Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My thoughts on Marriage

This post is in response to articles I read for a class that I'm taking. I have linked the articles mentioned.

When I read the articles for class, I couldn’t help but examine my own beliefs and thoughts about marriage. Before I discuss the readings, I will first state several of my beliefs. First and foremost, I believe marriage is a conscious decision made by two individuals. It is a decision that should not be based solely on “love.” It is a financial decision as well as a decision about motherhood/fatherhood. I believe marriage is not necessarily for everyone and should not be believed to last forever. With that being said, I do agree with statistics that indicate that the more educated a person is and the older a person is when he/she marries, the more likely he/she will remain married to the same person for many years and will probably never go through a divorce. Marriage is about sharing and communicating with your spouse. I think a lack of communication between partners is more likely to be the root of a problem than whether or not your husband does his share of the laundry or childcare. I also don’t see marriage as an institution dependent upon submission. It’s about mutual responsibility.

I agree with some of the assertions made by Melissa Harris-Lacewell in her article “Reflections on Marriage.” Marriage is definitely an institution drenched in “a troubling cultural mythology,” but it is not static. As Harris-Lacewell suggests, it can and needs to change. Judy Syfers piece, “Why I Want a Wife,” not only made me think of a similar sarcastic piece, but it also brings to light several of the assumptions many people had (and currently have) about what it means to be married. Several of the duties Syfers lists, like being cognziant of one’s spouse’s sexual needs, are still relevant today. A couple that does not discuss both partners’ needs will probably cause angst. In “Once Political, Now Just Practical,” Sara Saraohn criticizes Syfers work for being reductionistic. Personally, I think Syfers use of humor (satire particularly) is perfectly acceptable since it makes sense to be reductionist about an issue that essentializes and reduces the roles of men and women within a marriage.

I enjoyed Meghan O’Rourke’s stance on romantic love in “Has Marriage Become the Sacred Cow of Feminism?.” I agree with O’Rourke when she argues that our society’s notion of marriage is rooted in our ideas about romantic love. The media tells kids that men and women are different and have different goals in life. The media, especially Disney movies, tell young children that romantic love and marriage are idealistic images. It assumes and reinforces the notion that women want Prince Charming to rescue them from their neglectful and perhaps evil families. Lastly, the article “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” saddened me even though I understood Sandra Loh’s predicament. This article saddened me mostly because Loh refused to acknowledge that even though many people reject marriage, it doesn’t mean that these people don’t need people. I am proud that Loh takes a stance on what she believes, but I would’ve liked her to acknowledge that even though her own needs, which include having a companion, being comforted by another person, etc. will be sidelined until her children are out of school.

In class, Sarah Schuetez mentioned that marriage is an institution that reinforces other institutions, like religion, and I completely agree with this. This is probably one reason why divorce rates in the U.S. are as high as they are. I also think that many people don’t discuss what it means to be married with others. For example, my parents never talked to me about decisions they made (financial, educational or otherwise) that affected the family and their marriage. The trip to the alter is what many people think about or focus on, not what to do when there is an unexpected pregnancy. Today, I find out more about my marriage and my friends’ marriages because we initiate conversation. If I want to know at what point should my husband and I have life insurance, I’ll talk to my peers and find out what they did and hopefully learn from them. As society changes and progresses, hopefully more people will be able to openly talk about the complexities of marriage.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cervical Cancer Vaccine: My Opinion

Even though I am now too old to receive the cervical cancer vaccine also known as Gardasil, I am personally against the vaccine, which might surprise some of you. I am all for other vaccines and am happy that researchers and physicians have started researching cancers that specifically affect over half the population, but I am rather skeptical of a vaccine that could affect reproduction. Several decades ago (and even in just a few decades ago) some birth control pills were known to have negative side effects such as sterilization. This is in part why I am skeptical of the vaccine. I did not want to put my own reproductive health in jeopardy since my husband and I hope in a year or two to have a baby. If I was younger or if the vaccine had been out longer, I probably would've gotten it. I believe many life threatening diseases and viruses can be overcome by being vaccinated and I will most definitely have my children properly vaccinated, but since I was on the cusp of being too old as well as relatively close to having children, I decided against the vaccine. This of course was a decision I discussed with my husband. I think every woman should make an educated decision about how to vaccinate and treat her body. For me, I decided to not get vaccinated. I understand the risks that I'm taking with my body and am fully prepared to live (or die) because of my decision.

Stuff White Feminists Like Response

One of my friends recently sent me a link to this article from My World in Shambles and I thought some of the entries moderately interesting. A brief list of the top ten things white feminists like are:
10. Crafts
9. Roller derby
8. bell hooks and Audre Lorde
7. Funky or thick framed glasses
6. Bettie Page
5. dabbling in vegetarianism
4. The Vagina Monologues
3. Johnny Depp
2. Take Back the Nights Rallies
1. Cats

Well, I understand crafts being on the list in part because many feminists (if not all) wish to be self-reliant and make things they or their families need. I find the fact that Roller Derby on here slightly surprising, but not entirely. I would've thought women's rugby over roller derby or even women's sports (especially team sports) in general. bell hooks and Audre Lorde, I can definitely agree with, but think this category could be slightly broader especially to include other works by women of color and sexual orientation that embrace and investigate the interrelatedness of being a woman of color, lesbian/bisexual, and/or womanhood itself. I think the funky or thick rimmed glasses is a little stereotypical and not very realistic. I think most women don't want glasses that take away from or hide their faces.

Now, Bettie Page.... I'll be honest, I had to look up who she specifically was in order for me to critique this making the list. First, since I had to look it up and I consider myself very well versed in feminist issues (past and present), I think this shouldn't have made the list. This image also brings up mixed feelings for me. I believe women should embrace the bodies they have and should not be shy about who they are, but I also believe in common decency. I also believe in female empowerment and if a woman wishes to show off her body and exert power over men by stripping (and therefore taking money (i.e. power) from men) more power to her.

Dabbling in vegetarianism.... I almost think this is applicable to many people, not just feminists. I think people who are more concerned about the ethical treatment of beings (human beings as well as other "animals") are more inclined to be vegetarians or at least buy meat from companies that stress the ethical treatment of its products. When I do eat or buy meat, I ask or look for information about whether the chickens or the cows were fed vegetarian diets, did not receive antibiotics and hormones, and were free-range beings.

I love The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, so that's one text that deserves to be on this list. Johnny Depp definitely deserves to be listed as well. I love the slightly androgynous Depp. He's funny and sexy. I agree that Take Back the Nights Rallies should be on here as well even though I have never been to one of these meetings. Women need a safe place to go to interact without fear of any type of intrusive male presence.

Cats!! Yeah for cats being on the list! I love my kitties and they are great companions in life. They are there when you need to cry, enjoy petting, and show affection.

Things or items that I would've liked on the list: Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own --classic staple in any gender and women's studies class and something every feminist has read at one point. Childcare--yes, I know crafts are important, but so is proper childcare. Many women struggle with having children and maintaining a career, and adequate childcare allows women to do both while not sacrificing their relationships with their children. Last and certainly not least, every woman needs comfortable shoes and is a staple in many feminists wardrobes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Good News!

Hello all,

I have found out that I have received the "Bonnie Cox Award" from my university's gender and women's studies department. I plan on using the funding from this award to start researching how religious fundamentalism affects one's feminist beliefs. I will also be finishing up my graduate certificate in gender and women's studies this semester. This will allow me to teach undergraduate GWS courses, which I am definitely looking forward to. The spring semester here at the University of Kentucky has just started and should be an interesting and busy semester. Some of my goals for this semester include: publishing one book review, attend at least one conference, work on publishing one article, start my research project, do well in all my classes, and become a better teacher, which is something I always strive to do. :)



Recently one of my favorite bands, Say Anything, released a new album. This album has one blatantly satirical song entitled "Property" that I find very interesting. If you haven't heard it you should. Check it out here. I find it extremely funny since they satirize the roles of women, especially when it comes to loving relationships. I love satire and believe it is hard to do well and believe that it is a great way of understanding how we view the world around us.