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Housework and the Modern (Super) Woman

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Culture

In the fifth grade, our teacher asked the boys in the class if they expected their future wives to be housewives or to go out and get jobs. I attended a trailer-trash-tastic farming school (seriously, we played with chickens, sheep and even a llama during recess), so even though it was California, I expected these farm kids to have more conservative views of marriage roles.

To my surprise, the majority said they expected their wives to go out and get jobs. (One particular booger-eating gross boy even used the word “lazy” in his response.) The handful of respectable boys in my fifth grade class said their future wives could do whatever they wanted to do. And only one boy said he expected his wife to stay at home. The fifth grade was a long time ago, but even then I realized how much gender role expectations have drastically changed in America over the years.

How much have they really changed, though?

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Females in Film: The Other Side of the Story

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Film

Take a step back and examine your favorite movies. If you were me, you might be overly concerned with how obviously male-dominated the stories on the big screen are. But you’re not me. You probably haven’t even thought about it before. So, I want you to try out a fun test next time you view a movie that will help you become cognizant of the extraordinarily gender-imbalanced film world:

“The Bechdel Rule is a test for films, which follows three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two named women in it, (2) who talk to each other, (3) about something other than a man.”

Think about it. Soak it in.

Okay, now think about some of the popular movies that have come out over the last couple years and see if they pass. The Social Network? Fails. TRON: Legacy? Doesn’t cut it. 500 Days of Summer? Surprisingly, no. The A-Team? Not even close. Up? Fail again.

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When It Comes to Dating, Follow Your Nose

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Culture

Have you ever wondered why some individuals in a relationship resemble each other?

Biologically speaking, people have a tendency to be more attracted to someone with similar phenotypes. When someone ends up with a person who looks like they could be long-lost-siblings, it is called phenotypic matching (or arguably, just plain narcissism.) You probably are just dying to know how then does a person insure immunogenetic diversity for their offspring. (I think about these things all the time, don’t you?) Well, luckily, the body has a natural system of being able to detect immunogenetic diversity through olfaction, or smell.

From a Darwinian “survival of the fittest” standpoint, it is deleterious to reproduce with someone that has a similar genetic constitution because it increases the chances of producing non-viable offspring as a result of potentially harmful homogeneous repetitions in the genome. (Translation: Don’t have babies with your relatives because they will be messed up.) If people have a tendency to phenotypically match their mates, then how do people avoid having similar genetic makeup as their mates? Furthermore, how do people insure they are not related to their partners, if they look so much like them?

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Facebook vs. Google: The Epic Battle

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Tech

A long time ago, I was introduced to Google. I was working on a research project and my teacher wrote the strange-looking word “google” on the whiteboard — it sounded kind of sketchy, but she told us it was a good tool for research assignments. My life has never been the same since.

Fast-forward a few years to my freshman year at BYU when my roommate introduced me to Facebook. I was reluctant to join since I already had a MySpace account, but I joined because all our new friends had an account and it was a great way to organize daily social gatherings. Needless to say, my MySpace account quickly became a redheaded step-child to me. With Facebook as my new love, my social life hasn’t been the same since.

If you can remember around about this time last year, the media people were all predicting the fall of Facebook as a result of the older generations becoming involved. They had the notion that old folks would make Facebook lame. However, we (the younger generation) adapted and learned how to censor ourselves or use the privacy controls. (Well, at least some of us.) As for the prophecies of Facebook’s decline… well, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

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CULTURE: Provo-Bound Syndromes: The Many Culture-Bound Syndromes of BYU

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Local

Culture-bound syndromes (CBS) are cultural-specific acute behavioral disorders that are familiar as a disease or a mental condition in that population, but are not typically recognized outside of that society. What is crazy in one culture is not necessarily crazy in another.

CBS’s often display neurophysiological symptoms — both psychiatric and somatic responses. Arctic hysteria is one that is frequently studied, or a more well-known example of a CBS in the United States is anorexia nervosa or bulimia.1 Culture-bound syndromes are reputed to be induced by stress that occurs when there is an incongruity between role expectations and how a person feels they measure up to those expectations.

As a participant-observer in the bizarre culture that is Provo, I’ve often heard people describe students at BYU as “the cream of the crop.” Granted, any student at any university probably feels pressure to excel from parents, peers and teachers — but BYU students have the added pressure of a common religion in which strict moral standards are known and enforced.

There are certain side effects resulting from this situation that spur a cultural epitome of lifestyle.2 In reality, fluctuations from the norm are bound to happen in such a population. However, the bar has already been set and many people find themselves falling short of rigid cultural envisages. Such high expectations are the perfect recipe for mass neuroses of cataclysmic proportions.

Now that we have some of the anthropological mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let’s examine a few of the syndemic nuances limited to the BYU/Provo culture , or Provo-bound syndromes:

Obsessive Dating Compulsion Disorder: If you observe Provo City itself, you will notice that many of the surrounding retail businesses are marketed towards facilitating courtship rituals. An outsider might consider Provo obsessed with dating and completely fixated on marriage as the end goal.

From my time as a participant-observer, I can’t remember a single BYU devotional in which dating/marriage was not mentioned. I’ve had professors encourage students to date and even offered extra credit to do so. The pressure to participate in courtship rituals is so palpable it’s impossible to ignore.

Old Maid Stigma: A product of the Obsessive Dating Compulsion Disorder, the Old Maid Stigma arises from feelings of inadequacy or guilt for not being married or not dating as frequently as expected. This stigma occurs in the young female population in Provo.

Typically the Old Maid Stigma is expressed at a comparatively young age — I’ve heard females as young as 19 express their feelings of insufficiency for being single. The Old Maid Stigma is sometimes self-inflicted, although informants discussed with me the interrogations they receive pertaining to their marital status on a constant basis.

Pedestrian Deviancies: Pedestrians at BYU have a reputation for being oblivious to traffic, so much so that they have been dubbed “Zoodestrians.” This behavior can mostly be attributed to general distractions and absent-mindedness; However, I’ve heard it conjectured that it comes from the feeling of invincibility — being protected by God.

RM Adjustment Syndrome: Adjusting to life after a mission can be extremely difficult for some people.  Essentially, missionaries are prescribed a certain role with rigorous duties to fulfill, and transitioning to another role (that of a returned missionary) is sometimes an arduous process. Returned missionaries cope with the adjustment in various ways. Some find laborious door-knocking reminiscent of their mission days and become salesmen.

BYU Big Brother Paranoia: Like unto Orwell’s 1984, students and professors are paranoid of BYU Big Brother. One line in the school’s Honor Code (“Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code”) certainly doesn’t help ease this paranoia. I’ve seen professors look around suspiciously while they whisper opinions to their class in fear of an eavesdropping institution. This paranoia is rumored to have come from the Wilkinson era where purported “spies” were placed in classrooms to ensure that professors were not teaching heretical ideas.

Suppressed Rage Against University Parking Enforcement: Here, here, here and here. Enough said.

The discordance between role performance and role expectations is the basis of these neuroses, which is subsequently compounded by the dialectal relationship of the religion, the institution, and the people. These are just some of the many culture-bound syndromes that inflict the idiosyncratic culture that is Provo. And that’s why I love it.

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1 You wouldn’t find anyone in Ethiopia barfing up meals on purpose.
2 Quintessential checklist: go to BYU, go on a mission, get married immediately thereafter, and reproduce like rabbits.

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‘Mom and Dad, Why Don’t You Pick?’: Thoughts on Arranged Marriages

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Culture

As an aspiring anthropologist, I do not believe in the Western notion of sustainable romantic love. (Cynical much? Maybe, but that’s another story.)

Evolutionarily speaking, it would be advantageous to develop an attachment to a single mate to foster a stable environment in which to raise children. Unfortunately, anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher of Rutgers University purported that this attachment only lasts about four years — or about enough time to raise a child.

According to Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, our primordial ancestors would have selected towards those traits. And that is why we display those tendencies today. (I totally think Evolutionary Psychology is, more often than not, just an excuse for poor behavior, but more on that later.) The adaptive short-term monogamous theory accounts somewhat for the exorbitant rates of divorce in this country.

You know what works? Arranged marriages. Those marriages are based on something real — filial duty and money. Or you could abandon the entire institution of marriage as we know it and live like the Nayar of southern India, a matrifocal group where the women live together permanently but several men come and go. (I personally wouldn’t mind having as many partners as I choose, but alas I digress.)

EVENTS: Your Weekend Schedule

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Uncategorized

Black Tie Dance PartyHave plans for the weekend? Well, if you don’t, I’ve got you covered. If you do, you have new ones now.

Have you ever imagined yourself ice skating in a sexy cocktail dress (or suit)? This Friday, your dreams can come true. With a descriptively long name, the “Back-in-Town Black Tie Dance Party” is the hottest thing happening this weekend — and possibly in a great while. There will not only be dancing (DJ Ryan D.), flirting, pool and ping-pong tables, food by Rockwell Catering, but also ice skating on the roof — and it’s no extra cost. They’re really going all out for this! Of all the parties, you definitely don’t want to miss this one.

Time: Friday, January 15th, 8:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Location: Noah’s in Lindon (644 N. 2000 W. Lindon, UT 84042)
Price:   Gents: $12 ($15 after 9:30), Ladies: $7 ($10 after 9:30)

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But before the dance party you must — I repeat MUST — hit up the first official Student Film AssociationSFA Presents…” It’s the first student film festival of the semester. I’ve seen a lot of these films and they are all excellent. If you don’t believe me, watch this awesome commercial.

Time: Friday, January 15, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: 3380 Wilkinson Center (BYU)
Price: $1 — Buy your tickets at the Theater and Media Arts Office in room D-581 in the Harris Fine Arts Center.

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Saturday, you’re going to watch Isaac Russell perform at Velour. The end. I was first introduced to the Russell family and their extraordinary musical talent last weekend watching Mudbison. I’m a convert. And now I’m anxious to hear Isaac Russell perform. It’s his birthday and he just got back from tour.

Time: Saturday, January 16, 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Location: Velour (135 N. University Avenue)
Price: $7

Kristin Clift is an events correspondent for Rhombus.

CULTURE: Feminism vs. Chivalry

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Local

man-opening-door-for-ladyI never have to open a door around campus, I rarely have to unload my groceries by myself, and I never pick up the check on a date. I must say, it’s good to be a woman. Yet I still live in the 31st-ranked country for women, according to the UNDP gender-related development index for 2009. Apparently even Cuban women have it better than I do.

This index, according to the World Economic Forum’s Web site, “assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities.” The index also takes into account life expectancy, education, purchasing power, and standard of living for women in every country.

In Sweden, one of the top-ranking countries, women have it great. They get year-long maternity leave, receive equal opportunity in the workplace, and don’t have to choose between a dream home-life and a successful high-profile job — they get both, and (gasp!) men are equally responsible for the daily tasks of childcare. In the working world, women aren’t expected to behave like men — their difference is respected and they are “rewarded for being themselves.”

However, in Sweden, men don’t pick up the checks on dates. They rarely hold open doors for women or pull out chairs. Men hardly pursue women to ask them out; women are the aggressors in relationships. I’ve heard that male tourists love going to Iceland (the number one country on the UNDP list) because the women are more forward.

Chivalry as we know it doesn’t exist in these countries, yet life is apparently better for women. It makes me wonder if gender-equality and chivalry are inversely affected by one another — increase one and the other goes down, and vice-versa. I know part of the reason why men always paid for dates was that women weren’t typically allowed in the workplace and, once they did start working, women made significantly less than men. Today, women only make 77 cents for every dollar men make. It seems logical that a man would pick up the check on a date.

But examining the powerful, prosperous women of Iceland and Sweden makes me wonder if chivalry may be the cause of inequality? Must it be sacrificed in order to gain a better, more broadly equal life for women? Is it because of a belief that women are not equal that men perform these certain acts? Does it enforce our differences?

Since its conception in medieval times, chivalry has been a code of respect and honor. But I’d like to re-frame the question — does this respect and honor breed inequality of the genders? I personally love it when a man is chivalrous to me and, yes, I would think less of him if he weren’t.

Yet, while courteous manners may not be the reason the United States holds a relatively abysmal ranking on the UNDP index, the intentions of the man behind the manners might have something to do with it. For instance, a man who adheres to the chivalrous status quo because he thinks women are somehow lesser or weaker and must therefore be treated in a certain way. I believe this type of thinking perpetuates inequality.

I’m not advocating the dissolution of chivalry at all. I love chivalry. Chivalry is not the problem, and it doesn’t need to be sacrificed to achieve gender-equality. Chivalry is but a mere long-standing cultural tradition that I hope sticks around. But is it too much to ask for my door to be held open and to receive equal access to a high-powered executive job that allows me maternity leave? Men, the next time you hold open a door for a woman, I hope you do it out of recognition and respect for her powerful femininity, which is equal to but very much different from your masculinity.

Kristin Clift is a regular correspondent for Rhombus.

EVENTS: Holiday Party Update

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Uncategorized

If you’re not drowning in a sea of papers, projects and tests these next two weeks, this is what’s going on besides cramming parties in the library.

Friday:
Kill the Radio (Electric Dance Party) @ The Loft ($1 off per can / 5 cans = FREE). 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

Lauren Laws Presents a Jordan Petersen Christmas Extravaganza @ Winter Quarters, 769 North 200 East Apt 104. 9:00-12:00 p.m. Wear an ugly sweater (although it’s not an ugly sweater party).
*I’ll be at this one.

Saturday:
A Holiday Affair — fundraiser for the movie Cricketless @ Christmas Manor, 3923 N. Riverwood Drive Provo. 7:00-11:00 p.m. ($6.00 per guest. $10.00 per couple). Fancy Attire.
*I wish I was going to this one.

The Formal @ The Loft ($10 singles, $15 couples). 8:45 p.m.-1:10 a.m. Dress-to-impress New York style.

Spark Christmas Cocktail Party @ Spark ($8 guest list, $16 without). 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

Next Week:
Monday Night Vybes with DJ Shawn Phillips and Friends @ The Star Bar, 268 Main Street in Park City. 9 p.m.-2 a.m.

The Ugly Sweater Affair @ Studio 600 in Salt Lake. 9 p.m.-1:35 a.m.

Look forward to my upcoming article with a list of the best New Years parties!

Kristin Clift is an events correspondent for Rhombus.

EVENTS: Wintertime Activity Ideas!

Written by Kristin Clift on . Posted in Uncategorized

Bored and blue this time of year? Me too. Excluding hibernation, here are the best ideas I could come up with to make winter bearable:

Free Activities:
• Snow activities — snowball fights, build an igloo, snowman or snow angel
• Carol at a rest home
• Hot pots in midway
• Winter stargazing (make sure to bundle up)
• Drive around and look at neighborhood lights or go to Temple Square
• Visit Santa at the mall
• Volunteer at the hospital to pass out presents
• Build a fort in your living room and read your favorite Christmas books
• Make out under the mistletoe

Cheap Activities:
• Make treats and deliver them to friends
• Get the best drinks: Borders’ Mocha Trio; Spark Restaurant’s hot chocolate; or Starbucks’ Carmel Apple Cider
• Go to a concert. The best musical performances are this time of year.
• Sledding/ Ice Skating
• Make Christmas cards or tree ornaments

“I’m Rich and That’s My Best Quality” Activities:
• Snowmobile in Park City
• Ride the Polar Express in Heber
• Go on a sleigh ride in Midway

Kristin Clift is an events correspondent for Rhombus.