While parsing through this week’s readings I found myself consistently struggling with the complex concepts presented in Noble’s “Trans. Panic.”. Noble begins by introducing basic structures of labor and the role of labor in capitalism, using this as the groundwork for understanding the institutionalizing of women’s studies. They make the important distinction between ‘trans’ in the sense of movement across and ‘trans’ in terms of gender identity, however they are closely linked in understanding the role of gender studies within the larger framework of women’s studies. . The exclusion of trans voices and bodies from women’s studies’ curriculum is denying an essential part of its history. Noble makes the argument that women’s studies cannot progress within the academic framework unless it breaks away from the oppressive and hegemonic forces that influence its teachings. In order to do this there must be a trans-ing of women’s studies.
Noble’s article made me reflect on recent events and their importance to the Black liberation movements. Historically, Black LGBTQ+ folks have been excluded and silenced in Black liberation movements. Black lives Matter, a movement started notably by black women – one of which is queer- presents a new and developing front on how to approach activism. Over time social rights movements have ebbed and waned in terms of their strength, starting off strong and then slowly eking out due to a number of reasons. BLM as a movement presents a new sort of front on activism in its stance on inclusion and the uplifting of LGBTQ+ voices, more importantly recognizing the violence faced by Black trans women. By trans-ing the movement we can hope to see a lasting growth that benefits all black lives and not just a cisheterosexual ones.
Reading the, “Transfemeinist Perspective,” pieces and discussing them in class, really got me thinking and trying to relate my experiences to what they were saying. Especially, “Do These Earrings Make Me look Dumb?” by Kate Forbes made me think and question: Who can/is allowed to speak and be seen as knowledgeable when it comes to feminism and trans women. I immediately began to think of the mainstream trans leaders and role models of the ever-growing Youtube community, Gigi Gorgeous , Princess Joules,and Angela Vanity, Chloe Arden. All of these trans women have thousands of followers (some even millions) and even though they are just “YouTube Famous” they are still making headlines, being role models, and making money by documenting their transformations and updating their audiences.
So my question is: Is this a way to get to large audiences modern-day and “around the academy?” I see that the Transfeminist perspectives was published in 2012, so I’m not sure if youtube was as big of a platform back then for the trans community. I know Forbes point was diversifying the academy and being allowed to speak on behalf of her experiences not degree but I think forget the academy! I think we were talking in class about how we can’t positively change things and do better without changing the ways the system works already and finding new ways. So I think we should stop trying to find validation in life from others, go your own way! Change the rules, and use other platforms to voice your opinions.
Also back to the topic of trans women on YouTube… Do people think it is okay to be profiting off of transitioning publicly? I love Gigi, but alot of my gay or trans friends seem to think shes all for show and in it for the money and not really doing or showing support to the entire community. I see that the most popular Trans women on YouTube are white and seem to be more privileged… is there a need for more diversity in the trans YouTube community as well? Please let me know your thoughts.
From our readings this week, “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Bad?” by Kate Nobles was eye opening for me. With society ever so changing before progression can catch up, Nobles discusses the importance of research in the academy. In a gender studies perspective, many times the research of gender and specifically transgender, is misguided by the representation of the researcher as an outsider. The research of gender studies as Nobles mentions is that many times it is performed by “cissexual gendertheorists” who ultimately decide our society’s “gender orthodoxy.” The thing with research though is that its valuable to have primary sources and as Nobles points out about transgender studies is that she is a valid primary account and it goes unnoticed because she does not have the “academic credentials” which doesn’t allow her to speak on the matter even though the research is of her gender. I think its absolutely ridiculous not to include trans perspective in gender studies because how we supposed to progress on matters that are vital to individuals. Improving the research done in the academy would lead to progression with transgender studies. This research could include medical improvements for trans people, equality and improve society’s view on trans people. If the person who lives the life of whats being researched has a voice in the matter then other people can relate more to it. This piece made me more aware of how skewed the academy is and how not diverse it is. Its unfair for people who do not have the academic credentials but the experience that is important in the progression of the research.
Of all the readings completed thus far throughout our course, I find “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” by Kate Forbes and “Reenfleshing the Bright Boys; Or, How Male Bodies Matter to Feminist Theory” by Calvin Thomas really made me think, even outside the classroom. Forbes really wants nothing more the human diversity to be accepted; which sounds like it could be so simple, but sadly in our day and age, it’s not made simple. The U.S society doesn’t deal with rapidly changing diversity extremely well. She explains how the academy has yet to acknowledge the difficulties associated with queer personal matters, and how also in many cultures don’t place trans people in a position to claim and defend their identities. It’s honestly hard to say that the U.S isn’t starting to fall into that unaccepting culture when it comes to trans people rights. After our discussion on the bathroom issue going on today, I really started thinking – why is it such a big deal? Like we mentioned in class, the justification presented in denying trans people the freedom to use whichever restroom they want hold hardly any evidence to serve as a justification at all. I also really thought deeply about Forbes’ statements, “I am the primary data” and “It is not my job to fit my life into a theory, but the other way around”. Forbes has a first hand account of being a trans gender women in a primarily white man, science department, and it’s pretty disheartening to read that she feels as if the academy trusts gender professors and outside sources more than her first hand accounts; like she said, she is the true data, and people need to stop wearing blinders to this whole situation.
The main take away I left with after reading Thomas’s writing, was a different view of masculinity. Gender and sexuality is closely tied and it’s hard to pull apart an analyze one without the other. In class we made a good point that there isn’t necessarily the same pressure on a lesbian women to not be “too masculine” as there is places on a gay man to not be “too feminine”. Or, how when little girls act tomboyish, it’s seen as cute while if a young boy is wearing dresses and wanting to put on makeup, that might be considered out of the question to some. This alone shows that masculinity is placed highly on a pedestal in our country. It’s fair to say that masculinity is more highly valued than femininity no matter what sexuality.
Out of the readings this week, I really enjoyed reading Kate Forbes’ piece, “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” One of the most major points I picked up on was when she was talking about the academy needing diversity. Last semester, I took a cultural psychology course and we talked about the benefits of diversity in the workplace and how vital it is. We read and analyzed studies that showed correlations on how diversity makes workers more creative, more diligent, and harder working. When I read Forbes’ criticism of how the academy is basically filled with white- middle class individuals (and in her realm of the academic science world: mostly older white cis straight men) it brought me back to my cultural psych class. There have been many studies showing correlations of better financial performance when there is a diverse work community, including diverse CEOs. Forbes even suggests that a “diverse group of scholars are likely to consider a broader range of ideas.” I completely agree with this, because if you are around someone different than you and you need to convey your thoughts, you’re going to put more thought into your work and research rather than just present those ideas to someone who has the same viewpoint. With a more diverse group of scholars, there would be many ideas that would be expressed which would lead to more innovative and informative advances in research. Unfortunately, these advances cannot possibly be made with a majority of white middle class cis individuals. Like Forbes said, if we were to truly embrace diversity, everyone would be allowed to reach their full potential, no matter their identity.
In class, we discussed a variety of traits associated with masculinity, as well as the pressures that follow stereotypical ideals of masculinity. The reading, “Reenfleshing the Bright Boys”, is controversial to many for its comparison of oppression between the female and male gender. The article argues that the genders are “symmetric”, men are as equally oppressed as women. While I understand the argument, I refuse to acknowledge that men don’t have a supremest and more authoritative position within society, based on their sex. We live in a patriarchy, where male privilege very much exists. Although men do face pressures to maintain a masculine persona, women have to overcome innumerable obstacles just to achieve the same position as a man. Men are socialized at a young age to be dominant, the primary trait associated with masculinity and success. Meanwhile, women are raised to be passive and submissive. The differential socialization of men and women exhibits a vast asymmetry in the genders and the individualized oppression they face. This reading made me think of a book written by Michael Kimmel, titled “Guyland”. The book focuses on the male perspective of our gendered society, the ‘objective’ perspective and the pressures/influences which motivate young boys to mature into masculinity-obsessive men. As stated previously, men are entitled to feel pressured due to a social obligation to appear masculine, but it is not equal to the oppression women face in the public and private sphere. In class, I hope to further discuss the pressures of institutionalized masculinity and its effect on male behavior towards women (gender aggression/violence).
The class discussion about “Do These Earrings Make me Look Dumb” was very interesting to me. The whole time we were discussing of how society is used to one type of person, for example, as universities as an older white man it reminded me of this movie that I just watched a couple months ago called “Hurricane Bianca”. It’s about this drag queen named Bianca Del Rio who appeared on Rupaul’s Drag Race. When she starts off at the school, she comes as the sex she was born (a man). But he was working in a school in one of the Southern states when they suspected that he was a homosexual, he became to be disliked. He was disliked so much that one of the teachers basically did a “test” on him to determine whether or not he was gay. When the teacher did not go for the town whore as the woman suspected he wouldn’t, it was discussed with the principal and the man was fired for his sexual orientation. After that he came back in his drag attire as a woman and applied for the same job and at this point everyone loved him. Bianca was considered the coolest teacher in the school because her attitude had changed with the children and so did her attire. He even helped a student in one of his classes that was struggling with bullies at school because of his sexuality as well.
My point is, in the beginning no one liked the man just by the way he dressed and acted and by the end of the movie Bianca was everyone’s favorite person. She was even being hit on by the aggressively straight football coach as well. There was a set list of qualities a person had to have at this school in order to succeed and he had to change himself into Bianca for them to see the potential the the man had as a teacher. It was normal for the male teachers to be aggressively straight just like the others as well as to hit on the female teachers and Bianca did not have those qualities. I feel like this happens every day in our society. Someone has to hide who they truly are so that people will have high opinions of them and that just sucks, honestly. Even now we’re seeing that as Donald Trump overturns part of President Obama’s plans and now transgender youth are going to have this huge weight on their back again because we can’t see past the person based on their looks.
Out of the readings assigned for this week, I found “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” by Kate Forbes to be the most thought provoking. Forbes states that she is a transsexual woman, academic, and scientist. She is seen as an expert in the science world since she has the academics to back it up, but cannot be trusted to speak as a gender professional since she doesn’t have the credentials. Forbes has many things to scrutinize with how the academy handles gender. Yet because she is not seen as a master in gender, she cannot do much to change anything. It’s crazy to think that Forbes, a transsexual woman herself, is not seen as an expert in gender even though she possesses personal experiences in that area. Forbes even states that she does not agree with the “theories” science has come up with to try and explain different genders. Forbes is the “primary data”, someone who has individual experience in the gender field. Personally, I believe that Forbes should be seen as an expert in this area of study. She is living proof of someone who wants to live as the opposite sex, and therefore her word should be taken account for. I feel that if I were curious about any gender, I would want to hear someone’s own story rather than a textbook definition. I believe that it is not necessary for someone to have an academic diploma to be seen as an expert of a certain topic. I feel that people learn more through experience than reading from a book. There are just some things that can’t be taught, instead you have to experience it yourself.
The most interesting reading for me this week was “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” by Forbes. It brought up a lot of interesting points, but one main thing that stood out to me is how someone with personal experience may not be considered an expert in that field. Forbes is a scientist and spent a lot of time working with ladybugs, so in no way would those credentials make her an expert in any field outside of hers. But she has personal experience that no one can ever learn from a book or research and gain as much knowledge and depth in this topic as Forbes could. Forbes also portrayed that she has read the theory and things in the academia about this topic don’t exactly match up with what she has gone through and felt during her experience. But who is to say Forbes is an expert or not. Any one with connections to her experience would much rather relate to her personal story than a “theory” that tries to explain everything for how it is, black and white, when it may not be.
My favorite line of this piece is “The issue is that in creating a category, we are designating all members of the category as equivalent. “ She started talking about this relating to her field in ecology, specifically talking about trees. But I think that line is so powerful because by categorizing and labeling people into certain categories, it is assumed that those people are identical. It makes people think that every single trans woman (because they are labeled a trans woman) is the same. But not one person has the same story, same experience, and same feelings, which is not true! Everyone experiences everything different, and by having a category with one label on it, and “expert theories” out there telling everyone what there is to know about that, people not in this category will assume that it is the same for every person. But by coming from someone like Forbes, who has her own experience, isn’t preaching how everything is but instead telling her experience that can be relatable to most, not all, and more than anything can be a comfort knowing someone else out there has done, feel, and experienced what she has.
After reading “Reenfleshing the Bright Boys”, my eyes were opened to whole new meaning to masculinity that I had never begun to even think about and how it connects to feminism. The idea of male dominance plays a major role in our society and an even bigger role in why feminism even exists. So what about the males in our society who feel oppressed as well, particularly to the queer/gay community. Is it fair that we generalize all men as having the greater power when it is not true for all men? I found this point very interesting and controversial, but enjoyed the way it was expressed in the writing. Another point made, apart from dominance was that male bodies do make a difference to the feminist theory. Without men we would have an even greater disadvantage which I find to be strikingly true. To not seem as much like the underdogs, we have to have a few of those in power to side with the feminists in the society. We, as feminist in this case in order to want equality must accept everyone that comes and wants to become a feminist. It is not our say whether someone calls themselves one or not. As mentioned in the reading the concept of “warm bodies” meaning sheer numbers can help any cause become more heard and more recognized.
Grasping the points made about coming together and wanting equality between men and women, the idea of masculinity and femininity arose as well. In my opinion, a man can be feminine and a woman can be masculine. The reading states how masculinity in a mans world is something of power when in reality it really shouldn’t be. Just because a man has feminine qualities does not mean a man is not fit for a job with power, which brings us right back to the main issue in all of this, women are seen as lesser, possessing lesser abilities than men.