Saturday, March 24, 2018

It’s About Power, Not Privilege

Dear readers:

I hope you'll read something I wrote with my friend and fellow sociologist Peter Kaufman. It's posted at Everyday Sociology Blog, just click here.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Never-Ending Quest to Prove Masculinity

Joe Biden wants us to know (for the second time) he would have beat the hell out of Donald Trump in high school.

Donald Trump assures us he would take down Biden.

I'm reminded of Michael Kimmel's point about proving masculinity. The quest to prove one's manhood, sadly, never ends for many men. Here's Kimmel is his 1996 book Manhood in America. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Why Am I Dreaming about Ants?

I've had two dreams recently that featured ants. In one case they were all over the carpet in our living room. In the other they were on the living room ceiling. It should be noted I spend a lot of time in our living room because that's where I couch surf and watch television. In the ants on the ceiling dream I tried to spray them away with a Raid type substance.

I spent 90 seconds on Google to come across a few potential explanations. Dreams with ants suggest that something is crawling under your skin, irritating you, or could simply be that you are antsy. Interesting. Well, there are many things irritating me at all times but that's a constant in my life and personality so I don't know why there are suddenly ants marching* in my dreams lately.

I am satisfied with the antsy explanation. I have the great fortune of a sabbatical in my near future. I will be on sabbatical in the Fall 2018 semester. I am exploring many ideas related to research and writing. A few ideas are beginning to take shape. I'm feeling good about what I might accomplish during sabbatical. I'm ready. And excited. You might even say antsy.

*first Dave Matthews reference in the 7 year history of this blog. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Short Video of the Day (Why Is Dating So Much Work?)

Came across this three minute video while preparing for my Sexuality and Gender class. It's embedded in an article in The Atlantic by Julie Beck entitled "The Rise of Dating-App Fatigue."

There's a gem of a quote in the article from Holly Wood:
“The process of dating inherently sucks,” says Holly Wood, a PhD candidate at Harvard University who’s doing her dissertation on modern dating. “I literally am trying to call my dissertation ‘Why Dating Sucks,’ because I want to explain that. But I can’t, because they won’t let me.”
Wood also offers an observation about honesty and authenticity:
"Men who want casual sex feel like they’ll be punished by women because [they think] women don’t want to date guys for casual sex. But for women who are long-term relationship-oriented, they can’t put that in their profile because they think that’s going to scare men away. People don’t feel like they can be authentic at all about what they want, because they’ll be criticized for it, or discriminated against. Which does not bode well for a process that requires radical authenticity.”
Julie Beck concludes the article this way:
"Dating hasn’t become an apocalypse, it’s just become another way modern life can make people feel overworked. When the actual apocalypse eventually comes, perhaps it will be easier to recognize love when it’s looking at us over the rat carcasses we’re roasting on a spit over a trash can fire, when many of our options have been killed off by plagues or zombie hordes, for then no time we’re given will feel like a waste. Until then, there’s always Tinder."
Other articles I'm reading for class preparation include:

If there are articles you like that you think might interest undergrads, please let me know!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Affordable Housing Crisis

A few resources I want to share as I do prep work for my Social Stratification course:

1. PBS documentary (55 minutes) that gives insights into the world of affordable housing development industry. Raises many important issues: rising rents but not rising incomes, residential segregation, policies regarding assistance for housing, and discrimination faced by people who try to use housing vouchers to help pay for their housing.

2. Q & A with Matthew Desmond. Here's an excerpt:
"I just think that without stable shelter, everything else falls apart. If you are a typical poor working family today, you are spending at least half of your income on housing costs, and sometimes you are spending 60, 70 percent of your income just on rent and utilities. Under those conditions, you are unable to buy enough food sometimes, to afford enough to be stable in the community. And you face eviction at a really high rate, which not only can result in you losing your home, but can result in you losing all sorts of other stuff, too, like your possessions, your school, your community."
3. Desmond's writing about the eviction epidemic in a New Yorker piece.

An excerpt:
"For decades, social scientists, journalists, and policymakers have focussed on jobs, public assistance, parenting, and mass incarceration as the central problems faced by the American poor, overlooking just how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty. Not everyone living in a distressed neighborhood is associated with gang members, parole officers, employers, social workers, or pastors. But nearly everyone has a landlord."
"Women from black neighborhoods made up less than ten per cent of Milwaukee’s population but nearly a third of its evicted tenants. If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

How Much Will You Pay For Asparagus?

What's the most you would pay for asparagus? I don't buy it a lot, it's not one of my favorite vegetables, it's expensive, and we live in Buffalo, so presumably it takes a while to get to grocery store shelves here in winter. I'll mix it in with pasta or cook it as a side dish for chicken once every 3-4 weeks, I'd say. Today it was on my list to go with fish.

Check out the price for .80 pound of asparagus -- $6. It's labeled "fresh cut" and "washed & ready to use". I wonder how many shoppers are able to afford to pay this much for asparagus, and are they willing to pay this much for convenience? These packages weren't in the produce section. They were in the seafood section. Notice the scallops with carrot puree packaged for $10.

Our fish and asparagus dinner is in a different category. Frozen fish on sale for $2.99, dinner rolls for $3.99 (more than I wanted to spend but half the package will go in the freezer), and $1.44 for a half pound of asparagus. In the produce section they had bunches of asparagus in rubber bands, so I grabbed half a bunch to save $$ and to get only what we need for dinner (family of 4).

Monday, March 5, 2018

Immersed in Suburbia (Park Where You Want Edition)

In a coffee shop where I conduct observations for my Immersed in Suburbia project, I stared out the window waiting for the caffeine to kick in on a cold Monday morning. I saw three instances of people in SUVs parking directly in places marked NO PARKING. It occurred to me they have no expectation they would be ticketed. It struck me as an example of how suburbanite consumers operate in middle-class spaces without being policed.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Song of the Day - "Make Me Feel" by Janelle Monáe

A student in my Sexuality and Gender class who is a fan of Janelle Monáe told me about this song. I played the video in class today. An article in The Daily Beast describes it as a brilliant bisexual pop anthem. In an article at The Guardian, Monáe says:
“It’s a celebratory song. I hope that comes across. That people feel more free, no matter where they are in their lives, that they feel celebrated. Because I’m about women’s empowerment. I’m about agency. I’m about being in control of your narrative and your body. That was personal for me to even talk about: to let people know you don’t own or control me and you will not use my image to defame or denounce other women.”