Besides being a mouthful to say, the course is quite hefty to take in. While I went in knowing much, having taken a similar course and having been entrenched in gender and sexuality politics since I was sixteen, there was still quite a lot that I managed to gain from taking the course. While I initially took the course in the hopes that the sexuality aspect would focus on the historically unheard voices of LGBT+ community in film, and was subsequently disappointed, I still found it interesting that sexuality could be taken as more of the presentation of sex and gender. It became harshly, glaringly clear to me early on that this class would nary touch upon the subject of homosexuality, after two classes and far too many heterosexuals using words like queer and phrases like ‘the gays’ – yes, not ‘the gaze’. So, disappointed and many shades of uncomfortable, I decided to instead set my sights on the gender aspect. That, at least, was a safer bet and stayed away from too many utterances of queer, and there was no doubt in my mind that nobody would use female-coded slurs, so my gender, if not my sexuality, was safe.
Beyond those uncomfortable first few realisations and the occasional cringe here and there, what I took away from the class was a more expanded horizon on issues I had already touched upon. New phrases to add to the list of things to ostracize me from extended family at Christmas dinner, new takes on old ideas, but mostly affirmation that conclusions and opinions I had already formed were correct. For that reason, I believe this class was not entirely beneficial to me. Not because what was taught was basic or not helpful, but simply because I was not challenged at any point to change my view of things. University courses are meant to broaden what we know and challenge us to change our thinking, and while I’m absolutely positive this class did that for some, it simply did not for me. Instead, it reinforced my very insular and comfortable way of perceiving things, which I’ve had for many years, which is not why I attend university. This is, perhaps, my fault, for choosing a course like this to take, but I found it hindered my learning instead of aiding it. I grew bored easily, I neglected to do assignments because I found them boring or not challenging and therefore not rewarding or beneficial beyond a superfluous percentage.
I could lie and say the gaze was a new concept to me, wax lyrical about how enlightening it all was to learn about the lenses we view media through and how to filter them, but that does a disservice to everyone, really. I grew up critical of the media I consumed, for a number of reasons. My father is a cynic and critic, I am both female and homosexual, and I am overweight. The first factor introduced me to the idea of there being more to media than bad and good, the latter two prevented me from ever seeing myself represented in media and thus made me critical of it. I knew I was gay when I was eleven and before that I knew there was something unusual about me, and when you grow up anything but straight you grow up living a very different life. You know something is missing or wrong, you know it isn’t quite right and something is being hidden from you, and when you find out what, you mature much faster because you suddenly have to teach yourself so much and you feel a need to immerse yourself in the community and the struggles. There was no way for me to have grown up to not be critical of the media I consumed, and being a girl only made it more necessary. I knew the first time I read Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire that is was absolute nonsense that Fleur Delacour place last or be disqualified from every trial when she’s the only girl good enough. I knew it again when I watched the films and they had taken it a step further, making Beauxbatons and Durmstrang entirely gendered. It was purely common sense to me, to see my gender being portrayed so poorly and to hate it and become critical of it, but it seems that’s not always the case with people.
This class was an absolute joy to take and I did love having most of my opinions backed up by a professor, even if much of your teaching of it was weak and allowed for people to see it as only suggestion so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. I think if I hadn’t already been exposed to so much of this before, it would have been a learning experience with more impact for me, but even as it stands it was still an interesting class to take and allowed me a chance to research things I already had an interest in and gave me new material to read through.