Author Archives: rau

Gender Equality Bake Sale

For every dollar a man makes, a woman makes only 77 cents. This is the main gender inequality issue that a few women brought to the attention of their fellow schoolmates at Jordan High School in Utah. These female advocates had a bake sale where males had to pay a full dollar for a cookie, while females only had to pay 77 cents. One of the members of the Young Democrats Club, Kari Schott, stated that “On social media […] people got really mad, like they came up and talked to me […]. They didn’t think it was fair and I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it” (ABC 4 Utah). The Young Democrats members received much feedback from the students who experienced the inequality first hand, some expressing that men and women deserve equal pay and some critiquing the statistics. This kind of talk is what the Young Democrats club wanted to achieve because it allowed people to consider their thoughts and biases towards the issue, then reevaluate their own opinions about the patriarchy that is still prevalent in today’s society despite the equality claims.

The women of the Young Democrats club at Jordan HS have blatantly brought out the fact that such gender inequality exists. In relation to Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, male privilege, the advantages made available to men because of their sex, is something that’s often be hidden from society, whether it intends to be or not. McIntosh states that “males are taught not to recognize male privilege”, which is exactly why Jordan HS’s Young Democrats club saw the importance of pulling attention to the issue. Often times, people do not recognize their own privileges, so Schott and the other members of the Young Democrats club ensured that this inequality was no longer invisible to their peers who otherwise may have thought that gender equality, equal treatment and access to resources for men and women (Aulette and Wittner), was fully implemented in society.

In “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, McIntosh highlights the fact that men won’t admit that they are over privileged, even if they know that women are disadvantaged. Jake Knaphus, a Jordan HS student stated in response to the gender equality bake sale; “I believe in what they’re doing. I believe in their standing for a cause, but I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct. I would love to have a debate with them, about what they believe in” (ABC 4 Utah). Knaphus confirms McIntosh’s ideas almost word for word. Knaphus was likely feeling some degree of victimization from the gender equality bake sale and therefore tried to stand up for himself and his rights. This is the exact response that the Young Democrats club wanted to receive in hopes that people would realize that with every 77 cents a woman receives, she is made to feel significantly undervalued compared to men, especially when doing equal work.

After the Women’s Liberation Movement, a social movement that promoted gender equality in the mid-twentieth century (Aulette and Wittner), many people were under the influence that gender equality had been achieved. However, society proves to continue to be influenced by gender inequality. Several examples can be seen in Faludi’s “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women”, such as the fact that the majority of women are being paid less than $20, 000 per year, nearly double the male rate (Faludi xiii). Or that female college graduates earn less than males who have high school diplomas, and a female high school graduate will typical earn less than a male dropout (Faludi xiii). According to Faludi, it is legal for husbands to rape their wives in 30 states, and only 10 states have laws against domestic violence (xiv). This patriarchy, when men hold the power and women are excluded from it, helps show that women’s rights were nowhere near liberated by the Women’s Movement because there is still a great deal of gender inequality that suppresses (arrests the development of a feeling, action, or expression) women and their rights as human beings.

When we think about the male privilege, gender inequality, and patriarchy that can be seen throughout society and proved by simple acts such as the gender equality bake sale, it leads us to the idea that if women are treated so unfairly when compared to men, then the inequality in regards to intersectionality, the connectedness of social categorizations, of race and gender, would be of an even larger issue. For example, if the same equality bake sale was conducted, but with females of colour versus white males, or even deeper as to cisgender, self-identity follows the gender that corresponds to their assigned sex, white males versus transgendered, when a person’s gender identity does not match their assigned sex (Aulette and Wittner), females of colour. These situations would produce an even larger response because the privileges in these situations would be much larger and in some sense much more invisible if no attention is drawn to them.

In order for improvements to be made in regards to the privileges that people have over others, the invisible knapsack must be unpacked, to use McIntosh’s terms. People need to pay attention to language and be aware of how they express their own privileges and the privileges they are trying to pull attention to.

Work Cited

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford Universty Press, 2015. Print

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. Nexstar Broadcasting, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

Faludi, Susan. “Introduction: Blame It on Feminism.” Backlash : The Undeclared War against American Women 1 (1991): Xi-Xxiii. Web. 7 Apr. 2015.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Web log post. Amptoons.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html&gt;.

Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-Sex Couple’s Baby

Krista and Jami Contreras were married in 2012 and welcomed a blessing in their life, their daughter, Bay, in October 2014. This same-sex couple knows first-hand about the occurrence of homophobia in the world. They are aware that there are people who are strongly against, and have hatred towards LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning) people. However, when the couple brought their 6-day-old daughter to their pediatrician for her first checkup, Krista and Jami were shocked to find out that “[…] Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for Bay” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). Dr. Roi wrote a letter to the parents giving reason for her decision, stating that “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). It could then be concluded that Dr. Roi was refusing to treat Bay, who has no sexual orientation of her own yet, simply because of her same-sex parents. After all, if Dr. Roi is worried solely about her patient-doctor relationship, then the sexual orientation of Bay’s mothers should not be a factor in the care Dr. Roi believes she can, or cannot, provide for Bay, right? Jami Contreras stated that “we know this happens in the world and we’re completely prepared for this to happen other places. But not at our six-day-old’s wellness appointment.” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). Ultimately, the Contreras’ were shocked that an individual in such a profession could display such heteronormative tendencies. The Contreras’ were quick to find another wellness center and another doctor to treat their young daughter.

While searching for a new pediatrician, the couple felt as though they had to stress the fact that they are lesbian mothers and make sure that the doctor is okay with that. In the structure of today’s society, it is unfortunate that such heterosexual privilege still exists. There are so many movements that aim to diminish heteronormativity in today’s society. People try so hard to come together as one system and fight for equal rights of LGBTQ people and as much as their efforts have paid off, society is nowhere near equilibrium. This lack of equal treatment can be seen clearly through Krista, Jami, and Bay Contreras’ case.

Intersectionality, or interactions between systems of oppression and discrimination, is a prevalent issue that unfortunately still exists in today’s society. In order to understand the present, we must be able to understand the past and its history. It is clear that LGBTQ peoples were degraded much more in the past than in the present day. To some, the increase in support and acceptance may resemble a complete transformation, or fix, to the issue. However, as can be seen in the Contreras’ case, there has not been, nor likely ever will be, a complete fix to the inequalities between heterosexual and homosexual peoples. The oppression felt by LGBTQ people, which is based off of the discrimination by people who only believe in heteronormativity can be detrimental, especially in terms of self-confidence and the feeling of acceptance. Krista Contreras states, “Hopefully us telling our story can make sure by the time [Bay is] six-years-old this kind of thing can’t happen” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). Similar to most people in this day and age, Krista and Jami Contreras can only dream of a world where their child can grow up without intersectionality and inequality.

Cornell West once said, “Justice is what love looks like in public”. A world without equality where certain groups of people are oppressed and therefore told that they deserve and are worth less than people with “desirable” characteristics is a world full of hatred. When justice is achieved for all people, that is when the world will be right, or in West’s terms, that is when the world will be full of love. Jami Contreras explains her scenario; being turned down for child care by her pediatrician for the sole reason that she and her wife are lesbian mothers as “[…] embarrassing, it was humiliating” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). When justice is reached throughout the entire world, no human will have to feel embarrassed for being who they are.

Work Cited

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford Universty Press,   2015. Print

“Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” MyFOXDetroit.com. MyFOXDetroit Staff, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Blackbird by Patrik-Ian Polk

The Reelout Film Festival took place January 30th-February 7th, with a variety of films being previewed in Kinston. The unique aspect of Reelout is that it is a queer film festival, where each and every film reflects at least one aspect of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community.

The film that I had the pleasure of viewing at this year’s Reelout Film Festival is Patrik-Ian Polk’s Blackbird (2014), staring Julian Walker as 17-year-old Randy Rousseau. This film focuses on the struggles that Randy has to face as he gets older and is forced to take on a vast amount of responsibilities. Randy’s sister, Chrissy (Nikki Jane), went missing 6 years ago and his mother, Claire (Mo’Nique), has become mentally ill due to the disappearance of her daughter. With the leave of his father (Isaiah Washington), Randy is now the primary caregiver and support system for his mother who continues to hold on to the hope of Chrissy’s return. In the film Claire states “I may not be a wife or a woman anymore, but I’ll never stop being a mother”

Aside from his observable struggles, Randy is also dealing with some personal struggles in his life. Night after night Randy has the same dream that causes him much distress every time he wakes up in the morning. Randy finds that he is having dreams involving himself and one of his male friends engaging in various sexual activities. Randy is a very religious individual who comes from an equally religious family, therefore Randy has been taught heteronormativity– the assumption that heterosexuality is the only correct form of sexuality, and that living and feeling otherwise is a sin (Aulette and Wittner 121) for his whole life. Due to his beliefs, Randy wakes up every morning visibly distressed because of his unconscious thoughts and pleads to God to take his dreams away. Randy is a firm believer in sexual scripts, which outlines how an individual is supposed to behave based on their gender (Aulette and Wittner 120-124). Randy is not afraid of being an individual of the sexual minority seeing as his friends and schoolmate seem to be generally accepting of the LGBTQ community, and some are involved in it themselves. Rather, due to his belief in God and Christianity, and the dreams that Randy has, he is extremely confused about his sexual orientation.

As Randy continues to have these dreams, he gradually starts to understand that he is gay and that there is nothing anyone can do about it. Randy is persuaded by his co-worker at the time, Marshall (Kevin Allesse), who is an openly gay male. Marshall explains to Randy that God told him it’s okay if he’s gay. Randy soon learns the importance of accepting his homosexual feelings and is then able to truly express himself as an individual.

Randy’s acceptance of his sexuality is what leads into the scene that I found stood out the most in the film. I found that the distinct moment when Randy accepts his feelings is when he kisses Marshall after a night out together. They were in Marshall’s car and little did they know that Randy’s mom was still up waiting for Randy’s return. Claire walked outside and caught Marshall and Randy kissing in Marshall’s car. Because of their family’s strict religious practice that leads Claire to believe firmly in heterosexuality, she is extremely disturbed by the idea of her son being a sexual minority. At this time Claire yells at Randy, expressing that he is the reason God took away her daughter. As can be imagined, having his mother express that God is punishing them because Randy is gay took an extreme toll on Randy’s emotional state.

Sometime down the road Chrissy was found living with another family who abducted her for 6 years. When Chrissy returned to her family, I found it strange that everything seemed normal after 6 years of being absent. I think that the portrayal of this aspect could have been improved, because it is likely that Chrissy would have has some psychological damage after being separated from her family for so long and then returned like nothing ever happened. However, one of the largest aspects of character development is portrayed through this scene when Claire realizes that since Chrissy was brought back home, it must mean that Randy’s homosexuality is an acceptable aspect of who he is.

I think that Reelout is an amazing opportunity for people, especially today’s students, in the sense that it is a very eye-opening experience. Blackbird is the only film I attended, and I wish now that I had have gone to see a couple more so I could have gotten greater knowledge in other areas of the queer community that were not represented in Blackbird. In addition, being able to see the passion radiating off of the people who make it possible for this festival to happen is a truly rewarding experience because I was able to tell that they just want to make a difference in the world and help people feel like they can be themselves.

Work Cited

 Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford Universty Press. 2015. Print