I can’t even begin to fully process what this class meant to me. As a second semester senior who has dedicated most of my college career working on gender based issues, it was life changing to finally get into this class. Alternatively, as a Government major, I have been consistently frustrated with the lack of awareness on how gendered our society is – specifically when speaking about policies, law and political structures. This course intersected all of my greatest passions, and did so in a platform that allowed for critical analysis as well as reflection and debate.
I have to agree with Brittany that my favorite part of the class (was everything) but what made it was the structure. Heavier readings over the weekend, blog posts for analysis and in class time for responses and reflection. The topics that we covered were so diverse yet intersectional, and relevant to everyones life. However, the section that continues to permeate with me (more often than the others – because they all do) was the second section that we spent on men, male identity, masculinity and deconstructing how we socialize boys (to consume women). I spend so much time critically examining the female gender, how women are portrayed, treated, perceived, socialized, marginalized, etc. And while I have paid attention to the role of men in working to end gender based violence, I had not yet been introduced to the very intense and horrifying way boys are raised to consume women in our society. I will never forget watching Dream Worlds (two and three, because yes… I watched both), and sitting there almost in tears being so horrified at what I just consumed that I had to watch it again as well as share it with every person that I knew would tolerate my rant. This particular section connected so many different areas of our society and, for lack of a better expression, blew my mind. I even went so far as to share it with two faculty members because I believed so deeply that it needed to be more widely watched.
Also, this blog was just everything. I nerd out about every article that pertains to this topic, always. And wind up either posting them or sending them to everyone I know who will care about this subject. So having a blog here that I know at least 10 other students will want to read and appreciate is just the greatest ever and provides such an incredible platform to share/vent/analyze/critique. I love everything about it.
There was a point in the semester where I found myself feeling completely deflated, as though nothing in our society was positive and everything (even the good intended products/work/campaigns) have intense problems. And while I do believe that this is a class that should be a mandatory gen ed (as well as this classes counterpart focussing on race, religion and ethnicity) I also feel that this should be a class that I revisit weekly as I enter the real world. But beyond the actual context and substance that I am taking away from this class.. what I have learned to remind myself through this course is that it is okay to consume anything and everything. It is okay to observe and engage and judge, as long as I am doing so critically, consciously and challenging myself to see beyond how something may impact [only] me (or people of my race, gender and economic status). That everything may have problems and that some may do more harm than good, and others may do more good than harm. It’s really just about acknowledging the flaws and respecting differences in opinions, perspectives and personal choices. I can confidently say that I am leaving this college a more critical and aware individual, and I greatly credit that to this class. I shutter merely thinking about how unfulfilled I would have been if I had not been able to enroll in this course, so for that Professor Jafar, I thank you as well as my peers for making this course as incredible as it was. Enjoy the next two-three years everyone, they are truly the most incredible years of growth.