Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Class Notes from Day 5: Ideas to Actions

MissArcher2's picture

Day Five
Classroom: we’re stuck here, so we will cope.

Our celebrations and resistances of Haraway and Clark’s boundary blurring:

Let’s pay attention to these other points of view. Concerns about control, machines vs humans, humans vs other humans through machines…conflicting views about our connections with machines. Still questioning if we are intrinsically technological or if that’s something we could, or should separate from. Does technology change us? Physically?

Group presentations of discussion:

            MissArcher2 and rubikscube on masculine and feminine gender: In human society, masculine and feminine genders are often used to explain conflicts or differences between the sexes. When we limit people to the constraints of a gender binary, when we force everyone into one of two categories, we leave out those who fall into shades of gray. Rather than a binary or specific categories for different kinds of people, it would be better to exist on a spectrum. A spectrum of sexuality is already widely accepted, so we should implement one for gender as well.

Anne: What about women’s colleges? What are the implications of a spectrum for the practical world?

cara and Franklin20 (I think!) on gay and straight: they ambiguous terms- rather than replace them accept the spectrum that falls in between. It’s based on what society perceives as the sexuality or gender of a person, and doesn’t leave room for people who don’t feel that they fall under either category. Although the terms are ambiguous, they correlate to actions, which is why we don’t want to get rid of them but rather accept their fluidity.

Other group: (sorry, didn’t catch the names!) Not getting rid of the terms- although there are negative connotations to both, they also give inclusion and give people a way to identify. We want to acknowledge the spectrum, but change the connotations that come with the words of gay/straight through education and public media—speaking out (like Rutgers incident) More diversity of representation of what it means to be gay or straight, combat the stereotypes.

Continue to use the terms- they aren’t the issue, because the identity will still exist. Can’t decrease the significance of the categories because of their historical context. Make the conversation public, break the silence.

Anne: education is the answer to everything. Her job is safe.

PhreNic on Gay/Lesbian, male/female homosexuality: its more important to define these categories from within themselves or on their own merits rather than the outside, based on their gender binaries. Based on a heterosexual thinking. The category is dangerous because it has to do with sex, not lifestyle.

tangerines: binary between male and female homosexuality is useless, it completely excludes anyone who doesn’t fit in either of those categories. Focused on education as a way of combating this. Changing the way professors think—but it’s too late, deciding that everything you’ve been taught about homosexuality is wrong once you get to college, it needs to happen before that, with younger children. Allow them to decide how they want to identify. Change the categories of what is socially acceptable.  These stereotypes and boundaries exist for many people, so we should recognize that they are not helpful to discussion.

Transgender: Hilary (not sure which one, sorry again!): propose to acknowledge that lines are blurred between male and female, and trans provides a category for people to identify with who fall outside the binary. It gives them a name rather than simply a lack of one. Labels are how people understand things. When you don’t know the name, you dismiss or don’t even see it. While the labels aren’t perfect, they let you semi-identify something. To get to the point where you don’t need to use the labels, you need to start off with them. Labels help us make sense of the world around us in a larger context.

Anne: Identity is important to us as human beings.

ekthorp: labels can be important as people who identify as that, trans decide to what degree they will publicly identify with the label. Also the aspect of medical importance of male vs female. But in public eye, it isn’t important, lines between make and female isn’t distinct. It only matters in terms of the personal health of the individual.

Is the category of trans dependent on the gender binary?

Intersex- other Hilary- no polarized view on the label. It’s not a category that is known well, but there are a range of conditions that fall within the term intersex, and the term is the PC term for hermaphrodite, etc. With any sort of category, we felt that intersex, using the term to identify someone can be helpful but it can be hurtful as well. Assign a child to a male or female category upon birth. But the child should make a decision when they are older. To change, reach out to medical community—why Katie is speaking to post-bacs. 

Anne: intersex activism has a lot of language issues, she doesn’t like the word disorder, but it allows management of medical intervention.

Cateogories are important to use—has our need for identity trumped Haraway’s vision?

PhreNic: We don’t want to let go of trans, gay, straight—society has already defined the standard, what’s expected. These categories allow people to differentiate themselves.

fawei: it’s already polarizing to say we need to be a society that runs on categories, so going completely without is the opposite side.

Anne: categories have been used to oppress people.

fawei: communication problems and conveying ideas would be harder without categories…

Apocalipsis: can be related to racism—census issues, how do we identify? Biracialism, etc. connection to gender and sexuality issues: make distinctive identiies so people who are historically oppressed aren’t still in the future. We do have to identify ourselves.

leamirella: when will we get to the point where we don’t need categories?

ekthorp: how do we get to that point? We need the categories, because we’re not a perfect world. But we

PhreNic: not about the categories themselves, they keep things simple but its more about who defines them and how they are used. Maybe it’s not the idea of categories per se but who defines them. If a race is only defined by people of another race, how useful is that? If they are defined from within they can’t be misused.

Hilary: There are people themselves who want to identify as something specific so they have a name for an internal difference that they otherwise could not verbalize

Anne: We cannot but lump the diversity of the world into groups. We cannot perceive the world fully in the wholeness of its diversity. But we are highlighting the damage these categories can do. Last week was utopic, abstract, intellectual contexts and this is the reality of our lives.

leamirella: it’s a personal choice to do categories, but is it just because that’s the way you’re primed.

 MissArcher2: I think we’re not as done with the categories of male and female as we thought we were. A lot of what I’m hearing is male and female rather than masculine and feminine. That’s an answer to the women’s college question, too. If we had a gender spectrum, you’d still be born and classified as male or female. Then, just as people now can locate themselves on a spectrum of sexuality, they could locate themselves on a spectrum of gender. It would have nothing to do with sex, male and female.

tangerines: there’s a point when you have to describe yourself because other people will describe you incorrectly.

PhreNic: it’s also based on power. Why do I feel the need to identify myself a particular way based on how society wants to define me? As long as certain labels have power over other ones, we’ll feel the need to identify.

Obvious place for a post: what public policy recommendation seems to you a way to begin acting on what you’ve learned? Where do you think we could start to think about creating a world that’s less oppressive for certain categories of people? Will this be individual or institutional? Political? Think concretely and specifical    



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
5 + 13 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.