Monday, March 21, 2016

To (learn how to) create
something from nothing
is a mystery and an art;
but to discover a new way to learn
is both a journey and a conquest.
Inventing and reinventing; 
discovery through confusion.
Disappointment, overwhelm, epiphany.

What’s In Your Bucket List?

Maybe not everybody has one, but we have all heard of them. A list of things we dream of doing before we die. In our young age, there are countless things that we have yet to do, but maybe as we get older the concept of a “bucket list” may become less appealing and concrete.

With age, people tend to see their goals and aspirations as things that will just fall into place over time; rather than things that are meant to be achieved in succession. They might see that their path has changed, or that their ambitions have evolved.

“I don’t really believe in bucket lists,” said Joe Monninger, an English professor, “I think life is about going along, and those things seem artificial.”

As young adults we are facing an increase in responsibilities, and we see all of the opportunities that lie ahead. We are eager for certain things to happen in our lives before they end. Whether these goals are likely or less likely to be reached, it is still important that we stay whimsical and optimistic.

When Ed Fleming was asked what was on his list, he was sincere and realistic in his answers. He said “Go to Lego Land, and eat the most chocolatey thing in the whole world.”

More often than not, individual’s goals reflect who they are and what they are interested in.  Cecil Smith’s response was very eccentric and illuminated his personality.  “LARP one of the battles from Lord of the Rings… yeah, I want do some LARPing.”

There are many people that see the concept of a bucket list as something frivolous and not so serious. Although it is important to have tangible and realistic long-term goals, it is fun to think of all of the possibilities. When Ebenezer Edwards was asked what is on his list, he said, “Own an island, and have sex with a princess.”

One of the things on Anthony Scolamiero’s list was more of a long-term goal rather than just a one-time experience or happening.  He said, “I want to be a teacher.” It is important to be able to see further ahead rather than just being impulsive; but spontaneity is also essential for diverse experiences. 


Virginity, in and of itself, is supposed to be a magical, sacred thing. This is what society has taught young people for many years.  Although the word can mean many different things to everyone, it is something that most people have to deal with at one point or another.

Religious backgrounds, familial morals and upbringings, and pressure from others can all be factors in the choices people make about losing their virginity. Today, many people seem to treat it as something they are absolutely driven to do, mainly because of the social pressures surrounding the matter; whereas, not even a couple hundred years ago, the opposite was true.

The idea of virginity as a social construct in generations past was viewed as a desirable trait for a woman to have until marriage. It was considered more important that women were virgins prior to marriage because it ensured that they came from a respectable family, and it solidified faithful paternity.

The myth of purity and the culture of virginity have both changed to become more lenient. Nowadays, there is less shame and guilt put upon people for losing their virginity prior to marriage. An anonymous quote that demonstrates people’s changing attitudes towards virginity: “Today people view it as a rite of passage.”

Heteronormative vaginal penetration is the main way that people describe virginity (or the loss of). Although there are people that lose their virginity in other ways, the masses view ‘sex’ as mainly this. Virginity is subjective, and it is up to the individual to define their own virginity.
“To be true to yourself, and not just what someone else wants is the most important.”

The socially acceptable age at which people generally lose their virginity has changed drastically over the course of time, although marriage may or may not be a variable. There are people that believe that it should be saved for marriage, although religious beliefs are not a factor.
For some, saving it for the correct person and keeping it private is enough. Although there are certain social norms instilled in our culture, it is vital to respect all people’s choices, regarding virginity, sexuality, and how much information they choose to disclose.

“Virginity is your own personal business; have as much sex as you want, or don’t.”

The Role of the Artist's Intent

W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley said in their novel The Intentional Fallacy that "intention is design or plan in the author's mind" (469). It suggests that the inclinations and preferences of the artist should have no bearing on what the viewer interprets the work as.
Although this theory seems like it may mostly be limited to literary art, we can apply this concept to all forms of art."The evaluation of the work of art remains public; the work is measured against something outside the author" (477).

Even if the objective or purpose of the work seems to be apparent or rather blatant, once the work is available to the masses, any artists thoughts and ideas about what their work is about should not have any effect on what the reader deems to be an appropriate interpretation for themselves."A poem should not mean but be(469). I interpreted the rest of this passage describing how poems, and everything for that matter is judged and tried to make sense of. 

These things do not lack meaning if they are being. Being is where meaning comes from and if something is, then it means something.

Electronic Reading and the Digital Fascination

     Konnikova’s article “Being a Better Online Reader” focuses on the decrease in comprehension when reading online and the way that reading has changed as a result of the increase in readily available information. Of course we do not use an online article the same way that we would use a book,as it is explained here.

     The physical process of reading online changes the way we manage and apply what we are learning. What is ironic about this assignment is that I am reading and annotating the article online, which is exactly what Konnikova is arguing against.

     She discusses skimming, scrolling, selectivity, distractions, boredom, and information overload and how these habits can be detrimental to our comprehension. When we read online, it is easy for us to move from page to page, and from source to source which can make us lose focus and cause us to not read or think as deeply. The decrease in deep reading is the larger issue. Wolf is concerned with the idea that as we increase the online and electronic reading methods, our ability to engage in deep thought will be sacrificed.

Paulo Friere's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"

In Paulo Friere's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", he illustrates a method of teaching in which an individual learns to grow from their cumulative experiences. Justin Wyllie's review of this work discusses Friere's background as an educationalist, and how his South American roots influence his views on the oppressed. In the beginning, Wyllie says, "While the revolutionary theory is Marxist the context is unmistakably South American" (Wyllie 1). He discusses Friere's approach and who he aims his attention at. 

He outlines the argument by addressing the overarching themes of the four chapters right up front. Chapter one dealing with the revolutionary background, the oppressed in relation to those who oppress, as well as the the pursuit of the oppressed over time. The second chapter highlights the educational approach that many oppressors choose. The third describes Friere's experience with the "educational programs with the rural poor in various South American countries". Lastly, the fourth chapter compares the two theories of 'antidialogical' and 'dialogical'. Antidialogical aims to suppress the anxiety of reality, and dialogical aims to aid in "the discovery of reality through critical thought and free communication" (Wyllie 1).

Wyllie quotes Freire and says "oppression and its causes objects of reflection by the oppressed...from that reflection will come their necessary engagement in the struggle for liberation". Wyllie says that this is a  "pedagogy for the revolution" (Wyllie 1).

Would Friere consider conventional educational methods to be oppressive? How would he begin to educate oppressed people in urban areas to educate them about their own situation while still being sensitive? Clearly poverty influenced Friere in a negative way and helped him to develop this theory, but how would he think differently if he was raised in  a different environment with different living conditions?

Although the famous image of the fist is generally one that represents power to the working class, I thought it would be interesting if I used the image to represent the oppression that the proletariat is subjected to. 

A Short Summary and Creative Piece on Queer Theory

According to Judith Butler, gender and sexuality are always in freeplay. Heterosexuality is always going to insist on being the original. It always seems like there is an original, but there is not. Conventionally, how do people know they are a certain gender or sexuality? It would make most sense to determine this anatomically, but not for Butler; bodies have no meaning. Language constructs all of the ideas that we have surrounding gender, queerness. It is cultural and social. It shifts with the times and social changes. Because of the overarching element of language and how it determines what we "are", I felt that it would be most suitable to illustrate these key concepts with language.

You can’t have any binary meaning that is only on one side. If there was only one sexuality hypothetically, then there would truly be none, because nobody would ever talk about it. What does it mean for something to be constructed by language? Am I constructing something by writing right now? Am I essentially asking the same question and doing the same thing that Butler was doing in the beginning of the article when she said "But I am writing here now: is it too late? Can this writing, can any writing, refuse the terms by which it is appropriated even as, to some extent, that very colonizing discourse enables or produces this stumbling block, this resistance? (Butler)". 

and we are
now nothing
like what           
we used to "be"—

from the original
to become something
new but it truly
doesn’t even exist;
then what are we
please tell me what are we

my mother insults,
“Go, go!
 to that
the one that took your brain.”

—i hope we’re all
the same in the
                some of the best
                looking things

                i’ve ever seen.

A Semiotic Analysis of Red Lipstick

A semiotic analysis is the study of meaning-making, the philosophical theory of signs and symbols. I will be doing a semiotic analysis of red lipstick, followed by a few questions of my own.

What different emotions do these images evoke?

It is a strange concept; to think that we paint on our faces differently than our natural selves. Whether it is elaborate or not, the makeup on a woman's face, or the lack thereof, says a lot about her and what she is aiming to achieve with the presentation of her appearance. It also makes a difference in the entirety of her day. If a woman is more confident in her appearance, it will reflect in her actions.

Why is it that we react differently to a woman wearing red lipstick than to a woman wearing none? We assume things about her and see her in a different way than if she was wearing a more neutral shade or no lipstick at all. 

Lipstick in particular, especially bright and dark shades, draws a lot of attention to the mouth and in turn gives the woman's overall appearance a sense of heightened sexuality and "promiscuity". Bright red lipstick is often associated with sexuality, but also with strength, which together can be very intimidating, to men and other women. A woman that is comfortable with her sexuality, but also confident that she is intelligent and strong, can be emotionally threatening to both genders.

Customarily, the color red is used to evoke sexual and erotic feelings simply because it goes back to our rudimentary physiological elements. We, as animals, see red as a symbol of health, blood, life, fertility, procreation, etc. The color demands attention. It is very active and stimulating to the eye. In literature and film, we know that it is the indicative color of things both negative and positive. Perhaps anger, sin, danger, violence, and murder, or differently love, bravery, passion, sacrifice etc. 

Makeup as a whole is not a new invention. Women have been decorating and painting their faces forever, but red lipstick used to be seen as a sign of sexual looseness or prostitution. The representation changed for the positive after the suffragettes took their stand and reclaimed the color as a symbol of strength. For me, and hopefully many other women, red lipstick is not about hyper-sexuality, but rather empowerment.

Rosie the Riveter, with her red lips and red polka dot headband, is a fantastic cultural icon exemplifying the drastic change in politics and economics and empowerment that came for women after the second World War. 

Men often see a woman who chooses not to wear makeup as "lazy" or "not feminine", but if she wears too much or wears it in the wrong way, she is unattractive or "trashy". Many feminists believe that make-up is a powerful, helpful luxury, but there are some that believe it to be a governing product of the patriarchal society that we live in. 

A woman wearing no make-up may feel differently than when she puts a little bit on, but why?

Do we identify ourselves differently when we wear it?

When we present ourselves as "made up" what does that do to other females perceptions of us as women? Does it increase or decrease our chances of becoming acquainted with them? At what point does jealousy take hold?

What is the effect on a man's gaze when he sees a woman wearing red lipstick?

Anne Bradstreet: A Puritan Progressive

  Anne Bradstreet is easily one of the most recognizable names in early North American
literature. She was the first person to have their poetry published. She was born Anne Dudley in
1612, into a nonconformist Puritan family who were all planning for the settlement of
Massachusetts Bay Colony. She married Simon Bradstreet, another nonconformist, in 1628. Her
extraordinary love and open accessibility for education was unusual for a young woman of her
time. The poetry of Anne Bradstreet challenges the traditional role of women in the seventeenth
century while still remaining true to strict gender biases within the Puritan faith.

     Bradstreet is famous for many of her works, and some of the most well-known include The
Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit
and Learning, The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse, The Works of Anne Bradstreet,
and The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet. Her poems do vary in subject matter, but they
unfailingly express “the Puritan spiritual and communal vision that informed her life” (419,
Cowell). The underlying themes of family, love, sorrow, nature, faith, and resignation are all
exceptionally prevalent in her verse.

     The Prologue [To Her Book], is one of her most famous pieces, and it most likely stood as an
opening section in The Tenth Muse. Bradstreet is discussing the notion that there are certain
topics that she should not write on. She says, “For my mean pen are too superior things;” (420,
Bradstreet line 3). A couple more lines down in the same stanza she says “Let poets and
historians set these forth, /My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth” (420, line 5). It is
exceptionally ironic and bold of her to immediately begin by openly doubting if it was truly her
place to write poetry, in a poem, in the introduction to her poetry book.

     In the sixth stanza, Bradstreet uses a Greek mythological example and discusses a group of
nine women, The Muses. The majority of Greek men were still not particularly open-minded
about women's rights during this time. Bradstreet makes mention of her right to have a voice and
perceives her domestic life as a treasured inspiration for verse. The last line in the stanza reads,
“The Greeks did nought, but play the fools and lie” (421, line 36). She does not, however, make
mention of gender equality or ever once reject the patriarchy. In fact, she holds exceptionally
true to her belief that men are the stronger sex. The next stanza reinforces the fact that she truly
believed that men were superior, and women knew this. “Let Greeks be Greeks, and women
what they are, / Men have precedency and still excel, / It is but vain unjustly to wage war; / Men
can do best, and women know it well” (421, line 37). She merely discusses that women are
capable of generating work that is worthy of “some small acknowledgment” (421, line 42).
Although she is asking for more acceptance as a female intellectual and writer, she wholly
accepted the Puritan designations of gender roles.

     To My Dear and Loving Husband is another poem that holds much significance in the themes
of love, family, and spirituality. Bradstreet sets the piece up very personally, with the title written
similarly to the opening of a letter. It is twelve lines long and bears a resemblance to a
Shakespearean sonnet. The two opening lines are “If ever two were one, then surely we. / If ever
man were loved by wife, then thee,” (430, line 2). Simplistic, succinct, and understandable, it is
relatable to the interactions of marital love.

     Her messages to her husband are raw and emotional. She is saying that there is no wife that
loves their husband more than she does.  The next two lines begin to become spiritual, and even
more so at the very end of the piece. She says “Thy love is such I can no way repay, / The
heavens reward thee manifold, I pray” (431, line 10). At the very end of the poem, she becomes
exceptionally spiritual. She writes “Then while we live, in love let’s persevere, / That when we
live no more, we may live ever” (431, line 12). This can be interpreted that while she and her
husband are still living, they should love each other to their fullest and deepest potential, so they
can go to Heaven, and their love will live on even after they have died.

     Bradstreet’s message is logical and true to Puritan values. People were married young, and
they were expected to stay together until death. Divorce and adultery were not accepted in
Puritan society. This poem is both religious and secular. It does recognize the importance of
Puritan religious beliefs, but it is also centralized around Bradstreet’s amorous attraction to her

          The major themes of Puritanism, accompanied with a desire for eternal life, are both very
prevalent in all of her work. She speaks a lot about motherhood and matrimonial love. Some may
interpret her work as some of the first feminist writing. She accepts that men and women fulfill
separate but important roles, because she believes that that is what God wanted. She does
however, make the statement that women are knowledgeable and talented, and their
achievements and writing should not be censored or suppressed. Although she understood that
she was not the best writer, she wanted her work to be appreciated for what it was. She did not
want people to reject it because it was written by a woman. She also did not want people to think
that only men could write.

     Bradstreet’s poetry is very much so influenced by the personal and intimate aspects of life. If
someone was to read these poems, and the author’s name was missing, it should not be difficult
for them to tell that they were written by a woman. For example, when expressing ones love for
their significant other, it is only honest to say that a man does not express it the way a woman
does.  It is naturally easier for women to relate and empathize. Especially in To My Dear and 
Loving Husband, Bradstreet does an impeccable job letting her femininity surface in her verses.

     These emotionally fervent words are important to American history and the progression of
literature because they are the first of their kind.  As the first woman poet and writer to be
published in British North America, her writing should be interpreted as the inauguration of
women’s writing and literature. If this woman never wrote the pieces that she did, our basis of
comparison would be vastly askew. The things she has written about and the way she wrote
should both be examined and analyzed. Scholars and readers, especially females, should be
scrutinizing how the differences between men and women’s thoughts and expressions are
translated into written language.

     Although Bradstreet was exceptionally conflicted and clearly felt a deep internal struggle
about whether or not it was acceptable for her to write poetry, there does not seem to be any self
loathing coming through in her words. Her modesty illuminates all of her poems. Some readers
may interpret this as paranoia; or possibly as a fear of surpassing certain gender limitations.
Others may see it as a part of a linguistic practice of modesty that many poets of both genders of
the time practiced. Puritans valued unpretentiousness. Although her existence as a poet was
contradictory, it does not seem like Bradstreet is unaccepting of her completely evident talent
because she does make mention of her confidence in her work. By doing what she did, she
challenged one of the main aspects of her faith and societal norms of the time period, while also
staying true to her beliefs and lifestyle.

Works Cited
Lauter, Paul, and Bruce-Novoa. "Anne Bradstreet." The Heath Anthology of American
 Literature. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1990. 418-37. Print.

An Analysis of Female Seventeenth Century Writers

     From the sixteenth through the eighteenth century, very few women were regarded as
“writers”. It was very difficult for them to challenge and speak out against the patriarchal system,
let alone be seen as professionals and make a living with their words. Both Anne Bradstreet and
Mary Rowlandson were both women writers who lived in the seventeenth century. Anne
Bradstreet was born as Anne Dudley in 1612, and Mary Rowlandson was born in 1637.
Regarding the likes of God, religion, and free thought, the poetry, prose and ideas of Anne
Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson are poles apart. Although both of the works discussed in this
report are relevant and known today, Anne’s Bradstreet’s letter has staying power for different
reasons than Mary Rowlandson’s famous narrative.

     Although it is Bradstreet’s poetry that is the most highly regarded and well-known, her prose
is especially eloquent. She wrote a piece of prose to her children, which is prefaced by a poem.
The short verses state “This book by any yet unread,/I leave for you when I am dead,/That being
gone, here you may find/What was your living mother's mind./Make use of what I leave in
love,/And God shall bless you from above” (Delbanco, Heimert 137-138). It is clear from this
small excerpt that the love and adoration that Bradstreet felt for children was absolutely endless.
It deeply stresses the implications of motherhood, and legacy, and love, not only for her children,
but God as well.

     Her tone in this piece takes on an inflection of urgency and imminence. Bradstreet speaks a
lot of her death and how things will be when she is dead. She pleads for her children to
remember her by her words, and for the things that she did when she was alive. She wants them
to be spiritually developed, and continue in their religious experiences after she is deceased. In
the very beginning, when she is talking about “speakers” she is talking about parents addressing
children. She then goes on to say that “and those especially sink deepest which are spoke latest”
(Delbanco, Heimert 138). This can be interpreted a few different ways, but mainly as children do
not realize how important their parents are until they are gone. She then goes on to make an
example of her own childhood, and how God had acted upon her when she was young.

     She identifies the ages at which she developed conscience thought, and love and acceptance
for God. Although it sounds rather unbelievable and premature, Bradstreet says that she was only
about six or seven years old when she began learning of sin, disobedience unto her parents, and
how confession of her sins to the Lord and reading the Scriptures was exceptionally important to
her. She describes that she became more vain and sexual as she grew into a young teenager. She
was then stricken by smallpox at age sixteen, and describes that this was God’s way of
punishment. While she was sick, she confessed to God that she was proud and vain, and she
believed that he cured her because she was honest and acknowledged her sins. Shortly then after,
she was married and joined the church of Boston.

     It is clear that it was Bradstreet’s goal to have children from an early age. She says “It pleased
God to keep me a long time without a child, which was a great grief to me and cost me many
prayers and tears before I obtained one…that as I have brought you into the world, and with
great pains, weakness, cares, and fears brought you to this, I now travail in birth again of you till
Christ be formed in you” (Delbanco, Heimert 139). In the beginning of this quote, she feels as if
God is trying to emotionally wound her and keep something beloved from her, and she implies
that it made him eerily joyous. She prayed for years to “obtain” a child, which is a strange way to
explain the situation. She then speaks directly to her children and tells them that it took a lot of
pain, weakness, care and fear to bring them into the world. The very end says that religious
rebirth is a painful and laborious effort. She is merely trying to get her children to appreciate the
emotional and physical pain that she had to endure just to have them in her life, which is
something relatable to all mothers.

     Throughout the letter, Bradstreet discusses the experiences that she had with God in her
earlier years as a cautionary tale to her children. She talks about the love that she has for the Lord
and the love that he has for her. She tells her children that being punished by God is his way of
showing his greatest love and mercy. She also discusses Satan and atheism. She questioned “how
I could know whether there was a God; I never saw any miracles to confirm me, and those which
I read of, how did I know but they were feigned?” (Delbanco, Heimert 140). Although this letter
was truly meant to warn and advise her children, it serves as a window into many chapters of her
life. We can see that she is trying to keep her children safe from harm, and keep her presence
alive for them after she is deceased, but it has the same effect on us as readers because of the
way it was written. The staying power of the message is what makes this document relative to
this day.

     Mary Rowlandson is most famous for her narrative, which is entitled A Narrative of the
Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. She wrote this after she was released from
being held hostage by Native Americans for eleven weeks. This piece is also less familiarly
known as The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. Although the language may be much more
heavy and repetitive, her writing is well-written from a technical standpoint. It is also peculiarly
subliminal because of its cyclical nature.  From a merely visual standpoint, you can see the
words and phrases such as “God”, “Lord”, “bodies” “poor”, “condition”, “cold”, “wounded
child” and “sick child”, and things of that nature scattered up and down the pages in all of the
removes. It could be taxing on the reader because it is so dense.

     In the beginning, Rowlandson recounts the horrific events of the Native American invasion of
her town and capture of her and her family and friends in great detail. She illustrates the women
and children expressing distress very well. The way that Rowlandson talks about God is far less
personal and less spiritual. She discusses the Native American invasion as an act of the Lord that
was meant to make sure that the townspeople “…would make us the more to acknowledge his
hand, and to see that our help is always in him” (Lauter 468).

     Visually, "Lord" and "God" are overwhelmingly noticeable each time you glance at every
page, in numerous places. It is easy to understand her main motivation for writing this piece.
Because it is a narrative, it does have a different tone than Anne Bradstreet’s letter to her
children. The narrative is told much more like a story than the letter, and there is little to no
advice in it. It is more generalized in its intonation because it is not written to a specific person or

     Rowlandson refers to the Native Americans as “ravenous Beasts” (Lauter 469), which is
shocking to say the least, because just a few pages later, she changes her tone and discusses how
merciful God can be in the most horrible of times. She says “One of the Indians that came from
Medfield fight, had brought some plunder, came to me, and asked me, if I would have a Bible, he
had got one in his Basket” (Lauter 473). She then goes on to explain how she asked her captors
for permission to read. This change of heart could be attributed to Stockholm syndrome.
 Carbone 5
     “When the Lord had brought his people to this, that they saw no help in anything but himself,
then he takes the quarrel into his own hand, and though they [the Indians] had made a pit (in their
own imaginations) as deep as hell for the Christians that summer, yet the Lord hurled themselves
into it. And the Lord had not so many ways before to preserve them but now he hath as many to
destroy them” (Delbanco, Heimert 264). Here she is depicting a scene where the people of the
Lord have been brought to a horrible downfall, and they could only think to turn to him and
nothing else. The Lord then takes matters into his own hands, as she says, and she illustrates how
the Christians have been put into this situation because they have followed the likes of God.
“The pit of hell”, as Rowlandson puts it, is an analogy for a very deep problem for the Christians.

     Both of these works document a very specific and crucial time in a very private and personal
way, however, Anne Bradstreet’s letter is more relatable, especially to parents. It is not every day
that the average person is captured by Native Americans and lives to tell the story. These works
will both live on, but for entirely different reasons. The alarming nature of Rowlandson’s
account is part of the reason why it has lived on for so long. Bradstreet’s letter, however, may
not be as famous as Rowlandson’s narrative, but it is more applicable and relatable to parents
and children. From a religious viewpoint, Bradstreet uses the intimate and the emotional aspects
of her life, and questions and doubts what she believes and presents these things to her children.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Rowlandson’s main motivation for writing this captivity
narrative is based in religion, and plays on fear and sympathy more than anything. If Bradstreet
and Rowlandson were in a room together today, discussing these two works, they would have a
lot of conflicting ideologies.

Works Cited 
Delbanco, Andrew, and Alan Heimert.  Harvard University Press, Cambridge M.A., 1985. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

Ruiz, Eva Flores, and Jesus Lorate De Castro. "Puritan Women Facing Suffering: Texts as Tests  of Survival..." (n.d.): n. pag. 2004. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

Lauter, Paul. Rowlandson, Mary [White]. "A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson." The Health Anthology of American Literature. 464-92. Print.

Provoking the Partisan Divide; A Research Piece

   Looking at the current state of our country, the recession we are in, the debt we are collectively facing, the status of our economy, our unemployment rate, our environment, our failing government, and the way all of these factors act upon one another, we have to wonder if all of these factors are being caused by the drastic separation of the Democratic and Republican parties. The current state of the economy and the separation of the social classes may be caused by our political structure, but the failing bipartisan system is largely responsible for the inefficiency of Congress and the political animosity between citizens.
     Theoretically, bipartisanship should consist of two opposing political parties who are meant to compromise. However, each party has their own plan, and it may be difficult to meet in the middle because of incompatible principles and beliefs. This stalemate is known as political gridlock, or deadlock. This refers to the state of dormancy in legislature, which is generally due to the House of Representatives and the Senate being controlled by opposing parties. This stems from the polarizing ideologies and the discrepancy in political views. Because of this polarization, the more nonpartisan voices can be silenced. The Democratic and Republican parties hold the most dominance in U.S. politics. Although we have third parties such as the Green Party, the Constitution Party, and the Libertarian Party, they hold little political authority or power comparatively to the Democrats and Republicans.
     Regardless of political standing and views, it seems as if everyone is in coherence with the notion expressed by Senator John McCain, “Washington is broken”(qtd. in Zogby 47). However, it does not seem as if anyone is really ready to do anything drastic to change this. In an article titled “The President Would Rather Give Speeches About Our Problems than Resolve Them” by Mitch McConnell, the senior U.S. Republican Senator from Kentucky, we can learn about this exact issue. He explains how President Obama has been reluctant to make any fundamental changes over the past six months. He discusses the government spending of the money that we do not have, and how any tax increases will destroy the jobs we have left. He says, “This debate isn’t about President Obama and House Republicans... it isn’t about Congress and the White House... it’s about what’s standing between the American people and the future we seek for ourselves and our families” (McConnell 1).
     Thinking of how politics affect our economy and the reverse, we have to understand that the people who hold the positions of power decide what to do with the money that we earn, and in turn we are required to pay a portion back to them. Zuckerman also wrote an editorial entitled, “Money In Politics: A Problem with No Easy Solutions.” Although he focuses mainly on the election of 2010 and the out-of-control campaign spending, he links this to and discusses the entire overarching concept of wasteful political spending. He talks about the money being wasted on advocacy for positions that these candidates likely have no control over, or maybe do not care as much about as we think they do. He questions our system for political financing. He says, “Our form of political financing probably goes under the heading of the evil of two lessers, but nobody has yet come up with a better solution” (Zuckerman1).
     Whether it is liberal-biased media, conservative-biased media, an interview with a senator, or a seemingly unbiased solution to the problem, all of these things seem to have one thing in common: the fact that the country and the government are no longer in agreement and not much is being done to change the way the system is run. Although we may think that this turmoil is most prevalent in our country, countries all over the globe are suffering from this decline in governmental structure and efficiency. Thinking of the notion of how and why American politics have changed, especially so quickly and recently, should make us, as Americans, anxious and suspicious for the generations to come. We have to take into account our foreign allies, our military, and our economy, particularly because we have so many other countries invested in these things.
     An author named Mortimer B. Zuckerman wrote an editorial in 2011 entitled, “The Bickering and Brinkmanship Must Stop." He believes that if both the Democrats and Republicans could stop arguing over petty things and get back to the way bipartisanship used to be, based on compromise and give and take from both sides, then we would be in a better place as a country. In regard to Zuckerman’s political standing, the New York Times states that, “Though not currently enrolled in a party, he is known as a Democrat. But if he ran for the Senate, it would very likely be as a Republican or independent so he could avoid a costly primary. He gives his concerns about the way our government is operating, and how there just does not seem to be enough middle ground” (Arango and Barbaro). Although Zuckerman has been a supporter of the Democratic Party for a long time, he has been critical of Obama and his choices, although he did cast a vote for him in the 2008 election. He asks this question: Remember when Congress saved Social Security, reformed the tax code,              rationalized immigration policy, and closed hundreds of military bases in the 1980s and 1990s? Now we seem to lack the core group of moderates who used to negotiate congressional compromises. They made our political system of checks and balances work in the national interest. That seems to have unraveled. Republicans moved to the right and Democrats to the left, while the political                  center is getting weaker and thinner. (Zuckerman 1).
Although people believe that the two parties are opposite from one another, they are more alike than we all may know. Although voters have the ease of only having to choose between two parties, it is limiting and can narrow people’s perception. They are the same in the regard that they limit our options as voters. This bipartisan system could continue to make people feel as if they have fewer options.
          Considering how people believe that the political parties are rapidly growing further and further apart, the idea of being part of a third party or being registered as an Independent can seem outlandish at times. Somehow we are all expected to follow political suit, although our political views may not all line up perfectly with the two dominant parties. People may be suspicious of Third Parties. We do have this unwritten, unofficial precedent that people are expected to follow. This makes a difference in our media, our economy, our education systems, and it puts us well on our way to extremism on both sides.
     It actually seems as if there has been clear dissatisfaction with the lack of change in the American government for over a hundred years, although people are unwilling to make changes. Henry George, an American writer, political economist and politician, wrote and published a piece in 1881 called Political Dangers which was included in Chapter two of his book Social Problems. He says, “The popular idea of reform seems to be merely a change of men or a change of parties, not a change of system…Our two great political parties have really nothing more to propose than the keeping or the taking of the offices from the other party” (George).
     John Zogby reports that politicians lack integrity and tend to operate selfishly to advance their own careers and finances. He also discusses the problem with Washington stems from “the idea that the vast majority of politicians belong to a privileged caste, conspiring together (and often with other elites, such as media, academics and businesses) to pass laws that serve them, rather than the people.” Ironically, the politicians are critical of themselves, which they do for some ulterior motive related to self-interest.
     This is not a sustainable political system. America has gotten to the point where the duality of our governmental system has infected the minds of the majority of our citizens. We are constantly being pushed and pulled to either side. There is a notable pressing necessity of “choosing a side”, and the animosity between citizens that stems from our own political, personal views. When your personal and political views do not clearly line up with either of the candidates, you are forced to make a choice between the two, or register as an Independent.
     It is so common that personal animosity between citizens in this country stems from differences in political views. Politics and your views on the matter are some of the easiest things to get into an argument about, especially with someone who is supportive of the opposing party. When we rely on our government for everything, and they fail us over and over, how are we as a country supposed to act when we feel as if we are no longer being helped, but harmed?

HHHHWorks Cited
Tim Arango, Michael Barbaro, and. "Zuckerman Is Said to Be Weighing Bid for Senate."
George, Henry. "Chapter 2-Political Dangers." Social Problems. London: K. Paul, Trench and,            1881. N. pag. Print.
McConnell, Mitch. "The President Would Rather Give Speeches About Our Problems Than    Resolve Them." Vital             Speeches Of The Day 77.9 (2011): 305-306. Academic Search            Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
N.Y./Region. The New York Times, 12 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
Zogby, John. "The Bipartisan Problem." Politics (Campaigns & Elections) 31.4 (2010): 47.     Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
Zuckerman, Mortimer B. "The Bickering and Brinkmanship Must Stop." U.S. News Digital       Weekly 12 Aug. 2011: 27. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

Zuckerman, Mortimer B. "Money in Politics: A Problem With No Easy Solutions." U.S. News            Digital Weekly 06 Apr. 2012: 21. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

The Stubborn Connotation of Matriarchy; A Scholarly Essay

People generally associate the thought of female dominance with the idea of matriarchy. Although people do not generally use matriarchy to describe societies anymore, it is still a form of feminism. Feminists and anthropologists have been studying this “Myth of Matriarchy” and the negative correlations that have surrounded the idea for years. It is so prevalent; this connotation of the refusal to accept this concept of matriarchy, and it absolutely parallels the topics of oppression and dictatorship. What would it be like to live under a dictatorship patriarchal regime? The cycle of oppression is impossible to escape without any freedoms or liberties, especially as a woman.
Even today, there are religions and forms of government that do not even allow women to vote, let alone be in any position of leadership or governmental power. When people hear the word “matriarchy”, they almost immediately reject the connotation, due to the confines of society and the way our government is run; it has conditioned people to automatically assume that the word matriarchy connotes the antithesis of patriarchy, which connotes the thought of female dominance, although it has been proven to be an egalitarian system.
     Two novels in particular truly exemplify how life is for women living under complete control. The lead female characters in both Purple Hibiscus (2003) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Shame (1983) by Salman Rushdie, display subversive nature, complacency, and some plot silent revenge. There are allusions and scenes that make references, either directly or indirectly, to the emergence of some unknown power breaking out of the female characters, that is essentially being born out of oppression.
     Purple Hibiscus (2003) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illustrates how Kambili and her mother feel the oppressive weight of her father’s authority. Kambili and her family are brainwashed by her father into believing that everything he did for them was out of love, although it is clear to the reader that he is a terrible man. Kambili, Jaja, and their mother all seemed very detached and complacent with the controlling force that they were under, but all the while Kambili and Jaja’s mother was secretly and silently killing her husband, slowly over time with poison. This emergence breaking out of the mother comes from an inherent power in all women to protest against the patriarchy.
     In Shame (1983) by Salman Rushdie, we can understand that the Shakil sisters are dealing with a similar oppression, but in a more dominant and extreme way. Being locked and hidden away, never educated, until their father passes away, eighteen years after their mother has died. The Shakil sisters seem far more aware of the oppression that had been done unto them for so many years; and they are sour about it. At the very end, the emergence is given a name; it is referenced as “The Beast”. Even though these books differ in writing styles and the way the information and plot lines are presented are very different, the themes that overlap provoked interest as to what it would be like if the gender roles were reversed, or if that is even possible.
     In the artistic and literary sphere, scholar Natalie Dandekar writes on how the creative works of women can be overlooked due to the standards formed after male criterion. She discusses the female consciousness and how and if men can interpret texts written by women. She includes many opinions from various authors, and mentions how works written by women are often made to seem trivial in comparison to those written by men. She argues that “the idea that women have a distinct consciousness rests on the perception that women are socialized to perform distinct social tasks (women’s work) as well as that the assumption of subordination of women to men remains codified in most major institutions of society” (Dandekar 509). The thought that females efforts, artistic or not, may be marginalized and reduced by these precedents set by men is alarming, and also makes them seem superior to us.
     There are anthropologists that believe that there are no true matriarchal societies, however, there are many people that believe that there are exceptions to this rule. It is very possible that there have been matriarchal societies before written history, but it is all based in speculation. The connotations of matriarchy and matrilocal societies may be getting confused or mistaken for one another. Some of the world’s population truly believes that a non-patriarchal system is, by transitive property, matriarchal. Take for example, egalitarianism. Teachings that we pass on to our children ignore and suppress any ideas of egalitarian or non-patriarchal systems. 
     A very important woman named Dr. Heide Göttner-Abendroth founded and co-directs The International Academy for Modern Matriarchal Studies and Matriarchal Spirituality called “HAGIA”. She believes that the lack of will to accept the existence of the “matriarchy” may be based upon a certain culturally specific and biased notion of how this term is defined. In a patriarchy, men have control over the women, and this generally leads people to believe that a matriarchy would be the opposite in terms of power, and allow the women to have control over the men. Göttner-Abendroth defines Modern Matriarchal Studies as the "investigation and presentation of non-patriarchal societies"(Göettner-Abendroth). She believes matriarchies to be non-hierarchal, and to represent the perfect egalitarian model, distributing power equally between both males and females.
     In one of her published papers, she argues that "Matriarchies are all egalitarian at least in terms of gender-they have no gender hierarchy that, for many matriarchal societies, the social order is completely egalitarian at both local and regional levels" (qtd. in Reynolds 1). Based on Abdenroth’s findings over the years, and the research that compares to hers, it has been proven that a matriarchal society is an egalitarian society and in no way could be the stark opposite to a patriarchy.
     Journalist and author Margot Adler wrote, "literally, ...  means government by mothers, or more broadly, government and power in the hands of women." According to Adler, in the Marxist tradition, matriarchy was referred to as “…an egalitarian pre-class society where women and men share equally in production and power…a number of feminists note that few definitions of the word, despite its literal meaning, include any concept of power, and they suggest that centuries of oppression have made it impossible for women to conceive of themselves with such power” (Adler). She says that there is quite a good deal of information about ancient societies, where the women held the greatest positions of power, even more so than women do now. It has been living on through myth and legend, which can make people doubtful, but it has also lived on through the legal documents for marriage and divorce, owning of property, and positions of power. In our time, we have feminist movements happening all over the globe every day. However, we may not understand the full effect of living in a dictatorship. Some countries do not allow for women to have some freedoms that we would think to be basic and humane.
     According to Cynthia Eller, "'matriarchy' can be thought of ... as a shorthand description for any society in which women's power is equal or superior to men's and in which the culture centers around values and life events described as 'feminine’ (Eller). Eller believes that the concept of matriarchy stems from romanticism and modern social criticism, which was meant to describe something like a utopia to make contemporary social criticism seem valid and reasonable.
     During the second wave of feminism, Professor Cynthia Eller found extensive acceptance of the matriarchal myth. Eller understands that it is about females being able to trust males to accept all equality on all levels.
     It seems unnatural to most people, men and women, feminists included, that women would be in a position to govern men. The idea that female superiority is untraditional really bothers and frightens people, and it seems as if they will make up almost any excuse to reject the idea that women and men both have the same political and authoritative capacity.
     There are many novels that have been written, by women and men, which are set in matriarchal cultures, in worlds where females reign supreme. These may be figurative worlds or realistic.
     In feminist literature, matriarchy and patriarchy are not seen as opposites of one another. While matriarchy can mean, "the political rule of women", people often refuse this based on the notion that patriarchy is meant to hold power over others while matriarchy focuses on internal power. It is not meant to be domineering or authoritarian. There are radical feminists believe that matriarchy is important because it is meant to ease the burden of the oppressive system.
     Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in 1914, argued for "a woman-centered, or better mother-centered, world" and discussed “government by women.” She believed that governments run by a male or female should be assisted by the opposite gender so that both can be "useful ... and should in our governments be alike used", taking into account the differences between the sexes.
In a book entitled The Answer is Matriarchy, Barbara Love and Elizabeth Shanklin wrote, "by 'matriarchy,' we mean a non-alienated society: a society in which women, those who produce the next generation, define motherhood, determine the conditions of motherhood, and determine the environment in which the next generation is reared. When we hear the word "matriarchy", we are conditioned to a number of responses: that matriarchy refers to the past and that matriarchies have never existed; that matriarchy is a hopeless fantasy of female domination, of mothers dominating children, of women being cruel to men. Conditioning us negatively to matriarchy is, of course, in the interests of patriarchs. We are made to feel that patriarchy is natural; we are less likely to question it, and less likely to direct our energies to ending it” (Love, Shanklin, 275).
     A man by the name of Steven Goldberg wrote a book called The Inevitability of Patriarchy. He makes the claim that males have ruled in all societies, current and prior, and there is no history, reasoning or anthropology, that can change this. He discusses physiological reasons, the differences between females and males, and how trying to change the social institutions will not make a permanent change.

     Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines matriarchy both as “a family, group, or government controlled by a woman or a group of women” or “a social system in which family members are related to each other through their mothers” (“matriarchy”) Similarly, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "a system of society or government ruled by a woman or women; a form of social organization in which descent and relationship are reckoned through the female line” (“matriarchy”). A matriarchy, as we know it, is any society in which females, have the role of moral and political authority.  The definitions in the dictionaries and in general English, however, hold little relevance to what the word means to society. There also seems to be a correlation between the textbook or standard dictionary definition and the connotations that people hold. We have to wonder what causes discrimination and why we cannot get rid of this separation. We must challenge the social dominance constructs. How far have we actually come in terms of social tolerance and acceptance? Has our entire social system just become more chaotic?

The Convenient Generation; A Case Study of Millennials

  The technological advances that we have grown so profoundly accustomed to enable and improve our ability to communicate cross- generationally, however there are obstacles as well as benefits. The social media phenomenon that we as a country, and as a generation, are currently facing is one of the most impressive and dynamic transitions in how we communicate. It is changing how we are educated, how we conduct research, how we spend time alone or with one another, how we meet new people, how we converse, and the way we create and maintain relationships. Why is that we would much rather send a text message than pick up the phone and call somebody? Why have we become so reliant on using tools to help us do something that we innately know how to do?
     Simply the fact that we, as individuals and collectively, have grown so accustomed to these electronic communication tools is an obstacle. The Communication Accommodation Theory, developed by Giles and Coupland in 1991, is pragmatic because we are all subconsciously adapting to a collective communication pattern. This theory is generally representing the spoken word and how people adapt to speak like one another, but we have learned how to communicate in a different way, which is instantaneous and far less personal.
     We can see that we have become far too reliant on our methods of instant communication if we just do some research. I recently heard that using your cell phone too much can have negative effects on your health, so I thought that would be an interesting example to study. There have been a few recent studies linking frequent cell phone usage in college students to decreased GPAs, higher anxiety, and reduced happiness. An analysis done by Kent State University in December of 2013 showed that “cell phone use by college students was negatively related to GPA and positively related to anxiety. Following this, GPA was positively related to happiness while anxiety was negatively related to happiness” (ScienceDaily, 1).
     Education and social media are quickly being fused together. For example, this course is taught online, and a large portion of our grades are calculated by how we participate in the discussion forums. With the internet growing more vast and accessible by the day, we rarely think about how communicating online might hinder our ability to learn. We tend to only think about how technology can help us, not hurt us.
     We can apply the Media Richness Theory to this scenario, as well as similar situations. Developed by Daft and Lengel in 1984, this theory “recognizes that as new communication technologies develop, the decision about the best way to send a message becomes more complex” (Dainton, 184). It illustrates that face-to-face communication is more practical, beneficial and less ambiguous than a text message or an e-mail, for example. Although we know this to be true, we still tend to choose the methods of communication that are faster and the most simple, even if that means sacrificing face-to-face interaction or hearing someone’s voice. Table 10.1 below displays The Media Richness Theory in a visual way.

(Dainton, p. 185).
     The complexity with teaching an online course, first and foremost, lies with the professors, and not solely with the students. The professors must choose which methods of online communication would be most effective, and they have to consistently monitor them. However, ambiguity is an obstacle that we may face in a situation like this; “the possibility of multiple different interpretations” (Dainton, 184). Tone is ambiguous, and because our discussion forums are entirely text-based, our expressions cannot be clearly articulated. This type of ambiguity can be detrimental because of a lack of direct and live interaction. However, if our class used Skype or another form of video-calling, our experiences would have most likely been different.
     We can also apply The Uses and Gratifications Theory to this situation. Established by McQuail in 1987, this theory explains that people choose to use different media outlets for different uses. These choices are “based on personal need and values…” (Dainton, 186). This would be the rationalization for why a professor chooses to use a particular medium to teach an online course. For example, one of my professors last year chose to not use Moodle at all, while most all of my other professors required active participation in discussion forums and such.
Interview: Alex Carbone, 15
Q1: How do you think social media has impacted your life?
     “I’ve just been able to talk to my friends whenever I need to. It helps me reconnect with people I haven’t talked to in years.”
Q2: How do you think that it has impacted older people?
     “Well it’s helped them stay connected to family, to let them know how their sons and daughters are doing if they don’t live in the house with them anymore.”
Q3: Do you think that social media is a positive or negative thing for schools to use?
     “Positive because it helps the teachers and students communicate using social media in an easier way because the kids already know how to use it.”
Q4: Who should not use social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
     “Anyone who is not responsible, so, like, 12 and under.”
     As I was trying to interview my brother, I saw social media impacting him. I had initially asked him if he would mind being interviewed, and as soon as he agreed, he immediately ran upstairs to get his cell phone to text his friend. It seems that using social media is second nature to kids my brother’s age, which is mainly because they have never lived in a world without it. They have never had to deal with delayed communication. They live in a world of constant instant gratification. The communication methods that they are used to are so instantaneous, that they do not need nor care to use media such as e-mail or letter writing. For my generation, we have never lived in a world without internet or television. For older generations, they generally have the choice to decide for themselves if they want to use social media outlets or not.
     I also found it peculiar that my brother chose age twelve as the “responsible” age for people to begin using social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. I think that because he is only fifteen, he sees twelve a lot differently than someone my age would.  Even if twelve was to be deemed the universal acceptable age for social media use, there is not true way that our society would be able to keep social media away from children under that age. Our society is becoming so overwhelmed and inundated with social media that it has become difficult for people to completely ignore our rapidly growing social media communication outlets, especially the children that grow up surrounded by it.
     For instance, ten years ago, one of the largest social media sites in the world was created; Facebook. It is one of the most impressionable technological advances that we live with today, and my younger brother and his entire generation have never known the world without. Ken Yeung states “…there’s no denying that Mark Zuckerberg’s creation has had a significant impact upon how work is done, the way we communicate, and our society” (Yeung 1). I am in complete concurrence with Yeung’s statement; however, I do not think that Zuckerberg was necessarily trying to create something so significant.
     I do not think that Facebook, or the social media phenomenon in general, was meant to be what it has become today. With all of the controversy over privacy and the Terms of Use Policy, there are still many people who are afraid that Facebook is causing more detriment and less help. Mark Zuckerberg’s next goal is to reach five billion more users, hoping that his invention will continue to help connect people all over the world, both personally and professionally. “Today, one out of every 20 online visits is to a social networking website” (We Are Social People, 1). There has been a drastic increase in social issues like cyber-bullying and privacy since the social media portion of the internet has become more infinite, and begun to take more precedence over our everyday lives. Because more young people are using social websites without any kind of adult supervision, they are at a higher risk for getting themselves in trouble online. According to Cornell University's Steven Strogatz, social media sites can make it more difficult for us to distinguish between the meaningful relationships we foster in the real world, and the numerous casual relationships formed through social media” (Jung, 1). Social media as a whole has literally changed the way we connect with one another, and it even affects us when we are not online. Instead of merely focusing on how we can utilize social media to the best of its ability, maybe we should focus more on some of the detriments that we may be causing ourselves by being so reliant on it.

Works Cited
Dainton, Marianne, and Elaine D. Zelley. Applying Communication Theory for Professional          Life: A Practical Introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2005. Print.
Faculty, University Washington. "Patterns of Organization." PATTERNS OF ORGANIZATION.            University of Washington, n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2014.
FIERCEOVER50. "We Are Social People." We Are Social People. KOPATHEME, 2014. Web.   17 Aug. 2014.
Jung, Brian. "The Negative Effect of Social Media on Society and Individuals."Small Business. Demand Media, 2014. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
University, Kent State. "Frequent Cell Phone Use Linked to Anxiety, Lower Grade, Reduced           Happiness in Students." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Aug. 2014.

Yeung, Ken. "Facebook at 10: From Social Network to Social Phenomenon."TNW Network All        Stories RSS. The Next Web, Inc., 16 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Aug. 2014.

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