Gender Dysphoria

October 21st, 2015

“Every morning I awaken to the buzz of the alarm clock and for a moment forget what I am. Than comes the scent of cheap cologne and the sticky weight of the air, thick with testosterone. From down the hall comes voices heard above the echo of aggressive music pridefully boasting of the prior night’s misdeeds. Lifting myself to rise from the comfort of my mindless sleep I am forced to see myself in the mirror as I shave. To remember and accept that I am not what I feel I am within. It curdles my chest with a flurry of flutters and dread but throughout the day the feelings subside only to be reborn as I come to an empty bed failing to speak a single honest word in the days wake.”


This is but one account of what it is like to live life as a gender dysphoric college aged male. Of all the issues we face in the LGBTQ+ community, gender dysphoria manages to slip by unnoticed in even the most heated of debates. Gender dysphoria is often the precursor to becoming transgender but many fail to ever act upon it, often living their entire lives without ever once breathing a word of the distraught they face in the mundane of day to day life. Inviting a conversation of just what it means to be gender dysphoric and exactly how it feels would allow the general masses to better understand transgender issues and would ideally tear down the notion that somehow sexuality, orientation, and gender have any relativity to one another.


“I could tell you exactly when and where I learned I was gender dysphoric. I was about four years old and I was sitting in my living room in front of the coffee table, my mother was on the sofa behind me and my father was away at work. On the television in front of us a commercial commentated about a product and it’s effects on males versus females. I enjoyed the way the word female sounded, it was elegant and light, where male had a weight of violence and anger, desperation even. Having heard the terms male and female before I asked my mother, ‘What does male and female mean?’ She told me that it simply meant boy and girl and when I asked her what one I am, male, I could feel my heart sink as if something fundamentally wrong was stated. A sensation of disappointment, that was the first time I was ever told I was male.”


It is often around the age of four or five years old that people learn they are gender dysphoric. This is well before the development of sexual curiosity, puberty, or libito. It is likely that one’s discovery of gender dysphoria comes at this age, primarily as it is around this age that long term memory begins to be consolidated.  Furthermore, as one develops a great enough understanding of language and their sociological environment, they become able to process that they do not fit the presented gender norms when it comes to gender expression.


“One of the hardest things about being gender dysphoric, I find, is that it isolates you from both the sexes. You often can’t express yourself fully in front of your male friends or acquaintances, and find yourself in uncomfortable situations when other men approach you with objectifying remarks and ideas toward women expecting you to agree or laugh only to find it uphauling and simply incorrect. I think I have only ever had one male friend because of this. I can probably even count the number of friends I’ve had in my life on my fingers because the people I would get along with, women, tend to be cautious of my intent when I approach because there is no way to just look at me and tell I’m gender dysphoric and female expressive.”


Gender dysphoria can be a challenge to live with for many reasons silently effecting and debilitating things as fundamental as having the ability to make friends. In the simplest of terms gender dysphoria is what the name suggests. It is being in a state of distress toward the gender society expects you to express. Unfortunately gender dysphoria is not something that can be aided through the passing of laws, as it is the product of an oppressive community and society as a whole.


At the Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality, students and staff work to help others understand this issue, advocate for societal policy change, and make UMass Dartmouth a place where all forms of gender expression are welcome and appreciated.

-Jesse A. Johnson

Robin Williams: Boulevard

October 8th, 2015

On August 11th, 2014 we lost one of the most iconic comedians of our era, Robin Williams. Robin Williams was well known for his humor and kind spirit. He constantly went out of his way to make the world a better place either by refusing to work on a movie unless they hired a number of homeless people or simply brightning a families day with a spurashoius joke at a diner. It would seem fitting that his final dramatic role was one facing the controversial topic of homosexuality.

In the drama Boulevard Robin Williams plays a sixty year old man who at last decides to come out as openly gay. It was released almost a year after his death going all but unnoticed by the media and general masses. Grossing a total of $32,000 with an opening weekend of $27,000. Shocking numbers for a film starring an A-list celebrity, especially one that had recently and tragically died. While it is possible that the low numbers could be due to poor advertising and coverage it is hard to believe that is the only cause. What do you think, are the low numbers and lack of coverage due to an ingrained air of homophobia among the media, social and other wise? Have you heard of this movie, or seen it? If so what did you think?


October 1st, 2015

Ahoy, Corsairs! The Center of Women, Gender, and Sexuality is excited to say that our blog has returned from Davy Jones’ Locker and brought with it a new blogger who’ll be actively engaging with our online community replying to any comments or questions on the article scheduled to be posted on thursdays at six. We have a lot of good topics to cover and would love to hear from you, the readers, what topics you’re interested in reading about for Wumbo Wednesdays! So please, leave comments, get involved, and don’t forget to like and follow our social media below to keep up to date with all our events and articles.

What are some thoughts about this Pantene Commercial?

February 4th, 2014
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Keeping Women in Their Place

August 5th, 2013


Keeping Women “In Their Place”

            Women everywhere face restrictions on their public presence, appearance, and their private and public behavior. Mobility and dress restrictions, which are enforced in a number of countries, are rooted in standard patriarchal assumptions about men’s right to control women, in combination with fundamentalist religious interpretations.

Here are some of the surprisingly common restrictions that are placed on women in countries all around the world:

* In Egypt, only males may confer citizenship and children born to women with foreign husbands are not conferred the benefits of citizenship.

* In Syria, a husband may file a request to prohibit his wife’s departure from the country.

* In Qatar, women need male permission to obtain a driver’s license.

* In Kyrgyzstan, family law prohibits divorce during pregnancy and while the child is younger that one-year-old.

* In Yemen, by law a wife must obey her husband; she must live with him at the place stipulated by him, consummate the marriage, and not leave home without his consent.

* In Uganda, in some ethnic groups, men inherit their brothers’s widowed wives; and some men of the Karamojong ethnic group in the northeastern section of the country continue their cultural practice of claiming unmarried women as wives by raping them.

* In, Swaziland, married women are legal minors.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, women need their husbands permission for most routine legal transactions, including accepting a job, and opening a bank account.

* In Venezuela, a provision in the penal code provides that an adult man guilty of raping an adult woman can avoid punishment, if before sentencing, he marries her.

* In America, state legislatures enacted anti-abortion measures between 1995 and 2001; and now 87% of all U.S. Countries are not served by an abortion clinic.

            As we can see from the statistics Women’s rights are threatened by pressure from religious fundamentalism in many countries, like Nigeria, where increasing fundamentalist pressure from Shari’a courts imposes severe sentences(including flogging and death by stoning) on women for sexual impropriety. However ultimately, we see the way that women are doomed to live in hopeless situations due to patriarchal rule.

~Sasha Sanders, Alum, 2013

Powerful Women in Media: Take One

June 17th, 2013


            I find it really interesting when I see a movie that portrays women in such a negative way, or more than likely from the gaze of a male, who is probably the network producer. It’s caused me to wonder… where are the women producers? Maybe if a TV show, or movie that displayed women’s issues what actually overseen by a woman, things might make sense a bit more.

            With that being said, I decided to examine the power of women in the media through four different women, Sherry Lansing, chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures, Cathleen Black, President of Hearst Magazines, Geraldine Laybourne, Chairman and CEO of Oxygen Media, and Judy McGrath, President of MTV. These women exemplify the reason that it’s crucial to have women in high positions in the media.

Sherry Lansing was the first woman to be in charge of production 20th Century Fox. She has headed hits such as Braveheart, Clueless, Runaway Bride, and The General’s Daughter; this is because she brought to the movies something that never was there before, the perspective of a woman. Lansing put her personal taste aside and thought about what “the people” wanted to see. One top filmmaker even said, “Sherry’s the first executive who succeeded by expressing her womanness, not by trying to be a guy” ( This is very pleasing to hear because very often, women in high positions try to imitate the men in high power positions, rather than just being themselves.

When it comes to the question of whether Sherry Lansing has power in the media, the answer has to be yes. However, we ask “does Sherry Lansing holds as much power as men in similar positions”, I believe it takes more evaluation.

Cathleen Black is another important female player in today’s media. She is the president of Hearst Magazines, the world’s largest publisher of monthly magazines, and she oversees the financial performance and development of famous magazines like Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, and Harper’s BAZAAR (

            Black also marked an important point for women in history when she became the first woman publisher of a weekly consumer magazine – New York, and also when she became the first woman President of Hearst Magazines. With an impressive resume that includes her being President and Publisher of USA Today, and being named President of the Newspaper Association of America in 1991, Black brings a certain female perspective to all of her endeavors.

She has the ability to be open-minded and look at all possible problems and solutions. One of Black’s huge successes has been promoting her titles worldwide. She owes a great deal of this success, in my opinion, to her female perspective. While marketing Cosmopolitan to countries like Russia and the Philippines, Black realized that specific changes had to be made to accommodate the women of these particular countries. She recognized that women in “third world” countries did not necessarily want to read the same things as American women. As a result, she created original editorial material for each region. Eventhough they were across the ocean, Black still related to her customers.

There is no question as to the power that Cathleen Black holds on a daily basis in the media. But then again she does not have the same power that a man would have in her same position. Although there were no offensive headlines to announce Cathleen Black’s appointment to presidency, I came across an interview in which she was referred to as a “top-ranking woman executive in magazine publishing (Outlook Magazine)”,and she was aksed how she felt about this title, she responded to esponded to the question, answering“I would rather not be known as the top-ranking woman anything. I’d rather be seen as an effective and strategic leader of a large organization, the same way one would describe a male executive”. She doesn’t want to be seen as successful, for a woman, she wants to be seen as successful, period, and her response reconfirms the fact that even women in extremely powerful positions are treated differently than men holding similar positions. I mean I’ve never heard a man being referred to as a “top-ranking man executive”, he is simply a top-ranking executive – sex need not be mentioned I suppose – you tell me.

~Sasha Sanders, Alum, Class of 2013

Disposable Women

June 13th, 2013


            I have touched upon so many subjects since my first Women’s Studies course, however, a huge subjects that has constantly circled my mind; after the recent “Women and Globalization” course I’ve taken, is the notion of the “disposable woman”. To begin, I was very intrigued by the stories of the women working in “maquilaroras”. The movie Senorita Extraviada, and readings about women working in factories and “sweatshops”, in places like Asia and Mexico, are very important examples to help understand the way that these labor facilities operate when it comes to female employees.

            The movie and these readings have helped me learn a couple things about the reasons for why women take these types of low wage jobs, with bad working conditions. They do it because it may honestly to be the only way that they can find to support their family. I think it’s sad that some women are encouraged by their own mothers to work these types of jobs because it is so common in their culture. It’s ‘s even more upsetting to know that women are being called “bad girls” for not being obedient to the cultural norm because it causes there to be pressure on a woman who wants to be seen as a “good girl” in their society.

            At the end of the day, these women who are working in sweatshops are in a bad predicament because if they get the job, and don’t perform as expected, they will be easily be replaced by another ready and willing woman; this proving their disposability. Nanny’s, maids, and ses workers are another example of jobs they a woman can have, but easily lose if they aren’t obedient. It breaks my heart to learn that in many severe cases, women have brutally lost their lives due to their employer.

            All of these things make me get a better picture of how globalization really assists in the oppression of women. The need for income in impoverished, or third-world countries causes women to have to take on jobs that fuel our oppression. In my opinion, being a sex worker, jobs in sweatshops, or as nannies and maids aren’t bad, as long as it’s a woman choice (not including being coerced into doing so). In order for these industries to be more considerate to women, they need to provide proper treatment and compensation.

~Sasha Sanders, UMass Dartmouth Alum, Class of 2013

Supreme Court throws out a class action lawsuit brought against Wal-Mart, by its female employees

June 3rd, 2013


In a course I took where the focus was on different successful methods of building an argument, we ended up watching a video clip titled “Too Big to Nail”, where Stephen Colbert sarcastically gave his opinion on a situation where The Supreme Court threw out a class action lawsuit brought against Wal-Mart, by its female employees.

            Colbert’s claim was basically that Wal-Mart is too big of a corporation, for that lawsuit to have been successful. The reasons that he uses to support this claim are that “it’s not the largest private employer (Wal-Mart) in the US repeatedly violating rights; it’s the thirty-four hundred completely different locations, individually violating their rights in different ways”. He also says that the class was too big for the lawsuit to become successful. The evidence of this is because the women suing had different jobs, at different levels, in all 50 states, and if Wal-Mart lost they would owe at least a billion dollars back and therefore have to raise there prices. He also uses the evidence that according to Wal-Mart’s lead attorney, “Wal-Mart as a whole cannot be held responsible because they have a strong policy against discrimination and in favor of diversity” (, and this is written in the employee manual. Though his tone is sarcastic, he still manages to establish a sort of credible tone with the use of logos with some of his logistics.

            After watching this video clip I’d have to say that the he was somewhat persuasive for me, because the incorporation of the facts that he had, were useful in convincing me that Wal-Mart was “Too Big to Nail”, however  his sarcastic tone took away from the level of persuasion because it was sometimes hard to understand if the facts that he used were truly facts, or just opinionated sarcastic remarks.

            I’d have to say, it’s really discouraging to women in the the work force who wish to gain equality. Especially, when things like this are happen all too often, with no way to protect women’s rights, and with the issues being “too big” to nail.

~Sasha Sanders




Same ol’ Hips, Just a Different Sway: Illuminating on the role of women in TV series

May 28th, 2013


“I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint, I do not feel ashamed.”

             ~Meredith Brooks – Bitch 1996

When Bitch, by Meredith Brooks, came out, I was only 6 years old, but for some reason, it liberated me. I sung the lyrics to myself, very low of course, and for some reason I didn’t want to be a “Barbie girl, in a Barbie world”, I wanted to be “a sinner” and “a saint.” I felt like this was the type of woman who had an individualistic mindset, and could definitely relate to me.  I would also watch television shows like Living Single, where the women weren’t portrayed as submissive to men, or as non-complex beings as individuals, which also related to me. These things lead me to wonder; does television teach its viewers to see that the “realistic woman” is a bitch, mother, child, and lover all at once? Not really, it teaches us that women may possess all of these qualities, but not collectively, we are more shown to have each of these qualities, split amongst the individual woman.

Over time an endless progression of television programs that tell stories about women’s lives. With so many shows targeted to, and cast with women, we can notice many similar characters reappearing. The most pronounced group of characters I see recurring on television involves a group of four women. Within this grouping, there is usually ‘the smart one,’ ‘the sexy one,’ ‘the naive one,’ and ‘the motherly one’. It would be foolish to believe that the similarities amongst these characters in TV shows over generations are an accident. In fact I think that they are important to understanding our culture, not only because of their common re-productions, but also because the variations among these representations, point to significant cultural differences in society. These characters teach viewers that women are versatile creatures,

Let’s think about these three different television shows (all top rated), from different eras: Golden Girls (85’-92), Living Single (93’-98’), and Sex and the City (98’-04’); which each includes a quartet of women characters. Now while these shows are about very different modern women (older White women in suburban Florida, twenty-something African-American women in Brooklyn and thirty-something, White, professional women in Manhattan), the four main characters in each show similarly represent four feminine models found throughout Western culture: the iron maiden, the sex object, the child, and the mother.

Miranda from Sex and the City, Max from Living Single, and Dorothy from Golden Girls represent the iron maiden archetype. These women usually wear  business suits and have sharp, blunt, and shorter hairstyles. They’re cynical, competitive, sometimes abrasive and mean-spirited, and often antagonistic toward men. Their viewpoints might be considered feminist or just plain “bitchy,” and they value women’s right to be equal. These women work in male dominated professions and achieve high status (Miranda is a lawyer, Carrie a writer, Samantha is in PR). Most interestingly however, for these women, although they may desire a romantic partnership, they’re independent and do not need a men in their lives. They more commonly find romantic love impractical and/or incompatible with her career ambitions and independent needs. For example when giving advice to Charlotte, Miranda says, “it’s all about control . . . if he goes up there, either he’ll have the upper hand or you will . . . the question is if he goes up your butt will he respect you more or less . . . that’s the issue,” exemplifying her focus on blockading male dominance.

Samantha, Regine, and Blanche embody the sex objects in Sex and the City, Living Single, and Golden Girls. They are concerned with the male gaze and do what is necessary to get that attention. They’re sensual, superficial, and take great pride in sexual experiences. Money, power, and sex are central to them. They also feel power from sexuality and believe that women should use their sexuality to get what they want. The comments made by them are mostly sexual and shallow, and they are all about being “lovers.” For example, in the first episode, Dorothy says, “I would kill to be 40 again” (,  talking about how, when with a group of 20-something male teachers were at work earlier that day, she had forgotten that she was older than the other women.

Charlotte, Synclaire, and Rose portray the child character. They’re usually dressed in skirts and girly accessories such as bows, ribbons, or flowers. They’re prudent and conventional, and often seen as simple characters. These “childish” women portrayed as immature, although sometimes making surprisingly profound statements as children sometimes do. They’re naive and their comments are usually silly and discounted as ridiculous. Similarly also, these women believe deeply in romantic love, and desire romantic love above most other goals. Interestingly enough these women seem to have a relationship and have the most content love life.  In a conversation about sex Charlotte decides that she cannot be “the up-the-butt girl” because “men don’t marry the up-the-butt girl . . . whoever heard of Mrs. Up-the-Butt . . . no, no, no . . . I can’t, I want children and nice bedding,” this showing her use of ridiculous phrases, and her longing for a loving family like a child would want.

Finally, Carrie, Khadijah, and Sophia are the characters portrayed as the mother. While Sophia is reduced to the comedic stereotype of the ethnic mother, Khadijah embodies the strong independent mother common in notions of the Black family. These characters are central to the group, and ultimately help seek wellness for the group. The stories they tell reflect the complexity of the world, like a “mothers” would, even with the use of wit and sarcasm like Sophia often uses. The mother character is more neutral on issues, and often contemplates, and over-analyzes the dilemmas in her life as well as in others. For example in the episode where Sinclair blurt outs the secret that Regine’s new “man” is married, to comfort Regine, Khadijah puts her arm around her and says, “Look . . . listen, as much as I love to be right, and you know mother does love to be right. I wish I was wrong this time, but girl, the man is married,” referring to herself as a “mother” type.

 These shows provide examples of the different personalities women have and help us see that the “realistic woman” isn’t much of a “Barbie Girl”, but is more commonly “a sinner and a saint”. However, these archetypes placed within a cultured system can then become stereotypes, and while stereotypes can change over time, they generally become set within specific cultural contexts. The women portrayed in this show are from different time eras, in different settings, and yet, they embody almost the same exact personalities, ideas, occupations, and personal issues, and this is what teaches people about the lives of realistic women. If only Television could show us that there is more versatility within the personality of the individual woman, they would really accomplish teaching us about what the realistic woman is. They need to teach more that we are all uniquely different, rather than being confined to the “Same ol’ Hips, Just a Different Sway.”

~Sasha Sanders, CWGS Alum, Class of 2013

Woman’s Resistance to Neo-liberal Globalization

May 6th, 2013


            Although neo-liberal penetration has brought along many negative drawbacks for women women, it’s existence also creates a movement of global resistance, in the struggle against neo-liberal authority.

            Filipino women’s resistance to globalization is led by GABRIELA; a militant, national coalition of women’s organizations, and  GABRIELA has facilitated the organization of grassroots women. It has helped to raise consciousness among its members and the larger public on the impact of neo-liberal globalization on Filipino women and one of its major political campaigns is the “Purple Rose Campaign”, which is an international campaign against the sex trafficking of Filipino women and children.

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