Weekly Journal Update 9/14

Thursday, September 7, 9:40am–11:00am. Today, we began class with our weekly quiz. This quiz was slightly more difficult than the last one because we had covered more information this week than in the previous week. I think I still managed to get 7 out of the 10 questions we were given. For future quizzes, I know i need to pay more attention to the finer details and supplemental videos.

After the quiz, we went around the room and discussed personal experiences with gender and leadership. It was interesting to hear about people’s different perspectives as it related to the subject. One student stated that in many instances, people choose to identify by their race before they choose to identify by gender. The example she used was Trump’s election and how even though he expressed prejudice towards women, a majority of Caucasian women still voted for him. This was in contrast to the majority of African American women who chose to vote against Trump. This person also mentioned that higher administration appears to be male-dominant. She mentioned how Howard University has had one female president and it was only for a year as a fill-in.

Another student addressed her experience with leadership in the food industry. She noticed that at her place of employment, the incorporation of women was considered. However, she mentioned that people tend to respond better to female servers. As a class, we came to a conclusion that people make gender based assumptions depending on the restaurant. People generally expect/prefer female servers at restaurants. However, at very high end restaurants, people expect men to handle and serve the wine. While this is true, my experience with the service industry was different. At my job, there was a even distribution of male and female workers in all positions. There were male and female bartenders, servers, hosts/hostesses. and bussers.

Someone else mentioned that she makes ties between her home life and the outside world. Her social expectations come from how her family functioned at home. She brought up how in her home, there was a time when her father took care of all finances and her mother stayed at home with her kids. Many members of society view leadership in this same way where the men are supposed to be in charge and provide.

To close the class discussion, we looked at independence by gender. In today’s society, we view men as more independent as women. Men, who have wives that may be known for a bad act, are easily able to separate themselves from the bad act. Women, on the other hand, who have husbands that commit bad acts are less able to separate themselves. This was evident in the election with Hilary Clinton. One of the students hypothesized that in order to separate herself politically from her husband, Bill Clinton, Hilary went by “Presidential Candidate Hillary” as opposed to “Presidential Candidate Clinton”.

Friday, September 8, 2:30pm–5:00pm. Today, I updated my journal with Thursday’s class activities and discussion. I also went ahead and started working on the first module. I went through listening to leadership one and two. In reading The Myth of Narcissus, I immediately took notice of the narcissistic behaviors and tendencies. The first flag was on page 270, where Narcissus says, “Take off your hands! you shall not fold your arms around me. Better death than such a one should ever caress me.” This statement is very arrogant and it seems that Narcissus believes he is greater than that of Echo who has made contact with him. The second instance where i noticed narcissistic qualities was when Narcissus looked upon his reflection in the water. In beholding himself, he is stationary; almost star struck. The third narcissistic trait I noticed was the desire for ones self. On page 435, Narcissus, admiring himself says, “ Surely he desires my love and my embraces, for as oft I strive to kiss him, bending to the limpid stream my lips, so often does he hold his face fondly to me, and vainly struggles up.” The other two instances I saw when I re-read the text and created my own meanings from the dialogue. When echo was repeating narcissus’ voice after he spoke, I saw that as Narcissus talking to hear his own words spoken back to him. Also, when he was describing the Nymph’s love for him, I saw that as conceit. In all, the five traits I identified, arrogance, self-beholding, desire for one’s self, pleasure in one’s voice, and conceit are typical things that come to mind when I hear the word “narcissist”. The list of nine diagnostic criteria is also a good representation of what I think when I hear the word.

I also after compiling my 5 traits, I completed listening for leadership two which required me to list day to day tasks of a leader. The tasks I came up with include, but are not limited to, providing guidance or advice for others, leading or managing a group, making decisions with the benefit of his/her “people” in mind (I use the term people loosely), helping others obtain success, and interacting with leaders of other groups and organizations. I believe that narcissus would perform below average in these areas. In order to excel in the tasks listed, a leader must be considerate of other people and their feelings, be a good communicator and listener, put others before him/herself, be willing to assist others and more. Narcissus would not be able to meet any of the requirements because he is too self-centered. Sometimes, one most step outside of themselves and into the shoes of those they lead. Also, I did not feel that Narcissus’ behaviors hinted more to one gender or another. I saw him more as an individual who saw himself as a royal figure and expected himself to be treated as such.

Monday, September 11, 12:30am–1:30am + 3:00pm-5:00pm. Today, I read parts I and II of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article that was sent to the class via email. The title, “The First White President” was perplexing at first. The way I had seen it, all of the presidents preceding Obama bad been white. However, this is where operational definitions become important. Yes, past presidents have been “white” if you define white by skin tone. In his article, Ta-Nehisi Coates describes Trump as “the first president who’s entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president.” Trump built himself up by breaking down what Obama developed during his presidency. It amazed me to read that if only the votes of citizens who identify as “white”, Trump would have had over 300 more electoral college votes than Hillary. It just supports the claim that there were definitely racially based motivations that went into this election process. After reading part I, I understood the operational definition of “white” that is to be used throughout the article.

Coates also talks about the idea of “whiteness” and white slavery. I found this interesting because white racism was defined as the enslavement of the working class. I didn’t know how I felt about this when I first read it and I still don’t know how I feel now. To call working class white people slaves to their class is like comparing a black slave on a plantation to say, a white middle class person working a job during the industrial revolution. Sure, both groups suffered poor working conditions, but they aren’t the same. I may have misinterpreted what was being said, but that is how it was processed in my mind.

I also read parts III and IV of the article. It was interesting to read about racial identity with respect to the election, because we had a short conversation about it in class last week. We said that most, if not all, people personally identify by their race. In the 2008 democratic primary, it was said that 95% of the voters were white and 20% of those voters admitted that race played a roll in their voting decision. I’m sure that more than 20% of voters took race into account as a factor in their decision. Also, I didn’t know about Keith Judd in the 2008 primary. Had a black felon ran against a white president, he would not have gained any support. It never ceases to amaze me how influential race is in today’s society.

Tuesday, September 12, 12:30am-1:00am + 9:40am-11:00am + 9:40pm–10:10pm. Today, I added more details to my journal for previous days. I later went to class where we engaged in discussion about the span of human live and the week’s module. We addressed the fact that human life spans around 200,000 years. Yet, people only tend to look at the last 200 years when trying to understand the present. There is a lot to be learned from human history dating prior to the time America was founded in 1776. I believe that looking just at our personal past is not good because it creates a sort of bias where we as American citizens fall into a “this is how it’s always been” mindset. Just because something was done a certain way in the past, it doesn’t mean it should be done the same way in the present.

After the discussion about the span of human life and America’s view of its own history, we discussed the story of narcissus and went through the first three “listening for leadership” activities. The focus question posed before we engaged in the reading was “Why does it seem like so many narcissists are in leadership positions?” It’s funny because as soon as this question was asked, I thought of Kanye West and how he was talking about running for present in 2020. I don’t know when it happened, but whenever I hear the word “narcissist”, Kanye West instantly comes to mind. Also, I just find it humorous how people ridiculed him for his involvement and viewpoints of trump and the 2016 election. The two are almost comparable.

Anyways, when we discussed the first three leadership activities, the class as a whole shared many of the same opinions regarding traits of a leader, jobs of a leader and the quality of narcissus as a leader. We decided that some of the main traits narcissus exhibited were “self-centeredness”, “conceit”, “arrogance”, and more. Some of the jobs of a leader that we listed were “dealing with diplomacy”, “interacting with other leaders”, “providing support”, and more. A lot of the traits narcissus exemplifies did not seem to lean towards either gender. We did, however, have a small debate about a different level of empathy in males and females. It is commonly believed that females exhibit a certain level of empathy that is greater than that of males. It was mentioned that gender norms and biases are not necessarily due to gender themselves. Rather, they are a result of a patriarchal society and societal norms that are imposed upon humans.

Wednesday, September 13, 9:40pm-11:00pm. Today, I completed listening for leadership three and four and finished writing my journal. In diagnosing Narcissus as a narcissist, I found that he definitely met four of the nine traits. Narcissus exemplified a heightened sense of self-importance and excessive admiration while admiring his reflection in the water. He looked upon himself and falls in love instantly. He covered the “self-admiration” trait as well. Additionally, he showed a sense of entitlement when he talks of the Nymph’s love for him. The fourth trait i saw in Narcissus was arrogance when he demanded that Echo not touch him.

I found two articles on Donald Trump and narcissism that were of interest to me. The first article I found was posted to The Atlantic by Dan P. McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern University. He analyzed Trump’s mental health using five areas; extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness. McAdams identified Trump as a Narcissist based on the observation that his extroversion is high, his self-portrayal as an angry individual, his conscientious motives, his very low agreeableness as well as his lack of open-mindedness. Based on this criteria, McAdams characterized Trump as a narcissist.

The second article I discovered was a commentary on Professor Allen Frances’ analysis of Donald Trump’s mental health as it pertains to narcissism. He used the same nine criteria that was used in this week’s module. Frances acknowledged that Trump could be identified as a “world-class narcissist”. However, he said that Trump does not have Narcissistic Personality DIsorder because he does not suffer from the “distress and impairment” that comes with the disorder. I agree with this statement because people can exhibit traits that are typical of people who have different personality disorders, but that doesn’t mean they have the disorder. It is important to be cognizant of labeling and what the label means in a sociopolitical context versus a psychological context.

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