About Me



KISS Linux


I thought I'd use this first journal entry to tell you a little bit about
myself. I have never really understood the concept of gender and haven't ever
really identified as one in particular. I do believe in biological sex (the
whole X, Y chromosome business seems relatively convincing enough), but the idea
of a 'gender identity' has always alluded me, even from a young age. As a
result, around middle school I began to call myself nongendered (gender queer is
the proper category for it I guess but I never really enjoyed that name) and
haven't looked back. I still prefer male pronouns, but I think that this has
something to do with my crippling social anxiety and not wanting to actually
'be' a woman. As a result of this identity, I often feel a bit confused when I'm
asked about feminism, whether or not I'm a feminist, if I believe in the
oppression of women, etc. I consider myself a feminist, I suppose, although it
means something more like egalitarianism to me, with a focus on the empowerment
and inclusion of all women: women of color, transwomen, ciswomen, etc. Hopefully
this class ends up being something incredibly rewarding - having looked through
the syllabus, I'm already very excited for it. Hopefully I can provide a kind of
unique perspective in the class. 


A year ago I was hanging out with one of my former students and a few of his
friends. They were talking about their future plans for when they graduated that
semester and where they would go. Eventually, their hometown of Detroit came up
and they started sharing stories and memories of their experiences there. As a
raised upper-middle class white kid from an upper-middle class conservative
Christian part of Michigan, I was incredibly surprised by the experiences of
these three black kids in Detroit. I had never had an interaction with the
police, much less the kinds of insane things that they went through. It was an
eye-opening experience about racism and discrimination in America, and it's one
that I will probably never forget. I thought that, for the next few entries, I
would try to have a similar kind of experience, this time dealing with feminism,
sexism, and oppression in America. I'll be interviewing a couple of my friends
to see what they think. I hope that it's revealing and can give me a better
sense of what 

we're learning in this class and how it relates to the 'real world'.  First, my
questions and their explanation or motivation:

1) What gender do you identify as?

2) What is your sexuality?

These two questions are mostly to generate a limited amount of background
knowledge, as well as to see how it might influence their answers to 3, 4, and

3) How would you define feminism?

4) Under that definition, would you consider yourself a feminist?

These two questions are to see how closely their understanding of feminism lines
up with the sort of 'paradigmatic definition' - equality between the sexes. Or
perhaps if they side with those who tend to see the negatives of feminism; those
who hate the movement because of the 'feminazis'.

5) Do you see any relevance between questions 1, 2, 3, and 4?

I like this question because I don't think people generally recognize how deeply
feminism relates to gender and sexuality. I feel like it is generally seen as a
movement to promote equality and justice, but that's where it stops; most people
don't understand how it relates to the LGBTQIA+ community.

6) Do you think that women are oppressed in America?

7) Has your experience at MSU been vastly different from your experiences before
you became a student here?

These two questions are mainly for me to gauge how differently the female
experience can change between home and university - women at are dramatically
different points in their lives when they're at college, but at the same time
are hypersexualized even from a young age. Does it continue on into college,
does it get worse? 


Here are the answers my friends all had

Erin's answers:

1) What gender do you identify as?  
    I identify as a woman.

2) What is your sexuality?  
    I am heterosexual.

3) How would you define feminism?  
    I would define feminism as genuine equal
    treatment of all genders (and sexual orientations) - economically, socially,
    politically, et cetera.

4) Under that definition, would you consider yourself a feminist?  
    Yes, I would consider myself a feminist.

5) Do you see any relevance between questions 1, 2, 3, and 4?  
    Yes, I see that they are trying to define a relationship between gender and 
    sexual orientation, and possibly how the rights and voices of marginalized 
    groups in either category can be squashed by the dominant mainstream.

6) Do you think that women are oppressed in America?  
    I think that women are less oppressed than they used to be, compared to the 
    twentieth century, as a whole. Certain aspects of womanhood continue to be 
    oppressed, though, such as breastfeeding, but we're making gradual strides 
    in accepting all types of body shape, dressing, and simply expressing 
    ourselves as women.
7) Has your experience at MSU been vastly different from your experiences before
you became a student here?  
    Yes, my experience at MSU has been pretty different from back home, all 
    around as a student and human being, but also as a woman.

Elise's answers:

1) What gender do you identify as?  

2) What is your sexuality?  

3) How would you define feminism?  
    To put it simply equality between the sexes, equal opportunity, equal pay, 
    we all have to go the same distance to get the same stuff.

4) Under that definition, would you consider yourself a feminist?  
    Yes, I am a Feminist.

5) Do you see any relevance between questions 1, 2, 3, and 4?  
    I think all of those questions are very relevant, it's important to know and 
    respect what someone identifies as but it's also important to let their 
    action's speak for them and not preconceived notions or stereotypes.

6) Do you think that women are oppressed in America?  
    Yes, they don't receive the same opportunities as men. It's much better than 
    it was but we aren't equal yet.

7) Has your experience at MSU been vastly different from your experiences before
you became a student here?  
    From a feminist perspective yes, I had never been cat called or judged so 
    much simply because of my gender until I came here it's hard to succeed in a 
    school this large but it's even harder to prove yourself when people have 
    ideas about who you are beforeyou even open your mouth.

Amy's answers:

1) What gender do you identify as?  

2) What is your sexuality?

3) How would you define feminism?  
    Equality between the sexes.

4) Under that definition, would you consider yourself a feminist?  
    Yes, albeit I feel feminism is having its necessary start as the platform 
    for women's equality (extending after that initial beginning with true 
    equality between all sexes and genders.)

5) Do you see any relevance between questions 1, 2, 3, and 4?  

6) Do you think that women are oppressed in America?  

7) Has your experience at MSU been vastly different from your experiences before
you became a student here?  
    Yes. I have encountered both more equal minded individuals and more close 
    minded individuals since coming to MSU, and I have discovered some of the 
    borders of my own limitations in understanding.


I wrote a piece this week on oppression. I thought that the paper topic options
were interesting, but I was most struck by the first one. While I don't agree
with Frye's understanding of oppression outright, I think that she offers up a
solid analysis of the term and what it possibly entails. As a person who
gender-expresses as a man, I think that it's a very curious idea that men can be
oppressed for being men. On the one hand, I want to agree - it seems to be the
case, on the face of it, that men are in fact an oppressed group. Oppression
seems to be an equal-opportunity discriminator of sorts. On the other hand,
however, it seems to be that the exact opposite is the case.  That, in fact, men
are the most egregious of oppressors, and the ''suffering'' that they experience
is oftentimes misconstrued or misunderstood as oppression.  But this idea that
men are oppressed as men is most interesting if you consider transgendered
individuals or the gender-queer community as a whole. How do we analyze the
cases of gay men, transgendered men, 'metrosexual' men, varied gender
expressions, etc. They all have common denominators (being men), but in all of
these cases their oppression is about exclusion from the 'dominant male
culture', the archetypical man. They are seen as different, and seem to be
oppressed as such. In the case of all of these individuals, the perception of
how closely they align with the typical male identity defines the kinds of
experiences they have. In general, this is typified by their thought of as being
like women. This fact in and of itself seems to justify the point that men are
not, in fact, oppressed insofar as they are members of the group 'man'. 


I've been thinking a lot about the documentary we watched about the children
growing up in India. It was an incredibly powerful video, and definitely not
something that I expected to encounter in a feminism class. It was, I think, an
excellent way of showcasing the different kinds of experiences we as people can
have based on something as simple as geography and timing. Being where and when
I am on this Earth, I find it hard to even begin to imagine the kinds of
suffering people around the globe face daily. While my life certainly isn't
lacking its struggles, I don't think it even comes close in comparison to the
experiences of those children. I've been trying to learn how to empathize more
with people because of this documentary, try to understand how other peoples
experiences build them into the people that they are, even how their morning
went might impact just how they are that day. It's weird thinking about how
other people exist in a roughly similar way as I do, with lives and thoughts and
experiences and feeling and a history similar in relevant kinds of ways to mine.
I am just one small part of this massive conglomerate of humanity, and I
experience so little of the world. It's been a curious experience so far, and I
think that this documentary has inspired me to approach humanity differently
than I ever have before: I am much less of a pessimist about humanity now than I
used to be, and I think that the video acted as a major catalyst for this


Reading through my paper that I turned in several weeks ago, I can honestly say
that I didn't expect to 4.0 the assignment. I suppose that I am used to being
given more rigorous criteria by which I'm graded, or that more rigor is expected
in the argument. But the responses by everyone who has read it has been
overwhelmingly positive, if not in terms of the content, at least in terms of
the organization, structure, and flow. I usually post the things that I write
for philosophy classes on my Facebook page in hopes of generating some kind of
discussion around the topic. This generally fails, and most of my postings go
ignored. However, this paper in particular was commented on an enormous amount,
along with several people 'liking' it, as well as one person sharing it.
Because of the share, in fact, one of my current students saw the paper, read
it, and commented on how good it was during my office hours. I was taken aback
by how far this paper went, and how well received it was. I half expected a
stronger backlash against it. Maybe this is due to how I think most civil rights
issues are taken by the general public when they aren't presented in a
politicized way - when we aren't legislating about anti-discrimination laws, it
almost feels like equality and such take a backseat in the minds of the general
public. I admit that I oftentimes don't think about it constantly, perhaps due
to the fact that inequality isn't something that I generally experience. But I
think that overall the paper contributes something interesting to the
conversation, at least in the context of my own personal circle. 


There are some curious cases that have come out about transgender rights over
the years. Being as young as I am, I don't know much about the history of
transgender rights in America (or the world for that matter). Apparently, for
instance, transgender anti-discrimination laws went on the books in America as
early as 20 years ago. I read an article about a gendered-bathrooms bill that's
sitting on the governor of South Dakota's desk ready to be signed, and I
immediately felt concerned about every aspect of what's going on over there.
Here you have a relatively urban and noninteresting state that doesn't often get
in the news, being thrown into the spotlight by a bill that would restrict
transgendered individuals' access to bathrooms, forcing them to use the one
which aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth.  Throughout the
article, proponents of the bill (including the Heritage Foundation and the Roman
Catholic Bishops of South Dakota) argued about why this is a fine piece of
legislation. They offer up, for instance, that "The teaching of the Catholic
Church is clear: One's gender, male or female, is determined by God and not a
matter of personal choice". As if, somehow, the mandates of religion were in any
way relevant to the laws of a sovereign state or a public school. This support
is somehow treated as valid. Ignoring the fact that it can be highly contested
that transgendered individuals have a 'choice' on their gender, this support has
no basis in our kind of society. Certainly it can be maintained in a Church
setting and taught to members of the congregation, but that in no way should
suggest that an organization of bishops have a reason to push a political
agenda. However, the most ire-inspiring part of this article was a particular
quote from the state representative who proposed the bill: "Mr. Deutsch said he
felt 'terrible that transgender children feel under siege,' and noted that his
bill would allow transgender students to request a separate accommodation if
they did not want to use the bathroom corresponding with their sex at birth".
Not only is this exactly a reason to not support this kind of legislation (you
admit that your bill is making _children_ feel like they are being attacked,
sir), but the idea that they can request alternative accommodations is
insulting; wouldn't those accommodations simply be allowing them to use the
bathroom of their gender? It's ludicrous to think that we would support a
separate bathroom for transgendered individuals over simply understanding why
they want to use a particular one that already exists: because they _are_ that
particular gender. It's an interesting piece of legislation, and the arguments
for supporting the bill are curious when viewed through a lens of oppression.
The governor has until Tuesday to sign it; we'll see what happens then.

(The article can be found here [1]).


I watched a video this week that really caught my interest. It was about a
popular Egyptian actor who underwent several hours of makeup by a professional
team and then dressed as a woman. He was then filmed as he walked down the
street to document his experience, walking in a woman's shoes. The video
demonstrated several things: first, the extent to which catcalling and the like
exists in nations outside of America; second, that men anywhere can be
incredibly disturbing and potentially dangerous. The man, Waleed Hammad, was at
one point grabbed by a man and and Hammad was legitimately scared for his own
safety. This kind of experience is shocking, and there seems to be no legitimate
reason for this to ever occur. The scariest part of the video was the fact that
nobody came to his aid. Nobody told these people to stop following him, to stop
providing unsolicited comments and unwanted advances. It’s disturbing that
this kind of thing is seemingly 'okay' with society, that somehow this is
acceptable behavior for any individual towards any person. (The video can be
found here [2]).


There has been an article floating around on social media about a woman who says
that she "is not a feminist, and that's okay". I read an article [3] responding
to it and it talked about a lot of the things that are frequently mentioned in
articles like these: the wage gap, gender based discrimination, privilege, etc.
The article had all the trappings of a defense of feminism: "you're talking
about people that aren't feminists when you say that these are the things that
feminism is". While this defense of feminism seems to bear out very similarly to
the no true Scotsman fallacy, I think it's a worthwhile consideration. The
understanding of feminism that is often portrayed in television, articles,
advertisements, or even just general conversation, seems to be one of aggression
and superiority. As feminism is generally defined by most groups as a movement
for the equality of sexes and genders, this defense seems to be an admissible
one. At the very least, her final comment succinctly sums up exactly what I take
the spirit of feminism to be:

    "And plot twist: you can be a stay-at-home mom and a feminist because
feminists are not anti-family contrary to common belief - feminists simply
believe that this lifestyle should be a woman's choice rather than an
obligation. The author's choice to be a homemaker and a wife is great, and that
choice is what it all comes down to. I am happy for this author and the blessed
life she was granted. But the life of one is not the life of all."


The second paper was interesting to write. It was from a far more philosophical
position than the first one by far, and I really enjoyed thinking about the
material in terms of other things that I've learned. The idea of supervenience
is, I think, a really strange philosophical viewpoint, but one that I think
somehow works in a lot of different ways. I first heard of it in my philosophy
of mind course I took a year ago, and I thought it was laughable at first.
Perhaps I came at it from a far too negative position originally, however.
Supervenience has managed to crop up in every single philosophy course I've
taken since then, and every time I hear about it and how it's been used in a
philosophical position I become much more sympathetic to the view. As you may
have guessed in reading my paper, I am an essentialist (amongst other, weirder
things). I've been worried this semester about how, as an essentialist, I can
simply disregard gender. Gender doesn't make sense to me, and so certainly it
cannot be a property of objects. But why not? It seems to be like a property, it
is described and behaves like a property seems to, so why eliminate it? What
about gender makes it so different from hair color, or height, or anything
else... And I think it has to do with something like supervenience! I was
shocked when I started thinking about it, but I think I've finally found a
position in which supervenience not only makes sense, but does some seriously
meaningful work. And that is really exciting to me.


I think this entry will be a focus on the presentation I've been working on. To
be honest, I've never done a critical analysis of music to this degree. I've
thought for years and years about how music has affected me and the ways that I
relate to the world. One of the things that I take to be the core of country
music is the ideal relationship and, seeing as I spent the first twelve years of
my life listening to only country music, I think that this has deeply impacted
how I understand and relate to my partners. Diving into one of my favorite
country artist's work has been very eye-opening with respect to how exactly
women are to be understood in the scope of a country musician. There is a
radically different portrayal of what is the standard in this genre than, I
think, any other genre of music that exists. Alternative rock is flooded with
songs about struggles with women and understanding relationships, but country
artists have it all together; the know what they want, and what they have is
perfect for them. It's only when they are presented with a breakup that this
idealized image falls apart. But even then, you've got good beer and friends to
back you up. I'm deeply concerned about how this perfect woman is constructed,
and I hope (against probably all odds) that it hasn't been so deeply ingrained
in me as the standard by which I should judge all of my relationships that I
can't rise above it.


In writing this final paper, I thought I'd take a bit of time to reflect on this
course. I have absolutely loved this class. The readings were interesting (some
more than others, but I will admit that I am a far more philosophically
motivated person and prefer papers of that kind), and the discussions helped
illuminate the reality of the experiences of my female classmates and make their
experiences more real to me. I think it's always better to hear first-hand about
oppression, seeing as I am almost completely unable to sympathize or empathize
with those who are oppressed. I don't think I've ever experienced any (serious)
amount of oppression: I gender and sexually express in much to straightforward a
way. Even most of my closest friends aren't aware that I'm a nongendered
bisexual, and I'm not sure if this reflects poorly on me as a person in these
relationships or if it's just the way that the world (America) has taught us to
be. I would love to change the narrative in at least my social circle. I've been
trying over the course of the semester to be more aware of things that are said
and done in my group of friends, and I've tried to understand why certain things
are the way that they are and have attempted to change them in light of what
I've learned in this class.  I'm excited to take PHL 456 next Fall to continue
learning about this kind of material. Hopefully it will be more seminar-like,
with a smaller class-size and more focused readings. While this class has been
helpful as a sort of introduction to the field, I think I could do with more
direction. Overall, a wonderful course; definitely worth taking, and has
impacted my life quite a lot more than most other classes I have taken and
probably will ever take.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/26/us/south-dakota-bill-on-transgender-

[2] https://www.facebook.com/KarimFanPage/videos/10153317784166135/?pnref=story

[3] https://www.hercampus.com/school/psu/feminist-response-i-am-not-feminist-


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