Tag Archives: equality

Bathroom Diaries: Transgender Restroom Access VS Civil Rights

19 May

There is a lot of misunderstood dialog between sex and gender – the ideas only get more conflated in communities and households that thought they go hand-in-hand…

The most recent headliner of the Great Transgender Bathroom Debate came hot off the press of the New York Times earlier this week. One of my new guilty pleasures is to peruse the comments thread on Facebook beneath the high profile articles. I like to see individuals with opposing viewpoints duke it out. Sometimes I just laugh at the “idiocracy”, other times I learn something new and it changes my outlook. Not this time.

NYT

I try to hold back the urge to get involved – to be one of those commenters that responds to every “hater” who disagrees with me. Every one has a different opinion – and that is OK!

I relapsed anyway when a few stray cats came in and compared transgender bathroom access to the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s, my own claws came out.

To assert that only biologically males are “allowed” to use the men’s restroom is not the equivalent to having a “White’s Only” restroom. African Americans, at that time, did not have equal rights. Transgender individuals most certainly do have the same natural rights as you and I. To compare bathroom access to systemic oppression cheapens that injustice.

I do believe that you cannot force someone with a gender identity crisis to use a labeled bathroom inconsistent with their self-identification. This seems unethical and likely to cause emotional harm.

However no one is being denied equal access to public restroom accommodation. This debate is less about rights and more about being afraid of what you don’t know.

A majority of heterosexuals who feel that transgender individuals are encroaching on their privacy by using a restroom opposite of their biology are scared – scared that it is a gateway for anyone to enter any restroom based off of how they are “feeling.” Of course it does enable perverts easier access to harm people, though I do not think it necessarily is “breeding” a new type of predator.

If a man is comfortable living as a woman, and vice versa, then we should respect that.

This is a slippery slope for me as I toy with the idea more of what a restroom “means” to me (this is an amazing article about stall confessionals!  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/stall-confessions-for-women-the-washroom-is-a-sacred-place-one-for-privacy-and-reflection).

For the record, I do not mind sharing a restroom with a transgender male. But everyone is not as liberal.

This is about fighting to fight. And while I am all for human rights, I think this topic is tired. If a transgender individual does not feel comfortable using the bathroom with which gender they identify…use a unisex one! It does not automatically classify them as “other.”  Trans students are the hot topic for discussion and lament having to “resort” to entering family restrooms because of harassment and bullying.

But! but! while it seems unfair that they feel threatened and pressured to use the restroom which biologically describes them, the fact is there is no solution that is satisfactory to the majority of any stance!

While transgender people may enter any restroom they choose, they cannot change the opinions of others. Like racism, discrimination again non-conformists will persist NO MATTER WHAT.

Some of you are just too damn sensitive over EVERYTHING and need to realize that labels are necessary.

We are a species, that since the beginning of time, has named things. We are innately curious, speculative, and yearn for identification and expression as a means of storytelling and making sense of the world. Having labels is not oppressive – it is how we categorize things.

Taking away gender labels in favor of  “genderless” will not prevent standards and societal normatives to shine through. Taking away the label that women wear heels and men play with guns will not prevent people from doing those things on the basis of gender.

Utopia, then, is not a society where is no gender.

Rather, utopia is a world in which there are a wide variety of genders and gendered expressions, all of which are seen as equally true, and equally acceptable. Gender of all sorts would ideally be as unmarked, and unremarked, as whether or not you wear glasses or contacts. You’d notice if someone was male or female or both or neither, but it wouldn’t be defining, and wouldn’t carry with it a weight of expectations, anger, censure, and potential violence. – Noah Berlatsky for Ravishly.com

Demanding genderlessness only reinforces the importance of gender, and makes it more visible. It causes you to look more microscopically for the “hated” signs of gender.

The end of gender shaming will not come from people having no gender. The end of gender is the moment when wearing makeup or playing with trucks isn’t seen as having any particular meaning other than that you like wearing makeup or playing with trucks.

As long as there’s one standard, even one standard of genderlessness, those who don’t conform to it will be marked and targeted.

Making restrooms for “all” or abolishing labels on restrooms all together will not solve the issue or make trans individuals feel any less alienated.

Education and acceptance are the only resolution.

 

 

Will a woman replace Jackson on the $20 bill?

24 Mar

It may seem difficult to imagine that there is anything wrong with a crisp, delicious stack of cash. But a new campaign that seeks to change the face of the 20-dollar bill points out the problem: our paper money contains no depictions of women.

20s

As National Public Radio reports a group has launched a campaign to try to raise awareness to potentially change the bill that currently depicts Andrew Jackson. The campaign, Women on 20s, is asking voters to help them select what woman should be immortalized on greenbacks, according to NPR.

To vote in the campaign and learn more about the effort behind the change, go to Women on 20s.

In the current round of voting, get ready to select three candidates out of this group:

  • Harriet Tubman‎
  • Rosa Parks‎
  • Alice Paul‎
  • Betty Friedan‎
  • Barbara Jordan‎
  • Clara Barton‎
  • Eleanor Roosevelt‎
  • Sojourner Truth‎
  • Shirley Chisholm‎
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton‎
  • Patsy Mink‎
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Rachel Carson‎
  • Frances Perkins‎
  • Margaret Sanger‎

Chinese Women ‘Name and Shame’ Companies They Say Discriminate

30 Dec
An activist in Yunnan Province prepares to mail letters to her local government complaining of illegal gender discrimination by Chinese companies.

An activist in Yunnan Province prepares to mail letters to her local government complaining of illegal gender discrimination by Chinese companies.

Eight young Chinese women, most of them university students facing a tight job market, have “named and shamed” dozens of Chinese companies they say are illegally specifying that only men can apply for certain positions. They have mailed their complaints to government human resource departments in the cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing, and in Yunnan and Henan Provinces.

Job advertisements in China have long listed a range of desired qualities in applicants, sometimes including height and weight. And the women say that they are aware that some job advertisements request women, especially in the service and handicrafts sectors. But they note that such jobs tend to pay less than the managerial positions that may specify male applicants.

The women, who call themselves “volunteers” and aim to highlight gender discrimination in China, provided photographs of themselves with dozens of letters of complaint they say they mailed to local government offices on Dec. 26. Most of the companies they list are privately owned and employ at least 500 people.

Contacted by telephone, two of the companies in Yunnan said they would drop the request for male applicants from their job advertisements.

Kunming Union Technology Company, the only state-owned enterprise on the women’s list, had advertised several positions for male engineers to maintain credit and debit card machines.

“This is a job that requires frequent travel and outdoor legwork. You need go to all those shops to install or fix the machines. Women are not quite fit for that,” said a woman who answered the telephone in the company’s human resources department. “But if there are female candidates we would still considering hiring them.”

So why say that only men need apply? “If women apply, we are open to them,” she said. “We support free choice.”

Kunming Daqiang Precious Metals Trading Company advertised for a male general manager with financial experience.

“If woman applies, we’d consider her also,” said a woman answering the telephone.

So why specify a man?

“What does it matter?” she asked. “I just love you journalists. They can apply. I’ll change the requirement right away.”

Faced with so many job ads that appear to shut them out, some female university students reason: “If that’s the case, then it’s more important to marry well than to study well,” said one “volunteer” in an emailed statement. She declined to give her real name out of concern for political repercussions over their action.

“We college students are facing serious employment problems, so we hope our action will breathe life into the laws and regulations that ensure equality of opportunity in employment,” she wrote.

Figures from the central government’s All-China Women’s Federation show that women’s average incomes have fallen relative to men’s since China embarked on market-oriented economic changes in the late-1970s.

Most shocking for the “volunteers,” they said, was the discovery that 80 percent of jobs that specified male applicants did not require physical labor. While many Chinese are aware of the gendered job ads, most believe they are aimed at ensuring that jobs that require physical strength, such as security guard, are filled by men.

Movies I Love: Thelma & Louise-The Last Great Frontier for Women Protagonists

25 Nov

I first viewed Thelma & Louise in a screenwriting class I took in college. I became immediately enthralled with the production because I had never become so emotionally attached to any character in a film before. But why? What makes this movie so unique?

I found that it was much more than a female version of the classic road film. Thelma & Louise really takes on a feminist perspective as the two women (played by Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis) leave behind their daily lives in order to find adventure and freedom from societal and patriarchal constraints. The actual road in this film along with their quintessential Barbie convertible represents their ticket to freedom. Both women find themselves in unhappy relationships and depend on each other for the only good and solid relationship yet experienced.

Gaining authority throughout the film through the unfortunate, yet encouraged use of guns and violence, these women take charge and enter what normally on the screen is viewed as male behavioral characteristics. Thelma and Louise become confident, assertive, and fearless for the first time.  This sharply contrasts the other road films where men narrate,and women are visual stimuli, or sexual objects the merely meet along the way. I think feminism in relation to this film presents itself in the spacial equality between men and women in terms of what both genders are able/expected to do, in personal characteristics, actions, and lifestyles. Feminism give women agency to step outside their culturally created gender roles and perhaps take on a job or activity or lifestyle that is not traditionally “female”, and thus allows for the freedom of choice, which is what I think is the core of this film.

However, the film also recognizes them as outlaws who must be punished  in someway for their deviant behavior–that  the “wild” woman” will not be met without consequence. Some critics think this counteracts the freedom and feminist ideals that the film was promoting all along.However, the suicide is the women asserting their freedom and claiming themselves; Thus they are no longer bound to submit to the law, to men, to their suppressors. I find this so empowering.

Since the original release  in 1991,the 20th anniversary of the film was met with a panel discussion of how far women had come twenty years later. “This movie would never get made today,” sighed one of the panelists, and the audience members murmured their assent. It’s shocking enough that it was distributed in 1991, but at least back then American women were experiencing something like momentum: Anita Hill stood up for herself at Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings, Callie Khouri won an Oscar, and, when four women were simultaneously elected to the United States Senate, 1992 was dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”

Thelma and Louise 2