Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Helen and Barbara

Class started at 9:00 AM as usual today, and we started off our class by discussing what we learned yesterday. I said that I learned about how certain identities I had, that I thought didn’t have much impact on who I am actually do, and that without them it wouldn’t be me. I also think that yesterday I learned that even if you have a dominant identity, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Instead you should feel empowered to be different from the stereotypes of your dominant identity. An example of a dominant identity is a male to a woman or another would be a heterosexual to a homosexual.

After discussing what we learned we went onto making a skit about gender norms. Each group would come up with a skit that shows a female identified should ask and how a male identified should act. My group (K.A.T.E.) came up with four different skits.  Each skit would show a male version and then a female version of the same scenario. For each skit the plot was, a worker asking their boss when a deadline was, coming home from work, walking on the sidewalk, and the night after a party.

I think that my favorite skit out of all of our scenarios was the one about an individual coming home from work. In our skit, the wife is cooking, while holding her baby, and on the phone setting up an appointment for her husband. Then the husband comes home and asks where dinner was. The wife replied that she had been busy. Then the husband gets upset and says that he already told her he was coming home and was hungry. This was the gender-norm that the wife does all of the house duties, takes care of the kids, and cooks for her husband.

There were other skits that the other groups did, and they were so good! I could not believe how talented all of my classmates are. Everyone was laughing so hard at the skits. Another one of my favorites was a reenactment that my classmate Sarika did with Johari, and Victoria. The reenactment was of a 50’s “How to be a woman” video. Sarika narrated the skit while Victoria and Johari acted it out. Victoria was playing “Helen” the one doing it right. Johari was “Barbara”, the one not doing it right. Helen woke up early and already had all her outfits pre-planned the day before. She also ate half a grapefruit to “keep her waist slim”. Johari woke up late, threw on something last minute and ate some cereal. This made me think about how as women we are expected so much out of our appearance. I think it’s a horrible gender norm that we have given women.
My female peers dressing masculine.

I wish I could go into all of the skits that I watched today but there were so many. I absolutely loved them and wish that someone recorded them all since they were so good. The acting was honestly so spot on with the associations of the characters gender played. For example when my classmate emerald played a “girl” she made her voice very soft and fragile. She also kept her arms in close to her body and hunched down a little. 

For today’s lunch and learn we had to break a gender norm. A gender norm is a box around a certain gender that normalizes certain things. Such as the gender norm that women need to shave their armpits. So for my lunch and learn I decided to sit like a man would at a chair. I was surprised to see that the reactions I got from others wasn’t from men but from women. The girls looked at me like I was being shameful. I kept on getting stares and fingers pointed at me. I didn’t expect women to react to me as much as a man would. Aside from sitting more masculine, I also talked louder and laughed more.
Sitting on a chair in a masculine way.

These forms of categorizing gender can also be seen as creating labels, and boxes for more people. Some people however are proud of their labels. But some may feel like their shouldn't’’t have these labels, some people don’t want to be labels and just want to be like everyone else. For example, why can’t a transgendered girl just be called a girl instead of transgendered.

Later we had the amazing honor of meeting and hearing from President Paxson. The President of Brown University. She is the 19th president of the university, and has made a lot of changes to the university. She is an economist, and prior to being the President at Brown was a dean at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. 
President Christina Paxson

She began by telling us about her upbringing and how it has influenced her life. She explained to us that the religion that she was raised by allowed her to see everyone with equality. Unlike most religions where a priest is higher than most, hers believed that all were equal in the eyes of god. We also learned a lot about the types of struggles she had to deal with as a women and mother as a leader. One quote from her that really stood out to me today was that people don’t need a mentor, they need a network of mentors. Meeting President Paxson was like meeting a super hero, I am so happy that I was able to meet her and learn so much from her. I am so thankful that she was able to stop by our class and lend great advice and insight. I don't think that I will ever forget meeting such an inspirational woman.

Later on that day at our workshop, I was able to learn so much about myself, and my peers. I learned that no matter how alone I may feel, there are people who feel the exact same way, and who are going through the exact same things as me. During our workshop I opened up a lot to my peers and at first I felt very exposed and vulnerable, then I felt so proud and strong to be among these girls and future leaders. I believe that each and every one of us is so strong and inspirational. I am learning so much from them everyday.

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