Choose one question from part one and one question from part 2. (each essay should be about 2 pages)
PART I: CHOOSE ONE QUESTION,
PART II: ANSWER QUESTION #1 or #2
You will answer a total of two questions.
(the articles that you need for this assignment are included after the instruction. )
Answer the following question.
(Please specifically answer the question. And follow the instruction bellow and apply the 2 theories )
1- Read article #1 (Cherrie Moraga). then Use a feminist theory of your choice (radical, liberal, socialist, multicultural, and postmodern) to explain the impact of homophobia and intolerance on the life of Cherrie Moraga and on the lives of gays and lesbians in general. Discuss how you would develop a research plan to ?test? this theory using feminist methodology. (Be sure to include how you would incorporate the assumptions of the methodology into a study of the effects of homophobia)
Choose one of the following essay questions.
1. Read articles # 2 and #3 and then discuss the concerns of hooks and Dyson regarding misogyny and gangster rap. In your discussion, incorporate one feminist theory (radical, liberal, socialist, multicultural, and postmodern) and one theory of development (cognitive theory, social learning theory and schema theory) to explain both the causes of and solutions for the problem. Be sure that any solutions flow logically from the theory.
2. Read article # 4 and then Discuss some of the problems for boys that are at the heart of the educational process (as defined by Sadker). Which theory of development (cognitive theory, social learning theory and schema theory) best addresses these problems? Why? Which sociological theory (Functionalist, conflict, symbolic interactionist) best addresses them? Why? Incorporate both explanations and solutions from each perspective in your discussion.
Article #1 Cherrie Moraga and Chicana Lesbianism
By Tomas Almaguer
(Cherrie Moraga was born in Los Angeles in 1952. She is of Chicana/Anglo descent, which has influenced her experiences as a lesbian poet, playwright, essayist, editor, teacher, and activist. Almaguer argues that her writings offer a lucid and complex analysis of the predicament of many Chicano/Chicana gay and lesbian members of society face. The quotes in his analysis are from Loving in the War Years by Cherrie Moraga)
An essential point of departure in assessing Cherrie Moraga's work is an appreciation of the way Chicano family life severely constrains the Chicana' s ability to define her life outside of its stifling gender and sexual prescriptions. As a number of Chicana feminist scholars have clearly documented, Chicano family life remains rigidly structured along patriarchal lines that privilege men over women and children. Any violation of these norms is undertaken at great personal risk because Chicanos draw upon the family to resist racism and the ravages of class inequality .Chicano men and women are drawn together in the face of these onslaughts and are closely bound into a family structure that exaggerates unequal gender roles and suppresses sexual non-conformity . Therefore, any deviation from the sacred link binding husband, wife, and child not only threatens the very existence of la familia but also potentially undermines the mainstay of resistance to Anglo racism and class exploitation. "The family, then, becomes all the more ardently protected by oppressed people and the sanctity of this institution is infused like blood into the veins of the Chicano. At all costs, la familia must be preserved," writes Moraga. Thus, "we fight back... with our families-with our women pregnant, and our men as indispensable heads. We believe the more severely we protect the sex roles within the family, the stronger we will be as a unit in opposition to the anglo threat" (Loving 110).
These cultural prescriptions do not, however, curb the sexually non-conforming behavior of certain Chicanos. As in the case of Mexican homosexual men in Mexico, there exists a modicum of freedom for the Chicano homosexual who retains a masculine gender identity while secretly engaging in the active homosexual role. Moraga has perceptively noted that the Latin cultural norm inflects the sexual behavior of homosexual Chicanos: "Male
homosexuality has always been a 'tolerated' aspect of Mexican/Chicano society, as long as it remains 'fringe' ...But lesbianism, in any form, and male
homosexuality which openly avows both the sexual and the emotional elements of the bond, challenge the very foundation of la familia?. The openly effeminate Chicano gay man's rejection of heterosexuality is typically seen as a fundamental betrayal of Chicano patriarchal cultural norms. He is viewed as having turned his back on the male
role that privileges Chicano men and entitles them to sexual access to women, minors, and even other men. Those who reject these male
prerogatives are viewed as non-men, as the cultural equivalents of women. Moraga astutely assesses the situation as one in which "the 'faggot' is the object of Chicano/Mexicano's contempt because he is consciously choosing a role his culture tells him to despise. That of a woman.?
The constraints that Chicano family life imposed on Moraga herself are candidly discussed in her provocative autobiographical essays "La Guera" and "A Long Line of Vendidas" in Loving in the War Years. In recounting her childhood in Southern California, Moraga describes how she was routinely required to make her brother's bed, iron his shirts, lend him money, and even serve him cold drinks when his friends came to visit their home. The privileged position of men in the Chicano family places women in a secondary, subordinate status. She resentfully acknowledges that "to this day in my mother's home, my brother and father are waited on, including by me" (90). Chicano men have always thought of themselves as superior to Chicanas, she asserts in unambiguous terms: "I have never met any kind of Latino who...did not subscribe to the basic belief that men are better" (101). The insidiousness of the patriarchal ideology permeating Chicano family life even shapes the way a mother defines her relationships with her children: "The daughter must constantly earn the mother's love, prove her fidelity to her. The son-he gets her love for free" (102).
Moraga realized early in life that she would find it virtually impossible to attain any meaningful autonomy in that cultural context. It was only in the Anglo world that freedom from oppressive gender and sexual strictures was remotely possible. In order to secure this latitude, she made a necessary choice: to embrace the white world and reject crucial aspects of her Chicana upbringing. In painfully honest terms, she states:
I gradually became anglocized because I thought it was the only option available to me toward gaining autonomy as a person without being sexually stigmatized. ...I instinctively made choices which I thought would allow me greater freedom of movement in the future. This meant resisting sex roles as much as I could safely manage and that was far easier in an anglo context than in a Chicano one. (99)
Born to a Chicana mother and an Anglo father, Moraga discovered that being fair-complexioned facilitated her integration into the Anglo social world and contributed immensely to her academic achievement. "My mother's desire to protect her children from poverty and illiteracy" led to their being "anglocized," she writes; "the more effectively we could pass in the white world, the better guaranteed our future" (51). Consequently her life in Southern California during the 1950s and 1960s is described as one in which she "identified with and aspired toward white values" (58). In the process, she "rode the wave of that Southern California privilege as far as conscience would let me" (58).
The price initially exacted by anglicization was estrangement from family and a partial loss of the nurturing and love she found therein. In reflecting on this experience, Moraga acknowledges that "I have had to confront that much of what I value about being Chicana, about my family, has been subverted by anglo culture and my cooperation with it. ...I realized the major reason for my total alienation from and fear of my class- mates was rooted in class and culture" (54). She poignantly concedes that, in the process, "I had disavowed the language I knew best-ignored the words and rhythms that were closest to me. The sounds of my mother and aunts gossiping- half in English, half in Spanish-while drinking cerveza in the kitchen" (55). What she gained, on the other hand, was the greater autonomy that her middle-class white classmates had in defining their emergent sexuality and in circumventing burdensome gender prescriptions. Her movement into the white world, however, was viewed by Chicanos as a great betrayal. By gaining control of her life, Moraga became one of a "long line of vendidas," traitors or "sell-outs," as self-determined women are seen in the sexist cultural fantasy of patriarchal Chicano society. This is the accusation that "hangs above the heads and beats in the hearts of most Chicanas, seeking to develop our own autonomous sense of ourselves, particularly our sexuality" (103).
Patriarchal Chicano culture, with its deep roots in "the institution of heterosexuality , " requires Chicanas to commit themselves to Chicano men and subordinate to them their own sexual desires. "[The Chicano] too, like any other man," Moraga writes, "wants to be able to determine how, when, and with whom his women-mother , wife, and daughter-are sexual" (110-111). But "the Chicana's sexual commitment to the Chicano male
[is taken as] proof of her fidelity to her people" (105). "It is no wonder," she adds, that most "Chicanas often divorce ourselves from conscious recognition of our own sexuality" (119). In order to claim the identity of a Chicana lesbian, Moraga had to take "a radical stand in direct contradiction to, and in violation of, the women [sic] I was raised to be" (117); and yet she also drew upon themes and images ofter Mexican Catholic background. Of its impact on her sexuality Mor-aga writes:
I always knew that I felt the greatest emotional ties with women, but suddenly I was beginning to consciously identify those feelings as sexual. The more potent my dreams and fantasies became and the more I sensed my own exploding sexual power, the more I retreated from my body's messages and into the region of religion. By giving definition and meaning to my desires, religion became the discipline to control my sexuality. Sexual fantasy and rebellion became "impure thoughts" and "sinful acts." (119)
These "contrary feelings," which initially surfaced around the age of twelve, unleashed feelings of guilt and moral transgression. She found it impossible to leave behind the Catholic Church's prohibitions regarding homosexuality, and religious themes found their way into how she initially came to define herself as a sexual subject-in a devil-like form. "I wrote poems describing my- self as a centaur: half-animal/half-human, hairy-rumped and cloven-hoofed, como el diablo. The images emerged from a deeply Mexican and Catholic place" (124).
As her earliest sexual feelings were laden with religious images, so too were they shaped by images of herself in a male
-like form. This is understandable in light of the fact that only men in Chicano culture are granted sexual subjectivity . Consequently, Moraga instinctively gravitated toward a butch persona and assumed a male
-like stance toward other women.
In the effort to avoid embodying la chingada, I became the ching?n. In the effort not to feel fucked, I became the fucker, even with women. ...The fact of the matter was that all those power struggles of "having" and "being had" were played out in my own bedroom. And in my psyche, they held a particular Mexican twist. (126)
In a candid and courageously outspoken conversation with lesbian activist Amber Hollibaugh, Moraga recounts that:
what turned me on sexually, at a very early age, had to do with the fantasy of capture, taking a woman, and my identification was with the man. ...The truth is, I do have some real gut-level misgivings about my sexual connection with capture. It might feel very sexy to imagine "taking" a woman, but it has sometimes occurred at the expense of my feeling, sexually, like I can surrender myself to a woman; that is, always needing to be the one in control, calling the shots. It's a very butch trip and I feel like this can keep me private and protected and can prevent me from fully being able to express myself. (Moraga and Hollibaugh 396)
Moraga's adult lesbian sexuality defined itself along the traditional butch/femme lines characteristic of lesbian relationships in the post-war period. It is likely that such an identity formation was also largely an expression of the highly gender-coded sexuality imparted through Chicano family life. In order to define herself as an autonomous sexual subject, she embraced a butch, or more masculine, gender persona, and crystallized a sexual desire for feminine, or femme, lovers.
From ?Chicano Men: A Cartography O Homosexual Identify and Behavior.? Men?s Lives. Kimmel and Messner. Allyn and Bacon. 2004
article #2 Sexism and Misogyny: Who Takes the Rap?
By bell hooks
Original title: Sexism and Misogyny: Who Takes the Rap? Misogyny, gangsta rap, and The Piano________
For the past several months white mainstream media has been calling me to hear my views on gangsta rap. Whether major television networks, or small independent radio shows, they seek me out for the black and feminist "take" on the issue. After I have my say, I am never called back, never invited to do the television shows or the radio spots. I suspect they call, confident that when we talk they will hear the hardcore "feminist" trash of gangsta rap. When they encounter instead the hardcore feminist critique of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, they lose interest. To white dominated mass media, the controversy over gangsta rap makes great spectacle. Besides the exploitation of these issues to attract audiences, a central motivation for highlighting gangsta rap continues to be the sensationalist drama of demonizing black youth culture in general and the contributions of young black men in particular. It is a contemporary remake of "Birth of a Nation" only this time we are encouraged to believe it is not just vulnerable white womanhood that risks destruction by black hands but everyone. When I counter this demonization of black males
by insisting that gangsta rap does not appear in a cultural vacuum, but, rather, is expressive of the cultural crossing, mixings, and engagement of black youth culture with the values, attitudes, and concerns of the white majority, some folks stop listening.
The sexist, misogynist, patriarchal ways of thinking and behaving that are glorified in gangsta rap are a reflection of the prevailing values in our society, values created and sustained by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. As the crudest and most brutal expression of sexism, misogynistic attitudes tend to be portrayed by the dominant culture as an expression of male
deviance. In reality they are part of a sexist continuum, necessary for the maintenance of patriarchal social order. While patriarchy and sexism continue to be the political and cultural norm in our society, feminist movement has created a climate where crude expressions of male
domination are called into question, especially if they are made by men in power. It is useful to think of misogyny as a field that must be labored in and maintained both to sustain patriarchy but also to serve as an ideological anti-feminist backlash. And what better group to labor on this "plantation" than young black men.
To see gangsta rap as a reflection of dominant values in our culture rather than as an aberrant "pathological" standpoint does not mean that a rigorous feminist critique of the sexist and misogyny expressed in this music is not needed. Without a doubt black males
, young and old, must be held politically accountable for their sexism. Yet this critique must always be contextualized or we risk making it appear that the behaviors this thinking supports and condones,--rape, male
violence against women, etc.-- is a black male
thing. And this is what is happening. Young black males
are forced to take the "heat" for encouraging, via their music, the hatred of and violence against women that is a central core of patriarchy.
Witness the recent piece by Brent Staples in the "New York Times" titled "The Politics of Gangster Rap: A Music Celebrating Murder and Misogyny." Defining the turf Staples writes: "For those who haven't caught up, gangster rap is that wildly successful music in which all women are `bitches' and `whores' and young men kill each other for sport." No mention of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in this piece, not a word about the cultural context that would need to exist for young males
to be socialized to think differently about gender. Staples assumes that black males
are writing their lyrics off in the "jungle," away from the impact of mainstream socialization and desire. At no point in his piece does he ask why huge audiences, especially young white male
consumers, are so turned on by this music, by the misogyny and sexism, by the brutality? Where is the anger and rage at females expressed in this music coming from, the glorification of all acts of violence? These are the difficult questions that Staples feels no need to answer.
One cannot answer them honestly without placing accountability on larger structures of domination and the individuals (often white, usually male
but not always) who are hierarchically placed to maintain and perpetuate the values that uphold these exploitative and oppressive systems. That means taking a critical looking at the politics of hedonistic consumerism, the values of the men and women who produce gangsta rap. It would mean considering the seduction of young black males
who find that they can make more money producing lyrics that promote violence, sexism, and misogyny than with any other content. How many disenfranchised black males
would not surrender to expressing virulent forms of sexism, if they knew the rewards would be unprecedented material power and fame?
More than anything gangsta rap celebrates the world of the "material, " the dog-eat-dog world where you do what you gotta do to make it. In this world view killing is necessary for survival. Significantly, the logic here is a crude expression of the logic of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. In his new book "Sexy Dressing, Etc." privileged white male
law professor Duncan Kennedy gives what he calls "a set of general characterizations of U. S. culture" explaining that, "It is individual (cowboys), material (gangsters) and philistine." Using this general description of mainstream culture would lead us to place "gangsta rap" not on the margins of what this nation is about, but at the center. Rather than being viewed as a subversion or disruption of the norm we would need to see it as an embodiment of the norm.
That viewpoint was graphically highlighted in the film "Menace To Society" which dramatized not only young black males
killing for sport, but also mass audiences voyeuristically watching and, in many cases, "enjoying" the kill. Significantly, at one point in the movie we see that the young black males
have learned their "gangsta" values from watching television and movies--shows where white male
gangsters are center stage. This scene undermines any notion of "essentialist" blackness that would have viewers believe the gangsterism these young black males
embraced emerged from some unique black cultural experience.
When I interviewed rap artist Ice Cube for "Spin" magazine last year, he talked about the importance of respecting black women and communication across gender. He spoke against male
violence against women, even as he lapsed into a justification for anti- woman rap lyrics by insisting on the madonna/whore split where some females "carry" themselves in a manner that determines how they will be treated. When this interview was published, it was cut to nothing. It was a mass media set-up. Folks (mostly white and male
) had thought if the hardcore feminist talked with the hardened black man, sparks would fly; there would be a knock-down drag out spectacle. When Brother Cube and I talked to each other with respect about the political, spiritual, and emotional self- determination of black people, it did not make good copy. Clearly folks at the magazine did not get the darky show they were looking for.
After this conversation, and talking with rappers and folks who listen to rap, it became clear that while black male
sexism is a serious problem in our communities and in black music, some of the more misogynist lyrics were there to stir up controversy and appeal to audiences. Nowhere is this more evident that in Snoop Doggy Dogg's record "Doggystyle". A black male
music and cultural critic called me to ask if I had checked this image out; to share that for one of the first times in his music buying life he felt he was seeing an image so offensive in its sexism and misogyny that he did not want to take that image home. That image (complete with doghouse, beware the dog sign, with a naked black female head in a doghouse, naked butt sticking out) was reproduced, "uncritically," in the November 29, 1993 issue of "Time" magazine. The positive music review of this album, written by Christopher John Farley, is titled "Gangsta Rap, Doggystyle" makes no mention of sexism and misogyny, makes no reference to the cover. I wonder if a naked white female body had been inside the doghouse, presumably waiting to be fucked from behind, if "Time" would have reproduced an image of the cover along with their review. When I see the pornographic cartoon that graces the cover of "Doggystyle," I do not think simply about the sexism and misogyny of young black men, I think about the sexist and misogynist politics of the powerful white adult men and women (and folks of color) who helped produce and market this album.
In her book "Misogynies" Joan Smith shares her sense that while most folks are willing to acknowledge unfair treatment of women, discrimination on the basis of gender, they are usually reluctant to admit that hatred of women is encouraged because it helps maintain the structure of male dominance
. Smith suggests: "Misogyny wears many guises, reveals itself in different forms which are dictated by class, wealth, education, race, religion and other factors, but its chief characteristic is its pervasiveness." *
Contrary to a racist white imagination which assumes that most young black males
, especially those who are poor, live in a self- created cultural vacuum, uninfluenced by mainstream, cultural values, it is the application of those values, largely learned through passive uncritical consumption of mass media, that is revealed in "gangsta rap." Brent Staples is willing to challenge the notion that "urban primitivism is romantic" when it suggests that black males
become "real men" by displaying the will to do violence, yet he remains resolutely silent about that world of privileged white culture that has historically romanticized primitivism, and eroticized male
violence. Contemporary films like "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Bad Lieutenant" celebrate urban primitivism and many less well done films ("Trespass, Rising Sun") create and/or exploit the cultural demand for depictions of hardcore blacks who are willing to kill for sport.
To take "gangsta rap" to task for its sexism and misogyny while critically accepting and perpetuating those expressions of that ideology which reflect bourgeois standards (no rawness, no vulgarity) is not to call for a transformation of the culture of patriarchy. Ironically, many black male
ministers, themselves sexist and misogynist, are leading the attacks against gangsta rap. Like the mainstream world that supports white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, they are most concerned with calling attention to the vulgar obscene portrayals of women to advance the cause of censorship. For them, rethinking and challenging sexism, both in the dominant culture and in black life, is not the issue.
Mainstream white culture is not concerned about black male
sexism and misogyny, particularly when it is unleashed against black women and children. It is concerned when young white consumers utilize black popular culture to disrupt bourgeois values. Whether it be the young white boy who expresses his rage at his mother by aping black male
vernacular speech (a true story) or the masses of young white males
(and middle class men of color) seeking to throw off the constraints of bourgeois bondage who actively assert in their domestic households via acts of aggression their rejection of the call to be "civilized. " These are the audiences who feel such a desperate need for gangsta rap. It is much easier to attack gangsta rap than to confront the culture that produces that need.
Gangsta rap is part of the anti-feminist backlash that is the rage right now. When young black males
labor in the plantations of misogyny and sexism to produce gangsta rap, their right to speak this violence and be materially rewarded is extended to them by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Far from being an expression of their "manhood," it is an expression of their own subjugation and humiliation by more powerful, less visible forces of patriarchal gangsterism. They give voice to the brutal raw anger and rage against women that it is taboo for "civilized" adult men to speak. No wonder then that they have the task of tutoring the young, teaching them to eroticize and enjoy the brutal expressions of that rage (teaching them language and acts) before they learn to cloak it in middle-class decorum or Robert Bly style reclaimings of lost manhood. The tragedy for young black males
is that they are so easily dunned by a vision of manhood that can only lead to their destruction.
Feminist critiques of the sexism and misogyny in gangsta rap, and in all aspects of popular culture, must continue to be bold and fierce. Black females must not be duped into supporting shit that hurts us under the guise of standing beside our men. If black men are betraying us through acts of male
violence, we save ourselves and the race by resisting. Yet, our feminist critiques of black male
sexism fail as meaningful political intervention if they seek to demonize black males
, and do not recognize that our revolutionary work is to transform white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in the multiple areas of our lives where it is made manifest, whether in gangsta rap, the black church, or the Clinton administration.
Article# 3- DO WE HATE OUR WOMEN?
By Michael Eric Dyson
From: Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur. Basic Civitas Books. 2001.
In many ways it appears too easy, and just downright sexist, to blame women for the
hateful sentiments that pass for gender commentary in hip-hop. Most rappers inherit their beliefs about women long before they find fame and fortune in hip-hop. Still, it is undeniable that they encounter young women whose chief goal is to bring pleasure to rap stars and to procure, in Snoop Dogg's term, "superstar dick." Groupies are a staple not just of hip-hop but all forms of masculine endeavor, from the dugout to the pulpit, from the blues hall to the boardroom. It is one thing to cast aspersions on women deemed to be loose and destructive in their sexual demeanor. It is another to judge all women as bitches or whores or to defend oneself, as rappers often do, by claiming, "I'm not talking about all women, just the ones I meet who act like bitches and hos."
The problem is, they never seem to meet or describe any other women besides"bitches" or "hos." (But the hypocrisy of the double standard must not be missed. Groupie sexual culture attempts, however desperately and self-destructively, to right the imbalance in the circulation of sexual pleasures that allows men to be promiscuous as a condition of their maturing masculinity, whereas women bear the stigma of "ho" for their equally aggressive erotic experimentation.) Neither does such a judgment take into account the political economy of the "ho." If social empathy for young black males
is largely absent in public opinion and public policies, the lack of understanding and compassion for the difficulties faced by poor young black females is even more deplorable.
There exists within quarters of black life a range of justifications for black male
behavior. Even if they are not wholly accepted by other blacks or by the larger culture, such justifications have a history and possess social resonance. Young black males
hustle because they are poor. They become pimps and playas because the only role models they had are pimps and playas. Black males
rob because they are hungry. They have babies because they seek to prove their masculinity in desultory paternity. They rap about violence because they came to maturity in enclaves of civic horror where violence is the norm. Black males
do poorly in school because they are deprived of opportunity and ambition.
Yet there are few comparable justifications for the black female's beleaguered status. The lack of accepted social justifications for black women's plight would lead one to assume that black women do not confront incest, father deprivation, economic misery, social dislocation, domestic abuse, maternal abandonment, and a host of other ills. If they do, these factors apparently have nothing to do with their crippling lack of self-esteem that leads to self-defeating actions. Neither do these factors have anything to do with the sexually compensatory behavior in which these young girls might participate. Obviously, these young women were not seduced into becoming seducers by the messages of a culture addicted to sexual stimulation.
And perhaps there's no excuse for poor young black women believing that their bodies are their tickets to pleasure - besides, that is all the cues they get from pimps, playas, teachers, preachers, daddies, hustlers, and mentors. Apparently, there are no cultural influences-no magazines or television shows-that lead them to believe that their sexuality might suspend their misery, if even for a few gilded moments at the end of the night in the backseat of a car on the edge of town-and perhaps their sanity. The factors that might contribute to a young woman's behaving ?promiscuously,? or recklessly or even daringly are rarely considered in hip-hop, since the political economy of the "ho" is severely undervalued. (Of course it must be conceded that the definition of "ho" for many men is infamously slippery. If women give sex easily, they're "hos." If they don't, they're "bitches.')
In its punishing hypocrisy, hip-hop at once deplores and craves the exuded, paraded sexuality of the "ho." As it is with most masculine cultures, many of the males
in hip-hop seek promiscuous sex while resenting the women with whom they share it. This variety of femiphobia turns on the stylish dishonesty that is transmuted into masculine wisdom: Never love or partner with the women you sleep with. Such logic imbues the male
psyche with a toleration of split affinities that keep it from being fatally (as opposed to usefully) divided - the male
can enjoy the very thing he despises, as long as it assumes its "proper" place. In order for "it" - promiscuous sex - to assume its proper place in male
lives, women must assume their proper places. They must occupy their assigned roles with an eye to fulfilling their function as determined by men. If they are "hos," they are to give unlimited, uncontested sex. If they are girlfriends or wives, they are to provide a stable domestic environment where sex is dutiful and proper. The entire arrangement is meant to maximize male
sexual autonomy while limiting female sexuality, even if by dividing it into acceptable and un-acceptable categories. The thought that a girlfriend or wife might be an ex-ho is a painful thought in such circles. The hip-hop credo can be summed up in this way: I want to chase women, but I want my woman to be chaste.
Hip-hop culture has helped to reduce the female form to its bare essence. Black women appear in rap videos in increasing stages of undress as a way for black men to bond in masculine solidarity. Even the ostensible perks of the rap video - it features black women's bodies, which are usually degraded by the larger culture, especially the black derriere, and it provides a launching pad for a career in "the industry" - fail to make men into the advocates of female opportunity that some claim to be. Praising the rump, while certainly praiseworthy on some scores, is not a feminist or particularly liberating gesture in itself, though it might be if it figured in a larger scheme to tell the complete story of black female identity.
Instead, the degraded black female body is revictimized when it is eyed primarily to satisfy the male
sexual appetite. Hip-hop reflects the intent of the entire culture: to reduce black female sexuality to its crudest, most stereotypical common denominator. As Sonia Sanchez says, the country tries to "asphyxiate our daughters in a state of undress, and convince them that they're hos. Even in college they [try to make them] hos. Any place [young women] walk, the country says, 'I'm going to take you back to hoedom."' I am not arguing that there are not interesting ways that explicit sexuality is engaged in hip-hop that appeal to signifying traditions in black culture. I am addressing some brutal sexual beliefs within hip-hop that reflect the sadistic sexism of the larger culture. If hip-hop has any virtue in this regard, it is that it uncovers what the larger culture attempts to mask.
The bitch-ho nexus in hip-hop is but the visible extension of mainstream society's complicated, and often troubling, gender beliefs
Article#4 -THE MISEDUCATION OF BOYS Changing the Script *
MYRA SADKER AND DAVID SADKER
Boys confront frozen boundaries of the male
role at every turn of school life. They grow up practicing lines and learning moves from a time worn script: Be cool, don't show emotion, repress feelings, be aggressive, compete and win. As the script is internalized, boys learn to look down on girls and to distance themselves from any activity considered feminine. Dutifully they follow the lines of the script, but now changes are being made in the plot. Today's schoolboys are learning lines for a play that is closing. Consider these statistics:
? From elementary school through high school, boys receive lower report card grades. By middle school they are far more likely to be grade repeaters and dropouts (1)
? Boys experience more difficulty adjusting to school. They are nine times more likely to suffer from hyperactivity and higher levels of academic stress. (2)
? The majority of students identified for special education programs are boys. They represent 58 percent of those in classes for the mentally retarded, 71 percent of the learning disabled, and 80 percent of those in programs for the emotionally disturbed. (3)
? In school, boys' misbehavior results in more frequent penalties, including corporal punishment. Boys comprise 71 percent of all school suspensions. (4)
Beyond academic problems, conforming to a stereotypic role takes a psychological toll:
? Boys are three times more likely to become alcohol dependent and 50 percent more likely to use illicit drugs. Men account for more than 90 percent of alcohol- and drug-related arrests. (5)
? Risk-taking behavior goes beyond drug and alcohol abuse. The leading cause of death among fifteen- to twenty-four-year-old white males
is accidents. Teenage boys are more likely to die from gunshot wounds than from all natural causes combined. (6)
? Many boys are encouraged to pursue unrealistically high career goals. When these are not attained, males
often feel like failures, and a life- long sense of frustration may follow. (7)
commit suicide two to three times more frequently than females. (8)
The problems for minority males
are more devastating:
? Approximately one in every three black male
teenagers is unemployed, and those who are working take home paychecks with 30 percent less salary than white workers. (9)
? It is estimated that 25 percent of black youths' income results directly from crime and that one in every six African-American males
is arrested by age nineteen. (10)
? The odds of a young white woman being a murder victim are one in 369; for a young white man, one in 131; for an African-American woman, one in 104; and for an African -American man, a shocking one in 21. Homicide is the leading cause of death for young black men. (11)
City by city, the statistics are even more alarming. In New York City, about three out of four black males
never make it to graduation, and in Milwaukee, 94 percent of all expelled students are African-American boys. (12) Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago consider black males
an " endangered academic species" and have resorted to some radical solutions.
Milwaukee was one of the first cities to create black male
academies, public schools that serve only African-American boys. The idea spread to other metropolitan areas, along with the notion that the best teachers for black boys are black men. At Matthew Henson Elementary School in a poor, drug- infested section of Baltimore, Richard Boynton teaches a class of young black students. Most of them grew up without fathers, so Boynton's responsibilities go beyond the classroom. "There are three things I enforce," he said, " three things I want them to know in that room: responsibility, respect, and self- control. I feel that these three things will not only carry you through school, they'll carry you through life." (13) So Boynton checks to make sure that all the boys have library cards. On weekends he takes them to the Smithsonian or to play ball in the park. "It's almost as if I have twenty-seven sons," he said. Boynton tries to create a school that will turn each of his " sons" on to education. But not everyone is convinced that teaching black males
separately is the best approach.
"I read these things, and I can't believe that we're actually regressing like this," said African-American psychologist Kenneth Clark. "Why are we talking about segregating and stigmatizing black males
?" (14) Oark's stinging observations are particularly potent since his research paved the way for the 1954 Brown decision that desegregated America's schools. Other critics charge that black male
academies are little more than a return to the cries of "woman peril," scapegoating female teachers, criticizing black mothers, and ignoring the needs of African-American girls. NOW, the ACLU, and several courts have found separate black male
education to be an example of sex discrimination and a violation of the law.
Morningside Elementary School in Prince Georges County, Maryland, is not a black male
academy, but its students take special pride in their school team, the Master Knights. Tuesdays and Thursdays are team days, and the members, wearing blue pants and white shirts, devote recess and afternoons to practice. But the Knights, the majority of whom are young black boys, differ from other school teams. Their practices take place in the school library, and the arena in which they compete is chess.
The idea for the team originated in the office of Beulah McManus, the guidance counselor. When children, most often African-American boys, were referred to her as behavior problems, she pulled out a worn chess set. Some- how the game got boys talking, and eventually they found out they enjoyed chess, with its emphasis on tactics and skill, and the chance to compete on a field where size and strength mattered less than brains. As Gregory Bridges, the twelve-year-old president of the Master Knights, said, "When you see someone who is big and bad on the streets, you hardly see anyone who plays chess. ...You have to have patience and a cool head, and that patience carries outside the chess club." (15) While Morningside emphasizes the importance of getting African-American boys excited about education, girls are not excluded, says principal Elsie Neely. In fact, the school is trying to recruit more female players for next year.
While Morningside stresses extracurricular activities in order to involve boys, some teachers are bringing lessons that challenge the male
sex role stereotype directly into the classroom. Often they use the growing number of children's books that show boys expanding their roles. In a fourth-grade class we watched a teacher encouraging boys to push the borders of the male
stereotype. As we observed her lesson, we were struck by how much effort it took to stretch outmoded attitudes. She began by writing a letter on the board.
My seven-year-old son wants me to buy him a doll. I don't know what to do. Should I go ahead and get it for him? Is this normal, or is my son sick? Please help!
Waiting for your answer,
"Suppose you were an advice columnist, like Ann Landers," the teacher said to the class, " and you received a letter like this. What would you tell this parent? Write a letter answering 'Concerned,? and then we'll talk about your recommendations."
For the next twenty minutes she walked around the room and gave suggestions about format and spelling. When she invited the students to read their letters, Andy volunteered.
You are in big trouble. Your son is sick, sick, sick! Get him to a psychiatrist fast. And if he keeps asking for a doll, get him bats and balls and guns and other toys boys should play with.
Hope this helps,
Several other students also read their letters, and most, like Andy, recommended that the son be denied a doll. Then the teacher read Charlotte Zolotow's William's Doll, the story of a boy who is ridiculed by other children when he says he wants a doll. Not until his grandmother visits does he get his wish so that, as the wise woman says, he can learn to be a father one day.
As the teacher was reading, several students began to fidget, laugh, and whisper to one another. When she asked the fourth graders how they liked the book, one group of boys, the most popular clique in the class, acted as if the story was a personal insult. Their reaction was so hostile; the teacher had trouble keeping order. We heard their comments:
"He's a fag."
"He'd better learn how boys are supposed to behave, or he'll never get to be a man."
"If I saw him playing with that baby doll, I' d take it away. Maybe a good kick in the pants would teach him."
"Dolls are dumb. It's a girly thing to do."
Next the teacher played the song "William Wants a Doll" from the Free to Be You and Me album. Several boys began to sing along in a mocking tone, dragging out the word doll until it became two syllables: "William wants a do-oll, William wants a do-oll." As they chanted, they pointed to Bill, the star athlete of the class. Both boys and girls whispered and laughed as Bill, slumped in his chair, looked ready to explode.
Belatedly the teacher realized the problem of the name coincidence; she assured the class that there was nothing wrong with playing with dolls, that it teaches both girls and boys how to become parents when they grow up. When the students began to settle down, she gave them her next instructions: "I'd like you to reread your letters and make any last-minute corrections. If you want to change your advice, you may, but you don't have to."
Later we read the students' letters. Most of them said a seven-year-old boy should not get a doll. But after listening to William?s story, six modified their advice, having reached a similar conclusion: "Oh, all right. Give him a doll if you have to. But no baby dolls or girl dolls. Make sure it' s a Turtle or a G. I. Joe."
For some nontraditional programs, reading William's Doll is just a first step. At Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, parenting classes begin in elementary school, where children learn to observe, study, and interact with infants. By the sixth grade both boys and girls are in charge of caring for babies at school. Programs that make child-rearing a central and required part of school life find that boys become more nurturant and caring in their relationships with others.
Schools in New York City and other communities are downplaying aggression and encouraging cooperation through programs in conflict resolution. In these courses students learn how to negotiate and compromise while they avoid attitudes and actions that lead to violence. Students learn techniques in how to control anger, to listen carefully to others, and to seek common ground.
These innovative courses are rare. Most schools are locked in a more traditional model, one that promotes competition over cooperation, aggression over nurturing, and sports victories rather than athletic participation. Some boys thrive on this traditional male
menu, and most students derive some benefit. But the school program is far from balanced, and the education served to boys is not always healthy despite the extra portions they receive.
From their earliest days at school, boys learn a destructive form of division-- how to separate themselves from girls. Once the school world is divided, boys can strive to climb to the top of the male
domain, thinking that even if they fall short, they still are ahead of the game because they are not girls. Boys learn in the classroom that they can demean girls at will. Schools that do not permit racist, ethnic, or religious slights still tolerate sexism as a harmless bigotry.
In American Manhood, Athony Rotundo writes that men need to regain ? access to stigmatized parts of themselves--tenderness, nurturance, the desire for connection, the skills of cooperation--that are helpful in personal situations and needed for the social good." (16) Studies support Rotundo's contention: Males
who can call on a range of qualities, tenderness as well as toughness, are viewed by others as more intelligent, likable, and mentally healthy than rigidly stereotyped men. (17) But boys cannot develop these repressed parts of themselves without abandoning attitudes that degrade girls. Until gender equity becomes a value promoted in every aspect of school, boys, as victims of their own miseducation, will grow up to be troubled men; they will be saddened by unmet expectations, unable to communicate with women as equals, and unprepared for modem life.
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