Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We Are All in This Together

Today’s topic discussed in class was on gender and its infiltration into our lives. We began class by labeling the stereotypes that are associated with femininity and masculinity. Most of the labels or stereotypes were associated with body image or behavior. My group recorded the labels females were given if they did not conform to their societal expectations. After analyzing the two, I was aware that double-binding will occur despite your mannerisms or appearance. In other words, you are criticized either way; there is essentially nothing you can do to prevent being judge by others. I appreciate how this class has made me even more of aware of what occurs in life, and it helps me understand all aspects of the problem. After this exercise, we created a skit to visualize what we had written. It was an out-of-body experience to see a reenactment of actions that I occasionally see. The other group focused on masculinity. Since we are all girls, it was funny to see females reenact male actions. Although it seemed ridiculous, it made me realize that it is just as ridiculous when performed by a man.  

Dean Almandrez gave a lecture on the different types of oppression. There are five primary types of oppression: exploitation, marginalization, powerfulness, cultural imperialism, and violence. Throughout history, oppression has been present in one of its many forms. It’s unfortunate that the material that we are learning has been occurring long before we were born and that it still exists today. There are social injustices that occur without much thought. For example, the differential job description between a bank executive and a maid is a form of oppression because there is a difference in the structural relationship between the groups of people who usually have those jobs. The word “banker” usually denotes the image of a man and a female image would come to mind when hearing the word “maid”. When class ended for lunch, Dean Almandrez challenged us by encouraging us to ask strangers how they would define masculinity and femininity. I was excited to complete the task because it would be interesting to hear from different perspectives.

The first person we asked was a young woman, probably in her early twenties. She answered the question by talking about feminists, and she believed woman should be gentle and kind. I think, however, that she confused feminism with femininity. We also asked a young man how he would define masculinity and femininity. He defined the two as characteristics that were not associated with a specific gender. He simply described masculine as being dominant and feminine as being subordinate. He also said that both masculinity and femininity could be used to describe a man and a woman. In all honesty, it was a perspective that I never considered. I tend to only associate femininity and masculinity with a man or a woman. I do not apply them to both males and females.

At the Ratty, I found a reserved area for the Summer@Brown students. The area is dark and cooler since it is not directly in the sun. I also prepared a hamburger for myself in an area that most people are not familiar with. It is usually empty since others do not know that it exists. 
At the Ratty

When I got to class, I described the responses I received after speaking to the strangers about masculinity and femininity. Afterwards we went on a gallery walk and analyzed provocative photos. I enjoyed having the task to think deeply about what I saw and how I felt about it.

At the end of class I talked to Sarah Day, a teacher assistant, about my action plan. Fortunately, I have already determined my Action Plan. She also gave a few tips about different events I can incorporate into it. I hope I can successfully implement my plan into my community.

After class, I went shopping with Nina and Shraddha around campus. We visited a store that reminded me of Berkeley. It had a 70's era essence to it. 

At 4PM we attended a Diversity Workshop. It focused on the diversity among us and to express our feelings about it. Sarah Day asked us questions about our lives and our identity and we were expected to stand near one of the posted seven categories of “otherness”.  I talked about my culture, my religion, my gender, my sexual orientation, and my abilities. It was nice to reflect on my identity and self-perception. Our next activity was to stand in a circle and to step forward if we would answer yes to the given question. The questions were about our family and our self-perceptions. When students stepped into a circle, only once, did one student step forward alone. It was nice to know that despite our socioeconomic backgrounds, we all experience similar situations. I especially liked this activity because I feel like I know my classmates on a more personal level.

I learned a lot of about subtle injustices that I rarely take into account. I am grateful that I have already learned this much thus far. As I looked out my window, I realized this is the first time that I have reflected on the different aspects of my life, at once, and seriously thought about what occurs in society. 

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