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Engaging Assignment #3 due 10/28

Engaging Assignment #3 is now due 10/28 instead of 10/21. You have two options for it:

1. Follow the assignment as it is described in the revised syllabus
2. Attend one of the many Kate Bornstein events and write about it.


Engagement Assignment #3-Kate Bornstein

Before I read the Kate Bornstein chapter “who’s on top?, I figured that it would deal with the power dynamic in an individual personal/sexual relationship. As I finished it, I was excited to see that her descriptions matched both my understanding of gender and my experience of it also.

Bornstein defines gender as more than sex, genitals, personal identity, sexual preference, etc—all the things that we have been discussing all semester. She defines gender in terms of power to both be successful yourself and then to mold the society and its institutions to your point of view for continued dominance of the prototype. The prototype on the “top? of the pyramid is the white male who has a number of features that she lays out in the chapter, the most prominent of which are perfect male genitalia and producing sons that look the same. Anything else slides further down the pyramid.

Before I read the article, I was somewhat surprised by the questions asked in the exercise, but afterwards, it was clear that she is asking us to explore the gender-power axis for ourselves and see where society places us versus where we might think we fit. I have always thought a lot about this in my rise to professorship in a white male dominated scientific field and university. I personally don’t think that I have suffered greatly from discrimination, for sure I am here as tenured professor. However, as I look back, I wonder if I had to work harder, acquiesce to things I might not have liked, or “toe the line? and I think that in reality I probably did. Being observant, I could see what success looked like and jumped the barriers to get there, even if they might have been higher for me. I remember a male colleague discussing the importance of golf course and locker room talk to get business done and feeling out of the power structure that determines our destiny. I am not sure if things have changed, but Bornstein puts my thoughts and experience into a model that explains a lot of what has occurred.