This blog is intended for the use of students enrolled in GWSS 3203W, "Blood, Bodies, & Science" as a means to integrate popular cultural artifacts with our course topics. Students will post weekly entries or comments (200 words each) that describe a related scientific news story, website, artistic creation, product, publication, advertisement, etc. along with a question (or an answer to a question) to pique fellow students' curiosity.
Recently in 7: Queer Natures (Oct 18/20/22) Category
At the end of class on Friday we came to an interesting question in regards to Queer ecology, what is the distinction between diversity and equality? This got me thinking about the whole objective of this class, which I think in the end is advocate for discourses that promote equality. Sometimes we get so caught up in the differences between people and how we define them, that we lose insight into the fact that no matter what variation exists in the human species or even in the animal kingdom, we are all made of the same building blocks of life.
I think the main issue that we come across when discussing diversity, is what is normal, and who is the majority? If you want the "scientific" answer, you would take whatever trait you are testing, generate a bell shaped curve, and whatever lies 2.5 standard deviations away from the average is considered to be abnormal. Now the word abnormal in itself is simply a descriptor that describes this statistical analysis, however, in a societal context the word has a stigma attached to it. Abnormal in society is equivalent to alien, inferior, and is generally a minority. So I wonder, should we spend so much time discussing the differences between people? People say diversity should be celebrated and embraced, but is the cost of highlighting diversity an increase in alienating those who society at large considers to be abnormal? Don't get me wrong, I think that have diversity within society is a fantastic and wonderful thing, but sometimes I wonder if we should instead focus on our similarities and connections to facilitate equality.
I specifically look towards the readings we did for this week as well as Nancy Tuana's Viscous porosity to develop this point. In the reading for Friday, we discussed how at a very basic level we are all made up of the same recyclable materials that have been here since the beginning of time. Since matter can not be created or destroyed, the atoms we are made up of could have been part of a plant, an animal, a rock, or any other matter. Furthermore, though these atoms are bonded by various forces, there is still space between them, making what appears to us as solid a fluid, dynamic, and porous entity. This is where I bring in Tuana's idea of viscous porosity and her ideas on intersectionality. We are all connected because of our viscous porosity. We exchange molecules everyday with everything we encounter whether it be people or our environment. Our intersectionality is quite literally inescapable. Our building blocks may be arranged in different ways, but they are the same building blocks.
This brings me back to the idea of normality. We try so hard to define what is normal, and natural, so I form this conclusion. If we are modeling ourselves based on nature, then we need to act as the viscous and porous beings that we are and embrace our interconnectedness, not necessarily define our differences or similarities for that is where ideas of inequality are born. I found this video on youtube that features a doll making workshop called "We are all the same Inside" that focuses on our common humanity and teaches children the idea of equality.
So this week reading "The Five Sexes: While Male and Female Aren't Enough" I was thinking about the whole idea of "intersex." As we saw in class, there aren't strict lines defining sex/uality, gender, etc. I have many friends who fall in some of these categories, homosexual male, homosexual female, bisexual female, female man, and others in between. With terms like "Metrosexual," many others that I know get labeled as this, even though they don't fall in this category. In the United States, as discussed during class, we label others so they fit in our little boxes of "the normal" descriptions so that we can judge them based on what we think about those descriptions. This brings to mind one of my favorite clips that I recently found, I think it's from the show Glee, however, I do not watch the show so I cannot accurately say this.
This is satirical, for those who don't appreciate sarcasm: Be Warned!
What's really funny here is her taking jabs at those that try to fit others into their little boxes of "normal." The whole idea here is that since the character (Sue Sylvester) cannot tell who is gay and who isn't because the gays aren't fitting in her metaphorical box of normal behavior. She wants the gays to return to acting like she expects them to act according to "normal" gay behavior in her mind. This is ridiculous!
In my opinion, everybody across the tangled up spectrum/web of sex/uality shouldn't have to fit into little social "boxes" of "normal." As described in the article, there are many ways of "intersex" that exist in humans and animals. What the general public needs to realize is that these "intersex" transitions exist, and that lines can be blurred or erased completely. What other pieces of pop culture show that this exists in any way, satirical or informative? What are some ways that people don't "fit in" with the current "normal" boundaries can be seen to "fit in" to our current culture, and what are some things that can be done to help this?
The first thing that came on my mind when reading Anne Fausto Sterling's, "The Five Sexes: Revisited," was this show on Bravo called "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." This series has a group of five gay men who tries to redefine a new lifestyle for theses really masculine men. The masculine men are transformed to become what is known to us as metrosexual. Metrosexual is defined as a man who displays attributes that are stereotypically homosexual men. Is it really possible to change someone into something that is not the typical norm, (male = masculine, female = feminine)?
I believe that people are only capable of becoming a different sex/uality, only if it is already present in their biology. Sterling wrote about the life story of David Reimer. He was born a male, but actually raised as a girl after his penis was accidentally destroyed during circumcision. He was raised as Brenda after the circumcision mishap to the age of 15. Even as a child she had tendencies to behave masculine, (ie, urinating standing up and playing with toy machine guns). She was eventually transformed back and became a male.
In this situation, nature (biology) overcame nurture (the way he was raised). Even as a child, Brenda could differentiate what the psychologist and her parents were trying to raise her as and what she really was meant to become. This leads me to believe that people in the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy television series would either revert back to their old selves, or they would only stay a metrosexual if they already have that part inside them. It goes back to the question, is being a certain sex/uality a choice or something that is determined at birth?
Heteronormativity is the dominant social institution of heterosexuality which focuses on the unseen enforcement of gender roles. It breeds homophobia through mainstream stereotypes through the ultimate denial of same-sex relationships because anything different is unnatural, dangerous, and undesirable. Many people will not accept, think, or believe anything outside the confines of heteronormativity. "Whiteness" and heterosexuality also categorize queerness within the same misfit groups of race, ethnicity, gender, ability, etc.
Meanwhile, homonormativity advances are striving to make the LGBT community to appear normal. Though it is in opposition to masculinity, the efforts of homonormativity doesn't infringe upon heteronormativity because the LGBT community is a desexualized entity. This begs the question: will queer ecologies establish a new standard in the hetero world? Blurring the lines of the binary gay and straight sexualities contends with the dominant, straight symbolic world order because it is the antithesis of both hetero and homonormativity. I believe that, piece by piece, queer ecologies will erode the castle walls of heteronormativity and eventually create a new standard of abstract sexuality in the hetero world. And with that, I'm including the following item of pop culture:
If the link doesn't work please cut and paste the following link into your browser: http://aquarianzone.tripod.com/hetquiz.html
Last week on Grey's Anatomy one of the main focuses was on a 13 year old male patient. The patient just finished going through puberty and during that time he ended up developing breasts. In the episode the mother states that the father has had the same issue his entire life. The boy wants to breasts removed but the mother is against it. Here is the link in the .
Here are the times the story is aired.. the rest of the episode is not relevant to Fausto Sterling's article "The Five Sexes, Revisted."
3:00-3:45, 23:03-23:55, 34:33-35:06.
I thought this story was really interesting and fit perfectly with Fausto-Sterling's article. This reminds me of what we were talking about in class on Monday where Professor Garvey said that there are basically an infinite number of combinations of what a person could be. This young boy had every aspect a "normal" boy should have but the only thing that was different was that he had breasts. This proves Fausto-Sterling's theory of all the "sexual varieties" in the world (281).
This story also touches on the social injustice that people face for not fitting into the "norm". What people don't realize is that being a little more masculine when you're a girl or vice versa is perfectly normal. However; pop culture always puts such an emphasis between the two and their differences. This leaves no space for the rest of the people that don't exactly fit into the categories of man or woman.
This week has brought to my attention ideas about sex/uality that I never knew even existed. Mainly, I had never thought of gender and sex being two different things nor had I realized that the queer world refers to how people associate themselves to the two words. What really enlightened me is that one could say their gender is woman, but their sex is male or vice versa. While we were doing this chart in class on Monday I was quickly reminded about the story from a few years ago about the "pregnant man." I put this into quotes only because the story puts into perspective how loosely the terms "sex" and "gender" are used interchangeably. Here is the story as presented to the public:
What I found most interesting about the video was the reaction that Oprah's audience had when she announced the pregnant man. I don't blame them only for this reason: Society is taught that women are the ones who get pregnant and carry the child. However, what society has failed to acknowledge is that FEMALES are the ones that get pregnant. This does not necessarily mean that the pregnant female associates her gender to a woman, the female could associate with a male- as in this case. Hence, the pregnant male can exist. This common misconception clearly relates to people uknowingly making gender and sex the same entity, and on top of that associating a certain gender/sex with culturally created characteristics. If all society were able to understand that gender and sex aren't the same thing (even though I know this is impossible) the story of the pregnant man wouldn't have been shocking and definitel would not have gained media attention. This brings me to my question that I have for you: What are things that are exploited in the media that stem from the common confusion between gender and sex? Would these things still be in the media if all of society understood the difference between the two words?
The last few readings have really gotten me to think about how Western society's culture and language has such a narrow view on what is "normal" especially in regards to sex. My sister sent me this video the other day and I think it ties pretty well into last weeks theme. It's very in your face but actually makes some really great points. It gets you to think about what family value and protecting marriage really means. Also, how our current laws don't really reflect the freedom that so many Americans take pride in. If everyone is not free do marry whom they want, then I don't really think we can call ourselves the land of the free.
In the reading we read titled Animal Trans, the main argument was that by studying nonhuman living matter could be usefully inform debates about social structures and relations. I think this video brings up another way that we can support this argument- by reflecting on what we think being an American is all about and if our current laws really are in line with what we value as a country in whole. What do you think is the best way to bring light to issues such as gay marriage, intersex, and "correction" surgery at birth? And what other laws do you think conflict with American values? If as a society we always turn to nature as a model for ourselves, then why do we fail to acknowledge the wide range of sexualities and sex habits among nonhuman animals?
This week during class the readings have discussed the dynamics of the 5 sexes of humans showing that there is no such thing as a "normal" human being. There are too many variations to say one is the right or normal way. While looking for pop culture artifacts for to blog about this week, my iTunes playlist shuffled to Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl". This chart topping single not only put Katy Perry on the map, but also blew up discussions of bisexuality/lesbianism. Is Katy Perry bi-sexual? Is she a lesbian? Or is she just looking for a number one song? I decided to Google her album and look at the rest of her songs. She twists and contorts the "norm" of human living. Besides "I Kissed a Girl", "One of the Boys" "Futuristic Lover" and "Your So Gay" are all songs on her album that are about peoples sexualities.
One of the Boys: " I don't want to be one of the boys, one of your guys, just give me a chance to prove to you tonight that I just want to be one of the girls"
Futuristic Lover: "They say be afraid, you're not like the others, futuristic lover, Different DNA, They don't understand you"
Your so Gay: " Your so gay but you don't even like boys, no you don't even like, don't even like boys but your so gay"
Her songs range from a "Teenage Dream" about their first sexual experiences to her kissing a girl for a lesbian/bi-sexual experience, to being seen as "one of the boys" or falling for a non-normative relationship to then calling out someone for being homosexual. She may have just gotten married does she dabbles in different experiences? More power to you the "California Girl".