Tag Archives: gender

Gender Trouble, and the recent case of Laura and the V1

Just what sort of crap do you have to put with on a daily basis just because you are a woman? That’s probably something the women reading this have had cause to ponder on a regular basis, whereas the men reading it may not be quite so attuned to the annoying and unnecessary stuff that goes on in everyday life. Three things happened today to inspire this post. The first was booking on to Dr. Lucy Jackson’s lecture on “Gender trouble / troubling gender” at University of Liverpool @livuni. The second was sitting on the V1 bus between Manchester and Leigh @FirstBusNews, just prior to travelling into Liverpool to hear Dr. Jackson’s talk, listening to the “banter” directed at Laura from two young men – both under the influence of alcohol, and showing signs of poor, socio-economic upbringings (but none more so than my own, as it happens), and perhaps a good deal of substance abuse, judging by the state of their teeth (which Laura herself commented on, btw (the state of the teeth, not the substance abuse)). And the third, which came prior to the second, as I travelled on the V1 into Manchester from Leigh in the AM, reading the Metro @MetroUK and an article about how staff at Stevenage FC @stevenagefc subjected female supporters of Grimsby Town FC @officialgtfc to public bra checks by male security attendants (in front of fans of both sides, the police (who were present, but did not intervene in what, effectively, was a mass sexual assault), and Stevenage officials) #BraGate.

Dr. Jackson’s talk touched on such things as #GenderPayGap, #ReproductiveRights, #EverydaySexism, #PoliticalGenderDisparity, and stuff (why are more people not up in arms about such things?).

Laura, a woman in her mid to late thirties (she said so), and her mum, who was sitting separately until the woman sitting next to me alighted the bus so that she could join her daughter, had to endure around 50 minutes or so of “harmless” banter in front of everyone on the top deck of the bus (the young men were quite drunk and very loud): you’re beautiful; you’ve a lovely smile; the way you bite your lip; she likes a bad boy; can I have your number; I’d love to share a bed with you; and on, and on… On the face of it, not all that extreme, nothing too vulgar, and probably far tamer than many women experience on public transport, but really irritating for Laura, I imagine, who, given the situation, kept her cool, played along with the “banter” (because sometimes it’s just easier to), and eventually got to leave the bus with the two drunks still on board, to her relief, again, I imagine.

So, ask yourself: how annoyed are you by all of the above? And then ask yourself: what do you plan to do about it, moving forward?

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The Masculinity Project

With Grayson Perry’s (Alan_Measles) All Man series* fresh in the mind, with its exploration of modern-day masculinity, an interesting approach to take from this point might be to track back to uncover those sites that promote unadulterated gender-trait propaganda. One such site, surely, must be early years education, where the “genders” are split in very distinct ways (boys with trousers/girls with skirts or dresses – and of course, girls can wear trousers but boys very definitely cannot wear skirts/dresses, at least not without severe consequences, for the most part), and where, and this is purely anecdotal and not meant to be a completely universalised approach, for anyone with hands on knowledge of young children and the prejudices they bring home from school, there exists a tangible sense that “boys are better than girls.” One such conversation held just a matter of moments ago, and thus inspiring a continued interaction with Grayson Perry’s recent topic, ran along the lines of “girls are rubbish at my school because they’re rubbish at football and games.”

Now, anyone who has a reasonably long history of reading posts on this site (hi, Bercianlangran) will know that it is unlikely that I would be inclined to further such petty notions of boys versus girls, and so, if we stop to think about such things, where does this misogyny-in-miniature stem from? Could it be from an unmonitored engagement with TV and stuff? In this instance, no. Could it be that there’s an overly masculine father figure? Again, no. Could it be the influence of peers and contemporaries? It’s doubtful. The site most responsible for the boys/girls antagonism, and again this is just conjecture, is likely to be early years education, which, for the most part, seems to engage in gender-splitting conduct (gender-splitting referring to the ways in which boys and girls are kept separate and thus, as a result, grow up thinking that there are vast differences between one another). Such conduct occurs around dress, toileting, sports, games, activities, colour association, physical interaction, and classroom behavior techniques, amongst other things. The very interesting thing about looking into such a site is that females, in terms of teachers and support staff, predominantly populate early years education. In the very same way as was pointed out in the recent post about episode two of Grayson’s All Man, females seem to be at the root of those places where masculinity is bred, and where it then has a habit of manifesting into a really dysfunctional noun, which, perversely if you think about it, comes back to be a real thorn in the side for both females and males in general. Maybe Grayson will come back with a second series looking at the roots of masculinity, with early years education a part of that conversation? What say you, Channel 4?

*Whilst the YouTube clip attached to “All Man series” (above) is unlikely to offend, the comments are proper NSFW stuff, yet they are highly amusing if one is interested in knowing what makes people get hot under the collar.


Louis Theroux (@louistheroux) and his Transgender Kids

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Did anyone else pick up on the kind of indoctrination, propaganda, call it what you will, that came to the fore when Louis talked to Camille in her room? W/r/t the nature versus nurture, essentialist versus non-essentialist arguments that rage back and forth, it was interesting to note Camille acting out her own version of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance – this is the indoctrination, propaganda, call it what you will, aforementioned. Camille wants to be a girl. Camille sees Lady Gaga – a girl in Camille’s eyes. Camille clearly likes what she sees. Camille mimics Lady Gaga. Gender perpetuates itself through this mimicking. Arguments that “girls like pink, want to dress up and look pretty because it’s ‘hard-wired'” cannot hold up when we, from a very young age, usually pre-speech, are fed images that uphold gender stereotypes (via TV, internet, basically any form of screen relaying images).


Louis Theroux (@louistheroux) and his Transgender Kids

There’s a great debate going on at the moment w/r/t (@louistheroux) Louis Theroux’s Transgender Kids, shown at 9pm (GMT) on BBC 2, Sunday 5th March 2015 (US Link) (UK Link). See this Reddit subreddit (r/Documentaries) for more details:

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Aside from the obvious points that people will undoubtedly get stuck on – arbitrary markers of gender; is the documentary biased in anyway?; gender dichotomy versus gender fluidity; and so on… – there’s an interesting question that crops up, and, should you choose to consider it, it’s a question that starts to break down a lot of the ‘common sense’ arguments that we structure our lives by. The question, as I understand it, is:

Should a child be allowed to make a decision that will ultimately determine its own future, in a most serious and profound way?

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We seem, as a society, to have a particular problem with acknowledging a child’s wish – if that wish is something more taxing than being allowed to choose ice cream over a piece of fruit, for example. We constantly fall back on the position that a child’s brain is not ‘developed’ enough to make serious decisions, and so as adults we take away any autonomy they have and instead, make decisions for them.

Now, let’s consider how we adults use our brains, if we purport to be so gifted at knowing what’s ‘right.’ We:

  • Go around trying to amass personal wealth whilst millions starve
  • We support, or are apathetic towards, governments that stock pile weapons and spend billions on warfare, whilst millions starve
  • We watch TV, play games, go on holidays, and entertain ourselves in myriad ways, whilst millions starve
  • And do a whole host of stupid, banal, and reprehensible things, whilst millions starve

In contrast to this ‘traditional’ way of thinking, let’s consider the message that came through from Theroux’s documentary. It was a message that a child can make a serious and profound decision about its own life. It was a message that a child can make such a decision before said child is indoctrinated into the very real gender binary structure that floods those early years (pink/blue, pretty/handsome, rough ‘n’ tumble/delicate). It is a refreshing change to see children’s thoughts, wishes, and beliefs being taken seriously. And who is to say that that’s not the way things should be?

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And did we notice how important the use of pronouns became in the documentary footage?


Queer and Transgender Representation, and the Queering of Language in the Works of David Foster Wallace: So What [is] the Exact Pernt to that Like [?]

‘Queer and Transgender Representation, and the Queering of Language in the Works of David Foster Wallace: So What [is] the Exact Pernt to that Like [?]’ by Matthew Alexander, as part of a special issue of The Luminary – an open access journal, based at Lancaster University’s Department of English and Creative Writing.

The North West Gender Conference 2014

Constructions of Gender in Research

Gender symbol

Issue 5: Winter 2014

ISSN 2056-9238 (online)

The second annual North West Gender Conference was held at Lancaster University on 22nd April 2014. The conference was attended by 80 postgraduate students from across the UK who came together to discuss gender in a variety of contexts. This special issue of The Luminary contains a selection of conference papers which were submitted for publication. The diversity of the papers highlights and reflects the range of research areas that were represented at the conference.

Read online by following this link or download the NWGC Special issue pdf.


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