Welcome!

"Gender: To Be Determined" is collaborative, interactive blog brought to you by University of Denver students in Lindsey Feitz's "Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies" class.

If you are interested in gender, sexuality, and popular culture, this is the blog for you.

There's some incredibly smart, sassy, and saavy analyses that cover a range of topics we're discussing in class. Please feel free peruse our archive and join the conversation.

We'd love to hear your comments and questions!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Women and Independence

Women have historically been dependent on other people, especially on men. Women in the past did not have the ability to attain a career or have a life outside of the home. But there have been many woman who have worked very hard to be equal to men. Now that women do have the opportunity to be independent and have the choice to be the bread winner or to be the homemaker, some women do take advantage and become very independent, but some women are still very dependent on men.

I am going to use my mom as an example of a women who is dependent on a man. When she was eighteen, my mom married her first husband and was living with his family, she decided to not pursue a higher education, but to rely on her husband to support her. She then decided he was a little crazy, so she was going to leave him. After she left him she had to move back in with her mother, since she was unable to support herself at the time. She then married my father and was still very young and was able to support herself with the job she was working at the time, but with his income they were able to go out and have nice things as well. She was smart and did not have a child with a man until she was married. It could be good for a women not to have a child with a man before she is married to him, becuase when a couple has a child they become dependent on eachother. My parents had me about five years after they were married, then they decided to break up and my mom married my step dad. I think she became very comfortable with him becuase of his income, but when they began to have problems in their marriage, she realized that leaving him was not an option because she would not be able to support her self with out his income. I also do think that her dependence on her husband increased when she had my younger brother, also when she started making less then half of what she had been at her job.



A prime example of a women's dependence on men is in the 1950's when women had to be married and did not have the ability to support themselves. In the article by Stephanie Coontz, "What We Really Miss About the 1950's" she explains some reasons why women were dependent on their husbands. Coontz explains, "...while job segregation for working men and women seems to have peaked. These demographic changes increased the dependence of women on marriage..." In the example of my mother being dependent on her husband, one of the reasons was becuase she was making almost half of her wages at her job and she had children to care for. In my mom's case, she could not support herself with her own income so she had to stay in her marriage just like some of the unhappy married women in the 1950's. My mom's situation was different from the mothers that had to stay home in the 1950's becuase these women did not have a choice becuase of the descrimination of women in the workplace.



It is different now becuase most women have the ability to choose to work, stay home, or to go to college, so they have the ability to support themselves depending on their choices. Women can now also live without a husband and support themselves. Although some women live without a husband and are still dependent, since they recieve welfare from the state. In the article "What Do Low-Income Single Mothers Say about Marriage" Kathryn Edin explains,"If they are to marry, they want to get something out of it. If they cannot enjoy economic stability and gain upward mobility from marriage, they see little reason to risk the loss of control and other costs they fear marriage might extract from them." Edin is explaining that some women are still currently dependent on marriage becuase they just want to get somthing out of it like money. Usually if a mother is on welfare and then gets married she has to depend more on her husbands income then the welfare. My mother on the other hand is dependent on her husband, but she did not marry him only becuase he has money like some lower income women, she married him becuase she loves him.



I am not saying that marriage is bad or that depending on others is horrible, BUT I think that when a person is independent there are more positives then negitives. This is becuase an idependent person has the ability to leave a relationship if it is not working out becuase that person can support themselves with a job. In my mother's case she could not up and leave when she was having problems with her husband because she did not have enough money to support herself. So my mother urges me to do my own things and make opportunities for myself that she did not have, like going to college and pursuing the career I want in my life. For women to have this opportunity to be independent and support themselves was what feminists have fought for, so that women can be equal to men.





If you are to think about what it would be like if women did not have equal rights to men, some of the rights that are taken for granted might be: the right to vote, go to school, hold a job, or wear pants (to just name a few). Women now a days might appriciate the opportunities women now have and might realize they might have taken some of them for granted. I am not saying that women have every single equal right to men because there are still some problems women are still dealing with. BUT I am saying that women should take advantage of the fact that they can attain an education and have a career that will enable them to support themselves. I know that personaly I do not want to be entierly supported by a man becuase I want to take advantage of what I can do and be the best I can be in my career and in my life. I also want to be able to support myself in any situation, especially if I want to get out of a relationship I do not want money to stop me from leaving.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unit 2: "A Girl Worth Fighting For"

This is my first "Vlog" so if it is a little choppy I apologize. Unfortunately the file was too large to upload directly to Blogger so you are going to have to go here to see it.

-Elise Syddall

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Beauty of Bromance



Bromance. I’m sure many of you have heard of it, hell I’m sure many of you have it. Bromance is the concept that has to do with homosocial behavior. Don Romesburg defines homosociality as “a window opened within mainstream popular culture that shines light on male emotional relationships that place neither sexuality nor-more crucially-its disapproval at their center.” In other words, men can “act” homosexual or girly but not be perceived as gay, or looked down upon. As long as the guy has a girl to go home to at the end of the day, they can act as gay as they want.

There are many examples of bromance in the media. For instance, in the film Superbad, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera play two best friends who have absolutely no boundaries, and they aren’t afraid to show it. They have sleepovers together, go shopping together, and even hold hands when they’re scared:




But as all bromances are, they both have girls at the end of the movie. Seth, played by Jonah Hill, has sexy Jules to go shopping with, and Evan, played by Michael Cera, gets to be with the cutie Becca.

As another example, reality star Brody Jenner started a reality show called Bromance where he is in search of a new best friend to roll with his crew. Nine men compete to become Jenner’s ultimate bro. In episode 4, ‘Bros in the Wild’, Jenner takes the remaining five guys out camping.The first hint of bromance seen is when Jenner tells his two best friends, who he has been friends with for years, that they won’t be allowed to come on the trip. Instead of “being a dude”, and shrugging it off, they get incredibly upset. They complain about him missing their “Tuesday night shows” and how he doesn’t spend enough time with them. This is a classic stereotypical woman thing to do, and is definitely not considered masculine.

The second hint of bromance comes into play when Jenner gets a life coach to talk to all the contestants while they are camping. Every one of them needed to share with the group the thing they are most scared of in life. They really open up, and almost every one of the contestants ends up crying and really revealing their emotions. And at the end of the talk, they all hug it out. This whole situation is once again the opposite of what masculinity is considered.

But of course, you can’t have too many bromantic moments without women, or else that would be gay, right? So when it’s time to give one of the contestants the boot, there are five women in bathing suits, waiting to hop into a bubble bath, each waiting for one of the bros (including Jenner) to join them:




As explained in “Holy Fratrimony” Romesburg talks about how women are pushed to the side: “An effect to this New Homosociality seems to be that women, pushed to the margins of these apparently progressive male relationships, find themselves represented in predictably boring ways-nag, supporter, sexy sidekick, mother, wife.” Jenner’s Bromance solidifies this notion.

If you want to see this episode, click here:http://www.mtv.com/shows/bromance/episode.jhtml?episodeID=148316

In Sex, Power, and Intimacy Dr. Shaw and Dr. Lee say social scripts “reflect social norms, practices, and workings of power, and they provide frameworks and guidelines for sexual feelings and behaviors.” I would say that bromances defy these guidelines because they are acting the opposite of the generalization of masculinity. Despite growing up in a heteronormative society, these men seem to not be afraid of acting slightly on the gay or girly side, and for that I commend them. However I do have a question: If one of the contestants on the Bromance show were gay, would he be accepted? Or would he automatically be sent home because he can’t share the same experiences as the other men in the show? If a bro were gay, would Jenner assign a sexy man to be standing in a speedo, waiting to jump in a bubble bath with a successful contestant? I would lean toward no.



Sources:

1) Sex, Power, and Intimacy by Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee

2)Holy Fratrimony by Don Romesburg

3)mTV's Bromance episode 4: http://www.mtv.com/shows/bromance/episode.jhtml?episodeID=148316

4)Time Entertainment: Superbad: A Fine Bromance http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1653918,00.html


True Life: I'm Bisexual - A Look into Bisexual Stigmas


Many people are familiar with the dramatic show "True Life" on MTV.  They cover all different challenging lifestyles in an attempt to inform and entertain TV viewers.  In 2009, MTV did a true life on bisexuality.  In this episode, the three characters display many of the stereotypes of bisexuals. 

Sydney, 19, is searching for a boyfriend to be the one.  However, every boyfriend that she has thinks she is secretly hooking up with every guy or girl she sees.  Marquees, 23, defends his bisexuality from his mother, who thinks he just has low self-esteem, and his friends who think he is just secretly gay.  Finally, Danielle, 20, likes to have a boyfriend and a girlfriend simultaneously.  If either of her significant others can't learn to share, she can't continue the relationship with them.  Although Sydney and Marquees both believe having two exclusive relationships at once, one with each gender, is considered cheating, Danielle believes she is entitled to a girlfriend and boyfriend simultaneously because she is bisexual.
The editor of Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World, Robyn Ochs, defines bisexuality as "a person [who] has the potential to be sexually and/or romantically attracted to more than one sex, but not necessarily at the same time or to the same extent" (1).  However, many people define bisexuals as hypersexualized (2), attention whores, secretly gay, or people that just can't make up their minds.  The three characters from the "True Life" episode both express and disprove these stereotypes.

Sydney's story begins with the break up with her boyfriend.  In his angry text messages later, he sends "Can't turn a hoe into a housewife cuz hoes don't act right."  Sydney expresses that she gets that type of attitude all the time; everyone thinks that she is sleeping around because she is a bisexual.  She defends herself by disclosing to the audience "I love sex, but when I'm in a relationship, I have to have that emotional connection...I've never been unfaithful."  With this, Sydney helps to disprove the stereotype that bisexuals are sexual addicts.  The type of emotional connection that Sydney truly strives for is called emotional intimacy.  Dr. Shaw and Dr. Lee describe this type of intimacy as "sharing aspects of the self with others with the goal of mutual understanding" (2).  In addition, women are more likely to have sex to express love than men are (2).  Based off of those two facts, it is easy to see that bisexuals aren't sexual deviants, they long for loving relationships the same as any other person, especially in Sydney's case.

Marquees has been dating men and women intermittently since the end of high school.  He is confident in his sexuality despite his mother's disapproval and his friends disbelief.  His mother thinks that his sexuality comes from his low self-esteem.  In other words, she believes that his low self-esteem drives him to find acceptance from both men and women.  Marquees' friends also do not understand his bisexuality.  Most of them believe that he is actually gay, but is afraid to admit it.  In the episode, Marquees says "I'm more attracted to guys but... [in] my future I see myself with a woman, as far as like settling down."  This confession coincides with Ochs' definition of bisexuality stated above--"a person [who] has the potential to be sexually and/or romantically attracted to more than one sex, but not... to the same extent" (1).  If this definition is true, then the fact that Marquees is more attracted to men, but still slightly attracted to women, still means he is bisexual.  According to Wilhelm Fliess, every person has a masculine and feminine side, and this is why many people feel an attraction, even a slight one, to both sexes (1). 

At the beginning of the show, Danielle is married to a man and has a girlfriend.  Unfortunately, both of her relationships end fairly quickly.  Both her husband and her girlfriend are unable to share Danielle, despite the fact that they said they could at the beginning of the relationship.  She tells the audience "I can't just have one or the other.  I have to have both."  Danielle's polygamous relationship goes against some major beliefs of bisexuality.  One such belief is that bisexuality is about falling in love with a person, regardless of gender (1).  The key word here is person, as in one.  Danielle justifies her lifestyle with the fact that she is bisexual, however, many scholarly definitions and first-hand opinions of bisexuality would not agree with her justification.  Based off of the other characters on the show, Danielle's view of bisexuality is definitely an outlier.  She fits into the stereotype that bisexuals can't make up their minds and they want attention from both sexes. 

Obviously nobody is the same, and it makes sense that Sydney, Marquees, and Danielle have different lifestyles and different ways of expressing their sexuality.  Due to some of the dramatizations from this "True Life" episode and the controversial characters chosen to represent bisexuality, one could argue this episode gives bisexuals a bad name.  According to Jennifer Baumgardner, "many people who might feasibly be described as bisexual do not choose to describe themselves that way" (1).  This may be from generalizations and over-dramatizations such as the "True Life" episode, or may be due to the title of bisexual.  Buamgardner also argues that bisexuality is increasingly expressed due to past exposure to second-wave feminism.  If a mother, aunt, or some other elder was a second-wave feminist, they most likely influenced a freedom to have same-sex relationships (1).  This openness of expression leads to all different people coming out of their shell and showing the public their sexuality with general acceptance.  Although this may be true, there is still a stigma today against bisexuals.  Are they gay? Are they looking for attention? Are they unable to commit or settle down?  There are some major points the general public should think about before passing judgment on bisexuality.  One such point is that "sexual identity does not necessarily require sexual experience" (2).  This helps to show that bisexuals are not necessarily hypersexualized.  Another major point to heed is that bisexuality is highly stigmatized; few people actually fit into the stereotyped model.  

Sources:
1 - What is Bisexualtiy? by Jennifer Baumgardner
2 - Sex, Power, and Intimacy by Susan Shaw & Janet Lee

I love you dude - no homo.

Gentlemen, lets be honest, we've all had the experience: you're walking aside one of your guy friends, and all of a sudden your hand accidentally touches his - even amidst your important and mentally engaging conversation, probably about long boarding, the PBR stain on your button down, or the game last night, a signal shoots through your consciousness, immediately compelling you to interrupt conversation to reassure your friend that your brief moment of potential handholding had not the slightest homosexual basis. Or take this more simplified (and perhaps slightly less exaggerated) example: your best bud gives you that mighty bro hug and utters the phrase, "no homo."

Although this phrase was apparently coined sometime ago, I hadn't heard it used until relatively recently. Prior to moving to Colorado, it was common for me to hang around lots of my younger brother's friends, which is where I first heard this remark of masculine genius. They would say it when giving each other hugs good-bye, when playing grab-ass with each other, and they would even (aware of my sexuality) sometimes tell me 'no homo,' to which I obviously would reply somewhere along the lines of, 'no, yea. I'm pretty gay.'

For those of you unfamiliar with the term and its function, wikipedia does an exemplary job of providing a formal definition which reads: "The phrase no homo is a slang-term. It parenthetically asserts the (male) speaker of such is not homosexual and is usually used after an utterance that may have given that impression (1)." In short, if a man does or says something that could be mistaken as homosexual, he simply must blurt out the phrase to retain his masculinity. Below I've included the link to a semi-crude, yet informational video in order to help you fully understand the magical 'no homo,' and its use in all contexts.



So the question now arises, why do we feel need to constantly remind our same-sex companions of our sexual intent (or lack thereof)?

In his article, 'Holy Fratrimony: Male Bonding and the New Homosociality,' Don Romesburg explains that information presented during twentieth century has conditioned society to equate love and sex, and as a result, strongly emotional or passionate relationships between members of the same sex are perceived to encompass some sexual dimension. This leaves male/male relationships to develop in two ways, either by placing sexuality at the core or by disclaiming sexual feelings (2) and therefore evading the possibility of being labeled with the stigma of homosexuality. I would say it is apparent that most male/male relationships depicted in movies, television programs, and popular culture, center on the disavowal of homosexuality. This most likely because of the fact that our society so greatly emphasizes that men participate in masculinities, with which comes homophobia. And I'm not talking about the 'I'm terrified of gay people' definition of homophobia; I'm talking about Michael Kimmel's definition of homophobia in his article, 'Masculinity as Homophobia,' whereas homophobia is defined not as a fear of gay men, but rather, a fear of being emasculated, (3) - and being perceived as a homosexuality in this society does exactly that. Thus, 'no homo' is just another tool in order to help reinforce masculinity in a hetero-normative society.

Although I would like to conclude with one more possible answer to the question of why male same-sex companions feel the need to constantly remind each other of their heterosexuality. There is the possibility that in some cases a 'no homo' could perhaps just be a method by which we repress sexual feelings towards one another. I mean consider items listed in Jennifer Baumgardner's article 'What is Bisexuality,' such as the theory of innate bisexuality proposed by Freud, or more compelling, Kinsey's study which found 50 percent of men to have had some bisexual encounter (4). Think about it, maybe a reasonable amount of people have homosexual feelings for their good friends, although the consequences of admitting such could be utterly intolerable. In any case, in order to test this hypothesis, on my next encounter with someone who drops a 'no homo' at me, I think I'm going to kiss them on the mouth and see where it goes from there - I mean, if it goes sour I can always say 'no homo' right?



Sources:
(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_homo
(2) 'Holy Fratrimony: Male Bonding and the New Homosociality' by Don Romesburg
(3) 'Masculinity as Homophobia' by Michael S Kimmel
(4) 'What is Bisexuality' by Jennifer Baumsgardener
Photo Cred: http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/171631-no-homo#.Tpu8jXO1m_E


People Are Not Soup Cans, Hollywood. (Unit II)




What makes sexual fluidity any different than bisexuality?

This a question I stumbled upon a few days ago and it seems relatively new and thought provoking (at least to me), but with the findings and theories of psychoanalysis experts such as Freud and Kinsey, I find myself wondering why this debate hasn't dominated our culture's sexual orientation "scene" over the past two or three decades. While doing research, I came upon a new term that has made its way into pop culture: hasbian. I learned that this term is usually used in a derogatory way, and in its most basic form, the word describes a woman who, at one point or another, identified as a lesbian and then in her later years "realized" she was straight (also simply described as a former lesbian) (Bendix). Women who have gone through this experience are usually publicly ostracized for their decision--especially in Hollywood today. Fellow blogger, Trish Bendix, uses the actor Anne Heche (shown left) to illustrate this concept. Heche infamously dated Ellen DeGeneres in the 1990s and after they broke up, she realized she was not gay, in fact, she ended up marrying a man a few years later. The given link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG4Hi01Kpfw&feature=related) shows Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres on the Red Carpet in 1999. The video shows the two as a couple, however the comments on the video itself are noticeably overflowing with harsh comments generated towards Heche and her decision to "become straight"; therefore, furthering the notion that society, including the every day commenters on YouTube, feel this overwhelming need to place people in categories.

The term hasbian, and the derogatory way in which is is used to define a woman who "can't make up her mind," leaves us to ultimately agree with what Kinsey, Freud, Mead, DiFranco, and Millet had to say about bisexuality. Jennifer Baumgardener, the author of What is Bisexuality?, an openly bisexual woman, goes on to discover what and how bisexuality came to be, as indicated by the title. She includes summaries of the many different theories made by multiple forerunners in the study of psychoanalysis. All of the previously mentioned theorists ultimately agreed that bisexuality is a natural thing for humans to experience; however, because we as people live in a "straight world", we applaud those who can slap a heterosexual label on themselves. (Baumgardener). I for one can conclude and argue that the ultimate prize we give to those who are "correctly labeled" themselves is acceptance.
The term "hasbian" makes this universal theory described by all these theorists, in one way or another, almost inarguable. It is a label for someone who experiences this sexual fluidity, or bisexuality (Gasp! Another label!). Our society is addicted to labeling human beings despite the fact that a majority of psychoanalysts, even today, would argue sexuality is indeed fluid and doesn't need a label.

I feel this post would lack any arguably due credit if I didn't mention the "Bisexual Queen of the Big Screen", Angelina Jolie. Jolie is notorious for her rendezvous with members of the same sex. She has infamously said the following on her own sexual preference:

"I love women and men equally and I see people and love as love" (Belge).

In an interview with Jane Magazine, Jolie once again stated how she felt about her sexuality and attraction to women after the readers voted Jolie as the female actor to "most likely make their knees weak":

"They're right to think that about me, because I'm the person most likely to sleep with my female fans. I genuinely love other women. And I think they know that" (Belge).

We all know Angelina Jolie did not end up in a civil union with another woman. Notably, she ripped Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston (blah, blah, blah) and lived happily ever after with her Hollywood bohunk and their six children. Therefore, critiques everywhere ask "if it was necessary for Jolie to label herself as bisexual" (Belge). Was she, like Heche, simply experiencing a moment of sexual fluidity? Again, are they the same?

Now, if you're like me, I think you too will find it sort of comical that in our extremely hetero-normative world, the writers of Jane Magazine posed a question that would even allude to the fact that these females readers felt an "attraction" to a member of the same sex. This question acts as the perfect introduction to another point in supporting this labeling fanaticism our society is finding ourselves in. In Envy, A Love Story written by Anna Mills, we as readers find ourselves in the ever-so-popular debate on the relationships between women. Is partaking in homosexual sex the line in which we cross in order to be labeled as bisexual? Hollywood's images of half-naked women--who are they aimed at? Is a woman considered bisexual if she feels a desire to be that woman? Are those pictures simply an "unconscious way for women to desire women?" (Mills). This question is still up for debate in our society today. Many argue that Jolie was simply confused and felt a basic attraction to women because they were beautiful and pleasing to the eye. She stated herself that with her life as it is now, she has "no room" for bisexuality in her life (Bendix). Was she really sexually attracted to them or did she just admire their appearance and company? Did she want to be with them, or be with them?

My universal answer to these questions: who cares? These two women are just the tip of the iceberg that is our society's fascination and obsession with labeling people--especially in regards to their sexual orientation. If, as proclaimed by Freud, Kinsey, Mead, etc., sexuality is fluid and likely to alternate from time-to-time in a person's life, why must we find a need to give ourselves a defining sexuality? Can't we just accept that very few people in this world are born 100% straight? Does the term bisexual even need to exist? I believe that these women act as the perfect example of our sexuality fluctuating. People change and with that, I believe it is possible for their sexual preference to change, as well. Hollywood, the epicenter of almost every social happening that takes place, is the breeding ground for people in the public eye, such as celebrities, and with that fame comes the label. The label that is sexual orientation. Are these even necessary?

In the end, I pose this question to you all once again: What makes sexual fluidity any different than bisexuality?


Sources:

1. Angelina Jolie: Bisexual Actresses by Kathy Belge.

2. Going with the Flow: Sexual Fluidity, Bisexuals, Lesbians, and "Hasbians" in Popular Culture by Trish Bendix.

3. What is Bisexuality? by Jennifer Baumgardener.

4. Envy, A Love Story by Anna Mills.

Are You What You Watch? (Unit II)

Heterosexual couples are everywhere. They are in magazines, movies and more importantly children’s TV shows and movies. While scanning through the channels I can’t help but notice all the TV shows that are aimed toward kids. There are the ever popular shows like Hannah Montana, the High School Musical series, Drake and Josh, and the Incredibles. All of these shows have a common recurring theme, they all feature heterosexual couples. In Disney’s Hannah Montana, Miley the main character along with her best friend Lily always seem to have a crush on a boy. All of the characters in the show display heterosexual desires, never homosexual. The same goes for the popular Nickelodeon series Drake and Josh which chronicles the lives of two step brothers. The boys only chase after girls never boys.  The movie the Incredibles features a classic mom and dad family with three kids; nowhere does it feature a homosexual couple. In the popular tween movie High School Musical it only portrays heterosexual relationships. Troy the main character’s love interest in all three movies is a pretty, smart and funny girl Gabriella. Again nowhere in this movie does it even mention the possibility of a same sex couple. This leads elementary aged children to believe that the only sexual orientation is hetero. There is no diversity in children’s programming as far as sexual orientation is concerned.
If and when the possibility of a same sex couple appears in children’s programming it is met with severe backlash. My first point is Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie. When the possibility arose that Bert and Ernie were a same sex couple it was met with a huge controversy. Recently a petition has been started to allow Bert and Ernie to marry on Sesame Street. This video I found does a good job at highlighting the petition as well as expressing some opposing views.
Many feel that children should not be exposed to same sex couple because it would “corrupt” their innocence. 
                Another popular kid’s show has been under attack due to the possibility of it expressing homosexuality. SpongeBob Squarepants has within the last decade been met with controversy. The controversy arose when Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson expressed his belief that SpongeBob could make children gay. The controversy arose when a 2002 video barely featuring SpongeBob was released to schools to promote tolerance of the different scenarios that make up today’s families. When watching the video that Dobson found would make children gay I had a very hard time even finding a homosexual reference, let alone a clip featuring Spongebob for more than five seconds.
I’ll let you watch the video and see if you notice any homosexual references.
                When children see their favorite characters come under attack because there is a possibility they could be gay teaches them that homosexuality is wrong. In the article Sex, Power, and Intamacy it states that human sexuality is “constructed by and through societal sexual scripts”. When children see the backlash of homosexuality they internalize that it is wrong and repress homosexual desires. This is exemplified in the reading Elementary School Girls And Heteronormativity: The Girl Project. When homosexuality was brought up the group of girls who were being studied thought of homosexuality as disgusting. The girls were speculating whether or not Zac Efron was gay. One of the girls said that “Gay people who were kissing were breaking the law” (Myers, Raymond 183). Another girl said that “her brother refused to watch High School Musical III because Zac Efron was gay” (Myers, Raymond 183).  It’s horrifying to think that these girls will grow up thinking that being gay is wrong.  Parents try to teach diversity but only in the means of skin color not sexual orientation. If we want our future generation of leaders to be truly diverse then a lot more has got to be done. Exposing children to same sex couples will not demoralize them or turn them gay. Most children would not think of being gay as “wrong” if their parents and other adults didn’t attach a bad stigma to it.
        Shawna Matthews

Sources:

"Will Spongebob make you gay? Two conservative Christian groups are attacking the cartoon character for allegedly being part of a "pro-homosexual video" ." Countdown with Keith Olbermann. MSNBC, 25 Jan. 2005. Web. 16 Oct. 2011. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6852828/ns/msnbc_tv-countdown_with_keith_olbermann/t/will-spongebob-make-you-gay/#.TpsCkXKqHKd>.

SpongeBob Controversy. MSNBC TV. Web. 16 Oct. 2011. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/6850011#6850011>.
Bert and Ernie gay marriage controversy continues . Dir. Action 4 News Staff. 15 Aug. 2011.  

ValleyCentral.com. Web. 16 Oct. 2011. <http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=651737#.TpsNOnKqHKd>.

Unit II Reading: Sex, Power, Intimacy

Unit II Reading: Elementary School Girls And Heteronormativity: The Girl Project

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Guy Love" (Unit II)


The term "bromance" is one that has become widely understood in our society because it is all over the media. A bromance is a relationship between guy friends that is very close but not sexual. A bromance is a type of homosociality, which is a socializing with members of the same sex. According to Don Romesburg in his article "Holy Fratrimony," there are two different types of homosociality for men (aka bromances): old homosociality and new homosociality. Both of these categories of bromances are depicted in the media, especially in the television show Scrubs. In one particular episode, two of the main characters best friends JD and Turk show their different dispositions when it comes to their bromance.
JD represents what Don Romesburg describes as "old homosociality," which was culturally acceptable during the 19th century when men "shared emotionally expressive relationships" and never had to worry about being considered gay. JD does this by openly proclaiming his "guy love" for his best friend Turk in front of a patient without the slightest regard that some of the things that he says, such as "he's the only one that's been inside me," may cause the patient bystander to think that he is homosexual.
Turk, on the other hand, displays his affections more conservatively compared to JD. Yes, he reciprocates JD's physical affection, but he is always concerned about what conclusions the people around him are drawing, namely that they are a gay couple. During the song, Turk always clarifies that he is very heterosexual like when JD says, "It's like I married my best friend" Turk responds by saying, "But in a totally manly way," which insinuates his need to prove his masculinity. Turk is demonstrating the "fear that other men will unmask us, emasculate us, and reveal to us... that we are not real men," which was said by Michael S. Kimmel in the article "Masculinity as Homophobia." Even though Turk is not homophobic, this quote explains his need to counter every comment that JD makes that may be taken sexually and indicate that they are homosexual.
The song "Guy Love" from the show Scrubs is a perfect example of the differing approaches to a bromance. JD represents "old homosociality" by figuratively shouting from the rooftops that he loves his best friend Turk, and he doesn't care who knows it or what anyone thinks. Turk is a little more demure and concerned with other people will think of him, demonstrating "new homosociality." From what I've seen in society, "new homosociality" is more prevalent that "old" because most men are afraid to be labeled as homosexual. Why does it matter what other people think? If you are in a bromance, and you're comfortable enough with your sexuality, then why not show it? Girls do it all the time, so it doesn't make sense that guys aren't able to.

Sources:
Burbach, Cherie. "Top 5 TV Bromances - Bromance Friendships on Television - TV Shows With Male Best Friends." Friendship at About.com - New Friendships, Ideas for Meeting Friends, Conflict Resolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. .
"Masculinity as Homophobia" by Michael Kimmel.
"Holy Fratrimony" by Don Romesburg.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

GARETH THOMAS: GAY RUBGY STAR (UNIT II)


As I was questioning about what to base my blog on ... I surfed the web for numerous topics in regards to sexuality. I started to adjust my focus to sexuality in sports and came across Gareth Thomas and his story. First off I’ll start with a little back ground info on Gareth himself and the sport of rugby….Photobucket (a)

Rugby is a form of football played between two teams in which you have the freedom to carry the ball, block with hands and arms, and even tackle while being in continuous action. So basically it is a bunch of big, heterosexual (or is it just heterosexual men?), sweaty, muscled men running around the field with a leather ball trying to make a Tri (touchdown/goal if you will). So now that that is out of the way let’s get on to Gareth himself…Photobucket (b)


Gareth Thomas is a Welsh professional rugby footballer. He plays rugby league for the Crusaders in Europe’s Super League. In 2007 he made history as becoming the first Welshman to win 100 international caps in the rugby union. Thomas married his childhood friend Jemma in 2001. Thomas had wanted to lift the closeted "weight" off his shoulders and to feel liberated by telling everyone that he was actually gay. He divorced his wife in 2007 and in 2009 he publicly announced that he was gay.

Thomas’ public confirmation of his sexuality made him the first openly gay professional rugby player. Thomas told the Daily Mail, “I don’t want to be known as the gay rugby player. I am a rugby player; first and foremost I am a man.” (1)

(c)

Thomas was the master of disguise as a straight man. He would play off the “macho man” stereotype. He would go to the bars with the guys and would always be the first one start a fight. This relates to Michael Messner’s article Becoming 100% Straight. Messner discusses how in the sports institutions peers manually construct the definition of ‘masculinity’ and ‘heterosexuality’ and how players will act to control others’ perceptions of them and avoid allowing the true inner self to come out. Messner says, “…heterosexuality and masculinity were not something we ‘were’, but something we were doing.” (2) Heterosexuality is a constructed identity and institution that men engage them in to avoid shame and embarrassment if even being suspected of being gay and to conjoin with the titles of power and privilege. Male athletes have this persona that they have to live up to as being the “macho-man” and heaven forbid if you can be a homosexual athlete and still be just as amazing of a player as a heterosexual athlete. In Masculinity as Homophobia by Michael Kimmel, homophobia is referred to as a fear that other men will “emasculate us, reveal to us and the world that we do not measure up, that we are not a real man.” (3) Especially in the sports world, you don’t want to be the “weak link” and be called a “faggot” or “sissy” so you live up to the normal standards of the athlete.

Gareth Thomas is a hero to the gay community. Thomas commented, "I don't know if my life is going to be easier because I'm out, but if it helps someone else…then it will have been worth it.” (1) I think that it goes to show how strong of an individual Gareth is for continuing to still play rugby and to pave the way for other gay athletes to come out as well. Well done Gareth Thomas, lets hope that if there are any other gay athletes (male or female), you have shown them that they can be unmasked and not have to fret over the ridicule. I don’t really understand why it matters so much to society what an athlete, or anyone for that matter, does behind closed doors. It doesn’t change the fact that Thomas is a superior athlete at rugby. Unless this stereotype is broken, society will never learn to change or accept anything else. I’ve attached the link to an interview on the Ellen DeGeneres show in which I leave you with a powerful message from Thomas himself:

The power and influence that sports people have on the world in general is such an amazing thing and sport can change the world

and being gay in a sport and continuing on with that sport sends

such a positive message to children and adults.

-Gareth Thomas


(d)


SOURCES :

(1) : "Wikipedia." Gareth Thomas (rugby player). N.p., 09Oct 2011. Web.
(2): Messner, Michael. "Becoming 100% Straight." Gender Through the Prism of Difference. (2011): 200-201. Print.
(3): Kimmel, Michael. "Masculinity as Homophobia." (1994): 147-150. Print.
(4): McRae, Donald. "The Guardian." Gareth Thomas on being gay in sport and switching to rugby league. N.p., 03May2010. Web. .

Pictures and videos provided by:
(a)http://www.sabotagetimes.com/football-sport/gerremonside-the-rugby-league-men-of-steel/
(b)http://pickle92.wordpress,com/2009/12/21/what-happened-over-the-weekend/
(c)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVQPgE5s3pM
(d)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3OnU_hNVrA&feature=related

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Body Image: A Case Study on Taylor Armstrong (Unit I)

Taylor Armstrong is a housewife featured on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She has received lip injections and struggles to maintain a healthy body weight. She does not eat any food, and the only calories she receives in her diet are from alcoholic beverages. She has admitted to undergoing lip injections, as well as injections of Botox throughout her face. However, a side-by-side comparison of her face before and after several bouts of plastic surgery seems to reveal her cosmetic work includes more than just injections. Based on the appearance of her eyebrows, it seems she has also received a facelift. I would also guess that she has undergone rhinoplasty. Her lip injections are very evident from viewing the before-and-after photos. Although all the housewives from Beverly Hills have received some form of plastic surgery, Taylor’s case is coupled with an eating disorder.