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Reflection on the Gender blogging task and sharing a few more sources

February 26, 2017 in Gender, Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, PG Certificate

 

Research for this blogging task was fascinating. One door led to another and I wished I had had more time to read in depth. A very overwhelming experience. Also what were relevant sources and which ones could I neglect?

Inspired by the film sequences in The Museum of Transology I very much got into watching video clips on gender identity, which is often very personal, yet informative.

I collected many varied sources and when it came to blogging it was difficult to evaluate which ones to cite and how. So there are many sources that I did not mention and I would like to share some more that might be interesting to the Unit of Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

 

 

Visual sources

I came across iO Tillett Wright, who is an artist who was born a girl, decided that they were a boy in the age of six and when they were fourteen, changed back to being a girl. They never felt body dysphoria.

 

 

A list of very inspiring and touching talks on gender identity from different perspectives: https://www.ted.com/playlists/459/the_gender_spectrum

 

Audio Source

Cross-dressing and masculinity with Grayson Perry:
BBC iPlayer Radio
accessed: 20/2/17
Really Relevant
Transgender/Prison/Patriarchy
Multiple Oppression
Infographic on transgender kids
(accessed: 25/2/17)

Anti Trans Voices

In doing my research I came across the Anti-Trans movement from different backgrounds and thought that it is important to have a list/look and make some space for these voices too.
Blog: Women of the Patriarchy
https://womenofthepatriarchy.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/trans-women-are-women-of-the-patriarchy/
The article ‘Trans Women are women of the patriarchy’ is from a trans critical blog, who’s author is calling themselves: Critically feminist.
‘This blog is about transgenderism. Some might call this “trans exclusionary radical feminism” or “trans critical feminism.” I call it feminism.’
The bloggers thought on the impact of heritage is certainly interesting and I do agree that heritage has got a massive impact on who we are, but I feel that her thoughts are unreflected and in parts greatly ridiculous and can even be dangerous.
Transgender Abigail Austin speaks to anti-transgender rights Bishop Patrick Wooden, who whilst being Christian, encourages prejudice, is anti homosexual and anti trans, is facing oppression himself as he is black.
YouTube Preview Image
 

 

My use of language

I am much more aware of my language and the use of pronouns. However I keep catching myself addressing my groups as “guys” in session while trying to address my students with “people(s)” – as this is who they are. Also in the seminar 1 last Wednesday, 22/2/17, I was talking about something and addressed an undefined person as ‘he’, was thankfully corrected by Carole, who was throwing in ‘she’, but really should have said ‘they’.

 

Further thought that was born out of conversation

In the past weeks I thought about gender and gender identity a lot and have a few conversations, which raised interesting questions such as:

How is it possible that as soon as men wear women’s clothes, they are labelled as “trans” and “queer”, whilst women are wearing mens clothes all the time and are often even ‘sexy’ doing so???!  There is a real need for change in society to cross the bridge and allow people to wear whatever they want to express themselves without getting a tag.

Museum of Transology

February 24, 2017 in Gender, Inclusive Teaching & Learning in HE

Museum of Transology is a celebration of todays dynamic trans communities which, it feels to me, are becoming more and more brave, proud and organised.  The exhibition is curated as a modern cabinet of curiosities  full of  very eclectic artifacts carefully labeled. I felt the majority of the objects signify their struggle, although there were exhibit together with objects that inform (books, films, . . .), and objects that celebrate their achievements as individuals and as community. The show encourages everybody, both the contributors and the audience, to (re)think what gender means.

I didn’t have much time to look at all the objects and read all the levels, but I did recognised some people I know who have contributed to the collection:

Music by The Spook School (band from Glasgow, whose main singer Nye is a trans-man) I’ve meet Nye several times. We both are in indie bands and our bands have played a couple of gigs together. He started the band singing with a girl voice but his pitch lowered dramatically on their second album due to testosterone treatment. During that time and ever since, all the interviews with Nye end up talking about the gender issue. . . Also his lyrics are mainly about what his own personal experiences and people miscompceptions about trans people. He even did a series of recordings in youtube documenting the changes on his voice when he started to take testosterone YouTube Preview Image

Book “Trans: A Memoir” by Juliet Jacques  (autobiografical portray of journalist/blogger Juliet Jacques)img_3099 Juliet is my friend Helen’s flatmate and I have met her socially several times. She loves to talk about music, football and politics, but we have never talked about her experiences as a trans-women. . . but why should we! Anyway, I feel really bad I haven’t found the time to read her book yet, people tells me it’s very good. Also, I understand it’s vey important inform ourselves about gender by read stuff written by the trans community but I think I haven’t been able to make myself to read her book because I have meet her acquaintance and the idea of reading about her life experiences feels a bit voyeristic and even intrusive. I think if the book had been writen by someone else it would be a different matter.

Writing this post this is making me realised that I maybe need to ditch that feeling of “intrusiveness” and try to read more about the transgender community and perhaps achieve a better understanding.  This will also help me to acquire their ever-expanding vocabulary ( which in all honesty I’m struggling to keep up with, so many words and definitions!). A vocabulary which I might be useful to use in a future situations when dealing with a trans person in my workshop.

 

Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: On Gender – Three.

February 23, 2017 in Gender, Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

 

 

MUSEUM OF TRANSOLOGY

 

Task: Visit the Museum of Transology http://www.fashionspacegallery.com/exhibition/museum-transology/ at the Fashion Space Gallery, JPS. Write a min. 100 word reflection.

 

img_4511     fig.1

 

 

Museum of Transology. Is ‘Transology’ even a real word? And if so, what does it mean?   T-R-A-N-S-O-L-O-G-Y. You can read it. Black on white. Pixels on a screen. It is a word. Only because you don’t know the meaning, doesn’t mean that it does not exist. – But my auto-correction does flag it with a bold red line. Alert! This word is incorrect or does not exist! Even if it was not a word yesterday-why can’t it be a word today? You can try do deny it – it still does exist, has a sound and a meaning. And a weight.

Transology = The practice of collecting trans object and narratives                          (Museum of Transology, Museum Guide, p.1)

The Museum of Transology is an incredibly relevant exhibition, which is thoughtfully curated by E-J in the small Gallery Space at LCF John Princess Street. Although it is small, the complexity of the subject is mind boggling. I went three times. First to get an overview and another two times to see the films – and I still have not watched all. Each time I left the exhibition my head was overloaded with thoughts and feelings. For the first time I started thinking about my own gender, asking myself if I actually was female and found out that I am feeling very strongly about my femininity and would be defined as cis-woman.

Seeing the artefact of E-J’s, the curator’s, breasts (fig.1) – preserved after his surgery in the transition from woman to man – left me shocked. This was so raw. And also brave and strong and urgent from his part. Cutting off my breasts is not a thought I would ever go near to – my breasts that I am nursing my son with. What makes this artefact even more real is that the nipples are missing, which puts focus on the pain. However, for E-J the chest surgery meant liberation, which he describes in following words: ” Having my chest surgery changed how I lived as a person, and allowed me to de-traumatize part of the daily physical oppression I associate with being trans.” (Museum of Transology, Museum Guide. ‘E-J’, In Hospital). Further he is reflecting that “dress fundamentally constructs our identity” and also reveals how “going through puberty as an adult is the strangest thing” (E-J, BORN RISKY series for Channel 4) and that the transition has got massive side effects. E-J himself lost all his relationships, his career – everything, which caused huge emotional stress, adding to the pain of the “horrific” surgery.

 

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

What really came across to me was the URGENCY throughout the exhibition.

  • urgency for (self-)respect
  • urgency of recognition
  • urgency to tell their story in whichever way people were comfortable
  • urgency of integration
  • urgency of identification
  • urgency of adapting language
  • urgency of awareness and care
  • urgency of belonging

I learned that a whole big, important part of history – Trancestry and Theirstory (Museum of Transology, Museum Guide, p.1) –  is now untraceable what I had never even considered before.

To close my little reflection on the Museum of Transology; Language must adapt and be fluid, just as gender is varied and fluid.

 

 

Bibliography

Museum of Transology, Museum Guide.

 

Visual sources

Fig. 1: Own photography of the cover sheet of the Museum of Transology, Museum Guide

‘Grayson Perry meets transgender fashion historian E-J’ from the BORN RISKY series for Channel 4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPtBpV4Kz6w. Accessed:15/2/17

‘My Genderation’, film by Fox Fisher

Inclusive Teaching & Learning in Higher Education – On Gender. Two.

February 21, 2017 in Gender, Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

 

 

UNDERSTANDING PATRIARCHY

bell hooks

 

Task: Read hooks, bell (2013) ‘Understanding Patriarchy’  http://imaginenoborders.org/pdf/zines/UnderstandingPatriarchy.pdf                          Discuss two things you learnt from the text. And one question/provocation you have about the text.

 

 

 

 

To me it is surprising that women play such an important role in keeping patriarchy a functioning system as Bell Hooks discloses in her essay ‘Understanding Patriarchy’ (2013):   “…most folks continue to see men as the problem of patriarchy. This is simply not the case. Women can be as wedded to patriarchal thinking and action as men.” (p.2), especially since “men receive more rewards from that system.” (p.3). Further I did not expect that single moms are supporting the patriarchal system more and influence their children accordingly, than mothers, who live and raise their children in patriarchal structures. All this does make sense when thinking about it, but even though I grew up in a patriarchal system, I have never thought about patriarchy in depth. Also I never considered growing up in a patriarchal household, but I guess I did – even though a liberal one without strict rules and without the fear of punishment or blind obedience, Hooks is talking about in the example of her own family.

Another thing I came across in Hooks’ essay is, that men are the biggest victims of the patriarchal system as it “falsely represents men as always and only powerful.” (p.4), when they not necessarily are. Further she states that ” Patriarchy demands of men that they become and remain emotional cripples.” (p.4), as a patriarchal society requires all men to perform in their role as “inherently dominating” and “superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially women.” (p.1) and men who cannot or do not want to live up to society’s expectation of them, are under enormous pressure. Hooks’ thought that patriarchy damages those that are ruling the system is surprising at first, but it does make sense. Those men who subordinate and conform to the system and play their part, might compromise their Self if the structure if patriarchy is not natural to them. And others, who do not conform and want to be ‘free’, will face oppression all their life. She especially raises attention to those men, who have been suffering from brutal patriarchal structures in their childhood and “clearly recognised (the system) as evil” (p.4), that then turn patriarchal themselves.

Before, I never really thought about patriarchy and in school I found it to be rather a subject, which is covered in world history and not a contemporary European system. But having a child myself now, a baby boy, it is very important think about how I want this beautiful soul to grow up and how to best support him to flourish in the way he wants to develop.

Patriarchy can only exist through rigidly defined binary gender models of male and female. But looking at non-binary identities – does the system have to cease existing or does it face a great challenge and is it possible to redefine its identity? Will a new ‘system’ or ‘non-system’ challenge Patriarchy?

 

“Patriarchy has no gender.”  (bell hooks- Teaching to Transgress)

 

 

Text source

Available at: http://imaginenoborders.org/pdf/zines/UnderstandingPatriarchy.pdf (accessed: 5.February 2017)

 

Audio source

Available at: https://archive.org/details/UnderstandingPatriarchy (accessed: 10. February 2017)

 

Understanding Patriarchy

February 16, 2017 in Gender

Whilst I feel I’ve known of the patriarchal values within western culture, succinctly and clearly expressed by Hook in her article, what this article really brought home was how young we are when we ’educate’ ourselves and each other into the patriarchal ways in the first place.  Her experience with the marbles, Real’s with the son who dressed up as Barbie – these moments of ‘normal traumatisation’ (Real’s phrase) – I’m sure we’ve all had experience of them. My sister loved to play football and was one of the best in the mixed team in the park next-door. She scored as many goals as any other player. One day she was told she could no longer play because she had ‘girlie bumps’. And that was it. Nothing more to say.

Such moments continue throughout our lives but their nature changes – being the constant focus of unwanted attention in your 20s and ignored in your 60’s. Each man and woman has to find ways of feeling empowered and empowering others in face of these moments. “So, I can’t play in your team, I’ll find another.” (She did)

With the rise of Trump, it feels like the world is going backwards on all that was achieved: first the right to vote then birth control, access to abortions, the perceptibly slow move to empowering woman to stand up to abuse – all these feels in grave danger. Yet, at the same time, there is a groundswell of opposition to this – so evident on the Women’s March in January- among both women and the men who were there. And central to the march, for me, was the presence of the Women’s Equality Party. Unlike Hook’s radical feminists who place the focus of continuing patriarchy on the men, the focus of the Woman’s Equality party is that “equality for women isn’t a woman’s issue. When women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits.”

So, yes, Bell Hooks, I so agree the issues of patriarchy are all of ours to deal with.

My provocation is …but how? Bell Hook’s conclusion is that men and women should “acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end patriarchy”.  My question is, if it is easier for men to be accepted if they put on the mantle of patriarchy, and, if women collude in this, knowingly or otherwise, then how does the situation change? Who or what changes first? Not that I expect her necessarily to have the answer  – but I’d love to hear her ideas.

 

Inclusive Teaching & Learning in Higher Education: On Gender – One.

February 14, 2017 in Gender, Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

ON GENDER – One.

 

Visit the Gender Diversity UAL website http://supportingtransstudents.myblog.arts.ac.uk/ and answer following questions: 

  • How could you apply the resources to your own teaching practice?
  • How could you integrate the research/work your students do on this subject into your teaching/professional practice?
  • Can you cite examples?

 

The blog on Gender Diversity at UAL firstly makes me aware that there is an urgent need for the support of trans students at UAL as well as in other institutions and public spaces.  Although so far none of my students did inform/talk to me about their gender transition or non-binary identity awareness, the above source is a great place of reference with information for staff as well as students.

In a tutorial where a student reveals to me they have a non-binary identity, I would definitely refer them to http://supportingtransstudents.myblog.arts.ac.uk/, as the website can immediately create a sense of belonging through stories by other genderqueer people at UAL, in a time where people trying to find themselves and are in need of support and guidance. But apart from the website being a good source itself, it also holds information that is useful for staff to know, such as where to find Gender Neutral Toilets at UAL and the UAL Student Diversity webpage. I feel that it is staff’s responsibility to be informed enough to guide a student into the right direction. Thinking about gender neutral toilets and knowing where they are can make a difference and show care and respect. At LCF Curtain Road Site, where I am mainly based, I can think of three gender neutral toilets – two of which are in staff spaces and one being a disabled toilet.

A further highly important consideration for staff, as I learnt, is the use of inclusive language – especially the question of the use of pronouns when speaking to a person as well as in course material and how to address a group of people. As Julius Jokikokko (2017) points out: “We live in a very gendered world where we’re trained to gender people and groups without much thinking. Our language often reflects that, so it’s important that we ask what pronouns people use and address everyone with gender neutral vocabulary when we’re not sure. In the States singular they was 2015’s word of the year. Groups of people don’t need to be called boys or ladies. I use folks a lot myself but that’s just me. Get creative.” I am addressing my student groups with ‘guys’ a lot of the times, which correctly could be used for a group of male people. However, most of my students are not male and even if they were it would be presumptuous to think of them all as binary male gendered. Therefore I need to look for an alternative way of addressing my student groups.

Also Meri Karhu (2017) says that “the curriculum doesn’t represent the plurality of identities in the student body”, which I agree with. However there seems to be an awareness – at least within UAL – to change that, liberate the curriculum and include diversity in the curriculum. The representation through visiting artists and UAL Chancellor Grayson Perry reflects that. I will start to think about how a change in the curriculum of Fashion Design & Development in particular would be possible and where. For a start it will be the most important and effective thing to review the language and pronouns used and alter these to “gender neutral vocabulary” (Jokikokko, 2017).

 

 

Reference List:

Jokikokko, J. (2017) ‘Getting the language right’,Julius Jokikokko, Gender Diversity at UAL, 10 January. Available at: http://supportingtransstudents.myblog.arts.ac.uk/weareual/ (Accessed: 10 February)

Karhu, M. (2017) ‘Julius Jokikokko speaks to Meri Karhu, BA Fine Art, UAL’, Meri Karhu, Gender Diversity at UAL, 10 January. Available at: http://supportingtransstudents.myblog.arts.ac.uk/weareual/ (Accessed: 10 February)

 

Gender Diversity At UAL Resource

February 14, 2017 in Gender

Here is how you could apply the Gender Diversity website to your practice.

1) KNOW THE BASICS 

Become familiar with gender definitions and pro-nouns, so that you feel confident asking students how they wish to be addressed

Be aware that it might not just be your students, but also your co-workers, there’s a handy Stonewall guide on this here.

Know the support on offer for students and the role of the UAL Diversity Team.

2) BE AWARE OF OUTSIDE AGENCIES

This is a great list of links to signpost students to and to use yourself! Perhaps you need advice on a brief or require additional resources and research? Keep it bookmarked.

3) MAKE YOUR MATERIAL INCLUSIVE

The UAL website says: “The University has a long history of celebrating and promoting sexual orientation equality” but be aware of how this can translate into your practice.

Make sure your resources include LGBTQ artists and academics and be aware of how you refer to individuals – as Julius Jokikokko notes not many academic texts use gender neutral pro-nouns. Guides like so, exist for this very reason.

4) BE AWARE OF PREVIOUS STUDENTS WORK

These students have quite literally been then and done that, in particular I loved Charlie Craggs Nail Transphobia FMP. It’s great to have an archive of this work and to make your students aware of this, it will make them part of a bigger community and offer inspiration of how to push their original idea.

5) KEEP A LIST OF RESOURCES

If one of your students finds a source or research that is particularly powerful make sure you take note! You never know when this might come in handy for future students – it will also broaden your appreciation of the subject area.

Supporting trans students

February 14, 2017 in Gender

I haven’t been aware of this particular resource before so, knowing that it exists and all the information it provides makes me feel more informed about one issue that affect students.

I am an AL who comes into the department for a specific unit and then leaves. This means some students feel more relaxed about discussing issues affecting them because they won’t see me after the unit is over. This conversations can include discussion about their sexuality often arising from work that the students are developing. For example, this year, a CSM student’s contextual studies report was about gender identification and included a literature review, analysis and a visual response.  She spoke openly about her reasons for choosing this subject, based on her personal situation and we exchanged comments and ideas back and forth during the individual tutorials. I would certainly have discussed with her the Support for Trans Students pdf on the UAL website and would want to hear her views and response to the advice and guidance being given. 

Being involved in assessing students contextual reports means I am often being introduced by students to new books and articles, installations and images on a range of subjects. I always note down key resources which are new to me and read reviews about them, so I am at least familiar with the main ideas being presented which I think is important if I am to assess the particular student’s work. Those resources which I think could be key for me/other students I check out. That way, I feel I am keeping my knowledge relevant and up to date and can offer new ideas of writers and designers in topical subjects. 

A search under Gender Identity under the Staff section of the myarts website brought up some other interesting material, including a very interesting animation by an MA student relating to gender identity and trans identities. I would definitely have recommended this. It is my experience that students are encouraged to see work by other students in their field of investigation and always show real interest in viewing the work. So, I definitely to check out the website a bit more!

Museum of Transology

February 14, 2017 in Gender

Museum of Transology

What really impressed me about this exhibition was how little I knew about the processes involved in transitioning and how engaging and welcoming the exhibition was, in inviting me into the discussion. I left encouraged that trans people can lead the way in defining non-conforming gender representation if, and this is a big if, we can understand and accept the diversity of our communities. The statistics tell another story –  crime against trans people  up 100% in 5 years, trans people are three times more likely to be on low incomes than the rest of the population, 40% are forced try working to living the gender role which they do not identify with.

However, there are some small changes happening. I went to an All Girls School in Putney and sex was only formerly discussed in the biology class. A friend’s daughter goes to the same school and today, there is an active LGBQI group and teachers actively support students who identify as male and students are encouraged to do likewise.

As the exhibition makes clear, creating spaces for and by trans people to discuss and create work is one way to counter the sensationalising that often happens in the media. And this exhibition does that – and celebrates the enormous diversity, richness and vibrancy of the trans community.

“Understanding Patriarchy” by Bell Hooks

February 12, 2017 in Gender

Ironically, I assumed the author was male, the name Bell should have given it away, but the default thinking is, well, male. So, that in itself just goes to show how I need to change my thinking.

This also meant the image of her as a young child, only 4 or 5 years of age, being beaten by her father with a board for wanting to play a “boy’s” game, became an even more violent and potent image in my mind.

When it comes to patriarchy, I’ve always viewed women as the oppressed, I hadn’t appreciated that it is just as damaging for men as it is women.

Men are forced in a straight jacket of masculinity and if you attempt to break free it is considered that you have fundamentally failed as a man.

Bell says in simple terms the sexes are expected to be…

Female: to be weak, to be free from the burden of thinking, to caretake and nurture others.

Male: to be served, to provide, to be strong, to think, strategize, and plan, and to refuse to caretake or nurture others.

Just as women shouldn’t be expected to be “weak”, men shouldn’t be expected to “provide” – otherwise you are setting up both sexes for failure.

As Bell says: “Until we can collectively acknowledge the damage patriarchy causes and the suffering it creates, we cannot address male pain.”

The biggest marker of “male pain” is suicide – it  is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. Men “succeed” in suicide more often than women because of the method they use. Men use violent methods, whereas women tend to use non-violent methods. Bell says her brother was taught there was value in violence and enjoying violence was a good thing. But if patriarchy means not expressing your feelings to the extent that you are forced to turn to violence in a time of life or death need, something needs to change.

The problem is patriarchy is being preserved as it is passed down through generations and reinforced by institutions.

As Bell highlights, some men assume patriarchy is associated with women’s liberation and feminism so they believe it does not concern them, and some women assume their expected role of the “weaker” sex and don’t challenge it.

Both men and women need to realise their respective roles in patriarchy before change can happen. Most importantly, men also need to view this not as a threat, but, an opportunity to be liberated.

Bell says people aren’t keen to talk about patriarchy because to talk about it would be to recognise it. However, she says when she does recognise it in lectures she is met with laughter, and how this is a constant reminder that she might not be taken seriously. So what is the positive way of breaking patriarchy down? It is damaging both sexes so it could be argued who is patriarchy even serving?

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