Archives for posts with tag: Gender

Since this is the last blog post of the semester I figure that the best way to end this is by recapping some of the main points that were really hammered into us over the past couple of weeks in class. It’s amazing how everything we’ve discussed can really be related and seen as being along the same lines of what we started the semester talking about. It’s just one big revolving door of gender studies topics that keeps spinning and every once in a while someone new will jump in and talk about something different and more interesting….okay maybe a bad analogy but it’s finals week, give me a break.

So we started out the year talking about how female is considered to be the default sex because if the dad doesn’t give a “y” chromosome, then it will be a girl. We also talked a lot about how we allow women to have a lot more free room to move in terms of their gender and how they perform their gender in comparison to men. This definitely has consequences because masculinity can be considered “good” enough for both men and women to perform it, but it is only women who can perform femininity…this is the notion that femininity is still taboo and the lesser of the two. We read Natalie Angier’s book and talked about science and how it can relate to gender studies which I had never done in any of my other gender studies classes. Moving onto Foucault and Audrey Lorde we talked about the three figures: the monster, the incorrigible or the individual to be corrected, and the masturbator. The monster being a violation of law who is an extreme form of the individual to be correct. The monster becomes tamed and is then turned into the incorrigible, it is a breach of natural law. Once we understand a monster is correctable, the idea of the monster ceases to exist and the monster becomes abnormal. Audrey Lorde was our discussion on ways that difference needs to be reconsidered into not being hierarchical or based on a mythical normal. When people unify as a group, we must acknowledge that there are multiple layers to the group of different people’s beings. The privileging of anything over one another is problematic and feminists should advocate on the acts of women of all sorts of identities. We moved onto gender essentialism and post structuralism. Gender essentialism being the thinking of being born a certain way, an attribution to biology or nature and post structuralism as questioning structures of reality of existence. This is the idea of, “there is no essence to any given thing.” What makes something what it is is the cultural and historical contexts it works within. Judith Butler critiqued the category of woman and scare-quoted the shit out of it. She says that since there is no commonality among women that preexists their oppression and that there are not grounds or basis for unity of the category of women…the term “woman” is just basically crazy. This is where we talked about the heterosexual matrix and how she added a backwards arrow from sexuality to sex. Wittig and Butler shared similar ideas in saying that the idea of
“woman” as a natural group is incorrect. Where Butler says you as women can’t have common experiences, Wittig says that the category of “woman” is mythical and unnatural. Both theorists are anti-essentialists as well.Gayle Rubin discussed the sex wars where danger was put opposite desire and agency opposite violence. The charm circle of sexuality was brought up here where the middle of the circle is the normative individuals where anything or anyone who falls outside of these limits are the nonnormative people. Julia Serano’s intrinsic inclination model was the looking at things being so deep seeded in someone that they seem essential. In Disorders of Desire we looked at the sexological practices in the US and how if you make things a matter of just the body, then you do not account for other factors. The Valentine book we read was about transgendered individuals and the limitations of our own understanding of our own sexual politics. Dreger’s book was all about hermaphrodites and how people who are hermaphrodites violate the logic of sexual dimorphism. We’ve just finished up our reading on Haraway and how human beings are not the only actors in the world and that artifacts an be absolutely anything. Oppositional artifactualism doesn’t place human desires and needs at the center of everything. It thinks about what beings can tell us about other things in the world. This can be juxtaposed to reductive artifactualism that views all things as resources to be used for human purposes without giving agency to other things. WOW! that’s a lot of stuff.

Sometimes recaps like that help us remember what it is that we do this whole school thing for. We discussed and learned so much in such a short amount of time that it’s amazing we’re still at least semi-alive when finals role around. I hope this helped people because even just typing this all up and rethinking about all the different topics we discussed this semester has helped me remember things that I had originally thought. Goodluck on finals everyone!

–Jenna Wise

One of my fraternity brothers reserved the Collins Cinema this past weekend and we prepped ourselves for a movie marathon, starting with Mean Girls. Unfortunately, the plans went from marathon to just watching Mean Girls because more than half of us started to complain about food. Hunger ravaged my brotherhood, so we decided to ravage the local Steak n Shake. We piled into a few cars, sang with the radio, and soon enough arrived at our greasy destination. Our group of ten gathered inside next to the “please wait to be seated” sign and continued in our giggled conversations as we patiently waited. The mood of one of my brothers made a quick turn for the worse when he noticed a table of guys talking about us. More specifically, they were taking photos of him and debating whether he was a man or a woman. This whole situation was incredibly uncomfortable because they were talking about him as if he was an object, just a material they wanted to decipher. He wasn’t a person to them, and I didn’t want to know how this larger group would treat us had we confronted them.

This situation wasn’t completely new to me. I had experienced homophobia growing up; at one point a group of guys bashed in every window on my car because I was just a fag in their eyes, but I thought we had grown out of that when people went to college. The newness of the situation wasn’t from homophobia, but their reaction was for his androgynous gender. I had never had to deal with people unless they knew I was gay. My brother just stood out where I didn’t.

I started to connect this to other friends and their reaction to androgyny. Even the most open minded gay friends will turn to me, giggling, and ask if I think someone is a man or a woman. Looking back on these seemingly-harmless comments made by my close friends in comparison to the group of guys deciphering my brother, the same type of comments that reduce a person to their gender presentation coming from two very different groups really concerns me. Anxieties related to gender variation are very real and far more common than most would like to think, which tells me that only a small group of people have noticed the consequences these anxieties produce.

The pathologization of gender variance has yet to draw mainstream concern. Unlike past movements related to people of color or the gay and lesbian communities, the transmovement has yet to garner enough attention to concern a majority of problems with gender policing. Even a great deal of gay, lesbian, and bi individuals don’t notice this issue unless they face gender androgyny on a daily basis. This is surprising because you would think queer individuals would be more in tune with this, but somehow this slips under the radar.


-Lucas Zigler

In this week’s reading of Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference by Audre Lorde, Lorde made it clear that the world is made up of binaries.  While these binaries are important in order to define opposition, they also give the idea that that one part of a binary is superior to the other.  “In a society where good is defined in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, there must always be some group of people who…occupy the place of the dehumanized inferior” (114).  Lorde is making the case that while some people are considered superior, others are considered inferior. In order to be superior in our society, Lorde states that one has to be male, white, and heterosexual.  Therefore all women, blacks, and homosexuals are considered inferior.  These binaries would be considered, judgments, and these judgments keeps groups separate, even when they do not need to be, and gives people the idea that differences must be considered as either good or bad.

                This reminded me of a book I am reading for my class, Movement for the Theatre.  The book is The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey.  While this book might seem to have nothing to do with this class, considering it is about tennis, it actually has very little to do with the technical aspects of tennis, and instead the book discusses how observing and recognizing aspects of the game of tennis, without judging your own performance is the best way improve your own game.  Lorde discusses how “many white women are heavely invested in ignoring the real differences” between black women and themselves (118).Therefore they are viewing their own recognition of difference as a negative thing instead of observing the differences without judgment, and just accepting them.  Lorde goes on to say that after this judgment takes place guilt quickly follows, and the guilt will continue until differences longer mean that someone must be inferior (118).  This goes along perfectly with Gallwey’s thoughts on judgments in the game of tennis.  He states that judgment “perpetuates the process of thinking and self-conscious performance.  As a consequence…negative evaluations are likely to continue with growing intensity” (Gallwey 19). Therefore, one’s judgments about their own game only leads to them over-thinking their game, and not reaching their desired outcome.  So if judgement, positive or negative keeps one from being focused and reaching our goals, then women judging differences makes it impossible for us to unite the way Lorde wants us too.

Even though it is important not to judge differences as good or bad, Lorde stresses that recognizing differences is still important.  “Refusing to recognize difference makes it impossible to see the different problems and pitfalls facing us as women” (118).  Gallwey could not agree more about the importance of recognition and observation.  He says that “letting go of judgment does not mean ignoring errors.  It simply means seeing events as they are and not adding anything to them” (Gallwey 20).  This is exactly what Lorde seems to be asking for in her piece.  She wants all women to unite, but says that making our differences mean that one group is inferior to another makes it impossible for women to unite and reach our desired outcome of equality. 


Megan Taub