I had some second thoughts about using that title for this blog. It’s been used in many places, many times over, but it get’s a fine point across. What is this whole gender thing? Are we only one specific gender? What does it mean to be of a certain sex? Why is it that we feel we must identify who we are through our sexual reproduction organs?
The question came up this week in one of my classes when we were looking at a small bronze statue of a woman. Click here to see it. This statue was banned from Boston. It was not banned because she was naked. It was not banned because she had a child in her arms. It was banned because of the grapes. Yes. Grapes. The grapes and the way she acted as she held them. This statue was made in the late 1800’s when prohibition was on the rise. The statue was believed to have been a way of promoting the use of alcohol. As you know, grapes are an ancient symbol for wine and the likes. The artist, Frederick MacMonnies told the museum over and over that it was only intended to celebrate the beauty of womanhood and the joy of celebration. The grapes were suppose to represent fertility.
This class I am in is called Banned and Dangerous Art. It is a fantastic class in which we discuss the issues of race, gender, sex, language, people, ethnicity, ect through the banning of all kinds of art. We have found that the arguments for banning art usually center around this idea of what we think it is to be human and how it should be represented. When people ban art, they are banning it on the premises that something, or someone does not fit their definition of what a human is. This brings us to several interesting points. The one that we discussed most recently was something along the lines of a social genotype, or a stereotype that has been so long associated with something, that it is believed to be part of it. Take this, for instance;
All women are natural-born mothers and all men are naturally born violent and competitive.
Now there is a difference between this and a fact;
Men are built with more muscle mass than women. Women are built to be more flexible. This is just a biological fact. All women being born to be fantastic mothers and men to be hunters, is simply not true. I know many women who are terrible mothers and men who are stay at home dads and love it. I also know people who have parents that balance out the power. So where do these social genotypes come from? Well, they come from how we identify gender. Your sex organs. You have a vagina. You have a penis. These things might change how some of your basic biological functions work, but they don’t change how you think, how you act, or who you are. Our minds and our hearts are all unique from one another. None are the same. Sex organs…well we all have those. Nipples…we all have those too. Hell, men can even lactate if the need arises.
What I am trying to say is, gender is not so black and white. There are billions of people out there and all of them identify as something unique to who they are and we should not limit the human experience to what one person thinks is right.
Here is your weakly video.
Also, if you want to take a look here is the link to our course blog. http://bannedart.umwblogs.org/