Heather Riddle

Non Verbal Communications

April 7th, 2015

Lab #4

Eye behavior

Over the past academic year, I have experienced a large amount of eye contact from people due to the fact that I am pregnant. One past experience that I remember the most was when I went to the Eastern Eateries at Eastern Michigan University for breakfast. I entered into the food section, ordered something to eat, paid for it at the cash register and walked toward a table clear across the room. As I was walking, I noticed a large amount of people who would stare at my large baby bump then look up at me. When I looked back at them, they would then realize they were staring and then turn their heads.

This one table in particular decided that they did not care that I had noticed their eye behavior. One gentleman had seen me walking and seemed very shocked. I could tell due to his eyes opening very wide as he tilted his head downward and dropped his mouth. I continued to walk and as soon as he had his fill, he smacked both of his guy friends shoulders to get their attention. The first gentleman who realized I was pregnant whispered to them and they both turned their head in my direction. Their eyes, just like the first, opened very wide and they starred all the way until I sat down. I realized they were staring so I sat my food down and walked past their table to get a straw and napkins toward the front. I could tell they were still staring because their eyes were following my every move.

I had a heightened sensitivity to this eye contact because it was very different from what I had experienced in my past. Majority of the people would usually turn their heads out of respect or because they didn’t want to get caught starring. This was different because not only did the 3 guys stare at me, but they did it in such an obvious way that other people noticed they were starring as well. I was always able to get over other people starring because they changed the direction of their eye behavior from me to something else but the gentleman stayed focused on me. I was not sure how to handle the situation and it made me feel very uncomfortable and insecure.

A time I found it to be very difficult to make eye contact with someone was when a friend and I were talking about a very serious topic which happened to be rape. The conversation started off as both of us fully engaged with very strong eye contact between one another but as our opinions were shared and stories were told, I started to feel very uncomfortable and did not want to continue talking about the topic. One of the comments my friend made had really upset me and I didn’t want to start an argument so I turned my head and changed my eye contact from her to my computer. I felt that if I no longer gave her as much eye contact, the conversation would eventually die out. As she continued to talk and state her opinions, I no longer was able to maintain any form of eye contact with her. At first, I had realized I was not giving her eye contact on purpose but as I became more and more upset, It was unintentional. I believe that it was difficult to make eye contact because of the topic and the emotions I experience during the conversation. When I feel uncomfortable talking about something or I don’t agree, I tend to look away from who is speaking at the time.

Over the past week, I conducted an experiment by slowly increasing and decreasing the amount of time I spent making eye contact. The first part of the experiment was slowly increasing the amount of eye contact. The first person I attempted this with was a cashier at the Commons Dining area on March 26th. She seemed bored because there were no customers coming in so this gave me the opportunity to try it. As she was standing at the counter, I walked up and said hello to her. I was looking at the menu and started talking about the “jerk chicken” they were serving. I informed her that I had never tried it before. She started to engage in a conversation with me and I slowly increased eye contact. Our conversation was going very well and I could tell she felt comfortable by the expressions on her face and her eye contact as well. When I started to increase the eye contact, everything changed. She started breaking the eye contact by looking up or away at times. I continued to increase my eye contact to the point I was staring, I could tell she felt very uncomfortable. She no longer was smiling as much and cheerful like how she was when we first started talking. She also started pointing to the menu that said “jerk chicken” as we continued to talk about it. It was very uncomfortable and difficult to me because I could tell it was making her uncomfortable. I just continued to stare at her and keep the conversation flowing until other customers entered the room. I believe she responded this way because she had probably never experienced this before. Usually customers would walk up to her, say hello, hand her their card or cash and be on their way. I not only carried on a conversation with her, but I also gave her more eye contact than I or anyone else normally would. I just continued to do what I was doing so I could get as much of a response from her as I could.

On March 28th I had a prenatal appointment at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Since I do not have an actual doctor, I am seen in the academic clinic which means that I am seen by residents who are working to get their degree. When I went to my appointment, I was called in by a nurse to have my blood work done and to get weighed. She showed me to my room where I waited for my resident. When the resident on duty came into my room, we introduced each other and she started speaking to me about what was going to happen that day. She started off looking at me very strong with a lot of eye contact. As I started to increase my eye contact, the conversation seemed normal. While we were having a normal conversation, she checked my baby’s heart beat and still maintained eye contact with me. When she was finished, she sat down and started talking to me about my progress and how my baby was sounding. I slowly started to increase my eye contact with her and she started to break it by looking away toward the walls or looking down at her paper work. When I started looking at her to the point I was staring, she had told me she was going to go get some paperwork for me so I could schedule my next appointment. After about 10 minutes, she came back into the room and I continued to stare at her. She did not give me as much eye contact as before and instead looked down at the paper work she was handing me and spoke about it quickly. She handed me my papers, looked up, smiled and left. She never returned and instead, she had the actual doctor come in (who they verify everything with) and spoke to me about my results on my former blood work. When the resident had returned with my papers, it was very hard for me to continue looking at her. I was laughing very hard inside and almost laughed out loud. Instead, I just smiled and nodded my head to everything she was saying. I believe she responded by looking down at the paper work so she did not have to keep eye contact with me.

On Easter Sunday, I was sitting on my father’s front porch and noticed his neighbor, who was in his 80’s, was slowly walking up onto the porch. I smiled at the gentleman and in return, he smiled and started a conversation with me. He mentioned how nice the weather was and how we had a very long winter. I took this as an opportunity to talk with him and so I responded back by agreeing. I started off limiting my eye contact with him by looking around in the yard and the sky as he spoke about the weather. I then started to increase my eye contact and he didn’t seem to notice it. We continued to talk about the cold weather we had and I increased my eye contact to the point I was staring at him. He did not seem to notice that I was staring. He looked at me the same amount but only broke eye contact a few times. It seemed as if our conversation was normal. I was very shocked during our conversation because he didn’t seem to be bothered by it like the other people I conducted this experiment with. He just continued to smile and talk. It made me feel more comfortable having a conversation with him because I didn’t feel pressured to continue starring. It seemed like a mutual thing. I believe we both had a comfortable conversation because we both were engaged in about the same amount of eye contact. If him or I would have starred more than the other, I feel that the conversation would have been awkward and that our conversation would have ended sooner than it did.

The second part of the experiment required me to gradually decrease the amount of eye contact during the conversations I had with people. The first person I conducted this part of the experiment with was with my father’s girlfriend’s son named Brian. On Saturday, I went to my father’s house for Easter weekend and his girlfriend’s family was there. Her older son Brian had approached me and asked me if I could do his online application to become a State Highway Patrol officer. We started talking about the information that I would possibly need to fill his application out with. I started off the conversation with full-blown eye contact and in return, he did the same. As we continued our conversation, I slowly decreased the eye contact. We continued to talk about the application and I realized the conversation was starting to die. He didn’t respond back as much and started to look around the room. He then had finished what he wanted to say, thanked me and left the room to talk to his mom in the kitchen. During our conversation, I felt really rude like I didn’t care what he had to say or like I was giving him the impression that I didn’t want to do it. I believe that he finished what he had to say and left to the other room because he felt he was getting on my nerves.

On Easter Sunday, I was also at my father’s house for dinner. I was speaking to my father’s girlfriend’s daughter about pregnancy because she had recently found out she was pregnant. We were talking about how it was funny that both of us were pregnant at the same time and how we’re both going to be mother’s this year. I started off staring at her and laughing to what she was saying. When I started to decrease the amount of eye contact, I noticed our conversation started to switch topics from being mother’s this year to having to give up things like pop and junk food. I eventually stopped all eye contact with her and continued carrying on the conversation. She then made the comment that she was going to go outside and smoke a cigarette. Before she exited the room, she mentioned that is one thing she needs to stop soon. During our conversation, I continued to smile and talk to her which kept us talking but when I decreased the eye contact, she started to ease up on the conversation. I feel that she left the room “to smoke a cigarette” because I had stopped the eye contact with her. When she left, she did it in a smart way because she related her reason for leaving the room to our topic. It didn’t seem like she was leaving because of my amount of eye contact.

On Easter Sunday, I had a conversation with my father’s girlfriend’s other son named Kenny. We were sitting in the living room talking about how I’m going to be having a baby boy. When we first started off the conversation, I started off practically staring at him. He was breaking eye contact frequently but continued the conversation with me. As we continued the conversation, I started to decrease the amount of eye contact. Our conversation seemed normal and didn’t seem to bother him. When I started to look away completely, I could tell that he had increased his eye contact a lot as if trying to get me to look at him. We continued the conversation until his 4-year-old son entered the room and he quickly got up and started playing with him. I felt really bad during this experiment with him because he was trying very hard to get me to have eye contact with him. He didn’t tell me to look at him but it’s as if he was begging for my eye contact. I wanted to look up at him at least once but I continued to look around instead. I feel that he got up with his son quickly and started playing with him so that he could have a reason to end our conversation without being rude.

On Easter Sunday, I went into the kitchen to get something to drink. Kenny’s girlfriend Jessica was in there cooking but had stopped to take a break. I started talking to her about the food and how hot the kitchen was. I started off with very strong eye contact and she barely gave me any eye contact at all. As our conversation continued, I decreased my eye contact and she leaned against the counter looking out the window and out into the living room. I then cut off all eye contact with and she continued to look around the kitchen. This experiment with her did not make me feel rude or upset because she was not giving me very much eye contact in the beginning of our conversation. I feel that she did not respond in an awkward way because she did not realize how much I was staring at her in the beginning. I feel that the temperature of the kitchen and the fact that she was standing was causing her to not focus on maintaining eye contact with me.

During these conversations, a few things had occurred that might have influenced the person who I was talking to, to respond in a different manner. During these conversations, either people entered the room or people were near by so the person had someone to break the awkwardness. If no one would have been around or entered, I believe the conversation would have been more awkward and they would have just sat there in silence. I also feel that age is an influencing factor. I realized that when I spoke to older people, they felt less uncomfortable with me staring at them than the younger people. It still made some of them uncomfortable but they didn’t seem to show their emotions as much. The last thing that I feel might have influenced the conversation was the conversation topic. If the topic was unusual, like the “jerk chicken”, it might have made the conversation more awkward which resulted in the person not knowing how to respond back. If it was more of a normal conversation, they might have responded in a different way.

Through out the experiment, I realized that there were a lot of influencing factors that contributed to the conversations and the way people responded. If there were other people around, they did not feel as uncomfortable as the people who had no one around at all. I feel that having someone in the next room or having people walk around during our conversation might have made them feel more secure during the awkward eye contact behavior. The people who had no one around during the conversation seemed to be more bothered by my eye contact behavior than the others.

One pattern that I noticed threw out all of the people I conducted the experiment with was that they always found a way to try to end or ease up the conversation. It was either by decreasing their amount of eye contact or finding something else to take their attention way so they didn’t have to just randomly end it. I feel that they did this in a particular way so that I would not get offended or that they would not feel like they were being rude to me.

Overall I noticed that the majority of people do notice the amount of eye contact during your conversation. It seems to be a big influence during the conversation. When eye contact is decreased, it seems as if the other person you are engaged in the conversation with may feel that you no longer want to continue talking. They seem to take the decreasing eye contact as a sign that you are not interested or that you may be bothered by the topic. If you continue to give a normal amount of eye contact during a conversation, both of the people in the conversation feel respected and both of their attentions are focused on one another. I’ve come to realize during this experiment that a mutual amount of eye contact is what makes or breaks a conversation. As long as you and the other person is engaged in the same amount, the conversation does not seem awkward and the environment feels comfortable. When you increase or decrease the amount of eye contact outside the norm, people tend to feel an awkwardness and respond as if they feel uncomfortable.


The Real Price of Paper

The Real Price of a Piece of Paper

Indonesia is known as the second richest country in the world as far as biodiversity. It is home to some of the most famous endangered species such as the rhino, Asian elephant and Sumatran tiger. It contains 1.3% of the world’s land area, 10% of the world’s flowering plants and 17% of all birds, reptiles and amphibians. People also depend on the forest but over time, their rights and welfare has been ignored. Local people suffer from the process of deforestation due to violent protest, losing their way of life and their ancestral land.

Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry is being held responsible for the mass destruction of its native forest over the years. So far 835,000 acres of forest has been destroyed to supply the paper and pulp industry. According to the World bank, that is an average of 2 million acres a year. An estimated 72% of the original forest has already been destroyed according to Global Forest Watch. The largest pulp mill uses 75% of its logs for the pulp and paper industry in Asia which is most likely derived from illegal sources. The international financial community has funded over $15 billion to this activity for the past ten years. APP has been covering up the truth on the impacts this has left on the native forest while bringing in un-branded and re-branded paper products into the UK market.

Some pros found within this article is that the people are aware of how much of the forest is being cut down. Locals are protesting against it which is also bring awareness. Over time, multiple solutions could be established to decrease the amount of acres demolished for this purpose, such as recycling. The more people who are aware of this, the better chance we have of preventing it from happening in the future.

Some negative information found within this article states that this is not only affecting the amount of forest we have left in the world but also people’s lives and biodiversity. The more the forest is cut down, the more species will become endangered. Just like the local people who depend on the forest, animals depend on it as well for food, shelter, reproduction and more. If the forest continues to be cut down, the people and plant/ animal species will struggle for survival.

According to the World’s Resource Institute, as of February 2013, Indonesia’s natural forest will no longer be cut down. Due to the awareness brought to the situation, campaigns were arranged by World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace that changed APP’s forest policies. They are now required to engage more with local communities and sourcing all materials from plantation grown trees. They also created a new program that manages and reduces the amount of green house gases emitted from peat. Systems have been created where anyone has the right to monitor APP’s progress on its commitments even with basic technology such as a computer with Wi-Fi.

When I first read “The Real Price of Paper” I was very upset to know that so much of Indonesia’s forest was being cut down. This not only affects the local people, plants, animals, etc. but it also affects everyone around the world. Deforestation decreases the amount of biodiversity which is a huge impact on everyone within our current and future generations. When I found an updated article over this situation, I was pleased to find that there are rules in place that now prevents Indonesia from cutting down any more of their natural forest. I have come to the conclusion that the more people are aware of a problem, the higher chance there is of something being done about it. This is a fine example of where awareness makes a huge difference between life or death!

The Real Price of Chocolate

Cocoa bean is one of the top 3 largest global trades in the World League of food commodities. Although some products are guaranteed produced without out slave labour, recent investigators are finding, with little documentation, that there is a  possibility that adults and children are being forced into the work industry under harsh working conditions such as long hours and starvation. Since it is against their will, if the workers are caught trying to leave the plantation they are working at, they may be beaten or worse. The International Cocoa council is currently encouraging other members of the organization to investigate if there are any child labor crimes occurring in their areas.
Most of the cocoa produced today is grown in smaller populations with an exception of a few larger plantations in countries such as Indonesia and Brazil. It is a risky business for small plantations due to pesticides and disease. If there was a pest or disease break out, it could ruin their whole plantation which would then affect their overall income. Unlike larger plantations in other countries, small plantations usually are the main source of income for that surrounding area.
Some positive statements that are present within this article is that there are people who are investigating to see if there are children and adults being forced to work under harsh working conditions and there are also products that are guaranteed to be produced without slave labor. If the investigators, who are investigating to see if slave labor is occurring, find that it is, it could be stopped and laws could be inforced to stop it. If products are guaranteed to be produced without slave labor, that means that there is a low chance that there is any slave labor occurring where the products are being made. Products made without slave labor could be an indication that slave labor laws are in place in that location.
Some of the information that is present within this article indicates that it takes more than just workers to produce chocolate. We are unaware of the events that are taken behind the scene to produce it such as the possibility of child slavery. Even though we a pay a small price for a simple treat, the workers pay a higher price of being forced to work under harsh abusive conditions.
After reading about the “Real Price of Chocolate” it makes me consider rather I should purchase items that consist of cocoa or rather check and see if it is guaranteed that the produce was produced without slave labour. Although it is not proven that children are being forced into the work industry under hard conditions, it makes me concerned because I would not want to purchase an item that contributes to slave labour. I never knew that there was a possibility of things like this occurring with our every day cheap products. It now makes me think twice about our every day products, the way they are produced and what its real value is worth.

This is Me

“And for the afternoon forecast, we will continue to have light showers until roughly 4:00 p.m. Then we will clear up with partly cloudy sunshine..”. It was a regular every day afternoon. Mama was sitting on the couch knitting up a blanket. The colors of bright pink and baby blue mixed with a light lavender purple. She always liked mixing it up a little. Like she always said, “It’s better to have something a little different. That’s what makes it so special and stand out from the others”.

SLAM! “Hi baby how was your day?”

“Just leave me alone mom I’m not in the mood”

“What’s wrong? To much homework today or something?”

You could hear it in his voice, the choking up, pain, embarrassment. There was no way of getting out of saying there was nothing wrong. He didn’t reply. Instead, he just scattered off to his room and slammed the door. “I’ll just give him a little while” she said out loud to herself. “He needs to cool off before he breaks something”.

Mama finished off watching the news and flipped through the channels. Nothing seemed to be on that grabbed her interest so she just sat in the quietly in the living room knitting away. After about an hour, she decided to go and check on him. He seemed so upset that she just couldn’t let it go. Whatever mood he was in, always seemed to affect hers. She could be having a bad day and if he walked in and gave her a smile, it would change her whole world around. “Baby?” She slowly opened the door and discovered him laying on his bed, facing the opposite direction of the door, face down in a pillow. Quietly, she closed the door and walked over to the foot of the bed and sat down. “What’s wrong?… you know you can tell me anything right?”. “I don’t think I can this time mom.” He was so upset, you could almost feel it. The anger, the tension in the air. She had never experienced this type of behavior from him before. She thought to herself that maybe she should leave the room but her mother instincts quickly kicked in and she kindly demanded that he tell her what was wrong. “You know you can tell me anything Mauricio, I’ve been here since day one and never have I made you feel uncomfortable to the point that you couldn’t tell me things. Have I? That’s what I’m here for.”

He lifted his face from the pillow and wiped the tears from his eyes. “I just don’t know how to explain everything”. “Have you had anything to eat today? You sound hungry”. He kind of chuckled. “No, the food was nasty today”. “It’s always nasty, its school food” mama said with a big smile on her face. She always knew how to lighten the mood. “Let’s go grab something to eat shall we? Your choice”. He quickly sat up and with excitement asked “Could I drive?”. “Yeah you can, but you better not wreck my car.. and you better put a smile on your face and keep it there!”. Quickly he jumped out of bed and threw on his shoes. “I’ll be out in the car. It stopped raining but it’s still kind of damp out there so make sure you walk on the side-walk instead of the grass” mama said while walking down the stairs. “And be careful walking down the stairs, it’s wet from your shoes”.

After waiting for about 10 minutes out in the car, Mauricio finally jumped in the driver’s side. “What took you so long?” mama questioned. “Your a dude, I thought you would be out before I was.. what were you doing up there, putting on your makeup?” she laughed a little but then she noticed his face wasn’t so bright anymore. “I’m just playing hun. Your fine. Cheer up and drive okay?”. With a fake smile, he agreed and backed out of the drive way. “Where you wanna go mom?”. “It’s up to you baby, you know I can never decide anything”. “How does freeway restaurant sound?” he asked with hope in his voice. Mama shook her head yes. She was so hungry that she didn’t care where they ate. Afterall, all she wanted to do was to talk to him. She was a little nervous because he always opened right up to her but she figured it was just a long story so she tried not to worry.

“Table for two?” the waitress asked with grin on her face. Her hair was in a sloppy bun, thrown on top of her head. Her makeup smeared with bags under her eyes. She looked pretty rough. “Yes please!” mama exclaimed. As the waitress showed them to their seats, mama looked over at him and noticed he was looking nervously out the window. Negative thoughts immediately started running through her mind. Did he do something bad to someone? Did he get caught stealing? She had no idea. “My name is Debbie and I’ll be your waitress for today. Could I start you off with a coffee or anything?”. “I’ll have a coffee, 2 cups of creamer and heavy on the sugar please. Mauricio?”. “I’ll just have a lemonade please”. “Okay I’ll be right back with your drinks”. What was only a 1 ½ distance between her and her son seemed like 5 feet. She felt so weird, uncomfortable, that she started squirming in her seat. “So.. can you tell me what happened today that upset you so much?”. Mauricio looked so scared. His skin looked flushed, his eyes blood-shot red, goose bumps all up and down his arms with some what of a frown on his face. “I was messed with at school… harassed… I guess you could say”. The volume of his voice got quieter and quieter as he spoke. Almost as if he was hesitant to say anything. “Are you kidding me? Your 18 years old and about to graduate. They still do that? Wow. What about?”. He looked down at the table with his arms crossed. Rubbing them up and down with his hands as if he was cold. “So we had some free time to do whatever because class was almost over and..” he stopped. He looked so scared to the point that he looked as if he was going to pass out. “Mauricio, just say it please”. Mama was getting so impatient. She had been waiting hours to find out what was going on with him. She hated when people dragged important things out that needed to be said. “and I decided to pull my phone out and watch some video clips over some reality shows. Well I ran across RuPaul and I clicked on it. I wasn’t paying attention to how loud my volume was on my phone cause I didn’t have my head phones and a few guys over heard one of the accents of the people and they came up behind me and started making rude ass comments. I was so close to knocking them out mom, I swear!”. Mama was a little confused. She had never know him to watch anything like that. Let alone know what the name of the show was by heart. “Well that’s messed up”.

“I’m sorry about your wait, the drinks are on the house. We had to make a fresh pot of coffee and we ran out of lemonade so we had to make some more”. The waitress rushed in with the drinks and sat them down so quickly that they almost spilled over. She had her hands full. It seemed as if she was the only waitress working and there were 6 other tables that were either waiting on drinks, meals or waiting for their check. “What can I get for ya?”. Mama looked over to him and gave him a wink and informed her that they were still deciding so she could come back when she was ready. With relief, she said okay and took off with a smile. “So what was wrong with you watching the videos?” mama asked. Hesitantly he said, “They started calling me gay, faggot and asked me if I was taking lessons on how to talk like a fag”.

His eyes started to fill up with tears right in front of everyone in the restaurant. He just couldn’t hold it back anymore. “Mom I’m gay!”. Just as she took a sip of her coffee, she spit it out. She froze. With her mouth dropped open, coffee spilled on the table and the cup shaking in her hand she looked shocked. “Your what?!” she asked. “Yeah, I am. I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while now but I just couldn’t find the words to say. I hope you don’t hate me for it because I still love you with all of my heart. I just can’t hide it anymore”. “How long have you been this way? When did you decide this?” mama seemed kind of angry and irritated. Mauricio started to regret telling her. With his head bent and tears falling out of his eyes like water dripping from a faucet, he responded in a low voice “I’ve always been this way. I don’t remember when I first started liking guys, I just always have. I don’t know how to explain it”. “Well why? Why are you chosing to be this way? There are a lot of beautiful girls out there who would love to have a man like you. Your still to young to make this kind of decision. Did you get your heart broken by a girl or something? Why men?”. Mama tried to calm down but it just hurt her so much. How could he just wait to tell her after all this time? She couldn’t understand. “I thought we had a closer relationship than this Mauricio. I told you that you could always tell me anything. Why are you waiting so long to tell me this now?”.

There were so many questions that he didn’t know how to respond. All he could try to do was explain it as best as he could but the anger from earlier that day got the best of him. “How could you be so selfish? Did you ever think that maybe I was afraid to tell you because I thought that you would never look at me the same? Like you would be ashamed of me? I didn’t want to lose the bond we have. Your not only my mom but my best friend. Why do you think everyone at school made fun of me? Because they knew. Because I wasn’t afraid of losing them. They don’t mean anything to me but you? You’re everything to me. I’m sorry if I disappointed you but this is me mom! Take it or leave it. I can’t hide who I am anymore. I thought you always said being different is special? That being different is what makes something stand out from all the others.. I thought that was a good thing to you”. Mama was so shocked. She didn’t know what to do. He had never spoken to her like that before and the thought of him being gay was never a possibility in her mind. But that is not what upset her the most. “Mauricio, I love you with all of my heart. I’m not upset that your gay. I’m just upset that you felt like you couldn’t tell me because you were afraid of losing me. I am your mother, you may outgrow my lap but you will never outgrow my heart. You may grow up, change.. but one thing that will never change is the bond we have. Your MY best friend. My son. I will love you for who you are no matter who you choose to be or who you are born to be”.

The room was quiet. A few tables finally received their check, paid for their meals and left. The other tables were across the room finishing their meals or just having small talk and coffee. As mama looked around, she spotted the waitress heading toward their table. “Hi, did you guys decide on your meals for today?” she asked as she refilled their half empty glasses. “Oh! Yes, I’ll have whatever he is having”. Mama looked over and gave him a wink. “I trust him.. he always seems to make the right choices”. Mauricio looked up with joy in his eyes and a smile on his face just like his mom. “We’ll just have a number 5. Cheeseburger and fries if that’s okay?”. Mama laughed and said out loud, “I was thinking the same thing. See? Were not that much different apart”.

Revision of “This is Me”

This adult fiction story called “This is Me” is a reinterpretation of my personal argument and Judith Butler’s argument in her article called “Gender is Burning”. Butler argues that gender is a something you can choose as part of your identity. Within my story “This is Me”, Butler’s argument is shown through the mother’s response of her son informing her that he is gay. Within the mother’s response, she ask why he chooses to be that way and how long ago did he make that decision. Her response shows the audience that she feels that her son is making the choice to be gay.

My opinion based off of Butler’s argument is that people do not just simply choose to be gay or chose to act as a different gender than the one they were born. Yes, they make the choice rather to act on it or not but I believe that people who are gay and prefer to be a different gender are born that way instead of just making the choice to be. Within my story “This is Me”, my argument, based off the argument of Butler, is shown through the response of the son when he informs his mother that he is gay. Although she is confused and doesn’t understand, he explains that he can not remember when he choose to be that way and that he does not feel it is a choice. He informs her that he has always been interested in men.

I also include in the story that the son was bullied in school for getting caught watching video clips from the television show RuPaul. This is a real-world television show based on drag queens, homosexuals and trans genders. When he was in class, the students were granted “free time” so he decided to pull out his cell phone and watch a few clips of RuPaul. When other male students heard the feminine accent from one of the homosexual males on the show, they decided to run up behind him and start harassing him with negative comments. In reality, if a young man was caught watching a television show about other men who seek men, he would be harassed and called names similar to what the son experienced with the other male classmates.

Within “This is Me” I have taken the argument of Judith Butler and my personal argument and included it to give a main thesis of the story that people have different beliefs based on the preference of gender. I also included a reality television show called RuPaul, which I included as part of my blog, to show that this is a real-world experience that could take place. It shows the reality of the world and how society could to react to something “out of the norm”. Continue reading Revision of “This is Me”

Application to Gender is Burning

In the article Gender is Burning, Judith Butler explains that gender is something that you can choose as part of your identity and that everyone is born with a clean slate. Choosing gender as part of your identity has no limits. That doesn’t necessarily fall under the choice of choosing to be a transgender, but it also includes homosexuals who would just like to be called or looked at as the opposite sex or homosexuals who don’t care what they are called rather it’s “he or she”.
My professor introduced a YouTube clip to me from the reality television show called RuPaul. RuPaul is a show based on Drag Racing which involves drag queens, trans genders and homosexuals. In this particular clip, there are 6 individuals who are either homosexual or transgender and each of them takes a turn and “reads” the others in a fun but criticizing way. I found that this scene from the episode RuPaul relates to Judith Butler’s argument very well because they all show their personality by what they are saying and also by choosing their gender preference.
This video clip relates to Butler’s argument because each person in the scene chose to act, dress or talk in a certain way that fits their personality. They allow others to call them feminine word such as “girl, bitch, or mama” which is another part of their identity that they choose to include. Some of the girls in the show chooses to be feminine to a certain extent. By a few comments that they make, you can tell that they are not necessarily trans genders, but rather homosexuals who choose to be called “girl” as a part of their identity.
One girl named Tatiana shows her personality when reading the others. You can tell she chose to be more feminine by the way she acts and carries herself compared to some of the other girls. She chooses to wear makeup and earrings which is known by society as more feminine characteristics. When she reads the others, she also includes a different form of her identity which is shyness. It seems to be difficult for her to criticize the others because she is shy and feels uncomfortable. All of these characteristics, including her choice to be more feminine than others, is all part of her personal identity.
Another girl named Juju Bee expresses her identity in a unique way. She is also feminine but not as much as Tatiana. She has her own level of feminism which makes up her individual identity. She personally shows her feminism through her actions and the way she talks. She also includes another form of identity when criticizing others by including her culture. When criticizing one of the other girls, she includes the Chinese language because her race is Chinese. All of characteristics, choosing to show her feminism in a certain way and including her language when reading one of the others makes up her own individual identity.
There are many ways to create your own identity. According to Judith Butler, gender is one way. Because everyone is born with a clean slate, you are able to make up your identity as you grow and experience different things. Butler argues that even though you are born a certain gender, you do not necessarily have to act upon it, but rather choose to be a different gender or choose a gender preference. Not everyone has to show the same level of masculinity or feminism. That is something that you can also chose to include into your own identity which makes you, you!
Many people in our society today look at homosexuals or trans genders and are either disgusted or feel sympathy for them. One of the questions that possibly come across their minds is “Would it be easier for homosexuals and trans genders to live their lives as the gender they were originally born?”. In my opinion, it all depends on who this question is being ask to.
Society is very cruel. When someone chooses to be a certain gender, act in a different way, have different morals etc. society always reacts in either a negative or positive way. When society reacts to something or someone in a negative manner, bad things could occur such as the safety of individuals and harassment. If you ask society? Yes, it could be easier for homosexuals and trans genders to live the lives as the gender they were born as because society won’t have to worry about people who act outside of the norm. They won’t have to learn to accept something they don’t believe in and they won’t have to worry about other members of society judging them for accepting something that other society members do not.
When it comes to homosexuals and trans genders, it is not easier for them to just “live the lives as the gender they were originally born”. Although they would have to face the negativity that society brings, it would be harder to keep who they really are inside. They would not the same opportunity to dress, talk, act or love just as heterosexuals do. Not being able to express your identity and be who you really are has to be one of the most difficult things in an individuals life.
According to Judith Butler, gender is something that you can choose to make part of your identity. Many people agree with this statement and take full advantage of it rather society accepts them or not. RuPaul is an excellent example that really gives a deeper understanding to Butler’s message because all 6 of the girls express themselves in different ways, including the choice of being considered a girl, which create their own individual personalities and identities.

Peer Critique of Sarah Willis

Within Sarah’s blog, she describes the main argument that Judith Butler portrays in her article Gender is Burning. The main argument that Butler is trying to get her readers to understand from her article is gender is a form of identity that you can create. In her summary and application, Sarah gave a deeper meaning to Butler’s argument and gave examples that could be related to specific peoples’ real lives. Within her blog, Sarah showed many strengths that made her blog stronger and more understanding and some weaknesses that possibly could confuse the reader.
In the application of her Blog, Sarah displayed some weaknesses and strengths. One weakness I noticed in her application was her introduction to the movie Paris is Burning. Although she explained the movie and its message very well. She did not relate it to the article Gender is Burning within her introduction paragraph. “One of Judith Butler’s bigger theories in her essay “Gender is Burning” is that gender is something that you can create for yourself, even if only for a certain period of time. In the balls of Paris is Burning all the men would dress as women, even men that weren’t trasnssexual, and perform for one another and for the judges.” Not relating the movie to the article could throw the readers off to where they could not fully understand Sarah’s message she is trying to get them to understand. One way Sarah could fix this little issue is just by adding an extra sentence between the two tieing the two sentences together. If she started another sentence that introduced Paris is Burning as an example, the readers would be able to understand her introduction and not be confused throughout her application.
Another weakness I found within her application is the conclusion paragraph to her real-world example. After she describes a scene from the movie Paris is Burning, she explains how it made the homosexual male named Michael feel after he took part in the parade next to his mother. Sarah did an excellent job explaining his feelings but she forgot to add in her conclusion how his feelings about his choice as a homosexual relates to Judith Butler’s argument. I personally understood what Sarah was trying to say, but other readers who have never read Gender is Burning would not understand how his feelings and outlook on his personal choice would relate to Butler’s argument.
The last weakness I came across in Sarah’s application is when she states her opinion that “yes, it would be much easier” for the transgender to live the life as the gender they were biologically born to be. Sarah gives many good reasons as to why it would be easier for society and the transgender in the introduction, but she then gives a story about a female-to-male transgender who undergoes aweful experiences such as bulling from school and burning himself. With this example she gives, this shows that it would not necessarily be easier for transgender but for society. I feel this is something she can fix just by simply stating that it would be easier for society but not always easier for the transgender. If the transgender chose to live their life as the gender they were, it would not be easier for them because they would not be able to live their life as they would like and make their gender as a part of their identity. If they did decide to go through with being the gender they feel that they are, it would make them happier in life but they would also have to deal with the negativity that society might give off.
One strength Sarah displayed in her application was the examples she chose to include. Each example she included helped make Judith Butler’s argument clear and more understanding. Sarah did an excellent job of summarizing the scenes. She gave just enough details of each story to let the reader comprehend and compare the story to her overall thesis. These two examples not only made the application part of her blog more understanding, but it also grabbed my interest and drew me in more. The way Sarah summarized the scenes made me want to look both of them up and watch them for myself!
Another strength Sarah displayed was the layout of her application. In the introduction paragraph, she stated what she was going to talk about and also included the example she was going to use. From there, Sarah jumped right into her example and ended it with a nice conclusion. Her conclusion not only gave the main point of the example but also added in the feelings of the characters in each scene which could be connected back to the introduction to create an overall understanding of the text.
Overall, Sarah seemed to understand the topic and the message that the author, Judith Butler, was trying to portray. She chose two excellent examples that included scenes from two different forms of media. Her examples were well explained and she used her conclusions to explain her main argument. Sarah gave a detailed summary and application which not only explained Judith Butler’s argument better but also showed us how her argument is showed through specific peoples’ daily lives.

summary and real world example