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Conquering Discrimination with Education

tangerines's picture

Our discussion in class on Wednesday displayed a general discomfort with gender & sexual binaries, yet there was no single, effective plan of action presented. To be honest I don't think there is one way to solve the problems presented by these binaries. It is impossible to encourage every member of our society to be on board with a new ways of thinking about gender and sexuality. Even if one found a way to do it, there would still be many people who refused to embrace this new world of blurred boundaries. However, I do believe that education is vital. Perhaps humans require labels to make sense of the world, perhaps labels are evil and only serve to divide us; either way I think it is too radical to attempt to eradicate them altogether. With that said, there needs to be more open discussion of “taboo” or uncomfortable issues, with an eye towards increased acceptance (beyond just tolerance) of the sexual and biological diversity in our world.

An idea was suggested by the first group (MissArcher2 and rubikscube) about how to rethink gender. They suggested a sliding scale for gender, and as I understand it, this scale would feature the male gender on one end, the female gender on the other, and plenty of gray area in between. The idea of a gender scale raises further questions for me. If this new gender scale resembles the Kinsey scale, will the same guidelines apply? The Kinsey scale is not a test of your “straightness” or “gayness”; rather it allows each individual to identify his or her own place on the scale. Would this apply to the gender scale as well, or would your biological sex trump self-indentification? If a biological woman behaves in a “masculine” way, does that place her closer to the male-end of the spectrum? In this instance, the very language we use (“masculine” a

nd “feminine,” just for a start) need to be redefined, as do the behaviors we consider intrinsically “female” or “male.”

I maintain that the most effective way to begin and continue this conversation is through education at all levels, for children as well as academic. Roughgarden suggests curriculum additions for premedical and medical programs. I suggest that we take this a step further. Why not incorporate units on sexual diversity and gender in biology curriculum in elementary, middle, and high schools? Currently parents are able to excuse their children from attending sex-ed lessons; they could do the same for lessons on diversity. Of course, there will always be those whose negative attitudes toward non-heteronormative sexualities cannot be changed. However, the first goal should be to create a social dialogue free of intolerance and discrimination, so that “taboo” topics can be broached in a comfortable environment.    

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