Rachel's Blog

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Major Peer Review Letter

Dear Ariel,
First of all I want to say that the person you chose to write your essay about fits appropriately into your controversy and you can definitely do a lot with this biographical narrative to both bring your controversy to life and give your aunt a voice in the community you have chosen..That being said, and I know this is a rough draft, upon reading the first paragraph I felt that wrote very conservatively and I didn’t feel connected to your character. She seems flat, and I think that part of the problem might be the fact that you are writing someone else’s story. You gave good background information about her, but it wasn’t until the very last paragraph that I felt a connection with her character. The line "and her answers are always coy and polite, never coming outright to tell her critics that her life is her choice," demonstrated her character well, so you need more of that. I like it!
Through my analysis, it seems that your lesson or message is that it is the woman’s choice whether to be a housewife or a career woman. Your aunt first starts out with these degree aspirations until she hits a turning point and changes the course in her life, and what you seem to be telling us is that her choice to do so is ok because she thinks it’s ok. I think you can expand this narrative into a gradual resolution of that message. Right now, you are still working and you get to the message in a page, but if you expand possibly on the process it took her to get where she was in school, the reason she decided to stop, and what happened after that decision than you can expand your narrative and delve deep into her character.
As I said before that last line in your paper is great, and more of those descriptors through out will really bring her to life and grab your readers interest. I also am interested in how she came to her decision. You write that a car accident in which her husband was injured became a sort of turning point, but why? Tell us more about it because it was obviously a major life alteration considering she was so close to getting her PhD. Overall, more detail would really help a lot.
This is clearly a biographical narrative in process. You seem to be moving in a chronological order, which in this case seems to be the most effective. You are telling your aunts story which makes her process and decisions the key and by doing so in order will lead to less confusion. I feel like you know your aunt, but you are not letting us get to know her yet. You are right now spitting out the basic facts..this happened, then this, and then this, but we need to know the whys, hows, whens, wheres, and the way things felt, tasted, smelled, sounded, etc. We need to want to get to know her so throw some flavor into this essay and really let us know who Eleanor Giraldi is.
You have a solid start here, but I definitely want to see more detail. I felt like you restrained yourself more so on this essay than in the other, possibly because writing a narrative does offer you more freedom than you might be comfortable with. Good luck with the final draft!
Sincerely,
Rachel Powers

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Media & Society Assignment 2

The movies faced scandal which led to the evolution of self-regulation. Many of the major scandals included suspicious murders or deaths. In 1921 a model named Virginia Rappe died in the hospital after complaining of a stomachache. The host of the party she attended that night, Roscoe Arbuckle was charged for murder but later acquitted when "peritonitis from a ruptured bladder" was listed as the cause of her death. The controversial murder of director Desmond Taylor also shook Hollywood to its core. His murder brought to light his possible drug interactions which sent conservative society into a frenzy. (Biagi 135).
In response to the scandals, the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association (MPPDA) formed and Republican Will Hays headed up the organization which intended to clean up the movie industry. Some of the codes of it initiated in 1930 include, "no picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it, correct standards of life...shall be presented, and laws, natural or himan, shall not be ridiculed, nor shall sympathy be created for its violation." (Biagi 136). Further division separated codes into categories including; murder, sex, obscenity, and costumes. (Biagi 136).
The advancing technology impacts the movie industry as substantially as it does any other media. In the production field, new equipment such as "small portable cameras, new film, electronic recording, computer enhanced special-effects, 3-D holographs, and digital color" combine to enable the making of films a more effective and easier task. As far as distribution is concerned, new technology such as satellite and digital projectors may allow movies to get to the theaters more efficiently. The internet also provides distributors with a cheap and direct mode of sending people what they want. However this department also gets hit by the invention of recordable DVDs which have begun to attack copyright laws and finances (Biagi 144-145). People now can either download or purchase hard copies of popular movies that have not even been released in theaters. This downloading grows rampant on college campuses where students are provided with high-speed internet and can obtain these "MP3-like" movies quickly. With these films available by the click of a mouse button, there is less need to go out and buy or see these films in the theaters. (Biagi AOL article 146).
Movie theaters are also trying to get more people in the seats by making theaters more live the "movie palaces" from the 1930s. United Artists wants to offer movable seats to allow people watching action films to have the feeling that they move along with the film (Biagi 145).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Personal Narrative revised Intro.

I was 16 years old, slender, pretty, shy, and in completely unfamiliar surroundings. I stepped through those double automatic doors and raw bleach cleanser hit my nostrils like a smack in the face. I wore a royal blue polo shirt, khaki cargo pants and a sticky name tag with RACHEL written in huge, black, Sharpie letters. All eyes set on me as I passed the registers and made my way through the doors with the sign that read EMPLOYEES ONLY. I searched at least five minutes before I found a tiny plastic square with my personal information; then I took a deep breath and slid it through a machine that clocked me in. I had no clue, but this new step in my life would completely change me.
My stomach felt like a fruit roll up as my supervisor guided me from one department to another, starting with the stock room and ending at was referred to as "the front end." Skeptic but curious looks followed the back of my head as I approached the station that would become a part of my weekly routine at the end of the cash register. I was what this small, Richmond area, chain, grocery store called Ukrops referred to as a "courtesy clerk." The job duty entailed bagging and loading customers’ groceries into their mini vans, small compact cars, or massive SUVs, with a constant smile on my face and polite conversation. The shyness factor proved to be an obstacle all around in that first week of working there. I became an instant target for other employees’ fun and games.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Personal Narrative ROUGH Draft

At age 16, I stepped into the world of working. I applied for my first job at a local, Richmond-area grocery store chain known as Ukrops. They placed me into a job, referred to as a "courtesy clerk," which involved bagging the customers’ groceries (with a constant smile on my face) and loading the groceries into the customers’ cars. This job brought me into a new venue of direct conversation with men/boys. As the new girl, my first uncomfortable encounter with the boys my age who worked with me occurred during my first week working there.
Three of the young men decided to play a joke on me one night while I pushed an older womans’ groceries to her vehicle. As I unloaded her groceries from the cart, they began serenading me with the song from Top Gun, "You’ve Lost that Love and Feeling." My cheeks looked like tomatoes from the embarrassment I felt. The boys called their actions my initiation, excusing the fact that I appeared unprofessional in front of my customer. Further incident occurred with these same boys and others who I worked with at the store. They continually approached me asking me on dates, telling me how pretty I was, or just blatantly stared at my butt or breasts. I felt more and more uncomfortable and eventually approached my manager, a man in his early thirties with no wife or kids. He implied that I led the boys to approach me that way because I smiled or flirted too much, and he went as far as to say that my khaki work pants fit too tightly. He put me in a helpless position, one minute telling me I need to smile all of the time so that the customers felt welcomed and the next minute telling me if I smile too much than I am giving mixed signals to my male co-workers.
I found myself speaking conservatively around these men/boys who I worked with, fearing any misinterpretation of my words, tone, or body language might lead to a misunderstanding or unprofessional interaction. Yet even that method of speech provided little aid to my work situation. The boys called me "cold" or a "tease" saying ,"I string boys along." I wondered how I could string someone along whom I never talked with on an unprofessional level. I finally approached a member of the human resources department and told him my concerns.
The human resources man, actually listened to my complaints and took action to rectify the problem. He held a meeting for all employees to attend that addressed many issues, but the main issue, being the need to keep a professional relationship between co-workers and how to interact appropriately with one another. The specific boys I mentioned were spoken to and reprimanded individually. My manager, who did nothing to help me, transferred to a different location. After the meeting, the interactions between me and the other boys at my work became more platonic and professional, making my job more comfortable.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My Favorite Narrative Essay

The narrative essay High Anxiety, by Sharon Levine engaged my attention the most. Her witty and conversational tone gave me an instant reaction and made me want to continue reading her story. When I read her second paragraph on the first page, I felt like it was me writing the narrative because her description of her life mirrored mine at one point. She talked about dealing with parents who constantly held her to high expectations, struggling with her career, and just over all trying to find herself. Her honesty really appealed to me and portrayed her as a trustworthy narrator. One of my favorite quotes of hers was "I listened as the woman, tried to translate "vegetarian" to my crew, explaining, "nothing with eyes or feet." She also compared to the stars she saw on her journey up Mt. Kili to a "Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular." She described her hike up the 19,000 Mt. Kili with vivid detail, so much so, that I felt I met her guide Musa in person. She captured his personality when she mentioned the songs he sang climbing up, and his attitude towards illness from climbing. He seemed like a laid back kind of dude. This narrative is an example of the personal narrative. Basically in the narrative Sharon represents herself as a young and rather unfocused person who needs to do something extraordinary with her life in order to pull herself out of the rut she resides in. She overhears a friend talking about his trip to Mt. Kili and decides she wants to climb it. This climb becomes her focus, her goal, and it motivates her which she explains when she sells her car and air conditioner to raise money for her trip, as well as, the vigorous training routine she undergoes. She describes the event in a chronological order by days traveling up the mountain, but she plays with the chronological order because she starts the narrative from the point of being finished with the climb and then looks back. Her message seemed to me to be that people should not settle for a life filled with boredom and/or depression, especially to please others. The goal should be to please oneself first. The event, her climbing up Mt. Kili provided her with a tangible goal because it allowed her to discover her strength and courage by enduring physical agony.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Archaeology Ethics Paper

In the article, Black Day at Slack Farm, writer Brian Fagan considers whether society’s lack of identification with our cultural past disables or desire to preserve antiquities. He defends his theory with a generality, saying "As far as most people are concerned, history (and North American archaeology, for that matter) began with Leif Erikson, Christopher Columbus, and the Pilgrim Fathers." (41). The looting that occurred on Slack Farm and other sites along the Ohio River Valley help validate the claim the Fagan makes above.
This article shows that citizens of The United States take this countries roots and heritage for granted which differs to the interests of some other countries. Upon scanning the website www.archaeology.org, other countries currently suffer from looting today. For instance, Italy currently staked its claim on looted antiquities and brought charges against L.A. Getty Museum curator Marion True. This conflict shows that other countries such as Italy care about what happens to their antiquities. Britain also shows concern for the massive quantities of antiquities being looted in Afghanistan. Christina Lamb brings Britains’ concerns to the forefront by writing an article about the extremity of these lootings. In her interview with detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley of the Metropolitan police, the detective says, "All the attention has been on Iraq but this is a far bigger problem......It’s so widespread that I’m getting reports of people being murdered and clubbed to death on the planes in disputes about who should have the antiquities." (Lamb 2006). Unfortunately, according to Rapley Afghan citizens have similar customs to those of the Americans who looted the Slack Farm when it comes to the preservation of history, "To Afghan farmers, digging up antiquities is the same as digging up potatoes: you harvest them and sell them." (Lamb 2006). However, he attributes the level of poverty as a key reason for their ambivalence of their history. The element to look at in this article, in regard to the identification with ones own country heritage, is Britains obvious concern and care for both Afghan and Iraq antiquities. This article shows Britain on the same level as Italy, a country who cares about history and maintaining historical sites and antiquities.
Why then do Americans loot? Rapley accounts Afghan looting to poverty, but America dominates as the number one power in the world right now. We are not a poor nation. Therefore, our lack of identity can absolutely account for our lack of care for our history. This lack of identification stems from our education about the history of our country. Schools still focus on that ‘Columbus mentality" that Fagan wrote about. History books or textbooks supply inadequate information and cripple our ability to delve into our roots and find out what this country is really all about. Those of us who continue on to a higher education get the opportunity to learn about the true roots of this country, but this knowledge does not always prevent those who want to make a quick buck from looting.
To generalize and say that all Americans don’t identify with this country’s history, is and unfair stigma to place on the whole country because obviously people exist who care about preserving the past. Archaeologists obviously care about preserving the past because they choose that task as a career path. The Government Agencies such as EPA, the environmental protection agency help salvage historical sites as well as an Indian Affairs Committee. These government agencies desire to protect the environment and especially the historical sites of this country. In order to protect historical sites government agencies pass laws to protect these locations, some of which are, the Historic Sites Act of 1935, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Archaeological Resource Protection Act, and the Cultural Property Act.
The Historic Sites Act of 1935 "allowed government to declare national historic landmarks, in addition to national monuments and national parks." (Staeck 304). This law protected such areas from destruction. Another law which protects the environment and historical sites if the National Environmental Act. This law takes further steps in regulating government activities and endeavors by requiring "proposed developers" to fill out an environmental impact statement. This document, EIS, protects historical sites and other parts of the environment from unwarranted damage or destruction. The Archaeological Resource Protection Act allowed for prosecution is cases of "looting or vandalism," and this law as well as the others mentioned have been violated in the Slack Farm looting. However, the law that corresponds the most with this incident is the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. This act calls for "museums and federal agencies to report and then seek to return human remains and items of cultural patrimony to appropriate indigenous groups." (Staeck 305). Since the disturbed graves and looted items at Slack Farm were of Native American descent, the looters clearly infringed upon this act. Each of these laws helps the government attempt to ensure that incidents (like at Slack Farm) occur with less frequency, but obviously some sites slip through the cracks. Both archaeologists and certain government agencies demonstrate their goal of preserving and studying America’s past culture.
In conclusion, the lack of America’s identity with the past has enabled those who wish to loot to do so and free of conscience. Part of our lack of identity stems from our melting pot of heritage because many of us come from several different cultures. It can also stem from the fact that America is a new and still developing country. We can perceive many reasons as to why Americans isolate themselves from this country’s past, but we must not excuse the actions of looters who try to rob us from this county’s past. The incident of looting on Slack Farm needs rectifying because those looters robbed America of some key insight into the past culture of this country. Just as Marion True faces trial in Rome for her disregard of ownership, those looters should face the court as well.

Media & Society Paper

1. In today’s newspapers we see a trend of tabloid articles or yellow journalism tainting what we consider the real news. This transformation came to pass for various reasons, one of which is because many newspapers continue to lose readership from year to year, especially its young audience. These types of scandalous stories attract people’s attention because, unfortunately, society desires to read about Britney Spears holding her baby in her lap while she is driving or Michael Jackson’s trial. The traditional newspapers felt a need to spice up their content to attract a society who enjoys reading these tabloid stories. Newspapers also tend to milk these tabloid stories when no other interesting news occurs during that day or week because they need to provide the readers with something interesting in order to maintain their readership. Finally, traditional newspapers must accustom themselves to the change in technology. Mass Media including; television, radio, and internet provide a more sufficient and faster way for people to get news. These media, especially internet and television benefit because they appeal to people through visual effects. Therefore, newspapers now use online editions of their papers to grab people’s attention and these online editions, especially, lean more toward the tabloid related issues.
2. Including tabloid stories in traditional newspapers carries both positive and negative consequences. Tabloids may expand readership to new audiences, especially younger audiences who enjoy reading about the latest trends, but traditional papers also lose credibility when they participate in the production of this genre. The loyal audience for traditional newspaper readership is educated adults and they may find tabloid journalism a waste of their time and money. Tabloid journalism tends to be exaggerated stories or story trends that catch the eye quickly, especially for people who have busy days and want a quick read, but these stories leave out the majority of the facts also losing credibility for the paper. These tabloid-like articles also provide the paper with eye-catching headlines that grab peoples attention and cause them to purchase a paper where they normally may not have. A chain reaction occurs here because if the person who buys the paper from a stand, a shelf at Starbucks, or at an airport shop enjoys the paper they may decide to subscribe to that paper. The benefits for profit, therefore, far outweigh the conflicts caused by tabloid journalism in the newspapers.
3. There are many examples of tabloid journalism in our traditional papers today. The Beat-Hustling the Oscars, is an article I found in the Richmond Times Dispatch under the Entertainment category. This article is a music review about a song, but it appeals to trends in the lifestyle of society as well. This clip from the article demonstrates an aspect of yellow/tabloid journalism.
"The first single from Pink's April 4 album, "I'm Not Dead," the engaging reggae-tinged ditty "Stupid Girls," is a hilarious sendup of pop's most vapid icons. "They travel in packs of two or three/With their itsy bitsy doggies and their teeny-weeny tees," sings our above-it-all heroine. "Baby if I act like that, flipping my blonde hair back/Push up my bra like that, I don't wanna be a stupid girl."" (Ruggieri 2006)
Here, the writer addresses pop music as well as other forms of music that are growing esteem in today’s society. This type of article grabs the readers attention, but it grabs the young readers attention rather than the adult reader and the majority of traditional papers readership is adult readers.
Another major example of tabloid journalism in The Richmond Times Dispatch stems from the many recent articles published about the American Idol contestants from Virginia. These contestants are not really important news in the scheme of things, they are getting their 15 minutes of fame because the paper decided he catches the readers eye. Here is an excerpt from that article: "Despite Judge Simon Cowell's criticism of their Wednesday night performances, neither appeared in danger of being cut from the competition during last night's tension-filled results show, which drew the elimination process out for an hour." (Durden 2006). This excerpt again appeals to the younger generation who watches the show and to Richmond citizens alone because the two contestants have made it far into the competition and they are from here. However, this article does not offer us news of any vast importance. Finally yet another article, this one coming from The New York Times, is about the author Dan Brown, of the Da Vinci Code. The author was apparently accused of stealing key themes of his book from another book and charges were filed against him on this matter. Although this is more newsworthy than the two previous articles I mentioned, this article still demonstrates tabloid journalism. The only reason this story has been published is because it appeals to society sinical attitudes and because this book is a blockbuster best-seller. If this accusation was brought on a less known author and book, it probably would not have been a headline story in the papers Art section. Here is an excerpt from this article entitled " ‘Da Vinci Code’ Author Testifies in London:" "But as the elusive Mr. Brown took the stand for the first time, the packed courtroom heard a great deal about his background and how he goes about producing his mega-bestselling novels." (Lyall 2006). This article appeals to both young and adult readers but is about the character of a best-selling author rather than about the severity of the accusations brought against him.
Through these three different articles we see examples of tabloid journalism, and we see that this type of journalism exists in two traditional newspapers. The effect of this types of articles on the papers credibility varies on what each article is about. The American Idol phenomenon will pass and something new will come along that is meant to grab Richmond’s attention. However, this genre of journalism has it’s benefits because it grabs a younger audience’s attention and these stories are appealing to a society who loves to read about scandal and dirt. The trend towards more tabloid type stories will likely continue in these traditional papers because they bring these papers a diverse audience.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lesson 5 Style Summary

In Lesson 5, Williams discusses the importance of organization in writing. This lesson specifically addresses the way words move from one to the next and their message as a whole. Williams offers methods that help writers maintain consistent and understandable prose. One of his methods involves the structure of words in sentences in which he advises writers to put the easily understood information in the beginning of the sentence and the more complex information at the end. He suggests this method as a way to allow readers to feel more comfortable and to maintain a balance in the writing. He also offers the important tip, making the end of sentences transition effectively to the beginning of the following sentence in a paragraph. These methods present us with a way of allowing our writing to melt and mold from one sentence to the next.
Williams also addresses methods to make our writing wholly understandable and consistent. One important tip he suggests is that writers must make sure that they have a subject for their paragraph and that we maintain the same subject throughout the entirety of that section of our writing. If we do decide to switch subjects, each subject needs to compliment the next to form a consistent piece of writing. Williams also explains the importance for the subject to be as close to the beginning of the sentence as possible. Even though preposition clauses and flowery words may not display grammatical error, such wordy sentence introductions cause readers to lose focus on the important message of the writing itself. Even if the subject comes early on in many of the sentences and seems repetitive or boring to the writer, in most cases the reader will be more compelled by the writers intent and continue reading. Therefore, organization provides both the writer and reader with a more effective and enjoyable work.

More of JOUR 202 Assignment

1. In today’s newspapers we see a trend of tabloid articles or yellow journalism tainting what we consider the real news. This transformation came to pass for various reasons, one of which is because many newspapers continue to lose readership from year to year, especially its young audience. These types of scandalous stories attract people’s attention because, unfortunately, society desires to read about Britney Spears holding her baby in her lap while she is driving or Michael Jackson’s trial. The traditional newspapers felt a need to spice up their content to attract a society who enjoys reading these tabloid stories. Newspapers also tend to milk these tabloid stories when no other interesting news occurs during that day or week because they need to provide the readers with something interesting in order to maintain their readership. Finally, traditional newspapers must accustom themselves to the change in technology. Mass Media including; television, radio, and internet provide a more sufficient and faster way for people to get news. These media, especially internet and television benefit because they appeal to people through visual effects. Therefore, newspapers now use online editions of their papers to grab people’s attention and these online editions, especially, lean more toward the tabloid related issues.
2. Including tabloid stories in traditional newspapers carries both positive and negative consequences. Tabloids may expand readership to new audiences, especially younger audiences who enjoy reading about the latest trends, but traditional papers also lose credibility when they participate in the production of this genre. The loyal audience for traditional newspaper readership is educated adults and they may find tabloid journalism a waste of their time and money. Tabloid journalism tends to be exaggerated stories or story trends that catch the eye quickly, especially for people who have busy days and want a quick read, but these stories leave out the majority of the facts also losing credibility for the paper.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Part of Assignment for JOUR 202 Media & Society

In today’s newspapers we see a trend of tabloid articles or yellow journalism tainting what we consider the real news. This transformation came to pass for various reasons, one of which is because many newspapers continue to lose readership from year to year, especially its young audience. These types of scandalous stories attract people’s attention because, unfortunately, society desires to read about Britney Spears holding her baby in her lap while she is driving or Michael Jackson’s trial. The traditional newspapers felt a need to spice up their content to attract a society who enjoys reading these tabloid stories. Newspapers also tend to milk these tabloid stories when no other interesting news occurs during that day or week because they need to provide the readers with something interesting in order to maintain their readership. Finally, traditional newspapers must accustom themselves to the change in technology. Mass Media including; television, radio, and internet provide a more sufficient and faster way for people to get news. These media, especially internet and television benefit because they appeal to people through visual effects. Therefore, newspapers now use online editions of their papers to grab people’s attention and these online editions, especially, lean more toward the tabloid related issues.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Style Summary Lesson 4

In Lesson 4, Williams discusses the importance and uses of the subject of a sentence or paragraph. Basically, the subject is key to writing a coherent sentence and in most cases, the subject is in the form of a noun and followed directly by a verb. In this lesson Williams notes the ways that writers commonly put their subject such as at the end or middle of the sentence rather than at the very beginning, and this method of sentence structure leads to confusion. Some writers leave out the intended subject completely and unintentionally without careful reading. Other times, subjects exist as an emotion or intangible thought such as rights or love. He also discusses ways to use subjects with verbs that are not active or direct, calling these "passive verbs." The use of indirect verbs does not violate any grammatical laws, but the write must choose and use good judgment on which verb choice they decide to use. The key goal for the writer should be to find a voice suitable and understandable to their readers, not to confuse their readers with long, intangible sentences.

The Challenges of Commuting

I commute to Randolph Macon from Glen Allen, Virginia which is a small city outside of Richmond. Commuting creates several difficulties; a challenge in meeting more people on campus, a challenge when severe weather hits the area, a problem when illness (such as strep throat takes over my motor functions, and a huge problem when assignments outside of class require me to come to campus and times that might be reasonable for someone who walks 2 minutes from a dorm room, but not for someone who drives 25-30 minutes from home to campus. Many commuters also complain about the lack of accommodations we receive on this campus such as; no allotted parking lots for commuters only. All parking lots and spaces provide access to anyone who drives or leaves a car on campus, which means that many times the spaces fill up by people who already live on campus. Another dilemma for computers occurs with the meal plans this campus offers us. They only offer two and both provide more meals than I will ever use on this campus, but if we don't purchase one we basically can no longer step foot into Estes unless a friend offers to swipe their card for us and give us one of their bonus meals. This may not be policy but last semester I attempted to just go into Estes with a friend, not even wanting to eat anything, and the person at the card swiper made a huge deal saying that I was not allowed to do that. This event engulfed me with more frustration toward the lack of accommodations for commuters. We make up such a small percentage of the school, we almost feel like outcasts for that aspect alone. The schools inability to provide us with better services e.g., our own parking lot, meal plan, and possibly 2 "passes" for missing class due to weather or car problems, causes feelings of frustration among the commuter community in this college. Just recently the school appointed a Commuter officer in the student government who can address said issues, but we still see no change in regard to commuter life on this campus. This new office demonstrates the desire of the college to give commuters a voice on campus, but we still need actions toward making commuters' lives on campus more reasonable.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Inquiry Essay New Intro and Thesis.....

Men and women speak in different ways according to Malcah Yaeger-Dror, in her article for the journal Women and Language. She accounts this speech difference to social roles men and women play in society, "men have economic sources of prestige, while women tap into the prestige of a higher economic group, using language as a status display" (3). In her article she describes women’s speech as "standard" or more proper versus male speech which she describes as "vernacular" or conversational. Yaeger-Dror substantiates her claim that women speak with a standard style by explaining the reasons why women feel they must speak this way. Gender speech difference stems from women working in more "white collar positions," environment, gender interaction, and as a form of protection in their work environment. "Women using working class speech are perceived as sexually promiscuous, and thus stigmatized; women avoid working class speech to distance themselves from being perceived as such, while men need not avoid giving such an impression" (4). Is this a legitimate claim? The answer lies in murky surroundings because to legitimate this claim means to demean women who choose to speak more openly and conversationally as sexual objects. The impact of language variance between men and women obviously carries social/behavioral ramifications that causes tension in all communities where interaction between men and women take place but especially in the business and educational communities.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Peer Editing Letter

Dear Ariel.
Upon reading your inquiry essay, I found many strong qualities in your writing. You write conversationally which allowed me, as the reader, to feel that I was not merely reading some boring essay, but instead that I was carrying on an enlightened conversation with you. This shows your ability to capture your audience’s attention effectively. I also love your choice of controversy. This controversy comes with many angles and sides of argument which makes for an interesting essay not only now but in future essays for the class. I realize this is a work in progress and there are rough patches, but so far your essay displayed your knowledge of the controversy very well and you address the different sides which you wish to explore. Therefore, my overall impression of your essay is that you have a good controversy to work with you, you have knowledge which you instill into your essay, and sources will help you explore those sides of the controversy which you brought up in your essay in order to provide us with more sufficient evidence of those arguments and their validity.
The only parts I perceived as slightly confusing were due to this being a work in progress, such as organization. I felt that you jumped around somewhat. One line specifically, "examining those women who choose housework over paperwork," needs examples of "paperwork" to show your reader the magnitude of difference between these two choices. You gave excellent examples of housewives, Martha Stewart and Cavendish, but I feel an imbalance in your essay still exists in regard to the working woman. You also brought up men and their feelings about women such as Martha who have transformed the idea of the housewife, but you need to delve more deeply into the mens’ sides in regard to housewife and working women.
Your purpose for this essay is clear. You wish to question the idea of whether the housewife today exists on the same level as a housewife from the past. You seem to be questioning, as I understand it, whether housewives are truly oppressed as some women seem to believe they are, or whether being a housewife constitutes a legitimate career choice for a woman. The key components of your essay thus far are historical views of housewives and domestic roles, feminist feelings about housewives, today’s housewives and the impact they carry in the domestic sphere, mens’ opinions, and the idea of self dependency which stems from Hekker’s story. There are still some shades of gray in these components which can be filled with more research, but you cover all angles of the controversy.
I feel confused as to what your actual community choice is. Are you approaching this controversy from the home and what specifically leads to your choice of community? If you describe the community you chose more thoroughly it will solve this problem. If a person or event inspired this controversy, including a clip of that story might help make your community stand out.
I feel that your paragraphs each address a specific topic and that you stick to that subject, but that the paragraphs themselves could be rearranged for better organization. You talk about feminist theory at the very beginning and close to the end, and these might be better closer together near the end. Since you are discussing the controversy of being a housewife, that should be your first approach and then lead to into the feminist theories about it on both sides of the controversy (for or against). Your paragraphs about Martha Stewart are especially effective. You show a strong voice in these particularly because you seem to have inherent knowledge of Martha. The paragraph starting with "The underlying theme..." states your own take on the controversy and although you use strong language, you need to back up why feminism is dependent on housewives and give examples. If you do this it will give this section the extra power it should have because you state your stance here.
This is a good start for your essay. Of course more sources will help back up your claims and provide you with a more substantial argument, but the controversy is interesting and important. You also clearly have written an inquiry essay rather than a research paper, so excellent job following and understanding the assignment as well. I hope that my comments aid you in your final draft.
Sincerely,
Rachel Powers

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Style Summaries 2 and 3

Lessons 2 and 3
In Lesson 2, of Style Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace. Williams gives a list of common grammatical blunders and misuses that plague many writers. He talks about proper word usage and proper sentence structure and how these two things should be the easiest for a writer to remember. Proper grammar should come natural to a schooled writer.
Williams, however, also demonstrates that grammar can be correct without being correct. Writers may write sentences that are grammatically fine, but that could be written more coherently. He addresses common writing techniques that appear "ok" but that could be written better, for example; no prepositions at the end of a sentence, rules of using whom versus who or which versus that. All of the suggestions he makes intend to enhance the grammatical substance of the piece of writing and the writing skills of the author.
Lesson 3 of Williams, Style Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, discusses effective sentence structure. In this lesson, he talks about the importance of clear-cut subjects and verbs. A sentence will be clear if it identifies the subject and the subject is ornamented with an "action." Sentences that turn the verb into a noun become more complex and harder to understand, so he suggests not doing this even though it is still grammatically correct. Williams offers a series of examples and exercises to demonstrate when a sentence should use a set subject and verb format versus when it is ok, or even recommended to turn the verb into a noun or adjective.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Freewrite to De-Block My Thoughts (30 minutes)

Since I am writing my paper about Gender Communication I started to think about all of the things that fall into this topic. I thought about sexual harassment, miscommunication, flirting, speech patterns aka conversational speech versus more "standard" or proper speech. I also tried to think about how this topic is a controversy and what sides I need to represent. If I come at it from a sexual harassment point of view like draft shows so far, I can easily sound biased due to the fact that sexual harassment is commonly thought of as a crime toward women rather than men. When researching this particular aspect of gender communication I found many more articles which represented sexual harassment toward women and very few powerful articles of sexual harassment towards men. I therefore, decided to divide my controversy into negative gender communication v. positive gender communication and explaining the difference between men and women speech patterns to show how either of these communications occur. This topic is commonly known as "socioliguistics," which I never thought I would be interested in if I hadn't had my own experience of gender miscommunication in the various communities I am a part of, but especially it my work community. My work community is very patriarchal, where men have the upper hand against there fellow female associates and women use different means to raise their position in the company. An aspect I considered looking into was sexual innuendo and how women use sexual speech because in many cases women gain power through their sexuality and have gained power through their sexuality since "back in the day." In the work community we hear examples of many women using their sexuality whether physically, through body language, or even through speech in order to gain power over men. Is this an effective or healthy method of gender communication? We can also look at flirting, which stems from the previous as a form of sexual innuendo and ask the same question does flirting provide us with healthy gender communication and why? When we think about those aspects of gender communication we see that both men and women may use unhealthy methods of speaking to the opposite sex and that these confusions of communications might stem from gender perception and gender method of speech. Therefore, this is a controversy in all communities because men and women exist in all communities and their speak to eachother in all communities. We can therefore infer that problems of communication are common place, arising all of the time and in different forms, but that men and women can possibly have healthy communication with one another as well. Here in lies the other side of the argument, and the part I struggle the most with both in regard to research and formulation of opinion.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

More Drafting

Gender Communication in the Professional Community
This inquiry essay questions whether men and women communicate effectively, but specifically in the professional world. There are many theorists who express their views on this subject and many views differ. This essay will explore the negative communication between men and women, predominantly, sexual harassment and the positive interactions between men and women in their work environment as well.
The professional space for men and women develops complications because women have recently began to empower themselves through their career aspirations. This poses a possible challenge to a world once completely dominated by men. Corporations adapt to these changes, many by creating policies, such as those against sexual harassment. Sexual harassment exists in the past and present, but its definition still fluctuates. Yet to understand the struggles men and women face communicating, we need to understand the community itself.
Most professional areas look the same. Cubicles replace offices because they consist of cheap material, they take up less space which allows for more employees, and they provide a neutral setting. Many people bring their own character to their work space through pictures, calendars, stuffed animals, radios, etc. Yet for the most part, these cubicles follow cardboard copies of each other with their gray, pin cushion walls and beige filing cabinets. The cubicles form a maze in which only the associates within the work place can make their way around the office without getting lost. If the corporation is large and resides in a building with two floors or more, than it most likely contains these tricky elevators which always seem to break and trap people in the process. Four vending machines reside in the lobby on the first floor, making this area the second most interactive to that of the smoking lounge right outside the back door of the building. Aside from holidays and parties those two areas perpetuate the most informal conversation between co-workers of different gender.
Corporations, such as the one I work in, usually consist of a balanced amount of men and women, although mine particularly employs more women because many positions in the company carry duties more secretarial or clerical in nature. The majority of men in this company have jobs with authoritative positions or move quickly into these positions. For example, a young man named Scott came to the company fresh out of college last year and his boss already placed him in a higher position. Many facts influenced this promotion but the women in the department focused their attention on the fact that he gained a promotion so quickly while many of them felt overlooked. This situation displays a form of miscommunication between genders. The man who promoted the other man chose not to speak with the entire community of associates about the reasoning for Scott’s promotion and the women failed to take the initiative and question him themselves. The corporate arena possibly forgets that men and women likely speak, act, and think differently and these differences may need acknowledgment in order to produce effective communication.
Was this case with Scott and incident of sexual harassment or gender discrimination? Factors that resulted in his promotion remain unknown, but his college degree and the lack of the womens’ degrees who were over looked may give at least one explanation as to why Scott received a promotion so quickly. This fact, unsaid, created a situation of ineffective communication and caused tension in the work community. Yet this case may be perceived as a mild incident of gender miscommunication. Sexual harassment, however, displays a serious gender miscommunication in the professional arena and many critics sustain different views about the definition of sexual harassment, how it evolves, and the communication techniques used to handle harassment situations.
Taking a look at the definition of sexual harassment, the Columbia Encyclopedia defines it as: "involving pressures brought by one in authority (e.g., an employer, teacher, or ranking officer) on someone in an inferior position, with the aim of obtaining sexual favors, harassment is now recognized as also involving behavior that creates an environment unfriendly to its targets." This source represents this as a more stereotypical definition of sexual harassment due possibly to additional issues that constitute a sexual harassing act.
Incidents have occurred over time that cause the definition to fluctuate as described in following from the Columbia Encyclopedia; "Recent debates have centered on, among other things, the apparent wide differences in men's and women's interpretations of sexual talk; on whether schools and colleges can or should impose speech and conduct codes or take other measures to protect students, especially females, from sexual talk or behavior; and on whether pornography is in itself a form of sexual harassment. It is apparent that the interests of protection from sexual harassment and of freedom of speech will continue to clash."
Where does sexual harassment come from? Since it exists as a form of gender communication we can infer that it develops from the difference in communication between men and women. In other words, what women define as offensive speech may differ from what men define as offensive speech. Laura Ring attributes the cause of sexual harassment to "women’s vulnerability to male gender-power" which explains her own definition of sexual harassment as "a constellation of historically produced (and continually re-produced and reformed) discourses which fix gender difference." (133-134).
In other words, sexual harassment forms due to the unbalanced relationship and social interaction between men and women. She further divides the evolution of sexual harassment into social status in which she concludes that women of middle-lower social status or position receive more severe or more frequent incidents of sexual harassment because they are more vulnerable.
In these studies women deal with sexual harassment in two ways. They either use direct language such as "This bothers me, don’t say things like that to me" or indirect language such as "I’m really sorry, but what you are saying makes me really uncomfortable." Which of these forms is more effective and why? Critics say that women tend to use indirect language in order to prevent tension in their work environment, to keep their job, or so that they will not question their own identity.