Category Archives: Gender

“Today we honor the best and whitest”

student-panelThis article is making its way through my news feed again, despite the fact that it is more than 2 years old.  Fresh comments, fresh outrage from the community.  Students experiencing race-based standards give interviews on NPR about how these standards make them feel and think while they are inside the classroom.  To date my favorite casual observational comment about having different standards for different sets of students based on their race is, “based upon their race?  The only race is human”.  IF these standards a way for the public education policy to attempt to acknowledge the reality of racial differences then they are misunderstanding the way structural differences are reproduced.   Racism Without Racists, by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva tackles the topics of racism and social stratification through a paradoxical lens of how people see themselves as racialized beings. (more…)

Ubiquity and Privilege Checking

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(Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Unity#mediaviewer/File:3D_Full_Spectrum_Unity_Holding_Hands_Concept.jpg)

 

In my last post I discussed the problems with juridical changes and practice in real life, problematized ubiquity amongst communities that are at odds with solidarity and posed questions about challenging privilege. Today’s post continues that conversation by asking how does one create change around ideologies? Those who work in the health and human services, who are educators and the like, know that change does not come just from juridical amendments. Change is only created through education and practice: not when certain laws are, finally, deemed as “unconstitutional.” (more…)

Knit Happens: Doing Masculinity in a Female Knitting Space

"Purl3". Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Purl3.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Purl3.jpg

“Purl3″. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Purl3.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Purl3.jpg

In college, I double majored in both women and gender studies as well as sociology, It was not until the spring of my sophomore year, however, that I was introduced to the sociological theory of doing gender, by West and Zimmerman. Since then, I have utilized their theory, along with concepts of “undoing,” “redoing,” and most recently, Kristen Schilt’s concept of “doing heteronormativity.”

When I was considering what I should write for my post this week, I was inspired by George Byrne’s post of an old paper that he wrote during his undergraduate studies. Rather than posting an old paper however, I went back through my old papers and stumbled upon a paper that I wrote on doing gender, examining a series of observations I made of men doing their gender and masculinity in a female space– a knitting warehouse– and below I offer a summary of my paper’s finding, as well as a my newest understanding of my previous work based on my new understanding of doing, undoing, redoing gender, masculinity, and heteronormativity. Not only is gender ever only done, but gender is constructed as a result of power structures.

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Will the LGBTQ Community Ever Become Ubiquitous?

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(Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:LGBT_rights#mediaviewer/File:Demonstration,_with_Gay_Liberation_Front_Banner.jpg, via Wikimedia Commons)

During the trials of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and others, my Facebook newsfeed was filled with a barrage of status updates about the refusal to indict the officers: I had “friends” standing behind the police officers and the law, and “friends” who were in line with protestors and the families of the victims. For the majority of the press coverage, I stayed quiet and did not take a side: but the time has come for the silence to be broken. I stand in solidarity with the families of the victims and the protestors. Although I do not have a J.D., I do realize institutionalized racism when it is played out.
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The Queer Life: Surrounding Myself in Queer Culture and Queer Spaces

The_Rainbow_Flag,_GLBT_Pride

Over the past few months, I have been deep in the throes of my thesis- conducting, transcribing, coding, and analyzing interviews- on homonationalism and scripting of student identities in study abroad. While my findings are still very preliminary, there has been a series of answers that have really stuck with me regarding “queer culture” and “queer space.” If you read my post about what homonormativity is, then you know that it involves the depoliticization and privatization of sexuality, while all in the name of heteronormativity. In this new norm, then, where is queer space? Is there a queer politics? Should there be a queer life?

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Into the Woods to Grandmother’s House: Justifying Plot Twists through Heteronormativity

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On Christmas, my family decided to spend some time at the movies watching the newly released movie Into the Woods, a movie rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s infamous operetta/musical by the same name.  The musical begins with an original story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, though cursed by a witch for stealing magic beans from her garden. The show intertwines the plots of several fairy tales by Brothers Grimm  such as Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Rapunzel, among others and follows them to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests: a classic “Be careful what you wish for” story.

Now, while I typically enjoy musicals as I grew up a kid on the stage myself, I couldn’t help but think sociologically about various plot twists and how certain unfortunate circumstances were justified and rectified through rules of heteronormativity and, arguably, homonationalism.  Granted, previous research has discussed almost ad nauseum about the heteronormativity of Disney movies, I was shocked at how theatre, a common place for queering and challenging concepts of reality and normality, still abided by heteronormative and homonormative rules.

**Please note: there are movie “spoilers” in this post.

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Bulletproof Coffee (and the Spirit of Contemporary Capitalism)

Bulletproof Coffee Pic

At a health food café in central London, I recently drank my first ‘Bulletproof Coffee,’  a surprisingly ingestible blend of espresso, butter and coconut oil which has a texture not dissimilar to yak butter tea. To be precise, Bulletproof® Coffee ought to be made with a blend of grass-fed butter, Upgraded™ coconut oil (from upgradedself.com) and low-toxin Bulletproof® Upgraded™ Coffee Beans. And it is indeed no coincidence that Bulletproof Coffee tastes a little like yak butter tea. Dave Asprey, the ‘Bulletproof Executive’ was struck with the inspiration he needed to develop the drink during a yak butter tea break on a climb of Tibet’s Mount Kailash. As for why I found it in a health food café – and why all the concern with the quality and composition of the ingredients? Well, Bulletproof Coffee enthusiasts overlap significantly with fans of the ‘paleo diet,‘ which is designed to imitate as far as possible the pre-neolithic dietary ecology to which our hunter-gatherer ancestors were adapted.

There is indeed some good anthropological evidence showing that diets of contemporary hunter-gatherers – including those that are high in animal fats – reduce the risk of chronic ‘diseases of civilization’ like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There are however equally good reasons to question the notion that we and our food species ended our evolutionary relationship before the neolithic revolution. (And using studies of contemporary hunter-gatherer populations to make claims about ‘paleo’ lifestyles can easily slip into ahistorical retellings of what Adam Kuper terms the myth of primitive society.)  So what really intrigues (and frankly disturbs) me about Bulletproof Coffee is precisely the extent to which it comes wrapped up in a discourse that you might term ‘paleo-primitivism.’ In telling the story of Bulletproof Coffee’s origins, Dave Asprey marries his enthusiasm for the paleo diet with a depiction of Sherpas as ‘ubermen’ or ‘a race of Bulletproof genetic freaks.’ Asprey’s fascination with both yak butter tea and the genetics of the Tibetan ‘ubermen’ is presented on his website in terms of his interest in biohacking. The biohacking discourse surrounding Bulletproof Coffee seems to reveal quite neatly something about the idea of the ‘hacker’ that Brett Scott recently discussed in a piece for STIR Magazine. The figure of the hacker exemplifies collective possibilities for creative and mischievous subversion of contemporary capitalist organization – but it can also reflect an avowedly individualistic, masculine libertarian drive towards self-empowerment through those same stifling structures. (more…)

Most “Insert List Here” of 2014: Ratings and hierarchies

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http://thesocietypages.org/sociologylens/files/2008/11/feminist-fist.jpg

Happy new year! I hope that this year finds you with accepted publications, good grades, and time for sleep.

Each year, starting mid-December, begins the season for “ratings” and lists of the “best” and the”worst” moments, outfits, songs, movies, actors, or whatever you can put in a list of the previous year. As my Facebook feed quickly turns from photos and status updates to comical BuzzFeed lists, I came across one interesting list this year that I had not seen before: Mic.com’s “The 39 Most Iconic Feminist Moments of 2014.” Of course I quickly shared the article, primarily so I can refer to it later for this post, but it received no “likes” or “comments” on my Facebook (a page with relatively frequent activity). That may come as no surprise, as the word “Feminist” was voted by Time Magazine readers as the word to be banned in 2015, and other significant backlash against feminist ideals (see also Rachel Rademacher’s piece here about how we still need feminism). Rereading the list today, however, I am unsure how I feel about this list: mixed feelings about the rise in publicity of feminist ideals but also what qualifies as feminist and how we must rank them.

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Putting the “Homo” in the Organization: Making the Case for Expanding Concepts of Normativity (Part 1)

The_Rainbow_Flag,_GLBT_PrideIt is that time of year when theses, dissertations, and proposals are being prepared for defense. My thesis intends to examine the scripting of a normative student identity with special attention to sexuality in study abroad orientation programs. Only, when it came to prepare my literature review, it came as a shock to me that there is little discussion of homonormativity in education, let alone a conceptualization of homonormativity and organizations more generally. In a world where non-heterosexual identified individuals are increasingly visible, included, and accepted, we need to consider how this is happening and what are the implications, consequences, and stipulations.

But wait, first, what homonormativity? Why hasn’t anyone talked about this?

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Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon (part 1)

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http://ideborah.com/

As a belated nod to ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ (October, in the USA), and the plethora of pink, breast-cancer-sponsored items now on sale,  I want to talk about the rise of the pink ribbon campaign and the concept of ‘pinkwashing’.

Breast cancer and the pink ribbon campaign is probably one of the biggest success stories, in terms of its ability to raise awareness and ultimately, save lives. Breast cancer activism started in the 1980’s, in part as a reaction to the patriarchal medicalisation of women’s bodies. Up until then, breast cancer was being silenced: the field was dominated by male surgeons with little information available for individual sufferers, and incidence rates were fast increasing. A huge, grass roots movement began, focusing on empowering and giving voice to suffers and their families. By the 1990’s the focus had been shifted away from the medical profession and onto the empowerment of patients, and this increased attention and exposure increased its status and cultural currency. This was furthered by the launch of the now now iconic pink ribbon in 1992.

This increased focus was incredible in its uptake. It allowed the breast cancer movement to become a prominent focus for the general public, ‘awareness’ was raised, huge amounts of funds were raised, and it was being run by women: by cancer survivors, sufferers and family members. Treatment improved, mortality rates declined.  It was a success. But, as Gayle Sulik notes: “By this time, there were already controversies over the benefits of mammograms, concerns over conflicts of interest, rising competition in pharmacology, and infighting among thought leaders and scientists. Yet cause promotion and the desire to do something for breast cancer held the public’s attention”. (more…)