Sexual Orientation Laws in the World – Analysis of the Dark Red, Iraq

The “Sexual Orientation Laws in the World- Overview” map really opened my eyes to how diverse LGBTQ+ rights are on a global level rather than staying within the realm of the United States. It also gave me some perspective; although there are many issues/ changes I would like to see made in the US regarding LGBTQ+ rights, I am happy we are a “dark green” country on the map. Sadly, it looks like not even half of the globe is dark green. This lead me to look deeper into some of the criminalization/ death penalty countries in dark red. I found that in 2005, the IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) released a report describing how homosexuality has remained extremely “taboo” in Iraq. There is a common practice called “honor killings” or “shame killings”, which to summarize is when a family/ a family member LEGALLY kills another family member for bringing dishonor to the family name. Engaging in anything remotely homosexual is enough “disgrace” for the family to LEGALLY kill you. The fact that this is not only legal, but is commonly practiced is really unbelievable and breaks my heart. It really made me step back and reflect on some of the injustices the LGBTQ+ community faces outside the dark green countries. However, I did find something super interesting on a happier note; “IraQueer” is the first (and only one ever) queer activism group that has just recently came out of the shadows. Like any queer activism group, one of their main goals is to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. I can imagine this must be extremely hard though in a society where these members can be killed by their families if desired. However, every activist movement has to start somewhere and I am happy to read that (maybe and hopefully) change is coming.

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?

Two weeks overview…

In less than two weeks, our class has read and discussed articles, essays, as well as a TED talk show, from a variety of feminist leaders. We have used feminism as an introduction and a means to better understand the study of sexuality and gender.

Starting with our first assigned reading, we learned from Lorde that feminism encompasses more than just equality among men and women. For many women (myself included) are targets of oppression because of our race, sexual orientation, class, nationality, etc. Often times, individuals, who don’t perfectly fit into to what Lorde names the “mythical norm, only acknowledge equality among those differences that specifically apply to them, in vain hope of aligning themselves with the suppressors. She reiterates that this noninclusive mentality halts the progress of equality for all women.

In Gayle Rubin’s essay “The Traffic in Women,” Rubin refuted several perspectives of human behavior—including Marxism, Kinship and Psychoanalysis. The biggest qualm Rubin had with Kinship is that women were viewed as gifts and men were the gift givers—meaning women did not have the same rights as men nor would they realize any notable benefits from being exchanged.

Then, we viewed Confessions of a bad feminist, a Ted Talk by Roxanne Gay, and bell hooks critical review of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. While I find hook’s critique of Lean In necessary, after watching Gay’s Ted Talk, I would not go as far to call Sandberg a “faux-feminist.” Sandberg’s book may not be perfect, and she may just be a bad feminist—yes, that’s okay. Even while, I would rather hear her be more inclusive of all women, I believe she is playing to her target audience. For her, I am thankful she has been so successful, and would look forward to seeing her mature as a feminist, who could one day be a role model to women of many different backgrounds.

Most recently we have read “The Technology of Gender,” and of all the readings, this one most closely examines the relationship between sex and gender and the possibility of the absence of either label. The author, Teresa De Lauretis, talks about how gender is both a social and self representation. How it was learned will ultimately effect how it will be deconstructed.

Thanks for reading—have a great weekend!