Archives for posts with tag: society

After discussing Valentine’s issue with categorizing “transgender” folks, we discussed ways to explain “transgender” and “Gender Studies” to outsiders . This made me begin to think as to why this was so difficult; I started to rack my brain to find a cookie-cutter solution to this issue. However, every explanation required my use of Gender Studies’s jargon or entailed a long-winded response. This made me think: Who are we, really? Yes, we have the jargon, the feeling of community, and the willingness to explore others who are different from us, but what does that really mean if it cannot be applied? Are we so inclusive that our ideas, beliefs, and knowledge can only related to by each other and others who can understand the terms which we discuss? This only seems to be a portion of the battle for a structure which allows equality, understanding, and change. This brings me back to one of my original questions: Where can Gender Studies actually be applied? Especially to those individuals who Valentine encountered. Are we also guilty of creating a structure and culture which speaks in terms of the categorical? Can we relate successfully with people from other cultures, classes, and society? I don’t really know, but in this blog I will seek to create a solution to the question, “Who are we?”. This, however, is only my interpretation.


For one, we are department which speaks to “society” in defense of the “Queer”. The queer who needs to be recognized in this one-track minded society in order to gain equal status and legitimacy. Equality and acceptance are at the top of the agenda which makes our target the “big, bad wolf”, society. A society which gives unearned privileges to some and discriminates against others. We swear that those who have these unearned privileges are to blame, yet within our logic, we grant privilege to the most queer and leave those who can fend for themselves, to do exactly that. Now, this is not to say that we queer folks have no agency, that would be a sin to imply. But, is our way to counteract society by asserting our knowledges to be truth any better? Now, take a deep breath, we must remind ourselves that we are “the good guy”. Even though we have good intentions, will our knowledge ever help those who need it most? Will it really make things better in our society? I think its too soon to tell. This may seem like a pessimistic approach to a subject which we all love and identify with, but I am only attempting to be critical of our approaches.

I think that we are even we are obsessed with power, even though, we try to balance it out, it’s really one of the main subjects we explore in Gender Studies. At this point, are we any better than the big bad wolf? In this search, I am constantly thinking about Foucault’s revelation that “we are the Victorian prude”. Just as people during the Sexual Revolution thought that they were freed from the Victorian prude sexuality, are we Gender Studies folk freed from a society which is obsessed with power? Now, I dont mean to be offensive by any means, I just wonder if an education, which denotes power, is even necessary to be considered a Gender Studies major? If we believe what I think most of us do, why do we consider ourselves the masters, the innovators, the activists? Really, I think Gender Studies needs to be from the ground up; it’s everywhere and this is why it is so difficult to describe. Experience and “street smarts” need to be incorporated into Gender Studies. The transgendered identity has offered us a starting place to see experience equal to knowledge, but in the world I’m imagining, Gender Studies needs to be more like a lab, where we are constantly in touch with those who may have different knowledge to offer us and our understandings. We cannot isolate them from the classroom, we must bring the classroom to them and let each body of knowledge  be incorporated into a flow chart of understanding, for if we only take our knowledge from what is on the paper we read, we are no better than the “power prude” of modern society.

Now, this is all to be taken with a grain of salt, for I cannot speak for everyone and their experiences and knowledge; some may even consider themselves to be doing what I have described. But, all I am saying is that who we are, is not just a funded program at a university who answers to an institution; we are people who have the potential to exceed the education we receive, if only we truly acknowledged those who are not “us”, queer or not, educated or not.

This is more of a call to begin a conversation than a well thought out solution, I must add; to me it makes sense, but I may be getting ahead of myself. I just wonder what will become of us in years to come. Will we be looked at as people within society who were obsessed with identity and power? I certainly hope not…. Now, I have to go wash my mouth out.

-Katie Schaffer

It’s a sad world where people can’t express the way they truly feel and act the way they want to act without public ridicule.  Laws are made to try to protect people from this ridicule and harassment, but that isn’t enough to effect the change needed in our culture for people to be accepted for the way they are.

Dean Spade, a transgender attorney, writes about this topic where trans people are denied the chance to feel comfortable in the world around them and be the person they want to be.  He writes in hopes that someday trans people can get the respect they deserve and allowed to become the person they feel inside without medical boundaries and “professional” opinions on who they are or not.  At the end, however, he writes stipulations on effects he wants to see on society.  He writes about ending gender designation on government documents, bathroom and locker facilities, involuntary “corrective” surgeries for babies with intersex conditions, limiting factors on self identification on gender categories, and psychiatric and medical evidence to establish trans legitimacy.

I believe it’s important to note that these wishes don’t involve more work on the trans person but on society’s role to accept people for how they want to be.  While it’s hard for me to agree with people who really want to change their bodies, I can respect their desire to live in a society that accepts them.  I think it’s society’s fault for people’s desire to change to try to “fit in” – instead society should work to be more inclusive.  This can apply across to everyone who may feel different.  Take what you got and be the best person you can be and someday soon I hope society can learn to adapt for the progress of mankind.

–Brian Falatko

Reading Michel Foucault’s Abnormal allowed me to see how other people classify deviance.  Personally, I feel that devience in society is what makes the world interesting.  And, society causes this devience by categorizing anything as “normal”.  The three figures, the monster, the incorrigible/the individual to be corrected, and the masturbator were put into perspective for me after our class discussion.  I still find it hard to believe people think it is okay to classify outcasts by levels of abnormality.  Who has the right to say what is not “normal”?  Something that is normal to one person may not be to another.  Peoples lives vary to such a larger degree.  The reading talked about the “seceret” of masturbation, that everyone does it, but no one will admit it. I can’t help but wonder where this all came from and how it got started.  When was it first thought of that maturbation was something so wrong that it needed to be hidden and left unspoken? And, how does society not realize that pointing out devience only worses the matter.  A person was probably acting abnormally to cause trouble in the first place and drawing attention to the situation and trying to correct them will only cause them to rebel even more! A large portion of the reading was dedicated to “fixing” the abnormal, depending on their severity, by placing them in the proper institution.  This is ridiculous! Placing someone into an institution for exploring their sexuality through masturbation is the most insane thing I have ever heard of!  And if everyone is masturbating and only those that admit it are being penalized, those who are lying are being rewarded.  Also, if the masturbator is formed through the family, the bedroom, and the body, how is a child supposed to know this is so wrong when it is not talked about unless masturbation becomes a problem?  This terrible act that causes a person to become a monster and could force them to be institutionalized.  Overall, I enjoyed the reading, although I do not fully agree with the idea, I liked the view point of another person classifying diffrences in people.

Alexandra Fath