Readings for Friday, May 12

For Friday’s class, please look into:

This Guardian write-up about being LGBTQ+ in other countries (this is a few years old, but still interesting).

Also, take a look at this map about gay rights around the world. 

This analysis of media representations of queer characters/ identities

We’re talking about representations of non-normative identities and other countries’ perceptions of LBGTQ+ individuals on Friday, so take a look to see if you have anything you want to discuss that relates to these topics, such as specific examples of representations (or anything else on a topic you’d like to bring up in class).

Pink is a Gender?

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.

The Circle

The utopian idea was something interesting that we talked about this week. I like that someone in the class talked about the new movie coming out called “The circle”. It reminded me of Munoz’s reading about utopia. At first when I saw the trailer for this movie, I was genuinely excited for it cause I was like, this company called the circle helped the main character’s father through whatever he’s going through so they must be a good company with no bad intentions whatsoever. He has some type of disease in the movie and I guess by using these cameras all over the world, they were able to help him somehow. I got excited by the idea of a company doing good for everyone in the world, even if it did mean no privacy. I guess I should have saw right through that because the second time I watched it, it struck me a little bit different. It scared me to think that there could be a society where these people are always watching to change the world and make it “perfect” in their eyes. I guess even now though, there there is a true possibility that society and everyone in it is always being watched by the government or someone overseeing everything to make society how they see fit. I hear all the time from people around me that the government is listening to everything we say in front of our technology so I guess this new movie is playing off of that. I wouldn’t past the government to have something to do with watching people’s every moves through technology. I can see why they would do it because it’s the easiest way to pay attention to people and catch bad guys but then also I can see how it is an invasion of privacy because there’s no consent from the citizens for any of it. Unfortunately, as a community, there’s really  not much we can do about it though except grin and bare it. Let’s just hope we don’t become like this new movie trailer because the ending doesn’t look it’s going to be a happy one for everyone involved.

 

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.

Gender Identity

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.

Do I fit in?

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.

Does academia = expertise?

For this week’s blog post I’d like to focus of the Forbes reading, “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” It detailed an account of a transsexual woman who also is a scientist and an acclaimed academic. In her account, she discussed the hurdles and curiosities presented when speaking of gender. However, the curiosity did not stem from lack of knowledge but rather, acquiring the title of speaking of it at an expert level. Since she was not “professionally” taught on the subject, there’s some speculation on whether or not she’s considered an expert. I chose this reading because I felt that this situation can be universal and portrayed in so many other scenarios. For example, I, as a African-American, consider myself well-read when it comes to my race (part of my identity) however, I’ve got the feeling that I may not comment on the subject due to my lack of academic training on the subject. Perhaps, though, since I’ve grown and lived within the race and am the ultimate ethnographer for my own life, I have the merit to speak on the subject at non-expert but equal level that academics do. I may not use the same language as they do but I’ve been immersed in the culture and race my whole life and I believe that there is essential understanding that’s coupled with that upbringing that need not require an academic training to speak at an expert level. Regarding the reading, I readily believe that Forbes is probably eligible to speak on gender as an academic expert. That being said, it may be more direct to say that she’d be able to identify and elaborate on maybe a cohort of gender and not the theory itself. I’m not sure. However, I ultimately believe that having an academic background is not required for one to speak as an expert on any topic. Learning takes place everywhere, everyday, and even when we don’t realize. Thoughts?

Homework for Friday, February 24th

While you were supposed to have homework posted here for you to read or view for Friday, we’re going spend Friday getting more familiar with the work of Forbes and Noble from Transfeminist Perspectives. Because you don’t have an official homework assignment, please come in ready to ask questions about the readings, or find something recent and relevant that we can connect to the readings.

Remember that Group 3 has a blog post due Friday at 11pm and Groups 1&2 are commenting by 5pm Monday, February 27th.