Gender is a Social Construct

From the moment we are born and wrapped in a blanket at the hospital, we are assaulted with gender norms and begin to develop a gender identity because society forced it upon us. Girls are given pink blankets and boys are given blue ones…but why? It is important to know the difference between gender and sex. This article explains it best, but to summarize it, “Sex refers to the natural biological differences between men and women, for example, the differences in the organs related to reproduction. Gender refers to the cultural, socially-constructed differences between the two sexes. It refers to the way a society encourages and teaches the two sexes to behave in different ways through socialization.”

You heard that right! Gender is 100% a social construct. Because gender identity was created by society, a person’s gender can be easily changed. In some cases, people refer to themselves as non-binary (this essentially means that they do not identify with either gender. These people typically prefer the pronoun “they”), while others experiment with their gender identity. Clothing and makeup is still heavily gendered today and geared towards women, which is why there is still somewhat of a stigma towards drag queens (male entertainers who pose as females) today, despite the popularity of shows like Rupaul’s Drag Race. More than just clothing and makeup is gendered, however. We gender nearly everything in our everyday life. Women and men should not be forced to like certain things just because society tells them they should (IE. men should like sports, women should like shopping).

I sat down with Kelly Balaban,23, to discuss gender roles and she had a lot to say. I will be posting that video below. But I want to end this post with an interesting thought: If children were born and not influenced in any way by society’s gender norms and stereotypes, how would they eventually identify and act? It’s definitely something to think about. A child could grow up without any pre-conceived notions of how to act, what toys to play with, what clothes to wear, etc. They would be completely open to identifying how they want to without the pressure of society telling them what they should and shouldn’t like.


Sexism in Gaming Culture, According to Gamers

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about sexism in video games and video game culture. I wanted to touch on that subject more because it is important to me and although it isn’t necessarily a serious issue, it is a problem in our culture. I figured the best sources for this type of research would be self-proclaimed gamers, so that is who I contacted. I was able to sit down with Anthony Mendicino, 21, and Stephanie Toner, 18, to get their opinion on sexism in games. Both Stephanie and Anthony were in agreement that games feature very few female characters, and when females are present in games, they are poorly portrayed. I think the most powerful moment in the interview was when neither person could identify more than two or three female video game characters. How’s that for representation?

It is a Constant Fight for the LGBT Community

When it comes to equality and acceptance in America, it seems like we take one step forward and then immediately two steps back. The nationwide legalization of gay marriage in June 2015 was a reason to rejoice, but such celebrations were cut short. Fast-forward just nine months later and already the LGBT community is suffering extreme backlash and prejudice.

Earlier this month, Georgia governor Nathan Deal was forced to veto a “religious liberty” bill that would allow shop owners to turn away gay people if interacting with them was “against their religion.” It is very likely that Deal only agreed to veto the bill because Disney, AMC, and the NFL among other huge corporations and companies released statements denouncing the bill. Georgia had a decision to make: pass the religious liberty bill or face losing income from enormous TV, movie, and sports companies. Currently, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is filming outside of Atlanta and The Walking Dead has filmed in Georgia for six seasons. While Georgia is temporarily safe from this hugely discriminatory bill, a fight is ongoing to pass a similar bill in Missouri.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is the first openly transgender White House staff member. Photo courtesy of CNN

In North Carolina, protests are heating up after North Carolina became the first state to pass a law requiring that people use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. In South Carolina, a transgender teen is fighting back after being suspended for using the “wrong” bathroom. For a moment, lets ignore the fact that these laws are almost literally impossible to truly enforce (are you going to ID people at the restroom?) Where does the discrimination end? It is 2016 and the LGBT community is still fighting for basic human rights and equal representation in the media. This is a huge problem that can no longer be overlooked and ignored.

Stop Killing Our Queer Characters

It doesn’t need to be said that we become attached to TV and movie characters, and when they are killed off, we feel the impact of their deaths on a personal level. For many TV dramas, life is fleeting for their characters, but this is especially true for those identifying as part of the LGBT community. Viewers of the CW’s popular post-apocalyptic show The 100 are still reeling from Lexa’s untimely death  last month after being accidentally shot. Lexa, who was the show’s only lesbian character, was killed literally minutes after consummating her relationship with the show’s only bisexual character, Clarke. Understandably, fans felt betrayed. They called out the show’s writers for queer-baiting (the idea that they wrote the lesbian romance into the show solely for views, with plans to kill off Lexa all along) and realized the sad truth that Lexa and Clarke were never an endgame romance. Clarke’s romance with Lexa was likely just a stepping stone to eventually pair her up with one of the male protagonists, Bellamy. Nevertheless, perhaps viewers would not have taken this death so seriously if queer females were not constantly killed off on TV shows, to the point where it’s pretty pathetic.

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Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa, left, and Eliza Taylor as Clarke on the CW’s “The 100.” (Diyah Pera/CW)

Autostraddle has comprised a list of 150 lesbian and bisexual characters that have been killed in TV shows, starting in the 1970s. In 2016 alone, already 10 queer women were killed on TV, including characters from Jane the Virgin, The Walking Dead, and The Vampire Diaries, to name just a few. Representation on television for the LGBT community – namely queer females – is already scarce. But this? This is honestly just unacceptable. Many fans of Lexa on The 100 took to Twitter and Tumblr to vent their frustrations and ask the writers, “Why?” Determined to make a change and to finally do away with the “Bury your gays” TV trope, fans have continued to take a stand.

In honor of Lexa and the constant fight for LGBT representation in the media, fans have raised almost $125,000 for The Trevor Project, an American non-profit organization aimed at suicide prevention efforts for LGBT youth. From an open letter to The 100 show-runner Jason Rothenberg, writer Kylie says: 

“The empathetic reactions of viewers need to be taken into consideration, especially when you have so many young, LGBTQ or questioning individuals watching and getting involved in this relationship. Not to mention, by many accounts, these were viewers that [the show] bent over backwards to get invested.” 

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

International Women’s Day 2016

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, I created a timeline for this blog featuring a few key moments in U.S. Women’s history. I’m a bit late posting this, but I thought it would be great to share so that we can all reflect on those who paved the way for a more equal society. It is important to remember that because of Women’s Suffrage, life has become significantly better for women in America. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work to be done. Inequality still exists today in America and in other countries across the globe, and we must continue to work together towards a more unified world. Personally, I want to live in a society in which we do not determine someone’s worth based on their gender, sexuality, or race. We as people are worth so much more than our outward appearance, and these traits should not entirely define us or limit what we are allowed to do.


Results from a survey on feminism

A few weeks ago I created a survey titled, “What does feminism mean to you?” I posted the survey on Facebook and it garnered 82 responses from people all over the world. Aside from those in the U.S. who took the survey, I also received responses from people in England, Canada, and Bulgaria. The overall goal of the survey was to identify who considers themselves a feminist and what being a feminist means to them. I asked a wide range of questions about current issues in popular culture, such as the lack of female representation in movies, TV, and video games, as well as questions concerning the existence of gender discrimination in the workplace.

Of the 82 people who responded to the survey, 60 were female, 21 were male, and one person identified as non-binary. I also asked for the participants’ ages. Although I am not including a chart of this, the majority (67%) said they were between the ages of 21 and 29.


Next, I asked whether or not they identified as a feminist. The majority of those who answered the survey said that yes, they do consider themselves a feminist. This is a refreshing thing to see, for sure! I am very happy with these results, to say the least.


The next results were interesting, in my opinion. I asked whether or not the participants’ believe society views women as equal to men. 88% said they do not believe society views women as equal to men, while 12% said that they do think men and women are equal in society.

Now let’s look at the numbers in the last two questions outside of percentages: 60 people said they consider themselves a feminist, while 22 said that they do not. 72 people said that they do not think society views women as equal to men, while 10 said that they do think society views woman as equal to men. Only 60 people said they consider themselves a feminist, but 72 people said that they do not think society views woman as equal with men. So despite 72 people believing sexism in society is real, not all of them consider themselves feminists. This is a great example of the stigma that comes with identifying as a feminist, and why some women and men choose to not identify as feminists despite sharing ideals with the feminist movement.


Finally, I asked about equal pay in the survey. The majority agreed that in most cases, women are not paid the same amount as their male counterparts despite working the same jobs.


Overall, I am very pleased with the results from this survey. The majority of people agree that there is still a lot of work to be done before women are seen as equal with men in all aspects of society. These statistics are also absolutely eye-opening in a lot of ways, too. The stigma of being a feminist is very real and it is a problem. No one should feel embarrassed or ashamed to identify as a feminist, because at its core feminism fights for equal opportunity and rights for all people.

Cat-calling IS Sexual Harassment

I was recently tasked with creating a photo assignment for class and decided to deviate slightly from my overall blog topic (feminism in popular culture, specifically) in order to successfully complete this assignment. I wanted to take a closer look at the effect that cat-calling has on women, many of which are forced to endure it daily. Any woman can be a target for this type of sexual harassment, which is defined as “a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.” I gathered together a small group of women who have been cat-called and had them recount their situation by creating signs with words that have been shouted at them. Click the link below to see the project: