of the 1980's.'' This advertising lineage continued to expand in home and fashion magazines, while publications such as Ms. and working woman struggled to capture ad dollars from marketers. When Gloria Steinem told the head of Estee Lauder, Leonard Lauder, that he should be advertising in Ms. because 60 percent of the women who used his products were salaried, he responded by saying that did not matter because he was selling a ''kept woman mentally,'' and even if the majority of women did work today ''they would like to be kept women.'' - Advertising to the American Woman, 1900-1999, Daniel Delis Hill. 

This paragraph has been taken from a book which discusses the development of the role of women in society throughout the 20th century. This piece of text suggests women in work in the 1980's were not taken seriously or taken as that big of a thing. However, this is contradicted by the introduction of maternity leave programs and day care centers which encourage women into work, especially younger women who want to have a career but also want to have a family. These introductions show that women who wanted to and did work were taken seriously.

The text to me suggests men saw women wanting to work as more of a phase and that by the 1980's women were getting over it and preferring to go back to being a housewife. The only supporting quote for this argument also comes from a man who makes the assumption that women would rather be looked after than look after herself. The quote comes from Leonard Lauder who at that time was the CEO of Estee Lauder Make- up and the quote in context was a response to being told he should advertise in the magazine Ms.; a feminist magazine, to which he declined. Lauder's response suggests he does not take women in work seriously as unlike men, women who do work are doing it out of some sort of necessity, otherwise they would  be back in the kitchen were they would rather be.

21st century.

                   The 20 most prevalent occupations for employed women in 2009 were

1.                                   Secretaries and administrative assistants, 3,074,000
2.                                   Registered nurses, 2,612,000
3.                                   Elementary and middle school teachers, 2,343,000
4.                                   Cashiers, 2,273,000
5.                                   Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, 1,770,000
6.                                   Retail salespersons, 1,650,000
7.                                   First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers, 1,459,000
8.                                   Waiters and waitresses, 1,434,000
9.                                   Maids and housekeeping cleaners, 1,282,000
10.                               Customer service representatives, 1,263,000
11.                               Child care workers, 1,228,000
12.                               Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, 1,205,000
13.                               Receptionists and information clerks, 1,168,000
14.                               First-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support workers, 1,163,000
15.                               Managers, all other, 1,106,000
16.                               Accountants and auditors, 1,084,000
17.                               Teacher assistants, 921,000
18.                               Cooks, 831,000
19.                               Office clerks, general 821,000
20.                               Personal and home care aides, 789,000

This is a table from the United States department of labour, which shows the most common occupations for women in 2009 in America. A large proportion, if not all of the 20 most common jobs for women can be seen as more feminine jobs, for example; secretaries, nurses, maids and child care workers. These jobs are most commonly seen as female jobs, rather than jobs for men. This suggests even in 2009, many women are still confined to the traditional role as a housewife when they go out to work. There will always be women who work as doctors, but a larger proportion will be nurses. And there will always be women who work as ice road truckers but a larger proportion will become child care worker. Women have gained equality to some degree, however, from this table it suggests women still have to work around the typical female stereotype of the carer and second to men.

An example of the average women working in typically female jobs is in Barbara Ehrenreich’s book; Nickel & Dimed. In which goes into low wage jobs. The jobs that she undertakes can be seen as typically feminine jobs, for example when she is in Florida, she become a waitress and a maid. While talking about these jobs she only mentions other females who do the same job as her. She then works in  Maine where she gets a job as a maid as well as a job as a nursing home aid.  Thirdly she travels to Minnesota where she gets a job working in the female clothes department of Wal-Mart. All of the jobs that she takes are typically feminine jobs, most commonly done by women. In all of the jobs she does there are only other women who do the same job as her. However, she mentions men, but they are in different jobs, for example she talks about men when she works as a waitress, but the men work as chefs. She talks about men when she works as a maid but the man is their boss. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Masculinity in America

The website I have chosen features an article written by the organisation; Children Now who fight for priority of government and state funding being given to children. The issue the article highlights is the effect American media has on young boy’s understanding of what is meant to be a man in America and the behaviours that are seen as acceptable. 

The article presents the issue that American media focuses on masculine behaviours being aggressive and anti- social. This is supported by a study that was carried out by Lake, Snell and Perry et al. The study interviewed 1,200 10-17 year olds about masculinity in the media. A few statistics from it are that 3 in 4 of the children interviewed described males on T.V. as violent and 2 in 3 children described males as being angry. Further information found in the study discovered around 74% of males in programmes sampled performed some sort of anti social behaviour like ridiculing and aggressive acts.

The study suggests that young boys are learning to be aggressive and anti-social through the media which is saying these behaviors are the right way for a man to act in America. The aim of the organisation; Children Now is to widen the behavioral ideals presented to men at a young age. The article also highlights that young boys are spending more time watching T.V. than they do with their fathers and sports coaches which is their other source of finding out what masculinity in America is. The study also found out that aggressive behavior is not just portrayed in television programs, but also by sports commentators who use language associated with war and martial arts, and adverts which show masculinity as being speed, danger and aggression. 

There are various psychological experiments that support the idea that the media plays an important role in behaviors that are learnt. One of these is a study carried out by Bandura (1961) who's experiment found 2 out 3 of the children observed who watched an adult act aggressively to a blow up doll, recreated the actions portrayed by the adult, where as the children who watched an adult act kindly to a blow up doll showed very little aggression towards the doll. 

This study and others like it support the issue of this article which is; the media is influencing young boy's understanding of what it is acceptable of an American man.

The article I have chosen deals with the masculine identity of contemporary movie stars today in Hollywood. The author of the article, Christopher Goodwin, suggests that the old idea of masculine male leads in films is over. Instead of the well built, good looking and rugged classic Hollywood stars, a new breed has began to take over, mainly encouraged by film makers such as Judd Apatow, through films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshell and Superbad, as well as his cult TV show, Freaks and Geeks. These new male leads, such as Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan are as far away from Marlon Brando and John Wayne as you could get, yet they are making it acceptable for out of shape geeks to be a new kind masculine and to get the good looking girls. The females that these stars are being paired up with are also some of the more typical good looking up and coming female stars, such as Emma Stone and Mila Kunis. While in the past the characters who "get the girl" would typically be portrayed as good looking and masculine, the current trend is beginning to bring about the idea that being manly is not necessarily cool, and that masculinity can be achieved by anybody. These movies show that in contemporary America, the old ideals of how a man should act and behave in order to be respected, are quickly changing.

Images of women and work

The above image is the front cover of the July 12th 1982 edition of time magazine. It relates to the article inside the magazine titled “How long to equality?” which discusses the fight women have to be equal to men in many areas including the workplace, and was interestingly published a week after the ERA failed to be passed. The image is striking as it shows a woman figure at the bottom of a long flight of stairs, portraying the long struggle ahead for equality. Also in the background is a drawing of a woman, half black, the other white, possibly comparing the struggle for woman to be equal to men, to that of the civil rights movement campaigning for black people to be treated as equals with white people. The background could have also been done like this to draw attention to the fact that feminism was viewed as an issue brought up by white middle class women which is discussed within the article. The article highlights cases such as “seventy percent of all classroom teachers are women, yet for the same job, they make an average of $3,000 a year less than their male colleagues, to show the struggle women have until total equality with men. Although the situation has improved since the 1980s, examples being, in the article it said that there were only 19 women members of the House of Representatives whereas now, as a result of the 2008 elections there are now 75, it is still a problem present day. This is shown in Nickel and Dimed in which the author Barbara Ehrenreich refers to an incident where a woman was fired shortly after she confronted her employers that her male co-workers were earning more than her, meaning that the same pay disputes which took place in the 1980s are still around today. Finally, despite some slight improvements, the fact that the Equal Rights Amendment failed to be passed in 1982, and still hasn’t been passed in 2011, shows that the attitude towards equality for men and women in America has not changed that much despite there being a thirty year gap.

The other photograph was taken from the Walmart website under “Associates, Private Fleet Drivers”. It shows seven people standing in front of a Walmart truck, with one being a woman. This is interesting as it shows us an example of a woman doing a job, in this case a truck driver, which is usually stereotyped as a job which a man would usually do. Therefore, it shows a change in the attitude to women working, as in the past they would have been prevented from doing a “manly” job. This could then be used as an example to show that now women are given the opportunity to do any job and have the same opportunity of getting it than men. However, there is another way of looking at this photo. In relation to Nickel and Dimed, in which Walmart is one of the companies Barbara Ehrenreich worked at, she tells us that a lot of women were doing the entry level jobs such as tiding up the shop etc, and that all the members of management she met were men. This is certainly true judging by the other pictures in the Walmart gallery as although the photos in the “associates” gallery were of both men and women, the people in the pictures under “President and CEO”, were men. This could then be argued that although there is a picture of a woman supposedly doing a job which is not usually seen as being performed by a woman (even though she is wearing the uniform and standing in front of the truck there is no guarantee that the people in the photo are defiantly truck drivers for walmart) A truck driver is still a low job in the hierarchy of walmart, and that there seems to be no women in itss top level management which means that in fact nothing has really changed as a result of the recent feminism movement and that women are still not given equal opportunities to men in the workplace.This view is reinforced by one of the articles discussed in this weeks lecture, by Ginia Bellafante in which she says that “at FORTUNE 500 companies there are only two female CEO’s and just 10% of corporate officers are women Another aspect of this photo is that it is obviously staged, as there are, as well as the 4 white men, a black man, an Asian man and a white woman. This them means that it is most likely not an accurate cross-section of Walmart’s truck drivers, and that even though in the picture there is one woman out of seven truck drivers, she may well be the only woman in the whole fleet of drivers. Therefore the picture was obviously taken to try and show that Wal-Mart treats everyone the same regardless of race and gender, which is ironic as judging by Nickel and Dimed and the gender of its management, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In conclusion although, there has been progress in the way woman are viewed in the workplace, as they are now allowed to do jobs which in the past were viewed as “men only” jobs, one of the main argument by feminists that there is a glass ceiling preventing women from being hired into the top, high paid jobs seems to be still valid, certainly in the case of walmart.

Women and Work (Week 2)

1) Women in positions of power - female network news anchors.

In recent years, it has become widely recognised that increasing numbers of women are reaching positions of power in the workplace. The proverbial glass ceiling is, admittedly, still impenetrable for many, but a noticeable number of the "top jobs" are now held by women. One very recent and "visual" example is that which concerns the three main television networks in America (NBC, ABC and CBS) and the presenters of their respective primetime, weekday evening news bulletins.

Until late 2006, all three of the weekday national news bulletins were anchored by men, and had been throughout their history. When Dan Rather stood down from the CBS Evening News in 2005 after 24 years, and after Bob Schieffer's brief tenure, Katie Couric was chosen to take over. For the first time in its 58-year history, the broadcast had been anchored solely by a women.

Seemingly following a trend, when the lead anchor position became available on a rival network news broadcast - ABC World News - three years later, the chair was filled with another woman - Diane Sawyer. From May 2006, veteran journalist Charles Gibson had taken the helm, and when he left the programme in December 2009, Sawyer was offered the job. It is now only NBC's Nightly News which is presented by a man - Brian Williams.

In the media and broadcasting, it is widely accepted that America looks more fondly on women, especially more mature women, that we do in the United Kingdom. Many older female journalists and presenters have had long, continuing spots in primetime American television - journalist and presenter Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey and WNBC New York's lead anchorwoman Sue Simmons. By having such widely recognised women in public-accessible roles such as these, it hints at a turnaround in the mentality that only men can reach the top. Coupled with the proven statistics concerning male/female education success and the economic downturn hitting male workers the hardest, we could be seeing an increasing level of women reaching the top in less "blue collar" job types.

N.B. it is still worth noting that the media could be seen as its own worst enemy however. Taking the first image into account and there does still seem to be a tendency to pit women of power against each other, labelling them as 'divas' and doing the idea of "sisterhood" no favours.

2) Women in the 1980s - Career and Family: Can they have it all?

This is the image of the front cover of the U.S edition of TIME magazine published on 12 October 1987. The cover story can be found at,8816,965711,00.html

When reading the cover story it seems clear that the research done by Shere Hite ('the doyenne of sex polls') highlights a growing division between the genders. 'Shere Hite (born November 2, 1942) is an American-born German sex educator and feminist' (courtesy of her bibliographic entry on Wikipedia.) The research done concerning the differences between the genders encompasses a wide array of issues and factors. Hite focuses her attention on the male influence when answering the question 'Are Women Fed Up?' as shown by the statistics included.

When specifically looking at the relationship between women and work, this quote from the author Joyce Maynard in response to the research should be highlighted: '"This nation is filled with burned-out women" (because) "they are trying to pull off something that can't be pulled off" (and) "have been told they can have -- even ought to have -- husband, children and career, all perfectly managed."' Maynard is insistent that this is a lie.

With the many issues surrounding '(F)eminism' in mind, we can see the very evident concept that after decades of maintaining a household, living off of a man (willingly or unwillingly) and staying home to look after the children, women were finally seeing that they could attempt to "have it all."Even as far back as 1987, however, it is clear that certain commentators already thought that this was a myth, and at the very least, not as easy as the "ideal."

Coming when this article did (at the beginning of the end of the 1980s) when a new wave of feminism and feminist ideas and ideals were first mooted, the argument could be made that for some, the battle reminiscent of the 1960s and '70s, had indeed been won. Seemingly women had been told that they could have it all and do anything that they wanted.

Linked to this idea of "having it all" and the new wave of feminism is the evidence quoted in the article by 'New Woman' magazine in 1986 where '41% of unattached women surveyed said they are not looking for a relationship or are undecided' which hints at the idea of making it on your own, and actively not depending on anybody.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Masculine Identity in Contemporary America (Week 1)

The article I have chosen to discuss details an apparent crisis in the identity of the modern American man, focusing broadly on the psychological implications that the global economic crisis has had on working men in the United States. It features as a blog entry on a website called "Psychology Today" and is entitled 'Our male identity crisis: What will happen to men?' (

The article begins by offering some statistics concerning the performance of American men in education, stating that 'men now comprise barely 40% of enrolled University and College students and graduates.' This is something touched upon in the second article from TIME magazine we read this week. The gender gap is reinforced as women are now noticeably out-performing men in educational achievement - a trend that has been growing over the past couple of decades.

We know that, historical, rightly or wrongly, men have bee the traditional bread-winner, heading up the household, and taking on the role of providing for the family. For the first time though, the article states that 'women have surpassed men and now make up more than 50 percent of the nation's workforce.' Does this show the beginning of a role-reversal? And is the traditional role of the American man beginning to become diluted? The article would hint at yes. Focusing again on the financial crisis that first rocked the world in 2008, and it is shown that the resulting recession hit men the hardest with '80% of the jobs lost during this current recession (having) been held by men.' The effect this has on the American male psyche should not be underestimated. If the traditional role of the man is gradually diminishing - that of the sole or, at the very least, one of the workers in a family - it is easily conceivable that being a "kept man" could reduce the sense of "masculinity." After all, 'in a post-modern world lacking clear-cut borders and distinctions, it has been difficult to know what it means to be a man.'

The article explains how a stable, solid identity is important for men. The distinctions between the genders are becoming blurry, it seems, leading to added confusion and an increasingly unstable sense of self.

Coupled with the confused male "identity" is a further hurdle to overcome for the modern American man. How the male is population portrayed in the media has further had an impact on the way in which men feel about themselves. The following two paragraphs cover a wide range of issues which are felt to have damaged the male identity in recent years and highlights the importance of a positive representation of men:
- males commit more crimes than females
- males make up a larger proportion of suicides
- increased levels of artificial insemination have led to reduced levels of fatherhood in society
- custody of children is given to the mother more often than the father when parents divorce
- men are seen as increasingly "feminine" in the media and wider society

All of this leads to the realisation that men 'do not have a specific role model and are less able to define their role in society.' Men have always been seen as "leaders" and with high-level positions been given to women (due, potentially to the increased educational success had by women), this traditional role is gradually being eroded. T.V shows also show that women can be successful on their own - be it as a single mother, or in the working world, whereas men are increasingly shown as lazy or stupid, Homer Simpson being the example given.

In recent years, it is clear that a large amount of the barriers between men and women have been broken down, few would argue that the advances women have made are a bad thing - it is important that we recognise that vital progress has been made. However, the impact on the modern Western man should not be ignored. It seems that in 2011, he is becoming a victim of his own historical standing.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

masculine identity in America

The above article focuses on the unemployed men in America who are struggling to find a job they would enjoy and are happy with.

“Alan Beggerow has stopped looking for work. Laid off as a steelworker at 48, he taught math for a while at a community college. But when that ended, he could not find a job that, in his view, was neither demeaning nor underpaid.”

This example from the article shows how a man has decided not to look for any more work as a result of not finding a job he thinks meets his needs.Part of the typical masculine identity in America is to have a job and support the family, however some men feel that they would lose aspects of their masculinity if they settled for a low paid job and would rather stay unemployed until a better job became available. This is because they feel a low paid job would be demeaning. This shows a change in the masculine identity in America as fifty/sixty years ago it would be seen as “unmanly” for a man to be unemployed and not be supporting his family, therefore they would take a low paid job as it is still work, as opposed to being unemployed and waiting for a better job.

“Even as more men are dropping out of the work force, more women are entering it. This change has occurred partly because employment has shrunk in industries where men predominated, like manufacturing, while fields where women are far more common, like teaching, health care and retailing, have grown..Women are also making inroads in fields where they were once excluded — as lawyers and doctors, for example, and on Wall Street. Men still make significantly more money than women, but as women become more educated than men, even more men may end up out of the work force.”

This reason for men being out of work and struggling to find suitable jobs can also be linked to issues of masculinity. In present day America, more women focus on their career rather than staying at home and looking after children than those fifty years ago, therefore the man’s typical role of being the only source of income for his family is obsolete. If the trend of women being more educated than men continues, as stated in the article, the role of breadwinner in a family may change and in the future it may be common for the woman to earn most of a family’s income, threatening and changing the identity of men in America.