GEND 356: The Mind At Work - Building off of Heidi

For this post I will be branching off of points that Heidi brings up in her blog post. 

Heidi asks the question towards the conclusion of her post: "why does [society] put such a stigma on waitresses and other low wage jobs?"  While Rose's main point in his book is to address classism, I would argue that the stigma in waitressing is also partly due to misogyny and/or racism.

GEND 356: Jensen "Reading Classes: Chapter Six - Across the Great Divide"

"As we have seen with primary and secondary schools, college students from the middle class generally find in higher education the cultural rules, values, language, and community mores that are familiar to them.  Working class students, again, face a maze of new rules, values, language, and a world of indecipherable references" (150).

GEND 356: Coontz's "Why Gender Equality Stalled"

I was interested in finding infographics relating to this article because I am a visual person.

GEND 356: Luce's and Brenner's "Women and Class: What Has Happened in Forty Years?"

This is going to be my go-to article now when talking about the gender wage gap.  Luce and Brenner's main aim in this article is to highlight the change of wages since the 1960s primarily.  They also highlight the differences between white women and women of color.  They urge that despite the apparent change, there still remains an unavoidable gap because systematic issues have yet to be socially addressed.  The legislative victory for equal rights can only do so much--as Luce and Brenner point out "they were primarily enforced through individual lawsuits" and "these cases can take many years to resolve, and most working-class women have neither the time nor resources necessary to pursue them" (125-126).

While efforts can be made to make sure that women and women of color have access to higher education and better training, this does not do enough to combat social discrimination that impacts hiring and promotional rates.  Women are still being filtered into "easily replaceable" positions like "cashier, retail salesperson and waitress"--jobs that are not considered "good jobs" and are always undervalued and underpaid (127).  Luce and Brenner's example of the janitor versus the housekeeper highlights this discrepancy (124).  It will take mass social change to combat this without strict government monitoring and enforcement--gender and race bias in the workplace still goes largely unchecked.

GEND 356: Laureau's "Watching, Waiting, and Deciding When to Intervene"

In Annette Lareau's article on "Race, Class, and the Transmission of Advantage"  the main argument is that there is little-to-no difference between the "class resources" drawn upon by white middle-class families versus black middle-class families.  Lareau's main points of defense are that "middle-class parents presume that they are entitled to have the institution accommodate to their child's individualized needs" that they "feel comfortable voicing their concerns with people in positions of authority" and lastly that despite race, middle-class parents are "willing and able to climb the hierarchy of authority to pursue their interest" (1).

After giving her methodology and various examples that demonstrate parental demonstration, Lareau concludes that (for this particular age group) race is not a huge factor in the resources that middle-class parents draw upon in order to act in their children's best interest.  While I am skeptical of taking the word of a white woman in this matter, Lareau does acknowledge that race does play a role in what issues arise in black middle-class families and the added burden of weighing "the race factor" in when deciding whether or not to act on their child's behalf.  I realize, however, that it is not the point of the article to explore the idea that middle-class ideology is in and of itself a rather "white" class to begin with.

GEND 356: Anyon's "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work"

Jean Anyon's paper about the "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work" outlines a study performed in a few elementary schools in order to see how social class differences are being 'set up' in the school systems.  In the first part of the paper, definitions for social class are laid out as a series of relationships to production of capital, relationships to authority, and relationships to capital itself.

I found this article to be extremely engaging and right now I am trying to think of people that I can share this with.  The differences in teaching styles across the different school types was extremely interesting--especially the implications this makes for replicating class divide.  This is a direct confrontation to the idea that as long as everyone goes to school they have the same opportunities.  Clearly this is not the case, as totally different sets of skills are being taught depending on what "class" the school is in.  It is so frustrating, now, realizing that I was not taught the same caliber of creativity and analysis that children in the "Executive Elite" school were (or rather, I did not realize that it was possible for children in general to learn like this--I thought that the working and even middle class school teaching styles are all that children that age could comprehend).  The Executive Elite school reminded me very much of college--and college is the only time during my school career that I actually felt as though I was learning something, instead of just regurgitating memorized material.

GEND 356: "Some General Values of Working Class Culture"

(As an aside, I thought it was funny that my copy of this was used on the back to record inventory count for a work-related event)

The page reads:

[These are some observations of general cultural values and tendencies and are not meant to be cultural stereotypes but recognitions]

1. COMMUNICATION: To the Point
Direct (even blunt), sometimes impassioned, accepts arguing
Functional (not reflective)
Story Telling--Passing on values, history
Speak the truth (Yet keep it in the family)
Humor--Laugh to survive--Getting Down to it

2. FAMILY: Blood Ties
Support each other
Stay close to home
Parental rule--Often Patriarchy
Persistence and Ingenuity: Making do--Getting by

3. COMMUNITY: Neighborhood
Mutual Respect and Cooperation
Democratic & Egalitarian
Treat others fairly, especially the "little guy"
Often denial and anger
Difficulty is seeing multiple perspectives

4. WORK ETHIC:  Work as fabric of life
Providing for family
Hard work and Follow through
Respect for tools & maintenance
Having a good job
Functional & Practical--Getting things done
Time is money--Work sets schedule

5.  EDUCATION: Get One
Value basic education--
as a means of achieving "a good life"
as a means of achieving "freedom of choice"
But not too much education--"Don't forget where you came from."

GEND 356: Stiglitz's "Inequality is Holding Back the Recovery"

"When even the free-marked-oriented magazine The Economist argues--as it did in a special feature in October--that the magnitude and nature of the country's inequality represent a serious threat to America, we should know that something has gone horribly wrong"

GEND 356: OXFAM "The Cost of Inequality"

The main point to OXFAM's briefing on "How Wealth and Income Extremes Hurt Us All" is to convince the reader that focusing on just extreme poverty is not enough.  It is important to focus on the "inequality and the extreme wealth that contributes to it" (1).  The article outlines how inequality is "reaching levels never before seen" and is "getting worse" showing disturbing statistics like "In the US the share of national income going to the top 1% has doubled since 1980 from 10% to 20%" and "For the top 0.01% it has quadrupled" (1).  These statistics show the reader just how unequal the rich and the poor are.  Perhaps it asks the question "just why would any one person need that much money, when people are literally starving?"--it highlights the greed of the top percents.

The article also discusses how extreme wealth and income effects economic efficiency, politics, corruption, the environment, and ethics.  This perhaps suggests that all other crises would be tremendously improved by paying attention to extreme wealth and extreme inequality that exists in the world.  By the end of the article, OXFAM urges the world to "end extreme wealth by 2025" stating that "in a world of increasingly scarce resources, reducing inequality is more important than ever.  It needs to be reduced and quickly" (4).  Overall, this is a tight and to-the-point persuasive essay on the dangers of the wealth gap.

GEND 356: Tilly's "Why Inequality is Bad for the Economy"

"In unequal societies, highly educated, computer-using elites are surrounded by majorities with little education and no computer access, dragging down their productivity. This decreases young people's incentive to get more education and business' incentive to invest in computers, since the payoff will be smaller" (3).

GEND 356: Currie's "The Futile War on Drugs"

"One method of simplifying social problems is to see them as resulting from countless individual failures of personal character.  According to this view, people are jobless because they're lazy, they're homeless because they lack forehandedness, they're addicted because they have no moral discipline" (351).
This is the issue with individualism--one of the main ideologies holding together classism.  As other writers have pointed out (as I have discussed in previous blog posts), individualism is the distraction from systematic issues that are the root cause to poverty, oppression, and in this particular case--drug abuse.  With this view out of the way, we can examine the systems beneath that benefit those who control them, and hurt those it takes advantage of.  It makes no logical sense for groups of people to simultaneously be "too lazy" or to have "no moral discipline"--there is always a root cause to joblessness and homelessness.

GEND 356: Coontz's "Self Reliance and the American Family"

The average person (i.e. not politician necessarily, but the typical person you would meet on the street) opposing welfare and government assistance is not someone that I enjoy spending a great deal of time with.  But lately, I feel as though this anti-poor discourse has gotten worse (or I am becoming more aware of it) and has seeped into the mindsets of my closer family members (who I thought were more liberal).  The media does an excellent job at twisting the blame of a failing economy onto supposed "rampant welfare fraud"

GEND 356: Jensen's "Reading Classes: Chapter Two - Invisible Ism"

Jensen's main point in the second chapter of her book "Reading Classes" is to lay out how classism exists in how she defines separate classes for the sake of her writing.  Like Johnson's explanation of Individualism in "The Forest and the Trees" Jensen also points out how Classism (as other forms of systematic oppression) shift the attention away from the structural issues that contribute to class divisions, and toward individuals who are "too lazy" to attain a higher class.  Jensen states that "classism says that people with more wealth deserve it because they earned it" and it is individualistic attitudes like this that ignore the hard work that working class people do (50).

On another note, Jensen also states that  "classism sees and judges louder, more expressive and emotional human behavior as flaws of personal character, which is called tasteless rather than customs of class or ethnic cultures" (45).  I found this interesting when thinking about how Johnson stated that "when blacks or women express anger in the workplace, for example, they risk triggering stereotypes of blacks and women as overly emotional" (65).  I think that these two quotes are important when thinking about how race, class and gender are connected when examining classism.  In all cases, being overly emotional is seen as a negative, while restrained behavior is seen to be "higher class"--all of this works to keep oppressed groups from acting out of their (justified) rage against the machine of systematic "isms" that the privileged are so unwilling to address.

GEND 356: Johnson's "The Forest and the Trees" Ch 1-2

Chapter One: The Forest, the Trees, and the One Thing

"It's easy to think that social problems must come down to flaws in individual character.  If we have a drug problem, it must be because individuals just can't or won't say "no."  If there are racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and other forms of privilege and oppression, it must be because of people who for some reason have the personal "need" to behave in racist, sexist, and other oppressive ways" (9-10).
This is a very basic way to explain how individualism exists in multiple systems of oppression and how it infiltrates every aspect of our lives.  From here, it is easy to see how one could entirely miss the systematic nature of oppression and how it stretches beyond merely the occasionally blip of a psychopath in an otherwise neutral sea of humanity.  It is easy to say that everyone is inherently good, to shift the question of oppression from a larger system and onto an individual, making conversations about oppressive systems easily derailed.  Especially when conversation turns to internalized racism, sexism and so on, which are harder to detect because they slip under the radar that spotlights mouthpiece bigots (most famously, politicians).  Focusing on these people is pointless when trying to dismantle the entire system.

GEND 356: People Like Us - Tammy's Story

GEND 356: Johnson's "What is a System of Privilege?"

Coincidentally, before sitting down to respond to Allan G. Johnson's piece "What is a System of Privilege?" I watched this piece of spoken word.  This ties in quite nicely with Allen Johnson's example of illustrating white privilege in regards to crime. 

Javon Johnson - "cuz he's black"

GEND 356: Mantsios' "Rewards and Opportunities"

"The privileged in our society require a class-structured social order in order to maintain and enhance their economic and political well-being.  Industrial profits depend on cheap labor and on a pool of unemployed to keep workers in check.  Real Estate speculators and developers create and depend on slums for tax evading investments" (477)

GEND 356: Marshall's "Serving in Combat Does not Serve Women Well"

“[Women] are pushed into military duty due to poverty and lack of other options”

“Some 42% of female veterans say they joined the military because jobs were hard to find, compared with one-quarter of men”

“31% military women are black […] this is almost twice the share of active-duty men who are black (16%)”

GEND 356: Chang's "Streets of Gold"

Curtis Chang’s “Streets of Gold: The Myth of the Model Minority” centers discussion around the idea that Asian-Americans have not achieved racial equality in the United States, despite what media “mythology” would claim.