Monthly Archives: July 2012

Graduate Students and ECR’s going to ASA

If your going to ASA give this panel a check out:
Professional Development Workshop: ASA Editors Offer Insights and Advice on Writing and Submitting Articles

Description: ASA editors from a variety of ASA journals will provide insights and advice on publishing in scholarly journals, including preparing manuscripts for submission, selecting a journal, responding to revise and resubmit decisions, and deciding what to do if your paper is rejected. The workshop will provide opportunity for audience members to ask the editors questions about publishing.

Saturday, Aug 18, 10:30am-12:10pm

David Bills, editor, Sociology of Education
Karen Hegtvedt, editor, Social Psychology Quarterly
Tim Liao, editor, Sociological Methodology
Holly McCammon, editor, American Sociological Review
Debra Umberson, editor, Journal of Health and Social Behavior

No Problemo

by @DrNicNack

At the end of May, my boyfriend and I took a very long awaited and much anticipated vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with two of our very good friends—the queerprof and her partner. They had been to Puerto Vallarta before and had told us that on their earlier vacation, some family members had noted that there seemed to be a large number of same sex couples vacationing in Puerto Vallarta. As a sociologist, gender and sexuality are topics that are frequently in the forefront of my mind and are subject to a great deal of analysis and discussion in my academic life, but also spill over into my personal life. Being a straight woman who has many lesbian friends, I have become fairly accustomed to being mistaken for a lesbian- there is something, after all, to be said for theories of homogamy in friendship.

Despite this topic being such a prominent part of my life, something happened on our trip to Mexico that I found both surprising and interesting. During one of our excursions to the market to buy some jewelry and other souvenirs, The Queer Prof and I got into a discussion with a shop owner, a man named Lionel Richie. We were shopping around and decided to buy some jewelry from him, and while we were talking and checking out he asked us if we were “good friends or girlfriends?” We replied, “good friends!” and he then proceeded to inform us that “in Puerto Vallarta, it doesn’t matter. Girl and girl, boy and boy, it’s no problem.” He kept talking about how in Puerto Vallarta, it was okay to be in a same sex couple and that it didn’t matter. It was, apparently, no problem. We appreciated his sentiment and laughed off his comments, and then proceeded to analyze the interaction as we were leaving the market. Not one minute later, we were approached by another shopkeeper who was trying to entice us to purchase some of his items, and we started talking to him as well. After a very short time, he asked us if we were girlfriends. We again said that no, we weren’t, to which he replied, “not yet?” and laughed. We said that no, we were just good friends, and nothing more. He told us that in Puerto Vallarta, being in a same sex couple is no problem and that “only God can judge.” We talked a bit more with him and then left, as we couldn’t wait to get back to our respective partners (who were eating oysters and drinking beer on the beach) to tell them about these crazy incidents.

As we were recounting the stories, we were then inclined to wonder what it was about us that led those two individual shop keepers to assume we were a couple, and then be so bold as to ask about it. Did we look like couples they had seen before? Did they think that someone who was fairly queer looking and someone who was more traditionally feminine looking must be a couple together? And what prompted them to both tell us that being gay was okay in Puerto Vallarta? We decided that the answer could only be one of two options: first, maybe they really were okay with all forms of sexual orientation and expression in Puerto Vallarta—at least in the shops. In fact, on a tour we had taken the previous day, we learned that there was a specific gay area in town called the “romantic zone” and we later ate dinner at a restaurant in the “romantic zone.” Rainbow flags were proudly displayed in windows and on balconies and while we were there we saw a variety of very stereotypically flamboyant gay men. Was it that Puerto Vallarta was a really accepting city, or was it more pragmatic than that? Like a heterosexual couple, same sex couples take vacations, and would be likely to take a vacation to Puerto Vallarta if that sort of destination struck their fancy. As a town that makes a living through the tourism industry, locals would obviously be well advised to be accepting of a group of people who are bringing business to the city and stimulating the economy. However, why these men felt the need to so vocally express their sentiments is something that we will continue to wonder about and as our friends later saw after we left the vacation early, girl and girl (or boy and boy) may not actually be “no problem.”

The Wrong Side of the Pier

By the QueerProf

Sitting at the same restaurant across from the shops on the beach as the day before, my partner and I saw a “problem.”  This problem began innocently enough and not as a problem. Two young girls were wading in the waves—holding hands.  In fact, we did not even consider issues of sexuality initially. There were a number of families and children playing in the water and these girls (most definitively not out of high school) could have been best friends, cousins, etc. However, eventually, hand holding turned to splashing which turned into wrestling which turned into kissing and then full on make-out kissing rolling around in the sand.  At this point most of the tables and families were watching.  Little was said at first, but then more and more comments and jokes came. I cannot speak directly to the comments and jokes as I do not speak Spanish so well and the loud crashing of the waves and music and general lively beach atmosphere muffled many of them.  I was actually a little impressed at how comedic the crowd found it, rather than disturbing—I mean the kind of disturbing that stems from repulsion and leads to violence. This couple was also quite persistent and enthusiastic. This behavior went on for a good long while at least 15-20 minutes without interruption. This type of PDA would have drawn a great deal of attention even for a cross-sex couple. I was actually impressed at how quickly many of the tables and families went back to their previous interactions.

The Lady in Red

However, there was one lady—the lady in red, who was extremely concerned. So much so that she went to get the police.  The police took their time in coming and they took their time in analyzing the situation. The frolicking was still taking place, although the passionate kisses had simmered down. Three police people showed up to address the situation from a nearby substation—two men and one woman. The female officer was a solid butch woman although we cannot speak to her sexuality, we identified her as a probable lesbian.  It appeared that the two men were there to supervise while the woman was there to “have the conversation.”  The men hung back with the lady in red, while the female officer approached and spoke to the girls. The men were light hearted about the situation and seemingly empathetic to the lady in red’s concerns. The three were smiling and chatty while they looked on as the female officer spoke with the girls. We were unable to hear what she was saying, but she did point toward the people on the beach and the families. She further pointed down the beach a few times. It seemed she was suggesting they go elsewhere and perhaps on the other side of the pier as she motioned down the beach and over something. The girls seemed surprised by situation and were in shock with how to deal with the interaction. Eventually, one of the male officers—who seemed to be the supervisor—also made his way to the girls.  He reiterated via hand motions that they should just move down the beach to the other side of the pier to what we later realized was in the romantic zone and soon to be established gay beach.  The girls still in shock and clearly effected by the situation, gathered up their clothes and walked down the beach in the opposite direction of the Romantic Zone.  I wish I could remember if they were still holding hands.  I do remember that their smiles were gone.

A million miles a minute…

This week I guest lectured in a colleague’s marriage and family course.  Assigned with the task of “discussing gay and lesbian families,” I wanted to cover gay/lgbt/queer families, issues of access to resources, social tolerance, methodologies, and of course you have to discuss the health and well-being of the children.  However, I only had on hour to build a rapport, to cover the foundational issues–why families are important social institutions, lgbt/queer terminologies, defining lgbt/queer families, and then get into the more substantive issues I wanted to cover. While I think I gave them some good information, especially foundational, I know I didn’t get to cover the things I most wanted to discuss like the ins and outs of the same-sex marriage debate, “families of choice,” heteronormativity, and more. Most of all, I think I left most unsettled because I failed to leave time for questions. My options were to speak a million miles a minute or trim…

Guest lecturing is a tricky thing. In many ways, it makes me think of job interviews except less formal.  Over the weekend, I worked on my lecture and spent a good deal of time thinking about what I wanted to wear. (Dress really affects my confidence in the classroom–and for a one time meeting/talk it is paramount that I feel good about what I’m wearing. I am not talking so much from a style point of view, rather a practical point of view in which I do need to look different from students, but more importantly I need to not be worried about if my zipper is down, tripping over chords–I’m a klutz–and how my shirt is hanging/tucked).

When guest lecturing, I always plan to have too much rather than too little to talk about. In fact, normally in this sort of situation I would have set up 2 half hour lectures. This way you can roll with the mood of the class and various levels of talkativeness. You can also taylor to their interests.

This past Monday, I forgot almost all these “tricks.”  To be honest, I think I was just eager to please and couldn’t wait to have some more in class interaction. It really kills me that we didnt get to have the Q&A at the end. I will never make that mistake again, even if it means setting the timer on my phone.

Too Much Fun?

Is it possible to have too much fun in or with a class?  I found myself thinking a little about this question over the past year.  I am extremely lucky to be in a department where they want me to teach courses I love to teach and it seems that lately I have had more and more students with similar interests as mine–all of which has really lead to a fun and thriving work environment. I do feel I am being productive as are the students, however, I cant help but to occasionally wonder are we having too much fun?  Of course, everyone enjoys occasional laughter in class but could there be too much? The idea of laughter seems to in many ways juxtapose the ideas of professionalism and seriousness associated with a stereotypically conducive learning environment. As a professor who looks young and wants to be taken seriously, I often worry about what laughter in class means, especially at the end of the day.  However, laughter can also be extremely useful.

As a student, laughter (or should I say jokes and fun stories that led to laughter) always helped me to remember lectures and concepts, and remain engaged throughout the duration of the class and the semester. In fact, my favorite courses, and often the courses I got the most from generally also included a quick-witted professor or a hillarious study group where we all had the same end goal of doing well in the class. I have not doubts that overall laughter largely contributed to my learning.

In my classroom it seems that laughter largely derives from a number of different places.  One place is a place of nervousness. Sometimes, I or the students will share humorous examples or stories to break tension. These moments are generally very short lived and can be quite awkward but they can really open the door to a greater discussion on the particular topic at hand. Even the idea that we are nervous about publicly discussing said topic can lay a foundation for the discussion or future discussions.  This is especially the case in my more controversial courses of methods, social statistics, and sexuality studies.  However, I also see a great deal of laughter from academic jokes and comments where students are relating or apply material in clever ways.  I greatly enjoy these moments when you can see the synthesis of material and the personality of the student.  I also really appreciate the bad jokes…the ones that don’t quite make it but were a valiant effort.  These moments say to me the students are engaged, trying, and comfortable in the environment.  I have done my job to set up the parameters of a safe and practical learning space.

Laughter effects my research too. Over the course of this summer I have spent a number of Wednesday nights at a colleague’s house taking part in a reading group on female masculinity. This past Wednesday was especially filled with laughter. I almost want to say we were down right giggly, however, that feels like a word that shouldn’t be positively associated with academic pedagogy. But why is that? I am certain that this group has contributed to a continued education for me, in addition to boosting my summer work morale and bonds with my colleague and student. The group has contributed to me reading and re-reading pages and articles I would probably in all honesty put-off until “I needed to.” I have thought about various passages and readings in ways that would apply to the group’s interests rather than just to my own. Further, it has been an amazing amount of fun having a free space in which to just think and talk about issues from the readings (and our lives–work and otherwise) at our leisure.  While I do have some direction with regards to what I want to get from the overall experience of a reading group, it is also nice to just read and allow your mind to be free from that tight task-orientated focus that it often acquires when you are working specifically to address a single question or issue.  On the whole, I think the group has spurred more questions, inspiration, and motivation for everyone involved.  I also think the laughter has largely contributed to the continuation of the group and its productivity.  So, in the words of a Daryle Singletary song:

“Too much fun? whats that mean?
Its like too much money theres no such thing
Its like [too much coffee] or too much class
Being too lucky or a car too fast
No matter what they say I’ve done
I aint never had to much fun”