Dr. Johnson began Tuesday's class discussion with the "ten things to know about race." I often find myself juxtaposing my courses at Rhodes, not necessarily intentionally but some times things just seem to web together. As the list progressed parallels between the ten things to know about race and my gender studies courses arose. The context in which gender is discussed is similar to the way in which Dr. J introduced race.
Gender, like race, is often now studied as socially constructed. The third thing on the list for race was that there is no single genetic marker or basis for race. Gender is studied similarly by separating the terminology of biological sex and focusing on the characteristics that differentiate between male and female. These characteristics in gender can be equally offensive and stereotypical like race. Asians are good at math. Women are good at vacuuming. Right? No.
The seventh thing to know about race was that we are all mixed, there is no pure racial ancestry. This may not directly relate but the practice of anti-miscegenation laws, those that forbid people from marrying outside their race in order to maintain pure ancestry, are similar to the practice of kinship that is studied in gender courses. Kinship practices vary in different cultures but the main purpose is to control and govern who marries who. As the anti-miscegenation laws proved unsuccessful, no one is pure, so are the flaws in any kinship practice.
The eighth thing to know is ovioulsy similar. Classifications constantly change over time. The distinction between biological sex and gender as I mentioned before wasn't proposed until the 1950s and became common in literature in the 1970s. Not all biologically born "Women" associate themselves with typical female characteristics. Just as certain races do not associate with the racial categories society has created. I realize they are completely separate histories that we are studying but the oppression race and gender experience is real and often relatable.