My Queer Analysis Project

It’s finals season! This is easily the most stressful time of my semester. As much as I love college, and I am grateful for the experience, I hate finals. It’s the worst part of the college experience. For that reason, I’m super lucky to have a wonderful professor who made this finals season a little less painful for me.

This year I’m took a Gender Studies course with Dr. Crystal Jackson, who graduated with a degree in Sociology and minor in Gender Studies. She now spends her time advocating, and teaching tiny queer people like me at John Jay College. (Also, she has rainbow hair, guys!) The course I took discussed the way people who challenge societal norms about gender and sexuality perform feminism. For our final, we had to do something that embodied Praxis and talk about it to the class.

Praxis is a cycle. It’s the idea of putting action into theory and theory into reformation. A perfect example of this is the black lives matter movement. The theory is “black people don’t deserve to be unjustly killed by police officers.” The action is the black lives matter hashtags, t-shirts, website, and protests. The reformation of the theory happens every time someone attends a protest, every time the hashtag is shared, and every time we talk about black lives matter.

Dr. Jackson gave us many creative liberties with this project. We were allowed to do almost anything we wanted, so long as it was Praxis. Some people in my class completed this by handing out condoms, or by teaching others how to be feminists without going to protests, or by writing to sex workers in prison.

Being me, loud and gay, I decided that I wanted to do a queer analysis of Steven Universe. When I presented this idea to the class, I was asked to explain how watching TV and talking about it was Praxis. My response to this was based on what I had learned about Praxis over the course of this semester. (While this is true, I shouldn’t ignore that I also really wanted to talk about gay TV and get a grade for it, and somehow it worked.)

Steven Universe is a show that exists in the same space that I am living gayly in. I watch the show. I talk about the show, therefore reforming its ideas.

Screenshot (22)

Dr. Jackson seemed excited that I understood what Praxis was. Excitement to see students perform what was taught to them is a wonderful thing to see on any professor’s face. Still, deep down, I think she knew she was letting me get away with being gay as my final project.

Anyways, I wore my gay hat, my gay plaid, my gay shoes, and my gay flag as a cape for the presentation.

I analyzed Steven Universe’s Pearl, making a video, that I posted on YouTube, of all the moments I read as queer over the last few seasons. I spoke about her having very toxic, dependent relationships with other characters on the show and why that was okay. I’m not mad it. It’s great writing, and even better representation. Pearl is a Baby Gay, a term I defined as “any newly queer person who is awkward and unsure of themselves in relation to their sexuality.” I think Pearl is a super important character on TV at the moment. It’s important that young, queer kids, have someone they can relate to. I think Pearl is even more important than Garnet, who’s existence is the literal embodiment of the love two gay women have for each other. Garnet is the face of queer relationships on the show. She presents as very sure of her love and of herself, which is wonderful, and a great example of what relationships should be, but her confidence is not necessarily something Baby Gay kids watching the show can relate to.

Overall, this was the best project I had the opportunity to work on, and I’m thankful Dr. Jackson allowed me to share with everyone.

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4 comments

  1. Hi Anika, great article. Two things can you post a link to your video presentation? How do you like John Jay? It is on the short list of schools my daughter wants to attend in 2020. Thank you
    Marty

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    • Here is a link to the video I made. It isn’t the actual presentation itself, but a part of it. Also, I don’t know how long it will be up on youtube, lol, copyright and all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFKduzo2r6c

      I absolutely LOVE John Jay. It’s a really warm and welcoming environment. They have a wonderful sense of community, and there is something for everyone. There are so many opportunities she will be able to take advantage of.It’s super immersive and easy to be engaged, both in and out of class, here. I literally never want to leave, I’m thinking about doing my masters here as well. She should come do a tour. (Also, I’m always around to say hey :D) Also the campus is beautiful. We have a jay walk (It has a gorgeous view of Manhattan, especially at night) and it has a garden where we grow fresh produce and give it out to students for free. And there’s theater where we can watch shows for free with an ID. (they’re always giving out free stuff!). There’s a wellness center where they give out free meals to low income students and their families. There’s a woman center to help with all things womanly, they have really cool events. We have a band that performs sometimes. There’s an LGBT club that’s really cool… Everyone is so nice, the work load is stupidly heavy but I think that’s just college. So far, I’m really enjoying my time here. The only bad thing I have to say about is that the school is terrible with communication, which is extremely frustrating. but otherwise i love it here.

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