For almost every SCOM class I have taken, I have had some idea of what the class was going to offer me. Whether it’s been about research topics, ethnography, interviewing, or social movements — each class had a pretty self-explanatory title that made it easy to determine what it was about. However, at the beginning of this semester I had to come to terms with the uncertainty of Communication and Gender. In the first week of this class, I was so challenged by the idea of keeping this class or not. However, I was talking to someone in that first week, and she told me she was battling that same idea. She also said that she originally wanted to take this class after making her own understanding of the title of the class. She said, “I am not a feminist, but I want to know why people are.” That actually stuck with me while I was determined to comprehend this class’ title.
Going into this class, I had taken one or two other classes that were connected to a general feminist ideal, in support of discussing the misfortunes of our representation throughout history. So, after those classes I would have considered myself to be a feminist, however, there was still that stereotype that resided in the back of my mind, telling me that feminists were “bossy and raging man-haters”. After finishing this class though, I would, without hesitation, identify myself as a feminist.
What I liked about this class was that I was not only able to challenge myself in that one way, but in many different ways when it comes to gender-related issues. Just like any other person, I had my own opinions on issues and topics that we brought up in class, but this was prior to, when I just had these thoughts because of personal experiences and other influences in my life. This class allowed me to extend on that with analysis of these issues. I have always been open-minded, so learning more into these issues gave me a better understanding that only gave me a greater appreciation for the marginalization of certain gendered groups. For example, I have always been in support of the gay community. Then, after learning about L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. community, and how there are many different categories to be identified with, I was able to extend my understanding and grow more appreciation because of it. My first blog post was on Jared Leto’s character of Rayon in Dallas Buyer’s Club, and I know that there was a lot of backlash surrounding his character, but there was also a lot of praise for it (clearly seen from his success during awards season). I like to pay attention to that appraisal, which is what prompted me to write about that issue. Personally, I was amazed by his connection and passion for his fictional character, and I became so infatuated with him and his character after hearing an interview where touches on how transgender people long to be in another body.
Reflecting on this class, I just love the way it has further shaped my appreciation for people and their characteristics that make our society diverse and each individual person unique. We were not meant to all be the same heterosexual, thin, glowing, white, and perfect beings; we were meant to live with our own values in mind. We were meant to look however we want, love whoever we want, and to have imperfections and embrace them because they are what make us human and bring us back to reality. When we turn away from our individuality, then we conform to these issues, one in particular being mediated messages that our society has become drowned in. This brings me back to the talk on advertising from the class’ Gender Politics presentations. All of the presentations were such an enlightening experience, as they revealed the issues surrounding women, men, and differences between them, however, the advertising presentation reiterated so many opinions I have held onto this semester.
I found the debate that they brought into their presentation to be particularly interesting because it seems like regulating things like photo shopping would be the right thing to do. However, as they explained the research they found behind the establishment and enactment of this regulation could be very problematic. But then what is left when trying to reveal better intentions in messages from the media? The media is probably the biggest outpour of entertainment and information for our society today, so creating a solution to its advertising and other visuals should enter the next step of action, rather than staying in a limbo of discussion.
I can talk on and on about my deep gratitude for this class and that I was able to get past that gate of unknowing. I was able to dive into this class, and rather than getting one important lesson (like usual), I was constantly challenged and changed from engaging discussion. I took away a life lesson that I will never let go of, and that is that gender is something that we have always been and learn to become, as we grow more cognizant of the world. Gender is not something that we can change, and it something not to be ashamed or proud of. Gender is something to simply love about yourself, and to become familiar of with others. Some may not accept other genders, but that does not allow for marginalization, instead we are invited to further understanding. Gender is about being yourself in a world where it is constantly telling you not to be.
“To be nobody but
yourself in a world
which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
— E.E. Cummings