Sunday, December 20, 2009


Jeffrey Zide

Hon. English 313

Steven Wexler

December 16, 2009

Final Paper: Gender Identity and its Creation and Enforcement through Schooling

What is Gender? Is it determined by birth or is it a choice or simply just another social construction imposed by our society? All these questions pose just another question: How is gender created? The answer is through institutions of broad authority like the education system because parents can always choose they treat or identify their children where as the education system is streamlined and uniform. I will explain in depth the extent to which the education creates gender identity and to what extent is gender identity a combination of other innate factors and instituted through other institutions. I will use a variety of texts to support my thesis. These texts will include Rules of Attractions by Bret Easton Ellis and articles and essays by Chris Barker and Judith Barker. It will also include an internet article involving a recent case where a boy in Texas was suspended from Pre-Kindergarten because the school district determined that his hair was to long. With these articles I will explain all the factors that lead education to create gender identity.

Throughout Rules of Attraction, there is a constant struggle between the identities that the main characters create when they are by themselves and those identities that are created and reinforced by their need to be accepted by their peers and teachers. One character in particular, Paul who happens to be Bisexual, is said to have a passion that “masks a shrewd pragmatism” on the back cover of this book. Thus from the very beginning, Paul has created separate identity, one that is real and one that is an artificial identity to gain acceptance among his peers but also to manipulate situations to get what he wants. His identity is essentially what gibbons from the barker book would call a postmodern identity that is composed of many fractured and often contradictory identities. With that said, because the book takes place at a small liberal arts college, characters like Paul necessarily have a certain amount of freedom with their gender identity considering that college students are considered adults and not children. However, identity is reinforced or imposed on the students by their peers in the form of acceptance or rejection. Paul is rejected in his own sexuality and his attraction to females as well as males when he decides not to have sex with Katrina, a girl he found at one of the Thirsty Thursday Parties. After Katrina “tells everyone I (Paul) couldn’t get it up, anyway.”(pg. 19-20), Paul turns his sexual energy towards and especially towards another main character, Sean.

Similarly, Lauren has her confidence strengthened by her poetry teacher, Vittorio. It is unclear if Lauren is indeed having sex with the teacher while in a relationship with Sean Bateman. However, it is clear, at least in my opinion, that this teacher makes her feel poetic and stereotypical fashion, ladylike. Her beauty or womanliness is definitely determined not by relationships with her friends like Judy, but her Romantic relationships with males: Victor, Sean and Vittorio. Interestingly, enough Vittorio only seems to be an active player in her problems with her identity when instead of offering rational and academic advice, he is more interested in getting her in between the sheets with him. Lauren’s identity is determined outside her home and is a postmodern fractured identity of multiple and often contradictory traits similar to Paul and his practical Bisexuality. ‘

It is quite obvious that while education in a small liberal arts college does create some type of gender identity, that identity will be more postmodern, fragmented and anti-essentialist that gender identities at a private elementary school. In this case, Paul and Lauren’s identities are projects of language and are used as practical ways of achieving their goals. When a child is much younger, their gender identity will mostly be an essentialist identity where they think of their identity as just they are and have always been.

In a recent event pulled from the news headlines a 4 year old boy was suspended from a pre-elementary school in Balch Springs, Texas. His name is Taylor Pugh. He was suspended from his school because he likes to grow his hair a little on the long side. The school took issue with it and promptly suspended him when he and his parents decided not to cut his hair to a buzz-cut like the school district would have preferred. Similarly, this shows how education has a large but seemingly erroneous role in shaping gender norms for students. Now, the boy prefers the name “Tater Tot” which in general is neither male nor female or masculine or feminine. In general, though school plays discursive and what Michel Foucault call an “a problem of agency” in how schools and education use political tactics to shape its policy for its students. While the principle claims that he suspended the boy because of the dress code his parents insist that many other children where their hair the same or violate the strict prep-school like dress code but never get sent home or suspended. So what is really going on here is also related to Giddens’ Structuralist theory of identity and Willis’s book Learning to Labor which defines how school masters instill in both British and American education models a sense of firm masculinity that if deviated has severe consequences for male students. I similarly did a project in eleventh grade where I took certain selections from Pink Floyd’s The Wall and explained that the wall is a reference to “a wall of masculinity” that is enforced by patriarchy and punished when the wall is brought down as time goes on. Still, the boy is suspended for something that has more to do with gender politics than to do with a basic pre-school education. The boy is four is old and he’s already expected to have hair like a Marine.

Similarly, school can also have an opposite effect reinforcing and encouraging kids to challenge notions of gender identity. According to a recent article aptly titled “Can a boy where a skirt” There is something called a Mix ‘n’ match day at Ramapo High School in Spring Valley, N.Y. where students instead of “wearing polka dots with stripes, about 50 kids as cross dressers” in association with the school’s GSA. Again this is High School and not an elementary school where dress code rules are much less strict at some schools and to add teenagers’ tendency to not like rules. However, some high schools aren’t so lax even when dealing with something as inconsequential as a High School Senior Portrait

In the same a article, there is a report about a girl at a Mississippi public high school who could not have her senior portrait published because she wore a tuxedo instead of the traditional black drape. The girl, Ceara Sturgis just happens to be gay and openly since 10th grade and felt much more comfortable in a tux and felt it looked more normal than the drape. Her yearbook picture still has not been published because of the dress code.

It is quite obvious that the education system has a large effect on children’s gender identity and changing or conforming to certain mores. Similarly, transgender students have some problems adapting to strict dress codes that must “keep within their gender” Some kids are lucky though. One transgender student at a Columbus, Ohio High School named Jack who prefers to be referred with a female pronoun and who has long straight hair was mistaken for a girl in the boys’ restroom but nonetheless is relatively popular at the school.

Much of Gender is what Judith Butler would call an “imitation for which their origin.” But society in any case treats gender as if there is innate original orientation and that transgenderism and that homosexuality is just a failed imitation of heterosexuality. Yet it is clear that our generation is changing that and that Butler line of thinking may in fact be common place in a few years. The education system sets up the imitation process for gender that is reproduced or reinforced or rejected by peers and teachers. In general, I agree that gender in general in fact a sort of inverted mimesis that is flexible and entirely arbitrary.

Gender insubordination through the education system is also not uniquely western. It is clear through analysis of the Chinese Movie Summer Palace how much a university like Beijing University in China has an effect on Gender Identity of students. In the very beginning, the main character a girl named Yu (sorry professor forgot the first name) is thought by her peers to be a lesbian because of her unwavering and somewhat cold personality. Yet she befriends a woman named Li Ti who helps her on her way. Yu also helps one female student to discover her sexual desires by teaching her to masturbate. Similarly, when Li Ti has an affair with Zhou Wei, Yu is notified by campus police through another student. The police are angry and watching out for relationships because the Chinese Government discourages any romantic relationships and focus on studying and work for the government in some way. In this both peers and adults use their participation in the education system to enforce a particular set of gender identities for males and females.

Within the sex scenes it also scene that the characters bodies are discursive and subject to institutional forces that either sexualize or desexualize the female body while emphasizing strength and muscularity in male bodies. Education does this very well in terms of Physical Education and other classes. Similarly, throughout Summer Palace both male and female bodies are somewhat sexualized which is radical in that the female body is not sexualized because she is child bearing but to show Yu’s emptiness when with men other than Zhou Wei.

Body image is discursive and is a product of society just as the body itself is an image created through society. Through dress code at schools male and female gender identities are sought, imitated and re-created. As with the case of the girl who were a tux for her senior prom and the pre-school that suspended a boy for a floppy hair cut, there seems to both a want and a need for schools to determine a binary gender identity system of strictly feminine for girls and masculine for boys no matter how silly it is. In the article, dress code in many ways sexualizes young children’s bodies by making them the target of what is deemed to be acceptable expression and that which is “distracting”.

All these factors contribute to what Barker calls “politics of identity”. These include feminism and queer theory all of which seek to change traditional social norms in terms of how people think about gender and how people make their choices when it comes to social situations.

Michel Foucault in his historical critique of gender and of the problems posed by the idea of agency, he focuses more on identity through what he calls “techniques of the self.” In this sense he gives hope to people with issues in choosing their identities because it opens up the possibility and change and resistance to discursive gender identities imposed on children through societal institutions like schools. The knowledge of identity he argues leads to power and allows subjects “to focus attention on themselves, recognize and acknowledge themselves as subjects of identity. Thus identity has practical implications on how people live their everyday life but agency and structure also enable and limit choices to be made by school children. I’ve noticed throughout the year; the phrase “ignorance” is bliss and although Foucault argues that “knowledge=powers” that knowledge can create great confusion and distress for children how try to experiment with their gender identity.

Judith Butler makes an interesting argument about how identity is created in one of her essays “Imitation and Gender Insubordination.” In her view the self or the identity only becomes that self through some sort of loss. Identity is forthright created by others who have been loved and loss and the gender identity is a desire and a refusal of loss. This can explain some of my unhappiness and other gender-queer kids issues of identity when desire, loss and identification are all part of a three-sided coin. Thus identity in itself is a mimesis of others in the Freudian sense of the word that I want to be like “mommy” or “daddy”. In essence gender can be an illusory physic need for identification that sets up an approximate estimate of an illusory ideal of “man” and “women” but always ends up failing which creates a gendered identity on the surface but at it’s core is tied to the loss of a very earlier other at an earlier age in a child’s development. Seemingly that explains the sexualization of gender identity in that is quite possible that gender is actually expressed through sexual orientation of an imitation of what Butler calls “compulsory heterosexism” but that the sex is then expressed through the gender traits of masculine or feminine.

School does not want the sexualization of children but by deemphasizing any differences and imposing a uniform dress code, personal expression is necessarily limited but also confuses many children who seek to naturally express their sex through their orientation first and then their gender but by having it reversed are left to beg the question of what they really identify as in response to the loss or refusal of loss of innocence but also of earlier lovers or loved ones. Thus the binary system that is created through gender creates a fragmented self-identity that cannot figure out where they should be since in fact it is an ideal and not innate reality like common sense says that gender and sex are innate traits rather than what Butler would call “psychic excess.” Thus in reality the effects of a performance create the gender instead of the gender creating the performance.

All this can be explained by two references to the British Prep school system for boys: One by Giddens’ explanation of Learning to Labour and his theory on the duality of structure and structuration theory and a less intellectualized analysis of the lyrics and music of Pink Floyd’s the Wall. In the first example it is explained that the young resist school because they view that is irrelevant to their future because they assume the will take working class jobs (which are what they value) and since they fail it school they are necessarily restricted to those working class jobs. Thus the act of resistance to forced identity will always end in a failure since there is no innate original and just an approximation of different ideals that are constructed though language and change because of the instability of language which causes much stress and confusion for a person’s identity and mental health. Similarly, Pink Floyd’s the Wall is about how a wall of masculinity to “protect” them from harmful influence of emotion is instilled through a rigid and brutal school system or rules. Thus throughout the recording and through the loss of Pink’s (the main character) loss of his father and his struggles with education his identity is created through the effects of the loss others and the performance he puts on to deal with the losses. Thus once pink gets older and starts to resist what was once taught to him and he starts to get in touch with his “feminine” emotions the wall is brought down and he humiliated in front of his peers. In “the Trial”, the third to last track in the record the lyrics explain situation quite well: “He was caught red-handed showing feelings…feelings of an almost human nature…tear down the wall”. Thus schooling tries to limit self-expression as much as possible to build a brick and cold but functional member of society that will serve and enforce the British Patriarchy. Thus once pinks resists he is only limited to failure and cannot survive the breakdown as the wall is the only thing that kept safe from loss and that gave him a stable identity that could be used to achieve his goals.

In conclusion, gender identity is created through the loss of an other and a want to identify with that other and it is reinforced through school by limiting self-expression and challenges to authority which then in performance and craving for attention acceptance always fails in its attempt to create an “original” and is in fact a psychic mimesis of an imitation of no origin, otherwise known as a copy of another copy that failed to meet the ideal “compulsory heterosexual” identity or essential “male or female” identity.

For this problem I suggest that schools if they have a dress code have means of enforcement that do not abandon the student and their need for the expression of an identity which does not infringe on their mental health because of imposed binary gender systems that are social constructs and innate or natural to humans but are in fact a means to create a functional society of laborers.

Works Cited:

  1. Ellis, Brent Easton. The Rules of Attractions.

New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1987.

  1. Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies.

Chapter 9: Issues of Subjectivity and Identity. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 2000.

  1. Summer Palace. Dir. Lou We. N/A. N/A, 2005.
  2. Butler, Judith. Chapter 7: Imitation and Gender Insubordination. N/A. N/A.
  3. Carlton, Jeff. “Parents, Schools Tangle Over Boy’s Long Locks.”

Sphere 15 Dec. 2009. 16 Dec. 2009.

  1. Hoffman, Jan. “Can a boy where a skirt to school?”

New York Times 6 Nov. 2009. 18 Dec. 2009.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sex and the City Paper

Jeffrey Zide


English 313/Pop Culture

Sex and the City Paper: Embed Video Clip

Sex and the City is a show about four women in New York City who are struggling to find romance in a city of many intricacies and paradoxes in both its culture and its construction of space of being a city centered on island that has bureaus surrounding an island. In this video clip it is evident that place is a social construction and that conceptions of space, time and place are constantly changing within socially defined interactions that decide what is “right” and what is “wrong” at a certain destination in time, space and place.

It is clear throughout this clip, that the main character, Lexi(which was all I could make out of her name from the clip) that she is seemingly out of place in this fancy ritzy upper-class apartment made up of older intellectuals because she is smoking and snorting cocaine while using the F-word more times than I could count. But what does out of place really mean? Well, Chapter 12 in Urban Space and Cultural Space by Chris Barker makes a definitive statement about space (especially social space like a fancy party) that entails five basic concepts. These 5 basic concepts are that is essentially a social construct and 2.that the “social is spatially constructed”, 3.that social space is dynamic not static meaning that is always changing as social relations change, 4. Space creates and defines questions of symbolism and power which can be physically shown (known as “power-geometry” of space) and that social space passively asserts that social space is in fact expressed in “a simultaneous multiplicity of spaces: cross-cutting, intersecting, aligning with one another, or existing in relations of paradox or antagonism”. Throughout this clip, these five concepts are well illustrated.

All throughout this clip, there are strong signs of a power struggle for the social space. This space is constructed very carefully as quiet party with no drugs but tons of philosophical conversations of older rich elites and intellectuals who are placed in the center of the room lining around the inner walls with comfortable couches while those who seem not to belong are standing either by the walls or mixed in broad daylight which is contrasting with Carrie Bradshaw the main character of the whole show standing along the wall while Lexie the main character of the scene is standing in the dead center of the room to show her power in controlling the space yet she is not comfortable and in some ways is hiding in the center of the room. This obviously shows the paradoxical relations in that the quiet people are the ones with the power and although Lexie’s booming voice and presence seems to command the center she is in fact pushed along the walls and faces many obstacles even with getting into the party into the place as she expresses her frustration with “pulling strings to get into this piece of shit party”. It is also interesting how quickly the camera angle changes from being dead center on Carrie to facing Lexie from a distance. It also to interesting to see the paradox of how everyone pulls away from her as she rants about New York no longer being any fun and how she in fact gains the power-geometry and is forced into the center of the room while others pull-away towards the side but how in fact this power is so superficial when consider the end of the clip..” It is clear that the hostess despises her behavior and even says “how did she get in here” which shows a power struggle for the domination of the center of the social space which is officially dominated by Lexi it seems yet in reality, the hostess pulls all the strings and Lexi in fact is booted out of the space by her own doing. This paradox of power shows the elasticity of space and how the relationship change with Lexie in the very beginning taking a back set to Carrie to the end of the clip with her commanding the space with “Power-Geometry” but in the end it reverts back to the guests as she falls out the window with her ironic statement: “I’m so bored I could die” and then she does which shows the symbolism of the construction of space when she does “New York is over” but then she is over and out the window which parodies the concepts while bringing light to how space is defined by the social.

This also conveys Giddens sense of “front” and “back” space with bedrooms being into intimate back spaces while dining rooms would be considered front spaces for “onstage public performance.”(p. 374) This clip radical in the way it interchanges as Lexie in the very beginning is pulled from a back space in the center of a dining room which plays on the paradox of it not being a bedroom to her being placed in the corner back space in the upstairs bathroom while she snorts cocaine and to the end of the clip while she is the front space as she falls out the window to her death. She makes no distinction between the space that is defined for her to be in the back but as she pulls to the front-space it is evident how absurd the struggle as she constructs the space even after she is falls out the window and ends the party in more ways than one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Response Paper

Jeffrey Zide

Honors English 313

October 14, 2009

Response Paper: Street Car Named Desire and Its Relation to Rules of Attraction

Although The Rules of Attractions and A Street Car Named Desire are two separate animals they do share many similar themes. One of the major themes throughout these two texts is the characters’ attempt to fill voids in their souls with objects and quasi-romantic relationships from a far which seek to satisfy their psychological need for satisfaction. To this point let us start out with the main points from The Rules of Attraction.

In rules of attraction upper-middle class students at a small liberal arts college pleasure themselves by getting drunk half the time and having sex and drugs during the other half all while having no plans for their future or morals for that matter. Paul, Sean and Lauren all fanaticize about a person that they think they love when in fact they are an object of their imagination to fulfill their need for self-satisfaction. Similarly, when they get to hooking up with them they find that the objects of their fantasies are human and have some major character flaws and they move on as if these people never really mattered but to themselves as a way to protect themselves from real relationships with people that might not satisfy them. These voids in Paul, Lauren and Sean’s life comes from having everything and never having to struggle during the height of the era of deregulation. They have everything they need but yet they are unsatisfied because they conform to society needs to categorize happiness into a consumption of material wealth while deemphasizing mutual relationships with people as unimportant compared to the fulfillment of self-satisfaction that comes when consumption is equated with a need to fulfill one’s needs.

In A Street Car Named Desire, Blanche Dubois moves in with her sister Stella as she goes through a crisis her life when her need for affluence and relationships with her students is taken away after she is kicked out of the school she taught at because of a sexual affair with one of her male students. Her character is defined her inner turmoil caused by living a life of excess and conspicuous consumption and her fantasies of relationships with men half her age. Her narcissism is evident in her neurosis and her need to be spoiled with wealth and affection by men half her age.

To begin with, The Rules of Attractions characters’ have an excess of everything yet have empty souls full of voids which they fill with partying, drugs and alcohol, and fantasizing about relationships. In the very beginning of the book, Lauren is drunk and gets raped, yet does nothing about. “Her bra was still on. And she said to no one, though she wanted to say it to Daniel Miller, “I always knew it would be like this.””(Pg. 16) This exemplifies that although she fantasizes about Daniel Miller she really does not love him but uses him as a fantasizing tool to fill her void while she gets drunk at a party and just lets other people have sex with her and rape her and she accepts it. Similarly, on page 18 Sean thinks this: “I’m not into her all that much, but the hot looking left with Mitchell and I don’t have any classes tomorrow and it’s late and it looks like the keg’s running out and asks, “What’s going on?” and I’m thinking Why Not?” The capital letters of those last two words some up the attitudes of these main characters which is they will do anything because they can and the treat everything as if it is an object. As for fantasizing on page 23, Lauren is obsessed with Victor: “Why don’t U tell him that my boyfriend, the person I love, the person I miss, the person who is misses me, is in Europe and that I should not any under any circumstances be doing this.”(23) It is clear that on the very next page Victor practically does not know who Lauren is as she receives no message throughout his entire passage. Yet she is having sex with someone else. “It feels good but I’m not turned on. I just think about Victor and lay there.”(24) The confusion and voids in their lives is clear evident buy these behaviors and images they build up seem to objectify the person they “love”. Similarly, this is highlighted by Blanche and Stanley in a Street Car Named Desire.

Blanche in A Street Car Named Desire cannot believe that Stella and Stanley live in a two room flat. On page 6 after a character called Eunice says: “You don’t have to look no further” Blanche’s name appears in the script with the words in uncomprehendingly in brackets and she says: “I’m looking for my sister, Stella Dubois, I mean- Mrs. Stanley Kowalski.” This seems to show that she cannot accept that her sister has little money and is no longer her younger sister who she thinks she knows. She builds up an image that reflects her values on money and when she sees that her sister lives in a Two Room flat in New Orleans, it seems she cannot believe her eyes. All throughout the next few pages when Stella comes home she berates her about the fact that she lives modestly: “What are you doing in a place like this?” is on of the lines she first says to Stella thinking she owns or posses her sister. She could not accept any thing other than Rich. Similarly, she looks down on Mitch and uses him as her fantasy for men as she as a thing for younger men. A character named young man comes along to sell things to Blanche and exclaims as he is in the middle of leaving: “Well…..I want to kiss you, just once, softly and sweetly on your mouth!”(99) In the brackets rite after these lines it says she does not wait for the boy and crosses to kiss him. The next passage she says: “Now run along…..It would be nice to keep you, but I’ve got to be good and keep my hands off children”. Then at the bottom of page 99 as Mitch appears, Blanche says this: “Look who’s coming! My Rosenkavalier! Bow to me first… now present them! Ahhh-Merci.” This scene shows how Blanche uses both the boy and Mitch to fill her obsession with lust for boys and shows she does not love Mitch but likes to be spoiled. She views love very narcissistically. Throughout these scenes in both books, it is obvious that these characters treat other people as a system of objects. For that I will incorporate Jean Baudrillard text: System of Objects.

It is clear that throughout many different texts including Street Car Named Desire and Rules of Attraction that people are treated as objects while objects are personified. Jean Baudriallard text gives a context to why these hedonistic values of consumption have replaced morality and have permeated society for a very long time. Throughout these two texts the characters do not compete for goods but rather self-actualize themselves as consumers in which they fill these voids in unanimous consumption of objects as well as people. Baudrillard speaks to this on page 409 when he says in his book: “The ultimate goal of consumption… is the functionalization of the consumer and the psychological monopolization of all needs, a unanimity in consumption which at last would harmoniously conform to the complete consolidation and control of production.” This speaks to Blanche Dubois and Lauren Hyde in both Rules of Attraction and Streetcar Named Desire fantasizing about both money and people as if both were objects that were perfected and actualized in their imagination. This is obvious when Blanche cannot believe that her sister Stella and Stanley Kowalski live in a two-room flat and insists that she has to move away because they are by no means rich. She cannot understand people living modestly. Similarly, Lauren in Rules of Attraction fantasizes about Victor while she has sex with other men, drinks and takes drugs as if all of them were equal objects that were personified as people. This leads to a very distant relationship with others and a detached sense of self or relation to the outside world. Within the society of middle class America in both Rules of Attraction and Street Car Named Desire there is an expectation given by the consumer society of Post World War II and the Regan 80’s to buy things to satisfy all needs as one. Both Blanche Dubois and the characters in Rules of Attraction accept this access of affluence and when it is taken away it becomes their end of the world. Their lives are a mess because of the moral vacuums which they take as a reason to fulfill their psychological needs with personal relationships with objects and objectifying relationships with people.

In conclusion, morality in middle class society is replaced with a bombardment of advertisement that causes people to equate objects with people and people as a means to gain self-satisfaction and no longer as someone who has feelings and a soul in which they would like to share. When the language of consumption is defined in all these texts it is clear that consumer society and affluence has a huge effect on the behavior of people and shows the hypocrisy of morality in that in reality all that society enforces is a capitalism idealism that reinforces a belief that everything is a system of objects to be consumed for self-satisfaction as a manner of true success.

Works Cited

Williams, Tennessee. A Street Car Named Desire. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1980.

Ellis, Bret Easton. The Rules Of Attraction. New York: Vintage Books, 1998.

Baudrillard, Jean. The System of Objects. N/A: N/A, N/A.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Jeffrey Zide

English 313

S. Wexler

Ethnography of the West Valley Regional Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library

Today, September 20, 2009 I went to the West Valley Regional Library. My purpose was to compose ethnography on the behavior, social interactions and the demographics of the population of the library. I would do this my making observations, writing them down and then analyzing these three components to determine the meaning of these small actions.

Observation of the library proved very simple and natural in that it was very easy to observe a multitude of signals of behavior of which can be taken as polite, honest or dishonest behavior, but mostly in fact, behavior is a product of context of peoples’ histories and within the context of the area: the library. First, dealing with the demographics the library had people off all races. However, there were considerably more people of college age than adults. Most of the people were of average wealth, though many were poor as a product of the economy. As for social interactions, there were a few and many of these seemed friendly without force. One interesting thing was that most of the librarians were older women though that should not come as a surprise. These interactions tended to make place among the people of college age (twenties plus or minus a few) and people who were younger than that. However, the relationships between the librarians, workers and the library customers seemed to be of the average tension. Many of the people working at the information desk seemed very tired and had a very strained but annoyed tone of voice. Their smiles when greeting library patrons seemed very strained. Many of the women workers had a very pleading tone of voice when saying next person in line and they were very impatient because they would start repeating that line in a more annoyed tone of voice about a second later. However, the front desk was a bit friendlier, if only gradually. This was where many of the friendlier interactions took place. Once I stepped into the library the interactions stopped as everyone knows you have to be quiet in a library. This is where I observed most of the small behaviors that didn’t involve dyadic communication.

Many people coughed and sighed, ironically this seemed only to apply to the older patrons. One older woman had a very persistent cough that would not go away.

As for the most popular items in the library, the computer ranked number one. Many people brought their own lab tops but the most visible excitement (which isn’t much considering the setting) was when people got on the computers. The only people who expressed their excitement with their voices were the young children who were extremely excited about the computer games. In all honesty most people were not reading or checking out books our even their for academic purposes but there were obvious exceptions

As for where I was, I was in the teen section which is the lounge area for the library. There were more non-teens than teens. Many of the older people which was about three compared to two seemed tired and were rubbing there faces or making long sighs. The girl who came up to sit next to me seemed in bliss reading something and looked extremely comfortable in that setting. A couple people moved out but she made absolutely no notice considering I practically knocked over the chair as I was getting out because I’m a total klutz. Many of the people my age were listening to music and seemed generally relaxed. One of the exceptions to the rule of grumpy adults was the man sitting behind me who had no book or anything and seemed very peaceful to do nothing but be at his thoughts.

As for everyone else, some people were studying and a lot people were looking for movies at the library and generally went to the information desk first. Most people my age seemed relax. As for the adults, their facial gestures and hand signs seemed tense and nervous with adults especially parents with their children. But for students and people the age of 25, there was quite a bit of small smiling and small laughs and giggles.

The only people talking on their cell phone was one man who seemed to be a little light on money as his clothes were rather faded and tattered was talking extremely politely to someone who seemed to be yelling at him and a Young women talking loudly and shall I say with colorful language as with tons of gestures was outside the library which goes to show that there are certain rules that apply by context of the area. You don’t curse or yell in libraries. However, for many people, libraries are sanctuaries of silence where they feel at home.

In general, analyzing why people are quiet and polite in library is extremely obvious but some things were a little odd to me like why people of older age seemed less comfortable than people who were younger. The most obvious explanation is that students tend to hang around libraries more often than not because they are quiet place to study. For a lot of students they do all the work in the library and go home after. For this reason many students and young people are comfortable at this library. For many adults, they only go to the library when they have to research for work or they are taking their children to check out books or other types of media. This is obviously because most adults have to work at other jobs and have the busiest schedules of the population of the library (excluding the retired and the elderly). As far as I could tell many of the adults seemed genuinely grumpy with long sighs, ticking noises coming from their mouths, sarcastic smiles and even when watching movies or listening to music, they tended to be in a foul mood. However, as mentioned before the man sitting behind me seemed very content where he was and really wasn’t doing anything which shows a high comfort level. I believe I actually had seen him before at this library. People liked computers is because digital technology as a rule is more exciting than older types of media like books. This is because it is much easier to get enjoyment out of something that gives the world at your fingertips without exerting much effort, as effort to read books whether or not you like them. As said, they were main attraction at the library and most of the people seemed playing computer games or on Facebook or MySpace. However, there were notable exceptions with people who were researching on the computer and the girl next to me who seemed perfectly happy to read her book. The library workers were tired simply because they had been working since the library had been open and the library was to close in one hour because it was 2’o clock and the library closes at three on Sundays. The explanation for the librarians being older women is that simply tradition that has how ii always has been.) I have never seen many male librarians mainly because society reading and learning as a feminine thing especially during football season and unfortunately that is a fact of life that I don’t think will change. The men were in general not reading, they were all on the computer, playing games or watching presentations or what have you. However, I will note that among the children the young girls tended to hog the computer games. From what I could tell the game did appear to be gender neutral and have bright colors but I always believe that bright colors is something children like as a rule and not a gender thing but I could be wrong about that. The workers tone of voice strained was obvious in that they were tired but were trying to avoid being rude and be friendly despite their discomfort so that the library patrons will have a good experience and will keep coming back.. For a final note, the person who was talking the loudest with tons of hand gestures was outside because she did not have to be constrained by the rules of the library. Similarly, the person man in tattered clothing was in the lobby. To be sure context is everything whether the place or the circumstances.

In conclusion, the library was pretty calm with only a little a bit tension etched on the faces of the patrons. This was all just a product of context of different peoples’ lives and situations. There were some people who were itching to get out, but in general most people were content with the quiet and were enjoying their book or movie in quiet. Most of us, especially young college students live such loud and hectic lives with people constantly jabbering one with us taking part, and with the invention of the internet it is much easier to make clear what we all feel and sometimes that can be a bad thing and just like the need to vent, humans just need a little piece and quiet to get away from it all and curl up with a good book.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hi. My name is Jeffrey Zide. I'm posting a blog because required to for my Honors English/Pop Culture class at Cal State University Northridge. I'm kinda nervous because I've never blogged about anything in my life. I have a lot of strong feelings about a lot of things but I've always found the blog wars as I call them(especially Politics) like Sarah Palin vs. the world to be kind of lame. However, since this is a new topic to me I have a fresh start and don't have to clear any lurking secrets. I hope you have fun and I hope I have fun to.