I am Who I am

“I am who I am,” that’s the motto that I believe everyone should rule their lives with. After finishing this course, the strongest message that has resonated with me is that no matter your gender, race, or sexuality you are who you are and nobody should let you feel differently. Due to the fact that I am cis gender and thus receive cis privilege one would say that I have the easy life, as I am what I appear to be. In contrast to what people think, I believe because of the fact that I am cis gender and I receive all of these invisible cis privileges I am more likely to recognize the hardships that trans gender individuals have to face.

A famous case of a female to male trans man that has received a lot of media coverage is Thomas Beatie. Beatie’s claim to fame was the pregnant male. Thomas’ wife could not conceive children and luckily he still had his female organs, therefore he became inseminated and bore them three children. This story received a lot of media coverage, deeming this man a freak show, a freak of nature or just completely unnatural. As a cis gender individual I believe that this story should not be regarded as freaky, but viewed as a miracle! People spend their whole adolescence trying to avoid getting pregnant with the use of condoms, birth control and plan B. All of these techniques are avidly used by youth, but these can have adverse affects after prolonged use making women completely infertile. Beatie and his wife, Nancy faced this problem but instead of having to pay tens of thousands of dollars to higher a surrogate or doing donor implantation, Thomas was able to save the day with his female organs. This is a true case that portrays that love prevails over all regardless of your sex or gender and in this case Thomas’s sex that he was born with ended up being useful in their marriage. Thomas truly breaks the sexual script of his gender by bearing children, as he is recognized as the first pregnant man.

Thomas Beatie’s life is back in the public eye as he is now seeking a divorce from his wife, Nancy. Thomas Beatie married Nancy in Hawaii where he was deemed a man without having to show any records of procedures to legally make him a male. Currently, as a resident of America the courts do not recognize Thomas and Nancy’s union of nine years as a legal marriage, therefore will not authorize a divorce. This is not only discrimination against trans people, but against sexuality. Arizona will not allow them to get a divorce because Thomas still has female organs, deeming him a female in the states therefore labeling the couple as lesbians. I believe it is completely unfair that the courts have power over the individuals identity, which is this case is trapping both individuals in an unhappy marriage. Moreover, the court is labeling this couple as lesbians even though both Thomas and Nancy identify as straight.

What is quite interesting is that the first time Thomas was in the media he was presented as the first pregnant male, but now that he is seeking a divorce and they are not authorizing one, they are technically calling him a woman. It is important to question what has changed over the past couples years that has made the media recognize him as a different sex. Was it because the government was not involved so Thomas was allowed to be whatever gender he chose to be? Now that the government is involved is it fair for them to have power over his gender identification and sexuality? 

In addition it is important to question whether Thomas’ race effected his treatment when filing for a divorce. Due to the fact that he is half Caucasian and half Filipino he is lower on the cultural hegemony. Thomas’ mixed ethnicity is seen as a minority race in America, therefore one must question if the rulings would be different if he was part of the majority and thus received white privilege.

Overall, I believe that the plethora of media coverage that Thomas has received; being on Oprah, magazines, newspapers and more has truly been beneficial to the trans community as he has made society more aware of the of the normality of trans gender. As stated on Oprah “he does not see himself as both a mother and father. ‘I see myself as a father who gave birth,’ he says. ‘Susan, Austin and Jensen call me ‘Daddy.’ And that is my name. I’m not Thomas anymore — I’m ‘Daddy.’” Thomas is a strong, outspoken man who he is a great representative of the trans community. The treatment Thomas is receiving is completely unfair and I believe he should be authorized a divorce.

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Does a Princess Always Need a Prince?

 

           As a child I grew up, like many, surrounded by Disney princesses. The Disney princesses were first introduced in movie form, but quickly grew into a large-scale business endorsement. The main Disney princesses such as Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and Mulan appeared on all childhood products such as birthday hats, blankets, clothing, toys and even had their own figurines. Although each story varies all of the Disney princesses share a similar plot element: a man that saves the princess.  For those of you who have not see any Disney movies I will highlight the plot of a few of the famous stories. For starters we have Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Snow White in Snow White, who both need kisses from a man to awake them from a permanent sleeping state. Then we have beautiful Cinderella who is put to work by her evil stepmother and needs Prince Charming to save her from her future of slavery and misery. Lastly, we have Princess Ariel in the Little Mermaid whose beautiful voice is taken away so she can become a human, but Prince Eric saves the day and gets Ariel her voice back even when she is a human.

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            Evidently, all of these storylines include a man saving a woman. These are the movies that are instilled in children’s minds from a very young age. All of these stories bring to the foreground the same sexual script. A sexual script is the way one is suppose to act in relation to one’s gender. These movies represent women as having to be attractive, happy, but always in need of rescue from a male. Many of our current sexual scripts are similar to those portrayed in the Disney movies. Furthermore, Disney’s slogan is “where dreams come true.” If this is really true then can a woman’s dreams only be fulfilled if there is man in her life? What message does this send to the young audience?  Personally I believe this message is corrupt and instills the wrong values in children. Women are independent beings and should not conform to any sexual script imposed upon them.

               Disney Princess act as role models for young children and continue to be present throughout their entire lives. People who aspire to be similar to these characters are what some would call fandom. Fandom is a person with a strong interest with a particular show, book, movie, character etc. Fan viding is the most demanding form of fan engagement. There is a plethora of fan vids surrounding Disney princesses, and I have chosen one to examine. It can be found on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyrLed7Fp-s. It would be good to quickly watch the clip to understand what I am going to be talking about.

              After watching this clip the first thing that resonates with me is the fact that more than half of this video is focused on the relationship between the princess and the particular male lead. The fan that created this video and many others have pinpointed the most important part of these movies to be the relationship. This fan has taken multiple Disney movies and highlighted that in every movie there is a princess that falls in love with man. This portrays the fact that the fans feel as though the princesses, their role models, need a man in their life to be happy. This is confirmed by the fans choice of music. This fan chose the song title “Ever Ever After” by Carrie Underwood. The choice of music is very important as it tries to encompass the meaning the fan wants to get across to their audience. This song is very upbeat and happy with lyrics that delineate that fairy tale endings do come true and that you can find true loves kiss. While these lyrics are playing all the princesses are being saved by their specific prince and they are experiencing their happy ever after. This fan vid clearly shows the impact these Disney movies have on children as it makes people believe they need to find a prince to be happy. This creates a distorted image of reality as a woman can be independent and still happy.

             In addition, all the couples present are heterosexual couples. These couples act as role models to young children, therefore by having all heterosexual couples it emphasizes the stigma of compulsory heterosexuality. Due to the fact these movies are repeatedly shown throughout our childhood it creates an environment where children feel uncomfortable to truly express their sexual identity.  Not only are homosexual couples not present, but there is a large inequality of racial representation within the princesses. Out of the seven main Disney princesses, only two of them are not of the Caucasian descent; this is less than one third. This inadequately represents our multicultural population, thus introducing inequalities between the races at a very young age.

            In conclusion, these Disney movies instill bad morals  in young children as they all want to live happily ever after, but Disney creates many boundaries to achieving this as they portray one as having to be skinny, attractive and predominately Caucasian to achieve this happy ever after. Truth be told, a woman does not need a prince to be happy and this is a moral that clearly isn’t present within Disney films as reflective in the fan video presented. 

Gender Socialization in Society and the Media

The blog post, Gender Socialization at University highlights one of the many gender norms one experiences at university; such as the different gym facilities. I would like to take this idea a step further and explore some other places within the society where social constructs affect gender differences.

            Queens offers a variety of specified programs such as engineering, computer science, psychology, nursing, fine arts and much more. These programs draw students from a wide cultural basis as far as Pakistan, Dubai and as close as Kingston. The Queen’s University Journal conducted a survey, which allowed them to break down the specific faculties by sexes. It is important to take into account that these ratios have a slight bias they come from the 2005 graduating class where almost 57% of their graduates were females. While taking this into account, the enrollment between females and males are still significantly different in some programs, which can be seen with the women to men ratio provided by The Journal. Some of the most significant differences can be seen in, English 3:1, French 5:1, psychology 8:1 and the most divergent is Nursing 81:2. 

One may then ask why does nursing present the most disparate enrollment between the sexes? When one hears the word nurse, the majority of people will immediately think of a woman. This is a prime example of genderization. This can also be seen with Ernest Hemmingway was seen wearing pink as a baby.  Presently, if a baby in our society would wear pink we would automatically assume that it is a girl and to be honest, probably 99% of the time we would be correct. The fact that the colour represents femininity is a social construct that our society has created. Just as though our society has created pink for girls, our society has created a social construct that nursing is a woman’s job. Accordingly, the woman to man ratio of the nursing program at Queens clearly reflects this social construct, as there are 81 females for every two males in the program.

This social construct reflects our values and gender roles in North America. In North America we view women to be the nurturers and caregivers of the household. Similarly, the job of a nurse is to care for individuals and nurse them back to health. A sexual script is the way we are suppose to behave and carry ourselves that is reflective of our gender. Accordingly, is it women’s sexual script to be the homemaker? Is this the cultural ideology within North America?

In contrast, in psychology 100 we learn that in the nation of Burburg, males are raised to take care of domestic duties and women are raised to pursue professional careers. As a result, it is evident that people of Burburg have different gender roles than most people in North America. Is it then accurate to assume that the majority of nurses in Burburg would be males? Or would this be an incorrect assumption. If the majority of nurses in North America are female because they are the caregivers of the household then I believe it would be quite accurate to assume that the majority of nurses would be men in the nation of Burburg. According to the gender roles of these places I believe this to be true, but I definitely do not agree with it.

Bringing this social construct to the outside world, we seldom to never see male nurses in media. If we take it a step further and talk about doctors there is a significant difference in gender roles. Currently, a lot more women are becoming doctors, making the male and female doctors almost a one-to-one ratio. If I think about doctors in the media I immediately think about the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. Grey’s Anatomy is a fabulous show that highlights the lives of doctors in Seattle Grace Hospital. In Grey’s Anatomy there is approximately the same amount of male and female doctors. Although this is true, throughout the eight seasons it aired many of the main female doctors suffered from mental breakdowns. In season five we see Izzie Stevens suffer from a mental breakdown as she hallucinates seeing her deceased husband around the hospital. This distracts Izzie from her job and is the beginning of her downfall on the show. In season six we see Lexie Grey traumatized by a shooting coercing her into a an unstable mental state making her be admitted to the hospital’s psychiatric ward. Lastly, in season 7 we view the strongest character, Christina Yang suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder provoking her to quit her job at the hospital. It is quite problematic that only the women in this show suffer mental breakdowns from the hardships they have to endure throughout their careers and lives. I believe this creates a strong message to the audience about the capability of women doctors. As well this theme could be extrapolated to refer to the whole female gender in general. Although Grey’s seems to incorporate male and females equally they seem to create an androcentric perspective as the men can successfully achieve their work without having mental breakdowns. This is just one of many shows in pop culture that portrays gender roles, androcentrism and gender socialization. 

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