From Theory to Praxis: Realizing My Own Privilege and Ignorances

Even before this class, I always felt like I was actively engaged in topics that have to do with gender and sexuality, that goes from reproductive rights to third world feminism to trans* people’s rights. However, this GSS has made me realize that I need to look even deeper into the issues that I thought I was familiar with. I also learned that I have so much more learning to do and that there are still a variety of issues that I am not familiar with and do not even know about.

More specifically, something that struck me that I learned about in class is when we learned about same-sex sexuality. When I thought out sexuality before, it was very much what I had learned growing up in a liberal American environment, that there was heterosexual and homosexual, and everything in between and that was it. However, in this class I realized that this definition was actually pretty narrow and that even defining anything that is “same-sex” as homosexual might be inaccurate. As we learned about same-sex practices from around the world, I came to realize just how narrow my worldview and thinking was. I leaned that despite the fact that I believed I was a relatively informed person, I still had a long ways to go and that I might not ever learn or understand as much as I want to given the privileges I have by living in the United States.

Also in this class, I became more aware of my own identity, especially because of the discussions we had regarding intersectionality. I’m a woman. I’m from the Middle East. I’m a refugee. I’m from a Muslim and Jewish background. However, I always knew these things about myself. What I really came to realize in this class is my position as an American. Despite parts of my identity that work against me in American society, I still have a certain privilege living in the U.S. and calling myself American. I’m able to vote. I’m able to criticize my government. I’m able to (mostly) dress the way I want to, and so many other countless privileges that I have. Before, I knew I had these privileges, however it did not hit me until we discussed black feminism and third world feminism. I realized I could make certain choices for myself that others cannot even make a choice about themselves. I’m glad that I came to realize my own privileges and that one can have both privileges and factors that work against them.

Lastly, I hope to take what I learned in GSS and apply it many events in my life in the coming future. Specifically, I hope to apply what I learned in GSS to my perspective trip to Jordan this summer. When I’m there, my goal is to learn and become more proficient at Arabic and to also learn more about Arab culture. At the same time, I want to keep in mind that despite my cultural background, that I am still an American that is visiting a place that is very different from where I grew up. I need to be prepared to realize that my concept of what gender, gender roles, sexuality, and more broadly, culture, are in Jordan might be completely different than what I imagined. I will apply what I learned in GSS by knowing that everything is not as it seems (from America). Because I’ll be in an environment that allows me to see that, I can have a more comprehensive view on certain issues like women’s rights in the Muslim world.