Our bodies come in several types of shapes and sizes. We change them, augmenting them with clothes and accessories. We love and hate them, but ultimately live with them. In a rapidly changing and often chaotic world, our bodies ideally represent the last frontier of control. We can manipulate, adjust, enhance, supplement, or do none these, to our bodies to express our individuality. Imagine a world where our bodies were regulated by an oppressive government. Not pretty.

Today, November 8, the registered voters of Mississippi are in a unique position. Today is the day that voters will be able to decide the fate of Amendment 26, coined the Personhood Amendment. It says:

“The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

If it passes, this one sentence will completely change the pro-choice/pro-life conversations in Mississippi. Clearly, this amendment will outlaw abortion, ultimately the heart of the issue. However, as reporters from Slate.com have theorized, there are further implications of this amendment:

·         Outlaw birth control

·         Restricting in vitro fertilization

·         Complicating life threatening pregnancies

·         Banning stem-cell research

·         Potentially criminalizing miscarriages

Read the article here

Talk about history in action. Currently this amendment is mostly a Mississippi wide topic, but if it passes it could potentially blow up to become a national focus: becoming a key issue in the upcoming presidential elections. Nevertheless, it still has to pass. The state of Mississippi seems pretty split on this Amendment.

Amendment 26 is an example of how bodies, especially women’s, can potentially be controlled by governmental policy.  This amendment would very much effect how women treated and interacted with their bodies. Women smoking and drinking while unaware of pregnancy could potentially be charged and persecuted. Oppression! This amendment, if passed, could open the door for nation-wide change.

Voting is today. We will see what happens tomorrow

Jonathan Merrill

Nobody ever likes to admit to oppressing anyone. That's like admitting to being a chain smoker while being a pulmonary doctor. In our politically correct world, especially in upper middle class suburbia, nobody oppresses anyone, right?

I say wrong. We don't even realize when we do it, because the concept of social hierarchy isn't usually something we wake up one morning and decide to believe. It's something ingrained in us. From the time we're little we are given pictures of other types of people and told "this is what you are" and "this is what somebody else is" and that "you are different." 

Who decided that we were different in the first place? It's just like bell hooks' description of the little boy who came up to her and asked what nationality she was. Who taught him to think that nationality had anything to do with skin color?

Perhaps it's because we feel most comfortable with those whom we see as being most similar to ourselves. It's interesting how we're slower to judge those with whom we most identify than those with whom we identify less.

It's also interesting to me how people will only face racism and classism when it's fed to them in a certain way. 

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, is a great example of this. Here is a book that gained nationwide popularity and touches on serious issues including the oppression of black maids in the Jim Crow south by white housewives. 

Yet as Dr. Wanzo, a professor here at Wash.U points out in her review of the book for the huffington post, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-wanzo/the-help-movie_b_925550.html) this book "makes Jim Crow palatable."

First of all, the heroin/main protagonist of the novel is a young white woman. Stockett could have made the main protagonist either of the two main characters in the story who are black maids, Aibleen and Minnie. 

Secondly, Aibleen is an older, matronly figure portrayed kind of like Mammy, the happy slave in Gone with the Wind. She still seems to enjoy her job and only criticizes her employer for not giving her own daughter affection. Why couldn't Aibleen dislike her job? It seems that do endear Aibleen to the public, Stockett finds  it necessary to make Aibleen a somewhat passive older woman who evokes sympathy from us because mostly because she's old, not necessarily because she's 

Thirdly, Minnie is typefied as the typical "sassy black strong woman." She bakes a feces-filled pie for her former employer in retaliation for the horrible way in which she is treated.

Out of curiosity, I went onto about.com to see some reviews of the book verses the movie to find out what people thought of each. Two comments particularly fascinated me. One woman commented only that  she'd seen the movie and not read the book. "I don't think Stockett needed to include that pie thing. Couldn't it have been something else?" Clearly the pie made her uncomfortable, yet I would have hoped that the racism on the part of the white women made her uncomfortable too. Why didn't she bother to mention anything about the way the white women acted towards the black women? I'm pretty sure accusing someone of stealing and putting them out of a job is just as bad, if not worse, than baking a feces pie.

Another woman commented later on that she was African American, her great grandmother was a domestic servant in the Jim Crow south, and that she thought Minnie did just the right thing by making the "pie."

If all of the horrible things done to black women not only during the Jim Crow south, but before and after were to be turned into pies, well, I'd say we'd have a lot of baking to do.

Hello all! Nicole here.

            So all of this week’s discussion has me thinking… With the insight into what being a transsexual must be like and with this week’s reading on oppression, I feel like something obvious that hasn’t really been said in class needs to be said: it feels more like transsexuals are the oppressed sex than women.  Furthermore, going off of the video from today, it’s much worse for them because it takes a lot more to say something about it.  Last night’s reading talked about how the unsubmissive woman is called “man-hater” and otherwise unpleasantly labeled, but the defiant woman can also be respected. If a transsexual spoke out

1.     S/he’d be revealing a significant secret in his/her life.

2.     S/he’d be opening up h/herself up to a lot of criticism from a vast majority that does not know what living as a transsexual means.

3.     Furthermore they have to put up with a lot more in the way of surgeries and trying to fit in or be something they are not.

This brings me to another point, though.  Perhaps it’s because I am alive during the 3rd wave of feminism but I do not feel particularly oppressed by the males in my life or by society in general.  But I digress, for we had this discussion in class just earlier today.   

Anyway, I somehow feel like all of this categorization of men (males) and women (females) is not really something that “oppressors” do on purpose.  As a society--and especially a western society in which, according to Richard Nisbett, people analyze and categorize the information they intake—we tend to generalize and categorize. (to see more on Nisbett’s cultural and social psychological study see: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/4331)   As a side note and personal opinion, the idea that masculinity is what it is right now seems to be more the fault of our natural tendencies.  Just a few evenings ago I recall that several of the girls on my floor were taunting one of my guy friends about his apparent lack of masculinity (because he has good hygiene, likes to neatly fold his clothes, etc.).  These girls are just as guilty as other guys, in this case, of making the generalizations about manhood, etc. mentioned in the Kimmel article and judging my friend based on that.  I would even argue that in this case and cases like this one, men really are oppressed—in this case by the standards set by society.  My argument is that they are limited in their behaviors and cannot necessarily be called the oppressors as individuals (at least, certainly guys like my friends shouldn’t be included in the list of oppressors).  Thus they are also oppressed. 

I don’t know.  Personally I feel less limited than I think they do because it is more socially acceptable for women to do most (what could be called “male”) activities than it is for men to partake in a gender a-typical behavior.

Sorry for such a long blog post, guys. Guess I got carried away there.

~Signing off