Carolina Creative Campus – The Gender Project

Archive for November, 2009


Within the context of this project we have chosen to explore gender and identity. One interesting way we clarify that exploration is with this question:

“How do we navigate gender in our everyday lives?”

To navigate: • verb 1 plan and direct the route or course of a ship, aircraft, or other form of transport. 2 sail or travel over. 3 guide (a vessel or vehicle) over a specified route.

It’s origin is the Latin navigare, “to sail.”(The Oxford English Dictionary)

Fascinating imagery: direct, transport, travel, guide, route, sail

How specific, how direct. Why then is the concept of gender navigation less concrete?

I thought about this concept as I walked up Polk Place this morning, heading to my ten o’clock class, weaving in and out of students as late as I was. Literal navigation; my body, as a vessel or vehicle, was moving through space. Each footstep bringing me closer to my destination. Translating this idea to my thoughts on gender I realized that perhaps the reason why the concept is so difficult is because there is no tangible destination. All of the definitions above consider navigation as a plan, a guide, a route; yet gender is undetermined and ever changing. It evolves from a series of constructed images, thoughts, gestures, etc. and not simply from the consultation of a map.

How then do we navigate gender in our everyday lives?

I wear a skirt. I have short, curly hair. I apply blush and mascara before leaving the house.

These things make me feel feminine.

I am a leader. I am assertive. I carry weight in my feet.

These things make me feel masculine.

Navigation? I’m not sure.

I liken this exploration to a conversation I recently had with the director of Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day (produced by LAB! Theatre, as part of The Gender Project). He explained his thoughts on gender and Kushner’s dramaturgy. The piece allows for an exploration of character without the constraints of traditional male or female roles. Each character then becomes defined by their own series of entrances and exits, dialogue, interaction, and gesture.

Navigation? A realistic representation I believe.

If what determines navigation is not only a plan or guide, but movement as well then it seems relevant to consider the journey in addition to the destination.

Do you navigate? How so? How often? How conciously?

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