Creative Director and Writer, Suzanne Tick, describes in her article, “His and Hers? Designing for a Post Gender Society” in Metropolis Magazine , the increasing importance of gender-neutral designs in society. Tick expresses that gender-neutral designs are so important in today’s world because its a necessity for people to feel “safe” to function anywhere, do what they would like to do, no matter how they identify. Suzanne Tick gives examples in ways in which society is already contributing to gender-neutral designs in society, such as companies like Google and Target having gender-neutral bathrooms and college applications no longer making it mandatory for students to choose a gender as option on forms. Given the examples Suzanne uses in this article , she determines that we are living in a post-gender society given the fact that androgyny is now commonplace, meaning gender ambiguity and a mix of masculine and feminine characteristics are being shared among most individuals in today’s society. Tick feels as though, creating more designs that are gender-neutral will allow for the creations of environments that are more individualistic and free.
I love Suzanne Ticks take on gender-neutral designs in society; I for one don’t think that we live in a post-gender society just yet but I do think that we are headed strongly in that direction. I’m a person that has definitely felt comfortable and benefits from gender-neutral designs and gender-neutral environments. When I shop for clothes, I shop for things I live, whether it be men or women clothes, I can say that in my closet I own a fair share of both. I love to shop in the men’s section of Urban Outfitters, given their style but I’m also very much into Zara’s ungendered clothing line. I wear whatever it is I like and sometimes that very feminine and sometimes its androgynous to masculine but its always me, and thats what Tick is getting at, these gender-neutral designs just allow people to be purely themselves, making way for individuality.
Despite what society likes to make it seem or think, androgyny has been present for a long time, which is why it now has become commonplace such as Tick mentioned.One of my biggest role models and inspirations of all time is the late icon Prince, he was extremely androgynous and people adored him and he still is a huge part of our culture.
Gender is a social construct that I believe will always be there to some extent its just a matter of how much it will continue to impact the way we think about individuals, what preconceive notions we assign to them, and what we expect of people.
In the last chapter of his book, City of RhetoricDavid Fleming, challenges the reader to think about how he/she can be now humbled by the understand of the built world and the built environment hat surrounds us. Fleming points out that we need to understand that the level to which we flourish and survive directly relates to the design of our built environment and in turn how this matters to us as individuals and as a whole population. He refers to the greeks in the way in which they have combined “modesty” and “hopefulness” in the success of their architectural design, something we in turn should learn from. In this chapter, the city as a place and people are described as being together in a oneness as Fleming is to make the point of this symbiotic relationship the environment has with the people in and the people are a direct reflection of their environment. We as citizens are dependent on our cities, its where we live and where we grow and survive, in turn, our cities are dependent on us and only as the good as the resources and structure we as citizen provide it.
In this final chapter, Fleming addresses the linguistic obstacles that prevent us from improving our cities from what they are now, he presents three reason: debates and discussions about our communities, political position being routinely associated with self-interest, and the lack language that provides us ways to address conflict and resolutions to conflict that do not include assimilating or separating. Fleming uses these reasons to describe to the reader the necessity to put meaning, harmony, resolution and depth of understanding over our own self-interest, personal politics, and publicity in order to improve our environments that we have built and are struggling to survive in; he states that this can only be done through linguistics and the effective use of language.
Fleming says that the success and progress of our built environment and surrounding is dependent on the improvement of teaching our young people in society the importance of linguistic and teaching young people a language that is not directed by privilege or how to win a debate but how to understand and then reason with others alike and different from ourselves that allows us to render the most successful outcome for all of us. He notes that teaching our young people in society this requires more listening than talking, more inquiring rather than debating, more understanding rather than ignoring. The advancement of education and promise of improvement in our cities is upon our young people being taught through a rhetoric oriented in schools that is community based, inclusive, and reasonable rather than exclusive and argumentative. Once the rhetorical bases and linguistics in our education systems change we will see our people change and with that our environment will start to change in a way that serves the public discourse, responds and reasons with the people that inhabit it rather than excludes and marginalizes groups that fall outside of whomever isn’t served by the public discourse.
Overall, Fleming proposes 4 components of civic education that believes will grant students with the power and knowledge necessary to fulfill the tasks of what society needs from their cities and their built environment in which they live. The first component being memory, Fleming talks about the need for students to acknowledge the past history of ones environment, learning what problems currently present themselves isn’t enough when we don’t know where those problems came from, how they were created and whom they did and still do effect. Memorializing the successes as well as failure of an environment and relationship these memories and moments in time have with the current status of the environment is crucial. He encourages young people to listen to the stories of the elders in the community and “uncover” history and conflicts seemingly forgotten about from he community. Secondly, Fleming states that mapping is another component that will lead to a students success in fulfill their civic duties as well as improving their environment. Fleming claims that students today often dive into subjects and write, speak and present about things that they know very little about and he stresses the importance of mapping in order to produce our own understanding of public discourse. Students such be doing genuine research by traveling into communities and cities, seeing, experiencing and thinking then developing our own hypotheses rather than the sterile, less humanistic version of “research” that is pushed by the majority of our educational system currently. The third component Fleming suggest is judgement, how student form the opinions they do, on what basis do we develop our own thoughts and ideas to assess conflicts and situations. Fleming explains that society wants to constantly put young people in decision-making groups and situation without providing students with the education to function in such situations competently. He points out that students should be collaboratively working together in school to study “real” cases and learn how to render a functional and reasonable, developed opinion and decision. Lastly, Fleming says that design is the final component that is going to empower our students and provide them with the knowledge and skills to fulfill civic duties and serve our environment. Fleming elaborates on what he feels in need for students to learn how to construct, invent and design solutions to all of the problems that they face and situational conflicts they incur. Fleming suggest that students in school are presented with current political and cultural conflicts and issues present in their city and work collaboratively in trying to design a plan that would lead to a resolution or invent some sort of amendment that relives a pressing issue. This teaches students to acknowledge, address, and combat problems they share with others in their environments and the type of progress that happens through working with others that we not only share commonalities with but also differences.
The things we know about our cities and about our environments are the things we know about each other and ourselves, some of what we know is amazing and astounding but some of it is disappointing, disheartening, and maybe even destructive. When we take these latter parts of what we know and reinvent them in a way that betters our children, improves our education and alters the origin of our rhetoric then we’ve already made progress. This progress will contribute to the equality, improvement, success, advancement and security of our cities and the environment in which our children’s children will live, grow and survive in; making us better and thus making our city better, perhaps better than we could have ever imagined.
In Chapter 8 of section 3 of his book The City of Rhetoric, David Fleming describes how segregation and the location of specific demographics of populations matter in the realm of public discourse. Earlier in the text the author breaks down exactly how rhetoric functions in public discourse, human landscape, and what environments mean to the residents; in this part of the text Fleming analyze’s what specific populations’ interact mean to the public discourse as well as how they are treated in the metropolitan environment.
Fleming poses the thought to the reader that there are alternatives to the current state of these populations in cities that would encourage a healthier relationship, better interaction, and equality among everyone in these cities. Fleming addresses the way to these alternatives by discussing in detail three concepts, the first being the contingency in a variety of factors that rhetoric has on its environment and the development of the space it is in. Secondly, the way civic power and habits are going to effected by a place is going to matter most at the extremes of a space, so the most favored groups and least favored group in the environment. Thirdly, the effects of an environment change throughout am individual’s lifetime. For these three reasons, Fleming suggests leaving behind the idea that manipulation of our environment is what needs to be done to improve the non linear treatment and inequality but rather address the responsibility and requirement of cultural competency that comes with design and architecture in sociospatial aspects and how this effects human behavior. Fleming provides the example of poverty, it is not caused by poor people themselves but the environments in which they live lead to terrible grades of schools and housing, poor job opportunities and ridiculously high crime rates. These places are neglected and devalued and the citizens of this environment mirror such a space in their behavior and Fleming refers to this as Gunnar Myrdal’s phrase of “cumulative causation”, the environment is internalized and further displayed in social norms of the environment and civic behavior, i.e., the problems that kids in these areas come to school with make school a troubled place, and a troubled school contributes to the issue of the environment. (Fleming, 194) Fleming acknowledges that the environments in which we live, learn and grow up in effect human behavior and these environments are non-linear and dynamic to specific groups of people such people in poverty or area’s of Chicago like Cabrini Green.
Evidently so our perspective, interpretation and behavior to our environment is heavily determined on how we encounter the things and our environment as well as the relationship we have with our environment, this is what varies between people based upon socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexuality, and other identities. In this section Fleming is challenging us to not try to manipulate our environment but address the way our environment influences our behavior and particularly behavior of the those that are not favored nor supported by the environment even if we are.
In Chapter 7 of City of Rhetoric by David Fleming; he talks about how the majority of society see thoses that live in public housing projects and the assumptions that are made about the communities and the people that live in them. Fleming uses the the example of Chicago’s Cabrini Green Homes to further elaborate his point as to as how the residents of public housing in this country are denied basic rights and they aren’t even given the choice to decide as a community how they want to develop their environment. The people of Cabrini Green, a public housing project in Chicago, are constantly “othered” from the rest of society in three ways. The first way people in the community are othered is by them being represented as people that are lesser than the majority of society, secondly, the neighborhoods in which they live are depicted as unruly and out of hand, and thirdly, the residents are denied stay for long periods of time in these neighborhoods.
The conditions of a lot of public housing communities such as Cabrini Green went very bad due to the lack of care from the government. A high level of crime and violence went on in these neighborhoods and eventually because self governed by the residents themselves as tension grew with the Chicago PD. In an effort to try to prevent urban revitalization of this particular building residents proposed that the building be turned into a co-op where they are homeowners and they work together democratically. This was the best option for the current residents due to the fact that the building then wouldn’t be demolished and they wouldn’t have to move out and find another place to live or yet worse, be without a place to live entirely. Sadly, the proposal was rejected by the City of Chicago Department of Housing and by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the Cabrini Green Homes were demolished to forward the city of Chicago’s mission of Urban Renewal and revitalization . The last residents were finally forced out in December 2010.
What happened at Cabrini Green is an all too typical narrative that Fleming details in chapter 7 of his book; residents of public housing neighborhoods are already seen as less than the majority of people and then when they try to stand up to protect one of the few things that is theirs, it gets taken away from them. Public Housing Projects such as Cabrini Green Homes and those alike are neglected by the government just like the people that live in them are and the residents are left to try to survive there without any assistance or care. Despite being isolated and neglected by the government Cabrini Green residents and other public housing residents would rather rehabilitate the area in which they live, rather than being forced out on the streets and have their building be demolished. Through urban revitalization not only are people’s communities and homes being taken away that live in public housing but so are their basic rights, their voices and their sense of humanity.
In Part II of “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Designs of the Built Environment,” Sarah Schindler outlines the various ways states and communities actively practice architectural exclusion which further perpetuate racism and classism. The methods of architectural exclusion are addressed were physical barriers, transit laws, placement of highways and one way streets, An example of a physical barrier that was used to keep a race of people out of certain area was the Long Island bridge that purposefully was constructed to hang low so that the tall public transportation buses couldn’t under them. The public transportation buses were typically used by the african american people and low income people in that area. Robert Moses, the architect responsible for the bridge actively made sure the bridge’s over pass wasn’t tall enough for buses to get through, the same way he made sure not to extend the railroad’s because all these pathways lead to Jones Beach an area he wanted to keep for only white upper middle class people and keep black people out of entirely. Moses as an architect willingly made it purposefully difficult for a specific race and class of people to physically enter a certain community.
Communities also engage in Architectural exclusion through the infrastructure of public transportation design and spaces. Many cities such as Washington DC, Atlanta, and San Francisco have middle class white residents voting to keep public transportation stops out of their communities because of the fact that the majority of people that take public transportation in these cities are African American and/or low income. These communities are purposely voting again certain transit amendments to exclude people from their community based upon race and class.
The placement of highways and one way streets also are part of architectural exclusion practices, these structures are placed in ways that separate one group of people from another and both of these structures make it more difficult to enter a community. Highways are placed in between affluent communities or towns and the urban areas that are majority low income making it inconvenient and difficult for those to the low income communities to travel and get across to the suburban affluent communities because of multi-lane highway danger. One way streets act in a similar way, where it is very difficult to get in and out of a neighbor due to a long winding road that is also a one way street. This inconvenient and confusing route of entry into neighbors deters people from entering that are not from those neighborhoods. The people that typically live in these neighborhoods are non-people of color that are in the middle class or upper class.
The supporting, defending, and constructing of these architecturally exclusive structures are problematic and detrimental in a number of ways. One way streets, physical structures, highways and transit infrastructure continue to isolate and marginalize people of color and people that are poor and low income. Racially prejudice and discriminatory acts are now just being disguised through these practices rather than being confronted, dealt with, and addressed justly.