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EDITORIAL: Maintaining healthy attitudes to gender research, practice, and teachings.

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Abstract

Taking a critical approach to any area of research interest, theoretical debate, or teaching can be a daunting endeavour. One must be prepared for critique which is often beyond that received by mainstream thought, and regularly the differences between opposing positions or opinions is so slight it can frequently be said that the argument is simply being tabled in two different ways or perspectives, but with the same conclusions being drawn and with the same end-result meaning. Constantly proposing and defending our standpoints can be exhausting, as can learning new perspectives and adapting one’s own, but in this Editorial, I shall expand how we can continue to critically discuss Androgyny, in a positive & meaningful way.
British Mensa’s: ANDROGYNY, Volume 2 (Issue 1) - 1 -
Editorial:
Maintaining healthy attitudes to gender
research, practice, and teachings.
Sergio A. Silverio
Taking a critical approach to any area of research interest,
theoretical debate, or teaching can be a daunting endeavour.
One must be prepared for critique which is often beyond that
received by mainstream thought, and regularly the differences
between opposing positions or opinions is so slight it can
frequently be said that the argument is simply being tabled in
two different ways or perspectives, but with the same
conclusions being drawn and with the same end-result meaning.
Constantly proposing and defending our standpoints can be
exhausting, as can learning new perspectives and adapting one’s
own, but in this Editorial, I shall expand how we can continue
to critically discuss Androgyny, in a positive & meaningful way.
The release of this issue marks the
beginning of the second volume for British
Mensa’s: ANDROGYNY. Once again, I am
incredibly proud to have the continued
opportunity to preside over such an
inclusive publication and I am ever-more
determined to keep providing such a space
in which these debates on gender,
sexuality, and much more, can thrive. This
issue contains an extremely informative
piece by Sam Burton and Patrick Bratin on
the changing messages about women in
(alcohol) advertising. In my opinion this is
a very concise paper, but one with a very
important and strongly put-across
message: ‘Things have indeed changed, but
not as far as we may have hoped!’.
Furthermore, we see the return of
Olga Lucía Patiño as a contributor to this
publication, with an insightful debate on
how Columbians and Indians differ in their
approaches to, and acceptance of non-
binary gender lifestyles. It is at this point
that I would like to urge you, our readers,
to open-up similar debates amongst your
own social circles, and should you desire
more information on the content of the
journal, to contact the authors directly to
discuss their works. Moreover, the
opportunity to write-in and respectfully
question or critique the featured work
remains as an integral part of the Editorial
section. Whilst Letters are limited to 500
words, I strongly encourage them from all
readers and contributors.
On the topic of the Editorial section,
those keen of eye amongst you may realise
this issue has a slightly changed look
about it, notably the extended Editorial
from myself, but throughout especially in
terms of layout and spacing. This is true,
though I must confess it is not for any more
interesting a reason than I have simply
learnt some more advanced skills on
Microsoft Word! Taking full advantage of
some Editorial license in order to deliver a
slightly extended Editorial for this issue,
however, has allowed me to purposefully
use some space to explain these changes,
whilst clarifying why the March issue has
been released later than planned and to
discuss how we can continue to take a
critical approach going forward.
So, with the changes addressed, on
to the late-release. This is purely down to
a logistical issue that being one Editor
[Me] making up the whole Editorial team,
and that same Editor relocating house and
home, whilst starting a new job. I am not
wishing to excuse myself for the
postponement, but rather merely proffering
some explanation behind this issues delay
in reaching your doormats, letter boxes,
and e-mail inboxes.
- 2 - British Mensa’s: ANDROGYNY, Spring Edition March 2018
The delay has also been linked to
the notion of maintaining a critical
approach in gender and sexuality or more
specifically: Androgyny studies. As an
Academic Psychologist with a specific
research focus on the mental health and
social wellbeing outcomes of women’s
gender identity issues, I spend much of my
time disagreeing with mainstream
approaches to mental health diagnoses
and treatments, whilst also challenging the
extant socio-political narratives and
prevailing discourses around feminism and
social cohesion. Adopting a critical stance
can often mean the road ahead is
somewhat combative and littered with
people to whom you are expected to justify
your thoughts, rationale, and even as at
times it may see, your very raison d'être as
an academic. Alas, I do not mind. To
repeatedly defend one’s practice, research,
and teachings is part of the lifeblood of
academia, however, that is not to say that
it is not tiring, nor difficult at times. Of
late, in various projects outside of British
Mensa’s: ANDROGYNY, I have had to at
different times defend my theoretical,
methodological, pedagogical, ontological,
epistemological, philosophical, and
psychological positions, and have engaged
in deep reflection of my positionality as a
researcher, writer, and academic. This
has, unfortunately, all taken time out from
that usually dedicated to my Editorial
activities and more over my obligated
duties associated with this journal.
However, inside of British Mensa’s:
ANDROGYNY, I have also reflected on my
Editorial position. You will see at the end
of this issue there is a series of three
watercolours, by the excellent returning
artist: Rachael Writer-Davies. When these
were first sent to me, they represented
almost too perfectly how women can be the
subject of sexualisation and shame over
lifecourse (perhaps because one of the
projects I was in the midst of completing
outside of this journal, was a book chapter
on exactly that). Nonetheless, I had
instantly seen a maternal figure; a middle-
aged woman; and finally, an older woman
who was more ashamed of her body, hence
is turned away. Rachael, disagreed stating
this narrative could perpetuate a negative
discourse and stereotype of female body
image, and with some more reflection I
could not help but agree with her. My
viewpoint had epitomised a wider
hegemonic, heteronormative, societal
discourse about the “ideal feminine” the
very issue I write about most frequently
and to which I work hard day-on-day to
break down and reconstruct in a more
psychologically beneficial and less harmful
(or toxic) way.
You see readers, here both Rachael
and I had the same conclusion: that
contemporary society perpetuates a
negative stereotype of the ‘ideal feminine’
being the appropriate body image for
women and that we should be more
accepting of those who do not meet this
arbitrary norm. However, where I saw the
paintings as representative of this to act as
a warning to society, I can now see how in
fact displaying them with such a story
could in fact further cement those harmful
clichés.
As humans we are fallible, and I
realise that one person’s vision is not
sufficient to meet the needs of everyone
who reads and contribute to this journal
and so I made the decision to begin the
process of contacting people from across
the World to assist with the Editorial
process and ensure we present to our
readers the best possible content from as
wide disciplinary -reach as we possibly
can. Believe me when I say, I am
constantly attempting to improve this
publication for readers and contributors,
but I shall always be grateful of
suggestions, so please do not hesitate to
make contact if you do want to suggest
alternatives. I hope you also engage in
some reflection after this issue, but for
now, I hope you enjoy the read ahead.
Sergio A. Silverio
S.A.Silverio@outlook.com
Twitter: @Silverio_SA_
Editor & ANDROGYNY SIG Secretary
EGA Institute for Women’s Health,
University College London
Please cite as:
Silverio, S.A. (2018). Editorial: Maintaining
healthy attitudes to gender research,
practice, and teachings. British
Mensa’s: ANDROGYNY, 2(1), 1-2.
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