Precarious, Performative, Playful, Potential...Perspectives!
|Welcome to Precarious, Performative, Potential, Playful.... Perspectives, the core course in Gender and Sexuality Studies, offered in Fall 2011 @ Bryn Mawr College. This is an interestingly different kind of place for writing, and may take some getting used to. The first thing to keep in mind is that it's not a site for "formal writing" or "finished thoughts." It's a place for thoughts-in-progress, for what you're thinking (whether you know it or not) on your way to what you think next. Imagine that you're just talking to some people you've met. This is a "conversation" place, a place to find out what you're thinking yourself, and what other people are thinking. The idea here is that your "thoughts in progress" can help others with their thinking, and theirs can help you with yours.|
So who are you writing for? Primarily for yourself, and for others in our course. But also for the world. This is a "public" forum, so people anywhere on the web might look in. That's the second thing to keep in mind here. You're writing for yourself, for others in the class, AND for others you might or might not know. So, your thoughts in progress can contribute to the thoughts in progress of LOTS of people. The web is giving increasing reality to the idea that there can actually evolve a world community, and you're part of helping to bring that about.
We're glad to have you along, and hope you come to both enjoy and value our shared explorations. Feel free to comment on any post below, or to POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE.
To those interested in gen/sex issues outside of the classroom, OUT Week is going to be this upcoming week!
For more information, contact me or see the facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=228167287238190
Schedule of events:
Bryn Mawr College
OUT Week 2011
October 17 – 21
“Ways of Being Out” Discussion with Faculty
Campus Center 200, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
“Show your Pride” Day
All over campus
Movie Night: The Birdcage
Thomas 110, 9 PM - 11 PM
Pride Craft Day
Merion Green, 12 PM – 4 PM
Rainsite: Arnecliffe Rainy Day Studio
Location TBA (check Facebook page for updates), 10 PM - 1 AM
***All events are open to the tri-co and guests of the tri-co***
& musings on "science" writing.
Dancing With The Stars isn't exactly my cup of tea, but both of my younger sisters absolutely love the show. I wouldn't have become aware of Chaz's inclusion on the show if I hadn't heard them talking about it over this break. My sisters have definitely become less prejudiced against LGB people because of my coming out to them, but don't seem to have the same open-mind toward people in the T part of the acronym. Their discomfort is one view along the spectrum of DWTS viewers who think the producers' choice to add Chaz Bono to the cast was/is wrong.
taking advantage of fall break to read extracurricularly, but---so much resonance with our course in egan's novel, including...
opening passage from Proust In Search of Lost Time with echoes of Eli Clare and "memory palaces":
"Poets claim that we recapture for moment the self that we were long ago when we enter some house or garden in which we used to live in our youth. But these are most hazardous pilgrimages, which end as often in disappointment as in success. It is in ourselves that we should rather seek to find those fixed places, contemporaneous with different years."
(p168-9) a reporter writes about his 40-minute lunch with a celebrity and brings in Karen Barad: "--but the throbbing just beneath that surface is the waiter's hysterical recognition of my subject's fame. And with a simultaneity that can only be explained using principles of quantum mechanics, specifically, the properties of so-called entangled particles, that same pulse of recognition reaches every part of the restaurant at once, even tables so distant from ours that there is simply no way they can see us." (The footnote continues to play with the idea of entangled particles.)
(p234-309) Chapter 12 (written by a 12-year old girl about herself, her autistic13-year old brother, and their parents) is in the mode of powerpoint slides! Particularly interesting to me is the exchange on p253 about the value of using new expressive media:
My pre-class song suggestion is Lady Gaga's "Yoü And I" because Gaga plays both the lead male and female romantic interest in the song, playing with gender identity. In addition, the male persona, named "Jo Calderone" is how she chose to attend/perform at the VMAs. Does this example of "gender play" speak to you? Do you feel like Gaga is doing something useful and thought-provoking here, or just attention-mongering? Does her performance lend support to or mock the many people for whom gender performance is a very real aspect of daily life?
Here's the music video.
Here's an article about her decision to "be" Jo Calderone at the VMAs.
And here's a link to the lyrics, which offer some interesting moments for gendered analysis as well, including: "There’s only three men that Imma serve my whole life/It’s my daddy and Nebraska and Jesus Christ"
Finally, here's the wikipedia entry about the song, which explains more about the background (Gaga has said that it refers to her former relationship with Lüc Carl).
...are now accessible from this page. A number of you had tagged them to appear here, in this forum, but I thought they were sorta clogging things up/slowing down the conversation, so I re-tagged them to appear over there. Please feel free to go read and comment on one another's explorations--there's lots of interesting stuff going on over there!
The video “Nature: What Females Want…and What Males Will Do” featured clichéd, even asinine commentary about animals’ reproductive behavior. The DVD showed heterosexual animal interactions punctuated with quotes from biologists and the narrator such as “Males will do anything they can do copulate with a female – we know that!” In a look a male geladas, whose ability to withstand sub-0 nighttime temperatures is demonstrated by the deep red of their chest patches, were described as “Pretty tough!” Female fireflies that mocked another species’ light patterns in order to eat the males were described as “true femme fatales.” In reference to jumping spiders, a biologist explained, “Females are looking for complex things; they want more and more, so males have evolved these dances.” Red-sided garter snakes that were forcibly inseminated would in a day or so “have another chance at love.” This constant commentary, while meant to be entertaining, was not only distracting but often times offensive because of the way it demonstrated stereotypes about gender and sexuality.
I was fascinated by the concept of “cryptic choice” introduced in the video “Nature: What Females Want…and What Males Will Do.” Female red-sided garter snakes are rendered immobile by males competing to inseminate her. They have, however, evolved a means of defense against forced copulation: they can choose which of the snake’s sperm will fertilize their eggs. Another example of “cryptic choice” is seen in ducks’ reproductive systems: they twist opposite ways to make reproduction more difficult. A third of ducks’ copulations are forced, but they produce only 3% of the young. Explained the narrator, “Evolution has given females the edge.” Last week, my psychology-major roommate sent me an article called “Women’s Avoidance of Rape” which, like the video, acknowledged that “Sexual coercion and rape have been documented in many different species.”
While working on formatting and posting my webpaper and messing around with how to insert images, this popped up:
I typed the following in as the image description for this image, which I do not think shows up without using a different method of viewing:
A pop up window with the following message: Are you sure you want to continue without including an Image Description? Without it the image may not be accessible to some users with disabilities, or to those using a text browser, or browsing the Web with images turned off.
Full episodes of "What Females Want" and "What Males Will Do"
(the Nature videos Kaye has asked us to watch for our discussion on Tuesday night)
are available on-line @
A propos of Kaye's questions @ the end of class on Tuesday, about the complexities of passing --
What information do we use to categorize people/events or to make judgments?
What information do we let pass? --see this morning's NYTimes article, The Freedom to Choose Your Pronoun:
“These teens are fighting the idea that your equipment defines what it means for you to be a boy or girl. They are saying: ‘You don’t know me by looking at me. Assume nothing’ ”.... some of the new adjectives young people use to describe themselves: “bi-curious,” “heteroflexible,” “polyamorous” and even “wiggly.”
Here is a link to an article explaining the circumstances of the youtube video entitled "Jonathan's Cochlear Implant Activation 8 mo., Rt Ear cont'd"
I find this really interesting in terms of disability studies, I know it can be a dangerous game to look at the comments on youtube videos/websites, but even just a quick glance at the top few were pretty generative in terms of discussion:
"How ironic that 8months ago this boy could have been aborted if it were known he was deaf, apparently considered a serious disability. And here we have him receiving treatment from doctors as if they are life savers. When they could have been killing him behind closed doors not so long ago & we would never have known about it. He is an human being first & foremost, has been since fertilisation. These people are not gods, they have not 'given him back his life' just given him a new sense. A lot of deaf people feel very angry & alienated because of peoples ignorant views about deafness."
"99 people are blind.
Temple University Student Center: Fri (10/7) starts at 1pm, Sat (10/8) starts at 9 am; Sun (10/9) starts at 9 am. Keynote speakers: Sonia Sanchez, Ifalade Ta'Shia Asanti, Gloria Casarez.
Tickets are necessary. This event is being co-sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Women's Studies Consortium, of which Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges are members. The student price is $20. GPWSC students receive an additional $5 discount, bringing the cost of admission to $15. To receive the discount, students should register for the student rate at http://fertileground.eventbrite.com/ and enter the code "GPWSC" when they check out.
Also, scholarships are available! All you need to do is send an email to email@example.com expressing their desire to attend the conference and their financial need.
For more information: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-297-4282
"It really takes some effort to match television's historically disastrous relationship with femininity, but at this point, I'm prepared to say it: Right at this moment, I'm more comfortable with what scripted television thinks being a woman means than I am with what scripted television thinks being a man means.
I'm fascinated with media/television portrayal of gender and sexuality. But I'm not familiar with any of these shows - have you guys seen them? What do you think?
I was doing reading for another class of mine, Body Politics with Professor of Hist. of Art Lisa Saltzman, and I noticed an incredible amount of references to utopias etc etc.
This piece is by Maud Lavin on Dada Arist Hannah Hoch and her conception of Weimar Germany's, "New Woman" through her photocollages. Starting on page 338 at the top and continuing onto the next page where the article ends the text is ripe with entagled gen/sex themes from our course.
I attached the pdf. below in case some of you were interested. But to start you off here a Lavin quote from the article...
pg 338 "Hoch created alienating effects by using the practice of photomontage to juxtapose the beautiful and the ugle, the feminine and the masculine, the witty and violent. Hers was a disquieting mix of utopianism and anxiety."
The door is open to the warm fall night.
A figure comes in, on little cat feet.
Whoosh-- and up the stairs.
She returns, circles.
We reach out, pet her.
The classroom: home.
A chance to hear other scholars discuss the intra-actions among gender, sexuality, and other fields. This Friday, September 30, at UPenn 1:30-6:30 in the Benjamin Franklin Room of Houston Hall.
From their website: The Symposium will examine the fields of feminist and queer studies and their intersections with each other and with topics in race, nationalism, empire, and class. The afternoon will begin with a conversation between Professor Heather Love, University of Pennsylvania, and Professor Ann Cvetkovich, University of Texas at Austin. Ann is the author of Mixed Feelings: Feminism, Mass Culture and Victorian Sensationalism (Rutgers, 1992) and An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Culture (Duke, 2003).
October 2-8 is Mental Health Awareness Week. For more info on events and programs, check out their website http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=mental_illness_awareness_week
I just received an announcement about this very relevant conference that is being held at Drexel University College of Medicine on Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 9 am - 4 pm. Regisration is free. Please see the website for more information.