One idea that really resonated with me throughout this semester is one that we didn’t even explicitly state until the final readings: that all status and privilege are fluid. Like most things we learn or discuss in sociology as soon as we gave name to the phenomenon, it was impossible to not see. Trying to define who is always the most or least privileged is impossible because we constantly construct different norms in order to create a different hierarchies. Even heterosexual white males need to reinforce their status constantly. These different performances that we use to shape our society allow us to constantly make judgments based on bias and skill of performance, but it’s impossible to perform correctly if you suddenly find yourself in a new social order.
Related to this, another theme that I found especially interesting was the complicated intersections of sex, gender, and race. Working on our project really helped to solidify this for me. Certain statements showed how ingrained our ideologies behind what sex is, what gender is, and which races can express which aspects of these. But again all of these things are relative to which part of society one is currently partaking in. The project overall was a wonderful aspect of this course. Like Patrick said, it forced us to be activists on a particular issue that really mattered to us in relation to the course. This push allowed us to find a way to benefit our community rather than just write a paper, and was deeply gratifying and enriching. I also loved the structure of our class. Sitting around a table and sharing our internet findings and weekly rants on the blog instantly connected the class and created our own community where it was always safe to question the underlying causes of the way we are taught to perform our gender. While some of the readings were repeats from the intro course, the review actually allowed me to look more deeply and critically at many of the readings rather than just read and move on. There was definitely a lot of long term mulling over of topics and themes this semester and the final projects allowed us to combine all of the sections we had covered into a cohesive statement.
I also really enjoyed the readings that focused on the “scientific” arguments for gender bias. The article on PMS and the article discussing how fertilization actually happens really stand out in my mind. Not only is our social performance geared to shaped children’s behavior, but we then quote scientific “truths” to make sure the whole idea of gender being a biological factor and women being inherently weaker is firmly rooted in the minds of every kid who reaches a middle school level biology class. Way to go society! Readings like this, and this course in general, forced me to not only question the gendered nature of social performance, but also the gendered structure of just about everything. This course should be mandatory for any student who graduates from a liberal arts college like Conn (I’m starting small scale and not getting too carried away about educating the entire world).