My Final Diffraction
This diffraction is not easy for me to write. I think that’s because this class has left me feeling largely confused. When we began the class, I saw myself as someone who loved Gender and Sexuality Studies—not so much the theories behind them as the case studies I read about and saw all around me (as a Biology major, I’ve noticed that I tend to reject the idea that one theory can explain all of gender or all of society—I think this is because in anthropological sense, there is no theory that computes to a scientific law. This is, for me, a weakness and a strength). The first reading by Barad caused me some distress, because I couldn’t understand why we were working so hard to connect physics and gender. In my mind, physics and gender both connect to everything else (indeed, if you get philosophical enough, everything connects to everything else), but that doesn’t mean we should spend our time dissecting the connection.
After Barad, I was further confused by the focus the course took on disability. I think disability is an important topic, and one that merits discussion, but I didn’t feel like our discussions ever had anything to do with gender. Once again, the sheer interdisciplinary-ness of the course had me feeling lost.
I was strongly hoping that the Biology section of the course would help me find my footing, since Biology is something of a specialty of mine (insert creepy laugh here). Unfortunately, I felt like the Biology portion only served to distance me further from the class. Perhaps this is because so few of the people in the class have much background in science and thus discussions leaned toward the anthropological, but I felt like what we were looking at had little basis in science. In particular, Roughgarden felt like complete psychobabble to me. I was much more impressed by the testosterone study and Andrew Sullivan’s essay, but the class’s reaction to these pieces (distrust, disdain, etc.) made me very sad and frustrated. I know that science isn’t the be-all end-all, but I felt like the class was completely rejecting science just for the sake of rejecting science.
This feeling led me to kind of collapse on the course for a while. I know that doesn’t sound like it makes a lot of sense, but it is the only way I can describe what happened. I felt no passion for what we were doing, and I had no desire to use my web events or my voice in class to turn the tide. I was also really frustrated, because other people I talked to from the class were feeling similar reservations about the class, but then each Tuesday they seemed incredibly content with the discussion.
It was at this point that two things happened: first, I met with Kaye to discuss my struggles with the course. She proved incredibly thoughtful and supportive, and indicated that the third segment of the course, on activism, might be more suited for what I was feeling. Second, I read AmyMay’s web event for the biological section of the course. It blew me away. I realized that I could use web events to serve a purpose other than just fulfilling a course requirement. I could us them, like AmyMay did, to speak out about injustice, suggest avenues for social change, and to be an activist.
As Kaye had guessed, the third segment of the course was much more fulfilling for me. Unfortunately, fulfillment did not equal happiness for me. I realize that this sounds emo and whatnot, but allow me to explain. After AmyMay’s post, I got to know and love AmyMay, and she inspired me to become more knowledgeable about Haverford’s shortcomings regarding rape and sexual assault. The fact of the matter is, Haverford is sadly lacking here. I realized, in a sort of immense emotional outpouring, that Haverford has a lot of shortcomings, mainly stemming from the fact that it is run primarily as a business. I started to feel like Haverford cared more about money than about the welfare of its students. This resulted in a sort of breakdown between Haverford and me, even though the college didn’t know it was taking place. I became very contemplative, very sad, and very eager to leave at the end of the semester. Luckily, I am going abroad next semester, and I feel like it couldn’t have come at a better time. I am hoping that some time away will help me.
But while I was having this inner breakdown, I was talking to AmyMay and others about the rape culture at Haverford. These discussions, coupled with AmyMay’s Consent is Sexy campaign, lit a fire in me. I felt confused about what to do, but I knew I had to something. And frankly, that’s where I still am. I still love Gender and Sexuality Studies, and I still love case studies, but now I feel like each case study is so much more than a story. It’s real, and it has the potential for activism. As I promised during our final performance, I will no longer sit on the sidelines and watch. I have to do something.