Friday, February 28, 2014

Border Patrol’s Not-So-Secret: the Normalized Abuse of Migrant Women on the U.S.-Mexico Border

I am delighted to announce that a version of Valeria Vera's research paper for the Davies Forum has been published in USF's International Affairs Review (fall 2013).

The aim of the United States Border Patrol is to prevent terrorists, weapons, and illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Now heavily militarized, is the Border Patrol out of control?

Read more here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ann Jones new book: "They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars - The Untold Story"

Spring 2013 Davies Fellow Ann Jones has a new book detailing the cost of war to U.S. servicemen & women which you should definitely check out.

Here is a teaser for that very book from TomDispatch:
They Didn’t Know What They Were Getting Into
The Cost of War American-Style
By Ann Jones
The last time I saw American soldiers in Afghanistan, they were silent. Knocked out by gunfire and explosions that left them grievously injured, as well as drugs administered by medics in the field, they were carried from medevac helicopters into a base hospital to be plugged into machines that would measure how much life they had left to save. They were bloody.  They were missing pieces of themselves. They were quiet.

It’s that silence I remember from the time I spent in trauma hospitals among the wounded and the dying and the dead. It was almost as if they had fled their own bodies, abandoning that bloodied flesh upon the gurneys to surgeons ready to have a go at salvation. Later, sometimes much later, they might return to inhabit whatever the doctors had managed to salvage.  They might take up those bodies or what was left of them and make them walk again, or run, or even ski.  They might dress themselves, get a job, or conceive a child. But what I remember is the first days when they were swept up and dropped into the hospital so deathly still.
They were so unlike themselves. Or rather, unlike the American soldiers I had first seen in that country. Then, fired up by 9/11, they moved with the aggressive confidence of men high on their macho training and their own advance publicity.

I remember the very first American soldiers I saw in Afghanistan...

Read more here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Military Sexual Violence: From Frontline to Fenceline" by Annie Isabel Fukushima & Gwen Kirk

"So why does military sexual violence persist? One explanation offered by The Invisible War is that the US military includes a higher percentage of “sexual predators” than civilian society. Also, some military commanders not only tolerate sexual assault, they are also complicit in covering up these incidents, punishing victims, and exonerating perpetrators or, at most, giving them a “boys-will-be-boys” slap on the wrist.
A weakness of the current debate is its narrow focus on US military women. Cynthia Enloe, a leading feminist scholar of international relations, recently noted the importance of looking to “those who are pushed to the margins” in order to learn about the big picture.
To locate the root of the problem means looking beyond the assaults on US military women — appalling as they are — to the routine incidents of military violence against civilians in combat situations and outside the fences surrounding US bases overseas. Given their mission, soldiers are trained to kill. This means seeing “others” as foreign or less-than-human. Gender and masculinity are at play; so too are racism and national chauvinism"

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How would you be different if you were born as the opposite sex?

Hi to everyone! I just got back from traveling and such but... my feminist blinkers have gone off this entire summer! There are so many things to talk about but I will focus on one for now.
There is this movie called "Tootsie" with Dustin Hoffman and it is about a man who can't find a job, so he decides to dress up as a woman and try his luck in the job market. He gets cast in a soap opera and comedy ensues. But it was behind the scenes that made an impact on the actor. In the interview below, he explains his process of turning into a woman and gaining a perspective on what women have known for awhile.

Here is the link to the interview:

Watch the interview and please leave a comment!  :)

Personally, I surprised by his reaction and it gave me a perspective on how men see the stereotypes and pressures that women have to face. The constant commercials that plague women with images about the ideal size and look that they have to achieve with the latest makeup or diet trends.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Anu Bhagwati argues for more women in the U.S. military to curb sexualized violence

In a recentl op-ed with the Washington Post, Anu reflects on some of the themes she also talked to us about:

She then asks "So why are we surprised that sexual[ized] violence is such a problem in the ranks?"
Read more here.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

An Apt Cartoon

Oh Subliminal Messaging.... Thou art Still so Rampant!

Charmin Commercial

Here is an example of overt and subtler gender stereotyping.  (Sorry I couldn't get the YouTube video to show up here, but check it out!!)

The commercial is promoting Charmin Ultra Strong as a way to help keep underwear clean.

Overt: Women do laundry and its cleanliness is a primary concern of theirs.
Women are peppy, smily and feminine.
In the bear sections we see all the other normal stereotypes about males being large and females small and men grunting and women having soft voices.

More subtle: Messiness is a masculine trait - only the son and the dad are implied as leavers of skidmarks in their underwear.
Bathroom etiquette is not something we can speak about - (More below!)

The commercial is enforcing many overt gender stereotypes, but the most interesting connection I found was the following.  According to Charmin, women do the laundry and are cleanly, but their sons and husbands are not, sometimes leaving "skidmarks," fecal matter, in their underwear.  Direct conversation about bathroom habits would seem to be the obvious solution, but such conversation is societally taboo, especially across genders.  So, concludes Charmin, one should buy their brand of toilet paper in order to solve the problem without breaking any taboos.

This really struck me because I had to watch the commercial several times (I was watching Hulu, so you see the same commercial over and over) to get this deeper gender stereotype.  These stereotypes have been so normalized, are so taken for granted, that even a recent graduate of the 2013 Davies Forum had to look hard to get the deeper message.

Be careful what you watch, because the subliminal messages can pass by unnoticed, and then get stuck in your subconscious.  There they may fester and subtly influence your decision making process, leading to future actions of your own which enforce gender stereotypes.

Such insidious conditioning is everywhere in our society, and it is highly dangerous.  This can be seen many places, but is especially true of Charmin commercials, because as a Montana native, I can tell you that bears are neither cute nor cuddly, and anything that tells you otherwise might get you mauled.