November 19, 2012

Terministic Screens

Re-posting, because it looks like my original comment got eaten.

The example of terministic screens is, I think, a good illustration of how many people see the world. Going to college after high school is an illuminating experience for most students, especially if they go from a small town to a much bigger city. One thing I noticed was that in a college setting, people were less likely to put people into an arbitrary box to define them; or, rather, made the boxes bigger and less inclusive so it became less grating. For a lot of people, the world is divided into binaries. You can be a boy, or you can be a girl. You can be masculine, or you can be feminine. You can be heterosexual or homosexual. Burke uses the phrase, “A way of seeing is also a way of not seeing,” and this is true for these screens. The implication of identifying as a boy is that you are not a girl. If you identify as heterosexual, you do not fall in love with a member of your same sex. There are “acceptable” levels of crossover between the two binaries; girls can be a bit masculine without much stigma. But there is a limit, and if you crossover too much without identifying as the other, things start to get “complicated”.

Boys cannot be too “feminine” or else they are being “girls” and that is not good, they are functioning outside of their gender binary. If you are homosexual, you cannot have a “legitimate” relationship with a member of the opposite sex, or else you have been lying or confused the whole time, and have really been heterosexual all along. If you start to operate outside of your box, you are tried to be placed in a new, regardless of whether or not it really fits. If either one of the boxes really fit.

There are places in the world, however, where there are boxes that do not constrict quiet so much. Some people rebel against the very idea of a box, but others simply want to fit in one, to feel like they are normal too, because look! All these people are lie me too, see, I fit here. This is why the boxes are being worked to be expanded. One of the most prevalent examples is the use of sexual identification labels. Instead of the two binaries of “heterosexual” and “homosexual”, the list has been expanded to include all the wiggle room between the two. Now, people can identify as bisexual, pansexual, asexual, demi-sexual, and many others. They can choose the way they identify that fits them the best. The main complaint about this list is that other people, who conform to the dual binary of sexual expression, believe that the list is too long, that these labels are arbitrary and unnecessary. The rebuttal is, if we are going to be forced into boxes and labels, then we deserve ones that do not grate like an ill-fitting shoe.

Terministic screens to inform how we interact with the world. If we do accept that, then we should work on expanding our list of acceptable boxes.


Nicole Lynn said...

I like how you applied terministic screens to the idea of sexuality and gender that was brought up in Butlers article. The impression people have of others is heavily influenced by the label they are given for a particular situation. Even more complicated at times is how we label what feminism and masculinity are and how they correlate with "women" and "men." Each individuals experience gives them a different perspective on how to define these terms and to make something different of their relationship. Thus they create their own boxes for people that may not necessarily fit them or the box they unknowingly create for themselves as they try to create their own definitions.

Shanae Simon said...

I am really evaluating the idea that people are less likely to put other people in a arbitrary box and the more I think about it this becomes very true, which is intriguing to me. When people come to college their "behavior must be observed thrugh one or another kind of terministic screen, that directs the attention in keeping with nature (Burke 49)." Therefore, this explains the willingness of new college students to change their perception of a term in order to "fit in" with their peers. This also presents the argument that terministic screens are used to relate to one another.

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