Friday, December 9, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
As a trans woman, I'm very aware of body epistemology: what do we know about people and how from the way they are bodied and physically oriented? Tehmekah had everyone demonstrate either a hyper-"masculine" or hyper-"feminine" image to show what physical cues we associate with those genders, with the implication that there are other cues that are less explicitly gendered, and therefore there exists language-- body language-- outside this binary...a transgender body language?
A bit of a stretch? (oh look a pun!) Perhaps. But that was the explicit goal of this workshop: to create body language (a "body vocabulary") that does not explicitly rely on normative gender assumptions. Although the message of the final dance was explicitly feminist due to the inclusion of lyrics (adding another epistemic layer), the process of deriving the dance steps was narrative (descriptive, not normative) in nature; we charaded emotions, then stylized them into two-beat motions, then strung them together, refined the transitions, and threw in verbal and musical epistemic layers. The dance was a translation of experience into art in a gender-neutral way; people across the gender and body spectrums participated and made no explicit reference to gender archetypes physically.
One participant said she found herself adapting the moves to her own experience, trying to make them sexy or more feminine. I found this an interesting observation. Is it possible, or even advisable, for dance to be gender-neutral? The dance itself is, but it's performance depends on the particular bodies performing it, each of which have a different gender positionality. Thus the same dance had feminine flares in some people, masculine in others; some made it sexier, some funnier, some more technical, some more artistic. In this way the gendered was melded into the dance on a particular (personal) level, and not imposed upon the subjects by the dance's nature.
Monday, December 5, 2011
During the season when Benson was undercover with the FBI (read as: Mariska Hargitay on maternity leave), Stabler got a new partner who was a rookie to the SVU. In one episode in particular, Stabler and his new partner were talking about a rape victim and they had a disagreement. His female partner was essentially asserting that women need to be aware of their surroundings so they don't become victims of rape and Stabler, an 8 year veteran of the SVU, took that as "victim blaming." She argued that this was not true, and I don't exactly disagree with her. I say this because of the way rape education is taught in our society. While telling someone to be aware of their surroundings so that they don't get mugged is one thing, telling a woman to be aware of her behavior so she does not get raped is a different thing entirely. Rape education is always targeted at women and generally goes as follows:
"Don't walk home alone at night."
"Don't wear revealing clothes."
"Don't lead him on."
Rape education for men goes as follows:
Why don't we tell men anything about rape?! It infuriates me that we teach the potential victims of a crime how to avoid it, but we don't tell the potential perpetrators anything. Not to say that all men are rapists and that all women are just sitting around waiting to be raped, but I can't think of any other crime that is discussed in this way. We encourage children not to steal just as often as we encourage people not to waive their cash around on a busy New York City street. College campuses are unfortunately overrun with sexual assault, but universities often think that a power point presentation during orientation is a deterrent. There is SO much more we could teach about rape that we simply don't. Many sexual assaults on college campuses are fueled by alcohol. Rape education makes men seem like unbridled monsters with no degree of self control. Let's give them just a little more credit. Don't lead him on? That's ridiculous. While I think that women need to know their boundaries before they put themselves in a situation where signals may get crossed, that's NOT AN EXCUSE FOR A MAN TO RAPE HER. No one wants to be raped. If you wanted it, that pretty much disqualifies it from being rape.
As easy as it was to make that power point telling women to live their lives looking over their shoulder, you could add a slide that lists all the things that don't count as consent like alcohol, short skirts and one's previous sexual activity...or we could continue this rape "education" that results in low reporting of assault because the survivor thought she asked for it.
Friday, December 2, 2011
For this Colgate Workplace Gender Styles paper, I had interview someone who works at Colgate and discuss how language and gender is related to their work on this campus. I interviewed Kim Taylor, Dean of the Sophomore Year Experience, also a panelist.
My initial focus of the project was strictly focused on the language of Colgate's Policy on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment and the issue of "what is consent?" However, talking to Kim, she raised a very interesting idea that I believe is key to effective consent and prevention of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.
Kim talked about her experience being involved with Yes Means Yes, a positive sexuality discussion group. She described a group of mostly women discussing sexual desire saying that "I really don't know, I've never really felt that way, I've never felt a single desire, I don't know what that means, I just know what I'm supposed to do." Kim connects the issue that this lack of talk about sex to sexual misconduct by saying that "you can't give good consent if you don't know what it is you want."
To know what it is you want, you need to be educated about it, and education requires talk. But before we think about how we talk about sex, we need to figure out how make it safe and comfortable for people on this campus to talk about sex.
Culturally and socially, there is a taboo around sex. Nobody really wants to talk about it because it is very personal. And amongst college students, and especially incoming freshman, peoples' experiences and personal beliefs about sex and what is appropriate to discuss varies greatly. Being involved in Yes Means Yes before, I found the experience really enlightening and liberating. However, everyone who participated were more or less already interested in gender, sex, and sexuality. This culture of positive sexuality needs to spread beyond those who take women's studies classes or go to women's studies Brown Bags, it needs to permeate throughout the whole campus.
Besides posters and pamphlets people don't usually read and You Decide during freshman orientation, what else can we do that is perhaps more effective? I don't really have any solid answer but one idea I really like is that at some other colleges, there are peer sex educators/mentors, students who advise other students. I see the benefit in this that students are more likely to listen to other students who have experiences they can relate to or students who understand what the campus culture is like.
So what do you think, how do we encourage positive sexuality at Colgate?
- by Catherine Yeh
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
The panel will run through hypothetical cases, such as a DUI, plagiarism, and sexual assault, to describe how things play out with each case, including deliberations and sanctioning. After this, the panel will answer broader questions and cover gaps regarding what was left unsaid through the demonstrations. As always, there will be plenty of time for questions!
Come check out this brown bag to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of the Student Conduct Board and get your questions answered. As per usual, we will be in the Center for Women's Studies (Basement of East Hall) on Tuesday at 11:30 am with FREE FOOD!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Author of Your Daughter's Room: Insights for Raising Confident Women, Joyce McFadden stopped by for a brown bag this week along with her fifteen year old daughter, Olivia, in order to discuss expanding honesty within mother/daughter relationships.
To start, McFadden talked about her study, which was conducted online. She read from a survey that was submitted by a Colgate graduate that dealt with feelings and practices surrounding masturbation. While the surveyer was very positive about masturbation, they admitted feeling a sudden guilt for it but could not explain the origin of that response. McFadden found that many woman-identified individuals were uncomfortable with their sexuality and that these women had not received positive attitudes surrounding sexuality from their parents.
From here, there were many different facets to discuss - from the disappearance of fathers in their daughters lives once they hit puberty to how mothers pass down their shame about their own sexuality to their daughters when they refuse to discuss it openly. The audience engaged in dialogue about how their own parents had or had not addressed sexuality in their lives, and how this affected their relationships today.
Olivia, although a bit shy or distracted when addressed with a question, was very honest about the relationship between her and her mother, saying that talk about sexuality or the body was simply a normal part of the household. She said something along the lines of not knowing any other way to be raised so it was difficult to say whether discussion about sex had made their relationship closer. But, given the examples that McFadden uses in her book, there seems to be a knowledge that any question asked (and in whatever context) will be answered honestly.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
She will be here to discuss her book and findings today, along with her daughter, and we are very excited to have her here. We'll continue the conversations later this evening at 8pm in the Center for Women's Studies during an Our Bodies, Ourselves Consciousness Raising session in which we utilize our own experiences and Our Bodies, Ourselves as a guide. We hope to see you at both of these fantastic events!
By: Kimmie Garner
Thursday, November 3, 2011
I'm currently posting LIVE from today's brown bag: Same-Sex Marriage and the Limits of Equality. I was unable to go to Anne Pellegrini's lecture last night, but if it was anything like the current conversation I definitely missed out! Pellegrini is actually discussing a side of LGBTQ issues that people often do not consider. Many Americans see religion and sexuality as mutually exclusive ideas, but it seems like Anne Pellegrini and I disagree with that.
I think it is unfair that everyone should have to be governed by the religious ideals of one particular religion. I am a Christian, but I know that everyone is not. I am also an American who supports equality for all Americans regardless of their lifestyles or what they believe. I do not think that these 2 parts of my identity have to go to bat with one another.
Pellegrini also established that tolerance cannot be the moral language in the United States. This really struck a chord with me because it is something about which I feel very strongly. I agree with her point that the idea of tolerance is just a way to exacerbate oppression and domination of a majority group. The rhetoric of tolerance implies that there is one way that things are supposed to be and if something is different, it can exist only because it is allowed to by those doing things appropriately. I disagree with this mentality. I hope that one day (in a perfect world) other people can understand that there are ways for us to peacefully disagree with one another without stripping others of their humanity.
- Renyelle Jimenez