Comm thread: Need for affiliation

Chapter 36
Page 472

"Communication is motivated by our basic social need for affiliation..."(472)."Fear of isolation-loss of affiliation" causes the minority to remain silent. Mutual self-disclosure is one way to avoid isolation, while meeting the affiliation "human need" (472). I really enjoy how this chapter brings things full circle and ties the theories together. The way Griffin groups the related theories is healful for their application in real life sitautions. It is interesting to see how the motivation for communication varies so greatly from person to person, as well as in different contexts. In my philosophy class we have been discussing motives behind actions, and what qualifies an action as being "right." The ethical theories we learned about include act and rule utilitarianism, Kantian ethical theory and egoism. Kantian ethical theory is the only one that takes motives into consideration when defining "rightness/wrongness" of action. According to Kantian ethical theory, if your motive for communicating with someone, is based on acting from duty and good will alone, then your action is considered "good." Sometimes our motivations for communicating are solely selfish and sometimes they are selfless.

A Feminist Dictionary

Chapter 35
Speaking Out in Public: A Feminist Dictionary (Page 461-462)
This entire chapter was like a novel; I could not put it down. It shocked me, but at the same time I was not shocked at all. I think what made my jaw drop was that I was reading things that struck a cord with me. I know in my gut that there are muted groups and as a woman, I am a part of one. The feminist dictionary was made by feminist theorist in order to challenge the, “the man-made linguistic system that keeps women ‘in their place,’(461). I love how the dictionary uses language to place women in the center, rather than the outskirts or margins, of society. All of the examples provided in figure 35-1 (462), resonated with me on some level, but silence stood out in my mind. It is defined as, “Silence; is not golden. ‘There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.’ ‘In a world where language and naming are power, silence is oppressive, is violence” (as cited in Griffin, 462). The sarcastic tones make these definitions humorous, without taking away from their seriousness. I had not even thought about the term family man, as a way to gender pigeonhole or a way to “keep women in their place.” A woman’s concern with her appearance is defined as a, “reaction to necessity”(462) rather than a product of encoding. Yikes! Did any of these definitions strike a chord with you? Being a woman myself, they all pretty much hit the nail on the head. I would like to hear a male’s perspective or take on these definitions. Any takers?

Women as marginalized group

Chapter 34
Women As A Marginalized Group (Pages 444-446)

I like that Wood uses relational dialectic theory as a framework for her standpoint studies because it is one of the theory’s I chose for my Comm theory & Me assignment. She focuses on autonomy versus connectedness to highlight gender differences regarding communicative styles. “Men tend to want more autonomy; women tend to want more connectedness” (444). Is this biologically engrained within genders, or is it the “result of a cultural expectation” (444)? I agree with Wood, in that, “biology is not destiny”(445). The problem is that the minute we are born, we have got the majority of the world telling us who and what we are based upon or gender. It is the first thing that our parents or anyone know about us at birth. It may not be destiny, but we are going to be hard-pressed to fight those labels. Do we ever wonder where the definitions of “what it means to be a girl/boy,” come from? I think that is what scares me the most, is that we do not question the definition, nor who created it. In doing so we further perpetuate it. Griffin sums it up when saying, “People at the top of the societal hierarchy are the ones privileged to define what it means to be female, male or anything else in a given culture” (445). This is similar to “making meaning through discourse” and the power of the press in Chapter 26. Those who are privileged and powerful enough to have a platform are the ones who ultimately create these cultural identities, which are then perpetuated. These cultural identities have the power to, “draw people to the center of society or push them out to the fringes” (444).

Standpoint Theory

Chapter 34
Standpoint Theory (page 441-442)
“A standpoint is a place from which to view the world around us” (441). Standpoint suggests a “specific location in time and space where observation takes place, while referring to values or attitudes” (441). I agree with Harding, Wood and Griffin, in that, “our standpoint affects our worldview” (441). Where we fall on the social latter of hierarchy in any group, greatly affects our perception of the world, others and ourselves. I really like that Harding and Wood utilize this theoretical framework starting from a women’s perspective. The marginalized groups of society are more likely to have an objective view of the world compared to the majority. If you are part of the norm, you are helping to create and perpetuate that norm. If you are on the outskirts of “normal” or in the minority, it is easier to think critically, as you want to find a better way. Being on the outside looking in, gives me motivation to criticize the system. It is much easier to point out flaws, when those flaws are negatively affecting the social group I reside in. The social and gender scripts we learn, make our lives distinct from men, whether we like it or not. I am not saying better or worse, just distinct and separate at times. But is there such a thing as separate but equal? That is a loaded question!