Category Archives: Blog Group 3: Nov. 9 draft

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Self Love

 

 

  What do you define self love to be ? When you go on social media, do you see any forms of self-love in women? Self-love is defined as regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. When I am on social media, I see women who are appreciating their self time which is a form of self love because they are taking the time out to reflect on themselves. Reflection is important because one can see how they have changed, which could be a good thing. Change brings about growth which brings happiness. You are now in tune with your inner-self and you have a positive mindset. Picture yourself taking a day off to just relax. You are reading a book and you have on your face masks. How did that make you feel? Were you calm and relaxed? If yes, you have just done a form of self-care. This self-care ties into self-love because you are taking time to love yourself with no distractions. You are able to take a breath and just relax. 

     In the documentary “Pay it No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson”, Marsha P. Johnson’s form of self-love was her being a drag queen. She dressed up in her fancy outfits who made her unique while making thousands of people laugh at the shows. It made her happy to see her put a smile on others faces. She has also made progress in this world by herself because her showing her true self made others show their true selves as well. It’s like she made them fall in love with themselves over again. Marsha P.Johnson had a positive outlook on life and that happened because of the self- love she had for herself. Yes, people would be cruel and call her names for that matter but what did she do? She continued to be amazing. To accept self- love, you have to let go of what people think of you whether it’s good or bad, don’t compare yourself to others, trust in yourself when it comes to decision making, etc. Once you do these things, you’re on the right journey to self-love. If someone tells you something about you that hurts your feelings, turn it into a positive statement. If you find yourself comparing yourself to other people, think about how wonderful you are. If you have a hard time making a decision, just trust that the decision you make is one that will be a positive outlook for you. 

    There was one day I decided to have a self-care day. I put my phone down and watched the show I was binge watching at the time. The whole day I went without texting my friends or going on social media. The night came and I did my skincare routine and I felt so relaxed. For me, that was my form of self-love because I tuned out  all distractions to focus on me. I was happy I did so because I got to reflect on myself and while I was reflecting, I noticed that I am someone that always wanted things to be done how I want them to but I came to the conclusion that it’s not possible. I have to wait my turn for when things happen in my life and not rush it. I say this because there was in time I would see all these relationships on social media and I wanted it to be me so badly. I wanted that to be me the same time it was for everyone else. I had to sit back and think “their timing right now,  doesn’t mean it’s yours”. I had to focus on loving myself more because how can I want a relationship with love without loving myself first ? Self-love always starts within yourself is what I’ve learned from this experience. My mom also told me to pray for things that I want to happen and she taught me that God will make it happen when my time is ready for it. This for me was progress and a change I saw happening for myself.

    I hope from this you take that self-love is important for us women because it allows us to bring in the new us. We have to want to do this for ourselves so we can stay connected and not feel like the world is caving in on us.

Draft Post

Cleaning, doing laundry, dishes, and watching the kids has always been seen as a “women’s job” . It doesn’t matter if they have another job and come home tired, they are expected to do everything in the house because the “man of the house” had a long day at work. Now, personally, I have nothing against men. It’s just the fact that why are certain things expected from a woman and not a man, even if they both put in the same amount of effort within the day. A man isn’t going to stop being a man if he helps do the dishes or fold a couple of shirts. After all, the dishes didn’t dirty themselves, the clothes weren’t only for the women’s and the kids didn’t make themselves. So why is it that society views it okay for a man to come home after work and “watch the game” but if a woman comes home and doesn’t have time to do certain things, then that woman is a slob and not a good wife. Because a good wife has dinner ready, clothes done, and the house sparkling, and that’s just how it has to be, according to the majority of the world. 

In Angela Davis’s “Women, Race and Class” she discusses this issue, along with many others of course. (because this is definitely just one of many many differences/issues with women) in one of her chapters she discusses how a woman is never shown any appreciation and how everything is taken for granted. I, myself can say I am guilty of this. Sometimes you come and you just see that everything is in its place and that the food is ready, but how many times do we stop to think about what went into the making of everything. We have to learn to really appreciate what a housewife or any woman does for their home. Most of the time we don’t appreciate the actions until we are the ones doing it and then realize that it’s not all that easy. If a man were to perform these everyday tasks they would realize that it’s just as difficult as the job they go to everyday, and I’m not saying that all men are this way, but if more men were to put in the effort, they would realize that it’s okay if their wife comes home and doesn’t feel like cooking and maybe just wants to sit and watch a movie.it doesn’t make them a bad wife, it just means they are tired just like everyone else. Women are human just like men and would like to be appreciated for all that they do.

Gender Equality

 Yanjun Jiang

       Historically, it has been believed that women are lower than men in terms of body and intelligence. There has always been a cliche that women should stay at home. They believe that women are born to take care of others, and their legal rights and employment opportunities are much less than those of men. The current law says that women’s rights and interests should be protected and equality between men and women should be guaranteed. Secondly, considering women’s great contribution to society, women’s role should be brought into full play. Although today’s women, go to school and work like men, which seems equal, in essence, men and women are not equal.

      Not just America, but the world. From birth, most babies are defined by the doctor’s sentence “boy” or “girl”. Society calls us to play the role of men or women; Women are required to be gentle, beautiful, and self-defense at any time. And men are the same. They should be firm, strong, and full of aggression. Every child is required to present the image that society needs or wants us to present, but what society requires us to present or do must be right?

     Why should women always be beautiful? Why do men have to be better than women? Obviously, this is the definition left to us by ancient people. But are we in the middle ages or what dynasty? None of them.

        A new era has come. Why can’t we change the definition of gender? The women’s rights movement in America continues to develop, but we refuse to take another step forward. Instead, we retreat step by step.

        In the excerpt from ‘The Feminine Mystique’ by Avery Friedan. Betty utilizes the term “feminine mystique” to describe the social hypothesis, so as to express that women can be satisfied through housework, marriage, and raising children alone. However, the author expounds that the traditional housewife role of middle-class women has caused harm and prevented them from acquiring full human ability. As Betty states, “Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts, and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — “Is this all?” This makes me deeply feel the decadence and powerlessness of women, especially those who become mothers. They begin to live from losing themselves. Even if they arrange their life in order, they still can’t find their own direction. They repeat low-skilled work, which devours women’s enthusiasm and stifles their thoughts. Their sense of existence and value decreased instantly. They are inundated with trivial things every day, which often makes them feel that their hearts have nowhere to go, which makes them more confused and struggling. This makes them realize that they have gradually lost themselves in trivial life, because the focus of life is always around family and children as if they are everything to their female compatriots, especially those who become mothers. Apart from them, life has no other color and nothing else to do.

      I don’t know how many people in America and the world can correctly understand feminism. Women’s rights are easily equated with men’s rights. However, the reason why feminism was called this name was that it was completely patriarchal at that time, and women had no rights at all. Therefore, these oppressed women appeal for equality. What they appeal for is “equality”! Not “privilege”! Real women’s rights are equal rights and human rights. It’s not right, it’s equality! 

       Equality is divided into two kinds: physical equality and spiritual equality. 

       It is difficult to define physical equality. Because most countries in the world give men and women the same rights: they have the right to vote, they can get a job, and go to the same school. However, there are still backward countries that continue the tradition of men being superior to women. Not only backward countries, but also advanced countries have similar hints. For example, in James Cameron’s “Titanic”, when encountering a shipwreck, passengers agree that women go first and men stay last. This is a manifestation of civilization, but I think everyone should have the same right to live in crisis. Of course, this is only my personal understanding.

    Everyone has the freedom to choose their own, and we have no right to define a person according to his/her gender. Women can be gentle or strong; Men can be strong or weak. At the same time, they can be heterosexual or homosexual, which are moral. There are still seven kinds of brilliance in the sunlight. Why do people ask or require things in this world that can only show one side?

     At the same time, I hope that women can wear short skirts without being accused of seducing men; Men can wear feminine clothes without being ridiculed as perverts. I want everyone to understand that women dressed well are not seducing you; Men don’t dance ballet to attract attention. I want a virgin who is worshipped not only because she gave birth to Jesus, a city without gender discrimination, a society in which women can make money to support their families, and men can take care of children without discrimination. Women are not only mothers, wives, and daughters, but also other identities. Both men and women are equal in spirit.

       Everyone can choose their own appearance instead of being “cosmetic” by social public opinion. The way of thinking of women and men can be the same. Please don’t bind the current idea with the previous truth. Both men and women are victims of gender discrimination, which needs to be changed. 

   All of the above, we should make them a reality. If men and women, the two largest races in the world, cannot be equal, how can we say racial equality, equality between the rich and the poor, and equality for all? Equality for all does not just mean that we have to do it. This is everyone’s responsibility. Don’t think you have ever been infringed by gender discrimination. We are not part of the world, we are the world. On earth, we are independent individuals. In the universe, the world becomes a point – we are to the world as atoms are to the body. Changing gender discrimination is the responsibility of the world and everyone! Men and women should unite rather than indulge in the world of men or women.

       Before we were born, the world was like this, and there was nothing we could do; Before we died, the world was still like this. We were incompetent. I hope everyone can start from themselves and change their sexism.

The Falsity of the Notion of the Sex Binary

The concept of a gender binary, the notion that you are either man or woman, has been thrown into public discourse enough times that it is now considered to be debunked in many respected academic circles. Many parts of society have already started moving past the notion of fixed roles and expectations based on your sex at birth, which is supposedly determined by your chromosome combination. This is seen in the slow acceptance of the existence of transgender people, with life and identity-affirming accommodations becoming more commonplace. These include the gradual embracement of concepts such as someone choosing to undergo hormone replacement therapy, bottom and top surgeries, and asking for preferred name and pronouns, regardless of how it may appear in identification documents. However, what is far less discussed is the falsity of the sex binary, the idea that you are either a biological male or female. Even within trans circles, there exists the misconception that your biological sex not only exists, but it cannot be changed. It is said that XX chromosomes mean you are female, and XY mean you are male. This concept is not as rooted in biology as some people may think it is. The very existence of intersex people debunk this construct; their very existence showing how sex is far too nuanced to be arbitrarily grouped into just two categories.

Intersexuality, as defined by the Intersex Society of North America, “is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male” (https://isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex/ CITATION NEEDED). It is estimated that “approximately 1 or 2 percent of children are born with mixed or ambiguous sex characteristics” (GENDER AND GENITALS CITATION NEEDED). This means that anywhere between 79 to 158 million people on this planet do not squeeze into this archaic binary that we know as sex. The notion of the sex binary implies that you are either biologically male or female. If you are male, you must have XY chromosomes, a penis, testicles, and an Adam’s apple. If female, you must have XX chromosomes, a vagina, a set of breasts, and ovaries. Intersex people may have some combination of the above-mentioned traits, or just entirely different traits altogether. One such example of this is the existence of people with XXY chromosomes, known as Klinefelter Syndrome (CITATION NEEDED https://isna.org/faq/conditions/klinefelter/). The fact that people can have a different combination of chromosomes than that which the gender binary mandates the arbitrary grouping of is enough in of itself to debunk this myth altogether. Additionally, it is important to note that referring to people with XXY chromosomes as a syndrome is stigmatizing and it is only seen as such in the context of a gender binary, being perceived as a sort of sickness, rather than a valid form of identity.

People whose biological makeup does not conform to the sex binary continue to be mutilated as newborns without the ability to consent. Hubbard writes, “In the last few decades, in conformity with the binary paradigm, medical interventions have been developed to try to
‘correct’ the genitals of infants who manifest any form of sex ambiguity” (GENDER AND GENITALS CITATION NEEDED). These operations are, admittedly, sometimes necessary for health reasons, such as to surgically create a urethral opening, as some intersex newborns are not capable of passing waste on their own. Despite often having a physical makeup that poses no immediate risk to the infant in question, their genitals are operated on in order to conform to the sex binary, meaning that they will be shaped into either a penis or vagina. Such operations are done without the consent of the patient, as newborns cannot consent. These procedures are more for the sake of appeasing the society around the patient than it is for the patient’s own wellbeing. The notion of a sex binary justifies the mutilation of vulnerable people, leaving them with more questions than answers as they grow up.

Society needs to undergo massive changes so that this notion of a harmful sex binary is abolished. It is not rooted in biology, as the very existence of intersex people disproves that. It is used as justification in order to violate the bodies of newborns. Schools should teach about sex as a spectrum rather than the black-and-white dichotomy of male and female. On the medical level, an intersex newborn should be operated on as minimally as possible, with procedures being decided upon as medically necessary.

The Manifestation of Injustice

What is a housewife? By definition, a housewife is a woman whose main job is caring for her family and managing household affairs while her partner goes out to work. This modern occupation is a modified version of the “traditional” responsibilities of women that have persevered throughout history, though the duties involved have changed little. If anything, women are now expected to not only take on the role of a housewife but to also work to earn their keep. This diverges from the traditional belief that women ought to stay at home, thus many have proposed a modern solution for this modern problem. They affirmed that since women are increasingly becoming active members of the economic class, they should perform both duties expected of them — responsibilities pertaining to the family and economy. Such propositions generate unfair treatment of working women and give rise to a phenomenon called the “third shift”. Ultimately, in present-day society, women are subjected to the roles of being both their family’s primary care provider and active breadwinner. 

According to “The Feminine Mystique” written by Betty Friedan, in the past, a woman’s biggest ambition in life was to be the perfect wife to their husbands and mothers to their children. They gloried in their role as a housewife and longed to live life like the American suburban housewives depicted in pretty pictures. However, the feminine perspective has changed with time and fighting for their husbands was no longer a top priority. In stark comparison with the past, women now desire independence, and they have the means to do so. Throughout history, women have been shunned from the streets, and a working woman meant her husband was incapable, hence bringing shame to the family. Now, things are different. Unfortunately, despite the advancements made in women’s rights, society doesn’t view things quite the same way. Someone has to cook the food, clean the house, and take care of the baby. They ponder, why should it be the men who have always worked when we have women whose original jobs were to do these things anyway. If they want to work so badly, then they can just enact their “roles as women” and do work on the side if they must. This dangerous chain of thoughts works to exploit women; society would have the means to gain free housemakers while simultaneously increasing the working population. Women are on the losing side no matter how you look at it. 

The term “third shift” refers to the domestic chores women are held accountable for in addition to their daily work shift(s). They work during the day just like their male counterpart, but once home, women have to manage domestic affairs while men get to relax. Sadly, this vicious cycle of unfair treatment is not only reinforced by male members of society but also by fellow females, in the form of internalized misogyny. Through years of oppression, they have come to accept the sexist stereotypes and are in turn demeaning other women as a result. Distorted thinking is a tell-tale sign of this where they may think — “I’ve been through this too. If I can make it through then so can you”. Oftentimes, this sort of behavior is demonstrated by older members of society, by mothers or grandmothers, who are usually guiding figures in the eyes of children. This, inevitably, leads to a deformed self-image and sense of self at a young age for girls and faulty thinking in boys. 

To stop this trend of unjust, some have suggested shifting the gender role so that men can become househusbands. At first glance, this may seem like a plausible solution, however, it has little effect on the issue in the long run. Having men become househusbands only changes the victim of the “domestic burden”. With the men in charge of the chores and childcare, and the women earning the wages, one might be dissatisfied with the number of responsibilities the other has. There’s no way to compare the work of cleaning the house and the work of filing papers, and this can lead to bickerings over who did more work.   

More feasible solutions in combatting the issue at hand would be to compromise the workload between both parties and to eliminate internalized misogyny overall. First, labeling chores as a responsibility of both parties will significantly reduce thoughts regarding gender roles. Then, the work should be split to accommodate individual schedules and become a shared duty. This method involves a lot of compromises and acceptances since it won’t work if one side starts arguing over the amount of work done. Secondly, sexist stereotypes should not be reinforced by individuals deemed as model figures by children, such as parents and teachers. Just because you have been through the hardship brought about by male dominance and female misogyny does not mean you can assert dominance over another to ensure they suffer just as much as you did.

References:

Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. 2006

the perpetual war of being a woman. -blog post 3

The perpetual war of being a woman.

            Man, vs woman, white woman vs black woman, rich vs poor, fat vs skinny, modest vs revealing.

All these words highlight the internal battle on what it means to be a woman. More importantly, they emphasize the idea of intersectionality and double standards within femininity.

The fight for equality for women is no longer a sole battle of simply being a woman. Society has constructed an internal war within womanhood on what it means to be equal. Women are no longer simultaneously fighting for equality with men but now against each other. The two-course readings “Excerpt from Feminine Mystique” and “Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination,” shed light on the inconsistency within femininity and what it means be both powerful and powerless at the same time as a woman. Understanding the effects of intersectionality in feminism is imperative to recognize the overlapping discrimination and oppression that occurs with being a woman of color, which Patricia Collins reveals in her article. She focuses on the notion of knowledge and the connection to power by emphasizing that race, class, and gender are interlocking systems of oppression. Society continues to construct this idea of equality by creating a new level of inequality, which is amplified in analyzing intersectionality and double standards within feminism. The fight for equality is not limited to just man vs woman, it is also woman vs woman. We turn women against each other through the ideas that are upheld from double standards and forget about those that face overlapping oppression from not only existing as a woman but also for their race. My goal is to show that women continuously live in a spiral of oppression through a closed funnel of inequality. In comparing the “Excerpt from Feminine Mystique” which was written 15 years ago to our society today, the similarity is that no matter what a woman chooses to do they will face oppression. Understanding intersectionality and double standards exist for women emphasize the idea that the fight for equality for women can be compared to trying to get through a door that will never open.

The “Excerpt from Feminine Mystique,” shows how women during the time after WWII were nothing but a cherished housewife. It highlights that their sole purpose was to be “perfect wives and mothers,” whose dreams were left to question “Is this all?” This glorified occupation of being a housewife and a stay-at-home mom is now a prime example of the internal battle women face from double standards. The book “Mommy Wars: Stay at Home and Career Moms face on their choices, their lives, their families,” shows the effects of double standards on women. The continued shame now raises the question of women’s choices: to work or be a stay-at-home mom. The novel presents the two sides of the endless war for women. The internal battle of women against women is shown through the shaming of one another. However, Leslie Steiner explains that “There is no good reason for working moms to treat stay-at-home moms like dirt” (Steiner). The oppression of women prevails through the control of individuals who are not women, which is exemplified in the “ongoing debate in the U.S about the benefits of working versus stay-at-home motherhood by experts, that are not women and aren’t even parents”(Steiner). The once glorified occupation of a housewife is now being shamed, yet working mothers are also being questioned. The fight for equality for women can be compared to trying to get through a door that will never open.

The two pieces of literature reveal that no matter what a woman chooses to do she will be shamed yet glorified, questioned but supported, and ultimately powerful and powerless at the same time. However, this is when an intersectional framework is needed to point out the effects of not only being a woman but a woman of color, who will end up facing double oppression. As Kimberly Crenshaw states “We’ve got to be open to looking at all of the ways our systems reproduce these inequalities, and that includes the privileges as well as the harms” (Crenshaw).

Intersectionality in feminism is understanding that a woman of color is experiencing overlapping oppression, which Patricia Collins shows in her article “Black feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination.” Her focus on the knowledge being a vital factor for social change underscores my argument of the importance of intersectionality. Intersectionality within feminism is best explained as “Viewing the world through a both/and conceptual lens of the simultaneity of race, class, and gender oppression and of the need for a humanist vision of community creates new possibilities for an empowering Afrocentric feminist knowledge” (Collins). Understanding the interlocking systems of oppression proves once again the fight for equality for women can be compared to trying to get through a door that will never open. 

Man, vs Man/ Woman vs Woman 

 Women vs Society

Be a lady they said.

 

Works Cited

Be a Lady They Said – Girls. Girls. Girls. Magazine – Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8ZSDS7zVdU.

“Excerpt from ‘The Feminine Mystique’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Feb. 2006, https://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/05/us/excerpt-from-the-feminine-mystique.html.

“Intersectional Feminism: What It Means and Why It Matters Right Now.” UN Women, https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/6/explainer-intersectional-feminism-what-it-means-and-why-it-matters.

Steiner, Leslie Morgan. Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007.

 

Gender stereotypes and influence

 Linxin Jiang

Even in this so people called modern society, 2021. There are many hidden and visible gender stereotypes that happen every time, every day. No matter what gender or sexual orientation you are. You are being hurt by gender stereotypes. For a long time, people have had a gender model in their minds. It means men should be powerful, rational, hard working, and good at repairing things. Women are emotional,  good at housework, they can be less educated as long as they are getting married. In our society, everyone should follow this model, whoever didn’t follow this rule can be the target.

For women, gender stereotypes are very harmful. Women can be ignored in the work environment because they used to be labeled as emotional, unprofessional but good at raising children. Gender stereotypes hurt women so bad. Some women don’t even have the right to decide if they want to have a child or not. When a female decides not to have a child. Her family can give them enough pressure to make them give up what they really want. The reasons can be ‘every woman goes through it’, ‘you are so selfish if you don’t have at least one child’,‘when you are getting older, you will regret it’. However, marriage is not as simple as a fairy tale. As a woman who is breath enough to get married and have a child. If she goes to work just like her husband. There is a very big chance that she still needs to do all the housework and cook for everyone in the family.

As a female who majors in Computer Science. I have been questioning since the first day when I picked this major. No one believes that I picked this major because I love coding, they question me if I have good logic to write code. When they finally accept that I want to become a programmer. They suggested to me that I can be a front-end developer because it required less logic. When I answered by saying I hope I can be a front-end developer, it is only because I love building user interfaces. They always have an ‘I told you’ expression on their face, they want to tell me how ‘smart’ they are for giving such useful suggestions.

Most men, a lot of them believe that they don’t need to fight for anything. But the reality is that many of their rights are gone without notice. According to this quote from my People and Language class. One of the articles points out, “Many researchers have reported that both sexes engage in gossip… but its cultural meaning (for us) is undeniably ‘feninine’. Therefore we might expect to find most men avoiding it, or disguising it as something else, especially in mixed settings where they are concerned to mark their difference from women.”(Cameron)

Men get upset when women try to fight for getting their power back. Some men claim that women got a lot of power if we compare nowadays with history. They are stigmatizing feminism by saying women who support feminism means women are asking more than they deserve. Women are taking men’s rights and power. Women want money and take less responsibility when women are talking about feminism. They don’t feel that women have been treated prejudiced. Something they claim women even have more rights or power than men. However, they can’t be denied that our society is a patriarchal society. 

Does it mean men don’t need to fight for anything?

The answer is surprisingly yes, everyone in this society needs to fight for themselves. 

It is because men ask women to follow the gender model. That means they should be powerful, rational, work hard, and good at repairing things. When men ask women to stay at home to take care of children and do housework. They are asking themself to work harder to feed everyone in the house. When they ask their wife for anything. Their daughters may be in the same position when they grow up and get married.

If there are no gender stereotypes. LGBTQ community doesn’t need to go through what they have been through.

At first, the church was against homosexuality. Although we can no longer know the real reason. But the following are some popular conjectures. For example: ‘church wants to have better control’, ‘stable population’, ‘against the Bible story’. When something becomes common sense, it is very difficult for us to break it down. 

Michael Lynch said when she thinks about Marsha P. Johnson. She thinks Marsha is someone who kids today who are gay know nothing about which is a shame. Because she‘s one of the reasons they are sitting in all their liberty glory. Marsha paid the price for who she was.

Marsha P. Johnson was an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen. Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights. She was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969.

One big thing in Marsha and Sylvia’s life as they had formed a group called STAR (Street transvestite action revolutionaries). They were able to operate an apartment as a shelter for homeless transgender youth. The youth were kicked out of their home for being transgender.

During the interview, Michael said: “I’m not intending to live 20 more years. I don’t want 20 more years of this wonderful life of disco romance. They call me a legend in my own time because there are so many queens gone that I’m one of the few queens still left from the 70s.”

Feminism is never just for women. People who are controlling this game want us, people with different gender identities, to fight with each other with small things. Therefore, they can take away bigger things(rights) from us without notifying us. 

 

References:

Cameron, Deborah. Performing Gender Identity. 1999. 

Representation is Important for Us All

One of the clear messages that we’ve seen in today’s society is that representation in the media we consume is extremely important. Personal traits such as race, age, body type, weight, gender, and sexuality matter when it comes to shaping who we are as people. These traits are not exclusive to individuals and the need and desire to have these traits represented in the media has become important in how we see ourselves in society. Demographic changes and social movements are some of the more dynamic reasons behind new influxes of media representation, but these new influxes can be marred with issues. While representation is important, how this representation is executed is even more important. There needs to be an important emphasis on the nature of this representation so that the impact of the representation can have positive impacts on the people and communities being represented. 

Take queer representation in the media, for example, as it has seen a huge influx in recent years and people that consider themselves LGBTQ+ are being represented in all forms of media, particularly movies and TV more now than ever before. Despite this, the representation of these groups in the media hasn’t always been the most positive or progressive and this type of representation only serves to further perpetuate negative stereotypes of these communities. The Youtube video titled, AVP Courageous Conversations – Disclosure shines an important light on the topic of queer representation in media. In the video, one of the interviewees featured in the trailer at the start of the video makes an important point about trans representation in particular. She states in the video that, “There is a one word solution to almost all the problems in Trans media, we just need more. In that way, the occasional clumsy representation wouldn’t matter as much because that would be all that there is” (9:19 – 9:27). This statement in particular addresses the idea that LGBTQ+ representation needs substance in conjunction with numerous instances of exposure. Essentially this means that problematic Trans representation will also be a factor, but more representation overall means representation there will be room for more positive representation as well.  There is no doubt that Trans representation has progressed in recent years, but there are questions that arise. Has trans and other forms of LGBTQ+ representation come far enough? Who benefits from this representation? 

Representation starts somewhere but it is important that it progresses and adapts as time goes on. This progression will ensure that the more impressionable members of the queer community, possibly young closeted LGBTQ+ members, see people that they relate to in a positive light.  In AVP Courageous Conversations – Disclosure, one of the panelists Jazzmun Nichcala Crayton points out that LGBTQ+ people youth often face issues like homelessness, and that lack of true LGBTQ+ representation in the media aids in these issues being overlooked and ignored by Hollywood and the media. She also points out that an increase in this representation could aid in actual LGBTQ+ individuals getting access to resources that can improve their lives (26:00 – 27:30). In this way, the representation would improve not only the way queer people are viewed and portrayed, but it would provide economic opportunities for LGBTQ+ in the process. Positive representation in the media is important not only to the individuals being represented but also to the people that may not be members of that particular community. Exposure to social groups and communities that we aren’t a part of can alleviate the anxiety and biases that we develop from not venturing outside of our “in groups”. Representation can spark important conversations within our society that benefit us all. 

Although representation in itself is important, it is important to note that representation needs to be more than just “diversity hires”. In Queer written by Karen Tongson it states that, “Aren’t-we-GLAAD approaches to quantifying queer visibility—that is, measuring with exactness how many gay characters, shows, and actors are on TV or in films, and whether or not these portrayals are positive or negative—have created their own set of limitations around our encounters with all forms of media, not just explicitly queer representations with identifiable queer bodies, characters and ‘acts’” (2). I agree with this sentiment. LQBTQ+ representation needs to have some significant backing behind it. It simply isn’t enough to just add a LGBTQ+ character into a movie or TV show. There needs to be more to their stories than harmful stereotypes or biased and unbalanced representation. It is clear that LGBTQ+ identified people are a part of our society, but it needs to be clear that these people also have unique experiences that deserve attention as well. 

 

Citations 

“AVP Courageous Conversations – Disclosure” YouTube, uploaded by New York City Anti-Violence Project, 22 Feb. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXWzGcxBW2E

Tongson, Karen. “Queer.” Keywords For Media Studies, 20 Mar. 2017, keywords.nyupress.org/media-studies/essay/queer/

Blog Post Draft 2 Dana Balakirova

Gender is on one hand complicated, and on the other, quite simple. The norms of our world are what makes breaking with gender stereotypes a traumatic experience for many. Although we have heard the phrase “just be yourself,” if your version of your best self does not coincide with the norms of the time, then that advice is sure to lead to ostracization. All people want to feel included, especially in their most intimate communities. Judith Butler’s “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” the author delves deep into the history of societal gender norms; her paper, alongside contemporary examples from popular culture, can show readers how gender norms are not as set in stone as our culture purports them to be.

In Judith Butler’s essay “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” the author explains that despite the way gender has historically been linked with one’s birth sex, it has never been a steady identity in and of itself. Instead, gender and the cultural norms surrounding it are perpetuated and evolve through social agents. Butler names a number of these social agents as being language, gesture, and symbolic social signs (Butler, Judith, 519). Gender is not set in stone, but rather is a spectrum. Recently, I have been going through and watching the late Patrick Swayze’s filmography. I believe he was a good example of what Butler was talking about. As a horse rancher and chain-smoking stoic, he fits all of the stereotypical trademarks of manliness. However, he was also a classically trained dancer. During interviews, especially during the press run of the film Dirty Dancing, often talked about how people back home often didn’t understand how a man like him could be into ballet. Funnily enough, they accepted it because he was from such a tough family, and himself, from a very young age, showed a lot of grit and determination. Artists have always been generally progressive on subjects such as gender identity. To make art means breaking down one’s world and critically analyzing the norms in it. Throughout the years, there have been many artists who have exemplified Butler’s feminist theory.

Gender identity is kept rigid in our society because allowing full expression of one’s gender identity means breaking down the norms that govern our entire reality. Butler writes, “One may want to claim, but oh, this is really a girl or a woman, or this is really a boy or a man, and further that the appearance contradicts the reality of gender” (Butler, Judith, 527). The musician Arca, who makes an experimental noise-pop and has collaborated with major figures in the music industry such as Kanye West and Lady Gaga, often portrays herself as a non-binary machine in her music videos. Arca said she identifies as a trans woman, going by she/her pronouns, yet in the music, she embraces technology as a metaphor for being off the binary of not only gender but the limits of what can be considered pop music. She plays with images of computers and wires, using them as cultural symbols for both the new age, yet also a sort of soullessness. However, she embraces that lack of emotion not as a hindrance, but rather as a way to transcend one’s humanity, including negative emotions, such as bigotry or self-hatred. Arca does not see herself as succumbing to technology, but rather as an organism adapting around it. This relates to the aforementioned section of Butler’s paper, where she mentions cultural symbols and how they can be picked up by individuals and internalized as part of their identities. Although Butler is specifically referencing gender expression specifically in her writing, I believe her theory could be easily re-contextualized to fit many aspects of one’s personality. The media we consume and our aesthetic interests often define us to one extent or another. For an artist as forward-thinking as Arca, for example, her futurist beliefs are directly intertwined with her gender identity. While for a man such as Patrick Swayze, dancing was his way of balancing out the rigid and traditionally macho lifestyle, as well as a way to connect to his mother; yet most people are still struck by how easily he was able to channel feminine energy during his romantic films, which is what made him such a star in Hollywood. This shows how gender expression, in addition to social variables such as language and symbols, can also be adopted simply through one’s relationship with technology, family, or any number of outside influences.

Butler concludes that deviations from the performance of gender often lead to ridicule. She compares gender to a theatrical stage here by mentioning how theatrical performances can be met with censorship, bad criticism, or even violence (Butler, Judith, 527). This definitely parallels the experience that many trans people have when coming out. Although the concept of being trans has been normalized a bit since it first hit the public discussion, there are still many places in the United States and abroad where stepping out in one’s desired gender expression can mean retaliation. This risk doubles for marginalized communities. Unlike artists like Arca, who have the privilege of wealth, people in a poor socioeconomic position are incredibly at severe risk of being victimized. Seeing gender as a performance and making that the norm would give a lot of people a lot of emotional freedom since it would allow them to try things they had always wanted to do, yet were afraid of being ridiculed over.

Gender should, by the end of this paper, feel much more complicated than it appears at first. For one, the intersections between race and gender are evident. Artists of a certain caliber are allowed to express themselves openly because they have the favor of the public behind them. Individuals without public support are always living in fear of whether to live authentically or to conform in order to avoid any backlash. Looking at Butler’s essay, in conjunction with how artists of an elite economic hierarchy express themselves, shows how economics, as with anything else in our hyper-capitalist society, is intertwined with gender.

WORK CITED

 

Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” Theatre Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.

Post Dana Balakirova

Blog Post 1 Dana Balakirova

In Judith Butler’s essay “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” the author explains that despite the way gender has historically been linked with one’s birth sex, it has never been a steady identity in and of itself. Instead, gender and the cultural norms surrounding it are perpetuated and evolve through social agents. Butler names a number of these social agents as being language, gesture, and symbolic social signs (Butler, Judith., 519). Gender is not set in stone, but rather is a spectrum. Recently, I have been going through and watching the late Patrick Swayze’s filmography. I believe he was a good example of what Butler was talking about. As a horse rancher and chain-smoking stoic, he fit all of the stereotypical trademarks of manliness. However, he was also a classically trained dancer. During interviews, especially during the press run of the film Dirty Dancing, often talked about how people back home often didn’t understand how a man like him could be into ballet. Funnily enough, they accepted it because he was from such a tough family, and himself, from a very young age, showed a lot of grit and determination. Artists have always been generally progressive on subjects such as gender identity. To make art means breaking down one’s world and critically analyzing the norms in it. Throughout the years, there have been many artists who have exemplified Butler’s feminist theory.

Gender identity is kept rigid in our society because allowing full expression of one’s gender identity means breaking down the norms that govern our entire reality. Butler writes, “One may want to claim, but oh, this is really a girl or a woman, or this is really a boy or a man, and further that the appearance contradicts the reality of gender” (Butler, Judith.,527). The musician Arca, who makes an experimental noise-pop and has collaborated with major figures in the music industry such as Kanye West and Lady Gaga, often portrays herself as a non-binary machine in her music videos. Arca said she identifies as a trans woman, going by she/her pronouns, yet in the music, she embraces technology as a metaphor for being off the binary of not only gender but the limits of what can be considered pop music. She plays with images of computers and wires, using them as cultural symbols for both the new age, yet also a sort of soullessness. However, she embraces that lack of emotion not as a hindrance, but rather as a way to transcend one’s humanity, including negative emotions, such as bigotry or self-hatred. Arca does not see herself as succumbing to technology, but rather as an organism adapting around it. This relates to the aforementioned section of Butler’s paper, where she mentions cultural symbols and how they can be picked up by individuals and internalized as part of their identities. Although Butler is specifically referencing gender expression specifically in her writing, I believe her theory could be easily re-contextualized to fit many aspects of one’s personality. The media we consume and our aesthetic interests often define us to one extent or another. For an artist as forward-thinking as Arca, for example, her futurist beliefs are directly intertwined with her gender identity. While for a man such as Patrick Swayze, dancing was his way of balancing out the rigid and traditionally macho lifestyle, as well as a way to connect to his mother; yet most people are still struck by how easily he was able to channel “feminine” energy during his romantic films, which is what made him such a star in Hollywood. This shows how gender expression, in addition to social variables such as language and symbols, can also be adopted simply through one’s relationship with technology, family, or any number of outside influences.

Butler concludes that deviations from the performance of gender often lead to ridicule. She compares gender to a theatrical stage here by mentioning how theatrical performances can be met with censorship, bad criticism, or even violence (Butler, Judith., 527). This definitely parallels the experience that many trans people have when coming out. Although the concept of being trans has been normalized a bit since it first hit the public discussion, there are still many places in the United States and abroad where stepping out in one’s desired gender expression can mean retaliation. This risk doubles for marginalized communities. Unlike artists like Arca, who have the privilege of wealth, people in a poor socioeconomic position are incredibly at severe risk of being victimized. Nevertheless, seeing gender as a performance and making that the norm would give a lot of people a lot of emotional freedom since it would allow them to try things they had always wanted to do, yet we’re afraid of being ridiculed over.

WORK CITED: Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” Theatre Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.