Article Written By Margaret Aliffi
During my Gender 101 we focused a lot on intersectionality and what that means; what experiences as a woman of color or someone who’s non gender conforming have. And how racism and sexism intermingle to affect people’s lives in ways that are so complicated. Our professor introduced us to authors such as Audre Lorde and assigned us articles such as ‘Gender Stereotyping in the English Language’ and ‘Trans Law and Politics on a Neoliberal Landscape’. It was during this same class that my professor introduced, to those of us who weren’t already familiar with her, Janet Mock by showing an interview where Ms. Mock turned questions transgender people receive constantly around onto her interviewer, a cisgender woman. This video has since stuck with me constantly reminding me to put myself in other people’s shoes. It sounds quite ridiculous to say but even after being told my whole life to ‘put myself in the shoes of others’ I don’t think I truly understood that lesson until I watched that interview with Janet Mock.
June 15th the Get Related Team had the pleasure of attending Janet Mocks book release for her second book, Surpassing Certainty, and while everything that Ms. Mock said was captivating one thing in particular stood out to me. That thing was a story she told about being a black girl in the fashion industry and the privilege that she had to acknowledge that she had being a pretty mixed girl. It was rather mind blowing to be sitting in front of a woman who has done revolutionary work in the name of trans-activism and intersectional feminism and hear that woman, who so many look up to, call out her own privilege and then continue to do so for the rest of the night. Witnessing someone be brutally honest about themselves was such a contrast compared to how guarded most people are, myself included. Her story also struck a chord with me from how she described wanting to break into an industry that didn’t even include her, how it felt working for a magazine that never had a black girl on the cover. Listening to this reiterated to me the importance of representation in mainstream media, why telling everyone’s story matters.
Not only does seeing people of all colors, sizes, cultures, and genders encourage those who don’t feel represented but it also normalizes a diverse society. We as humans have tendency to fear what is unknown to us, and so often that fear turns into hate. When we portray all walks of life in every form of media we create a world that represents and recognizes the tremendous beauty in being different, not a world that despises and condemns those who are different.