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Category Archive: sociology/culture

I realize that this category is entirely too broad, so if you're interested in this sort of stuff, you should probably use the tags at the right side of the screen to look for specific topics.

Apr 14 2013

Viewing History Skeptically, Part 2: Beauty

Joan Jacobs Brumberg's "The Body Project"

One of the first things one learns in a college-level history or sociology course is that the ways we define and think about various human attributes and qualities—sexual orientation, mental illness, gender, race, virginity—are never static. They vary geographically and temporally, and even though it may seem that the way we currently conceptualize a particular …

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Mar 23 2013

Viewing History Skeptically: On Shifting Cultural Assumptions and Attitudes

I’ve been reading Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, Lillian Faderman’s sweeping social history of lesbians in 20th century America (this is the sort of thing I do for fun). At the beginning of the chapter on World War II, Faderman makes this insight: If there is one major point to be made in a social history …

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Mar 09 2013

Blaming Everything On Mental Illness

The Associated Press has revised their AP Stylebook, the guide that most journalists use to standardize their writing, to include an entry on mental illness. Among many other important things that the entry includes, which you should read here, it says: Do not describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to …

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Feb 27 2013

“We Saw Your Boobs” and Distorted Views of Female Sexuality

I’ll leave it to others to thoroughly excoriate Seth MacFarlane’s performance at the Oscars. What I want to address specifically is his gloating “We Saw Your Boobs” video, and the interestingly skewed notion of sexuality that it presents. If you believe MacFarlane, and others who think like him, sex is a sort of competition between …

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Feb 14 2013

I Really Strongly Dislike Valentine’s Day!

The only good thing about VDay: condom roses.

Hey everyone! I’m going to poop on your parade. Don’t worry, I’ll be cheerful about it. I’m not going to say I hate Valentine’s Day, because hate is a strong word and I reserve it for things I really mean it for, like coffee and misogyny. I was going to just let today go by …

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Feb 01 2013

Feminism and Victimhood

What’s this I keep hearing about feminism promoting “victimhood”? Anti-feminists often suggest that feminism encourages women to “see themselves as victims,” that feminism is actually insulting to women because it suggests they need “special rights” in order to be able to compete with men. The concept of programs that encourage women to pursue STEM professions …

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Jan 11 2013

“Love Yourself”: A Beautiful But Flawed Idea

Ever since the 1990s, we–especially women–have been hearing about the importance of self-esteem. It’s associated with better mental health, relationship outcomes, academic achievement, career success, you name it. It’s part of what it means to be a mature and emotionally developed person. Much time and resources have been expended on the development of children’s self-esteem–I …

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Jan 08 2013

The Role of Feminist Criticism

In one of my recent pieces, I criticized a particular aspect of the love stories often found in popular books and movies. Whenever someone critiques pop culture–especially from a feminist perspective–it raises a lot of questions for many people. Questions such as: Does it really matter that this work is “problematic”? Can you even have …

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Dec 25 2012

Christmas From The Outside

Just some personal reflections on Christmas from an outsider. It is impossible to be a person living in the United States, of any ethnicity, religious affiliation, or national origin, and not understand the meaning and significance of Christmas. It’s a religious observance. It’s a sparkling monument to consumerism. It’s a celebration of family, of charity, …

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Dec 16 2012

Stop Comparing the United States to Israel

Among the many insensitive, uninformed, or simply ridiculous responses to Friday’s tragedy that I’ve heard, one that continues to befuddle me is the suggestion, made mostly by Libertarians, that everything would’ve been okay if only the teachers had had guns too–if, in fact, carrying concealed weapons were a standard practice among American citizenry. Leaving aside …

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