Monday, May 7, 2012

English Portfolio

Portfolio Introduction: A Year That Flew By
This year seemed to go by in a blink of an eye. A year ago I was worried about prom, college acceptance letters, and of course graduation. Walking across the stage of a high school I spent four years of my life brought out a lot of emotions. However, I made my way to college and this is where I will spend another four years of my life trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do for my life. Now though I’m already finishing up my first year here at CSUN, which flew by quickly. After completing my last finals and this portfolio I will say goodbye to my first year of college and go off to my next year. However, this first year I have to say that I feel that as a writer and a student my writing abilities have improved.
This semester, in my 114B English class, we took a closer look at identity and how different places contribute to your identity. I thought this was a great subject to discuss since depending on a certain space, it will determine your identity as well. Something that I took a look at was the space of parks. Depending on the area of the park, whether it was L.A, or Calabasas, it determined how many people were present and how the park looked like. Just like a space contributes to the identity, space or society contributes to how one can act in society. We see the appropriate roles of a male and a female because society has a type of pedestal we have to attain. In society males are seen as the masculine, intelligent, breadwinners, while women are seen with the perfect body and taking care of the needs of the home.
In this English class we had to write two essays based on identity. The essay, ‘Nature and Nurture as One’, serves as a kind of introduction to how your sex determines your gender roles. This happens even before you are born because parents already have an idea of what they want their little boy or girl to be in life. In the case of ‘David’ we see how a routine circumcision turns into a horrible nightmare for the family because they are forced to make a decision of whether to leave their baby boy living a life of an abnormal male, or being converted to a female and being nurtured as one. We see how though nurture was given at all times; this didn’t cater to his true nature of being a male. We also see how simple children television shows, like Phineas and Ferb, show the differences between males and females and how each gender has an appropriate role. The other essay, ‘Who Makes Up How We Should be Composed?’ takes a closer look at who really gives us these ideas of what is right for a girl and a boy to do because of their gender. We take a look at the book, ‘The Surrogates’ to see how females just like males worry about their looks because they want to have the appropriate looks in society. The film of ‘Gamer’ gives the example of what society sees males and females doing according to their gender. You see women dressed in vulgar outfits that society sees them appropriate in and you see the men defending the world and their wife. Though we may not really admit to society playing a role in which we see our self as, society has a way in capturing it even for those in a young age.
Though this year might have flown by I learned a lot of things as a student and a writer. I learned how to manage my time with all these classes. As a writer however, I learned how to capture ones attention, depending on the person. Thanks to my English 114B class, I will be able to take a closer look at certain things I see, like television shows, to see if I see certain signs of gender identity or gender roles.

Carla Ruiz
Professor Dinsmore
English 114B
27 April 2012
Nature and Nurture as One
            Nature versus Nurture has been an issue that many debate about. With the book ‘As Nature Made Him’ it was shown that even with as much of nurture that was giving, the nature part of ‘David’ was taking over. ‘David’ was born a healthy baby born along with his identical twin brother. After having some trouble urinating they both were taken for a routine circumcision procedure. ‘David’ was the first one up, and unfortunately his penis was completely burned off. Janet and Ron, ‘David’s’ parents, were presented with a dilemma, either raise their boy as a boy and have him be abnormal since he wouldn’t have a functioning penis, or be nurtured and brought up as a girl. Nature and Nurture seems to be a topic that people take on separately, however it seems as if they go hand in hand. Nature, of course, plays a role in ones life but we wouldn’t be the people we are now if it wasn’t for the nurture we receive even before birth. Our identity is basically set as soon as the sex of a child is determined; sex determines our gender roles.
            According to the dictionary, nature has a definition of ‘the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing; while nurture has the definition of ‘to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development.’ Instead of looking at these two definitions as two different meanings, we should look at them as one. Dr. Money, being a pioneer, believed that it was about nurture and not nature. David’s parents were hoping that everything this man was promising them would become reality, that because of their little boys incident he could be raised as a normal girl. However, little did they know that ‘David’ was basically an experiment since he had been born as a healthy baby male. Dr. Money suggested many things to influence his new gender identity. Those things were being dressed as a girl, acting like a girl, and being around things that only girls would be around. However, no matter how much ‘David’ and his parents tried, somewhere in him he knew he wasn’t in the correct body.
There were actually some theories of why doctors thought the experiment didn’t work with ‘David.’ One of those main reasons was because of his identical twin brother, Brian. Brian was someone that ‘David’ was extremely close to since he was someone that was familiar to him. It is to be said that because of his twin brother, ‘David’ wasn’t able to commit to the ideas of being a female because he saw so much of himself in Brian. Another reason according to the documentary called ‘Dr. Money and The Boy With No Penis’ would have been due to the constant bullying ‘David’ received throughout his school years. ‘David’ would get made fun of, called a cavewomen, and would constantly be reminded that she wasn’t a normal type of girl. Some believe that the reason for ‘David’s’ experiment failure was because of these negative comments towards her, however his very own nature was informing him that he wasn’t who everyone expected him to be, no matter how much nurture was given to him.
Also, in the book ‘As Nature Made Him’, John Colapinto mentions studies that were done with girls born with an excess amount of testosterone compared to other girls. The research available states how the girls with the excess testosterone were born with masculinized genitals and in some cases there was a partially fused labia. Girls born with this way, their nature grew up acting like boys, a kind of tomboy traits. So instead of these girls growing up and playing with dolls and make up, they played with boy toys and dressed in a male type of clothing. Just like in the case of ‘David’ nature played a bigger role than just being nurtured into a different gender identity.
            In the society we live in today, we see certain gender roles that are appropriate for a male and a female. According to an article titled, “The differences between men and women” it states how “society teaches little girls to be feminine and little boys to be masculine; society that tells women to respond to babies and men to respond to sports and warfare.” I believe this to be completely true because even when one enters kindergarten, you see the little girls with their dolls and dresses, while when you see little boys you see them playing rough and playing with their toy cars. Plus, while children watch television they see the differences between a male and female. For example, in the show ‘Phineas and Ferb’ you see the difference between the males and females. Candace and Isabella, two girls in the show, are always seen in a skirt and shirt or in a dress. Candace is seen as an older sister of Phineas and Ferb. She is always on her phone either gossiping or talking about the boy she likes. She is constantly worried about the way she looks. Isabella is a girl that is friends with Phineas and Ferb, is part of the girl scouts and always has a bow in her hair. She is always imagining Phineas declaring that he likes her as much as she does. She is seen as a girl who does anything to be around the boy who she likes. Linda, Phineas and Ferbs mother also portrays the feminine role. She is always seen either cooking or shopping for things that are needed around the house. Plus, in the end of the day she always has a snack for the kids. The males however, are in regular male attire, shorts/pants and a shirt. Phineas and Ferb are always coming up with new inventions that the girls end up helping with instead of making up their own ideas. The boys’ father, Lawrence, is either reading the newspaper or is clueless of what is really going on around him. Plus, when he leaves to go off and work, he leaves Linda, his wife, in charge of the kids and home. Children spend countless hours in front of a television throughout a day, it is bound to have some sort of influence on what they perceive as a male and female trait.
Even though some may not realize it or want to admit it, our identity is basically set as soon as the sex of a child is determined. We all know that when we see a baby anywhere and they are wearing pink then it’s a girl and if they are wearing blue then it’s a boy. Plus depending on the sex of the baby, it will determine the certain objects located in their room. I just recently went to a baby shower for one of my sister in law relatives. All the decoration that was located in the hall had to do with the sex of the baby, which was a girl. The decorations were all pink and all the presents located on the tables seemed to be pink as well, sometimes yellow. When the opening of the presents occurred it seemed that everything they were receiving was pink. Pink blankets, pink shirts, pink shorts, princess clothing, and etc. They also received little bows and of course the needed essentials for caring for a newborn. Throughout the whole opening of the presents you never saw a toy car, or any color like blue or green. Throughout the whole baby shower, the soon to be parents were discussing the future of their baby girl. They stated, “ we want her to start off taking classes in ballet, then to go into gymnastics where then she would join a cheerleading squad just like her mother.” When someone asked what if she wants to join a sport like basketball, they automatically said, “No, that’s not something for a girl to be involved in.” I couldn’t help but think what is an appropriate thing for a girl to be involved in. However, in these times, one becomes greatly influenced by what we see and hear from others. When you think of a girl involved in sports like basketball you automatically assume she is a tomboy or a lesbian. Also, if you a boy that is on the cheer team rather than involved in football then he’s gay. Our outlook towards society becomes judgmental when it’s something that isn’t “normal” to see.                                                                                                                                            
Nature and Nurture are the reasons to why we are who we are today. Our nature, what we are born as, is what starts us up when looking at our identity and behavior. However, our environment, like the television and the people around us, affect us in how we view our identity. We see how Davids’ “experiment” went wrong because he was born a healthy baby boy until a routine circumcision went completely wrong, burning off his penis. Though David’s parents tried nurturing him into a girl so his life could be a ‘normal’ one, compared to being a boy without a functioning penis. His nurturing of being a girl however didn’t cater to his true nature, a boy.
When we take a closer look at our identity, we must look at our nature and nurture together and not separately like most do.

Work Cited
“Candace Disconnected.” Phineas and Ferb. Disney Channel. 24 April 2012. Television.
“The Differences Between Men and Women.” National Review 17 May 2004: 15. General
     OneFile. Web. 18 Apr. 2012
Colapinto, John “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.” New York:
     Harper Collins, 2000. Print.
Moreno, Liliana. Personal interview. 21 April 2012.
“Nature” “Nurture” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2012.

Carla Ruiz
English 114B
Professor Dinsmore
Who Makes Up How We Should be Composed?
In society, still to this day, there are certain roles that men and women are “supposed” to follow. Men are seen as the superior ones and women are the nurtures, the sexual object, and are beautiful. In the movie Gamer and book “The Surrogates” both men and women have certain roles that seem to reflect on our own viewings. Women have progressed from being the housewife to the ones who are mainly going off to college now instead of men. Though women have advanced as much as they have, society still views them as an object who care what people think about their image. Men also have that pedestal that they need to be the masculine type of guy. Since society has a way in viewing men and women, most movies and books capture it.
Women in the movie, Gamer, were either seen as a sexual object, a gossiper, or someone who was seen as perfect due to their physical appearance. In the virtual world of Gamer, women were dressed in vulgar outfits that someone else would pick. Though these women had no control to what they were doing, men had no hesitance in picking revealing outfits. It’s not surprising to see this type of attitude since today’s music videos women barely have any clothing on when dancing in the background of the superior male artist. The only woman that seemed to have any sense of power was one who was a ‘gossiper’. She had a high status since she did have her own television show. However, though she might have had her own television show, being a ‘gossiper’ seemed to be a role society believed fit this woman. Throughout the movie of the Gamer, there’d be women flashing their breasts or wearing ensembles that would barely cover their bodies. It didn’t seem as if they were doing anything out of the ordinary since it seemed like the ‘normal’ thing to do. In this society being seen as a sexual object, a gossiper, or someone with a perfect appearance, was normal. However, it seems as this society had its roles for their women, something that seems to become parallel to the book, “The Surrogates.”
In the book “The Surrogates” there seemed to be two things women worried about, their image and feeling less superior to men. In the book, surrogates were basically robots in the skin of humans. You had complete control over them and were able to pick how you looked. In the end of the book, the lieutenants’ wife becomes so depressed at the fact that she won’t have her surrogate any longer that she decided to over dose and end her life. The beauty of her surrogate and the ability to look amazing without any work was so important that she ended her own life.
Women in today’s society have a certain image they have to achieve. With things like photo shop and beauty competitions’ like toddlers and tiaras and Miss America, it is no wonder that the roles of women have changed. Women are now put on a pedestal to look like a woman on a billboard, without flaws thanks to photo shop. Competitions like toddlers and tiaras train little girls to thinking appearance and beauty is everything. From there most go off into other competitions when older like Miss America. Something that is always seen in competitions is the load of make up and a bathing suit contest. So image becomes a factor that becomes difficult to ignore. This way of thinking appears in Gamer and The Surrogates as well. Women try to do anything to achieve a look society has made. Women roles have become different as well because of society.
Men in both Gamer and “The Surrogates” have it difficult as well. Just how women have to put up with the roles of society of being an object worried about appearance, men have the role of being the strong, successful man. In Gamer, men were seen as tough, wealthy, and smart investors. In “The Surrogates”, men were successful and also worried about their body image as well.
In the movie Gamer, it was no surprise to see men as strong and wealthy. The main guy, the inventor, was a white male and wealthy. The ‘criminal’ was seen as the strong guy who just wanted his family back. It seemed like a typical male role, fighting for the ones you love and care for, when the inventor and criminal fought for every other person to start living a human, normal life. Both these men had a viewing as strong, a role that all men should have. Just last week, I was at the CSUN gym to obverse. Almost automatically, I saw mainly females on the treadmills and the males lifting the weights. Being looked upon as strong has become a role for males. Men, just like women, now worry about their physical appearance because of all the advertisements of what one should look like. Even in movies, just like Gamer, males are strong, giving the ‘regular’ males more motives to work on their appearance. Ones image, whether male or female, becomes something one cant ignore when everywhere you look, from billboards to movies, there is someone with that ‘perfect’ body.
The book, “The Surrogates” is not so different from the movie the Gamer. In “The Surrogates” the main defenders were agents, who are strong, yet have body issues and is male dominant. The sergeant was overly excited when he found out he could upgrade to another surrogate, having even more control in how he looked like. All of the agents who were working were surrogates with a young body that were able to do whatever task came to hand. Something that really shocked me in this book was when the CEO was announced. The CEO was to be seen as a male called Victor. When the lieutenant gets a hold of the CEO, it is revealed that the male is really a female, Victoria. Just like in todays society, females feel less superior to men because of history. Males have always been seen as the dominant one who has complete power. This is why Victoria was seen as Victor, so the rest of the community would feel safe. Though we might not notice the way roles control our daily lives, books and movies seem to capture it.
Though we may have certain roles to achieve even before one is born, we can always change that. Women were once seen as objects and the nurtures and now they are becoming something in the world and some may say they don’t need the male in their lives. Just like women, men have been able to overcome certain obstacles; they don’t need to always feel so masculine. Even though men and women do go through a lot with roles, it is always important to know that a role doesn’t define whom we are. Most importantly we shouldn’t let what others perceive as beauty influence the way we feel about ourselves. 

1 comment:

  1. Cara- Dude, it does seem like everything went by so quickly. I just remember that i was worrying about high school graduation and fighting off senioritis. As I read your cover letter, I thought of how much we have grown as writer. You may not see it until you sit down and read everything else and then you realize: "oh snap, i've changed". But it's been great becoming your friend and seeing you ever Monday and Wednesday for the past year. It was interesting. lol but yes, we talked a lot about identity and it made me open up my eyes a lot more. You would think that gender and sex are the same, but we see that in David's case, it's not. Also, in the surrogates and gamer, you never really notice (unless you're a hardcore feminist, LOL Just kidding) the gender roles. Because we've become accustomed to it that once we are brought fourth to the light, lol we actually realize that in society men and women are expected to act a certain way. it's rather scary actually. being predictable. As as i said before, it was a pleasure getting to know you and going through this English class with you and Yolanda, and Letty. It was fun. haha BYE!! btw, I like your whole portfolio and your essays, they're written very eloquently.