Letter to the Editor: April 4

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April 4, 2008

1:26 AM

Gender bent out of shape

To the Editor:

Recently, you may have noticed advertisements for various Intro to Women’s Studies Community Action Projects taking place on campus. One project is hosting a Gender Bending Day.

We believe that a strict gender binary and the idea that gender (the social construction of man and woman) must correspond with sex (the biological designation of male and female) raises many problems. Some people feel that their gender is not the same as their birth sex. Others are born inter-sex (with ambiguous genitalia) and are arbitrarily assigned, and sometimes operated on to conform to a male or female gender. Some simply feel that gender is too restrictive.

Why is it acceptable for women to wear pants but not for men to wear skirts? Why are boys afraid to cry, while girls are teased for being tomboys?

Clearly, not everyone agrees that the gender binary should be blurred. We are having trouble advertising for our event.
We posted flyers last week, one reading “What would the world be like without gender?” The other featured a picture of a drag performer.

All around campus, our flyers have been removed from public posting spaces. In one residence hall, after five days, 19 of 25 flyers had been taken down, two rudely defaced and one ripped to shreds.

Someone, who clearly believes that even controversial views have a right to be expressed, kindly taped that one back together and wrote on it a verse about loving each other.

This week’s flyers include cartoons of boys saying, “Boys can like hugs too!”

Four flyers were torn down in as many hours. This is very disheartening to our group’s efforts. To individuals who do not fit traditional masculine or feminine gender roles, this attack could be taken more personally. It is a sad reflection on society when the gender dichotomy is so strictly upheld that people retaliate when they are asked merely to consider challenging it.

We hope that by generating discussion and awareness through Gender Bending Day, we will help our school to truly become the diverse and welcoming community that we want it to be. Please consider joining our efforts by cross-dressing on April 9 and attending our forum in Washington 201 from 6 to 9 p.m. to discuss gender in our society.

— Kathy Middlesex ’11, Ginny Hutcheson ’11

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