ANTA02H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Margaret Mead, One Strike, Infant Mortality

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15 Apr 2012
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Lecture #10 -March 23, 2010-03-23
- In Search of Respect Assignment EXTENDED (due Monday, April 5, 2010)
- Final Exam - April 20, 2010
*For the next assignment, use the Penguin Book to help you!
Last Week Recap:
Reminder: main argument presented on page 143 (ISOR)
o They are victims beyond their control
o But they are not just passive victims of this control
o Therefore, embrace street culture to fight against their marginalization
o This does not necessarily work for them: perpetuates the marginalization they
experience and cause the suffering of their community
(1) Gender and The Search For Respect
The search for respect is also a search for a viable form of masculinity
o For Nuyorican men living in El Barrio
o Something that works for them personally, psychologically, self-esteem/ dignity,
economic (make a livelihood in the way they want to)
Argues that some (not all) of the men he talks to reach to what they feel is an inability to
replicate rural based ideas about masculinity
o They cannot represent the jibaro that their parents and ancestors represented
o At least not in the urban setting
Also try to represent a type of family structure working class patriarch who provides for many
children and their wife(s)
o Aren’t able to do this in the legal economy so they turn to the street economy to be this
kind of man they envision
o Unfortunately the drug culture is misogynist and predatory culture in which sexual
conquest and crimes and paternal abandonment are fairly “normal” events in their lives
o These things are celebrated and not seen as being criminal; badges of honour
o Contradictory; they want to be universally good men but what they goes against the
When they cannot control things they lash out at the women and children because of their own
perceived sense of vulnerability
Page 158 - rejection of marginalization; terrors of vulnerability
o Taking on street culture is about denying this vulnerability and of being trapped/ not
being the man you want to be
o Therefore embrace the street culture to deny this vulnerability they feel
Also done by attacking those who are more vulnerable than them and who they
have some sort of control over
o In doing this, they are able to some extent enhance their viable sense of masculinity and
their search for respect
Ambivalent search for respect; perpetual cycle
If the search for respect is about the search for masculinity, then what is a woman’s search for
Gender is a relationship; if something happens on one side of the binary relationship, then
something changes on the other half as well
How does femininity tie in?
How does his argument of structure and agency pertain to women and their lives?
Might think the women are paralyzed and victimized by all of the forces that are working against
o This is not the case: just as the men are not paralyzed by their own situations nor are
the women
o Efforts of women to take greater control over their lives
o Page 213 - they are in the midst of creating a great autonomy for themselves
(i) Candy’s Case
o She is exceptional: shoots her husband, takes over his corner for a while
o She becomes the crack dealer
o She was doing stuff not a lot of other women there do
o Despite this exceptionality of her individual circumstances she also experiences and
reacts to the same structural constraints of the women
So she is exceptional and typical
o Having 2 social security numbers = WEAPON OF THE WEAK
Defraud the system
o Her new outfit for court was a skin-tight red suit
“fly” clothes vs. what is accepted in society
o Takes on a masculine persona
o What does her story tell us about masculinity, femininity, and the search for respect?
Women’s search for respect and viable sense of self worth is just as problematic
and constrained as men
She crosses gender lines in order to act like a man and gain respect as a crack
Inverts patriarchy
o Temporary escapes her husband’s control
o Enters the masculine economy
o Demands respect: loud, proud, confident, tough, inspires fear
Does everything the men do to gain respect
o The way she is able to get respect is because of her reputation
for violence and having the “balls” to shoot her husband
o Neglects her children while dealing
o Blames other women for men’s sexuality and flaunts herself in
the game room
o Thus takes on a masculine persona
WHY does this inversion fail?
She is top dog for a while which is humiliating for Primo: she is his
girlfriend but makes him feel more vulnerable and emasculate
They both want to be top dog and she follows the masculine way of
disrespecting her past lover
o When on the street she is a disrespectful ex-lover in a
masculine way
She has the ‘luxury’ to quit because she has somewhere else to go to
get that self worth she can turn to femininity to gain that sense of
respect and being worthy
o Men cannot do this: they cannot just quit and get the respect
from somewhere else
o They would have to carve out new ways to be a man and exude
So next, Candy turns to traditional femininity
o Her sense of what a woman should be is always nagging at her
even when she inverts gender roles
o In the end she cannot commit to masculinity because it is in
opposition with what she wants to be (jibara to the jibaro)
Feminine roles
At first, the author interprets her actions (shooting) as emancipation and gaining
autonomy from this man [she does this temporarily]
Freed herself from an abusive, philandering husband
The shooting makes more sense to see it in a feminine way:
o She sees the shooting as being ensconced in her PR femininity
What a jealous woman does who has been betrayed
Lose your rationality
Become overcome with your jealousy
Which is what any good woman/ wife would do
Exacerbated by the fact that Felix broke the taboo of
the marriage and broke kinship taboos by doing it with
her sister
Her shooting her husband was not her attempt to be free but to show and
prove her love for him
She longs for 12 children because she dreams of being the kind of mother her
grandmother was
She is asserting her womanhood in a gendered confrontation
She is showing that she is still holding on to women ideas of a male
dominated nuclear household
Eventually, she solves her economic problems by taking on a masculine persona
But she straddles the line of gender roles/ the two domains: cannot
become a man
She enters the man’s world of selling crack, but falls madly in love which
is a woman thing to do
Falling in love is a feminine sanction of agency: choice available to
women to change their lives
o Women get out of one situation and into another by falling in
o Traditional form of women agency
Is rape actually a form of agency???
What choices can you make given the circumstances you are in and
given the cultural logic?
So is it really agency or choices within the structure you are controlled
- Partly why she quits is because she cannot straddle the two domains: masculinity and femininity
o She was looking to be a good woman and be a good man but it doesn’t work together
- Looking at her story, what are the particular structural restraints?
o Welfare issues -
Balance the demands of two state agencies: penile system (jail) and welfare
Have to deal with the fact that their men are in and out of their lives and it takes
a toll on them
This shapes what women can and can’t do and what they have to do
Welfare - the women are constantly on and off welfare