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Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality

Q1 : Please read this answer and provide reply :

  1. In the section on gender, I found myself chuckling at a few things and feeling happy that other points were brought up.  I felt the paragraph on the way men and women are seen based on their gender and race was spot on.  I was watching HGTV and there was an upper-class woman who was a stay at home mom.  Throughout the show, I could not stand her.  She was so focused on what she wanted in the house, not thinking about the budget or how much work it would create for her husband.  I feel that not only do we already have theses stereotypes within our mental framework, but it is reinforced by the way a small sample of each grouping portrays itself through the media.  I found this section interesting because I am a woman who identifies as such.  However, from the time I was 4 to the time I graduated high school, I was the only girl on an all-boys hockey team.  There were one or two years that I had a female teammate, but I could never find myself identifying with them because they tended to be too girly (they would wear makeup during games and practices).  I preferred hanging out with the guys, playing paintball in the off-season, doing workouts with my teammates, and, much to my mother’s dismay, I hated doing anything girly.  This meant that I wanted a blue and red room decorated with hockey decor, I shied away from makeup or hair products, and could not (and still cannot) stand going shopping.  If you look at me know though, I have grown into societal expectations of the female gender.  I live in yoga pants, no more sweats; I have an exorbitant amount of hair products and nail polish, that I never use; and  I love baking.  A quick tangent on baking and being in the kitchen.  I watch a lot of Food Network, and I just want to say that for a location that is supposed to be the “woman’s place,” and a profession that is supposed to be a “woman’s job,” there are an awful lot of male chefs.

Back to the point of that spiel.  I initially balked when the book said that “Race, class, gender, and sexuality together construct stereotypes.”  I had to re-read that sentence a few times because I didn’t read the second sentence right away.  “Each gains meaning in relationship to the others.”  How true is this?  I have clients who like woman, but not woman of a certain race.  For instance, I have clients who hate white women, but love white men.  For them, it’s not solely based on gender, but a combination of gender and race.  I also got a little happy when the book began talking about the high rates of violence against women.  That sentence didn’t come out like I wanted it to, but hear me out.  In undergrad, I took a class called “Violence Against Women and Children,” and it was the highlight of my undergrad years. I learned so much in that class, on women from a variety of cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, and geographical backgrounds.   I feel that when speaking of inequality against women, we tend to forget that it isn’t limited to us making less money than men.  The inequality goes far beyond monetary value, and it seems that we too often forget to discuss the way women are treated.  I would also like to say this applies to men.  I was raised in a household that believed in traditional gender roles, but I feel that society puts too much emphasis on what boys can do versus what girls can do, and this creates a warped sense of gender equality.

  1. The second section I was intrigued by was the section on class.  I was intrigued when the section ended by emphasizing the “astonishing figures for one of the most affluent nations in the world.”  I can say that I grew up in Maine and we were middle class.  My dad worked day in and day out not only at his job, but as a handy man around the house.  My boyfriend grew up here in Springfield, and while his family was also middle-class, they have a much smaller home.  He was shocked the first time he saw my house because it is much larger.  The cost of living varies depending on where you live, not just which state, but where within each state.  I found that the book raised a great point about class not being based solely on income.  Too often, we focus on how much money everyone makes and that as being the sole determinant of their social class.  Yet we don’t reflect on student loans, car loans, home loans, being in debt, or anything else that takes away from our income.  For me, the part that stood out most was when the author spoke to the importance of not relying on the statistics in the book as a determinant of the whole.  The graphs show a drastic picture both of poverty and of median annual income, yet they only represent the families who actually filled out the census.  It is true that the middle class is slowing devolving and the gap between upper class and lower class widening.  This means that graduate school could make or break each and every one of us.  I don’t believe that the concept of a middle class will disappear entirely, but it could become a combination of the higher end of the low class and the lower end of the upper class.

Q2 :Please read this answer and provide reply :

  1. The phrase that stuck with me while reading about class is “Social class is not just a matter of  material difference; it is a pattern of domination in which some groups have more power than others”.  I was really taken aback reading this because from my own experience, class was based on monetary value.  Through the reading this week, the social construct of the intertwining race, class and gender speaks not to a monetary value, instead, social class is where your ethnicity fits in on a “race ladder”, where the Whites are at the top and everyone else is under them.  What struck me too about this is thinking about my family, we are caucasian and my father grew up very poor, however, he was able to work his way through school and he became a lawyer.  This made me think that he went from the working poor class to the upper middle class, but was his access to school and work different than that of an ethnic person coming from the same background.  Laws that made access to education have been in place long enough that this question should not even matter, yet we are a capitalist society and money is how anyone survives.

2. I also found a quote from the sexuality section that reads “the real significance of sexuality lies in it’s social dimensions”.  I have to say I agree with this, because as the book mentioned, sexuality affects race, class and gender as a subgroup to each.  I recently had a Halloween party with several children and a 9 year old asked me what the word gay meant (it was on one of our mugs.  She is a Jewish child from an affluent family, however, she was raised to just see things for what they are, in this case; her cousin (my girlfriend) wears mens clothes, has short hair and she lives with her girlfriend (me).  This leads me to my never ending thought of; the way things used to be was not right, however, with modern research in psychology, we are getting a better idea of how we genuinely need to be.  Through my experience figuring people out and looking at everything objectively, society has a structure that somehow puts Caucasian men at the top, followed by Caucasian women, then other ethnicities.  Somehow, society needed laws so that everyone can vote, get married , smoke herbal medicine and the list goes on that circles around what our forefathers thought was right.