Class Calendar

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Components of Social Class in the USA

The common thinking about the American class system is that there are no rules in America and anything is possible. "Only in America" is a common myth. The reality is that there are "rules" to the class system, but few Americans see it (then again, few have a sociological imagination!). Here is a link to the Stanford Center on Poverty where you can view slides about inequality in the USA.

Here is a link to 15 statistics about inequality in America.

Here are other resources for examining the components of social class that comprise the "rules" about what is possible in the USA in terms of class:

Income: the highest earning Americans have continued to earn more and more over the last 50 years, while the lower earners have earned closer to about the same. The more money you have, the more you can earn.
What do you think the average household income in the United States is?
Click here to see an answer. Note the percentile for each income bracket and note the median.

If you are interested in how your community's income looks, click on the American Factfinder and search by zipcode. Then click on "Income" and look next to median family income.

For comparison, the average household in the US earned about $52,000 whereas BG earned $93,000, Lincolnshire earned $109,000 and LG earned $191,000.

Here is a link to Marketplace where you can input your income and compare it to social class data in the US.

Also, This graph displays the inequality by occupation.

Checkout this post from Slate about income inequality. You can scroll down a bit and enter your zipcode and see where it stands by comparison.

This video (though politicized) is an accurate portrayal of income inequality in America.

Wealth: Wealth in tricky to understand.  It is everything that a household owns, such as the home, vacation home, cars, 401K, savings, stocks, jewelry, etc...But, you must subtract what the household owes.  So, if my house is $200,000 but I owe $160,000 then my wealth is only $40,000 on the house.  Although tricky to calculate, most research indicates that the wealthiest Americans have an enormous amount of wealth compared to the average American. The disparity is greater than that of income (see the pie graph below).  From the Huffington Post, In 2010, "The median household net worth -- the level at which half the households have more and half have less -- was $77,300
How does your family or community compare to the average American?
Average American:  50% own 2 cars,  50% have a 401K, 66% own 1 home, 6% own a second home

This post and video from sociological images shows wealth inequality in the US. 

In the US, here are the percentages of adults over the age of 23 who have attained each degree in 2012:
High school graduate87.65%
Some college57.28%
Associate's and/or Bachelor's degree40.58%
Bachelor's degree30.94%
Master's degree8.05%
Doctorate or professional degree3.07%
For more on education and social class, this Wikipedia entry is thorough.

This link shows that on average, the higher a family's income, the higher the ACT score

And this link shows the higher one's educational level, the more he or she earns.

Here is a post from sociological images that has a lot of info showing the connection between your degree and your income. This graph shows that the less education that parents have, the less education their children obtain.
Location: The price of a home depends on a lot more than the physical structure of the home.
The average home price in the United States in 2012 was $175K.  The average price in BG was $346,000.  And in LG it was $765,000.  Click here to see some houses for sale in Lake County, IL in 2014.  Which do you think are the most expensive?  Which are the least? When you see the actual prices, why do you think that is?

Here you can find data by zipcode about the average home price ( as well as income and other data).

This report from NPR's Planet Money details how where you grow up can affect your income later in life.  And here is a video and stats from CNN Money that show how where you grow up limits or benefits you.

Prestige and power : People view different occupations with different levels of prestige.  This prestige can translate to real power such as being appointed to boards or committees.  It can also simply give you credibility or respect in social situations.  Here is a chart of prestige ratings.

Power, according to Max Weber, is the ability to impose one's will on others.  The powerful people are able to keep themselves out of jail, influence politicians and enact laws that are favorable to themselves.  Here is one example from The Daily Show comparing teachers and Wall Street Investors.  Can you guess who has the power?

Here is a link to a Washington Post article explaining that wealthy Americans use their power to create favorable government policies.

And this article from the NY Times shows that an executive at United Airlines accused of corruption charges was forced to resign. Imagine if a teacher was accused of corruption and was forced to resign. That would be it - out of a job and no compensation. But,

United filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday indicating that Mr. Smisek would receive nearly $4.9 million in a separation payment, and 60,000 shares of stock, valued at over $3 million.

Creating a Social Class Ladder in the U.S.
All of these combine to form a rough picture of social class. Here is one representation of how all of those components might work together:

Look over your information for income, wealth, education, location and prestige.  Are they mostly above, average or below? Then try to think where that person falls on this ladder?  Why would you place them there?  Share this your group.

Was it difficult to share with the group?  Why or why not?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Heads I win, tails you lose

Today we wagered on flipping pennies in class. The exercise was a metaphor for deviance and social class. The exercise resembles real life in a number of ways:
It had the appearance of being fair and equal - everyone had a 50% chance of winning. However, the way the rules are written, the money will flow to the top with just a few having most coins and most people having very little.  The more money you have the more opportunities you have.

Most U.S. citizens do not like the idea of social class. They will not acknowledge the rules that create the distribution of wealth that we see in the exercise. But the reality is that our wealth and even our income in the U.S. resembles that of the coin flip metaphor; a few individuals at the top with enormous wealth and income and most people at the bottom making very little (comparatively).
Here is a graph of the real distribution of income in the US.  Notice how closely it resembles the coin flipping metaphor:

And the "rules" of our society help to create that dynamic. By "rules" I mean the opportunities and obstacles that we face based on our social class.

These rules can also be applied to what we have been talking about regarding deviance. One example is William Chambliss's study of The Saints and Roughnecks.  Those with money are able to stay clear of the criminal justice system while the majority of those who are locked up in prisons are citizens with low income.(see this study from the Chicago Urban League for more on that) As I mentioned in an earlier post:

Wealthy crimes are generally "white collar" crime, esp. corporate crime. Instead of white collar crime, our society tends to focus on street crime such as robberies, murders, rapes. The media contributes to this b/c it is action-packed, full of emotion (fear), and personalized (it tells a good story). On the other hand, white collar crime is boring (numbers & statistics). But the reality is that it is more costly ($400bil). One example is Sears which defrauded poor customers of over $100 million. They pled guilty and avoided a trial; other companies settled out of court for similar practices. Firestone executives let faulty tires remain on U.S. vehicles even though they had been recalled in other countries. About 200 people killed. Under federal law, causing the death of a worker by willfully violating safety rules is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in prison. Powerful people bypass the courts and are usually fined – no jail.

Social Class (inequality) in the USA by comparison

Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are relative to the rest of the world because the media is saturated with stories of the super wealthy. Here is a website that will rank you among the WORLD's population. That should provide some perspective as to how lucky we are.

However, relative to other Westernized modern countries, the US does not look so equal.  In fact, the inequality in the USA is closer to China, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina and even Cuba!

This map shows the inequality present in countries around the world. The bluer countries are more equal and the more red are less equal:Notice how many countries are more equal than the United States.

And here is a post showing that the US has gotten more unequal over the past several decades.

 Here is another blog's post about the growing inequality in the U.S.

Here is a post from the Society Pages about the damaging effects of income inequality.

Service Ideas for 1 hour

If you need just one more hour for your community service requirement, here are some options:

You can clean out your closet or help your parents clean out stuff around the house and then drive the donations to Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity Restore shop or another charitable organization.  Remember to take pictures of what you donate and where you drop it off at.

Giving Blood
You can stop into a Lifesource and donate blood.  I will count this as one hour.
Feed My Starving Children
They have lots of shifts and some of them are just 1.5 hours.

Monday, November 23, 2015


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?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Post 8: Deviance

For this post, explain the concept of deviance and how it is relative.  You may also explain how deviance labels people and creates a stigma as well as how it is connected to social class. Some sources we looked at include Saints and Roughnecks, Courtroom 302, 21 Chump Street (podcast about undercover drug sting), and 30 days in Jail.  Remember to create a unique example from your own life.  One option is for you to experience being deviant by doing an act of positive deviance. 

Courtroom 302 Inhuman until proven guilty

As you enter, please answer the following questions about Courtroom 302 on the last page of the reading:

1.  Describe the prisoners and their offenses.
2.  What is something that seems injust/unfair in the story?
3.  What do you think the author’s thesis is?  Why did he write this?
4.  In what ways does money play into the problem?
5.  How does this article relate to the Saints and Roughnecks and the drug exercise we did in class?  OR How are these prisoners affected by stigma?

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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Deviance and Social Class in Chicago

In the United States, do poor minorities have less rights than those with power? Why or why not?

At every step of the criminal justice system, the poor and minorities are more likely to remain in the system than get freed.

One example is a story that broke in February of 2015 about Chicago's secret detention facility in Homan Square on the west side.
The Homan Detention Center

From the Guardian via Gawker:
In February, the Guardian published a deep investigation into Homan Square, a shadowy facility where the Chicago Police Department takes suspects without booking them, entering them into any official database, or giving them access to a telephone or their lawyer. A new Guardian report claims that more than twice as many people have been “disappeared” into Homan as officials initially disclosed...The paper obtained documents showing that more than 7,000 people were detained at Homan between 2004 and 2015—about 6,000 of whom were black. Less than one percent of those detainees were allowed to see their lawyers during interrogations. Attorneys described a system that seems deliberately engineered to make it difficult to find their clients; others said that they were turned around at the door. “Try finding a phone number for Homan to see if anyone’s there. You can’t, ever,” an attorney named David Gaeger told the Guardian. “If you’re laboring under the assumption that your client’s at Homan, there really isn’t much you can do as a lawyer. You’re shut out. It’s guarded like a military installation.”
And from an August 2015 Guardian report:
Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.  Documents indicate the detainees are a group of disproportionately minority citizens, many accused of low-level drug crimes, faced with incriminating themselves before their arrests appeared in a booking system by which their families and attorneys might find them.
One of my former students was detained there:

From the Guardian,

Marc Freeman is the 11th person to come forward to the Guardian detailing detention inside Homan Square – and the first whose police record details how long he was stuck inside. ‘At no point was I ever processed, I was never asked for my information, they did not take any fingerprints,’ he said.

Here is the John Oliver bit on Civil Forfeiture that Mr. Freeman mentioned:

Another more disturbing example is former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge who tortured suspects for decades to get them to confess.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

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. 

Lastly, 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.

Friday, November 13, 2015

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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


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 9, 2015

"You must unlearn what you have learned..."

In Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda tells Luke that he must "unlearn what he has learned," he is talking about resocializing him. This means learning a new way of thinking and acting. Alcoholics Anonymous or weight watchers are good examples of groups that help resocialize individuals. Another way individuals are transformed by resocializing is through total institutions, such as a monastery, a prison or bootcamp.

Bootcamp must be especially powerful because, on a basic level, individuals are learning to not run or hide when being shot at and they are learning to shoot at others. Here is a video showing bootcamp and how recruits are re-socialized into Marines.

Another example of this from my own life is training in aikido. The image at the right is my dojo from Japan (I am in the back left...with hair :-) Aikido is a martial art that means the way of harmony of energy. It is a different concept of martial arts. It is not fighting, it is not even competitive. It is not, however, like Tai Chi. Aikido is practical and applicable to the world. But it requires training and a new way of thinking about the world, a resocialization.
Here is a link to a story about aikido in action (non-physically).
Here Steven Seagal talks about how he got started in aikido.  What really strikes me is that Seagal seems so tough but he says that he had to learn discipline, respect, gentleness and kindness.  And he says, "The martial arts taught me to be more understanding and the ability to harmonize with others...we don't want to hurt them."  That seems so opposite of what Americans think masculinity is.

Here is a video of physical aikido:

Friday, November 6, 2015

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 5, 2015

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.  When violence occurs in society, the media and society ignore the masculine element.  They just assume that it is natural.
However, the connection between masculinity and violence  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 that have only been around the last 75 years or so.
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 hold onto their manhood.
This includes denigrating anything that is female or gay.  This creates a dangerous anti-woman attitude.
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 accept traditional male gender traits of being tough and repressing their emotions.
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 Katz's conclusion from the movie:

Too often, we define masculine strength by who can blow away the most people, who can flex the most muscle, who can impose their will and inflict the most damage. But this cheapens the real definition of strength and toughness.
We respect the toughness of firefighters who rush into burning buildings when others are rushing out, police officers and other first responders who put their lives on the line, and our men and women in the armed services who show courage under fire – not because they’re out to prove something, but because they steer themselves in the face of danger and face down their fears in service to others.
For the same reason, we should respect the toughness and strength of men who challenge the myth that being a real man requires putting up a false front, disrespecting others, and engaging in violent and self-destructive behavior.
We should respect all the men out there who aren’t threatened by women’s equality, who have the confidence to listen to women, learn from them, and grow in the process, who refuse to engage in homophobic abuse and bullying to prove they’re one of the guys, who show empathy for others rather than joining in or remaining silent when other guys prop themselves up at the expense of others, and who meet change and difference with a willingness to make change and a difference themselves.
Strength is about adapting to change, not about retreating from it and lashing back with violence out of fear. And it’s high time we had a definition of manhood capable of meeting that challenge.

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 4, 2015

Tough Guise and Kimmel and Mahler

Thinking about the Kimmel and Mahler article, 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?