Written on the wall, to be seen as the first thing when entering the exhibit:
“Right relationships are human relations in which each (or all) seek, without abandoning themselves, to be attentive and responsive to the needs and emotions of one another, quite apart from considerations of entitlement. There are also several important “negative” markers of right relationships, namely they must be free of systematic oppression, exploitation or manipulation. That is, a relationship is not “right” if participants seek to overbear in power (oppress), to overreach in resources (exploit), or to mislead for selfish advantage (manipulate).” – John A. Humbach1
The introduction to this exhibit, to also be printed on the wall:
A friend of mine shared this link with me and I thought the video was so wonderful that I wanted to share it with all of you. I wish I could be half as eloquent as this young man is.
Although cheesy, the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” rings true. To express the concept of “right relationships”, I have “curated” an online exhibit of photographs. Although all of the photographs are real, because I have borrowed them from other websites, I have created my own titles for them. Additionally, for some of the photographs, the captions below the titles are not accurate for that specific photograph, but rather are based on the content of the photograph.
Because I am not computer-savvy enough to create a virtual gallery space, I will use my words to help you imagine the exhibition space in which this exhibit would be on display. Imagine a large, open room with light, sandy-colored wood floors and high white walls. There is also an expansive wall of windows allowing for natural sunlight to flood the gallery. The photographs would be 24” by 18” framed inside of a 2” white mat and a 1.5” solid black frame. The titles and captions would be printed on cards and mounted on the wall next to the bottom right-hand corner of the frame.
Written on the wall, to be seen as the first thing when entering the exhibit:
The more time that I spend in this class, the more I realize how applicable what we talk about it. Although my sister did not appreciate my musings about gender inequalities and expectations of sexual favors when we went to see Footloose, I continue to connect what we learn in class to my life in the greater world. Most recently, I have been thinking about gender's relationship with death. I find it very interesting that death, assuming that a funeral is a closed-casket funeral, is gender-neutral. When born, one is immediately labeled "boy" or "girl", then swaddled appropriately in either a pink or a blue blanket. On the carpet in kindergarten, we are separated into "boys on the left", "girls on the right". Day camp groups are 3GB (3rd grade, boys, group B) or 3GB (3rd grade, girls, group B). There are all-boys high schools and all-girls high schools. And the list continues. Throughout life we are asked to separate ourselves into the appropriate blanket, side of the carpet, and camp group. In each stage of life, there is really only one group in which you can sort yourself. If you're a "pink blanket", you're fated for the 3GB group and the women's college. Unless, of course, you make a conscious decision to switch groups at some point. And yet, in death, none of these divisions and labels matter. Tomb stones are not decided by gender. Men don't get bigger tomb stones, women prettier tomb stones. A coffin is a coffin, whether the individual buried inside of it was a "blue blanket" or a "pink blanket".
In reviewing the course notes for this past week, I was struck by the first image of the Haitian pregnant women lined up. A few years ago I read a book called Half the Sky. Half the Sky is a book written by a couple that were journalists for the New York Times (I think. I'm really pretty sure, but regardless, that doesn't affect this post). This couple travelled to many poorer countries, such as Thailand, Haiti, and Africa. They would talk to hundreds on women in these countries. They heard horrible stories of torture, second-class citizenship, and stories of triumph and success. The book is tremendously well written and very readable. So how does this relate to the picture? With basic sex education and some women’s rights laws put in place, these statistics and images wouldn’t exist. Of course that is not so easily accomplished. But I do think that all of you should read this book. I could not put it down. I am not naïve enough to think that we can fix all of these problems in the near future, but I do think that educating ourselves about issues that don’t get as much press in the newspaper can only help. To truly be a citizen of the world, you need to know what is happening in all corners of the world.
I have been thinking a lot about Tuesday's class. I think the class had a lot of positives and a few negatives. For starters, I think that it is really important to talk about rape and sexual assault. It is important to read texts like Ensler's litany. It is important to have tense, emotionally packed discussions. In doing so, it helps to bring aware to a subject that I feel is often glossed over as something horrible and awful and so we should acknowledge its existance but keep our distance. It also helps to de-stigmatize the survivors. With knowledge comes understanding and a tool box. Of course, I am not naive enough to believe that we can outright prevent rape by talking about it, but we can fix our reactions to it. We can learn to use the right terminology (i.e survivor, not victim), we can learn about resources that exist currently, and we can learn about what we can do for ourselves and for others that we know.
I went into both lectures of the previous week with mixed feelings. I was excited to be in the presence of “rockstars” in the gender world, but I was a bit worried because I have found that both Judith Butler and Karen Barard’s work tend to go over my head. I was quite pleased to find myself following along. I found Karen to be much easier to follow fully, which shocked me because I find her writing to be too phsyics-y for me, and yet, I understood her discussion of spacetime. As for with Judith, I followed her less. I enjoyed the artful construct of her sentences, even if I couldn’t always detect the meaning of them. I did, however, really enjoy her answer to the audience member who asked about gay people’s right to adopt. I felt that her response acknowledged both her professional and personal feelings on the subject and that it was tactfully delivered. I am looking forward to hearing her speak again on Monday.
I was unable to be in class this week, but I would like to share my thoughts on the article that we read on the 2 to 1 abortions. I have always been, and still remain, a staunch advocate for a woman’s right to choose. It is her body, not that man’s, and she should have every single right to decide exactly what and when things happen to her body. No questions asked. I have spoken to congress on behalf of this right, and am more than happy to share my knowledge with others when the topic of abortion comes up in conversation. And yet, I found that I really struggled with this article. To be honest, I don’t know what made me more uncomfortable –the article or my discomfort with the article. I truly believe that as women, we have every right to choose, so why should this differ when a woman is choosing to have one baby or two or none? The answer, is I’m not sure. I should put in a warning here, this post will not have a definitive answer from me, but merely the beginnings of what I am sure will be a lifelong conversation with myself. Why does it bother me? I guess I feel as though either you should have a baby, or not have a baby. But to have half of the pregnancy, that is more difficult for me. I can understand the rational behind it, if you have enough money to have a child, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have the means to have twins. If you have 2 children already, and you don’t think you have the time to devote yourself to 4 kids, you do to 3, I can understand it.
Dear boys, girls, and those of you who just aren’t quite sure yet (because that is totally cool too),
For many of you, this is a confusing time. Things are growing in places where you aren’t sure if they are supposed to be growing, new places might develop novel smells, and you might start to feel differently. If any of these things apply to you, or if none of these things apply to you, you are still normal. Every body goes through different changes at different speeds and in completely different orders. So if your best friend is growing armpit hair, but you haven’t reached that point yet, don’t worry – we all catch up in the end! I am writing to you, middle-schoolers, because this time can be a bit scary; there are a lot of changes that you can expect in the next couple of years, and a lot of information out there, both true and false, so a quick guide to the next few years seems like a pretty good resource for you right about now. Read on to learn about what makes boys and girls different biologically, some of the changes that you can expect to your body during puberty, how babies are made, and a quick peek at the different categorizations of gender!
Let’s start from the very beginning. How did we get here and what exactly makes girls different from boys?
I have been thinking a lot about misrepresentation this week. In a world where "copying" and "pasting" is so easy, where splicing and clipping and reposting is second nature, how easy is it to misrepresent someone's point? I met with Anne in the beginning of last and we talked about my essay. She mentioned that she wished that I had used more quotes from Eli Clare in my writing about freakdom, to which I replied that I felt that using his words in my paper felt like a misrepresentation. But would I have been? In taking Clare's words and turning them around to use them to argue against him, would I have actually have been misrepresenting him? As I have thought more and more about this, I have decided that while I did not have malicious intent, in using his words, which were intended for a specific purpose to prove the opposite, I would be misrepresenting him. Any time that you take someone's words and turn them around to mean something which they had not meant to mean, that is a misrepresentation. Not only is this not what they intended to say, but it can often have a very negative effect.