Today was all about the ideas explored in the book Earth Democracy by Vandana Shiva and Gender and Sexuality. We started off the class with an introduction from Filip Kovacevic, Ph.D who is a Professor at the University of Montenegro. He will be with our class until Friday this week and will be lecturing us on Wednesday. After Filip's introduction, our class had a discussion, led by Professor Lamas, on the ideas in Shiva's book. We spent a large part of class talking about our theory of change. Your theory of change is your theory on what will make a true change. Professor Lamas's theory of change is that you should never say what you want; you should say what you don't want. Once you say what you want, you begin to lose. I have not developed my theory of change, but it is something I will be thinking about. What is your theory of change?
After talking about this we had Meghna, Julia, and Nicole talk to us about their experience in the Ocuppy Wallstreet movement. I had written an essay about Occuppy Wallstreet last year for my Ivy League Connection application and had become interested in the movement, so it was exciting to hear about it from people who had experienced it first hand. Meghna and Julia had gotten involved in Occuppy early on and had enjoyed their experiences. They were fighting for what they believed was just and were immersed in this "Occuppy community." The camps had health centers and there were provisions for everyone, but Meghna noticed that her voice was not being heard along with other Colored women. When Meghna threw out ideas to the groups, she was ignored. When a man, particularly a White man, threw out the same idea, they were followed. After a few more ridiculous experiences and observations, Meghna created The People of Color contingent. Julia told us that even though Occuppy Wallstreet was fighting for equality and against social segregation, the camps were segregated depending on the "value" of your job. It was interesting that people still segregated themselves even when they were fighting for the same thing.
For the second part of class, Dr. Felicity Paxton, who is a professor at UPenn, and her T/A, Nicole, introduced our class to Gender & Sexuality studies. They will be lecturing our class until Wednesday morning, and I am really excited because I am quite interested in this topic. We first all went over baby cards she had bought from CVS and Hallmark. We looked at each card and wrote down what was similar about all of them and if they were put into gender roles. All of the boy cards were blue and described baby boys as messy, troublesome, action-packed, and full of wonder. The girl cards were all pink and described baby girls as cuddly, small, quiet, being in a world of beauty, and providing lots of love and hugs. I have noticed cards like this, and have probably brought one to a baby shower before, but I never stopped to think how wrong it is. These cards are implying a generalization about males and females that is not necessarily true. A girl can be just as full of wonder as a boy can be cuddly.
After that we talked about the difference between sex and gender. We decided that sex is a medical description of your anatomy, while gender is what you identify yourself as. An example of how these both interlink is Caster Semenya. She is a South African female track star, who was accused of being male because she ran too fast to possibly be a woman. She was made to take tests to prove her female sex, even though she already identified as a woman. How ridiculous is that? Then we discussed women, gender, and sexuality in popular culture. We will expand more on that tomorrow, but she did show a 45 minute documentary about it after class to those who were interested. The documentary was eye opening. It was about advertisements and how they portray women and men. These advertisements are subliminal messages that creep into your subconscious and eventually make you want to buy their product. In summary, men are promoted as strong, physically fit, and macho, while women are promoted as skinny, childlike, and helpless.
Professor Lamas warned us that today, and this week, would be intellectually rich. If the rest of this week is going to be as rich as today was, I am very excited.