Most people think nature is a good thing, but yet we humans tend to hide from the public all of the things that make us humans. Environmental sociologists argue that this separation of the natural self and the social self is completely socially constructed. In this post Nathan Palmer explores how we separate our social selves from our natural selves and why this may lead to mistreatment or domination over the natural environment.
Hey, do me a solid and think of all the curse words you know. Now say the dirtiest one aloud, I’ll wait… What does that even mean? I’ve never heard that word before. I just Googled what you said and that’s nasty.
Now that you’ve got your list and the people around you wondering why you are talking to your computer, tell me what all those curse words have in common (besides their social inappropriateness). Stumped? Let’s try another angle.
Comedian George Carlin famously came up with a list of 7 dirty words that you can’t say on television. I can’t repeat them here, but take a look at the list and see if what all these words have in common jumps out at you.
Environmental sociologists would point out that almost all the words we consider obscene describe our animalistic functions or the orifices where they take place. Genitals, sexual intercourse, and excreting various fluids are the basis of most curse words. What’s up with that? More perplexing is that these are common acts. Everyday, I hope, you use the bathroom. Almost everyone will have sex in their life and I hope they enjoy it. Our genitals are central to becoming pregnant and giving birth; something most parents cherish. So why are these words the basis of socially inappropriate language? What does it mean that the words that describe bodily functions we perform often if not everyday are socially inappropriate? Before I answer that, let’s take a quick look at how we present our bodies to the world.
Living on the west coast often means partaking in the joys of In ‘n’ Out Burgers. One day, instead of just ordering up a Double Double, Alexa Megna received an extra side of sociology with an impromptu lesson on norms. In this post Alexa asks, what happens when things break down and we enter into the normless world of anomie.
I have a confession to make. Are you ready? Here it is: I love In ‘n’ Out. You know the burger joint on the west coast that is infamous for it’s tasty burgers, fries, and shakes? (For all of you east coasters, it’s like a better version of Five Guys. But that’s my own bias.) One day I found myself craving a Double Double from In ‘n’ Out. I just had to have one. So as I wheeled up to the drive thru line all I could think about was the Double Double heaven I was soon to be in.
Until, something funny started happing. The truck in front of me completely skipped the “Order Here” speaker box. He just drove right through. “That’s weird,” I said to myself as my turn at the box came up. Then I waited. And waited. I started looking around wondering if this was some joke. Why was the loud voice in the little box not talking to me? After looking around at the car behind me and huge expanse of space between the truck in front of me, I quietly said, “Uhm… hello?” Nothing. Continue reading
Gays cause cancer, global warming, train crashes, floods, divorce… In this piece, Bridget Welch explores how we change our minds to keep mental balance and how others exploit this tendency to win us to their side.
Did you know that gays caused the terrorist attack on September 11th? It’s true. Reverend Jerry Falwell and Pat Robinson say so. Gays also cause tornados. This claim is backed by no other than Rick Perry’s Florida election co-chair Pam Olsen.
That’s not all. Gays also caused Hurricane Katrina, countless earthquakes, the collapse of the mortgage finance market, a horrific massacre of Muslims, and played a pivotal role in the holocaust. I don’t know how we didn’t see this evilness coming. Gays have been destroying the world for centuries! They even caused the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire!
Okay. If you in any way, shape, or form, thought I was seriously arguing that gays are the root of any and all evil in the United States, please pay extra close attention to what I’m about to explain.
Pregnant teenagers are currently a focus of popular media, yet teen pregnancy is at historic lows. Stephanie Medley-Rath explores why teen pregnancy is such a popular plot line in our entertainment, when the reality is so different?
Pregnant teens have long fascinated me ever since I was a teenager. I had a difficult time understanding why anyone would choose to or accidentally become pregnant as a teenager. Of course, growing up the projectory of my life was always “once you graduate high school, then you go to college.” A baby as a teenager would have severely interfered with my plans of dorm-living and keg parties (and that pesky thing known as getting my degree). Though teen pregnancy was far from epidemic in my high school, it wasn’t exactly shocking. Today, the teen pregnancy rate is at a historic low.
Go read that last sentence. Teenage pregnancy rates are declining, not increasing.
There has been a recent rise of conservative, evangelical women identifying themselves as ‘feminists.’ And there has been an equally strong backlash among prominent feminists who take issue with these women claiming the ‘f-word’ for themselves. What is a feminist? Can one who believes in separate gender spheres also truly promote gender equality, or are they merely kidding themselves, or worse, promoting a wacked-out femogyny? In this post Angie Andriot explores the many faces of feminism for answers.
While perusing Facebook recently, I came across the most intriguing question:
“Is being a lady antithetical to feminism?”
Well….now there’s a conundrum. And boy howdy did it spark a debate! Heck, we couldn’t even agree on what it means to be a lady. For that matter, what’s a feminist? Let’s break it down, shall we?
- When I say I am a female, I am referring to my sex. This is a biological category.
- When I say I am feminine, I am referring to my gender. This is a social category.
- When I say I am a lady, I am referring to my…..manners? “Breeding?” Social class? Self-actualization? Depends on who you ask. This is definitely more evaluative.
Being lady-like typically means that you are exuding a particular kind of femininity: a well-mannered, polite, self-possessed sort of femininity. Here’s what comes to my mind when I hear the term: A lady is mild-mannered. A lady does not curse or shriek or holler. A lady is modest, chaste, and virtuous. She is the counterpart to the gentleman, and she balances him out by letting him pull out her chair, open the door for her, and perform other such chivalrous acts. But perhaps most importantly, a woman who thinks of herself as a lady, first and foremost, has embraced gender norms and sex distinctions. Women, at their best, are ladies. Men, at their best, are gentlemen. These are complementary, but distinct categories.
Cleaning up messes is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it, right? But just who has “gotta do it?” Who are these invisible workers? Have you ever looked at messes from a cleaner’s perspective? Perspective-taking is a critical part of developing a sociological imagination. In this post Sarah Nell argues that by learning to take the perspective of others, you can understand and appreciate them more as workers, citizens, and human beings.
Most likely, someone cleans the spaces you frequent: classrooms, dorm rooms, cafeterias, shopping malls, and so forth. But do you see them? Do you know who empties your trash and who mops the floor? Who replaces the toilet paper roll and who scrubs the toilets? Who changes the light bulbs and cleans up unexpected messes like vomit, broken glass, or spilled liquid? Depending upon where you live, this person is probably a racial minority and is also likely to be a woman. Do you know her name or anything about her? Have you ever thanked her or spoken to her? I ask you this because of something I observed recently while in Las Vegas for an ironically located sociology conference. Before you continue, I want you to take the perspective of others by imagining yourself as the workers in these stories.