How does form inform our reading of texts as successfully feminist? (I am aware of my own biases in the meaning of “success,” but for the purposes of this exercise, I will define success as elliciting a response in those who engage with the material that incites emotion of some kind, in this case an emotional response that leads us to seek to support feminism). Typically feminsts forms have included poetry and literature, but these forms are somewhat tied to conceptions of women as delicate and admirers of that which is flowing, flowering, beautiful. Other options include co-opting the form of the patriarchal institutions which reinforce sexual hierarchies, such as academic work and dense theory couched in even denser language. This kind of feminism is far from accessible and has a specific class (and typically race) bias.
I want to expand on a definition of literacy that I’ve been working on through this class and my Music Education class. @jrbacch tweeted “Music a form of literacy? Music notes themselves, crescendos, learning how to read music, etc? #BMCed250” and I responded “thinking of literacy as access to a way of connecting w/ppl, ex cultural literacy, tech literacy makes music fit” [into a definition of literacy].
I spend a lot of my free time working on music for my a cappella group--I teach songs to the group and arrange music for the group to learn. When I’m deciding who will sing which voice part on any particular song, as well as while I’m leading rehearsal, I think a lot about who can read music. In auditions for my group, we ask if the auditioner can read music, because it’s a valuable skill. Within the context of a cappella, if I ask “can she read?” I’m asking about whether a singer can read music. And it does feel that fundamental to me. It is possible to be in the group and succeed without being able to read music, but it requires that I take a different approach in my teaching. I have to refer to notes’ position within the measure rather than their duration and name (e.g., “the altos need to watch the second-to-last note in measure 85--it should be longer and higher” instead of “altos: in measure 85, you’re jumping up a third, and it’s a half note, so be sure to hold it out”).
Check out this youtube!
This video immediately made me think of Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story.” As a homeschooler, I’ve encountered many of these questions (most of all, the pajama question). Although at times I liked getting attention for being an anomaly, overall, I felt very judged and limited by other people’s perceptions. I remember that, as a self-defense method, I would describe myself as “weird” so as to claim a description for myself rather than having it forced on me.
So this video was great. It didn’t capture my entire experience, but what I liked about it was that this guy – Blimey Cow – questioned certain beliefs merely by repeating them back. Rather than say outright, “homeschoolers are like this,” he repeats statements that might be said about us, as a sort of mirror effect. As if to say, “hmmm, did you really mean that?”
I love this word – debunking. “Let’s unpack that” – Let’s actually question those assumptions that we’ve accepted as realities. Because in order to truly respect other people, we must eliminate finite assumptions and be more open to complexities and details.
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.