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Journal Response to "Dads are Dudes" Of the essays presented in Chapter 9 of The Prose Reader, I was most drawn to "Dads are Dudes" by Nancy Gibbs....

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Journal Response to “Dads are Dudes” Of the essays presented in Chapter 9 of The Prose Reader , I was most drawn to “Dads are Dudes” by Nancy Gibbs. For the majority of my daughter’s first year, my husband was a stay at home dad while I worked outside the home; when our second child is born he will take on this role again. Our work and financial situations have made this not only possible but also necessary, and it’s an arrangement we’ve both found appealing. Gibbs mentions the common pop culture caricature of the bumbling dad à la Homer Simpson, and I was glad to see her suggestion that as men become increasingly involved in childcare, women (and other men, for that matter) will need to reconsider their ideas about parenting partnership. I know my husband was frequently annoyed with that bumbling dad image, and the suggestion that somehow men weren’t as capable or interested in engaging more in childcare than was necessary to just get their kids through the day in one piece. Taking care of an infant is a daily challenge, but he did relish the chance to be actively involved in her early development. I also loved that I had a true partner in parenting, rather than just a backup. Her contrast of mothers’ and fathers’ experiences on social media was interesting as well. Just about any mother is aware of the so-called Mommy Wars, the real or perceived competition and smug condescension between mothers trying to balance their work and home lives while being the very best mothers around. There doesn’t seem to be as much pressure on dads, perhaps because of the aforementioned perception that they aren’t really supposed to know what they’re doing anyway, or perhaps because of dads’ ability to “make fun of themselves, and the mystery of it all, as though content that being a parent is a skill you practice but never master” (326). I appreciated this description, and wish it was more often applied to mothers as well. Perhaps as economic, gender, and parenting expectations become increasingly flexible as time goes on, we’ll all be able to look at raising children as a collaborative effort and a practiced skill rather than as a competition to see who does it best.
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SAMPLE JOURNAL Reaction to “Mother Tongue” I found the essay “Mother Tongue” to be interesting and well written. I like how the author made a distinction between different forms and uses of the same language. I find this occurrence to be true in everyday life. I can always tell when my friends are talking to their mothers or grandmothers on the phone. Their entire speech pattern––vocabulary and intonation––change as soon as they say hello. I can see that a person having several different dialects of the same base language making sense. In a way it allows us to communicate on a more personal level. It would sound strange to speak in the same manner that I talk to my grandmother when playing a game of basketball with friends. At the same time, it can come off as being condescending for me to change my speech mannerisms drastically between different individuals. It is a balancing act between being relatable with a particular audience, and being disingenuous. The author also shows that others tend to classify people who speak a broken form of English as second class. She gives examples of instances where she felt her mother was being taken advantage of for not speaking in a 'complete' manner. I can understand this happening. I believe it is a natural inclination to judge new experiences on past ones. One past experience of poor communication could mean writing off another broken English speaker as bothersome and pushing them to the side. The way we communicate is also critical in our interactions; emphasis on pronunciation and phrasing can drastically change the intended meaning of an interaction.
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W e live in a world where illnesses .ire on the incre.ise. I li. guishing feature of the twenty-first century is that he.ilih come a dominant issue, both in our personal lives ,m<l m | . . i i . life. It has become a highly politicised issue too and an increasingly m i| • site of government intervention and policymaking. With ever} 1 \ < n iln l passes, we seem to spend more and more time and resources thinkm health and sickness. I think there are four possible reasons for this. First, there is the imperative of medicalisation. When the con. medicalisation was first formulated, in the late 1960s and early I' 1 referred to a far narrower range of phenomena than is the case today, .mil it was linked to the actions of a small number of professionals ratlin 11 hill having the all-pervasive character that it does now. Essentially, the term medicalisation means that problems we en. . ter in everyday life are reinterpreted as medical ones. So problems ili n might traditionally have been defined as existential—that is, the pn>M. m of existence—have a medical label attached to them. Today, it is dilh. nli to think of any kind of human experience that ooesn't come with a he.ilili warning or some kind of medical explanation. * , It is not only the experience of pain or distress or disappointmen! m engagement with adversity that is medicalised and seen as potentially ii.m matic and stress-inducing; even human characteristics are medicalised nmv Consider shyness. It is quite normal to be shy; there are many circumstan. < where many of us feel shy and awkward. Yet shyness is now referred t< > i "social phobia." And, of course, when a medical label is attached to shy ness, it is only a matter of time before a pharmaceutical company comes up with a "shyness pill." Pop these pills, and you too can become the life and soul of the party!'' One of my hobbies is to read press releases informing us of the existence of a new illness, the "illness of the week," if you like. Recently I received one that said, "Psychologists say that love sickness is a genuine disease and needs more awareness and diagnoses. Those little actions that are normally seen as the symptoms of the first flush of love—buying presents, waiting by the phone, or making an effort before a date—may actually be signs of a deep-rooted problem to come. Many people who suffer from love sickness cannot cope -with the intensity of love and have been destabilised by falling in love or suffer on account of their love being unrequited . . . ." Of course, an intense passion can and does have an impact upon our bod- <, ies. But when even love can be seen as the harbinger of illness, what aspect of our lives can be said to be illness-free? What can we possibly do that will Thinking Critically Why do you think we medicate personality traits? ^H Ilnl .ipp.ueiitl y unlii . • •. . >mr sickness or syndrome? Medic.ilis.itinn no lonrei Jtlimvs .my limits, li is so intrusive that it can impact on virtually any ol oui ex uces, creating ,i situation where illness is increasingly perceived as normal. I Ins lead s to my second point—there is now a presupposition that 7 illness is as normal as health. Earlier theories of medicalisation still con- illness to be the exception; now, being ill is seen as a normal state, |Missibly even more normal than being healthy. We are all now seen as be- lli).', potentially ill; that is the default state we live in today. This can be glimpsed in the increasing use of the term "wellness," with 8 i Well men's clinics and well women's clinics. "Wellness," another relatively | invent concept, is a peculiar term. It presupposes that being well is not U natura l or normal state. After all, there are no such things as "sunshine i Imics " or "evening clinics"; such normal things do not normally need an institution attached to them. And why would you have to visit a wellness I'linic if you were well anyway? It makes little sense. Wellness has become something you have to work on, something to 9 .ispire to and achieve.* This reinforces the presupposition that not being well—or being ill—is the normal state. That is what our culture says to us now. you are not okay; you are not fine; you are potentially ill. The mes- sage seems to be that if you do not subscribe to this project of keeping well, you will revert to being ill. In supermarkets, especially in middle-class neighbourhoods, buying 10 lood has become like conducting a scientific experiment. Individuals spend hours looking at how many carbohydrates there are, whether it's organic, natural, holistic. Spending time reading labels is one way of doing your bit to keep well. Being potentially ill is now so prevalent that we have reached a situation 11 where illness becomes a part of our identity, part of the human condition. Some of us might not flaunt it, walking around saying, "I've got a gum dis- ease" or "I've got a bad case of athlete's foot." That doesn't sound very sexy and is unlikely to go down well at the dinner table. But it has become accept- able to talk openly about other illnesses—to declare that you are a cancer sur- vivor or to flaunt a disability. As we normalise illness, our identity becomes inextricably linked to illness. So it is normal to be ill, and to be ill is normal. The nature of illness changes when it becomes part of our identity. 3 12 When we invest so much emotion in an illness, when it becomes such a Thinking Critically 'if 1 How can we achieve "wellness" in our lives? Name three specific actions that can make us or keep vis "well." If Do you have an illness that has become part of your identity? If so, how does it affect your daily life?
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large aspect of our lives through the illness metaphor, we si.ni i<> rml' i n . it, and it can be very difficult to lei go ol that part of our identity. I In i why illness tends to become more durable and last longer. Sickm-. . i m longer a temporary episode: it is something that, increasingly, afllii i for life. You are scarred for life, with an indelible stamp on your pet si util- ity. This can be seen in the idea of being a cancer survivor or sonu- i>ih , i kind of survivor; we are always, it seems, in remission. The illness IVIIKIIIH part of us and shapes our personality. As this happens, illnesses start to acquire features that are no KM . || negative. In the past, illness was seen as a bad thing. Today you c.m rend illness diaries in the Guardian and other newspapers and magazines. We often hear the phrase: "I've learned so much about myself through \\\\ illness." It becomes a pedagogic experience: "I may have lost a leg .MMI half my brain cells, but I'm learning so much from this extremely uiin|ii> experience." It's almost like going to university, something positive, U> I n embraced, with hundreds of books telling us how to make the most ol ih< experience of sickness. We are not simply making a virtue out of a necessity; rather we .in consciously valuing illness. From a theoretical standpoint, we might vir\\ illness as the first order concept and wellness as the second order con cept. Wellness is subordinate, methodologically, to the state of being ill The third influence is today's cultural script, the cultural narrative th.il impacts on our lives, which increasingly uses health to make sense ol the human experience. The more uncertainty we face, the more dilh cult we find it to make statements of moral purpose, the more ambiguous we feel about what is right and wrong, then the more comfortable we fed using the language of health to make sense of our lives. At a time of moral and existential uncertainty, health has become an important idiom througli which to provide guidance to individuals. This is now so prevalent that we no longer even notice when we are doing it. For example, we no longer tell teenagers that pre-marital sex is good or bad or sinful. Instead we say that pre-marital sex is a health risk. Sex education programmes teach that you will be emotionally traumatised if pressured into having sex and will be generally healthier if you stay at home and watch TV instead. There are few clear moral guidelines that can direct our behaviour today, but we have become very good at using health to regulate people's lives in an intrusive and systematic fashion. Even medicine and food have acquired moral connotations. So some drugs are said to be bad for the environment, while others, especially those made with a natural herb, are seen as being morally superior. Organic food is seen as "good," not only in nutritional terms, but in moral terms. Junk food, on the other hand, is seen as evil. llyo u look at the language that is used to discuss health and medicine or in I ul'(•-.<.• people and thei r body shapes, it isn't jus t abou t health : we are makin g inr.il statements. A fat person is considered to have a serious moral prob- ni, rather than simply a health one.'*" As we become morally illiterate, ' • tur n to health to save us from circumstances where we face a degree of Hiral or spiritual disorientation. The fourth influence is the politicisation of health. Health has be- 19 mine a focus of incessant political activity. Politicians who have little by : way of beliefs or passions, and don't know what to say to the public, are guaranteed a response if they say something health-related. Some also make ,i lot of money from the health issue, from pharmaceutical companies to al- ternative health shops to individual quacks selling their wares. All are in the business, essentially, of living off today's health-obsessed cultural sentiment. Governments today do two things that I object to in particular. First they 20 encourage introspection, telling us that unless men examine their testicles, unless we keep a check on our cholesterol level, then we are not being responsible citizens. You are letting down yourself, your wife, your kids, everybody. We are encouraged continually to worry about our health. As ,i consequence, public health initiatives have become, as far as I can tell, a threat to public health.' 1 * Secondly, governments promote the value of health Decking. We are meant always to be seeking health for this or that condition. The primary effect of this, I believe, is to make us all feel more ill. Here's a prediction—Western societies are not going to overcome the crisis 21 of healthcare; it is beyond the realms of possibility. No matter what policies government pursue or how much money they throw at the problem, even if they increase health expenditure fourfold, the problem will not go away. As long as the normalisation of illness * remains culturally affirmed, more and more of us are likely to identify ourselves as sick and will identify ourselves as sick for a growing period of time. The solution to this problem lies not in the area of policymaking, or even medicine, but in the cultural sphere. UNDERSTANDING DETAILS \. What does Furedi see as the reasons for our obsession with health today? 2. What are "illness diaries"? How might they affect our approach to health issues? Thinking Critically 4 Do you consider obesity to be a "moral" or "spiritual" problem? Explain your reasoning. i|ii Why does the author say that public health initiatives have become "a threat to public health"? What are some other ironies in the health profession? «|l» What does Furedi mean by "the normalisation of illness"? Which illnesses seem most "normal" to you?
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Journal Reaction Health is the level of metabolic or functional productivity of a living life form. In people,
it is the capacity of individuals or...

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