Finished my assignment. 1600 words in the bag.
Basic sociology concepts and such, will be handed in tomorrow.
Airports are strange places, but it took me a little bit of thinking to realise why.
I mean aside from the fact they are manufactured environments.
They are manufactured environments whos sole purpose is to bring people into a country and to help people get acquainted and out into their exciting holiday destinations.
It’s no small irony that every possible square meter of space is leased out to brand name labels.
Hilfiger, McDonalds, FCUK and GAP seem to attack me from every square foot of wall.
They almost upstage the place I’m visiting, becoming the reason you travel as apposed to just another outlet.
It says ‘Look we’re here, The brand that you love, no matter how far you go here we are. Comfort!’
Once you look past the lights and the bustle, it’s really oppressive and designed not so much to get you to buy here but to make you aware that those shops you love exist here as well.
Globalization is eating the world one public space at a time.
Yesterday a close friend of came out as trans.
Honestly I was a little shocked, I’ve known her for a long time and never suspected a thing.
She’s got support for her parents, her girlfriend, as well as some of her friends.
But this isn’t about her, this gave me a bit of a shock.
I had assumed little behaviours just meant she was a ‘bit femmy’ and put down her quirks like me to her autism.
You build up this image of somebody and then they still manage to surprise you.
The human race is remarkable that way, well I’m being fully supportive of her and her goals in life.
She will still be my friend, if anything we have more in common now.
It often makes me wonder why people freak out when friends transition, I’ve done a lot of gender theory hell one of my old partners is trans. But I never reacted negativity the first time, what drives family members or friends to push away people when they transition?
I imagine being their Mother would take its toll even a little, deep down if you raised this person, spent hours in labour to see their face. Raised them from a tiny baby to a strong empowered adult.
When you assume they are one gender and raise them as such you get overwhelmed by their desire to be another.
On the other side of the coin though, it would give you time to get to know that person better and better to see all the little pieces add up, put together the signs. Thankfully the latter is what happened for my friend.
Imagine if it had been the former, imagine if she had been kicked out of her house or shunned and abused like so many others.
Where does transpanic come from?
I’m not talking about, the OMG YOUR A WHAT murder that happens when guys attack trans women.
I’m talking about parents and friends.
Why would you push away somebody you care about when you learn something new about them?
Is it really all about built up perceptions of that person or is it something deeper?
Society in general doesn’t like it when gender barriers are blurred or crossed.
Sure we can provide equality between men and women, even pay gaps, crack the glass ceiling (go Julia), but when people genuinely decide to cross those barriers society explodes. The reasons behind this are numerous , but the most important one is that of power.
Men are given in general more empowered positions in life, they are seen as more headstrong, tougher, capable, they get payed more, and are seen as breadwinners. Women are considered to be child bearers, housewives, we are payed less and generally find it harder to get through life without a man to help.
Men and women are considered to hold different kinds of power, in this instance though only one kind of power matters.
And that is the power of self expression.
Now it’s easy for a girl to wear men’s clothes and not get shit, hell I wear baggy jeans every day, boys t-shirts, and have a lot of hobbies that are considered ‘guyish’, but if anyone of you know me I’m far from Male.
However, for a man to wear women’s clothing is a HUGE act of rebellion, it’s considered a complete deviation and something to be shunned. Why you ask?
This has everything to do with femininity and and masculinity.
Mainly how femininity is something of a scapegoat in today’s society, another word for ‘powerless’.
(check out Julia Serrano’s book for more on this)
When a man expresses femininity he is putting himself into a position of relative ‘dis-empowerment’
By shedding masculinity or exploring feminine behaviour, a man is considered to be a ‘pussy’ and stripping himself of power and status.
He becomes weak. Because society can’t stand femininity and any possible expression of it.
You can use the biological deterministic argument and say that, men are simply stronger and better equipped to deal with the harsh challenges of todays world. Now of course that’s a load of rubbish, neither sex these days is that much stronger than the other, and if they are they generally make up for it in other ways.
So what of sociological reasons, what of societies desire to crush femininity?
Is it wrapped up in a Patriarchal fear of of being ‘less than a man’, being ‘feminine?’ or being Female.
Does the reason so many trans women are alienated stem from Patriarchal fear of the feminine? of the female.
Food for thought.
Corporate Hegemony and The Rise of Corporate Personhood.
The rise of corporate hegemony is in my firm belief responsible for many of the ills of society at the present time.
What exactly do I mean by this you ask? (while hopefully nodding your head in agreement)
To explain this you must first understand that in todays society there exists a new kind of person, that of the corporation. Gradually over time society and governments have been granting corporations the same rights and freedoms as individuals.
This is a very dangerous idea and one that must be fully explored before it can be allowed to continue.
Although at face value it may seem a reasonable proposition to give corporations the same rights as individuals , it leaves us open to increased risk of Americanisation and Mcdonaldization due to the sheer amount of power and wealth attached to large organisations.
How the spread of corporate culture that has exploded at an alarming rate across the globe has been explored many times by authors such of Chomsky (See ‘Hegemony or Survival’) and of course Naomi Klein’s ground breaking book “No Logo”, as such it isn’t really necessary for me to go into the factors of how corporate hegemony.
Although I will touch on it in the next couple of paragraphs, but if you’re are interested in this I highly recommend you pick up the afore mentioned books, and read up on ‘Fordism’ and how corporate efficiency can be implemented to integrate corporations into society.
What worries me is not corporations themselves but the social viewpoints that they maintain, particularly in the ‘Old Media’ such as the Packer Empire or more appropriately News Corporation. Is it okay for a corporation being able to put forward one viewpoint without shining light on another, for instance Fox News has had many talking heads who are often anti-choice and highly conservative. (Glenn Beck, Anne Coulter to name two)
This is where the beginnings of a problem form, when you give freedom of speech to corporations you run the risk of of the mis-use of corporate power.
In a world where corporations hold the same rights as individuals, everything could change. Imagine if the IWC had no oversight at all on international whaling for example.
When an individual is given certain rights then they are in general allowed to chose the way they live their lives, obviously within certain social structures supported by the status quo.
In this Author’s opinion , to prevent the spread of corporate ideals, a change in the way we think and view corporations is necessary.
Organisations should not exist as entities serving the public for a profit while serving the greater good of said corporation.
Instead they should serve the public good by the will of the people.
At our suffrage, if you will.
If a corporation exists to use the people as a means of profit it can create a situation where the corporation makes a profit at the EXPENSE of the people as apposed to service the people.
At the end of the day this is all about perception, not only from the point of view of the corporations but from ours as well.
So how do we change how we perceive corporations?
The first step is of course through education, awareness and affirmative action to help erode the idea that corporations are vast entities with the power to do as the please. Unfortunately this is where lies the greater issue.
Everyday under our noses corporations work to make themselves appear more human. They do this by presenting an image of who they want to be.
Through the use of sociological data , corporations build up an idea of who their target audience is, what demographics they lie in and what ideals they might hold.
Through this they can use the process of branding to present an image of that company to the public based on what they believe the public would best react to.
So we know that corporations put on happy face to ease public perception, they want to be our friends, our neighbours and our trusted advisors.
In conjunction to this PR and the branding process organisations work on a second front, that of back room deals, court cases, payoffs and political lobbying with one goal in mind.
That goal is simple to realise yet difficult to prove, the goal is one of full corporate personhood.
While marketing may be affective at changing public perception it is less useful when it comes to changing laws.
To that end there is increasing pressure from organisations to decrease government oversight and allow corporate entities to claim the rights and liberties afforded to individual citizens.
An example of this comes from a US supreme court ruling on the 21st of January this year which allows US corporations freedom of speech during election campaigns as well as lifting restrictions on corporate spending during the same time period. (Citizens United -vs- Federal Election Commission)
Another ruling from 2008 in favour of the infamous Blackwater Corporation, stated and I quote “Blackwater is a person and has a right to due process under the law and would suffer significant damage due to not being able to start on its $400 million Navy contract.”
Now this I do not generally have a problem with, I believe that all people have the right to due process, but corporations do not deserve to be labeled as ‘people’ particularly in a courtroom and government setting.
In my view it is cases such as these that not only serve to erode controls designed to stop corporations from controlling governments as well as other corporations by granting them personhood.
Imagine if you will a world where a corporation can come out in direct support of a governmental candidate or funnel money openly into campaign contributions.
Is it such a step from there to consider a corporation running for government?
Thankfully, that world doesn’t exist. But it might, so in the meantime there is a lot you can do to help prevent the spread of corporate hegemony and personhood.
First steps are simple, you can write your local MP or senator, you could join a radical culture jamming group, or donate money to organisations such as ‘Wikileaks’ or ‘Electronic Frontier Foundation’ or most anyone who helps campaign for open standards and corporate oversight.
Other options include doing your own research before making a purchase, so you make sure your money doesn’t go into a company that doesn’t support or share your way of thinking. You could even get directly involved , as many affirmative action groups are desperately in need of volunteers plus you can easily do this in your local community.
On a person level you can use more open source software and products , as they are not only free but they are made by people who support freedom of information and open standards which definitely helping the fight against corporate culture.
This is a long game that wont likely change in our lifetime, but bit of help is sorely needed.