Dr. Naomi, the Tupperware Bowl Incident & Gendered Me

I’m Dr. Naomi Johnson (aka “Dr. Naomi”), associate professor and chair of Communication Studies at Longwood University.  I love my job!  My students are energetic, smart, and optimistic – they help keep me young and I learn from them.  I teach a variety of subjects at Longwood including gendered communication, organizational communication, interpersonal communication, and communication research.

If you’d asked me when I was an undergraduate student if I would be a professor of anything, I would have had told you you were crazy!  But, after 11 years in corporate life where I worked as a reporter, news editor, and district manager for a construction news organization, I decided I was ready for a change.  Eventually, I landed at University of North Carolina where I was fortunate to work with Julia T. Wood, a well-known gender and interpersonal communication scholar.  The research I conducted there under her supervision was profiled in The New York Times and Newsweek, among other news sources.

Boy or Girl?

While I enjoy teaching all my classes, the gender and communication courses hold a special place in my heart.  This is because I can see how gendered norms have influenced me from my earliest memories.  For instance, when I was seven, my mother gave me what we now refer to as the “Tupperware bowl haircut” in which it appeared that she placed a bowl over my head and chopped accordingly (she didn’t, but if your mother is an attorney, I don’t recommend that you see her for hair styling).  This situation was only exasperated when a passerby commented that I was a “cute boy.”  I cried and cried over this!

So, this idea of how something so small as chopping a few inches from my hair caused such distress and the fact that I knew at a young age what my hair was “supposed” to be like is the type of gendered norm that fascinate me.

Dr. Naomi a bit more recently…

I hope to both teach and learn more from my students in Gender and Communication about how routine and extraordinary interactions influence how we see ourselves and others.   I want to challenge restrictive gendered norms and open up new ways of thinking to live fuller lives.

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