Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday's Post

The Dilg chapter made a lot of points I agree with, but the thing that stuck out the most was the section on social hierarchy (haha...I typed "hierarchery") and social dominance.

I have to disagree with Dilg slightly on this. I do agree that the dominant population marginalizes minorities. But I would argue it's not so much about race as much in Minnesota as it is about social class. I think people are much more likely to be looked down on and treated differently based on their socioeconomic status. People don't want to be seen as being poor or behave like they're poor. It's been a long time since since I've mentioned Rick Beach, so I'm going to now. He once told us that people can take classes, watch videos, etc. to act and "look" upper class, sort of like Pymalion or, if you want a musical, My Fair Lady. That's right, you can learn to walk like you're rich. I understand that a lot of times race and poverty can go hand in hand, and that socioeconomic status embodies race. I just feel like things that are typically marginalized have to do with being lower class these days. For example, I see a lot of high school students mocking gang signs. I think more and more, gangs are increasingly a problem among lower class teens rather than just minority races. I'm sure the students I saw making the gang signs have no idea what being in a gang is like beyond MTV (and we know that's about as realistic as it gets).

I also sometimes think that social dominance is this innate survival mechanism because I've seen so much marginalization within the dominant culture. I went to a mainly white school and I was definitely not part of the dominant culture. I'm not sure what I did wrong early in my school career, but I learned to avoid most people in school and had very few friends. Not only was I marginalized because I didn't fit in with my peers, but also because I was a girl. A math teacher actually told me once that he wasn't surprised I was doing so poorly in his class because I was a girl (nevermind the fact I had gotten A's up until that point).

I'm now going to address the MTV issue in our society because this is what came to mind when reading the Dilg section on social dominance (I'm not quite sure why). I don't think any media source marginalizes minorities more than MTV. My main issue is the glorification of women as sex objects. No mainstream popular female singer gets on MTV unless she's wearing barely anything. I discussed this in a previous post on Fergie. You can find that here. It's fairly brief. I definitely feel like kids are receiving so many ridiculous and harmful messages in watching MTV. Women are portrayed as this sexually empowered, attractive creature whose only job is to walk around in underwear and tease men. Why have actual music talent and intelligence when you've got a nice rack? I remember watching MTV in high school and it disgusted me even then. Rather than feeling empowered, women receive messages that they should be over concerned with their looks. When was the last time we saw a realistic portrayal of a woman in the media? They receive messages that they should have casual sex with men and be treated as sex objects. They receive messages that it's okay to be called derogatory slurs and names that reduce them to said sex objects. This is a video of two of the top selling artists, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg. I'm sorry, did you just write a hit song attempting to talk women into prostitution? I think you did. You're right, the woman could choose to go into prostitution as a productive means of income. Silly me, the men are just bosses and the women like it. No one is dominating anyone. My favorite line in that song is when Snoop Dogg says, "I'm about to show you how my pimp hand is way strong."

I have a short clip from The Merchants of Cool which discusses media messaging to teens. It supports my marginalization of women claim. This video would be good to look at as a class to start talking about how races, genders, sexes, and whatever else are portrayed in society. Watch until the end. I think the last 30 seconds made me throw up in my mouth a little.


  1. more reason why we shouldn't let our children watch tv. the media pretty much control what society value this days. ugghh!

  2. You obviously haven't traveled to Italy and watched TV there for a while... then I think you could truly speak about the female image in mass-media. I think though that we are now past this, and there are subtler and more devious messages conveyed by media nowadays... sadly.


  3. You’re absolutely right that class is huge in marginalization. What you referenced about Rick, though, is significant—it IS possible (of course certainly difficult) to change either your income or the way you appear/behave. It is not possible to change the color of your skin. And I want to take up the social dominance thing with you a bit. Yes! White people can be marginalized! You are not assumed to have it all just because you are white. School doesn’t sound like it was the best place for you all the time. It wasn’t for lots of white kids (including some in Parks’ class). That’s why it is difficult to see that white still do have unearned privileges because of their skin color. That does not mean that all whites personally marginalize people of color. It does mean that there are historical, societal, institutional forces that tend to work in white people’s favor. Racism is not simply individuals making prejudiced comments (while that certainly does still happen). It’s the stuff we listed on the walls after reading the Lipsitz article.

    Ok, off my soapbox now.

    Great points about MTV. I hadn’t seen that Alanis video before, and it was hilarious, and sobering. Here’s why we need to teach kids to be critical consumers, right? I am sure you will incorporate this critical stance into your teaching in the future, because you write about it so eloquently here.

    Thanks for all your work on this blog, Maggie. I hope that I didn't stifle your responses by getting into debate with you. I really do appreciate your willingness to engage with the texts in a meaningful way. I am glad to have had the chance to read your thoughts here. Great job!