After watching Paris is Burning in this class, I was able to take on a new perspective about gender roles and how they plan out in each individual’s life. Rachael brought up something I have never thought about before, the overlooked ridiculousness of gender themes parties. We all have seen one of these gender reveal videos on Facebook that is adorable, but reduces the babies entire identity down to a single color (blue or pink, shocker). This made me think more about the roles gender plays in my own life and how it shouldn’t be accepted to reduce my identity down to just my gender from birth. This idea reminded me of a video from BuzzFeed that I watched last semester. This video was titled Childhood Gender Roles in Adult Life. Simply from the title it is obvious what this video consisted of, a lot of pink, blue, and stereotypical “boy/girl” things. Essentially this videos purpose was to make fun of the gender norms we place on children (who have had no say in this identity given to them) and how it would be considered ridiculous as adults. I have always admired BuzzFeed as a company because I believe they do a good job at creating quality content, while putting different (sometimes controversial) ideas into perspective. There is a market designed specifically “for women” or “for men” products on things like pens and tape that have no gender specific role what-so-ever. While, this video isn’t necessarily directing any change for companies or people, it is a (small) step in the right direction to start the topic of not assigning specific gender roles to children. I highly recommend checking out this video and others like it that BuzzFeed has to offer that can give perspective on important topics.
Something I was already interested in learning more about before I entered this class was the use of appropriate pronouns in everyday life, which plays into the bigger topic of gender. When I was able to read De Lauretis’ The Technology of Gender, I was able to open up this idea of different genders in our everyday lives, as well as what we see in movies and social media. De Lauretis gave interesting perspectives of the way gender has always been presented to us from the time we were born to now in our everyday lives.
I work for residence life and housing and something that was stressed from my first day this year was inclusivity and because of this I was able to learn a lot more (not nearly enough) about gender. A part of our first day was not only to say our name and major, but our preferred gender. Almost half of the room was not sure what to say and simply ignored the question, but now this is a regular part of our introductions and I have made it a habit to ask people when I first meet them. This has sparked a lot of conversations about gender and identity and I have been able to use some of the readings from this class to reflect back and give more information.
This is obviously something that only few communities seem to be exposed to. There was one scene on the show Shameless that sparked my interest. One of the main characters started dating someone that exposed him to the LGBTQ+ community and in one of the scenes he met his friends and in their introductions they each individually stated their names and how they identify. One of the best parts of this, in my opinion, was that the main character was not afraid to be confused and ask questions instead of assuming he already knew, which would clarify a lot if more people did.
I connected with De Lauretis because I am able to implement this into my everyday life and take a lot of the concepts presented and have others reflect on them as well and spark a conversation. Although I have a clearer perception of pronouns and the importance of being aware of them, I still find myself having questions that I intend to explore.
One of my biggest take-away’s from this week was from Roxane Gay. Roxane focused on what being a “bad feminist” meant. Roxane struck a cord with me because I have always been nervous to label myself as a feminist in social settings because of the different negative connotations that seemed to go along with it. Aside from the judgment of others (which I worry about less the older I get) I also feared that I would be “doing feminism wrong”. Feminism to me means equality to ALL, not just privileged white women. I often see posts of people labeling themselves feminist with viewpoints that I don’t necessarily agree with and I wouldn’t necessarily want to be associated with, but if everyone is free to have their own definition of this word, how are we able to agree on our values and what we want the outcomes to be? For some the outcomes could stop at wage equality, but for me there is a lot more work to be done in our culture than that.
Although I am still a little shaky on the details of what role feminism ultimately plays in our culture as a whole, this video helped me realize that I should not be ashamed to call myself a feminist ever, as long as I am standing for what I believe in. Roxane has also made me realize that what you believe in and your actions should align, and this is something I am still working on. Everyday I attempt to make small changes to align my actions with my values, whether it be to eat at places that have the same values, or something as simple as asking someone their preferred pronouns when meeting them. I will definitely be looking into reading Roxane’s book and becoming more enlightened by her viewpoint.