Reflections on Class Discussion: Gender and Sexuality
This class discussion made me think a lot deeper about the way gender and sexuality is represented in the media, and to what extent. This discussion helped me distinguish between the terms; sex, a biological characteristic vs. the term; gender which refers to a cultural programming or a social construct of what it means to be feminine or masculine. In other words, men are not born masculine, in the same that women are not born feminine, instead we are taught to identify ourselves as belonging to either group and, at the same time naturalizing gender.
The media conflates with its representations of gender; therefore we assume things about characters when we come across them in real life. The media creates and perpetuates these stereotypes as a way of categorizing homosexuality; however it is not that simple. The separation of gender is both a mythical and social construct that creates an ideal female, and an ideal male expecting everyone to fall under these categories flawlessly. Homosexuality breaks these barriers with a sexual orientation which isn’t as clear cut as many would like.
What stood out the most to me in this class discussion was the lack of lesbian representation in the media. It seems that the media is careful in its selection of characters portrayed which are for the most part heterosexual, thus supporting heterosexuality; a normative standard which all women are expected to live by. Lesbian women are seen as the Other, as a result of gendering created by man, the oppressor. As mentioned in “The Invention of Heterosexuality,” homosexuality wasn’t removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of psychological disorders until 1974, which is surprisingly recent. Homosexuality is therefore still a newly acknowledged category that the media is probably not prepared for. From this discussion I came to the conclusion that the marginalization of lesbians in the media illustrates the inadequacy of our traditional way of thinking about sexuality and sexual orientation that does not give room to other groups.
By Stephanie Gomez
By Stephanie Gomez