Sociology Focus

“I Wouldn’t Be a Man If…”

Real men don’t like dudes according to Josh Turner’s hit song. Songs like this and slurs like “you’re a fag” are often considered acceptable and unremarkable even. Sociologists view these expressions of homophobia as gender policing, which enforce the boundaries of sexuality and gender. Below is guest post by Alexa Megna from San Diego State University

Boy Flexing Muscles

“I wouldn’t be a man if I didn’t feel like this,” croons deep voiced Josh Turner in his country hit “I Wouldn’t be a Man.” He continues, “I wouldn’t be a man if a woman like you was anything I could resist; I’d have to be from another planet where love doesn’t exist.” I quickly shot a glance in my review mirror to see my little brother in the backseat quietly singing along with Turner, knowing every word to the song. Dumbfounded, I tried to decide what to say to him. Something along the lines of “uhhhh…” came out of my mouth. “Don’t listen to him, little brother. Gay men are real men too.” As I changed the radio station, he laughed and continued singing along to the next song that came on.

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The Public Becomes Private & A Private Goes Public

With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last week one unnamed solider came out to his father on a video he broadcast on YouTube. This soldier demonstrates the power of social forces on our personal decisions. Nathan Palmer argues that to fully understand the solider’s decision we must use our “sociological imaginations” to see his personal biography within our social history.

“Dad, do you still love me?” the unnamed solider asks after telling his father he’s gay. “Yes, I still love you son.” “I’m very proud of you. Ok?” Tears well up in my eyes. I know that hunger for approval, for acceptance. A huge lump forms in my throat and I’m just so happy that for this one man neither was denied.

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They Call Them “Soaps” Because They’re Dirty

Soap operas give us something to bond over, help us feel better about our own lives, and reaffirm the boundaries of deviance. Stephanie Medley-Rath explores the sociological value of soap operas and wonders what will fill the void left after their cancellation.

Old Fashion TV

I grew up watching All My Children. My mom watched All My Children from the beginning and even when she re-entered the workforce as a school teacher, she would set the VCR to record some of the episodes. We watched every day during summer vacation. My dad even watched with us sometimes.

I haven’t watched the show with any regularity since moving out of my parent’s house. Eventually, I stopped watching completely and so did my mom. When I heard that the show was to be cancelled, I decided to watch one last summer as the show is to end this month. I set my DVR, but gave up watching about half-way through the first recording.
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What Do Jesus & Aliens Have In Common?

“The world is coming to an end!” that is what a Christian radio host guaranteed this spring. He said massive earthquakes would bring about Judgment Day on May 21st. So what did he have to say for himself on May 22nd? In this piece, Bridget Welch explores how failed doomsday predictions can help us understand cognitive dissonance and how people respond when their deeply held beliefs are challenged – by digging their heads in the sand and trying to get you to come along for the ride.

Judgment Day 21 May 2011 Billboard

In September of 1954, a report of an impending doomsday appeared in the news. According to the news article, the Great Lake would overflow its banks and destroy everything in its path “to form an inland sea stretching from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf of Mexico.” Further, “a cataclysm” was predicted to “submerge the West Coast” from Seattle to Chile. The source of such dire predictions was a housewife who received messages from “superior beings from a planet called Clarion.”

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Feminizing Sport’s Elite Female Stars

One of the most effective ways to view gender discrimination in society is by examining the world of sport. Even if you are not a sports fan, it’s interesting to see the different ways sport – much like the rest of society – values and compensates women based on traditional gender norms tied to physical appearance.

“Show me the money!” Jerry Maguire taught us that in the sports world money is everything. Recently Forbes magazine published a list of the best paid female athletes. Looking at this list we can see what sports are the most lucrative for women and what type of female athlete our society values the most.

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Keep’em Covered: Gender Policing Baby Nipples

Is your baby girl a slut? A new Gerber “Beautiful Baby Contest” rules that baby girl nipples cannot be shown. In this piece, Bridget Welch explores what this reveals about gender norms and how we construct and police bodily displays.

Most parents think their child is this most beautiful child to ever have been born. It’s pretty much the rule. Those parents are wrong. You know how I know? My son (we’ll call him by his nickname “Bug”) is actually the most beautiful child to have ever drawn breath. Sorry other parents. I’m sure your kids are very cute. It’s just a sad fact that they can’t compete with this:

Cutest. Baby. Ever.

Take a minute. Glory in the cuteness. You know you want to.
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Eat Like A Patriot!

Government food guidelines communicate American values in addition to educating us about healthful eating. Comparing the imagery the government uses to communicate its food guidelines shows us how our values have changed overtime and also stayed the same.

How do you decide what to eat?

  • Taste
  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • Familiarity
  • Health
  • Patriotic duty

What? Patriotic duty? Check out the U.S. government’s food guidelines from 1941-1945:

First, look at the center. “U.S. Needs Us Strong. Eat the Basic 7 Every Day.” So, follow the U.S. guidelines out of patriotic duty. Here we can see how patriotism is something highly valued to the point that our government uses it to get us to eat the “Basic 7”. The image suggests that we have the all-American (read White) family with mom, dad, son, and daughter at the center as well. These guidelines are also promising freedom of sorts. Look at the bottom of the poster: “in addition to the basic 7…eat any other foods you want.” Evidently we heard the last part of the message instead of the first part if the obesity rate is any indication (that’s a topic for another day). Continue reading

“That’s Gay”: Everyday Acceptable Bigotry

“That’s gay” & “You’re a homo” is often said by people who “aren’t homophobic”; How’s that? Acceptable Bigotry can help us understand this. In this piece Nathan Palmer goes back to high school & an incident of homophobia that changed him forever.

“We all piled into the van with bats and headed to ‘The Loop’,” Randy said to a group of boys huddled around him next to the Senior lockers at Lincoln High School. Randy was a senior who was just 18, but was graced by god to look like a full grown man. I was on the outer ring of a huddled mass of young men standing on my tip toes trying to get Randy into view. Only a 16 year old sophomore as I listened to Randy talk to all the senior boys I felt like a mere mortal surrounded by greek gods. “We drove around until we saw the first dude looking a little sweet and we hopped out and all of us beat his ass down!” Randy said bursting with pride or bravado. Continue reading