Because “Hen” Said So

In the article “Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen”, author Nathalie Rothschild describes the liberation of women taking place in Sweden where she states “gender equality is not enough”. What is “Hen”? Hen is a gender-neutral replacement for the words “men,women,boy,girl” which tolerates no distinctions at all between the sexes and enables people to speak without specifying the gender.

This idea sounds great but from a sociology perspective EVERYTHING IS GENDERED. Now don’t mix up gender with sex or even sexuality. Here are the differences:

  • Gender is said to be socially learned ways of behaving that are related to being male or female. Gender is in the head
  • Sex is the way humans are categorized according to chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs. Sex is what is in between the legs.
  • Sexuality is the feelings that are seen as sexual and meaningful. Sexuality is who a person is attracted to.

Now being that society is socially constructed to giving males and females different roles and power, can this gender-neutrality actually work?

Here’s a clear modern day example or question to sum up my point. Is Hen going to still be considered scandalous when sleeping around with several people of opposite sex as oppose to Hen being considered a “player” for doing the same? Lets think about that.


Reading List

As a Sociology major I felt that every article could have related therefore, I chose the top 8 that sounded most interesting. Here are the following readings I have selected:

  • Lera Boroditsky, “How Does Language Shape the Way We Think?”
  • Susanne Langer, “Language and Thoughts”
  • Emily Badger, “Plain English Urged to Limit Federal Bureaucracy”
  • Jason Davis, “The Soccer Mom”
  • Wendy Kaminer, “Let’s Talk About Gender, Baby”
  • Nathalie Rothschild, “Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen”
  • James Baldwin, “If Black English Isn’t a English, Then Tell Me, What Is?”
  • Jaswinder Bolina, “Writing Like a White Guy”

Spanglish or Slanglish?

Growing up in a Spanish speaking household or as you can say “improper Spanish” speaking household, for example, instead of learning the proper way for stomach (estomago) I was taught the improper way (pansa), it took me longer than other children to start speaking. Today I sometimes forget the English version of some words I learned in Spanish first such as “carreta” (cart), “comoda” (dresser) and “colita” (hair tie).

melina 2 birthday

My cousin Melina Romero on her 2nd Birthday being a goofball

This is currently happening with my two year old cousin, Melina Romero, who is having trouble speaking because she is confused in making distinctions between both languages. Instead of asking Melina “Would you like some water?”, in my family we ask “Quieres water?”.

I presently find it difficult in transitioning from Spanish to English and it is crucial especially in a place where English is the universal language. My culture and background is what has molded me as a person and I have found that the way that I was raised to speak has impacted my speech today.

I recently asked Caitlin, “Do you think I have an accent?” with her having no idea about this post and she responded “Yeah, a Mexican Slang kinda accent”. What a coincidence. Or is it?

Disney is an expert with multimodals

As discussed in the book “Writer/Designer”, rhetoric is an important part when analyzing and creating multimodal projects (Chapters 2 and 3). Lets start with the question: “How does media impact people/children? What is the role of images?” Disney is 1 out of 5 giant media owners and in order to keep their status and continue to be one of those five they must use rhetoric to persuade and induce social change. In the following video taken from the Disney classic “Hercules”, design choices such as emphasis, contrast and organization are being used. A 1:10 into the video Disney inserted a scene where the “Hercules store” is being portrayed and where children are then going in and buying toys. This is where the purpose and audience to this rhetorical situation steps in. So to answer the question, Media impacts the way society thinks where images influence and socialize/change society into certain belief systems.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

Fort Lewis Theatre actors and actresses in action of their play of "Dead Man Walking".

Fort Lewis Theatre actors and actresses in action during their “Dead Man Walking” play performance.

Thursday night I attended the Fort Lewis’s Theatre play of Sister Helen Prejean’s National Bestseller “Dead Man Walking”. At first I had no idea what was going on because I had no background knowledge of even the subject of the book, but as the play continued on, I was shocked by how engaged I was becoming. The actors/actresses did an amazing job with every scene by capturing the emotion that went with the part and displaying it to the audience. The multimodals used in the play are down below:

  • Gestural when the actors used body language
  • Aural was used with sound affects
  • Visual when the spotlight was shining on certain actors/actresses
  • Spatial was a big part of this play because the chairs in which the actors/actrsses were sitting on were centered in a position where the entire audience could see
  • Most importantly, linguistic mode was used in the way the actors/actresses spoke out their lines which such passion

After the theatre performance the subject of Death Penalty was brought forth. Before the play I had already been against the Death Penalty and even after. A fact that I had no clue about until the post-play discussion was that the Death Penalty still exists in 32 states which I found to be incredibly disturbing. But  what really stuck with me was the spoken words of an anonymous lady whom I was sitting next to. She expressed that “The only way a victim’s family can deal with their closure and loss is through forgiveness, not another death”.


Farewell Captain! Hello Electrolytes

In this advertisement by Gatorade starring “The Captain”, the shortstop for the New York Yankees Derek Jeter, every mode is being used although some are stronger than others. Lets look through them:

  • From the very beginning of the commercial we encounter the Aural mode. The song playing in the background is Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” which fits perfectly in saying good-bye to the captain in his last season of Major League Baseball.
  • The Visual mode is obviously used throughout the entire video, changing from scene to scene and of course at the end of the commercial where the Gatorade logo is individually presented.
  • As for Linguistic, the audience is able to hear the excitement in the fans as well as some of Derek Jeter’s friendly “Hellos” and “How are you”. Another form of the Linguistic mode is used as well when the Daily News is shown with Derek Jeter and the quote “Goodbye, Captain!” on the front cover.
  • Gestural mode is portrayed through the body language and excitement of the fans when encountering The Captain on the streets of New York.
  • Spatial I believe is important in this commercial in particular because towards the end of the commercial when Derek Jeter is walking up to the field where he tips his hat to the fans the camera had just the right angle and arrangement to capture the crowd and there respectful applause for his appearance.

Let me know what you think about this commercial! 

Money talks, so pay attention.

dollar signs

After re-reading my essay on the subjects I thought I was going to research I was like “Woah! What am I suppose to do with these? These are way too broad”. So I decided to specify on one subject, money.

Sociology is the study of social problems and what is one thing that is involved in most social problems? Dinero, argent, money. When it comes to racial inequality, it comes down to money, when it comes to war that also comes down to money. Money seems to be so important in today’s society even in past societies. The reason I am in school taking this class right now is to graduate from college with a degree of my choice in hopes to go out into the real world and make money. Money is the motive. So which is why I ask the question:

What changes in society would there be if money disappeared?

Wait, that’s still too broad. Money talks right? So how about:

How has the language of money had an influence when dealing with a social problem such as homosexuality?


Inquiry. What? Where? Everywhere!

After a full class of discussion through “extending the conversation” we were to answer the question “What does it mean to inquire” by coming up with a “solid” definition. Here is what we put together as a class:

“Inquiry, the process of obtaining knowledge through a question(s) and/or observation(s) that is relevant to the discourse”

This assignment brought forth a few questions, such as:

  • We were asked to establish the term but how do we establish a term that has already been established?
  • How many correct definitions can a term have?
  • Does this definition cover the meaning of the term entirely?
  • What does it really mean? Were we at least close to the dictionary definition?


Look around you. Inquiry is everywhere. As I sat in my desk listening to my fellow classmates discuss the meaning of inquiry a voice shouted in my head “We are all inquiring right now!” Duh! As a sociology major, I am constantly using inquiry. The broader question on any subject in my field of study is “Now why does society behave this way?” Or even when I am asking myself a question on a video we just watched based on racism “Are these people for real?” Now that we as a class challenged and established the meaning of the term, I recognize inquiry everyday. We as scholars are constantly thinking and are asking ourselves or other questions for further knowledge. No matter what we do, we inquire. Its like breathing, we do it constantly even though we don’t necessarily need it to survive.


What’s next to learn?

The next subject brought to the table was Affordances, which according to “Designer/Writer” means “The different strengths and weaknesses of media and modes”. Depending on how the different types of modes are combined some modes may be stronger or weaker than others. If for example, I had to give directions to someone from out of town the Linguistic mode would be most effective because of the specific word choice as in “Turn at the second right where you see the purple church at the corner with a sign that says food drive”. In this case the Gestural mode will be ineffective because while I am waiving my hands and pointing in the direction they need to go the spoken instructions are what they are really focusing on. The Gestural mode is the weakest link in this case. This leads to Multimodality, which is the use of more then one mode depending on the purpose of the text. Some of the modes will not be used because of their weaknesses in the specific situation.

Multiple Modes

The word multimodal simply means multiple modes. When I say modes, I mean  modes that are combined in order to communicate. From the text “Writer/Designer” by Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard and Cheryl E. Ball, I have learned the five different types of modes. The first mode that was brought to learn was Linguistic mode which refers to the use of language, word choice and sentence structure. Next was visual, which in most obvious cases means Images and the use of color, size, layout etc. to communicate. The next two modes explained were Aural and Spatial where aural had to do with sound as in sound effects while spatial mode dealt with physical arrangement as in organizing. Lastly, there was the Gestural mode which was described as movement such as facial expression and body language. Put some of these modes together and you have yourself a “Text”.