Class Calendar

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Today we talked about the rioting in Ferguson last night.  For background, this NY Times article details the events of the shooting, the grand jury and the ensuing riot.  Instead of dwelling on the specifics of this particular case, I tried to explain the larger reasons behind the riot.  I was using a sociological imagination to understand what is happening.  The first point I want to make is how you will not see a detailed and thoughtful exploration of this in the news because the news is not really news in the sense that it is information that explains things to viewers and makes them more educated on the subject.  Instead, the news tells a compact mini story/drama that is a spectacle, literally.  It is something to captivate your attention but not make you think.

Random violence
First, the riot is really random violence.  Random violence happens in many cases within society and often the violence is by white perpetrators.  However, when the actions are committed by a majority group such as white you rarely hear the mention of "white" in the description of the assailant.  Here are some examples of white riots and here are examples of white random violence.  And, from Michael Kimmel, an important sociologist who studies violence, "It's also worth discussing why so many of these young mass murderers are white."  So, race has nothing to do with random violence in general.  Instead, try to see random violence as a manifestation of violent masculinity (see this post of mine for more on that).  Our culture says that the way to be masculine is to be violent and tough.  So, if someone feels disrespected or not taken seriously, the way to earn respect and prove that you should be taken seriously is through violence.  Furthermore, violence is one of the few approved emotions for men to show and still be considered manly.

To emphasize the violence and its connection, think about the police use of force in this incident.  It was a demonstration of power.  And so is the massive show of military style force that is showing up not only at the events in Ferguson but across America.  And we see this with our federal government as well which spends a massive amount on military force and is constantly fighting around the globe.  We also see the use of violence in movies, sports, and video games all as an example of respect and a measure of one's manhood and being taken seriously.  Understanding this dynamic helps us understand where seemingly random violence comes from.

Why random violence in Ferguson?

The random violence I discussed above shows up when people feel powerless and not taken seriously.  In this case, institutional racism has left individuals feeling powerless, frustrated and not taken seriously.  The first way this shows up is in the makeup of government officials, police officers and others in power.   From The Guardian, "Ferguson’s population is 67% black, but 50 of Jackson’s 53 police officers – 94% – are white."  And from an article in The Nation:  
The racial disparities that define Ferguson are indeed shocking. More than two-thirds of the town’s residents are black, but almost all of the officials and police officers are white: the mayor and the police chief, five of six city council members, all but one of the members of the school board, fifty of fifty-three police officers....Only 10 percent of the New York Police Department’s recruits in 2013 were black. The whiteness of Ferguson’s political leadership is a national trait, too. Since Reconstruction, only four states have elected black senators: Illinois, Massachusetts, South Carolina and New Jersey. Voters in twenty-five states still have never elected a black representative to the House.
 The disparity of racial leadership is combined with a disparity in the criminal justice system.  Arrests, prosecution and imprisonment are all slanted against black and Hispanic people. 
From The Nation:
In 2013, 92 percent of searches and 86 percent of traffic stops in Ferguson involved black people. The skewed numbers don’t correspond at all to the levels of crime. While one in three whites was found carrying illegal weapons or drugs, only one in five blacks had contraband.  …But is Ferguson really exceptional? …. The unequal application of the force of the law is also well documented across the country. Five times as many whites use illegal drugs as black Americans, and yet black people are sent to prison on drug charges at ten times the rate of whites. And disparity is evident in other police forces; for example, only 10 percent of the New York Police Department’s recruits in 2013 were black.
This disparity is true throughout the criminal justice system in the United States.  See more about the racially biased war on drugs here(drug use and arrest rates) and here (mass incarceration).

The most difficult way that racism manifests itself is in the police use of force.  Police have a very difficult job to do and it is inherently dangerous.  However, they also represent the government, an official institution, that has armed them and authorized them to use force.  So when the use of force is seen to be racially charged and excessive it puts the community at odds with the police department and the government.  Let me explain though that I do not think that racist people sign up to be cops en masse.  Instead there is implicit bias because we live in a society that teaches everyone (including minorities) to be weary of black men.  Here is an example of how the bias plays out, cross posted from the sociologytoolbox (racial profiling):

  • Recently, plain clothes NYC police officers did not recognize out-of-uniform, off-duty (but sitting in a department-issued SUV with an ID around his neck) three-star police chief, Douglas Zeigler. He is Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 6.52.47 PMAfrican American. Clearly, in the officers’ minds, his image fit closer to that of a criminal than their superior. Not even his departmental ID could alter the white officers’ belief that this 60 year-old black male was a trouble maker and not their commanding officer. They didn’t believe the ID was credible. His race trumped other credentials. Read more here.
  • This one first came to my attention via the blog, Sociological Imagination. New York city is home to one of the most aggressive “stop and frisk” programs that encourages/requires Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 7.08.29 PMpolice officers to, well it’s all in the name, stop and frisk people on the streets. Again, one’s race matters, as it seems to determine if you in fact get stopped and frisked – if you appear “suspicious”. A 2012 report states that 84% of the 1.6 million stopped in 2010-12 were African Americans and Latinos. More data is available here.  This video recaptures one young person’s experience and some testimony from officers themselves. A federal judge recently declared the implementation of this program unconstitutional and may require police officers to wear cameras to document their actions. Mayor Bloomberg argues that it has made the city safer (trumping any concerns of the racial profiling).
  • I always use this next video in class, as it generates some real gasps (a key indicator of learning) among students. While not a scientifically controlled experiment (that fact should be used as another teachable moment in class), ABC news creates a situation in a public park where Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 8.22.45 AMdifferent individuals attempt to steal a locked bike – a white male, a black male, and a white female. The white male is inquisitively questioned by passers-by but only one bothers to do anything beyond look completely perplexed. Take the same scene, same bike, location, and dress, but insert a young black male and within SECONDS he is confronted by people in the park, in fact a crowd gathers determined to take action. “Is that your bike?” The attractive white female actually gets assistance in cutting the lock, although the sample selection process could likely be skewed by video editing.
  • My last example for this post is the Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 10.50.21 AMhighly publicized case of police treatment of Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. This case, similar to Chief Zeigler’s experience, shows that status is often not enough to overcome race. A Harvard professor, Gates had trouble getting into his own home near Harvard Square in the early afternoon when the lock became jammed. The police arrived to investigate a reported attempted break-in. One of his neighbors and the subsequently responding police assumed he was a burglar, not a frustrated homeowner. By this time Gates was already in HIS home and was able to show officers his drivers license and Harvard ID. He was still booked for disorderly conduct. President Obama commented on the event and Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 10.55.41 AMeventually invited the arresting officer and Dr. Gates to the White House to talk over a beer. While not harrassed by the police, Obama was once mistaken as a waiter at a party when he was actually a state senator.
Race continues to matter as police officers and the general population continue to profile non-whites as more suspicious and lower status than whites. If you are white, like myself, you may not observe this occurring to others and subsequently not be aware of the additional surveillance and racial profiling that non-whites are subject too, even if they are police chiefs, Harvard professors, or state legislators. These vivid examples help us understand how racial profiling continues and we can’t rely on our individual observations or experience to make conclusions about racial groups’ collective experience in our society.
This is also a good case for teaching how structure is reflected in individual action. Here we see a larger, socially-constructed racial system embedding cognitive categories in individuals’ minds, over ridding other markers of status and driving assumptions of suspicion.
Sadly, the racism shows up nearly daily for people of minority racial status who are living in impoverished segregated neighborhoods.  TRIGGER WARNING - SOME OF THE VIDEO BELOW HERE ARE VIOLENT AND DISTURBING FOOTAGE OF PEOPLE BEING SHOT.

Just 10 days after Michael Brown was shot to death, this happened in nearby St Louis.  The police were called because this man stole two soft drinks from a convenience store.  The police showed up and within 20 seconds the police had shot him 12 times.  Then they proceeded to handcuff the lifeless body with hands behind his back.

Here is another incident from South Carolina where an officer tells a man to get his driver's license and when the man reaches into his car to get it, the officer shoots him.  The man then asks, "why did you shoot me?"

Here is a Washington Post article about similar situations. 
Here is a Huffington Post article also about situations like this.

This site from claims that a black man is killed every 28 hours by police.

I hope students see that the issue is much more complex than simply "those people were upset so they rioted".   The connection between race, poverty and the criminal justice is complex and it is made even moreso when adding our cultural construction of violent masculinity.  But keep in mind that most of us NEVER have to live at the intersection of poverty, minority status and violence.  But those in Ferguson and similar communities do live that out on a daily basis, their whole lives.  With that perspective, it should help you understand why there is outrage.

Here are sociological resources for teaching the Ferguson events.  Here is a website with lesson plans and articles.  And here is John Oliver's take which is basically what I said above but funnier and more entertaining:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Courtroom 302 Inhuman until proven guilty

Courtroom 302 is a book about a year-in-the-life of the Cook County Courthouse which is the largest single site county courthouse or jail in the United States.
After reading the excerpt from Courtroom 302 by Steve Bogira, think about how the reading ties together the Saints and Roughnecks and the relativity of deviant drugs and the 30 Days in Prison video. All of the prisoners in the Courtrom 302 reading were still defendants - they were not convicted of any crime! Yet, their treatment would seem to indicate that not only were they guilty, they were deserving of inhumane treatment. The prisoners are an example of the roughnecks in today's society. They are mostly poor and minorities who have been labelled by the system as no-good troublemakers. Secondly, think about how many of the prisoners were there for drug-related offenses. The reading said that 37 of the 43 felonies were drug-related. The labelling of drugs as a deviant criminal problem instead of a medical problem has severely impacted our criminal justice system. And in a system that favors those with money every step of the way, we see a disproportionate number of poor drug users filling up the system. In the end, I think Bogira would not blame the guards or the lawyers or the judges, but I think he would say that the system is broken. Only responsible citizens can change this structure by voting and activism to make the system fair again. In fairness to the system, over the last few years, there has been some developments that both highlight the structural failures but also provide hope that things can change. A Chicago cop was convicted of torturing defendants who were being questioned by police. Also, a class-action lawsuit was settled in favor of thousands of defendants who went through the Cook County Courthouse and faced the awful conditions that Bogira wrote about.

Deviance: Saints, Roughnecks and Patriots?

Please answer the following:

1. Describe the Saints.
2. Describe the Roughnecks.
3. How does money play a role with the Saints and Roughnecks?
4.  How are they affected in life after high school?
5. Are there Saints and Roughnecks at SHS?  Who (no names, please) and why?

Besides time and place, deviance is also relative to perception. Deviance must be perceived to be real. And in a capitalist society that values money, perceived deviance is related to social class. This is one revelation in William Chambliss's study called "The Saints and the Roughnecks" Chambliss argues that money was a key factor. If you have enough money it helps you cover up the deviance. Do you think this applies to kids at our school (no names please). Who is deviant? How do they hide it? Does money play a role? Is everyone at school a "saint"? Another important revelation in Chambliss's research is that the kids who accept the label of "deviant" then act upon that label. In other words, if I think that everyone expects me to be deviant, I may accept that as the truth and then I act deviant. Once you are labeled as "deviant", that becomes a stigma or a badge of disgrace that you carry with you. Sociologists who study this perspective call it the labeling theory.

Many students were upset about an investigation a while ago  that lead to the suspension of many students. But it might surprise students to learn that this was actually a relatively tame investigation. Here is a podcast from This American Life about a real drug investigation in a high school in Florida. Click on the link below and click on Act Two and play.

Act Two. 21 Chump Street.
Last year at three high schools in Palm Beach County, Florida, several young police officers were sent undercover to pose as students, tasked with making drug arrests. And this, this is the setting for a love story, reported by Robbie Brown. Robbie works for The New York Times in Atlanta. (13 minutes)

After listening can you see how our school handled the investigation the way the Saints were treated in the Chambliss reading instead of how the Florida school handled it (like the roughnecks)? You can read along on the transcript here.

A second way that we see this relativity in drugs depends on who is getting caught using them. In a landmark study, The Vicious Circle, the Chicago Urban League wrote about how a Chicago Police drug sting operation was handing out felonies to impoverished minorities busted near the projects, but upper middleclass white kids from Naperville who were being caught there (instead of being given a felony) were having their parents called by the cops, or in some cases having their license suspended, but then they were released with no felony on their record. Dr. Paul Street of the Chicago Urban League writes,
Perhaps nothing reveals more dramatically Illinois authorities’ penchant for waging the War on Drugs in…disparate ways than the state’s enforcement of two 1989 bills mandating that a 15 or 16 year-old youth automatically would be prosecuted as an adult if he or she was charged with selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school or a public housing project. Under the state’s Automatic Transfer laws…youth who have been convicted as adults can be transferred to adult prisons upon their 17th birthday and are automatically transferred on their 18th birthday….Of the 393 young people automatically transferred to adult facilities in Cook County from October 1999 to October 2000, 99.2 percent of them were minorities….
These findings are disturbing in light of evidence that white youth use illicit drugs at the same or higher rates as youth of color. They are doubly troublesome in light of recent reports on how local and state criminal justice authorities have chosen to deal with the rising number of ‘young [white] suburbanites’ purchasing heroin and other illegal narcotics on the city’s predominantly black West Side. In August 2001, The Chicago Tribune reported that city police and DuPage…drug cops… had selected a rather mild sanction for the suburban offenders. ‘Officers,’ the Tribune noted, ‘have seen teens make drug buys, traced the license plates of their cars and notified the registered owner, often a parent, where the vehicle has been.’
Last June…Cook County prosecuters and police had increased the level of punishment for the young suburbanites, threatening to impound their automobiles and suspend their driver’s licenses. William O’Brien, Chief of Narcotics for the State’s Attorney’s Office gave the following rationale for this ‘new crackdown,’ which contrasted sharply with the prison sentences faced by 15-year-old inner city youth caught selling narcotics next to a public housing project; when it comes to young and automobile centered suburban kids, O’Brien explained, ‘driving privileges may resonate more…than the threat of jail.’
The Vicious Circle by Dr. Paul Street, The Chicago Urban League, 2002. (pp.13-14)

Some other examples of how this applies to life beyond high school are the ways in which our society focuses on street crime as opposed to white collar crime.  Most of the news each night is spent on street crime: murders, burglary, robbery and rape.  The popular media likes reporting on these because they are action-oriented, personalized and fearful.  Each crime is presented like a mini-drama story.  However, white collar crime is far more costly and perhaps more dangerous.  White collar crime includes tax evasion, bribery, embezzling, negligence.  For example, a department store defrauded poor customers of over 100 million dollars;  tire company executives allowed faulty tires to remain on vehicles despite recalling the tires in other countries - 200 people were killed before the tires were removed; an oil company skirted safeguards which resulted in an explosion and environmental disaster killing 12 people and costing billions of dollars.  In each of these cases, there may have been fines imposed on the companies involved, but no one went to prison.  No one received a felony record.  I bet you cannot name an individual person involved in the incident because no one person was labeled as deviant. 
Another example of this is Freaks and Geeks episode 13 is an example of Chambliss's thesis. Lindsay is experimenting with pot but she does not get caught, but her freek friends get caught. They are expected to be deviant. They may have even accepted the label of being deviant and they now see themselves as deviant and that influences their actions.

Friday, November 21, 2014


The United States has one percent of its adult population locked up behind bars. One out of four prisoners IN THE WORLD is behind bars in the US. Over 50 percent of those incarcerated in a federal prison is convicted of a crime related to drugs. Here is a visual representation of the prison population. Approximately 16 percent of those incarcerated in America suffer from a mental illness. Here is an article from the International Herald detailing the shocking size of the US penal population. We have not always been this incarcerated. This link shows what offenses Americans are being incarcerated for; note how few are actually violent offenders.   Are these statistics surprising? How does this affect our society? How should we begin working to change this dynamic, or is the system fine the way it is?  Do you see how the relativity of deviance affects this? As attitudes change, laws change, and that affects who is incarcerated and how society deals with it.
There was a drastic surge in imprisonment that began during the 1980s when drugs went from being a medical problem to a criminal problem. 

Here is a link to the prison in the episode of 30 Days in Prison. Why aren't more prisons providing the assistance to inmates to turn their life around? Wouldn't it benefit all of society and all of us if inmates received help to adjust to life on the outside of prison?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

the relativity of deviance and drugs

As an example of the relativity of deviance, one can examine drugs as deviance in a few different ways:
First, it is really interesting to see how students classify alcohol and tobacco when they only see the pharmacological description of the drugs.  Based on the effects of the drug, students usually classify both alcohol and tobacco as illegal controlled substances, but the reality in our country is that both are totally legal!  As an adult you can buy and consume as much of these as you'd like.  Why would our country allow such dangerous substances to be consumed by so many people? Because deviance is relative.
 For a more reliable understanding of drugs and their effects, checkout the book Buzzed by Kuhn et al.

Another connection to the relativity of deviance is that for many years, drug use was considered a medical problem. If you are using drugs and harming your body or those around you, you need help. If you are psychologically addicted to drugs, you need help. As detailed in the book Reefer Madness, Eric Schlosser shows how Marijuana went from being a medical/social problem to being a criminal one. This change in the law shows how relative the law can be about marijuana. Furthermore, the laws criminalizing Marijuana are in many cases relative to where you are. Sometimes it depends on how the state handles the crime, sometimes it depends on how the local law enforcement handles the crime. An excerpt from Schlosser's writing:
Some states classify marijuana with drugs like mescaline and heroin, while others give it a separate legal category. In New York state possessing slightly less than an ounce of marijuana brings a $100 fine, rarely collected. In Nevada possessing any amount of marijuana is a felony. In Montana selling a pound of marijuana, first offense, could lead to a life sentence, whereas in New Mexico selling 10,000 pounds of marijuana, first offense, could be punished with a prison term of no more than three years. In some states it is against the law to be in a room where marijuana is being smoked, even if you don't smoke any. In some states you may be subject to criminal charges if someone else uses, distributes, or cultivates marijuana on your property. In Idaho selling water pipes could lead to a prison sentence of nine years. In Kentucky products made of hemp fibers, such as paper and clothing, not only are illegal but carry the same penalties associated with an equivalent weight of marijuana. In Arizona, where marijuana use is forbidden, the crime can be established by the failure of a urine test: a person could theoretically be prosecuted in Phoenix for a joint smoked in Philadelphia more than a week before.
So, what this is showing is that Marijuana laws (and drug laws in general) have changed over time and are still different from place to place; the relativity of deviance.

Another example of the relativity of deviance is how drug crimes are punished.  In another post, I showed how kids from the suburbs were being given a lighter punishment than poor kids from Chicago Housing Projects and in this post, I show how drug arrests are disproportionately given to minorities than to whites.  The sentencing project highlights this as does the ACLU. And another way the relativity of deviance favored those of higher social class was through sentencing laws that unfairly targeted poor drug users much harsher than wealthier ones.  Until 2010, crack cocaine (cheaper and used by poor minorities) was punished 100 times more harshly than pure powder cocaine (more expensive and used by wealthier people).  Here is a quote from the ACLU:
The scientifically unjustifiable 100:1 ratio meant that people faced longer sentences for offenses involving crack cocaine than for offenses involving the same amount of powder cocaine – two forms of the same drug. Most disturbingly, because the majority of people arrested for crack offenses are African American, the 100:1 ratio resulted in vast racial disparities in the average length of sentences for comparable offenses. 

Another relation of drugs and deviance is the stigma associated with drugs. Chicago Magazine published a story about the rapidly growing heroine problem in St. Charles claiming the lives of dozens of teens but the community was afraid to acknowledge this because of the stigma of drug use. This stigma lead to three teens dumping the body of their friend who had overdosed back into the poor Chicago neighborhood where they had bought the drugs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Deviance both positive and negative

Deviance is the repeated or serious violation of society's expectations. What is expected by society varies depending on where you are and when you are there. For example, cell phones used to be unacceptable at any school function just a matter of years ago. Now, I see students wearing cell phones on their waists and they are not perceived as deviant. It should be noted though that deviance doesn't just have to be negative. Check out this story from NPR:
A Victim Treats His Mugger Right
Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.
But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.
He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.
"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.
As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."
The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"

What a crazy story. What do you think about that?
Another example of positive deviance is this clip of "Snackman," a guy who broke up a fight on a subway in NY while eating potato chips!

So this brings me to the idea that deviance doesn't have to be negative; you can violate the norms of society by doing something positive, such as paying for the toll of a stranger, giving away money (even just a dollar) to someone who doesn't ask for it, offering to carry a fellow student's books/bag for no reason, etc... For your next experiment try violating a norm in a positive way. Try an act of positive deviance. How does it make it you feel? How hard was it to do? How did others react to you? Here are some suggestions from the Randomn Acts of Kindness(RAK) Foundation for RAK at school (yes this is a real organization). And here are some suggestions for individuals doing RAK in the community.  And here is a link to 35 pictures of people doing positive acts of deviance.

Here is my favorite story of positive deviance:

If you have some extra time here is a great story about positive deviance and a baseball all-star game:


Deviance is either repeatedly or seriously violating the norms of a society. Deviance is relative to both time and place. In other words, depending on when you are some place or where you are, you might be considered deviant or might not. When I was in the Caribbean on this remote island, I was stunned to see a guy carrying a sack of mangoes on his head. I took his picture because to me, this was deviant. However, what I didn't realize was that taking a stranger's picture was deviant to them. We looked at many other examples of deviance from class:
continuously talking to oneself in public
having a tattoo
doing your homework
holding the hand of a significant other in public
listening to your radio loud enough for everyone around you hear.
dropping out of high school
using illegal drugs
growing your hair really long
cutting your hair really short
a man wearing a dress
a business person wearing jeans
balancing your groceries on your head in public
leaving your parent's home after getting married
driving 100 m.p.h. down Port Clinton Rd.
attacking another person with a weapon
two men kissing
women working in a factory or in construction
woman with shaved armpits
shopping on Sunday
getting divorced
All of these have instances when or where they would or wouldn't be considered deviant. It depends on where you are and when you are there.

Deviance also needs to be perceived. In the following video, think about who is considered deviant and why:
It doesn't matter that Jerry didn't actually picked his nose. If he is perceived as deviant (which he is) then he is considered deviant and he will be treated as such.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tough Guise and Kimmel and Mahler

Thinking about the Kimmel and Mahler article and the Tough Guise video, answer the following questions:

1.  Who is likely to commit random acts of school violence?

2.  Why do they do this?

3.  What can males and females do to change this violent masculinity?

Post 7: Socialization into Gender

For this post, we have explored how socialization affects males and females and how something like gender can be so taken-for-granted.  In our culture there is a polarization of what it means to be female and male and heterosexual and lesbian or gay.  Our culture pushes individuals to opposite ends of a spectrum.  For this post, use examples from your own experience to show how our society socializes men and women into narrow boxes.  Explain how masculinity and femininity are a social construction.  How do the agents of socialization play a role in your experiences?  To demonstrate literacy, feel free to comment on the myriad sources we looked at for femininity (the research and videoes on my blog)  and the movies Killing Us Softly4, Tough Guise2, the Adolescent Homophobia...reading from Kimmel and Mahler about masculinity or the myriad other sources on my blog posts over the last 2 weeks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Behind the lines of masculinity and violence.

Lately there has been a very public discussion about the NFL and domestic violence. This is all related to the socialization of masculinity in the United States. ESPN's Outside the Lines even featured Jackson Katz on an episode. See that here. Jackson Katz has been researching and publishing about masculinity for over ten years.

Tough Guise

Today we watched a video about how our society socializes boys in a narrow and limited way. That video is called "Tough Guise". In other words, the disguise to seem tough that guys put on. Watch Tough Guise 2 on mediacast by clicking here.  Please read the article I assigned by Kimmel and Mahler related to this.
The documentary has a few important parts.  First is the idea that men are at risk because masculinity is a social construction that says violence, anger and toughness are the only okay emotions or reactions for males.  The media and society ignore this idea because they just assume that it is natural.  However, this idea has only been around since society changed from an agricultural patriarchy to a modern more egalitarian society.  As our society changed to be more urban and more equal, men have been taught to fear women and fear the changes.  These changes helped to popularize the Western movies and shows.  Along with the change of society came changes in acceptance of women as equal and changes in gay rights.  Fear of the changes in society is filtered throughout society via politics and media.  Guns are a symptom of the fear of the changes. There is a siege mentality that promotes rugged individualism and gun ownership as a way of fighting back both literally and figuratively.  Guys today are taught that violence is the only way to be really considered a man and to fight back.  This includes denigrating anything that is female or gay.  He ends with the idea that we can all make little changes in how we talk and act and think. We can support movies that show honest portrayals of guys and movies that help broaden the box that guys fit into. 

Below are some of the sources that are referred to in the movie.

Jackson Katz
Jackson Katz, narrator in the video has his own website.  Also, here is his book, The Macho Paradox
Here is Katz speaking at a TED conference:

Real Boys; Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, book by William Pollock.  Pollock documents how at a very early age boys are taught to
Excerpt available here.
Based on William Pollack's groundbreaking research at Harvard Medical School over two decades, Real Boys explores why many boys are sad, lonely, and confused although they may appear tough, cheerful, and confident. Pollack challenges conventional expectations about manhood and masculinity that encourage parents to treat boys as little men, raising them through a toughening process that drives their true emotions underground. Only when we understand what boys are really like, says Pollack, can we help them develop more self-confidence and the emotional savvy they need to deal with issues such as depression, love and sexuality, drugs and alcohol, divorce, and violence.

Guyland; The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, book by Michael Kimmel.  Kimmel's research focuses on kids slightly older than those in Pollack's research.  Here is a review from the NY Times.
In mapping the troubling social world where men are now made, Kimmel offers a view into the minds and times of America's sons, brothers, and boyfriends, and he works toward redefining what it means to be a man today—and tomorrow. Only by understanding this world and this life stage can we enable young men to chart their own paths, stay true to themselves, and emerge safely from Guyland as responsible and fully formed male adults.  Here is a post from Kimmel in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.

 Dude You're A Fag, book by sociologist C.J. Pascoe.  From the amazon summary, "High school and the difficult terrain of sexuality and gender identity are brilliantly explored in this smart, incisive ethnography. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a racially diverse working-class high school, Dude, You're a Fag sheds new light on masculinity both as a field of meaning and as a set of social practices. C. J. Pascoe's unorthodox approach analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process but also a sexual one. She demonstrates how the "specter of the fag" becomes a disciplinary mechanism for regulating heterosexual as well as homosexual boys and how the "fag discourse" is as much tied to gender as it is to sexuality."  Here is a video of the authors discussing their work.

Cool Pose; The Dilemmas of Black Manhood, book by Richard Majors and Janet Mancini Billson.  Here is a review from the NY Times;
While the cool pose is often misread by teachers, principals and police officers as an attitude of defiance, psychologists who have studied it say it is a way for black youths to maintain a sense of integrity and suppress rage at being blocked from usual routes to esteem and success.

Leading Men; Presidential Campaigns and the Politics of Manhood, book by Jackson Katz.
In Leading Men, Jackson Katz puts forth the original and highly provocative thesis that presidential campaigns have become the center stage of an ongoing national debate about manhood, a kind of quadrennial referendum on what type of man—or one day, woman—embodies not only our ideological beliefs, but our very identity as a nation.  Of course this debate has enormous implications for women—both as potential candidates for the presidency and as citizens.

Violence; Reflections on a National Epidemic, book by James Gilligan.  Drawing on firsthand experience as a prison psychiatrist, his own family history, and literature, Gilligan unveils the motives of men who commit horrifying crimes, men who will not only kill others but destroy themselves rather than suffer a loss of self-respect. With devastating clarity, Gilligan traces the role that shame plays in the etiology of murder and explains why our present penal system only exacerbates it. Brilliantly argued, harrowing in its portraits of the walking dead, Violence should be read by anyone concerned with this national epidemic and its widespread consequences.

Gunfighter Nation The Myth of the Frontier in 20th-Century America, a book By Richard Slotkin.  Excerpt from the NY Times;
According to the myth of the frontier, says Mr. Slotkin, "the conquest of the wilderness and the subjugation or displacement of the Native Americans who originally inhabited it have been the means to our achievement of a national identity, a democratic polity, an ever-expanding economy and a phenomenally dynamic and 'progressive' civilization." Central to this myth was the belief that "violence is an essential and necessary part of the process through which American society was established and through which its democratic values are defended and enforced."
 Terrence Real's book I Don't Want To Talk About It; Twenty years of experience treating men and their families has convinced psychotherapist Terrence Real that depression is a silent epidemic in men—that men hide their condition from family, friends, and themselves to avoid the stigma of depression’s “un-manliness.” Problems that we think of as typically male—difficulty with intimacy, workaholism, alcoholism, abusive behavior, and rage—are really attempts to escape depression. And these escape attempts only hurt the people men love and pass their condition on to their children.

Here is a poster from Katz that is printable with Ten Things Guys Can Do To Prevent Violence;
ten things men can do to prevent gender violence
  1. Approach gender violence as a MEN'S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
  2. If  a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner -- or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general -- don't look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don't know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON'T REMAIN SILENT.
  3. Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don't be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
  4. If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
  5. If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
  6. Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women's centers. Attend "Take Back the Night" rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
  7. Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
  8. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.  Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
  9. Don't fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
  10. Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don't involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men's programs. Lead by example

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Boys are socialized to have a very narrow and rigid definition of masculinity.

Mask You (Linity) 

After  examining the social construction of what it means to be feminine, we are now taking a look at the social construction of masculinity.

Question 1 : What are three words that describe what it means to be a man?

Question 2:  What are three words that describe someone who is not a real man?

Now examine some of these statistics:

Boys are 30% more likely to flunk.
Boys are 2.5 times more likely to be suspended.
Boys are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with learning and emotional disabilities

Question 3:  Why do you think this is true?

Sociologists find that the construction of masculinity puts boys at risk in school:
There is a disconnect between school and masculinity; masculinity is constructed as “active” while school is constructed to be passive; sit-down, pay attention, take notes are docile, passive and feminine.

Other disturbing statistics:
40% of teenage girls 14-17yrs say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
1 of 5 college females will experience some form of dating violence from their male partner.
1 in 3 High School students have been or will be in an abusive relationship.
 Zacariah Foundation

Why do you think this is true?

After carefully examining violence in America, I hope you see the larger dynamic of what is going on here.  Masculinity is a mask that many men wear in America. It is a way of masking or hiding who they really are in order to validating their self worth according to how the culture tells them they are supposed to be. Men in America are shaped by a culture that reinforces the idea that toughness, violence and aggression are normal ways of being male. They are also taught to not be vulnerable  or emotional or nurturing.  This creates a culture where overwhelmingly males are violent compared to females. Have you experienced this mask of masculinity? How? What are some other ways our culture should be constructing masculinity to provide validation for guys who are not violent? Are there examples out there that you know about? All of the agents of socialization play a role in this process.  Here is one example of the way the media creates this mask:


Our society creates very limited ways of being masculine.

Make a list of all the qualities/traits that you would like to see in a man that do not fit the traditional male stereotype.

In another post I blogged a little more seriously about the violent masculinity that is socially constructed in America. (see Mask You linity). This video is humorous because's my life, but B.because it is still so different and uncool to think of stay-at-home dads as being a exciting and meaningful in our society.
If you like that video, there are lots more very funny videoes by that artist (Lajoie), but especially related to this post is another video called everyday guy, which is a humorous rap about being a regular guy - the average guy that the media neglects. Why is being a stay-at-home dad or a "regular guy" so funny? Because our notions of what is acceptable to be a "real man" is so messed up. So, what is your definition of a real man? Let me give some examples of what I think a real man should be:
A real man...
is able to wake up in the middle of the night to comfort a crying baby
has opinions but restrains emotions of anger
allows someone else to save face even if it makes him look bad
Is willing to take the lead but is not concerned with who gets the credit
is able to empathize
tries to be respective of others' feelings, but says sorry when he is at fault
is willing to try things that are difficult but can ask for help when he needs it
forgives someone who wrongs him
doesn't whine but is not afraid to say is hurt, vulnerable, or that he cares.

Many males put on a tough guise to pretend that they are a tough guy because that is the only acceptable way to be masculine in our society. Here is a movie from the media education foundation called "Tough Guise". It shows how movies, tv, sports and families all socialize men to believe in the narrow definition of masculinity. Here it is on mediacast

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Service Step 2

For Step 2 of the Community Service Experience you should record on your blog what you experienced: Before, during and after you have a service experience, try to be mindful of these questions: Things to record: How did you feel about the service before going? What were your expectations? Were there aspects that you were apprehensive about? Where did you have to go for the service? Had you been there before? If not, what was it like going to this place? Who were the people you came into contact with? What were they like? What was the interaction like? What was the actual job you did? What was it like? Was there anything that surprised you? What were you thinking as you did it? How long did your tasks last? What did you think as you went home? Also you MUST include: Name of organization you volunteered? Where was your experience (address)? Date(s) and time(s) of experience? Supervisor or person in charge and phone/email address? And include a picture of you doing the service or you at the site.

After each service experience, you should write your observations down. These observations will be posted to your blog (in addition to your usual weekly posts). This should help you to remember the details about your experiences so that later in the semester you will be able to write a sociological reflection about your experiences. This also provides evidence of your participation in the service experience. Please fill out the information below or you may type and print it out, but be sure to include the information requested below. Please post about your experience within 1 WEEK after you do the service.

Friday, November 7, 2014

De-briefing the panel and research on femininity

Today I would like to accomplish two tasks:

De-brief the panel from yesterday and analyze the research from thursday.

1.  The panel

Please write individually about this:

1a. What are 3 things you took away/concluded from yesterday's panel?

1b. What are 2 questions you still have?

1c.What is 1 way this connects to the social construction of gender?

2.  Research on effects of feminization on girls.

3.  Looking ahead:
Remember to read Kimmel and Mahler's article on School Shootings