I missed part of last class to attend the screening of Paris is Burning with the director, Jennie Livingston. I have loved Paris is Burning since the first time I saw it as a freshman, and have found it to be a powerful look into the lives of a community that is well-known as being underground (for the sake of safety) and not normally entered by outsiders. Imagine my surprise to find that the director, Jennie Livingston, was a white Jewish woman from a middle class background.
Honestly, until then, I hadn't thought about it: I had just assumed that the documentary was made by someone with an emic perspective. But, when an audience member asked Livingston to address the criticisms made by bell hooks in "Is Paris Burning?" she didn't have much to say. She hadn't realized that, for a brief moment, her face could be seen in the mirror while she was interviewing Dorian Corey, a well-known and well-respected performer in the Ballroom scene: she had intended to be absent from the film, and had assumed that the documentary that she had presented had been based on raw data that she had culled: how could someone else have presented this any differently?
I'll be perfectly honest, I haven't gotten through Little Bee yet, but I really like it so far! I love the ways in which Little Bee, Sarah, Andrew, Lawrence, Batman, and Nkiruka (among others) are entangled and wrapped around each other, but I'd like to focus on the power dynamics between people from the UK and refugees. My question is, can Andrew and Sarah grieve for Nkiruka and the guard if there is such a stark difference in power?
This is DEFINITELY the most non-traditional blog post I’ve done, but I’d like to explain my reactions to the previous class in a format similar to the one that Karen Barad uses in “Quantum Entanglements and Hauntological Relations of Inheritance: Dis/continuities, SpaceTime Enfoldings, and Justice-to-Come." I think the way in which she embodies the electron is a pretty decent representation of the way I feel about the Right to Appear as it relates to gender non-normative and intersex victims of rape and sexual assault.
Act 1, Scene 1
SpaceTime Coordinates: The internet, as altered through PPPP, sieved through Bryn Mawr and Haverford students and faculty, diffracted through the 1993 murder of Brandon Teena, extruded through the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry which depicted Brandon’s brutal murder, mixed with the medical treatment of intersex and gender non-normative individuals, shone through a three-slit experiment in which the slits represent Judith Butler’s notions of the “Right to Appear,” Sharon Welch’s ideas on personification of a disastrous event by knowing someone affected, and Karen Barad’s ideas of entanglement and diffraction, explained by a 21-year-old, female-bodied, FAAB, genderqueer college senior with a history of sexual trauma and a considerable number of friends and family members who have experienced some sort of trauma, as well.
I'm not sure who else in this class uses the blog host tumblr, but I do. Recently, I came across a conversation started by a trans* female author, titled "People who attend cissexist "women only" colleges". The following is the entire first post:
Your college is a joke.
I hope you wake up every day and think, “I wonder why my college sucks as greatly as it does.”
But you don’t have to wonder. It sucks because it’s cissexist.
And I don’t know if Bryn Mawr is an inclusive environment, but after reading this paper [tw: cissexism, biological determinism, an anti-intersex slur or two], I hope every person there is ashamed of their school.
I hope every single person there feels bad.
A bunch of Bryn Mawr students (myself included) rushed to defend Bryn Mawr, explaining that Admissions' policy is to accept applications on a case-by-case basis. But, in some ways, I can't help feeling that she's right. I DO feel ashamed that Bryn Mawr doesn't have a firm policy on accepting trans* women: as a school that was started with an attempt to help remedy the hugely problematic disinclusion of women in higher education, how can we ignore a disenfranchised group of women? How come we don't accept their applications unconditionally, and then accept or reject their admission as we would any other student? Why do we have to have a condition on the acceptance of women whose rights need to be supported?
In reading "Culture as a Disability," the opening section about "The Country of the Blind" made me think about something I'm looking at for my thesis, which in part discusses sizeism (e.g., the way in which thin people tend to be privileged over "fat" people, whatever that means to anybody reading this). In "The Country of the Blind," fourteen generations of congenitally blind people are able to adapt their environment to meet their needs; in Eli Clare's definition, they would have "impairment" (maybe?) but not "disability."
For this week's posting, I wanted to jump off of a topic that we seemed ready to talk about in class, but ran out of time. On the board when we left was a discussion of the New York Times article, with the names "Butler," "Foucault," and "Barad" listed. While we talked about Butler, I'm also interested in probing into the New York Times article through the diffractive apparatus of Wilchins' summary of Foucault.
In Wilchins' summary of Foucault, I was particularly interested in the idea of dressage: through a fairly grim process of repetition akin to that done by prisoners, we learn to behave and enact gender in a particular, societally accepted way. It seems to me that the therapists are advocating the same position on sexuality: through a dressage of sexuality, people attracted to the same sex (I am purposely refraining from using the words "gay" or "queer" for any idea of community that might annex) may be influenced to behave in a way that is in line with their religious beliefs. In this way, they become prisoners of desire; they must be taught by dogged repetition to be full members of their community by conforming to a "straight" sexual identity, if not a straight sexual orientation.