What Makes a Revolution?

With this week’s reading we were asked to think about a few questions including, “How revolutionary do you think the sexual revolution of the 1960s was?” and “What makes change revolutionary?” Naturally I went straight to the dictionary to see just what exactly revolution meant. According to Merriam-Webster, revolutionary means “causing or relating to a great or complete change,” and revolution means “a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.” So was the sexual revolution of the 1960s really a revolution? I am going to say yes going off of the key word in those definitions: change. Now if those changes were accepted by everyone is a completely different story, but things in Lawrence, Kansas definitely changed.

In the entirety of the United States there were many strands of the sexual revolution causing uproar at the time, but Lawrence was dealing mainly with drugs, race, homosexuality, and sex. The 1960s were an awkward time for Lawrence, as it had a large youth population, as well as a large non-white population. This caused some tension, for starters with hippies. Hippies were involved with a pretty large drug scene in the mid-60s. As the book states, drugs were now everywhere and cheap. Weed, acid, speed, cocaine and more were floating through Lawrence, which obviously made the local citizens unhappy. Citizens did not approve of the hippies, they thought they “looked dangerous,” and didn’t like them taking over their spaces and the community they “worked hard to build.” So though the citizens didn’t approve of this change, it happened and came off as very different to them.

Before – 1950s girls

After – 1970s girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though it was a free state, there was a still a racism issue in Kansas. Even with efforts being made, there was still segregation and discrimination in Lawrence. In April 1970 were the “days of rage,” which dealt with a lot of violence between blacks and whites. Places were torched and broken into. Police and students fought. By July violence was erupting everywhere. Black men, white women, even police were getting shot at by people participating in vigilante action. Unfortunately this rage was what got Lawrence to recognize the sexual revolution, and understand the struggles that needed to be dealt with.

1971

The change with the gay community was probably the most successful of the revolution in Lawrence. In June 1970 just seven men and women started their own Gay Liberation Front. They had no places to hang out and needed to get the word out. Their first order of business was to get more gays and lesbians to come out and join the effort. While this helped, a lot of people still wanted privacy. The GLF requested to be a recognized student organization by KU, but were denied. In 1971 the GLF went into a legal suit against KU. Though the GLF was refused official status, they got lots of support from faculty and administrators. They became more established and had group meetings and counseling. Eventually they were able to organize dances for the men and women coming out in this community. The GLF had some rough times, but ultimately had the most positive change of the issues being dealt with in Lawrence at the time.

Today when we look back at the year 2000 it may look very different, but it’s really not. To the people of Lawrence in 1970 looking back at 1955 it was extremely different. Drugs were in the open, different races were gaining more equality, Gay Liberation Fronts were being created, and for a small college town like Lawrence this was completely new and different. I think the fact that they might have not even recognized society is what makes this a revolution.

1950s

 

1970s

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The Beginning of the Sexual Revolution

When I read “those who see the sexual revolution as the triumph of irresponsible and exploitative sexuality over decent, morally grounded, and responsible sexual behavior may discover new and useful perspectives in this history,” I knew I’d enjoy this book. (Bailey, 3) Reading the first part of Sex in the Heartland was a lot different than our last reading, Gay New York. Like Bailey states, “different parts of the revolution flourished in different places,” so it was really interesting to read about a small college town like Blacksburg versus New York City. (Bailey, 5) In this first half of the book I was fascinated by a lot of things I read like homosexuality being considered mental illness, the fact that this wasn’t just a two sided revolution, as well as something quite familiar which was the continual double standard for women.

I’ve known for a while through various outlets that homosexuality was considered a mental illness in the 1950s and 60s. One pop culture outlet that comes to mind is the television show American Horror Story: Asylum. The show depicted an asylum in 1964, one character was admitted for being homosexual, and another character was admitted for sleeping with many men. It really conveyed how in that time period that anything was sexually abnormal was automatically dealt with as a mental illness. In the reading, young men at KU were referred for a psychiatric evaluation if suspected as a homosexual or were monitored by the University. The dean also allowed the school psychiatrist to decide if students were safe enough to attend school and not a danger to others, which gave them a lot of authority. It was really crazy to read that in this small college town, if you were gay, you were at risk for questioning or being classified as mentally ill.

American Horror Story: Asylum (deals with an asylum in the 1960s)

I was also fascinated to learn that this wasn’t a two-sided revolution. It wasn’t yes or no, there were actually varying degrees or “strands”. On page 10 Bailey talks about how people who were active in the revolution didn’t necessarily want to accomplish the same things. Some were for gaining birth control, some for gay rights, some for more than one thing, but everyone “did not share a single vision.” (Bailey, 9) I’m looking forward to the second part of the book, which I think will talk a little bit more about the varying desires of the revolutionaries, but it was definitely something I found interesting. The images below display protests for many different issues.

A teacher I once had told my class about going to college in the 1960s. She told us that when guys were in the dorm the door always had to be open, and their feet had to be on the ground. I thought it was funny at the time, but now reading this book it doesn’t seem that odd anymore. There were a lot of regulations for young women in college, there were even handbooks called “Campus Cues,” that listed etiquette and rules that mainly, or only, applied to the women like curfew. One freshman girl expressed her frustration about how senior guys flunking out could stay out all night, when she, a straight-A student had to be by eleven each night. When women tried to change some of the rules given to them the response was that women “need more protection and security…Men can take care of themselves.” (Bailey, 95) Fortunately the women didn’t give up and the rules were altered, which didn’t settle very well with everyone. This ruling started paving the way for a sexual revolution.

Campus Cues – California State

The first section of the book brought back some familiar ideas, as well as raised a few questions I hope to discover the answers to in the next half.

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Tensions Between Fairies & Queers

On September 21, 1998 the NBC show “Will & Grace,” created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, premiered. It was the most successful series with openly gay leading characters, those being Jack and Will. In an episode I watched recently (Season 1 Episode 19), Will is embarrassed of Jack’s flamboyant behavior. Jack later overhears Will call him a “fag”, resulting in Jack dressing and acting more “manly” like wearing sports jerseys and using a deeper voice. I had a lot of questions when watching this. I’ve always known “fag” to be a derogatory term, thus I thought I understood why Jack was so upset by it, but then I questioned why it was okay for Will, also gay, to use it? I didn’t understand fully the different ways and reasons behind these labels to fully grasp the situation, but this week’s reading added a lot to my thoughts. Gay New York gave an immense collection of labels that were used in the male gay community. It also described what each one meant, what types of men used them, and what the exceptions were. So my question is what was the deal between normal/queer men and fairy men?

Will and Jack from “Will & Grace”

*Fun fact: “Will & Grace” co-creator David Kohan’s sister, Jenji Kohan also developed a show with LBGTQ characters, “Orange is the New Black.”

 

Will & Grace -

“Will & Grace” – co-created by David Kohan

OITNB-Facebook-Image

“Orange is the New Black” – Jenji Kohan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fairies were a symbol for gay life in New York, they weren’t the only type of gay man, but they were the “primary image.” (Chauncey, 47) Because they were so prominent, many men uncertain of their sexuality, or just starting out in the gay community thought that being a fairy was the their option. Many fairies were in their twenties and early thirties. Fairies tended to have womanlike characteristics, feminine mannerisms, and often used women’s names. Using a different name also helped if a man was going between a public and private life. Many fairies were only fairies at night, or in private areas. Men sometimes wore a single piece of clothing during the day that signaled they were fairies, like a red necktie. (Chauncey, 52) They also styles their hair specific ways, as well as use makeup. Overall fairies are depicted in a very flamboyant and stereotypical way. While this lifestyle suited some men fine, it was a major turn off to others. One man stated his reaction to thinking he may be a fairy, “I would cringe at the thought that I was one of them, although there was always some man I desired.” (Chauncey, 104) Lucky for him there were alternative lifestyles.

1920’s Man in Drag

1920’s Drag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being “normal” or queer was another gay lifestyle. It was a much more private way to live, and attracted more middle/upper class than lower class. This option was desired by middle/upper because they could essentially hide their sexuality and still have good jobs and be able to move up in society. Unfortunately if their sexuality did come out “queers suffered far more social hostility from middle-class men than fairies faced from working-class men.” (Chauncey, 107)

 

To my surprise queers had some really strong feelings towards fairies. One man stated that “queer” was not a bad word, that it was “faggot” and “fairy” that were derogatory, and reserved for gay men “who openly carried themselves in an unmanly way.” (Chauncey 101) Another man who identified himself as queer/homosexual stated that he didn’t mind being known as queer, “but I detest the obvious, blatant, made-up boys…” (Chauncey, 103) He ended by saying fairies give a “negative impression of all homosexuals,” and that being said he couldn’t blame normal/straight people being against homosexuals. Those are some strong comments to process. This part of the book was so eye opening in seeing that there were so many labels and conflicts within the gay community that I never expected.

 

In the case of Will and Jack, I think that there was, and probably still may be, some conflict between gay men and how they portray themselves differently. Will and Jack made up in the episode and all was well, but I think the writers did actually want to portray a real issue within the gay community. I’m very interested to see how this issue changes or continues in the next few chapters.

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The Never Ending Control Over Women’s Bodies & Lives

By now you’ve probably heard of the Taken movie franchise. The first film back in 2008 tells the story of teenager Kim, who is in Paris after begging her father to allow her out of the United States. Immediately after arriving, Kim and her friend share a cab with a French guy. He rides with them to the place they are staying at, invites them to a party and leaves. Not much later human traffickers kidnap Kim and her friend, after being sent by the French guy. This scenario was overwhelming similar to many from the readings today about young women being forced into prostitution. It seemed that all the readings revolved around women being controlled one way or another. If it wasn’t prostitution it was marriage or the ability to get a job, then it was birth control. This week’s readings certainly showed that as soon as women had more opportunities, more regulations would just pop up.

Taken (2008)

Taken (2008)

In document 1 of chapter 8 in Major Problems, we learn a lot about how these predators got women into this “white slave trade.” It states either before or after entering the United States, women would be promised “higher wages and better economic conditions.” (MP 275) These procurers would draw young women in by promising things that would make their lives better, drawing on their weaknesses. Edward W. Sims described how “watchers” go after their “prey”. Sims stated that watchers scan “a vessel which has just arrived and ‘spot’ the girls who are unaccompanied…” (MP 277) The document also explains how the watchers will be well dressed, and become as intimate as possible. Like in Taken, the French man insisted on sharing a cab with the girls and after only knowing them for a few minutes invited them to a party stating he’d pick them up. A similar incident also happened to Wong Ah So from document 2. She, like other girls, was promised a job, money, a husband, and a good life. After arriving she was forced into prostitution. Fortunately Wong Ah So was rescued and placed in a mission home, but the control over her life did not end there.

Women, like Wong Ah So, were able to live in mission homes. Not just women who were rescued from prostitution, but other situations like spousal abuse as well. Thought these women were safe from their previous deals, the mission homes actually had very demanding rules to stick to. For Wong Ah So, she had to learn to live in a Victorian gender system versus the traditional Chinese gender system she had been accustom to. From Peggy Pascoe’s essay in Major Problems, we see that when it came to marriage the Matrons of the mission house were the ones who decided if a man was acceptable for marriage or not. If a woman already has a previous engagement to someone, the Matrons would make her break it off for someone they approved of. The Matrons would quiz men on their religion and financial situations. It’s unfortunate that women would leave prostitution or a bad marriage and turn right around to be controlled by another power.

After marriage, no matter where they were from, women were once again being controlled. Birth control existed, but there were so many rules and regulations around it, it was almost impossible to acquire, especially for middle-low class women. From Andrea Tone’s article on the birth control black market we see how the Comstock laws added birth control to the list of obscenities. As well as a zero tolerance policy of birth control being sold, made, bought, or used. Reading some of the letters sent to Margaret Sanger are heartbreaking, when all these women want is to support their entire family and just want to make things easier on everyone. The letters, from document 5 in chapter 9 of Major Problems, mainly consist of women who have many children and can’t support anymore and need a solution, or women who want to prevent getting into that situation.

Marvel-whirling

Douching – A Birth Control Method- Advertisement

Cervical Caps - method of birth control

Cervical Caps – method of birth control

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think Linda Gordon’s essay in Major Problems really reflects how I feel after the readings this week. Gordon explains how the fight for birth control wasn’t just about preventing pregnancies, that these women “wanted to change the world.” (MP 321) That it would create “greater sexual and class equality,” as well as demand “sexual freedom.” (MP 321) Gordon also talks about how many joined in, and how people believed “the lack of control over reproduction helped perpetuate an undemocratic distribution of power.” (MP 322) While I already thought it was bad that women didn’t have control over their own bodies, it was even worse to find out how France had already been using birth control in a successful way. Even with this evidence the government was still against it.

This time period was a difficult one for women. Whether it was a job, marriage, or birth control, women were constantly being regulated over what they could or could not do. From a distance it may have looked like women had liberation with opportunities like jobs, but actually up close it wasn’t like that at all.

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Females, Feminism, and Frustration!

Please before reading my post, I encourage you to watch the video below or read the brief summary article linked below!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/adamdavis/this-guy-mansplained-catcalling-on-cnn-and-got-totally-shut#.dmm34L0X

In November 2014, a viral video went up of a young woman walking around New York City showing her getting cat-called numerous times by men. CNN interviewed Amanda Seales and Steve Santagati to talk about their reactions to the video. Santagati expressed that the “bottom line” is that women are upset about cat-calling because not all the men who do it are attractive. He expressed that if the men cat-calling were “hot” then they would be “bolstering your self-esteem, bolstering your ego,” essentially saying if the men were hot then women would be grateful for their comments. Amanda Seales responded to him by stating “you are wrong,” and that most women leaving the house “are not looking for compliments.” The rest is a back and forth between Seales and Santagati, with Santagati defending the male perspective.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 1.57.20 PM

screenshot of CNN interview

 

The reaction I had from the assigned readings was the same as the one I had fr!om watching this interview, which was FRUSTRATION. Frustration from how close the Moral Reform Society came to getting into women’s rights but couldn’t let themselves criticize the traditional family structure. Frustration that even when women choose to express passionlessness, men acted like it was their decision. And frustration from the idea of women owing sexual favors to men in the 1840’s still is mirroring viewpoints in today’s society.

The New York Female Moral Reform Society accomplished a lot as women of that time. They were the first women to travel the country without a male escort. They financed and published their own journal, and joined women all over the country together as a sisterhood. They gave jobs to women, proving they could do them just as good as a man. The Moral Reform Society joined together to end the double standard and manage men’s sexual behavior. I loved and disliked this essay. This society achieved so much, but when faced with feminist issues they pulled away stating that they wouldn’t go against the traditional family structure. That it was too risky for respectable women to be associated with such a “forceful role for women.” (Rosenberg, 583) With such a large following, I feel like this society really could have made a difference earlier on in women’s rights if they hadn’t shied away from the issue. I also think people today still tend to shy away from feminism in fear that they will come off as too forceful like the society claimed.

Nancy F. Cott’s essay states, “passionlessness favored women’s power and self-respect.” (MP, 136) Using this technique, women were not seen as mistrusting and as weak as they had been in years previous. With that weakness towards passion gone, the clergy saw women as “complementary” and a couple as “marriage partners” not as a hierarchical relationship. (MP, 137) Women expressing passionlessness enabled them to be in control of sex within their marriage as well as the size of their families. The irritating part of this reading is the fact that there was still a double standard surrounding this issue. Women used this to dominate their own bodies, while men “wanted to desexualize relationships to maintain their domination.” (MP, 140)

Before

Before

traditional-wedding-cake-topper

After – Marriage Partners

 

 

The CNN interview reflects a great deal of what was going on the same city almost 200 years ago. In the 1840’s the Bowery Boy was produced. The Bowery Boys were neither for women, nor against women. They acknowledged women as their companions, and defended them against men who were purely looking for sex. Yet, the Bowery Boys still saw women on the sidelines. Within the working class were men who believed “that women owed sexual favors in return for men’s generosity.” (MP, 131) Take Caroline Wood’s case for example. She went on a late night outing with a suitor, who took her for ice cream and a boat ride. Since the suitor deemed himself as generous he expected sex from her, regardless if it was consensual or not. The unfortunate similarity between this reading and the CNN interview is the theme of shaming. Men tried to shame women like Caroline Wood in the 1840’s for not returning the generosity. Today, men like Steve Santagati are shaming women to leave New York City if they aren’t appreciative of the catcalling comments. This just tops off my frustration, while I learned a lot from the reading, it’s crazy how some of the topics covered haven’t seemed to change in 175 years.

 

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Men: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

“God designed that man should be our protector…but how often has he proved himself a traitor to his trust, and the worst enemy of our sex?” (MP, 112)

This week’s readings had a document I found to be very important and insightful. The second document from Major Problems Chapter 4, “Boston Female Moral Reformers Condemn ‘Licentious Men,’ 1838,” was very interesting to read because it so accurately described the ways of the men mentioned in Charlotte Temple and the first document, “A Trial for Rape in New York, 1793,” and why the women of Boston cannot continue to have men like this in their society. The second document was also used as a call to action for the women of Boston to start to talk about these events and strengthen their voice.

 “He has betrayed, and robbed, and forsaken his victim, and left her to endure alone the untold horrors of a life…and exclusion from every virtuous circle.” (MP, 112)

This reflects Charlotte Temple very well in that Montraville courts Charlotte, leads her to believe they’ll get married in America, and makes sure she doesn’t contact her parents. Once in America, he then abandons her while she’s pregnant to marry another woman. This results in her becoming ill, evicted from her home, and ultimately dies from the horrid conditions she has been forced to live in. Montraville certainly betrayed Charlotte by leading her on, he robbed her of the security of her parents, and he definitely left her to endure challenges on her own. In the case of Lanah Sawyer, a man who she thought she knew well betrayed her. He rescued her from a group of insulting Frenchmen, visited her a few times, got ice cream, and earned her trust. Then he led her away where she was uncomfortable. Though she resisted and screamed he sexually assaulted her.

http://coursesite.uhcl.edu/HSH/Whitec/ximages/texts/BkCvrs/CharlotteT.jpg

“Why is he caressed and shielded from scorn…and encouraged to commit other acts of perfidy and sin, while his victim, for one offence, is trampled upon, despised and banished from all virtuous society.” (MP 112)

While this could be describing a number of crimes committed at this time, in Lanah’s case this statement proves true. Lanah’s attacker, Harry Bedlow, was found not guilty after the trial. The trail had concluded that Lanah had “fallen victim to seduction,” but she had not “experienced the monstrous brutality of a rape,” and that Lanah had kind of consented by agreeing to go on the walk with him. (MP,111) It was a man’s word against a young woman’s, and Bedlow’s attorney warned the jury from “putting the life of a citizen in the hands of a woman.” (MP, 110) For Charlotte Temple, she was indeed trampled on by society. She had no rent money so her rude landlord, who felt no sympathy for her, kicked her out. Mademoiselle La Rue refused to help her, thinking only of her reputation. With the exception of a few, Charlotte was unwanted by society, while Montraville was off marrying a wealthy woman.

The second document concludes as a call to action for the women of Boston. Stating they cannot put their faith in men, who are essentially wolves. And why would they trust wolves to protect the sheep? The document seems to state that they have seen through trials or cautionary tales, like Charlotte Temple, the horrible acts that have been committed to women and they’ve had enough. It calls for women to stand together to better their sex and to start actually talking about it to influence action and quite possibly elevate themselves in society, which seems to look like the beginning of women’s rights. Overall the second document reflected the points of the other readings very well, and shows the response of the women of this time period.

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Results of Negative Views Towards the Transgender Community

Today as I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed I clicked on a People Magazine article. The article was an interview with the actress Dot-Marie Jones from the television show Glee, and how her character had recently transitioned from female to male. The article also added that Jones’ character is “the first series-regular character to come out as transgender and transition on a broadcast television network,” which is a big deal considering other shows that have transgender main characters are mainly through TV subscription services like Netflix (Orange is the New Black), or Amazon Prime (Transparent). But not all people are thrilled about the new storyline, looking through the comments on Facebook some people are very disapproving of the issue. One woman stated that she wouldn’t continue to watch the show, though many of the comments were far more insulting than that. Reading this article and comments on this story reflected exactly what I read this week about transgender and tranvestism. No matter what era we are in, a number of people choose to strongly express their negative feelings about this issue.

Dot-Marie Jones on “Glee” -http://img2.timeinc.net/people/i/2015/news/150216/dot-marie-jones-2-435.jpg

 

Jeffrey Tambour on “Transparent” -http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2014/09/11/transparent.jpg

Laverne Cox on “Orange is the New Black” -http://beta.vergecampus.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/laverne-cox-still-from-oitnb-e49d580756fe0bb2836d4486835a2d940f8f90d61.jpg

In chapter one of Intimate Frontiers, Hurtado writes about a “common” sexual practice among the California Indians called male homosexual transvestism or “berdache tradition.” (Hurtado, 4) It is not specified how long this practice had been going on, though it states that it was included in many North American tribes. Hurtado writes that the berdache acted and dressed as women, but were believed to belong to a “third gender that combined male and female aspects.” (Hurtado, 4) They took the female role in sex, and often married heterosexual men. The berdache had been accepted in Indian society until the Spaniards came along, where they then “faced persecution” for their practices. (Hurtado, 8)

As a result, most transvestite Indians withdrew from Spanish-controlled lands to avoid punishment and the violation of their social lives. The Spanish had to make everyone live according to their specific ideology or be punished therefore, the berdache had to hide away in order to be their true selves.

images of documented “Berdache” – http://cowboyfrank.net/archive/ComingOut/graphics/03-01.jpg

 

In Major Problems, over 100 years earlier, a similar issue took place with the case of Thomas Hall. Hall, who dressed as a women and “performed traditionally female tasks,” was asked on multiple occasions what his gender was where he responded that he was both. (Brown, 81) The town was not pleased with this answer, and in response to all the rumors there was a trial where they investigated records about Hall’s sexual history and identity. The trial consisted of a lengthy investigation of Hall’s past and interviewing many members of the community, but finally they came to a final decision. Hall would wear both male and female clothing, this was a punishment in that he was denied the right to choose one gender. Since the community didn’t agree with him to living as both genders they decided to shame him.

In both of these readings, the person/people identifying as trans or both genders had felt normal or accepted before some sort of negative force intervened. The berdache, as mentioned, were accepted in their tribe and were even thought of as having “special spiritual gifts” for being quite attractive before the Spaniards had scared them off. (Hurtado, 4) And Thomas Hall was described as “utterly at ease” with being able to choose his gender, but “his metamorphosis provoked…his community.” (Brown, 83) It was these negative views that came in and disagreed with their life choice and forced them into undesirable situations. It was after these groups expressed their negative opinions that Thomas Hall or the berdache had something to hide, run from, or be shamed for. And even though some of us, myself included, really want to say things have changed and that we are a more accepting society today, sometimes I look at the comments on Facebook or stories on the news and think how much have we?

 

Outside Sources:

http://www.people.com/article/glee-dot-marie-jones-coach-beiste-transgender-first-photo

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Essentialism or Social Construction??

When reading “Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name,” about Roy and Silo a same-sex penguin couple, I immediately thought about an episode of the show Parks and Recreation, where the main character Leslie marries a same-sex penguin couple at the local zoo. When searching this episode online I found out the episode was based on a same-sex penguin couple from the San Francisco Zoo, Harry and Pepper. While I am not trying to make a point, I thought it was interesting to see a story similar to the article portrayed on television and a fun fact.

Real Life Same-Sex Penguins Harry & Pepper -http://img.timeinc.net/time/2009/50_top_10/breakups/penguins.jpg

Parks & Recreation penguins – http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_luoe7mLgkS1qc1mlpo1_500.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for the readings, while reading a few of the assigned readings from this week I was intrigued to learn many new things that I had no insight to before, like essentialism, and I noticed a couple things about them. Looking at “Essentialism and Queer History” written by Rictor Norton in the book Major Problems, the article “Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name” by Dinitia Smith, and one of our in-class discussions there are similar themes, ideas that are certainly challenged, and interesting facts that can be taken away.
The similarities taken away from reading the article and the essay was the idea of essentialism. Rictor Norton’s essay is mainly about essentialism and the history surrounding that. Norton writes, “I believe that homosexuals are born and not made.” (Norton, 12) In addition to that, in class we have discussed how essentialism, a concept I am only just becoming familiar with, means you are born with it or it is in your biology. These definitions correlate with the information I am seeing and learning from the penguin article, that sexuality is in a person or animal’s nature. And it is not just penguins in the animal world, Bruce Bagemihl wrote a book about “homosexual activity in a broad spectrum of animals.” (Smith, 2) Continuing with essentialism and also tying in something I found interesting is Norton on different versions of being an essentialist. When writing about queer culture Norton states, “…my own version of essentialism, which might be called ‘queer cultural essentialism.’” (Norton, 12) I find, and will continue to find, the different types of essentialists interesting and the differences among them. Which leads me into the ideas that have been challenged so far.
The main challenge I have encountered when reading these works was from a past essay, but something we brought up in our in-class discussion on Tuesday, which involved Jeffrey Weeks’ essay, “The Social Construction of Sexuality.” Weeks’ essay is all about the social forces that shape sexuality. He gives the categories that he states are the main social forces, such as family, economics, and politics. (Weeks, 7) While I understand this concept and believe it has very good evidence to back it up, I am now torn after reading the penguin article. Against that, the concept of social forces does not make any sense for animals. It does, however, make a lot of sense for humans. So overall, they both definitely challenge each other. I feel the raising questions, I am just not sure what those questions are since I don’t feel I have learned enough to form them just yet, but I am sure in the next few weeks I will.
I hope I have done a successful job at explaining what I found interesting, similar, and challenging in my first blog post. I am excited to see how the readings over the rest of the semester go into the category of essentialism, social construction, or a whole other category of its own.

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Welcome to Blogs@VT Sites. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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