Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Intense Diversity Workshop

For me, each day has been a new experience at Women and Leadership class. Today, we touched into Gender issues and I find the topic very interesting. The part I love about the class is that it is very engaging and students learn with help of each other through activities. 

Unlike yesterday, our class had a lot of activities that helped to keep each of us engaged in class. Dean Almandrez went over five faces of oppression where students were able to give an example they have seen or faced. Exploitation is about structural relationships between groups, marginalization is to exclude someone from full participation, Powerlessness is inability in the development of one’s capacities, Cultural Imperialism is concrete power in relation to other and violence is harm due to your membership. Looking at how our society has created own rules about certain things and implies them on subordinated group is a horrible thing.

One of the first activities was to get in groups of two. Each of the group was given one gender, masculine or feminine. We had to write about the characteristics of that gender. My group had to write about masculine characteristics and as a girl, it was hard to come up with characteristics or behavior of men. In the end, we did a skit to visually demonstrate these characteristics and explained how it belonged to masculine gender. Also, as a girl, I had thought that it was just female who faced certain kind of discrimination issue and were oppressed but I noticed that, even in dominant (male) group, one is oppressed. This class is helping me change the way I think and showing me different way I can look on something. During lunch break, we were given interesting task to walk up to any random person and ask what they thought about masculinity and femininity. People we asked were having trouble defining them. One lady, who was in science and engineering believed that feminists are  trying to behave like man instead of being themselves. One answer had a different perspective which I had never thought of, he said that masculinity was a characteristics of a strong leader and it can be male or female whereas femininity was a characteristics of person who often stays behind. 

We also looked at pictures from certain magazines, internet site, and newspaper article where we were able to see how media practices oppression. One of the articles was about shooting of Congresswoman but the article spoke less about the shooting and more about her husband and his profession. Every time a female is in the news, the male is always mentioned; today, it has been a practice to join female’s name with male’s inferring that male is the leader and falls in the dominant category.

Like I had mentioned earlier, students learn from each other in W&L class, we again broke up in groups and presented on topics we were given. As a student, most of us think in a same way so it is easy to understand when it comes from someone like you. We presented on “For society, Gender means difference”. Society has come with this idea that there are only two genders, male and female. Anyone who is not male or female is instantaneously labeled as “other”. When it comes to jobs, males are given more opportunity than female even when both of them are highly capable of doing the job. It is miserable to see how our society has gone so ahead in many other field but when it comes to gender, we still discriminate females and males.

Sharing our stories
My favorite part of today was the diversity workshop. I had not expected it to be intense and emotional. Sarah Day, our leader, asked us a question, which many of us would consider personal and we had to move into a category which fit the best for us. We were able to share our thoughts and stories with each other. It was great to see people actually listened and gave out their opinion without being judgmental. If these activities were to be done in High School, students would probably make fun of others and laugh at it. All of the girls in the room were very mature and understanding. Later, we formed a circle and our leader would ask a question and if any of them would apply to us, we had to step forward. When few of the questions were asked, I hesitated to step up but after realizing, I was not the only one, I decided to be honest and step up. This activity showed us we are not the only one and there are others who are in same position as us. 

I am enjoying days at Brown because I have been able to learn and meet someone new whom I can relate to in many ways. I want to enjoy and learn as much as I can in these two weeks. 

Tomorrow, we will be doing the ropes course and I am looking forward to it.

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