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Final Reflection

lgleysteen's picture

I was very surprised by what this course had to offer.  I was looking forward to it, but I assumed that it would be similar to all the other gender and sexuality courses I have taken at Bryn Mawr.  This course was much more interactive than i could have participated.  Before this class I did not know what Serendip was and did not have the opportunity in any of my other classes to reflect on class after it had already finished.  I really appreciated that because I am not the most vocal in class, and sometimes I need to opportunity to talk and think things out with people before I say them in a public forum.  Sometimes I would wait most of the week before posting on Serendip because I liked to see if there was anything I would want to comment instead of starting my own post.  There were a few people in the class who I talked with outside of class about a lot of the course material.  Usually we would come up with a few ideas and one of us would post and the others would comment.  This is one of the few classes where I have had so much discussion about the course after class was already over.   I think the different mediums in which we were allowed to speak in class were really helpful for me.  I really liked having the opportunity to write down our thoughts and then share them, because I get really in class just talking without having written anything down.  I feel like in the beginning of the course I talked very infrequently in larger groups but as the semester progressed I learned to speak out a lot more than I previously had. I enjoyed working in small groups better than the large group because I feel like the people who were more quiet had more of a voice, and it was easier to collaborate with people when everyone gets an equal opportunity to talk. I also felt like I had much more to add when working in small group, through being able to talk things out with my classmates, I was able to come to much deeper conclusions as well as hopefully bring my classmates to those conclusions as well.  

At the beginning of the course I definitely felt pretty lost within the course.  Our class is very vocal and I was intimidated by a lot of people within the class.   In the beginning I looked at the syllabus and had no idea why we would be studying disability. It was a topic I had never looked at before in an academic setting and I did not understand how it had anything to do with gender and sexuality. The subject that I knew the least about is what I decided to write my first web event as well as my final paper on.  The point where I really understood why we were studying disability was when we read Exile and Pride, that is the book that made things click in my mind.  I thought it brought to this course a really interesting theme that I have been using to guide my thoughts this whole semester and that is the idea of the body as home.  During the second act I was very intrigued by the theme of utopia.  My favorite activity was when we split up into groups and had to draw out our idea of a utopia.  For me, the idea of utopia extends deep than just society, but also the idea of the body as utopia, and for what to happen for a body to be utopia for the individual and society. This act was when I grew the most as a reader.  This class is one of my few classes where we have truly challenged what we were reading.  I learned how to read scientifically which was not something that I was used to.  There were some readings that I was frustrated with such as “The He Hormone” because it was one of the articles I read where I could not help but give the author very little credibility because of some of the claims he made. The section of the course that I enjoyed most was act three.  I really loved reading Farmer again as well as “Little Bee” I feel that both works gave me a lot to think about in terms of what I could do with my life. The one thing that I was frustrated about in both books was the fact that I could not really find a starting point from either of them.  After reading Farmer I felt that the only way I could be helpful to the world was to become a doctor, and with Cleave’s novel, I felt that there was very little most people can do in trying to create change.  This class challenged the idea of going into a different community and just “helping”.  Helping other people requires a lot more time, cultural understanding, and individual experience and education that many people understand.  To truly help another community I understand that I really need to understand them. I also learned there are some issues,that are too complex to fix at the moment and that was exemplified by the week we discussed son preference and sex-selective abortion, and that it is impossible to legally stop a woman from performing a sex-selective abortion while not stepping on her individual rights.

I think my writing has improved over the course of the semester. I have worked on adding “I”s to my paper, which I was taught not to do in high school.  I think the web event that I struggled with the most was the one where we had to write for another audience. I had never done that before and I was glad to get a chance to practice. One of the reasons I chose to do my final web event on my first web paper is I wanted to see how my thoughts over the course of the semester have developed.  For my first web event, it was a bit of a struggle to make the paper reach four pages, but when I came back to it at the end of the semester I was able to write nearly twelve.  One of the things that has really helped my writing was learning to read in a different way, and diffract the ideas from some of my readings inside and outside this class, and use them in my writing. 

This is a course that where I wish there was a part II.  I do not feel that my learning in this subject is done. I guess even if I did take the part II to this course, my learning would still not be finished.  Gender and sexuality is a discipline with hundreds of webs of entanglement, and I need to continue, to untangle, re-tangle, and diffract.