Male Audiences Prove to Only Accept Particular Feminine Presence in Sports

The world of professional sports has become one of the most lucrative businesses in history, running parallel to other industries such as Hollywood movies and music producing record labels. Networks rake in billions of dollars every year and more and more complaints have arisen in recent years regarding the large salaries of athletes (Zirin). It’s unlikely that this will change as audiences take it all in, using social media as a tool to discuss games and strategies and advertising their favourite teams. However, it is quickly becoming apparent that the large business of sports is a less than friendly place, particularly on social media. It was on Twitter that actress Ashley Judd was bombarded with misogynistic, vulgar, and violent comments and threats in response to a tweet sharing her opinion on a basketball game during March Madness (Alter). An avid basketball fan, Judd was shocked to see such an intense response (Judd). The tweets ranged from family insults to threats of sexual violence that became increasingly more common and sinister (Judd). A victim of sexual assault, Judd chose not to remain silent and instead pressed charges and wrote an opinion piece for an online magazine in the hopes of unpacking the connections she saw between social media and misogyny (Judd). Unfortunately, Judd’s case is not unique. Many women face the response she faced, although seen on a larger scale than most due to her celebrity status, every day in relation to sports and the largely masculine connotation it carries.

The response Judd received can be largely attributed to capitalism as a system of power and its use in the realm of sports. The need to make a profit and sale forces many corporations to focus its attention on a target audience. In the world of sports, networks capitalize largely on gender expectations. Almost all major sports networks such as ESPN and CBS Sports are marketed almost exclusively to men. Their marketing targets men by placing them in almost all systems of expertise and power, and provides a code of conduct and expectations for boy and manhood (Aulette, Wittner, 444). As sports rely heavily on physical skill, this suggests men are exclusively capable of meeting the physical proficiency required for success. Their branding of sports encourages hyper masculine behavior (Aulette, Wittner, 444). These behaviors base themselves around a dominator model in which violence and threats are used in order to maintain position and stability of a hierarchy, particularly one in which males are on top (Aulette, Wittner, 271). Physical dominance, often in the form violence can be seen both in game play as well as in athlete personas. Sports such as football, hockey, and wrestling foster games that are often violent in nature. These activities are full of punching, tackling, and body checking (National Football League, Section 3; National Hockey League, 67-68). Players cannot opt out of these components of the game if they wish to be successful and maintain the credibility of their team. Their physical dominance is rewarded through their wins and additional commentary provided by the network as they draw attention to themselves and their playing (MacGregor). As a result, the audiences become more aware of violent players, encouraging and cheering them on (MacGregor). In addition to this, many athletes are recruited and encouraged to participate in additional violence outside of gameplay, becoming entertainment for the viewers who now relish the idea of their favourite players asserting themselves against others (MacGregor). Audiences are conditioned to believe that these highly successful male athletes have earned their place as a result of their physical dominance, and as a result feel inclined to follow in their footsteps.

Sexual dominance is also given positive reinforcement by professional sports networks. The male viewers relationship with women in sports remains highly misogynistic, placing women into the role of eye candy, or non-participatory, not allowing them to take part in active or expert way. Women are almost never granted positions on expert panels, and are lucky to receive jobs as sideline reporters (Morrison). They are separated from their male counterparts, suggesting they are classified in an “other” group. This further asserts men as the only active participants in sports, and the only ones with enough knowledge to share any opinion. The largest role for women on these networks is in their presence as eye candy for the target male audience who can now be determined as heterosexual. In searching through Google Images for examples of cheerleaders in the NHL, NFL, and NBA, a great deal can be revealed about female presence in sports. Female cheerleaders can be seen wearing flashy, tight fitting clothing that exposes a great deal of their body, hypersexualizing them (Aulette, Wittner, 414; Baltimore Ravens). These outfits are not conducive for extensive physical activity and so they can be largely seen dancing, often in a highly sexualized manner, and being lifted into the air by male counterparts (Baltimore Ravens). Male cheerleaders are dressed in plain athletic wear to indicate that they are not the main focus, and are not present in dance sequences but are used for intricate stunts requiring additional strength (Baltimore Ravens). Their gender based roles in cheerleading further strives to suggest that women are only capable of physical skill that does not require strength, and are therefore unable to fully assert dominance through physical and violent means, and can therefore not advance in the hierarchy; whereas the males are shown as fully capable of this. Their contrasting outfits condition the audience to believe that women are being presented for heterosexual men on a platter in between game play. Their revealing costumes suggest females in sports are only to be objects of the male gaze, they are dehumanized and replaced instead as sexual objects to be consumed, and not true members of the sport (Aulette, Wittner, 429). As the subject of the gaze, females can do little to assert themselves sexually, allowing males to again be placed in the dominant position.

Judd’s commentary on the March Madness college basketball games broke the established rules set out by the capitalist intentions of the world of sports. Not only was she not participating as a mere subject of male gaze, and instead dared to have an opinion on the play of the game, which the audience has been carefully conditioned to believe is not possible. This idea of sports being a sign of masculinity was tarnished, suggesting it may be a place for femininity and feminine thought. The male audience therefore felt their masculinity, as active viewer jeopardized. Based on their conditioning for sports to be a place of masculinity, which is characterized by dominance, it is unsurprising to see men feel the need to reassert this dominance. The threats of violence against Judd show the need for physical dominance, while the graphic and vulgar sexual assault threats combine this violence with sexual dominance. Their goal was not to perform these acts, but rather to scare Judd back into her rightful place within sport and allow for masculinity to be reinstated.

Works Cited

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. Time, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, 2013. Print.

“Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders: Photos.” Baltimore Ravens. The National Football League, 7 Apr. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

The Dylan Ratigan Show: Are Professional Athletes Paid Too Much? By David Zirin. Perf. David Zirin. NBC News., 25 Oct. 2010. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

Goodell, Roger. “2013 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League.” National Football League, 2013. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

Judd, Ashley. “Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Can Kiss My Ass.” Mic. Mic Network Inc., 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

MacGregor, Jeff. “Players Fight Because We Let ’em.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 4 Apr. 2015.

Morrison, Sara. “Media Is ‘failing Women’-sports Journalism Particularly so.” Poytner. The Poytner Institute, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

National Hockey League. “National Hockey League Official Rules 2014-2015.” – The National Hockey League. National Hockey League, 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.


Women and Sports: Whose Team is the Media On?

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog contains coarse language and discussions of sexual harassment against women.

Actress Ashley Judd is an avid fan of the Kentucky Wildcats and March Madness. And like any avid sports fan, she gets often gets riled up while at games. On Sunday, March 15th, she tweeted that the opposing team was “playing dirty & can kiss [her] team’s free throw making ass” (Judd 2015). She never could have expected the type of response that her simple tweet would receive. In an article written by Judd herself, she reports receiving tweets “calling [her] a cunt, a whore or a bitch, or telling [her] to suck a two-inch dick” (Judd 2015). This is not the first time Judd has received sexual abuse over the internet, and she has since attempted to press charges against her offenders (Judd 2015).

So what is really going on here? Some argued that she deserved what she got because her original tweet was offensive towards the opposing team (Judd 2015). Others stated that as a celebrity, she has to have a thick skin against what is merely an incident regarding “internet trolls” (ReviewTechUSA 2015). But this horrifically common incident of online sexual abuse is actually part of a bigger issue: what roles should women have in sports, and how should they be portrayed in these roles?

Curt Schilling, a sports analyst for ESPN, published an open letter on the internet after his daughter received sexual harassment over twitter after he had announced that she would be pitching for a university softball team in the year to come (Mullen 2015). He slams the internet trolls, saying, “What part of talking about a young woman, my daughter or not, makes you even consider the possibility that this is either funny or makes you tough?” (Schilling 2015). Despite this, it is clear that he does not fully understand the severity of what is at hand when he let the perpetrators off the hook by saying “guys will be guys… guys will say dumb crap, often” (Schilling 2015). This statement can be interpreted as Schilling knowing his audience, and reaching out to the males reading his open letter and identifying with them so that they will listen to what he has to say about online sexual harassment. However, what Schilling does not realize is that by saying this, he delegitimizes the trauma of sexual harassment by writing it off as “just a joke” or “dumb crap.” Another disturbing conclusion drawn from this article is the idea that men do not realize how serious sexual harassment is until it happens to someone close to them, such as a daughter—and by then, it is too little, too late.

The reason that I bring up Curt Schilling’s open letter is because when juxtaposed with the Ashley Judd article, there is one imminent similarity: when women become involved in sports, it is used as an excuse to victimize them regarding their gender and sexuality.

Ashley Judd makes an interesting comment when she states that her uncle, who also made comments about the opposing team’s dirty plays, was “[immune] from abuse” because he is “a male sports fan” (2015). Melissa Jacobs, a professional sports writer, agrees wholeheartedly with Judd by writing, “If you’re a woman talking about sports on social media, the only way to avoid harassment is to fake your gender. If Kentucky fan ‘Judd Ashton’… suggested that Arkansas was playing dirty last weekend he might be told he’s a moron or to fuck off, but he would never receive the sexually-charged threats that people directed at Ashley Judd for doing so” (2015).

It is interesting to note that while society has moved forward in many ways regarding gender equality, the world of sports remains very heavily dominated by males. Even at the high school level, the “standard story,” which is the “classification of humans into two distinct types of human on the basis of sex and gender” (Aulette & Wittner 2015) portrays the males as the football players and the females as the cheerleaders, showing off skin and dancing in their mini skirts on the sidelines. These gender roles exist partly to enhance capitalist systems—the belief that people prefer to pay to watch males play sports than to watch females play sports, and that having scantily-clad women to cheer them on would further attract the male viewer (because that is who is assumed to be the spectator when it comes to sports) to feed money into the sports industry.

Female sports games are also seen in opposition to male sports games—an example of binary thinking, categorizing factors “into two exclusive opposites” (Aulette & Wittner 2015). A study by Michael Messner showed that when comparing the commentary on women’s games and men’s games, reporters repeatedly emphasized the pink logos and the gender of the players in order to give a “necessary sense of clarity for the viewers” (Messner et al. 1993).

Furthermore, when women do play sports, they are marketed in a way that emphasizes their sexuality over their actual talent. “Unlike male athletes, female athletes do not have the luxury of being primarily portrayed as performance athletes, as coverage of their beauty and sex appeal usually overshadow highlights of their on-field endeavors” (Liang 2011). This overt hypersexualization occurs because having the qualities of a successful sports player—tough, strong, and physically able—is seen as masculine and not in line with emphasized femininities, the “dominant images of the supposedly ideal woman; includes dependence, sexual receptivity, motherhood, and subordination by men” (Aulette & Wittner 2015). Thus, female athletes are sexualized and objectified in the media to counteract their “masculinity” that they gain from playing sports. In a gender studies tutorial run by Maria-Teresa Matani, we compared how females were portrayed in sports magazines as opposed to males–it was quite clear that the males were usually the ones in sports gear and actually doing things, while the females wore skin-tight clothing and were objectified by the camera (Matani 2015).

Nothing showcases this emphasized femininity and hypersexualization more than female tennis players. I want to draw attention to Venus Williams in particular—there are a few clear systems at play in the techniques used to market her. She is sexualized not only because she is a female, but also orientalized because she is black. Although orientalism is a term that originally applied to the east, any groups that are “others” can also be orientalized in the media by portraying these “other” groups as exotic, passive, and sexualized, and often the target of fetishization (Alden 2015).

So what is there to be done about the exclusion of females from the realm of sports? One thing that everyone can do is show solidarity by supporting both female and male athletes. An example of solidarity between athletes is when Sidney Crosby, who is very well respected in the hockey world, attended the women’s hockey match between USA and Canada to cheer on his fellow athletes (Digital image 2014). If male athletes continue to show their support for their female counterparts, this will have a huge effect on how the media sees female athletes—hopefully, by finally seeing everyone as equals.



Alden, Joddi. “Globalization, Colonialism, and Orientalism in Visual Culture.” Queen’s University. Kingston, Ontario. 29 Jan. 2015. Lecture.

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. Time Magazine, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <;.

Ashley Judd Is Pressing Charges Against Internet Trolls. Perf. ReviewTechUSA. YouTube, 2015. Film.

Aulette, J., & Wittner, J. (2015). Gendered Worlds (3rd ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Digital image. 12 Feb. 2014. Web. <;

Jacobs, Melissa. “Ashley Judd Isn’t Alone: Most Women Who Talk about Sport on Twitter Face Abuse.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <;.

Judd, Ashley. “Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass.” Identities.mic. Mic, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <;.

Liang, Emily. “The Media’s Sexualization of Female Athletes: A Bad Call for the Modern Game.” Student Pulse. Student Pulse, LLC, 2011. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <;.

Matani, Maria-Teresa. “GNDS125 Tutorial.” Queen’s University. Kingston, Ontario. 1 Jan. 2015. Lecture.

Mullen, Shannon. “2nd NJ Man ID’d in Curt Schilling Tweet Case.” App.Com. Asbury Park Press, 4 Mar. 2015. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <;.

Schilling, Curt. “The World We Live In…Man Has It Changed. ADDENDUM!” Curt Schilling’s Official Blog., 1 Mar. 2015. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <;.

Popular Cultures affect on Social Systems

On average social media, specifically twitter has 288 million monthly active users, 500 million tweets are sent per day and 80% of active Twitter users have the convenience of pulling it out on their mobile device and checking what is “popular” in social media (Twitter 2015). This activeness has created many issues today, and not only are people you see on the streets affected by issues such as cyber bullying but even some of the more famous people such as actress Ashley Judd are affected by threats received via social media. Ashley Judd, a 46-year-old actress received violent threats from random users following a tweet she made about a basketball game (Alter 2015). Following these threats she decided to speak out about twitter abuse and rape.

By Ashley Judd speaking out about her recent situation, it revels many issues such as marginalization when it comes to white females and sports. This idea of women being of small importance in the conversation of sports is most evident when females receive negative responses and threats from males. This all connects to the idea that sports are meant to be dominated by males as it is known to exclaim masculinity thus females are judged for their interest or participation in sports. Margaret Duncan an author of Examining Identity in Sports Media quoted “Sport is, according to commonsense understanding of the world, a celebration of manhood” (231). This patriarchal approach to sports limits the possibility for females to not only have an interest and be fans of sports such as basketball, but it disallows the possibility of success for females in sports. Ashley Judd, did her best to fight through the systems of misogyny and patriarchy but in the end it is a battle that will forever continue to be fought due to the social expectations and attitudes associated with gender (Aulette and Wittner). This gender socialization of masculinity to males and femininity to females is one that allows greater opportunities for males when it comes to sports. Males are taught to dream and succeed in sport where as females are only to play sports for recreation because once they reach a certain age there is no longer anywhere to go but work. The overall message that society presents is that sports is generally meant for males to play and succeed in. Should a female make a recommendation about sports they are either ignored or they are harassed for being “unknowledgeable.”

People can thank the concept of hyper-sexualization of females for the stereotyping of females (Aulette and Wittner 414 ). The way the media portrays females to be “sexy” or to show skin when dressed and to be thin with a clear face is the reason why females who are some times opposite of those traits are victims of social media attacks. Popular Culture has allowed people to find more convenient ways to victimize those who don’t believe in what they do. This conveniency is what has evolved rape culture in North American society. Rape Culture is one that encourages male violence against women; it is when a variety of women are being violated against verbally and/or physically (“What Is Rape Culture?”) Rape Culture doesn’t allow violence against women, but rather it perceives it to be a normal situation of life (“What Is Rape Culture?” ). With the way Popular Culture has quickly emerged to a piece of everyday life, it opens up the door of opportunities for more acts of sexual violence to happen. This is shown in Ashley Judd’s case where specifically males, take the opportunity of responding to her tweets and violates her by sending verbal threats (Alana Prochuk).

In the case of Ashley Judd, she has the ability to take to social media and have her voice be heard about the above problems. However, not everyone has this opportunity to be heard. Due to Judd’s white privilege and celebrity status, people are more than likely to listen to her issues and attempt to do something about it. But in the case of Stolen Sisters there is a case of indigenous women who’s voices are not heard due to the system of oppression. Stolen Sisters involves over 500 missing and murdered indigenous women and the number continues to rise today (About the Stolen Sisters Documentary). It is said that colonialism is the reasoning behind this situation, but due to the fact that many people are uninformed of this situation, no one truly knows the reasons behind it. People look to colonial logics as the anchor of the acts behind stolen sisters. The idea of taking, conquering and dominating over someone’s culture is exactly what is being seen in the case of Stolen Sisters (Cultural Appropriation 2015). Much the same in Judd’s case in terms of sexual violence, people look to dominate over one another to simply feel more powerful and thus the system of hierarchy is established.

Overall, popular culture has a major impact on systems of society today. People look to social media specifically to gain the attention of people so that problems such as rape culture can decline. However, there are also many negatives to popular culture, where as people tend to use it to hide behind and use systems of patriarchy and privilege to their advantage. Ashley Judd speaking out about her issue is a stepping-stone to positivity but at the same time, it allows opportunity for others to add to and cause more issues.

Works Citied:

About the Stolen Sisters Documentary. Dir. Antonio Hrynchuck. About the Stolen Sisters Documentary. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from

“About Twitter, Inc. | About.” About Twitter, Inc. | About. Twitter, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. Time, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 1 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from

Aulette, Judy, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

“Cultural Appropriation: Settler Colonial Logics and Representations of the “Imaginary Indian” in Popular Culture.” Queen’s University. Biosci Auditorium. 9 March 2015. Guest Lecture.

Duncan, Margaret. 2010. “Gender Warriors in Sport: Women and the Media.” Pp 231-252 in Examining identity in sports media, edited by H. Hundley and A. Billings. Los Angeles: Sage Publications

Prochuk, Alana. “What Is Rape Culture?” WAVAW Women Against Violence Against Women. Rape Crisis Centre, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from

Martese Johnson, a Small Glimpse into a Huge Issue

On Wednesday, March 19, 2015 Martese Johnson, a 20 year old black man, was arrested by white agents from the Alcoholic Beverage Control. Johnson was tackled to the ground and sustained many injuries to his face during the arrest. The white agents described Johnson as being “agitated and belligerent” however witnesses stated that the police acted with unnecessary force; a bystander quotes “He didn’t need to be tackled. He wasn’t being aggressive at all” (BBC News, 2015). This incident involving Martese Johnson is not an isolate event where a black person was targeted and abuse, and the white assailant escaped punishment, but rather a small picture into a much larger reality that is all to prevalent in modern day society. Earlier this year Michel Brown, a black man who was unarmed and surrendering, was shot and murdered by a white police officer that faced no legal repercussions despite Michel Browns death being ruled a homicide (The Washington Post, 2014). Also this past year, Eric Gardner was chocked to death by a white police officer, the assault was recorded on camera, in the video you can hear Gardner whispering “I can’t breath” however once again, the white police officer escapes punishment. These are all examples of terrible crimes that have been committed against black people, by white men in authority who escaped punishment, just in the past 5 years. These law enforcement officers all used Violence as a Lens through which to see the world. Violence becomes a lens through which individuals see and know black bodies, and thus make them victims of inflicted harm and injury. This is not a new occurrence, but goes all the way back to colonialism when people who were not white were viewed as people who needed to be civilized, as lesser humans. Even now in 2015 these prejudice mindsets are still far too common. People still have the same racist mindsets that they had when black people were in slavery, white people often still see themselves as more valuable, like they should be in charge, like they are untouchable and rules do not apply for them. Black people are viewed as less, as property as opposed to people. These are never ending systems of violence that have been occurring for hundreds of years, it’s the same violence and racism that is present in slavery, colonialism and now, in the 21st Century.

The racism in present day society can be deeply hidden; it is not only prevalent in black people being targeted by law enforcement, but also in our prison systems. In Angels Davis’ article Masked Racisms; Davis reveals the reality of the injustice among prison systems and imprisonment of people of colour. More than 70% of people in prisons are people of colour, prisons disappear people in order to portray the illusion of solving social problems (Davis, 2013). “the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has become a business, but prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings” (Davis, 2013). When using violence as a lens people of colour are often targeted, victimized, and the offenders often receive no punishments. This issue creates huge barriers within our society. White privilege blinds people from the needs and injustices that are so prevalent around us, the law enforcements white privilege protects them from receiving a fair punishment for their actions. This is so prevalent in the prison industrial complex; the prison industrial complex helps secure the authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other structural privileges (White people, American citizens, people with property, people with money) by defending current power distributions. It benefits government and industry, as well as those individuals who already hold power in our society. (Herzing, 2005) This promotes cycles of racism and discrimination. Black people lives are used as pieces in a game to get more money for those in power. It dehumanizes people and locks them away; their lives are taken over by the powerful white people who are making more money off of destroying these peoples lives. This is the same thing that happened with slavery when black people were exploited to benefit the white man.

All to many people in present day society create an atmosphere of anti-blackness, people who are anti-blackness go beyond disrespect, it dehumanize people, denying their right to exist as humans. This is the case with some of the law enforcement on the Johnson, Brown, and Ericson cases. This ties into the idea of respectability politics, respectability politics are grounded in the idea that black culture needs to be fixed, it refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous and compatible with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for its failure to accept difference. It puts the responsibility on black people and blames them for the issues in society instead of the oppressors (Dolberry, 2013). The prejudice towards people of colour over rights their civil duty to keep people safe.

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Black Twitter is a place people went to voice their opinions on the injustices present within each of these cases. Black twitter is an archive of black thought, it’s an area of twitter for social interaction, sharing knowledge, building community, commenting and criticizing black culture, and activism (Tolmie, 2015). Kimberley C. Ellis states, “For us, Twitter is an electronic medium that allows enough flexibility for uninhibited and unfabricated creativity while exhibiting more of the strengths of social media that allow us to build community.” Black twitter creates a way for opinions of the public on these serious issues of discrimination to be addressed. Hashtag activism is something that also occurs on social media to raise awareness and unite people for a common cause. Hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter allowed people to speak out and raise social and political intervention in a world where black lives are intentionally targeted. Hashtag activism contests a social system where black lives are seen as less valuable (Tolmie, 2015). Hashtag activism is part of a movement known as anti-racism. Anti-Racism is defined as “the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably” (NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity). The solution to solving these huge issues hindering modern day society is not easy to come by. People must take on the mindset of anti-racism and value each person because they are human and have so much to offer the world. Discriminating for any reason, only hurts people and hinders society as a whole. The more people who can take on a anti-racist mindset the more society as a whole can benefit, and horrible issues such as Johnson’s beating will hopefully occur less, and when injustices like this do occur, the abuser will be prosecuted for their actions.

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Works Cited

“Anti-Racism Defined.” Anti-Racism Defined. University of Calgary, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

Davis, Angela. “Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex.” Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex. N.p., 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

Dolberry. “”I Hate Myself!”: What Are Respectability Politics, and Why Do Black People Subscribe to Them?” A Line in the Sand. N.p., 05 Sept. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

Hackman, Rose. “‘She Was Only a Baby’: Last Charge Dropped in Police Raid That Killed Sleeping Detroit Child.” The Guardian. N.p., Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Herzing, Rachel. “Defending Justice – What Is The Prison Industrial Complex?” Defending Justice – What Is The Prison Industrial Complex? N.p., 2005. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

Somashekhar, Sandhya. “Was Michael Brown Surrendering or Advancing to Attack Officer Darren Wilson?” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

Tolmie, Jane. Haughton Lecture Slides. 2015

“Virginia Governor Calls for Inquiry into Student Arrest.” BBC News. N.p., 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

“Was Michael Brown Surrendering or Advancing to Attack Officer Darren Wilson?” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015

Unpacking the Harassment and Violence Against Trans Women of Color

Laverne Cox has recently become one of the media’s most talked about and popular members of the LGTQ community. Cox portrays a transgender woman in the series Orange is the New Black as a MTF (male-to-female) transgender person herself. She is consistently praised for both her performance and her activism against transphobia. Cox gave a public speech in which she described her own experiences of street harassment and violence and discusses her theories of why transphobia is perpetuated upon transgender women more severely, particularly among those women of colour (Cox). Cox’s argument is convincing and brings forth various systems of oppression that she, as a black trans woman, experiences on a regular basis. Her speech suggests to the audience that transphobic men feel trans women threaten their masculinity and therefore act in a way they believe will reassert their masculinity often through acts of violence and harassment. Among men of colour, this is often a result of the hypersexualization of men throughout early colonialism and globalization in order to emphasize white supremacy.

Cox begins her discussion in describing an encounter she had with two men, one black and one Latino, who had argued over her gender (Cox). One of Cox’s key observations is that the Latino man was attracted to her as a woman, however upon realizing she was trans, suddenly became disgusted (Cox). The idea of threatened masculinity is not exclusive to transphobia but is also present in homophobia and biphobia as well. Many men feel that they are not only unable to be attracted to anything remotely masculine, but doing so will force them into a more feminine position (Matani). The hegemony theory states that the media perpetuates a view that sticking to the status quo is not only necessary but is the only option (Aulette, Wittner, 431). In this context, the status quo is that of the sexual script of heterosexual relationships (Aulette, Wittner, 120). Men must follow this script, which states they must find women who are inherently feminine attractive (Aulette, Wittner, 122). In these relationships there is only room for one feminine partner, and one masculine partner. If they deviate from this script their masculinity will be subordinated and they will therefore become the feminine partner (Aulette, Wittner, 8). In finding a trans woman such as Cox attractive, these men were finding something masculine attractive and therefore taking on the feminine roles within the relationship. In cases such as this, many men feel they must reassert their masculinity. One of the many characteristics of socially constructed masculinity is the concept of being aggressive and finding power in physical control (Aulette, Wittner, 7). This is why transphobic men act out in violence towards trans women; they use it as a means to become the masculine partner.

Another one of Cox’s points focuses on the idea of trans women of colour who are assaulted and harassed by men of colour (Cox). She touches on the fascination with black male sexuality in our current society that has been perpetuated throughout history (Cox). During the period of white colonialism and globalization through the Trans Atlantic slave trade, the Europeans used black male sexuality as a means of oppression (Aulette, Wittner, 105.) Black men were described as hyper sexualized in that they were more aggressive and sexually powerful which as attributes of hyper masculinity (Aulette, Wittner, 105). This hyper sexualization was used to dehumanize the black male and as rationale for surveillance and severe punishment particularly of those stepping outside of sexual norms (Aulette, Wittner, 105). This was often done in the form of demasculinization and was used to emphasize white supremacy and increase the masculinity of the white male. Cox’s describes in her speech the lynching that took place in the United States in which black men’s genitals were mutilated, pickled, and sold in and effort to emasculate and therefore desexualize these men (Cox). These systems of oppression and the fear of male sexuality are still in effect today as the image of the black rapist is still seen in the media (Aulette, Wittner, 106). Cox suggests that many of these black men in present day are feeling the pain of those in the past who were emasculated and as a result, feel the urge to reassert their masculinity in even stronger ways (Cox). They see Cox, as a MTF transgender person, as an embodiment of emasculation of black men and feel aggression towards her, which they use to assert their own masculinity (Cox).

The speech Cox delivered was both powerful and informative to an audience who likely do not understand the oppression she faces not only as a trans woman, but a woman of colour. Her intersectional analysis of her own experiences allows students like myself to see how these societal groups such as the trans community, the LGBTQ community, the black community, and so on cannot only be considered as separate groups with their own unique problems. Rather each individual within those groups belongs to many of these groups each with issues that affect them in different ways and are linked and associated with the various groups they are apart of.

Works Cited

Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.

Laverne Cox on Bullying and Being a Trans Woman of Color. By Laverne Cox. Perf. Laverne Cox. Youtube. Keppler Speakers, 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Matani, Maria-Teresa. “Transgendering Citizenship.” Kingston. 12 Mar. 2015. Lecture.

Think Before You Speak: Understanding Culture

It was until after the article “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses” was read that the realization of people not understanding other cultures other than their own came to mind. A serious understanding of cultural appropriation would help put a stop to many racial issues that occur in the native culture. When Êkosi uses the example of the headdress there are various examples of how pop culture portrays the Native culture to be something that it is not. There are many visual examples today that come to mind when discussing the idea of Cultural Appropriation and how uninformed many people are about this issue (Êkosi). For example, there are many models that walk down the runway with a headdress as well as many singers who chose to perform wearing the headdress; this example of cultural appropriation comes extremely offensive to people of the Native culture (Cultural Appropriation 2015). The background of the native culture as Êkosi explains it, has restricted symbols and unrestricted symbols to it (An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses). The headdress, being an example of a restricted symbol would be why there is offense taken to celebrities of pop culture wearing it. Not only is there a problem with the idea that celebrities who have not earned the headdress are wearing it but also females themselves of the Native culture are unable to wear the headdress and if they do they earn it, but it is something that is very rare. By females wearing the headdress in popular culture it not only shows racial discrimination but it is an example of people being uninformed about the culture they are “representing.”

The Native culture in itself is one that over time has gone through various issues in the past that are looked at today as something that should have never happen. It all began with the idea of Colonialism and how there was a sudden want from European colonizers to take over all the land that was predominately populated by indigenous people (Martini 2015). Specifically Settler Colonialism caused the major issues where Europeans took, conquered and dominated land, bodied, environment, natural resources, cultural objects/symbols and traditions of the indigenous population (Cultural Appropriation 2015). This was the beginning to the problems in the future that surround that native culture. Resulting from colonialism was this “super” idea of The Salvage Paradigm, which Europeans thought that there was a sudden need in “saving” indigenous peoples (Cultural Appropriation 2015). This need disallowed natives to explore their own culture, and further express their beliefs upon one another. It was believed that their culture was dying off and they needed to save the people behind it, by doing this, they then allowed native people to keep or lose any aspects that they may not have wanted to keep (Cultural Appropriation 2015). This newly run system of colonialism under Europeans discarded many aspects of the Indian culture as the colonial logics included conquering the native culture. The whole idea of conquering someone else’s culture, is basically taking over their culture thus native people truly don’t have much of a choice to express their beliefs when they are under colonial power.

Those who decided to take over indigenous land were predominately white thus the concept of white supremacy was introduced (Cultural Appropriation 2015). This history of white supremacy is one that began due to Europeans taking advantage of indigenous people (Cultural Appropriation 2015). Their (white people) beliefs that they are superior simply because of their race are what cause many issues in social institutions today (White Supremacy and Terrorism). As noted earlier, this continues to happen today in popular culture as most people who display cultural appropriation through their attire simply feel that there is no need to understand the true meaning behind what they are wearing. The article could not have represented white supremacy any better then when the author noted that when white people get questioned for wearing or representing a restricted symbol they are asked and immediately get offended. By white people taking offense to this, it is the representation of them thinking they are not doing something wrong.

The native culture is one that not many people know or understand their past and unless you are a part of that culture you truly will not know what it is like. Aboriginal people experience a variety of issues. As time went on from the beginning of settler colonialism, Canadians finally started to gain some knowledge of what happened in the past. Bill-C-31- Amendment to the Indian Act was the begging of eliminating discrimination based on race and gender (Matani 2015).

There still is a lot to be learned about the Native culture. By doing this Canadians are able to inform themselves about the past and gain more knowledge about the various different forms of discrimination that other cultures are faced with and why. The story here produced by êkosi provides an in depth look and why people should understand. In the end there are always going to be people who find the need to be offensive towards someone. Unfortunately society is filled with ugly people and small steps can be made towards eliminating this just by providing small bits of information. Popular culture continues to contribute to negative stereotypes and to help put an end to this, it begins with informing celebrities about what is right and wrong so they can have a positive impact on this overall issue.

Works Citied:

Êkosi. “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses.” Pihtawikosisn. 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 14 Feb. 2015 from

“Cultural Appropriation: Settler Colonial Logics and Representations of the “Imaginary Indian” in Popular Culture.” Queen’s University. Biosci Auditorium. 9 March 2015. Guest Lecture.

Matani, Maria-Teresa. “Colonialism.” Queen’s University. Ellis Hall. 12 March 2015. Tutorial Presentation.

“White Supremacy and Terrorism.” Slavery by Another Name. PBS. Web. 14 Mar. 2015 from

– lazybreakfast95

How Could Discrimination Ever be Justified? The Story of Baby Bay.

In 2014 in Vermont, a happy couple, Krista and Jami were delighted to welcome their child Bay into the world, however the joyful feelings were soon dismantled by the stark reality of the presence of homophobia within the doctor they were planning on seeing. When taking there 6 day old child, Bay in to the doctor for a check up, they were met and informed that the doctor they had planned on meeting had prayed about treating Bay and decided that she did not think she could care for Bay. The doctor did not even come into the clinic that morning to avoid seeing the mothers ( Staff 2015). Gender binary classifies people into one category or the other (Male or Female) it fails to recognize that gender is a spectrum. Sex is something a person is born with, however gender is learned. Bay does not have a sexual identity yet, there is no reason why this doctor should be allowed to discriminate against a child who does not even have a gender yet. The doctor is discriminating against the Krista and Jamie for their sexual orientation. This doctor is homophobic and is using her fundamentalist beliefs to discriminate against people of non-heternormative identities.

People everywhere are choosing different masks to hide behind for the justification of their discrimination. In the case of Bay this doctor is hiding behind her religion, when in fact, nowhere in religion does it promote discrimination. There is a stigma around people who are religious hating people who identify as anything other than heteronormative, this may be the case in some circumstances however it shouldn’t ever be true. If this doctor were following Jesus and could understand the core message of the gospel maybe this doctor could recognize that it is a message of love and acceptance. The gospel reveals how when Jesus was on earth his friends where those who were out cast by society, those who were looked down upon and shamed, if she were truly following Jesus her life should be a reflection of that. Essentially this doctor is hiding behind religious principles and rules that do not even exist and do not hold biblical accuracy.

This story is part of the larger issues we have been discussing in Genders 125; it is one small incident that is part of a much bigger picture. This issue involving homophobia is not a rare occurrence. This is not a one-time event, but rather a small example of the state of our society as a whole. In London in 2010 a man and a women beat a man who identified as gay as a hate crime ( 2010). He experienced severe brain trauma and died from the beating. This is another example of people who do not fit in to the category of hetronormative being hurt and taken advantage of by those with heterosexual privilege. This year in 2015 in Germany a father threatened to murder his 15-year-old son who had just come out as gay to his father ( 2015). In Berlin a family tried to force their gay son to marry a women despite their son coming out as gay ( 2015). The discrimination Jamie and Krista are facing with Bay is not an isolated incident, but rather reveals that the discrimination towards anyone who is not cis-gendered is a universal problem. Our society has a mold for the ideal man and the ideal woman that from childhood people are taught we must fit into. Anyone who does not fit into this category is shamed for it, told there is something wrong, they are broken or defective in someway, this is known queercripping, this is a mode of criticism that exposes the arbitrary separation of normal and defective (heterosexual vs. homosexual, able-bodied vs. ‘crippled’). (Tolmie, Jane. 2015). Queer crippling has become a common aspect of modern day society, it must be eliminated in order for there to be a chance at achieving a society where people are equal and do not face discrimination.

An intersectional approach to these issues would state that there are many different forms of discrimination and all must be resolved for equality to be possible. There is the issue of people who identify as gay or anything other than cis-gendered being discriminated against and also the issue of the people who discriminate hiding behind things such as religion in order to escape taking responsibility for their homophobia. In order for these issues to be resolved both sides to the issue must be resolved. People must stand up and take responsibility for their actions, also the discrimination in its self needs to be eliminated, simply removing the things that people hide behind would still leave the discrimination, removing the main issue of the treatment of people who do not fit into the typical gender binary would not hold the victimizers accountable for their actions.

Overall the story of Jamie and Krista and there child Bay provides a glimpse into how society treats those who do not fit into the stereotypical gender binary. Bay’s story reveals a much bigger picture that does not stop and end with the visit to the doctor, but rather has a serious impact on whether people who face discrimination stay quiet or stand up for their rights. I believe that there are people who are going to be rude, to be offensive, and to victimize. But I also believe there are people who will stand in solidarity with those facing victimization. I believe people must speak up about the struggles they are facing so that those people who will stand up to society, can come along side them and support them.

Works Cited

“Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” – Fox 2 News Headlines. N.p., 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

“Family Tried to Force Gay Son to Marry.” – The Local. N.p., 12 Mar. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Jackson, Peter. “Gay Hate ‘alive And, Sometimes, Kicking'” BBC News. N.p., 15 Dec. 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Patterson, Tony. “Father Who Threatened to ‘ram Knife into Throat’ of Teenage Son for Coming out Fined by German Court in Landmark Homophobia Ruling.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 11 Mar. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.