Author Archives: tmorales102

Blog #6 More than just Gender Inequality

Gender inequality continues to be a worldwide issue; women and girls are often denied equal access to education, medical care, livable wages and personal autonomy. The U.N. Women partnered with Christopher Hunt  and created a campaign against gender inequality using real Google auto complete results. The ads highlight popular discussions and beliefs about women across the internet. The results are COMPELLING!!!! Try it yourself.

Ads show sexism in Google searches

Ads show sexism in Google searches

There is a global impact of gender inequalities. To the extreme, gendercide is REAL and is happening in India and China. Millions of baby girl fetuses are aborted just because they are girls and once newborn they are killed. We know that in the Indian tradition the family of the bride must give dowry to the groom’s family. Girls are seen as expensive and as being unable to carry the family name. Therefore, boys are more convenient to have. Women are being forced to abort their fetuses if it carries a female gender or kill their newborn baby girls. This is legal in India. I watched this documentary which discusses gendercide in India and its absolutely astonishing.

Also, China has one of the highest male-to-female ratios. There are millions of missing girls and women. This is an EXTRAORDINARY level of gender discrimination.

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Blog #5 A woman’s struggle for equality is never over

Women have long struggled for equality alongside men. Dating back to the first wave of feminism women struggled to obtain the right to vote and later the right to contraception as well as equal pay. Women took a stand for their human rights and rights as women. It was about speaking up and being heard, having an equal say just as men did. Women have since then come a long way however gender inequality is still present throughout our society. It is especially visible in the work place. We know that women get paid on average 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes.

glass ceilingWomen in the work force are constricted by the glass ceiling. This is a political term used to describe an intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper-level positions and keep them from rising on the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements. Moreover, the Mommy Track presents a barrier to advancement as well. Women struggle to break through these biased molds that have been placed on us long ago. This gender inequality begins early through gender socialization. The distinction between both genders are pronounced since birth and early childhood with clothes, toys and activities. As Gilman writes “They must be dressed differently, not on account of their personal needs, which are exactly similar at this period, but so that neither they nor  anyone behold them, may for a moment forget the distinction of sex” (225). Boys and girls are raised with different mindsets because of their biological makeup. However it is not just our innate biological differences which promote inequality moreover these gender differences are reinforced and institutionalized through socialization. Gender socialization promotes and sustains gender inequality. We live in a patriarchal society where sex-distinction is very much emphasized and women are a minority group.

Previously, the man was the head of the household as women stayed at home. This made women economically dependent on the working man. In addition less women attended college. Although there is a greater number of women working today with college degrees, they are still at a disadvantage as they are paid less. These disparities are seen in the gender wealth gap. Women with bachelor’s degrees earn only $4,708 more than men with high school diplomas. While men with bachelors degrees earn $24,700 more than men with high school diplomas. The value/earning in the area where women became predominant tend to decline (ex. teachers).Women tend to concentrate more in social sciences and men in engineering, math and computers.

There is an increased number of women in the work force and women are closing the gap in degrees earned, pay, power and prestige. Women are the majority on campuses from 55-60%. Research shows that women have better grades, resumes and a clearer sense of goals. Generally, women in fact do mature earlier and are more serious about school. In reference to gender socialization; boys behave worse in classes and ignore directions as opposed to girls who are more focused, conscientious and well behaved. Women are also making changes in degrees. More women are holding professional degrees in law, dentistry etc. We can do it too!!! It’s important for women to become independent and break through molds that society has placed on us.

 

Blog #4 How to make it in America–“Get rich or die trying”

Throughout society hustling may be portrayed as something devious. We tie the word to negative connotations. In the music industry rappers talk about selling drugs and hustling on the streets to make money. I always viewed hustling as something that was done as a means to make quick money in which ever way you can obtain easy access to. Think about the people who sell dvds, perfumes, and handbags on the street corners or even the usual group of people who stand in front of the bodegas. Hustlers take on many different forms not just the form of flashy cars and entourages however although their trades may vary they all share common characteristics between them. They have the ability to easily convince people into buying their products with charm or even deceit.

Hustling is something sporadic and unconventional, it is characterized by a broad range of activities.  It is not a typical 9am-5pm job which may be considered honorable/respectable. However hustlers take on the task of finding a way to make quick money which shows immediate results. They don’t have to wait for a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck. Aside from negative connotations that come to mind when hearing the word, I found that hustlers are dynamic and innovative. Hustling as described by Veblen is a strategy which adds structure to our society.

We find that unemployment rates are high across the United States. More and more people are finding themselves doing odd jobs off the books because unemployment can only go so far for so long. While finding it difficult to land sustainable jobs people look for ways to make a quick buck. Whether through catalogs, from home, out of a car or even by foot people hustle. In order to make it in America we must hustle. As a nation of workaholics we find it difficult to stand still when receiving little to no income through unemployment or through mediocre jobs that neither satisfy us nor pay all of our bills. We fear being labeled as lazy or incapable. We constantly feel the need to multi-task. Keeping busy and having full schedules is what we do best. If we sit at home and do nothing we become restless. We must go out in search of something to do and become pro-active.

hustlingThe article “No Hustle, No Success” talks about mastering the art of hustling. It states that “the act of hustling means to act in an aggressive manner to achieve a self mandated goal no matter how difficult it may be”. In this article Yura Bryant talks about the hustler mentality as being essential to surviving amongst the declining infrastructures in today’s society. In fact, I believe this to be very true. Opportunities come to those who are willing to work hard and hustle even through  unconventional means. Yura Bryant discusses the hustler mindset as the fuel to the “American Dream”. He ends the article by stating “I am telling you without a doubt that you have to hustle hard to make it in these new times. We are currently in a rebuilding period throughout the entire world and only those with a keen sense of how to strategically operate a legitimate hustle or hustles will find themselves in a comfortable position moving forward”. I definitely agree as this gives light to the way that Vebelen presented hustling. It is truly an art and the hustler must display distinctive qualities. The next time I am doing my nails and someone comes in to sell socks or dvds I would look at them in a different perspective as this lecture has helped me to develop a distinct respect for them.

Attached below is a link to the article that I discussed previously. I definitely recommend it.

http://entrepreneurialambitions.com/2011/11/22/no-hustle-no-success/

Blog #3 Commodity Fetishism

Commodity fetishism as discussed by Marx has been one of the topics which I have found most interesting. These two words alone, not in conjuction with one another can mean two different things which may not appear relate-able at all. We may see commodities as objects which  appeal to us because of the properties they hold. The material properties make commodities useful and capitalism involves the production of commodities for exchange in the market.

The use value of a commodity pertains to consumption. It is determined by the physical properties in relation to our human needs. Marx describes capitalism as a system of commodity production. Goods are produced based on our needs/desires and we consume them accordingly. Commodities are products of labor which are bought and sold on the market. They are characterized by a use and exchange value.  Commodities may take on the form of a variety of things not just something tangible as an object. Human labor is a commodity as well. Our labor is sold to companies. Behind commodities is the exchange of human labor; individuals at work which make up the process behind making the product is a commodity itself. Commodity fetishism refers to the distorted relationship exsisting between individuals and the production and consumption of goods. When buying commodities we forget about the human labor  it took to make them. The progress in productive abilities leads to greater fetishism. Objects have social power. The power of commodities comes from our own creative labor.

Commodities hold properties which satisfy our human wants just as a fetish. Webster’s dictionary defines a fetish as a strong or unusual need or desire for something. It does not only pertain to a body part or an activity for sexual excitement as I believed it to be. Marx describes a fetish as an object believed to have supernatural powers, or in particular, a man-made object that has power over others. Our society is characterized by innovative technology. It does in a great sense have power over us. We look for ways to obtain the latest high-tech advancements and attentively wait for their release. In commercials and billboards we see intriguing advertisements that push us to desire these objects before they are released onto the market for us to consume. Technology hype is a craze throughout society and it becomes addictive for example iphones, ipads, laptops, electronic devices, etc. These objects appear “magical’ to us because of their features. Innatimate objects come to life with their value and things take on the characteristics of people (reification).

I for one am not high tech and do not care too much for these things but I see how our society is crazed for the latest technological products which are believed to facilitate our daily lives and are available right at our fingertips. We treat the goods we buy as if they have “magical powers”, losing sight of the fact that we create commodities and we part take in commodity fetishism a characteristic of capitalism. Its interesting because I never thought of it this way before until I saw it presented by Marx in class. The article given to us “From the iphone 5S to corporate globalization, modern life is full of evidence of Marx’s Forsight” explains how we enjoy incredible luxury and yet are driven by a constant need for more and more stuff to buy such as the iphone 5S which many of you may own. Is it really better than the iphone 5 or 4S????? As presented by the article “is it a real need or an invented one”?  Marx was absolutely wright. Marx argued that capitalism’s tendency to focus high value on arbitrary products would lead to what he called “a contriving and ever-calculating subservience to inhuman, sophisticated, unnatural and imaginary appetites”. Marx’s idea of over-production led him to predict globalization. The U.S. has a need of constantly expanding market for its products across the globe. We establish connections and settle everywhere. The iphone for example on the back says “Designed by apple in California, assembled in China”.

The video below is the one that was presented in class which describes the law of value and fetishism of commodity. It really explains how our society  is invaded with commodity fetishism.  It represents how commodities have value, money has social power and how we are powerless. Relations between people are indirect and only coordinated with commodities. The video demonstrates how society facilitates commodity fetishism. It also demonstrates the unequal relation between capital and labor in the work place.  It presents food as a commodity which I never thought it to be until now.

 

Blog # 2 Wealth Inequality

After watching both of these videos I was definitely surprised at the extent to which wealth in America is unevenly distributed. I believe that most working class Americans already have the notion that we live in a nation that is unfortunately designed in a way that we don’t all have equal opportunities to social mobility. We know that the nation’s elite rule over the rest of society however, the actual findings of how wealth is distributed in America is absolutely astonishing. As demonstrated in the video “Wealth Inequality in America” we see how the system is unevenly skewed. How we think of it and how it actually is distributed is mouth dropping.

The demonstrations presented in the video represent the severity to which America is unequal. The nation’s top twenty percent has most of America’s wealth. The bottom forty percent barely has any equity and only the top ten percent are better off. The top two-five percent are in fact off the chart because their wealth is so immense. We see that America’s top one percent has forty percent of ALL the nation’s wealth. Their income has tripled in the last thirty years. As opposed to the bottom eighty percent that has only seven percent between them and has only gotten worst in the last twenty to thirty years. The middle class is barely distinguishable between the poor. These finding are mind boggling when actually layed out in graphs and compared, the disparities are remarkably unimaginable.

In the video “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor”, we really see how a lot of the public thinks of America’s wealth distribution. Distribution of wealth is demonstrated in three different pie graphs. The first which is all equal, the second which displays a figure in which there are partial disparities and lastly the third which demonstrates extreme inequality. Most of the people in the video believed that America’s wealth distribution was portrayed through the second graph when in reality it was actually the third. The richest top fifth own eight four percent while the bottom two-fifths own an invisible .3% of property.

This definitely supports how Marx believed that capitalism was an engine of inequality. It is a source of exploitation where the nation’s wealthiest feed off of the poor. Capitalism is built on the exploitation of the working class. Marx would definitely say that we live in a capitalist society today and would not at all be surprised by these findings. We WORK, WORK, WORK and in most instances we put in more than what is given to us in return for our hard labor. The higher ups have control on the capital and we have no say. At least now we have HR depts and we are able to unionize against unfair working conditions but even so we still fall under the rule of a capitalist dominant upper hand. As stated by Marx capitalism is inherently exploitative. We see how the working class struggles to remain afloat and remains at a stand still on the bottom. We are mere proletariates under the rule of capitalism. It takes money to make money and this is demonstrated with the upper class whose incomes’ seem to expand more and more.

Status Anxiety

The video shown in class today about status anxiety really highlighted some key points about how we view our position in society. We live in such a superficial world where others look at you based on what you have or what you own. Our objective in life is not only to better ourselves as individuals but also to acquire more. We obtain an education to get a good position in our field and we work hard to buy more goods. We think of possessions such as our ideal car or our ideal house or for us women even shoes or a designer  bag. We tie commodities/ goods to status. Status is based on the consumption of goods and services. It can be portrayed through a lifestyle or ownership of certain items.  We classify those who own expensive things as being of high status. We see celebrities with the latest trends and we too want to own what they have. However as stated in the video we become restless and dissatisfied . We don’t understand the meaning of being satisfied and we constantly compare ourselves to our peers or counterparts. It is natural to want what others have (envy). We feel the need to surpass people around us in achievement/ accomplishments. We can be our own harsh critiques at times and even think of ourselves as inadequate if we cant accomplish or acquire what others around us have. I understand how modern equality raises our anxiety levels and how the slightest variation is very much noticeable. Unlimited opportunities can also lead to unlimited aspirations which can in turn lead to status anxiety.