What is Sexy?: Back to Blogging

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I found this tonight on Tumblr and felt it fit this blog perfectly. I haven’t posted in a long time, but considering where my academic career is currently heading, I felt as though it may be a good experience to begin posting again. This blog was created for a class assignment, but I found I became passionate about the content and the subject of gender and identity. I am currently looking at doing Graduate Studies in English, focusing on gender and identity formation through popular text. This blog inspired me to move forward with this, so it only seems natural to try and keep it up.

As for the link I posted, I feel as though it speaks to the link between the media and gender formation in woman. As women, we are constantly told what is considered acceptably “sexy” to the point where what we as a society considers as “sexy” falls into a very narrow category. First of all, who decides this? Is there a “sexy” committee that looks at all women in a generation and decides that THIS, yes THIS is the decade’s “sexy.”

In a historical context, what is considered “sexy” has changed time and time again, varying from voluptuous women to very skinny women. The fluctuating nature of societal views regarding this only gives further proof to the argument that “sexy” is far more encompassing than simply appearance. Sexy is an attitude, and the attitude of women has consistently changed throughout history. I feel like female personality speaks more to the definition of “sexy” than simple appearance. With that being said, societies acceptance of certain appearances also leads to women feeling more or less confident about themselves and therefore present themselves in a more or less “sexy” way.

I feel like finding your “sexy” self is part of the gender formation process. Whether that means finding a feminine self, masculine self, a confident self, or a positive body image, all of these things are important to becoming the best form of “you.” This comic makes the media’s impact on gender formation even more evident, and in a clever and enjoyable way. 

 

Girl’s Episode 2 “We’re the ladies!”

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This video is from one of my all time favourite shows, “Girls”. If you haven’t seen it, you should. If you have, you’ll understand how this moment from Episode 2 fits into the subject of gender and identity. Shoshana is trying to explain to Jessa that she IS one of the ladies that the book it referring to, however Jessa doesn’t buy it. She doesn’t feel like a book can categorize her as “one of the ladies” because she is her own lady.

I was watching this last night and had to share with the class. This show looks at all sorts of gender issues, but you can really find all social issues addressed in the show!

I Am Who I Say I Am

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Over the course of this blog, it has become more clear to me that there is no way to simply categorize people into two simple gender identity roles and leave it at that. The overlap between masculine and feminine gender roles is immense. Throughout the course of history, your physical gender in terms of the way it should dictate your portrayed gender role has become more of an obvious issue. While it can be argued that the society we live in today is far more accepting than it has been in the past, I would have to say that there are places where we need a lot of improvement. For example, the idea that we are born dictating the gender we have and there is no fluidity within gender roles is nonsense. This is clear once you have not only examined gender from a literary role, but also in the evolution of culture. Take the role of women, for example. No longer is being a women simply associated with historical gender roles, such as being a house wife and  mother. For the most part, this stereotype has dissipated and while mysoganistic humour is still extremely common in our society, the fact that it has become a joke and not a fact says something.

Wanna hear a joke? Women’s rights (This is one I hear often).

At the beginning of my blog, I stated that I wanted to examine the way in which society labels and categorizes people by gender. This became more evident, and reflects the fact that as a society, we fear the unknown. I have mentioned social issues, such as transgender issues, as well as stereotyping gender and attempting to force gender upon those who don’t identify as such. What we don’t understand, we try to by any means necessary, or we ignore/neglect it.

Something I didn’t have a chance to incorporate into my blog but feel is important to note is the current Kinder Surprise campaign.

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Kinder Surprise is now made for girls! The way this is portrayed in the media makes it sound like an exciting new step for Kinder Surprise that will revolutionize the product. However, I see this as a huge step backwards. I actually thought that Kinder Surprise’s were a GREAT non-gendered product. When I saw this, I wanted to scream. What happens now if a boy ends up liking the toys that come out of the Kinder Surprise for Girls product? Well-they will either be ridiculed by their peers or prevented from getting the girl version by their caregivers. Obviously this may not speak true for every child out there, however, I just see the way in which this creates more problems.

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Seriously though-we need to get over the idea that girls like pink.

Yesterday in class, Sara mentioned the new “manteresting” website, “Pintrest” designed for men. Please note the “manly” website design…*sigh*. This is just one of the many examples of the steps our society is taking backwards. Ellen DeGeneres recently brought up the fact that Bic Pen’s had a new line of pens “for women”:

Ellen is obviously poking fun at the ridiculous obstacles women have had to overcome to reach some form of equality, however what she says could not be more true. She points out the insanity of designing PENS for women, and goes on further by satirizing women’s intelligence.

“When you have an opinion, you write it down on a piece of paper, and then crumple it up and throw it away, because no one wants to know our opinions, sweetheart”….Oh Ellen, you kill me.

It is obvious that despite our “movements forward”, as a society, we are still trying to put individuals in specific gender roles. It becomes even more obvious when we look at consumerism and the way in which our media culture tries to enforce these roles.

I’ve had a lot of fun with this blog, but I also appreciate the topic I chose and the issues surrounding gender labelling/branding in our society. The fact that we, as students, have the opportunity to create blogs and discuss the issues surrounding gender and identity, is a great thing. No one should be able to put another person into a gender category based on appearance or sexual identification. This project has allowed me to explore the ways in which people (authors, characters, etc.) have made attempts to break out of these roles and have chosen to say that gender IS fluid, and can be expressed in many different ways.

Mrs. Doubtfire and Female Signifiers

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Jamie's Blog

So I don’t know about you, but Mrs. Doubtfire was definitely one of my favourite childhood movies… to the point that I had memorized most of the lines and could recite it without having to see the movie. However, what I find interesting about Mrs.Doubtfire is the fact that a seemingly innocent childhood film is filled with so many female stereotypes and examples of gender roles and stereotypes.

In the clip below, we can see that Robin Williams is trying to mimic the role of a woman by dressing in women’s clothes while completing “womanly duties”:

Although he is playing a Nanny, Williams is still conforming to the traditional gender roles that are constructed by society. He demonstrates that he can not be a male and have a job as a nanny, so he alters his appearance in hopes of obtaining this “feminine” job. Daniel Hillard portrays the typical female gender roles by cleaning, cooking, and looking…

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This blog post compliments my previous post on Moll Flander’s and sexual double standard. Not to mention that HIMYM is one of my favourite shows.

What's My Role?

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When looking at gender roles in literature compared to popular media one that came straight to mind was that of Moll Flanders from Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother.  Both characters have been involved in numerous sexual relationships and present a good juxtaposition with the stereotypical gender roles involving premarital sex.

Barney’s different conquests are too numerous to count, however there was an episode entitled “Right Place, Right Time” in which Barney achieves his 200th conquest.  Barney does however have a book entitled the The Playbook which details each plan he has concocted to seduce a girl.  Some of these tricks can be seen in the following video clip.

From How I Met YourMother, The Playbook was created to describe the various tricks and costumes Barney would used when trying to seduce a gril…

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Gender and Sexual Identity

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I want to begin by stating that I loved Fun Home, and in addition, I think Alison Bechdel is one hell of a person. After doing research for our group presentation for the course assignments, I found myself more and more impressed, not only with the way in which Bechdel articulates herself, but also how she is able to assist the reader in understanding gender identity.

Throughout Fun Home, the reader learns that despite recognizing her homosexuality all along, Alison is pushed away from embracing her sexual identity. As an adult, she finally identifies as a butch lesbian. Bruce, Alison’s father, is constantly trying to force Alison to be more feminine. Most of this is done through her physical appearance. As mentioned in my blog post “Gender and Appearance”, in many cases one’s appearance is understood in direct correlation with their gender. It seems that in order to ensure that Alison is a heterosexual girl, Bruce feels she needs to be more feminine. In the picture below, Alison reasons that while she was trying to make up for something she felt she was lacking, her father was expressing his own feminine expressions though Alison.

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As Alison’s life continues, her father appears to be assisting her with her “coming out” process. Through literature, he supports her in his own way. This is understandable once the reader learns that Bruce was in fact an occasional cross dresser and had multiple affairs with men throughout his life. It becomes clear then that Bruce’s intention was for his daughter to not live a life similar to his own. However, this is an assumption, as Alison does not have a conversation regarding this before his death.

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What is also interesting to note is that when dressing like a “boy” is considered a norm, Alison is allowed to. In the photo above, Alison is permitted to wear hiking boots because they see girls wearing them as well.

In her article “How to Bring Your Kids up Gay”, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick discusses the difference between masculine and feminine gender identity in terms of sexual identity. She mentions the desire for society to assume that if a man likes another man, they must be feminine, and if a woman likes another woman, masculine. In regards to scientific homosexual acceptance, Sedgwick notes that, “One serious problem with this way of distinguishing between gender and sexuality is that, while denaturalizing sexual object-choice, it radically renaturalizes gender” (Sedgwick 21). This shows that by displaying that sexual objectivity is unnatural, you are also showing that gender IS natural. This creates an issue in terms of gender being fluid. If gender is something you’re born with, and isn’t learned, then how does one take on both masculine and feminine characteristics?

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Judith Butler on Gender

I have yet to touch on gender labels in the transgendered community. This is something that is very important to me. I attended a conference a few years ago that described current issues for transgender people being where gay issues were during the 1960s. This is meant in the sense that there is complete ignorance towards the issues surrounding transgendered people, as well as disrespect. On top of this, there is little support for people dealing with transgender issues in society. Essentially, there is no one protecting this community. I would love to argue that this is not true, however when I talk to friends and peers about transgendered issues, not many people understand or care. Majority of the people I talk to still assume that if a person identifies as being transgendered, it also means they are homosexual. Ignorance towards transgendered issues upsets me, and even more so after taking a course such as Gender and Sexuality where you learn just how complex one’s gender identification is. This also makes me look at Sedgwick’s statement above and consider where transgendered people tie in. With the logic that Sedgwick examines, is it even possible for transgendered people to exist-born with one physical sexual identity, yet identifying as another gender?

Transgendered issues are a huge issue in Arizona currently. This article breaks down the issues in a way that is both visually appealing and informative. If anything, it is important to simply be aware of these issues.

Works Cited

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home. New York: A Mariner Book, 2007.

North, Anna. 5 Legal Obstacles Trans People In Arizona Face. 29 March 2013. 31 March 2013 <http://www.buzzfeed.com/annanorth/5-legal-obstacles-trans-people-in-arizona-face&gt;.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “How to Bring Your Kids up Gay.” Social Text 29 (1991): 18-27.

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This is a wonderful blog done by one of my classmates that looks at Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home”. This entry focuses on her father, and his portrayed identity, as well as his true identity.