Phuong Nguyen

Week 2-

Why is gender/sex so important? How do we define it in the context of our lives?

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Why is it at the moment of birth, a girl's entire life can be defined? In Asian cultures, most women are undermined and considered inferior to the male sex. Just because of physical reasons, one sex/gender is considered more superior and greater. A girl is supposed to grow up to be a polite "lady", a lady that doesn't need higher education and only superb skills in the domestic area. Particularly in the Vietnamese culture, girls are supposed to grow up being taught how to take care of their home and family. Identifying myself as a Vietnamese woman, we are supposed to grow up with priorities in taking care of our home. At the age of 19, it would be odd for girls to still be in school with goals of reaching higher education. I went to back to Vietnam last winter, and there were always questions of why I was still in school and how come I didn't have a husband yet. I find it ridiculous that the society and city can change so drastically in the last 10 years, yet people's mind sets are the same as ever. Majority of the nation still treat women as objects. Men who can't find wives in the states will marry a Vietnamese women and bring her back for multiple reasons. Reasons that can be considered positive or negative. Reasons can be assumed to help out the woman to grant her more freedom, an opportunity for education, or a better quality of life. He may have also married her for reasons of simply thinking she is more submissive than women in the states and thinking that she may act exactly how the Vietnamese culture has raised her to be - obedient, speaks softly, and utmost polite.

As a Vietnamese American, my parents have raised me in this Vietnamese culture mindset. They have a strong opinion on not wanting me to forget what culture I came from. To me, this mind set is ancient and played out. I believe that I should adopt to any culture that I live in and yes, I can remind myself of my Vietnamese heritage. However, that does not mean that I have to portray the perfect Vietnamese girl to the T like my parents want me to while I life in the states. I believe that my sex doesn't define how I should act despite the region or culture. Although I am a girl, it does not mean I should create this persona of being delightfully polite and always calm. It doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to go out late at night and have a few drinks just like men are socially accepted to do. I don't believe that sex or gender is important in order to create the person you want to be. It is not a deciding factor to give your child limited choices of who and what they portray themselves as.

Week 3-

This week's lecture was so interesting to me as how women have developed through time and space. Globally, it's crazy that we still haven't acquired gender equality. We have acquired the technological success of projecting the time to settle anyone on the moon or mars but we haven't been able to expand our minds and accept women just like men; that we are indeed all human beings with equal rights. It was interesting to hear the 'slut walk' being included in this lecture. In the universities at home, we called the slut walks an opportunity for girls to dress provocatively and speak out about rape. There were society claims of how a lot of women were getting raped because "they were asking for it". They were claimed of asking for it because they were dressed provocatively. These events drew a lot of attention and spread across large campuses for awareness. This was effective in addressing the message that; no, women who dress "slutty" are not asking to get raped.

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Another topic that sparked my thinking was how in today's world we cab still place women into categories. If we are "overweight" we are deemed undesirable. If we are "ugly" we are deemed mean names and possibly ignored. If we are "pretty" we are thought to have it all. Even Disney can evolve the female character from a perfect princess into the warrior by fighting through family and society's struggles (Shrek, Mulan). How come our modern woman can't fight the struggles of society better? It seems silly to compare but really, we should battle body image, reputation, and sexuality a lot better. We shouldn't keep letting the media get the best of us and allowing us to put ourselves down and especially threaten our health. Is body image that important for us to forget about our health?

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Week 5-

Today's tut really had me thinking about the younger girls these days. I've mentioned it before in conversations with friends and such, but never really gave it a lot of deep thinking. I remember watching the 'toddlers in tiaras' show when I was at work and thinking how ridiculous it was. I used to work as a salon receptionist and the things I saw and experienced reflected today's conversation a lot. Younger girls these days, especially toddlers, are starting to act as adults at such a early stage in life. So many little girls would get their nails painted along with pedicures just like the older women did. Young teenage girls would come in dressed as if they passed puberty a long time ago and ask to get full sets just because their parents would pay for it. Are parents the problem why younger girls think it's acceptable to dress or act how they do now? Or is it what's out there (media/consumers) that offers them what they need to fulfill this "role" at this age? It's a bit difficult to point the finger at exactly what or who created this warp time speed through girls' childhood to adolescence. All in all, it can definitely be concluded that young girls are growing up way too fast. In my town, each year a set of freshmen high school girls would always be worse than the last.The new class of girls would start high school either being celled "sluttier" because of how they dressed or their rumors of excessive promiscuity. More and more girls were rumored to be pregnant or even carrying STD's. It's just completely ridiculous, but this phase almost feels inevitable. (as sad as it sounds) Maybe, if more schools or parents would raise their awareness of sex,drugs,and alcohol better there might be a chance to inform these young girls of the detrimental choices they may be making. The choices made young may affect them for the rest of their lives.

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Q. How do you think women should behave within our society? Do you have definite ideas about what is ‘ladylike’ or appropriate for women and girls? Take a moment to look through the following list of traits commonly attributed to women and place a tick beside the traits that you believe are true of most women:

More other-­‐focused ✔
Talks mostly about people
Eager for commitment
Needs more intimacy ✔
Looks for hidden meaning
Tries to change others more
Fears abandonment
More responsive listener ✔
More monogamous
Feels more resentful
Gossips more ✔
Often too trusting ✔
Needs more approval ✔
Likes to discuss problems ✔
Worries more about others
Less independent
More apologetic ✔
Less aggressive ✔
Often emotional ✔
Nags more often
Respect less important
Less competitive
Tends to avoid conflict
Worries more about appearance ✔

I believe that women do not have a definite idea of what they should be like in society. Although society like to give us an idea through media and such that we have to be "perfect", we all know that this idea is false. We are all our own woman and have our own definitions of what the essence of a woman is. There is such a thing as "lady like" but it is not something that all women would like to achieve. However, even the definition of "lady like" is something that we each have our own definitions and limits to. We all globally and continuously struggle with the idea of how our sex shapes our gender role, and what our personality should thus be like. The perception of how a woman should be is based on one's own empirical knowledge. What we have experienced and grown up to know, is actually all we know to believe and perceive as truth. The check marks I used for those traits is honestly how I perceive women and girls to be like. They are attributes that I find common in myself and the women and girls I know around me.

Week 6-

This week's lecture and the tut for week 7 really had me thinking about my future baby plans. I won't leave the tute crying but it has got me thinking hard. I guess I actually do have a 5 year plan. My partner has asked me before if I can see him in my life 5 years from now... and I actually can. However, education has always been my priority. I refuse to have a child without the fact that I don't have the resources to financially support a family. I want to go into dental medicine which involves an extra 4 years of school in dental school after my 4 years of undergrad. I never planned on pausing and instead going full force through school. My family and friends always made comments upon it such as, "Wow you're going to be such an old hag when you graduate!" or "When will you ever have children or a family?" I understand that as a woman, some may see these prospectives as their most important goals in life, but I never pictured them to be my own. Despite of the difficulties that society, family, or culture may pose, I will always stick to my personal goals and rules to live by.

Through personal experiences, I have watched my older sister as I've grown up. She is 28 years old, pregnant with her 4th child, and lives in our home (duplex). My parents have started to work less and switch shifts through out the day to help watch my sister's kids. My sister and brother-in-law did not attend college and work full time jobs. They have lived in our home ever since my sister had her 1st child who is 6 years old right now. Watching her as an example, and although I love her dearly, I do not want to be like her. I don't want to be 28 years old and asking my mother to watch my kids as I go out with my friends. My sister loves being a mom but in my eyes, I would only love being a mother if I am comfortable with the fact that I am happily married, financially stable, and have my own place with my partner. I understand that life isn't perfect and yes, I don't have a choice of when I want to have a child and how it would occur, but I do want to plan out my life in so I do have time for education, love, and financial stability.

In all, to answer the question from class if I have there's 5 year plan written out... I do, but in my head. Until this lecture came along, I had no idea how difficult it would be! I just realized, even though I have a partner I could imagine myself marrying, when will I ever get married?! Is there enough time?! Based on biological and societal reasons, when will it still be okay for me to have a child... when I am finally done with education? How long will it even take for me to have a stable career and even pay off school loans? Life is so hard for a woman, even though there may be plans lined up, some things are just out of your hands.

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Week 7

We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ~Gloria Steinem

This week's lecture had me think about the process of growing up and actually being in the work force...and what a pain it's really going to be! All I want in uni is to pass all of my courses to get a bachelor's degree, apply to dental school, and hopefully get in! Okay, that's a lot... but I hadn't thought about the difficulties and challenges I might face based on my sex but just my abilities. I'm used to thinking about the struggles I would defeat by working harder but I don't think there is much I can do to overcome the challenges that are placed in society due to my sex. I have understood and known for the longest that yes, women have been considered less capable than men in the work force due to maternity leave ect. but I think it's absolutely ridiculous. When a woman applies to a job, why must there be detriments to our careers because of the fact that we will go on leave to give life. We obviously are not going on a vacation that a man is just as likely to make during their career.

The quote above stuck out to me from lecture. As I could rant for hours about equality between men and women all over the world, I just liked how this sums up the western society's fear. It's almost as if we are afraid to subject men to what women have gone through, and are still going through. We can be perfectly okay with raising our girls up as tom boys but we would be completely uncomfortable with giving our sons a Barbie doll for Christmas. It sums up society's built in gender roles and how it precedes itself in the individual's future and career choice. We don't like the idea of how our own daughters can grow up being "less superior" than men, particularly in the work force, yet we continuously keep men "on top" without the dare for change.

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Week 8

Domestic Violence-

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This is a movie I could think of when it came to DV. It has a strong story line about a woman who fights back from her husband physically and mentally. It depicted a strong woman who left and learned how to protect herself and her child.

I believe that DV is a serious issue in today's society. I always thought it was the act of physical abuse but I realized it's something that can mentally harm a person also. I know a lot of young people who deal with it "lightly" or with the entire issue as a whole. DV can happen to anyone and any sex, and now that I know it's also mental abuse it's more common than we think. From my personal experience, I used to have an old friend that psychologically and physically abused her boy friend. She would complain about his weight, clothes, and personality, yet she claimed to "love" him. She was so obsessed with who he hung out with, who he talked to, and what he did through out the day. She changed him into someone she had complete control over and someone I did'nt even know anymore. It all ended up badly with him changing so much that he wasn't even the "nice guy" he used to be. They both stayed in a toxic relationship with cheating, serious conflicts, and even abortions. They got into physical fights once or twice that did end up with bruises, but nothing that was so serious to the extent that the situation was taken to any parents or authorities. However, now thinking back I hoped that this friend would have just left and walked away. I wish someone could have brought to their attention that they had serious issues and that they needed help. Being stuck in an unhealthy relationship at such a young age, can only be detrimental to future relationships.

Week 9

This week's lecture was about women's mental health and substance abuse through time. Mentioned in the lecture was The Hours by Michael Cunningham. I've actually picked up this book a few week's ago when it was mentioned in other lectures, it was quick read and extremely interesting as recommended. Now, I don't want to ruin it for those of you who have yet to discover this magical thing, but it is quite a depressing yet insightful take on the different roles and lives women took part in. This book really gives one an idea of what it was like for women in the past and how the roles change through out the 20th century. For I, had an idea of what it was like for woman in the past; not allowed to have a voice or education, but this book gives an idea of how the era shapes a woman's role.

The 21st century has shaped my own role as a woman. This era has really affected my self-esteem and drive to do what I want to do in life. Coming from a patriarchal background and family, it has become my utmost goal in life to make something of myself that my father can deem impressive (tough challenge). However, with all these options and updated knowledge of what women are really capable of, it really builds pressure on women with these expectations. I know women who may turn to different paths that may "numb the pain" (drugs, alcohol, sex), and it is actually considered normal these days. Taking a hit, taking shots, bringing home a one-nighter, no problem as long as tomorrow's job will get done? Women's roles have radically changed in the last few decades and only blogging about this has made me realize it. What I thought a woman should be like 10 years ago is so different to what I expect a "normal" woman to be now. Is there even such as a "normal" woman these days? The real difficulty is if any woman actually wants to be normal (physical looks, intelligence, ect).... With all the influences that become apparent as we get older, we only come to realize how many things can stand in our way towards a brighter future or how many more substances can be abuse and say YOLO... interesting...

Week 10

This week's lecture was about healthy ageing and how these measures could be improved. I'm only 20 years old and I've merely thought about how my health will be in my 40's. Currently, I drink too much caffeine and stay up late all the time. I feel like drinking coffee is in my daily routine and running/exercise is something I turn to only when I'm stressed out, or can be used to procrastinate so I don't have to do work immediately. Awful! I know! But bad habits die hard and this lecture kind of freaked me out. All of these past lectures have been reality checks for me and this one reminds me that exercise and eating healthy doesn't just affect what you look like now, "hot" or not, it will ultimately affect how you will be years from now. Your lifestyle really impacts how healthy you are, and although we say "of course that's obvious", but once you reflect on what your routines in life are now, only you can determine if you'll be healthy in the future. Also, menopause is used so often in jokes and tv references, but I honestly never really knew what happened to your body (physiologically). Shouldn't health class, what we took in high school cover this? Health class teaches you how to have protected sex but it doesn't teach you of the implications - social and physical - impacts of menopause as you reach in life after all the sex. Well that's ridiculous. I know a high school girl shouldn't be worried, but as I get older I don't want menopause to his me like a truck and have no idea what's going on till it actually happens.