Sex Education’s New Show in Season 3

Season 3 | Sex Education Wiki | Fandom
Sex Education’s Season 3 Promotional Poster

I remember waiting for the third season of Sex Education to come out – I was reposting the promotional posters on my story on Instagram and sending it to my friends. When Sex Education finally came out, I was surprised at how different this season was from its previous seasons. Sex Education started as a show navigating the life of Otis, whose mother is a sex therapist. Because of this, Otis has learned the techniques of how to talk to someone. He then tries this at school with an unexpected friend at the time called Maeve. As a result, they both start making this a regular thing after success. Moving on from this, in season 3, the sex therapist students are not quite as much in this picture but are rather dealing with Moordale’s new principal Headmistress Hope who moves Moordale in a backward way, removing self-expression and promoting heterosexuality, while shaming anything different. Cal and Headmistress Hope are two of the new characters this season, and they are complete opposites, to say the least. Hope’s backward idea of how to run a school is a great reason to show why such classes like GSS exist.

One episode in particular that struck me was a scene from this seasons Ep. 4:

(Video won’t seem to load so here’s the link:

Firstly, this scene I want to talk about in particular. Prior to this scene, Headmistress Hope tells Viv, her student assistant, to tell the people of Moordale to separate themselves into two lines based on their gender. However, because Cal is non-binary, they don’t separate themselves into a line and have an argument with Hope. Cal then goes on to say “So we go to the vagina or penis line? Is that what you’re saying?” This itself shows how bent Hope’s thinking is: there are only two genders and that it depends on your genitalia. For centuries, we have always decided to look at someone’s genitalia and say “They are a boy” or “they are a girl,” and it’s time we step away from this disgusting perspective. 

Sex Education Season 3, Ep. 4. Screenshot from video stated

Focusing more on this scene, the boys get a talk about homophobia and stating that homosexuals have a higher chance of getting an STD. Meanwhile, the girls are getting a talk about how sex is scary and can ruin your life. Maeve, one of the earliest main characters, however, tells the group speaker of the girls group that sex isn’t and shouldn’t be scary. Maeve gives a progressive speech suggesting that students should instead see that sex gives them insight into their body, like what they like, and that girls shouldn’t be the only one getting the talk of “sex is a mistake because it leads to unwanted pregnancy.” This ties into the idea of Foucault where the idea of sex shouldn’t be talked about and that people should be shamed for having these ideas and thoughts. And, further in this episode, the students of Moordale are scared because they’ve been involved in sexual activities prior to this meeting and that their lives could be in danger just because of what they’ve been told. Society makes sex seem as a bad thing and that only bad things will happen if you engage in the act of sex, but nothing will happen if you go about it in a safe direction.

Sex Education" Episode #3.6 (TV Episode 2021) - IMDb
Sex Education Season 3, Ep. 6

Another interesting part of season 3 lies within episode 6. Hope decides to publicly shame students who caused a bad reputation for Moordale. While she shames 3 students, Lily, a student who writes sexual stories about aliens and such things, and Cal in particular are shamed for being themselves. To explain, Cal is told that they are a messy troublemaker when all they have done to “disrespect” Moordale is ask for equity. Cal is constantly reminded by Hope to fit in a certain category by her forcefully putting labels on their gender when they are non-binary, but never lashes out against Hope. For Lily, she is told that she has brought shame to her peers with “dirty and disgusting words,” which comes from Lily’s sexual fantasy stories. Again, especially for teenagers in high school going through puberty, students should not be shamed for having sexual desires. Additionally, the idea of fantasies and fetishes shouldn’t be shamed either. Lily is a great character at showcasing these fantasies and, earlier in the season, Lily used to wear makeup and style her hair to indicate this love for her fantasies. 

Season 3 was something entirely different, but I did enjoy it. It helps show how different people are from one another, and that we shouldn’t be putting others down for having differences or looking different. We should be encouraging these differences and seeing how much more a society could be if individuality was promoted. Sex Education does a great job in this season to showcase this.

All About That… One Body Type

All About That Bass Official Music Video

I love Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass” in which she is apparently encouraging women to embrace their curves and hating on the idea that women should be “stick figure, silicone Barbie dolls.” The message that she is conveying, though, could actually be counterproductive to a societal norm of recognizing beauty in all body types. 

Firstly, the message that Trainor is sending through her lyrics is that female bodies are inherently sexual and that women should embrace their curves because “men like a little more booty,” which apparently makes the woman in the image below (a stereotypical, skinny, pretty, white woman) very uncomfortable.

She additionally says that she has “all the right junk in all the right places,” meaning that she has curves, or fat, in places on her body that are generally considered attractive and/or sexy, probably her ass and her breasts. This is especially prevalent in the music video for the song where many of the dance moves are very butt-focused, like in both the screenshots of the video above and below. This line makes it seem as though Trainor believes that there is a right place for fat on a female body and that fat should enhance a woman’s sexual features. The idea of women being fat in only specific places on their bodies in order to be more sexually attractive is definitely not a fat positive or feminist stance on female bodies. Fat can be considered sexy in any place in the body, from the belly to the back to the cheeks to the ankles, and Trainor is unfortunately just enforcing another impossible stereotype for women. 

Also, fat should not be seen as something sexual, neither should a lack of fat. Human bodies are made for so much more than sex, and female bodies in particular are seen so often in culture as symbols of sex, and being a fat sex symbol is no better than being a skinny one. Trainor uses the idea that men like fat asses to make fatness seem acceptable. Telling women that men like a specific trait and that makes it a good trait is certainly not a feminist idea. I should be allowed to live in my own body without having to justify my beauty by saying that men think I’m sexy so it’s ok.

One lyric from this song talks about “skinny bitches,” who the woman in heels below is a symbol for, and definitely gives a negative connotation towards skinny women, implying that being fat is better than being skinny. In this way, Trainor is trying to impose a new standard of beauty that is just as unattainable for some people as being super skinny is by shaming skinny women. “Skinny shaming” should not be a substitute for fat shaming, we shouldn’t be shaming anybody about their body type!!

The cast of the music video is also problematic. Trainor and her four main backup dancers, seen below, as well as the other female presenting dancers in the video, are all pretty much the same body type, and they aren’t even fat! 

In a song that is supposed to be about empowering fat women, having a bunch of women who, while they might not be stick thin, certainly aren’t fat, play as if they are fat is incredibly damaging. Additionally, Trainor has two young girls in the video, seen below, who are very thin, sending a message to the young girls who watch the video that this is the ideal body type for their age.

The only truly fat person in the video for a song ABOUT BEING A FAT WOMAN is the MALE presenting dancer below who doesn’t even get much screen time.

In a society that shames fatness, telling women that very mid-sized people are the fat people in our world completely discounts a whole group of people AND makes mid-sized people think that they are fat, which is damaging in a world that shames fatness.

In addition to the lack of size representation in the music video, the lack of racial representation is prominent, too. Depending on what you consider “dark-skinned,” there are no more than three dark-skinned people, one of them being one of the children, one of them being a backup singer (most of whose face is covered by a wig as seen below), and one of them being part of Trainor’s main group of backup dancers, in a cast of about 14.

None of these cast members get much screen time. The range of skin colors is very slim. There are only two male presenting cast members in the video, and the white man below is meant to represent a potential Ken-Doll-like boyfriend type for Meghan Trainor.

So, the main takeaway I get from the combination of the lyrics and the video from All About That Bass is that white (and sometimes black) women should strive to have big butts, avoid being skinny, avoid being fat, and to do all of this in order to be sexually appealing to conventionally attractive white men. Definitely not the fat power anthem that we need.

Book Review – Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American GynecologyBook Review: Medical Bondage

The origins of American gynecology reflect back to the racism that has been seen within medicine for quite some time. Black women were seen as these “superbodies” that were capable of withstanding all levels of pain. As a result of this belief, black women were abused in different ways and used for experimental and teaching purposes within the gynecology field. Author Deirdre Cooper Owens focused on the history of American gynecology and the racist origins behind the field. Dr. Cooper Owens reflects on the stories of black women who were at times left to die and then used as study subjects by the same doctors who were meant to cure them. At the same time, Dr. Cooper Owens reflects on the connection that slavery and medicine have and emphasizes the idea that black women in many ways can be seen as the founders of gynecology. 

Throughout the book Medical Bondage, Dr. Cooper Owens makes a connection between the racist doctrines within American gynecology and the abuse that black women faced as experimental subjects. For many black women, stepping into a gynecologist’s office was a sentence for death. More specifically, “Slavery and the rise of American gynecology were the vessels that poured both life and death into the black women’s lives” (Cooper Owens, 44). Many of these women were forced to go to these doctors for their own health concerns and yet they would end up being abused and used and as was often seen killed as a result of this abuse. Dr. Cooper Owens also reflects on the difference in treatment between white and black women. The experiments that black women were forced to undergo would eventually be used to treat white women. Although the procedures were the same, white women did not receive the same abusive treatment that black women did. From these various arguments, Dr. Cooper Owens emphasizes on the idea that black women are the real founders of American gynecology. Black women not only contributed through forced participation, but many black women were also nurses and midwives. The trauma that these white doctors inflicted upon black women led to many black women continuing as midwives and nurses as a way to avoid any further abuse from occurring. As I read Medical Bondage, it was clear that gynecology as a field was not founded by white men but rather by the black women who underwent abuse and various experimental procedures. 

Dr. Cooper Owens is an award-winning historian, a popular speaker, and a professor. Dr. Cooper Owens attended two historically black colleges and universities, Bennett College and Clark Atlanta University. After completing her education in these two institutions, Dr. Cooper Ownes went on to earn her Ph.D in history at the University of California Los Angeles. Dr. Cooper Owens has also taken part in various fellowships throughout the United States. Using her own personal experiences  has led to her realizing that stories are what draw in the attention of the readers. Having the historical background that she does, Dr. Cooper Owens is working to make history accessible to all people as well as inspiring to all. 

In order to create this monograph, Dr. Cooper Owens uses a variety of sources to discuss the role that black women had throughout the history of American gynecology. One source that Dr. Cooper Owens focuses on the stories of the black women who were forced to take part in these experimental procedures. One case that Dr. Cooper Brown’s discussed, the Julia Brown’s case,  reflects on the shift in value that the lives of black women had to the white doctors. Dr. Cooper Owens states that this case “…illuminates how southern white men developed and deployed medical and pharmaceutical methods that revealed how the value of black people’s lives shifted back and forth like measurements on a sliding scale” (Cooper Owens, 42). This specific example allows readers to understand how the value of black women depended on how valuable their bodies were for the purpose of advancing American gynecological practices. Dr. Cooper Owens also used different records and documents that reflect on this idea that enslaved people, and in particular, enslaved women were seen as nothing but experimental subjects and sources of income. The use of these various sources allow readers to visualize the abuse and disrespect that black women faced in order to have gynecology where it is today. 

The organization of the book made it easy to read along and this would have to be one of the strengths of the book. The actual book is divided into five chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different aspect of American gynecology. The first chapter focuses on the birth of American gynecology and on the father of gynecology, James Marion Sims. Dr. Cooper Owens uses this section to expand upon the procedures that were conducted by these white doctors at the time. It is during this chapter that Dr. Cooper Owens begins to expand on how doctors “… used stark medical terminology that reduced black women’s reproductive organs and bodies to mere “physical specimen” ” (Cooper Owens, 21). Chapter two focuses on these procedures but shifts the focus away from the doctors and the history of American gynecology overall and emphasizes on the experiences of black women during this time. In this chapter, the stories of various black women were told and the abuse and neglect that they received both from their owners and from their doctors. With the example of the State of Missouri v. Celia, Dr. Cooper Owens discusses how Celia, although she was raped by her owner, she was still sentenced to death for defending herself and killing her abuser. Celia was pregnant at the time and although her life was not spared, the life of the baby was (Cooper Owens, 43). This specific chapter highlights the importance that was placed on the unborn child, and the lack of care that was given to enslaved women during this time. Chapter three focuses on the connections between sex, slavery, and  medicine. Many of these black women were abused whether it was by their owners or their doctors. This same abuse is what led to many of these women ending up pregnant or developing certain health concerns that required them to be taken to a doctor. Chapter four expands on this topic of abuse and discusses the experiences of Irish women immigrants and the similarities with those of black women. The example of Mary Donovan reflects the commonalities between the experiences of Irish women and black women in relation to how they were treated by doctors. Donovan was described as “violent, dumb, and defective, but her body provided a pathway for doctors to learn more…” (Cooper Owens, 104). Similar to the experiences of black women, Irish women were also abused by white doctors and these white doctors also exposed the private medical matters of these women to public medical journals. Chapter five summarizes the main points made in the previous chapters as well as discusses the idea of a medical “superbody.” Although this topic was mentioned in previous chapters, Dr. Cooper Owens goes into detail on this topic as well as on the medical gaze and how these topics both added to the trauma that black women in particular endured during the beginning stages of American gynecology. 

Dr. Cooper Owens reflects on the experiences of Irish women, but this is a topic that is not as focused on throughout the monograph. The main focus of this book is on the experiences of black women as experimental subjects for white doctors, but it would be valuable to learn more on the experiences of Irish women. Seeing that this monograph does focus primarily on black women, adding the relationship between American gynecology and Irish women would take away from the main argument being made. Regardless of this, it is important to know the stories of these women as well. Rather than including a chapter towards the end on Irish women, it would be helpful to instead have the stories of Irish women in connection to American gynecology discussed throughout the book similar to the structure used to give the stories of black women. 

Medical Bondage is a book that I would say all people should read. It emphasizes the stories of black women and their role in the history of American gynecology. Dr. Cooper Owens also gives a voice to these black women by sharing their stories. During the time in which these events were occuring, these black women were not given a platform or rights to defend themselves. As a result of this, people are unaware of the actual history of American gynecology and the racist ideologies that make up the field. This monograph exposes the racism of gynecology while providing a voice for the Irish and black women who were silenced and used for experimental purposes. Ultimately, Dr. Cooper Owens’ writing reminds society of the vital role that Irish and black women played in making American gynecology what it is known to be today. 

Works Cited:

Owens, Deirdre Cooper. Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology. University of Georgia Press, 2017. 

“Bio.” Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens. Accessed December 16, 2022. 


This lecture was a conversation about Judy’s life with a current Davidson student Sarah Todd Hammer. She is an international disabilities rights activist and was a special advisor for Obama and Clinton. She talked about how disables people had less laws that protected them before than now and how she helped improve laws for disabled people. She talked about how her parents had to learn how to navigate the system and that it took a while and that school wasn’t accessible for her. So, this made her have to speak up at a young age for herself and advocate for herself. She even forced herself on a bus she was waiting for a long time because there was no accessible feature. She talked about small changes that Davidson could have to make it more accessible such as the bathroom door being too heavy and maybe some doors just taking them off completely. She also thinks that disabled students need to be a part of more universities and that it should be a bigger part of DEI. This made me think about how DEI is so focused on race and gender and everything else that is a part is left out with one being disabilities. I do work in DEI for some areas on campus and will have to do that in my job teaching next year that it helped open my eyes for more things to focus on and simple fixes that could happen. She talked a lot about how the laws are discriminatory and ways to advocate for oneself or others. I think it’s horrible that people don’t respect the laws that is there to protect disabled people and how it’s overlooked and unlawful, but it’s so common for people to do. These aren’t things I normally think about. One thing I think about is how I normally would think people who double park to be rude, but a friend of mine is disabled and did this because someone was sitting in their car in the handicap parking stall and there was no other place, so they had to double park for that reason. Accommodations help all and are there for a good reason.

No Product Day Challenge

When deciding to consciously take part in the no product day challenge, I thought it would be easier than it seemed to be. There are days that I forget to put on deodorant or perfume, so it wouldn’t be that bad I thought, but people’s comments surprised me that day. I told my partner that I was doing this challenge, explaining about what we learned in class at the time with the history of deodorant and how I didn’t really need it. Immediately he said that no wonder people in GSS stink. I never expected that comment and didn’t think my friends who are taking GSS classes stink at all. I think it was a joke, but it still struck me as surprising that he said that. Then, I met up with a friend who I told that I was doing this challenge, he was like you’re gross! This also confused me. There are times I haven’t used deodorant before because I forgot, but how is not using it for one day gross? It was surprising to me how ingrained it was in people’s mind that no deodorant = stink and gross. If I didn’t tell my friends and partner that I was doing this challenge, I believe no one would’ve made these comment. But why is it that the thought of it grosses people out?

Now, I don’t use deodorant or perfume unless I’m going to an event. I think of products I used to buy that now I don’t such as shaving cream. My family used to constantly tell me that not shaving as a girl is gross which took a long time to get over, but now when people tell me that, it only stings a little bit. So I actually enjoy not using makeup, shaving products, perfume, deodorant, etc because it saves me time and money as well as doesn’t take up too much space and my space is less cluttered.

Diet Culture Token

December 5th, 2022

Diet Culture Bomb: On TikTok when a video comes up of a girl discussing how dieting changed her life and that she wants to become an inspiration to other cultures to demonstrate the resolve and importance of dieting and losing weight.

How it landed: I was a little shocked. I had seen this person on social media before and they always gave off the impression that they were confident with their body weight and enjoy eating and the various pleasures associated with it. It seemed like since I had last seen them 

How I recovered: I went to sleep. 

December 6th, 2022

Diet Culture Bomb: I’m studying with in the library with a friend and she discusses the specific calorie content of her coffee drink she got from the vending machine.

How it landed: I had have similar experiences with this friend in the past, so I was able to remind myself that everyone has there own person journey and relationship with food.

How I recovered: reminded myself that calories are perceived in society is often incorrect and having a balanced diet that I ensure is more important than counting specific calories 

December 7th, 2022: 

Diet Culture Bomb: I saw a TikTok of a very slim girl with the caption “the two main things that helped me get in shape”, this was followed by the girl saying 1. Being more active every day and 2. Eating healthier and more protein. The video had multiple videos of the girl showing off her slim figure. The girl made it seem like having a slim figure and “being healthy” was a simple matter and choice that could be accomplished by just eating more vegetables.

How it landed: I was shocked. I thought that social media had a least for the most part moved past this unproductive type of instruction. 

How I recovered: I looked at the comment sections and found that everyone was also as baffled as I was which made me realize the vast majority of people did not support this behavior.

Token: Judy Heumann Lecture

by Lucy Mason

On September 7th, I attended Judy Heumann’s lecture on her work advocating for disability rights. As a person with ADHD, I was already familiar with the concept of learning disabilities, but I knew very little about the laws and statistics surrounding access for physically disabled people. I appreciated how knowledgeable and open Ms. Heumann was, and how she shared her story with us to illustrate where some of the major issues with access to education and transportation for disabled people lie. 

This talk made me reconsider my thoughts on Davidson’s disability access. From seeing all the ramps, buttons, parking spaces, and more around campus, I had thought that Davidson was doing well with providing access. However as I sat in the talk, I remembered seeing Sarah Todd Hammer’s Instagram reel about having difficulty opening the door to the library basement. I then realized that her reel might have influenced the removal of the door. Listening to this talk made me confront my own assumptions and consider what Davidson is already doing to support disabled students and what it could work on providing. 

A number of things in this talk reminded me of our readings in class. I noticed that in both disability and reproductive activism, groups begin advocating for themselves because no one else will, or no one else will create an inclusive agenda. Ms. Heumann and her parents’ early advocacy parallels the quest of the women of color from our Jael Silliman reading. I also thought of questions about human rights. For example, how should the government adapt education to fit all disabled needs? Also, what is the difference between taking care of people who cannot support themselves and allowing those who can to advocate and speak up? Similarly, must we group all women who get abortions together, aruging that they do not know what they are doing, or can we allow them to make their own choices? In addition, I believe in the right to bodily autonomy regardless of whether that body or mind is disabled or not, so the state helping people maintain that bodily autonomy, whether through access or reproductive rights, is imperative. Overall, this talk expanded my awareness of disability on campus and inspired me to make more connections with these discussions and our class material.

Token: Feminist Mixtape

The 2010 song “Better Than Revenge” by Taylor Swift tells the story of a narrator who is very angry at another woman for “stealing” her man. The song expresses her anger towards and her disdain for the other woman by criticizing her. 

My first problem with this song is that it pits women against each other and blames the other women for the narrator’s relationship issues. At the end of the day, the narrator’s boyfriend chose to be with someone else, and the narrator should be blaming him, not the other women. Blaming the other woman instead of the narrator’s boyfriend comes across as very patriarchal and outdated. 

However, my main problem with this song is the lyric “she’s better known for the things she does on the mattress.” This lyric is slut-shaming and misogynistic. It suggests that the other woman is somehow a bad person or not “moral” because she has had sex with multiple people. This is incredibly misogynistic; no one should be shamed for the consensual sex that they have, and they certainly should not be considered morally corrupt or not a good person because they have had sex before. 

While “Better Than Revenge” is an expression of the anger that the narrator feels when someone she likes ends up with another girl, it comes across as slut-shaming and blaming other women for problems that are not their own. Even though the song was written 12 years ago, it is not an excuse for the outdated messages surrounding women, sexuality, and purity. Overall, while it is catchy, it is not a very supportive or feminist song. In fact, it is a song that contains harmful messages for young people (Taylor Swift’s main audience) to hear. In the years after she released this song, I think that Taylor Swift has made more music that is supportive of other women, which I appreciate.

Token: Diet Culture Diary

Friday, December 8th, Davidson, noon

Diet Culture bomb: I was scrolling through Tiktok causally, and a video of an old man showed up on my for you page. He said that we should cut out sugar from our diets for a month, and we would see all sorts of “benefits” such as a thinner face and a “better” body. People in the comments stated that if you cut out sugar for long enough, you won’t even crave it anymore!

How it landed: The Tiktok startled me. I’m not used to seeing diet culture videos on my for you page, but this time, it was loud and clear (apparently the algorithm hasn’t fully figured me out yet). I quickly scrolled past. 

How I recovered: I stopped for a minute and thought about the video I had just watched. Do I really want to cut sugar out of my life? I LOVE sugar. Why would I want to cut it out of my life? Frankly, that sounds miserable. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with my body. So I’ll eat as much sugar as I please, thank you very much. 

Saturday, December 9th, Indiana, 10 pm

Diet culture bomb: I arrived home from my long drive back from college with a large bag of snacks that my eating house gives us for free every finals season (thank you Turner House!!). I was very excited to have good snacks to munch on while I completed finals at home. However, when I walked in the door, my mom immediately expressed her disdain. She said, “we don’t keep junk food in this house. We try to eat healthy around here”.

How it landed: This was hard to hear, especially as someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past. I love eating all types of food, from fruits and vegetables to candy and chips. I think that all food is good food. So it was hard to hear my mom refer to a wonderful bag of food as “bad”. 

How I recovered: I thought about the comments that my mom made and talked to her about them. I think that we can keep all types of food in our house, and I don’t think that food should be assigned the terms “good” or “bad”. And just because my mom only wants to eat “healthy” foods, doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy some good snacks! I make my own food choices!

Tuesday, December 13, Indiana, 2 pm

Diet culture bomb: I show up at my local Starbucks to get some work done. I promptly order a drink, but as soon as I look at the menu, I remember something. Starbucks has calories on their menu. As someone who used to have an eating disorder and be obsessed with calories, that is not really something that I want to see or be reminded of. 

How it landed: I was disappointed. I absolutely hate when restaurants have calories on their menus. It makes it more difficult for people who are recovering from eating disorders and the impacts of diet culture. 

How I recovered: I was disappointed, but I tried to completely ignore the calories and just order whatever I wanted to drink, regardless of the calories or how “healthy” it was. It was a reminder that calories are not at all important in my life, and I can enjoy whatever foods or drinks I want.

Token: No Product Day Challenge Reflection

On September 27th, I participated in the no product day challenge. At first I was hesitant. However, after putting more thought into it, I decided to do it. Going into the challenge, I did not think it would be that hard for me. I hardly ever wear make up, sometimes forget to put on deodorant, and if I’m running late in the morning I don’t do my skincare routine. 

As the day started, it took me much less time to get ready than it normally does. I was really surprised to find how much time I spent putting on products that were not entirely necessary. I started to think maybe my five step skincare routine was a little excessive and I could cut some of it. As the day progressed, I felt slightly self conscious about not cleansing my face or not putting on deodorant. I was worried people were going to think I was lazy or dirty. That bothered me because why should not putting certain products on be thought of as a negative thing and be equated with being lazy or dirty. Luckily that day I did not have much to do, so I could relax or just hangout with friends. However, I found it really hard to get myself to do the little work I did have to do. In the moment I was confused on why I was so unmotivated. Usually I procrastinate, but I eventually get my work done. This was different. It felt like something was missing. 

Reflecting on the day I realized I use these products as an act of self care. The act of putting them on helps me get ready for the day. This made me wonder if there are ways to help me feel more put together and more “ready for the day” besides applying certain products. I am so glad I participated in this challenge, as it taught me more about myself and made start thinking about different acts of self care. 

Token: Judy Heumann’s Reynolds Lecture Reflection

​Judy Heumann is an internationally known disability activist. As someone with a physical disability I have looked up to Judy for much of my life. Due to her dedication to equality and disability justice, I have many of my basic human rights, so getting the opportunity to listen and learn from her was such an honor.

 For much of the lecture, Judy spoke on her experiences dealing with ableism in education and her work within the U.S. government. I could relate greatly to her experiences growing up with a disability and going through the public education system with one. I knew the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into place 30 years prior. However, hearing Judy’s experiences really put it in perspective. For instance, Judy talked about how she was not allowed to attend her local elementary school because she was considered a “hazard.” Now due to her activism the ADA is in place and prevents discrimination.

I do question Judy’s commitment to the ADA. Throughout her lecture she would reference and quote the ADA. I am so grateful for the rights it has granted me. However, I do believe the ADA is the bare minimum and there is so much that can be done. In my opinion the ADA reinforces the medical model of disability, which is the idea that the disability is the problem and needs to be fixed. Whereas, remodeling it would help promote the social model of disability, which is the belief that society is the issue – not the disability.

After listening to the lecture, I am still questioning the United States’ lack of implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Judy helped fight for its implementation back in 2009, but it did not get enough support. I am wondering how Judy would advise us to continue to push for the ratification. Especially with Judy’s past experience, I wonder what she thought worked well and what didn’t, and we as the new generation can further her work.

TOKEN – No-Product Day

I was nervous when I first heard about this challenge since enhancement products are part of my daily routine.  I usually wear light makeup (concealer, mascara, and chapstick), deodorant, and use anti-frizz products if it is a humid day.  I use these products to feel more confident in my own skin.  I typically break out from stress, and it is something I feel quite self-conscious about (especially since it is not something that I can control).  Being able to cover up a blemish allows me to not worry as much about my appearance.  The other products I use are either for convenience (not having to style frizzy hair), general hygiene reasons (not wanting to smell), or just because I like them.

I decided to completely forgo all of my products other than my skincare products.  I was certainly not looking forward to the experience.  The hardest product to go without was the concealer since I did not feel comfortable without it.  The easiest product to go without was the anti-frizz product since I was lucky and the humidity was low.

As I got ready to leave in the morning I was very nervous about what others would think of me, however, nobody mentioned anything the whole day.  This isn’t exactly surprising because I usually do not comment or care about other people’s acne.  This experience reinforced the idea that our biggest critic is ourselves, and most people, frankly, do not notice small things about us (like if we’re wearing mascara).

The no-products day was at the start of the semester, and I have an update.  Since then, my skin has cleared up a bit.  It is by no means perfect (in fact, there are still marks), but I am much more comfortable with not wearing makeup.  I still don’t believe that there is anything wrong with using enhancement products.  Regardless of whether or not they are capitalistic ploys, if a product allows you to feel more confident, then, by all means, use it!

TOKEN – Lola by The Kinks, A Positive Depiction of Trans Love

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my dad and I singing classic rock as we drove through the countryside. I happily swung my feet as my dad inserted Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One—an album released by The Kinks—into the CD player. Finally, my favorite song, Lola, played as I cheerfully belted out the lyrics. It was in my adolescence that I learned the true meaning of Lola.

The song begins with the narrator going to a club where the “champagne…tastes just like Coca-Cola.” While not immediately clear, this line foreshadows later themes of the song, introducing the idea of something appearing as it originally wasn’t. Despite the difference, it is still enjoyable. It is at this point that listeners meet Lola, a woman that captivates the narrator.

She walked up to me and she asked me to dance

I asked her her name and in a dark brown voice she said Lola

Well, I’m not the world’s most physical guy

But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine

Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand

Why she walked like a woman but talked like a man

When listeners first meet Lola, she is introduced as having a deep and husky voice. She is also described as strong, capable of hugging the narrator in a way that overpowers him. The narrator depicts Lola as being quite masculine, going as far as to state that she “talked like a man.” Despite this, he is still enjoying his time with her and they spend the rest of their night drinking and dancing. Eventually, Lola asks him if he’ll come home with her, to which he agrees.

I pushed her away

I walked to the door

I fell to the floor

I got down on my knees

Then I looked at her and she at me

It is at this moment that the narrator realizes that Lola is not a cisgender woman. While he is initially shocked and even begins to leave, he quickly realizes that she is still Lola.

Well, that’s the way that I want it to stay

And I always want it to be that way for my Lola

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls

It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, except for Lola

The narrator states that he wants Lola to be a transgender woman because that is what makes her Lola. He further notes that there is a lot of confusion in the world, but Lola isn’t confused. She is confident in her identity.

But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man

And so is Lola

This is the most famous line of the song, as it is ambiguous. It is unclear if Lola is glad that the narrator is a man, or if she is a man. The popular belief is that she is glad that she is a male so that she could experience what it means to be a trans woman. While the lyrics may be a bit outdated—a product of the time that it was written in—it is still a transfemme love song nonetheless. Lola discusses transness in a positive light, signaling that transgender people are lovable. At the time of the song’s release, the topic of being trans was not widely discussed or understood, and when it occasionally was, transgender individuals were often painted in a poor light. Lola is progressive for its time, portraying trans women as sexy and desirable, a notion that was revolutionary for its time.

Feminist Mixtape: Lizzo’s “Like A Girl”

When I first heard about this assignment, I immediately thought of Lizzo’s “Like A Girl.” To me, it is the epitome of a feminist anthem that proclaims the power of women.

Woke up feelin’ like I just might run for President
Even if there ain’t no precedent, switchin’ up the messaging
I’m about to add a little estrogen
Buy my whip by myself
Pay my rent by myself

Only exes that I care about are in my fucking chromosomes
I don’t really need you, I’m Macaulay Culkin home alone
Bad bitch, diamonds in my collarbone
Buy my whip by myself
Pay my rent by myself

This opening verse is an embodiment of female power. In Lizzo’s eyes, there’s never been a female president—so what? There needs to be, and I can do it! It is incredibly self-empowering and asserts the independence of women. Who needs a man to help pay rent? I’m doing just fine on my own.

Sugar, spice, and I’m nice
Show me what you’re made of
Crazy, sexy, cool, baby
With or without makeup
Got nothing to prove
But I’ma show you how I do

I really enjoy these lyrics because they take the common stereotypical image of a woman or belief of what women should be—“sugar, spice, and everything nice”—and both accept it and turn it on its head. Lizzo asserts that she is sugar, spice, and nice, but also crazy, sexy, and cool—with or without makeup. This is fighting back against the idea that women are only beautiful with makeup or that makeup is a method to cover insecurities or build confidence. Lizzo is saying that she wears makeup because she wants to, not because she needs to—she’s sexy without it too and she doesn’t have to prove it to you.

Find me up in Magic City bustin’ hundreds by the bands
And I throw it like a girl
Throw it, throw it like a girl
Hangin’ out the 750
Feelin’ bossy in my city
‘Cause I run it like a girl
Run it, run it like a girl
I work my femininity
I make these boys get on their knees
Now watch me do it, watch me do it
Look it, look it, I’ma do it
Like a girl (like a girl)
Like a girl (like a girl)

In modern culture, the phrase “like a girl” has a negative connotation: if you throw like a girl or hit like a girl, you’re doing it weakly or daintily. Lizzo is arguing the opposite. She’s painting her “throwing it and running it” like a girl as powerful and strong, and perhaps even surpassing the power and strength of boys as she sings “I make these boys get on their knees.”

Shoot the car through the fire, light the kerosene (we can do it)
Lauryn Hill told me everything is everything (we can do it)
Serena Willy showed me I can win the Wimbledon (we can do it)
Put me on a pedestal
Bet on me, bet I will

Here, Lizzo is citing specific women as inspiration for her self-empowerment. She mentions Lauryn Hill, who is often regarded as one of the most influential musicians of her generation and one of the greatest rappers of all time, and Serena Williams, who is among the greatest tennis players of all time, as encouragement for her realization of what she can do. The background vocals also chant “we can do it,” a reference to Rosie the Riveter’s popular phrase that asserts female empowerment.

So if you fight like a girl, cry like a girl
Do your thing, run the whole damn world
If you feel like a girl then you real like a girl
Do your thing, run the whole damn world
If you fight like a girl, cry like a girl
Do your thing, run the whole damn world
If you feel like a girl then you real like a girl
Do your thing, run the whole damn world

This echoes the earlier positive reframing of the phrase “like a girl.” I also especially like the line “If you feel like a girl then you real like a girl.” To me, this is an intentional effort to include trans women in the conversation, saying that trans women are also real women and are just as powerful.

Overall, this song is a wonderful feminist anthem that encourages women to claim their rightful power and strength. Its message is that of self-empowerment and self-love. I highly recommend that everyone listen to it whenever they need a good confidence boost.

Diet Culture Diary

Sunday, November 20

I woke up and immediately headed to the gym. I had noticed that I had gained a bit of weight over the summer, so when I came back to Davidson in the fall, I created a strict exercise routine. I exercise for my health, but my mind can’t help but think about the possibility of losing weight as a positive side effect. I exercised for longer and more intensely than usual today I think subconsciously because I’m going to see my parents on Tuesday for Thanksgiving break. For some backstory, I grew up not exercising quite as regularly as the rest of my family, so my parents would warn me about gaining weight. I think I subconsciously want my parents to notice that I’ve been exercising and am keeping weight off.

Tuesday, November 22

I arrived in Asheville right before dinnertime, so we headed to a nice restaurant. I hadn’t eaten much beforehand, so I was really hungry and cleaned my plate. Growing up I was always told that I ate “like a bird,” so my mother commented that she’d never seen me eat that much. I sheepishly answered that I had been hungry, thinking to myself that maybe I should have slowed down a bit.

Thursday, November 24

After cooking all morning, we enjoyed a lovely and delicious Thanksgiving meal for lunch. My mom asked me what my favorite Thanksgiving dish was growing up, and I answered that dressing (which I’ve been told some people call stuffing?) has always been my favorite as I stood up to get a second serving. “I love it too, but it’s way too carb-y,” she replied as she looked down and patted her thighs. “We need to go work out to burn all this off!” I didn’t get as much for my second serving.

Friday, November 25

I had been talking with my mother about my exercise habits, so the morning after Thanksgiving we got up and went to the gym together. As I lifted weights, wearing leggings and only a sports bra, my mom admired my form. “You look great,” she said. “You’re so skinny!” I felt some pride that she noticed, but knew it wasn’t an accurate reflection of my health—my diet and sleep schedule for the previous few weeks had been exceptionally poor.

 Lecture Token: My Body, My Choice, My Voice 

On November 14th, I attended an event co-hosted by AKA, Connor House, and PPGA titled “My Body, My Choice, My Voice.” I went to this event partially to fulfill an education credit for my eating house, as it fit in the health and wellness category of the requirement, but it was incredibly informative about abortion and abortion access in North Carolina. I have attended some PPGA meetings and consider myself to be relatively informed about how abortions work, and the about the work of Planned Parenthood and other organizations do to to increase access to safe abortions across the country. However, when we did a Kahoot to test our knowledge, I was surprised that there were some questions I had no idea how to answer. One of these questions was about what percentage of counties in North Carolina have an abortion clinic. I figured that the number was low, maybe around 30-35%, but in reality it was closer to 13% if I remember correctly. This was shocking to me, and shows how I had taken for granted our proximity to Charlotte, a major city with a Planned Parenthood. The presenters also talked a bit about anti-abortion organizations that disguise themselves as abortion clinics. I find it unbelievable that such organizations are allowed to operate legally, and force their anti-abortion rhetoric onto pregnant people seeking an abortion, without their consent.

The presenters also talked about different ways to circumvent abortion bans in states like Texas, in lieu of the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade. I had no idea that there are volunteers who will mail abortion pills across state lines, or shuttle people over the border into Mexico to receive safe abortions. This type of work is incredible, and shows how we can resist unjust government restrictions that control pregnant people’s bodies. This talk inspired me to get more involved in pro-choice advocacy, with organizations like Planned Parenthood. There are so many things we can do as citizens, like volunteer to work as an escort at a clinic, that can improve people’s access to safe abortions, but we need to continue to vote and fight against legislation that seeks to control our bodies. 

Feminist Mixtape Token Assignment

I am a huge Mitski fan and think that her song Me and My Husband offers an interesting commentary on traditional gender roles within a marriage, through a fictional narrative of a devoted wife who derives her self-worth from her relationship with her husband. The lyrics are as follows:

“But me and my husband

We’re doing better

It’s always been just him and me


So I bet all I have on that

Furrowed brow

And at least in this lifetime

We’re sticking together

Me and my husband

We’re sticking together

And I am the idiot with the painted face

In the corner, taking up space

But when he walks in, I am loved, I am loved

So I bet all I have on that

Furrowed brow

And at least in this lifetime

We’re sticking together”

The narrative voice in this song is a woman who adopts a very “stand by your man attitude;” this perspective was praised as the domestic ideal for women, especially in the mid-century United States. The lyrics “we’re doing better…. and at least in this lifetime we are sticking together” indicate that the narrator and her husband faced adversity within their marriage, but the wife made the conscious decision to preserve the relationship, even if just to protect the couple’s public image. The description of the wife as “an idiot with the painted face” also indicates that the wife has been disrespected by her husband, either through infidelity or otherwise. However, she describes how the hardship is worth it because she feels validated when her husband enters the room. This assertion is supported by the lyric stating that “when he walks in, I am loved, I am loved.” This quote indicates that the narrator feels recognized only when her husband gives her attention. This dependency upon her husband, and the apparent risks at stake if she were to end the relationship, reminds me of our conversations in class about housewives’ roles in the 1950s and 1960s. In this time, it was impossible for a woman to have control over her own finances without the support of a male relative or husband. Although this song is not a direct reference to this historical era, or the discriminatory policies against women at that time, the narrator in this song appears similarly stuck and dependent on her husband for both external validation and general security. To me, this song is very reminiscent of the relationship between Jackie O and JFK, or other similar celebrity relationships where the wife was aware of infidelity, but chose to remain in the marriage to preserve the public image and maintain her loyalty to her husband.