While all of the readings in this class have been interesting to say the least—the writing that sticks with me most is Audre Lorde’s “Age, Race, Sex and Class.” Out of all the authors, Lorde’s background is the one I identify with most. She covered a lot of topics in this publication and criticized society for things I am guilty myself of. Specifically, I am referring to the part of her essay where she suggests that those who are outsiders, typically harbor resentment towards individuals who fall outside of the “mythical norm” in opposite ways. This message stands out to me, and I see this type of behavior throughout the day in life and extensively on social media. From the impoverished people who don’t like gays to the immigrant who says racists things, or the gay guy who looks down on those who are uneducated. This behavior is unsettling, and as Lorde put it, those who have been oppressed will not escape their status by demeaning other groups of oppressed people.
There as so few people who fit perfectly into these ideal standards—young, straight, educated, white, attractive, financially secure, Christian male. Yet, at some point in everyone’s life it is so tempting to try to align his or herself with them. While the few individuals who do fit perfectly, or almost perfectly, into these categories he or she is not inherently bad or evil. Still as history has shown us, people who benefit from the oppression of others will do everything in their power to continue to reap the rewards. Truly the oppressors have won by turning minorities against each other—they taught us to hate ourselves and to hate our differences. The solution to this dilemma is to accept everyone, and together minorities can create an unstoppable force against inequality. As simple as this sounds, I could not imagine in a thousand years that such a thing could ever occur. Hate is immensely powerful and it’s everywhere, as so is fear and insecurity. In small groups people can get along, but we have yet to find a way to do so on a large scale.
As pessimistic as I may sound, this is my perspective of society. From incidents I’ve witnessed, and experiences I’ve lived through, and from reading Audre Lorde’s take on this thirty years ago and realizing how much it still applies to our world now.
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.
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.