I decided to write about the status of LGBT rights and legitimacy in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is perceived to be one of the few Islamic states which exercises considerable tolerance towards the issue of homosexuality. Practicing homosexuality is strictly prohibited by the law under Section 377 A of the CrPC (Criminal Penal Code).The law says- “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall be liable to fine.” In the Guardian Article we read, What’s it like being LGBT around the world?, they described a reality in which people of LGBT status live in a “comfortable closest”. They call it “comfortable” because the actual actions of same-sex relations are not policed well and are normally looked over. However, those citizens are still crammed into a closet, nonetheless! I think this really draws into the E. Patrick Johnson’s theories and the idea of Quare theory. There’s explicit restriction of personal expression and processes. How do you feel about this? It it worth fighting the traditions and outing oneself even if there’s loose enforcement? Things are slowly changing however, I have difficulty imagining real changes being made. How much of an impact do you think this restriction has on civilians of LGBT status? Do you think it would be best to live comfortably and not combat the tradition? Even with the support of many human rights groups and individuals, I’m not sure it will be enough to overturn traditional convictions. But, you never know until you try. Right?
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.
Today in lecture we discussed Munoz’s writing about “stages” and the Utopian performative. This reading really caught my eye to talk about for this blog post because it’s an idea/theory that I’ve never pondered on before. To be honest, when I first read the title and even once I got a good way through the writing, I thought there was only a negative connotation to the idea of “stages”. Munoz touches on this when he explains how the idea of “stages” intersects with unaccepting, or confused parents dealing with their child coming out as homosexual. He writes, “…how they sometimes protect themselves [parents] from the fact of queerness by making it a “stage,” a developmental hiccup, a moment of misalignment that will, hopefully, correct itself or be corrected by savage pseudoscience and coercive religion, sometimes masquerading as psychology.” I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever came out as gay, lesbian, or anything straying from heteronormativity has dealt with this very real “stage”. But I do think that with time this stage will probably/hopefully start to occur less and less, because I am an optimist and hope that queerness will eventually be more accepted. However, not all stages are as somber. We discussed in class how these stages can represent opportunity, the spot light, and performance in a really positive light. There’s opportunity to perform on a stage where you can be yourself and who you are in that moment. Most people are fluid and constantly changes and a stage is a snapshot or performance of ones self at a particular time, but not permanent. Punk/ queer people intersect with their ability to not conform to societal norms, and I think that’s why Munoz picked these two subcultures and expanded on the idea of using a stage to “perform” and aim for this utopia. I overall thought that he was saying there are stages in which queer/punk men perform/go through, aiming to reach this idea of a true utopian performativity, although all stages may not be perfect. I feel like this reading could have been interpreted many different ways, so please let me know what you guys think, am I way off??
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.