Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thoughts and Reflections Made During The Radical Romance Adventure

Week 1:
This week I had been able to learn about the radical romance. It is very impressive how the media portrays it. Also, the clips we watched during the two session brought a better understanding of how sex, gender, and romance is portrayed.

Week 2:
First, this week I learned a lot of how society defines what is the ideal and the norm. Unfortunately, many of us had been victimized by these norms and ideals. As I saw American Psycho, I was able to confirm how we unconsciously are dragged into what society wants us to become. Now I would like to agree with Jeffrey's argument, our perception to certain things had changed throughout time. Now, we are more accepting to certain things that probably 50 years ago were not even discussed. I believe that throughout time, our perception of certain things will change.

Week 3:
Similar to Elizabeth, we were able to learn a lot just by focusing primarily in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. To begin with, this play helps us have a better understand the overall them of this class which is radical romance. There are many things in this play that portrays what many people are going through at the present times. For instance, the lost of a loved one, as Brick lost Skipper, affects many people. Some people could go to the extreme of becoming emotionally "dead" as Brick. Also, another thing that attracted my attention is how Brick and Margaret are together but not because both feel the same intensity of love, but because it benefits them in other aspects. Lastly, the argument of whether or not Brick is gay or he had a "bromance" with Skipper. Analyzing the play, there are many things that hint that there was more than a friendship between the both as Margaret stated in act 1, " ...I'm naming it so damn clean that it killed poor Skipper!- You
two had something that had to be kept on ice, yes, incorruptible, yes!-and death was the only icebox where you could keep it..." (pg. 59). Overall, this week was very interesting and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was a play that made me realize many thing regarding sex, gender, and romance.

Week 4:
I some how agree with Doug, now on days people are obsessed by being what we
(society) thinks is appropriate. For instance, on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, we are able to see how Big Daddy considers materialism far more important than the affection of a father. He believed that by giving his son Brick thousands of things, that his son will be happy. As time goes by, many don't take into consideration emotions. Things are done because it will benefit the individual and because it is the "norm". As Doug brought up, it is logical to say that any man would love to marry Fox not because of her persona, but because she has a desiring body. Everyday society is converting our relationships with less emotional and affectionate and making them more business like relationships. Overall, this is a vivid example of radical romance!

Week 5:
I would like to agree with Megan, the ethnography assignment was very interesting! To begin with, when you begin observing and analyzing certain observations of things or places, it is very interesting the things you come up with. For instance, my observation was done at the gym I attend. At first, it was difficult to observe because I don't go to the gym to "stare" at people, but then after looking at certain behaviors and attitudes, it made me interested to observe more things. I believe that this assignment also allowed me to have a better understanding of what radical romance is. Although, people at the gym were not having a romantic dinner with violins playing next to their table, some behaviors seem to occur everywhere! Although I was not able to attend class this week, and have no clue of what happened, my experience creating this ethnography was very interesting and fun, most importantly educational.

Week 6:
This week we read two literary works, one written by Shakespeare and the other by Anne Waldman. To begin with, the soliloquy written by Shakespeare, to my understanding, seems that it is portraying how women lived and acted. Another thing is that this soliloquy is given by Katherina, in which resembles a radical woman. The reason for that believe is because the way it is presented (diction) seems as if women had adapted to live a certain way, but had not being able to get out from that living style. Barker introduces a philosopher by the name of Luce Irigary which states the following, "... she represents a bold attempt to assert the specificity of the feminine but her detractors she posits an essentialism that mirrors patriarchal discourse itself." (Barker 289). Comparing this statement with my idea, I could see that women are realizing that they had been put into a position that they must do things as society indicates for them to do. Looking at Waldman's article called Feminafesto, it also demonstrates the subordination
of women towards men. Throughout this article, I was able to see how she
emphasize that there is no difference between a man and woman, that all what matters is the person itself, not its gender or sex. Analyzing the diction of this article, it could also be said that she is a radical woman because she is imposing equality between men and women, something in which women throughout time had failed to do so. I believe that the sentence that summarizes her thoughts is the following, " That just sings its wisdom. That the body be an extension of energy, that we are not defined by our sexual positions as men or women in bed or on the page." (Waldman). Looking at both literary works, we could see how both relate on opening the eyes of the reader to the reality of women subordination and the need for equality.
Work Cited
Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies. Los Angeles:SAGE Publications, 2008
Waldman, Anne. Kill or Cure: Feminafesto. Penguin Books, 1994

Week 7:
I agree with Russell, the Rules of Attraction did a magnificent job by pointing out to very important points of the book. Also, the questions were very interesting and very analytical. I was able to better understand this text as I was able to here my classmates interpretation of certain things of the book. I believe that this book reflects upon what is considered as radical romance since the spark of a "romantically" attraction towards someone of your same gender is radical. I believe that many of the things described in the book illustrate the living experiences of many young adults of this time. Overall, this text allowed me to have a better understanding of radical romance.

Week 8:
This week was pretty interesting! To begin with, the essay was pretty challenging since I did not understand the prompt, but after the professor better explained on Wednesday, I had an idea of what should be done. The second thing is that, this week's discussion was pretty good! We saw clips from Annie Hall and went over Foucalt's essay called The History of Sexuality. I believe that when it comes to sexuality, just talking about it seems pretty uncomfortable because our society does not talk about it, although many involve themselves in sexual behaviors in a daily basis. Also, talking about homosexuality was pretty interesting, and from that I got an idea to write my paper about. Overall, I believe that this week we were able to get out of our comfort zone and talk about radical things affecting our society as we speak.

Week 9:
Adding to what my classmates mentioned, during the post-Mao era, Hua Guofeng took. The Chinese congress considered as the culmination of the cultural revolution during the time frame of August 12 through August 18, 1977, the same time in which the voting was taking place at the Eleventh National Congress. The Third Plenum seems as a major turning point in modern Chinese political history. Also, during this time the term four modernizations of China rose. Overall, it seems that the Chinese had fought to built a strong government during this period of time.

Week 10:
I would like to agree with Elizabeth, it was very interesting on how the group selected scenes showing her and a man having sex. Although the movie is not just her having sex, but these scenes seem to help us have a better understanding of the main
character. From the scenes I saw, I could see how the main character lacks of attention and love. The fact that she needs to be with a man (when having sex) and her obsession to be in a relationship without "love" seems very radical. This character seems very radical because she is not ashamed to do things that many women, especially in China, would not do. For example, the scene when she is teaching her friend on how to please herself sexually. Although I am just using examples from the erotic scenes of the film, the movie overall shows a young girl that goes through a lot just to seek happiness and love. This is what I got out of the film. Also, good job "Summer Palace" group! You guys did great!

Week 11:
Watching Sex and the City was very interesting. At first I was not sure why the professor wanted us to analyze chapter 13 from Barker's book using this show as reference. After the discussion on Wednesday, I was able to have a better understanding of the chapter itself and how the show sheds light to Barker's ideas. I believe that this show is very radical because it shows how these four women are dependant and do not need a man in order to survive. Although I am not familiar with the show as much, it seems that these women are pretty "open" in their conversations, therefore their personality itself is radical. Their life is the contrary from what society makes women seem like as the housewife that stays home to nurture and to care of home. Again, they are dependant women that have careers and a promising future. Analyzing Barker's ideas about gendered culture and Sex and the City, we could see how society constructs "gendered places". For instance, in the scene I used for my reflection, meet in a restaurant where it is comfortable to talk. For us that is normal and rational. The women never meet in the gym or in a field to talk as men do. Overall, it is very interesting how this very popular
and award-winning show reflects upon the radical of the American Society.

Week 12:
It sucks that I was not able to participate on Monday's activity prepared by the Sex and the City group! From what I had read, it was very interesting, therefore would like to congratulate all of its members. Aside of that, I believe that Sex and the City illustrates clearly what the radical women really looks like. It is interesting to see how these women are able to survive in a society that implements the importance of a women to be dependent to a man. Of course the shows illustrates otherwise. Overall, these are my thoughts about the show and how it helps us understand better the overall theme of the class.

Week 13:
I agree with Jessica, the topic about the whole origin of the word "slut" is very
interesting. I think that Wednesday's meeting with Professor Wexler was very helpful. It help me a lot to better understand the assignment and brought me ideas about my final paper. I will be writing about the radical man. How do men differ from the stereotypical man that society depicts. I found this topic very interesting because by analyzing all the clips we had watch and the excerpts that we had read, we could see that many of the men are more sensitive kind of feminine oriented. Overall, the meeting was extremely helpful.

Week 14:
First, I would like to congratulate the My Space group. You guys did really good. It is funny how you guys brought up questions that I had asked myself. Also, I think the comparison of My Space and Facebook was very interesting. I have both a Facebook and My Space and I could really see a difference. For instance, My Space is more liberal because you could personalize your profile, meanwhile for Facebook you could not personalize as much. Another good point that was brought up is that if these social networks are affecting the way we interact with people. I honestly think that there is a negative impact because people are more willing to meet someone online than face to face. Adding to my thoughts about these social networks is that you cannot honestly rely on what people say unless you really know the person. I, myself, had put fake information because I believe that some things should remain personal and that should be share with those you care about outside from the virtual world. Overall, excellent presentation.

On Monday, we watched Bruno! I was really shocked with the things I saw! I honestly
think that this movie is not influencing any kind of positive feedback to the gay
community. I know gay people that do not act nothing like Bruno. Overall, I think the purpose of this film is to entertain, nothing else.

By reading all my classmates reflection, I think that labeling a character as a hero or villain is very difficult. To begin with, the characteristics that define a hero or villain differ from person to person. For instance, for us Americans Osama Bin Laden is consider a villain of the American society meanwhile for others in his country or his followers consider him as a hero because he is fighting for his religious believes. Sometimes I might think that a character from a novel or a person could be characterized as a hero, but many people might refute to that opinion. I believe that it will be easier if there was a universal definition of what identifies a hero or a villain. Meanwhile, we could have an infinite argument about who is the hero and who is not. Overall, it is very interesting how people might view an individual that should be honored and followed meanwhile others
would like to see this individual imprisoned or dead.

Week 15:
It is crazy how this semester went by sooo fast, but I honestly enjoyed and learned a lot taking this course. Although, at first I did not understand a thing of what was being discussed, know I feel very knowledgeable about the material discussed during class. This week we were talking about language and how different cultures speak and how society shapes us. It was interesting to know that although a large population might speak the same language, their surroundings might influence different pronunciations, terminology, or accent. Summing up my thoughts on this final post, I was able to understand or learn about things that I was ignorant about. I am able to understand myself better as an individual and those who surround me. It was interesting to see how everyone is influence by their surroundings and how we are "shape" into what is the ideal. Now after learning so many things, I could say that the overall theme of this class, which was radical romance, is that
the way you express your feelings regardless of any norm or rule established by society, culture or religion.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Radical Man

As we grow up, society attempts to shape us to the “ideal” and makes us follow the social norms. If someone ignores the norms and follows another path adjacent from the ideal, the individual is considered deviant and is ostracized from society. Although many say that everybody is unique, we are all products of society. For instance, men are expected to follow certain norms and guidelines in the American society. Some men behave, act, dress, communicate as our culture taught them to do since they were young. For many years, men had been depicted as non-emotional, strong, violent, and the leader of the family. If a person where to describe a man molded by society, these characteristics will identify him.
Interestingly enough, many men had stopped following this path of social normality to a path that makes them feel unique and comfortable. These men that had annulated to a modern way of living in our society and are know as the radical men. They are men don’t follow all or any of the characteristic that describe the stereotypical American man. Analyzing a socially ratified man and a radical man, a great difference could be seen as they are contrasted, masculinity is better defined, things that define a radical man such as metrosexuality, homosexuality, “bromance“, househusband, and the media influence is better understood. Although, biologically speaking all men are the same, we are placed into a category that better identify us. When a man is seen nobody describes him by his biological similarities to the observant, but his behavior, dressing, and style are the cues of identification. We live in a society that carries two types of men, the socially ratified and the radical man.
To begin with, when both types of men are analyzed, we try to look for characteristics that make both of these types distinct from each other. Observing the socially ratified man, we could see that some of the characteristics that identify them is that they are non-emotional, violent, and powerful. Dr. Katherine Anderson mentions the following about this type of men, “ He is the cliché strong, virile, hairy, uncouth, homophobic, misogynist man who is a cross between classic icons of the marauding frat boy, the caveman, the football linebacker, and the regular Joe.”(Anderson 5). As we grow up, we see how society implements these characteristics as the ideal for every American man. “ That is to say, stereotypically male characteristics such as virility, strength and toughness were essential conditions to the perfect man.”, were the words of fashion and design graduate students Yun Oh and Kyu-Hwa Cho as they describe the characteristics of the socially ratified man (Oh and Cho 125).
Chris Barker, author of Cultural Studies, also makes an analysis about the socially ratified man. He addresses how men are directed through this path of social ideology of the American man and how many manifest these characteristics. In his analysis he mentions the following, “ In the latter, men have been acculturated to seek esteem through public performance and the recognition of achievement. This can take many forms from violence through sport to educational qualifications and occupational status. (Barker 302) Also Barker added the following in his description, “ Men are commonly held to be more “naturally” domineering, hierarchically oriented and power-hungry…”( Barker 285). Men are inspected to act this way in order to fit in this category of a socially ratified man.
Many films show how the male characters follow this “ideal“ path and act as men are expected to act in our society. For instance, in Made of Honor, film directed by Paul Weiland, the protagonist of the film named Tom, played by Patrick Dempsey, is showed as a man that likes to have sex with women without having any kind of emotional connection with them. Throughout the film it could be analyzed how Tom had difficulty on expressing his feelings. Another film that has a protagonist with similar characteristics is I Love You, Beth Cooper, a film directed by Chris Columbus, which shows how he is this quite non-emotional young man that was in love with the cheerleader captain of his high school and how he struggle to confess his feelings to her. Oh and Cho made an analysis which better explains the behavior of these characters, “ It was forbidden for men in public to express their feminine side such as sensitiveness, emotion, or weakness…” (Oh and Cho 127) Analyzing the characteristics of the socially ratified man allows us to better understand how society expects for a man to be as it is portrayed in films and other sources.
In contrast of the socially ratified man, we have the radical man. A radical man is perceived as someone whose characteristics somehow differ from those influenced by society. Sometimes the radical man is perceived as a deviant or considered as homosexuals. For instance, many members of society make the following claims, “Society could allow a straight man to wear makeup, nail polish, carry a man-purse, and be refined in mannerisms and tastes-or any combination of expressions which fell under the umbrella of metro sexuality. “ (Anderson 6). Many of the times, the radical man may also be called metro sexual, gay, freak, and so on. Although a radical man may posses some characteristics from the socially ratified man, his radical characteristics are used to identify him. There are various misconception about the radical man, therefore they are criticized by society.
Some of the characteristics that identifies the radical man is that he is emotional, he cares about his appearance, he plays roles that are considered feminine, he has feelings for another man or both man and women, or cares for things that are not considered masculine. Some men posses only one of these characteristics, meanwhile others posses all of them. Many men that like going to the mall to shop for the latest trend, go to a spa to get a facial treatment, like to express their feelings and not keep them inside, or dates another man often are characterized immediately as a radical individual. Although their characteristics are seen as out of the norm, they identify these men and eventually will cause a change as the following expresses, “ …Aesthetic standards for the perfect man among both men and women have changed.” (Oh and Cho 125).
Understanding the difference between the socially ratified man and the radical man, we see how masculinity has changed by the influence of both types. Many people when they define masculinity may express the following as Barker mentioned:
In general terms, traditional masculinity has encompassed the values of strength, power, stoicism action, control, independence, self-sufficiency, male camaraderie, mateship and work amongst others. Devalued were relationships, verbal ability, domestic life, tenderness, communication, women and children. (Barker 302).
Also when it comes to the description of masculinity, macho is a word that falls in its definition. “ Macho, frequently quoted word, is used for man who is markedly masculine in appearance or manner.”, as it is defined by Oh and Cho (Oh and Cho 125). The definition of masculinity for a long time has been influenced for what society considers as the ideal.
On the other hand, the radical men had redefined masculinity through out the last years. Oh and Cho made the following statement, “ …Men began to explore for their own identity escaping from traditionally standardized masculinity that they had been forced to follow.” (Oh and Cho 119). Also Barker made a claim supporting the previous statement, “ These traditional values of masculinity may no longer be serving men well… The evident difficulties men have talking about relationships, which requires emotional security and language skills, are rooted in a culturally constructed and historically specific form of masculinity.” (Barker 303). For many men masculinity is not the same as it is for those men who live under the social norm. Overall, masculinity is a social construction and as Barker stated, “ Over time, new forms of subject and new forms of masculinity and femininity could be forged. (Barker 295). In the future masculinity could de defined very differently from how it is defined now as certain radical behaviors become the social norm.
Analyzing the radical man and how it has influenced on things such as masculinity, it is important to merge into the world of the radical and explore the different characteristics that define the radical man. The first characteristic that posses majority of radical men is metrosexuality. According to Anderson, metrosexuality is, “ …a twenty first century male trendsetter, straight, urban man with heightened aesthetic sense, man who spends time and money on appearance and shopping, and [a] man willing to embrace his feminine side.” (Anderson 2). Also, in the following two clips found in You Tube, this phenomena is explained as people give their personal opinion about it:

Metrosexual men care for their appearance greatly. They spend time treating themselves and spending money on items that will improve their physique. They like to always buy clothing that is on style and keep a fashionable appearance. Some men may go to the extreme of having plastic surgery or take tablets that will “improve” their appearance. The main concern for a metrosexual is his appearance as David Coad, sociology graduate student, mentioned, “ Attention to appearance and self-care are central to metrosexuality.” (Coad 19).
Many radical men see metrosexuality as a way to identify their uniqueness in society. Anderson mentioned the following about metrosexuality as a way of personal identification, “ To some men, the acceptance of the metro sexual trend into mainstream culture allowed them to express their identity in freer new ways… The metrosexual trend can be seen both as men expressing femininity and as masculinity being defined more broadly.” (Anderson 6). Metrosexuality allows men to express their individuality regardless of what society considers appropriate. Also, metrosexuality allows them to explore things such as color variation, pattern, style, and sexiness. In other words, metro sexuality is considered a lifestyle as Oh and Cho mention in the following excerpt:
He has a sophisticated aesthetic sense and often a well developed feminine side. He is emotionally sensitive and aware, verbal and communicative, physically fit and clean, and well-mannered. Sometimes he is narcissistic. . . He is self-assured in himself enough to express his feelings without fear of feeling like he is homosexual in the process. What is more important is that he is open-minded to everybody and has a positive and passionate attitude for his work. (Oh and Cho 123).
Overall, the radical man views metro sexuality as a way for a man to care for his appearance and a way to express himself in a way that the socially ratified man would not.
Another characteristic among the radical realm is homosexuality or bisexuality. Many men are considered radical because their feelings are contrary of the social norm. The socially ratified man is taught that he could only love woman and that anything else is deviant and sinful. On the other hand, radical men view homosexuality and bisexuality as words that describe a man that has feelings for another man or an individual that likes both men and women. Unfortunately since there has been a lot of stigma within the gay community from the American society, many men tend repress their sexual preference. Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardwell R. Pomeroy and Clyde E. Martin, scholars that had written various books regarding human behavior, mentioned the following, “ A considerable portion of the population, perhaps the major portion of the male population, has at least some homosexual experience between adolescence and old age… Social reactions to the homosexual have obviously been based on the general belief that a deviant individual is unique and as such needs special consideration.” ( Kinsey et al 895).
Although the American society considers homosexuality as deviant, the media has put homosexuality out there. For instance there are various movies that show homosexual characters and base their storylines on the growth of the relationship of both individuals. For instance, a film directed by Jonah Mark Owitz called Shelter is based on the romantic relationship that a young artist named Zach, played by Trevor Wright, has with a college graduate named Shaun, played by Brad Powe. The movie shows how these two radical men face various struggles that impede their relationship to grow and how in the end these two men were able to live a happy and stable relationship. Also, within the Hispanic community we are able to see how the media perpetuates this phenomena. We could see this in the soap opera called Niños Ricos, Pobres Padres ( Rich Kids, Poor Parents) as two of its characters fight for the respect of their homosexual feelings, as could be seen in the clip below:

We could also analyze this phenomena in the book written by Tennessee Williams called Cat On The Hot Tin Roof, when Bid Daddy mentions the following, “ Time goes by so fast. Nothin’ can outrun it. Death commences too early- almost before you’re half-acquainted with life- you meet the other…”, as he explains his tolerance towards homosexuality.(161; Act 3). Overall, society rejects homosexuality since its contrary of the norm, but many live this radical life which identifies them.
Another characteristic that identifies the radical man, is that he expresses emotion and appreciates everything surrounding it. The freedom of the expression of emotion and appreciation towards everything around leads to a phenomena called “bromance”. Bromance, also known as “man crush”, is a close but non-sexual relationship between two men, a form of homosocial intimacy. Men in such relationship enjoy the company of each other and spend a high amount of time together. They go to places together, they participate in events together, and share very personal moments together. Some people believe that this phenomena is similar as a homosexual relationship, but others claim otherwise.
As this phenomena has emerged, it has been reflected in various films and books. For instance, Tennessee Williams in his novel, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, describes such phenomena between Brick and Skipper. In Act 2, Brick talks to Margaret about his relationship with Skipper and he mentions the following, “ Life is important. There’s nothing else to hold onto.” (86; Act 2). Also, celebrity Brody Jenner came out in a reality show called Bromance, in which he went to look for a man that he could have a bromantic relationship with. During the show, he always addressed the importance of having that man you could always have a great time with, spend time in recreational activities, and someone that you could count on when you most need him. Also, in the show called Scrubs we could see this phenomena between these two men and how they defend their friendship. We could see this in the following clips below:

Overall, radical men express their appreciation of having a man that they could count on, meanwhile the socially ratified men don’t feel comfortable to show their appreciation of having that important man in their lives.
According to society, men are suppose to maintain the household and follow the adequate male roles. On the other hand, the many men that follow this radical life don’t necessarily follow the sex roles implemented by society. Many men are now becoming the househusband and the women are going to work to maintain the family. Oh and Cho mention the following about the househusband, “ Eventually, conservative sex roles has come to a change little by little and women don’t have to rely on men for living when they choose the men because they earn the money. . . The more independent, wealthy, self-centered and powerful women become, the more they are likely to want attractive, well groomed, well-dressed men around them.” (Oh and Cho 126). Radical men don’t care about working to maintain the family, but the spend more time with the family and for himself.
Although men and women are becoming equal because of their radical lives, society is going against these changes in sex roles. Diane Keyser and Robert Chell, professors of Fairleigh Dickinson University, made the following claim, “ As expected, mothers are criticized more than fathers are for too little involvement at home or too much involvement in paid works. Fathers experienced just the opposite, criticism for too much involvement at home and too little involvement at work.” (Keyser and Chell 640). Also, this could be analyzed in the film directed by Anne Fletcher called The Proposal in which the male protagonist named Andrew, played by Ryan Reynolds, is the secretary of this important editor named Margaret, played by Sandra Bullock. During the film, the father of Andrew continuously criticizes him because he is the secretary of a women. Also we could see this in the following clip called Desperate Househusband:

As Oh and Cho explained, “ However, more and more couples work together for a living and do housework together in these days.” (Oh and Cho 126). Many radical men live practicing roles that were society has not consider as masculine, and has led to the equality of both man and woman.
Although the American society idealizes its norms and regulations, the media and the market place look upon the characteristics that identify the radical man. If we analyze television commercials, movies, posters, and even social networks such as My Space or Facebook, they, many of the times, use these characteristics to achieve their goals which is more money or more publicity. “ The metro sexual is clearly fleshed out in numerous magazine and newspaper articles, television shows, films, internet blogs, self-improvement books, and various forms of advertisement.”, where the words of Anderson as she gives her opinion of the media using the radical man as a way to achieve its goal (Anderson 2). For instance in commercial of products or designers such as Axe, Levi’s, among others use these characteristics to persuade its viewers to buy their products as we could see in the clips below:

Supporting this analysis, Barker agreed as he mentioned the following, “Manhood has become a performance game to be won in the marketplace.” (Barker 306) The marketplace knows that these characteristics helps them increase, therefore they embrace them more and more.
People that life according to the social norm are sometimes intrigue by the radicalism shown in any form of advertisement of media. Oh and Cho explained the following, “People want to free themselves from the past fixed idea and experience fresh and novel products.” (Oh and Cho 120). In concordance of the following statement, Anderson mentioned the following regarding the media and its use of the radical man:
The popularity and success of this commoditization can be measured in statistics which show up to and over triple digit growths for companies marketing metro sexual products as well as polls showing men’s growing perception that metro sexual trends were acceptable and desired… By 2004, everywhere you turned there were images of the metro sexual filling billboards, magazines, television shows, films with his buff, suave, sophistication. (Anderson 3)
The media and the marketplace knows that although many men don’t live a radical life, they still are persuaded as they view how the media and advertisements perpetuate radicalism. Many fall into their traps as they use these characteristics to seduce to viewer. As Barker stated, “ What the media pay attention to is determined by audience choice through the mechanisms of the market.” (Barker 319).
Throughout time, society has tried to shape us to what is considered as the ideal. Men that follow social norms such as being non-emotional, working all day to maintain the family, or pay little attention to themselves are considered as socially ratified men. On the other hand, men that expresses their feelings, cares for their physique, or puts into practice non-masculine roles are considered as radical men. The difference between these two types of men has influence a change on the definition of masculinity. Also, to better understand the radical man, it is important to analyze some of its main characteristics such as metro sexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, bromance, and househusband. Surprisingly enough, people that live under the social norms are at times intrigue by the radicalism shown in the media and advertisements. Overall, as a radical man, I believe that all the characteristics that identify me will sooner or later become the social norm, therefore men expressing emotion, wearing the latest trend, spending time at home, or embracing a bromantic relationship would be consider as normal not deviant.

Works Cited
Anderson, Katherine Noel. From Metrosexual to Retrosexual: The Importance of Shifting Male Gender Roles to Feminism. Los Angeles: UC Los Angeles Center for the Study of Women, 2008.
Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc., 2008.
Bromance. Dir. Jason C. Henry. Perf. Brody Jenner, Frankie Delgado, and Taylor Moster. MTV. Los Angeles, 2008.
Coad, David. The Metrosexual: Gender, Sexuality, and Sport. New York: SUNY Press, 2008.
Desperate Househusbands.
I Love You, Beth Cooper. Dir. Chris Columbus. Perf. Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack Carpenter, Lauren London and Lauren Storm. 20th Century, 2009.
Kinsey, Alfred C., Wardwell Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin. “ Voices from the Past: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male”. American Journal of Health 93.3 (2001): 894-898.
Levi’s Gay Commercial.
Lingerie Gay Commercial.
Made of Honor. Dir. Paul Weiland. Perf. Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Kathleen Quinlan. Columbia Pictures, 2008.
Metrosexuals- A documentary.
Metrosexuals: In or Out?.
Oh, Yun-Jeong and Kyu-Hwa Cho. “Cultural and Social Implications of Metrosexual Mode“. Journal of Fashion Business 10.3 (2006): 117-128.
Santi and Diego (Part 35) [subs].
Scrubs Gay Love.
Scrubs J.D. and Turk Bromance.
Shelter. Dir. Jonah Markowitz. Perf. Trevor Wright, Brad Powe, Tina Holmes, Ross Thomas. here! Films Regent Releasing, 2007.
The Axe Effect (Funny and Sexy).
The Proposal. Dir. Anne Fletcher. Perf. Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Touchstone Pictures, 2009.
Wentworth, Diane K. and Robert M. Chell. “ The Role of Household and Housewife as Perceived by a College Population“. The Journal of Psychology 135.6 (2001): 639-650.
Williams, Tennessee. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. New York: A New Directions Book, 2004.

Society's Construction of Place

Throughout time, society has constructed various things to what is considered to be the norm. Surprisingly enough, society has constructed a phenomenon called the “gendered space”. Chris Barker, author of Cultural Studies, addresses this phenomenon and explains in greater depth on how the American society has built such thing. Supporting Barker’s opinion, Darren Star’s Emmy award winning show Sex and the City, demonstrates how society has built the “gendered space”. Although many Americans view a place as a space, area, or spot, set apart or used for a particular purpose, society has converted it into a tool that “defines” an individual’s ideals and responsibilities. A person’s home, school they attend or their Friday night’s “kick-back” location could say so many things about him or her without being conscious about it.
Barker mentioned the following as he was explaining about the social construction of place, “… Gender relations vary over space: spaces are symbolically gendered and some spaces are marked by the physical exclusion of particular sexes.”(Barker 377). For instance, in a scene of Sex and the City that was aired in April 2007, it shows how the four friends go to dinner to drink coffee and to gossip about their problems and also how Carrie and her “boyfriend” walk around Manhattan holding hands. Analyzing this scene, we could see how society set certain places for certain genders or occasions. It was very interesting to see how Carrie was walking around grabbing hands with the baseball player made in Manhattan at night. The place is romantic and specific for a man and a woman to walk and to enjoy their love. Also, analyzing the scene of the girls talking was very interesting because many of the times women gathered in places, such as a house, coffeehouse or restaurants, where they will be comfortable to gossip or to spend time together.
Along the many things that the American society constructs, the places we attend to are socially constructed as “gendered places.” Where an individual lives, studies, or gathers around with friends identifies the individual’s ideals or responsibilities. Barker explains thoroughly how society has constructed this concept to something that many of us don’t pay importance to. Darren Star’s Sex and the City shed light to the explanations of this phenomenon as the scenes are analyzed. Overall, we live in a society that shapes everything to the “norm”, and the places where we eat, enjoy the hot sun, or just rest are not the exception to the modification of the American society.

Works Cited
Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies: 3rd Edition. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2008.
Sex and the City. Dir. Darren Star. With Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and
Cynthia Nixon. Silver Cup Studios, 2007.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Norm Against The Radical

As we grow up, we are constantly taught by society what is the ideal and what is out of norm. For instance, our society considers a marriage a special event in which a male and a female bond their lives together until death departs them from one another. Realistically, as time progresses, this norm seems hard to perceive within society. If now we hear things such as getting married for financial stability, for a personal well-being, homosexual marriages, or just living together with your significant other with no legal or religious bond as being radical. Surprisingly, the acts of most members of our society reflect these radical behaviors.
Many authors had written many literary works having in mind this idea and reflecting it on their work. For example, Oscar Wilde wrote a book called An Ideal Husband, in which the reader is able to see how marriage is not as it is portrayed by society. Wilde’s text supports the ideas that Tennessee Williams transmit in his book called Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, in which he clearly portrays what is considered to be as the radical romance. Using Wilde’s text to support Williams’ understanding of radical romance, it could be analyzed how society constructs the “ideal“ behavior, what characterizes a radical relationship, how radical reforms are being put into practice, and the price to be part of a society based on traditional values. Overall, we are able to see how various behaviors are constantly being acted by members of society and are considered radical within the marital norms.
The wedding of a man and woman that are bonding their lives together because of the passionate and eternal love they feel for one another seems as the norm within society. For many years, this concept of marriage has been carried, but its practicality has diminished throughout time. Although this norm lacks of its practicality, society enforces it since various things such as religion or traditional values play a strong role within society. For instance, Williams portrays this norm in act one when Brick, a man who lost a very close male friend, and Margaret, the wife of Brick, have a conversation regarding their relationship and she states the following, “ You married me early that summer we graduated out of Ole Miss, and we were happy, weren’t we, we were blissful yes, hit heaven together ev’ry time that we love!” (Williams 60) Wilde’s idea, similar to Williams’ idea, was also portrayed when Lady Chitern, a radical woman of the Victorian era, at the beginning says that her husband is the head of the house and that it is her responsibility to help him both his private and public life (Wilde 16). These two examples demonstrate how traditional values such as the wife being the auxiliary of the husband and how “true love” helps them reach heaven (religiously speaking, a place with no harm, violence or sin). Also, we are able to see how marriage implies that the man is in power than the woman. For instance, Chris Barker, author of Cultural Studies, mentions the following, “ That is, women have subject positions constructed for them that the place them in the patriarchal work of domesticity and beautification…” (Barker 314). It could be analyzed how society implies a norm based on religious or traditional values, but many individual live based on radical marital norms.
Understanding better what society implies as the norm, it could be analyzed that everything contrary of the norm is radical. For example, romance between two individuals of the same sex is considered radical. Williams includes this radical phenomena in his text when Margaret and Brick are having a conversation regarding Brick’s and Skipper’s close relationship, when Margaret said, “ Skipper! Stop lovin’ my husband or tell him he’s got to let you admit it to him!” (Williams 60). After this statement, Margaret mentioned that Skipper slept with her that night to prove to her that he was not gay. As we could see, society considers love between a man and a woman as normal, but love between two men or two women as radical. “ That is, identification with one set of norms, say heterosexuality, repudiates another, say homosexuality.”, as Barker explains how our society idealizes heterosexuality over homosexuality (Barker 299). Also Colton Lawrence, producer of the film The Sex Movie, he addresses the issue of homosexuality as one of the protagonist mentions the following, “ Being straight is normal, being a fag is against God’s will!” (The Sex Movie). Overall, it could be analyzed how society considers a homosexual romance as radical by the influences of religious and traditional values.
Another example of a radical relationship is getting married with someone without loving them. Many of us had been taught that the foundation of a good matrimony is a strong, solid, and unconditional love. Unfortunately, the acts within society demonstrate the contrary. For instance, Wilde addresses this issue in his book when he explains on how Mrs. Cheveley, the villain of the play, tries to seduce Sir Robert to secure her financial investments (Wilde 20). She did not care if she destroyed Sir Robert’s conjugal bliss to satisfy her selfish self with the fortune that Sir Robert possessed. David Masci, author of Future of Marriage, mentioned, “It gave women economic security and helped men financially, through dowry payments and socially by connecting them to another family.”(Masci) Many don’t see marriage as the union of two individuals in love, but a way to gain financial stability or to resolve a problem such as legal problems or personal issues.
Although the examples given above as many other behaviors seem radical, but are constantly acted by members of society. For instance, Bret Easton Ellis, author of The Rules of Attraction, explains on the text how a young man by the name of Sean has a romantic relationship with Lauren, a Camden student which is identified as promiscuous, but has sexual encounters with Paul, a bisexual young man that is completely in love with Sean. Also, in Ellis’ text, Lauren has a relationship with Sean, but she hopes for her “ex-boyfriend” to return from Europe and to re-initiate a romantic relationship with him. We could see the lack of love between Sean and Lauren when she thinks the following meanwhile in bed with Sean, “ Why is it that Victor’s seeing Jaime? I like him more than she likes him.” (Ellis. 203) It could be analyzed how these characters built a relationship based on lies and selfishness but not love, unfortunately portraying the reality of many individuals that are involve in “loveless” relationships. Many people may be in a relationship and apparently be living by the norm, but are part of a radical relationship.
Although many live a life contrary to the norms established by society, they want to remain part of society and not be ostracized from it. For instance, many individuals decide to get married knowing that there is no love between them. We are able to see this on the screenplay Brokeback Mountain, written by Dianna Ossana and Larry McMurtry, when two men that have a strong romantic relationship, but get married with women so their relationship could not be revealed to society. They decided to live a life contrary of their feelings just to prevent stigma and discrimination from society (Brokeback Mountain). Barker mentioned the following, “ Instead men need to find new ways of being men, or, rather, new ways to be human that bestow masculinity as a side-effect of doing and living a manner that brings respect, esteem and self-worth.” (Barker 306) Overall, the bases of a stable matrimony had changed into radical event, society admires individuals that live according to what religion and traditions value and consider as the norm.
Although we are taught by society to live according to the norms, but many live a radical life. It is interesting to see how society is influenced and embraces religious and traditional values, but few put these values into practice. We are taught that such things as homosexual marriages or getting married for financial or personal benefits as something radical since it is contrary of our social norms. Also, we frequently see how many involve in “radical” relationships and how things such as literature and the media portray these kind of radical reforms. Although many live a radical life, they are not willing to be ostracized and stigmatized from society, therefore live a life based on lies. Overall, our society is far from following what is considered as the ideal or the norm, therefore our behaviors makes our society a radical society rather than a religious and traditional valued society.
Works Cited
Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies. 3rd ed. California: SAGE Publications Inc., 2008
Brokeback Mountain. Dir. Ang Lee. Perf. Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Linda Cardellini, and Anna Ferris. Paramount Picture, 2005.
Ellis, Easton Bret. The Rules of Attraction. New York: A Division of Random House, Inc., 1978
Masci, David. Future of marriage. May 7. 2004. CQ Researcher, 14, 397-420. October 14, 2009, <>
The Sex Movie. Dir. Colton Lawrence. Perf. Michelle Mosley, Matthew Tyler, Mike Fallen, and Eleese Longino. Argentic Pictures, 2007.
Wilde, Oscar. An Ideal Husband. New York: Dover Publications, 2001.
William, Tennessee. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. New York: A New Directions Book, 2004

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Beauty of Interaction

To have a better understanding of human interaction within our society, it is essential to make observations in places where people interact with one another and where their behavior and attitudes towards one another could be analyzed. In order to build this understanding and make assumptions of human interaction within society, we were assigned to visit a public place in which we could observe the people and their behavior in a certain time frame. For that reason, I decided to make my observations at LA Fitness in the city of Van Nuys. The reason for this decision is because there is a lot of people interaction occurring at the gym in every moment. Also we could see the different gender roles, attitudes, and behavior. From 10 P.M. to 11:00 P.M., I was able to make a lot of observations that has helped me have a better understanding of human behavior and interaction within our society.
As I arrived to the gym, I began thinking of places within the facility in which will allow for me to make a good observation. The first thing I did was to go to a treadmill right in front of a big mirror which allowed me to have a better view of the people in the facility. To begin with, I noticed that most of the women were on the treadmills or performing a cardiovascular exercise. I only saw one woman in the weights’ section of the gym. On the other hand, most of the men were lifting weights or performing an activity to build muscle.
Another observation made was that the women interacted with one another meanwhile walking on the treadmill or excising in any other machine. They will be talking about things, such as their activities done during the day or about their significant others. For instance, one woman was talking about how her husband bought her a necklace for her birthday and their plans to go to Europe for Christmas. Most of the men, on the other hand, remained isolated from others and were fully concentrated on their work-out. I hardly saw men talking with one another meanwhile exercising.
Meanwhile my observation, I saw two heterosexual couples exercising at the gym. Most of the time, I saw that the men were instructing their partner on how to use the machinery or how to perform an exercise. Also, if the man moved to another section of the gym, the woman will follow him. Another interesting observation was that the women that were exercising with their partners were dressed more conservatively than the other women at the gym. For instance, most of the women were wearing shorts but these two women and four other ones were wearing sweatpants.
My final observation was that many people were leaving alone. I saw a minor amount of people leaving out of the gym with someone else. Most people walked out quickly and did not interact with anyone. If there was interaction among the people, it was a salutation or a short conversation.
After this observation at LA Fitness, I was able to analyze human interaction among other things. To begin with, one thing that I had learned by taking certain sociology courses is that both men and women have “dictated” roles. All individuals within society must follow the norm, or else the individual will be ostracized and stigmatized. The reason why this thought rose during the process of the observation is because certain behaviors seemed permanent within the male group and other behaviors seemed constant within the female group.Chris Barker,author of Cultural Studies, made a the following claim that suports this thought, "In general terms, traditional masculinity has emcompassed the values of strength, power, stoicism, action, control, independence, self-sufficiency male camaderie, mateship and work amongst others." (Barker 302) As indicated in the observation, most of the women were conversing with someone else meanwhile exercising. On the other hand, most of the men were just concentrating in building muscle and not socializing with others during their work-out.
Also, the conversation of the women itself demonstrates how the idea of women being more “opened” about their personal lives seems normal within our society. For instance, the woman at the gym was talking about the gift she received for her birthday and what her family is planning to do, things that are personal, but are shared with others. This observation, as well as other things learned, seemed to point that women feel comfortable talking with others about their lives and not kept to themselves. On the other hand, men were hardly talking to one another. Interestingly enough, two graduate students named Yun Oh and Kyu Cho made the following statement, "It was forbiden to men in public places to express their feminine side such as sensitiveness, emotion or weakness, or to have interest in lifestyle frequently relating to women like shopping, carring fashion and skin, chatting, cooking and so on." (Oh and Cho 127).
Analyzing the observation of the heterosexual couples, it was not surprising seeing how they interacted. It could be seen that some women remain in control of their spouse. For instance, the women were always next to their spouse and not separated. Although I did not hear the men telling the women to follow them, but just the act of the women following the men shows unconsciously how they are being “control”. It was very interesting not seeing the men following their wives at any moment. Another observation that might support dependency of women to men is when the men were instructing the women on how to do it instead of reading the instructions on the side of the machinery or asking a personal trainer for assistance. Although this observation might not be completely relevant to make such assumption valid, but it shows how many women within society rely on the husband for assistance or to take the lead.
Overall, this experience allowed me to learn more about human interaction within society. The hour spent at this facility allowed me to make observations that supported various theories and assumptions of human behavior and culture learned throughout time. It was very interesting seeing that we are thought to act or behave in certain ways by just observing a group of people. This experience allowed me to become more knowledgeable about me surroundings and how society shapes each individual into what is considered to be the norm.

Works Cited
Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc., 2008.
Oh, Yun-Jeong and Kyu-Hwa Cho. “Cultural and Social Implications of Metrosexual Mode“. Journal of Fashion Business 10.3 (2006): 117-128.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Primary Text Class Presentation

For the primary text class presentation, I joined the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof group. Coincidentally, my group was the first one to present to the class, therefore the nervousness increased dramatically. In order to prepare for the class, my group had to figure out what we had to do. The first time we meet, we discussed that we should have an activity regarding the text and then agreed to meet together to further discuss the presentation. Jessica always kept in touch with all the group members regarding any ideas for the presentation. A day was set to prepare the presentation, but unfortunately I had a family emergency and I was not able to attend. I was told that during the meeting, they discussed the different activities they had and agreed to do jeopardy. Jessica that same day emailed me about the decisions they made and what my task will be. I was asked to choose a category and to come up with questions regarding that section of jeopardy. Since the themes section was the only available section, I worked on questions for that section.
At first, it was very difficult to create questions regarding the theme of the book. I read the play and used outside sources to help me create the questions. After I began to create my five questions which were the four in the themes’ section and the final jeopardy question. I always kept in mind that my questions had to relate to the theme and also make the audience think and create a discussion. At moments, I believed that the questions were straight forward, but also at moments felt that the questions were opinion-oriented questions. I made sure the questions were appropriately worded and emailed it to Charles, the person in charge of creating the jeopardy board. Overall, the whole group contributed somehow and overall we were able to give a presentation in which provoked discussion among the class and taught them more about Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.