Inside Gordon College: Visitation Pt. 2, Gender

To read Pt. 1: Inside Gordon College: Visitation Pt. 1

A foundational observation of visitation made by many students at Gordon is that it operates within the gender binary.  When I say, “gender binary,” I am referring to the defined separation of male and female.  Sociology will teach that gender is not inherent to a person, but that it is “constructed” by society.  Due to the fact that gender is a social construction, it has the ability to be reconstructed and altered in not such rigid categories.  This “reconstruction” is best seen in the transgender and gender queer movements.  It seems that some of Gordon’s policies do not understand gender through this sociological lens.  They see it through other religious lenses, which many time see society as being divided into male and female.  An example of the gender binary in visitation is the division of halls by male and female.  In some dorms, the stairwells are even separated by gender.  Another example is that there are only certain times of the day in which males and females can interact with each other in the dorm.

There is an innocence in visitation’s operation under the gender binary because of the fact that Gordon proudly believes in traditional Christian beliefs of gender and sexuality.  They have their right to believe what they believe.  The problem is that there are many students at Gordon who do not believe in the gender binary and live according to their gender transcendent beliefs.  As Gordon advertises itself as a business, they are selling a product to a consumer.  Thus, their product should accommodate their consumers.  If their consumers don’t believe in the gender binary, then maybe the Gordon administration should think about how to improve their product for their buyers.  Visitation is not the only policy though that should be reviewed by Gordon when they are thinking of how they can better accommodate their customers.

I want to claim that there is a larger problem at hand than just the issue of Gordon not being able to effectively sell a product to its consumers.  I want to argue that visitation has the potential to be discrimination against gender queer individuals.  I understand that this is a bold claim, but I want to point out that there are some extremely problematic facets of visitation that could be very oppressive.  I make this claim because I want the administration and the residence life to take a close look at visitation and see how hurtful it has the potential to be.

With individuals who identify as gender queer, one cannot assume their feelings and desires.  One day, they might feel more comfortable associating themselves with masculine traits or another day, they might feel more comfortable associating themselves with feminine traits.  They also might not associate themselves with either masculine or feminine traits.  Furthermore, they might feel more comfortable spending time with individuals who identify as the “opposite” looking gender.

The gender binary mentality assumes that an individual identifies as the gender they appear to be.  Moreover, the binary teachers that if an individual looks like a certain gender, then they must be most comfortable spending time with individuals who look like the same gender as them.  I claim that visitation makes these assumptions about students.  The reality could be, however, that a gender queer student could desire to spend time with other students who look like the “opposite” gender, yet identify as the same gender.  If this was the case with a student, that student would then be caught and punished for engaging in an act as innocent as spending time with people who share their same gender identity.  This idea needs to be considered in comparison with the fact that all the other students at Gordon are never reprimanded for spending time with other individuals who identify as the same gender as them.

To read Pt. 3: Inside Gordon College: Visitation Pt. 3, I Broke It!


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