Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

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What Women Do for Beauty

Throughout reading the articles “What We Do for Love” and “Designer Vaginas” and throughout our discussion during class, I realized just how much women are expected to do for beauty. Several studies have found “that men choose their dates based more on women’s looks than on women’s earning potential, personality, or other factors.” This only increases the expectations women are forced to have. One example of beauty that women are expected to maintain is their long hair. One undergraduate student wrote about how important hair is for a woman. She cut her hair and missed the power that it gave her. Also, some women are now choosing to have labiaplasty in order to feel more comfortable about their body. So many women develop eating disorders because of photo shopped, unhealthy women that society calls “beautiful.” Although now historical, foot binding was a common practice in China that was a symbol of beauty. These are just a few examples of qualities that women desire to obtain in order to feel beautiful in a society that continuously has unattainable guidelines for “beauty.”


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Half the sky

Honestly, i knew that woman in other countries had it way worse then woman in the United States. After watching the movie Watch The Sky though, in class for them two days; i now realize how bad it is in certain countries. From Africa to India, some woman just have no voice at all and the situations they get put in is hard for me to watch. FGM is a huge problem for African Woman and most don’t have a choice in the matter because it gets done to them at such a young age. I greatly respect the woman who built the hospital and is teaching young African woman the basic procedures of being a nurse and aiding other woman in medical need. She is a very strong and independent woman and i hope her work continues to change lives. Sex trafficking in India is also a very disturbing and growing problem for young Indian woman and girls as well. The courageous woman that is documented in that part of the movie, i cant say enough praise about. She fights every single day to get young girls and woman into school to educate themselves instead of selling there bodies for money for there family. The part that got my attention the most was towards the end where the woman tried all she could to convince a mother to not have her 10 year old daughter start getting into prostitution at that age. The 10 year old girl didn’t have any say in the matter, as what her mother was going to decide for her went, and i guess they needed the money badly but sending your young daughter into the world of prostitution especially at that age is unacceptable in my opinion, and i feel terrible for the the young girls and woman that have to go into that lifestyle. Half the sky really opened my eyes to what woman have to go through in other countries and i hope that things will get better for all of them in the future.

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Learning Gender

After discussing gender in class, I am seeing how it takes a toll on your life. I believe the reason people are not who they truly aspire to be is because the gender norms that have been placed in society. The example that was used in class was that females are not good in math, that math is more of a males subject. I must admit that I once believe that stereotype myself. Then I began to evaluate the situation, and ask myself what is gender? Is it who you are biologically or socially? From the way society has displayed gender it’s definitely who you are socially. If you’re female you have a rules and regulations that fits your gender, and the same goes for male. This is where double standards, gender roles, and women inequality come from. The importance of gender leaves limitations of both sex, because you feel you have only so far to go as male or female. And once you cross the boundaries set for your sex you then are criticized. Which is why bullying is at a all time high, this belief has been computed into the brains of people who cant fathom the though of people being different from what is set to be normal. The crazy part about the situation is this was forced upon many of us before we even knew it. It was in the books we read, clothes that were bought for us, activities that we interacted in, and in our school systems. And the only way to change this ongoing cycle is to teach the upcoming generations a new way of thinking

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What is to Be Done?

After watching Half the Sky it opened my eyes to the various ways women are treated in different countries. Through forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and female genital mutilation, women are oppressed around the world. All of these issues are extremely harmful and need to be stopped; however, I believe that female genital mutilation was the hardest one to accept and watch. Before watching this movie, I had heard a little about female genital mutilation, or FGM. I believed that it was part of their religious beliefs as to why they practiced such a harsh custom. Since watching the movie, I learned that this was not the case. I believe that we need to take more of a stand against FGM. It is very hard to oppose another culture, but when it is harming innocent women and children more needs to be done. The question however, is what can we do as Americans?

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Gender Qualities

In class we discussed a lot of gender related topics. It made me think of transgender people for some reason. There are people that identify themselves as the opposite sex than what they are. The activity that was done in class about finding the approiate clothes a girl or boy would wear was pretty difficult because I then thought, what would be a neutral color for a boy or girl. It’s amazing that in this society we cannot let a person that is female or male wear whatever color, clothes, etc. without them getting criticized for it, but there are some people who wear what people think they should wear instead of them being their own true selves.

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Is Gender Socially or Biologically Constructed?

In class we were talking about gender, and a topic that stuck out to me was the question of gender being socially or biologically constructed. The first thing that pops into my mind and probably many others, is that gender is biological mainly because males and females have different anatomy, and we clearly have different roles in reproduction. And then once I started thinking about it, it is obvious that gender is not biological but actually determined but by what society thinks. I think the key point most people miss is that sex, which is whether a person is male or female, and gender, whether a person acts masculine or feminine, are two very different things. Our gender seems to be an outcome of what society thinks gender is; society pushes their beliefs on what gender should be onto everyone, and most people do not even notice it.  From birth is it constantly told to us that girls like pink, boys blue, and girls have long hair, boys short, and so on and so on. It seems as though people have no choice in what their gender is, when in reality you should be able to act however you want and not be categorized. Once a person understands exactly what gender is and realizes how everything is decided for them, it is obvious that the main determinate of someone’s gender is not whatever a person wants it to be, instead it is whatever society wants it to be.

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Do you know your gender?


Baby Storm, born to Canadian parents Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, does not know if he/she is male or female. The parents decided to keep Storm’s gender a secret so that gender would not influence his/her decisions. They want Storm to come up with his or her own gender identity. Personally, I think this is a very interesting outlook, however, I do have my questions. It has been revealed that both of Storm’s older siblings are males, yet in pictures they are dressed in female clothing with long hair. The one gaining the most attention is Jazz. Jazz is in all actuality a male, however she has decided to take on the gender role of a female and prefers being referred to as such. The middle child Kio also wears his hair long and dresses somewhat feminine. My question is, have the parents unintentionally pushed a female role on these children? If you are trying to be open minded about gender then you are going to make sure that you don’t push your child in either direction, but by doing so, do you go over and beyond? If Jazz’s parents wanted him to explore both sexes did they unintentionally push the female gender on to him? If he knew what most boys liked would he have gone another route? When he is older will he wonder what it would have been like to be raised as male instead of female? These questions all lead back to baby Storm. What if Storm takes on the gender role of male but is in actuality female. When she is little she will play with cars, throw baseballs, and wear blue. No big deal. Plenty of female children do these things anyway. But what happens to Storm when she starts developing breasts and other undeniable female characteristics? Will she become confused and question her identity even more? Will she become resentful?  There are so many questions that come up when we don’t know what we are. I will go even further to say that our knowing our gender does not automatically define our gender roles. I have a one year old son. He is not old enough to know the physical difference between boys and girls, however, when he sees a male he automatically says Dada. He never says this to a female. When we are at home he is constantly looking for a ball to throw. When we are out shopping he goes to the girls section. He looks at dresses and pink toys. Does that mean he wants to be female? No. It means he’s curious. He doesn’t know what gender means yet. He is still learning. Does throwing a ball mean he wants to be male? No. Only he can decide in the future and nothing I say or do is going to take away from who he truly is. Eventually, I think Storm’s parents will see that regardless of how he/she is raised, Storm will be his or her own person.


Davis, Linsey, and Susan Donaldson James. “Canadian Mother Raising ‘Genderless’ Baby, Storm, Defends Her Family’s Decision.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 30 May 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <;.

News Staff. “Baby Raised without ‘gender’ Sets off Debate.” CTVNews. N.p., 26 May 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <;.

Waverman, Emma. “Genderless Baby Storm Is Still Genderless – Embrace the Chaos – Embrace the Chaos.” Genderless Baby Storm Is Still Genderless – Embrace the Chaos – Embrace the Chaos. N.p., 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <;.