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> A Gender Agenda
stargazer
post Oct 6 2009, 06:52 PM
Post #21


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That's a great quote, ketto. smile.gif

koffeewitch, I remember feeling different since the age of 5. I remember being confused about the messages I was receiving from my parents and others about being a young girl, how a young girl "should" act, or be. Alot of those messages didn't make sense to me. Like when my father would tell me that a woman should know how to cook and clean. Really? Says who? I had female friends who seemed to enjoy being in the traditional role of women and it felt so awkward and alien to me. So, I thought I was not really much of a representation of a girl. My focus was wanting to be viewed as an intellectual equal to my peers (especially men). That's what I've worked for in my life. To be continually objectified based on what my sex dictates, having others project the type of woman I am on my external self....is just so dehumanizing and depressing. I guess I can say that I've grown up and still do feel pretty androgynous.

GT, I think I've enjoyed drag queens and kings because I've appreciated the gender fuck of the whole scene. I know some feminists feel drag queens mock women, but, I've appreciated the expression of flexibility in dress. I guess when you think about it...we all do some form of dress up on a daily basis. I guess part of it is holding a level of awareness of role play and not being too attached to the current identity.

I know the issue of gender has been important to me in my field (heavily populated by women), but, the positions of power are held by the few men in the field. So, I still feel the split in views of gender roles in these settings. Men are viewed as knowing better and women are viewed as needing to learn. It can be pretty frustrating for me.


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angie_21
post Oct 6 2009, 05:49 PM
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GT, thanks for laying out those ideas and definitions for us! It's definitely a good thing to have at the start of a discussion like this, and also for all of us to be more informed if we're ever trying to discuss these issue with the outside, non-feminist world.

koffeewitch, I have a very tenuous, conflicting set of beliefs about the stuff you and J brought up. I've also felt strongly about these things cine I was very young, but was lucky to be surrounded by many positive influences. It's confusing though - despite having a very politically progressive, left-minded family in most ways, in others not so much. Even though my mom worked most of the time I was growing up, most of my aunts stayed home and raised children as their "careers." I stumbled more than once on my dad's porn collection, and found out after I moved out that he also goes to strip clubs. Yikes, I'm so morally against that! Also, gross, ew, no one wants to know that about family! But my dad is extremely respectful of women in every other aspect. I guess I've learned to create separate categories of feminism for myself, one in terms of career and intelligence (emotional), the other in terms of sex (physical). They shouldn't have to be two different categories, but somehow our society has created this dual identity for women, now we're supposed to be intelligent and support ourselves financially, while still being sexy, pretty, and take care of our men. At least, those are the expectations I feel, and that I put upon myself.

I do think that gender stereotypes hurt everyone. Not only do men get stuck having to hold back they emotions and get subjected to being conscripted and expected to carry the financial burdens of their families, they lose out on their relationships with women, because the women in their lives feel they have to hide their true identities behind a mask of what's "nice" and "feminine."

I think some people react to femininsm so strongly because they somehow feel we want to force all women to be manly, all men to be ladylike. But that's not it at all - some of us would prefer to express some of our more so-called masculine qualities, others more feminine, but in the end we should just be allowed to express ourselves!
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jsmith
post Oct 6 2009, 02:57 PM
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Your post strikes a chord with me, koffeewitch. When I was a very little girl (like you, around 5), I was keenly aware of the things you mention, but what really got under my skin was when I would see TV ads for phone sex agencies, ads for pornographic magazines, movies that depicted women as sex objects, etc. These things baffled me. I would ask my parents over and over "Why are they making fun of women?" (yeah, I looked at these things as 'making fun' of women, I wasn't articulate enough to phrase it in a different way). I knew these things cheapened my sex, and it made me furious. I'd sit and try to read the bible when I got a little older, but never got past genesis because the obvious misogyny in it (I now reject Judeo-Christian theology. Well, actually, all theology) made my blood boil.
Eventually I took a closer look at the things you mentioned that angered you, and naturally, I got angry. To this day I'm angry. I can't watch movies where a woman is depicted as a sex object, I can't walk by a magazine stand with porno mags without having my blood pressure spike, I refuse to watch crime shows where they're discussing an instance of rape (I get so unbelievably angry), I bust a vessel when I see ads for GGW and the like, I will jump down someone's throat if they try to tell me a certain behavior is unladylike or they use a slang word for the female genitals as an insult to another person, I'll probably lynch a fundie if s/he tries to justify the oppression of women using the g*****n bible, etc. It's all very distracting.
I deemed myself a feminist as soon as I heard and understood the word, and I would always tell anybody who seemed to want to know, and would take great pride in it. It's funny... one time my mom and I were arguing about some little thing (this was when I was a pre-teen, I think), and I held to my (militantly feminist) stance on the issue, when my mom disgustedly declared "You're a feminist!" to which I replied "You bet your ass I am."


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Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith. Thomas Jefferson
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koffeewitch
post Oct 6 2009, 10:33 AM
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I'd like to ask you all a personal question(s). At what age did you first start to feel aware of and limited by gender? How did you cope with your feelings of anger/frustration/guilt/sadness?

Here's sort of what I'm getting at...I remember feeling extremely angry at being told to "act like a lady" at a really young age. "Act like a lady" was the grown-up's mantra used to keep me from asserting myself, expressing an opinion, asking questions or having fun. Certainly by the age of 5 I was really struggling with this issue. I was sort of a little tomboy who prefered playing with spiders and bulldozers rather than other little girls and dolls. I had already ascertained that men got to be Jacque Cousteau and Captain Kirk and Spiderman and the President. Women, if they were lucky, got to be Pretty.

Even as a kid this made me furious. Other girls seemed perfectly happy with this set-up, to my complete and total bewilderment.. When I asked them very pointed questions I got responses like "I think men are meant to be the leaders". It's like they felt that gender is ordained by God. Scratch the word "like" in that previous sentence. People feel that gender is something ordained by god. (This is probably also what led to my rejection of Judeo-Christianity at a very young age).

I grew up in a rural area completely isolated from others who thought and felt as I did. I guess I'm asking if others had this same sense of "crisis" as young children. Often times, forced gender roles suck for men, too. "Real men" support their families and take on back-breaking labor until they are old/worn-out by the time they are 45. Real men enlist in whatever war our nation is waging at the moment to die for a cause they may not even agree with or understand. Rigid gender roles deny us all our own sense of self, our own internal truth. They goad us into accepting roles for which we personally were never fit. Why are so many people (the majority, it seems) so determined to buy into these myths about gender?


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hcbeck
post Oct 6 2009, 10:01 AM
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QUOTE(ketto @ Oct 6 2009, 02:26 PM) *
Marilyn Frye:

"...when queers go forth in drag, they know they are engaged in theatre - they are playing and they know they are playing. Heterosexuals are usually taking it all perfectly seriously, thinking they are in the real world, thinking they are the real world."


This is probably true for the way people speak too.

When I was growing up I considered why some gay men affect a sibilant 'sing-song' voice. One explanation was so that they could telegraph their sexual preference to others. If that's true, I guessed that heterosexual men must also affect a specific way of speaking, to communicate their sexuality. This might be adopted so that people wouldn't 'get the wrong idea' (for the homophobes, being 'accused' of being gay is a great fear). As this 'straight-male' way of speaking is so common, we all consider it natural - instead of being as much an affectation as speaking any other way.
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ketto
post Oct 6 2009, 08:26 AM
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QUOTE(stargazer @ Oct 5 2009, 07:04 PM) *
Well, going along your previous post. I've often wondered if men and women dressed the part of their associated sex. Makes me think of something RuPaul said that in a sense we dress in drag on a daily basis 'cause our sexuality is so socially constructed based on ideals.


I've just been lurking in this thread, but this made me think of a great quote by Marilyn Frye.

"It is wonderful that homosexuals and lesbians are mocked and judged for "playing butch-femme roles" and for dressing in "butch-femme drag", for nobody goes about in full public view so thoroughly decked out in butch and femme drag as respectable heterosexuals when they are dressed up to go out in the evening, or to go to church, or to go to the office. Heterosexual critics of queer "role-playing" ought to look at themselves in the mirror on their way out for a night on the town to see who's in drag. The answer is, everybody is. Perhaps the main difference between heterosexuals and queers is that when queers go forth in drag, they know they are engaged in theatre - they are playing and they know they are playing. Heterosexuals are usually taking it all perfectly seriously, thinking they are in the real world, thinking they are the real world."


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culturehandy
post Oct 6 2009, 07:05 AM
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GT, that post is magnificent!!

I was going to add, that some people cannot seem to wrap their mind around the fact that sex, gender, and sexuality are not always perfectly black and white, hell, they are almost never black and white, there are so many shades of grey. The case of Ms. Caster is a perfect example, humans want to label things and put them into neat little categories, but when there is something that cannot be labelled or intersects too many categories, they get angry and confused. They are bound by their narrow-mindedness.


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girltrouble
post Oct 6 2009, 07:03 AM
Post #28


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that's an interesting point koffee(so glad every time you contribute, btw), and some people hold that up nature, but i think a lot of that is socialization. i think girls are taught to respond one way, boys, another. as one who has had/is relearning those rules, it is the hardest to break, because often we have no idea we are doing it. i think this is also a good reason to push/hope for raising gender neutral children.


@candy. yup. and i'm a cronic deleter too. since we can't actually delete, i do the only thing i can, edit it down to a "."

....that said i like the idea of posting random "." but i'm too lazy. i'd rather write a novel of a post, and then decide i'd gone entirely off topic, said something wholly inappropriate/offensive/stupid/self involved/personal, or that i'm dominating the conversation then delete the whole thing in favor of "."


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"That's one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we've got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we've had or wanted." --margo channing, all about eve
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koffeewitch
post Oct 6 2009, 06:51 AM
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An observation about gender by Phil Donahue: (I'm paraphrasing) "Watch how differently men and women communicate. When a woman is talking to her friends and tells them she just got hit by a car, the other women all chime in with , "oh my god; what happened? Are you okay"? When a man tells HIS friends that he was just hit by a car, there is a beat of silence. Until one of the other men pipes up with, "oh, yeah, well wait til I tell you guys what happened to ME today".

This little excerpt speaks volumes and volumes to me.
(CCGIRL...thanks for asking. I've had the exact same question).


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candycane_girl
post Oct 5 2009, 09:37 PM
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Okay, this is off topic but GT, whenever I see a period posted by you does that mean that you've deleted your post? All these times I wondered why you posted random periods.

I haven't felt able to contribute because I haven't even had time to read all the posts. I hope to contribute soon, though.
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girltrouble
post Oct 5 2009, 07:50 PM
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i deleted it, because, well, i've been enjoying reading what everyone has posted. you know me this is usually the sort of topic i jump into with both feet, but with the reel life thread, i've been wanting to lay back more, and occasionally post stuff. i'm really enjoying this singing without adding my voice just yet, and if i did i wanted to dip my toe in...

but to be concise on what i posted and deleted, when dealing with the subject of pretty much anything that deals even tangentially with queer issues, it is useful to make some clear delineations, the most basic of which i got from a book about gender, which used some very curious (and compelling) terms. they suggested that we use the initials, SSG to stand in for the three relevant areas of sex, sexuality and gender. they often seem to overlap, but in using ssg, we can keep them relatively separate.

SEX is supposedly the most obvious, it is what is between your legs, but when we did deeper as in the case of ms. castor. going by the most colloquial means listed above, ms. castor is female if we look between her legs. (ugh, that phrase curdles in my mouth), yet we are told genetically she is intersexed, but her hormone levels are not that of a male, but that of a post hormonal woman. so does that mean hot flashes are nature's way of saying, you've got male (hormones)!? or is it just an arbitrary line in the sand? my vote is the later. basically her hormones are probably xy, but that doesn't make one female any more than having four wheels makes you a rolls royce. but lets move on to the other initials, with the caviat that our binary perception of male and female is a combination of genetics, hormones, primary and secondary sex characteristics and several other things it only appears binary because these things are ignored for simplicity's (and patriarical) sake.

SEXUALITY simply this can be boiled down to who you are attracted to. this is why male to female transexuals aren't ipso facto attracted to boys. (and why female to male ones can be) sexuality isn't tied to sex. it can change, and is more fluid that we are told.

and finally the subject of this thread, GENDER. which is probably the most complex one to explain. it is a culture's assumptive norms of sex codified. sorry english. basically it is stereotyped signs or accessories of sex. gender is technically not you. it is the signs that you give off of what is supposed to be between your legs. and this is my long winded way of saying that i think what you post is absolutely true star. gender is just as much a role as being say, mother or father. fireman, doctor, or any other role that one can quickly short hand. gender is little more than a drag. we go along with the drag or don't when it suits our purposes, but most of the time we go along.

and you always make plenty of sense moonbeams. smile.gif


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"what a swell farewell party! we said goodbye to everything, including the lining in my stomach." - garvey, from the film, born bad

"That's one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we've got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we've had or wanted." --margo channing, all about eve
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stargazer
post Oct 5 2009, 07:04 PM
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GT, why did you remove your post?? You made some great points. blink.gif

Well, going along your previous post. I've often wondered if men and women dressed the part of their associated sex. Makes me think of something RuPaul said that in a sense we dress in drag on a daily basis 'cause our sexuality is so socially constructed based on ideals. I grew up feeling pretty ambiguous. I guess that is always what I struggled with in terms of my own sexual identity. I didn't feel like a woman or girl 'cause I didn't totally get alot the things other girls my age were into. I felt forced in a sense to idealize marriage and children at the age of 9. I remember being focused on what type of career I wanted for myself. Ideas associated with men, therefore masculinity. Then, my late teens and 20s were about trying different dress types, etc. I didn't like the feeling associated with being feminine, for example, submissive, passive, mother, wife. Probably why I've avoided those roles and still do for some reason. I felt and still do to some extent trapped in gender roles, particularly feminine gender role.

Gosh, sometimes, I do feel like that Liz Phair song, Polyester Bride, "Do you want to be a polyester bride? Do you want to hang your head and die?" I wish my individuality didn't matter so much. I guess I still struggle with how much of my constructed feminine self is mine and how much is co-opted.

Dude, I hope I'm making sense. unsure.gif

ETA: Here's the link about Kinsey Scale, JSmith.


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angie_21
post Oct 5 2009, 05:22 PM
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CH, I'm also pretty interested in that, not just in terms of jobs, but in terms of physical appearance. Things as simple as long hair = girl and short hair = boy, breast size equalling womanliness, and the importance of body hair. Even though things change completely across cultural boundaries, most cultures do get totally wrapped up in physical symbols of gender.

Reading about this yesterday also made me think about physical appearances, looking at it from a different view, I wonder if the opressiveness of these stereotypes is why I think girls look amazingly stunning with short hair, and can't help but be attracted to David Bowie in drag... when people knowingly and agressively throw gender stereotypes out the window, it seems to bring out a non-gendered (maybe more accurately, hyper-gendered?) sexuality that's so much more interesting.
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jsmith
post Oct 5 2009, 10:45 AM
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QUOTE(culturehandy @ Oct 5 2009, 09:27 AM) *


For example, when a person meets a man who is an interior decorater or hairstylist (yes, stereotypical I know...but it's the first things I thought of), so many people automatically go into issues about the persons sexuality, assuming that he'll be gay. Same with women in more "manly" fields are labelled as lesbians.



I know you're not stereotyping, but I just wanted to say: I've seen a couple of interior decorators on TV who made me purrr biggrin.gif Anybody watch Clean House? Mark Brunetz = yum! wub.gif
/derail


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Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith. Thomas Jefferson
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culturehandy
post Oct 5 2009, 09:27 AM
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GT, I read your previous post, and it does make sense, the whole nature vs nurture.

I was especially curious to get your thoughts on the subject of gender as well, as you always have such a way of putting thigs that sometimes we may over look.

what about the idea of how gender is so engrained with sexuality. For example, when a person meets a man who is an interior decorater or hairstylist (yes, stereotypical I know...but it's the first things I thought of), so many people automatically go into issues about the persons sexuality, assuming that he'll be gay. Same with women in more "manly" fields are labelled as lesbians.



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koffeewitch
post Oct 5 2009, 08:58 AM
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Reading through all the new posts, it still seems as a group of feminist women we mostly agree on this topic. But outside the Lounge I feel like people might even be a bit offended by our viewpoint. In fact I HAVE had women get extremely angry with me. Where does this anger come from? I hate to say that some women are afraid that if they walk into auto zone, buy a fuel filter and install it in their own car, their menfolk won't see them as sexy (helpless) anymore. But what else could it be? If women's attractiveness is based on their being helpless/dependent, who wouldn't want to rebel against that?


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girltrouble
post Oct 4 2009, 09:26 PM
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.


--------------------

"what a swell farewell party! we said goodbye to everything, including the lining in my stomach." - garvey, from the film, born bad

"That's one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we've got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we've had or wanted." --margo channing, all about eve
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angie_21
post Oct 4 2009, 08:16 PM
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I think my parents had a good idea, which instead of insulating me from all gender concepts (oh, they tried to make me wear dresses, even if I refused! lol) was to be very moderate about it, staying away from the most harmful stereotypes about boys being smarter and girls not liking sports, or needing to be pretty or thin. More importantly, instead of teaching me one way or the other, they always encouraged me to think for myself, and evaluate why things happened the way they did. They did make sure I knew that being a girl should never, ever hold me back, and they encouraged any interests I had, masculine or feminine. Questioning gender stereotypes, on my own terms, followed pretty naturally from there.

It does interest me though, watching my friends raising small toddlers, how hugely important gender is in their world right now, although not in the ways you'd expect. I wonder if the fact that people are waiting until the baby is born to learn if its a boy or a girl, has anythign to do with trying not impose gender on the baby too early, for instance. No one can buy lots of stereotyped clothes for a baby shower if they don't know which stereotype to buy for!
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jsmith
post Oct 4 2009, 07:46 PM
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QUOTE(culturehandy @ Oct 4 2009, 04:23 PM) *


from a theoretical perspective, raising a child as genderless sound absolutely fabulous, but how possible is this to do when almost everyone else around you generally goes with cultural and societal beliefs when it comes to gender.


Y'all are right about this... I guess one would just have to hope that her child is hard-headed enough to ignore the attempts at indoctrination by people who aren't her parents (school, peers, extended family, etc).


--------------------
Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith. Thomas Jefferson
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stargazer
post Oct 4 2009, 05:54 PM
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QUOTE(angie_21 @ Oct 4 2009, 04:14 PM) *
If something is biologically not real, but believed by so many people, it becomes "real" in a very different, but equally powerful sense.


Dude, you just blew my mind. blink.gif Seriously though, this topic is almost similar to the talk about reality vs. socially constructed realities in the philosophy thread. Whoa.


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