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!
Being that this is a story that displays hermaphoditism through the eyes of a teenager, it's no surprise that a lot of the book is centered around the physical body. Most of the scenes with Dr. Luce really emphasized what had already been the present throughout most of the book about the importancy of physical attributes as well as physical attraction.
The scene where Luce shows porn to Callie to see what sex she was attracted to really bothered me. Being physically attracted to someone, to me, doesn't necessarily mean you're more male or more female (especially thinking about the controversy surrounding the idea that changing your gender is a way to escape homosexuality). Judging Callie's dominent gender based on sexual attraction wouldn't show the type of attraction that Callie has for the Object which to me is a better indicator of her gender than anything. Of course Luce wouldn't know Callie's feelings about the Object because Callie is hiding that from him, but I felt like a lot of his questions were only surface level questions since most of what he's basing his diagnostics off of is in fact gender sterreotypes.
It just makes me think about how sex can never determine your gender in the way that Callie's physical appearance (the way she carries herself, speaks, write, ects) can never determine which of her genders is more prominent. I've felt throughout this book that Callie's hermaphoditism doesn't affect her as much as it affects people around her (her parents, friends, etc) which makes me believe that it's not so important to her.
In my last web paper, I gave a brief history of Korea and the dynamic religious background that has followed Korea’s development in its fundamental ideas of woman’s relationship to man and vice-versa. Essentially, the stemming of modern discrimination against women, or the dichotomy of the two sexes, could be said to come from Korea’s groundings in Confucianism during the 14th century.
We talked in class about why any part of the book never addressed Binh flat out as "gay" as well as the fact that Binh feels he is singled out in France, but wouldn't be in Vietnam because there are others that look like him. It made me think about the previous class where we discussed the issue of having an image in our head that correlates to a word and just how imaginative we can be when we read or when we look at a picture; what are the limits of language and images.
In my mind, I can see Binh as stuck in his own image with limited words to describe himself. Others will see him and judge him for what he looks like first and foremost because he stands out. People already have his image in front of them and so they only have so many words to identify him. His image as a vietnamese man is stopping others from knowing Binh more deeply. By not directly addressing Binh as a gay man, I think Truong is giving the character more agency in the book. She doesn't want him to be completely identifable and by using the label "gay", Binh would be trapped in his own image and the gaze of others.
The book is constantly mentioning Binh's speech and how he can't find the right words in French to match his ideas in Vietnamese. By bringing up his limits in communicating with people, Truong is emphasizing another aspect we covered in Tuesday's class about how limited language can realy be.