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Sex and Gender Flowchart

The following is a satirical piece assembled for an audience of youth and peers. It is meant to illustrate the importance of biology and scientific studies with regards to their influence upon dominant discourse within our culture – regardless of whether those findings are conceptually relevant, methodologically rigid, or statistically significant. Scientific studies are often grasped and cited in the process of forming policy and promoting social agendas. Such use of scientific data is theoretically ideal, so that policies might be informed by factual understanding and thus work towards aiding populations to which they apply. Unfortunately however, data is often misinterpreted and reinterpreted. The practice of drawing upon “scientific studies” in order to bolster an argument is common and widespread. This practice hinges upon a Western epistemology that privileges science and rationality, thereby conflating it with authoritative power. It is therefore no surprise when a politician throws in a statistical figure, or when a scientific study is cited by legislators. The use of such scientific data is a means by which authority is gained, as it (authority) is conferred upon the subject by an unquestioned body of knowledge that is called upon.

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Refugees and Right Relationships

To preface this paper, I would like to note that for the past six months I have been volunteering at an organization which processes newly arrived refugees. It is after a lengthy legal processing and waiting abroad that refugees finally arrive here, where a number of social services are provided. Such services include cultural orientation, health screening, as well as help with welfare, housing, and employment. The organization’s function is not only to help make the initial transition into American life as smooth as possible, but also to help the newly arrived refugees assimilate and become self sufficient in the long term. My particular role at this organization (and what will evolve into the focus of this paper) is the delivery of a health orientation. This orientation is meant to introduce the American health care system and prepare refugees for their health screening. Although it is both helpful and indispensable, it also brings to light structural problems in the refugee/healthcare system which I would like to address:

Kammy's picture

Sex and Gender Flowchart

The following is a satirical piece assembled for an audience of youth and peers. It is meant to illustrate the importance of biology and scientific studies with regards to their influence upon dominant discourse within our culture – regardless of whether those findings are conceptually relevant, methodologically rigid, or statistically significant. Scientific studies are often grasped and cited in the process of forming policy and promoting social agendas. Such use of scientific data is theoretically ideal, so that policies might be informed by factual understanding and thus work towards aiding populations to which they apply. Unfortunately however, data is often misinterpreted and reinterpreted. The practice of drawing upon “scientific studies” in order to bolster an argument is common and widespread. This practice hinges upon a Western epistemology that privileges science and rationality, thereby conflating it with authoritative power. It is therefore no surprise when a politician throws in a statistical figure, or when a scientific study is cited by legislators. The use of such scientific data is a means by which authority is gained, as it (authority) is conferred upon the subject by an unquestioned body of knowledge that is called upon. Furthermore, the use of scientific data is by no means confined to the realm of politics or policy – it is gratuitously used in mainstream media: as the crux of an advertisement, appearing as trivia in television shows, or even disseminated as fact on the news.

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The link between Intersexuality, Transgenderism, and Surrogacy

I've found this week's readings to be both interesting and salient, especially in comparison to Elly Teman's Birthing a Mother (which I have been reading for another class). Teman's book is an ethnographic exploration of surrogacy in Israel. It examines the process of surrogacy as perceived by both the surrogate and the intended mother, and it addresses the construction of motherhood within the particular context of Judaism and nationalism of Israel.

 

Kammy's picture

The link between Intersexuality, Transgenderism, and Surrogacy

I've found this week's readings to be both interesting and salient, especially in comparison to Elly Teman's Birthing a Mother (which I have been reading for another class). Teman's book is an ethnographic exploration of surrogacy in Israel. It examines the process of surrogacy as perceived by both the surrogate and the intended mother, and it addresses the construction of motherhood within the particular context of Judaism and nationalism of Israel.

 

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Finding “Home”: The Gay Evangelical Body

Finding “Home”: The Gay Evangelical Body
At some point or another in our lives, we generally come to realize that we are unique beings; furthermore, we also discern that  much of our individual essence is encoded in our physical bodies. From height and weight to race, gender, crooked teeth, bum leg, or speech impediment; it is in the body that we may find so many of our defining attributes: our general appearance, our physical strengths and limitations, even our illnesses and diseases. It is the body that Eli Clare conceptualizes as “home” in Exile and Pride, that is tied in so strongly with our notions of self and identity.  In light of this assertion, one might question whether the gay Evangelical is able to come “home” to his body. How is it that religion and sexuality are reconciled somatically? Is it even a possibility?  

Initially, one might be tempted to immediately say that “yes”, of course the gay evangelical is at home in his body. If his body is that of a white cisgendered man, then what is there not to like? What resentment could there be, and what other form besides white cisgendered man could be desired? But it is not so simple as that, because being at “home” in one's body is not merely an issue of liking and accepting oone's body, nor is it fair to objectify the white, cisgendered, male body as ideal, despite its normalization and acceptance as such in Western culture. The question is one that deserves more thought and consideration.

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Week 2: Clare and Stigma

For another one of my classes, we have been reading Erving Goffman's Stigma, and thus it was through the lens of a constructed personal/social identity, as well as the management of that identity, that I read Exile and Pride. Through personal anecdote as well as historical contextualization, Clare explores what the terms "freak",  "queer", "supercrip", "retard", "dyke" mean - he explores what these words denotate, conotate, and how they are utilized social context. Within this exploration of identitity - both personal and social, "insider" and "outsider" constructions of it - Clare analyzes both positve and negative constructions of each lexical term and how they represent the individuals standing behind them. Through such analysis Clare expresses how some of these terms may be used to stigmatize on the one hand, or to express pride on the other. However, Clare does not idealize the elevation and adulation of the "disabled" or the "queer" for overcoming and persevering. Instead Clere idealizes the notion of difference without the assignment of value. In short, he asks for the erradication of such stigma. Confronted with this ideal, I would ask: how as a society do we come to normalize things such as disability and gender (not conforming to the male/female binary)? What would it take realistically to enact such a change in social perception? 

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