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Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? …that is the question

One of the biggest questions these days is whether you are on the left or the right.  I grew in a semi-conservative republican home and agree with

Does everyone have to want to be a mother? (courtesy of http://blog.oncofertility.northwestern.edu)

many of the republican view points.  However, I am not a “Tea Party” conservative nor will I ever be.   I think it’s a shame that people with such extremist views are the ones that end up representing a whole group of people, in this case representing all republicans.  So as I’ve grown up, I’ve been very turned off by the right wing extremists and find myself more right leaning center.

I do not agree with most of the Tea Party view points.  I don’t agree with their hostility towards homosexuals.   It’s one thing to not like the idea of homosexuality, it’s another to dislike the person.  I agree with liberals that global warm IS an issue.  I don’t agree with the way that extremist republicans choose to make personal attacks on the current administration, with some remarks being derogatory and involving family.  And I most certainly do not agree with having the government restricting women’s reproductive rights, specifically regulating abortions and the use of birth controls.  Obviously, it’s not only republicans that are pro-life but they are most definitely leading the way it anti-abortion legislation.

When a woman has an abortion, it means that she is choosing to end her pregnancy by terminating the fetus.  Abortions became legal after the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.  Birth controls are mechanisms or medicines that decrease a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant.  Many conservatives consider abortion and particular types of birth controls to be forms of murder.  Their goal is to make them illegal. These are issues that deal with women’s reproductive rights.  The decisions about said rights should be made by women, not a male-dominated government.

We Live in a Patriarchal Society

Almost all societies in the world are patriarchies.  Don’t know what that means? According to Julia T. Wood in her book Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, it means that the ideologies, structures, and practices of a government were created by men and continued on by men.  The United States government is a patriarchal one.  In the year 2010, there were 73 women in the House of Representative and 17 women in the Senate.  This means that only 17% of our federal government is represented by women.  According the 2010 census, 50.8% of the United States population are females.  It seems absurd to me that a government that is so unreflective of the American people can create legislature that limits women’s rights.

Hundreds of women protesting Virginia's "personhood" bill (courtesy of styleweekly.com)

For example, on a local level, Virginia lawmakers were considering passing a bill that would give human rights to a fetus.  This “Personhood” bill would directly challenge Roe v. Wade and make abortion illegal.  It would also eliminate the use of certain types of birth control.  This Bill was brought to the Virginia House of Delegates by a male delegate named Robert Marshall.  He is one of the 82 men that serve in the 100-seat House of Delegate.  Again, men are trying to control women’s rights without the equal representation of women in the debate.  Hundreds of women protested while debate was going on in the House and apparently their voices were heard because the bill ended up being tabled until next year.

Not Everyone Wants to Be a Parent

Yes, most women in the society that we live in want to be parents.  In a study done by Erchull, Liss, Axelson, Staebell, and Askari called “Well…She Wants it More”, it was found that women do have a higher desire for children than men.  But with that, not all women do.  One in five women will not have children.  Why should they be forced to become a parent in the event of an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy?  It should be a personal choice.

There is the idea of the “new momism” that is most definitely causing a problem in the world of gender norms.  The “new momism” is all of the ideals and norms of motherhood that are portrayed in the media.  These portrayals are creating an image of mothering that is so perfect everybody should want to be a mother.  It makes those who do not want to be mothers feel like outcasts.  But in reality, the images of mothers in the media are far from reality.  For people who want to be mothers and truly love the role, it sets standards of perfection that just can’t be reached.  Although there aren’t any advocate groups for women who don’t want children that I could find, individuals are constantly standing up and explaining why they have made the decision to not have children with the hope of eliminating the stigma of childless women.

Too Much Emphasis Placed on the Word “Mother”

If you pay attention to the politicians who discuss wanting to make abortions and certain birth controls illegal, they many times refer to the women looking for the birth control as misguided women who don’t understand the decision that they’re making.  They are not regarded as being women of power who are making the decision that is of the most benefit to their livelihood.  In Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, Julia T. Wood talks about gendered norms and how women are expected to be mothers.

So when the word “mother” is thrown around, there is a lot of social pressure behind it.  It has become part of the core of female gender norms and to break that norm and not want to be a “mother” is seen as blasphemy.   Language defines who we are.  So in social terms mother is synonymous with woman.  Literally.  If you don’t want to be one then you aren’t considered to be a real woman.  There are women who face this discrimination everyday who don’t want to be mothers and they set up blogs and talk to parenting sites about their reasoning to try and detach the words “woman” and “mother.”

Oppression in the Highest

Telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies is a form of oppression.  Women face a strict double bind on a daily basis.  Now-a-days, women are expected to be individuals and portray “girl power” but at the same time, they are expected to fall into the cultural norm of wanting to be a mother like everyone else.  It’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation.  The women who don’t want to be mothers are being oppressed by lawmakers who are trying to create anti-abortion laws.  By legally limiting what women (and not men as well) can and cannot do is oppression and its taking laws and social norms back in time.  Women’s rights groups are protesting these laws every day to end the attempt at oppression.

My point being…

I’m not some crazy feminist who thinks every man is out to oppress women.  This is just an issue that I am particularly passionate about because I am not okay with where our government is trying to take it.  I’m actually against having an abortion because it goes against my own personal morals and values.  But if someone else feels like being a parent is not for them or that the child would not be given an adequate life for whatever reason after birth then I feel that it is that woman’s right to determine how she would like to resolve the issue.

As a study done by Kacanek, Denns, Miller, and Blanchard showed, the government already has a hard time keeping up with its laws and programs regarding abortion already.  Medcaid is supposed to reimburse clinics that perform abortions due to rape, incest, and endangerment of the mother’s life.  In a survey, more than half of abortion-providing clinics said that they had never been reimbursed by the government.   If the government can’t hold up their end of the bargain in the abortion laws that they already have, should they really be making more?  I don’t think so!


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That’s So…Sixteen-Year-Old Boy with a Cheesy Mustache

            “OMG!  That’s so gay!”  How many times have you heard someone say this when they don’t like something?  Probably more times than you can count on both hands.  Maybe you’ve even said it yourself.  Describing something as being “gay” because you don’t like it is a form of microaggression.  Dr. Jamie Riley, Longwood’s Director for Office of Diversity and Inclusion, defined microaggression as being “verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults based on a social identity.”  What this means is that microagression is speech that is used to degrade or invalidate someone or something because of their race, gender, sexual-orientation, etc.

            Derald Wing Sue proposed that there are three forms of microagressions: microassault, microninsult, and microinvaldation.  Microinsults and microinvalidations are most often used unconsciously. Microassaults are used on purpose with the intention of emotionally attacking or hurting someone. Miccroassaults are usually seen as name-calling and intentional derogatory put-downs.  When you have established the being gay is bad, calling someone or something “gay” is a huge insult!  I’m pretty positive that you’re intent is not to say that something is actually homosexual (which according to Julia T. Wood in her textbook “Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture” means that someone has grown up identifying with the social relationship/affection norms of the opposite gender).  You’re saying that it’s bad.

            Why does this matter?  It’s just a saying.  If we examine the definition of the word “microassault,” it is basically a synonym for BULLYING.  Everyone is familiar with bullying.  We’ve all been bullied and we’ve all been the bully at times.  When people make “gay,” “stupid” and “bad” synonymous with one other, you are not only intentionally insulting someone by calling them or something stupid, but are picking at a homosexual individual by calling them stupid.  Most people do not see this particular miroassault as being bullying because they are not physically hurting anyone, but is is.  Even if you are not speaking directly to a gay person, you are placing a negative connotation on their personal gender identity.

            I realize that people may not think that they’re referring to a gay person as being bad when they say that something is “so gay” (making it be a microinsult in this context), but they are.  Mary Louise Rasmussen labels it as “homophobic bullying” in her article “That’s So Gay!”.  And no, not every person that uses the “saying” is homophobic, but homophobia is having negative attitudes or fear or homosexuals.  “That’s so gay,” is a negative expression about homosexuals.

"That's so...sixteen-year-old boy with a cheesy mustache." -Wanda Sykes, Think Before You Speak Campaign

         In an effort to thwart the use of the phrase “that’s so gay,” many celebrities, including Hilary Duff and Wanda Sykes, joined the Think Before You Speak campaign to bring this issue to light.  They created many commercials in which they switched out “gay” with something about the person that used it to mean that something was bad or stupid.  The campaign actually won Advertising Council’s Top Campaign of the Year Award because the advertisements highlighted such an important issue within the LGBT community that impacted the people who saw the commercials.

            Eliminating the phrase “that’s so gay” from everyday conversation is vital in ending microagressive speech.  This microassault is so hurtful to homosexual individuals.  Heterosexual people wouldn’t want someone associating they’re sexual orientation with bad things, so they should not be doing that to homosexuals.  The first way to end this microassault is to recognize it and stop someone from saying it.  Explain to them how it is a form of bullying and how they wouldn’t want someone to do it to them.  I know that I will be more conscious of the phrase “that’s so gay” and others like it so that I can stop people from saying it. 

 “That’s so…sixteen-year-old boy with a cheesy mustache.”  -Wanda Sykes

“That’s so…girl wearing a skirt as a top.” -Hilary Duff

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Five Easy Steps to Becoming a Real Man

            I always hear girls talk about how easy it is to be a man and how hard it is to be a woman.  They say that women have so many more expectations to live up to than men do.  Yes, we as women have many standards placed upon us.  We have to look pretty at all times, have empathy for everyone, and basically be Superwoman.  It seems that women think that all men have to do is roll out of bed, throw on any clothes they find on the floor, and walk out the door being the perfect guy.  False.  When you think about it, how many times do you hear guys get criticized by their friends by calling them a “girl” or a “prude”?  All the time. 

            Honestly, I had never thought much about it.  I had been one of those girls saying, “Guys just have it so easy.”  It wasn’t until I was reading Julia T. Wood’s textbook Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture that all those moments of men being put down for not being masculine enough began to stick out in my mind.  She talks a lot about James A. Doyle’s five themes of masculity. These are what he determined to be the five “rules” that men must follow to be truly masculine in our society.

Terrell Owens being "female." (Courtesy of http://kimoracochran.com)

1. Don’t be female.  It is the ultimate sin as a man to show any signs of femininity.  When you’re “really a man,” you shouldn’t cry, show emotions, or be vulnerable.  Most of the time, when men break this value, they get called awful names that are meant to break one’s sense of manhood: “pansy,” “girl,” “Mommy’s boy,” etc.  To me, name-calling is such a grade-school concept, but it’s amazing how much words really hurt at any age.  Rob Willer found in a study that when a male begins to feel like their masculinity is being questioned, such as being picked on by his friends, they begin to overcompensate and act more masculine to the extreme point of being homopohobic and pro-war. 

2. Be successful.  The more successful you are, the more power that you have.  What’s more masculine than being powerful?  Men are expected to have the best jobs and be the best at them.  Any less would be a disgrace.  A man’s level of success determines the caliber of his lifestyle, and obviously, the goal of anyone is to live a luxurious lifestyle.

3. Be aggressive.  From participation in sports to general attitudes, boys are supposed to be aggressive.  They are expected to be protective and fight for what they want.  They are not expected to back down from anything.  Being aggressive and having power go hand-in-hand.

4. Be Sexual.  Sex.  Sex.  Sex.  Men are expected to be consumed with sexual thoughts.  They’re supposed to always be with a girl and have a large amount of past partners.  In a sense, they’re supposed to be a sexual Alpha Male.  If you spend enough time around a group of males, you’ll probably start to hear them call each other derogatory names, such as “fag,” when they don’t hook up with a girl at a party.  But just as a side note, when a girl behaves like this, those same boys call her a “slut.”

5. Be self-reliant.  A “real man” isn’t supposed to need anyone to take care of him, especially not his mother or a girl.  Showing a need for others is a sign of weakness.  David Wimer and Ronald Levant conducted a study where they found that men were so concerned with not losing their masculinity by asking for help, that they avoided seeking out the assistance of a tutor when they were falling behind in classes.  They were willing to risk their grades to not lose their sense of masculinity…stupid.

Is George Clooney the ultimate masculine man? (Courtesy of http://img2.timeinc.net)

            These criteria for masculinity make me wonder if there’s any man who is the perfect picture of masculinity.  George Clooney perhaps?  He’s successful, seems to be reliant on only himself, is good looking, and has publically had numerous past partners.  He himself has admitted that at times he hasn’t been, or felt, masculine because of the roles that he’s had to play.  What about a superstar athlete like Time Tebow?  No.  He’s cried after losing a football game.  Notice how even the title of the video is “Tim Tebow Crying Like a Baby.”

            As women, is this ultimate masculine man the type of partner that we want?  If we need comforting and a man was to just tell us to buck up and get over it, we would be mad.  There are times when we need a man who can be emotional and comforting.  Or as another man would say, we need someone to act “girly” by showing emotion.  What guys think they should be and what girls want them to be can be completely different.  This puts men in an extreme double bind.  Should they be the ultimate masculine male to fit in with their peers and be accepted or should they be flexible with their masculinity so that they are able to provide for their partner in anyway necessary?

            I think that it’s important to tell kids from an early age that there’s not a strict formula like this that you must follow to be a man.  I hate to be super cheesy, but I think that the saying “real men wear pink” says a lot.  Part of being a man is being flexible and being able to be both masculine and sensitive, self-reliant and yet welcoming of others for support.  PBS encourages parents to help their young boys challenge the masculine stereotypes and help them develop into their own person.  It seems to be a real struggle for men to live up to all of these expectations, so it’s important that they know that being the epitome of masculinity is not all there is in the world.  Being who they are, whether that be masculine or more sensitive and feminine, is what’s most important.  The people in their life will love you even if they are not perfect “man.”

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Shopping? No thanks…

                Well, I’m back!  This time my blogging will be all about my gender and communication class.  As a little refresher if you haven’t read my blog in a while or you are completely new to it, my name is Laura Pugh and I am a junior at Longwood University.  I am currently working towards a degree in Communication Studies.  Longwood is a school that I absolutely love and am proud to call my home for eight months out of the year.  While I’m here, my absolute favorite thing to do is give tours of our beautiful campus to prospective students as a Longwood Ambassador.  I am also a member of the Student Alumni Association, Alpha Lambda Delta, and Junior Marshals.  When the time comes for

Longwood and my Ambassador Family

me to leave my beloved second home, I hope to work within NASCAR in some sort of public relations capacity. 

                My classes in the Communications Studies department have prepared me in more ways than one for my future career.  Most, if not all of my classes, have required a group project of some kind.  In any group situation, having a sound knowledge of interpersonal communication and conflict resolution skills is key.  Some of the projects were relatively small but a few of them have been large undertakings that have put my coursework to the test.  In my Organizational Communication class, each group was tasked with planning an event for a non-profit organization.  As Team Manager, I oversaw the organizational aspects of the team and was the liaison with our client.  We also worked together as a group to create a brand for our team.  The whole project was a learning experience for me that helped had me applying the theories and concepts that I learned in class to real situations.  I have also been able to use the skills I’ve learned in my courses during my time with the Longwood Ambassadors.  We are the first faces that prospective students see when they walk onto campus, so it’s important to be able to sell the campus and make them as excited about Longwood as I am.  The skills that I have learned in my public relations, public speaking, and interpersonal communication classes have been great strengths for me and will continue to be in the future.

                This gender and communication class will definitely be a step in another world for me.  I’ve never taken a class on this topic and have never really put a whole lot of thought into it.  However, after reading the first few readings assigned in class, I started relating the information to myself.  I’ve always struggled with being a “tomboy” and not being “girly” enough.  I never had many friends in high school because I was the girl that liked NASCAR and football more than shopping and manicures.  I never realized that I was breaking a gender stereotype; I just thought I was being me.  The text says that gender is learned behaviors and sex is biological characteristics.  The stereotypical gender behaviors for females are not standards that I followed and that made me an outcast.  Over time though, it’s something that I’ve become comfortable with and have learned to embrace!  When this course is over, I hope to have been able to look at gender through the view points of others.  I grew up in a fairly conservative household and a typical high school setting, so I’m interested to learn about the different ways that the concept of gender and gender equality has evolved.

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Are you going to shout it from the rooftop?

                 So here’s deal: I do NOT like text messaging.  Yes, that’s strange for a 20-year-old college student, but it is what it is.  I don’t like being attached to my phone and having to carry it around everywhere to finish a conversation.  When I’m at school, my best friend Kendall lives 70 miles away in our hometown.  We are your stereotypical best friends that love spending time together and talking about anything and everything.  When most best friends are apart though, they use texting to communicate throughout the day.  But because I’m an abnormal 20-year-old, that doesn’t work for us.  Kendall

Photo Taken By: Whitney Plummer

doesn’t have a webcam so we can’t use Skype.  Cell phone plans aren’t cheap so when we talk on the phone, it can’t be for too long.  For us, the fastest and easiest way to communicate is through Facebook.

                Facebook is an online social networking website.  According to “A brief history of Facebook,” published in Great Britain’s Guardian, it was started in February of 2004 by a Harvard University student named Mark Zuckerberg.  It was originally meant to be to be for the sole use of Harvard students, but it was opened to other universities when its popularity quickly grew.  In early 2011, MSNBC reported that Facebook had reached an astounding 600 million users after only seven years.

                Facebook has been one of the biggest communication phenomena of all time.  Users “friend” hundreds of other people, meaning they add other people to their online social circle.  You can write on your friends’ “wall,” send them instant messages, and send them private emails.  You can also communicate with your friends by displaying pictures for them to look at, posting statuses about what you’re doing or feeling, and commenting on their statuses or pictures.  You can look at other people’s profiles throughout the day even when they aren’t logged on.  But do we communicate the same way on Facebook as we do during face-to-face interactions?  Is our communication on Facebook secure?  Is private information really private?  These are things that all Facebook users should be concerned with. 

                First, let’s talk about how friends communicate away from technology.  My best friend and I have a stabilized friendship.  In Julia T. Wood’s book Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, a stabilized friendship is described as one that doesn’t require the people to spend every moment together to remain close.  We both know that if we don’t speak for a few days, our level of closeness will remain the same, and that is generally the case because we live so far apart.  As Marika Lüders points out in her article “Becoming more Like Friends,” that focused on communication of Norwegian college students, face-to-face interaction is extremely important for maintaining a relationship.  When people are interacting with each other face-to-face, it is easier to empathize with our friends.  Reza Semar and Goodarz Alibakhshi suggest in their article “The Gender Linked Differences in the Use of Linguistic Strategies in Face-to-face Communication” that during face-to-face interaction is when people express their most intimate thoughts.  This is certainly true for Kendall and me.  We very frequently talk about private matters when we’re alone, such as family issues, that we wouldn’t want everyone to know about.

                But when we’re apart, we still want to be able to keep in touch with each to know what’s going on in the other’s life.  That is what we use Facebook for.  This is where the relational dialectics of openness and closedness rise to the surface.  These tensions are described as the desire to share information and the desire to keep certain things private.  What do you

Photo Courtesy Of: wyso.org

 talk about with your friends on Facebook?  Do you post your darkest secrets on your friends’ walls or do you carefully choose what you put online?  Kendall and I do not discuss deep subjects online.  We choose to keep those conversations to ourselves and not share them with our other “friends” on Facebook.  Most people choose to keep their secrets and controversial opinions to themselves.  On a rare occasion, you may see “I hate Sally because she stole my boyfriend” on your news feed, but those instances aren’t common.  But when you’re in a one-one face-to-face conversation with a friend, how often do you talk about how much you hate Sally?  All the time.  Sure, people share a lot of their lives of Facebook, and sometimes overshare, but majority of the emotional and intimate details are left for face-to-face conversations with stable friends.  Kendall and I use Facebook for surface-level communication: funny stories and checking in with one another.

                Personally, I don’t put intimate details of my life on Facebook because there’s no privacy on the internet.  Facebook has a multitude of privacy settings that allow you to control who can view your personal profile, who can comment on what, and even whether or not you can be found in a search, but somehow your information always gets out.  Whether it’s through friends telling others what you wrote or large corporations scanning Facebook to find audiences, your information can always be found.  The biggest privacy issue with Facebook is its online tracking system called Beacon which is discussed in the article “Facebook and Online Privacy: Attitudes, Behaviors, and Unintended Consequences.”  Beacon uses the personal information that people post on Facebook to personalize all the advertisements shown on your profile.  For instance, I get a lot of “Meet Dale Earnhardt Jr.” advertisements because I post a lot about how much I love him.  I get those advertisements just by sharing the most simple of information.  Beacon can also track your internet usage, even when you are on third party websites, so that they can report on your interests to other Beacon-using companies for their use. 

                A study done by Ryan Lange and Cliff Lampe for their conference paper “Feeding the Privacy Debate: An Examination of Facebook” found that more than half of Facebook users were concerned about their privacy on the site.  It was also found that most of their personal information that they posted was more signaling information than revealing.  However, according to TIME Magazine’s article “Facebook Mania: Privacy Changes for Nearly 500 Million,” Facebook executives are making great efforts to make users feel more comfortable sharing information.  They are working on a new, more comprehensive, set of privacy settings.  Although I’m sure that there will be more loopholes and fine print for Facebook to use to their advantage.

                When all is said and done, does Facebook meet our personal needs?  Can it fulfill all of the elements of Maslow’s Hierarchy?  Maslow’s Hierarchy encompasses the five basic needs that humans must meet to feel satisfied: physiological, safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization.  Hopefully before you even begin occupy your time with Facebook, your physiological needs (food and water) and your safety needs (shelter) have already been met.  Can it meet our belonging needs?  Sure.  You can “friend” anyone that you

Photo Courtesy Of: webspace.ship.edu

want to on Facebook, whether you’re actually friends or not.  You can accumulate a bunch of friends and feel like you have a place where you fit in and belong.  But is this a false sense of belonging.  Most of these people would say “hi” if you walked past them, but they wouldn’t invite you to hang out.

                Next are the self-esteem needs that we have.  Sure, people can “like” our statuses and tell us that we look pretty in a picture comment.  Does it really mean as much as when someone takes the time to give you compliments to your face though?  Does it make you feel as good?  Not for me because I know that I will “like” someone’s status because I think what they did is cool, not because I necessarily respect them.  Last are our self-actualization needs.  The self-actualization stage is described as growing into who you are through your unique gifts.  You can tell people about all of the cool things you do on Facebook, but can Facebook help you develop into the full person you’re meant to be?  No, because you’re limited to a chair in front of a computer screen. 

                Now I realize that I’m a girl who doesn’t like texting, but studies actually show that technological communication, especially Facebook, is not always best.  Most people are not comfortable sharing revealing information on Facebook for everyone to see.  If you’re not comfortable sharing information, how are you going to develop nascent friendships into stabilized friendship?  You develop your sense of self by interacting and communicating with others.  So not only does Facebook not meet your personal satisfaction needs, it also hinders you from developing important stabilized friendships with people because you’re unable to have the necessary interaction that lays the foundations of relationships.  Facebook is a good tool for basic communication, but it can’t fully sustain friendships.  So make sure that you take the time to have face-to-face interactions with people.  What’s a life without those best friends?

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“All you have to do is call my name and I’ll be there…”

Photo Courtesy of http://blstb.msn.com

                Relational dialectics.  Those are two very scary-sounding words used to represent a very simple concept.  According to Julia T. Wood in her book Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, relational dialectics are the tensions that are present in every relationship, whether those relationships are romantic, social, or familial.  Although these tensions can cause conflict, understanding and balancing them can build a healthier and stronger relationship.  The three relationship dialectics are autonomy/connection, novelty/predictability, and openness/closedness.  When I first heard these, I was overwhelmed immediately.  

                I always find that it’s easier to understand these types of interpersonal concepts by examining a relationship that I am not in.  A strong relationship that sticks out to me, and one that a lot of people are familiar with, is the mother/daughter combination of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore from the television show “Gilmore Girls.” Even if you choose a different relationship to analyze, it is important to understand relational dialectics. The push and pull of these tensions can either build strong relationships or tear down weak ones. 

               Becky DeGreeff described the autonomy/connection aspect in her conference paper “Weekend Warriors” as wanting to be involved in the relationship with the other person, but also wanting to be your own person: wanting to be a “we” and a “me.”  Lorelai is her “me” when she’s spending time with her best friend Sookie, running her own inn, and in a romantic relationship with her boyfriend.  Rory is her “me” when she is living at Yale, going out on the town and being a college student, and having her own relationship.  They both have their own autonomy, but their connection is extremely important to them.  Rory frequently goes home to her childhood home to spend time with her mother.  They aren’t just mother and daughter, they’re best friends.  They are a “we” as well.

                Novelty/predictability is best described as doing things either spontaneously or routinely.  Donna Palowski says that both are needed in a relationship to keep it emotionally fulfilling and not dull and boring.  The Gilmore girls are all about novelty.  They do random things completely out of blue to create fun and excitement: movie nights with tons of junk food, road trips, and parties.  But on the other hand, the rest of their time is spent doing things very routinely, especially for Rory.  They have their weekly Friday night dinners with the elder Gilmore’s, have their nightly phone calls, and morning trips to Like’s Diner.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.mamapop.com

                Openness/closedness is the third dialectic and it is all about the type of communication that you have within a relationship.  Do you have open communication, in which you share everything, or do you have closed communication, where you share very little about your life?  Lorelai and Rory have a very good mixture of both.  When intense things are going on in one’s life, they would usually keep it to themselves to deal with.  For example, when Rory was told she wouldn’t be a good reporter and all of Lorelai’s problems with her serious boyfriend.  They would work through their issues on their own and then they would talk about it.  They never kept things from one another that were necessary to know, but they also didn’t share every small detail that didn’t need to be told in that moment.

                When I look at relational dialectics from this perspective, I see where my faults are.  Mine mainly fall in the openness/closedness dialect.  I am not the type of person who talks about my feelings with people.  As pointed out in a conference paper entitled “The Ideologies of Openness and Closedness in Popular Magazines,” research shows that total openness and total closedness is not healthy for relationship, but neither is having a shallow mixture of both where you avoid deep topics as a whole.  Analyzing other people’s relationships helps me to understand mine.  Learning how to balance these dialectic tensions is extremely important.  Will they cause conflict from time to time?  Yes.  But conflict can be a very healthy process for relationships.

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I didn’t know you were a redneck!

              There aren’t many people in my life who don’t know that I’m a NASCAR fan.  Most people know that my Sundays are devoted to watching the race on TV and that I go to both races in Richmond no matter what else is going on in my life.  For the people who don’t know, they always look at me funny for a second when they see me in my vintage Dale Earnhardt Wrangler t-shirt or my Amp hat.  Can you guess what nine times out of ten the first thing that comes out of their mouths is?  “I didn’t know you were a redneck.”   I’m not stupid.  I know that everyone gets judged and has stereotypes placed on them, but the stereotype of NASCAR fans drives me absolutely insane!

                I’m obviously drawn to this topic of stereotyping, because I don’t like to be stereotyped, especially when someone stereotypes me negatively because of my hobby.  I think that stereotyping as a whole is important to focus on because it happens to everyone and can really make a person feel inadequate.  For instance, blondes are frequently pegged as being stupid because of the stereotypes shown in movies and on television.  That can’t possibly make girls with long blonde hair feel good about themselves.  People should really be concerned because these stereotypes are shaping the minds of children and they don’t understand that they aren’t necessarily true.  We’d be kidding ourselves if we thought that only kids are buying into them though.  Adults believe them just as much, if not more, than kids do.

                In her book Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters,  Julia T. Wood explains that stereotypes are assumptions about a general group of people based on other perception schemata.  We use our own personal constructs and prototypes to develop stereotypes for people.  As Michael Hinner points out in his article entitled “Stereotyping and the Country-of-Origin Effect,” stereotypes are often based on over generalized assumptions and ultimately create faulty ideas.  The people who know little or next to nothing about NASCAR, associate it with everything negative about the south.  They think everyone is a Southern redneck male who is Republican, listens to country music, drinks beer around the clock, is missing teeth, and is white.  When you type “NASCAR fan” into the search bar on Google Images, the picture to the right is on the first page.  The caption says “NASCAR: Keeping drunk rednecks off the street for over 50 years.”

                This stereotype has been created by the media who have portrayed these people as the average fan.  They select this type of fan because they are the most attention-grabbing, which has led people to develop prototypes based off of those rare images.  In reality, you rarely see someone that outrageously stereotypical at a race.  I’m a diehard NASCAR fan and I am not male, I do not drink, I’m fairly center on the political scale, and I’m proud to say that I have all of my teeth.  Are there fans who fit perfectly into this stereotype?  Of course.  There are also blondes that are stupid, but that doesn’t mean that they all are.  Even the drivers don’t fit this stereotype.  The driver who has one the past five championships, Jimmie Johnson, is a clean-cut man from California.  Back in the day, this stereotype may have fit the moonshiners that created and followed the sport, but the fans certainly have changed.

                Understanding how stereotypes are formed definitely helps me understand the process of perception.  I used to think that stereotypes were your perception, but now I know that it’s a combination of selecting what to notice, organizing all of the schemata, and interpreting all of your observations.  It is very important to understand that your developed prototypes for a specific person and stereotypes for a group of people aren’t necessarily true facts.  They may be based off of your experiences, but no one is ever able to experience everyone and everything.

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Hello Blogging World!

                Hello everyone!  My name is Laura Pugh and I am a Communication Studies major at Longwood University.  I’m originally from Glen Allen, Virginia but have been transplanted here in Farmville to prepare for my future in public relations!  Although I am only a sophomore, I have already gotten to “dip my feet” into the professional world of public relations and I’ve loved every second of it!  My dream job has always been to work with NASCAR on a public relations platform and I feel myself getting closer and closer to it every day!

                All of the skills that I have learned so far in the Communications Studies program have been put to use as a Longwood Ambassador!  As an Ambassador that proudly rocks the blue and khaki, I use my interpersonal communication skills to engage the prospective students and their families.  It is so important to be able to interact with them on a personal level and be on the same page with them!  My persuasion and public relations skills are also put to use because my goal is to get the students excited about attending Longwood after they graduate from high school!  This program has taught me all of the skills that I need to be a positive representative of the school, which is really what communication and public relations is all about!

    To learn more about my class, visit our full blog at http://blogs.longwood.edu/comm310/!

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