The Freedom of Birth lecture was actually very compelling. Part of me wants to get pregnant just to have it at home and fight the system! (Just kidding…sort of). The video and speech really did change the way I think about a lot of things—doctors, pregnancy, birth, drugs, etc. First off, I had no idea such a war is being fought against female autonomy. The fact that midwifery is illegal is mind blowing to me. Who decided to outlaw it? I feel like that’s on a par with making running illegal, because it’s bad for your knees and screw it, we have cars now anyway. It all goes back to the almighty dollar. Healthy, natural practices cannot be taxed in the same way technical/surgical procedures can be. Every last bill that gets passed is only done so because someone else is getting rich, and that is truly disgusting. If science upheld the law, and medicine could be proven to work more efficiently than midwifery, then maybe I could see an argument. But unless this speaker was just full of shit (which I doubt), midwifery seems to be a legitimate alternative. As a woman and a human being (not a specimen in a lab) I feel that having a midwife would be much more comforting than lab coats and surgical instruments. I watched a documentary one time. All these mothers were talking about how childbirth with their midwife allowed them to actually orgasm. It seemed pretty weird. I wish I had thought about it and brought it up when this lady was speaking. Maybe I’ll find it on you-tube and put it on the class Facebook page.
The smelly t-shirt activity was interesting. I had missed class the day instructions were given so all I knew was to go to the arch lab. I show up and about 16 shirts are laid out for me in bags, spread out across a big lab table. I am asked to stick my nose in each one and take a whiff. Obviously, knowing the hygienic habits of most of my male counterparts, I cringed at the thought. The shirts didn’t smell quite as awful as I thought they would. Well, a few did, but for the most part I couldn’t smell much. Maybe my nose sucks, or maybe half of them had no smell. Some smelled like soap to me, but then others smelled like rancid gym socks. A couple shirts stood out to me, as they didn’t smell like soap and they didn’t smell disgusting. They smelled like man—oddly similar to ex-boyfriend’s shirts I used to love to wear. This activity was interesting in many ways. I almost want to sign up for a dating website that uses this as a match-up guide and see who I get stuck with!
On Friday, February 28th I attended the lecture by Paul Bingham and Joanne Souza, authors of Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe. This lecture was all new and different, as I have never even thought much about the evolutionary study of man. I was very interested in the Social Coercion theory. I had never considered this as a “social revolution” but it makes perfect sense. If people were not somehow encouraged to work together and abide by cultural norms, then living in large groups would be impossible. I had never considered the idea that the body was not previously able to throw and that this action of elite throwing was a milestone in human social development. I had never thought of remote killing as necessary for hunting or coercion. The portion of the lecture on species typical behavior was enlightening. I was amazed at the behaviors of short-term memory the chimp exhibited, which far exceed my capabilities. While the chimp was able to put all of the numbers in order in a very short period of time, I was never able to get past four or five in the sequence. The human species typical behavior was to monitor, store and use genetics, personal experience and cultural information to manage conflict of interest. The information on brain development expanded upon Lynn’s lecture in class. The idea that Neanderthals were not less sophisticated in their development and the possibility of their interbreeding with us was definitely new but has since been discussed in two of my other anthropology classes. Overall, Bingham & Souza believe that the scale of cooperation is what will move humans forward in the future. For another great leap in human progress, it will be necessary for people to work together rather than independently.
For me, this transition occurred when I was 12 years old. I grew up and lived most of my life in Mexico, but when I was 10 years old, my family and I moved to Madrid, Spain.
When I lived in Spain, all my friendships and activities were still very child-like. My friends and I would talk about school, sports, movies, etc; we rarely talked about boys or sex, and when we did, it was not a big deal. After two years in Madrid, we moved back to Mexico City and everything was different. I started going to a different school than the one I had gone to before I moved to Spain. Since I was in 7th grade, I went to a private escuela secundaria (Mexican equivalent to Middle school or Junior high). The majority of my classmates came from the same elementary school, but there were still many that came from other schools.
The first day of school was a cultural shock for me. In only two years, I had got very immersed in Spanish culture, and it was really surprising to come to a much different Mexico than the one I knew before. Everyone used slang Mexican expressions that I did not understand. For example, the very first day of school, I remember hearing a conversation among 4 girls, about how a boy and a girl in our class “se pusieron calientes” (became horny) but I had no idea what they meant by that. Now I do not think that they even knew what it meant, but we all pretended to understand and to be surprised. This expression, as well as many other things that I heard in this school, was so vague that it made me think that maybe kids my age were already having sex. It seemed to me that 12-year-old kids in Mexico were much more advanced than 12-year-olds in Madrid. In Mexico, most guys talked dirty and constantly made sexual jokes, while the girls laughed and said: “Ew! Stop being gross!”
After a year of making friends among these kids and getting used to living in Mexico, I became an expert in Mexican slang and sexual innuendo.
I do not know if it was because of cultural differences between Mexico and Spain, or if it was the different school system; or the huge American influence that kids in Mexico City are exposed to (by watching American movies, MTV, listening to American music, etc.); or if it was inevitable that I would have my transition at this age, but I think that my environment and contact with other kids were the mainly what made me stop being a child and become a teenager.
Growing up, the topic of sex was never uncomfortable. I was fortunate enough to have an open family who were all eager to educate me on whatever the topic of the week may have been. So, by the fifth or sixth grade when I began to experience sexualized thoughts, I was already fully comfortable and well-versed on the subject. Immediately, I became the go-to guy for sex advice for my friends; a lot of whom were already sexually active and a lot who were trying to become active. It was strange to me because we were all so young, but for some reason being a virgin was a sign of weakness if you were a young male in my community. So, for social survival, I lied about it. I remember that at the onset of puberty was glorious. I grew 5 inches in a year, my voice had gotten deeper, and the other male physiological changes had become apparent to everyone. However, the attention from older females came as a definite surprise. Like every guy, I had always wanted to be a “ladies man” but it was clear that I wasn’t mentally ready. The fact that the first girl to offer me sex approached when I was using the bathroom at her grandmother’s house made things a bit awkward I was in the seventh grade and she, the tenth. I was in the middle of going when she knocked on the door; I didn’t answer. Two seconds later she forced it open just to see my penis as I used the bathroom. It startled me so bad that I turned, mid-stream, and missed the toilet completely. Urine went everywhere and I smelled like pee for the next 12 hours. At that moment, I realized that even in the midst of sex being thrown at me (every 13 year-old boy’s fantasy), sex had to be worth waiting for; something that my mom always preached.
In class we talked about the trend of earlier menarche in industrialized societies. I was one of those girls who started her period when she was only 10 years old. In our society, getting your period indicates adolescence, yet I wasn’t even out of elementary school yet. I was still too young to need the sex talk, but by the time I had my first real boyfriend in 8th grade, I had been identifying myself as an adolescent for years. So, in 8th grade when girls start sending out naked pictures of themselves and you hear stories of couples having sex, I thought all couples did more than just kiss. I was smart enough not to give my virginity to a boy in 8th grade, but I did give him more of my firsts than appropriate for a young teenage girl in this culture. There is a harsh contrast between what is culturally acceptable and what is encouraged by age group peers. This creates a lose-lose situation for a lot of teenage girls. Guilt for giving in to a boyfriend, guilt for not doing what that boyfriend wants, guilt for maybe even liking what that boyfriend wants to do. The circumstances of early menarche, and peer influences transitioned me into an adult sexuality before I was emotionally ready. However, that transition wasn’t complete because I regressed quite a bit after that. I wasn’t ready for adult sexuality and so I kept myself from what I saw as adult sexual actions until I was eighteen years old. Even though I know it is a cultural construct, I still feel shame and regret about beginning my transition into adult sexuality so early.
I honestly don’t directly remember when my sexual transition from childhood to adulthood occurred. The knowledge about sex was just kind of present in my life, I don’t remember ever learning about it but I assume my aunt, who had a knack for answering every question I ever asked no matter what the topic, took me to the library and we looked it up and she gave responses to specific questions. I think within the African American community we have come to accept being hyper sexualized with examples through music and media of how sex is so important as a status marker, that it wasn’t odd when I heard stories of sexual acts from my male friends but I never really believed them and more so I never really acknowledged that I would be able to have sex or that I was old enough. The two instances I experienced that probably made me realize I was able to partake in sex was firstly, when I overheard a girl in my class talking about her sexual experience the previous night. I just remember thinking that’s kind of odd we’re only thirteen and secondly, when I heard my mother talking about a fourteen year old who was pregnant. That really signified that I was old enough but it was still odd to me and in my opinion that’s what a transition is. That odd point in life when you are trying to wrap you mind around the fact that you are now able or unable to do something.
Paul Bingham and Joanne Souza visited us from Stony Brook University in New York where they are both professors. In the lecture they gave us an insight into their new book Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe: Human Evolution, Behavior, History, and Your Future. The lecture primarily consisted of an explanation as to how the human species separated from our primate ancestors millions of years ago and they predicted how the human species will evolve in years to come. They went on to describe that the human evolution was not complicated but rather simple actually. Humans seperated from our primate ancestors using social cohesion and living in groups. They justified this by using research of throwing stones from humans that were millions of years old. This allowed humans to further separate ourselves as a species and coerce our dominance over others.They showed clips of a monkey and cheetah using their natural instincts to get food and hunt prey, which was very interesting to me. Dr. Bingham was schooled as a microbiologist at Harvard and Ms. Souza is a clinical psychologist, diverse in their professions they teamed up to give us many different aspects of understanding from a microbiologist’s standpoint to one about culture.
I also worked the Pink Box Burlesque Voodoo Nights show, which was on March 9 at the Bama Theater. This was the second show at Pink Box Burlesque that I worked. However, this was a brand new experience because this was the first show I worked at the Bama Theater. This meant that, unlike the Green Bar, I was not able to see the performance while it was occurring. However, I was still able to tell exactly what was going on in the acts based on the volume of the audiences’ cheers. For example, when one of the performers was doing a tease each article of clothing removed got a substantial amount of cheers that were “woo” based. However, the loudest cheer came from the audience when the performer removed her skirt and it was revealed that she was wearing a strap on. However, the cheers had more laughs than the earlier, sexualized cheers. This also made it very easy to tell which performers were currently on stage. My favorite example of this is when I had to go to the dressing room to grab something. By the time I returned, I didn’t see who went on, so I didn’t know which act to prepare for next. I started to listen to the band’s music to match it, but before I made that realization, I immediately knew who the performer was based on the audience reaction. I heard high-pitched screams coming from the front row, which was filled by a bachelorette party. I instantly knew the performer was one of the males in the troop who frequently wore a gold speedo and was doing a towel routine. At first I didn’t know how I did that, but upon further reflection, I realized I was basing it on how I would react. Had I not already seen this act in rehearsal, I would be probably be acting very similarly to the women in the bachelorette party. The fact that I could identify the acts based on the types of noises the audiences make was very interesting to me. It shows there is some sort of consensus at least within our own culture on the types of noises that are appropriate to make at certain times, and that are easily identifiable. It was a great show! Once again, I would recommend everybody go to these events. In general, they are incredibly entertaining and give people a lot of insight into human sexuality.
I attended the extra credit lecture on February 29th at 3pm. This was a lecture that was more anthropologically based than the one in the previous night which was more of a general lecture. This lecture had a significant amount of emphasis in tools which can be found in the archaeological record. I thought it was a very interesting perspective that the way people use tools could be as advantageous as it was in evolution, according to Bingham and Souza. In addition, I thought that the fact that Souza and Bingham (One, a molecular biologist and the other a psychologist) worked together was very beneficial to their research. It allowed them to maximize the fecundity of their observations. As fecundity was one of the bases of their lecture, I thought that was very important. One of my favorite aspects of their lecture was the notion that the social sciences will one day be combined. This was very motivating for me. As a double major in history and anthropology and a double minor in evolutionary studies and art history, people have often told me that I am spreading myself too broad within the social sciences and that I should be more specialized. However, Bingham and Souza suggested otherwise. They think that it is dangerous for social scientists to be too specialized and in the future, there will be a general social science that work together to understand the world. I really liked this notion particularly because it is applicable to my own studies. Overall, certain parts of the lecture I found a bit confusing, but in general I found it very interesting and I’m glad that I went!