Gender in Changing Rooms

I have never felt the need to give gender or sexuality and how they may or may not be connected to each other, much thought. In fact it never crossed my mind because I have grown up in a society where your gender determines not only your sexuality but also your gender role in that particular society. But, now it is also possible to change your gender, thus also making it possible to get assigned a new gender role. These concepts and beliefs were easily accepted by me because I never thought to question against it until I came across a blog by Elizabeth P. Challinor called, Sex changes and changing rooms.

Elizabeth P. Challinor discusses how gender and sexuality are regarded in this modern society. In her blog Elizabeth states, “A few weeks later, I was having breakfast listening to the news on a nationwide radio and my ears popped up (or at least they would have, if I were a rabbit) when I heard a journalist introduce a piece on “gender changes.” A doctor was interviewed who stated that it was not possible to change minds but it was possible to change bodies.” This line from her blog stood out to me because I was able to understand it to mean that now it is okay for and quite possible to have a sex change because it has become oh so very mainstream.

New York New York

I’m pretty sure you have heard the term applied to New York City before, a melting pot, a beautiful blend of culture, people, and language. New York City is known for its diversification, its ability to create a setting where people, culture, and language can evolve and thrive. However, New York City can also be a place where culture, people, and language, as discussed in the blog by Mark Turin, The World’s Most Linguistically Diverse Location? New York City, can die and stop existing altogether.

In his article Mark Turin discusses how New York City, the city once thought to be home to hundreds of languages, has turned into a sort of waste land for languages. In his blog Turin stated, “But as I have discovered, New York is not just a city where many languages live, it is also a place where languages go to die, the final destination for the last speakers of some of the planet’s most critically endangered speech forms.” I agree with this statement because I can make a personal connection to his argument. I grew up in Spanish Harlem a place where most of the neighborhood consisted of people who emigrated from several Spanish speaking countries.

Living in this neighborhood allowed me to witness first, and second generations grow up and because of this I was able to notice that while the people from the first generation kept and practiced their native language, the second generation did not and would refuse at time to even practice their native language claiming that there was no need considering the fact that they were in America and in America people speak English. In conclusion, I agree with Mark Turin because I have bear witness to this.

The Gas of them All

Can something that every human being does be embarrassing? At first you might think “of course not because we all do it”, but if you step back and re-think, farting is something that majority of people are very embarrassed about. We all cough, sneeze, and even bleed and those things are all seen as okay. According to Kirsten Bell different cultures do not connect farting with a negative connotation. In fact the way society views a person directly connects to the way they view that person farting. “Certainly, in a North American context, some farts appear to be judge less harshly than others, with the farts of an infant, the elderly, and small children invoking relatively less responses.” Woman on the other hand in are looked down upon when they fart and that’s because women are viewed to be pure and clean individuals. We are taught that we should only fart in our homes or in privacy. The negativity that comes from farting is equivalent to the smell that the fart gives off. There’s no escaping the gas that inflames the room when someone farts and sometimes there’s no way of even telling who did it. But is that the reason why someone should feel so embarrassed? We need to get over ourselves and understand that we all do it. Whether we do it privately or publicly it still happens. Farting is no reason we should put someone down simplify because something they have no control over.


History Truly Repeats

Police brutality in general has been happening for decades; police brutality against minorities has been something that has caught the attention of millions this past year. Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Freddy Gray, and multiple other defenseless African American males have been killed by people in uniform. This has been the catalyst to #BlackLivesMatter and multiple protests and riots going on in our communities today. People are fighting for justice and are confused about how this all could be happening one after another. The only thing that is clear is how corrupt the policing system in the United States is. This is not a problem of blaming one individual. This is a problem rooted in the way the system was created. In the article “The Violence of The Status Quo” Davidson Buck states that “violence created by inequality itself–structural violence…is hidden violence. Hidden, that is, from those with a bit of privilege.” In this specific scenario the people with a bit of privilege would be the black man being killed without really understanding why. But now the truth has been brought to life and everyone understands weather privilege or not privileged that the system itself is the main problem. We as a nation are participating and violence against humanity based on the color of our skin. This might seem familiar, as familiar as slavery. We are not progressing in anyway but only going back to the way things used to be.


More Then Just a Train Ride

One ride on the New York City train can change your perspective on many things. One thing that is not seen to be so important is language. You get on a train in NYC you will definitely hear multiple languages being spoken by multiple people. One train ride will satisfy your hunger for different languages whether you stay on for 10 minutes or a whole hour. In the article “The World’s Most Linguistically Diverse Location? New York City” Mark Turin states “New York is not just a city where many languages live, it is also a place where languages go to die, the final destination for the last languages of some of the planet’s most critically endangered speech forms.” The issue that many people fail to realize is that the harder it is to maintain the number of languages spoken in NYC the more difficult it will be to connect with other people not from our own cultural backgrounds. Many younger generations of immigrants not from the United States are being pressured to keep these languages thriving, but with fewer and fewer people speaking these languages is a very hard task to complete. The main way to overcome this issue is to embrace and continue teaching others languages that are endangered. Simply by using Google translator or picking up a Spanish English dictionary can help the future of these important languages.


Happy Belated Climate Science Day!



February 10-11, 2015 was Climate Science Day on Capital Hill. On these days, hundreds of people gathered in Washington D.C to advocate policy changes in order to stop climate change. Several of the participating organizations include: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Meteorological Society, Council on Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics, National Ecological Observatory Network, and many others.

Many of the Committees Organizers and spokesmen met with staffers and bureaucrats, but few politicians were able to attend these seminars and talks because of “other pressing concerns” and “meetings”.

“The objective was not to push for any bill or amendment, but rather to let our Representatives and Senators know we were there to provide the science they need to make informed and comprehensive decisions” – says Susan Crate, in her article about the event.

Hopefully their efforts were not in vain and our elected officials and representatives will advocate for more policy change to make the world we live in a better place.

American Football v.s British Rugby



As Americans, we love our sports. We love the masculinity of a hard tackle in football or check in hockey. We love that nostalgic sound of the bat cracking against the ball and the anticipation to see if it’ll go the distance and score a home run. We love winning and we love doing better. But the NFL is a very unique pastime here in the U.S. Lets take a look at it’s British Equivalent: Rugby.

Like any sport, Rugby is very masculine. There are several key differences in comparison with American football. First the ball is significantly larger and can awkward to hold and run with at times. Second we don’t use pads or helmets in Rugby. Third the ball can only be thrown behind you, not in front. And finally, the biggest difference is that the game does not stop.

In American football, after every play (or as soon as the ball hits the ground) the clock is stopped. In Rugby, after a player is tackled, he must release the ball and the game continues without stoppage. One must be able to play offense and defense at any time.

So which one is better? The traditional American way? Or the fast-paced British way? You decide!

Domestication of Man’s Best Friend

I am not a pushover. However. When my golden looks at me with his big brown eyes I can’t help but give him what he’s asking for.  I am a stereotypical dog owner in the sense that I believe my dog is the most attractive, smartest, sweetest dog in the world.  There’s something about dogs that makes them the perfect family members.  Dogs never talk back, they supply unconditional love, and they can melt the stress right off.  John Hartigan describes why dogs were the perfect animals for domestication in his article, Puppy-Dog eyes of science.   In this article Hartigan talks about how dogs and humans have a symbiotic relationship in many ways, one of them being the release of the chemical oxytocin.   The domestication process started with dogs because of their adoption of human traits, especially eye contact.  Because these animals adopted, and expressed human like qualities, their behavior mimics the traits that cue us to give care towards our own young.  During the domestication of dogs, these animals literally used their cute, fuzzy faces to spark the caretaking drive that is expressed when we have our own children.   Not only do dogs elicit this parenting response from us, but through the evolution of domestication, we have developed a symbiotic hormonal release of the chemical oxytocin when humans and canines look into each other’s eyes.  The article then goes on to explain that this joint release of oxytocin in both the dog and human parallel the way that a mother bonds with her newborn.   So next time you need a little pick-me-up, find a furry friend to give you a hearty dose of the “love drug.”

Taking Out the “Garbage”


In a recent Tedtalks video Robin Nagle, a trash anthropologist, speaks about the Department of Sanitation. The Department of Sanitation, or more commonly referred to as trash men, are the people who clean-up after us. Miss Nagle wanted to learn more about this elite group, so she started out going on the same routes wight the trash men. Later on in her research, she still wanted to know more; as a step even further into the observational learning she joined the Department of Sanitation.

She made several discoveries during her research: First the job is very dangerous, especially in the city. Cars are consistently trying to get around the garbage truck so that people may continue on with their day. Moreover the trash itself can be harmful to anyone near and around it constantly. Second the flow of trash is constant. After we eat an apple and we throw it away, we forget about it; many of us don’t realize that it is someones job to retrieve that waste and remove it. Finally, she learns about the stigma; “Put on the uniform,” she says, “and you become invisible until someone is upset with you for whatever reason.”

Both Miss Nagle and myself find the stigma ironic; It’s sad to think that those who put their lives at risk every day to clean up after us for the good of the public are so shamefully treated and only seen when their actions affect us directly. So the next time you see a public worker, a grounds keeper, or cleaning maid smile and thank them; they deserve it.

Why Cellphones Are More Common Than Toilets

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In many urban countries, sanitation and waste disposal are extremely widespread issues. Improper handling of this waste can cause a litany of diseases for the people living in these countries. Considering the risk, one would assume that managing sanitization would be a top priority for the governments and people of these countries. However, it has been found that they are more concerned with gaining the use of mobile phones than to toilets; as a result, creating the situation in which there are more mobile phones on earth than toilets. In her article, “Oh, shit! Mobile phones are more common than toilets”, Jen Barr discusses the 5 top anthropological reasons why this phenomenon exists. 

Her first reason is that people’s priorities make mobile phones more useful than toilets. Mobile phones can be used to do business, quickly obtain facts, and can even be used in transferring funds. Toilets have a more “indirect” benefit, in that every person in the community would need to have a toilet in order to see the general health improvements. Her second reason is that while toilets have to be maintained by the owner (cleaning the toilet and in some situations getting your tank pumped), cell phones are maintained mostly by whatever service provider a person has. Her third reason has to do with gender. Since in most of these underdeveloped countries woman’s place is in the home, toilets would be more important to woman. Since men handle most business affairs, a cell phone would be more important to them. Also considering the fact that men tend to be the monetary providers for these countries, it is no wonder that families choose to spend money on phones and not toilets. The fourth reason that she presents is that people tend to be more excited about cell phones than toilets, as you can do more with them and use them in public. Using toilets is generally a private thing and not something people generally get excited about. Her final reason is the obvious, that we do not need as many toilets as we need cell phones because toilets are shared and phones generally are not.

In general, mobile phones provide a more immediate benefit in the cultures of these people and help with a number of problems (financial, contacting family, etc.) that we do not face in our culture, so it is not that surprising that they would find mobile phones to be a more pertinent investment.