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WGS210 Project Numero Dos


Applying for a new job is always stressful. It’s nerve-wracking enough worrying about making a good first impression in general, but when it comes to the ever more competitive job search, you also have to bring your a-game during the application process and the interview(s). Being a full time-student I’ve done this nail-biting, hallway-pacing procedure plenty of times for what I would say to be one of the most shallow job markets: retail. Because you’re being judged on your whole package, from style to personality, you have to make sure you cater to what that specific store is looking for on and off paper. Now that you’ve got the idea of how stressful it can be, even if it’s for a crappy salesperson position paying $8/hour, let’s flashback to my most recent experience applying at an undisclosed retail location in Village of Merrick Park. Upon filling out all the basic background info questions, I realized one question I typically considered straightforward (no pun intended) was a tad more complex: the gender question. What is commonly seen as an either/or, this or that, black or white choose only one checkbox, now had a third box with the word “other” next to it.


Seeing that third little square left me wondering a waterfall of thoughts. Like if the job application process is already that sweat-inducing, imagine someone who doesn’t feel like he or she fits into either of those confining boxes has to worry about that TOO every time he or she applies somewhere. Or like how “other” may be offensive to someone, as if it’s a joke or feeling even more like an outsider when really the box was added to create a more inclusive environment for those outside the gender binary. Needless to say I left the store wondering more about this topic…

For one, I think it’s great that society is pushing itself, and every one in it, to think outside the black or white format of looking at gender and sex and helping us all realize there is a grey area, that sex and gender isn’t as simple as two distinct boxes we are locked into at birth but is more of a gradient from black to white with infinite possibilities in between. But can we really blame the majority of people who don’t see it this way and don’t think twice about gender/sex being ONLY male or female? I mean the first thing a doctor says upon delivering a baby into this world is boy or girl. Then throughout elementary school boys and girls are split up. Bathrooms are divided. Recess practices segregated. Parents say things like “good girl” or “bad boy” to their infants. Or wait is that to pets? Anyway, in a world that pushes the cut-throat distinction between male and female, is it fair to blame the small mindedness of the alarming majority? So I do find great value in these “small” steps forward, like adding another box or teaching parents to not place so much emphasis on boy or girl, because they aren’t small at all, in fact they’re big, even giant, controversial steps in an evolving society. However I do believe it’s basically impossible to make everybody happy, so I’m sure there are many who assert themselves as being part of the “third gender” who don’t want to classify themselves as “other.” What I’m suggesting is the utopia, magical wonderland answer which is the hope of eliminating any judgment at all, a sort of Pangaea of humans so to speak where instead of create distinctions, or different combatting continents, we work on creating similarities. What if we all just referred to ourselves as humans? Is it safe to say we’d all check off that box? Maybe not. So for now, and possibly for always, I think a solution would be a blank box where one can choose to write, or not write, whatever they want. Hey if you choose to refer to yourself as a member of planet Zorg, then why should any body have the power to take that away from you? If you want to have “I’m female” in your e-harmony profile then you do it. If you want to write in “other” that’s your prerogative. But for those who don’t want to put any of that into print, for whatever reason, if they’re unsure themselves, if they don’t care to, etc. etc., then no one is forcing them to and they should know that that’s OK. Filled in or not, gender needs to start being looked at as a PERSONAL CHOICE.

On that note, now would be a good time for an educational side note on…gender! I know I’ve kind of linked gender and sex in this checkbox question, and I need to make the distinction between the two. While there IS a difference, that to be honest until recently I didn’t recognize myself on a day-to-day basis, I have noticed that they are somewhat interchangeable in regards to this binary checkbox between male and female. Sometimes I’ve seen gender and sometimes I’ve seen sex. So to get this air cleared up, gender is defined by FAO as ‘the relations between men and women, both perceptual and material. Gender is not determined biologically, as a result of sexual characteristics of either women or men, but is constructed socially. It is a central organizing principle of societies, and often governs the processes of production and reproduction, consumption and distribution’ (FAO, 1997). Therefore, sex is based on body parts and gender on societal rules, which means that gender can never be set in stone. For example, according to a New York Times article, in the 19th century girls AND boys “often wore dresses and long hair until they were 7. Colors weren’t gendered consistently. At times pink as considered a strong, and therefore masculine, color, while blue was considered delicate.”

Hence, if gender is determined “socially” and society is constantly changing, then who’s in charge of what makes someone male or female. Oh that’s right, it should be their OWN choice, if they even choose to make one. In that regard, the “other” box is a huge step forward as an attempt to invite everyone who doesn’t fit, or choose to fit, within the binary. But then again I’ve only seen this third box on this retail store’s job application thus far. Did you know that the Harvard University application only has 2 boxes?


So if you consider yourself as part of what’s called the sex and gender identity or expression (GIE) minorities, you can apply at ease without conforming yourself to work in retail but not if you want to go to a top college?! And who are these Harvard-excluded “GIE minorities”? According to Dr. Cary Gabriel Costello from Intersex Roadshow blog, they include: intersex individuals, transgender individuals, and people with variant gender expression (for those who don’t know precisely each of these mean, Costello includes definitions in his post).
Anyway, until we get, if ever, to that wonderful, fairy tale land made of sugar and spice and everything nice, where judgment no longer exists and everyone can hold hands like a United Colors of Benetton ad, I’m suggesting we alleviate a teensy bit of it in regards to the gender question by adding this plane figure with four equal straight sides and four right angles (aka a box) under the word gender/sex on any type of application, where it seems vitally necessary to list a gender at all, that has a blank space next to it. Like this: ☐ ________. Because hey if “the man” cares so much about each individual recognizing and affirming their own gender, then maybe we should make that test a little more difficult to grade. tumblr_mb4j3knIf11qahpylo1_500


 KYLE KNIGHT, of Huffington Post, says:

The refusal of states to reflect chosen gender identity on documents may also violate the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Both Australia and New Zealand have “X” as an option, in addition to “M” and “F” on passport applications.

ZACHARY I NATAF, of, says:

Since the routine practice of correcting the ambiguous genitalia of intersexed children began in the US and Europe in the late 1950s, debates have raged about whether gender identity and roles are biologically determined or culturally determined.

According to the Intersex Society of North America one in every 2,000 infants is born with ambiguous genitalia from about two-dozen causes. There are more than 2,000 surgeries performed in the US each year aimed at surgically assigning a sex to these intersex patients.

navajoOne of the most humane and enlightened approaches was observed in the 1930s among the Native American Navajo people. The Navajo recognized three physical categories: male, female and herma-phrodite or nadle. Nadles had a special status, specific tasks and clothing styles, and were often consulted for their wisdom and skills.


CAMDEN TADHG, on, says:

I’m trans and my favorite way I’ve seen the gender question asked is to have the options Man, Woman (if we’re talking gender Male & Female aren’t the right words, imo), Trans, and a Prefer Not To Answer choice, with each box having a space directly after it for writing in and the option to “check all that apply”.  Don’t know if the formatting will come out here, but it looks like this:

__ Man, ____________

__ Trans, _____________

__ Woman, ____________

__ Prefer not to answer, ___________

That way people can get as specific about their gender as they chose and things can be broken down a little more in the statistics by coding the responses, but you can also get some straight-forward numbers out of it.  It’s similar to how many surveys are doing the ethnicity question these days, recognizing that a person can have multiple identities and backgrounds or may have identities that don’t fit neatly in a category, but that it’s still important to gather these numbers.

I do think these numbers are important.  As long as gender and sex based privilege exist, it’s important to collect statistic.

Dr. Ritch C. Sayin-Williams, director of the Cornell University Sex and Gender Lab, in New York Times, says:

Last year, a preschool in Sweden, appropriately called Egalia, opened with the goal of eliminating all gender bias by referring to the children as “friends,” instead of girls and boys, as well as avoiding all gender-specific pronouns.

Australia last month issued new passport guidelines allowing citizens to give their official gender as male, female or indeterminate. In Britain, the Home Office is also considering a third gender category on passports, according to reports.

In the United States, the transgender movement is beginning to find advocates in high schools. There are now nearly 5,000 Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs, high school organizations offering support to teenagers, registered with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a national organization whose mission is “to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.”

Dianus Blackcat, in Thinking Outside the Gender Box, says:

No other human classification has as much impact upon one’s life experience as one’s perceived and assigned gender. When a child is born, the first question asked is invariably, “Is it a boy or a girl?” From there, society loads upon the individual a plethora of predetermined expectations for behavior. Any variation in the actual behavior from the assigned behavior for that particular gender is often fiercely discouraged, regardless of the naturalness of its occurrence.

winkteExamples of the “third gender” concept can be found throughout the history of world cultures. From North America, there were the Cheyenne “he man eh,” the Lakota “winkte” and the Navajo “nadle.” Called berdache, or two-spirit, these individuals held a special role in social and religious ritual. From India and neighboring countries are the “hijras,” male transvestites, who are most often homosexual prostitutes. Although widely stigmatized in India today, they are still called upon to perform their ancient ritual function of singing and dancing in a house where a male child has been born. Many hijras claim that they are born with variant genitals, and that this is how they find their calling. Similar ritual transvestites can be found in traditional communities in Korea and Vietnam. Among some African peoples, such as the Zulu, only a transvestite person can perform oracles and other religious function.

Inscribed pottery from ancient Egypt says:


Inscribed pottery shards, like this one, discovered near ancient Thebes and dating from the Middle Kingdom, contain a listing of three genders of humanity: males, eunuchs, and females, in that order.

Anne Fausto-Sterling, in The Five Sexes, says:

Western culture is deeply committed to the idea that there are only two sexes. Even language refuses other possibilities.

But if the state and the legal system have an interest in maintaining a two-party sexual system, they are in defiance of nature. For biologically speaking, there are many gradations running from female to male; and depending on how one calls the shots, one can argue that along that spectrum lie at least five sexes– and perhaps even more.

1969, when the English physicians Christopher J. Dewhurst and Ronald R. Gordon wrote The Intersexual Disorders, medical and surgical approaches to intersexuality had neared a state of rigid uniformity. It is hardly surprising that such a hardening of opinion took place in the era of the feminine mystique– of the post-Second World War flight to the suburbs and the strict division of family roles according to sex. That the medical consensus was not quite universal (or perhaps that it seemed poised to break apart again) can be gleaned from the near-hysterical tone of Dewhurst and Gordon’s book, which contrasts markedly with the calm reason of Young’s founding work. Consider their opening description of an intersexual newborn:

One can only attempt to imagine the anguish of the parents. That a newborn should have a deformity … [affecting] so fundamental an issue as the very sex of the child … is a tragic event which immediately conjures up visions of a hopeless psychological misfit doomed to live always as a sexual freak in loneliness and frustration.

Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) says:

We certainly would like to see people become less freaked-out by people who don’t fit sex and gender cultural norms. But there are at least two problems with trying to raise kids in a “third gender.”

First, how would we decide who would count in the “third gender”? How would we decide where to cut off the category of male and begin the category of intersex, or, on the other side of the spectrum, where to cut off the category of intersex to begin the category of female?

Second, and much more importantly, we are trying to make the world a safe place for intersex kids, and we don’t think labeling them with a gender category that in essence doesn’t exist would help them. (Duh, huh?)

Margot Magowan, on Reel Girl, says:

When I was a parent volunteer on a field trip, the naturalist asked the kids to split in two groups, so the teacher said: “Boys on one side, girls on the other, that’s easiest.” So what if it’s “easiest” at that moment? Moves like that, in the long run, hurt kids. A teacher would never dream of saying: “White kids here, kids of color there.”

A truer nomination for our species than Homo sapiens might be Homo narrans.” -Henning Mankell

Dr.Cary Gabriel Costello, on Intersex Roadshow, says:

For people who are trans gender, gender transitioning is made traumatic in large part due to the checkboxes we must face daily. Binary gender markers are everywhere: on our drivers’ licenses and passports, on loan applications and job applications, and on websites everywhere (from Facebook to shopping sites to online radio stations). Once you’ve checked off one box, changing it is bureaucratically and legally difficult—and sometimes there’s no way to change it at all. This leads to all sorts of hassles and embarrassment, as we’re “outed” in odd contexts. Worse still, if the gender we’re living in doesn’t match the marker on our ID, we’re subject to being banned from flying, arrested by bigoted police officers, and denied employment.



WGS210 Project

(continued from pg 2)

More commonly referred to as a GBF, he isn’t your run of the mill best friend. He’s fashionable, brutally honest, witty, trustworthy, dependable, and fun. So much fun. From daytime activities, like shopping or happy hour, to nightly appearances to the hottest clubs, restaurants or gallery openings, your GBF is the perfect wingman. Sure he might steal your date, but it’s a much less painful burn than a girl friend pulling a robbery.

Besides giving you blunt truths on your weight gain or unacceptable shoe/purse combo, the GBF is like a walking Cosmo when it comes to cutthroat dating advice and even tips on how to please and keep your man. And on a rare occasion after too much Rosé, he even might let you use him as a practice dummy! It’s really the best of the best of both worlds: you get an amazing girlfriend who knows the ins and outs of everything and everyone AND you get the dependable boyfriend you can spend hours a night talking to about hair products without nagging your actual boyfriend who doesn’t care!

After gaining popularity in the 90s with the hit NBC sitcom “Will and Grace,” the first prime-time TV series to star openly homosexual lead characters, the benefits of having a GBF have become more and more appealing to women worldwide, reports CNN. Examples of this pairing of a ”stylish leading lady” and a gay boyfriend or gay best friend include: Christian and Cher in “Clueless,” Jenny Humphrey and Eric van der Woodsen in “Gossip Girl,” Janis Ian and Damien in “Mean Girls,” assistants Marc and Amanda in “Ugly Betty,” Ricky and Rayanne in “My So Called Life,” and, of course, Stanford and Carrie in “Sex and the City,” among many, MANY more.

The GBF phenomenon has become a flaming hot commodity not only in media representations, as Bryan Safi explored in an episode of “That’s Gay” on Current TV, but also in real life for women of all ages.

For example, in the Teen Vogue article, found on, a seventeen-year-old, Maggie, loves having her GBF, Kevin, around.

“It’s nice because I don’t have to stress about Kevin developing feelings for me,” she says. “Pretty much every time I’ve formed a bond with a straight guy, he ended up being attracted to me, and I would wind up hurting him when he found out I didn’t feel the same way.”

Even professionals agree with the benefits of a GBF!

In the same Teen Vogue article, Jennifer Gray, a New York City psychologist with a Ph.D. who focuses on issues pertaining to human sexuality, says “Friendships between girls are often fraught with competition, whether it’s over looks, weight, boyfriends, or clothes.”

Instead of having to constantly stress about your girl frenemies, a GBF offers insight, honesty, and fun without the worry, says an article from The Daily Mail.

“A gay man notices everything, in the way that your girlfriends might but your man probably won’t,” Relate counselor Denise Knowles says in the article. “Gay men are generally able to laugh at themselves more easily. They have few fears about their own sexuality and fewer inhibitions, which gives them the freedom to have a giggle and be a bit outrageous, which we women love.”

Plus it’s not like it’s a one-way street without anything in it for the gays. According to John R. Ballew, a licensed professional counselor, states in an article from CNN: “From the perspective of gay men, women offer intimate friendship that is generally free from the complications of sexual interest.”

In case you’re still not convinced on what you’ve been missing, an article by Alida Nugent on the Sundance Channel website lists the “Top 10 reasons girls need gay best friends.” They include:

  1. Keeps male murder rate down– Instead of killing your ex, just replace him with someone you know will be better- a gay.
  2. Will never steal your date– Although this can happen on occasion, Nugent gives an example of why not to worry: “My gay friends will never do that because they know that straight men are mostly boring and lame and that other gay men are way, way more interesting anyway.”
  3. Girl friends are stressful– Amen.
  4. Parades– Don’t let it ever slip your mind that “Gay Pride Parades are without a doubt the most fun, most joyous, and most colorful and interesting parades out there,” Nugent writes.
  5. If gay men like you, you’re probably cool– Just don’t let it get to your head or your GBF will bring you right back down to earth.
  6. They never think you’re mean– Since they’re usually even sassier.
  7. Stupid people don’t know how great gays are– “And they don’t know what they’re missing,” Nugent includes.
  8. Sarah Palin rallies– Sure, okay why not?
  9. Reality checks– Oh he’ll tell it like it is and you better be able to handle it.
  10. Fake boyfriend– To ward off all the creeps and help you forget you’re lonely.

So now that you’ve realized what you’ve been missing out on you’re probably wondering how you can snag one of these arm candies. Simply follow the 5 easy steps in this Wikihow to and you’ll be able to stay warm AND trendy this winter!

WGS210 Project

Critical Reading of Magazine Article 

Written as a spoof, I hoped this magazine spread and article referring to a gay best friend as a must-have accessory for any fashionable lady would make readers realize how ridiculous that idea is. While the existence of gay best friends is nothing new, it’s the idea that they’re an “accessory” or something that can be owned that is bothersome. What is the difference between a gay best friend and just being your best friend, and why does popular culture insist on the differentiation?

As put by Thomas Rogers, a writer quoted in a CNN article, “What’s always offended me about the stereotypical relationship, especially following ‘Will and Grace,’ is the notion that the gay man gets turned into a commodity. The gay man allows women to feel exotic, like they’ve suddenly found themselves an exciting pet or fancy outfit that will get them comp tickets to Broadway shows.”

While the GBF is continuously popularized and monopolized by the media, it’s definitely not okay to fit the idea into a boxed cliché. Not every gay man is into fashion and musicals.

For example, in Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir Chronology of Water, she spends a chapter explaining the importance of two gay men in her life, Michael and Dean. While it’s shown that these were very close friends to her, even compared to as being the family she never had, it’s not as if Lidia chose to be their BFF because they were gay; she loved them because of who they were and the connection they shared.

“I didn’t learn to love men from anything I knew. I learned to love men from loving Michael…I didn’t learn to love holidays from my family. I learned it from entering Mike and Dean’s house…I didn’t learn to cook from my mother. I learned to cook from watching Michael…I didn’t learn how to be feminine from any women. I learned to take off my combat boots and comb my crooked hair from looking at pictures Dean took of me over the years, pictures where he showed me that someone like me could be…pretty,” writes Yuknavitch on page 250.

While each of these characteristics that Mike and Dean shared with Lidia can be simplified and be put into that stereotypical GBF mold (they teach her to decorate, cook, and dress), it’s important to note that it wasn’t their talents or hobbies that Lidia placed emphasis on, but on their meaning.

I think that was why I was so stunned when I found the Teen Vogue article that was actually serious in pointing out how a GBF is the trendy thing to have. It amazes me that an actual publication, even worse a magazine aimed at young girls, is promoting such a shallow idea of friendship. Lidia wasn’t friends with Mike and Dean because they were gay, she was friends with them because she deeply cared for them, and it’s sickening to think that because of the article and TV shows endorsing this fantasy best friendship of rainbows and unicorns a bunch of impressionable teen girls are scouring the crowds choosing their next friend solely based on their sexual orientation.

I can’t believe I even have to include this, but a gay man is a PERSON and is a completely unique individual, unlike a specific designer bag that is fabricated to be exactly the same as all the rest no matter if it’s bought in New York or in Tokyo.

In a critique of the Teen Vogue piece found on, Richard Lawson satirically underlines his disgust in comparing a gay man to an accessory.

“Um, OK. I don’t even know how to be mad at these kinds of things anymore, y’know? I’ll just say to Vogue, what if I wrote an article that was called “Asians! Everyone Wants To Be Friends With ‘Em.” Would you enjoy that? Though race and sexuality are two very different things, so how about “Cripplez: Are They For You?” That would be a very interesting and good article to read I suspect,” Lawson writes.

Sure the gay best friend or gay boyfriend emerged long before it became a necessity according to pop culture, but it’s the idea that EVERY gay man is some fashionable, sassy diva that is bothersome. I don’t want to be misunderstood that I’m against having a gay as a best friend. That’s not what I mean AT ALL. I just want to emphasize that one should create friendship based on a genuine want, not for the need, especially if that need is your shallow desire to be a Carrie Bradshaw clone. If you create a sincere bond with a gay guy who likes dancing, wearing heels, and sipping on wine while watching “The Real Housewives of New York,” then of course there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you go to a gay bar searching for your new gossip/dancing toy only because you saw “Glee” and wanted your own, then maybe you should take a moment to find your morality. It should be common sense that it shouldn’t matter whether he is gay or not as long as the friendship is GENUINE.

In addition to having the shopping fashionisto gene, another stereotype in the appeal of friendship with a gay man that’s alluded to in the Teen Vogue article (that I’m happy to note was removed from the site) includes a level of honesty that is usually unattainable in friendships among women.

We can see an example of this “frankness” that is supposedly a trait reserved only to gay men in the reading by Craig Seymour also done in class. In the excerpt entitled “Envisioning Lives,” Seymour quotes an anonymous letter written in response to a story “Cover Girls’ in Essence magazine.

“Just as I was about to give up completely, gay males came into my life. I may even eventually meet a gay male with whom I can share my life. I am especially open to the sense of truth, openness of expression, level of considerateness, and general lack of inhibition,” (Anonymous 1992, 9).

Overall, while it’s safe to say that some of these characteristics, like wit, fashion sense, and being blunt, may be true for some gay men, it is entirely dependent on the individual, and it is extremely unfair and superficial to say that they are constituent to each and every one because they are somehow synonymous with being gay. It’s as if we are still stuck in the perception that all “gay men are more like (straight) women and gay women more like (straight) men,” as criticized by Anne Fausto-Sterling in Frameworks of desire (51).

In summary, as Fausto-Sterling also states: “The stereotypes seen on Will and Grace, or in discussions about butch and femme lesbians, may derive from particular, but certainly far from universal, practices within the gay community,” (50).

More Harry Potter

Lines trailing outside the theater and children out past their bedtimes marked the opening midnight showing of the penultimate installment of the Harry Potter movies, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

Running 146 minutes, the seventh movie raked in an estimated $61 million on its opening night the 19th of November. Instead of watching it Thursday at midnight, I decided to see it Friday afternoon in IMAX. The theater was packed and a few here and there wore a Harry Potter t-shirt or even a witch hat. I was a little disappointed when I didn’t get handed a pair of 3d glasses, but the IMAX experience was definitely worth the few extra dollars. The huge screen engulfed the audience and the sound was intensely loud.

While the film was extremely hard to follow and left me confused, it wasn’t as slow and uneventful as I thought it would be. The movie was the darkest yet with a few gory and scary scenes that show the growth of not only the character’s age but of the plot. While I’ve grown up with the series, I couldn’t believe how old Matthew David Lewis who plays Neville Longbottom looks!

The majority of the movie focuses on the trio’s search for the other five Horcruxes, each containing a piece of Voldemort’s soul. Director David Yates does a wonderful job capturing such dark and ominous imagery that puts the audience right in the scene, but at times the movie seemed scatter-brained and choppy. On the other hand, I loved the scene of Hermione, Harry and Ron infiltrating the ministry as well as the beautifully done shadow play depicting the Tale of the Three Brothers and the deathly hallows.

A few details could easily be missed with how quickly some scenes went, such as the fact that Draco has the Elder wand, which leads the audience to believe Voldemort was able to get the wand when he broke into Dumbledore’s tomb. So without reading the books, the audience is left without answers, like why did that woman turn into a snake?

I’m hoping for answers and an incredibly long film when the second part comes out in July 2011.