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phenoms's picture

Self reflection

     I began this class doubting my own ability to be a useful contributor. Most of my experiences with gender and sexuality classes in the bi-co have been cross-listed, so I was able to tackle the gender and sexuality using a specified and known framework (e.g.  political implications, literary structures and syntax...). This is the first class I have taken, in which there was purposefully no status quo framework within which I could situate myself. This was difficult, and I enjoyed it at times, and really dreaded it at others.
    On a personal note, It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortably situated within the academic world of Haverford. I doubted my ability and capacity for this school since the first day of my freshman year. It’s taken years to feel comfortable enough to speak aloud in a class discussion; to understand that I’m at this school for a reason, and all matters of voices should be heard. I realized (halfway through my junior year) the reason I harbored this sense of unease was due in part to the fact that many of my classmates were constantly performing a part of academia that I had not grown up with, never grown accustomed too. However, the recognition of certain language and style as a performance allowed me to overcome the initial fear of being heard. This is the roundabout way to say that I perform much better in small, intimate groups than I do within the class as a whole. Speaking to a few people is less of a performance than addressing a crowd. Both are essential, and I’m still learning.
    Serendip too, was new for me. The finality of comments in writing was made less determinate by the fact that we approached the venue as a vehicle for conversation. I loved the online space, and the ability to post literally anything. I was talking to Someshine the other day about my current Serendip withdrawal. Whenever I come across an interesting gen/sex related article or video, I look to share it with someone yet somehow the facebook and twitter communities seem less responsive and correct for the type of conversation in which I am looking to engage.
    I loved the last section of the course on activism. The Paul Farmer and Little Bee readings especially resonated with my desire to contextualize on conversations within the greater  world and larger cultures. I also really loved Kaye’s section on biology and scientific reading. I have read scientific articles before, but I think I’ve always been reading them rather wrong. I would skim over all the methodology, and research and head straight to the scientific conclusions. I figured, without deeply thinking about the consequences of my assumptions, that the scientists must know what they’re doing. But scientists are people, just like me. And they approach a problem with a set of biases and predetermined inclinations just like any other human. Approaching scientific reading through Kaye’s direction puts a lot more faith in my own reasoning and judgement. I should be able to draw my own conclusions about the experiment, and analyze them in relation to the official scientific work. We all have powers of deduction, and we should all attempt to use them.
    I have always spent a great deal of time and effort on my web postings. I tried to make them thoughtful, analytical, and interesting. Many of them followed a common thread of deconstructing popular culture. We are so immersed in media, that in order to attempt and learn anything, we must all unlearn certain truths. We acknowledge this fact in college level classes, but I think it’s time we start to attempt it earlier. My blog posts were more informal and sporadic. They did not always arrive on time, but they were thoughtful. My main goal for my blog posts was to spark or contribute to an actual conversation between two serendip users. This happened particularly well (I thought) for my blog post on the intersection of class and gender. This was after the class on the ethics of insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery. I was frustrated by the fact that most conversations about laws or restrictions generally affect low-income populations disproportionately hard, and this was not part of our discussion. I think one of my biggest achievement this semester, was learning how to cultivate an online personality and tailor my writing to directly approach different audiences. Especially when discussing topics of gender and sexuality - topics of which everyone has an opinion by virtue of the fact that everyone personally identifies with a gender or sexuality - awareness of audience and tone is key to constructing a productive conversation.

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