Archive | March, 2013

#3

25 Mar

Does biology define who we are? We are often taught that our genitals determine who we are, what our interests should be and what our role in society is. But it’s not only our genitals that supposedly determine our gender. If we take a look at the reading ‘The Real Science Behind Sex Differences: Delusions of Gender’ by Cordelia Fine (2010) it can understood that many neuroscientists of the mid-nineteenth century believed that gender was established by structural differences in the human body. Not only did the size of your head or the angle of your face determine what gender you were but they also determined your intellectual capabilities.

As I continued my search on what the real differences between men and women were I came across an article titled ‘The male v female brain: is it all in the mind?’. The article aims to separate the assumptions made between biology and intelligence and biology and behaviour. Sociologist Professor Connell reiterates that “boxing boys and girls into different learning styles on the basis of supposed biological differences is educational nonsense and potentially harmful’. The article ‘Men aren’t from Mars and Women aren’t from Venus’ has also revealed that the differences between men and women aren’t really gender differences at all, they’re individual differences.  

The idea that gender is purely based on biology has left many people feeling like they don’t belong. In an episode on intersex, the TV show Embarrassing Bodies reveals that while the “school of thought that a child born this way (intersex) should be left to make their own decisions later in life, growing up can be difficult for people who do not fit neatly into gender stereotypes”. The impact that biology has had on gender can also be seen in the question and answer video ‘Breaking the Gender Binary’. When asked whether a student identifies themselves as male or female they reply “It’s not the most important way that I define myself”. Clearly, biology does not define our gender, and our gender does not define who we are as an individual.

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#2

10 Mar

Every time someone asks me what ‘gender, sexuality and diversity studies’ is, I give them something along the lines of… “it’s all about questioning the gender binaries, about accepting gender and sexuality has something that is not limited to anything”, the usual. And every time I get the same response… “What?”, “Are you serious?”, “I don’t get what you’re saying”, “Sounds… interesting”. It’s society lack of understanding of the word gender that has led many to believe that gender is nothing more than male or female.

Youtube blogger Halle Hermanson recently posted a video entitled ‘what is gender?‘ in which students and teachers give their meaning of the word gender. Most of the responses are expected… “Boys and girls”, “Traditional roles of male or female”, “Penis and vagina”… and while these ideas of gender are dominant it’s still refreshing to know that some believe that gender is “fluid, a person can determine their own or choose their own gender” (See youtube video). These conflicting ideas of gender are also reinstated in another youtube film titled ‘what is gender?‘ by XCAlexandria.

The question is how do we break away from these binaries? Will gender neutral toilet facilities make a difference (British council rules toilets gender-neutral)? Will gender-neutral advertisements make a difference (Gender-neutral toy catalogues leave the boy holding the baby)? Perhaps education and awareness will be enough that one day gender will be seen as more than just a category. Perhaps it is classes such as gender, sexuality and diversity studies that will provide us with enough understanding to can create our own gender identities.

#1

10 Mar

This blog used to be about ‘body image’. ‘I’d Rather Be Naked’ questions mainstream and commercial ideas about what the female body should look like and why I’d rather be naked than have to conform to something I’m not. While those posts are now long gone… in the trash… this blog still is about ‘body image’ and more specifically ‘gender, sexuality and diversity studies’.