North Texas Daily

Gender fair emphasizes communication and change

Gender fair emphasizes communication and change

April 28
02:36 2016

Nikki Lyssy | Staff Writer


Music played overhead as people mulled around the five different booths stationed in the University Union at the 2016 Gender Fair. Conducted by the communication studies department, the fair aimed to educate the community on gender biases prevalent in society.

Dr. Suzanne Enck of the communication studies department explained the significance of the event as an opportunity for the students in the gender and communication course to reach out in their community and share with others the societal subjects they’ve been learning all semester.

“Students are asked to present information to the community in a way that is thought-provoking, strongly researched, provocative and creative,” Enck said.

The students were paired into groups that focused on five aspects of gender: politics, race, sexual binaries, gender bodies and hetero-masculinity. Each group briefly spoke about what they stood for.

Gender in politics

Communication studies senior Sonia Dimas and junior Holland Turner explained what their group was all about.

“We are discussing gender stereotypes in politics as well as issues such as equality and reproductive rights,” Turner said. “One common stereotype is that women in politics are judged more harshly in their appearance than men are. They’re going to be judged on the way they dress and their haircut instead of for their political views.”

Dimas spoke about the lack of knowledge surrounding common stereotypes in society concerning politics.

“Many people have come to us and said they didn’t even know about these stereotypes,” she said. “We’re basically sharing awareness and letting them know that these stereotypes do exist in United States politics. Creating gender fairs and having different things [allows people to learn] about these stereotypes.”

Nonbinary sexes

Communication studies senior Jacob Wofford explained the proper usage of pronouns in every day conversation as a long-term goal for the department.

“A lot of people perceive just binary pronouns – he or she – but there are actually more to be used for a person who does not identify as a he or she,” Wofford said.

In today’s media market, transgender issues have been widely addressed and publicized, and Wofford spoke about the way they have handled the sensitive subject.

“For the most part, multimedia has covered that pretty well,” she said. “But it’s important that we maintain political correctness moving forward.”

Part of the group’s initiative is to educate the public about these issues.

“Events like this one help raise awareness,” Wofford said. “We offer an educational program to help people choose the correct pronoun, on an individual basis, we really help people interact with transgender and non-conforming individuals.”

Gender in race

Engish senior Carson Brockette spoke abut how race and gender work together in society, specifically about the ways gender and race converge to create “unique” experiences.

“An example would be the way a black woman experiences marginalization as a woman and a person of color are unique because she experiences it as a person of color and a woman,” Brockette said. “People are oppressed through the prison industrial problem.”

One in every 100 black women are incarcerated, according to the NAACP. Part of the reason they are incarcerated at high rates is that they have different experiences of oppression than other races, Brockette continued to explain, as she talked about the roles of gender and race.

“Women are oppressed because they aren’t men,” she said. “And black women are oppressed because they aren’t men and they’re people of color. So those two experiences culminate a lot in resulting in them being incarcerated.”

Brockette hopes to change this statistic.

“Letting people know that it’s an issue, talking about it and finding resources [are how I personally want to change this],” she said. “People don’t know that this is a thing, that people of color are affected.”

She elaborated on her views of how society has, or has not, changed since the Civil Rights Movement and attributed that stagnation to overly strong jail sentences.

“In terms of legal representation and rights, people of color definitely are doing a lot better, but specifically in prisons, I would say that it’s gotten worse because we have really, really long drug sentences,” Brockette said. “Those disproportionately affect people of color because of where they live or what class they tend to be born into.”

Brockette expressed the importance of keeping the dialogue open.

“The discourses that people share with each other are really important,” Brockette said. “If people are well-informed and they know about these things, they can tell their friends about it and spread the world, which creates more opportunities.”

Featured Image: File Photo | Brittany Sodic 

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