Saturday, April 28, 2012

Final Project: The kitchen or the computer? How about both.

As mentioned in my previous blog post about geeks, there tends to be a stereotypical image that the individual is a computer geek, loves games, white, male, straight, probably overweight, wears glasses, and lacks fashion sense. This typical image is wrong, because not all geeks are computer geeks in contrary to the mainstream portrayal of geeks. We can be math geeks, fashion geeks, art geeks, and yes, you can be a computer or a gamer geek too. And no, not all geeks are men. Though the word geek has been reclaimed all around recently, stigma still lies somewhere, especially for the gamer geeks.

Being an art geek could be seen more positive than being a gamer geek. As a person who is enthusiastic about their passion for art, they can maybe build a career from there and become famous some day. Or perhaps, they can learn to design a couple things and generate great revenue. In contrary to a gamer, there are more negative connotations than positive. Does “addicted to art” sound better or “addicted to games”? According to a thread asking how women perceive men who play games, a fraction of women mentioned that meeting a male who play games discourages them from continuing social contact. They view gaming as an immature hobby, have an immature personality, lazy, neglecting their family and friends, neglecting their social life, jobless, and a loser. This kind of stigma really stems from the idea that, in our society, only children play games and adults should move out of their gaming period whenever they graduate from college, find a job, take on adulthood responsibilities, and contribute to society. By remaining as a gamer in adulthood, he or she is being associated with the stigma of a gamer. They are neglecting their responsibilities and wasting their productivity on games. Unfortunately, if you are seen as a female gamer, you are more likely to receive twice the stigma compared to a male. According to the same thread mentioned earlier, a couple women replied, saying that as a female gamer, many men have turned away (and off) and thought they were crazy. There isn’t much surprise when we hear a man playing games, but why do people look at women in bewilderment when they tell people that they are gamers?

As simple as it sounds, the reason why people are amazed at the existence of female gamers is because they are seen as deviant. Women are not supposed to play games, and most games are not intended for women. The gaming industry has been targeting always men as their population, hence why gaming is generally associated with the male gender. Not much is spoken about women who play games in the media, and in fact, even encourage the idea that women do not play games. This myth is indeed a lie, as 40% of women do play games and women over 18 “represent nearly twice as much of thegamer population, than do boys age 17 or younger”. Additionally, women tend to play more casual games and men tend to play more hard core games like action or fighter games. Are these facts true or rather only socially constructed? We do know that women have typical gender roles such as taking care of the family, hence why people discourage women from playing games and find other kinds of leisure that will not step on the boundaries of a male-dominated leisure of gaming.

Whenever a female enters the gaming world of men though, not only they receive the stigma of being a gamer, but they also receive the harsh stigma of being a female gamer. As one of our readings “Everyone Knows Who The sluts Are” by Dunn have mentioned (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), whenever a behavior is not compatible with “old meanings”, such as having sex when you are not copulating, a female is seen as a slut unless she is in a relationship under modern context. In our situation as a female gamer, you are either seen as a slut, fat, or ugly. The female gamer does not correspond with the typical image of a male gamer (the “old meanings”) and she has crossed the boundaries of this traditionally male-oriented hobby. In order to shame the individual and to hopefully force the individual back into their proper space like the shaming theory suggests by Braithwaite (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), labels are thrown in hopes to re-integrate the individual back in the society (the norms, such as pushing women back into their narrow private spaces) and her gender has become her master status among the gamer community. “You can’t be just you”, describes a female game designer about the stigma and pressure as a female gamer by over achieving in games and representing her group to defeat the stereotype that women cannot and should not play games. The stigmatization of being a woman gamer can be counterproductive, as Braithwaite also describes, because the individual is being degraded. There is also a potential risk that the female gamer may even internalize the negative connotations of the labels as the labeling theory suggests and adopts the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy  (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010) and learned self-helplessness from dealing with the shaming and vicious attacks from the community.

Additionally, the population of female gamers is slowly rising and the male gamers (and their masculinity) may have felt threatened by the increasing presence of female gamers, especially if their skills are more superior compared to males. Unskilled female gamers are forgiven since they are acting “like girls” by being horrible at games, as the comic above by The Oatmeal suggests, but if a woman has skills that may match those of men (which is deviant), the male dominant group’s position in the gaming world will feel threatened. This idea has been specifically mentioned by the movie Tough Guise. A part of the film mentions minority groups who are questioning the authority of white straight men in our society and how the dominant group responds to these threats by creating subtle messages that still reinforces their traditional values in the media, thus creating a backlash against such revolutions. The topic of queers, feminism, and Blacks (and other minorities) are constantly used for the sake of humor. “Woman, go back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich!” or "Tits of get the fuck out!" are one of the sexist jokes we hear often in the gaming community. Just as there is a comedian making fun of feminism to skew the true purpose and value of feminist ideas, the same behaviors are seen in the gaming community where male straight gamers are attacking women with jokes or with sexually violent comments for being more skilled than the average male or by simply being present in the community to maintain their power as the dominant group. As reflective of our current societal gender issues, women are just as prone to sexual harassments in Online games as well.

“I was fielding comments that were sexually violent – hoping I’d choke on semen, that my vagina would be stapled shut, that they’d rape me and force me to keep the baby and kill us both. That they wished me dead.” 
– Author of Apple Cider Mage blog

The dehumanization and demeaning comments towards women are nothing new, especially women working in the sex industry. In the film “Live Nude Girls Unite!”, Exotic dancers are seen as deviant since their nature of work is seen as morally wrong, hence their work rights are very minimal, especially since their industry is run by men (just as how the gaming industry is controlled by men as well, only 11% of women are in the workforce). Additionally, violence against women seen in games is prevalent as well, just as we see violence against women in the sex industry. The idea that sex and violence sells is true according to our societal values. As a result, no sympathy is given for sex workers (or female gamers) and they are subjected to sexual harassments as if they deserved it. “These women wouldn’t have to face degradation if they hadn’t done these kind of behaviors”, as most people think when using the achieved versus ascribed argument.

Fortunately, the gaming industry is starting to steer their attention towards women’s needs and other minority groups, taking into consideration that, yes, there are more than just male straight gamers. A Canadian game developer company, BioWare, released a popular fantasy role playing game called Dragon Age 2. The outstanding thing is that they have introduced a revolutionary idea to enable the possibility for their players to have sex with anybody in the game, and that includes having relationships with characters of the same sex. The company’s main goal is to show that any relationship is possible, and not simply catering to the preferences of the white straight male. In response to this deviant act by this prominent gaming company, a player was outraged by their deviant behavior. The player, speaking as “the white straight gamer”, spoke about the company ignoring the main population of straight male gamers by implementing a same-sex relationship function in game. He insisted that the company should focus in pleasing the white straight male population. A spokesperson from BioWare proceeded to stand up for the queer population and the minority, stating that being a straight male gamer is not a privilege to them. Privilege should be shared with everybody in order to reduce imbalance between groups because minorities tends to be ignored and oppressed. Being part of the majority does not mean that these people are “right” and should be prioritized, and this is what exactly Johnson points out in his article “Privilege, Power, Difference, and Us” (as cited in Kimmel and Ferber, 2009). If game companies are continuing to ignore the minorities in their gaming population, then they are taking the path of least resistance because risks are minimized and their decision will not be seen as deviant by mingling with the dominant straight while male group.

In addition to a change of target population, there is also a change within the company. Slowly, there is an increasing number of female developers and that means good news. By having more women in the gaming industry, the opinions from women will finally be valued and heard. For example, in the upcoming release of Guild Wars 2, a Massive Online Multiplayer Role Playing Game, some of the people who were in charge of character designs were women. The “it’s a female, just put breasts on it” mentality will be challenged as these women create characters who look more natural, playable, and less sexualized. Usually, we tend to see oversized breasts and a thin waist on female characters no matter their race in games but in Guild Wars 2, these female developers did not add oversized breasts to their female feline characters. In fact, they have none, just like felines in nature. “The result is the female of the Charr species looking every bit as powerful and deadly as the male, but with a more feminine appearance (at least, feminine according to human standards)”, writes Brinstar from the blog Acid for Blood.

Warning: Video below contains profanity. Viewer discretion is advised.
I also would like to remind viewers to watch this clip with a touch of humor.

Resistance: These ladies get revenge.

These kind of positive messages from BioWare and the slowly growing female workforce in the gaming industry is indeed encouraging. More companies need to step into that new and refreshing direction to get away from out-dated ideas and myths. Often, we hear arguments such as the industry will not benefit from changing their target population towards women since they are more “casual”, and that decision is risking the wealth of the industry. Near the beginning of this post, I did mention that almost 40% of women play games and that number is increasing. So, the female gamer population isn't that small after all. Moreover, who says that non-gaming women will not pick up a game some day to try out this new gaming hobby? What people often forget is that many behaviors are socially constructed (and not related to one’s gender) in order to shape men and women into idealized pictures according to the dominant straight white male group. So, is it true that women only like casual games, or is it because they are being told that games are for boys during childhood and underreport their gaming style and frequency for the sake of maintaining their safety?

Word count: 2,029 words


Kimmel, Michael S. and Abby L. Ferber, ed. 2009. Privilege: A Reader. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Film Review 5: Live Nude Girls Unite!

What is the main thesis of this film?

The film is trying to prove the point that exotic dancers are not simply all “whores” and deserve to be thumbed down by the public. What most people don’t realize is that the job as a stripper or a dancer is simply a job, an occupation where a human body is of monetary value, and this has been explained by Wesely, Exotic dancers: “Where am I going to Stop?” (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010). Stripping or dancing is regarded as a role and this role usually does not affect the dancers’ conventional identities, though, they do struggle to keep their identity intact from the stigma. Unfortunately, this stigma of selling their bodies is affecting their human rights and they do not deserve this kind of treatment, which is why the film has spent most of its time showing viewers the dancers’ process of creating a union and gaining workers’ basic rights.

What were the main arguments in support of the thesis?

The profession of dancing behind a glass where customers are paying by the minute is called being an exotic dancer. The key word here is “profession” and “dancer”. But because of their nature of work, the women in the film (and the rest of dancers in our world) are being stigmatized as “sluts” and “whores” simply because they’re getting paid to show their body. Consequently, this stigma and deviant profession has created a horrible working condition that dehumanizes these dancers. They do not have sick days. If they are late to work, their position gets bumped down and will get paid less. Also, people of color are being discriminated and are being put at less favorable shifts because of their skin color. This kind of discrimination also extends beyond skin color as a woman’s hair color or body size are also being weighted. Furthermore, a lot of women depend on this kind of work to feed their children and do not want to lose their job because of discrimination or retaliation (acting “human” and asking for rights).

The point that most people seem to miss is that dancing is an occupation so asking for human rights and to be respected is natural. However, the public stigmatize these workers and will further push them somewhere in a dark corner where we can just close our eyes and pretend they do not exist. Fortunately, there are images such as these to encourage people to separate the role of their job from their real identity as a whole human. They have lives too; some are mothers, daughters, and some are brothers.

How does the thesis of this film relate to the course?

It’s very obvious that exotic dancers are deviant because the nature of their work is considered deviant by the majority. Our naked bodies are sacred and should only be shown to our loved ones. This kind of reminds me of what we have discussed in class regarding non-monogamy: is it possible to have sex without love? I’m sure we can strip down and dance around naked without having any emotional connections with the customers.

Additionally, we should not be sexualizing our body for money because it reminds of another occupation: prostitution. Prostitution is even more stigmatized and deviant beyond our imagination. Having to read Listening to Olivia, the stigma and hardships prostitutes have to go through has permanently damaged my consciousness. Their stories is not something we hear every day since most people don’t even want to know what’s going on in the underworld.

Which arguments/points did you find the most convincing?

I find the part where dancers (or other women) are marching on the streets demanding for working rights very convincing. Exotic dancing is a job, therefore, basic work rights (or human rights at the least) should be appointed. No one should be de-humanized simply because they decide to dance around naked for money. Also, the scenes where the dancers are in a room discussing what they should bargain with their employer is really nice. It really shows us the idea of feminism, where women band together and work towards a goal for equality. This image and notion is not understood and seen by everyone because feminism is still being viewed negatively as “those crazy women”.

Which arguments/points did you find the least convincing?

I’m having a hard time with one point shown in the film. I’m not sure whether I agree with it or not, but it’s inevitable that the average people (or men) favor blond hair, white skin, and big breasts or buttocks. Most companies have a target consumer population and will create products that will cater to their needs, kind of like how dancers are being selected for favorable dancing shifts. But, to be discriminate and refuse someone work because of their natural characteristics is wrong. Unfortunately, companies can always find ways to dodge this complicated issue. If this sounds incoherent, I believe it’s because I’m not sure where I stand on this point.

Choose one argument, point or question that most stands out for you. How would you study this point? Briefly design a research study around that point.

I would like to compare if there are any changes in the stigmatization of sex workers, based on their nature of work (dancer, strippers, and prostitutes). Both male and female will be studied, men are too often forgotten when it comes to sex work and rape. Are dancers viewed as more acceptable nowadays compared to before? I would have to gather data from previous studies and conduct my own to analyze recent data. It would also be interesting to see if sex workers are now more open about their role in their jobs, like telling friends about their occupation.


Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blog Post 4: Food for Thought

We tend to view ourselves more negatively

Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating) are becoming more and more prevalent, especially among our youth in the United States. It is no doubt influenced by our environments such as the cultural pressure to be thin.

Romans and their Vomitariums

It is intriguing to understand that eating disorders were not created by our modern society, but they actually existed a long time ago before excessively thin actresses and models started to appear everywhere. In some cultures, eating disorders were not viewed as deviant acts. In the 13th century, there were “holy anorexics” who believed they were in control on their spiritual health and being anorexic proved their devotion to God because food was a sin. In the case of bulimia, it was the time of Ceasar that encouraged bulimia because their culture valued continuous eating and partying. They even had “vomitoriums” where people could go vomit, followed by more drinking and eating. Also, in Egypt, bulimia was even used as a health practice. And here comes an event that we’re familiar with: the relationship between food and wealth in the Middle Ages. Yes, gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins according to the Catholic church, but it’s interesting to note that because of the hardships the people have gone through because of wars, they casted away their religious beliefs and engaged in bulimic activities. Because having the luxury to eat large amounts of food was considered a sign of wealth, perhaps the rich have given themselves a justification to their deviance (defined by their religion) to continue their acts of bulimia. It is similar to how we have websites that encourage eating disorders with support from subcultures (pro-ana and pro-mia) nowadays. Interestingly, as a side note, not all types on self-injury disorders have a subculture for victims to depend on. For example, in our reading Self-injurers: a “Lonely Crowd” by Adler and Adler (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), they have mentioned that self-cutters prefer being alone to be able to concentrate on their acts of deviance in contrast to the people described above. Additionally, self-cutters have noticed that their behaviors are causing practical problems such as visible scars in the workplace, so they have switched their cutting area to more private areas. These individuals can go by unnoticed, like binge-eaters, but anorexics and bulimic individuals will notice a sudden weight decrease that will alarm others of their disorder.

From the 1960s and onwards, doctors have finally found labels to assign to those who have eating disorders. Anorexia came first in the 60s, bulimia came second in 1977 (and its first appearance in the dictionary), and binge eating only came to light in the 90s. Overall, what is deviant and what is not really depends on which era and culture you live in and is really malleable.

Extreme Photoshopping: Almost Unrecognizable
Source: MailOnline

With all the social acceptable reasons to engage in eating disorders back in the days, things have changed. In no way that those who engage in eating disorders are viewed normal, especially now since the disorder is recorded between the pages of the DSM. In other words, those who are anorexic, bulimic, or binge-eaters, are all mental. Not only they are mental, but they have some sort of self-hate against their bodies and low self-esteem regarding themselves. Always restless, they find ways to make themselves feel better by limiting their food intake for example, but unfortunately, there is no end to their problems. The increasing usage of Photoshop in advertisements to alter the images of the human body (especially women) in order to make them look more attractive is almost equivalent to a stab to the heart. As a result, the media is constantly whispering messages such as “you will never be good enough, you will never be perfect”. Also, the fashion industry is another possible contributor to the skinny epidemic. It would be very depressing to know that your body is no where near the size of that glamorous model walking on stage. Additionally, even the National Health Service is recommending people to go on a Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition (KEN) diet. It is a process of having a tube feeding a liquid of protein & nutrients, up from your nose, delivering your food to your stomach. Needless to say, this is a very extreme and shocking diet. According to the doctor, the heavier you are, the more you lose the weight. Four to nine percent of your body total weight can be lost in 10 days.
Isn't it interesting that some people are anorexic because they are poor and deprived of food in certain areas of the world, versus countries abundant in resources who choose not to eat instead? Not only that, our society is constantly trying to put us in a difficult position. We are either subjected to all sorts of weight loss techniques (ranging from simple dieting to surgery) in order to feel more confident about ourselves. Additionally, they tell the very same people that they have a eating disorder (application of labels). Either way, we're stuck. The continuous projection of thin bodies will only contribute to further low self-esteem among the general population.

Very thin models
Source: Business Ethics

No wonder adults, children, and teens are being affected by eating disorders. It is a noticeable phenomenon, especially for females. Among eating disorder patients, approximately 90% are women and 10% are men. Among children, 13% to 41% of girls have admitted dieting or exercising to lose weight, in comparison to only 10% to 29% of boys. This phobia of being fat can start at a very young age with children associating thinness with success and popularity. For example, an 8 year old boy thinks that as long as you can see muscles on your stomach, you are not fat. Otherwise, you are fat, and will be shunned by your circle of friends.

Taunted by weight at young age
Source: Microaggressions

Men are also affected

Unfortunately, the increasing view of body dissatisfaction is not only to be present in the media, but is also present in our families. Parents and members of our families can also police your weight and encourage you to eat more or less, as if they are the ultimate judge of your appearance instead of yourselves. For example, from what I’ve seen in my family, we are really cruel against each other. If we haven't seen someone who has gained weight recently, someone will be blunt and point out that they’ve gotten fatter. If you have lost weight, you will be praised and will be used as an example to those who are still “fat” in the family. Our cultural standard to remain thin has created a phobia of being obese. Once you are overweight, you will be demonized by society, and we have read many articles regarding this issue, such as The Stigma of Obesity by Goode (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), showing a very saddening case of an individual’s shame (eventually causing death) due to being mocked by society because of their weight. Additionally, even having obese friends can even put pressure on you because others tend to think less of you and start doubting your judgment.


With nowhere to turn to, many people end up in pro-ana or pro-mia websites to look for comfort and to seek help to become even more thin to satisfy themselves (in which they will never be). With the glorified images of anorexic models, these websites are actually very unhealthy to the mind as one can actually end up dying from extreme diets. Social Issues Research Centre wrote an article about pro-ana and pro-mia websites and have pointed out that those communities have drawn a clear line between themselves and the rest who are aware that they have a disorder. In other words, they are in denial and proud to be in control of their condition. Pro-ana communities have even managed to separate themselves from the “anorexics” label by calling themselves “rexies” instead.

Though we may not have noticed, we are all somewhat affected by this cultural phenomenon of staying thin at some point in our lives, even myself. Even the sight of grease floating around your French Onion soup might give you shivers. Low self-esteem can be hard to combat, but as long as you can fight the demons of society, and even yourself, you can then start to appreciate with what you have today. With that said, it would also be inappropriate to automatically assume that someone has a eating disorder if they seem very thin. Their physical appearance can be natural and genetic. Bottom line, we need to appreciate every type of bodies.

So, eat to live or live to eat?

Word Count: 1,465


Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Film Review 4: Generation RX

What is the main thesis of this film?

There is actually a propaganda going on that many people, especially parents, are not aware of. Our pharmaceutical companies persuade physicians and teachers to prescribe drugs such as Ritalin or Prozac in order to fight ADHD or depression because suddenly "children need it". In fact, these are all false claims. As a result, we now have a large amount of young children getting drugged one generation after another, hence, “generation rx”.

What were the main arguments in support of the thesis?

The autism epidemic is actually a false claim, used by the government and pharmaceutical companies, in order to reap large profits when these companies discovered a new drug. These profits are benefited from children who might be unnecessary misdiagnosed with this mental illness, which is a grave error because not only it may delay or damage their small & on-going developing brain, these drugs may actually cause suicidal thoughts and depression.

How does the thesis of this film relate to the course?

Once an individual has been labeled as autistic or some sort of other medical label, it is hard to detach oneself from this label, or even to grow out from it. As Rosenhan’s study “Being Sane in Insane Places” (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010) has explained, whether you are sane or not, once you have been defined as mentally ill, there is no turning back. Doctors, nurses, and others will be wearing colored lenses and view you as forever crazy or sick. With this said, drugging and misdiagnosing our children could cause them grave mental harm socially and psychologically. This could turn a healthy active child into a depressed or crazy child (with children actually believing that they might be actually sick) because of our nation’s value on capitalism.

Additionally, disorders are socially constructed (and turned into a bible for psychology: the DSM), which is no surprise that some experts can’t even explain what is a mental disorder since knowledge is learned and discovered (so are medical labels and diagnoses). Even the film has shown a clip of a FDA conference between journalists and psychiatrists/physicians who were unable to determine the exact symptoms of ADHD and were very vague about it, saying that symptoms may vary. With these unconvincing ideas, the FDA continues to defend their position that children still need to continue taking Prozac or Retalin in order to succeed in school. However, many scholars have proven that this is wrong. An animated video of these ideas and arguments is on Youtube, "RSA Animation: Changing Education Paradigms".

Interestingly, since these medical labels are socially constructed, the definition of ADHD as expanded from children to adults being diagnosed of this disorder. An increase of self-diagnosing, as explained from the reading “The Emergence of Hyperactive Adults as Abnormal” (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), continues to describe the whole social process of a label, the plasticity of medical definitions, and drug dependency due to life failures.

Which arguments/points did you find the most convincing?

Every part of the film was convincing, especially the segment about these drugs causing depression and increasing suicide rates. The drawing of a 5th grader jumping off a building was extremely disturbing. I believe it shouldn’t be that hard to find the correlation between these factors, and many scholars have proven that the problem is very obvious, present, and persistent. Unfortunately, corporate companies and the state has turned a blind eye towards this issue because this very issue is profitable to them.

Which arguments/points did you find the least convincing?

I usually look for some sort of criticism about every film if I can’t find any arguments that were not convincing. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately, meaning the film was really great), I cannot think of any arguments or criticism.

Choose one argument, point or question that most stands out for you. How would you study this point? Briefly design a research study around that point.

The amount of children showing signs of continuing depression and rise of suicidal thoughts is very distressing. If the child was originally happy, these symptoms should be very obvious to the public.

Since the FDA keeps denying the fact that their drugs to treat ADHD or autism have no side effects, I would love to prove them wrong by conducting two studies. First, I would try to find children who are currently being treated and on medication for these disorders. Finding clues whether their disorder has improved or worsened should not be difficult by looking at cues such as drawings (or any other forms of art), language, and facial expressions. Second, I would then continue this study into a longitudinal one. How are these adolescents/adults feeling today, as children who were diagnosed with ADHD? Do they really feel happier, as the commercials have promised, or do they feel worse? If the study results are convincing, I might be able to turn the game around (only if!).


Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Film Review 3: Tough Guise

What is the main thesis of this film?

The main thesis of the film Tough Guise questions the image of masculinity portrayed in our media and valued by our society. There is also an absence of any other male identity in the realm of manhood. Is such image destructive? In fact, it is. Men and young boys were socially pressured to take on the role of the tough guy even though they are really not all that tough mentally and physically by putting on a tough guise. In the end, not only they are hurting themselves, but they are hurting others such as victims of school shootings. Perfect examples and reason behind school shooting tragedies are explained from one of our readings, “What Triggers School Shootings?” by Kimmel and Mahler (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010).

What were the main arguments in support of the thesis?

The tough guy image is repeatedly being shown towards the male gender from youth to adulthood, which is difficult to avoid since the image is embedded in our culture. The body measurements of action and hero figures are getting more and more macho which is not realistic at all. Growing up, these boys also face on-going criticism from fellow peers by calling each other “gay” or “fag” whenever a boy acts feminine. By labeling the boy with such labels, he will either try to get back into the “tough guise” or become self-destructive (which may lead to depression and suicide). Additionally, the media constantly portrays unrealistic images of buff men as male heroes that will conquer all and will never back out from problems. Because of these iconic heroes, boys and male adults will try act tough just like the heroes which creates a problem because not every guy is tough; there is a huge spectrum that defines what is a man. Race also plays a huge factor in the universe of manhood in the media. Minorities are ridiculously always being portrayed as the violent gangster guy, an abuser or batterer towards women (which also includes white men), or fighters (Asians being ninjas). The media is teaching men that violence can solve problems, but in fact, it creates even more problems.

How does the thesis of this film relate to the course?

Hypermasculinity is destructive and unrealistic because there are many ways to be a boy or a man, but sadly, all those other images besides acting tough are deviant. Acting “manly” is not the only definition of being a man, just like how there is a huge spectrum between the gender binaries. You can be totally feminine, a tomboy, a regular guy, or a macho man. All kinds of gender should be allowed. Again, the media and our culture only allows and glorifies one inflexible image for men: the tough guy. The film also touched upon how the media uses masculinity to devalue social movements such as the civil rights movement, women’s right, and the LGBT movement. Such riots are threatening the dominant group (including the media), which is why subtle or even overt messages are present in movies or music to remind the population that the deviants are still subordinate of the norm: the white culture. This reminds me of the reading “Images of Deviance” by Pfohl (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010) that talks about how the dominant group transforms the messenger into a deviant person in order to lose credibility in his/her words. For example, the media constantly makes fun of feminism and as a result, sexism still exists and feminism is still not being taken of seriously.

Which arguments/points did you find the most convincing?

I find the segment about the backlash from the media (or the dominant group in our society) very convincing. Because of all the social movements that are happening gradually, the dominant group’s values are being threatened. Even though many of these social movements have been accepted, there are still some issues that remain. Making fun of homosexuals or feminists in movies is a good example. The general population laugh about it and might start pondering “wow, these women are crazy!” or “gays are so funny”. These minority groups are slowly losing their credibility. In the end, the dominant group still won. The battle between these groups would be a great place to start talking about control theory.

Which arguments/points did you find the least convincing?

Our professor will probably not like this, but again, I don’t have any criticism for this film. I found every point well made and explained. Everything in the film makes sense to me because I originally held these views and arguments too. Violence and masculinity are destructive.

On another note, a fellow classmate criticized how the buff male image has pretty much retired from the media and replaced by more regular looking men. I somewhat disagree with his statement. Though the physical appearance may have slimmed down, the actual mass is still larger than the average Joe, and what matters the most is that the "soul" of masculinity still lives on. The pride, the dominance hierarchy, the violence, the blood, and respect are still strongly present. For example, the TV show "The Walking Dead" embodies much of these values and it even annoys me at some point (the show is still entertaining, though).

Choose one argument, point or question that most stands out for you. How would you study this point? Briefly design a research study around that point.

I want to find the root of all evil.

I wish to conduct a study and find when boys start to learn about masculinity. I know it’s probably around the age when boys start to develop cognitive abilities, but I would like to know how it happens exactly. Is it the television in their room? The cover of their children’s book? Their parents, perhaps? I will be using boys from age 0 to 12 as my sample. Also, it would be interesting to compare my results with others from a different culture and see how “masculine” the United States is in comparison to other countries. Also, finding traces of masculinity in girls and femininity in boys would be interesting as well. However these results may not be real because the children might lie in order to act like their gender.


Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blog Post 3: Geek is the new cool.

I decided to choose the term “geek”. Although I am one myself, I really did not know much of its definition (I often confuse "geeks" with "nerds") and etymology. Interestingly, the term geek has once embraced negative connotations but turned to a more positive term today.

According to Online Etymology Dictionary, in 1916, the term geek was once used to describe crazy people or “slideshow freaks” in the circus. They would bite off chicken heads and rats. The term also possibly derived from the German word “geck”, describing the person as a fool or simpleton in the 1950s. Then, around the 1980s, the meaning of the term geek changed thanks to the era of technology and computers. The once scary label then became a slang for teenagers who lacked social skills and were obsessed with computers and technology. Additionally, I also found out that the term was also applied to people who were obsessed with a particular hobby or intellectual subjects in academics according to Wikipedia's definition of geek. For example, a person could be an art geek, film geek, and physics geek to contrary belief that there are only computer geeks (which is understandable since the positive connotations did start with the computer era). A “geek” also does not conform to society and prefers to invest their time on their subjects of interest rather than seeking social acceptance. In other words, “geeks” can be seen as weird or odd individuals too.

At this point, some people might start thinking that the term geek is similar, or even a synonym of the terms “nerd”, “dork”, or even “hipsters” (usually more closely associated with "geeks"). Even though all these labels share somewhat of a similarity and might even overlap each other, there is a difference. Specifically, “nerd” is someone who has a high IQ and academically smart. A “dork” is someone who is clueless and silly, and “hipsters” are usually people who are interested in new things and try to be somewhat cool, which may be confused easily with "geeks" since technology geeks are interested and may even own the newest gadgets like the "hipsters", according to a post in the English Language & Usage website.

I also found out that according to an author from the website Kuro5hin, there is a disorder called Asperger’s syndrome which is also known as the “geek syndrome” or "the cousin of autism". The author starts to describe the symptoms of “geek syndrome” (also nicknamed “aspies”, in short for Asperger) and uses himself and as example to support his condition. Users with the syndrome are usually anti-social, monotonous, literal and humorless (but somewhat sarcastic), have trouble interpreting facial expressions, have sensory issues, and also showing signs of all of other disorders such as attention deficit disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. All this sounds too familiar and it reminds us of Dr. Temple Grandin’s clip about people who are affected by autism. Even though people who are affected by disorders or illnesses can sometimes have trouble fitting into our society’s standards, in no way that means that the people in question are inferior or even “retarded” because they are different than “normal” individuals. There are all kinds of minds out there, as Dr.Grandin has mentioned, and our system needs to be more flexible in order to cultivate these particular minds. So, although “geeks” may have Asperger’s syndrome and feel being shamed of being branded with this medical label, attention needs to be paid more to the fact that people are different and society needs to adapt the to the differences between human beings.

As I have mentioned earlier, “geeks” was once described as “freaks”, but presently the term refers to those who are anti-social or very knowledgeable in a particular field or hobby. The term has changed to a more positive connotation, in other words, the “geeks” have reclaimed their word. “Geeks” now have pride in their knowledge and skills and even use the label freely around their community (however, if used by outsiders, it may be considered an insult according to Urban Dictionary). Their pride even includes feelings such as revenge and content since they were once considered as outsiders, but now somewhat respected. For example, “the people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult” was used as an example to define the term “geek” on Urban Dictionary. The dominance hierarchy has switched during the transition from youth to adulthood, apparently. Also, since “geeks” seem to have “Asperger’s syndrome”, bearing a medical label can devaluate an individual. However, it seems as if “geeks” now have so much pride in themselves that syndromes, disorders, and other negative assumptions will not affect their individuality and will even use the term “geek” within their community. They have learned to not adopt and accept the negative connotations from the term “geek”, just as the Duke family have use words such as “stupid” without internalizing the negative label, from the reading “You’re Not a Retard, You’re Just Wise” by Taylor (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010) . Additionally, just like the queer community, the word “geek” has been reclaimed and most geeks feel very proud of their own community. In contrary to the disabled community, a post from "bitchmedia" advises the public to not use terms such as “lame”. The “geeks” do not seem to mind though even if they are aware of the negative connotations that once existed because the word "geek" now has a new meaning. This can be seen especially in our everyday lives, such as the “Geek Squad” from the electronic store BestBuy. Even fashion has now embraced the “geekness”. For example, an online jewelry & art store Shana Logic (awesome store, by the way) is selling a necklace with a red 8-bit heart and a heart necklace with an integrated Lego piece. For those who hang around the Internet often, I’m sure you would recognize “Nyan Cat”, a recent popular internet meme that became a commodity on your finger.

As a final note, a person may be picturing an overweight white male as a computer geek while reading my post. I’d like to remind all of us that there are geeks of all colors, size, gender, and of various hobbies (not just computers which seems to be the default).

I would have put up a picture of myself when I was 5 years old holding the original Nintendo controller, wearing a pink dress and white tights as a girl playing video games without any signs of sexualization (which is a whole other issue about women & gaming).
But, unfortunately, I left that picture at home.

Word Count: 1,134


Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Film Review 2: Murderball

What is the main thesis of this film?

The film
Murderball shines a new perspective on people who are disabled. Though their hands and legs may be paralyzed or damaged, disabled individuals can do what “normal” people do, to contrary belief. We tend to have the stereotypical image of the poor person bound in a wheelchair with a gentle smile. In reality, this is not the case. Though disabled people cannot walk or play the piano like “regular” people or on a certain standard, they can still perform many tasks with pride and need not to be pitied on.

What were the main arguments in support of the thesis?

As mentioned above, people usually think of the disabled as gentle individuals on a wheelchair, like one of the archetypes "The Good Cripple". However, some of the characters in the film were “jerks” (not because of their injury, but retaining their true personality before and after the accidents) and not as passive as you think disabled individuals actually are. Some others, despite completely losing their forearm, were able to open doors with keys and pour drinks just like the abled-bodied. The film eventually showed a clip of a doctor talking about sex life after their injury with a very cheesy background music and sympathetic voice which seems to be very degrading to the disabled. There are disabled people who can enjoy their sex life just fine (which seems to be surprising to the able-bodied). There are also those who can play sports very professionally, such as murderball (now called wheelchair rugby and a Paralympic sport) in which they play with pride.

How does the thesis of this film relate to the course?

In class, we have learned the underlying assumptions and connotations that come along with the label “disabled”, “handicap”, or “person in a wheelchair”. Many communities who are considered outsiders to the society (the “normal” people) are trying to reclaim their label and to remove all the negativity within the term. For example, murderball players have pride being disabled and do not wish to walk again (to contrary belief where people assume that the disabled wished they could walk again). Additionally, murderball players use their disability as a scoring point which is very interesting! And not to mention, their “weapon” of choice and sign of masculinity is a customized wheelchair, their master status. In our society, having a flaw or being disabled is usually a sign of shame and should be buried away, however, murderball players are not ashamed of their disability but instead embracing it. Also, there are various ways to play a sport and not just one standard (the same applies to gender, sexuality, or minds). To come up with a sport such as murderball that is similar to rugby for disabled athletes is a proven point.

Which arguments/points did you find the most convincing?

As mentioned above, the scoring system is really convincing to me. They use their disability, amplified with their pride, to score points for their team. Also, showing scenes of disabled players doing “regular” things such as changing their clothes or pouring water into a cup was really eye-opening. Admittedly, I thought that disabled people needed help for particular things in general. However, watching one of the players, Bob, who lost his legs and his forearm due to meningitis, unlocking his front door with a key was interesting and really made my ignorance obvious.

I’m also surprised that murderball is a mixed gender sport which is not considered the norm since most sports are gender segregated (in addition to using a wheelchair in sport or having disabled athletes), which reminds us of the reading for class "Deaf Team's Standout Season Draws Cheers". Nothing about those sports are the norm, or mainstream. Wheelchair rugby has become a sport that learned not to discriminate against others due to their disability or gender.

Which arguments/points did you find the least convincing?

Honestly, I really loved the movie and it was an eye-opener. I could not find anything that was not convincing to me! Rather, I do have a criticism that the majority of the main characters in the film were white men. I would have loved to see more people of color and of different gender speaking about their experiences and journey as a disabled person.

Choose one argument, point or question that most stands out for you. How would you study this point? Briefly design a research study around that point.

I’m actually interested to see whether people of different sizes, age, races, ethnicities, and gender get differential treatment as a disabled person. So far, I’ve seen only white men speaking of their experiences on the movie Murderball and we rarely get to hear true voices from the disabled in the mainstream media.
“Will an obese black woman become an easier target of discrimination versus a skinny white male on a wheelchair?”
“Do trans individuals or gays/lesbians in wheelchairs get even further ridiculed in addition to their queer status”?
“Will people sympathize more towards an old Asian woman than a young middle-eastern child?”

Friday, February 10, 2012

We will never be satisfied; so many labels!

More comics by the same author:

Film Review 1: Middle Sexes

What is the main thesis of this film?

The film suggests that in the Western culture, specifically the USA, enforces the idea that there is a strong gender binary that revolves around our lives and that needs to be changed because people who do not fall within the norm are dehumanized. To live outside of this gender binary is very difficult because we have this idea that humans are supposedly either male or female, and it is fixed. Most of this gender ideology originated from Christianity, in which religion has played a huge role in shaping our concepts of gender and sexuality. However, in other parts of the world such as India or Africa, the people embrace another concept of gender (probably due to differences in religion) and that some others are more comfortable with transsexuals (like the katoeys from Thailand).

What were the main arguments in support of this thesis?

As mentioned above, Christianity only allows the idea of two sexes, male and female, and that the individuals must have the proper gender identity correspondent to their sexual organs. The Western culture has a fear of homosexuality (or any other ideas that do not conform) because in Christianity, any behaviors that are anti-reproductive is considered a crime. To add, for an individual in Western culture to claim that he/she is not comfortable with their assigned gender, immediately, society treats the individual as if they have a mental illness and he/she needs to be re-corrected. If the person firmly believes that they are not ill, they have to be diagnosed as a person with a Gender Identity Disorder in order to get healthcare or to have a sex change (Itlmedia 2009) which causes further confusion, stress, and frustration among transsexuals. Later on, the film presented different countries and their ideas of transgenders, transsexuals, and intersex. In India, transgender individuals are seen as if karma has played a role in their fate. For example, the offering of their male genitalia is a sacrifice to their goddess and those individuals feel more empowered with their femininity. In Thailand, a country that has never submitted to Western society, transsexuals and transgenders (also known as katoeys) are probably most accepted. The katoeys have a wide range of gender and sexuality and want to be regarded simply as human beings, which reflect the ideas from a clip we watched for class, Reteaching Gender and Sexuality (Putthisonthemap 2010). The clip reminds us that people’s gender identity should not be judged and labeled, instead, we need to accept and learn that everybody is not the same. Our society needs to be re-educated and that those who do not conform to the norm needs to be respected as well. In Africa, religion also plays an important role in defining gender and sexuality as something more spiritual than physical. Happiness (being comfortable with your own gender/sexuality/identity) is more important than norms.

How does the thesis of this film relate to the course?

Transgenders, transsexuals, and intersex individuals (and many others) challenges our society’s image of a man and woman. Therefore, society has defined people who do not fall into these categories as deviants because it is not normal. Our fear has forced these individuals to fall back into the gender binaries and reinforcing the idea that they have a mental illness; you have to be either male or female and that your identity has to correspond to your genitals. We have also learned in the course that those who are deviant are not taken seriously by giving labels. Interestingly, I see this concept during the film, especially when the film was talking about Thailand. The katoeys, who are proud of their identity, perform for the general public. They are glorified, but not necessarily in a positive way. People go to their shows because they are considered “freaks” (a label that reinforces the idea that they are deviant) and out of extraordinary. In a sense, the kateoys are actually not recognized by the rest of the world and will remain as deviants and not normal. The population may not be convinced about their ideologies. For example, in India, though they have a community that supports transgender and transsexual individuals, most of them end up doing sex work in the end because their society still cannot accept them. In a sense, isn’t it the same with the katoeys performing shows for entertainment purposes?

Which arguments/points did you find the most convincing?

I find the part about men exploring their sexuality while dancing with other men in India during wedding ceremonies convincing. Since they lack interaction and socialization with women (assuming they're heterosexual) during the beginning of their lives, I would imagine they have a lot of sexual tension (unless they’re asexual). As a viewer from a different culture, finding out that they have sexual relationships with other men during those nights are interesting and sad as well. Deprived of freedom, these individuals are being cornered and forced into arranged marriages. If one is gay/lesbian, it would create a lot of internal conflict and unfairness, like the Indian man’s case in the film.

Which arguments/points did you find the least convincing?

I was very impressed by the study about homophobic men who were aroused while watching a “gay” clip, but I have some doubts. I suppose that since they have a strong rejection about homosexuality, they are actually in conflict with themselves (and against their pro-heterosexual religion). However, everybody falls within a certain range between heterosexuality and homosexuality, and this is an idea not endorsed by our society (instead, we have two extremes: straight or gay). So, wouldn’t it mean that most individuals, straight or gay, would become aroused while watching the clip? A straight man could react strongly to the gay clip compared to a homophobic man as well. I may be confused, but further studies are needed, especially on how women react to gay/lesbian clips as well.

Choose one argument, point or question that most stands out for you from the film. How would you study this point? Briefly design a research study around that point.

We have seen that different countries and regions have different views about gender and sexuality, especially countries that are not influenced by Western culture and/or colonization. I would like to study further on these views by looking at tribes or other regions that have still retained their native culture. Do these cultures embody free will about gender and sexuality, that it is a continuum? Do they strongly reject transgenders, transsexuals, intersex, and others? How do they respond to such individuals then? Do their opinions differ by their race, gender, or religion?


Itlmedia. 2009. “Looking Back, Pushing Forward.” YouTube Web site. Retrieved February 10, 2012 (

Putthisonthemap. 2010. “Reteaching Gender and Sexuality.” YouTube Web site. Retrieved February 10, 2012 (

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blog Post 2: Why am I Deviant/Not Deviant

I am somewhat deviant, but only to a small degree which I will mention soon. When zoomed out to the larger picture, according to society, I am not considered deviant. I have been obeying rules most of my life with the help of my mother who strictly wanted to mold a perfect daughter to avoid being labeled as a failure and a bad mother. According to the labeling theory, if deviance is created by society (Becker, as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), then the norm is also defined as well. In this case, as an obedient person that follows the rules, I am not considered deviant. By following rules, I have not been labeled as an outsider (Becker, as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), but kept my position as an insider. However, when I was around 18, I introduced to my friends and family the concept of deviance. I did not break any of the laws laid by society, but I broke the tradition of love relationships, especially for someone that age. Instead of having a partner who lives near me, I just happened to fall in love with a guy online. On top of that, I had met him on a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), which is not the normal place to find love interests. Eventually, he came to visit me in Canada, my homeland, and stayed over at my place every summer (yes, with my parents too!). After three years, we’ve decided to get married and I was going through an immigration process. After these events, I now have labels such as “immigrant”, “online relationships”, and “young married couple”. My experiences can be shared along with others who have the same label as I do (Becker, as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), which I have done when people are having long-distance or online relationship problems or immigration questions (also with the stigma that comes along with the labels). At first, my situation was problematic because my family and peers were trying to warn me of the potential failures that could happen to me, by falling in love with an outsider and by living in a new area alone. In other words, we had a conflict of norms since I wasn’t in a regular relationship and my behavior was recognized as deviant according to my peers (Becker, as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010). “He might cheat on you, after all, you met him online!”, “early marriages will most likely fail”, and “don’t go!” are what I hear the most from my peers. Luckily, my friends and family eventually understood my intentions and my new life went well.

My strong sense to avoid rule-breaking (besides the exception mentioned previously) could also be explained by the control theory, which has four components: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief (Hirschi, as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010). First, having a lack of attachment to the society can create deviance in an individual since he/she has been alienated by his peers. In my case, I have support from family and a couple good friends, which is why my most of my actions are not deviant since they are expected to be normal according to them. Second, people have a commitment to not break the rules since they fear punishment. Commitment is one of the huge components that explain my lack of deviance. I do not want to break any rules that may put my future at risk, which explains why most of my behaviors are normal. Third, involvement explains how a person is too busy with his life with conventional activities. My life is not as busy as a person who has a full-time job with children to take care of after work, but I do have a part-time job while going to school full-time. By having to do homework, attending classes and work, I have little time to think about or to do deviant acts. Lastly, deviance can be explained by the deviant’s beliefs and whether they are also shared among the society. I believe in the rules that I have which are also commonly valued in my group. For example, I pay my bills on time and I do not steal. Everyone I know believes in those same values.

As the date approached to do a deviant act for this blog post, I was really nervous. As a person who prefers to conform to the norms, I really had no idea what to do. Even the thought of going in an elevator and standing in the opposite direction compared to everybody already gives me a lot of stress. As I heard what my classmates were going to do, it seems like most of them were able to perform a deviant act as if it were nothing special or out of ordinary. It makes me wonder, could their behaviors be explained from the differential association theory? Since criminal behavior can be learned (Sutherland and Cressey, as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), so are deviant acts then. Perhaps, these classmates of mine have deviant siblings or peers that could have shaped their easy-going attitude when performing deviant acts. In my situation, my family has a strong sense of justice and my brother is probably the most perfect man I’ve ever met. I also don’t recall my friends being deviants either. After thinking about my deviant task for a long time, I have decided to go for something easy but also irritating to the general public: paying my purchase in small change.

I went to Target, Winco, and Wal-Mart. All of these stores are always packed with customers in my neighbourhood, so imagine the pressure I have gotten when I decided to pay with small change! Luckily for them, my purchase was small, between 1 and 3 dollars. When I started to fish for change in my wallet, for all of these instances, I felt like I was more aware of my deviant act than the rest of the people. I knew that, according to the norm, I was to either give the cashier my credit card for a smooth and easy transaction or to pay with a large bill. Instead, I was stalling everyone’s time by paying with small change. As I was looking for my penny or a dime, the clock seems to tick louder. I felt like I was hurried on my behalf and from others. Today, we have created many convenient ways to facilitate our busy daily lives, such as simple payment transactions in our capitalist society. Credit cards are now widely accepted and used and even strongly encouraged to build a large credit. However, to see someone pay with pennies, dimes, and nickels, it seems as if the person has come from another world. One would even assume whether the person is poor or not, since collecting and paying change are associated with the poor (like beggars). In my case, I did not look poor due to my race (the stereotype that Asians are rich, especially the immigrants) and my overall image so I’m assuming that people thought I only wanted to get rid of my change. It would have been interesting to see people’s reaction if I tried to dress like a beggar. I doubt it would have worked though because young Asian female beggars seem to be non-existent, especially in my neighbourhood. There were no rewards in paying with small change, however, it is an annoyance. I wouldn’t call it a harm, but I assume that stalling people’s precious time during transaction could be really frustrating. What if the person was really in a hurry? Luckily, nobody confronted me directly, but I did feel their frustrated auras (could be an illusion) and strong stares at me and my wallet. In the past, there were a couple times when a person in front of me could not get their card to work or were looking for change. Even I felt frustrated and wished he/she would hurry up. That’s just how norms, like paying with a credit card or with a large bill during transactions, have been shaped thanks to our busy lifestyle.

Word Count: 1,368


Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.