In her article “Am I a Woman?” Myra J. Hird cites the following passage from Erving
Goffman: “The more closely the impostor’s performance approximates to the real thing,
the more intensely we may be threatened, for a competent performance by someone who
proves to be an imposter may weaken in our minds the moral connection between
legitimate authorization to play a part and the capacity to play it (Goffman 1971, 66)”
(Hird, p. 55). What idea is Hird trying to explain with this passage?
Hird is referring to the transgender community in our society and how they are able to carry out
a perfect performance of a certain sex. Even though there is a grey area of sex, society has
sent two clear distinctions, either you are a man or a women and that distinction determines
how you act, talk or dress. However, the performance of transgender threatens the rigid
distinction and weakens our thinking about what is natural. For example, an individual born as a
man acting like a women seems unnatural and just does not add up in the eyes of society. The
performance of the “imposter” tells us one key thing: sex or gender is not entirely natural, it is
socially constructed from the way we think, act, dress talk etc.
What do George Pavlich and Myra J. Hird mean by “subjective troubles”?
The focus on subjective troubles involves looking at our interactions with others and how these
interactions create meanings that shape our views of the world and in turn, how we act.
“Subjective Troubles” approach challenges the idea that each of us is a stable or essential
individual that remains static. The concept of subject troubles is built around the mantra of “I do
not exist before my social interactions.” It enforces that we are made in our interactions with
others and the concepts we use to describe ourselves are created in different historical context.
For example, a serf from the 13 century cannot comprehend the language used by our
generation today due to the radically different social context he grew up in. Subjective troubles
involves asking questions such as how do we become who we are? How is it that we can
communicate and understand each other? What are the meaning we share? How do these
shared meaning lead us to act certain way? Why do we each behave and think in the ways we
According to Erin Dej, how does the mental health system perpetuate gender, class and
When it comes to diagnosing mental illness, there seems to be an overrepresentation of women colored
and homeless people. In fact, 0ne in three homeless people in Canada are labelled mentally ill. A woman
who does not conform to traditional notions of femininity are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental
illness. For example, a woman who is competitive, aggressive or independent is labeled with various
personality disorders just because these traits are a deviation from the norm. The notion of the hysterical
women is quickly applied to such woman even though the traits within her are completely acceptable in
men. Research in the US shows that Recent research has shown that how racial minorities who
experience racism on a daily basis may develop coping methods
• Racial stereotypes - research in the US that shows as how racial minorities develop different
reactions to racism. They develop fear which is considered abnormal and leads to mental illness
• People who are consider mentally ill are deviating from the norms
What are the two approaches to freedom and power that Pavlich identifies in his article
“Am I Free?” Pavlich talks about a liberal and Foucault approach to freedom and power. The liberal approach
suggests that freedom is a basic and natural attribute of human beings; we are made free by
nature. As humans, we can make rational decisions on how to live our lives. According the
liberal approach, power is restricting and constraining. Power is something someone has such
as the state or the government. It enforces that the notion that you are free as long as you are
kept in check.
Foucault believed that we are not born free and the concept of freedom is always changing. The
phrase “I am free” is understood by a given historical context. Our idea of being free is shaped
by our contemporary relations. To Foucault, power is a relation, not something someone has. It
is a productive force that shapes our actions therefore our identities Power is not constraining,
instead it creates freedom.
What do we learn from Dawn H. Currie and Deirdre M. Kelly about girls’ identity projects
in their article “Who Am I? Who Can I Become?”?
In the research being conducted, we learn that the girls between the age of 12 and 16 are
passive victims of ‘adolescent’ femininity where there are many pressures placed on them in
terms of how they talk, act or dress. Even though these pressures are intense and relentless,
the researchers suggest that the girls are active agents too. They make use of opportunities to
resist pressures. While girls who resist do not necessarily create entirely free subjectivities, they
are at least able to construct alternatives, sometimes oppositional, unders