Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cover Letter

Ramirez, Yolanda
Professor Dinsmore
English 114B
May 16, 2012

First Year As A College Student
First year of college has officially come to an end. I have experienced many things that I thought I would not have to go through at this age. College is definitely very different from high school.  Professors expected me to learn things by myself and did not take the time to get to know me as a person. They expected so much from me but gave me a little to work with. I had to learn to search things by myself and not get help from anyone. Not only did I struggle to get a better grade but I also had to compete all the other students in class. College is not what others say it would be.
            This year I had to take English 114 A and 114 B because my writing skills were not college level yet. I had to take this class for two semesters (1 year). I like the fact that we got to spend more time to get to know the professor because, usually, you do not get an opportunity like this in college. This class focuses on the writing style of each individual and how they could work with it. We went over many factors that can affect writing.
The first thing we learned in this class was to put out ideas in a paper. We brainstormed our ideas and then tried putting them in order that would make sense to the audience. When writing an essay, we had to keep in mind the type of essay we were writing and the audience that we were presenting it to. We also used many factors that influenced the audience response. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos were some of the important factors that we had to use in our essays. Each one of these factors gave the audience a bit more of understanding on what the essay was about
This is what we focused the most during the first semester of the class. On the second semester of class we discussed many topics. Some of the main topics we discussed during the second semester were identity, gender roles, Nature vs. Nurture. These topics were related to each other in some ways and it was easier to connect with them. Some of the books that helped me understand these topics more were “The Surrogates”, “Persepolis” and “As Nature Made Him”. These books dealt which each of the topics we discussed this semester.  
The first topic we talked about during the second semester was about gender roles and how society views it. The book we read for this topic was “The Surrogates” which talked about how gender identity affects society and the way it thinks. Society has standards for each gender and there are rules that have to be followed in order to “belong” and be accepted. This topic was also related to identity and how they are both defined by society.
The second and last essay we addressed in class was the topic of Nature vs. Nurture and how this is a very controversial topic in today’s society. The main point on this essay is the fact that people do not understand that both nature and nurture affect a person’s identity. Yes, nature identifies the person you are since you are born but nurture shapes the person someone grows up to be. Both of these topics are very confusing and can be misunderstood by society. The book we had to read for this topic was “As Nature Made Him” which is based on the life of an identical twin boy who, by mistake, had to change his gender into a girl due to an operation that burned his genitals. The book talks about whether if nature or nurture play a role on this case and how it affected the life of this poor boy. At the end of the essay I just stated my view on the topic and what I learned from it.
Taking this class has helped me improve my writing skills and how to put my thoughts and ideas into paper. It is easier for me to come up with topics to talk about and how to expand one little idea and write a whole paragraph on it. I know I still need to improve my writing a lot more, but this class has definitely improved my writing way more than I had expected. I now know that I have to keep many factors in mind when writing an essay. I definitely learned about my writing, how I can identify with it and how I can improve it. 

Essay #1 - Gender Roles

Ramirez, Yolanda
Professor Dinsmore
English 114B
May 16, 2012
Living Up To Society’s Standards

Question number 4 explores gender roles in both the “Gamer” and/or “The Surrogates”. The movie “Gamer” addresses how women are viewed and used. I will attempt to explain how this topic sets standards for people and why they feel the need to use avatars to interact with each other instead of themselves. In addition, discovering the reason why people choose to be different genders while utilizing an avatar form. Lastly, will compare both “Gamer” and the “The Surrogates” and explore their theory and similarities with gender roles.
The movie “Gamer” deals with people who are wealthy and use avatars to do things they don’t usually would do themselves. Video games play a big part in this movie since everyone who is wealthy spend most their free time playing them. One of the public’s favorite games is Society, this game allows the player to control a real person and make them do whatever they desire. The “characters” of this game, are usually poor people and they do this as a job.
In this movie, women are usually viewed as inferior to men. For example, men usually decide to play a woman avatar and make her do nasty things, they dress them with not much clothing and make them hurt themselves or do things women usually would not do in their right minds. They also make them have sex with women and men. Also, when the avatar gets hurt, the player does not feel the pain, only the avatar. The avatar feels the pain but since they are being controlled, they cannot do anything to stop it.
The movie also projects how people are anti-social since they prefer to interact with each other through avatars instead of actually meeting each other in real life. Are people really scared of how another person is going to think of them? Obviously they are, because another factor I noticed throughout the movie is that every avatar is beautiful. They fit the standards society has for them. Usually, the people controlling the avatar are completely opposite. People are so scared of what society would think about them that they rather hide behind a computer and pretend to be someone else. Another factor that also plays a big part in gender roles is the fact that people want to feel beautiful. Society sets “standards” that everyone has to fit in order to be socially acceptable. That is one of the main reasons why people use women as sex toys. Women have to be beautiful in order for people to like them. When men choose to play a woman, they choose someone who is sexy, not someone who is not considering being “beautiful” by society’s standards. Every avatar woman you see on the game is beautiful. This video game called Society had become part of people’s lives.
 “The Surrogates” is a book that also focuses on the topic of gender role. In this book people also use their avatars to do what they would normally do in their daily routines. People have gotten so used to use their avatars all the time that they have completely forgotten what is like to interact with real people. One of the main characters in this series is Victor/Victoria. He is the creator of the avatars yet he also wants to destroy them. He takes a double identity, as a woman and a man. It seems like being a man did not satisfy his needs therefore he decided to create a female image of himself.
After watching the movie “Gamer” and reading the book “The Surrogates” what I learned from both works is that people seem to hide who they really are behind these “machines” because they are too afraid to be themselves. Society makes people believe that they can be happier if they play by its rules, using other people in order to be happier with their own life sounds like a much more interesting way to enjoy living. What they do not realize is they are society and can change the rules of the game. By using avatars they are living a lie, they are not being themselves therefore cannot make themselves happy because they are not satisfying their desires but someone else’s.
These are just a few great examples of how people actually view themselves. Although women have obtained a higher position in today’s society they are still portrayed as the weaker sex. Women feel like they still have to impress society and they want to feel “socially” acceptable in every way possible, they would change their image and the way they act in order to fit in. They work harder than men because they still feel like they have to prove themselves “worthy”. Men also feel like they have to follow certain standards to keep being on top, but what they do not understand is that they are society. They set their own standards and even though they do not agree with them, they do not do anything to change them because they are afraid of change and the fact that someone might go against them. If they would only express how they feel, they would all understand that everyone is on the same page and maybe instead of hiding behind avatars, they would interact with each other and create a better society.

Essay #2 - Nature vs. Nurture

Ramirez, Yolanda
Professor Dinsmore
English 114B
May 16, 2012

Torn Between Two Identities
Being a male or a female becomes a significant part of one’s identity. Sex is determined by genetic makeup. Children are exposed to these roles since they are babies. Girls are given dolls; they wear dresses and play with other girls. They are unconsciously being put to the idea that they have to take care of the house and their children by playing with dolls as little girls.  Whereas boys are given cars, video games, they play manly sports like football, soccer, etc., where they have to use their physical strength more thus making them “manly”.
Nature vs. Nurture has been a topic that has cause a lot of controversy for the past 30 years. The case became more popular when “David Reimer” decided to share his personal experience with the world. The case talks about how “David” had to go through a surgery that would change his life and the person he became. This case raised many questions in the science field that at this moment haven’t been answered yet.
“David” had to go through a “sex reassignment surgery” when he was just 22 months old because his penis was destroyed by a surgery when he was 8 months old. “David” had an identical twin brother but didn’t have to face any of the problems that “David” had to face because his penis did not suffer any damage. Since there was nothing doctors could do to save “David’s” penis, they along with his parents decided to change his gender into a girl so he would not feel out of place. Since he was still a baby, he did not have to know the truth and could live a “normal” life.
“David’s” transition from a boy to a girl began when he was 22 months old. The first step was to remove his testes. He also had to take hormones that would “help” him feel like a girl instead of a boy. It would help him grow breast and look more like a girl. What proceeded after this surgery and the intake of hormones was a series of psychological consultations that would help “David” through the whole process. This is how “Brenda” came to be.
Dr. Money was the surgeon in charge of the procedure of “sex reassignment surgery” and the psychological consultations that would help “Brenda” grow up as a normal girl. He believed that children were not born a certain gender but were rather influenced by the environment. The methods that Dr. Money used were clearly not the right way to treat this case. He would use the twins and force them to practice sexual acts. He would make them practice different positions where he would let each know what their gender roles were. He thought that by showing them what the role of the girl and boy were, “Brenda” will adapt easier to his “gender”. Dr. Money's rationale for these various treatments was his belief that "childhood 'sexual rehearsal play'" was important for a "healthy adult gender identity" 
Dr. Money reported that this case was going exceptional, everything was going as planned and “Brenda” was acting like the girl he was supposed to be. But as time passed, “Brenda” refused to go visit Dr. Money and fell into depression. His condition kept increasing and got to the point where he attempted to commit suicide many times. His parents decided to tell him the truth about his gender. “David” decided to stop taking the hormones which made him feel like a girl and took the decision to change his gender back to what he was originally, a boy.
“David” had to go through many operations and treatments in order to reverse the reassignment he went through in order to become a girl. “David” revealed that the hormones he took which were supposed to help him “feel” like a girl did not work because he never felt like a “female”. The girl clothes did not help either, he felt he was trapped in a body that did not belong to him. The whole “treatment” he went through, the hormones, the change of gender, the way he was raised, the clothes he would wear and the psychological therapies he attended did not succeed by trying to make him feel like a girl because he admitted that he never felt like a female. The whole “experiment” was a failure. 
In the society that we live in there are certain “rules” that each gender has to follow in order to fit in. For example, the roles of a woman include being in charge of the house, the kids, and take care of their husband are a few of the roles a woman has to follow. Whereas a man is supposed to take care of his family by providing them with a roof, food and do take care of the physical work around the house. These are the roles children grow up learning and they are “forced” to think that that is how things work around.
There are many factors that shape people’s identity. For example, TV plays a big role in children’s lives. Children are exposed to cartoons at a very young age. We can see how cartoons and TV shows teach children how to behave. For example,” Dora The Explorer” teaches kids to help others in need. “The Simpsons” taught boys that they have to break rules and behave like the bad-type like “Bart Simpson”. Whereas “Lisa Simpson” was calm and very studious and followed rules like girls should. TV shows shape the way children act at a young age and that is an example they follow during their lives.
Society shapes people to act and be a certain way. People are afraid of what other people are going to say and think about them that they are forced to change their ways. People prefer to be part of the “norm” and follow whatever people think or say is the right thing to do. People need to feel accepted by society that they would change the way they are and think just to please their families and the community where they belong, this is why “Brenda” never said anything about feeling different than most girls. He thought that he just needed to follow what was expected of him and he would eventually fit in.
This case raised many questions whether scientist can cheat nature and change the way people are born. Well clearly the case of “David” turned out a failure. Dr. Money tried playing the role of “God” by thinking that he could change the identity of “David” Dr. Money did not realize there were many factors that prove that his theory would not work. For example, “David” being an identical twin and sharing the same genes, was obviously going to noticed differences on the way he felt. Being a twin myself, I can see how connected my twin and I are, we are not identical twins but we can feel and share many traits with each other. I can only imagine how “David”, being an identical twin, connected with his twin and felt like he could relate more to his gender.
Clearly Dr. Money did not know the difference between being raised in a certain way and actually being born a certain way. You cannot cheat Mother Nature. People are born a certain way and there is nothing that can change that. You can change the way someone looks but cannot change the way they feel. Nature is the identity we are born with and it is impossible to change that identity. However, nurture makes us believe differently, our environment shapes us to be the people we are “suppose” to be and we believe that is who we are and we take that identity to be part of us. If you are raised a certain way, you will behave that way all your life.
Identity is a thing that can easily be confused by experiences and our surroundings. One thing that we can be sure about is that no matter what we go through, the way we feel inside can never be changed. In my opinion, I believe that Nature and Nurture go hand by hand. Yes, we are born with a certain identity but the way we are raised gives us a different identity. We need to learn how to combine these two different identities. That is the only way we can be sure that we are actually the person we are born and believe to be. 

Work Cited
Colapinto, John. As Nature Made Him. New York: Harper Perennial, 2001.
Plomin, Robert and Asbury, Kathryn. Nature and Nurture: Genetic and Environmental Influences on Behavior. 2005