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December 20, 2008

Final Blog

This class taught me about concepts of gender that I had never heard before, and it helped deepen my understanding of life. I really enjoyed the readings and opinions of all the other authors because there were so many ideas and new thoughts of gender. All of them provoked me to think further about gender roles.
I got the most out of learning about gender as a performance and learning about how the body functions as an extension of society’s standards and control. I had never thought of gender as a performance before, and this new concept stood out a lot to throughout the semester. I felt like it connected to everything in some way like even when Anzaldua wrote about the borderlands and feeling confused about being torn between her culture and her own self. I thought of how her culture was expecting her to act a certain way and reminded me of how people are forced to act as their gender respectively because it is what society wants.
The fact that gender is a performance demonstrates that people act a certain way to be accepted rather than acting how they truly want. When learned about the body and how people always try to fill very stereotypical molds of it, it proved that it was a part of how gender is a performance. I never understood how much of our actions as men and women represent cultural standards.
I now plan on being more aware of gender as a performance in my life from now on. I think it will help to always be more comfortable with myself, and be proud of who I am even if I do not live up to societies standards. I plan on taking what I have learned to enrich my life and help my friends understand it so they too will not be so hard on themselves when it feels like they are not good enough.

December 19, 2008

LAST BLOG EVER!

After taking this course I really feel that I am much more attuned to how gender and power are related and relate to our everydaylife. I feel that the readings were very helpful in aiding our studies and giving us some really great discussions during class. Although I feel that yes some of the things we looked into/studied in class were kind of common sense or aspects that we are used to hearing ex. gender roles or thinking about the +5 system or how women are abused, I liked that we still had in depth discussions about them. I think that by going over many of these topics it makes them much more realistic. From our topics about gender as a performance and gender roles that we mostly covered at the beginning of the year but through the class as a whole I really can't help but think of them on a day to day basis now. For example seem to observe people more and how they perform their gender and I feel like I am just more aware of the subjects we covered in class which is a GOOD THING!

One particular reading: "Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference, by Audre Lorde was a specific reading that I always seemed to remember. I feel that it was very real and would help us to not only understand different topics but also gave more in depth analysis to how we can change and look at why we do/act the way we do now. She talks about difference and the reasons we "see" difference so much by saying that we are either programmed to fear it, ignore it, or try to become it if is dominant. I thought this was especially interesting because it does seem very true. She continues in saying that "we do not develop tools for using human difference as a springboard for creative change" and " by ignoring the past, we are encouraged to repeat its mistakes" (Lorde 117). I feel that this is the most encouraging and real advice out of any of the readings because it seems so simple but yet it will help so much. I as I hope everyone else will take away from this class is not to ignore or fear difference but yet use it to our advantage and make the most out of it. We each have our own special and unique talents and we need to see that for what it is. If we can stop ignoring things from the past we can make much bigger efforts to change the way our society views gender, power and everyday life.

Thanks Rebecca and Katie for a wonderful semester! :)

Final Blog

I think that this class has left me with a broader perspective on the way that gender plays a role in our daily lives. Although I may be a gwss minor, i think that this class has provided me with a lot of essential materials to really assess the many forms of systemic oppression faced by women today. I particularly enjoyed the readings by Lorde, Fausto-Sterling, Rich, Jones and Plumwood. I think they represent both classic ideas in gender studies and also progressive and radical ways of thinking about gender. I have been joking with my friends lately that gwss has ruined my life. I don't mean it in a bad way, it's just that I will never again be able to think about my interactions with people, the shows I watch on TV, or do the activities I once did the same way. I constantly have to be aware of the ways in which gender affects my daily decisions and I must be more conscious of the ways in which I perform gender. Opening up discussions on gender, sexuality, class and race has become essential to my existence and I wouldn't have it any other way. Instead of being a silent citizen, I hope to critically analyze and deconstruct oppressive systems. I want to be an agent for positive social change and taking classes like this one enables me to have a framework to build off of. I am thankful to have been a part of this class and truly enjoyed the constructive and respectful conversations that we had together. I hope that others from this class feel inspired to continue looking into gwss issues and make it a part of their daily life.

Final Blog

Even before signing up/taking this course, I have been interested in gender/women/sexuality studies. I’ve been a Judith Butler fan before I knew who Judith Butler was. But I hadn’t really thought about the “everyday? in all of it. Luckily, this course helped me to see that aspect and, more importantly, helped me see the everyday of gender and power in my own life.

Since I am a Butler fan, the essays on gender as a performance were especially intriguing to me, especially because they were very much focused on the everyday. The Butler piece, along with a other readings, really got me thinking about 1.) how people do (perform) gender, 2.) what kind of performance society expects, and 3.) how the way gender is performed is tied to power. From all of this, I learned what I believe…that gender is performed in a million different ways, that it becomes something personal, but through all that society creates gender norms. Of course anyone going against social norms is looked at as different, queer, or indecent.

By reading Johnson’s essay on the +5 system, it is clear that there are people in society who are privileged and therefore, powerful, and in turn there are people (lower on the +5) who are oppressed. Oppression, a system within itself, creates more cycles…oppressed people are held down by the privileged that control all the means (government, money, etc.).

It was great to take this class with students who were first being introduced to some of the theories and topics we discussed. It made the course interesting and allowed ideas to be challenged and rethought. As for me, I’ll leave with the understanding that gender and sexuality are not as technical and scientific as they once were understood to be…they are raw and personal and can’t be defined by society.

Katie and Rebecca --Thanks for a great semester; I look forward to working with both of you in courses in the future.

December 18, 2008

Final Blog

All though this class I found it hard to agree with a lot of what was said. I can see where things like patriarchy, oppression, body image, etc are coming from, but I guess in "my world" they don't really exist. Yes, I can see it happening around me at times, but I have never really felt the negative effects of such things, or at least not to the extent where I can't just shake it off. Also, with the way the world has changed so much in the past few decades, all those concepts feel like a thing of the past to me. I have always felt that women and men are pretty much equal in most aspects of everyday life these days and by saying that women are oppressed we are only dwelling in the past and causing it to become our future. I feel like a lot of times people cause themselves to be oppressed. Of course there are concrete systems out there that cause oppression, but many times it seems to be like we make our own oppressing system in our minds. We look at the ads and media and think we're too fat or not pretty enough, which causes low self-esteem. Well if we actually took a moment to realize a few things it wouldn't have to be that way. You could look at these "perfect" people and realize they had to work extremely hard to make their bodies look that way and you could do the same. You could look at them and realize that they turned to surgery to make themselves "beautiful" and that you would never want to do that to yourself. Or you could realize that they aren't so perfect after all and they aren't the people you should be imitating anyway. It works this way for many factors besides body image, like the power of men over women and one race over another. If you didn't let yourself think and act that way, a lot of times, but not all, you would realize that you can change those parts of your life.

I think this and the fact that I'm more privileged in some ways than I realized, is why I can't always agree or don't see this in my life. I have always been "one of the guys" ever since I was little; probably a perk of growing up with two older brothers and all of their friends. I don't let guys overpower or oppress me. I know that sometimes women truly can't help it, but to those that can, stop complaining and start changing!

So I guess with all this I'm trying to say that the biggest things I realized are that in many ways I am privileged and that there are things I think we can do to change how some "unprivileged" people feel. Therefore, there are two things I am going to do to change the relationship between gender and power in my everyday life. One is that I am going to be more optimistic and stop complaining and taking the little things to heart because I realized that I do have it much better than some people and the problems that I stress about are in fact very small in comparison to what I could be dealing with. The other is that I am going to make the best effort I can to make certain people realize that they are the ones oppressing themselves, but not to judge so harshly some women, as I do now, because some truly can’t overcome their oppression like I can.

Gender, Power and Everyday Life

The main point that I will take from this class is that women are oppressed. It sounds so simple and obvious because it’s been said before, but until I took this course, I didn’t actually believe it. I was one of those people who was in denial because I was so used to being oppressed that I didn’t realize I was oppressed. “The word ‘oppression’ is a strong word? (Frye, 6). I still feel that I am much more privileged (less oppressed) than some people, especially those who are not Caucasian. I do not have a career or children yet, so I haven’t had to experience the oppression that Frye writes about around that, but I have realized how large of a role patriarchy is in our society. I’m currently living with two males who assume that I should cook and clean because I’m the female. I see this in many families I know.

In general, I think I’ve become more understanding of others’ perspectives. My classmates have shared personal stories of hardship that have impacted the way I think of oppression and people who are different and/or less fortunate than me. Katie has also made an impact on the way I feel about everyone’s opinions/voices. On multiple occasions, she assured my peers that they knew what they were talking about; that their thoughts/statements were valid. That made the whole vibe of the class very open and accepting.

This class has pushed me to stand up for women and equality.

Final Hurrah

I had a very enjoyable time during this class. I hope that I can remember half of the things that I learned during the course of the semester. The main thing I would like to take from this class is the ability to put myself in the shoes of others. I thought that I could do it before taking this class but really I could only put myself in the shoes of other members of the +5. I would put myself in their shoes but not their frame of mind and upbringing. Before participating in this class I would give my seat up to a woman on the bus or hold open a door for a woman for no other reason than she was female. After reading Frye's essay, Oppression I know that many women would view these acts as oppressive. I admit that since reading the article I stopped doing these things and I have taken a objective look at the reason that I did those things and how others practice these acts. I have come to the conclusion that through my upbringing I was taught to be courteous, especially to women. In the future I will strive to hold doors and give up my seat to people because I am courteous and not because of their gender. Making this change was very hard to do because I had been conditioned to perform these acts without thinking, and when I forced myself not to do them I felt like a jerk, for lack of a better word. There are many more instances that I could remark upon but I would rather not continue to type on and on. So, farewell GWSS, I will never forget this class and the time that we spent together. It feels strange to think that this class is not a mandatory class for graduation because I feel that everyone can benefit in immense ways from completing this course and putting in an earnest effort.

11

The most revealing part of this class for me came in the first section, with the definition of patriarchy and priviledges. As a dude who's thrived in a previous gender studies course and the first couple weeks of this course, it was obvious to me in an empirical way that, at least in a scholarly setting, feminism is not, as one previous blogger claimed, all about hating men; its about hating a system which favors men, among other demographics, without any inherent merit on their part. The first few weeks, however, really put his into focus and gave language to why feminist studies and social action, or racial studies and social action, or sexuality studies and social action are necessary (class issues and consciousness being fairly well addressed already).

People, however, are what systems work through, and myself being at the top of the patriarchy foodchain, I have a relatively strong role in allowing the system to operate as it does. At the same time, I am immensely aware of how little I can change as a whole. Still, I believe its good to at least understand and acknowledge the situation in one's own life. Acknowledge that there is a birdcage around so many people's life and that you cannot simply say that if they were better, they would fly away. The cage needs to be removed first. As mentioned before, I can't lift that cage myself, but I myself can try to loosen some of the wires at least. I can't say how exactly as I don't really aspire to be in a position of any real power to do something concrete, but I'll be sure to if/when the opportunity arises.

December 17, 2008

Final Blog

As a male taking a class aimed predominantly at females, the class was a struggle from the start. Right off the bat, articles attempting to disprove biology 'cause it makes people feel bad about themselves assaulted my senses and incited my anger. Indeed, for the first part of class, I read each new article with more disgust. The lone exception, ironically, was the Allan Johnson piece which was presented a much more level-headed argument and was more reasonable in its assertions. If I take anything away from the course readings, it would be Johnson's +5 system. When we hit the articles on sexuality, the absurdness of Catherine MacKinnon and Anne Koedt struck a chord in me. MacKinnon especially, with her asinine assertions that male sexuality is activated by violence against women and quivering children. How she graduated from an Ivy League school and was also a assistant professor of Law here at the U of M is beyond me; what a joke! The whole "men are evil" thing started to get a little stale by the time we hit the domestic violence unit.

Also, it was hard for me to connect to the class entirely because I felt like all the material was relatively well-known: feminism, gender and race oppression, domestic violence, etc. It's all pretty much common knowledge. Though it's good to refresh ones knowledge about these subjects, the people claiming that they view their life in a very different manner after going through the readings are probably embellishing a little bit. I will say however that the in-class discussions were always superb, and Katie and Rebecca did an admirable job with the material at hand, as controversial or offensive as it may be.

Final Blog

This class has definitely helped me understand better why society is the way it is, how it works, why people do what they do, etc. This was a surprise to me, a little at least, to realize just how much my thinking has been broadened by this class considering the way I thought of everything before (my group of friends and I have always been extremely open minded about everything and very accepting of diversity) and, at the same time, very exciting to know that I was able to broaden my mind even further and discover just how broad my thinking was throughout the class. The subjects we talked about throughout class were fascinating and definitely made me think of things differently, especially the topic of power which I find extremely intriguing which is probably because of the line of work I am heading into. I am majoring in math and chemistry and then becoming a teacher, so I felt like I was able to relate a fair few of the topics we talked about to what was going on in my own life, especially the idea of power. I already knew when I decided to be involved in math and chemistry that it was a male dominated system and that it would probably be very difficult for me to make an impression because of that but I had never known why. It's always been difficult for me to understand why everyone just doesn't accept everyone else for who they are and what they can do and not who they think everyone should be and what they think everyone should do. Learning about all the different power theories and exploring the +5 system, heirarchy, oppression, and everything else definitely helped me understand that better and has convinced me to try and 'spread the word' or at least educate others about what is going on in our world. I know I probably can't do a lot and I know everything takes time, but I'm hoping that maybe if I just start with my own classroom I can help move society towards a world with less discrimination and oppression, especially since I think maybe part of the reason there is so much discrimination and such is because people just don't know or understand what is going on.

Thank you for teaching this class, it definitely was an amazing and intriguing class!

December 15, 2008

Final Blog

To start out, I have to admit this class was a bit of a struggle for me. My personality is very compromising and is always looking out for the best way to solve things. I then had to start reading very biased articles, and it took me out of my comfort zone. Sure, I knew that women were oppressed in society, but I didn't know how it came to be that way. For instance, I knew that there was gender and that there was sex. I did not know that sex was our basic male and female distinctions and gender was how we performed our sexes; I thought they were all one in the same. I found it very intriguing to see how men and women perform gender to try to fit themselves into the +5 system the best way that they can. Obviously, men tend to see themselves as the superior, but women are trying to prove to society that they aren't just women who have to wear make-up and put on sexy clothes to be wanted or needed in society. As I have learned about the oppression of women in class, I have been able to observe it on the school campus and in my own personal life. For instance, my brother has always made jokes that tend to be a little more degrading to women. Of course, he is very loving and caring, but I don't believe he always thinks before he says things. In our case, I'm always less than he is. He's always smarter than I am, he's always better at sports than I am, he's better looking than I am, etc. He is just kidding; I know that, but sometimes I take it personal. I'm older than he is, so he should look up to his elder and want to take advice from me, which is starting to happen. I also think it is apart of him growing up because he's learning how to perform his own gender and try to be "manly" and stick up for himself and not let his big sister tell him otherwise. Once I've taken this class, I've explained the importance of performing his gender in an appropriate manner. I've told him that he is in part of the +5 system in the sense that he's on top and needs to take responsibility for not using that against other people. I am also part of that system, but rather a +4. I've learned where I need to stand in society and how I can put in my two cents and try to make it a better place on my part. Everyone needs to be aware of oppression and how it affects individuals. Oppression is not something that goes unwitnessed, and that is how this class has opened my eyes and made me want to broaden everyone else's horizons in my life.

December 14, 2008

Last Blog

I am realizing after having this class that I am so much more perceptive about gender relationships in my life than I was before. It’s empowering because I feel more confidant about myself, but it’s also kind of depressing because I realize so much more how oppressive it can be to be a woman in patriarchy! I work in a bar as well, so I am more aware of the gender and sexual politics that are everywhere in that sort of space! I think what is best in my situation, as a female 23 year-old college student is to be aware of this dynamic in society, and be ready to gently challenge the “normative? views people have of each gender and the expectations we have for ourselves and each other as gender-performing individuals. I have already been able to do this a bit where I work, just by making people explain what they mean and where their ideas come from after they make a mocking or derogatory comment about women. I have thought of Johnson’s view, particularly when I am at work, of taking accountability for our actions and beliefs in a gendered society and making sure others do the same. I also think Audre Lorde’s tactics of looking at differences as useful perspectives for understanding gender in different situations and social spaces, and using differences (especially ones that overlap as in her situation) to break down the dualisms that are still so prevalent in our patriarchal society are concepts that are very applicable to my everyday life. Her ideas are a way of being more open-minded and a way of thinking more critically before passing judgment. Overall, I think knowledge is power, and the more we educate ourselves on issues involving women, gender and sexuality, the more power we have to, even in a small way, change the way others think about gender. From here, we have the power to change people’s actions, and hopefully provide a more accepting environment for everyone.

Final Blog

I am realizing after having this class that I am so much more perceptive about gender relationships in my life than I was before. It’s empowering because I feel more confidant about myself, but it’s also kind of depressing because I realize so much more how oppressive it can be to be a woman in patriarchy! I work in a bar as well, so I am more aware of the gender and sexual politics that are everywhere in that sort of space! I think what is best in my situation, as a female 23 year-old college student is to be aware of this dynamic in society, and be ready to gently challenge the “normative? views people have of each gender and the expectations we have for ourselves and each other as gender-performing individuals. I have already been able to do this a bit where I work, just by making people explain what they mean and where their ideas come from after they make a mocking or derogatory comment about women. I have thought of Johnson’s view, particularly when I am at work, of taking accountability for our actions and beliefs in a gendered society and making sure others do the same. I also think Audre Lorde’s tactics of looking at differences as useful perspectives for understanding gender in different situations and social spaces, and using differences (especially ones that overlap as in her situation) to break down the dualisms that are still so prevalent in our patriarchal society are concepts that are very applicable to my everyday life. Her ideas are a way of being more open-minded and a way of thinking more critically before passing judgment. Overall, I think knowledge is power, and the more we educate ourselves on issues involving women, gender and sexuality, the more power we have to, even in a small way, change the way others think about gender. From here, we have the power to change people’s actions, and hopefully provide a more accepting environment for everyone.

December 13, 2008

Final Blog Instructions

In this final blog entry, consider what you will take from this class by thinking about what you will do to change the dynamic of gender and power in your everyday life. You can respond however you wish, but you should focus on one of the themes, ideas, or readings, we covered during the semester.

Loving Women Study- last blog

I really like the fact that I had taken this class because I learned so much about gender, power and an everyday life. Especially when reading Johnson’s plus 5 systems and fry’s Oppression article, because it made me realize that every one is oppressed in many different ways and that the plus 5 system is a tragic to everyone. After reading these two articles, I have a good understanding of how oppression and plus 5 system really works in our society. The plus 5 system is the truth of an American life and how judgment is made upon a person. Is like you get credit to be male in the first place, then you get a second credit being a white male, then you get the third credit for being heterosexual and then a forth credit being a Christian, and lastly you get a fifth credit being a. people who are not as what Johnson had describe in his plus 5 system are automatically consider lower then the man I had just described. The lower mans are also being oppressed by this system Johnson had talked about. That’s why every time when we see men, we as women do not know that they too are oppressed and not just we, women that are the only one that are oppress. Like Fry had mention in her article that, women have their own limits and guys have their own limits. I always thought to myself before I had taken Women Study class that women are much lower than men; because I grew up in a culture that men are always on the top list and women are consider just house wives. I will not forget these two article because is an understanding and the truth about life in America. I will look at gender in an everyday life as this oppression and as a plus 5 system that surround us in America.

December 12, 2008

last blog post gwss 1001 for chole005 =(

One of the most important things I took from this class was how issues such as race and income affect gender, and I certainly look at this now in a new light. Something that has also stuck with me is the idea of how gender is something that we perform (Candice West, Judith Butler). I think this has changed how I look at people everyday, and hopefully has not only allowed me to understand some of the strange things they do, but also hint at the reasons they may do them and to accept how their perspective is much different than mine.

A few other things in this class changed the way I looked at gender and every day life simply because they were things that I thought I knew about, but really didn't. The readings and statistics behind gender and how it relates to violence (Ann Jones, Barrie Levy/Denise Gamache)were very shocking and even disturbing. I think issues like rape and domestic violence are things that all of us want to think of as 'out there', when really we have to face the fact scary fact that it could happen to us, it likely will happen to us in one way or another sometime in our lives, and what we might do if and when we end up in such a situation.

Overall this class really did give me many tools to understand gender and how it relates to us and to society every day of our lives. Before I took this class I liked to think that gender was something other people were really concerned about, and not something I was controlled by. The truth is that it is something that is inescapable, but doesn't have to be something entirely limiting or bad. Thank you for teaching this class.

Final Blog

After taking this class, I have become especially attuned to the oppression of women in my everyday life. Whether it is demeaning pictures of women in mainstream advertisements, the lack of women in the professional math and science fields, or the reluctance of law enforcement to intervene to help women in domestic violence situations, women are oppressed almost everywhere I look. Before this class, I was oblivious and thought it was a thing of the past. Now I notice it everywhere. I also have become aware of the way in which some men feel that it is ok to oppress women and do it very openly. In my biology class, I have noticed that the men in my small group ban together and are actually very rude to the women in my group. They have no expectations for the girls and disregard much of our input. I also feel as though they act shocked when we do something beneficial for the team, as if they are surprised women can actually partake in educated activities.
Throughout the semester, I have seen a theme of the misconception that women only need to be pretty objects and nothing more. Women are not expected to succeed at anything other than being the primary caretaker. Women are not anticipated to be smart and if you are a smart, strong woman, you are out of the ordinary. Many times, you are looked down upon because you are not following the norms that our society has placed upon women.
I now have expectations for myself to not fall within this trap that our society has placed upon women. I have more drive than ever to prove others wrong and to be able to succeed as a working woman in the science field. I will no longer just disregard it when men put me down. I will stick up for my thoughts and efforts. I have already stuck up for myself within my biology group, as to the treatment of the male members to the women members. All in all, I aim to be a strong, independent woman and will do everything in my power to achieve my goals, regardless of everything that is going against me, which I did not realize until this class.

Final Blog

I dated one guy who very strongly believes that men are smarter than women and stronger and all the other things we talked about in this class. My goal is to change his mind on that subject. Some of the essays we read would be very helpful in explaining how those theories are wrong. For example "A Question of Genius: Are Men Really Smarter Than Women?" would be very helpful in arguing that men and women are of equal intelligence. It may seem as though men are smarter than women in todays society, but that's only because of what each person is taught according to their gender. Before this class, I never would have even thought about that fact. I would have just accepted the fact that men are smarter and gone with it. I would also reference "Where I come from is LIke This." The part about this that stuck out to me was when the writer said her mother moved the furniture by herself and didn't need a man's help. When I was in the younger teen years I would rearrange my room all the time and I didn't want help from anyone, and my bed was huge. Somewhere along the line I lost that drive to do things like that by myself, but now I remember how stubborn I was and that I wanted to do everything by myself. I think if I can change just this one person's view on equality among men and women, that can spread to people he knows, and so on. I know that before this class I didn't think women were oppressed at all, but now I definitely realize differently. And I think other people need to hear it too. Telling one person is just the beginning.

December 11, 2008

final blog!

Coming into this class, I thought of myself being equal to men as a woman. I always thought that the oppression of women ended a long time ago. Obviously it was a thing of the past since I cant recall when women gained equal rights to men. However, now I see aspects of gender oppression in every part of my life. From advertisements, to sex, to the body, women are oppressed by all angles. I have also learned that this applies to people of all kinds through the plus five system. Women are not the only people that suffer from oppression in America.
I’ve also learned that gender is a performance. Gender is not male and its not female, gender is what you choose to be. Society and norms teach us that we must be male or female because it does not know how to deal with those who are unknown to their norms.
I will use what I have learned in class and apply it to the real world. Using what ive learned, I will respect everyone around me because we really are all equal. Just because someone doesn’t fit the norm, that doesn’t mean they are unequal. It means that they bring diversity. We can all learn from each other, we shouldn’t use our differences as a means of oppressing others.
Lastly, ive learned what to do if im raped: 1-don’t pee 2-don’t shower 3-don’t change clothes 4-rape kit 5-press charges!!!