Tag Archives: gender and sexuality

Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise

(Image via Comixology)

Strangers in Paradise is a comic book written and drawn by Terry Moore. It’s a story about two best friends — Francine and Katchoo — their lives, their relationships and their love for each other.

What’s interesting about the story is the characters. Both Francine and Katchoo defy the gender norms usually attached in comic book female characters. Both women are given the chance to portray strong wills and strong voices. It’s a far cry from the female trope embedded in comic books, that is a female character who is treated like a second-rate person and always needs to be saved by the hunky male lead.

Francine and Katchoo live ordinary lives. They have the same fears and joys as you and me. But they are also heroes in their own right. They inspire hope. Francine deals with her issues about herself and her relationships but still find strength within her. Katchoo, on the other hand, is haunted by her difficult past but she battles it head-on.

They are ordinary women with extraordinary will to live their lives — something that needs to be emulated by everyone.

The following is a video in which Terry Moore talks and answers questions about Strangers in Paradise. Here he talks about the inspirations behind the story and the story development among others.

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Around the Web

Gender and the Academe

Commanding positions by Jessica Shepherd

Shepherd reports on how some UK universities have opened doors for women to acquire administrative positions. Universities such as Oxford Brookes University and University of Winchester are one step ahead the gender equality ladder as they admit female chancellors, vice chancellors and other administrative offices. Shepherd also points out that women usually put off applying for an administrative office until they get better accomplishments. On the other hand, men are more of risk-takers when it comes to applying for a position.

In 2006, 42% of senior management posts in UK universities were held by women, while in 2003, 28% were, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. It might not be by much, but the percentage of professors who are female has also nudged ahead from 15% in 2003 to 17.5% in 2006. And it is the new universities, in particular the post-92s such as Oxford Brookes, that are leading the change.

Science, Technology and Society

Moral Machines by Gary Marcus

Driver-less cars may be what we see in the streets soon enough. But given a difficult situation, will this machine do the “right” thing?

Building machines with a conscience is a big job, and one that will require the coordinated efforts of philosophers, computer scientists, legislators, and lawyers. And, as Colin Allen, a pioneer in machine ethics put it, “We don’t want to get to the point where we should have had this discussion twenty years ago.” As machines become faster, more intelligent, and more powerful, the need to endow them with a sense of morality becomes more and more urgent.

Science (Or Pseudo-science?)

Piltdown Man and other phantom species by Rebekah Higgitt

Higgitt lists down the hoaxes that once entered the intellectual bank of human evolution.

Although the specimens were forgeries, the fact that they were named, illustrated, published and discussed meant that the species nevertheless achieved some sort of existence, at least for several decades. It feels a little as if there should be some sort of limbo, perhaps similar to the place that ballpoint pens and odd socks go, reserved for these phantom species.

Anthropology and the Academe

Maverick anthropologist’s memoir sparks fresh row over ancient Yanomami tribe by Paul Harris

(Image via The Guardian)

Controversy erupts (again) as the legendary Napoleon Chagnon publishes his book, Noble Savages. If you’re not familiar with Chagnon, refer to one of our previous posts here

Same sex marriage in the eyes of a teenage student

By Kert

(Image via Wikipedia)

Last week I came across the news publication of the high school where I used to study and now where I teach (I’m teaching in high school and college this semester). There was an article entitled “Same Sex Marriage” in the editorial page. Naturally, I was very interested to read it — “naturally” because I am interested in LGBTQ issues being a lesbian myself. I wanted to know what the younger generation thinks about the issue of same sex marriage. I had all hopes that their perceptions have moved away from discrimination and bigotry since our country is becoming more globalized and exposed to the different realities in this world.

The things I read  though, came as  a full shock to me.

The writer, a third year high school student probably around 14 or 15 years old, starts the article by explicitly stating that she is vehemently against gay marriage. What follows is a set of tirades posted as “arguments” as to why gay marriage is wrong and should therefore not be allowed.

Argument #1: God only created Man and Woman. He did not create gays and lesbians.

Argument #2: God created Eve to be with Adam only

Argument #3: Gays have sex, which leads to AIDS

Argument #4: Same sex marriage damages the sanctity of marriage because there’s no assurance that their relationship will last forever. A corollary to this is: Gay relationships don’t and can’t last because gays can’t have children with the same DNA as theirs.

Argument #5: Gays don’t have moral values and respect for religion.

Argument #6: Because gay relationship is against morality, it may lead to the deluge of the world as the youth will be “pushed” to do bad things.

Argument #7: Acceptance of gay marriage is a step towards the crumbling of moral values.

There are so many fallacies in her arguments that I just want to facepalm (for a lack of a better word) so hard. I don’t have to explain to those who are in their right mind why the arguments above are just completely wrong. But for those uninitiated, I will give a response to each argument.

Response #1: I don’t see why Christianity or any religion should matter when it comes to a person’s sexual orientation. But for the sake of argument, I would point out that there’s nothing written in the bible saying that the “Man” or the “Woman” can’t be gay or bi or trans or queer.

Response #2: Again, there’s nothing in the bible stating that a person cannot love whoever s/he wants. But wait! There’s Leviticus saying “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman”. Well, it’s not about loving someone of the same gender. Also, we’re forgetting the context of this passage. There are many things in the bible that are no longer considered right and may be considered downright oppressive in today’s standards. For one, the bible says that women should be subordinate to men or that rape victims should marry their rapists. Remember that the bible was written hundreds of years ago in a very patriarchal society. More than the voice of God, the bible is the voice of the culture, the social environment and the time in which it was written. We have to be careful not to take it too literally. Oh and a little trivia, there are relationships in the bible that can be considered almost romantic, i.e. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi.

Response #3: Almost everyone has sex, even straight people. Sex between gays don’t result to AIDS all the time. Also, straight people can have AIDS too, not just gays. Being gay is not the root cause of AIDS, unprotected sex is (and transfer of blood from unknown sources or in the case of Kenshin the Battousai, getting yourself cut while slashing another samurai who has AIDS)

Response #4: There’s no evidence that gay relationships don’t last for a long time. A lot of gays have monogamous relationships that last for a lifetime. Also, having children isn’t the only reason that couples stay together. It’s love and trust. When those two things break, people usually end up separating. This is also the case for heterosexual couples.

Response #5: Seriously, this is ridiculous. For one, religion doesn’t have the monopoly on morality. Also being gay, doesn’t mean that a person has no moral values. Just because I’m a lesbian doesn’t mean I’m going to run around performing the most heinous crimes and the worst debauchery. I usually just sit on my chair, read, check my facebook, or check my students’ requirements. I am as boring as any heterosexual person out there. I wish I have a more exciting life, but that is how it is.

Response #6: Why should LGBTQs be blamed for the actions of miscreant kids? In my opinion, out LGBTQs are actually good role models for showing people that they can be themselves. Also, I cannot see the bad message in loving another person. What’s so bad about love?

Response #7: Accepting gay marriage doesn’t mean the entire world should run amok. It’s just giving the same rights that heterosexuals have to the LGBTQs who are also citizens of this country. Why must we treat LGBTQs as second rate citizens? We pay our taxes too and we’re serving the country no matter how oppressive it is to us.

To be honest, I was appalled with what I read. I can’t believe how much misinformed people are where I’m from. And a teenager having such bigotry at a young age, it’s just beyond me. A friend said it’s “learned bigotry”. It makes me wonder, what the hell are we teaching our children? Why would we teach them how to hate? It’s funny how Spain brought us medieval dogmas hundreds of years ago through Catholicism, but they don’t even take them seriously anymore. Now we’re stuck with them.

With the current state of the country and its adherence to religious dogma and traditions, the fight of the LGBTQs has a long way to go. I still hope though, that our social environment will change one day; that we will be accepted in this society no longer as deviants but just like any other human beings who feel and love.

I am more than just your alarm clock and sandwich maker

By Patty Sue

Note: This post can also be found in Patty Sue’s blog, thenyannyanadventures

Hi! The male who drew me is a jerk (Image via cSlacker)

As an anthropology student, I have been exposed to a rich amount of literature which deals with gender issues especially those concerned with women empowerment and equal rights in society. In a culture where patriarchal manifestations are greatly felt, it is but appropriate and empowering for me at the same time to identify even in brief discourse the various institutions in society which create or reinforce unjustified gender roles and stereotypes to women.

Family

The family is the most basic unit in society. In most cultures, just like ours, it is in the family where our deep socialization is deeply rooted. As the only daughter (and child) in my family, I have personally experienced situations wherein I am identified and defined because of my gender. My father who is quite the conservative one would often downplay my capacity to protect myself and would oftentimes reprimand me and confine me at home, even in school field trips. There are many underlying reasons as to why he does this and possibly one reason is because he wants to protect me. However, it is also in this context that I am degraded to nothing but someone who must be protected. My father would always say, “Babae ka. Hindi ko kaya proteksyonan sarili mo. Mahina ka.” These words would always have a great impact on me because I do not believe that I am merely defined by my biological characteristics.

Women- The Domesticated sphere of Economics

In a recent public presentation that my batch mates and I had in Naga, one interesting topic stood out in my classmate’s paper and it was the role of women as fisherman’s wives. I can’t but to reflect more on it because it has presented how women are clearly misconstrued and delegated to household chores and child rearing while the husband is the one who goes out and earn for the family through fishing. Being the Haligi ng tahanan would always undermine being theIlaw ng tahanan. It is in the connotations that most people attach to women as doing nothing but domesticated work or serving as alarm clocks for their husband and children that devalues women worth in the face of a capitalist society.

9GAG.com

Media and its new forms namely the Internet and Visual media have had a great influence in reinforcing ideologies on gender. The picture above which I got from 9GAG.com, an entertaining and fun site which is becoming an internet phenomenon, would often display pictures like this of the adventures of Derp and Derpina and how Derp, being the male and all, makes use of sexist jokes on her girlfriend, Derpina all the time. Although I find these picture posts funny, there is also that hidden fear as to how sexist jokes are taken to the extreme as posts like this, “Make me a sandwich” gain several likes on Facebook and other social networking sites. Truly, media has helped reinforcing gender stereotypes and sometimes it does so in its sneaky, magic tricks and lures people into sensationalizing and disguising gender stereotypes in humor or satire, which can be eye-opening but personally more and more normal for society especially in a generation of youth where internet is the primary means of information and entertainment.

So how do we resist? Run the world, girls!

I may be identified as a feminist (not the extreme one though) because of a fairly amount of papers that I made in my years as an anthropology student. For me, there is really an existing gender inequality, not only between male and female but also among gays and lesbians in society. It is in this light that I propose that the greatest resistance one could even do is change the perceptions of gender roles and assignments and society. In a society where patriarchy is dominant, woman resisting should be able to prove that staying in home and taking care of the children is empowering rather than degrading, a girl like me should be able to go beyond my biological identity and will be able to defend herself (I enrolled in Elorde boxing class, by the way, much to my father’s disapproval) and characters such as Derpina must be able to fight back against Derp and his sexist jokes (or even play jokes on him too as sweet revenge).

Women should because women can.

Kert’s Note: This is a reflection paper Patty Sue wrote for her Anthro 141 (Political Anthropology) class under Prof. E.M. Taqueban

 

What makes you a woman?

By Patty Sue

Note: This post can also be found in Patty Sue’s blog, thenyannyanadventures

You will all burn in hell. Mwahah! (Image via whynotcoconut.com)

”Homosexuality is not a sin, it is a lie from the devil. Do not be deceived. God loves gays and wants them to know the truth.”  -Miriam Quiambao

This is a tweet from the former beauty queen, Miss Miriam Quiambao. At first, I could not believe that she thinks this way of the LGBT community. I thought beauty queens are chosen not only for their beautiful appearance but also because they represented what is beautiful in humanity. But, what the heck, who am I kidding. I hate beauty pageants in the first place. Even if most people in society regard this as a significant event that seeks “true beauty”, I think it’s just a venue of parading women who live up to society’s expectations of beauty. In short, it’s more of an imposition of beauty rather than a discovery of one. My art studies professor once said that beauty pageants are no more  than sheep contests, wherein you pin a blue ribbon to the most attractive and well-bred sheep. You can’t really realize genuineness through a bikini, vital statistics, or long gown contest. The question-and-answer portion won’t suffice either. (I think we have been witnesses to that so many times.) So this makes me really frustrated and angry to hear such statements from a beauty queen.

Now, what was the issue that, Miriam Quiambao had to say things like this? Well, it all started with Donald Trump’s announcement that in 2013, Miss USA will allow transgenders to join. This decision was pushed to a finality after it was revealed that Miss Canada 2012 was actually a transgender. Although the it is still deemed to be problematic, LGBT sees this an important step to assert their identity and empower their community even more. Let’s face it, LGBTs are discriminated against in every social institution there is. They’ve been called demons and social deviants. They are stigmatized with stereotypes that are far from which they truly are. There have been several incidents of abuse and hate-crimes against the LGBT in the country. One case describes the burning of a gay person then stabbing him to death. All of these happen because of reckless words and unjust actions.

Now back to Miriam Quiambao. Okay, she has her own opinion on this issue. I respect opinions but I abhor imposing your opinions on everyone else. Aside from her tweets, she also had a number of interviews on TV where she was seated with transgenders. Of all the arguments which were laid in the discourse, Miss Miriam used one of the ‘most used’ and rather ‘misused’ of them all- religion. Roman Catholicism to be exact. I am Roman Catholic but I don’t persecute or humiliate others using my religion as a front.

Miss Miriam Quiambao should have been careful in choosing her words. Although I understand where she’s coming from since she is a former beauty queen and tradition has also been a huge and great wall to break in our country, it still does not justify her saying that homosexuality is a lie from the DEVIL. She should have realized that she is an icon in the country and very much part of the media so anything she says will make a great impact or influence on the audience. And to use biblical passages to defend this, if I must say, is insulting to those like me who loves LGBTs and GOD. I have to be honest by saying that since I was little, I didn’t mind interacting with LGBTs, considering my father is a homophobic. I guess it has a lot to do with my mother who’s always fair in treating people (that’s why I love her so much!) I studied in Christian schools and I’ve met with the most stern and horrific nuns and school administrators. Posing a question in class that leans on going against the Scripture was actually a taboo. You questioning their authority (and assumingly God’s) will either make you a troubled child to be sent for counselling or a real troublemaker that needs to be silenced. I was a ‘good’ girl back then and I basically conformed to everything that my teachers said. There were a few mentors whom I can confide with and few friends who share my sentiments.

Everything changed when I went to college where I befriended beautiful and wonderful people who aren’t straight. most of them are my best friends now. And I tell you they’re not any less lovable or respectable as any of my straight friends. When you attach labels, you create a division that isn’t supposed to exist. Furthermore, if it’s reinforced in institutions which are supposed to protect you, it creates an atmosphere of hate based on opinions which are strengthened through force and enculturation and without much enlightenment. I mean, really. Hearing Miriam Quiambao hurts my ears so much and makes me think how the hell does she deal with gays in her everyday life? The most talented fashion gurus and stylists are gays and considering her line of work, she must have dealt with a lot of them. Does she judge them while looking at them? Does she bat her eyes and say thank you whenever they make her look beautiful, while deep inside she thinks that they are lies from the devil?

Aside from her tweets, (which now turned to apologies with matching biblical quotations) there was one particular interview that also got on my nerves. It was when she asked a transgender, “What makes you a woman?” Well, it could have been just an inquiry for the sake of shedding light in the issue but I recognize a malicious tone when I hear one. So what did the transgender say? She told Miriam that she knows herself probably more than anyone and that being a woman is not only determined by your biological characteristics. ”Beauty is not in the vagina,” said JC Tejano, former chairperson of our college student council. I wished I could have shoved this statement right on Miriam’s mouth.

Well, what makes a woman, a woman?

In beauty pageants, one of the most popular question would be, “What is the essence of a woman?” A lot would say it’s having children or when you have an education or do things that men could do. These could be valid answers but I think it all boils down to having a choice. In other words, whatever you choose to define yourself with, people should respect that and recognize that you are empowered in what you’re doing. In fact, I’d like to take this to the extremes by citing that some Japanese porn stars find pornography empowering for them since they are in control of their bodies. I won’t go far from home and say that my mother, who is “just a mere housewife” for some men and women alike, take pride in being at home and taking care of me and the rest of the family. Our society will always have the notion that successful womanhood entails only those women who have a high-paying job and a prestigious career. In lack of a better reaction to this, I’ll just say that it’s completely BS. :)

How do I end this blog? I guess, I’ll conclude it by saying that Miss Miriam Quiambao is irresponsible and insensitive in her statements. To apologize on how she said it but not on what she said is an even greater insult to the LGBT community. To say that she didn’t expect that her statements would cause an upset is a presentation of complete ignorance of the dynamics of human discourse and ethics. To limit womanhood and beauty to a biological woman is a grave assault to the LGBTs out there who live and express their lives, their whole being, to what they believe is right. To use religion and to preach in God’s name to spread animosity instead of understanding is a sin against the basic commandment of God that all “preachers’ tend to forget: love one another.

People are people, Miriam. You’re crazy to judge others just because they’re different from you.