Gender Communication Summer 2009

A space to critically engage gender and communication topics

Blog Activity 9: The Gendered Classroom June 5, 2009

Filed under: blog activity — daniellemstern @ 10:47 am
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Please refer to the links from Blackboard as well as those I include in this post and p. 241 of your textbook to help inform your comments.

The following link provides CNU enrollment figures categorized by gender and race. In summary, undergraduate enrollment is currently at 45% male and 55% female, which is comparable to the national figures shared in the textbook (though it is six years old now, wow). National projections continue to point to higher female enrollment. Situate this analysis within the textbook’s description of gendered learning styles (there’s a handy chart on p. 239) and answer the following questions.

What effect will the differential between men and women have on them and CNU’s future? Will a surplus of educated women allow more women to attain jobs that were once awarded to men? How might the disparity alter social relationships? Will men experience difficulty establishing lasting relationships with women who are better educated than they are?


Blog Activity 8: Romantic Relationships June 3, 2009

In the family chapter, the textbook authors briefly discussed the changing nature of the family. Let’s extend this discussion to a more inclusive understanding of intimate, romantic relationships. Much of the relational communication literature is founded upon the participation of heterosexual participants (disclosed at least), but thankfully more work is being conducted and published regarding non-heterosexist ways of knowing and relating. For example, in chapter seven, the Gambles list female and male preferences in romantic relationships. While many women and men may attest to the accurate experience of women preferring connection and men preferring autonomy, in 2009 I think it’s safe to assume that the boundaries are a bit more blurred.

To begin stretching our understandings of gender romantic relationship norms, please read the following New York Times article, then post your thoughts on the findings the writer reports regarding same-sex v. heterosexual relationships. Please pay special attention to the findings on egalitarianism and fighting styles. Based on your understanding of the family and romantic relationship concepts you’ve read so far, what do you think is going on here? What gender dynamics are or are not at play in the different types of relationships? Finally, religious/personal preferences aside, what influences do you think these different styles of relationships might have on the couples’ children and overall family and relationship dynamics? Please respond thoughtfully and thoroughly and be sure to comment on others’ responses where appropriate.


Nonverbal Wrap-up June 2, 2009

Filed under: course info — daniellemstern @ 10:04 am
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After reading through your individual journal entries regarding nonverbal artifacts, I thought I’d share some patterns and nuances.

Your first task was to discuss five items of clothing you would not wear because it would send the wrong gendered message. As expected, (and accepted as this is fine), most of you responded with items that would have inscribed your gender as the opposite of how you typically perform gender (and in many cases sexuality). For example, male students listed items such as high heels and miniskirts, while women typically included items such as baggy pants and wallet chains. Interestingly, one female student listed items that would have OVER performed (i.e. hypersexualized) femininity. One male student also mentioned how in some cultures men were skirts (kilts), which points out how gender and gender artifacts are culturally specific.

Now, the second, shorter part of the assignment was to assess which gender has more freedom in choosing gender artifacts such as clothing. Also not surprising were your choices here, as most responded that women have more freedom. Whereas men are “confined” to pants, shorts and limited shirt styles, women can choose from a variety of cuts of dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, the list goes on and on. However, one female student did name men as freer when it comes to the MESSAGES sent by their clothing choices. For example, she discussed how guys “get away with” vulgar imagery and wording on t-shirts while women are more likely to be labeled negatively if they wear the same types of clothing, or worse, if they wear revealing, skimpy clothes–which results in a branding of “slut.”

What I think is most telling of these assessments is that only two students, one male and one female, articulated that more choices do not necessarily point to more freedom (which is actually an ongoing feminist debate). Women may have more styles to choose from to dress and accesorize their bodies, but does this actually equate to freedom? Many feminists (women AND men) would argue that this fact merely represents our culture’s privileging of the male ways of knowing over the feminine, meaning that it’s okay for women to embrace their masculine sides but RARELY okay for men to embrace what our culture regards as feminine. When men do so they are marked either as gay or “sissies,” unless it’s Halloween or Mardi Gras or something similar, of course. The worst way our culture can insult men is to feminize them, but it’s okay to masculinize women? Hmm…any thoughts here? So on one hand, women do have MORE freedom to express their individualities through clothing. On the other hand, this freedom indicates CONSTRAINTS on the types of identities that our culture accepts and, moreover, priviliges. This is a non-graded post, but I’m certainly interested in your feedback.


Blog Activity 7: Friendship June 1, 2009

Filed under: blog activity — daniellemstern @ 2:10 pm
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Chapter six spends lots of space devoted to gender-specific styles of friendship building and maintainence. Concepts such as male chumships and breadth of topics versus depth of intimacy are juxtaposed next to explanations of female friendships’ reliance on connection and fulfillment and male friendships’ need for activity and side-to-side interaction.

How do these textbook explanations compare to media representations of same-sex friendships, but more importantly, to your own lived experience? Reflect on some of your own close friendships (same-sex please) and compare them to same-sex friendships on one of your favorite TV shows. Share a summary with us, then read others’ stories and comment accordingly like we’ve been doing on the blog so far.


Blog Activity 6: The Family Gender Factory May 30, 2009

Filed under: blog activity — daniellemstern @ 10:02 pm
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[The following activity comes from p. 199 of the textbook (Gamble & Gamble, 2003).]

A critical socializing agent in our growth as women or men is our family. Take some time to think about the ways in which your family members contributed in helping you formulate your personal definitions of masculinity and femininity then respond to the questions below and share a summary with the rest of us:

In what ways did they (your family) encourage you or discourage you from exhibiting traditional male and female characteristics? What pressures do you believe your parents felt when socializing you to enact a gendered role. For example, did they feel it was important to monitor your dress? Did they set limits on your personal freedom? Were the discipline styles of your mother and father similar or different? IMPORTANT: Do you think a parent or caregiver would have disciplined you differently if you were a member of the opposite sex (you can compare to your parents’ treatment of your siblings here if relevant)?


Blog Activity 5: Nonverbal Patterns May 28, 2009

Filed under: blog activity — daniellemstern @ 10:49 am
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As inconspicuously as possible, go to a location (such as a coffee shop, library, etc.) where you can observe men and women (mixed-sex pairs or groups) interacting. Observe for about 20 minutes and take notes, but make it look like you are doing homework or writing, rather than obtrusively watching people. You should note the nonverbal components discussed in the textbook (body language, vocal cues, space/distance, touch, artifacts, etc.) to answer the following questions:

Who do you believe is more independent and why? Competitive? Emotional? Rational? Trustworthy? Submissive? Powerful? Credible? Friendly? Likeable? Why?

To what extent, if any, do gender stereotypes persist in influencing your response?

Post a summary of your findings, then compare and contrast with others’ summaries.


Feminism Wrap-up

Filed under: course info — daniellemstern @ 9:07 am

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your public comments and private journal entries regarding feminism. Most posed frank, yet thoughtful, ideas regarding the different types of feminism and how they are portrayed in everyday life and the media. When we get to the media section in a couple of weeks, we’ll talk even more about how popular entertainment and mainstream news construct and filter our understandings of gender and gender social movements.

For now, I thought I’d share (per the inquisitiveness of one student) a tally of feminist thinking in the course. Of 26 enrolled students, 25 completed the journal activity expressing your understandings and proclamations of feminist identity(-ies). Based on self-report 19 of you identified along some point of the feminist spectrum (liberal, social, structural, pro-feminist male). This includes 16 of the 20 women and three of the five men, which I think is pretty impressive. Now, please keep in mind that the goal of the assignment, nor the class, is to build a feminist army. Rather, it’s to challenge each of you to at least some introspection and reflection on gender inequalities and social movements.

Most of you mentioned in your journal assignments a previously skewed understanding of feminists as male-bashing lesbians, which you realize now as an inaccurate representation stemming from limited media portrayals and interpersonal experiences. I was amazed at how many of you shared a sense of enlightenment upon reading more about feminism(s), as well as learning more from the blog discussion. This only makes me look more forward to the second half of the class as we continue to challenge patterns and norms of gender in our social system.