Monday, December 19, 2011

Aristotle, an amendment

On our makeshift Christmas Eve last night, my significant other asked me, would I rather sit down and share a meal with Plato or Aristotle? My mind immediately picked Aristotle, as his writings on rhetoric created and have forever impacted my field of study and my own personal interest in rhetoric. There are many aspects of communication and rhetoric that find their roots in Aristotle's writings, but there has always been one aspect of his teachings that has bothered me. I believe my first issue was learning about the distinction between types of rhetoric in my Classical Rhetoric class in undergraduate. Aristotle detailed the separation of rhetoric into four aims or goals: to inform, to entertain, to seek truth, and to persuade. When one thinks of rhetoric, one primarily thinks of the classic, Aristotelian definition: the ability to see and understand in any situation, the available means of persuasion. This prioritizes "to persuade" as the most important and valuable aim of rhetoric. Without going into too much detail on the nuances of rhetoric, this is the aspect with which I have dedicated my education and (I hope) my future career into researching, teaching, and advising about. I began thinking to myself, though, what really separates these aspects? Is persuasion truly that different from informing, entertaining, and seeking truth?

I would like to argue and state here, that persuasion should actually be a heading for all of these aims, an end goal for each of the subsequent three types, with entertainment, information, and truth-seeking as methods and types of persuasion. Persuasion becomes a more generalized term that all three methods of communication have in common: imparting words, meanings, and nonverbal cues to a consumer and receiver with the attempts to create understanding, acceptance, and a desired response. In an expansion of Stuart Halls, "Encoding/Decoding" piece, I would like to amend that words, messages, ideas, are not passed simply for the sake of passing, but that every word, meaning, idea, or gesture, has a purpose in its sending. The addition of a purpose or motivation is not unlike Kenneth Burke's idea of the pentad, in which motivation is a powerful concept. By combining the two, and indicating motivation as an inseparable part of any type of communication, it all becomes influencing and persuasion. For example, are teachers not educators, sharing information with students? But, are they also not trying at every turn to persuade the students that this information is true? That their class is the most important and should be given the most time and attention? That the subject matter and homework is worthwhile to know, to study, to understand? Is this not a type of persuasion that the words and ideas being transmitted to the student are of value? When one is being entertained, whether at a movie, by a story of a friend, or through various aspects of media, is one not being persuaded of a way to feel? An emotion to have? A response to give to the producer? Are we not being persuaded by stand-up comedians that their art is deserving of a laugh? Or that a song by Lady Gaga deserves our dancing along? If we are not convinced a joke is funny, or that the song has a catchy beat, then hasn't the form of entertainment failed to persuade us of its importance? When one tries to seek truth, are they not seeking truth in order to share the truth with others? Convince them that they have finally found truth? This reminds me of the book I have recently finished, The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins (see next blog post for a book review), in which the entire book is an argument trying to seek the truth about religion, the creation of the universe, evolution, and the human condition. Is this book in and of itself not a larger argument for atheism, the truth of evolution, and the abandonment of faith? Is not the purpose of the book to persuade the reader to accept this truth?

These points are important to me, as my interest in studying rhetoric is the means of which persuasion occurs, how power is transmitted, obtained, and enforced, along with different categories of situations where persuasion occurs. If rhetoric can and should involve all aspects of communication, then there are many unstudied and little examined paths of inquiry that could benefit from a rhetorical lens. There are examples of persuasion being applied as a method to what might be considered traditional forms of media, such as movies. One that comes to mind is the work of Rushing and Frentz on symbolic convergence theory in movies , notably their 1995 book, Projecting the Shadow, The Cyborg Hero in American film.
 Projecting the Shadow
These crossovers between the three can occur and I believe they should occur more often. There are opportunities for more ideas to be created, overlaps to reveal hidden meanings, and new partnerships in the research in fields of cultural, critical, rhetorical, and political endeavors.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rape as an aggressor-less crime

Girls legs with panties around the ankles--reads she didn't want to do it, but she couldn't say no
There has been much uproar about the new Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board advertisements to reduce binge drinking in teenagers. The Feministing blog has already published an informational piece about the piece:  Feministing PLCB article

What I would like this blog post, though, is to analyze the image surrounding this message, Burke's pentad, and what it means for constructing feminist forms. From the text and the woman on the floor, the advertisement paints the picture of a party-goer who has had too much to drink and now is making bad decisions that has lead her to this "underwear around the ankle" predicament. The outstanding factor for me is not the relative crudeness of the picture, but about how all of the focus in the text and in the image is on the woman and not the possible aggressor. It is highly unlikely that a woman, even when intoxicated could manage such a position without assistance, whether wanted or unwanted does not matter, for consent cannot be given while intoxicated. Despite the legal hypocrisy that the woman could not "say no" because of her condition, the actuality is that she could not say yes. For, it is a crime, known as "date rape" to perceive drunkenness as consent in any situation. The absence of someone to help her get to this state and the absence of any other person or player in the larger text paint a picture that the woman has done all of these actions to herself and is responsible entirely of her own imminent rape. This removes any blame from the other half of the rape equation and scapegoats the woman as the sole actor.

 It is clear in the text on the poster that the implications of the picture is that every decision made, even while heavily intoxicated and unable to control one's own actions, is the actor's fault. This focus on the actor as is explained above, has interesting implications in Kenneth Burke's pentad, the five parts of dramatism: the actor/agent, the scene, the act, the agency, and the purpose. Focusing or favoring one of these aspects over another leads to a changing lens of victimage and blaming. (Burke, 1945). When the actor or agent is favored as the dominant spoke of the pentad, there is a break away from the surroundings or scene and the mitigating circumstances, but places all of the agent that performs the act. In this scenario, these implications are especially offensive, as this paradigm would allow for the woman to be the performer of her own rape, leaving the aggressor completely blameless in the act. For it was the agent, the woman, as a drinker, party-goer, and bad decision maker that brought her to this point, and thus, she acts as the scapegoat for the crime committed. The advertisement even goes one point farther to implicate the friends of this woman, presumably more women, as agents in her rape for not intervening and correcting her bad decisions. This advertisement tells nothing of the man's responsibility to make good decisions, to not over-drink, and to respect, not rape, women. It says nothing about the man's friends who may have intervened to stop him from committing the act, but instead implicate the females for refusing to do what the law says they cannot: say no. These opinions are standard and can be related to the myth of man sexuality as strong, dominant, and overpowering and that man is weak when it comes to the fairer sex. Women, on the other hand, can control this urge, use it against a man, so thus, in any sexual encounter, the man is acting as expected, the woman is truly the one in control, and thus the one to blame.

If the scene had been the more dominant focus, the ad might have looked like a party, where people were standing, chatting, perhaps dancing, and drinking. The words over the image might have said, "don't let the party get carried away" or a phrase about the party getting out of control, or leading where it shouldn't. That would be an implication of the scenario, the situation as playing a large part in the act. It is the drinking, the party atmosphere, the fun-loving, free-spirited, and trusting nature of trying to have a good time, that leads to the impairment of judgment that can lead to date rape. This is opposed to the agent-focused view where the drinking is a conscious bad decision made by a female that leads to her own victimization.

In terms of constructing feminist forms, the advertisement offers a few conflicting views on the power of women. First, it perpetuates the stereotype of the woman as the Jezebel, as the sexual being that controls sexual encounters, and as the one to blame for her sexual conduct. There is something slightly empowering about the idea that woman are the actors and make their own choices and are not subject to the will of peers, the party atmosphere, or insistent males, but this lens forms cracks when judgment is impaired, for it allows for this same constructive view to destroy a woman's chance of avoiding victimization. Yes, a woman should be in charge of her own decisions, but this is a scenario where choice and judgment are taken out of the equation, and decision-making becomes not an aid, but a hindrance to one's safety. When constructing the feminine form in this ad, it is an obvious focus on the underwear as the only clothing visible. Is the woman wearing nothing but underwear? Or, more likely, is wearing something provocative, so that one might assume that her dress and manner of action is consistent with that of a seductress, an agent with a clear motivation.

In all fairness, this advertisement has been published with good intentions: to limit and discourage binge drinking. This is a goal that one would hope Liquor Control Boards would be worried about controlling. But, the larger issue here is that by trying to cut down on underage drinking, only one half of the equation, the woman, is blamed and scapegoated in a rape fantasy, portrayed by her pose on what appears to be a bathroom floor. Men are not implicated as having control over their actions, as being responsible just as the women are expected to be, but appear to get a pass on being blamed for rape and the guilt that comes from committing such a heinous and damaging crime. One could wonder about the amount of women who believe these fantasies, that they themselves are responsible for their rape, and thus do not report it. Is the production and expansion of these myths of feminine hyper-sexuality and responsibility for rape harming the reputation of women, creating leeway for men to free themselves from blame for committing rape, and destroying the possibility for prosecution of these crimes? I would say yes, completely and utterly yes.

Burke, Kenneth. 1945. A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Jewel House

In “Visual Methodologies”, Rose (2007) describes two types of discourse analysis; the second, 
being the topic of discussion for today’s blog post, is “concerned with [materials’] production by, 
and their reiteration of, particular institutions and their practices, and their production of particular 
human subjects” (pg. 172). Using this second type of discourse analysis that focuses on the institution 
that produces material and how the architecture and technologies of that institution affect participation 
and viewing, we will analyze the Tower of London’s crown jewels exhibit. This exhibit is structured in a 
unique way as far as museums go, which act to strictly enforce the flow and behavior of the visitors.

Architecturally, the floor plans of the crown jewel exhibit are paths from one room to the next, as in 
many museums, but the striking difference is the direction of traffic is predetermined. There is only one 
way to walk through the exhibit as each room leads to another in a steady line of people, roped off from 
exploring the room in anything but the selected route. The line outside to get into the exhibit is a ruse, 
as the line never dies, but instead maintains intact throughout the tour. 

There is no way to double-back or move outside of this line, because then the visitor will have 
broken the chain and will be seen as cutting ahead. In the same vein, taking too long in one particular 
spot (to examine the coat of arms in the “Hall of Monarchs” room, for example, that one passes 
through on the way to main exhibit) will cause a delay for everyone behind you to reach the crown 
jewels. In this sense, there is social pressure imposed by this lined formation that prevents people 
from examining any of the exhibits for too long or leaving the line to explore the room outside of the 

The only exception to this rule is in the video section where a large screen shows a video and history 
of each of the crown jewels right before the viewing room. This large room contains a weaving back 
and forth through additional ropes, so during the longer journey through the room, the visitors can view 
the movie. Traveling through this path, though, takes little more than 5 minutes, and each segment of the 
video is approximately that long, so visitors wishing to continue watching can break the path from this room 
to the next by circling back to where they entered and wait to rejoin the line. This, again offers social 
resistance as inserting oneself back into a line that one has left causes tension between those wishing to 
move quickly to the crown jewel room and those who want to view the entire film. A similar set-up is 
available in the crown jewels room, as those who want to take another look at the jewels can circle back 
to the beginning of the room, re-enter the line, and travel through again.
From left to right: The Imperial State Crown, St. Edward's Crown, the Queen's Mother's Crown, The Royal Orb

In addition to the architecture that dissuades cutting through the predetermined path, there is additional 
technology and manpower that dissuades from misbehavior and rule-breaking. There are video cameras in 
each of the rooms leading up to and including the final room, with guards stationed at the entrance and exit 
of each room. It is well known that the exhibit is off-limits to cameras as is the church on the grounds, 
whereas all other buildings allow cameras. Although there is no signage to remind visitors, the presence of 
the guards and the video cameras ensure that no visitor uses a camera during the tour. This is an example of Foucault’s surveillance as “an efficient means of producing social order” (Rose, pg. 174), because without 
the knowledge that guards and technology is watching, there might be more temptation to break the rule and 
try to take pictures of the jewels.

Technology is also employed in the final room to encourage swift movement through the exhibit, literally. 
Upon entering the final room, the line continues onto a moving platform where visitors are then passed in 
front of the cases containing the crown jewels. Not only does this technology control the movement of the 
line by making it impossible to gape and pause at the jewels, but it also makes photo-taking extremely difficult. 
If a visitor desires to view the jewels more than just the once through, he or she can back track through a non-motorized path at the back of the room (away from the jewels and monitored by additional security) and 
re-enter the conveyor belt. This was the additional back-tracking technique I referenced earlier that comes 
with its own social pressures. The technology employed here in an example of institutional technology that 
controls the power and knowledge that visitors have to see and learn about the crown jewels.

As with many museums, the tour ends with the conveyor belt dropping visitors right off to the entrance of 
the gift shop, which must be traversed to leave the building. Considering that photos are not allowed, the gift 
shop capitalizes on this restriction by displaying full color postcards of the crown jewels at the gift shop 
entrance. This is another display of power over visitors as something that would be free for visitors (to have 
a photo of their visit) is now a profit for the exhibit at 40p a postcard. So, if someone were to buy a postcard 
of each of the crowns as mementos, that would be an extra 2 pound 40 that the museum makes per head 
just by controlling the technology usage within the exhibit.

To conclude, the discourse of the Tower of London crown jewels exhibit controls the power and knowledge 
that visitors have by employing rigid path markers, posted guards, video cameras, and conveyor belts. These influence visitor behavior in the exhibit (i.e. not straying from the marked paths, not taking photos, and keeping 
a brisk pace). The overall meaning of this discourse of fast-paced exhibit viewing is different from many 
other museums and gives off the impression that the history of these jewels and personal reflection about 
them is not as important and making sure as many people see them as quickly as possible. The visitor is nothing more then a viewer, not a consumer, listener, interpreter, and pushed through the system satisfied that he or 
she saw the crown jewels. The reasons for this are, of course, that this exhibit is very popular (over 2.5 million visitors a year says “The Official Website of the British Monarch”) and it would take hours as opposed to half 
an hours to walk through the exhibit if people were allowed to wander and take their time. This population and speed control ensures that visitors cannot complain of long wait times and no one is turned away from an 
important part of visiting the Tower of London due to visitors attempting to read every placard and ogle the 
jewels for extended periods of time. This leads to a less than welcoming atmosphere in the exhibit, though, 
and a less than normal museum experience for the sake of expediency.
Line to get into the Jewel House

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dead Crabs and Bike Stealing

Everyone is shaped by their personal backgrounds and experiences that construct their opinions, 
knowledge, and capabilities. Within the world of methods and research, these contexts should be 
taken into account because of their drastic effects on data outcomes. There are multiple categories 
of experience and evidence that are explained that are possible influences on data for which 
researchers should try and be aware. Bourdieu explains the importance of people’s experiences 
especially in the terms of culture, Igo proposes the phenomenon of the over-saturation of survey 
data in modern culture, and Pager discusses ethical and methodological concerns in obtaining 
valid data (particularly in audit research).

One of Bourdieu’s main ideas was that people’ socio-economic class has a profound effect on 
people’s knowledge of culture. People who are born into higher classes are much more likely 
(as indicated by the study performed) to appreciate, understand, and seek out fine art. Because 
of socio-economic status, people are able to enroll in more and higher quality education, 
experiencing a wider array of cultural knowledge reserved for the elite. Exposure to art museums 
and classical music are luxuries usually afforded only to the rich. The survey indicated that the 
knowledge of composers increases dramatically with higher paying jobs and conversely, knowledge 
of mainstream music increases with lower paying, more menial jobs. Thus, if a survey conductor 
or researcher wanted to understand the calming effects of certain types of music or a comparison 
of art pieces, a representative sample of social classes should be maintained as to mimic accurately 
all of the American population.

On the other hand, if a museum or particular company is looking for specific types of people 
socio-economic status would be an important factor to consider when selecting or targeting 
survey-takers. The survey pitfall that comes to find is that of “The Literary Digest” in 1936 that 
predicted Landon would beat FDR in a landslide election. What actually occurred, of course, was 
FDR’s landslide victory that was incorrectly predicted due to bad survey practices. Only those who 
subscribed to the magazine were polled, aka those who had disposable income during the Great 
Depression, which was a niche of Americans more likely to vote for Landon that FDR.

In Igo’s article, the topic shifts to the massive amounts of survey data available to the public. With 
this massive amount of survey data, there are many opportunities for misinterpretations and slanted 
results. One of the reasons Igo listed is when over-saturation occurs is that people become so 
comfortable with questions and can begin to answer the way that they think the survey should be 
answered. Another negative consequence is people become overly sensitive to their lives being 
recorded in the form of ethnographies, surveys, and interviews as indicated by the example of 1920’s 
Indiana. One parody example is that of Monty Python and their “infommercial” of Whizzo butter.

Pager discusses the pitfalls and difficulties of audit research, or research that involves an experiment 
in real-world situations. The study in question was one of job applicants and discrimination of race in 
entry-level job positions. One of the more important issues that arrived was one of ethical concerns. 
Should people be allowed to perform research when people are not aware that they are being tested? 
Obviously, there is some research that cannot be performed without this ignorance, because participants 
would otherwise skew data (no one wants to be viewed as racist/sexist/etc.). But then, what rights do 
these participants have in regards to possible ramifications of participation and how can these rights be 
protected? Practically, research performed that can provide valuable information are given passes by the 
IRB for the purpose of the research, but ethically, should these be allowed to happen? One example of 
this same type of discrimination audit research is the TV show, “What Would you Do?” where the set-up 
is a pair of men stealing a bike, one white and one black, and who gets approached more often by bystanders.

The people on the tape are seen as participating in high levels of racial discrimination, so often want to 
keep their faces blurred. What responsibility do the producers have to exposing the frequency of racist 
behavior versus the privacy rights of the people unaware of their participation? The example of audit research 
is just one type of research that has its drawbacks and confounding variables for which researchers should 
remain vigilant.

These are ideas that I carry with me when performing research. There are always issues of confounding 
evidence or finding ways to have evidence to support your points. All researchers should be wary of different 
ways that research can be compromised in order to produce good quality research that does not violate ethical 
or ideological concerns.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Five Evil Faces

Looking at the TIME Magazine archive, there is much to learn about the changing of cover images over the years. A comparison between images, especially of political figures, can lend themselves to historical analyses of the time period in which the magazine was published and what the main article’s view is on the topic or conflict in question. For this blog post, I will analyze similarities between five images of five world leaders regarded as “negative” or “evil” world leaders at the time of publication of the TIME Magazine cover (and arguably before and after). The ideas I will highlight are the similarities: faces, shadowing, layering, and angle and discuss the implications for further research about one of the lleaders that strayed drastically from the other four. The five leaders are Gaddafi, Hussein, Khomeini, Jong, and Ahmadinejad.

Chronologically, the first image is one of the Ayatullah Khomeini during the Iran hostage crisis published in 1979. The image of Khomeini is a cartoon drawing with heavy shading, a large black turban, sinister yellowed eyes, and a three-quarter profile. What’s noticeable about the angle of Khomeini’s face is that although the face is directed away from the viewer, the eyes are looking directly at the viewer. This depiction is a created one, so this small decision was still a decision made by the artist to express some type of peripheral awareness and slyness on the part of Khomeini. An additional artistic choice was to place a smaller photograph (not cartoon drawing) of Jimmy Carter, who was president during the crisis to the side, on Khomeini’s cheek. Carter’s angle mimics that of Khomeini’s, but his eyes are directed away from the viewer, possibly looking at Khomeini as a sign of aggression or imminent confrontation. 

The second image is one of Saddam Hussein in 1997. The similarities between this image and the Khomeini image are the direct gaze of Hussein into the viewer, the placement of a competing figure blocking part of the face, and shadowing that discolors the face. The person in front of Hussein is Bill Clinton, president during the time when Hussein was kicking weapons inspectors out of Iraq, in a “showdown” of power struggle. Again, the image of the “evil” dictator is much larger than the US counterpart, and the US counterpart is not looking threateningly at the viewer, but at their nemesis.

The third image is of Kim Jong Il in 2003 at the beginnings of the 6 party talks about disarming North Korea’s nuclear program. This time, instead of having a US counterpart blocking the face, there are missiles (in some ways replacing an enemy with an ally) that block portions of his face and dominate the picture by being much larger in scale and number. The similar angle of the face is differentiated by a look away from the viewer. This variation may occur for many reasons, possibly because there was no direct “showdown” imminent as in the other situations with clear allies, but simply an overarching threat to many people, hence the multitude of weapons to symbolize the importance of the threat to people who may not think of him to be so.

The fourth image is the one that detracts most from the other similarities, the image of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006.  Although there is a bit a text calling for a war, there is no US counterpart image, such as of George W. Bush, blocking the face of Ahmadinejad.  Additionally, the top of Ahmadinejad’s head cuts off the word “TIME” which no other image does (except for the missiles in Kim Jong Il’s image) and he is an obvious focal point with no competing images, people, or words on the cover. Even the text in the corner is of a different shade of red than the background red that fades marginally into the background. The gaze of Ahmadinejad is towards the front, but up and over the viewer, giving the entire image a tone of reverence to the leader as opposed to direct conflict, although the cover calls for a description of what a war with this man would look like for America. The implications are as the text indicates, that war is not inevitable and that this man should not be seen as an enemy quite yet.

The final image is from 2011 and is an image of Gaddafi after he was removed from power in Libya.  Although the gaze is not present in this image due to the dissolving of Gaddafi’s face, the face is directed forward and it is implied that the gaze would be forward as well, indicating a disappearing enemy and risk to the viewer. Like the Ahmadinejad image, there is little competing with Gaddafi’s image, but in this circumstance, Gaddafi’s face is not given importance in the sense that it only half appears, implying that what was once an enemy is now no longer a threat, emphasized by the empty space surrounding the image.

Each of these images share different representations of leaders and dictators considered enemies of the US in a national American magazine over the span of 30 years. Additional research should be done concerning these archival images to include other leaders represented on Time Magazine covers, an analysis of even more similarities and differences (too extensive to list in an essay of this size), and the additional background (such as the articles within the magazine themselves) to determine the exact points and view and purpose of each of the images. Especially considering some of the stark differences between leaders, there may be some insight through further research into why some images are similar and others deviate strongly from the others.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Marriage by the Numbers: Sister Wives and Identity

Season 1 Promo

This blog post will look at the above image and the text of the 2010 TLC show, Sister Wives,
about a polygamist family in Utah, the Browns, who subscribe to the fundamentalist Mormon
faith. The symbolism in the above image is simple and mirrors the implications of the show for 
women both in and outside of the polygamist community. Using a feminist lens, the analysis of 
the image mirror the show's emphasis on the patriarchal system of the Brown family and the 
dominance of men over women in the form of polygamist marriage. Although the show hopes
to portray this implementation of faith in a positive and compassionate light, there are many 
flaws in this representation that ignore obvious gender inequalities.

One of the more obvious elements of this image is the golden symbols of men and women. 
These are meant to be wedding bands that symbolize the women being bound to the men through 
the interlocking rings with no room for escape. Within this image, there is also the overwhelming 
indication that the women are dependent on the man and are being supported by him, lest they 
fall. The male sign, though, appears to support itself and is the stronger unit that is able to carry 
the three female symbols easily, while the female signs dangle beneath him, vulnerable and weak.

The female symbols are also indistinguishable from each other, reducing their uniqueness and 
individuality and reducing them to only their gender stereotypes. Their position in the household 
is not matriarchal or valuable, but is instead defined by their function as a wife, given importance 
through marriage to a man. The role of Kody's wives is merely that: they only have value as a wife, 
a hanging wedding ring, a child-giving, and homemaker. This is reflected in the show's repeated 
subscript of the wive's names with their corresponding number (wife #1, wife #2, wife #3, wife #4) 
while Kody's subscript labels him as “the patriarch.” There is a scene in the first season where 
Christine discusses how she only ever considered joining a family as wife #3, a position she feels 
provides balance to the sisterhood.  Statements such as these reinforce the idea that the women 
are active members in creating their own dependence and obedience to Kody.

Big hugs for everyone sleeping with my husband!

An aspect of community is created between the women, where they live in the same house, 
share chores,  cook, raise each other's children, and two of them have full-time jobs. There are 
many sentimental scenes where the women describe their sister wives as their best friends and 
are glad that they can go through the world with their friends by their side. In the traditional sense 
of friends, though, one would think of a friend who sleeps with your husband as the worst friend, 
not the best. Outside of the polygamist lens, these women are keeping their enemies closest, but 
within the polygamist structure, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and later, Robyn, view each other as the 
best support system, best friends, and mothers to each others' children.

The show puts heavy emphasis on the Brown's family as an alternative lifestyle, but an acceptable 
one and almost always begins and ends each episode with an attention to the benefits and positive 
aspects of living as “sister wives”. This image, through a feminist lens, can be seen as offensive to 
women and subjecting them as only as important as the man who supports them and marries them 
and that their position is solidified by the inevitability of getting married. It also capitalizes on the vulnerability of women and the process of marriage solely as an identity-forming action.

In playing devil's advocate to myself, I tried to image a show that had various forms of family 
make-ups and what their corresponding logos might look like. In each other couple I could imagine, 
female with female, male with male, and female with male, the idea of the partnership creates two interlocking rings that are on equal fields and connect, both strong and upright, working in tandem 
as a union, as I would expect a union to operate. So, my issue is, would I be equally offended by the 
female symbol supporting three male symbols? The answer is, on a fundamental level, that the issue 
of inequality is the largest hurdle that the Sister Wives image portrays and one that would be equally offensive in any of the above scenarios if even one ring was shown as being beneath any other. This 
idea of support and dependence creates the idea of an unequal marriage, which is an idea central to 
that of the show and the fundamental faith that purports this type of union. Why, then, does the show 
not have interlocking rings that more represent Olympic rings, strong on their own, but still creating 
an even stronger structure by being connected? Why do the women have to hang on their husband, 
weak, dependent, and vulnerable?

Research Introduction

Welcome to Emma Frances Bloomfield's research blog. My posts will be combinations of personal musings on academic topics, class prompts, and proposals for new projects. During my 5 years at the University of Southern California, I hope to develop this blog as a site for brainstorming and sharing of my ideas regarding a variety of topics. Primarily, my interests lie in the intersection of politics with religion and values, particularly as they relate to issues of (environmental and health) policy.