Gender and Sexuality/ Racism

Gender and Sexuality.

What defines a man and a woman? Who decides that these traits are in fact the correct ones to assign to each gender? The answer in my opinion is culture. In the article “Night to His Day” an interesting point was made that I completely agree with, ” not biology, but culture, becomes destiny”(Judith Lorber. 69). When a baby is born it is such a big deal to the new parents to brand the baby as a gender. The traits that define man and woman are so strongly imbedded in our minds that it wouldn’t matter what biology we had, if we were told we were to be a “man” then we would be assigned those traits. “The moral imperatives of religion and cultural representations guard the boundary lines among genders and ensure that what is demanded, what is permitted, and what is tabooed for the people in each gender is well known and followed by most,”(Lorber. pg 70). What that quote says to me is that culture defines us, even if you are not born as a male you can conform to become a male by engulfing yourself in the cultural norms that a biological man would conform to.

“Heterosexism creates the climate for homophobia with its assumption that the world is and must be heterosexual and its display of power and privilege as the norm,” (Suzanne Pharr. pg 422). Sexuality in my opinion can’t be defined. Who is to say what is normal? What causes our urges and sexual desires? Isn’t that all biological, or interpreted by the individual? Who do heterosexuals think they are judging others for not feeling or acting the same way that they do? Everyone is so focused on preserving the nuclear family and the sanctity of marriage. Just because two women get married it doesn’t mean that their commitment means any less. Now I don’t want someone to take this in offense and think that I am bashing the nuclear family or a man and a woman’s marriage. I grew up in the perfect family, one boy, one girl, two parents. My parents are still together so I guess you would consider my family the norm. But I have always grown up hearing my dad say that gay couples cannot adopt children, that there are plenty of “normal” couples who can adopt them. What does that even mean, homosexual couples can provide the same love and care for a child that a heterosexual couple can. In fact don’t some homosexual people come from a family that has a father and a mother? If you believe that homosexuality is wrong, then that is your opinion, I just don’t believe it is your place to tell someone else that they are living their life wrong. No one knows what makes a person homosexual, as if its some deformity. A homosexual person is just a person. Another quote that really caught my eye was this, “women are called lesbians because we resist male dominance and control. And it has little or nothing to do with one’s sexual identity,” (Pharr. pg 423). What defines a lesbian, or a gay guy? I consider myself a free thinking woman that doesn’t depend on a man, does that mean I don’t enjoy the company of a man? No it doesn’t. It means I don’t define my life around a man, nor do I need a man to define my life. But this does not make me sexually attracted to women, even though I enjoy the company of women. In the end I think that sexuality identity is something that people will always start fires over, there were always be things in sexuality that people can’t define and so it will always be a war. People can always have their own opinions, but its a whole other situation to start imparting those opinions on other people.

This article is about a little boy who was shot to death because he openly admitted he was gay. The kids in his school bullied him and harassed him everyday, until one day they just decided to kill him. What on earth were they thinking. It blows my mind that society can’t accept this.

Racism

My mom always told me in high school, Camille I swear you are going to marry a black guy one day. Honestly her comments have shaped the way I behave today. In high school I always had tons of African American guy friends, I have no clue why, they were just good guys. My best friend for 4 years was mixed. He was one of the best guys I had ever known, he told me one day that he loved me and wanted to be with me and I said no. I didn’t say no because I didn’t want to be with him, I said no because I didn’t know how my mother would react if I brought him home. I always tell myself that I want to be more open minded than my parents, to accept people for who they are and not what they look like. Even now I face it, being a senior in college. My best friend is from St. Louis, she told me that her family had to move out of their neighborhood because there were too many black people. And sometimes I get text messages from her saying that the black people in her dorm are being too loud. As if white people aren’t just as loud. Hearing people say this kind of stuff just tears me up, I think about high school and the great guy and can only imagine how he would feel if he heard that. Although I block from my mind that he has probably dealt with it his whole life. Stereotypes are everywhere you look, our society is engulfed in them. I don’t understand why its so hard for people to judge based on character instead of color, although this thought may make me naive. Obviously I was afraid of this feeling when I told Jordan I couldn’t be with him because I didn’t like him, which was a lie, I was worried about his color. The stereotype of African Americans is that they are lazy, more prone to crime, or loud. But what is interesting is that white women actually receive the highest percentage of welfare, white people commit crimes too, and some of my white friends are just as loud as anybody. The stereotypes that are assigned to people of color often are true for everyone else, people must put people in categories because it makes them feel more comfortable.

When I moved out of my house and went to college I had my first relationship with an African American guy, I never told my mom, but it was something I wanted to do and I did it. I must admit that to some extent I must be racist if I am so afraid to tell my mother that I was in love with a guy that was African American. And the other part of me doesn’t want to deal with the criticism that comes from other white people from dating a black guy. It just tears me up inside that I sometimes feel that way, but I can’t change those stereotypes on my own. I look back at my life and friendships and realize that some of the best friends I had were African American. “Stereotypes, omissions, and distortions all contribute to the development of prejudice,” (Beverly Daniel Tatum. pg 387). My mother has never been exposed to diversity of race. She grew up in a small country town, and my grandfather still makes racist jokes to this day. I don’t judge my mom for this, I just choose to understand that the omission of color from her childhood has made her think that way. It was something she was born into and now that she is older is something that she can’t change.

Do I think I’m racist? The answer to that question is no. I don’t judge people on their color, if I say something about someone it is because they have done something to me that has lead me to that assumption. Everyone can say that I’m just a middle class white girl, that I don’t have to deal with the issue of race, and that’s true. If you want to label me as a racist because I was born white, then that is your choice. But I think that everyday I stand up for other races when people say things about them for no reason. I definitely think that I am privileged because I’m white. I don’t think that I will ever be able to understand what its like because I don’t have to deal with it. If you define being racist as “a system of advantage based on race” (Tatum. pg 390), then I guess I would be racist. But I define racism as falling into stereotypes and judging others based on color instead of character, and in that essence I believe that I try very hard to treat everyone equally.  As a society I definitely believe we are racist, I think some areas are more racist than others, but overall I think people are more judgmental on color than they should be. It is something that will probably never change, you will always find one person that just thinks Hispanics are illegal, even though they are some of the hardest working, most welcoming people I have ever met. It’s almost like you can have 100 good traits of a person of color, and the one “bad” or different trait can define an entire stereotype. I don’t know how to change that.

This article is actually pretty recent. My family is really into soccer so at my house we have been watching the eurocup. There was this huge incident were fans were making monkey noises at a couple of black players. Its amazing that people are that rude, for no apparent reason. The article explains that Europeans had a scrimmage that united them together against racism. That it didn’t matter what race, they come together to show pride for their country and just play a great soccer game.

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