Category Archives: Gender

Dr Liz Gloyn: Meeting Medusa. Why does the Ancient Monster survive in the Modern World?

 

Dr Liz Gloyn visited us on 22nd January to speak about how the ancient Greek monster Medusa is portrayed in modern society, and why the monster still exists in the 20th century. Dr Gloyn showed how medusa is presented in modern films, and in video games and discussed the character of medusa in The Clash of the Titans films of 2010 and 1981 and the Percy Jackson series, the wrath of the titans 2012 the Hercules 2014 movie. Dr Gloyn focused on what Depictions of Medusa Say about the Way Society Views. How much of the approach to gender equality or stereotyping is influenced by the different eras in film particularly, could be seen through comparison of one film but made in two different times. Dr Gloyn also focus on the differences in how the monster is portrayed and the effects this had on the audience. Medusa’s beauty—and, in particular, her femininity—remains as dangerous as her original monstrosity. The majority of hybrids (half-human, half-animal monsters like sirens or Gorgons) in ancient Greece were female. “In a male-centered society, the feminization of monsters served to demonize women,” she said. Medusa was always the most popular hybrid, and remains the most identifiable even today.

Teresa Kwiecinska

Richard Maynes: “That’s not funny!” Are there any topics that shouldn’t be joked about?

A pop-up WP, for the VIth form only. Mr Maynes took us through a whole gamut of types of offensive humour, and, with admirable openness, tact and skill, engineered an intelligent, and at times impassioned, discussion about humour. Audio clips from comedians, with audience laughter, brought home the difficulty of finding something ‘funny’, but not wanting to laugh. Is it OK to share such jokes if no members of the target group are there, and if the teller knows no one will be offended? Or should one only tell jokes which one could tell to anyone?

The conversation continued over dinner, where several students expressed with relief that now for the first time they felt able to discuss things like gender and race in an official school setting.

Tomáš Cvrcek: ‘The Marriage Market – How the Rules of the Game Affect the Outcomes’

Old Chigwellian Dr Tomáš Cvrcek, lecturer of Economics at UCL and admissions tutor for the innovative new degree History, Politics and Economics, treated the Williams Project to an in-depth look at the nature of modern-day relationships, and how one can take basic principles of economics (e.g. supply and demand, market equilibrium and making value judgements) and apply them to ‘the marriage market’. As the talk progressed, it became clear that one can choose to view the ‘dating’ scene with a rather clinical eye, choosing partners based upon a rigid list of preference and weighing up the opportunity cost of choosing someone else over another e.g. Person A may not end up with Person B because Person B places a higher value upon Person C, but may still be able to end up with Person D, who they value to a lesser extent but is the next best option due to the constraints of the market. However, Dr Cvrcek also concentrated on the various historical and cultural factors that affect how ‘the game’ is played – for instance, although we in the UK base the ‘rules of the game’ upon one-to-one relationships, certain cultures may base the ‘rules of the game’ around many-to-one relationships, for example when a husband has multiple wives. Historical factors considered included the nature of middle-upper class relationships in Victorian Britain (where suitable partners were chosen by the parents of the couple in question, hence personal preferences did not hold as much weight) and scenarios such as arranged relationships/marriages. By the end of the talk, a vast array of topics and scenarios had been covered, leaving the audience significantly more enlightened and informed.

Henry Bird

tomas cvrcek and mr lord

tomas cvrcek and mr lord

the marriage game in action

the marriage game in action

Peter Tatchell: “Opposing the EDL and extreme Islamicists”

For a second time Chigwell School was lucky enough to hear the incredibly busy and well-known Peter Tatchell. His subject was the importance of opposing both Islamists and the EDL, and he carefully outlined his subtle position with regard to the threats to human rights posed by organised religion, particularly, at this time, to women and LGBT people from extreme Islamism, and the threats to Muslim communities posed by right-wing white extremists. He described how twice he has challenged both groups simultaneously, supporting East London Muslims against EDL intimidation, while at the same time opposing homophobia in those same communities. As ever he spoke clearly, with a controlled and reasonable passion, with a powerful command of facts and arguments.

Questions covered areas such as the relative priority of defending gender and sexual rights as against economic ones: it was argued by some that economic justice was more important.

IMG_3603 IMG_3605

Miss C. Cantopher: Post-structuralism and gender theory

A special end to the year: Miss Cantopher led us through the intricacies of sex and gender – beginning with the usual starting point – that sex is biological, and gender social – but then teasing this simplistic idea apart with statistics about how many people are born with no simple biological sex (about 1%), and images of how the performance of social gender roles is much more complicated than we first thought. She ended with a discussion of online gender performance – how, on sites like Facebook, and in online gaming, people can, and do, take on quite different and subtly nuanced gender roles: a burly (male) lorry-driver might play Skyrim as an androgynous elf; a young woman’s Facebook profile might show her as an old man. Miss Cantopher’s perturbing conclusion is that, if most of our waking hours are spent in such performance, which role is more real? We were left puzzling over and discussing informally this de(con)struction of the self.

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