Collection of College Essays

Anth 308 Essay Paper

3/12/13

“More Than a Few Good Men: A Conversation about Manhood, Violence, and Doing the Right Thing”

–Dr. Jackson Katz

 

On March 7th, Dr. Jackson Katz visited KU and delivered an excellent and eye opening interactive lecture concerning our cultural construct of masculinity and its relationship to violence in our society. Katz touched on many anthropological topics, but I will focus on five in this essay: world view, gender, language ideology, social structure, and enculturation.

Dr. Katz calls for a “paradigm shift,” or change in world view, in how we see “women’s issues” such as gender and abuse. He believes this is something that should be a human issue, and maybe more of a man’s issue than a woman’s issue, as men are the ones who are possibly losing their humanity through the violent cultural constructs they subscribe to. Katz believes we need a cultural change, a shift in how we perceive masculinity, power and prestige. We need masses of open minded men to step forward, not just the “few good men” who are interested in “women’s issues.”

Language ideology is defined as a marker of struggles between social groups with different interests, revealed in what people say and how they say it. Dr. Katz focused a good part of his lecture on the importance of the way language is used in society for the maintenance of power of certain groups over others. For example, mainstream news sources in the US use the passive voice when referring to abuse toward women. The media never reports that a “man beat a woman,” but simply refers to the “battered woman”: fully taking the man out of the equation. In a huge step backward, the press is now referring to “victims” of abuse as “accusers”.  The previous use of the word victim invokes emotion for the woman, but the new term “accuser” has the opposite effect, invoking hostility toward the woman and sympathy for the “accused” man. Another linguistic power maintenance strategy is the association with feminism as “anti-male,” discouraging woman from pressing for equality by making them feel they are hurting men. Katz disagrees wholeheartedly with this “propaganda,” stating that if anyone is looking out for the wellbeing of men, it is feminists. They are the ones who challenge men and expect their better nature.

Dr. Katz proposes the best way to tackle the violent social structure we have created is to combat it with new enculturation. Our generation will soon have children of our own, and we need to teach our children new ways to think about gender norms and societal expectation. It was especially powerful hearing this lecture from Dr. Katz, as his masculinity added power to his feministic ideology. We need fathers as well as mothers standing up for equality, to be role models for their children. Dads need to show their children that the strongest man is not the one who can throw others around, but the one who can stand up for equality for all, and respect all human beings.

Dr. Katz’s lecture was one of the best lectures I have been to during my whole career at KU. Katz made it clear that change is possible with knowledge and redefinition. He really opened up my mind to a much broader discussion on gender, and how much more powerful the inclusion of all people can be in change.


 

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Floyd (2011) defines a self concept as “stable ideas about who you are.” Self concepts have three distinctive characteristics: they are multifaceted, partly subjective, and enduring but changeable (Floyd, 2011). Self concepts are developed throughout one’s life through personality and biology, culture and gender roles, reflected appraisal and social comparison.

Two sources which I think have had a big impact on my self concept up to this point in my life have been reflected appraisal from my peers and educators and my gender and culture.

Drawing social comparisons made me very self-conscious and painfully shy for many years of my life. Since I had a quieter personality and did not speak out in class, I was treated as if something was wrong with me by teachers and peers, and over time I began to believe that was true as well. I believe that the American cultural expectation for extroversion helped turn my quiet introverted nature into an almost debilitating shyness. Beginning at the age of 15, I began pushing myself into uncomfortable situations to overcome my shyness, thus turning into the “outgoing” person I believed society expected of me. As I became more accepted by my peers and educators I embraced this newly developed social side of my personality, in turn using it to create the identity I desired for myself.

Gender and culture have shaped how I viewed myself as well. As a woman, I have never felt that I fit in, or wanted to fit in, the stereotypical gender norms created by my society and culture. Over time, I have embraced my sex as a woman while realizing that gender can be whatever I feel comfortable and happy with at the time. In respect to cultural, I grew up with a family that did not subscribe to the standard “American” values. This shaped views of myself, as I was very aware that how I lived and what I thought was, most of the time, different from that of my peers. This made me very uncomfortable for the longest time, but, as I developed my social skills and gained confidence, I learned that having different perspectives and living a different type of life was something I should embrace, not be ashamed of.

When I was more self conscious and shy, I tended to discount the opinions of those close to me, and only care about what the general American public believed, or what I thought they believed. As I have grown and developed as a human being, I realize how debilitating this was, and how the only opinion that should matter to me is the opinion I have of myself, in relation to my family and friends. I now take a lot more stock in my family and friend’s opinions of me, and they definitely shape my self concept to some extent. Still, because of my shy and unsure beginnings in life, the opinion that matters most to me is the one I have of myself.

If I created a time capsule today and put five things in it to describe myself to all my future fans (and of course I will have many) I would put a pad of paper, a pen, a bookmark, a library card, and a smile. The paper and pen are for observations; I am still inherently an introverted person and my favorite thing to do is observe and reflect on the world around me. The bookmark and the library card signify my love of knowledge and constantly challenging the status quo with the search for new information. The smile (which I would put in the time capsule metaphorically, as the other option is a bit too grotesque to think about) would represent everyone in my life that makes it worth living.


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Naming and Identity

            Our names can have much more influence over our lives than we give them credit for. Impressions can be drawn by others concerning a person’s demographic characteristics, sex, ethnicity, age group, religion, culture, disposition and sense of self (Floyd, 152). For example, my given name is Anne; this name correctly implies my feminine sex and traditional Catholic upbringing. However, I have never felt this name portrayed my age group or sense of self correctly. From a very young age, probably around five or so, I insisted on others calling me “Annie.” This slight change in name may have seemed insignificant to others, but for me it was important to the image I wished to portray. I felt that Annie had much younger and easy going vibes attached to it and made me more approachable and likable. Most importantly, I enjoyed hearing others call me Annie. The time I changed my name was also around the time I declared myself a militant vegetarian. I have been eating vegetables and responding to Annie ever since; I’m sure I was just the easiest child to raise ever.

Anne originates from Hebrew and French and means “grace” or “favor.” The spelling of “Anne” comes from the French name “Anna.” In the 13th century it was imported to England, where it was commonly spelled “Ann.” Annie is the diminutive of Anne and currently ranks 386th in U.S. names compared to 593rd for Anne. More popular in Europe, Annie comes in 97th in Sweden and 47th in Northern Ireland (Behind the Name, n.d.).

My last name, Windholz, is a German name roughly translating to “wind-wood” in English. This name always invokes a bit of intrigue and confusion from other people, as they are continually unsure of how to pronounce and spell it. I cannot blame them either, as there is not even consensus within my own family on how to pronounce our name. I love my last name though; even if I married a thousand times over, my name would still always be Annie Windholz. This is my linguistic identity I have spent years shaping; there is no way I would give that up to absorb someone else’s.

I am completely satisfied with my first and last name. When I was a younger and more timid, I used to be embarrassed of my “exotic” last name and “old fashioned” first name, but now I wouldn’t change either for the world. I think names are something that need to be grown into; they do not hold that much value early on, but as you grow and change as a person, your name is the one thing that stays constant. It becomes the overarching definition of yourself, which you create.

There is tradition in my family for firstborn females to have the middle name “Cecelia.” I will continue this tradition with my daughter if I have one, but the way karma works out I will probably end up having a batch of testosterone filled boys. I don’t think I would pass my first name on to any of my children, because I feel that would put expectations on that child to be similar to my identity, and I want my children to have a fresh slate to create whatever demonic personas they can think of.

I am quite sure I will birth the anti-christ. Maybe I WOULD name him Annie…

Bibliography

Behind the Name (n.d.). Anne. In Behind the Name. Retrieved March 12, 2013 from

http://www.behindthename.com/name/anne-1

Parent’s Connect (2013). Baby Names World: Annie. In Parent’s Connect. Retrieved March 12,

2013 from http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/meaning_of_Annie.html


HIST/WS 321. From Mystics to Feminists

Book Review 1: Magdalena and Bathasar by Steven Ozment

2/16/13 

 

There may be worlds of difference between yesterday and today, but the past is not a different world. We are continuous,”(161, Ozment).

 

Magdalena and Bathasar were engaged in October of 1582 and married in April of 1583 in Nuremberg, Germany.  Their marriage and partnership lasted for 17 years, until Bathasar died in July of 1600. Magdalena and Bathasar’s marriage can safely be classified as a successful marriage, by 16th century standards as well as 21st century standards, based on evidence given in their letters. The couple, for the most part, agreed on life values, treated on another with equality and respect and made one another happy, though their happiness did not depend on one another.

 

Magdalena and Balthasar shared life values; belief in the power of God while discovering the power of man in life (160). Health concerns occupied a large portion of the 16th century person’s mind, and the couple had their own beliefs on how to stay happy and healthy. They constantly prayed to god, but also placed a large amount of faith in the physicians of the time. Magdalena was regularly “bled” to ward off disease, and Balthasar frequented the healing springs. A large part of their belief in staying healthy also had to do with sharing happiness with others; “spontaneous generosity and loyalty,” claims Ozment (157), to relatives and friends can be seen in their letters. Conflict was rare between Magdalena and Balthasar, one of the only things they seemed to disagree on were certain aspects of child rearing; Magdalena was softer and Bathasar more strict. Seemingly a big thing to disagree on as parents, perhaps this disagreement between them was a positive thing for little Balthasar as he received different styles of parenting during his short life. After little Balthasar died, Magdalena took on her brother’s daughter as her own, and Balthasar did the same with his apprentice, thus, though through tragedy, they were able to raise children with each of their differing beliefs.

 

Magdalena and Bathasar treated one another with respect and equality for the most part. Balthasar expects Magdalena to run her own life as “capably as any man,” (155, Ozment); a big compliment in a time when women were seen as dependent on a male. Magdalena, in turn, lauded independence in women and sensitivity in men (88, Ozment). While Bathasar was away on business, which was often, Magdalena took full responsibility for the running their business, becoming Bathasar’s Nuremberg distributor, bookkeeper, and collection agency. According to Ozment, Magdalena’s “shrewdness as a businesswoman” was something Bathasar had picked up on early in their relationship, ensuring partnership to be a very important part of their marriage (74). Bathasar, far from taking her hard work for granted, continually praised her abilities. When things went wrong, blame was taken by both parties, using the inclusive term “we” instead of pointed accusations at one party or the other (104, Balthasar).  According to Ozment, Magdalena and Bathasar could only “heap scorn” on other marriages which lacked basic equality in ability and responsibility.

 

Magdalena and Balthasar made one another happy and added to one another’s life satisfaction, but did not depend on one another for fulfillment in life. Balthasar muses, after the death of a family member, that “in this world, one must nevertheless not stake one’s life on human help,” (145, Balthasar). This rational look at love made their relationship all the more honest and worthwhile; being reminded of the transient nature of their relationship only heightening the romance. “…dearest treasure. May God help bring us together soon, so that we may talk face to face for as long as we want,” (84, Magdalena). Though Balthasar was never as regular of a correspondent as Magdalena desired, it was never because of lack of desire, but communication differences between the two, which they had much healthy dialogue about.

 

Magdalena and Balthasar had a good partnership, a healthy love life and common values to pull it all together. These social components cross the barrier of time and custom, able to be seen as a successful marriage both in today’s world and Magdalena and Balthasar’s. Through Magdalena and Balthasar’s interactions, we can all learn how to better our own relationships today. After Balthasar died, Magdalena lived out the rest of her life, 44 years, without remarrying, but continuing to live a full life. The independence paired with cooperation between the couple was key for enduring love and happiness and a successful marriage founded in common life values, mutual respect and equality, and indulgence coupled with rationality in respect to their love and desire.

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