In Access, Identity, and Education – a course taught by Jody Cohen – we read an article by Martha Minow. This reading discussed the “Dilemma of Difference” (I couldn’t find the entire reading online, but here’s a quote: “The dilemma of difference may be posed as a choice between integration and separation, as a choice between similar treatment and special treatment, or as a choice between neutrality and accommodation”). From what I remember, Minow pointed out two problems with “difference” in the classroom: if teachers recognize that students are different, and meet their different needs differently, they run the risk of isolating some students. They might create a “different from” mentality – a separation between normal and different studdents. However, if teachers DON’T accommodate needs, some students may not get the treatment they require for learning.
I try to think that I am open minded, liberal and a thoughtful individual. However, I have also many times been the reproducer, the victim, the oblivious consumer and the creator of a single story. When thinking about the stories I was told and those that I repeat, I know how easy it was when I was younger to believe the words I heard and take them for fact. It was not until much later that I realized I had to learn the language and culture of questioning what I heard people say to me. I think even how people learn to believe and trust is so deeply contextualized in the many intersections of their identity that influence how they view power, authority and respect. I think in some communities/societies questioning stories and people is a strength and a quality that gives you agency and power. However, in other communities and families cultura, age or gender can have bearing on how you communicate the ability to question.
I know that I cling to single stories. I hold onto them tightly as if doubting them is challenging me to confront buried contradictions and hypocrisies of many of my own beliefs. I wonder what is more difficult, to create a single story or to dismantle and destroy the single story perspective?
I found that our Thursday in-class group discussions were very interesting, and that the questions were a very intriguing look into our brains. I've realized that I would love to have this discussion again with classmates- not only those who were in my group or in the class, but with others as well. Initially the questions seemed relatively straight-forward, but once we were all sitting down and put thought and effort behind our answers they became signficantly more difficult. All of the questions were very broad, and required more than just a yes or no answer- even, and maybe most especially, the question "Are you a feminist?" Feminism has a complex history of not only different waves, but different circles of thought within those waves that makes it difficult to just say 'yes' or 'no'. Some branches of feminism also have a very uncomfortable history of being exclusionary towards non-white and non-cisfemale women, which adds another layer of complexity to identifying as a feminist. Listening to everyone's reasons behind saying 'yes' or 'no' was very insightful, and I feel could potentially cause someone to rethink their own explanations, and the forces in their lives that made them say 'yes' or 'no'. Attempting to create a definition for feminism, at least in that short amount of time, would have been very difficult, especially since it was so easy to spend a lot of time on the other questions.
Based on some students' comments online, I would be very interested in knowing what their definition of feminism is, or potentially their multitude of definitions.