Sunday, March 30, 2008

Com 410 Unit 3

One thing I thought was really interesting is how our society uses language to reflect how we see gender. I have an ongoing interest in linguistics, and this is one of the things about language that fascinates me: Language simultaneously reflects and shapes culture. Another interesting thought: the words we choose to use say something about who we are, both as individuals and as a member of a particular culture.

According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, language and thought are interconnected. Therefore, using nonsexist language is the first step towards nonsexist thought - and when our thoughts are not gender-biased, neither will our society be.

There are several examples of sexist language - some of them are obvious, some of them are more subtle, and some of them I'd never even thought of before!

Man-linked terminology involves terms like "manned space flight" or "a man of few words," as well as words like mankind, watchman, foreman, etc. The text suggests using alternative words and phrases to avoid these types of sexist language.

Another example is the problem with pronouns. I was taught that the masculine pronouns were acceptable as a general pronoun for all humans. On the other hand, we often make assumptions about the sex of a person based on other information, such as occupation. It seems obvious that this tendency is outdated, but it's still common for college students today to identify lawyers, judges, and engineers with a masculine pronoun, and babysitters, teachers and nurses with a feminine pronoun.

I also thought the concept of "marking" was very interesting. This involves using a sex-identifying adjective in front of a noun in order to designate it as unusual - the lady officer, the male teacher, the female soldier, etc. This marking tends to have an isolating affect on people singled out as "abnormal."

Com 410 Unit 2

Unit 2 was primarily about gender roles in our society, especially regarding media portrayals of gender.

When we were studying Unit 2, I had a hard time thinking about media depictions of gender roles, because it wasn't something I ever paid much attention to. Since then, I've been more mindful of the stereotypes portrayed by the media, especially in sitcoms.

I've noticed several things: Most notably, men are almost always portrayed as stupid. They don't know how to take care of their kids. They make fun of their wives, and get in trouble. They lie and hide things, and get caught. Women are almost always portrayed as more intelligent. However, women are shown to be more emotional and less rational, somewhat vindictive and angry, and they're always bad cooks! Whether or not a woman has a job outside the house, her primary role shown in sitcoms is that of a homemaker.

I need to spend some more time paying attention to's very interesting.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Com 410 Unit 1

(This post is the first in a series of observations and thoughts about what I'm learning in my Com 410 - Gender Communications class.)

In Unit 1, we looked at our preconceived notions of gender communication, talked about the basic definitions and terms involved in the idea of gender communication, and we looked at the "personal effectiveness" approach to gender communication.

I was also really interested in the six values the text talked about that are valuable in long-term effectiveness in gender communications. The values I thought were most important:

Value 1: Equality of Power. I think equality of power in gender communication is one of the most important in my life, especially in my communication with my husband. In our relationship, much of the conflict stems from issues of power and control. My husband was an only child in a household which gave him an unhealthy amount of power over the family dynamics. Sometimes he seems to think the entire world revolves around him, and he expects to be in control of many situations that should involve our shared influence. Therefore, working towards an even distribution of power is important for us to be able to communicate effectively. I like how the text defines empowerment as the shared approach to power that capitalizes on each partner’s strengths in the relationship.

Value 2: Talking About it Makes it Better. Again, relating to my personal life, I think this is another critical aspect of effective gender communication. My husband is one of the stereotypical “keep it bottled up inside until you explode” types, which leads to a great deal of conflict and struggle within our relationship. A mutual understanding of the benefits of talking things over would help us have more successful communication in our relationship. On the other hand, the common opinion is that men don’t agree with this value, and they’d much rather ignore problems or pretend they don’t exist rather than risk a “relationship conversation.”

Value 5: Being Open-Minded and Willing to Change. The text states that “open-mindedness and the ability to change are positive values for all relationships.” I think this is a very important part of effective communication in any form. The willingness to listen to the other person and to change one’s mind when necessary is crucial to a good interpersonal dynamic – why should I talk to you if I know I’ll never succeed in getting through to you? One recent example of this: My husband and I have been trying to sell our expensive SUV and get a cheaper vehicle, but with three kids, our options are fairly limited. I was dead set against a minivan (I was hoping for a roomy wagon or crossover), but he convinced me that the extra space in a minivan would be worth the humiliation of driving it.

Value 6: Treating Another Person as an Individual. Finally, treating everyone as an individual goes a long way towards effective communications. Besides the obvious avoidance of characterizing my husband as just another insensitive jerk who forgot my birthday (which is inaccurate and not helpful in any way, even if he did forget my birthday), noticing individuality helps us to make the most of interactions with others by not having preconceived notions of how the other person will behave.

The kids

Keeping Up

I'm trying to commit to posting every day. I can manage to spend a bit of time each day reading blogs, so I oughta be able to write each day too, right?

I have a moment of relative quiet right now....Oliver is asleep; Matthew's watching YouTube videos on his computer, and Lauren is in her high chair eating breakfast and watching Franklin.

I think I figured out how to add my flickr photos as a widget. If you read this, let me know if it works, okay?

Friday, March 28, 2008

running commentary of a conversation with a seven year old.

(punctuated by occasional uh-huhs from me....)

I'll be 17 when Lauren's....11....I'll be 19 when she's 12, I'll be 20 when she's 8.

I'm going to have to wait till I'm 18 to get my driver's license, won't I? Because I was born in the summer, I'm gonna get my driver's license late? Like I'm prob'ly gonna have to wait till summer?

Please tell me not to fall asleep? Because I wanna stay awake because I have all my legos up here. But, I'm kinda sleepy.

Is it raining? Because the screen is really fuzzy.

Okay. this guy has a broken arm and a broken hand.