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Maya's blog

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Sports and Gender: Separate and Unequal

Sports and Gender: Separate and Unequal

September 20, 1973 Billy Jean King took on Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes”. Riggs believed that he could beat King in tennis because even though she was the best woman tennis player, she was “just a woman.” That day in Houston, King came out on a gold litter carried by four brawny men while Riggs came out in a rickshaw pulled by scantily clad models whom he called “Bobby’s Bosom Buddies” (Schwartz). This visual display demonstrated the importance of this match not only for King to prove herself, but to prove that female athletes’ athletic ability rivaled males. She acknowledged how much pressure was on this game, "I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn't win that match," she said. "It would ruin the women's tour and affect all women's self esteem" (Schwartz). King played for all women and she beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, and 6-3. He did not stand a chance. By proving women’s competitiveness in a male arena, the match set the tone for other women in the future.

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The Olympics: Break the Gender Binary?

The Olympics: Breaking the Gender Binary?

Imagine training your entire life for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: competing for your country in international competitions. You sweat, you grind through all of the workouts, you give up your life for this one amazing experience, you win gold, you stand before thousands of cheering fans, and see your dreams come true. A week later you are told that the gold medal you just won may be taken away because you are not a woman. This is exactly what happened to Caster Semenya after winning the 800-meter world championships in 2009. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) wanted to disqualify Semenya because they found that she does not have a uterus or ovaries and instead she has internal testes. Because of the testes, she produces three times the amount of testosterone as the average female, giving her an advantage because testosterone has “performance-enhancing effects, particularly on strength, power, and speed” ("IOC Regulations on Female Hyperandrogenism"). Caster Semenya grew up as a girl, never suspecting that she was any different than the any other girl. After going through a humiliating process where reporters questioned her potential motives for attempting to disguise her differences and people all over the world discussed her personal information, she was cleared and she qualified for the 2012 Olympics.

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Feminism Jeopardy Teach-In

We are going to play Feminism Jeopardy!!

If you can get  into your Teach-In groups and that will be your team.

1 team starts and they choose a category and a point value. They have 30 seconds to answer the question.

You must answer it in question form.

If the team does not get the answer in 30 seconds it will default to the next team.

Whoever has the most points at the end wins.


We wanted this to be an all-inclusive exercise. We tried to make it as fair as possible and accessible for all teams. We wanted to include a lot of theory, but also supplement that knowledge with how it was applied in class. We realize it is not fully accessible for everybody, but by taking this class we learned that it is a continuous learning process. Everybody defines feminism, accessibility, intersectionality, etc. differently and so we learn from each other. From this process we hope to not only think about the theories, but think about the different ways in which our classmates define and think about the theories so that maybe we will think about them in different ways that we have not thought about before. This is one of the main things we learned from this class.



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The Importance of Silence

When we talked about silence in class many people talked about how silence was bad and the only reason Eva stayed silent, they thought, was that it was the only thing left she had power over in her life. These are all reasons why silence is bad and the idea that someone keeps silent as a last resort. Many times people talk about how powerful it it is to stand up and say exactly what you mean, or stand up against a majority. These are all important ideas and I think that sometimes it is necessary to stand up and speak. However, we also talked about how the meaning of silence for the one who is silent is important because their reasoning for staying silent can change how we view silence. Many people do not talk as much because they are thinking and deliberating. This whole idea about pondering what you are going to say and being very deliberate about what you are saying is a relevant point about silence. Sometimes I think that we move through life too fast and if we just stopped and thought about what we were going to say it would help us think about life and enjoy it more instead of just rushing from moment to moment. T

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Making high schools safe spaces to explore one's identity

Even though the United States has become more progressive with ideas about gender and sexuality, some people still do not feel comfortable coming out. In supposed safe communities sameness is prized and people create a false sense of comfortable equality. Living in North Carolina and going to a conservative high school I did not feel this restriction until my junior year. I began to feel this sense that nobody talked about their differences and nobody asked others about their differences. I did not learn until my junior year that a teacher at my school who taught me, mentored me, and comforted me was gay. She did not feel comfortable coming out to the students and some of the faculty also did not know.

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Defining Home

Today's discussion about home brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings for me that I had not before believed were part of me. The question about our desire for sameness and what do we have to give up for it reminded me of my high school. Nobody talked about differences. Whenever I brought up my two moms there was always an uncomfortable silence. I always wanted to know more about my Indian friend's culture but she never wanted to talk about it. Everybody was considered the same. Yes we had our differences and our strengths and weakness, but I nothing that made a person different. I wanted to find out all of the interesting aspects of people who brought into the conversation all different views and histories. But we never heard their stories. Now at Bryn Mawr, I feel like these conversations are much more open and more people want to discuss our differences. Everybody is different and we need to recognize and celebrate these differences instead of forcing people into silence and not allowing them to open their mouths and say their beliefs and their histories.

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Feminism and Ableism

The readings for Tuesday's class, especially the Rose Marie Garland-Thomson reading I found very interesting. She brings up the clash between feminist studies and disability studies when she talks about how pro-choice could mean that the disabled people might not have been born. It is an interesting question that I have been struggling with. The question of how disabled women and feminists can fight for the same cause, because they are both minorty groups and are both being subjugated by different "gazes", is an intersting one. I think that people need to remember that both disabled people and women are subjected to this gaze. Women and disabled people can be spectables; objects of either the male gaze or the object of the stare. They are both being subjegated so they both have to accept each other's differences and help each other in their fight for equality. Disabled women, like many people who reside in two different minority groups have chances to speak up and their voices are not heard as well. Many times they are forgotten or simply seen as a disabled person because that is the more visible part of them. 

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Women's College

During our discussion, I thought so many people had so many great ideas and I just wanted to share my here because I was not able to during class. When we were saying what people have said to us when we tell them we are going to Bryn Mawr, I did not get any lesbian comments (maybe because they assumed I was already a lesbian because my parents are, or because I wanted gay rights); but one guy told me that Women's Colleges were sexist. I at first did not even know how to respond. I could not believe he had just said that. He said it was because they did not allow men to attend. I don't think I even tried to respond to his statement. But it is an interesting idea since Bryn Mawr does not allow transwomen to attend, but it does allow transmen. So, someone who is assigned female at birth, but identifies as a man is allowed to attend, but not men. I believe that transwomen should be able to attend because anybody who identifies as a woman should be able to go to a women's college.  

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My anti-self-portrait essay

Relational Definitions of Ourselves

When our professor proposed the idea of making an anti-self portrait, I questioned the idea because I doubted my drawing ability and I struggle with looking at myself. I am scared of what I will find there. However, when Laura Swanson mentioned it could be any medium, I realized that I am not the kind of person who can be represented by a picture, but by words. The words I chose are all inspirational quotes and lyrics either about keeping going even when it is hard, standing up for what you believe is right, or just enjoying life. The outline of the woman is a representation of me, surrounded by all of the inspiration, facing whatever challenges are coming my way and enjoying life. It is purposefully an incomplete picture of me because I defy many categories that people attempt to put me into.

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One picture is worth a thousand words

When I read Barthes's take on photography it reminded me how powerful (or not so powerful) pictures can be. Pictures are useful when they arrest the imagination and make the viewer question certain aspects of life that had not been discussed. As Barthes says, "Photography is subversive not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive, when it thinks." Small parts of the photo: a dirty hand; a person walking in the background can expand, devlop new meaning, and take over the entire photo's meaning for one person and do nothing for another person. These small pieces of the photo can strike a chord in some people and can change their ideas about major issues. Sometimes a person can only understand the photograph after they walk away from it. If a photo sticks with somebody, even if they do not know why, they could more completely understand the photo after they let it sit with them for a while.

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