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My World of Thoughts.

Owl's picture

    Los Angeles, California; my hometown, life and joy. Gangs surround me and hypocrisy dwells. We lack diversity, all we see are familiar faces. We cannot seem to truly allow others to join in. My mother does not care about anything for she is controlled by my father, no matter how much she tries to deny it, and  my father has this weird phobia for homosexuals. I was raised in small apartments and put through public school all my life. I cannot remember when I was not labeled by my class. “Fill these out,” my teacher would say, to those of us who could not afford to pay for meals. I am a women of color, just barely eighteen. I am American of Mexican descent, but do not “look” the part.
    I grew up thinking that as women we were supposed to clean after the men in the house, and therefore learning came in second. My life was not my own, it was, that is until I moved out,  my mother’s and father’s, no matter my age. The ever so cliché of “as long as you live under my roof…”  was never that far away from my mother’s lips. I never wanted to be the girl who stuck to what tradition had already set for her. I wanted to drift into my own path and decorate it with what I thought was right, but that was harder than it seemed. Because I was already going into my teens and raised in a certain way, I could not pursue what I wanted, because even if I could obstacles just seemed to be put in front of me on purpose and not to mention it just simply felt as if it were too late. In school they only offered courses in music to C track students and left other tracks with the leftovers. We barely had any extra- curricular activities on our list. But this, was good in some way because it gave us a chance to fight back.
    Activism sure played a big role in my high school career. I started a chorus club my freshman year which later resulted in the hiring of a music teacher my senior year; I planned out things for other clubs and organizations of which I was involved and mentored other students on what I believed the right way to go about one’s classes. Through this I realized that school was my escape route and maybe that for many others like me.  I learned that even if things didn’t go well for me, they could for others with my help. See, I loved school because unlike my neighborhood and home, I was not inferior to others, but rather the opposite. I was not to feel as though I was naturally unable, just because of my gender. The teachers I had, taught from a phase four perspective, at least according to McIntosh and my point of view. They fought to evoke equal representation in the eyes of society for all people and did not judge based on background but rather on how much effort one put into their classes . I am grateful for that, because without their aid and support, I would not be leading the life, I am now.
    I am in all girl college now: the first in my family away from home and the first to actually be getting a private education (which in this structured society is the best education one could get). I know that being here is something that goes against my principles of not having to lead life in the rich, successful direction, but I also know that being here is the only way in which I can get the education I need and deserve. As a women who has been through multiple stereotypes and comments, I am in search of an education in which I am considered. And I think that as women we should be studying not only the reasons why we were left out of history and are still, but about other groups of people that are shuttered out as well. I think that no matter how hard it may seem to do, we can change the way society functions as a whole, by allowing for a new perspective on things to takes its toll.
    Some may say that such change can only occur if men were also a part of the picture, but like someone said in class on Thursday, (probably only as a joke) I think that the only way that would happen is if we forced them. I think that for the most part men are built to believe in the structure we live in and to think that nothing is wrong in society and thus to think that what women search for through courses in gender and sexuality studies are trivial to the real world.
    In choosing the picture that I did  I wanted to evoke an understanding of how we should see the world. This picture to me, shows that although we are born biologically female and male, we are not born inferior nor superior to one another. We may be born physically different, but that does not mean that that somehow makes women, homosexuals, trans genders, exc. any weaker or less able. We all have a place in society, or else why would we be here. It is time we took control of the ship.
    Although it may seem that McIntosh wrote in through a standpoint on Women’s Studies, she is not that far from away from how we function today. We may want to believe that women have begun to find a place in the world, but we are still secretly shut out. No matter how much we try to break down the “Berlin wall” that was put up to keep us down ,we have yet to tear it down. We may see phase four formulating in some educational departments, but as far as the entire educational system goes we have yet to make a dent. We are still in phases 2 and 3: studying the exceptional few and anger at that fact.
    I hope that this these few brief words give people a leeway through which they can express their own opinions and through that let the idea laid out in this paper travel. To quote a favorite song, “don’t stop, never give up, hold your head and reach the top, let the world see what you have got, bring it all back to you.”


Owl's picture

What I Mean...

    In terms of McIntosh's phases I would have to say that it is both phase 4 and 5 which I seek. I do want social change, but by means of a nondiscriminatory pyramid. I think, that pyramids like categories exist to explain what, who, and why things are, and they are helpful in doing such, and therefore give us a foundation of being, but I do want to express my disagreement in that pyramids should be a part of society to keep us apart. In this, I do agree with McIntoch's view of the broken pyramids. Furthermore, when I speak of "reaching the top" I mean reaching a new level of understanding in a society in which we are all people and human (hence the image I used to evoke a new way of understanding the world in which we already live in).

    As for your last question,  I have re-thought my observation that "we are born biologically female and male", and I do now believe that biologically anything can happen and that femininity and masculinity can occur within anyone. What I mean is that being feminine does not only apply to people who physical appear female, and being masculine does not only apply to those who appear male. One can even have a mixture of these idiosyncrasies. Trying to force a certain attribute to be for only one type of person, is incredibly ignorant.

(Sorry if this sounds very defensive.)

Anne Dalke's picture


It doesn't...but why do you apologize?

Owl's picture

Once again, I am sorry, for

Once again, I am sorry, for defensive was not what I meant to to say. What I meant to say was offensive, for what I write is not meant to attack, but rather inform others of my way of thinking.

Anne Dalke's picture

School as escape route

You lead not w/ gender, but with class, and the observation that you "cannot remember" not being labeled that way by your teachers. On the other hand, when you get into a discussion of gender, you say that you "loved school because unlike your neighborhood and home, you were not inferior to others, but rather the opposite." Am I understanding the reversal correctly: that @ home, gender was the marker both of differentiation and discrimination, while @ school, class served that function? But that, in many ways, you appreciated the distinctions that were made @ school, because they provoked your activism, and with it the satisfaction of getting the system to change? Such change was not, however, possible @ home, where most of your education in gender difference took place?

Your call to women, who have been so systemically oppressed, to work for the inclusion not just of women, but of other groups that have been discriminated against, has been responded to by many of the people who do (academic and activist) work in the field of gender and sexuality. I'd say there's no responsible work being done in the field today which does not attend to the various other parameters by which we separate ppl. out from one another: class, race, ethnicity, religion, ability...

You place Bryn Mawr in McIntosh's phase 2 and 3, and your h.s. in her phase 4. What I'm wondering is which of the phases (or combination of them, or some other rubric to describe what education is and aims to do) would best meet your own needs? "Being here," you say, "is something that goes against my principles of not having to lead life in the rich, successful direction, but I also know that being here is the only way in which I can get the education I need and deserve....I am in search of an education in which I am considered." On the one hand, you exhort, "it is time we took control of the ship"--which seems to suggest an agenda of social change, of finding a new direction. On the other hand, you speak of "reaching the top," which suggest keeping those broken pyramids McIntosh describes in place, and finding your place @ their pinnacle. Is school for you "an escape route" (from what? to what?), or a way to the top of what already is? (For example, the image you use "to evoke an understanding of how we should see the world" is an image from the world in which we live already....)

One last question. Given y'day's conversation, are you re-thinking your observation that "we are born biologically female and male".....?