Silver City, NM- Students who attended the recent carnival at the Center for Gender Equality on Wednesday November 18, were in for an afternoon of fun, while at the same time, were able to learn about inequality. The students of Social Inequality and Sociology of Gender worked hard to mix fun carnival games and skits with a deeper meaning.
The learning experience began right at the door, where attendees were given one of three colored strings to tie around their wrist. These strings represented different social classes, with orange being lower class, purple being middle class, and white being upper class. This determined how many tickets you received at each game with orange receiving one ticket, purple receiving two tickets, and white receiving three tickets. Tickets were used to buy food, drink, and enter in cake walks. All in attendance played the same games; meaning that different people received a different number of tickets for playing the same game. Not fair? That was the point.
Some need to work harder to achieve the same quality of life that others share. This was illustrated throughout the afternoon, as some people needed to play a game three times to receive the same amount of tickets, while others only needed to play once. There were lessons to be learned behind each game as well.
“Our activity is gender bending. The challenge is a race for people to dress as fast as they can in clothes for the opposite sex. The goal here is to break type casting for males and females. You don’t see many men wearing dresses but why is that?” explained Jon Kail and Brandon Tanter.
Social standards such as this are only standards because society makes it so. Now, no one is asking anyone to trade in pants for skirts or vice versa, but here’s something to ponder: if we place such a heavy typecast on clothes, what other typecasts are being promoted without even knowing it? This was the subject of the next booth.
“Gender binary is the belief that something is strictly masculine or strictly feminine.” Jaclyn Harrison stated, “Gender binary really starts at birth. When you’re born, you’re wrapped in a blue or pink blanket depending on your gender. Here we’re doing the reverse by giving guys pink cotton candy and girls blue cotton candy.”
The cotton candy was a sweet treat to be sure, but the message was the real food for thought. Why is pink associated with female and blue with males? Even deeper, why are things seen as masculine or feminine, the same way they are seen as black or white? Why is this view allowed in our “enlightened age?”
Another type of inequality we need to consider is inequality in the workplace as was addressed in the next two booths. “Here we have bobbing for apples with big apples for men and little apples for women,” said Marilynn Grijlva. “This represents men and woman being paid different for doing the same job. For example, there are male and female nurses, but women will be nurses but men may have the title of Physician Assistant to justify the difference in pay. You would think inequality would be in your face, but it’s in the loopholes.”
The issue at hand stays out of sight, making it easy for people to keep it out of mind. Every day, one could be participating in the advancement of inequality and never even think they did anything wrong. That is because inequality isn’t like a wall that’s easy to see; rather it is more like glass. An individual can look at it all day without actually seeing it. This point was highlighted with the not so simple toss of a soft ball.
“Woman make 75₵ for every dollar a man makes.” Preston Blencoe started, “There’s a point where women simply can’t go any higher in a career and that’s the glass ceiling.”
“Woman have glass stairs they need to climb, while men ride a glass escalator,” continued Ian Bledsoe. “Woman need to work a lot harder to get to a higher position while men are advanced for just being men. And then there’s the glass ceiling. Woman work hard, but reach a point where they can’t go any further. That’s not an issue for men however.”
The classic game of toss the softball was used to illustrate this point, with men standing at points closer to the target, while woman stood further back. If that wasn’t bad enough, men had for chances while women only had three. There was nothing transparent about the inequality here, or the message.
Not all of the activities were physical however. “Feminist trivia is about seeing how much people know about the laws and the events that work against inequality. One thing people may not understand is that feminism isn’t just about women; it’s about equality for both genders.” said Megan Saenz.
Another mental game was a faux citizenship test. “This sample citizenship test has questions that people coming into our country need to know but I don’t think a lot of people already here know some of these things. It’s clear that political inequality exist especially for the Syrian refugees coming into or country,” Marissa Aguirre said.
Finally, there was a disability awareness game that turned the simply putting on clothes into a complicated procedure. Working as team, two people worked together to put three items of clothing onto one of the parterres. The catch: one was blind folded and the other was wearing noise canceling head phones.
“People with disabilities are people first. We need to see the person and their abilities. Other abilities are sometimes heightened to make up for the loss of one.” said Monica Moreno, “That’s why we created disable the label. We want someone to be seen as a person with Autism instead of Autistic. This might hit a little close to home because you might know someone with Autism. The point of this game is to create empathy.”
Evidence of inequality is everywhere. It can be in any shape, affect anyone, and is difficult to see. It stays out of mind and is therefore kept out of sight. However, awareness keeps inequality in mind and lays the foundation of change. The Carnival of Inequality did indeed raise awareness and was able to do so in way that was clear and fun.