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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Click through these websites, all that market toward women with feminist identities:
Each website has a different audience and perspective, and you will probably like some of these over others. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with their content and the way they market themselves, and then come to class ready to discuss how we identify feminists, how feminists identify themselves, and how feminism interacts with other identities.
Hello and welcome to the course website for WOMS/ SGST 200, Introduction to Sexualities and Gender Studies! We’ll be using this site to post informally about our course as well as to comment on each others’ ideas and contributions. Please feel free to get creative on our blog– use images, write bulleted lists, use gifs, use tags, write descriptive titles, and do whatever else you want (within reason) to make your posts your own.
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