Internal Thoughts of a Teacher

My video “Internal Thoughts of a Teacher” focuses on the topics covered in ECS 110. Everything from racism to ableism and studying the effects of systemic injustice within our society was covered in class, and was then put into a short, relatable video.

Take a look at this educational video that summarizes my learning in ECS 110.

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The Self in Relation: Gender Binary

      i) Normative Narrative

A normative narrative is a story that we repeat to ourselves so often that it becomes true. I wrote a blog post featuring the normative narrative of gender binary. I specifically focused on the phrase often used to justify harmful actions and keep the gender specific roles and characteristics in place, boys will be boys and girls will be girls. This belief limits opportunity and creates a frustrating box of expectation that many struggle to fit in. This is in part due to “social positionality (such as your race, class, gender, sexuality, ability-status)” (Radical Pedagogy). Social positionality includes the gender binary, and the obstacles many face when their personality or actions collide with the expected gender roles. I have written my own experience with the gender binary when acting outside of the expectations that society has for young women, specifically regarding my lack of makeup use. The normative narrative that boys will be boys and girls will be girls is a platitude which is a trite, simplistic, and meaningless statement, often presented as if it were significant and original and has harmful effects on society (Feminist Glossary). In connection with my classmates blog posts, I will be exploring how the gender binary harms people in different aspects of life.

In Hyominecs’s blog post ‘Writing the Self 4: Why Our Responsibility’ she shares her personal runin with her school’s dress code. I notice that every desk has a blanket taped to their front legs…. so we don’t need to think about putting our knees together all the time.” This was because the girls were made to wear skirts as part of their uniform. This points to the expectations of the gender binary because it normalizes the disrespectful behaviour that boys will be distracted by a girls body, and instills the tradition that girls must accommodate for others. This clear binary discourages any kind of crossover behaviour for fear of acting with feminine or masculine characteristics. I find myself relating to Hyominecs’s post because there are people in my life who struggle to accept the fact that my beauty is not for them. What really fascinates me is that the approach to fixing this issue is to tell the girls, who are being sexualized, that they are at fault. Whereas a more sustainable solution would be to address the boys and their misunderstanding of the purpose of the female body.

In Flemintrblog’s post ‘Boys Shouldn’t be That Way’ he talks about his passion for activities typically reserved for girls. “My love of the colour purple, how I painted my nails, my interest in makeup, how I preferred to practice piano over playing sports.” He highlights the many debates that he has with his mother over his feminine preferences. His mother has a strict idea of what it means for a boy to be a boy and for a girl to be a girl, and Femintrblog struggles to balance between the two. This causes him to become “hyper-aware of all of [his] actions and interests as being out of place.” In my own blog post on the gender binary, I too am confronted with an opposing figure in my life, who disagrees with my less than feminine approaches to beauty. These similar stories are rooted in a societal view that gender is binary, and not a fluid scale. This ingrains an idea that to be normal, you must fit into either category. The perceived gender roles fit into traditional colonial worldview, and in order to change these traditions, a new understanding of gender will have to take place.

 

      ii) Creating Counter-Stories: Disrupting Normative Narratives

The gender binary is a largely accepted normative narrative that encourages gender roles and approves inappropriate actions on the grounds that specific genders and races can act in a specific manner. So far, my classmates have discussed their personal stories about times that they experienced the gender binary, but trombonedom expresses his experience disrupting the myth. During his teen years he was introduced to some new trombone players that were females.” He was also introduced to the social stigma against females playing brass instruments such as trombone. He then overheard a close friend of his making rude comments about these new female brass players. Unlike the stories of my classmates I mentioned above, trombondom was not the person being gendered, and was not in a position where he had to stand up for himself. He took the initiative and stood up for the girls who were in a socially vulnerable position.

Despite getting into trouble for starting such a ruckus during practice, he persisted that what he had done was right. Trombonedom was not the person being pushed out his gender roles, yet he used his privilege in that situation as an outsider to chose to disrupt the normative narrative. This put him into a vulnerable position outside of his expected gender roles. His fresh perspective on the narrative identifies the power of the bystander. All too often, the gender binary is challenged by those who already do not fit within the myth, and are therefore on the outside. Trombonedom’s story highlights the dangers of telling a single type of story which features an outcast character challenging the narrative. He gives bystanders a responsibility to stand up against the harmful normative narrative.

While reading Tombonedom’s story I was moved by his willingness to stand up for the female trombone players. His dedication to disrupting the stigma that he identified made me very happy. Although it may be read as a small gesture to a small problem restricted to female brass players, I believe that the problem exists as part of a larger part of the gender binary. His story allows me to read my own post using a different perspective, that I do not need to challenge socially constructed gender biases alone. I hope to be able to learn more about the effect of bystanders, and just how dependant one can be on them.

The gender binary is not a new topic in western culture, and we keep learning new ways in which the framework of gender ingrains expectations of what it means to be a specific gender. It continues to take hard work on all sides of the gender binary, including the ones challenging the stereotypes and the ones who fit within the binary. When I hear people claim to not know where to start in the process of deconstructing the gender binary but wish for a solution to the issues at hand, I think back to this quote in the book Is Everyone Really Equal: “The desire to jump to the “end” or to the answers can be a way to avoid the hard work of self-reflection and reeducation that is required of us.” (Sensoy and DiAngelo, 2012, p. 143). The progress in minimizing the impact of gender binary moves at a snail paced rate in part to those who do not want to participate in the hard work, and only look towards a future of harmony and inclusivity. Before we get to that point, there is much ground work to be done to deconstruct the normative narrative of the gender binary.

 

 

Resources:

 

Classmate’s Stories

https://hyominecs.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/writing-the-self-4-why-our-responsibility/

https://flemintrblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/boys-shouldnt-be-that-way/

https://trombonedom.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/writing-the-self-4-gendering-what-gendering/

 

Class Readings

http://www.radicalpedagogy.org/radicalpedagogy.org/Leaning_In__A_Students_Guide_To_Engaging_Constructively_With_Social_Justice_Content.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/16/feminism-glossary-lexicon-language/99120600/

Sensory, O., & DiAngelo, R. (2012). Is Everyone Really Equal. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Dismantling the Gender Binary

Gender binary is the classification of both sex and gender into two distinct and disconnected categories. The unrealistic expectations that go along with the labels boy and girl, leave people striving to meet standards that harm others and themselves. Take masculinity for example;  “[Society] constructed an idea of masculinity in the United States that doesn’t give young boys a way to feel secure in their masculinity. So [they are made to] prove it all the time.” (Dr. Michael Kimmel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc45-ptHMxo) This creates hypermasculinity, which causes gender based violence, and low self-esteem. Now let’s switch to femininity. It is displayed in media with violent and oppressive images that shapes how women are viewed; as objects to be utilized by men.

The gender binary also hurts those who do not fit the binary. They do not meet societal expectations, and therefore face ostracisation and become victims of bullying and violence. The exclusive gender binary creates a divide which disconnects genders completely. Colonialism views gender as an either/or, not as fluid scale. This is an issue as the expectations are of the extreme ends of the scale, which leaves people in the middle to pick a side or risk exclusion.

For myself, it was interesting to discover the extent that gender binary hurts all people. I had assumed that without the pressures of femininity and masculinity, that scrutinization would be minimized, not magnified. It is important to undo the gender binary so that it gives people the ability to feel secure in themselves. Undoing gender is difficult, but it starts with simple changes such as using non-gender specific compliments, encouraging people to experience emotions across the gender spectrum, and uplift the voices of those who reject the gender binary. I also try to reassuring the men in my life that masculinity does not rely on proof, and I create my own expectations of what it means to be my best self. It is through hard work and conscious effort that the gender binary will be dismantled.

How do you plan to or already partake in the dismantlement of the gender binary?

 

 

Links Used For This Post:

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/gender-binary

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc45-ptHMxo

Immigrants Are Stealing Our Jobs

The popular myth that immigrants are stealing our jobs has recently come back into circulation since the Canadian election. Justin Trudeau raised the number of newcomers let into the country per year significantly, and it has many people fearing for the state of the job market. This belief that immigrants will flood the job market stems from real fears. The video below hopes to combat this popular saying that often accompanies the debate that Canada should not let people from other countries gain Canadian citizenship.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByjnlijZ4ZaAa2V3VVQteUpER0U/view?usp=sharing

The link above will take you to a video produced to combat the myth that immigrants are stealing our jobs.

Writing the Self 4: The Time I Felt Most Beautiful

The chair spins and I am once again face to face with myself in the mirror. Except this time, I don’t recognize the person staring back at me. I gawk in wonder at the creature in front of me. She has a face as smooth as glass, big lashes, high cheekbones accentuated with highlighting blush, and lips painted a rusty pink that would match my teal dress that I had bought months before. My hand reached up from my lap to touch my face, as if I needed the physical proof to know that this human exists; that this is me.

Just as I ran my fingertips over my skin, my hairdresser’s hands knock them away while adjusting my hair. “Don’t you look beautiful?” She asked. I nodded in agreement. I’m sure I did look very beautiful. I looked as done up as every other girl would be later that day. This was graduation after all. I was supposed to look like a princess, celebrating my success of four years of hard work and overcoming obstacles with… makeup? A trip to the salon? A dress worth hundreds of dollars right before I go on to spend thousands of dollars in post-secondary?

I had allowed myself to become swept away in the beauty of the ritual. Every year the senior class celebrates their new graduate status. Every year the senior girls will throw special parties themed pink to signify our femininity. As if people had forgotten that the upcoming generation of girls is breaking the glass ceiling of inequality, but don’t forget, we’re pretty too. Every year the girls wore dresses and put on makeup because we are not truly graduates unless our success can be measured in beauty.

“You should wear makeup more often, you look so much more beautiful.” My hairdresser spoke again. Her comment numbed me. She wasn’t the first person to say this to me, and she certainly wouldn’t be the last. In the moments later that day, walking across the stage to receive my diploma, I felt I had performed my gendered expectations perfectly. I was still left feeling that I had done myself a disservice.

Erasing the Stigma Around Treaty Education One Day at a Time

One of the biggest issues facing Saskatchewan teachers is teaching treaty education. It’s ironic how something so embedded in the birth of a nation and so crucial to Canadian history, can be so difficult to teach. In an effort to aid future and practicing teachers in the task of covering this tricky subject, the University of Regina hosted the third annual TreatyEdCamp. This all day event is put on in an effort to end the stigma that comes with treaty education.

In the morning, keynote speaker Charlene Bearhead took the stage. She spoke of her life’s work concerning Aboriginal rights and treaty education. She also gave attendees the skills to educate children, parents, and grandparents of these children. She didn’t always boast about the success of her methods. She also took time to outline her missteps; such as when she couldn’t reach every single heart in the room, and times when she couldn’t find a way to change a heavily rooted opinion. Charlene humanized herself in the most humble of ways, and reminded all of us that no matter successes we achieve in life, we are all somebody’s mother, or brother, community member, and most of all we are ourselves.

The many diverse options that were provided for the sessions left me struggling to choose, as each covered a different area within the classroom. I ultimately chose to attend “How to Resist the Resistance to Teaching Treaty Education”. The overly full room of eager students excited me. Not only was I surrounded by students in the same stage of their careers as me, but the information that the presenter Brooke gave, was extremely helpful. She shared her struggles through university, her internship, and her first teaching contract. Although her admissions of absolute stress and defeat when challenged with teaching Treaty Education did not make the process appealing, it allowed me to feel comfortable as I am constantly learning new things everyday.

The second session I attended was “White Allies”. It is here that we discussed the low expectations of white people concerning minoritized matters. All too often, a white person just has to show up to an event, or post a heartfelt comment on facebook and they will be patted on the back. Mike, who was hosting this event, told us his story of how he earned the effortless title – white ally, and the outrage he felt upon examining his lack of effort. Upon sharing his feelings on how minority communities have low expectations of white people, he received a response from his Aboriginal friend that resonates with me, “Don’t think we don’t.” What he says is that he does have high expectations, and others that belong to minority groups do expect more of white people. What I took away from this was that having a title of a white ally and acting like a white ally are two separate things.

I have gained plenty of new information from this camp. I learned how to reason with people who resist teaching treaty education, how to listen responsibly to keynote speakers, and how to look deeper into the praise that I receive. I enjoyed this day very much, and cannot wait to learn more information relevant to my future profession when I attend next year’s TreatyEdCamp.

Writing the Self 3: Not That Different

The bus barrels down Sherwood Drive, and all too predictably comes to a halting stop. I look up from my phone when I hear the doors begin to open. The fumes from the bus’s gas exhaust comes through the door, and threatens to choke me. I live far from the University, and the distance has only one benefit – I am always guaranteed a spot on the bus.

Today is a Monday, the busiest day of the week for this particular bus. My backpack sits on my lap, and when I look to my left, across the aisle is a girl that mirrors my stance. We are poised within our small seats, waiting for somebody to sit next to us. My eyes take in this girl. I have seen her before on this bus and she gets off at the University stop, which I do too. We are very similar in many ways. She looks to be young, in her first few years of study. She wears converse, just as I do. She keeps what would normally be in her purse, in her backpack as I do. She listens to music the whole way there just as I do. There are so many similarities between us that I am surprised that I have never it before.

As the bus makes its way across the city, more and more people come on. Soon, a stranger is sitting beside me. I expect this. The doors close and the bus begins to move with people still searching for a seat. I swivel my head back to see that the rear of the bus is full. There are several people exasperated because standing on public transit in the morning is almost worse than missing the bus entirely.

My gaze travels to the left, and through the heap of heavily clothed bodies standing in the aisle, I spot the girl I had examined a few stops before. The girl who I feel to have so much in common with, is sitting alone. The seat beside her stands empty and her small form rests against the wall of the bus. She has pushed herself up against the rattling metal, as if she is sitting alone because she is taking up too much space. I envy her lonesome ride, as the person next to me reeks like smoke and looks as if they had slept in their clothes the night before. My mind puzzles over why she would get to ride alone, even with a fair amount of people struggling to keep from falling over as the bus moves closer and closer to the University.

I become curious, and shift forward in my spot to see around the packed bodies. Her hand moves from her lap, to adjust her black hijab. The jarring movements of the bus causes to the fabric to slip backwards, revealing a small portion of dark hair. The girl who has so much in common with me shifts the fabric forward until it is framing her face. Her face is probably only a few shades darker than mine. The hijab that conceals her modesty, repeals the other bus riders in a way that my curls do not. Her darker skin unnerves the passengers in a way that my light skin does not. Her existence as a thriving minority figure scares the other patrons in a way that my threat of success would never do.

My life encompasses a narrative that fits comfortably into people’s minds, while this girl’s prosperity and future triumphs doesn’t taste familiar in people’s mouths just yet. This girl does not get the luxury of escaping her skin in times as simple as a bus ride. Nobody on this bus knows anything about her or me, but through systemic privilege I can be defined by my actions, and uplifted by my anonymity.