Professors discuss gender roles, binaries

Megan Godby // Contributing Photographer / Professors Scott Byrd and Danielle Nielsen talk sex with Murray State students.Megan Godby // Contributing Photographer Professors Scott Byrd and Danielle Nielsen talk sex with Murray State students.

Last Tuesday, two professors held a combined presentation that covered two very different topics.

Megan Godby // Contributing Photographer / Professors Scott Byrd and Danielle Nielsen talk sex with Murray State students.

Megan Godby // Contributing Photographer
Professors Scott Byrd and Danielle Nielsen talk sex with Murray State students.

Danielle Nielsen, assistant professor of English, opened the presentation by reading narratives written by women from the mid-Victorian era.

The narratives described what it was like for British women during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

“It is this really fine line between British women that are colonizers and yet, at the same time, they are working against what people at home think about them,” Nielsen said.

These women described being trapped in cities attacked by Indians as well as their experiences living in those cities. But, at the same time, they struggled to wield their own power in a society where gender roles were strict.

“The first speaker brought up women, and it was gender (related), not the sex,” Hope Marshall, freshman from Madisonville, Ky., said. “It kind of bothered me a little bit, how they enforced the feminine idea of being a woman, like you could have that pseudo-masculine feeling but you’re still a woman at the end of the day.”

Continuing the presentation was Scott Byrd, assistant professor of humanities and fine arts, who discussed gender binaries. He did research in Brazil and spoke about the difference between American and Brazilian sexual cultures.

“Brazil has a totally different way of viewing sexuality, and that sex is not biological to most Brazilians; it’s actually about what you do, so it is defined by how you do it,” Byrd said.

As opposed to the U.S., which he referred to as having a rigid form of sexuality, a sort of gender binary as he called it, where women are feminine and men are masculine.

He also discussed how the gender pay gap has been getting worse over the past 20 years and how the government shutdown affects women more than men. The number of elected women are declining, and 40 percent of single mothers are below the poverty line. Also, anti-gay hate crimes are on the rise.

“I thought the gender binary was an interesting concept because I hadn’t heard it before,” Stephanie Mellar, freshman from Clarksville, Tenn., said. “I thought it was interesting how he talked about different gender roles in different countries and how the U.S. has a much different one, how he called it a rigid gender structure.”

 

Story Brandon Cash, Contributing Writer