"You can still be a feminist, be proud of being a woman, and deal with the gender binary"

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Title: "You can still be a feminist, be proud of being a woman, and deal with the gender binary" Issues of Sex and Gender at Indian Brook Camp
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Grattery-Musinsky, Flavia
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Gender
Queer: Pedagogy
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Established in 1941 to provide girls the opportunity to engage in physical work and wilderness trips, Indian Brook is a single-sex summer camp in Southern Vermont. Though one must be female-bodied to attend or be employed at Indian Brook, one does not necessarily have to identify as a girl/woman; this relationship is emblematic of the unique, complex, and inevitably tenuous dynamic that is a product of the incorporation of queer pedagogy into a community organized upon seemingly conventional notions of sex and gender. Utilizing ethnographic methods over a two-month period in the summer of 2010, this study examines Indian Brook�s ability to embrace this complex relationship and thereby foster an environment that encourages holistic camper empowerment, by which campers are empowered both as women, and as individuals unconstrained by gender.
Statement of Responsibility: by Flavia Grattery-Musinsky
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Fairchild, Emily

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 G77
System ID: NCFE004502:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: "You can still be a feminist, be proud of being a woman, and deal with the gender binary" Issues of Sex and Gender at Indian Brook Camp
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Grattery-Musinsky, Flavia
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Gender
Queer: Pedagogy
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Established in 1941 to provide girls the opportunity to engage in physical work and wilderness trips, Indian Brook is a single-sex summer camp in Southern Vermont. Though one must be female-bodied to attend or be employed at Indian Brook, one does not necessarily have to identify as a girl/woman; this relationship is emblematic of the unique, complex, and inevitably tenuous dynamic that is a product of the incorporation of queer pedagogy into a community organized upon seemingly conventional notions of sex and gender. Utilizing ethnographic methods over a two-month period in the summer of 2010, this study examines Indian Brook�s ability to embrace this complex relationship and thereby foster an environment that encourages holistic camper empowerment, by which campers are empowered both as women, and as individuals unconstrained by gender.
Statement of Responsibility: by Flavia Grattery-Musinsky
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Fairchild, Emily

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 G77
System ID: NCFE004502:00001

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"YOU CAN STILL BE A FEMINIST, BE PROUD OF BEING A WOMAN, AND DEAL WITH THE GENDER BINARY": ISSUES OF SEX AND GENDER AT INDIAN BROOK CAMP BY FLAVIA GRATTERY MUSINSKY A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of F lorida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/ Gender Studies Under the sponsorship of Dr. Emily Fairchild Sarasota, Florida May 2011


ii This thesis is dedicated to the staff of Indian Brook past, present, and future: you are the soul of the community. Thank you for sharing your joys, your pain, your dreams, your flaws, and your true individuality never take for granted the magnificent gift you give our campers when you allow your own inner light to shine.


iii Acknowledgements First and foremost, I would like to thank the entire Farm & Wilderness Staff for being so accommodating and supportive of my research. Courtney Porter, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to give me a wonderful and informative interview. Sarah Waring, thank you for replying to my endless emails full of convoluted questions and for generally being so great at your job and full of knowledge about Indian Brook! In addition, I would like to thank the Indi an Brook Staff for being so encouraging and engaging in fascinating discussions about gender at Indian Brook with me: it was uplifting to hear others express such interest in my research topic! In particular, I'd like to thank Susie Bergin for not only be ing so invested in issues of gender and sexuality at Indian Brook, but also for the all encompassing quote that serves as the title of my thesis! Dr. Emily Fairchild, I genuinely couldn't have written this thesis without your guidance; I really appreciat ed, and needed, your ability to keep me on track but allow me the freedom to find my own way in the writing process. You are such an amazing advisor and teacher, and your confidence in me has been profoundly encouraging. Andrea Ortiz, thank you for helpin g me work through the difficult parts of my thesis by staying up countless nights talking to me, and Jeremy Axelrad, thank you for being so supportive and loving this year, all while painstakingly helping me write such perfect sentences! Finally, I would l ike to thank my friends and parents for generally being so wonderful and encouraging through all my endeavors.


iv Table of Contents Dedication....ii Acknowledgements....iii Abstract.. ..v Introduction.........1 Literature Review.............6 Methods..........31 Analysis ..........42 Discussion... .......71 Conclusion........77 Works Cited..81


v "YOU CAN STILL BE A FEMINIST, BE PROUD OF BEING A WOMAN, AND DEAL WITH THE GENDER BINARY": ISSUES OF SEX AND GENDER AT INDIAN BROOK CAMP Fl avia Grattery Musinsky New College of Florida, 2011 ABSTRACT Established in 1941 to provide girls the opportunity to engage in physical work and wilderness trips, Indian Brook is a single sex summer camp in Southern Vermont. Though one must be fem ale bodied to attend or be employed at Indian Brook, one does not necessarily have to identify as a girl/woman; this relationship is emblematic of the unique, complex, and inevitably tenuous dynamic that is a product of the incorporation of queer pedagogy into a community organized upon seemingly conventional notions of sex and gender. Utilizing ethnographic methods over a two month period in the summer of 2010, this study examines Indian Brook's ability to embrace this complex relationship and thereby fost er an environment that encourages holistic camper empowerment, by which campers are empowered both as women, and as individuals unconstrained by gender. Dr. Emily Fairchild Division of Social Sciences


1 Chapter One: Introduction Though there is an abund ance of research on single sex education, as well as on queer pedagogy and queer theory's role in education, there is a dearth of literature regarding the relationship between the two. Thus, this thesis is a study of a single sex summer camp for girls call ed Indian Brook that utilizes queer pedagogy to complicate the conventional notions of sex and gender upon which it is organized. An overnight camp in southern Vermont, Indian Brook identifies itself as a camp for girls and welcomes campers and staff who a re female bodied, under the assumption that they will most likely identify as girls/women; however, it is also inclusive of those who are female bodied but identify as boys/men. Queer pedagogy aims to challenge and ultimately deconstruct dominant structu res of power. Though Indian Brook's single sex organization is based on normative understandings of gender identity as a binary and predicated upon biological sex, it simultaneously employs queer pedagogy not only by being inclusive to transgender individu als, but also through discussions with campers regarding the limitations of traditional gender roles, efforts to confront female sexualization, and conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation as complex and multifaceted. Thus, Indian Brook a cts as an example of a single sex institution enhanced by queer pedagogy and embraces the complexity that inevitably arises as a result of this relationship. Ultimately, it is this complexity that helps to foster an environment in which campers are empower ed holistically: as individuals with an understanding of gender as an identity that can be


2 unrestrictive and open to change, but also, as individuals who can identify with positive conceptualizations of womanhood (or manhood). In this thesis, I begin by providing a brief background on Indian Brook and the history and philosophy of Farm & Wilderness, the larger organization of seven camps of which Indian Brook is a part. In the second chapter, I present a literature review in which I examine the following issues: gender role construction in childhood and the effects of normative gender roles on women, arguments in support of and against single sex education, and queer pedagogy and its place in single sex schools. I describe my participants and method of dat a collection and analysis in the third chapter, concluding with an examination of my role as a participant observer at Indian Brook. In the fourth chapter I provide an analysis of my data, framed as a discussion of several incidents that exemplify the comp lexity that arises when queer pedagogy is utilized to complicate Indian Brook's single sex community. Finally, I conclude with a discussion that ties together the preceding chapters and posits further questions and concerns regarding issues of gender and s ex at Indian Brook. Farm & Wilderness Farm & Wilderness was established by Kenneth and Susan Webb in 1939 with the founding of Timberlake, a boys camp. Indian Brook followed in 1941 as the result of the demand for a sister camp for Timberlake, and Tamar ack Farm, a co ed work camp for older teenagers, began in the early 1950's; the remaining four camps emerged soon after. Influenced by John Dewey and the progressive education movement, the Webbs aimed to create a program where children could not only part icipate in farm work and wilderness


3 trips, but also live in a community built upon the Quaker values of simplicity, service, honesty, equality, and non violence. Though all of the Farm & Wilderness camps differ programmatically and organizationally, some elements and traditions remain constant. Recorded music, television, and electronic devices of any kind are not allowed at camp, in order to promote a community based on living simply and free from the constant barrage of media and technology in our every day lives. All camps practice silent meeting each morning, a central facet of Quaker tradition and a time in which campers can enjoy a moment of peace and reflection apart from the everyday bustle of camp. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on living sustai nably and within nature; campers live in open cabins, use composting toilets, and abide by leave no trace policies on wilderness trips. Many families have a long history at Farm & Wilderness, with children attending one of the seven camps and parents/grand parents who attended or worked as staff members in the past. Though Farm & Wilderness prides itself on its large community, each camp has its own history, values, and traditions, especially Indian Brook. Indian Brook Camp Indian Brook identifies itself as a camp for girls between the ages of 9 14, and asserts the following in its mission statement: [Indian Brook] is a place where girls can explore the fullness of their identity with the care and guidance of women who are dedicated to providing every campe r with safe opportunities for personal growth and success. It is time away from the forces within the media and greater society that seek to define them. A summer at Indian Brook is an opportunity for girls to use their voices, uncover their own truths, l earn skills, and make positive contributions to the community (


4 From this information, it is clear that Indian Brook exists as a community intentionally designed for girls. It is a space in which girls can take risks and face challe nges they may not be exposed to otherwise, where the pressures many girls face at school are alleviated, and where they can explore their identity in a safe and open space. The majority of Indian Brook staff members are hired to teach daily activities an d live in cabins supervising a group of campers between the ages of 9 14, excluding those hired as supervisors and "support staff," positions that involve less direct participation with the campers. Campers are divided into three age groups, called First L odge (9 10 years old), Big Lodge (11 12 years old), and Senior Lodge (13 14 years old). The schedule is divided between morning, afternoon, and evening activities, meals, and free times. Morning activities focus on community building through collective wor k and aim to teach campers tangible skills (carpentry projects, barn and garden work, outdoor living skills), while activities offered in the afternoon are chosen by campers and less structured (waterfront, rock climbing/ropes course, creative arts, nature adventures, etc.). Though there are unstructured free times, each day is fully packed and follows a general schedule, except on "special days," where activities are less structured or follow a particular theme. Finally, all campers are required to go on a wilderness trip, the length dependent on their age (two nights for younger campers and four six nights for older campers). From mid June through August, I worked as a staff member at Indian Brook, spending three weeks undergoing staff training and seven weeks with the campers. My first week was spent with all Farm & Wilderness staff at Tamarack Farm (co ed camp for 15 17 year olds), the days spent participating in training for our respective activity areas and the evenings spent getting to know other sta ff through events that included a contra


5 dance talent show, skill share, and activity skit performance. For the remaining week and a half, all camps moved to their respective camps to take part in various trainings and meetings. These included: Anti Racis m training, practicing the Emergency Action Plan, studying the "ages and stages" of our campers, and LGBTQ Training, among others. After two and a half weeks of intensive training, campers arrived and camp officially began. As a full time cabin counselor I worked 6 days a week, 24 hours a day, leading a group of campers in Work Projects in the morning, and life guarding and teaching swim lessons during General Swim times. With my co counselor, I lived in a cabin with 8 thirteen year old campers, eating mea ls together, having occasional cabin afternoons/nights, and going on an overnight at a nearby campsite. In addition, I led a four night rock climbing trip with Senior Lodgers (13 and 14 year olds). While most of my time at Indian Brook was spent in my role as a full time staff member, I was also a researcher, a role I will elaborate on in the next chapter.


6 Chapter Two: Literature Review In this literature review I contextualize the three main issues addressed in my analysis. In the first section I exa mine the ways in which gender roles are constructed and maintained in childhood and the effects of traditional gender roles on girls' self esteem. Some propose single sex education as a way to ameliorate girls' low self esteem; thus, I use the second secti on to explore issues of gender bias in traditional co educational schools and review the literature that argues for and against single sex education. Offering a way to mitigate the negative attributes of single sex schools (namely, the reinforcement of rig id gender roles, the conflation of gender and sex, and the invisibility of non normative genders and sexualities) with an explicit focus on gender equality I explore queer pedagogy in the third section. Finally, I conclude with an examination of single se x institutions that utilize queer pedagogy to help children and adolescents, particularly girls, learn to question and be critical of traditional gender roles and the heterosexual gender binary, and understand the complexity and fluidity of gender. Gende r Roles Construction and Maintenance of Gender Roles in Childhood To begin, there is certainly literature that rests on the assumption that gendered behavior is not constructed at all, but based on essential and biological differences between the sexes (Sa x 2006). Jackson (2009) and Sax present examples of statements one might find in essentialist literature, such as: "girls have greater verbal ability than boys," "boys have greater mathematical ability than girls," "girls do not enjoy physical violence," a nd


7 "emotions are processed differently in girls' and boys' brains," notions that are purportedly the result of hard wired differences in the brain. Not only does this notion conflate gender and sex, it disregards the possibility of brain plasticity, whereb y the female brain loses mathematical capabilities because she feels that she is not supposed to be good at math (assuming the individual identifies as a girl/woman) (Jackson 2009). Attributing behavior to biological sex implies a certain degree of homogen eity all boys are aggressive, or all girls are emotional and therefore marks behavior outside of this binary as deviant (Tsolidis 2006). If behavior is socially constructed, it is important to acknowledge and avoid underestimating the power and signif icance of socialization for all intents and purposes it may as well be biological, as it is deeply engrained. In the case of gender, one does not experience subjectivity or personhood prior to being gendered: to be a person is to be gendered (Butler 1990) Stereotypes and images become reproduced to the point of internalization (Bartky 1990), and the "doing" of gender in childhood goes well beyond clothing and mannerisms: different musculature and physical appearance are manipulated as well. In the past, s ociologists regarded adults as the primary socializing agents with children acting merely as recipients (Moore 2001), yet it is now clear that children are active participants in gender socialization, negotiating and managing borders collectively (Moore 20 01). In a longitudal study of 47 summer camp children, counselors were asked to rank each camper according to popularity. The campers who violated gender boundaries most frequently were given low rankings in popularity, while those who did not were given high rankings. Correlations between social competence and popularity made evident the


8 existence of gender boundary maintenance as a developmental stage and vital measure of social competence in childhood (Sroufe et al. 1993). Messner (2000) sheds light on the power and importance of role maintenance when he writes about an experience with four and five year old children "activating and enforcing" gender boundaries at an opening soccer ceremony. The girls team called the "Barbie Girls" begins to sing the Barbie theme song, which the boys team called the "Sea Monsters" soon interrupts with chants of "No Barbie! No Barbie!". As Messner (2000) makes clear, it is group settings such as these in which the policing of gender boundaries in childhood is most sal ient. From birth, children are subject to the normalizing discourse of heterosexual gender and sexual identity (Robinson 2005), quickly understanding the boundaries and the social consequences of crossing them. In a study of gender boundaries in middle c hildhood play, children were observed over a nine week period at a summer day camp. Those who defied boundaries crossed into what the authors deem the "gender transgression zone," an area that works to maintain hegemonic masculinity through the regulation and sanctioning of gender boundary violations (McGuffey 1999). Within schools, many teachers report similar observations of children separating into same gender groups and excluding others from "sex typed activities" (Reay 1990). School is the primary si te of interaction between groups of c hildren, and plays a principal role in the shaping and gendering of their bodies. To be gendered is not simply to wear certain clothes or possess certain attributes and qualities that are deemed masculine or feminine; b odily comportment is perhaps the most unacknowledged yet engrained way in which one signifies one's gender to others, primarily through posturing and musculature (Martin 1998). In an observational study of five preschool classrooms,


9 Martin looked at the wa y children's bodies are constructed and disciplined through the management of their "movements, comportment, and use of physical space" (1998: 495), identifying five ways in which these are commonly regulated in schools: "dressing up, permitting relaxed be haviors or requiring formal behaviors, controlling voices, verbal and physical instructions regarding children's bodies by teachers, and physical interactions among children" (1998: 494). By allowing boys to run around while expecting girls to sit quietly, managing girls' appearances and clothing more frequently than boys', and expecting girls to have quieter and softer voices than boys, gender is literally embodied. Whether or not educators and children understand the unconscious ways in which gender is re gulated, the end goal is clear: normative gender behavior and identity, a concept predicated upon "matching" gender and sex. Keeping in mind the medical community's predisposition to assign biological sex based on societal understandings of gender as a b inary and simultaneously disregard the cases of individuals who are not born "fully" male or female a result of hormones, chromosomes, etc those born male are expected to be masculine, and those born female are expected to be feminine. While Kessler's cl aim that "gender attributions are made without access to genital inspection" holds true (1998, as cited in Fausto Sterling 2000: 7), Butler (1990) views the ability to "assign" sex as evidence of the constructed nature of both gender and biological sex. Thus, to be gendered is to be heterosexualized (Jackson 2009; Robinson 2005), and to stray from this dichotomy and exhibit gender non conformity is not only seen as deviant behavior, but is often associated with homosexuality: gender inversion as a marker of non heterosexuality (Martin 2005; Kane 2006). In an examination of various


10 parenting books and articles regarding gender neutral child rearing, Martin (2005) found that even in instances where gender neutral child rearing is regarded as unproblematic, t he issue of homosexuality prevents advisors' full support. Kane's (2006) study of parents' responses to gender non conformity in their preschool aged children showed more acceptance of gender bending from daughters, which one could argue is not simply a pr oduct of society's degradation of male effeminacy, often regarded as homosexuality, but also of society's privileging of masculinity over femininity. Butler's (1996) notion of gender as an "imitation for which there is no original" speaks to the idea tha t the constant maintenance and enforcement of gender is evidence of its un naturalness. Regardless, individuals actively participate in the gendering process from childhood, even as most people find it difficult to conform to restrictive and unrealistic ge nder roles. Though there are obvious examples of individuals who face significant hardship when dealing with gender those who identify as transgender and/or intersex for the purposes of this discussion, I will focus primarily on women/ girls and the low self esteem that is a result of limited and oppressive gender roles. The Effect of Normative Gender Roles on Girls The rigidity of gender roles and the reliance on the male female binary have proven to be a source of oppression and inequality for many in dividuals, particularly women. Sally Haslanger a Professor of philosophy at MIT and respected feminist theorist conceptualizes gender as a social class in which women are subordinate and men are dominant, and is constituted by the "norms, symbols, and id entities [that] are gendered in relation to the social relations that constitute gender" (Haslanger 2000: 158). Though we


11 have seen from the previous section that gender is not simply imposed on individuals by society, one only needs to be perceived as a w oman based on observed or imagined physical markers of sexual difference to be a woman and thereby marked as subordinate (Haslanger 2000). Thus, it seems worthwhile to examine the literature that supports this notion with evidence that girls' lack of sel f esteem may be related to normative gender roles. Numerous studies have been conducted regarding girls' self esteem, and the prevailing understanding seems to be that low self esteem is endemic to adolescent girls. A report conducted by the American Asso ciation of University Women (1991) surveyed 2,374 girls and 600 boys between grades 4 and 10 across the United States, asking the respondents to answer 92 questions relating to school, gender roles, and classroom experience. Using six categories to measure self esteem (voice, academic confidence, social acceptance, isolation, personal self esteem), the report concluded that girls' self esteem falls substantially during adolescence (AAUW 1991). Carol Gilligan, an American feminist and psychologist, found tha t girls "lose their voices" in adolescence due to a decrease in confidence and ability to express themselves (Eccles et al. 1999) and deemed adolescence a "watershed in female development, a time when girls are in danger of drowning of disappearing" (Gilli gan 1990, as cited in Salamone 2004: 9). Other studies report similar findings (Gilligan 1990; Orenstein 1994; Pipher 1994, as cited in Eccles et al. 1999), begging the question: why do so many girls suffer from low self esteem? While there are many fact ors that contribute to girls' low self esteem, research shows that the gender roles traditionally ascribed to women play a major role. Studies


12 show that girls (and boys as well) demonstrate increasingly gendered stereotypic behavior as they come out of ado lescence, their ideas of their own abilities changing as a result (Eccles et al. 1999). Stereotypes are limiting and reductive for all individuals, but the cultural devaluation of femininity puts those who identity as women in a distressing position. Girls may be left feeling less competent and respected than boys as they discover that society (even teachers and parents in some cases) thinks they cannot achieve what boys can (AAUW 1991); considering the predominance of men in positions of authority and pres tige coupled with the worldwide oppression of women, this is an understandable perception of women's worth in society. As Martin succinctly writes, "Girls' lower self esteem at adolescence and frequent (though not permanent or universal) lack of agency is a product of cultural discourses (i.e. about female sexuality, female bodies, and gender relations), social interactions (with parents and peers), and in particular, recognitionand internalization of each of these" (1996: 14). To be a woman is to be sex ualized, an aspect of traditional femininity often perceived as deleterious to young girls (and women in general). As Cook and Kaiser write, "Whether any particulargirl embraces it, retreats from it, or wavers somewhere in between, overt sexuality is a mo de of self presentation against (or within) which every female has to position herself" (2004: 222). Sexualization can be defined primarily as the valuing of physical attractiveness and sexual appeal over other characteristics, as well as the objectificati on of a person into something made for others' sexual use (American Psychological Association 2007). Physical appearance becomes prioritized for many girls, leaving their self esteem highly dependent on their perception of themselves; this becomes especial ly problematic when extreme measures are taken to meet unrealistic


13 societal standards of beauty (Eccles et al. 1999; AAUW 1991). Although bodily changes in adolescence pose difficulties for boys and girls alike, boys more easily acquire confidence from the ir talents and abilities, while girls often see their worth as dependent on their appearance (AAUW 1991). In her book, Puberty, Sexuality, and the Self Martin suggests that the "sense of acting in one's body is a sign of sexual subjectivity" (1996; 45), w hich we see in the way that boys often "do things with their bodies (sports, active play, etc.), while girls' bodies are acted on'" (1996; 45); the classic subject object dichotomy. For additional studies regarding female sexualization, see Caplice 1994 a nd Woody 2003. Gender bias exists in most co educational schools, often to the detriment of girls. The attention of teachers is commonly distributed unequally among girls and boys, and assertiveness in the classroom is more likely to be seen as "natural" when it comes from boys rather than girls; thus (or perhaps because of this), boys dominate most co educational classrooms (Reay 1990; Acker 1986). Stereotypes are reified when assumptions are made about students' abilities based solely on the basis of ge nder (i.e. girls are better at reading and writing, boys are better at math and science) the inevitable result of which is internalization (AAUW 1991). The majority of texts and lessons presented in classrooms do not touch upon women's history or pay tribu te to significant women, providing a dearth of role models for girls (AAUW 1991; Chattopaday and Pennells 2007; Weiner 1986). Reay, a Professor at Cambridge University who studies gender and education, claims that girls "need, and rarely get, the opportu nity to become more independent, confident and intrepid, to receive support around the curriculum areas where they lack


14 assurance, to take risks and to begin to develop a view of themselves as autonomous learners" (1990: 2). Though more attention and sensi tivity to the concerns of young women (Harker 2000) would make co educational schools more rewarding for girls, some suggest that the rampant and deep seated sexism of society necessitates other, more expedient ways of achieving these goals: namely, single sex and/or single gender groups (Kruse 1992; Reay 1990), the implications of which I will discuss shortly. Though the problems of female sexualization and gender bias are complicated and deep seated, there are certainly ways to help girls understand and deal with the issues they may face as a result of their gender (acknowledging the other oppressions that may affect them, such as race and class). Single sex education is often cited as a way to empower women but has been the subject of controversy since its inception. For the most part, the concerns put forth deal with issues of gender and sex, which Salamone summarizes when she writes: "this complexity in constructing definitions of femininity and masculinity and the way such constructions reflect the v alues and beliefs of the surrounding community and the larger society go to the heart of all education but especially single sex schooling" (2004:15). In the next section, I explore the arguments in support of and against single sex education in order to g ain a better understanding of its intricacies. Single Sex Education To begin, it should be noted that studies done on the performance of students in single sex schools versus those in co educational schools are often unreliable. Many single sex schools m ay be Catholic, private, or academically rigorous, among other characteristics


15 (Jackson 2009; Kaminer 1998; Tsolidis 2006). This makes it difficult to qualify the role of a school's single sex organization as the sole key to its overall success; a single s ex school may be successful more so because students come from families of high socioeconomic standing. Also, participants in these studies are not assigned randomly to a single sex or co educational school, making selection bias a problem (Haag 1998; Pinz ler 2005). Though these methodological issues are certainly relevant, understanding the complexity of single sex education can shed light on the ways in which it may be useful to girls, as well as the problems that must be addressed; thus, I begin with an examination of the arguments against single sex education. Arguments Against Single Sex Education Though the majority of those actively opposed to single sex education come from women's organizations and groups, not all women's advocates or feminists sh are the same views or are necessarily opposed to this method of education (Salamone 2004). These groups are concerned with gender equality first and foremost, but hold differing opinions on single sex education's role in this endeavor. While most, if not all, gender theorists understand gender as culturally constructed and unbounded by biological sex, it is safe to say that much of the general public regards gender and sex as intertwined; thus, it is a valid claim that single sex institutions often confla te gender and sex. ( The literature reviewed refers predominantly to single sex groups, and it is unclear if female bodied persons who self identify as men or non female bodied persons who self identify as women are considered part of that group.) Single se x schools are organized on the basis of biological sex on the assumption


16 that the result will be an all girls or all boys community. This reinforces essentialist conceptions of gender and sex namely, that biological sex always informs gender identity (Ts olidis 2006) and invalidates those individuals whose gender does not "match" their sex. Furthermore, the male female binary goes unquestioned when one must qualify as either a boy or a girl to be part of a single sex group, leaving transgender, intersex, and gender bending people invisible (Jackson 2009). Another major concern regarding single sex institutions is that gender differences and stereotypes may be reinforced, leaving the individual defined primarily by his or her gender (Woody 2003; Jackson 2009). No school is free of sexism (Haag 1998), but opponents argue single sex environments foster stereotypes of traditional femininity and masculinity, roles that are ultimately detrimental. As Kaminer writes, Whether manifested in feminine dŽcor or in an approach to teaching that assumes a female penchant for cooperative, or "connected" learning, stereotypical notions of femininity often inflect institutions for women and girls...accepting the limits of femininity rather than challenging them" (1998: 34 ). Grouping girls and boys separately makes assumptions abut their interests and dispositions based solely upon gender, and runs the risk of exacerbating gender bias (Pinzler 2005). Opponents of single sex education also feel segregated environments rein force hetero normativity by assuming girls and boys must be separated to avoid sexual distraction. This does not question or acknowledge the possibility of non heterosexual sexualities, assuming girls will only be distracted by boys, and vice versa (Woody 2003; Jackson 2009). As a result, LGBTQ students are rendered invisible (Campbell and Wahl 1998), to which Jackson comments: "setting up a school situation based on these


17 assumptions can institutionalize this invisibility" (2009: 233). Furthermore, homopho bia can be a way for students to affirm their heterosexuality, an identity that may feel "threatened" at a single sex school (Woody 2003). Generally, a child or adolescent attending a single sex institution spends most of their day with individuals of th e same sex; critics argue this is unnatural and does not prepare students for the reality of a society that is not sex segregated. Reflecting Kaminer's notion that "collegiality is crucial to social equality" (1998: 36), single sex institutions not only le ave children and adolescents with limited understandings of gender and sex, but do not provide them with the skills to communicate effectively with individuals of other genders/sexes (Chattopaday and Pennells 2007; Tsolidis 2006; Mael 1998). Though this ma y not be the case in all single sex environments, these issues must be given deliberate attention (Woody 2003). Arguments In Support of Single Sex Education While one of the most commonly cited arguments in support of single sex education is that girl s and boys learn differently (Sax 2006), oftentimes, single sex institutions are advocated for not because girls and boys are fundamentally different and as a result require separate learning environments, but because of the benefits afforded to girls in p articular namely, higher self esteem and self realization (Woody 2003; Caplice 1994; Salamone 2004; Reay 1990; Kruse 1992; Weiner 1986). Examined in the first section, the primary source of girls' self esteem is often physical appearance, a reality attrib utable to the pervasive sexualization of women. Several studies point to a variance in sources of self esteem among girls who attend single sex schools versus co educational schools;


18 those in single sex school may acquire confidence from academic accomplis hment and involvement rather than physical appearance (Haag 1998; Chattopaday and Pennells 2007; Mael 1998; Lee 1986), and some studies even attest to evidence of better body image in girls' single sex schools (Chattopaday and Pennells 2007). Teachers an d administrators in girls' single sex schools are often women, exposing students to successful role models who can relate to their experiences (without overlooking the intersectionality of other oppressions) while challenging, inspiring, and encouraging th em to "fight for their human rights in gender biased male dominated societies" (Stabiner 2002, as cited in Chattopaday and Pennells 2007). At its best, single sex education can be a tool of empowerment, where individuals learn to question and step outside of traditional gender roles and self esteem becomes less tethered to maintaining rigid constructions of masculinity and femininity. Rather than exacerbating gender stereotypes, proponents feel single sex education can help eradicate them (Kruse 1992, Reay 1990). A study of college aged girls who had attended single sex schools revealed less stereotypic understandings of gender roles (Haag 2000), and other studies point to the significance of the institution's role in cultivating traditional or nontradition al roles (Mael 1998). Many argue that the enforcement and policing of gender boundaries occur much more frequently within co ed institutions, whereas gender differences are actually less pronounced in single sex institutions. Mael (1998) cites Riesman's (1 991) anecdotal evidence of boys at single sex elementary and high schools engaging in activities such as chorus, drama, poetry, and language, interests that may be seen as deviant within a co ed environment; studies have


19 also shown higher interest and succ ess in math at all girls' schools, a subject traditionally seen as masculine (Caplice 1994; Haag 1998). The willingness to step outside traditional gender roles in single sex environments speaks to the interconnected nature of heterosexuality and gender. Gender is predicated on the heterosexual binary: one is masculine only if he is not feminine, and one is feminine only if she is not masculine. Thus, while single sex institutions may underscore gender difference in some ways (e.g. girls and boys are diff erent and must therefore be separated), they may also exist as places where difference is no longer the product of gender, but of individuality. Messner elaborates on this when he writes, "The formal sex segregation of children does not, in and of itself, make gender overtly salient. In fact, when children are absolutely segregated, with no opportunity for cross sex interactions, gender may appear to disappear as an overtly salient organizing principle" (2000: 772). Organizing as a group of same sex indiv iduals does not necessarily promote essentialist understandings of gender differences, but acknowledges that one might share similar experiences and struggles with a person of the same sex/ gender, resulting in a degree of comradeship that may be pronounce d in co educational communities. Some advocates attribute the comfort of single sex communities to their amelioration of [hetero]sexual distractions (Caplice 1994; Chattopaday and Pennells 2007; Mael 1998) in which students are provided with an environment free from sexuality and its pressures and stresses (Woody 2003). However, one could argue that it is not the freedom from [hetero]sexuality that produces feelings of safety and comfort, but the freedom from hetero normativity, a process of normalization i n which the gender binary must be constantly maintained and enforced and relationships between women and men are


20 always assumed to be sexual. While this is not to say that gender boundaries are not enforced in single sex institutions homophobia is someti mes used as a way to assert masculinity in all boys' schools (Woody 2003) the shared experience of a common gender identity can be a unifying force. Single sex education is inevitably a complex and multi faceted issue. The arguments against it are valid and demand serious consideration, but they do not necessarily invalidate the benefits. As Salamone writes, Separating students by sex on a voluntary basis, whether to remove social distractions, to enhance self confidence, or to accommodate short term de velopmental differences, need not be a surrender to the reactionary forces of separate spheres ideology, so long as programs are thoughtfully designed and administrators and teachers are adequately informed and sensitized to the issues (2004:14) In the fo llowing section, I explore the ways we might use queer pedagogy to address the concerns of those opposed to single sex education, making it a type of education and an organizing principle that is productive and truly beneficial. Queer Pedagogy Queer peda gogy is the amalgamation of queer theory and critical pedagogy, and aims to critique, question, and ultimately deconstruct the very norms upon which we rely to construct our notions of difference (Shlasko 2005: 126), rather than relying upon discourses pro moting tolerance in which individuals are taught to accept those who are different from them. It may involve queer curriculum such as anti sexist and anti homophobic educational initiatives, but also any practice that works towards an interference of domin ant processes of normalization (Luhmann 1998).


21 While queer pedagogy has a place in feminist pedagogy, feminist pedagogy is a more general critical pedagogy, one that aims to question the teaching/learning process and normative concepts of efficiency/obje ctivity in the classroom, and encourage participatory democratic models of education (Allen et al. 2002). Queer pedagogy, however, strives to subvert and deconstruct processes of hetero normativity and normative models of gender and sexuality; this can be seen in efforts to challenge the male/female and homosexual/heterosexual binary, as well as the silence created around marginalized identities (Quinlivan and Town 1999). Though many argue for queer pedagogy as a tool for positive change in all educational institutions, there is a dearth of literature that speaks to its utilization in single sex education. Furthermore, it should be noted that many of those writing on queer pedagogy are educators implementing practices that can be considered queer pedagogy; c urrently, there is not much outcome based research being undertaken on the topic. In the following section, I begin by examining the reasons why queer pedagogy may be unwelcome in many educational settings due to its controversial nature, followed by an examination of the way queer pedagogy might be utilized in educational institutions (though the literature reviewed does not always utilize the term "queer pedagogy," the pedagogy proposed falls within my definition). I conclude with a discussion of the wa ys in which single sex educational institutions have been found to employ queer pedagogy and encourage holistic empowerment, a term I use to define the process whereby one is empowered by means of their gender identity and their identity as an individual f ree from the confines of gender.


22 Challenges to Education about Gender and Sexuality The idea of critically discussing issues of gender and sexuality with children often elicits shock and discomfort (Robinson 2002). Historically, childhood has been unders tood by society as an innocent time in which sexuality is inappropriate and irrelevant, and discussions of non heterosexuality in particular are fraught with controversy (Robinson 2005; 2002). In a qualitative study of early childhood educators' willingne ss to discuss gay and lesbian equity issues with their students, a significant number of educators felt children were too young to discuss sexuality unless a student in their class had a gay or lesbian parent (Robinson 2002: 420); however, Developing chil dren's critical understandings of broader social, political and economic issues, or how sexuality and gender intersect to define what is generally considered to be appropriate' gender or sexual behavior, were not considered significant areas to address wi th children, their families, or with other staff by the majority of participants in this research (Robinson 2002: 429). Thus, it is not [hetero] sexuality that is seen as unacceptable to discuss with children, but homosexuality. In an attempt to introduce a multi cultural curriculum into first grade classrooms of New York City public schools in 1993, a discussion of homosexual families in a small section of the curriculum was met with overwhelming controversy and resistance (Woody 2003). As was made clear in the earlier section on gender roles, the construction of heterosexuality is pervasive in childhood and is demonstrated through mock weddings, playing "house," girlfriends/boyfriends, and kissing games (Robinson 2002), behavior parents rarely punish, reg arding it as a natural part of childhood. By furthering the idea that education about non normative gender and sexuality is irrelevant to children, we not only de legitimize and render invisible the lives of non heterosexual individuals and their familie s, but also put children at risk of being bullied


23 or becoming bullies themselves (Sears 2009). These issues are significant to all individuals; developing a critical understanding of heterosexism and homophobia can open one's eyes to the processes of norma lization through which identities are regulated and bounded in order to maintain established constructs of power (Shlasko 2005) knowledge that is "fundamental to the development of social justice for all adults and children" (Robinson 2002: 427). In the d iscussion to follow, I will elaborate on the ways queer pedagogy can be implemented in schools or other organizations that serve children. Implementing Queer Pedagogy First and foremost, in the efforts to combat sexism and homophobia it is imperative tha t rules, structures, and policies are in place to deal with discrimination and bias. This can ensure an environment free of harassment for all individuals regardless of gender and sexual orientation, but more importantly, can send a message that intolerant behavior is unacceptable (Robinson 2002; Moore 2001). Teachers must be provided with anti sexism training in order to implement strategies to deal with issues of gender bias (Acker 1986; Boldt 1996; Salamone 2004; Weiner 1986), some of which may include: encouraging students to excel in activities they might view as non traditional for their gender, avoid addressing students as "boys" and "girls" by using gender neutral terms, providing texts that do not perpetuate harmful stereotypes, establishing single sex groups in certain subjects (a tactic I will address subsequently), creating courses and materials that aim to challenge stereotyped perceptions of gender and sex, and initiating staff discussions (Weiner 1986).


24 Open, honest, and critical discussions about gender and sexuality are perhaps the most crucial part of queer pedagogy. The assumptions and stereotypes we make about gender and sexuality often go unexamined, and providing a space in which individuals can become aware of and question the foundat ion of these categorizations can be enlightening (Maher 1999). In the classroom, this may involve initiating discussions when incidents of intolerance occur, or when stereotyping appears in texts (Boldt 1996). The incorporation of personal experience allow s individuals to recognize the ways normative ideas of gender and sexuality limit everyone, even those who are privileged as a result of these constructs. In Maher's study of progressive education and feminist pedagogies, she quotes a teacher who is focuse d on challenging social inequalities, especially gender inequality: "We need to acknowledge that gender systems are about us, all of usGender work is not just about bringing women into the curriculumIt is about bringing our gender attitudes and experienc es into focus" (Maher 1999: 20). Opening up a dialogue about gender identity can help children rely less on prescriptive notions of what are acceptable and unacceptable aspects of identity, their own and others'. The construction of gender and the stereot ypes that result are a manifestation of the hetero normativity that pervades society; thus, it is crucial that discussions about sexuality, particularly non normative sexualities, occur in conjunction with those on gender (Jimenez 2009; Robinson 2005). Whe n individuals do not act in accordance with the gender roles ascribed to them, they are often labeled as homosexual, based upon the assumption that homosexuality is inextricable from gender non conformity (Robinson 2002). Policies that prohibit acts of hom ophobia are necessary, but intentional and critical discussion about hetero normativity and homosexuality can get to the root of


25 homophobia. Boldt (1996), an educator and scholar of identity construction in school settings, writes that discussions about ge nder and sexuality must also be supplemented with action, stating "children need to consciously inhabit a world of difference.where teachers discuss, deliberately act out, and encourage the children to act out non traditional gender roles; and even someti mes where gay and lesbian teachers are encouraged to be out, with anti homophobia as part of the school agenda" (1996: 122). Though discussion is a means to develop awareness and the ability to think critically about complex issues of identity, the ultim ate goal is to challenge and dismantle hetero normativity and the dominant structures and discourses that reinforce inequality (Maher 1999; Robinson 2005; Weiner 1986). Boldt (1996) states that her goal as an educator is to broaden the categories of gender so that her students' understandings of "boyness" or "girlness" are intelligible in whatever form they take, but Shlasko warns us against striving solely for intelligibility: "If we stick to representations that are unthreatening to the norm, we only rein force the legitimacy of the boundaries that continue to keep some people on the outside" (2005: 126). Though children and adolescents are put in a difficult position when they see contradictions between the values of anti sexist/anti homophobic education a nd the values of society at large that the adults in their lives may adhere to without question (Boldt 1996), queer pedagogy that encourages critical thinking is invaluable to the destabilization of normative and oppressive constructions of gender and sexu ality. Next, I will review the literature that reviews the possibilities of utilizing queer pedagogy within single sex institutions.


26 Queer Pedagogy in Single Sex Institutions Queer pedagogy can be beneficial to students when employed in single sex insti tutions (Reay 1990; Kruse 1992), particularly through its efforts to actively address and challenge normative gender roles, of utmost importance in institutions where sex or gender are organizing principles. While it is ultimately to the advantage of all i ndividuals in single sex institutions to look critically at gender and sex, girls in particular can benefit greatly from the push to dispute traditional notions of femininity and broaden the category of "woman," as their gender identity is tied with subord ination and oppression. The literature on single sex education suggests girls who attend single sex schools with feminist orientations perform better and express more interest in feminist issues than girls' in single sex schools that do not discuss wome n's issues or gender equality. Though women's issues and history are relevant to all students, all girls' schools are environments where "girl centered education" is especially advantageous and effective: What does a women need to know? Does she not, as a self conscious self defining human being, need a knowledge of her own history, her much politicised biology, an awareness of the creative work of women of the past, the skills and crafts and techniques and powers exercised by women in different times and cultures, a knowledge of women's rebellions and organised movements against our oppression and how they have been routed or diminished? Without such knowledge women live and have lived without a context, vulnerable to the projections of male fantasy, male prescriptions for us, estranged from our own experience because our education has not reflected or echoed it. I would suggest that not biology, but ignorance of ourselves, has been the key to our powerlessness. (Rich 1979: 240, as cited in Weiner 1986). All girls' institutions, organized upon an identity that has been historically and culturally subordinated, can be the catalyst for girls to "identify and face the contradiction of their reality (male dominance) and, at the same time, develop strategies to maintain their self esteem and challenge and puncture the power structures" (Kruse 1992:4). Additional


27 studies undertaken by Haag (1998), Weiner (1986), and Lee (1986) conclude that girls attending single sex schools with feminist orientations have a more open and critical understanding of gender identity. As the previous discussion of queer pedagogy made clear, using critical thinking and discussion to challenge normative gender roles can benefit all individuals by opening their eyes to the multiplicitie s of identity. In single sex institutions where students are organized by sex, it is especially crucial to be wary of prescribed notions of gender and sexuality. Furthermore, queer pedagogy can be used not only as a defense against the reification of detr imental gender roles, but also as a means to achieve solidarity with one's gender group through the shared reconstruction and enrichment of the gender identity in question. As Kruse elaborates, "The gender identity and self confidence of individual pupils and their gender group are supported; the sex roles, attitudes, and behavior are challenged" (1992:15). Though the focus of this section is on girls' single sex schools that employ queer pedagogy, there is a fair amount of literature that speaks to the rol e of all boys' schools in the fight against sexism and gender oppression. In Tony Porter's December 2010 speech at the TED Women conference titled "A Call to Men," he speaks to the concept of the "man box:" the construct of masculinity in which men are s upposed to be un emotional, aggressive, and violent. This mentality, Porter asserts, is the catalyst for the pervasive objectification of and violence towards women. Kruse proposes the following solution: I think that boys, directly as well as indirectly, can benefit from exploring what it means and can mean to be a man, and what masculinity may be. Boys need the opportunity to explore and change their ambivalent views of women, to be confronted with the effects of the misuse of power and men's role and res ponsibility in this. (1992:2)


28 To challenge patriarchy and women's oppression, we must recognize that boys learn to adhere to rigid and limited gender roles in the same way girls do. While men do not face the same oppressions as women and often act as the oppressors themselves (Pollard 1998), "the sexist behavior of boys is a result of the socially constructed relationship in which men will denigrate women" (Kruse 1992: 5). All boys' institutions can act as a starting point for boys to be critical of normat ive masculinity and the role it plays in women's subordination. Porter's closing statement says it all: "My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman." That being said, to find countless examples of the ways in which single sex schools/clas ses have utilized queer pedagogy to empower their students, we can look to the research of Kruse (1992) and Reay (1990). Kruse's study, titled "Single Sex Settings and the Development of a Pedagogy for Girls and a Pedagogy for Boys in Danish Schools," ex amines a Danish school in which two teachers have segregated their students into boys' and girls' classes for differing amounts of time in an effort to work towards gender equity and implement anti sexist pedagogy. Both girls and boys participated in asser tiveness training to explore emotions and behavior, studied conflict solving, and discussed anti sexist issues (Kruse 1992). The girls' group studied sex education and talked about femininity, women's roles in society, and possibilities for women's futures while the boys' group participated in "body work" and theater, and talked about masculinity, men's roles in society, and the possibilities for men's futures (Kruse 1992). After eight weeks in segregated classes students returned to their original mixed s ex group, where girls now recognized the dominating behavior of boys in the classroom and made more effort to speak up and be present. As Kruse writes, "The girls were encouraged to develop a new conception of self and individual as well as


29 the group gende r identity was strengthened and extended, all of which was confirmed through my observations and the girls' own statements" (1992: 13). In a study very similar to Kruse's, titled "Girls' Groups as a Component of Anti Sexist Practice: One Primary School's Experience," Reay examines a primary school in which students have been separated into single sex classes to encourage non stereotypical curriculum and improve the academic achievement of girls. The girls' program participated in assertiveness training, d rama therapy, discussion groups, carpentry, computing, book making, self defense, and dance. While the boys' program focused primarily on early childhood development through involvement with a nursery class, they also studied drama, dance, woodworking and computing (Reay 1990). In both of the schools/classes studied by Kruse and Reay, students participated in non stereotypical activities, but also spent time discussing their own gender identities and their perceived standing in society, as well as ways to step outside these traditional roles. For boys' classes, this not only meant discussing masculinity in a critical way, but having them work with nursery school children, a caring role stereotypically attributed to women. For the girls' classes, this meant emphasizing assertiveness and learning how to feel powerful through self defense classes, enhancing their confidence and self esteem. Girls at Reay's school made comments such as: "I've learned that girls are just as good as boys," "I've learned to be str ong and stick up for myself," and "I wish to be something when I grow up" (1990: 6). Without queer pedagogy, single sex institutions can become communities that reinforce gender roles, perpetuate sexist and homophobic behavior, and generally do not look at their own gendered organization through a critical lens. The previously discussed


30 cases exemplify the way single sex institutions can embrace queer pedagogy to become communities that actively challenge the dominant and normative ideas of gender/sex upo n which society relies. Indian Brook is an exemplary case of an institution organized upon normative ideas of gender and sex that utilizes queer pedagogy to complicate its own normativity; thus, in the next chapter I outline the methods undertaken in my re search on Indian Brook camp.


31 Chapter Three: Methods The nature of my thesis question is one that warrants qualitative research for several reasons. First, I am interested in Indian Brook in and of itself; the way gender and sex are conceptualized in thi s community are inexplicable without the context and history of this camp, and must therefore be examined holistically. Second, as my aim is not to test a stated hypothesis or measure certain variables, quantitative methods are ineffectual and cannot provi de the thick description that this project required. Within qualitative research several approaches exist; for this thesis I made use of ethnography and field research, for which participant observation is the primary method ( Babbie 2006). Participant observation requires the researcher to enter the field for an extended period of time and become part of the community or group of individuals that is being studied, form close relationships, explore the complexities of everyday life, practices, and norms, and study the community's shared meanings and experiences. Qualitative research works under the assumption that studying a social phenomenon in its original context is of utmost importance, and it is a method that encourages the researcher to be reflexive about her own role in the community. It takes into account the lens through which the researcher collects data and is involved in the community, providing rich context and descriptive data that is focused more on the process than on the outcome (Bogdan an d Bilken 2006). Grounded theory is another qualitative approach I found helpful; rather than formulating a hypothesis and using the data to prove or disprove it, grounded theory (and for the most part, qualitative research in general) emphasizes collecti ng data first and then


32 categorizing it into similar concepts or themes, allowing the theories to emerge organically and utilizing a "bottom up" approach (Bogdan and Bilken 2006). Rather than choosing a theoretical framework to guide data collection, the co ncepts and categories formed as a result are the basis for the creation of a theory or several theories. In my own research, I collected field notes based on loose parameters of what was relevant to my overall topic, and only after organizing my data into themes and concepts did I begin to formulate a theory. Participant observation works well with grounded theory because it allows the researcher to gain a rich and complex understanding of the community or group being studied. Whereas a survey or other quan titative methodology might be useful when one has previously determined questions or theories to expound upon participant observation and grounded theory were useful because they allowed for an unrestricted exploration of the topic. Rather than observing from the outside, participating allows the researcher to gain a personal understanding and connection to the group/community being studied; this greatly enhances the depth and richness of the resulting data. The benefits of using qualitative methods were numerous. I was able to gain a richer understanding of the community by being a full participant, I was not limited in my data collection and had the freedom to include anything I found interesting and relevant to my thesis topic, and I was able to explor e the complexities, implicit beliefs, and norms of the community in a way that would have been im possible if I had simply asked pre formulated questions. While I certainly feel this method was the right fit for my research, there were also limitations to c hoosing a qualitative research method ology particularly participant observation. First, my role as a full participant allowed for less of an objective perspective had I been more of an observer and outsider, and it is inevitable that my


33 personal experienc es affect my analysis and the conclusions I make about Indian Brook. Hopefully, by addressing my biases I can add an interesting layer, and it is possible that my subjectivity may prove to be a strength rather than a limitation, which I will speak to later in the chapter. Second, using participant observation as my primary research method did not impart much insight into the opinions of campers or staff, data that interviews may have provided. Though one can read the quotes made b y campers and staff in the analysis as reflections of their opinions, they are not a generalizable reflection of the way the community as a whole understand s gender and sex at Indian Brook. Participants Indian Brook is a camp that enrolls 80 120 campers and 35 60 staff members each summer, all of whom are female bodied but do not necessarily identify as women, an issue I will address in more detail later. The campers range in age from 9 to 14 years old, with staff generally falling between the ages of 18 28 years old. Most campers a nd staff hail from the Northeast, though there are sometimes campers who come from outside of the United States; this is rare for staff members. Demographically, Indian Brook is overwhelmingly white, with very few staff of color and a small minority of cam pers of color, most of whom attend the second session of camp through a scholarship program with a service workers union in NYC. However, since 2000 Farm & Wilderness has been an "Anti Racist Organization providing anti racism training to staff, buildin g appropriate curriculum for campers, and actively working towards the recruitment of campers and staff of color. For the most part, campers come from upper middle class families L ike most American summer camps, Farm & Wilderness camps are pricey,


34 though there is a scholarship program available to families who do not have the means to pay out of pocket. The bulk of the staff are college aged, and those who fill authority positions are also often in their 20's, while the camp directors are usually over the age of 30. Data Collection Due to the exploratory nature of my research question, I delved into the fieldwork with a very general sense of when I would take notes and what would be most relevant to my thesis. I made the decision to take notes on anything I found to be related to gender or sex at Indian Brook, which was ultimately a successful method, as it was very clear when valuable information presented itself. For the most part, there were three instances in which I found myself taking notes. The first were meetings or events planned ahead of time that I was able to prepare for by making arrangements to be more of an observer than a participant. Many of the moments that fell into this category were trainings that took place during staff week. The second category consisted of notes taken during discussions with fellow staff members, and the third was mostly reflections on an idea or event I had just witnessed or had been contemplating, which sometimes manifested simply as streams of consciousness. In the end, I took notes on 18 different events, which included discussions and post event reflections. For meetings or trainings I was aware of ahead of time, I would speak to the person running the meeting, generally one of the Assistant Directors or Lodge He ads, and ask if it would be alright for me to focus on taking notes rather than participating in the training or activity. For the Gender & Sexuality meeting during staff week, I used my


35 computer along side my notebook to take notes and with the participan ts' permission, audio recorded what was transpiring. However, when campers arrived I could not have my computer out in front of them (campers are not allowed to have electronics, so staff must keep theirs hidden) so notes were taken in my notebook. My note taking did not seem to phase them, though after explaining that I was doing thesis research to my campers at the end of the summer they exclaimed, "So that's why you were writing in that notebook!" I will speak to the campers' knowledge of my role as an o bserver subsequently. In discussions among staff, I quickly realized that taking notes while people were speaking was not a good idea. I found that I could not concentrate and absorb what people were saying if I was struggling to write down every word tha t was said, nor could my note taking keep up with the conversation. I also felt that people were distracted by my frantic note taking when they were trying to speak, and it brought a formal aspect to the discussions that I wanted to avoid. Therefore, I got in the habit of trying to write down notes as soon as the discussion ended and I could find a quiet moment; in these notes I focused on the things people had said that stood out to me, the overall theme of the conversation, and the thoughts I had afterwar ds. This was not always easy, as it was not often that I could find a moment to sit and reflect until the end of the day, and it became frustrating to feel like I could not remember important things said in the discussions. However, upon analyzing my resea rch it was clear that I remembered all the pertinent data, as the overall theme s or interesting points were not forgotten over the course of one day.


36 I did not feel that the "researcher effect" was a problem, though it differed between staff and campers. All staff members knew about my thesis topic and were aware that I was doing participant observation research, and many expressed interest in having discussions with me on the topic. I felt it was clear that my thesis was exploratory and not necessarily c ritical of the community, which therefore did not seem to hinder staff members from acting the way they normally would around me; because I did not interview any Indian Brook staff members, anonymity and confidentiality were not concerns. Furthermore, staf f members often remarked on their failure to remember t hat I was doing research, most likely due to their familiarity with me as a previous community member and the way my role as a participant was more salient than my role as a researcher. Though I cert ainly did not go out of my way to hide my research from the campers, I did not feel it necessary to tell them about it right off the bat. As I mentioned previously, at the end of the summer I found myself in a conversation about gender at Indian Brook with some of my campers, and after telling them that I was doing research for my senior thesis on the topic, they remarked that they finally understood why I had been taking notes ; furthermore they were interested in my rese ar ch and asked me to elaborate. The refore, I am confident that my note taking went unnoticed by campers. As with staff members, this was most likely attributed to my established role as a returning counselor, a role th e community saw me enact much more frequently than my role as a researche r


37 Analysis Because my question is quite exploratory, there are more than a few sub questions and themes I wanted to address in my analysis. Deciding on how to organize and choose among these questions was not easy, as it was hard for me to remove myse lf from the perspective of a participant and determine what an outsider would find most informative and interesting about the community. Therefore, it was necessary to find a way to organize my data that would be logical, easy to read, and interesting to r eaders. To transform my raw data into an organized analysis, I went through several steps. First, I transferred all of my hand written field notes to the computer, writing in narrative form to enhance the flow of each event. For each of the eigh teen even ts, I coded for reoccurring themes, such as: "Indian Brook Valu e s Imparted to Staff "Queer Pedagogy: Gender Diversity of Staff "Queer Pedagogy: Combating Heteronormativity ," "Sex/Sexuality," "Bodies: No Body Talk Rule," "Bodies: Media is Unrealistic," "Bodies: Indian Brook as Space Free from Objectification," "Gender Neutrality and Gender Difference Reification," S tereoyptical W oman and "E mpowered W oman ." From here, I had to come up with an argument, question, or theory to act as a framework for my data and allow me to elaborate only on the most important themes. After much deliberation, I found a way to combine a discussion of the many contradictions regarding gender and sex I observed at Indian Brook with my understanding of the camp as a communit y that embraces gender fluidity and openness. I experienced a breakthrough when I understood Indian Brook's ability to turn seeming contradictions into positive complexities as a form of queer pedagogy; the themes that would be the most interesting fell in to the framework soon afterwards, though not without more contemplation. The categories that finally


38 emerged "Stereotypical vs. Empowered Women," "Female Sexualization vs. Teenage Sexuality," and "Indian Brook as a Gender Inclusive Camp for Girls were t he result of many hours of re thinking and re organization, and will be elaborated upon in the following chapter. Role as Participant Observer Participant observation can include several degrees of involvement: complete observer, observer as participant, participant as observer, and complete participant (Atkinson and Hammersley 1995). A complete observer does not participate in the community he or she is studying, making it clear that research is his/her primary concern, not attempting membership within t he community. At the other end, a complete participant is one who becomes completely invested in the community, his/her role as researcher sometimes being overshadowed by the responsibilities of being a member in the community. Following the guidelines lai d out by Atkinson and Hammersley, the degree of involvement can be judged by four criteria: to what degree the researcher is known to be a researcher within the community; how much is known about the research and by whom, what activities the researcher doe s and does not engage in during field work, and what orientation (insider/ outsider) the researcher takes on (1995). Regarding my own fieldwork, I would identify as a "complete participant." All staff members at Indian Brook knew of my research, and altho ugh most campers were not aware of my secondary role, I was not actively trying to hide the fact. There were certainly some staff members who knew more about my thesis than others, but this was mainly due to interest and length of time in the community; I often looked to staff who


39 had a long history at Indian Brook to answer my questions and discuss ideas. As a full time counselor I participated in all activities and job duties, using my free time and occasional time off to work on my research. However, I w as always allowed leeway to be less participatory when I felt it was important to take notes on an event, and as I gathered in various conversations with staff members, the Indian Brook and Farm & Wilderness community seemed very receptive t o my thesis top ic and fieldwor k. The last criteria is complicated by matters of bias. I can say with certainty that I adopted an "insider" role in the community, a result of my prior employment in 2009 at Indian Brook. Having friends who attended the camp as children an d a sibling attending another Farm & Wilderness camp, I decided to work at Indian Brook in the summer of 2009, without any conception that it might become the subject of my thesis until returning to school in September. In January of 2010 I decided, offici ally, that I would go forth with my thesis idea, filling out the IRB application in April and contacting the necessary people at Farm & Wilderness to get approval to do research in the summer of 2010. Thus, it is clear that I was a participant in the commu nity before I was an observer, and I must acknowledge the personal investment I have in Indian Brook and Farm & Wilderness for reasons I will frame with ideas about feminist ethnography. In Stacey 's examination of feminist ethnography, she posits contradi ctions between feminist principles and ethnographic methods in response to the commonly held opinion that ethnography is best suited to feminist research. She is concerned that fieldwork is an "intrusion and intervention into a system of relationships" (19 88: 24), no matter how empathetic and authentic the researcher is with his/her subjects, and that there is an inexorable difference between the field research and final product: "In the last


40 instance an ethnography is a written document structured primaril y by a researcher's purposes, offering a researcher's interpretations, registered in a researcher's voice" (1988: 25). Stacey's first concern does not apply to my own research, as Indian Brook is by its very nature transitory it exists only a few months out of the year and the community members are constantly changing. In addition, I did not conduct interviews, and any intimacy I created with participants was not a result of my role as a researcher, but of my role as counselor and full time staff member. Stacey's second point resonates with me strongly, as it is imperative that research, particularly qualitative research, not hide under the guise of neutrality, which reflects a tenet of postmodern ethnography that calls for "critical and self reflexive et hnography" (Stacey 1988). With the help of postmodern ethnography, Stacey feels there can be feminist research that is "rigorously self aware and therefore humble about the partiality of its ethnographic vision and its capacity to represent self and other" (1988). For that reason, I will make every effort to be aware of my own biases and perspectives so that my readers may understand the mental process undertaken from field research to the final product, as well as the ways my various identities play into t he "partial truths" I put forth (Stacey 1988). Though I have my own beliefs about gender and sex at Indian Brook, I will attempt to form them into compelling and relevant ideas with the help of my data. In addition to my role as a community member pre f ieldwork, my identity as a woman and a gender studies student inevitably played into my motivations for choosing this topic. After experiencing one summer at Indian Brook, I found myself "empowered", as a woman and human being in general, and I saw this ha ppen to other staff members and


41 campers this thesis is, in part, an exploration and reflection of that process. Thus, in the next chapter I present an analysis of Indian Brook's position as a single sex institution complicated by queer pedagogy, and the w ays in which this complexity may be viewed as an empowering/beneficial aspect of the camp.


42 Chapter Four: Analysis In this chapter, I examine the relationships that occur as a product of the incorporation of queer pedagogy into a single sex community or ganized upon seemingly conventional notions of sex and gender. At Indian Brook, the "conventional notions" are embodied in the requirement that all campers and staff be female bodied, and the implications this has for conceptualizations of gender and sex. What I deem "queer pedagogy" are the values and practices that challenge dominant norms of gender, sex, and sexual orientation; this may take the form of discussions about gender fluidity, challenges to stereotypical notions of women's identity, or efforts to combat the sexual objectification of bodies. The dynamics that ensue when queer and conventional notions of gender and sex interact are complex and as one might assume, often times conflictual. However, Indian Brook manages this complexity and uses th e positive components of each to empower its campers as women and individuals, a process I call "holistic empowerment." In the first section, I present two examples of the complexity that ensues when queer pedagogy is enacted within the single sex commun ity of Indian Brook; these examples are not meant to demonstrate the exact instances in which queer pedagogy is "successful", but to highlight the complexity that arises as a result. Following this, I offer a discussion of the ways in which Indian Brook an d Farm & Wilderness understand and manage this complexity by analyzing scenarios given to staff during training week, a staff meeting in which Indian Brook's standing as a gender inclusive camp for girls is explicitly discussed, and interviews with the Hum an Resources Director and Program Director of Farm & Wilderness. In the second section, I suggest that the result of Indian Brook's complexity is "holistic empowerment", whereby campers gain a more positive


43 and nuanced understanding of themselves as women (if they identify as such) and individuals. Examples of Complexity The Stereotypical vs. Empowered Woman In this example, queer pedagogy is enacted when campers are encouraged to discuss and critique mainstream societal standards of femininity. Through this, an "empowered woman" construct emerges, one that is wide in scope and allows for multiple identities; Indian Brook girls seem to feel more inclination and comfort identifying with this construct. The complexity comes to the surface, however, when the "stereotypical woman" is othered and relegated as a negative identity. Thus, the queering of stereotypical femininity, with its conception of "woman" as fluid and open to possibilities, is made tenuous by the dismissal of one particular identity, the "ste reotypical" woman, left seemingly unequal to the "empowered woman." Though the bulk of this analysis comes from Gender & Sexuality Night, examples from other events will be put forth. *** It is the 18 th of July, and the evening activity of this particular Sunday is "Gender and Sexuality Night." First, Big, and Senior Lodge campers are gathered in the upper lodge, and the activity proceeds as follows: Several staff share personal stories; the facilitators Laurie and Alex 1 define sex, gender, and sexuality and ask the group to brainstorm the ways in which society defines "real" men and women; the campers split into smaller 1 Pseudonyms used to protect anonymity.


44 groups to discuss the lists and answer questions (to be discussed at a later point); finally, the group reconvenes to reflect on the ac tivity and suggest ways of dealing with stereotypes and the pressure to fit in. The "Stereotypical Woman" In a discussion that places a strong emphasis on broadening gender norms, a number of campers express a reluctance to embody stereotypical ideas of femininity; furthermore, it seems the campers feel they are in an atmosphere where this reluctance is the norm. After making a list of the qualities society attributes to "real women" and "real men," the campers divide into smaller groups to discuss the li sts. In one of these groups, the question "What do you think about the list [of stereotypical ideas of women and men]?" is asked, to which one camper replies, "it made me think about how different I am from the woman described on the list, and that when I do things or have qualities that are on the list I feel bad, like it's one or the other." A second camper feels that at her school "there are tons of stereotypical girls I try not to be like that because I don't want to be obsessed with my looks, I like b eing strange," to which another adds, "sometimes I get mad at myself for assuming stereotypical girls are pretending. Sometimes it's natural." Throughout the discussion, the idea that stereotypes are bad is a recurring one. At times the facilitators try to discourage overly simplistic generalizations; a document containing the written goals of the discussion (given to me by the facilitator) includes the bullet point "some of these [stereotypes] might apply to you, and some might not, and either way that's fine, we just want to think about where they come from." The quantity of negative stereotypes on the "real woman" list makes it clear that the stereotypical


45 woman is an identity many Indian Brook campers feel they do not or should not associate with. As made evident by the camper who says she can only be "one or the other," her idea of a stereotype is very black and white, one that she can fall into completely or not at all. We can see this understanding of the stereotypical woman as a negative ideal and product of "television, magazines, hunter gatherer story, media in general, etc" (camper suggestions) perpetuated in the second camper's admittance that she does not want to be like a stereotypical girl because it would entail an obsession with her appea rance. This is made more explicit when Laurie asks everyone what they discussed in their smaller groups and one camper responds, "sometimes we want to be different so when we go with stereotypes we feel bad." While the campers seem to comprehend the stereo typical woman as an unachievable and negative ideal, it also functions as a necessary "other" to the "empowered woman." For many campers, and counselors, the empowered woman is a role they identify with and take pride in. The "Empowered Woman" In the mids t of the smaller group discussions on the meaning of "real women" and "real men" stereotypes, one camper shares a story about sports at her school, saying, "at school we do boys against girls and the girls say it's not fair, but I really like being a girl and I wouldn't want to be on the boys team", to which another camper adds, "yeah, I say no fair for the boys!" A third camper jumps in with a similar story: "when the girls basketball team played the boys team everyone assumed the boys would win. We [the g irls team] won and every one was surprised." Both responses imply a sense of


46 satisfaction and pride in being a girl, especially in relation to "the boys," perhaps a response to the fact that numerous qualities found on the "real women" list are associated with weakness, often in relation to men: "[women] don't exert themselves, are worried about how they look, rely on men for support, cannot be taller or stronger than men, have a goal to attract men, are timid and scared of mice." In both situations depicte d by the campers, girls are expected to be the weaker sex, and the campers counter this stereotype by identifying with "empowered woman," one who wants to be on the girls team and can win against the boys. To be clear, the "empowered woman" is my own inter pretation of the campers' tendency to stray from the construct of "stereotypical woman," rather than an identity anyone ever explicitly claimed. In another discussion based activity about bodies (referred to as "Body Night"), one camper questions similarl y narrow attitudes about stereotypes when she says, Personally, I like wearing clothes that are stereotypically cute and I like to run because I like to feel stronger and healthy. A lot of things people get pressured into doing, I do normally." Laurie ech oes this sentiment when she concludes Body Night by saying "You can wear whatever you want' also goes for people who fit in with fashion trends." Here, we see her encouraging campers to question their tendency to dismiss people who might feel comfortable fitting in with stereotypes Thus, the queer value the attempt to widen the definition of "woman" is ultimately instilled through the acceptance of an identity that conforms to conventional notions of sex and gender, a perfect example of the circularity and complexity that arises between queer and conventional values at Indian Brook.


47 The question then arises: what is the intention of staff in regards to the information being put forth? At Gender & Sexuality Night, the majority of discussion is without a doubt had by the campers, so the previous analysis is based primarily on their comments. Outside of this event, however, it can be argued that many staff role model the "empowered woman" on a day to day basis through their constant renegotiations of gende r identity. It is inevitable that campers will be shaped by the values (explicit and implicit) of the camp; thus, in the following section I examine an incident in which a decision made and carried out by staff speaks to the way campers are sometimes subtl y and implicitly encouraged to fit a prescribed identity. Female Sexualization vs. Teenage Sexuality The following is an illustration of the conflictual dynamic that occurs when queer pedagogy is enacted in a way that is self negating. I examine two case s: first, a scenario discussed at staff week in which a counselor asks her campers if they are excited to see the boys camp, and second, a decision made by staff to prevent campers who wish to put on makeup before a co ed activity with Timberlake, the boys camp. In both cas es, queer pedagogy can be found in the effort to challenge heteronormativity and female sexualization; campers are reminded that non sexual/ platonic relationships are possible between men and women. However, in preventing campers from c hang ing their appearances a problematic enaction of queer pedagogy dominant notions of gender and sex are reified, and boys and girls are separated to avoid the distraction of heterosexual desire. In addition, a characteristic of the previously discussed "stereotypical woman" the desire to change her appearance in front of [certain] men is made shameful by


48 purposefully disregarding the needs and desires of those campers who might have put on makeup or changed their clothes. *** Prior to the arrival of the campers, Indian Brook staff members participated in "LGBTQ Training" in order to develop awareness of issues regarding gender and sexuality. In one of several activities, sheets of paper with descriptions of various scenarios involving campers were han ded out, and small groups were formed in order to brainstorm ways of dealing with each situation. The following scenario will be used as a starting point for my analysis: "TL [Timberlake] is planning on having an activity with IB in the afternoon. You're a n IB counselor in the cabin talking with your campers and your co counselor says, I bet you girls are excited to finally get to see the guys, huh?' What do you do?" To begin, one staff member says she would tell the campers that it's ok if they're not e xcited, and another suggests talking about other things that are exciting about seeing TL besides the boys. She goes further, saying that "guys are our friends, it's ok for girls to be excited about seeing the guys since they might be attracted to them; ev en girls who are straight can have different types of excitement of the guys, and it shouldn't just be on type of energy." At first glance, the scenario seems problematic because it is heterosexist and makes the assumption that all campers are attracted to boys. Though it is not explicitly stated that the excitement has to do with sexuality, in this case, it is implicit enough that it can easily be misinterpreted as an acceptance of heterosexuality without regard for other sexual orientations, or lack there of. Here, combating heteronormativity by acknowledging that there are campers who might not be excited about seeing boys is one way queer pedagogy is enacted. Other staff responses hint at an underlying tension


49 about sexuality. One person suggests that thi s scenario can become the catalyst for a discussion about the standards of behavior appropriate when taking your cabin to see TL, specifically, the notion of "acting like yourself;" this is followed by another person's question, "How can we role model as c ounselors so we don't act differently?" Coincidentally, the scenario on which this question is based arises a week later, when an upcoming event with TL's Senior Lodge (13 14 year olds) is being discussed. Laurie, the Senior Lodge head, speaks to the staff about the importance of being role models and understanding that campers will notice if we change the way we act or dress, "even though these are legitimate actions;" while she says changing our behavior or clothing is "legitimate," it is clear by her ton e and the context of the discussion that it is not encouraged, perhaps even looked down upon. Here, I interpret acting "differently" to mean acting in a way that conveys the desire for heterosexual attractiveness. Prior to the aforementioned activity wit h TL, Senior Lodge staff was told to keep the activity a secret until the absolute last minute, when Indian Brook campers were seconds from meeting Timberlake. Part of this secrecy was to avoid disappointment if the event was canceled, but also to deter th e campers who were so inclined from putting on makeup and special clothing. This secrecy was problematic for several reasons. First, staff members are taught to avoid influencing campers' decisions with their personal opinions; for instance, while it would be appropriate to have a larger discussion about the sexualization of women (an issue addressed at Body Talk night), it would not be appropriate to tell a camper not to wear makeup, as campers are encouraged to express themselves in whatever way they feel comfortable. By inhibiting campers from making


50 the decision to put on makeup or change their clothes before seeing Timberlake, Indian Brook staff is imposing its values without regard for the campers' own agency. Second, this issue is reminiscent of the "stereotypical woman" versus "empowered woman" theme: a "stereotypical woman" feels pressure to enhance her appearance in front of men, while an "empowered woman" is comfortable enough that she can "act like herself." Many people, women and men, are conce rned with their appearances, even women who are "empowered," and this should not be a source of shame. Though the intention of the decision is to encourage campers to feel secure enough with themselves that they do not need to enhance their appearance to f eel attractive, the manner in which it is enacted negates the intention. Not only does it further the notion that sexual attraction in the form of "acting differently" (a common side effect of burgeoning teenage sexuality) is a characteristic unwanted in an Indian Brook camper, it reifies a frequently cited defense of single sex education: boys and girls should be separated to reduce the [sexual] distraction of the other sex/gender. Although this is not an explicitly stated factor of Indian Brook's single sex structure, in separating campers based on sex (which happens to go hand in hand with gender for most individuals) heteronormativity and heterosexuality must be acknowledged. Teaching girls that relationships with the opposite sex do not necessarily h ave to be romantic or sexual (presuming the majority of girls are heterosexual) is an enactment of queer pedagogy, but putting them in a position where they might be uncomfortable is not taking their own agency into consideration; thus, in this instance, q ueer pedagogy is unsuccessfully implemented (though I feel the intention is certainly there). While Indian Brook is a community in which girls can escape the objectification of school and society


51 at large and learn to love their bodies more holistically, S enior Lodge campers are at the age (13 14 years old) where sexuality is becoming increasingly emergent; therefore, it is important to avoid dismissing teenage sexuality as something negative when it is sexual objectification that Indian Brook seeks to chal lenge. In this instance, rather than deciding to withhold information from campers to avoid certain behaviors, they should be given the room to decide what makes them the most comfortable without outside influence a fundamental aspect of queer pedagogy. The staff of Indian Brook should trust that they will inform whatever decision they make with the lessons they learn at camp, many of which come in the form of discussions about gender and sexuality (touching on topics such as sexual objectification and b odies) and programming that challenges campers to step out of their comfort zone. The impact of these lessons, whether they manifest at camp or later in life, should not be disregarded by taking away campers' agency, even if the choices they make seem detr imental to the older, more experienced staff. Teenagers will be teenagers, and as Laurie often commented, Indian Brook staff can only "plant the seeds." To return to a staff members' question, "How can we role model as counselors so we don't act different ly?" it seems preposterous to discourage campers in a single sex camp from acting differently around members of the opposite sex camp. While the pressure many women feel to enhance their appearance in front of men is certainly problematic the point I beli eve the staff member is ultimately trying to make one cannot expect Indian Brook campers to act exactly the same among Timberlake campers as they would with members of their own camp when they are separated by biological sex, and for most of them, gender. In fact, after being asked by my co counselor if the activity


52 with Timberlake was fun, one of my campers responded that it was tense because Indian Brook and Timberlake see each other so rarely. Building upon the ways staff are taught to deal with tricky situations like that which was previously discussed, in the next section, I examine the ways in which Indian Brook deals with the complexity that arises when queer pedagogy is implemented in a single sex community. Understanding and Management of Complex ity Indian Brook's Understanding and Management of Complexity Perhaps the most unambiguous queer value the acceptance of gender fluidity at Indian Brook, demonstrated most saliently through the inclusion of transgender individuals plainly conflicts with its self identification as a "camp for girls" ( In order to gain a better understanding of the way Indian Brook manages and this complexity, I begin by presenting two scenarios given to staff at LGBTQ Training that speak to the way s taff are taught to handle situations in which Indian Brook's attempt to be gender inclusive interacts with its status as a camp for girls; this is followed by an examination of a staff meeting in which the same topic is explicitly discussed. Scenario # 1 : "Good Morning Ladies!" The first scenario is presented as follows: "A staff member is leading announcements at Indian Brook and says, Good morning, ladies!' What do you do?" The message in this scenario is clear: at Indian Brook, addressing a group as ladies" is inappropriate because there are individuals in the community who do not identify as such. The reactions of staff echo this sentiment one person says that different language must be employed to include


53 everyone, but that the person leading annou ncements should be reminded of this in a way that recognizes that "we all make mistakes." Examples of other phrases that might be used are suggested, such as "Good morning friends/team/folks," and the facilitator asks the group how they feel about the term "guys." While one staff member says, "I use guys a lot when there are boys and girls, and when people say dude I don't think of girls or boys or gender, it seems neutral," another staff member doesn't like when the term is used to address a group: I feel like we live in a society where males have such a dominant position in work situations and traditional aspects, and I think when you address a whole group of people as guys it adds to that alpha dog males are better than females' complex. Not only is it explicitly stated that groups should be addressed using gender neutral terms to avoid leaving someone out or making them feel distinct from the group, it is also problematized in regards to male dominance. Scenario # 2: "Why do we have to say that? We'r e all girls!" The second scenario focuses on an issue that occurs every summer, one that I dealt with on several occasions: "On the first night of camp, you and the campers in your cabin are introducing yourselves to each other. You and your co counselor m odel by saying your names and preferred pronouns, and ask your campers to do the same. A camper asks, Why do we have to say that? We're all girls!' How do you answer?" Though the majority staff suggest explaining why Indian Brook campers are asked to iden tify their preferred pronoun and clarifying what the word "pronoun" means, one person goes even further, saying that this scenario might be a great opportunity to differentiate between sex and gender for the campers.


54 The distinction between gender and se x is one campers are reminded of frequently through events like Gender & Sexuality Night or discussions about bodies. However, because campers are asked to state their preferred pronoun within the first two days of camp (when making initial introductions a t the beginning of each session) it is not sufficiently explained beforehand, and the scenario presented here therefore does not adequately represent the way pronoun self identification actually plays out at Indian Brook. Prior to the first cabin night, t he camp director, assistant directors, and program director stand up at lunch and introduce themselves to the campers, stating their preferred pronouns. Though there is a very brief explanation, it often goes unheard in the bustle of first day excitement, nerves, and hunger, and therefore leaves many new campers confused; thus, the responsibility to clarify why campers at Indian Brook are asked to state their preferred pronouns is left to the cabin staff. In my own cabin, new campers did express confusion and it's even possible returning campers felt the same way but did not speak up as willingly. One of the new campers did not understand how one could "choose" their gender even after my co counselor and I (with the help of returning campers, to our delig ht) explained it as best as we could. When a fellow camper asked her if she feels more like a boy or a girl, she said that people tell her she's like a boy and sometimes she feels that way, so she would use male pronouns. This was a tricky situation, becau se it was obvious to us that she did not fully understand the gravity of identifying as the "opposite" gender and the purposefulness that the decision necessitates. In the end, she did not end up asking to be referred to as "he," and I am confident that sh e had a more nuanced understanding of the distinction between gender and sex upon leaving camp. In the following section, the


55 larger implications of the previous scenarios and the complexity that is a result of Indian Brook's status as a gender inclusive c amp for girls is explicitly addressed in a staff meeting at the conclusion of the summer. Staff Meeting Discussion At the end of the summer, support staff received a letter from an anonymous Indian Brook staff member regarding the need to maintain the as pect of Indian Brook that celebrates women and girls, even with the inclusion of transgender members in the community. The author wondered why the "Women at Work" sign was taken down (a sign historically hung on the lodge, removed while the building was be ing repainted), and did not like the suggestion that the phrase "Say it Sister!" (used when asking a person to speak louder) be replaced with more gender neutral language. It is noteworthy that this letter was written anonymously, as it shows reluctance on the part of the author (and most likely, other staff members) to bring up these issues, perhaps for fear that she/he would be negatively judged for publicizing views that question Indian Brook's current practices. At the following staff meeting, Laurie brings up the anonymous letter. After welcoming the author of it to speak privately with her if she/he wants to discuss it further, she and other support staff share their reactions. Laurie begins by saying, "You can still be a feminist and be proud of bei ng a woman, and deal with the gender binary." Alex, one of two assistant directors, adds, "Indian Brook is still a girls camp most of our campers identify as girls, but not all of them. When we address campers in groups we should be aware [of this]. We wa nt campers to feel supported no matter how they identify."


56 As I touched upon in an earlier section, the support staff (particularly the assistant directors, program director, and lodge heads) plays a large part in the shaping of Indian Brook's values and the ways in which these values are put into practice. Thus, we can conclude with some confidence that the views these individuals put forth in discussions are a reflection of Indian Brook's values. Knowing this, we can continue in the analysis with some idea of the camp's stance on the following issues. In acknowledging that most campers identify as girls and pronouncing Indian Brook "a girls camp," Alex expresses an underlying assumption of the camp: if campers at Indian Brook may identify as any gender but must be female bodied, and most female bodied individuals identify as women, then Indian Brook is primarily a camp for women. Though it is clear that Indian Brook differentiates between gender and sex, the fact that most of its campers identify as gir ls results in a conflation that is not necessarily detrimental to the campers. In the final section of this chapter, I examine the ways that Indian Brook embraces this dynamic and uses it to foster an environment that is empowering to campers; as Laurie as serts, campers can be proud of being women (if this is how they identify) and deal with the complexity of the gender binary. Before considering how campers are affected by this dynamic, however, I will study it in the larger context of Farm & Wilderness' p lacement of campers and staff (with regards to gender and sex) by analyzing two interviews with year round Farm & Wilderness staff. The information garnered from these interviews provides us with an understanding of the way Farm & Wilderness as a larger or ganization understands the complexity that arises when Indian Brook utilizes queer pedagogy to complicate it's single sex organization.


57 Farm & Wilderness' Understanding and Management of Complexity In the previous section, staff training scenarios and a d iscussion that took place during a particular staff meeting were examined to shed light on the ways in which Indian Brook understands its own complexity. In the following section, I move beyond Indian Brook and look to the way Farm & Wilderness as a larger organization views this complexity. This is accomplished through interviews with the Farm & Wilderness Human Resources Director Courtney Porter and the Farm & Wilderness Program Director Sarah Waring; the former is responsible for the placement and organi zation of staff at Indian Brook, while the latter is responsible for the placement and organization of campers at Indian Brook. Placement and Organization of Staff at Indian Brook Courtney Porter is the Human Resources Manager of Farm & Wilderness, and she is responsible for employing, training, and paying staff (among other administrative tasks). In this interview, she elaborates on the hiring of staff, and the legal restrictions and policy to which Farm & Wilderness must adhere. First, Courtney confi rms that staff must not only be female bodied to work at Indian Brook, but in order to reside in a cabin with campers, must have a "matching" identity. At Indian Brook, this means transgender staff may only work as support staff or in the kitchen as a cook When asked why this is the policy, she says, For a couple of reasons: because it is more "safe" I hate using that word because even though it is more sex and gender focused at the two camps [Indian Brook and Timberlake], while parents might be progre ssive, some parents might not be its about their comfort level. "Why do I have a male cabin counselor for my 9 year old girl?" this is something a parent might say.


58 In addition, Courtney makes it clear that "the decisions we make from a human resources perspective we make first based on law. The most important thing about this discussion is that we have an equal opportunity policy we cannot and will not discriminate based on sexual identity or gender." While she does not go into the details of the laws that inform the "matching identity" rule or the reasons it is not "safe," Courtney later says transgender people cannot be cabin counselors at Indian Brook and Timberlake "because that might be confusing to our campers." With this information, the ideas d riving Indian Brook and Farm & Wilderness policy are made more salient. The non discrimination of individuals based on gender is a fundamental aspect of queer pedagogy's implementation at Indian Brook, but is acceptable only with certain limitations that r eflect dominant ideology about gender and sex identity. At Indian Brook, dissonance between gender and sex in a cabin environment where physical (i.e. naked) bodies are involved is ultimately confusing. It is also made clear that the comfort level of paren ts is taken into account, as they are the ones choosing and paying Farm & Wilderness. As Courtney says, not all Farm & Wilderness parents fit the "progressive" mold, an identity that assumes a certain level of comfort with gender progressive policies. Co urtney speaks to the hiring of transgender staff at Indian Brook, saying, "while Indian Brook might have female bodied staff who present as male, that was a very deliberate discussion between the staff [member] and Nicole (the 2010 director of Indian Brook ).how can we as an IB community respect who you are and how you identify, and what our needs and program needs are?" She also adds, "we need to find a place that is accepting and open and safe for people who don't fit either gender [and] find the best th e best way to integrate them into our programs." Obviously, Farm & Wilderness is


59 without a doubt an organization that strives to increase diversity at all its camps, even while dealing with the complexities that arise when this effort is made in the single sex camps. As Courtney aptly comments, "Indian Brook is a very old camp steeped in traditions that, by some, might be viewed as a little less progressive and maybe a little bit in conflict with [our] diversity statement and some of our programmatic goals. Here, she is not only referring to the "matching identity" rule, but to Indian Brook's history as a "camp for girls" and a camp welcoming of gender diversity. In the following interview with Farm & Wilderness' Program Director, we move the focus towards campers, rather than staff, and gain insight into Indian Brook's history as a single sex institution and the decisions that go into placing campers at Indian Brook with regards to gender/ sex. Placement and Organization of Campers at Indian Brook Sarah Waring is the Program Director of Farm & Wilderness, and is in charge of general Farm & Wilderness event programming as well as the placement and organization of campers within each of the seven camps. To begin, I ask Sarah to speak about the process of as signing campers to the single sex camps in terms of biological sex and gender. "We were having more kids who were transgender or questioning who wanted to know why they needed to be in a specific place[we] wanted to sort of challenge the general duality t hat schools and camps and society in general have always imposed on them." Looking at the way other organizations were handling this problem, Farm & Wilderness decided to follow a general practice, a policy that would not have to be renegotiated with each transgender camper. Calling it the "same equipment" rule (which she admits is "horrid shorthand"), it is similar to the "matching identity" rule, where biological sex is


60 the decisive factor. By establishing this limitation but allowing for multiple gender identities, Farm & Wilderness certainly does challenge the duality commonly imposed on campers which states that female=woman and male=man. However, if we look at the distinction between Indian Brook and Timberlake based on biological sex (and for the most part, gender), the duality is very much present. Sarah recognizes this, and asserts that the "F&W program team [the] camp directors and management team explore what gender means for all the different camps on a regular basis." This continuous re evaluat ion of gender, a particularly loaded term in any progressive single sex community, is also seen in the flexibility of the Farm & Wilderness organization to treat each camper as an individual case. Though the "same equipment" rule is the current policy, Sa rah makes it clear that "F&W is pretty progressive when it comes to what we're able to do to make kids feel welcome, to communicate with parents," and admits that most of the decisions about camper placement come down to discussions with their parents. The re may be a policy put in place, but "it's something we're continually looking at as we get different kids who come through who have different experiences." By constantly questioning its policies and foundational principles, Farm & Wilderness (and therefor e Indian Brook) can embrace and deal with change, pivotal to a community in which gender and sex are key issues. To understand how gender and sex are pivotal to Indian Brook, I ask Sarah to give a brief historical background of Indian Brook's establishmen t. Instituted as a response to Timberlake's popularity and the lack of opportunities for physical labor and wilderness trips available to girls, Indian Brook was established in 1941 as a sister camp to Timberlake. Sarah comments,


61 One thing we know about si ngle gender programming and I use that term knowing it's not particularly appropriate [is that] classically and historicallywomen don't have a place to express themselves and feel safe. For both men and women, learning about one's own strengths and weak nesses in a single gender community feels different then out in the real world. In particular, it's been important for women to get that, because it's a male dominated world. There is something important about having a space where they don't have to have m en and boys around. It is interesting (and one might say, encouraging) that Sarah recognizes the problem of referring to Indian Brook as a "single gender" community, as it is clearly single sex, not single gender. She highlights the importance of a commun ity in which men and boys are not present, and the way this "feels different" than out in the real world; presumably because it is a safe space, something particularly necessary to women in a male dominated world. Though a single sex/ single gender communi ty may very well provide women with a space free of oppression on the basis of gender (one must acknowledge the intersectionality of different oppressions), in the case of Indian Brook this statement calls transgender identity into question; there are indi viduals who identify as men or boys at Indian Brook. Do they disrupt the otherwise single gender community? Or, do they avoid the role of male oppressor because they are female bodied and may not be perceived as "real men" by society? These questions came up in a Senior Lodge staff meeting when staff wondered if campers perceive the transgender individuals at Indian Brook as "real" boys/men, or "girls who identify as boys". Although no conclusion was made, this issue is relevant to the kind of [gendered] sp ace Indian Brook provides for its campers. The aforementioned anonymous letter stresses the need for Indian Brook to promote the celebration of women and girls, a perspective that informs my inquiry as to whether there was more of an explicit focus on fe male empowerment at Indian Brook in the past. Sarah explains that the role of activism at Indian Brook has evolved with the


62 changing emphases of feminist thought. In the early 90's, Indian Brook was "pretty hardcore feminist, a place where feminists and th ose strong in their sexual orientation were finding their voices. The need for that to be one of the primary focuses of program became less important as society changed around F&W social justice issued shifted." Indian Brook was established following firs t wave feminism, the primary concern of which was to ensure women's right to vote. Two decades later later, second wave feminism called for liberation from traditionally female roles and expectations; at Indian Brook, this manifested in programming with a strong focus on female empowerment and women's liberation. Third wave feminism emerged in the 1980's (and some would say continues to the present day), questioning the notion of "woman" and more broadly, gender as a unified construct. This mode of thought was perhaps the catalyst for the current programming at Indian Brook that emphasizes the distinction between gender and sex and the fluidity of gender. That being said, I posit an analogous relationship: second wave feminism is to third wave feminism as conventional/normative understandings of gender are to "queer" notions of gender. At Indian Brook, both forms of feminism contribute to the empowerment of campers, albeit in different ways. In this section, I presented several examples of the complex inter actions between Indian Brook's use of queer pedagogy and certain conventional notions of sex and gender upon which the camp is organized. Though this dynamic is often times conflictual, it fosters a dual empowerment that draws upon the strengths of both co mponents, an idea I elaborate on in the following section. Campers are empowered not only as women, but as individuals unconstrained by gender: a "holistic empowerment."


63 Holistic Empowerment Fall Harvest is a weekend in October in which campers, staff, a nd their families are invited to spend the weekend working at Farm & Wilderness, participating in activities that include harvesting vegetable crops, chopping firewood, and taking walks in the surrounding foliage. I attended this work weekend and lead a di scussion about my thesis topic, open to anyone interested in the subject of gender at Indian Brook. Though many fascinating points were made, the discussion frequently returned to one concept in particular: a single sex space can provide the kind of enviro nment where girls feel comfortable exploring other gender identities and sexualities. This seems to be an inherent contradiction, but it makes sense in a society where "woman" and "man" are social categories with rigid parameters. If we acknowledge that most individuals' gender identities "match" their genitalia, then it stands to reason that the distinction between women and men is one perceived to be the manifestation of biological sex. Furthermore, it is not the freedom from heterosexuality that makes a single sex community a space where individuals can feel more comfortable, but the freedom from hetero normativity. Regardless of the sexual orientation of campers, hetero normativity is the catalyst for the constant pressure to adhere to dominant structu res of gender, and for the sexual objectification of women's bodies. I argue that Indian Brook combats this and other oppressive restrictions upon women by expanding the definition of "woman" and fostering an environment where bodies are subjects rather th an objects. After discussing the way campers are empowered as women/girls (for those to whom this applies), I examine the means by which Indian Brook empowers campers to form an understanding of themselves as individuals who transcend gender categorization


64 Though both forms of empowerment are based on concepts (queer pedagogy and conventional notions of gender/ sex) that in the data were often shown to conflict, each paradigm has the potential to positively impact Indian Brook campers. Empowered as Women At Gender & Sexuality Night campers were asked to make a list of characteristics commonly attributed to women and men what society deems a "real" woman and man. The campers agreed that the list was comprised of stereotypes, and discussed how stereotypes might be challenged. In smaller groups, campers considered the ways stereotypes have affected them in their own lives; one camper remarked, "how can people fit into one category?" Throughout this exercise, campers questioned the validity of rigid gender ro les and expanded their conception of what it means to be a woman/girl. Highly relevant in the context of gender identity, bodies are sites of constant negotiation and questioning, especially for women. A topic addressed in the literature review, girls of ten suffer from low self esteem and body image issues, commonly attributed to the extreme pressure put on women's appearances. At Indian Brook, this is challenged by encouraging campers to discuss body image issues and their experiences dealing with constr icting notions of the ideal body. In addition, a concerted effort is made to discourage campers from objectifying each others' bodies by asking them to respect the "No Body Talk" rule, in which bodies are recognized for things they can do, not what they lo ok like (or what they are clothed in). This creates an environment where campers do not need to worry about their appearance or feel that their bodies are being judged, a much needed respite for those who face these anxieties outside of camp.


65 Body Ni ght is an opportunity for campers and staff to discuss bodies their differences, functions, and the ways in which they are perceived positively and negatively. Through out the activity, campers express various opinions about their feelings on bodies and b ody image, several of which I present here: "I'm the skinniest and smallest in my class and so people think I'm not strong when people say that I feel not strong, and it breaks me down;" "I used to wear a bandana every day, and then I went to a new school .and stopped, and everyone said I looked better without it so I felt pressure to stop." Both comments were accompanied by tears or obvious emotional distress, and exemplified the tension many girls feel regarding their bodies and appearances outside of ca mp. In some ways, Body Night was somber in tone, as it was shocking to hear so many campers express deep sadness, anger, and frustration with the issues they face at home and school. However, campers also articulated more positive experiences: "I do have body issues but I'm not afraid to talk about them, because I think about them as being unique, not as issues' if I didn't have my issues, I wouldn't be unique;" "Normal isn't a good word, it's different everywhere you go it should be your definition;" "In 5 th grade I cared about what people thought about what I was wearing, but I told myself that it's their loss if they don't want to be my friend because of my clothes." In addition, several campers conveyed their appreciation of camp as an affirmative s pace for bodies: "Camp is a place where you don't want to care about what you're wearing it's safer here;" "[At camp] I can wear a shirt 5 days in a row;" "Sometimes at camp I feel like you can wear whatever you want." From these comments, it is clear tha t Indian Brook encourages and helps foster positive self image in and outside of camp.


66 The activity continues with three staff members sharing personal stories, intended to show campers that everyone has body issues and that they are nothing to be ashame d of. Melanie, the Indian Brook Program Director, begins by explaining her struggle to accept new forms of validation that are unrelated to her appearance: Starting in middle school, I was validated by my physical appearance. I wanted my friends to notice things I was doing and I still deal with this. I learned that that's how I'm validated I still think about it and it's hard to accept feedback and compliments about what I do. Melanie's comment calls attention to the fact that women primarily receive p hysical rather than "functional" validation. Reflecting this idea, one camper says "sometimes in our society you have to be pretty and wear the right clothes to have your personality acknowledged." Indian Brook tries to confront this with the "No Body Talk rule, which Laurie explains as "no talking about bodies, negatively or positively, so that we're not thinking about bodies all the time.outside of camp there is a huge emphasis on how we look; at camp we want the emphasis to be on who we are." Adrienne, Alex's co Assistant Director, adds that Indian Brook "actively resists the objectification of bodies. We want it to be about celebrating bodies in a real way, not silencing them." To do this, she elaborates, the camp must be aware of the existence of bod y issues and the forces that pressure [women] into having those issues. Cultivating an environment where the focus is on the functional aspect of bodies (what a body can do ) rather than the physical (what a body looks like ) allows for increased self effi cacy. As Adrienne points out, while Indian Brook may offer freedom from bodily constraints, it must not ignore the existence of its campers' body image issues that do not simply disappear at the start of camp. Laurie speaks to this when she tells a story a bout her experience as an Indian Brook camper:


67 I've thought a lot about body image. The No Body Talk rule was awesome as a camper IB was a place I could escape my body, [a place where] I didn't feel pressure. As I got older, I realized that I still had t o deal with issues. Counselors didn't talk positively or negatively about bodies, so I thought they never thought bodies [and didn't have body image issues]. It certainly may seem contradictory to have a rule that discourages body talk and an activity whe re bodies are exclusively talked about. However, like so many other complex relationships discussed in this chapter, both components are beneficial to campers specifically those who identify as women. Because women so rarely experience their bodies as sit es of agency, an environment in which this is one the primary objectives is empowering. Empowered as Individuals To be empowered as a woman, one must identify as such. To be empowered as an individual, one's gender is inconsequential. Here, I examine the manner in which all campers are empowered as individuals unconstrained by gender. This occurs in several ways: campers observe multiple possibilities for gender identification in the staff, explicit discussions about gender roles are undertaken with camper s, and efforts are made to acknowledge the presence of transgender community members by using gender neutral language when talking about/to groups. At LGBTQ Training, an exercise was undertaken to demonstrate the diversity among staff with regards to gend er and sexual orientation. To begin, the "Gender and Sexuality Continuum" was explained, composed of six elements: biological sex (and legal sex), gender identity, gender expression, sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual orientation. Blank cards w ith each component of the continuum and the number 1


68 7 were handed out, and staff members were asked to choose the number they most identified with for each component (see Figure 1A). The cards were handed back to the facilitator, shuffled, and randomly pa ssed back out so that each person had a card that did not belong to them; again, all cards were anonymous. The facilitator then explained that he would first call out the continuums one at a time, then ask the staff to stand under the number their card rea d (the numbers 1 through 7 were placed in order on wall of the lodge). In this way, the group could see the diversity of gender and sexuality among staff in an anonymous manner. Though campers were not present for this exercise, the evidence of diversity w as not lost on them. At Gender & Sexuality Night, there is a space for staff to come out to campers Ada discusses the process of coming out to family members and friends, and Taylor unintentionally acknowledges the daily struggles he faces as a transgen der individual when he says "I was supposed to speak but I don't want to tell a story because I'm feeling uncomfortable in my body at the moment, though if people would like to ask me questions or leave me a note I will try to respond when I am in a better space." Later in the discussion, however, he admits he is constantly worried about people's pronoun use in public, and using restrooms. In addition to the opportunity for staff to share personal stories, Laurie defines the word "queer" for the campers, ca lling it an umbrella term used to describe people who do not fit the norm, and/or a rejection of labels. For her, she says, it has to do with her identity changing over time, being fluid. It is evident that Gender & Sexuality night sends a message to camp ers that all sexual orientations and gender identities are acceptable at Indian Brook, fostering a community that allows campers to feel safe exploring these options if they so desire. In


69 my group discussion at Fall Harvest, the mother of an Indian Brook c amper told me that her daughter is "very feminine," and at Indian Brook she felt more comfortable in her own skin to explore other parts of her gender and sexuality. Following the start of the first session, Beatrice, a Senior Lodge counselor, told me a s imilar story. One of her campers had been questioning her gender identity but did not feel ready to make large changes at home, and one night told her cabin that she wanted to identify as a boy and therefore use male pronouns. Though she was nervous, [his] cabin was completely accepting, and a very mature discussion ensued about the difficulties of changing gender identity. This was a very touching event for many staff (and perhaps influential for other campers), and speaks to Indian Brook's role as a safe space, where visible efforts are made to include everyone by using gender neutral language and identifying pronouns in introductions. For campers who feel comfortable with their gender identity and sexual orientation, seeing other campers and staff explore their own identities fosters acceptance of those who are different from them, whether it be in terms of race, ethnicity, socio economic class, etc. During an informal conversation with Pieter Bohen, the Executive Director of the Farm & Wilderness, he d ivulges that one of the goals of Indian Brook is to make different genders and sexualities "normative." One could easily argue that heterosexuality/identification as women is very much the norm at Indian Brook, with diversity lacking in all areas (gender, race, etc.). However, the existence of a community where these issues are explicitly and openly discussed should not be downplayed. In September of 2010, five gay youths took their lives in the span of three weeks, a tragic reaction to the homophobic bully ing they experienced in their schools and communities;


70 countless LGBTQ individuals face similar discrimination on a daily basis. With all its complexities, Indian Brook is an important kind of community. The values it embodies and fosters in its campers an d staff are needed now more than ever, not only for individuals who face discrimination, but also for those who bully others out of ignorance and fear of difference.


71 Chapter Five: Discussion As demonstrated in the literature, single sex education can be a tool of empowerment. In such an environment, educational activities are often less hindered by traditional gender role norms i.e. boys taking dance classes, girls taking math and science classes which can lead to higher self esteem. Most importantly, s ingle sex institutions can provide spaces where students relate to one another based on similar gendered experiences. While we must keep in mind the role of intersectionality and the ways in which women of different races, socio economic classes, sexual or ientations, etc. may have very different experiences of their identity as a woman, we can use Haslanger's (2000) conception of gender as a social class to understand the significance of single gender environments. If the identity of "woman" connotes subord ination to men, as Haslanger claims, then organizing on the basis of this shared subordination can not only invoke a sense of community, but also act as the foundation from which this identity can be challenged and deconstructed. However, the benefits of same gender organization do not necessarily arise within a single sex environment. Most single sex institutions implicitly assume that gender is predicated upon sex i.e. one who is female bodied will also identify as a woman ignoring the existence of th ose whose biological sex and gender identity do not fit the standard male man/female woman binary. At Indian Brook, the vast majority of individuals identify as women, but there are also those who are female bodied and identify as men. Thus, while Indian B rook is organized upon biological sex, its recognition of gender as an identity related to but not contingent upon sex (and its


72 inclusion of transgender individuals) is evidence of its ability to harness the benefits of a primarily single gender space whil e addressing the shortcomings of single sex institutions through its utilization of queer pedagogy. Single sex institutions are often criticized for being spaces that reinforce normative gender roles, conflate sex and gender, and reify the heterosexual b inary. While it may require a total dismantling of single sex institutions to truly address all of these criticisms, Indian Brook shows us that it is a possible to use queer pedagogy to deal with the problematic aspects of single sex education and benefit from its advantages. In my analysis, I offer two examples of the complexity that arises when Indian Brook utilizes queer pedagogy to complicate its single sex status, followed by a discussion of the ways in which Indian Brook and the larger Farm & Wilderne ss organization understand and manage this complexity. First, traditional gender roles are questioned and challenged in formal discussions such as "Gender and Sexuality Night," where staff ask campers to brainstorm a list of societally dictated "feminine" characteristics and engage in smaller group discussions about their own experiences dealing with gender roles. Though there were instances in which the "stereotypical" woman seemed to be perceived as inferior to the "empowered" woman one who steps outsid e of the normative roles ascribed to women in general, rather than reinforcing normative gender roles, Indian Brook attempts to empower campers to challenge any ideas of gendered identity as limited or value laden. Second, Indian Brook employs queer pe dagogy to challenge the sexualization of women, an issue so normalized it is often internalized well before adolescence. This issue is primarily dealt with through the "No Body Talk" rule, which discourages campers


73 from commenting on the appearance of each other's bodies (negatively or positively) in an effort to make Indian Brook a space where physical bodies are not objectified. Since the rampant sexualization of women's bodies is no doubt a mechanism of subordination, providing an environment in which gi rls' bodies are sites of utilization rather than exhibition is an act of queer resistance in and of itself. Indian Brook's final implementation of queer pedagogy is its effort to present campers with an understanding of gender identity and sexual orienta tion as complex and un tethered to the restrictive binaries of male masculine/female feminine and heterosexual homosexual. Though this message can be seen most explicitly in the community's inclusion of transgender individuals, it can also be found in Indi an Brook's efforts to encourage the use of gender neutral language when addressing groups and its request that campers and staff state which pronoun they prefer when introducing themselves to others. In addition, an in depth discussion on the fluidity of g ender identity and sexual orientation occurs at staff training. The effect of Indian Brook's utilization of queer pedagogy, and perhaps the use of queer pedagogy in other single sex institutions, is what I refer to in my analysis as holistic empowerment. Queer pedagogy not only offers the tools to think critically and embrace complexity and instability, but also empowers campers (or students in general) to understand gender identity as something that is not restrictive or necessarily significant in shapin g who one is as an individual. However, Indian Brook's single sex organization is not negated by the implementation of queer pedagogy, but enhanced by it. The primarily single gender environment provides Indian Brook campers with a dynamic, comprehensive a nd therefore positive conceptualization of womanhood.


74 Having said that, the following question arises: if queer pedagogy aims to disrupt our notions of fixed and categorical identities, isn't it illogical to organize around any identity? This is a valid critique, one that advocates of queer pedagogy might see as an irrefutable contradiction; however, we can look again to Haslanger for insight. Although there is not one unifying factor that connects all women or all men, it would be foolish to deny the exi stence of "woman" and "man" as social categories, identities Haslanger argues are predicated upon oppressive systems of power and must ultimately be deconstructed. Thus, deconstruction can only occur if we recognize the need to organize around the identiti es themselves, challenging the elements of womanhood and manhood that lead to inequality. Indian Brook is undoubtedly a camp (primarily) for girls, but through this, it offers a space to deconstruct the normative and deleterious notions of femininity that lead to the widespread subordination of women. While my thesis offers a positive conceptualization of Indian Brook's values and practices, there are undoubtedly improvements to be made. First, there was often little to no introduction or definition of gen der neutral language and pronoun use until after it had already been initiated. As a cabin counselor, I answered many campers' questions about this issue at the beginning of each session, and I think it would be highly beneficial to begin each session with a more explicit discussion on why Indian Brook strives to use gender neutral language and include gender pronouns in personal introductions. Second, though I feel Indian Brook's emphasis on gender neutrality and its acceptance of transgender individuals is ultimately a positive endeavor, there might be a way of incorporating more discussions about women and women's roles in society


75 without negating transgender individuals in the same way, I feel it would be advantageous to engage the boys at Timberlake camp in discussions about women's issues and sexism. Finally, I find the lack of racial, ethnic, and socio economic diversity at Indian Brook to have a profound affect on the way issues of gender and sex are experienced at camp; the very progressive ideas about these issues that Indian Brook imparts to its campers would probably not be so accepted if campers did not primarily come from liberal, upper middle class families. Therefore, while I feel the lessons campers (and staff) learn at camp are for the mo st part positive, it is important to keep in mind that Indian Brook's community is extremely un representative of the population at large; this affects the generalizability of queer pedagogy's success in other single sex communities. Amidst these frustrat ions and suggestions for improvements, I am left with a multitude of questions and ideas that may one day act as the catalyst for further research. To begin, in conversations with peers about my thesis topic the matter of Indian Brook's organization upon biological sex has been a frequent point of contention, and an issue I have given much consideration. It certainly seems more logical to organize on the basis of gender if Indian Brook strives to be a camp for girls, including a space for male bodied campe rs or staff who identify as girls/women, but the flexibility of Indian Brook's policy on the inclusion of transgender individuals is, in my opinion, enough to make a change in organization unnecessary. In an email exchange with the Farm & Wilderness Progra m Director Sarah Waring (interviewed in my analysis chapter), it was made clear that Farm & Wilderness values its own flexibility. Change in policy is often the result of an individual campers' or staff members' circumstance. For instance, Farm & Wildernes s


76 has not yet encountered a male bodied girl identified person who would like to attend Indian Brook, but is open to the possibility. Though I definitely endorse more frequent conversations among all staff (not just those who fill positions of authority) a bout issues of gender and sex, Indian Brook's flexibility can be seen as yet another example of its successful incorporation of queer pedagogy and ultimately, its desire to truly embrace complexity.


77 Conclusion In this thesis I began with a review of the literature regarding the construction of gender through the constant maintenance of gendered boundaries, and the effects of traditional gender roles on girls' self esteem. Because many advocates propose single sex education as a means to challenge the normative gender roles that deleteriously impact girls, I examined the arguments for and against single sex schools. Though many studies presented evidence of single sex education as beneficial to girls' self esteem, an equal amount of literature addresse d the problematic aspects of education based upon normative understandings of gender and sex. Thus, I turned to queer pedagogy, a method of education that aims to challenge dominant structures of power and involves anti sexist and anti homophobic education al initiatives. Though the research on queer pedagogy's implementation in single sex schools is lacking, several qualitative studies pointed to more positive and unrestrictive conceptualizations of gender identity in all girls schools that made use of quee r pedagogy. Following an outline of my methodology was my data analysis, where I explored Indian Brook's status as a single sex institution that implements various elements of queer pedagogy. Here, I two examples of the complexity that occurs when India n Brook challenges dominant norms of gender/sex while at the same time relying upon these conventional norms. First, I discussed the tendency of campers to implicitly favor the "empowered woman" construct over that of the "stereotypical woman," dismissing the notion of gender identity as fluid and not value laden, the idea Indian Brook is ultimately trying to put forth to its campers. Second, I examined an incident where campers were


78 inexplicitly prevented from putting on makeup prior to an activity with th e boys' camp. While this can be viewed as an example of Indian Brook's utilization of queer pedagogy through efforts to challenge heteronormativity and female sexualization, the "stereotypical woman" one who enhances her appearance in the company of men is once again relegated as an unfavorable identity, and Indian Brook does not take into account the agency of its campers. Third, I explored the ways in which Indian Brook understands and manages the complexity that arises as a result of its self identific ation as a gender inclusive "camp for girls" through an analysis of scenarios enacted during staff training week and a discussion that ensued in a staff meeting. Finally, through interviews with the Farm & Wilderness Human Resources Manager and Program Dir ector, I explore the perspective of the larger Farm & Wilderness organization in regards to Indian Brook's complexity. To conclude the thesis, in the discussion chapter I examined Indian Brook's unique standing as a single sex environment positively compl icated by queer pedagogy, as well as the various ways it can inform further research regarding queer pedagogy's implementation in other single sex institutions. In addition, I posit further questions, suggestions for improvement, and ideas for future rese arch. As it was made clear in my methods chapter, the topic of this thesis is one that I am personally invested in. Though my research does not include any direct interviews with Indian Brook campers, I do make speculations about the role Indian Brook pl ays in their lives, as I understand one of the catalysts for my thesis topic to be the intense feelings of adoration I observed many community members seemed to have for Indian Brook. At the final silent meeting of each session emotions were running high a nd many


79 campers chose to reflect on their love of camp and their place in the community, often speaking to the way Indian Brook is a place in which they feel they can truly be themselves. While I feel this notion of individual freedom was clearly seen in t he increased self confidence I found many campers had acquired by the end of the summer, I can only speak with full authority to my own experience in the community. My first summer at Indian Brook left me with a sense of confidence and empowerment that I not experienced before. I was able to work with a staff of strong, independent, and confident women, a group that truly embodied the diverse and unbounded ways in which one can identify as a woman. By the end of the summer I felt had undergone a powerful c hange: I was drastically less concerned with my appearance, felt more accepting of myself and of others, and was experiencing a new found confidence in which I felt truly able to confront any challenge. Ultimately, I believe this was the result of two fact ors: first, my involvement in a community where traditional concepts of femininity were challenged on a daily basis by promoting ideas of women as active, capable, able to face physical challenges, etc. Second, through Indian Brook's single sex organizatio n, in which my gender ceased to be a noteworthy or divisive identity, as it was my individuality, rather than a collection of preordained and discrete qualities that defined my identity. The contradictory nature of these factors is comparable to the underl ying complexity of Indian Brook that I discuss in the previous chapters. Feeling that complexity personally and most importantly, positively was truly the inspiration for this thesis. I conclude this thesis with the hope that Indian Brook will continue to act as an example of the way a single sex institution that is open to change and the dismantling of


80 oppressive structures can provide a unifying community that empowers its members to be human beings of complexity and difference who strive to challenge the restrictions imposed on them by others and ultimately, themselves. If we can instill self confidence and self love in our children, qualities often hindered by limited understandings of gender identity, we might begin to create a world in which differ ence is no longer the catalyst for violence or hate, but the foundation upon which we can connect with one another, create non exclusive communities, and achieve equality.


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