Codes of Gender

Friday, October 8, 2010

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

That is the provocative question asked by a little girl sitting at a restaurant dining table in the documentary “The Codes of Gender: Identity and Performance in Pop Culture.”

The film looks at male and female images in the media and how those images – male images evoke strength, female submissiveness – reinforce our notions of what is a man and what is a woman.

The Responsible Sexuality Committee is hosting a viewing and panel discussion of the documentary on Oct. 20 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in TLC 1305.

Prof. Gary Schmidt, from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, will be on the panel. Also on the panel, from the Department of Sociology and Criminology, are Assistant Prof. Carolyn Sawtell, with three of her graduate students, and sociology instructor Tiffany Parsons.

Psychology Prof. Neill Korobov will moderate the panel.

We aren’t born knowing what is male and what is female. We inherit those ideas from the media and our peers reinforce the notions of what is male and female, Korobov said. 

“It’s so pervasive it feels natural,” Korobov said.

He hopes the film and discussion teach students how to be “critical consumers of the media, rather than passive.”

The Responsible Sexuality Committee works with Health Services to promote not just safe sex and disease prevention, but also “smart sex decisions,” Korobov said.

The panelists will answer questions the attendees submit in writing on note cards. Everyone is welcome.

There is no charge for admission.

Faculty are encouraged to give extra credit to students who attend this event.