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.
Since her start as a performance artist and singer, Lady Gaga has been extremely outspoken through her music and concerts about her support for LGBTQ equality. She tends to stray away from society’s “norm” by the way she looks, acts, and dresses. She has so much influential power because of her fame, so she decides to use that power to express herself and to help others feel comfortable expressing themselves as well. She even said that “I’m just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time.” For example, she was the first singer to reference the LGBTQ at the Super Bowl half time show. She has also participated in multiple equality marches. It has been her goal to get people talking and to feel more comfortable with the entire community, especially since Lady Gaga herself has come out as bisexual. She wants men and women to be able to dress and act however they desire without feeling judged by people. This is why she wears outrageous outfits, because she wants to show people it is okay to be different and it can be accepted. She is one of many celebrities who use their fame as a way to try to make a difference particularly in the LGBTQ community. Jack Halberstam’s focuses on Gaga Feminism because Lady Gaga does a good job at embodying ideas of sex and gender and breaking away from society’s fixed roles that men and women are supposed to have. Lady Gaga resists being put in a bubble or a category. She does whatever she feels like and she has zero shame. This is why she has such a strong fan base and support system behind her and why Halberstam chooses her to help better represent and explain feminism, sex, and gender.
In our society, we like to focus on the superficial. We focus on material possessions and aesthetic qualities rather than morals and values. As discussed in class, the film, Beauty, and the Beast, displays an underlying standard all too familiar in our society, appearance is imperative. While Belle falls in love with the personality of the Beast, the movie can not have closure until the beautiful woman ends up with a beautiful man. The majority of Disney movies, similar to Beauty and the Beast, revolve around western conceptions of beauty. The demographic of these films are typically young girls, introducing an unrealistic standard of beauty for prepubescent children. It is ridiculous that society has such an obsession with presentation and appearance. It makes me wonder what the world would be like if people were taught that interactions and morals were more important than appearance. Through these films, which can easily be distinguished as gender propaganda, women and men are directed into certain gender roles and told to act/look specific ways in order to be accepted. Continue reading “Appearance is Imperative”
Today in class, we talked in depth about some of the key ideas in queer theory and one of those key ideas revolved around the enforcement of normativity using the binary. Not too long ago Target decided to remove gendered toy aisles, this caused quite a bit of controversy within several public spheres. Gendered toys would remain, however the aisles separating “boy” toys and “girl’ toys would be combined and less binary. This made me reflect on why as a culture we find even the slightest blurring of gender as a threat. Something as simple as removing gendered colors from a children’s toy aisle led to threats of boycotts and vitriolic language being hurled at target customer service representatives.
Even though adults meet the blurring of the gender binary with much resistance, children are much less strict about the policing of gender. Recently a school in Australia allowed for their students to dress however they like within the appropriate parameters of the uniform code. Meaning, males can wear what they see fit out of the options of pants or a skirt and females are also given that choice. The students embraced this wholeheartedly and seemingly quite joyously. You see this same growth of eschewing fashion norms among young artists (Young Thug, Janelle Monae) and athletes (Cam Newton). For me this serves as an indicator that gender norms and the enforcement of them through the binary is becoming, in some instances, a little less strict.
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.
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.
As soon as I read the prompt for this week’s post, I thought of “Do these earrings make me look dumb?” written by Kate Forbes. One of my many interpretations of this reading was gender shouldn’t define itself as feminine or masculine because these terms are so vague, and through time have lost their true definition. We instantly think that women can’t be masculine and that’s only associated with men. Furthermore, a gender shouldn’t define the quality of work, and knowledge that someone possesses. This related to me on a personal level because I believe in the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I know that’s really cliché, but on a serious note, the way we are dressed or the features we have are not always intertwined with the knowledge, ideas and talents we have. For me, there have been numerous times where I have judged myself and told myself that I couldn’t do something, because I wouldn’t fit in solely based on my appearance/the way I look. I feel like this hinders so many people from trying new things because they are afraid that they won’t fit that specific mold, this was the case for me. I struggled so much in deciding what I wanted to major in/study, constantly thinking where do I belong? There were many times where I doubted myself because of a grade I got back and thought that college wasn’t for me. My parents thought that I should try fashion and my immediate thought was no way, that’s not me, I don’t dress like that I would never fit in. I ultimately slowly pushed through all of that, and I’m still hesitant, but now I am doing hair and makeup which I love for the school’s magazine and starting to find where I belong. That process was not easy, and it’s hard for so many people because they have a fear that they’ll be judged and not welcomed. In my case, I was hard on myself and judged myself because of the way I looked, but in other cases people are judged by those around them.
For the blog post due this week, use this space to think about the readings we have done so far– all the readings in this class from day 1 to now. Use your blog post to think about which reading connected most with you and why. Draw from class conversations, recent current events, personal events, etc. to discuss which reading either made you think about something differently, connected with you personally, or helped you think through a concept. Be sure to only pick one, even if you have several in mind, and define why it is that the one you chose stands out to you.
In the comments, groups 1 and 3 should find either posts that talk about a reading they also connected with, or posts that talk about a reading that they didn’t find as useful. For the former, draw connections between the post’s author’s experiences and your own, and for the latter, try to think through the differences between the author’s interpretation and your own.
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).
One of the first main points of the reading “Reenfleshing Young Boys”, which we’ve been discussing in class, is that the idea of Masculinity Studies raises some eyebrows because it implies that men are equally as gendered as women, and that men and women are equally installed into “symmetrically gendered” positions. This would mean that men face equivalent sorts of objectification and expectations, that are equally as disadvantageous and oppressive as they are for women. That being said, Milo Yiannopoulos, a very right wing anti-feminist political journalist, has been in the news lately, and I wanted to see what he was all about so I watched a few videos about him on YouTube. I believe some of the arguments he is making about gender go right alongside with this point from the reading.
Many of his arguments center around the fact that “some men suffer from X,Y, or Z just like women do, therefore women are no more oppressed/gendered/objectified/victimized than men.” He is doing exactly what is addressed in that first part of the reading, which is the potential problem mentioned with Masculinity Studies. I believe what his argument fails to address is the fact that a lot of the things that men go through are not a result of a system that equally advantages/disadvantages all genders, but they are examples of a patriarchal system that genders and objectifies femininity. Sometimes these toxic masculine gender roles can effect other men as well. When people exist in a system that benefits aggression, assertiveness and violence, there are going to be victims from all genders. I think we as a society need to think outside the box more when arguments are made like this, because it eliminates the idea of a tangible thing to overcome, and makes it seem like there’s no one behind the wheel, and there’s no point to strive for change.