Faludi and Gladwell about Social Issues

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“In a functioning and changing society, modifications of traditions, social norms, and policies are bound to undoubtedly change, and these changes may be sparked by potential violence, sexism and discrimination. In “The Naked Citadel,” Susan Faludi’s focal point is on the revolution brought about by an abnormality in the all-male academy and the challenges that come to accept change over the established traditions. Regarding prejudice, Beth Loffreda’s essay “Selections from Losing Matt Shepard” showcases the struggles that comes forth in Laramie—a small town in Wyoming— after discovering the victim of a hate crime and the attempt of the town to provide opinionated people with answers. Last but not least, in “The Power of Context,” Malcolm Gladwell uncovers elemental themes that make isolating the problems within a murder delicate. In a society that is outwardly diverse and complex, there are three intricate issues; violence, progress, and revolution, that are most significantly dependent of the surrounding context.

The inaccuracy of judgment can occur as simply and often as glancing at the exterior appearances without giving much thought about the deeper, underlying meaning of contexts. This is indicated in the Citadel when Faludi illustrates an alternate reality in the all-male academy, “The absences of women makes us understand them better… in an aesthetic kind of way, we appreciate them more because they are not there” (Faludi 85). This is significant because if it was an opposite counterpart then it would more likely incline a person to criticize that the lack of an appropriate element within an environment would determine a lesser understanding of that specific matter. The only real way to know a person and their position in a social setting are to initiate a conversation and quite frankly that involves them being around often. Similar to altering the impression of the academy simply by glancing at its exterior appearance, Loffreda’s encounter with the media and their methods of mixing up the significance to Shepard’s death displays the issues and complications that come with generating a story. She indicates that “a broadcast existence…[is] nourished less by facts, and far more by the hyperboles of tabloid emotions” (Loffreda 242-243) but what is considered the issue? The issue being the inaccuracy of those reporters and their finding such as the one was one spoke out saying Shepard was hung like a scarecrow after being brutally beaten to death.

However, no matter how untrue such events were, people chose to believe those reports as they failed to consider the context of the situation. The display of similar inaccuracies is witnessed when Gladwell recalls the honor that was given to Bernie Goetz after he shot 4 black youths on the subway. As it turned out “the four youths all turned out to have criminal records” (Gladwell 150). In the public eye, Goetz was seen as a vigilante hero after his actions that day on the subway brought him celebrity status. They considered his actions to be the general cause the declination of crime in New York and soon that dangerous city came to be one of the safest. When Goetz pulled the trigger, it was purely based on the fact that the young men were dark colored and they approached him asking for money. In his past, Goetz has had trouble with men of dark skin because he experiences a traumatic event that may or may not have influenced his decision to pull the trigger. However, he failed to consider the surrounding environment and the context of the situation before jumping to the conclusion that those youths planned on harming him. When one judges certain circumstances without considering the facts context of the specific event, it can lead to issues like violence, sexism and, discrimination. It frequently influences a person to act out or undertake whatever they can to make sure no harm comes to themselves, even if it involves conflicting violence onto others.

What one perceives to be the truth and what the reality of the situation is, may not always be one in the same. Every so often those two factors can be far from the truth or from each other that it may cause one to wonder where that thought originally came from. Faludi’s essay demonstrates the relationship between the type of character that men are expected to uphold and the conduct of cadets at the academy but when this is viewed from a divergent perspective, the public is recognized as the dominator and the cadets are viewed as the inferiors. In an institution such as the one described in her essay, the men are able to come together with each other, out of sight from the public transcript. They are capable of escaping the beliefs of society to build their own refuge because ultimately the academy has become a place where they are their own image. As the author states “Studies show—I can’t cite them but studies show that males learn better when females aren’t there. If a girl was here, I’d be concerned not to look foolish. If you’re a shy student, you won’t be as inhibited” Another cadet said, “You don’t have to impress them here. You’re free.” From a third: “She would be destroying a long and proud tradition.” (Faludi 78). This is noteworthy because the cadets have spent their time and efforts creating this shelter and if someone else was to be introduced into an environment like that— say like a woman— under those circumstances, it starts generating fear of outsiders. If they are allowed access to such a place, their refuge and transcript are at risk and as the males recognize this, the fear transforms into anger, violence and harassment.

In her essay, Loffreda criticizes anyone who believes the murder of Matt Shepard was the result of the increasing rate of violence in Laramie. As one reporter establishes “hate: it’s a common word in Wyoming” (Loffreda 242) which implies that that violence, harassment, and murder are a common occurrence in the state, however certain perspectives make the death of a gay man seem like a typical crime that was committed mostly likely due to his homosexuality. If the situation is grasped from the media’s point of view then it can be concluded that the environment, as well as the people, are at fault for violence being present within the town but if the situation was surveyed through the authors perspective then it can be said that she attempts to showcase the socio-cultural problems in which Matt Shepard’s death was a part of.

In Gladwell’s essay, he mentions the Zimbardo experiment where social scientists had constructed a mock prison in the basement of a university and the purpose was to figure out what remains the cause such nasty behavior. Was it the people or the environment? The results of the experiment were shocking because the guards that had been selected for that position were ordinary people in the beginning but as they experiment progressed on, they rapidly fell into a position of violent disciplinarians. They would wake up the prisoners, perform line ups, and make them perform push-ups along with other tasks. This does not seem so bad, however, as the experiment advanced the behavior become much worse and instead of calling it off after two weeks, the conditions were too brutal that it was called off after six days. Zimbardo addresses that “there are certain times and places and conditions when much of that can be swept away, that there are instances where you can take normal people from good schools and happy families and good neighborhoods and powerfully affect their behavior merely by changing the immediate details of their situation” (Gladwell 159). The conclusion is drawn from the data collected determined certain situations can be so powerful from a certain perspective that it can overdrive our rooted predispositions. Once the guards were provided the power to restrain the inmates, their behavior transformed allowing them to conflict harm, violence, and harassment upon the people in lower positions. The result of perceiving the situation from a higher perspective allowed them control of not only the environment but the experiment to how they desired.”

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Faludi and Gladwell About Social Issues. (2021, Jun 05). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/faludi-and-gladwell-about-social-issues/

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