The Ideal Vs. the Reality

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.

“The Bathroom Problem”

A reading that I thought was really interesting was Jack Halberstam’s Female Masculinity, more specifically “The Bathroom Problem.”  This stuck out to me because it brought up questions I never thought about like how a transgender person has so much trouble using the bathroom.  Something that for me I never even have to think about which bathroom I am going to use.  It can be confusing if a transgender woman who still has masculine features is trying to use the bathroom.  Or even a lesbian woman who appears very masculine; or a person who does not identify as a male or a female.  The bathroom is something that for some reason many people take very seriously and insist on separate bathrooms for women and men.  Especially today with Trump trying to remove Obama’s protections for transgender student bathrooms and facilities in public schools.  He is trying to tamper with state laws, which will remove transgender equality in bathrooms.  It is nice to see that many bathrooms at the University of Delaware are for all genders or are gender neutral.  I do not understand why there even is a bathroom problem.  It should not matter which bathroom anyone decides to use.  A transgender man or woman should not be afraid to use the bathroom at school because of the risk of not fitting in or getting bullied.  The bathroom should not be a dangerous place for people.  Society needs to realize that there should not be a “bathroom problem” because using the bathroom should not be a problem for people who identify as different genders or no gender at all.

ELE

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.