Friday, December 18, 2009

The Culture from Above and Below

The discussion we had on Wednesday was definitely intriguing and I would
also like include some thoughts on the discussion of the above and
bellow cultures. I am not entirely sure environmentalism is a culture
but in my opinion it qualifies as a culture from below. I would say it
is a culture from below since we have had the technology, knowledge and
ability to sustain ourselves without oil since World War II. And of
course, the culture from above would be its counter… the oil and auto
The talks about sustainable energy and protecting the environment were
going on in the 70’s and we had the electric car in the late 90’s, so
how did that change our perceptions? Not significantly enough. But
improvement in our views is changing since we are pressed against the
wall and there’s nothing left to do but alter our direction. In the
recent year or so (since the gas price hit $5 a gallon a year and a half
ago) it’s becoming a very “cool” craze to be “eco friendly” or “green
oriented” and I’m glad that our generation is taking the steps to
achieve and make it a dominant culture. We have all the resources and
means to make it happen and it is definitely the “new wave”. Our
predecessors organized each other and brought environmental stewardship
in the form of “Woodstock” which was an incredible success and small
non-governmental organizations have been struggling against all odds.
And it is refreshing to see our government taking some initiative to
improve the “Car Nation”. We are slowly turning into a more eco friendly
culture and that can only enrich us.
The culture from above… well living in our cars is a culture, I am
positive about this one. I wonder how many of you have extra pairs of
shoes, or a clean shirt on the back seat of your car, or keep the extra
key to your apartment. First of all it is a culture from above because
it was spread around from the top-down. In Los Angeles during the 50’s
and 60’s there was an amazing transportation system, there were trams
called “Red Cars” that ran all over town. They went from the Valley to
Santa Monica and Westwood and Downtown L.A. Then came the oil and auto
companies and saw potential; potential to make profit. Los Angeles is
perfect place to build an empire and know for the next fifty or hundred
years you will be collecting the sweet fruits of creating the “Car
Nation”. Los Angeles is a culture just by itself and it is the above
culture nevertheless. We are obsessed with our cars and living without
them even for a week would be unimaginable. Our lives revolve around
vehicles and that is the truth. In some parts of Los Angeles the more
expensive the car the more popular you would be in school or in your
job. We live in a materialistic world and I am not a bit surprised the
car became so popular. Even our parents bribe us with cars… “Get
straight A’s this semester; you have a BMW waiting for you!”
Some cultures are destructive and harm our society but we should not let
them define us.

Radical Romance

We covered so many interesting topics this week I am having trouble
centering my thoughts.
The movie the “The Music Man” definitely grabbed my attention and I was
very intrigued by it. In the scene we watched I recognized that it is
very political. The setting of the movie is quite ironic because it is
taking place in Iowa, it is hard to believe but Iowa has a very liberal
record. It was one of the first states to desegregate its school, permit
women to vote and now it legalized gay marriage. Harold Hill uses the
“Fear Doctrine” which our generation is familiar with, since we had
eight years of it but that is for a whole different discussion. Harold
Hill identifies what the weak point of the people in this town is and
thrives on that. He sees potential in the conservative views and people
are easily convinced when their basic instincts are challenged.
"Anything these Iowa people don't have already, they do without." Is a
great example of the close mindedness of the town and also inexperienced
people are easier to control and influence. Everybody has their own
agenda and when you have a herd of sheep and not one is standing up to
you, it is easy to manipulate.
Another topic we touched upon was feminisms and how women are portrayed
as the “other” or basically the slave. The Second Sex by Simone de
Beauvoir had many different aspets of looking into woman’s world but in
particular was remarkable, I do believe women do not bond and support
each other like men do in most situations. I guess based on the feminist
definition I am not a feminist… because I do not want to be equal with
the man I want to be better than him. The issues of women rights and are
we equal comes up more often then we think. I have a feminist
conversation with my friends or people I have just met almost every day.
I personally believe women are better than men, we can multitask, we
smell nicer, and we make better executives. It is true men stick
together whereas women are competitive and usually do not get along with
each other especially in close counters. Women are taught not to trust
each other from a young age and that is why a woman CEO would never hire
another woman. I grew up with the saying, “Do not trust a girl.” from my
Maybe that is the reason I have male best friends and have a hard time
trusting women. My close girlfriends could be counted on my finger tips
but my guy friends are numerous. I trust them more and I hang out with
them more. I personally enjoy myself more with my male friends than my
female ones. And that is true for my close female friends also, all of
us have closer ties with guys despite the fact that we are very
ambitious, strong minded and motivated to lead. We trust each other but
we are more open with our guy friends. Now why is that? Women should be
able to relate to women better. Why are we more inclined to trust the
opposite sex? One reason is because women need to know how men think
because at the end of the day the men is the one we are competing
against. Secondly, women tend to be more emotional and make you dwell
over your problems and psycho analyze yourself whereas guys will tell
you the truth straight forward and then take you out and make sure you
have a good time. There is no additional drama and no constant second
guessing. Where do you think the famous one liner “He is just not into
you.” surfaced. I believe it was a guy’s advice towards this woman who
was so upset the guy she talked to at the bar did not call her. We are
in a constant competition but at the same time we trust them more. Guys
have something unique about them; they keep secrets better than women do
and therefore make a better confidant. But is it the fact that now most
women associate with male friends good? Are we moving towards equality?
Men view us as equals, respect our opinions and trust us. We are no
longer a piece of meat to them. We have a greater role in their lives
which means one day we would be leveled off. But while they trust us and
respect us, when their close guy friends are around they act
differently. Bro-mance is still a stronger tie and I have not met a man
to prove the opposite. So again no matter how close a woman is with a
man, he will always show solidarity to his brother man.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homosexuality in “Sex and the City”

Many different issues surround our generation and as we progress with technological innovations and strive for world peace it is upon us to ensure comfort for us and future generations. It is a world view, that everybody should be free and America is the epiphany of democracy or so we think. Our Constitution grants us Natural Rights as citizens of this glorious country; Our Natural Rights consist of Life, Liberty, Possessing Property and the Pursuit of Happiness. Throughout the history of the United States discrimination and prejudice has been exercised on different minority groups, such as women, blacks, and now homosexuals. All of these groups had to fight for their pursuit of happiness and continue to do so today. Women were (are) treated as second class citizens, acquiring voting rights in recent times, African-Americans enslaved and considered 3/5ths of a person establishing a social status in the last forty years and homosexuals are the latest group of people fighting for equal rights to fit in a society that promises the opportunity of pursuit of Happiness. As we progress, we become dependent on popular culture and media to present the ideas of the past, present and future.
The media has played major roles in the development of our society and it has been put on a pedestal for its informational benefits. Our media, and when I say media I include television, radio, Internet, print media, books and magazines, serves three roles; signaler role, carrier role, and watch dog role. The media is a culture from above since the information presented comes from the central power of government. The media reflects the actions of the people that we elected into office and their progress towards the injustices performed in society. The media is a powerful tool in order to influence people’s ideas and enhance their spectrums of life. Popular culture, as a big part of the media is the most influential since it targets not only the mass audience but mostly the young generation which is easily persuaded in the process. TV series are attacking Generation X and Y and focusing on the issues relevant to their time and age. In recent years popular culture has been giving more attention to LGBT activism and including homosexual relations as part of the main stream entertainment. By using prime time television, LGBT activists are able to push their agenda forward which would encourage younger activists to revolt against inequalities. The content of the gay movement used into Media news is directly correlated to topics addressed in pop culture.
Interestingly enough, the gay movement tracks back to the 1924 when there was only one gay right organization. It has taken us a long time to become acceptant to the idea of homosexuality. In the process of the LGBT movement over the last five decades public perceptions towards same-sex relationships in the U.S have been reshaped in every sphere of mainstream society├╣public education, employment, politics, religion and even entertainment. It took numerous riots, peaceful protests, democratic President in office to achieve the mere amount of five states that same sex-marriage is performed and recognized (Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont) and a referendum allowing the same-sex partners of federal employees to receive benefits but not full health coverage which President Obama signed this past June. Changes like these were not achieved over night but with perseverance and ambition for equality. The more people saw homosexuality through pop culture the more they accepted and realized its significance. In regards to homosexuality and television media the Journal of Homosexuality stated the following: "Before 1970, almost no gay characters could be found on television, and their relative absence from the screen continued until the 1990s…” So it is no wonder we see more and more programs addressing the issues of same-sex marriage.
A survey conducted by General Social Survey (GSS) asked respondent if they thought sexual relations between members of the same-sex were wrong. “From 1973 through 1990 the number of respondents who answered the most liberal category, “not wrong at all” was small and stayed small. Started in 1990s, however, a liberalizing trend emerged. More and more people started answering that there was nothing wrong with same-sex relations on the GSS during the 1990s and 2000s. In the most recent round of GSS interviews nearly 40% of the respondents stated that there was nothing wrong at all. In fact, among those under age 30, this has become the majority response”
This paper will discuss the significance of homosexuality in popular culture and how it has made LGBT activism acceptable in prime time television in the 21st century portrayed in the cosmopolitan TV series “Sex and the City”.
“Sex and the City” Trivia is one that represents its generation by the timeless never ending struggle of women to find Love in a cosmopolitan city. The show first aired in 1998 and six years later had six successful seasons and millions of fans all around the Globe. The main characters are four single women in their thirties relating to one another about their sexual lives and fantasies, love disappointments and life dramas. The show lessened the taboos surrounding not only sex but issues such as, homosexuality, promiscuity, love and motherhood. These issues are presented in a comedic sitcom to mask their seriousness and present them in a non- threatening way. The television hit show follows the lives of Carrie, a sex columnist; Miranda, a lawyer struggling single motherhood; Samantha, a publicist who is extremely confident with her sexuality; and Charlotte, the good girl looking for Mr. Right who will sweep her off her feet. This show mainly focuses on the heterosexual relationships in a cosmopolitan city but it does include supportive characters to the protagonists who are homosexual, in the form of a friend or a partner.
The main homosexual on the show is Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) who is Carrie's best friend also known as the “Fifth Lady”. “His character plays a gay talent agent from an aristocratic family with a sense of style paralleled only by Carrie's.” Stanford is the show's most constant gay point of view of sex. He has physical insecurities and inadequacies of someone who does not "have that gay look." The premier of the show’s fifth season featured a homosexual make-out scene in which Stanford is partnered with Broadway dancer Marcus Adente (Sean Palmer) in which they were caught “interacting” in a restroom.
Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone) is a Sicilian-American wedding planner who becomes close friends with Charlotte. He comes off as arrogant and insensitive, which could be seen in his sassy advice to Charlotte; for example: Upon hearing that she hadn't had sex since her divorce, he exclaims: "If you don't put something 'in there' soon, it'll grow over!". Throughout the show Anthony and Stanford do not get along; a constant competition erupts and exchanging hurtful remarks is routine. However, in the film the two are seen kissing at a New Year's Eve party.
A sensual lesbian artist by the name of Maria Diega Reyes (Sonia Braga) appears in Season 4, Episode 51. Samantha meets her at a solo exhibit during which Maria immediately falls for her, but since Samantha doesn't believe in relationships they try to maintain a friendship. The chemistry proves to be too strong and Samantha is once again the one with stunning news. Maria teaches her about lesbian sex and how to make an emotional connection while making love. But it isn’t long before Samantha shows her true colors; she begins to grow uncomfortable when the relationship talk starts to replace the sexual activity and Maria is equally uncomfortable with Samantha's sexual history. The two separate, after they have sex with a strap-on dildo.
These are some of the more evident examples of homosexual characters in the TV series.
“Sex and the City” is a very influential sitcom which is the product of society’s desires and attitudes. As mentioned in the Barker book, “It is entertainment and a subtle reflection on American cultural life” (205). The audience needs to relate to the characters in order to feel a connection and preserve their interest. A gay movement and as some call it a ‘Homo Revolution’ would not have been possible without Hollywood’s assistance. TV series and media are the reason society warmed up to this controversial issue. We finally have reached the point when we can have a civilized discussion on same-sex marriage. A case study conducted by Horton and Wohl (1956) set forward a theory of para-social interaction: "One of the most striking characteristics of the new mass media— radio, television, and the movies—is that they give the illusion of face-to-face relationship with the performer" (p. 215). Through research with ethnic and minority groups it has been established that intergroup contact can reduce prejudice in the majority group under certain conditions: “Participants must feel of equal status, share common goals, have sustained and nonsuperficial contact, and not be opposed by a salient authority” (Allport, 1954; Williams, 1964). Allport (1954) considers prejudice a result of a hasty generalization made about another group based on incomplete or mistaken information, thus the basic rationale for the Contact Hypothesis is that prejudice can be reduced as one learns more about a particular category of people. If a majority group member learns that the people defined by a particular category are different from them in ways they believe are unpleasant, detrimental, or otherwise negative, then the attitudes they will hold toward such a group constitute prejudice. Positive personal contact that is sustained and non superficial can provide enough information about the minority group that a majority group member may change his or her beliefs, a phenomenon that is typically explained by reference to dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957). Parasocial interaction functions in a manner analogous to interpersonal attraction. The attitudes towards other people “develop an affinity with the persona they watch on television” (Conway & Rubin, 1991, p. 449) the result of such parasocial relationships is that “the more attracted one is to the persona, the more likely a viewer will seek to watch the persona” (Conway & Rubin, 1991, p. 449). In order for parasocial interaction to promote a change in attitude television exposure would have to be repeated or sustained over time, present diverse representatives of a minority group, and viewers must form positive opinions toward televised minority group members. Thus, the Parasocial Contact Hypothesis (PCH) suggests that exposure to positive portrayals of minority group members that produce parasocial interaction will be associated with a decrease in prejudicial attitudes. According to Gross (1994), television is a major influence on the assumptions people have about members of minority groups such as gays, lesbians, and bisexuals because many viewers may have little personal experience with such individuals.
“Sex and the City” was not only a controversial show because of its sex scenes but the address of homosexuality as well. “Sex and the City” was one of the first shows taking a chance and raising such issues. “Will & Grace” surfaced along the same time, but it has homosexual characters having leading roles. The show deals with a homosexual couple going through life in an absolutely normal way.
Both shows have humor in common. Humor is a defense mechanism as Evan Cooper presents in his “Sociological Perspectives” as he calls it “an essential weapon for an outsider groups in dealing with discrimination and prejudice.” Despite the overwhelming heterosexuality of mainstream media representations, portrayals of gay and lesbian individuals on television have become somewhat more common since 1997 when Ellen became the first television show to have a gay leading character. This increase can be seen in the introduction of gay characters on many shows such as Spin City, ER, Dawson's Creek, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Although the presence of gay and lesbian characters may have increased recently on both commercial broadcast and cable networks, it does not address the sexual issues and concerns of homosexuality. When gay and lesbian characters have been included in programs, they have often been portrayed in asexual contexts. “The slight increase in nonheterosexual sexual content from the 2001-2002 season (14.5%) to the 2002-2003 season (17.4%) was significant. This difference was small, however, and the increases in the percentages of shows with same-sex sexual behavior (7.0% in year 1 vs. 7.8% in year 2) and with talk about nonheterosexual sexual issues (11.4% in year 1 and 12.9% in year 2) were not significant when considered separately”.
Genres of pop culture that tended to show homosexual content are comedy and feature film, made-for-TV movies and programs classified as “other” also had relatively high proportions with nonheterosexual sexual content. Among episodes that contained either same-sex sexual behavior or talk about sex related to homosexual, about two-thirds were classified in three genres: Situation comedy, drama, and feature film.
Prime-time shows had significantly higher proportions of shows with sexual behavior and sexual talk related to homosexual. One reason is that there was a greater proportion of reality shows in the afternoon/early evening time Many of these afternoon/early evening reality shows such as Blind Date, Ex-Treme Dating, and Road Rules contained homosexual content. A second reason is that the situation comedy Will and Grace, was broadcast only during prime-time, but it appeared as a syndicated afternoon/early evening show as well as a prime-time series as well.
In terms of the sexual socialization of LGBT youth, an important factor is the overall context—serious versus humorous. In “Sex and the City” gay characters are portrayed as promiscuous, reinforcing stereotypes. Analyses indicates that a substantial portion of the sexual content related to gays, lesbian, and bisexuals occurs in various forms of comedies, which are likely to present such material in a humorous manner and may include stereotypical and negative portrayals, with little serious discussion. “Sex and the City” uses gay characters and comments about gay sexual orientation primarily for comic effect. Stanford’s and Anthony’s characters were used as a comedic relief and not as a main serious subject in an episode but Samantha’s relationship was addressed in three episodes. A double standard of man and man vs. girl and girl. Samantha was portrayed as in being in a serious relationship which is very rare for her character, showing that homosexuality has a positive effect on her on terms established by our society and acceptable norms in society. Interestingly the shocking part of the episode is that she is in a relationship not the fact that he is a lesbian. She is presented in a positive light.
Popular culture has enhanced the gay movement by showing it to a mass audience and creating positive images of homosexuality. “Sex and the City” is a mainstream, prime-time show that is still airing re-runs and by reflecting on controversial issues it has strengthened the sexual minority. Central theme of the show is love, it doesn’t matter if the characters are heterosexual or homosexual, by using love and presenting these characters with different life stories they become real and we can all relate to the feeling of love. It is important that popular culture addresses the issue of homosexuality because it makes us realize that homosexuality is not a lie or a myth but it is real with real people that need their civil liberties and should not be punished for being different.

Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual Content On Television: A Quantitative Analysis Across Two Seasons, Pubmed Central
Deborah A. Fisher, Phd, Douglas L. Hill, Phd, Joel W. Grube, Phd, And Enid L. Gruber, Phd

Changing Media, Changing Minds: The Lesbian And Gay Movement ...
By Jj Garretson - 2009 - Related Articles
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Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies Theory And Practice. Minneapolis: Sage Publications Ltd, 2008. Print.
Schiappa, Edward., Gregg, Peter. And Hewes, Dean. "The Parasocial Contact Hypothesis" Paper Presented At The Annual Meeting Of The International Communication Association, New Orleans Sheraton, New Orleans, La, May 27, 2004 . 2009-05-26
Williams, R. M. (1964). Strangers Next Door. Englewood Cliffs, Nj: Prentice Hall Schiappa, E., Gregg, P. B., & Hewes, D. E. (In Press). Can One Tv Show Make A Difference? Will Grace
And The Parasocial Contact Hypothesis. Journal Of Homosexuality

Allport, G. W. (1954). The Nature Of Prejudice. Cambridge, Ma: Perseus Books.Schiappa, E., Gregg, P. B., & Hewes, D. E. (In Press). Can One Tv Show Make A Difference? Will Grace
And The Parasocial Contact Hypothesis. Journal Of Homosexuality

Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance. Evanston, Il: Row & Peterson.Schiappa, E., Gregg, P. B., & Hewes, D. E. (In Press). Can One Tv Show Make A Difference? Will Grace
And The Parasocial Contact Hypothesis. Journal Of Homosexuality

Conway, J. C., & Rubin, A. M. (1991). Psychological Predictors Of Television Viewing Motivation.
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Cited: Schiappa, Edward, Peter B. Gregg, And Dean E. Hewes. "Can One Tv Show Make A Difference? Will & Grace And The Parasocial Contact Hypothesis." Google. 2006. Web. 15 Dec. 2009. .
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Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual Content On Television: A Quantitative Analysis Across Two Seasons
Deborah A. Fisher, Phd, Douglas L. Hill, Phd, Joel W. Grube, Phd, And Enid L. Gruber, Phd

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Your girl is lovely, Hubble"

From this clip we see how pace and place are used. In the beginning of the scene we see the four main characters having drinks at a prestigious restaurant. The use of space is very important because it lets us know the direct movement of the objects. In every episode of ‘Sex and the City’ the four girls are dining and discussing their relationships and lives and in that sense we can conclude their home is the restaurant in which they are located. According to Seamon who says that home is the product of “physical presence and social rituals”. It is a repetitive occurrence no matter of the place. In each scene the restaurant changes but we can see the well objectified space as home since it includes both factors. The show also breaks some social norms remarked by Massey who suggests that “spaces are symbolically gendered and some spaces are marked by the physical exclusion of particular sexes. And that division is between the ‘home’ and the ‘workplace’ which is articulated as the difference between ‘private’ and ‘public’. Home is seen to be private but this scene of ‘Sex and the City’ we can see that a very public restaurant is in the form of a home and so the social order is disturbed. Also in the grand scheme of the show, Carrie the main character uses her bedroom as a workplace which contradicts with the above statement. In the show space is shown as a revolutionary step towards radical romance. The scene also uses space when she runs into her past lover. The interesting symbol is that it takes place out in the open which corresponds with the idea of private public space suggested by Zukin.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Radical Romance

The novel “The Rules of Attraction” by Bret Easton Ellis is a time traveling book that could be related to young people of today. Even though the main actions and setting is during the 1980s we could see the trends of an Era transcend in popular culture of today. The show “Gossip Girl” directly correlates with “Rules of Attraction,” both have similar characters and life stories and show radical romance of their unique time periods. In the past twenty years not much has changed in the relations between men and women. In “Gossip Girl” eighties promiscuity is portrayed as a typical behavior of high school students on the Upper-East Side of Manhattan. Consumerism, a defining element of the 80s reached its pinnacle in the American culture and since then it has developed a new communication among the sexes. Mendacity is also a pertaining element of both eras and the examples we see in a novel from the 80s and a show from the millennium is evidence of resemblance between the generations.
Many would question promiscuity and why did it occur in the 80s, how was society allowing such freedoms after centuries of conservatism and criticism of “Free Love” in the 70s? In “The Rules of Attraction” Ellis uses promiscuity as a way to show Nihilistic views of rich art college students who live without a care in the world. “Gossip Girl” is set in a private school on the Upper-East Side of Manhattan where students embrace sexuality in a radical way. Going through the timeline of sexual relations a lot has changed in the way women approach sex. Lauren, one of the main characters in the book might be seen as the “ultimate slut” but also representing the strong, independent and open with her sexuality woman. Her promiscuity was influenced by the sub-culture that a school like Camden enforces, and such elite culture is presented in “Gossip Girl”. The character who is parallel to Lauren from the show is Serena; also a dominant figure who uses drugs, has multiple partners, and comes from a wealthy family. Sex was offered to them and it was used as a way to escape reality, but became their reality at the same time. We can draw the conclusion that promiscuity has a direct relationship with stimulated finances. Such traits could be seen from early civilized societies, for example in the 16th-17th century English Upper-class was well known for open sexuality. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth “Women were, more powerful than they had ever been before. Adultery, incest and same sex coupling are all recorded in one form or another from legal court hearings or by pamphleteers of the day. It seems there was plenty of premarital sex.”1 All of these women are seen as radical of their time and so they show the struggle battling through social norms. The evolution theory argues that the human body is made to be promiscuous. “The basic idea is that women have sex with multiple men until they find one with the best genes. And men have sex with various women until one chooses him to father her child”.2 Evolution argues that sexuality is the returning state of our human nature and if it’s complimented with financial stability women are more likely to exercise premarital sex and enjoy multiple partners.
Gossip Girl ~
“Gossip Girl” is a show that defines a part of our culture and what some of the social norms of our generation are thought to be by the majority. A repeated theme throughout the show is consumerism. To be considered in the “cool” crowd you need to be rich and you are known by whose daughter/son you are and what inheritance you will receive on your 18th Birthday. Consumerism is everything from the clothes they wear and the cars they drive, from their strip clubs to their summer homes in the Hamptons. In the novel, “Rules of Attraction” consumerism is presented in a different light. The students are also rich and can afford any luxuries but they chose to spend it on drugs, alcohol and music. Those are the three main virtues that define the time. Both examples, students relate to each other as commodities, whether, that be as drug dealers, sluts, or “the Queen Bee”. They promote spending, because without products the reality they so desperately want to bury themselves in would not exist. In the show and the novel the students are consumed with each other and think only of themselves. The 80s was the rise of consumerism and 2008 was the fall. In “Gossip Girl” consumerism is still at its highest peak and this shows that the American culture is not ready to give up the right to spend. Spending money is our way of communicating and is a form of radical romance as well since women have the same financial background as men. Financial equality advances women’s rights in society but it is not seen as conventionally ‘romantic’. “The selection, purchase and use of goods and services are all forms of everyday action which, on the contrary, we commonly tend to view as rather dull and prosaic matters. It would appear, therefore, that consumption, being a form of economic conduct, should be placed at the opposite pole of life from all that we generally regard as ‘romantic’.”3 This raises an interesting question, if we put consumerism and romance on the same scale, romance is the one that appears more important so our lives but in reality they go hand in hand. Romance is used in society to promote consumerism, since advertisements embrace the fact that the male has to have certain materialistic items (cars, phones, and house) in order to acquire women’s interest. In the novel, Sean uses his friend for money to try and get out a financial spat with Rupert. In “Gossip Girl” the money becomes a problem in a relationship, and so this shows us that consumerism and relationships have a direct link.
“The Rules of Attraction” is full of personas that use mendacity as a way of life. None of them reveal their true characters and we only see the portion that fits their reality. They hide behind drugs, sex and music. We can see Sean and Paul have different entries for the same day and it is obvious that one of them is lying but we never find out whom. This book shows what living in lies causes, and the author puts the meaningless of truth on a pedestal but at the same time giving us the hollowness of the soul achieved by lack of true love. The novel begins in the middle and ends nowhere showing us the mendacity will never stop for these kids. “Gossip Girl” also includes mendacity and is shown not only from the students but from the adults as well. The father of one of the main characters, Nate, was caught in fraud and even though he was guilty he chose to run away and betray his family. Mendacity is passed on with the generations, and that is the same with “The Rules of Attraction”, the parents seem they just want to keep safe distance from their children by sending them to college. Lies are known to be destructive to the ‘self’ but in the novel and the show mendacity never gets its fair share. These students never face the consequences of their actions. Mendacity is also seen through the polygamy of the relationships between the characters. Both examples have love triangles, and women are becoming on the same sexual level as men which could be considered radical. Women have more than one partner now, which was considered a men’s privilege but now women are radically re-writing the laws of relationships. “The aggressive, virile man, who craved plurality of wives, or sexual consorts, was also undoubtedly a lover of the power yielded by possessions. Many men are covetous and greedy by nature.” 4 In this context, women are no longer the “domestic animals” they are the hunters and becoming greedier as the gender gaps minimizes.
“The Rules of Attraction” and “Gossip Girl” have similarities and go over some of the basic human behavioral examples of this generational era. Traits such as promiscuity, consumerism and mendacity are deeply rooted in our culture and have it as a goal desensitize us to their negative effects. Radical romance could be found in all of these traits which point to closing the gap between the sexes. Only history can show if our behavior is considered radical or is it pulling us back.

Works Cited
1. Smith, Lesley. “Sexual allure and the Tudors“. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, Volume 32, 2 April 2006 , pp. 129-130(2)
Published by Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (11 Oct. 2009)

2. "Why Evolutionary Theory is Wrong about Sex." Worldview Times - Home. Web. 11 Oct. 2009. .
3. Campbell, Colin. The romantic ethic and the spirit of modern consumerism (1987) Blackwell Publisher (9 Oct. 2009)
4. Gallichan, Matthew. "Women under polygamy -." Google Books. Web. 11 Oct. 2009. .

Friday, September 25, 2009

Starbucks—A women’s form of domination

As I was sitting at Starbucks around 9 a.m. on a week day, sipping on Espresso shots the first thing I noticed was the intensity of the work all the baristas had to do especially during rush hour. I definitely have new appreciation for them since I watched them re-do orders left and right for some picky customers. As I shifted my focus onto my intended target; the “caffeine-addicts” I realized that Starbucks and every other coffee shop in the country is deeply rooted in our culture and defines, especially my generation. Starbucks is not only a place to take your coffee to go but also a social gathering for many; and mostly for women.

People were coming in and out of Starbucks and lines were going on forever. Men and women were rushing for work or any other time consuming activities. The scene slowed down as the day progressed and you could see the trends that occur in a coffee shop. Through careful observation I was able to spot out many interesting facts that I would not have thought about otherwise. For example, men observed the menu thoroughly before ordering a beverage but ignored their surroundings, and then ordered the simplest coffee drink whereas a woman would order soy instead of whole milk and it would usually be without whip cream. Also, when women see a friend at a coffee shop they are loud, smile and squeak while talking. Everything seems artificial and fake. They put on a smile that goes away as soon as her friends are behind her. She also looks over her shoulder, smiles if eye contact is made, turns around and writes something down. This particular woman was very sad the whole time she was sitting there, she was mostly staring off in the blank space but as soon as she saw her friends come over all of that disappeared and a wide smile took over.

Women sometimes exchange eye glances and smiles with the opposite sex which indicates initiative and awareness of their sexuality. It is a known fact that women of the past waited until they were approached by a male in order to have a conversation, and in my opinion that is a very radical step to sex equality. Women are breaking the social order and showing radical romance every day. People in groups usually sit outside, talk louder, smoke or talk on the phone.

The people who chose to stay in Starbucks and enjoy their coffee and pastry were mostly women. There were women working on their laptops, women reading novels or textbooks, women smoking, women catching up with friends, and some women simply staring into the blank space, drinking coffee and eating a small pastry. The coffee shop is a hang out spot for women. We catch up on gossip, share knowledge, and discuss relationships. It is in a way our sanctuary. Coffee shops represent a sacred place for women; if there were more men the innocence would not be preserved.

According to my observation women drink more coffee than men. Could that be true? Women need more caffeine then men? Men might come with a friend and purchase a coffee but it is in most cases to go. Men do not take the time to sit down and experience the goodness of coffee. This shows how different men and women are. It was evident that women were dominant in the coffee shop but why were men leaving and not staying inside for long periods of time? Maybe they felt out of place and threatened by all of the estrogen in the room but there was definitely a pattern that could not dismissed. This goes back to the question are men socially created or are they naturally exempt from eating/drinking in the establishment. Society believes that the man has to acquire all the masculinity and in a coffee shop the woman has overtaken that role and they feel emasculated. Culture stimulates women socializing in a coffee shop. The coffee shop is set up in order to help women relax and put them in a state where they feel confident. The setting is very well organized, the music is usually feminine and it has bright colors. But some examples point to nature as cause of that phenomenon. Men have a completely different mentality over where they should drink their coffee. Is it the conformity of the establishment, men do not like rules and the coffee shop could be seen as somewhat restrictive? Men rather be outside sitting under a tree or surrounded by a large group of friends while drinking coffee or eating lunch. You can even say that coffee is not the relaxing activity as women see it; it’s something that gets men through the day.

Observing such a common place for our society I was surprised by my discovery. I suppose we as a nation are more divided by gender that we realize and sometimes we do not even think about the consequences of such separations.