WGST 194.03 - W.O.C. Feminism // Third Wave Feminism : Theory, Practice + Activism

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Jane Addams School for Democracy


Some info about JAS:


The Jane Addams School Website



We meet on Mondays and Wednesday nights at Humboldt High School on the West Side of St. Paul.


If you're interested in participating, hanging out with us, come!

You can email me--lpricewaldman@macalester.edu. I'll be gone next semester, so if you want to go then, contact Derek Johnson: djohnson@hhh.umn.edu.

Humboldt is about a 15 minute drive from Mac, or an hour bus ride. You'll always be able to find someone from Mac, the U, St. Kates, etc to ride with if you don't have a car.




Jane Addams: Social Worker, Feminist, Peace Activist

Saturday, December 10, 2005

In college, and as I devote energy to different forms of social activism as well as academics, I try to push myself continually to enact the ideas of feminism in my life. It is a constant challenge for me; it is so easy to read some shit in scholarly articles or even third wave personal narratives, but taking those stories and critically looking at my relationships with people and institutions is the hard work that needs to go on in between.

When I think that pressing issues for feminism today, I think about the need to organize people to both work to tear down oppressive institutions and to question their own involvement in those institutions. That is a really broad statement...But it’s like, clearly there are some specific institutions that, right now, are so important for feminists to organize around. A lot of people have mentioned them already – issues such as prison reform, especially given the feminization of imprisonment, especially for non-violent crimes or crimes in response to abuse from husbands or fathers; economics/welfare, with the feminization of poverty worldwide as well as the rollbacks in social services in the US and other industrialized states; reproductive rights, including race and class based issues of access to birth control and constructions of deviant black motherhood. There are so many other issues, and I can’t, from my position, really say what are the most important specific issues for feminism and women without really actively involving myself in the communities that are most affected by these oppressive institutions.

I think the second part that maybe feminism needs to deal with is getting people active and organized. Something that I put squarely on my shoulders as a privileged white male is how to be more active in pushing people, organizing people, from my own communities of privilege. And that starts with myself, and organizing myself to be more critical of systems of oppression that operate within myself and that I receive privilege from and sometimes support. I look at campus activism at Macalester, and sometimes get really frustrated and disillusioned when I see people way to comfortable in their privilege without really questioning a lot of things. But then, I have to remind myself how many ways that I am complicit and other people might be revolted by my complacency, and that I need to continually push myself to think about what I can do most actively to build a movement that works to end all systems of oppression and domination. And I think a lot about how to effectively communicate with people who don’t have the same background of academics, dont talk in the same jargon...and especially as I get ready to graduate, I need to really start pushing myself to effectively communicate and to both ask myself questions but to be able to ask important questions of other people about feminism, privilege, and oppression.
peace,
jason

Thursday, December 08, 2005

final post

what are the most important issues facing feminism? i don't know. i'm not sure that's the right question necessarily. feminists present a plurality of often contradicting voices, which should be a source of power rather than stagnation. and because of the differences among self-identified feminists, everyone is going to have a different agenda. what i believe is most important may not be what is most important to you. the only thing i believe should be tacitly agreed on is that there be open, critical dialogue in the pursuit of liberation. that's not to say i'm going to agree with other people's agendas. we should all be prepared for debate when it's necessary. but for me, personally, the most important issues are probably:
apoliticism/political apathy. some literature has blamed this partly on postmodern feminism, but i believe you can embrace a postmodern framework (as i do) and still be political. certainly the attempt at constant self reflexivity, the nature of power and the fallacy of social categories may seem to present obstacles to political activism, but these things can happen throughout the process of political action, it needn't be a process that has to be completed before political activism proceeds.
feminism in the context of global capitalism. i myself stand staunchly opposed to global capitalism and much of the third wave literature we've read, as others have pointed out, has certainly invested itself in the global capitalist system, which i find problematic.
the way feminism as a field approaches women outside the US, particularly women in the global south. several things come to mind: the poor women who needs to be saved by feminism because she is oppressed by the deeply embedded machismo of her backwards culture, the strong woman who is in touch with the earth and will save us all, etc

but most of all i suppose i see a need for a greater acceptance of plurality. by this i don't necessarily mean inclusion of more women, more voices (which obviously i'm for also), but understanding the many types of feminism can occur at the same time without necessarily working in opposition. i'm not sure how to explain this clearly. the best way is to say that i have a problem with the categorization of feminism in wave, which creates what i believe is a false timeline of feminist activity. of course there are generational aspects to "second wave" and "third wave" feminism, but that does not mean that people of our generation do not identify more closely with "second wave" feminism, nor that there was this definitive end to "second wave" that led to "third wave", as this terminology implies. it's the same problem i have with the categorization of modern v. postmodern, as if what is categorized as postmodern though suddenly emerged from the ashes of modernism, while the reality is that existed when modernism prevailed just as modernist thought continues today. it's sort of this black and white, either/or, uphold dichotomies outlook.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Demosthenes - Final Post

I have recently been reading Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts and it has brought up a lot of issues that i think could be discussed a bit more in our class. For example how has the State continued to weild control of minority women in regards to their bodies, their right to reproduce? What are some of the issues that affect women who are "poor" - what do they need the Feminist movement to do for them? Our class has touched on some of these issues but i think it would be really interesting to delve a little deeper. To bring in texts that outline and detail continual abuses to women of color and women in general. I am looking at my shelf right now and the neon green spine of Body Outlaws continues to draw my eyes. I feel as if the State, the media, popular culture, is continually trying to make us weak, make us doubt ourselves, the power that we have within. Obsessed with our bodies, our imperfections, we lose sight of our power as a collective. I guess thats what i loved about "Cunt". She stresses that we are all women, that we have power, and its this power that scares "men" or those in power and with education, with understanding ourselves, our bodies, our beauty, change can happen. She puts it beautifully: "Ignorance is the most valued consciousness in America. It rends deep chasms of total distrust and perpetuates meanspiritedness bar none. Education, therefore, is teh panacea for undermining all manifistations of acrimony in our society." (128) So i guess i am interested in reproductive "rights" for lower class women, the availability of abortions and birth control, rape laws, and completely Changing our perceptions of ourselves (i don't know if thats possible, but i'm hoping it might be)!
As inga says - we need to reconsecrate our desecrated church.
i'm all for that.
~Demosthenes

Monday, December 05, 2005

Final Post

I am sorry for my lateness. Well as I reflect back on the semester there are many things I am thinking about. I feel that taking this class, is what has helped this semester be one of the best one. I really enjoyed this class, even thought I often did not participate in class what others had to say was very interesting. What I learned as a whole.... It surprised me.... I thought I knew about feminism but now I see that I am far behind and that this is just the beginning to exploring more about Women studies.
Rachel I greatly thank you for your help. Helping me understand the theory, issues that are still going on today. Thank you for making this class so good. I really enjoyed it and I am going to miss hearing the new type of Hip hop that will soon take over. It's just that people aint ready for it, but you'll see one day it will be accepted and I will hear it all over the radio. And when this day happens I will go back and remember about you the professor who introduced me to this. Thank you. Everyone in the class I thank you so much for your ideas, they were very interesting and they got me thinking so much.
Overall I think this was a great class. At first I was a little overwhelmed at the load of work, but then as I got used to the class. I saw that the load of work won't compare to the knowledge I was going to gain. I do admit at times the readings were too much. I can't believe we read books in a couple of days. But what made it the best was the fact that these books related to society today and at the same time taught us about the past. I just want to Thank you overall for letting me take this class. I remember I was one of those students that harrassed you in order to be let into the class. I thank you so much for the opportunity.

Last post

Sorry this is late, everybody; it was one item on a long list of things that must be accomplished in the next two weeks and was inadvertantly overlooked. Okay, so some things I've been thinking about in terms of this class:

-I've been trying to figure out how to talk to people outside Mac and other relatively left-leaning environments about feminism (/everything else connected with it we've discussed in class) without immediately turning them off. I especially think of my little sister, who goes to BYU, who I'm so afraid will never get exposed to the kinds of things I've read and learned in this class and at Macalester in general. I know that she and I agree about a lot of things (including resentment of the rigid gender roles advocated by our religious upbringing), but there's so much other crap out that there influences people, not to mention the 30,000 other Mormons on her campus advocating pretty much the exact same church-prescribed views as everyone else. I'm not really sure how this can apply to feminism broadly, but I wish I knew a way to influence my family without resorting to the missionary-style efforts that I resent so much coming from them in relation to their beliefs. Anyway, a personal dilemma I guess, but one that I've been thinking about all along, especially when I found particularly enlightening and/or enjoyable readings I wanted my sister to be able to read.

-My one other really unresolved feeling came from the readings and discussions about race we've had in the class. I know that I've been extremely privileged coming from a white middle-class American family that values education, etc. I recognize this, but I don't really know what to do after that. Obviously, it can never hurt to read and talk to people and learn more, but sometimes I feel like, "I've got my white guilt, now what do I do with it?" I wished that some of the readings had more of a praxis-y application part where they propose some solutions or ideas for people to try out. I know it's not everybody else's job to tell me what I need to do, but sometimes I'm at a loss for what the next step should be. Perhaps this all my own personal failing, but it's definitely something I've been thinking about all along.

-One last thing, I'm so sick of hearing ho-ey celebrities calling themselves "feminists." I know, I know, we're not supposed to judge their choices, but their choices suck. I hate the way the title has been appropriated by people who are obviously working with the whitesupremacistcapitalistpatriarchy for their own interests. There's not really anything I can do about that because people hand them microphones for some reason, but it's ridiculous. Anyway, thanks to everybody for all the fascinating, thought-provoking participation in the class; I've learned a lot a lot and feel a little bit more like I'll be a legitimate Mac grad with this class under my belt.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hey,

So the first issue I'm thinking about for this final post is something that I've been aware of throughout the course. When I was in 4th and 5th grade a program came to my school called the Girls Project. The premise of the Girls Project is that girls often at the age of 9 and 10 are still confident, good students, and then around middle school there is inevitably a breakdown: girls participate less in class, they begin to loose confidence in their bodies and persons - so the Girls project tried to prevent this breakdown by teaching what is essentially a simplistic course in feminism to girls before the ages when they are most affected to try to prevent this breakdown. In the program we did such things as talk with a gynecologist about our bodies, we made cheers, skits, put on performances, visited the Ms. Foundation's offices, had lessons on stereotypes and body image. However inevitably most of the girls who I went through this program experienced and went through many of the things the Girl's project worked to prevent regardless of the merit of the program and it's work.

What I'm wondering about - especially after seeing that book in class about Girl culture and the way we as girls and then women absorb the stereotypes and expectations we are subjected to by the media and society - is how do you teach feminism to girls? How do you describe concepts as convoluted as Identity politics to a pre-college age group - and what age should be targeted to help girls avoid many of the pitfalls there are out there for women growing up in terms of hating themselves, one another, hurting themselves, hurting their lives with bad decisions as a result of not having the knowledge neccesary to see through alot of the bullshit thrown at women from all sides.

Another issue I've been thinking about is the many different ways sexism and oppression manifests in different races and cultures of women. It is interesting how we are all subjected to one image of what it is to be a girl but it gets filtered through our identities. Thus, often when you talk to girls from different economic backgrounds, different ethnicities, from different parts of the world their insecurities are very different. To give general and perhaps stereotypical examples: from the Jewish girl who wants a new nose to the black girl who hates her hair to the gentile girl who wont eat etc. It all amounts to the same but it's striking to me the way this self hatred is so contingent apon these variables of enviornment and identity, and it makes me wonder whose Identity are we told to assume if no women anywhere seems to be free of this self doubt.

This class has been really important for me and the stuff I've learned has given me this new lens to examine my experiences, growing up and even in the present. What I'm curious about is how people are planning to apply the ideas from this class because I'm trying to figure out myself what the best outlet for this new knowledge is.

Owen's Final Post

I remember noting in my very first post that I felt that one of the problems with feminism is that so many people have no exposure to it: I felt guilty about my only taking one class to fulfill a diversity req. I've come to the end of this course and I now feel completely different. I'm not sure how aware many of my classmates are about the enormous amount of change I've undergone in that classroom. Since about senior year in high school I've considered myself a "feminist," but it really was not until now that I knew anything about what that meant. That said, I think one of the major "problems" (issues / something to tackle / whatever) with feminism and many feminists is the seemingly restrictive nature it frequently seems to possess. Until my senior year, I didn't feel comfortable calling myself a feminist, though I agreed with so much of what feminism had to say and do. Many Many Many Many people are still in that situation. I feel that just because one person says they are a feminist does not mean they agree with anything another feminist thinks: feminism is such a powerful and ubiquitous force that it becomes fragmented. But thats ok! So, to sum up that thought, feminism should branch out more than it has: feminists should confront those who still think that all feminists think the most important social cause they have is to change the name of everything containing the words "man" or "his" to a gender neutral phrase (personhole-cover??). Many people are feminists but don't know they are.
I wanna close my final post by thanking all of you. I know this is really really really cheesy, but this class has meant a lot to me. Everyday I sat in the corner and was quiet, but I was absorbing everything I could. I literally had no exposure to feminism before I came to Mac, and finally, as a junior, I decided to get in depth with it and take a class. My opinions, my values, and even the way I watch movies or tv have been changed for the better. thankya~~ owen

whew.

I feel listened to. I feel like I've listened to some amazing narratives. I've learned so much vocabulary and background. And I've learned that I'm not the only one asking these questions. Wohoo!! Thank you, everyone!!

As for my Top Three, I guess... in no particular order...

1) science. human biology. how knowledge production in these fields influences society and in/directly results in things for us to analyze and even bitch about in this class. the historical pathologization of female bodies and intersex bodies and transitioning bodies and the lack of research (and in science, research = affirmation of one's existence) involving them in a non-OHMYGOD-WGSS-majors'-"problematic alarms"-are-blaring way. how the academy's, organizers', and third wave's feminisms can be complemented by a basic understanding of science, esp. medical science--its history, what it means for mainstream society, and literally how our bodies work and how we can appreciate our bodies' various experiences of health. more on this in my presentation. oh yay.

2) race is ridiculously important. you are not colorblind, you idiot. (no, not you, my dear classmates.) colorblindness is not a good, remotely practical idea. I think color matters. I love it--mine and others'. a lot of people don't, and they make life hell for countless people. you can't ignore that or pretend you don't contribute to color's significance and still expect to go to heaven when you die.

3) how feminism is applicable to me and important in my work if I'm not a full-time Activist or Organizer in the sense that you first think of when you hear those words. how what we've talked about in this class is important and informs the work (ahem, practice) of everyone--teachers, doctors, police officers, cab drivers, file clerks, flight attendants, hair stylists, firefighters, diplomats, lab technicians, etc. etc. etc. EVERYONE--in their respective fields of employment. and I'm talking about the employed because our society told me that you have to have a job to count and matter and 'make a difference.' aah. I'm hoping, though, after a semester, you know where I'm going with this.

anyway, it's been real.

or has it?

mess

In making some final posts to this course blog please post on what you think are the most relevant issues facing feminists today - "on the ground", in the academy, in our everyday lives... (maybe a couple links/images to things you have noted in your journals and/or for your final projects)

one of the most relevant issues that i believe are facing feminists today is finding a balance between focusing on one's gender and where that places them in the world in conjunction with their other identities of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. i reached this conclusion after some inspiration from the heywood and drake reading "it's all about the benjamins". one point early on in the article expresses the many gains that women have made, but questions 'at what cost'? from this short section of focuusing more so "on the expanded possibilities for racial and sexual minorities" to more visible in public spaces, i took a lot more away (all of this with a specific focus on feminism...i guess that's kind of a duh comment lol). to me it seems that, yes, racial and sexual minorities have made quantum leaps in the amount of power and visibility that they have, but the more i thought about what heywood and drake were (maybe?) trying to say, i thought to myself "okay, as racial and sexual minorities continue to gain power, basically moving closer to the amount of power that whites (specifically middle-class, heterosexual, white women) have, but hitting a glass ceiling for the hopes of advancing WOMEN'S rights because of the focus, controversy and energy placed on racial and sexual minorities. in no way am i complaining about the attention that is placed on advancing racial and sexual minorities, as i am one who benefits greatly...im just trying to think through this new idea that wanting to have the same rights as white women isn't the greatest goal and that one should aim for something higher. (i'm sorry for the confusion that this paragraph may have caused)
other issues that are messing with my head right now concern the government and how fucked up/one-sided it's policies and actions are...which is why mr. bush's support is down by 50 points. but seriously, i have problems with public healthcare regulations, forgotten katrina victims, prison industrial workers (i just threw that in the mix), rape victims in iraq (and other countries that we're trying to colonize), secret prisons in europe...the gov't is just messing up right now.
1. public healthcare: i have a problem understanding the huge disparity in quality between public and private healthcare and how these issues continue with minimal (public) challenge. in some under/less developed countries there is a general establishment of general healthcare for everyone, so i don't understand why, in a powerhouse like the US, we're slacking in the game.
2.prison industrial workers: i find it problematic that [US] prisoners are being exploited by having to perform forced labor for larger corporations. their labor is practically free (i'm sure somebody in the prison is getting some $ on the side) while the turn-around rate is ridiculous.
3. rape victims in iraq (other countries we'd like to colonize): we haven't heard much about these women and children, but with every war comes the booty (pun-intended), and i feel that the intrusion into country in conjunction with intrusion into body has been downplayed this time around.
...right now my head's kind of crazy and thinking in a lot of direction, but i've written down my strongest feelings

Lindsey's Disjointed Final Thoughts

It is too overwhelming for me to try and almost rank what issues are most important to me, and inevitably I will end up repeating what someone else has sad because I support everything that has been written so far. That said, there are a number of things that I have been thinking about recently which I feel are relavent to mention.
Issue 1-4 (and probably more) as connected to Dorothy Roberts’ Killing the Black Body:
In Race, Place, and Space, which Liz and Jason and I are in right now with Karin, we are reading a book called Killing the Black which we are discussing in relation to how bodies become racialized spaces. This book is particularly looking at the (1) black female body as a racialized space, and the consequences of this, particularly in relation to reproductive freedom. What this has brought up in our class is a discussion of motherhood which was very intense and uncomfortable and frustrating, though I am still not really able to articulate why. I think a small part of what I found so frustrating was the affirmation of the nuclear family that kept coming up, even if not explicitly. I think this discussion of (2)motherhood as a concept, and the nuclear/national family as a byproduct of motherhood (or maybe visa versa, I don’t know) is really interesting. Dicussion of motherhood is particularly interesting to look at through a feminist lens because of the stickiness between motherhood and being a way to validate womanhood. (3)This is problematized further when we uphold certain kinds of mothering, because what does it mean for womanhood if someone is not correctly performing this ideal motherhood? Then there is this issue of criminalization, demonization, and henceforth incarceration of women who are not performing good mothering- the author, Dorothy Roberts, rights about women who were imprisoned for child abuse before their child was born because of crack use during pregnancy. This brings up the (4) policing of bodies of color, but also in a way which I need to think about more, gender subvertents, because on some level the women Roberts wrote about were incarcerated for not correctly performing female gender. I might be making giant leaps here, but these are al things that I have been mulling over and it all connects, if tangentially, to what I find to be important issues in feminism.

Issue 5ish: Harm Reduction, for a change of pace
I have been working at a syringe exchange in Minneapolis called Access Works for the past yeat, and have thought a lot about harm reduction as a practice and what it means. Harm reduction, essentially, is: “a set of practical strategies that reduce negative consequences of drug use, incorporating a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use to abstinence. Harm reduction strategies meet drug users "where they're at," addressing conditions of use along with the use itself. Because harm reduction demands that interventions and policies designed to serve drug users reflect specific individual and community needs, there is no universal definition of or formula for implementing harm reduction” (from Harm Reduction Coaliton).
For a long time I felt that being non-judgemental meant not being able to acknowledge the severity of drug use, but I don’t necessarily feel that is the case anymore. I also think it is really intersting to consider how harm reduction as a practice can be applied to other activities, such as sex and sex work.

I am sorry I was not more specific with my issues. Hope everyone finishes up the semseter well. See you tomorrow.

final post

Wow its really coming to the end of class... this is crazy. It seems like I was just writing my first post about who I was and all that. This class has really made me think about a lot of things that never really seemed important to me before. I know in high school I always just thought of feminism as Susan B Anthony and the right to vote. Now I can see how feminists really address so much more than just something as simple as the right to vote. There are SO many other issues.

One issue that I've been thinking about, and that has to do with my final project is injustices in the education system. There are so many schools that are underfunded, but the schools that have money just keep getting more. The focus of education has switched from learning, and teaching children for the love of seeing them learn, to teaching them because they need to pass a test and if they fail the school and the teacher's pay will suffer. Everything has changed from doing something just for the good of doing it to a personal gain especially related to money. Children have become almost numbers, categorized by age, race and gender. In class we talked about feminism and breaking out of boxes, but our educational system theses days is all about boxes and putting schools into boxes of schools that are doing well and ones that are "in need of improvement" according to the No Child Left Behind act. It seems like this is something that feminists should look at, because the children are our future, and if we expect anything to change we need to start with them.

Another issue that this class made me think about a lot more was that of body image. In class, and in reading Body Outlaws we went over extreme body image issues but what about the girls who aren't anorexic, overweight, without any disorders, without any major extreme issues? What about the average girls? Ever since last spring when my ex-boyfriend told me I was just an average girl on my prom night when I felt like I looked pretty good... well I've kinda wondered about this. I've never had very high self esteem and I know that it is an issue for a lot of girls. The media and images in the media are a big influence on a lot of girls, but not all of them will become anorexic, get breast implants or die their hair blonde to conform to these images. Some girls will just feel bad about themselves and do nothing about it. Besides that the media is a huge problem with any sort of body image issue... well feminists should care about all people I thought, so even the plain, average girl-next-door type of girls need representation. Maybe this is a kinda biased opinion, and maybe its not a very serious issue but its something I've been thinking about.

Finally this is a personal favorite of mine. Its not really a big global, issue of importance to most people but I've been thinking about how they took softball out of the Olympics and how unfair this is. The reasoning behind this is that it isn't an internationally played sport and that it isn't interesting basically. They use the fact that the USA team dominated and only had one run scored against them, which was in the gold medal game to back up their opinions, but the pitcher from the Japanese team is considered the best pitcher in the world. The Australian team scored a run against team USA, and my dad sent me an article about how women in Iraq are begining to play softball. I played on a summer team and we went to Nationals in Florida and there were over 300 teams there only from the East Coast. With 18 girls on each team that's 5400 girls just from the East Coast age 17, 18 and 19. There's SO many other girls who play softball and there are only a few professional teams available for girls to play on. The Olympics was something for people to dream about. Not only do I think its wrong that softball was taken out of the Olympics, but I think that there should be more professional teams available for girls to play on. This gives more of them a chance... I pretty much have NO chance of ever doing anything after college because I'm stuck playing at a D3 school because of circumstances like coming from a TINY high school. It doesn't seem fair to me that men have more professional sports leagues and women barely have any at all.

Sorry that this post was late. I took a lot longer thinking about my issues than I planned. Now I feel all corny and sentemental about this being the last post :)

Casey's Final Post

Well after this class, the blog, discussions and readings I’ve been thinking about a lot. So I suppose I have two main things that I wish we could have explored a little further in class discussions as I think it would have been interesting to go a little deeper into what people really thought about them.

1. First I think that it would be valuable to spend some time on the idea of safe space. Feminism should a safe space we hear over and over. Safe to the point that we should validate and support any ‘choice’ someone makes in the name of feminism (with exceptions such as the example of the womyns (?) music festival). We are asked to understand and accept any choice a woman makes as long as she makes it. My problem with this is that it obscures the real issue here, that choice is a privilege which to be honest most women (regardless of colour/nationality/sexuality/class) do not have. Yes some have more than others but we all live in a world run, created and policed by men or man created values. True choice is therefore not possible, instead we give ourselves a parody of consent, which is fine, we all have to live our lives and as long as we acknowledge it is a parody then that’s cool. The problem is that we don’t do that, instead I think that feminism and women in general have simply internalized the hopelessness and enormity of the problem that earlier generations of feminists pointed out and made their acceptance of the world and the way we fit into it, power. Like cool, I’m going to watch girls gone wild and buy myself a lap-dance. I’m going to buy a shirt that says boytoy or flash my thong, that means I’m liberated. Give me a break, women are still subject to society’s norms and expectations but now instead of any real commitment to changing them we have not just decided to live with them but we have decided to adopt them as ours or we retreat into endless theoretical and academic circles abstracting everything into oblivion. What feminism really needs is someone to draw the line, to confront people and say no that’s not feminism, who does that help, what does that reinforce, breakdown. If we don’t do that we have for example gwen stefani and her harem of Japanese dolls being described as the ‘next big feminist’.

2. That brings me to my second point, I think that overall in a lot of the pieces we have read and in some class/blog discussions I have heard a lot about oppression. At one point I remember all of a sudden it seemed as if everyone in the class was of colour/ marginalized by sexuality/class etc.etc. This isn’t a critique of that or any specific person. But I think that an acknowledgement of privilege especially in terms of race/nationality/ socioeconomic status is vital to feminism right now. Yes the oppression facing us as women/other marginalized groups is huge but is it easier to break down that barrier imposed from without then to break down the barriers we impose amongst ourselves. Just the fact that we go to macalester means we are privileged, lets be honest. I don’t care what anyone says, the holding of an American passport is huge, people literally die to get them. To even affect change or be trusted by some of the people I assume we want to help we need to spend a lot of time thinking about how we are privileged. Then we need to decide what to do with that privilege, how to use it, what it can do.

I guess what I think third wave feminism needs is a slap in the face, someone to sit it down and make it face itself and come to terms with its own contradictions as well as the world itself. Then we need to work out a plan to actually do something about these issues.

Final Post

I think the issue that has most fascinated and frustrated me is that of the complications that arise from the defintion of feminism as choice. As I mentioned in my last post I'm working with Levy's book, "Female Chauvinist Pigs" for my final paper, and i think that book as well as Bordo's article that we wrote our last paper on really speak to alot of issues in feminism today. That is, where are we really? There has been improvement, but has there been enough real structural change in society for us to posit stripping as liberation? And at the same time a woman deserves the right to choose stripping and who are we to say that it can't be liberating? How do we reconcile our right to choose with the very real socio-political frameworks that we operate within?

This brings me to my next point. I suppose this second point can apply to all academia, but to what extent can we say that the things we are talking about in classes translate into the non-academic world. It dawned on me when I was trying to explain the concept of "gender" as opposed to that of "sex" to my little sister that these things that I'm thinking about and the terms in which I think about them are completely alien to most people. So how can we really help anybody? How do we make this stuff accessible? How do you begin to broach a discussion of feminism that does not center around ugly, baby-hating militants or become limited to that increasingly popular "Charlie's Angels"-type feminism?

I've also become very interested in the myth of post-feminism, the backlash against feminism that we are experiencing now... etc. Also, how are feminist rhetoric and signifiers being co-opted by the white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal establishment. What are ways in which feminists can counteract that?

There's other stuff... but I think that's enough for this evening.

Hi everyone,

It’s crazy that this is our last blog post. Where has this semester gone?

First, a general reflection on our class. I’m really happy to have gotten to share this time with everyone. Some things I’ve appreciated about our class: first, how unintimidating the class has been. It’s nice to feel comfortable talking in and writing for a class. I felt like we were always welcome to contribute. Also, our class/Rachel made the material very accessible; we read and talked in very understandable language. Lastly, I think our final project is great!

However, because the focus was on accessibility as well as because we had a lot of ground to cover, I feel like we didn’t get to go very deep into many subjects. It would have been nice to have actually struggled a little more with readings and issues. Like Mimi, I wish we had had time for more reflection and discussion in class—hearing what people had to say was always good, when we got the chance to.

Important issues for feminism/academia/me right now…

1. Accessibility and applicability of feminist material and theory. Who gets to talk about these issues? What language are they using? Are they framed in a way that people actually feel connected to and able to understand the issues? Beyond just talking, does our theory hold up outside Mac/college/academia? When I go home, do I understand and believe what I’m learning enough to be able to talk about it without alienating people outside of Mac? Why are we spending all this time talking about the things we talk about? Are we growing? Who are we helping, who and what are we changing? What is our intent as we study, and what is our impact in studying and beyond? Which brings me to…

2. Responsible scholarship. It’s so hard, especially with the ridiculous, pretty rushed and unhealthy way that we approach school these days, to find the time and mental energy to always be evaluating why and how we’re studying and creating. Nonetheless, we’ve gotta do it. What does it mean that we get to sit and consume so much knowledge? Do I have the right to skim women’s personal stories about their relationships with their bodies in Body Outlaws? And in terms of creation, even if I don’t mean to do harm by writing sweeping generalities in a paper like “all women” or an unqualified “we,” I have to be aware of the impact my writing those things has. It’s so easy to read Chandra Mohanty’s ideas about the Western feminist movement’s Othering of Third World Women and then turn around and do it myself. All this locating and positioning and critical self reflection is often a lot of work, sometimes intimidating, but who are we if we let ourselves study this stuff without thinking about where we fit in it all?

I can’t wait to hear what everyone’s working on for their final projects…hope the weekend was good!

Laura

More for Third Wave to think about...

What I think would be interesting for the Third Wave to do would be a revisting of historical works, concepts, institutions, etc., and examine the conemporary consequences of these things after their re-examination with a Third Wave lens. More specifically, and what I am doing my final project on is literature. As an English major, I find that women writers, especially classically well known writers (contemporary ones in fact), are often boxed into categories, and taught and remembered as such (Emily Dickinson as a hysterical suicidal woman poet, Virgin Woolf as a feminist). The people who create and label these cateories are both men and women alike, but both are playing into a really fundamental need our society has ingrained in it to categorize and neatly organize everything (one findamental issue that didn't seem to get to much resoltuion for me anyway). I think that re-examining famous literary works that have a lot of contemporary implications is worth doing, because I think a VERY different reading would turn a lot of academic understanding on its head. Branching out from literature, who knows what we could learn from philosophy, sociology, political science, etc. if instead of automatically catgorizing an author's work based on an abstract, academia atempts to embrace, teach, and spread the fact that writing and studies won't be devoid of contradiction (even writers and philosophers are human), and perhaps the intentions and feelings of others can't be placed into an easily understandable, underlinable course title or library bar code.

Inaction

One of the biggest issues I think about is going from talk to action. I feel like I complain all the time about this or that, but I don't do anything about it, and I know that I'm not the only one. It's too easy for me to just sit around and talk about issues that interest me or make me angry. But I do need space to talk, reflect, vent, and to discuss. Yet I can't help but feel that I do that way too much. And even after all that we've read about action, I still fail to be proactive for the most part. I feel like it is too easy to become trapped in this little bubble of Macalester. I can theorize for the rest of my life and I am not sure how much of a difference it would make if I didn't accompany it with some sort of action. I am really interested in the US prison system as well. That's why I am really excited about the Junior Seminar. I really want to combine learning in the academic sense with learning through actual application.

Yet I do want to say, on a more positive note, that I really enjoyed the readings we did for this class. I liked reading the collections of different stories about feminism that didn't necessarily follow the upper middle class white feminism that seems to dominate academic spaces, like Colonize This!. It was refreshing to read work by people who are not necessarily "academics", but even more, I enjoyed the ways that their pieces connected various feminist issues to themselves. It wasn't simply about theorizing some distant issue, but about discussing the ways that particular issues affected their lives or the lives of people they knew.

Hey,

So the first issue I'm thinking about for this final post is something that I've been aware of throughout the course. When I was in 4th and 5th grade a program came to my school called the Girls Project. The premise of the Girls Project is that girls often at the age of 9 and 10 are still confident, good students, and then around middle school there is inevitably a breakdown: girls participate less in class, they begin to loose confidence in their bodies and persons - so the Girls project tried to prevent this breakdown by teaching what is essentially a simplistic course in feminism to girls before the ages when they are most affected to try to prevent this breakdown. In the program we did such things as talk with a gynecologist about our bodies, we made cheers, skits, put on performances, visited the Ms. Foundation's offices, had lessons on stereotypes and body image. However inevitably most of the girls who I went through this program experienced and went through many of the things the Girl's project worked to prevent regardless of the merit of the program and it's work.

What I'm wondering about - especially after seeing that book in class about Girl culture and the way we as girls and then women absorb the stereotypes and expectations we are subjected to by the media and society - is how do you teach feminism to girls? How do you describe concepts as convoluted as Identity politics to a pre-college age group - and what age should be targeted to help girls avoid many of the pitfalls there are out there for women growing up in terms of hating themselves, one another, hurting themselves, hurting their lives with bad decisions as a result of not having the knowledge neccesary to see through alot of the bullshit thrown at women from all sides.

Another issue I've been thinking about is the many different ways sexism and oppression manifests in different races and cultures of women. It is interesting how we are all subjected to one image of what it is to be a girl but it gets filtered through our identities. Thus, often when you talk to girls from different economic backgrounds, different ethnicities, from different parts of the world their insecurities are very different. To give general and perhaps stereotypical examples: from the Jewish girl who wants a new nose to the black girl who hates her hair to the gentile girl who wont eat etc. It all amounts to the same but it's striking to me the way this self hatred is so contingent apon these variables of enviornment and identity, and it makes me wonder whose Identity are we told to assume if no women anywhere seems to be free of this self doubt.

This class has been really important for me and the stuff I've learned has given me this new lens to examine my experiences, growing up and even in the present. What I'm curious about is how people are planning to apply the ideas from this class because I'm trying to figure out myself what the best outlet for this new knowledge is.

Hey,

So the first issue I'm thinking about for this final post is something that I've been aware of throughout the course. When I was in 4th and 5th grade a program came to my school called the Girls Project. The premise of the Girls Project is that girls often at the age of 9 and 10 are still confident, good students, and then around middle school there is inevitably a breakdown: girls participate less in class, they begin to loose confidence in their bodies and persons - so the Girls project tried to prevent this breakdown by teaching what is essentially a simplistic course in feminism to girls before the ages when they are most affected to try to prevent this breakdown. In the program we did such things as talk with a gynecologist about our bodies, we made cheers, skits, put on performances, visited the Ms. Foundation's offices, had lessons on stereotypes and body image. However inevitably most of the girls who I went through this program experienced and went through many of the things the Girl's project worked to prevent regardless of the merit of the program and it's work.

What I'm wondering about - especially after seeing that book in class about Girl culture and the way we as girls and then women absorb the stereotypes and expectations we are subjected to by the media and society - is how do you teach feminism to girls? How do you describe concepts as convoluted as Identity politics to a pre-college age group - and what age should be targeted to help girls avoid many of the pitfalls there are out there for women growing up in terms of hating themselves, one another, hurting themselves, hurting their lives with bad decisions as a result of not having the knowledge neccesary to see through alot of the bullshit thrown at women from all sides.

Another issue I've been thinking about is the many different ways sexism and oppression manifests in different races and cultures of women. It is interesting how we are all subjected to one image of what it is to be a girl but it gets filtered through our identities. Thus, often when you talk to girls from different economic backgrounds, different ethnicities, from different parts of the world their insecurities are very different. To give general and perhaps stereotypical examples: from the Jewish girl who wants a new nose to the black girl who hates her hair to the gentile girl who wont eat etc. It all amounts to the same but it's striking to me the way this self hatred is so contingent apon these variables of enviornment and identity, and it makes me wonder whose Identity are we told to assume if no women anywhere seems to be free of this self doubt.

This class has been really important for me and the stuff I've learned has given me this new lens to examine my experiences, growing up and even in the present. What I'm curious about is how people are planning to apply the ideas from this class because I'm trying to figure out myself what the best outlet for this new knowledge is.

all ages, all body types, all voices

I think everyone has mentioned important facets of the Third Wave Feminist Movement. Here are several of my thoughts that include both central foci I believe the femist movement should take up and personal interests/struggles:

1) One area I need to explore more thoroughly for myself and others is general healthiness including mental health, body image, physical health, etc. We read Body Outlaws and heard the stories of many women, often stories about what they dislike about their bodies, but we didn't spend that much time talking about our own bodies on the Macalester campus or in other spaces we find ourselves in. I am lucky to have grown up around several very self-confident women who were role models as people who embraced their own bodies and the body shapes of other people. For many women, however, the messages and images they recieve tell them their bodies are not right. Breaking these misconceptions means not only providing media education and other education about feminism but really creating a supportive community for women. In a supportive community, more women could claim feminism. I also believe strongly in creating bonds between many age groups of women. This would link, for example, second wave feminists to third wave feminists and everyone could learn from each other rather than segregating women of different age groups into college students, mothers, kids, grandmothers, professional women, etc.

2) Something that's of great interest to me (and that I'm writing my paper on) is musical women. I myself am a flautist and have struggled for a long time to figure out where music - classical music, in particulr - fits into my life. Music is a channel to put my perfectionism, emotion, enthusiasm, and many other characteristics into. However, classical music is a fairly elitist and removed pastime that sometimes feels completely disconnected from the struggles of people fighting racism, sexism, war, poverty, corpratization, etc. While I don’t know if it is realistic for me to bring all these battles, in which I’m active outside my music playing, into my musical life, I am learning that feminism certainly has a place if I’m prepared to challenge some otherwise pretty stagnant practices in classical music. In particular, there is a body of literature on women in performance and how their bodies are objectified, how music is mediated by gender and the classism and future of classical music. I am playing in a recital on Tuesday the 6th and am hoping to read something before I play that gets people thinking.

3) Finally, I really wish we had had more time for class discussions in this course. I was glad to read about other people’s stories and the theory was interesting too but for my own personal development, live discussion is the most useful. However, I am looking forward to the presentations as a way to get to know more people in our class and hear their ideas.

The Problem with Waves

I'm not sure how I feel about defining feminism in waves anymore. I think the concept of waves tends to obscure the ideologies and activities of feminists outside of what is typically defined as the First, Second, and now Third Waves. Instead, I think it's more effective to define different types of feminism according to similar interests, goals, and tactics, like we've seen in hip-hop feminism, Third World feminism, and power feminism. The problem is not that there are a proliferation of feminist ideologies or that there still isn't a consensus of what defines a feminist. In fact, I think these differences and uncertainties enrich the interactions, communities, and discourses of people who claim feminism. The problem lies in claiming that one kind of feminism represents all feminisms. During the 1960s and 1970s middle-class, hetero, white feminists claimed their activities and issues as the Feminism. Feminist interventions by people like women-of-color feminists, and lesbian and bisexual feminists asserted that representing middle-class/white/straight feminism as all-encompassing did not represent the feminist issues of people who did not fit into that category. A positive offshoot of the "Second Wave" is that these feminists were inspired to organize around the issues important to them.

I think it's ironic that the Third Wave developed out of Third World and Women-of-Color feminisms, in a critique of middle-class/straight/white feminism's exclusivity, by distinguishing itself from the "Second Wave" as a new wave, which will only serve to alienate more people. The criticism of Third Wave feminism is that it has no specific criteria or agenda other than to criticize "the Second Wave." In "To Be Real" Rebecca Walker merely set forth to represent the diversity of issues facing contemporary feminists, but in stating that a third wave existed, the tradition of claiming a normative feminism has been continued, even under the claim that there isn't one. You cannot distinguish the Third Wave from say Third World feminism or hiphop feminism because Third World and hip-hop are parts that make up the supposed "Third Wave," which is basically just saying they are two different types of feminism within the grand landscape of people who claim feminism. And if the only distinguishing trait of the Third Wave is that it criticizes middle-class/straight/white feminism for claiming Feminism with a capital F, how then can you distinguish it from every other type of feminism out there? Everyone keeps trying to figure out what the Third Wave is all about, but we can't really define it because it doesn't exist!

I think using the wave metaphor only increases the divide between different demographics of feminists. Although there are some exceptions (like power feminists criticizing women who acknowledge they're being victimized, as well as the anti-porn/pro-sex debates), and granted there will always be debate, most feminists aren't against each other. The criticism is never of lesbians being too uppidity about homophobia or women of color complaining too much about racial discrimination; the criticism is of anyone who claims a normative feminism as exclusionary. Despite Walker's best intentions, the wave metaphor only serves to create a new feminist norm (no matter how nonexistant) for people to define themselves as essentially different from, rather than as merely focused on different issues.

Feminists need to work on .... EVERYTHING

I knew something was missing. something didn't feel right to me about some aspect of the third wave. why did it make me feel uncomfortable... all this talk of reclaiming lipstick and dressing up and personal choice, personal choice, individualism, individual choice, choice choice. why didn't that jive well?

Well, can i just say I'm so glad that we read these last two readings on the third wave and globalization, because the authors really articulated very well a HUGE ISSUE that i've been thinking about all semester but haven't been able to really articulate clearly.

"Pleasure is an issue for the third wave, but it is certainly not a simple one: theory can cast light on the subjective processes, bodily experiences and social bonds that generate pleasures and assign value to them. It can also promote an understanding of the links between Western women's peasurable play with affordable fashions in clothing and make-up, and the seatshops in which Third World women and immigrants labour to procudes those sourcse of middle-class (and largely whtie) enjoyment ... the importance of thinking through the mutually constituive relatiosn between Western feminisms and feminisms in other parts of the world should be [sic] key issue... for twent-first-centruy feminists of this new 'wave'" (p. 239)

I absolutely agree. Third wave is far too concentrated on the First World. Much of the pleasure and fun that Third Wavers promote is dependent on the exploitation of both women AND men in the Third World. In a globalized world of both economics and people, it is absolutely vital that Third Wavers in the US recognize the mutually constituative realtions between their own feminisms and the feminisms of other parts of the world, particularly Third World feminisms. Otherwise, Third Wave will remain stuck in the trappings of privilege, just as the Second Wave did. Perhaps the author, Winifred Woodhull, would propose a "new wave"... that goes beyond the Third Wave and brings this feminist lens to an international scale? I wonder if that's necesary--to create a new title. Or is the Third Wave flexible enough to incorporate this idea? This idea of internationalizing feminism is related to scale and how feminisms are interpreted differently depending on the scale and the context in which they are placed. Meanings change with scale! This makes me curious about pursuing feminist geography because it seems like it would address some of these issues.

The other author we read also brought up an issue that really sticks with me... the expansion of the feminist lens, not just to Third World feminisms but to OTHER ISSUES that effect people based on other identites than gender.. i.e. anti corporate globalization activism, environmentalism, human rights, etc... The idea that feminism works to end ALL oppression, not just WOMEN'S oppression, is an idea that really appeals to me because, as the author says, "women's isues--and women activists--cannot and do not stand in isolation." I think Heywood and Drake make an excellent observation when they say that difference is now on the market and used to increase consumerism. "as corporate America searched for new markets in the 1990's, differnece was glorified and on display. Bu in this brave new world of niche marketing, everyone is valued as potential consumer, and no one is valued intrisnically." The consumerist aspect of the Third Wave still really troubles me and I'm still confused as to what my stance on it is. The authors claim that corporate globalization has necessitated the shift of focus of feminism to be working to end ALL oppression... but this makes feminism as a mvoement less visible than it was when it just focused on WOMEN's issues. It's less visible and more diffuse. My question is--does that make it less effective b/c of it's invisibility? or more effective as it frame bridges with other movements all over the world? I'm going to the World Social Forum this January in Caracas, Venezuela and one of my big questions while at the conferece will be the issue of feminism and the feminist lens on this anti-neoliberalism global social movement. My other question is how feminism can help activists not only frame-bridge with other movements and issues to end ALL oppression, but to see how feminism can help us view the oppression and exploitation of the EARTH--of NON HUMAN life, as an equally important thing to end. Currently, it seems to me, there is a great devide between those working to end the exploitation of the earth (and these folks tend to be very privileged) and those working to end oppression of humans. To me it seems necesary to bridge this devide if we ever hope to live in a socially just and environmentally sustainable way.

Finally, A very important issue to me is EDUCATION... It's something I've been working on all semester for other classes/an independent study but I have found myself continuously applying a third wave lens to my studies. Currently I'm studying the General College Truth Movement (check it out at www.webegc.org) and I encourage you all to come to their rally for access to education at the U of M on Dec. 15! I'm also thinking a lot about how to make higher education more accessible to all and also more democratic, because I see education as one of the primary bases of culture and I see a cultural revolution as necessary to the liberation of all people from oppression.

Also... applying a third wave feminist lens to other disciplines (everything from social movement theory to ecnomics and even to ecology) is KEY. I wish everyone in this school, and everyone in this country, and perhaps the world (if third wave were to expand its lens...) could take a class on third wave (new wave?) feminism.

One thing that I'm continuously thinking about (and I'm doing my project about, so this will only skim the surface) is the issue of homeless in America. I'm from New York City, where the divide between not only rich and poor but even middle class and lower middle class and poor is so great. Although the shelter systems are a little better than they used to be, they're still dangerous and it's not always better to be sleeping in a bunk there than sleeping on a park bench somewhere on Riverside Drive. At this point, people who have grown up in the City or lived there for a long time have mostly turned a blind eye on the homeless population; most often, when someone goes into a Starbucks and the door is being opened by a homeless man looking for pocket change, or late on a Thursday night when someone passes the church on 86th and Amsterdam and the steps are filled with sleeping people, we feel little to no emotion at all, and that's when we actually see these people. It's as if we've created a sort of censoring screen that filters out the disturbing parts of our daily lives and turned them into scenery. Tourists, on the other hand, absoultely see the homeless people, but they're usually too frightened of them and move to the other side of the street or change subway cars. What's particularly interesting to me is that certain groups of people, be it feminist activists or whomever, completely leave the homeless out of their platform. They complain that their group has limited social and legal rights, bad housing conditions, etc, when the homeless don't even have basic legal rights judging by how the cops treat them (and i've already discussed housing). And only more, not just in New York, have been left homeless after Hurricane Katrina.

Another thing that's important to me is getting young people more politically and socially active. I know they (we) are a lot more involved than we were five or ten years ago, but at the same time, when my friend was registering people to vote in Philadelphia before the 2004 elections, one woman in her early twenties didn't even know the difference between democrats and republicans. For real change to occur, we have to actually know about what it is we're trying to change.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The one thing that I have been thinking a lot about lately is how a lot of students are at a disadvantage by our education system, especially St. Paul public schools. I have been doing an internship at a local highschool called Central and I'm tutoring in the AVID program. The students in this program are not absolutely representative of the entire population in the school let alone the nation, but there are some things that I have noticed that are pretty disturbing. First of all, a majority of the students are well behind the classes that they are taking not only material wise, but also in general knowledge. When doing a problem, they aren't even able to tell me what some of the words in the question mean let alone solve the actual problem. Some of them are so far behind that there is no way that they are going to catch up in their classes. Another thing that I have witnessed is that some of the teachers that they have aren't helping at all. Not only are they not able to go back and teach the students the things that they are missing, they don't even make that much of an effort to teach the new things either. A lot of the teachers just do handouts and make the students read. Then the teachers test those students on whatever it is that they read or whatever it was that they did on the handouts. For some people that would be ok, but what about the students in my AVID class who don't understand what they are reading and are afraid to ask for help? I don't know if this is how it is at all public highschools in St. Paul, but from what I am exposed to at Central, something has to change. I talked to the teacher that I am working with in one of the AVID classes and she agrees. She feels that a lot of the teachers are just burnt out and don't want to do any work. If thats the case, why even work? If you don't want to teach why are you messing up the future of the U.S by not providing the service you are supposed to provide to them? I feel real bad sometimes for the students that are in my AVID class because it would honestly be sad to think about where they would be without the program. AVID is a nation wide program made to give disadvantaged students a hand up so that they can be competitive applicants for colleges around the U.S when they wouldn't have been before, this is its first year in Minnesota. I read a study by one of the superintendents of SPPS that the graduation rate for students in St. Paul was around 60%. Thats really crazy to think that 40% of the people that are supposed to graduate don't. This doesn't account for students that transfer or go on to get their GED, but I still find it surprising. I guess what I'm trying to say overall is that some students are being put at a severe disadvantage because they are so far behind and it would be nice if something were done to help them catch up besides AVID because AVID can only take so many students and it would also be nice if the education system provided the service that is is supposed to.

The second thing that I have been thinking about lately is mainstream rap music and the misconceptions of the artists and how the music is slowly becoming one with R&B and pop. I think that its crazy how this is happening. Another thing I think about is how it seems like ANYBODY is making it. All of these people with like no talent are somehow managing to make it, its sad

the last thing that I would say I have been thinking about is that I hope the people who were affected by the hurricane are ok and that the government doesn't take advantage of them or treat them like booboo. They already had to go through that hard time and it just adds insult to injury for the government to do stuff like that.