My first praxis meeting was this past Friday the 28th. Every Monday me and the other co-facilitators meet to create a lesson plan for the students and on Fridays we go and lead the after school program. My praxis is located just on the outside of Philadelphia. We, the facilitators and I, first went to one of the classrooms to try to rally up the students who normally attend this program. The conversation we walked in on between the students and the teacher was a conversation on why white people think that their hair is better than black people. From this first impression, I already got the sense that there are racialized tensions in the school I was coming into.
During the program, we had 7 students attend: 2 boys and 5 girls. Our main activity for the day was about how we make assumptions about people based on their appearance. We gave them printed picture of people from all walks of life and called out statements like “choose the person you are most likely to hire”. The question that left me most uneasy was the response we got for “choose the person you believe is a part of the LGBT community”. One of the students, Judith, said that the male she picked was displaying feminine qualities. One of the facilitators questioned her asking “well are they feminine qualities or are these just attributes that society believes are feminine”, hinting at the social construction of femininity. Judith was adamant about that the qualities that the person she picked were in fact feminine, missing the point completely.
As a tour guide now, part of my general introduction is stating where I’m from. If the people on my tour have never been to California or have very little knowledge of the state, I tell them I was born in Pomona—which is true—to which they jump and say, “oh, Scripts College? Harvey Mudd?” and I say “sure”.
Though most college towns are similar, the people on my tour never take into consideration that I could have been born and grew up in the part of Pomona that wasn’t the picture of middle class suburbia they think of. I grew up on the side of Pomona with the indoor swap meet, family own car washes, and graffiti tagged on the walls of grocery stores. I currently live in the neighboring city of Ontario where the population is predominately Mexican/Latino along with pockets of Vietnamese and Black families. You might even consider us working class or below that.
My mother is Colombian (emigrated at age 16) and my father is Mexican (emigrated at age 15). They met in high school, fell in love, had me, fell out of love, and I’ve had a rocky relationship with my father ever since. Despite the fact that both my parents are Latino, speak fluent Spanish, and understand Mexican and Colombian culture from the “motherland”, I am pale, speak very mediocre Spanish, and understand little of my heritage.
The Boler Chapters were interesting to think about. The role of emotion in the classroom has always been an interesting subject for me. I’ve always found that the classes that that had more emotional tension, classes I’ve been upset about the discussion or felt like I spoke from the heart very often have been the most rewarding and I was never really sure why that was. In the chapter 7 reading, the idea of empathy and testimonial readings as more than passive, but as an active was to both identify emotions in the classroom and recognizing that “I am not you, and that empathy is possible only by virtue of this distinction”. Boler makes a strong distinction between pity and empathy saying that pity is about your own vulnerabilities, not about the other person, which makes it seem useful that empathy be brought in the classroom for education. Often I feel like when I speak with my feelings in class that the only person who benefits is myself, almost therapeutically, but if students practice empathy then we can grow together in acknowledging emotions. Empathy explores beyond just what emotions are being expressed but also asks why they are being expressed.
If feel like this chapter made an important distinction for me about why empathy and active emotions are vital for a class, not only to understand each other, but also to understand power relationships that cause those emotions and that not all experienced are experienced the same.
I guess I assumed there would be more theory reading because it’s an intro course, so when we just dove right into feminism, I was kind of taken back. The whole class was extremely different than any class I’ve taken. It really took discussion classes to the next level. I really hoped to become more knowledgeable of what feminism is and how other people have described it, but I got something really unique. I think instead of getting an introduction to Critical Feminism course, I got a feminist course, that is, a course that in its foundations is feminist. From the not raising hands, to the ambiguous nature of the discussions, to the whole idea that we should read who we feel is important, not who the teacher feels is important because everyone should have a say in this. From start to finish, it was an extremely feminist course and in that respect I think I did get something positive out of this course. Whether it was foundational feminist theory or not, it was something positive and it is something that I will try to keep in mind and spirit for my classes in the future.
The week that our class discussed sex work was definitely the most intriguing and insightful classes we’ve had this semester. A lot of the discussion revolved around the idea of porn and watching porn. Dchin expressed discomfort while watching the documentary Live Nude Girls Unite! because of specific details while the girls at The Lusty Lady were stripping. It wasn’t exactly the blatant nudity that bothered her, but the scene where one of the customers is watching the stripper strip. She said, “It didn't strike me as odd while watching the film that I wasn't uncomfortable seeing the women's naked bodies but instead uncomfortable watching one of the male patrons watching the women dance.” She explains why saying that it made her feel like she could easily be in the position of the stripper and the power of the gaze would be too invasive for her. She couldn’t imagine being the same place as the stripper and being watched in such an intrusive manner.
While compiling together the rest of our semester for a Critical Feminism as a class, we agreed that looking into the intricacies of masculinity would be a good topic to look into further. We spent two days focusing our attention on a graphic novel “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth” which narrates a seemingly pathetic middle-aged man and his struggles to live up to the fantasy/myth of the Superman image of his childhood; the Superman image was a common figure of masculinity in America during the comic’s peak. I think the reason we wanted to discuss masculinity in a Feminism course was to, first, change the conventional idea that Feminism is about hating men, and, second, understand that oppression and objectification is a two way street. My last two web papers have dealt with the woman’s role historically in Korean history and Korean women’s representation in Korean popular music. This web paper will take a turn and look at masculinity in Korea, where is originated in Korean history, how the masculinity ideals reflect in a the contemporary light of South Korean military and sexual harassment incidents within the army, and where masculinity in general fits into the conversation of Feminism.
So I watched The Undefeated and The Game Change, which I thought were veryopposite of each other, almost like two extremes.
In The Undefeated, there was very much of that traditional "documentary film" feel to it. It felt too clean and organized, maybe a bit unsincere to what truely happened. When it got the the part where the narrators discussed the downfall of Palin in US opinions, the reasoned that it was because she was conservative. She got so much flack because she's conservative.
The Game Change, on the other hand, was a bit to gritty and far fetched. Not to say that I don't believe Palin had a easy time during campain, but The Game Change really made her out to be completly--dare I say-- hysteric. In this movie, one of the characters (maybe it was the Woody Harrelson) addresses Palin's antagonists as throwing out "totally sexist attacks", pointing to Palin's gender as the "problem" than people are seeing with her.
Honestly, I can't say that I disagree with The Game Change in pointing out that Gender was part of the reason she got a lot of hate from the Americans. I do think it was a factor, but I think The Game Change addressed it to an extreme. I sort of doubt that the campaign manager was surfing youtube to find a hot female politician to run with McCain to win. Both stories, though, seem very unrealistic to me.
So I googled "Feminist Porn" and read the first article that came up called "Feminist Porn: Sex, Consent, and Getting Off"
The author talks about a lot of things including her position of sex workers, but specfically what qualifies as Feminist Porn (which she believes exists and puts up links to porn sites).
" Enjoying BDSM, strap-on sex and sex toys, genderplay, rape and incest taboo, mainstream pornography, and other “deviant” sexual taboos with a consensual partner does not make a person a “bad feminist” or a hypocrite. To the contrary, feminism is what gave me permission to love sex, with myself and with others, to embrace my sexual orientation, and find out what turns me on. Pro-sex feminism argues that recognizing the role of fantasy in sexual arousal and coming out of shame about sexual desires opens the door to a more frank and honest discussion about women’s bodies, consent, and safer sex. And that leads to better, safer sexthat encourages communication and complete, enthusiastic consent to sex that is fulfilling and healthy. How is that not feminist?"
So I'm planning on doing a group showing tomorrow night at 8PM in the Pem East TV Room. If you;re interested in watching, please come. Otherwise, please don't reserve the movie on tripod from those times (:
Comment if you see this in time so I know who to expect!