What I Learned This Week // #1

I haven’t posted in here since March.. and it’s October in a few days. Ah, I can’t even use the excuse that I’ve been so busy.. I guess I just kind of forgot about this blog, because I do run another blog full time. I could have written in here so many times, but it just never crossed my mind.

But today while I was waking up, I had this idea. I want to start a series each week where I write about what I learned. I am three weeks into my third year of University, and this past week I keep feeling like I’ve learned so much. After every reading I do, or lecture I attend, I walk away from it feeling enlightened and knowledgeable. I don’t know if that’s the content I’m learning, or the fact that I am growing and maturing.

So without further a due, let’s begin this series with week one of what I learned this week: Sept 21-24

Sociology of Sexuality:

  • Binary Oppositions: a pair of related terms or concepts that are opposite in meaning. Key concept in structuralism (a theory of sociology). All elements of human culture can only be understood in relation to one another and how they function within a larger system.
      • We understand the world through binary oppositions.
      • I’m not gay because I’m straight, I’m not a boy because I’m a girl.
      • If we take away their opposite, what meaning really exists?
    • binary oppositions promote, privilege and protect power structures favouring “civilized white men.
  • Universalizing the view:  stresses that homosexuality is important to persons with a wide range of sexualities. This view believes that there is no such thing as a stable erotic identity, and while not everyone is bisexual in physical behavior, everyone is to some degree bisexual in their inherent qualities of mind and character. This approach to sexuality is much more fluid and deconstructs the binaries created by dividing homo/hetero identities.
  • When we describe ourselves as being bi, or gay or straight, we are speaking about the majority of our experiences –how we want to be recognized. But we’re so much more fluid than that.
    • You’re not just born one way. You learn certain behaviors and desires.
  • How we classify ourselves are social. If our only two options are hetero and homo, you are forced to make a choice.
    • Why do people even need to ‘come out’,… because everyone is assumed to be straight/heterosexual….
  • Sexuality isn’t who you have sex with – it’s how you identify yourself.
  • Gender is heterosexist, because by setting up gender as a binary it assumes a heterosexual norm.
    • Same Sex Marriage in America becoming legal – the fact that it was once illegal, and that is was normal to have heterosexual marriage is heterosexist.
  • We define ourselves by labeling ourselves. If you never label yourself as gay, lesbian, bi, etc, then you are never defined by what you are. Humans are too complex to be labelled as just ‘gay’ or ‘straight’. There is so much unaccounted fluidity there that we never recognize. If you think someone of the same sex is good looking, that is an example of how we recognize these behaviors in ourselves. It doesn’t automatically define you as bisexual, but those are considered homosexual thoughts, and everybody has them, furthering the point that it is impossible for humans to just be ‘gay’ or ‘straight.’

Visual Arts Studio

2015-09-22 005The readings were about Futurism and Cubism. Then we talked about abstract art and futurist art, and then we went outside, sat on the grass, and painted. I did this. It’s Cubist.

Television Studies:

  • We discussed BBC broadcasting, and the different networks such as AMC, HBO, and Netflix.
  • How Netflix is becoming the new television.
    • People used to say “Oh, I just stayed in and watched TV”. Now they say “I just stayed in and watched Netflix” It’s become it’s own thing.
  • Discussed how commercials and advertising is how the networks make money, and when you take those away, you have to charge money. Netflix costs $8 or $10 a year because no advertising, and it’s an unlimited database with so many options to just watch right after another.

World Food Systems

  • Reading #1: The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Chapter 1: Our National Eating Disorder
    • Atkins and other fads let people think they could steal eat meat and lose weight, as long as they laid off the bread and pasta.
    • High protein, low carb diets
      • The Omnivore’s Dilemma
      • The animals in the wild don’t worry about what they eat for dinner. They see a leaf, or grass, and they eat it. That simply. Humans have to complicate everything.
    • The Omnivore’s Dilemma is about the three principal food chains that sustain us today: the industrial, the organic, and the hunter gatherer.
  • Reading #2: FOOD- Jennifer Clapp: Chapter 1: Unpacking the World Food System
    • The average plate of food eaten in Europe and North American travels around 1500 miles before it is consumed.
      • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that the ranks of the hungry in the world had risen by over 150 million in the space of just a year, topping a total of one billion under-nourished people for the first time since the agency started collecting such data.
    • We have moved increasingly away from food being viewed primarily as a source of nourishment and a cultural feature in society, and toward food as any other product that firms produce, sell, and trade.
      • Reduced to “consumers” rather than being considered simply as “Eaters”. Distance between the production and the eating of food, is increased by the commodification of food within the global economy.
      • Further distancing producers from individual consumers by stretching the scope of transactions that takes place between them.
    • The number of hungry people on the planet has risen sharply in recent years, topping one billion people for the first time in 2009

Mass Media and War

  • The readings and lecture was regarding the 2003 Iraq War and how media and propaganda was used to further promote the war
  • The Bush Administration embedded Journalists into war to cover the stories first hand
      • we want you there to document the gas and the other stuff Saddam has in his arsenal. If he has it, or God forbid, uses it, the world’s not going to believe the US Army. But they’ll believe you’.
    • The most controversial, and certainly most explicit, or the Bush administration’s efforts to contain wartime image-making was the ban on photography caskets containing the corpses of US military personnel killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    • The Pentagon’s prohibition on photography was challenged in various settings. Critics attacked what they saw as a politically motivated policy to ‘conceal the true costs of the war’
    • What they showed were prisoners at Aby Ghraib in Iraq being abused by their American guards.
    • Britain and France in World War 1 both treated possession of a camera at the front as a capital offense.
    • With the technology now, the amateur photographer is as capable as a professional journalist, and is operating with the same tools: digital camera, laptop, and an internet connection.
    • Technologies that allowed personnel deployed overseas to communicate readily and cheaply with friends and family back home – via email, instant-messaging, blogging, and skype – had a positive impact on morale. Decreased feelings of alienation and homesickness.
    • Bloggers were the ‘best PR the military has’
    • May 2007, the DOD had unveiled its own YouTube channel, MNFIRAQ (multi-national force – Iraq). With the stated goal of giving ‘viewers around the world a “boots on the ground” perspective of Operation Iraqi Freedom from those who are fighting it’

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