Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Summary of Enloe and Steinem

Both of these readings focus on the issue of male superiority. In today's society men are told, from birth usually, that they are the superior sex and as such, have special privileges and rights that women do not. In Steinem's article, "Supremacy Crimes" she looks at how men, especially white, straight men, are fed the drug of supremacy. She explains how hate crimes are overwhelming done by white males who are apparently straight. She explores the possible reasons for this. Does our society teach white, heterosexual males that they are superior to others and so do things that are wrong? Are white, heterosexual males entitled to more? Her line caught me, when she said; "I'm superior because I can kill." When I thought about it I realized that men are generally honored for killing. Hunting is seen as a very "manly" thing to do. War is honored too. Men and women are still not equal in the military, as only men can serve on the front lines. American soldiers are honored for their actions because they kill for their country. I do believe that the sacrifices a solider makes should be honored, but Steinem questions the belief that we should consider anyone superior simply because they can take life. I disagree slightly with Steinem though, when she says that society tells white males it is superior to kill, and maybe society does to a point, but not to the degree where white males can go into a school and start to kill. People who do that are not honored, they are disturbed. I do not think that anyone argues that the Columbine killers are superior. Steinem looks how when white, straight, male youths commit a crime, no one thinks to mention that they are white or their sexuality. On the other hand if the criminal is a woman (like Douglas points out) or is homosexual or is any race other than white, the news reporter will speak on it. I think that the same can be said for Muslims.
Enloe also discusses male superiority, but she does it on a more global view. Enloe looks at the silence that male superiority creates for women. She makes the good point that silence robs people of the chance to hear everyone's thoughts and/or understandings. This reminded me of voting. Many people in the United States do not vote, yet it seems that everyone complains about the government. When big elections come around people rally together to try and get the most votes cast. I remember during the most recent presidential election campaign celebrities (as well as other people too) wore shirts that read: "Rock The Vote" or "Vote Or Die." Their points were not that if you do not vote you die, but that you should vote because your opinion matters. I know in some countries it is mandatory for everyone to vote, and I am curious what that would mean if it were implemented in America. I think there would be a lot of issues with it, but perhaps then more public opinion could be gathered. Enloe goes on to talk about the violence done against women, and how people who want to talk about the violence are silenced through various means. She mentions the peace and conflict theorist, Hannah Arendt, and her beliefs, which differ from many feminists. The issue of whether things should be discussed in private or in public comes up. If something is said in private then is it silenced? I do think that when something is said in public then obviously more people know of it, but things said in private can have power too. There is the issue of "respectability", or of keeping the nation's image good. Either way, I think silence on these issues allows them to perpetuate. For both sexes to have their fair say in how things are in the world, this silence needs to end. At the end of the chapter, Enloe gives a new way to test violence against women. She focuses on how women are treated generally, if they dare to speak out, how they are greeted when they do speak out, and how dependent is society on female silence. She ends arguing that if a government is to become more representative on the entire population than female silence needs to end.

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