greenie_breizh: (Default)
One of these days I will have the time to write something about what's going on in my life, but for now I'll stick to more food for thought:

- Glee's Gay Suicide PSA: It got worse: This article perfectly summarizes why the episode left me with a very bitter taste. Ironically, Allie and I came home to watch that episode right after I'd given a lecture about sexuality and schooling and seriously, I could have used the episode as a perfect example of everything that we're doing wrong about homophobia in schools. Bah. (On a much nicer note, the lecture went awesome and I heard from a number of students that they really enjoyed it. I feel like it was the best one I've given so far.)

- On this topic, I have to link this wonderful blog post by a mom whose 5-year-old boy wanted to dress up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. It's both heartening and maddening to read about the kind of stress a child has to go through when he disrupts gender expectations, but if I can be that great a mom one day, I'll be happy.

- Also, a bunch of people have started a Write Your Principal letter campaign, where basically you commit to sending letters to principals of schools that you've attended growing up, and letting them know that you expect them to do something about homophobia in their schools and to question the heteronormative school culture they might be perpetuating (OK, that last one may be mostly me, but it would be awesome if that was included). This is meant for the U.S. but I would encourage anyone who can to do this. People in schools need to realize that people care even after they graduate, and even when they don't have kids in the school system.

On a totally different note...

- As a follow-up to my last posts, I wanted to post a few links on why the Rally to Restore Sanity was, in some ways, extremely problematic. It's partly the ablism of the title, which is not even where I went first because I sometimes suck at noticing ablism (my own and society's)(thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lounalune for calling me out on it). More generally, I loved this post because it touched on almost everything I had in mind, as someone who very much loves Jon Stewart and his show and yet sometimes feels very ambivalent about it. I particularly love this section, in response to part of the speech that Jon gave at the end of the rally:
“So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own?”
Why indeed, Jon? Why indeed would you say such things about people on the right, making it impossible to work with them? Except, of course, that it’s not your rights being denied. It’s not you who can’t marry your girlfriend, who when you look down the road at your potential futures see the horror of not being able to protect your assets together, or even be by each other’s side at a hospital bed. It’s not you who have had to fight all your life to get your gender accepted, even grudgingly, as a legal reality, not you who will have whispers following you the rest of your life or who fears to publish things under your own name because it outs your entire life history. It’s not you who worry that you’re getting older and a woman in an industry that is not known for accepting women, not you who are worrying that if you get fired from your job you may never find another one like it.
greenie_breizh: (annoyed)
About the 13-year-old and 15-year-old who are parents.

What I love best, of course, is what the woman from LIFE (an anti-abortion movement) has to say, "this is symptomatic of the over-sexualisation of our youngsters and shows the policy of value-free sex education just isn’t working" when the boy's father says a few lines up, "When I spoke to [Alfie, the boy] he started crying. He said it was the first time he’d had sex, that he didn’t know what he was doing and of the complications that could come."

Let me repeat that. He DIDN'T KNOW OF THE COMPLICATIONS. That means he didn't get any fucking sex ed, you conservative retard, and what's happening to these kids is typical of what happens to kids who don't get any sex ed or get idiotic abstinence-only education. It just doesn't work.

Arrrgh. These people just fucking kill me.
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
Helping me procrastinate these past couple of days has been Dan Savage's column. I don't agree with everything he says but as far as sexual stuff is concerned he's a pretty amazing (and amazingly honest) sex columnist. I really enjoy some of his more political rant, too, so here are a couple. Read them through - they're hoot and he's painfully right. (Both are related to abstinence ed.)


First one:
And, hey, here's another interesting study: While straight kids are busily boning each other's butts—the better to preserve their virginities!—gay teenagers are knocking each other up. According to a study out of the University of British Columbia, lesbian and gay teenagers are seven times likelier to get knocked up than their straight peers. How the hell does that happen? Well, gay teens are having straight sex in order "to prove they are heterosexual to avoid harassment and discrimination" by their parents and peers. In other words, gay kids are still having heterosexual sex under duress. This is where abstinence education and homophobia have gotten us: Gay kids are having vaginal intercourse and straight kids are having anal intercourse. Good work, sexphobes!

--

And the second one, longer but worth every word:

The 17-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice-presidential nominee, is pregnant. The news was released by the McCain camp during a busy week—a hurricane, the Republican National Convention, Dick Cheney getting us into a war with Russia—so it didn't receive the coverage it deserved. To recap:

Seventeen-year-old Bristol Palin got her ass knocked up five or so months ago by 18-year-old Levi Johnston. Among the hobbies listed on Levi's since-yanked MySpace page—"fishing, shoot some shit, and just fuckin' chillin'"—was this revealing tidbit: "I don't want kids." But Bristol, says her mom, "made the decision on her own to keep the baby," and is now engaged to Levi "Shootin' Shit" Johnston.

As the adoptive parent of a child born to a pair of unwed teenagers, I'm certainly not in favor of abortion in all circumstances. But I believe that it's a choice teenagers should be able to make for themselves—with input from their families whenever possible—and, so it seems, does the GOP's VP nominee. Sarah Palin is pleased that her daughter made the decision—on her own—to keep the baby.

But Sarah Palin doesn't believe that other girls should be able to make their own decisions. Sarah Palin believes abortion should be illegal in almost every instance—including rape and incest. So Bristol Palin is being celebrated for making a choice that Sarah Palin would like to take away from all other American women. Apparently, today's GOP believes that choice is a special right reserved for the wayward daughters of Republican elected officials.

Oh, and Sarah Palin also believes that birth control shouldn't be made available to teenagers, she opposes medically accurate sex education, and she backs abstinence-until- marriage sex "education."

Sigh.

The GOP has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into abstinence "education" programs during the Bush years. I believe this enormous investment of public funds begs the obvious question: Is our children abstaining? Sarah Palin's aren't. Despite this massive outlay on the part of the American taxpayer and the example set by her Christian parents, Bristol Palin became sexually active while still in high school. Excuse me, but if abstinence education can't keep the daughter of the evangelical governor of Alaska off the cock, what hope is there for the daughters—and some of the sons—of average Americans?

I'm a cad for writing this, of course, because shortly before Bristol and Levi were paraded before cheering throngs at the Republican National Convention, the Palins asked the media to respect their daughter's privacy.

Another special right: When it comes to respecting your family's privacy, Palin and the GOP see no need. They want to micromanage the most intimate aspects of your private life. And if their own kids fail to live up to the standards that Palin and the GOP seek to impose on your family, well, that's a private matter between the Palins, their daughter, their God, and the thousands of screaming imbeciles in elephant hats waving McCain/Palin signs on the floor of the Republican National Convention.
greenie_breizh: (identity)
From Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W. F. (1998). “Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice field like education? Qualitative Studies in Education, 11 (1), p. 7-24.
Talking about the disparity between per pupil spending often invites the critique that money doesn’t matter. Studies as far back as Coleman et al. (1966) and Jencks et al. (1972) have argued that family and individual effects are far more powerful than schools in determining poor school performance. Whether or not school spending is a determining factor in school achievement, no one from the family and individual effects camp can mount an ethical case for allowing poor children to languish in unheated, overcrowded schools with bathrooms that spew raw sewage while middle-income White students attend school in spacious, technology rich, inviting buildings. If money doesn’t matter, then why spend it on the rich? (p.21)

Why, but because they have earned it, of course.
greenie_breizh: (identity)
I take liberal feminist education to share some core features of mainstream liberal education, with a central emphasis on a broad education that fosters freedom by developing autonomy. In doing so, the feminist variant would pay particular attention to encouraging the growth of autonomy among girls, and their capacity to choose roles and lifestyles rather than being forced to accept traditionally defined ones. (p.73)

Extract from Enslin, Penny (2003)."Liberal feminism, diversity and education", in Theory and Research in Education 1 (1): pp.73-87.


On Tuesday Karen Bradley, from Western Washington University came to do a talk entitled “Cultural and Structural Factors Affecting the Incorporation of Women into Systems of Higher Education”.

One of the things she was looking at is vertical and horizontal segregation: vertical segregation refers to the fact that women are confined to low-paying jobs, and horizontal segregation refers to the fact that they're limited to certain fields of work. One of the things that's fascinating about these two aspects of gender segregation is that the rationale of gender equality seems to have helped reduce vertical segregation, but not horizontal segregation, so that the male/female ratio at university for example is very unequal in fields of study that are traditionally gendered: engineeing, computer science (in favor of males), education, nursing (in favor of females).

One of the explanations she mentioned for this phenomenon is that our belief in gender egalitarianism has not been accompanied with a real challenge to gender essentialism: that is, the belief that men are 'naturally' one way and women 'naturally' another way. One reason for the fact that increase in gender egalitarianism in the general population doesn't mean an increase in gender essentialism is that legislating equality affects vertical rather than horizontal segregation.

Her main thesis was interesting - and provocative. She argued that norms of self-expression and the rationale of choice that are so popular (especially in North American cultures) legitimize our indulgence in gender-stereotyping.

So for example, our focus on the individual means that if a girl decides she wants to be a nurse and doesn't like math, rather than challenging that, we focus on the idea that she's making that choice for herself and that as an individual, she has the right to do that. Consequently we tend to disregard economic outcomes and the influence of gendered cultural ideas... Bradley argued this is all the more true since we allow teens to make choices for themselves at school at a moment in their life where they are the most sensitive to pressures of gendered expectations and most likely to make choices based on deeply-held cultural beliefs of gender essentialism.

In short, the valuation of choice and individualism in our society would be the very tool that allows for the perpetuation of gender essentialist beliefs, as they become concealed behind arguments of self-expression.

Now, I don't know if I agree completely with this idea, but it certainly resonates with what I know and what we have witnessed over the past few decades. It certainly makes sense in the context of heterosexism resonating so easily with a large percentage of the population, because heterosexist is rooted in gender essentialism. Anyway. I just wanted to relate the argument (not as well as she made it but hopefully fairly clearly) as food for thought.

It also really challenges liberal feminism as defined by that quote at the beginning of the post, since then emphasis on autonomy, unless it is actively accompanied by challenges to gender essentialist beliefs, would simply work to reinforce gender stereotypes in the framework of our society, rather than help liberate women.


Oh, and before I forget again: the grad advisor for our department, Gerry, is a browncoat! :D I was so happy to find out. On Thursday he briefly sat down next to me during the UGF and at one point turned to me and said "shiny!" with a knowing grin on his face. Just awesome.
greenie_breizh: (snark)
[extrait de Têtu Septembre 2008]

Campagne d'affichage [contre l'homophobie] au lycée, pourquoi pas au collège?
Xavier Darcos, ministre de l'Education Nationale: C'est un peu plus difficile, les élèves y sont plus jeunes, il y a des enfants de 11 ans.


(roughly translated, the French Ministry of Education is going to have anti-homophobia/pro-LGB posters put up in high schools for this new school year, and so Tetu was asking why not do it in jr. high, too. French Education Secretary replied, "It's a little harder, the students are younger, some of the children there are 11.")

Yes, because trying to challenge homophobia starting when the kids are 15 and they have already been calling each other fags for years is obviously the way to go. Teaching our children to respect every one from grade 1 on? What a silly idea. Remember, the homos are first and foremost about sex, after all. /sarcasm
greenie_breizh: (gay)
Un peu tard pour faire un edit de mon post précédent sur le sujet, mais (toujours pour ceux que ça intéresse), le MAG est passé sur le JT de 13H de France 2!

A voir ici sur le site de France 2. Le sujet sur la gay pride commence à 13'07'', et ça enchaîne sur le sujet du MAG à 13'30'. Ca donne une bonne idée de ce que donne les interventions du MAG "en vrai" sauf que là c'est moins le bazar que dans certaines classes ;) (faut dire que c'était visiblement une petite classe et en plus les caméras ça doit aider).

Bon après à voir les trucs que les élèves sortent c'est un réflexe, j'ai envie de leur répondre et je suis frustrée que le reportage ne montre pas toujours la réponse claire des intervenants (car les gens qui regardent le JT ne l'ont pas forcément, la réponse, et j'imagine que du coup les téléspectateurs ont des chances de se dire "bah c'est vrai il a raison le gamin") mais bon à moins de faire tout le JT sur ça c'était pas possible. ;) J'ai beaucoup aimé la franchise de tous les élèves, moi c'est ça que j'aime dans les interventions que j'ai faites avec le MAG, et j'ai en particulier apprécié l'honnêté du garçon qui dit "le rapport sexuel en lui-même, ça nécessite une pénétration", parce que beaucoup de gens le pensent mais n'osent par le dire. Dommage, car ce serait bien que nos jeunes intègrent l'idée que le rapport sexuel en lui-même, ça ne nécessite rien du tout, et que la pénétration n'est pas la finalité de la sexualité, simplement une de ses expressions.

J'ai déjà dit que ça me manquait tout ça, n'est ce pas?
greenie_breizh: (annoyed)
So, despite every single professional body in the field having concluded that abstinence-only education does not prevent unwanted, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, the United States of America is still proud to have morons like this gentleman:

Rep. John Duncan (R-Tennessee): "It seems rather elitist to me that people who maybe have degrees in this field would feel that, because they've studied it somehow know better than the parents."

(Jon Stewart's commentary, to lighten up the mood: "And I don't like these elitist airline pilots with their locked door and their ability to fly planes... I think I know how to fly my own children!")

I so don't have the brains to rant about this tonight, but it just makes me so mad that people would willingly ignore all scientific and social evidence and make decisions that we know are dangerous for their children's health and future. Especially dangerous to girls because they're the ones who suffer most from unwanted pregnancies and the ones who get the most shit for getting STDs because no one's ever told her or her boyfriend how to use a condom.

All of this because they can't fucking deal with the fact that sex can and should be about pleasure one's self and one's partner and that there is nothing wrong or dirty about that or the human body.
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
From Rhetorically speaking (who really always says everything better than I could), an essential point about abstinence-only programs and why sometimes pretending to go for "fair and balanced" doesn't make any sense:


"[Extract from a Times article] The Silver Ring Thing preaches against handing out condoms or instructing teenagers in safe sex. [...]

Medical research is divided over the merits of preaching abstinence. A study by Columbia University showed that belonging to an abstinence group delayed the start of sexual activity, but that when the teenage convert eventually did have sex they were one third less likely to use a condom, and were thus at higher risk of pregnancy or contracting STDs.

Further research published in the British Medical Journal showed that the partners of boys in an abstinence programme were more likely to get pregnant.
It's profoundly ridiculous when a newspaper reports research that shows an increase the risk of disease and unwanted pregnancy as 'divided opinion' over the merits of abstinence. Here, the pretence of 'balance' involves the mind-boggling conclusion that disease and teen-pregnancy are the acceptable price to pay for a delay of a few months in the onset of sexual activity."

Meaning: parents, teach your kids safe sex (or let the schools teach them about safe sex) even when promoting abstinence, because when your kids end up being, well, just like any other teenager or young adult out there and they do have sex before marriage, it's going to come in handy that they know how to use a condom.

Not to mention sex ed, if well taught, can promote self-esteem and well-being (particularly for girls and LGBT kids). Seriously, what's the big deal?
greenie_breizh: (snark)
A study carried out by the company Mathematica on behalf of Congress shows that abstinence-only programs don't work. Kids have as much sex, and at the same age.

Of course, the Bush administration is not listening.
greenie_breizh: (clothesless)
I've started watching the Channel 4 series "Let's talk about sex". The whole series can be watched for free on the website.

- What annoys me is grown-ups who get their kids sex ed because they're uncomfortable with talking about sex and their kids end up paying the price for it. EVERYthing shows abstinence-only programs DON'T work, and I truly do not understand how parents can keep the wool so tight over their eyes that they would still go for that option rather than teach their kids to 1) protect themselves and 2) protect others.

- What the fuck are we doing about boys? It's so unfair how much of the burden rests on girls when mistakes are made. Moms tend to be more concerned about the sex life of their kids, and of their daughters in particular. But god, you need a man and woman to have a baby. There are boys in that documentary that say, if the woman doesn't ask for a condom, then they'll go without it. That's so many levels of wrong. Condoms shouldn't be the woman's responsibility, and I'm appalled that we're not teaching boys that. (Just had a thought - it's even more terrifying when you think of gay male teenagers because where's the woman to suggest a condom in that relationship?)

- I find it so hard to find a right balance, figure out what age is best to talk about what, and how graphically. I think we tend to be out of touch with how in touch some kids are with sex. The other day a friend was telling us about this 10-year-old girl she watches over and who watches porn sometimes at night - and her boy friends at school already download porn off the internet! Yet they won't be given sex ed for another what, 3 or 4 years at best. We don't want to shock kids but some of them are so ahead of us. How do you deal with the differences amongst kids? Because the average age for a first time is still around 17. It's such a delicate issue, especially considering parents are more or less uptight. But the more I think about it, the more it seems obvious to me kids should be told more explicitly about sex earlier on. In the end, what are we really afraid of?


EDIT : Interestingly enough, my own experience is little helpful. I cannot remember my parents ever giving me The Talk (they're not big on sitting their kids down and having Talks, I suspect), but condoms have always been a pretty obvious necessity to me. (Of course, there's a difference between being aware of protection and using it, and the catch is that I never had to make that choice of using a condom or not.) But it really makes me wonder where I did get my sex ed from, and I suspect that might be from books my mom brought home from her library. Note to self : must probe little brother's memory.
greenie_breizh: (radiant)
My phone rang about an hour ago and I eyed it somewhat warily because I didn't feel like having a conversation, but me being me I still picked up. THANK. GOD.

It was Aline, a girl who I motivated to apply to Andover and who got in, and my face HURTS from grinning like an idiot for an hour on the phone. Hearing everything about what she's been doing at PA - her classes, her life, the dorms, the All School Meetings, the PA way of life, it brought back so many happy memories, I could see and hear myself in her so much, and it was just amazing. Remembering and sharing what I had there, listening to how happy she's been, what a great time she's having. I'm so so happy she's there and enjoying it so much, and getting it. It's like sharing something that's not unsharable unless you've been there, lived through it, been that foreign student.

I'm so fucking ecstatic right now. Both from talking about Andover and knowing Aline is liking it so much.


I was telling her on the phone - I will forever regret not having kept a journal, a blog, of my whole year at PA. I discovered LJ late April of the year I was there, and I wish I could have kept better traces of everything else, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. What's amazing about my experience there is that I got so miserable sometimes, so annoyed at some things, but all that remains is how much I loved it, how much I enjoyed the classes and admired the teachers, how this school is forever linked to personal growth, to fighting for same-sex marriage and being able to say, yeah, I'm gay.

There's this one moment... I remember so perfectly. Must have been late fall, it was cold but not snowing yet. The whole shit around Fan''s visit had started and I was crying on my way to my philosophy class that morning. I met my teacher on the way to the Chapel and he asked if I was okay, I said I'd be okay, didn't want to bother him with it all, but I knew he genuinely cared. Then I got to class and class started, and suddenly everything was okay. I had a blast that morning in class - talked, laughted, discussed, debated, everything I loved about philosophy teaching over there.

Andover hurt and healed all at once. But ultimately, I'm forever grateful for the opportunities it offered me, and everything I lived there. I was working for my class about Hispanics in the US earlier, and I got so enthuastic about reading up on what it means, to be part of a minority, got so excited looking up definitions for "ethnic enclave" and "social network", and that's the best thing Phillips gave me, throughout my year there. A love and enthusiasm for academics I have trouble reaching for here. I miss it, and I know it's exactly why I want to go to UBC next year, it's a desperate attempt at recapturing what Phillips showed me, how amazingly challenging and interesting classes can be when they require that you put so much of yourself into the material.

Teaching

Aug. 27th, 2004 07:22 am
greenie_breizh: (Default)
Should someone who's smiling and helpful be paid the same as someone who's always disagreeable? Should niceness be rewarded? Shouldn't it just be part of the training? How do you manage disparities between schools and letting people choose where they want their kids to be schooled? Can you teach someone to question himself? Is the student really inferior to the teacher, don't they have to learn off each other?

I need to get to know French teachers. Argh.

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