Monday’s lecture was shocking due to the fact that individuals who identified as homosexuals were seen as threats due to the communist regime’s ability to jeopardize their secrecy. This is resonant of the current fear that homosexuality is a threat to the population. Individuals are starting to become panicked and have argued that the “rise” in homosexuality will result in the termination of the human race. It seems as though there’s a recurring pattern that society wants to place a negative stance on homosexuality in order to persuade individuals to be unsupportive of homosexuality.
Similar to this ideology of preventing homosexuality, some individuals remain persistent in segregating gender roles and creating gender norms. In lecture, it was mentioned that females were expected to remain in the domestic sphere and were discouraged in joining strenuous sports or activities as that would negatively affect their reproductive system and fertility. Similar to this example of creating gender norms is residential schools. Through the novel My Name is Seepeetza, Shirley Sterling uses a fictional life writing to recreate her experiences in the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Sterling depicts discipline that is enacted through gender shaming, as boys who are punished are required to shave their heads and wear dresses. Current vocabulary of individuals perpetuates these gender norms by referring to a weak male as a “girl”, someone who is unable to be physically superior to other males.
Although the lecture was fascinating, I was disappointed that there was little emphasis on the female roles during the Second World War. Although the reading Women’s Wartime Work and Identities: Women Workers at Canadian Car and Foundry Co. Limited, Fort William, Ontario, 1938-1945 briefly mentioned pin up girls, I had hoped that there would be a larger emphasis on how media portrayals of women had changed during WWII.
I found the information presented by our guest lecturer, Michelle, to be fascinating since I could relate to a couple of the topics which she discussed. For instance, the issue of inequalities in women’s athletics, particularly the lack of funding for sports programs in high schools, is something that I noticed in my own school. Males had more changing facilities as well as resources allocated to their teams (e.g. for jerseys, travel), perhaps for the same reason mentioned in lecture: boys play football, and football is expensive. It is angering to think that there are still noticeable discrepancies in something as basic as funding for athletics, especially when the benefits of being physically active are equally important for females and males.
Furthermore, the extremely limited curriculum and time allocated to sexual education was another similarity that I recognized. While I had teachers who went out of their way to answer students’ questions and provide information beyond what the curriculum outlined, it is alarming that sex-ed was, and is not covered in further detail. There are numerous resources available to young people in the community regarding sexual health, but this does not solve the problem of lack of sexual education in schools. It is not unknown that young people have sex, so why is it that the sexual education curriculums in high schools leave so much to be desired? By including a curriculum that covers a broader range of topics relating to sex-ed, students will be better prepared for when, and if, they engage in sexual activity, as well as being properly informed of issues pertaining to their sexual health.
The lecture given by our guest speaker Michelle was very interesting. Particularly, I found the topic on women in sport rather surprising. To start, I could not believe people thought the women would develop unfeminine bodies. In today’s world, it is very popular for women to participate in sport. Plus, they are doing it to get fit bodies, which is what many men use to view as unfeminine. Men now a days find women taking care of their bodies attractive. Exercising creates a healthier, happier lifestyle so I truly do not agree with people’s ideas on what it would do to the female body. They based their ideas on norms, as the reading on sexuality stated “sexual attitudes and activities are shaped by society and culture.” Examples supporting this statement would have be the women being called tomboys and lesbians for being athletic and fit. Also, the fact that people believed it was only okay for women participate in cheerleading, skating, and gymnastics. Women should have been able to participate in what they loved doing, not what people thought was socially right.
I found rules for women in sport and the total exclusion from men rather sexist. Women should have had the same size basketball courts, same distance to run, and overall, they should have been able to play with men. It seems to me that nobody could judge women solely based on their performance level. The video watched in class showed this. The men allowed the girl to play because they believed she was a boy. They could not believe a woman was able to play to that level. Although, women in sport has become much more acceptable, gender discrimination is still present. A modern example would be of the Canadian women’s hockey team goalie, Shannon Szabados. She was called up to practice for the Edmonton Oilers but never got the chance to play in an actual game. It seems to me that they did believe she was good enough, but did not want her playing in an actual game because she was a girl. The link below provides information on her experience and also a quote from her father stating, “Women’s hockey has come a long way, but there’s still a lot of old-school thinking out there that women can’t do it.” It makes me wonder if sexism in sport will ever be overcome. I hope to one-day see women play in the National Hockey League.
Sex, Sexuality and Gender Constructions: The Ramifications Today
Today, women are more in control than they have ever been in the Western world in regards to sexual autonomy and birth control. Birth control access is readily available in pharmacies and with quick visits to the doctor one can get on the pill in full confidentiality. People are more informed; university residences hand out condoms in residence during first week and schools start sexual education as early as grade five, all in the sentiment of ‘safe sex.’ This education is pertinent, however, ‘safe sex’ conversations are reduced to the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. But what about relational and psychological safety when it comes to ‘safe sex’? Our western culture, at large, has debased sex to a recreational activity, and good sex, between two consenting adults who reach climax. Historically female sexual autonomy had to be asserted by separating it from procreation and the ‘maternal instinct,’ and because of this procreation and sex have become almost entirely separated in our hook up and ‘Friends with Benefits’ culture. (And please note, I am not blaming women for their assertion of their sexual autonomy, but I believe these are the consequences of the ways in which they were forced to assert themselves in an age of Victorian thought and an increasingly sexualized, woman as object culture.) Furthermore, still contraception is not one hundred percent effective and if we do not consider that pregnancy is still a possibility, or in some cases the choice to abort, than we neglect either the emotional toll on women who choose to abort and do not consider the baby that is to be born to parents whose relationship premise was purely sexual and temporary. Emotional and relational safety only happens after sex, as we have seen with the influx of Pregnancy Crisis Centers. Sexual intimacy and procreation as it relates to emotional well-being and healthy relationships needs to be talked about more, for both women and men without being shunned as prudish.
Moreover, social constructions of males and females are at play in contemporary rape cases. What is ‘permissible’ by one individual upon another is negotiated by race, gender and ethnicity. In October 2013, CNN wrote a report called “Against His Will: Female on Male Rape” that talked of the reasons why male rape often goes unrecognized or unlabeled as rape. Men have the ability to fight women off is common thought. Moreover, as mentioned in No Easy Road, Chapter Two – Sexuality, in the Criminal Code 207, 1927, “the natural heterosexual pattern is for man to pursue, woman to be pursued.” Men, on this assertion, can never be victimized. Additionally, another case reported in The Huffington Post, “Prostitution in Canada: Patterns of Police Regression Makes Sex Work More Dangerous” says that in Montreal, there has been between 50 and 60 cases of violence, including rape, brutal beatings, and attempted murder against sex workers annually. Yet only four or five cases reach the courts every year. The victims are often afraid to press charges.” I think the reason this is, is because a woman’s character and ‘immoral’ work history is on trial just as much as the offender.
Bishop, Mary F. n.d. Vivian Dowding: Birth Control Activist.
Canada, Huffington Post. 2012. Prostitution in Canada: Patterns of Police Regression Makes Sex Work More Dangerous. Accessed 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/01/02/prostitution-canada-police-repression_n_1179237.html.
Living, CNN. 2013. Against His Will: Female on Male Rape. October. Accessed March 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/09/living/chris-brown-female-on-male-rape/.
n.d. “Chapter Two – Sexuality.” In No Easy Road , by Pearson.
What incensed me most about the lecture on sexuality last week was the subject of abortion. Mary Bishop’s essay on Vivian Dowding showed that women “often risked their lives through self-induced abortions”. This was a direct result of women having unwanted pregnancies due to a complete lack of birth control. When speaking about student activism on this issue and the SBCRC, our guest lecturer advised that when a woman by the name of Fraleigh suggested to the education board that condoms be made available at the age of 15, a male colleague disgustingly responded by waving a coat hanger in her face.
Feminists have worked long and hard to advance gender equality and I therefore find it incredibly insulting that there are still some people today that are fighting against the rights that women have finally obtained for themselves. I find these people are mostly of the older generation and usually highly religious. If you are from London, you may be familiar with the group of abortion protesters who picket at Victoria Hospital. I drive by them every Saturday; they can be seen clutching their rosaries, showing signs that say “Pray to end abortion”. Now, abortion is not for me but as a woman, I certainly want to have this option. This is why I was incredibly proud of the one lone male, standing in the midst of the picketers a few weeks ago holding a simple “pro-choice” sign. I strongly suspect this same male is the person behind the gigantic sign in place last Saturday morning which read: “Apologies to all women for inconsiderate, ignorant bigots.” Apology accepted!
It should come as no surprise that Canadian women are some of the more fortunate examples of women’s rights. In Spain, the government is currently planning a reversal of the abortion law, which will restrict legal abortion to only rape and medical cases. Just last month, this caused a massive protest in Madrid.
We are very fortunate to be Canadian citizens. I may complain of protestors who obviously have different views on the abortion issue than I do, but the chance of having the abortion laws reversed are pretty much nil – they can protest all they want.
I found in this week’s topic of Women in Consumer Society, the most interesting aspect is the introduction of birth control and the evolution of women’s sexual morals. The first aspect of the article titled “Sexuality” that I find the most engaging is the societal shame placed on women for their transformation into ‘moral ruin’ do to the introduction of contraceptives, the motor car and cocktails. Another factor that contributed to this public shaming was the lack of information that women received about their own sexual health. The section in the article that women’s pads were kept in brown paper bags behind the counter only add a degree of disgrace involved with women’s sexuality. The media only pushed the concept of sexuality within marriage. Women are identified as having a ‘maternal drives’ while males are the ones associated with having ‘sexual drives’. Female sexuality was never addressed or recognized apart from men.
The introduction of birth control allowed females to gain some degree of sexual autonomy and to decrease the separation in the male dominant sex/gender system. Women fought for the acceptance of such contraceptives. Issues of women’s health, asserting the right of choice and improvement in the quality of life were other factors that contributed to the importance of this liberation.
However, these issues of gender and sex inequality still exist today and create the same kind of frustration when reading this article. In terms of gender inequality, there is an aspect of the Western Recreation Center that puzzled me in terms of furthering the gap between genders. On certain days of the week they have allotted a female only work out space. Though I am assuming that this was created based on a need brought forth by the university population. I am still unsure of the action to be the right means of attending to these issues. Is segregation the proper way to eliminate the feelings of uneasiness as sharing a work out space evokes?
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