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May 11, 2007

Who Doesn't Like A Good Cross-Dressing Movie?

To be honest, I think the comedic “gender-bending comedies? that I saw as a child actually opened my mind to the idea of homosexuality and transgendered people.
One that jumps to mind (aside from the classics Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire, neither of which I’ve seen, surprisingly)—is a lesser-known Disney movie from 1998, “Mr. Headmistress?. The basic premise involves a guy who gets out of jail, man is followed by the mobsters that he screwed over before going to jail; man escapes on a train, and beats up an old woman in a train car, steals her clothes, and takes her identity (which is the new headmistress job at an all-girl’s school). That sounds pretty farfetched now that I type it out- it didn’t seem so back when I saw it at age 11. Anyway, it’s your typical man-dresses-as-woman, Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady? and Tom Jones’ “She’s A Lady? play in the background while man struggles to put on pantyhose and lipstick shtick (though I have to say, in my defense, that star Harland Williams pulls of the whole scene with particular aplomb).

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March 21, 2007

Beyond Beats and Rhymes

I think that the film "Beyond Beats and Rhymes" by Byron Hurt does a very good job of demonstrating what the average male will think of the average female when he is given the opportunity to say what he really thinks. Many males seemed to make a distinction that there were only two categories that females could fall under: either she is a "slut" or she is supposedly "pure". To them, there is no in between, so if you are dressed in any way that appears sexual at all, you are automatically a slut. Most of these guys were referring to women in bikinis as "hoes" because apparently they would not dress that way if they weren't "hoes". Never mind that they are at the beach, and as one person already pointed out, what else are women supposed to wear at the beach? There were plenty of guys at the beach in swimming trunks with no shirt on, but nobody labels guys as dressing for sex and that the only reason they are wearing that is for sexual attention. In “White Privilege and Male Privilege? by Peggy McIntosh, she talks about how men are more privileged than women without either knowing it or wanting to admit it. (pg. 12) Society is set up in a way that men can act the way that they did at the beach in this film, and not have to worry about any consequences. The police said they were there to make sure no one got raped, and that was it. No one stopped any of the guys when they were harassing the women, because it was socially accepted. If women were allowed the same freedom and privilege that men have, I think there would be a less men harassing women, simply because they might know how it feels to be harassed and to feel like there is nothing that you can really do about it.

March 19, 2007

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best. Musical. Ever.

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Sisters & B*tches

When viewing “Sisters & B*tches? video clips from Beyond Beats and Rhymes, it was a very clear-cut perspective of how men really view women. From what I gathered, the comments made about the differences between sisters and b*tches were very contradictive to what men have said they want. As Ludacris artistically says in the hit “Yeah? with Usher: “We want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed.? From my own personal understanding, sisters are the ladies in the streets. They are the ones that are supposed to be professional, smart, faithful, committed, and basically everything that is opposite of a slut. The b*tch is the one that men want to come home to at night and will fulfill their sexual fantasies. She is the one that may be very dumb, unprofessional, presumably a slut, dresses promiscuously, and may sleep around but she is the ideal woman that men want in their bed.

So given those definitions of what sisters and b*tches are, it’s hard to understand how men want both, but yet deny both. They want their woman to be two completely opposite personalities, when they seem to reject both. From the comments made on the documentary, they made it seem like sisters are too nice and more like your homegirl that you just kick it with, not someone you involve yourself with sexually. The b*tches are the girls that you just f*ck your brains out with but don’t involve yourself emotionally when it comes to relationships. That’s when you look to characteristics that sisters have. At one point in the video clip, the way they were treating the so-called b*tches they were practically sexually harassing them by going underneath skirts, grabbing girls’ butts, and coming at them like sexual predators. It not only showed how men use and take advantage of women, but also that the issue of male dominance in our society still exists. Women are still being treated as submissive beings to men.

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Beyond Beats and Rhymes

As most people have previously commented on, Byron Hurt’s “Beyond Beats and Rhymes? was a powerful film that illustrated key points of hip-hop and the culture of hip-hop artists. Throughout the segments of the film Hurt is trying to show how hip-hop has transitioned in order for men remain in the stereotypical manhood identity: their strong, tough, have lots of girls, in control etc. He also uses the film to show how evolving manhood images that are more respectful to women or less stereotypical are being criticized. Hip-hop as I have known it has long been associated with negative ideas and disrespectful words which at one point was a form of expression through words and rhythms and brought people together. For me most of the information was not new, it was interesting to me solely that he took the time to put it together and is going around the country promoting it to raise awareness. It’s not his intention to diss hip-hop as he obviously cares a lot about it; instead he is providing education on gender violence and how to prevent it. While watching the segments of this film I was immediately reminded of Laurel Richardson’s Gender Stereotyping in the English Language. She did an excellent job displaying all the general propositions about being male and female and the slang terms that have developed over the years. Like Hurt, she did it not to offend anyone or place blame; rather it was to make people aware that such stereotypes exist. Richardson’s fourth proposition states “in practice, women are defined in terms of their sexual desirability (to men); men are defined in terms of their sexual prowess (over women)? (p.101). Just as language, music and people change, so do terms that describe people. In the “Sisters and Bitches? clip women were offended it seemed with both terms (either a sister meaning you weren’t sexually attractive or a bitch meaning you looked easy.) I think it will still take a while for people to realize that it has become a normalized word not only in hip-hop communities but in groups of people across the United States. Women got over slang terms such as “dog, fox, broad, ass, chick? (p. 101) and will continue to adapt to the changing concepts. Learning how to become socialized within your community involves not only what you wear and what you do, but also understanding the language and what different words mean in different groups of people.

Third Genders

In the film Middle Sexes I was interested to watch how gender and sexuality is constructed differently in non Western cultures and how Western values regarding sexuality and gender have spread due to colonialism. It was however disappointing that the film spend a lot of focus on the nirwaan, the castrated members of India’s third sex, the hijra. In reality only a small percentage of the hijra undergo any type of sexual reassignment and many of its members are intersexed. I would have liked the film to have gone into more depth on how the gender binary is a modern construction and that through human history in various cultures there has been room for third genders and different sexualities.

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MIDDLE S E X

The documentary “Middlesex? really opened my eyes to the biology behind intersexed humans. Until seeing the clip from this movie, I was generally unaware of how individuals come to be sexually ambiguous, of course, science does a magical job of making things more (and sometimes less) understandable. In this case, I thought that the blurbs about internal fertilization really added to the documentary and really helped make this complex subject seem perfectly natural in the realm of biology, though society would not have us think so.

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From the Bitch's Perspective

I, like many others in the class, was very impressed with Byron Hurt’s documentary, most explicitly the piece on “bitches?. I do take offense to the language used in hip-hop lyrics that refer to “bitches? and “hoes?. Someone who is a bitch to one person is a daughter, mother, sister, friend, or partner to someone else. It is all women at some point that the lyrics are referring to. Richardson states, “Being sexually attractive to males is culturally condoned for women and being sexually powerful is approved for males…slang of the street perpetuates and reinforces different expectations in females and males as sexual objects and performers.?(Gender Stereotyping in the English Language, p. 101). Language is very powerful. It is more than words; it invokes images, emotions, and behaviors. It, in large part, is responsible for the way the men were treating the women in the clip, women at clubs, and even women on a side walk in Minnesota. Society might debate this forever, but how can one fully blame the women themselves for their treatment? When looks are what society bases acceptance and attractiveness on, I can understand why some women show more skin than others. It can in some ways be compared to the humiliation that people volunteer for and even audition for to get on reality television. The women will allow themselves to be disrespected because they feel important that some famous rapper is singing about them. There is a certain status that comes with being objectified. Some of the women referred to as bitches get to be close to fame and fortune. When these women are seen on music videos or at the arm of a big rap name, other girls and women look to them to see how to achieve “success? and the perpetuation continues on.
No matter what, though, nothing gives someone the right to inappropriately touch another person against their will like what was shown. The line obviously has to be drawn somewhere. It’s very difficult to put full blame even on the men in the clip who are possibly caught up in the words of their favorite rapper and playing gender by attempting to come off as a tough, and ultra sexual (always looking for a conquest). I would like to think that the majority of people are capable of empathy, but the normalization of women seen as (sex) objects keeps are society rape-prone. Instead of feeling largely helpless like me, however, Byron Hurt decided to do something about it. He used video and the all powerful word to bring these ideas into the conscious of society including rappers and women known as “bitches? or “sisters? (since they are the same in different scenarios).
I guess that this is exactly the reason why feminism targets the oppressive system as opposed to attacking individuals. It’s pointless, and I see that now even more blatantly clear, to attempt to place blame solely on individuals when the system is in part creating these individuals. A very uplifting thought to all of this is that if language is largely perpetuating this disrespect, it can reverse it with the voices of those like Hurt.

Sisters and Bitches

Thanks be to the great invention of Tivo, I had the opportunity to watch “Independent Lens: Beyond Beats and Rhymes? in its entirety. Because I was able to do watch this within days after the viewing in class, I’m having a difficult time recalling what I actually saw in class versus in my own living room. I will do my best to keep this as specific to the sections we actually watched as I can.

Sisters and Bitches
Just as the girls in the documentary, I am not offended by the lyrics used in rap music because I don’t feel that it is directed specifically at me. Let it be known, however, that just because I’m not offended doesn’t mean that I’m not disgusted by the words. There really is a difference.

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noah is to middlesexes as patrick is to breakfast on pluto

The scenario of the little boy, Noah, in the Middlesexes documentary reminded me of a movie that I watched recently called Breakfast on Pluto. This film based somewhat on true events follows the life of an individual named Patrick “Kitten? Braden. Abandoned as a baby, he grew up in a foster family and never really had the strong support system that Noah does in his parents and siblings. From little on, Patrick, like Noah, knew he was different and would play in his mother’s dresses and makeup. He was continually scolded by his family, yet he continued to act as he pleased, finding joy in "doing femininity". Patrick never let others’ opinions or beliefs mold who he was, just as Noah isn’t giving in to the pressure to conform to society’s expectations of boys’ behavior. Finally, after getting in trouble at school and being scolded at home, Patrick decides that he has had enough and takes off on his own in search of his real mother. What ensues is an unusual, tragic, and comic chain of events, persistent in the plots to misuse, mistreat, and hurt the transforming Kitten as he comes into his nonnormative gender role.

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Sexuality is socially constructed and "Hip-Hop Better Wake Up!"

In response to one of the speakers in Antony Thomas’ movie, Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She, Shivananda Khan, (OBE, Naz Foundation International): Khan talked about Indian culture being secretly homosexualized or one that had hidden homosexual tendencies and he used the example of men dancing with men at weddings and women dancing with only other women. I think he was rather stretching that example, I think the reason that most conservative Indian men and women do not dance with each other at functions is because, they discouraged from fraternizing with each other, especially in the presence of adults – parents, grand-parents, etc…It is seen as inappropriate or scandalous – especially if you are a young, unmarried man or woman and you parents are trying to arrange your marriage or matchmake you.

The quote that one of the speakers (didn’t catch his name) in the video said really stood out to me. He said, “Biology loves variation, society hates it? “Can’t we respect diversity? We have to respect it because it’s nature.? It’s so true; nature is all about evolution and diversity, while society and people construct limitations and identities – whether it be sexual, racial and/or class. In the Feminist Frontiers textbook I came across a startling outlook on sexuality. In Michael Messner’s article, Becoming 100% Straight, he states that “heterosexuality is a constructed identity, a performance, and an institution.? I was really floored by this revelation – it seems like I should have already thought about sexuality as being a constructed identity; I already knew that about race being a social construction, so I couldn’t believe that I had never really thought about sexuality this way before. It makes total sense, I do (or don’t do) certain things around certain people just because I don’t want them to question my sexuality, or it isn’t acceptable to do around to some straight people. Gender performance or “doing heterosexuality? is evident, especially in my peers in my residence hall, for instance, wrestlers will grope each other, while wearing skimpy tights, for 4 hours a day and then call someone a “fag? or “queer? if that person does something that might be construed as an action that a “real manly? wrestler would never do. Or even take my family: Hypothetically, if I were to constantly bring men around to functions or just one steady boyfriend that would be absolutely unacceptable, because my parents would think we are having sex, and we are having sex before marriage, that is scandalous! On the other hand, if I don’t bring home men, (which I don’t) my sexuality is called into question and everyone, from my parents to my little sister asks me if I am a lesbian or if I have a girlfriend. Messner’s statement makes systems of power so much more poignant and it reminds me to not forget the extent society has constructed me.

It was powerful to see a heterosexual Man of Color, Byron Hurt, talk about the important issue of how music impacts the sexism in our society. In the clip “Bitch Niggaz? in his film, Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, I identified with his response to one of the woman in the video who said that she didn’t think the rappers were talking about her when they use words such as bitch or ho. Hurt said that Black people everywhere would hold President Bush accountable if he referenced Black Americans or African Americans in a negative and derogatory way. Rapper who use words such as bitch or ho are referencing woman, which I identify myself as, how are they not talking about me? If they can say it in their music videos and on their cd, they are certainly going to use those same exact words to describe me, my sister, my mother, my daughter, my friends, my mentors, my boss, and everyone that is a woman! I really do agree with Hurt in that the current hip hop scene is really detrimental to our society and perpetuates misogyny. And in response to some of the artists saying that “hip hop is a man’s game,? I believe that Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, and Beyoncé have some thing to say to them!

Intersex Equality

After watching the film in class, I had newfound respect for people that are of both genders. I really felt for the people because they didn't choose this to happen to them, it just did. It hurt that people would inflict pain in these "intersex people's" lives. No parent should have to explain why their young son acts with feminine manner and no child should not accept him or ask him what is "wrong with him?" Or if he is a girl or a boy?

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What is a perfect medium?

I have always considered myself to be fairly interested in an array of music styles. I don’t think that because I listen to a certain style of music I have to encompass myself in the clamor of its negativity. Yet, while watching the film Beyond Beats and Rhymes, I realized by supporting the efforts of the successful players in the music industry who peg women as toys and sex objects it just continues the endless cycle of exploitation of Women.

The chapter entitled Sistas and Hos was really shocking to me for two reasons. First, the men who were asked what they thought the difference was between the two types of women; Sistas and Hos. They claimed Hos “ask? for the treatment they get based on their clothing, presence, etc. Yet, as we watch the girls walk around the festival they were being grabbed at, exploited and filmed, and inappropriately treated just because these men felt they could do so.

Just as shocking as the men’s behavior was so was the behavior of the women. Some of them fought back when they felt violated. But, the majority of the women accepted the actions just because they are socially acceptable in the rap atmosphere. However, is it just that environment in which girls are required to be put into one of two boxes; easy and a slut OR uneasy and vigrinous. In the article We don’t Sleep Around Like White Girls Do by Yen Le Espiritu there is a statement that says, “To control sexually assertive girls nonimmigrant parents rely on the gender-based good girl/bad girl dichotomy in which “good girls? are passive, threatened sexual objects while “bad girls? are active, desiring sexual agents? (169 Espiritu). I think this only streghtens the argument that every girl is one or the other. Our society has built up that there is no happy medium and no such “sexually prefect woman? exists.

MIDDLESEX

The HBO documentary that we watched in class entitled “Middlesex? was very interesting to me. Each story that was shared looked at the issue of intersexes from a different aspect. The video proved that society does not address this issue much, in many cases by choice, and that lack of attention to this issue leaves many people uneducated and very uncomfortable with it.

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March 18, 2007

Naturalizing Intersex Bodies

Middlesexes: Redefining He and She
Director: Anthony Thomas
HBO Undercover

I found this film to be very applicable to the field of gender studies because it problematizes the division of bodies by gender. It accomplishes this through complicating biological sex. Middlesexes investigates bodies that are born without clear markers of a defined sexuality. Because essentialism in sexual identity is at stake, the notion of a “natural? sex is deemed problematic.


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What else do you wear to the beach!?!

The video clip on the African American men harassing the women at Daytona Beach brought back some memories from last spring break. I was vacationing with a bunch of friends and their families for our ‘senior trip’ in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. My friend and I were lying by the pool tanning in our bikinis when we noticed a suspicious older Caucasian man across the pool by the bar taking pictures. We tried to forget about it, because everyone carries around their camera when vacationing, but when the camera began to only focus on us, is when we really became concerned.

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Our Brain-Washed Society

The video I liked best was the one that talked about transvestite or transsexual people. I thought that it was very interesting to see how different people acted towards them including close family and friends. As Judith Lorber says on page 41 of Feminist Frontiers, “We are uncomfortable until we have successfully placed a person in a gender status; otherwise, we feel socially dislocated?. I thought that quote was well portrayed with how the little kid got made fun of in school and how the older women talked about how other transsexuals she knew got treated. It seems like if people don’t know something they get scared and protective for no reason. To actually have the child make the comment about being a girl and that’s all the kids at school should know was very eye-opening. Also, to know that it doesn’t get better when you get older scares me. It’s sad that the world is like that, but it is. It was very refreshing to know that there are people out there that can accept these people for who they are like the couple with the child. She knew what he was and was ok with it even though it was hard at first. Also, the parents were very supportive of their child as well, because they knew that if that’s what the kid wanted they should want it to.

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Ungenderd and Endangered or Gendered and Locked in a False Binary?

Edward Guerro Junior had lived a significant part of his life, and was brutally murdered, in a different identity; she was severely hit and strangled to death by three friends, some of which she had sex with. They knew her in the name Gwen, and had killed her in the fall of 2002, after discovering the fact she had male genitals. She was the 23rd person murdered in the U.S. by men they had relations with in twelve months. The statistics did not improve much since this winter night in California: about 50% of intersexed people are either killed or commit suicide before they become 18 years old (according to the movie Middlesexes; Redefining He and She).
Especially in the United States the perceived gender roles are very strictly enforced. Deviation from the norm is usually punished quickly and violently, especially if there are men who feel their masculinity was put into question because of their interaction with the “deviant? other. Despite improvement in enforcement and punishment, “gender-based? hate crimes are all but vanished from the United States political and social landscape.

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Bitch Niggaz

In the clip we saw in Beyond Beats and Rhymes clip on “Bitch Niggaz? the dialogue was the most shocking because the men talked about the women very bluntly and harassingly. The men split women into sisters and bitches. Sisters were the friends or mother of his baby, whereas the bitches were the women who are bound to be a baby’s mama r someone sexually active. The men use the language as if it was no big deal. The majority of the assumptions of names were designated by the appearance of the various women. The women were dressed mostly in short shorts and bikinis, pretty standard beach attire. I wonder if the women were of a different race, especially white, if the response would have been different. If the women were not colored would they still have been categorized as sisters and bitches? Would there me more respect for women in general if this dialogue did not exist? According to bell hooks appearance obsession is the result of an “industry of sexist defined fashion?( page 33). If we did not have predetermined ideas about fashion, created predominantly by men, would this dialogue exist? This whole idea about the ideals of fashion being created by someone other than it pertains to seems a little out of the ordinary to begin with. I grew up in an area where high fashion essentially did not exist. I grew up in a farm house, with farm neighbors. My high school was made up of mostly farmers. There were only two black students in my school, one was adopted by a white family, and the other was an exchange student. This dialogue would have shocked the people of my community just as it had shocked me. When I moved here to the cities, I realized how much of the world I was naïve to. Is it the genre of music’s fault? Can we solely base it on the lyrics and the hype of hip hop?

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Film Response

The clip that we watched in class that interested me the most was the one about sistas and Hoes. I personally don’t listen to a lot of rap but I am not offended by them referring to women as bitches and hoes. As the girls who were interview said they weren’t offended either. Maybe it should be more offensive but it just seems like more of a way to differentiate between different types of women. Hoes obviously don’t get the same respect as sistas. They made it seem like Hoes were something they wanted to just have sex with.

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What Are You?

In Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks proclaims, “Cultures of domination attack self-esteem, replacing it with a notion that we derive out sense of being from dominion over another. Patriarchal masculinity teaches men that their sense of self and identity, their reason for being, resides in their capacity to dominate others? (70). This notion of belittling ones self-esteem crosses many cultural borders. In ‘Bitch Niggaz’, a clip from Beyond Beats and Rhymes, the detailing of this practice within the Hip-Hop community is highlighted.

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Marriage and Middlesexes

After watching the film clips in class last week, the part that really stuck with me was a quote from “Middlesexes?. It was said by one of the women that without marriage, women are nothing and that you’re not an adult until you are married. I think that this is an underlying issue in our society and after the readings it seems possible that it stems from the English language.

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Noah's Story

The documentary film, Middlesexes, showcases a few different stories of both men and women who have distorted the images of socially constructed gender categories. The story I found particularly interesting was that of Noah, a young boy who finds himself enjoying girly activities, including taking on the role of young girls in society. He likes to dance like a girl in front of the mirror, play with dolls, do hair, dress up in feminine clothes, and partake in other activities that little girls do. Noah and his family were interviewed and asked questions about his interests, social gender-related behavior, biological factors which may have influenced his behavior, and what his family hopes for Noah's future.

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March 17, 2007

Redecorating the Penis

It seems that for the most part masculinity is perpetuated through the demands of attempting to fit in with other guys. While casually talking to some male acquaintances, this realization has furthered itself in that most of these men are aware of this façade of masculinity, yet find it insignificant. Things will never change if the majority decides to look at a circumstance as “just the way things are?. Under the circumstance of masculinity, there needs to be a tremendous shift in how things are. Thus society should begin to see the root of violence from a different perspective.

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They Should Wear What They Want

I found this clip of the African American men and women at Daytona Beach rather disturbing. While I think it is an important to discuss this issue, it was very difficult for me to watch. I was very torn when watching these clips because part of me was thinking how some of these women wanted the attention by dressing this way but another part told me that they can dress how they choose. It is warm weather and they are at the beach; they have every right to dress the way they want. I was recently on a beach in Malibu and I realized that I did not have to deal with sexual harassment like those women had to endure. I was able to walk along the beach in my bikini and feel comfortable. During the clip, not only did I feel bad for the women but I was also concerned with their safety.

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March 16, 2007

Middle Sexes and Gender

What struch me the most about the Middle Sexes clip, was the horror that a suburbian couple could produce such a child. Although this might be because I grew up in the epitome of suburbs, I understood the parents' point of views. Out here, most people believe that looking good in the right brands, having money, and being thin are the most important parts of life. I cannot say that in my childhood, I knew anyone like that little boy. People were put into one of two groups. Male or female. There were not boxes for Gay or Straight. Everyone was assumed to be straight and if a child dared to push that boundary, the community and parents were outraged. Boys at school who do not play football at recess were 'sissies' or 'gay' and girls who chose to play football were called 'tomboys' and shunned for not being girlie enough. This is what I grew up in. I had not dared to push those boundaries as Judy/Max had. Within the suburbs, one sees the exaggerated version of society's normative behavior. A person must act out a certain gender, or a gender performance, in order to fit in. A person must follow within the appropriate gender roles for their gender performance in order to fit in. According to Lorber,

Individuals may vary on many of the components of gender and may shift genders temporarily or permanently, but they must fit into the limited number of gender statuses their society recognizes. In the process, they recreate their society's verson of men and women: "If we do gender appropriately, we simultaneously sustain, reproduce, and render legitimate the institutional arrangements...If we fail to do gender appropriately, we as individuals - not the institutional arrangements - may be called to account (for our character, motives, and presispositions)" (West and Zimmerman 1987, 146)
That quote from Feminist Frontiers page 47. If we follow the societal norms, we are reinforcing their ideas and 'boxes'. Judy/Max and the little boy (I forgot his name) push those boundaries and, in the process, confuse and anger the normative community.

March 15, 2007

A day at the beach

Bitch Niggaz and Sistas & Hos was a bit on the educational side for me. It is a couple of things I have always kind of silently questioned and it was good to see a formal definition, if you would call it that, said aloud. The rap industry is full of so many controversies that the public doesn't even know about. So when there’s a huge music event like the Urban Music Awards happening and 50 cent refers to Ja Rule as a bitch nigga, the public is definitely going to wonder what is going on. I think that the term along with others is just a part of the industry and should therefore never be normalized. Although it may seem highly offensive, each word on their own is thrown around so much in the industry that together they lack significant meaning. However, I think that the lack of respect being shown is more of a cause for concern. Both rappers have contributed a large amount to the industry and for one of them to do that on a big stage demonstrates what kind of person he really is. Now I may be wrong about the whole thing because I admit that I’m not familiar with the whole story behind it, but this is just my opinion from the very short piece of the film we saw.
As for the piece on Sistas & Hos, I think it’s laughable that the women believe it is ok for others to be called ho’s until it refers to them, in which case it is unacceptable. I do, however, believe that the way the men at the beach treated the women was ridiculous. They acted as if they were the shit of the place and the women were there just to please them. I thought it was pretty weird when the men were asked to define the difference between a sista and a ho and they could not clearly say what it was. When they finally sputtered out somewhat of a weak response, it was absurd. It sounded to me as though a sista was someone they would not have sex with because she wasn’t attractive to them, and a ho was every other woman with whom they would have sex. This way of thinking is completely unacceptable and if they were to teach their children that, then our future is looking pretty pathetic.

Film Response

The response is to the films about “Bitch Niggas? and the differences between Sistas & ‘hos.

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March 14, 2007

Bitch Niggaz

I really enjoy all the video clips that we watched in class last Tuesday. Among those clips, I find the one that focused on masculinity in Bitch Niggaz the most interesting. In that clip, one can clearly see the many different gender concepts that we have been discussing about in class. For instance: gender performance and the need to fit so badly into the specific, predetermined gender roles were extremely obvious in that fairly short movie clip. Men were being aggressive and acting very superior toward their female counter part. Sensitivity and emotions were the two important elements that were definitely not tolerated. Their behaviors are what bell hook would considered to be part of the “patriarchal male domination? (pg 84) that she desperately wants to break. Similarly, what surprised me the most was the fact that the women in that clip actually believed that the men’s behavior and words were tolerable unless they were being directly aim at them. What I also found ironic was the way the women behaved. They knew that it was a hip hop event; it was a place where men come together to do nothing else but to check out other women. Thus, the women still attend. They even played into the expectation by dressing very provocatively and also did nothing besides serving the mere purpose of being looked at. Yet, they got angry when there were things said or unwanted behaviors that were not to their liking. In other words, considering the context of the event, knowing the situation and what are expected, why would one even attend? I’m not saying that these women deserved the consequences but certainly, one cannot say with conviction that these women are purely innocent either. They come to the event playing into their expected part, so can they really blame anybody for the treatment that they received? It’s just like adding oil to the fire. These women are really not exactly helping to prevent that fire from spreading.

March 12, 2007

Beyond Beats and Rhymes

When I first heard about the documentary “Beyond Beats and Rhymes? I was not all that interested because it seemed obvious to me that a lot of mainstream hip hop is offensive, and I was not sure if it could show me anything new. But after watching the clips in class, I changed my mind. The documentary went into so much more depth than I had come up with on my own. It broke down the meanings of the images we see in mainstream hip hop, and showed it consequences.

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March 11, 2007

Film Response

Im responding on the film Beyond Beats and Rhymes. I couldnt believe that those men treated those women on the beach the way they did. If some guy came up and grabbed my butt I would freak out. I wouldnt just keep walking and just brush the act off. It also really bothered me that those girls when asked didnt have a problem with what rappers talk about in their songs. I actually do like Rap. I do listen to it, quite frequently, and most of the time sing along with the radio. When I am doing that the words dont mean much to me. Im just having fun singing along like an idiot! But, its when I see the music video along with the song, I get very frustrated. I guess I just dont understand what the point of women dancing around half naked, taking their clothes off, and smiling and laughing because they are being referred to as "bitches" and "whores". It bothers me because nowadays music videos and rap songs are getting worse. And if the women on the movie didnt think that those men were referring to them, then little girls growing up now are going to think even less of themselves because of these songs. And after seeing this video in class it really got me thinking about how women are always the target of sexism.

March 9, 2007

The Scientific Community

Watching the documentary “Middlesexes? definitely provided some light on a confusing and often misunderstood topic, Middlesex. I thought the video was great, providing the viewer with many stories and situations ranging from across the globe and from varying time periods. Max’s story placed into perspective the oppression that he experienced in his life time. Max was constantly confused about his identity, trying to fit into a category created by western society, but never really finding it. Not only did he have to go through life feeling constantly confused, he was never told about being a male pseudo-hermaphrodite. It is hard to imagine that not too long ago, it was okay to withhold or hide medical information from a person. Max never got the choice to decide what he wanted to be, or where he wanted to fit.

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March 7, 2007

Emasculation

“Bitch Niggaz?, a clip from Beyond Beats and Rhymes, addresses that when one man truly wants to insult another man, he will feminize the other man’s character. By calling him a “pussy?, “sissy?, “bitch?, or even “bitch nigga?, he is taking away from his opponent’s masculinity and making his component seem less of a man.

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Hermaphrodites: a Third Gender?


This post is in response to Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She. The filmmaker, Antony Thomas, approached many of the issues that we have addressed in class. One segment in particular related to the course reading, “The Medical Construction of Gender? by Suzanne Kessler. In the video, “Judy? had been born a male pseudo-hermaphrodite and doctors had decided that her penis was too small to be considered a penis and she had been raised as a girl. Judy had grown up questioning why she didn’t fit in with the girls or the boys. She tried being a lesbian and tried being straight, but she still felt as though she were an outsider. It wasn’t until later on in life when she found out that she had been born with ambiguous genitalia and still years later until she decided that she wanted to transition into life as a man. Judy, who now goes by Max, made me question why “physicians (and society) hold the incorrigible belief that female and male are the only “natural? options? (Feminist Frontiers p. 56). Everybody has to fit naturally in the dichotomy of male and female or all hell will break loose. In the words of Kessler on page 57, “The experts must ensure that the parents have no doubt about whether their child is male or female; the genitals must be made to match the assigned gender as soon as possible; gender-appropriate hormones must be administered at puberty; and inter-sexed children must be kept informed about their situation with age-appropriate explanations.?
Society places so much pressure on girls and boys to stick to the gender norms and if they don’t fit into these norms, they are gay, freaks, perverts, and living in sin. The pressure is so great that it’s a race when a baby is born to assign it to one of the two categories, so much so that “male" is not defined by the genetic condition of having one Y and one X chromosome or by the production of sperm but by the aesthetic condition of having an “appropriately? sized penis? (p. 59).
There either needs to be a new gender category created or, even better, we need to get rid of gender stereotypes all together. 1 out of every 100 babies born is born with ambiguous genitals. This number has significance, and it’s time for society to start treating these people like people, and accept them the way that they are. Kessler states on page 66, “Accepting genital ambiguity as a natural option would require that physicians also acknowledge that genital ambiguity is “corrected? not because it is threatening to the infant’s life but because it is threatening to the infant’s culture.?

Beyond Beats and Rhymes

After watching the few clips from the documentary "Beyond Beats and Rhymes" I realized how much I see gender roles played out in my everyday life, but I never noticed them because they are such a social norm. “Gender is so pervasive that in our society we assume it is bred into our genes. Most people find it hard to believe that gender is constantly created and recreated out of human interaction, out of social life, and is the texture and order of that social life. Yet gender, like culture, is a human production that depends on everyone constantly ‘doing gender’? (Judith Lorber, “Night to His Day?: The Social Construction of Gender, pg.41). This quote really helped to sum up what was happening in the video.

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Flim Clips Response

In watching the four different clips that we saw in class this week, I feel each one touched and affected me in a different way. Instead of choosing just one of these clips, I have decided to look at each of them and evaluate why they were significant to me.

The first three clips we watched were from the video Beyond Beats and Rhymes.

The first clip, “Bitch Niggaz,? it showed me how insulting it really is for a man to claim that another man has feminine qualities. This is surprising because I feel that it isn’t the same if a woman would tell another woman that she has manly qualities. In some contexts it may be insulting to a woman but in other it may not. I don’t feel like there would be any circumstances where it would be complimentary to a man to claim he is woman-like.

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Middle Sexes Response

When one of my liberal friends informed me last semester that gender is not binary, I must admit I was skeptical. After studying gender and sex in this class, I now understand the distinction between gender as a social construct and sex as a biological one. With advancements in surgical procedures and technology, it seems that there are ways for individuals to manipulate their “sex? in order to support their “gender.?

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