Tues May 31 2016 – Lady’s Room:
Today I used the lady’s room. After writing that sentence I realized that even calling it “the lady’s room” is a gender specific experience. Women have always been seen as gentler and nice, so of course they would call the “women’s bathroom” the “lady’s room”. Men of course being seen and expected to be masculine brutes call it the lou, john, can, toilet, or even crapper. When I went in to the “lady’s room” all the stalls were taken and there were other ladies waiting. A HUGE part of me wanted to go across the hall into the more than likely empty men’s bathroom so I could relieve my bladder sooner rather than later, but I just stood their in agony and waited. Why did it matter so much that I had to chose this particular room to complete a very natural task that every human does? Why couldn’t I use the available room on the opposite side of the hall that served the exact same purpose? Because I am a woman.
Wed June 1 2016 – Aware of my Skin:
Today I went to the apartment of 4 of my friends to hang out. Two of them, identify as women, and are staying here during the summer with me, while the other two, Identify as men and, are not. Today when I went over to hang out it was different because one of the men had made the long drive from his home town to visit for a few days. When I went over I was greeted by a big hug from him since I hadn’t seen him in about a month and a couple hellos and waves from the two girls. Since I’ve known all of them for so long I was at ease just hanging out with them and catching up. At one point while I was visiting them, the girls left the room to get ready for dinner, and myself and my male friend were sitting in the living room by ourselves. Until then I hadn’t really given much consideration to the though that I identify as a straight woman, and he identifies as a straight man. This thought only came to be because while I was curled up in one of their living room chair, my denim shorts hiked up higher on my leg than I am typically comfortable with. Those two thoughts may seem like they are unrelated, but I as a woman felt uncomfortable at the idea, and sight, of more of myself physically exposed than I am used to. This thought never would have crossed my mind had I been in the living room with only my two female friends. As a woman, I would feel comfortable enough showing more skin than I typically do, in the company of other women that I am close with, than I could ever feel in the company of any man that I am equally close with. In hindsight, I feel that my identified gender and the identified gender of those around me impacted my level of comfort in that situation, more than the amount of skin that I was showing.
Thu June 2 2016 – Buff:
I went to the gym today wit my friend and we’ve been working with a trainer for a few weeks on our strength and we are very proud of the progress we have made with our squats. While we were using the squat rack we were increasing weight and we noticed that the man next to us was squatting way less than we were and he was having quite a bit of trouble. We instantly felt very proud of ourselves and we felt bad for him and thought less of him because we, two women, could squat more than him. After that thought I realized how ridiculous that was and how we were putting society’s expectations on him when there is no reason that he has to abide by them. We shouldn’t have been proud of us for lifting more than a guy, we should have been proud of ourselves for lifting more than we had before.
Fri June 3 2016 – That Time of the Month:
All this week I have been on my period. Oh My Gosh, did she just say the “P” word?!?! Yes, yes I did, I am on my period. It baffles me why one of the most natural and ESSCENTIAL things in humanity’s existence is such a big hush hush topic. So today, while being on my period, I felt as though I needed to change my tampon. So I sat there for 45 minutes, for all I knew I had bled right through my tampon and onto my chair. Why did I do this? Why did I allow myself potentially bleed through my tampon? Because I had just, and I mean just, sat down to take an exam in class and I had a male teacher. Every girl that just read that last sentence probably just gasped! I was at the mercy of my exam, there was nothing I could do, I was stuck, bleeding all the while. Why didn’t I just ask to go to the bathroom? Because I had a MALE TEACHER! I couldn’t just go up and ask to go to the bathroom! What if he asked if I could wait till after the exam? At that point I would have had to say no. Then he would have asked why? And there is absolutely no way that I was about to tell my MALE TEACHER the truth, that if I didn’t go to the bathroom I was going to bleed through my tampon. Could you imagine? The horror! He would know that I was a woman! That I chad the ability to bear a child! And that I had failed to do so since my last monthly blood letting! Society, and men have made it impossible for a woman who is already, very likely ,uncomfortable because of her period, even more uncomfortable because we cant talk about it or ask for help! If there weren’t such a stigma around having a period, then I could have reached into my bag, grabbed a tampon, not stuffed it in my sleeve, or brought my purse with me, and just said, I need to use the lady’s room and I could have gone and nothing bad would have happened.
Sat June 4 2016 – The Dress Code:
Today I volunteered at a retirement community. I love my volunteering job, I get to spend time with people who really appreciate and understand that time spent with people is valuable. While I love my volunteering, it is difficult for me as a woman to dress in a way that fits the dress code of the volunteer facility. The dress code says that I am not allowed to wear shorts, no matter how long they are, no denim, no dresses, no skirts, no graphic designs, and no short sleeves. I cannot show my stomach, my shoulders, my chest, or my back, and I must wear closed toes shoes. While I understand that this dress code is meant to make this a professional environment, I am having some trouble with it for a few reasons: 1. It is summer and today was 90 degrees. So wearing pants and a long sleeved, professional, shirt with closed toes shoes definitely was not my first choice. 2. The description for the men’s dress code was, collared shirt, closed toed shoes, no graphic designs. Why is the list for my dress code a complex mathematical equation while the men’s section says three things? Why is it ok for a man to wear shorts but not me? Why can a man wear short sleeves, if they are collared, but I cant? Why does my body need to be covered up? What is the difference between a male and female bicep? 3. As a college student I have limited space in my closet and limited funds to spend on clothing, I have worked in professional settings before but never with dress codes this strict and unfair. I simply do not own the clothes that I am required to wear. All my pants are jeans! What would happen if I were to wear men’s clothes? Would that be accepted? If the men are allowed to wear it, and if its so appropriate for them shouldn’t it be appropriate for me too?
If i’m being perfectly honest, in my day to day life i really don’t give much attention to the way that gender effects my life. Maybe that is because my gender identity and how i chose to express it is widely accepted by society. This week opened my eyes to how the idea of gender touches every single thing that we do, how we dress, our morning routine, how we talk, walk, think, interact with others and more. I have had these same experiences for the majority of my life, using the lady’s room, wearing shorts, going to the gym, having a period, and abiding by a dress code. And typically i would just go along with it, ignoring the gender bias and stereotypes that I see day to day, but having to really think about it and write about them has opened my eyes to the effect that gender has on our lives.
I found it very interesting that in the article “Gender as a Social Structure”, the author writes that “social structures shape individuals, but simultaneously, individuals shape the social structure”, I saw this first hand during this week. In the case of the lady’s room, society says that men and women have to be separate while using the bathroom, and individuals have accepted that and perpetuated that idea by freaking out if there is some one in the “incorrect” bathroom, but if individuals decided to make bathrooms gender neutral bathroom and just go in which ever bathroom they wanted then we could change the social division of gender, in bathrooms. This theory can apply to all of my experiences this week. It is crazy to think that we life by these social rules with out thinking about it an some people freak out if they are broken, but if enough individuals break them then they cause cease to be rules.