Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cross Dress Day

This week is Spirit Week at school, one of my favorite events of the year. I love ridiculous costumes for any reason, so Spirit Week gives me five days worth of entertainment. Plus, how can you pass up wearing pajamas to work? (BTW, if anyone finds good/awful footy pajamas, I'm in the market). Pictures coming at some point--I have to say I'm proud of what I came up with for Crazy Hair Day.

When the Social Committee announced themes for each day, Wednesday was listed at "Cross Dress Day." That did not sit well with me at all. The whole reason why Spirit Week is fun is that you get to wear things that oppose convention--Pajama Day is fun because generally we don't wear pajamas outside our homes; my quasi-mohawk made kids laugh today because it's so far from my usual  hairstyle. My worry with Cross Dress Day is the implied message that (1) gender should dictate the way we dress and (2) dressing contrary to gender expectations is not only frowned-upon on a normal day, but is actually something that we should consider funny or silly. I have no idea if we have any transgender students at our school, but I imagine that if you're already restricted from expressing your identity through your appearance (which could be anyone, not just transgendered students), you don't need a school-sponsored reminder that the way you want to look/feel is a joke.

I brought this up with some other faculty members, who seemed to agree that Cross Dress Day sends the wrong message. We agreed that we'd never have a "Dress Like Another Race Day," an analogy that in my mind is pretty applicable. Word was passed down to the Social Committee faculty sponsor that Cross Dress Day needed to be replaced. And it was. Tomorrow is Sports Day (go Giants!). Problem solved.

However, I'm worried that the reasons for the change was poorly communicated to the students. Many students seemed to think that it was because the teachers were opposed to the act of cross-dressing in itself, which is the exact opposite of why we (or at least I) thought it should be canceled. I tried to explain to my advisory that saying that we need a special day when it's okay to dress like the opposite gender means that on normal days it wouldn't be okay to do this. It should be okay for a boy to wear a skirt on any day the year. I'm not sure how much they understood, but they seemed to calm down when I told them that I'm not against cross-dressing.

The more difficult thing is that after talking with some other faculty members today, I'm not sure they understood my view. When I explained that supporting Cross Dress Day also supports the idea that men and women should dress a certain way, one teacher responded that most people do believe in those gender expectations. Luckily he caught himself in his faulty logic, but I was ready to list off all the other things that "most people believe" that we probably shouldn't be supporting. This teacher also told me that I should be okay with Cross Dress Day because his gay students were excited about it. I didn't know where to start on this one--would it be better to talk about the difference between gender and sexuality? To explain how people can contribute to their own oppression? To remind him that the opinions of a few people within an identity group do not represent the group as a whole? Sometimes talking to educated, well-meaning adults is much more frustrating than talking to teenagers.

On the other hand, I have to wonder whether I'm overreacting. I think back to the openly transgender student I had when I was student teaching--would he have felt uncomfortable with Cross Dress Day or would he have welcomed it as an opportunity to finally dress like he so desperately wanted to? Even in the latter case, does is that enough to negate the message that cross-dressing should be considered abnormal? Is it better for that kid to have one day where he can wear what he wants under the pretense of it being a joke, or for him never to even have the opportunity to be that joke? Will the presence of kids in gender-bending clothing once a year eventually have the effect of making it acceptable on other days?

On a semi-related note, I recently read this article in Vibe about the dress code at Morehouse. It's an interesting question of what is "appropriate attire" for a scholarly environment and what happens to gender norms in a single-gender setting. I wonder what the men in this article would have to say about Cross Dress Day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We Lived this Picture


The NY Times probably had a slightly better camera, but really it doesn't look that different from all of my pictures.

Also: when I opened up this article, the ad on the side was for New Zealand tourism. Has targeted marketing gotten that good (i.e. is Google selling the contents of my email/brain?), or is the universe just trying to remind me of all the things I'm not doing at the moment? It's usually this time of year when I start daydreaming and looking up plane tickets. In case you were wondering, winter break tickets to Auckland are currently out of my price range. I haven't searched prices to Ecuador. Yet.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Yolo of the Month: September #2

Inspired by our boating adventure this summer and aided by the wonders of Groupon, Maura and set out a few weekends back on our very first sailing lesson. We were rewarded with stunningly beautiful day with sun so warm and wind so mild that we didn't need the fleece jackets and long-sleeve layers we'd so diligently prepared.

Seeing the Bay from a boat is by far my favorite way. I love the San Francisco skyline and all the bridges set against sparkling blue water.


There was, theoretically, a little bit of a sailing lesson in all of this. Here's Maura tacking and generally aiding the movement of our boat. I think that this was the tack that our captain called the best tack he'd ever seen. I'm sure he meant that. In general, I can't say I learned much actual sailing. In a rookie teacher mistake, our captain threw out a lot of words without explaining what they meant or how they related to sailing, which naturally made it difficult to understand what he was talking about. It's hard to watch out for the jib when you don't know what you're looking for.

We also both took turns at the wheel. I'm pleased to say that neither of us crashed into anything. Not that there's anything to crash into in the middle of a large body of water, but I'll take whatever victories I can get. There was one guy in our group who got yelled at when he was at the wheel because he was steering nowhere near close to where we were supposed to be going, so at least Maura and I did better than that.

The most exciting part of our day, at least according to our captain, was getting to watch this sailboat race. I fully admit that I don't know that much about sailing or racing, but I was not super-excited about this. However, the boats did look really cool.

Here's the play-by play:

First, we saw a large mass of boats. They weren't moving very fast. Our captain said that this probably means it's a race.

A speedboat takes the lead.
The boats start to turn. Our captain says that this is the most exciting part. Nothing really happens.

The boats have turned and now that they're going in the other direction they're all tilt-y. I really want one of the boats to tip over. Our captain says that this rarely happens. He is correct.

Maura and I go back to hanging out and enjoying the weather. This is a hobby I could get used to pretty quickly.

Yolo of the Month: September #1

Somehow in my life of doing nothing but teaching, I've found time for a few out-of-the-ordinary adventures. First up: eating. Every couple of months, a group called SF Food Wars hosts a cooking compeition based around some theme. Attendees get to sample the entries and vote for their favorites. September's theme: salsa. So we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon outside the Ferry Building dipping chips into 23 different types of deliciousness.

The first plate (clockwise from the blue corn chips): "Peas and Hominy Salsa," "Peach-o de gallo," "Salsa La Cabana" (very tomato-y), "Ow-wesome Habanero Salsa."

Candice and Morgan take their first bite. The verdict: keep moving so we can taste everything. Twice.

Some of the teams, including "Macho Madness" (with the mustaches), who were probably the cutest team; "Salsa en Fuego," made completely with veggies purchased from the Ferry Building Farmer's Market the day before; "Team Bodacious Beetliciousness" (whose salsa wasn't my favorite, but it was pretty and I liked their idea); and "Eat This Mexican," the winners of the people's choice award. They got my vote.

Sarah liked the Eat This salsa so much that she asked for a t-shirt. She recognized greatness before they were announced as the winners. The guys were also kind enough to package up a tupperware of their delicious creation for us to take home.

I never knew that it would be possible to completely stuff myself on chips and salsa. Here we are surrounded by our graveyard of empty plates and salsa cups. Morgan's face reflects our conflict of wanting to eat more, but not really being able to stomach it (pun intended).

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Extra Credit

Today is the first Geometry test of the year. The first bonus question: "What is Ms. L.'s last name? Spelling counts!"

Out of 110 students...
-How many will even attempt the question?
-How many will get it right?

Place your bets now!