I wanted to learn more about the outreach that Kate Bornstein does today, and her website "Hello Cruel World" is something that I feel is really great.
I think that most people who disregard conversations about gender and sexuality as something that doesn't pertain to them if their lives fit in the expected gender binary don't realize the amount such ignorance can further pain those who are struggling with their identities in such a way. Kate says "I think that the world needs more kind people in it, no matter who or what they are, or do"
I think that in some ways I am also guilty of not trying to learn as much about issues of gender and sexuality, because I have never struggled with my own sexual orientation or felt that I am wrongly gendered. Even so, the gender workbook helped me realize that the "ideal" woman and man are pretend ideas that no one can ever really fulfill no matter how hard that they try. Even if one considers themselves able to fit neatly inside society's accepted gender binary, the binary's ideals pose a problem for everyone. . . regardless of whether you 'appear' to be fitting well within it.
This was something interesting that I found a while ago and todays class is reminding me of this video so I decided to post it to see what people think. I found it interesting that the She's the First video promotes their usage of twitter and social media; while this video talks about how few people have interent access in relationship to how many people are actually in the world. I have other thoughts about the video but I am hoping to see what everyone else thinks too!
the video comes from this website: http://www.miniature-earth.com/
recall - - Discourse = “set of values and viewpoints in terms of which one must speak and act, at least while being in the discourse” (Gee)
So Mia and I were talking about going to this country club/Alumni benefit/conference. (we went to an alumnae conference in Santa Monica over the weekend to represent the 360 program - this is a post that we wrote together on the airplane on the way there)
We started talking about clothing. We both realized that we had no idea what would be appropriate to wear in this environment – as neither of us has spent a significant amount of time in a country club (and by that I mean that I have gone to one once, and she has never gone to one). Should we wear skirts? Dresses? what length is appropriate?
So we’re wondering: what kind of discourse are we entering? Are we actually going to have an opportunity to speak frankly and genuinely about our experiences, or will the discourse silence some aspect of our behavior? It’s certainly silencing our creative fashion sense!
Clothing is a perfectly reasonable cause for concern – every time I’ve done any career counseling, I’ve been told that first impressions are essential. So appearance is essential. Uncertain about the kind of discourse you are entering + wearing the wrong thing = making your illiteracy obvious and embarrassing.
So that’s we were so worried about this on our trip to Ghana – we had no idea what our clothing would say about us. Legitimate? Eh, I think so.
While in Ghana, I couldn’t help but think about my group’s discussion of NGOs in Ghana and their work, and compare these things to the realities that we saw on the ground. I still have a lot of questions, but my post is long overdue, so observations + questioning will have to be sufficient for now!
During our project, one of the more resonant questions for me was, “How do NGOs collaborate and is this collaboration successful?” I think this question guided some of my observations during the trip.
Observations: Looking around the Dalun Youth Association (DYA) building, I saw some posters, asked some questions. All this happened very quickly, so I’m not 100% this is the correct information, but I’ll relay what I remember and wrote down.
DYA exists to bring the youth together – students gather here and “because they are together, they are stronger and can advocate for the needs of the community, what they see the community needs to develop” (field notes), like new roads to Tamale (which I would also advocate for, for both selfish and unselfish reasons). DYA uses sports as a tool for development – in this rural community, athletic competition is a perfect way to bring people together, both young and old. Once the people are gathered, the youth can spread their message of change. And this message is much more powerful coming from a vibrant, organized youth group.
This semester I am taking Intro to Film with Michael Tratner. We recently watched a 1960’s French New Wave film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless. This movie featured two main characters: Michel and Patricia. Michel steals a car, impulsively shoots a policeman, and spends the rest of the film on the run from the police. He imposes himself on his “girlfriend” Patricia, a young New Yorker who sells newspapers in the streets of Paris. Michel spends most of his time trying to convince Patricia to sleep with him and have her run away with him to Italy, and Patricia spends most of her time blowing him off and pursuing her career as a journalist.
Initially, I thought about feminism across different geographic locations as global feminism, as a feminism rooted in nations, defined and given flavor by the nation as a whole. That is, thinking about American feminism and Indian feminism and Ghanaian feminism and French Feminism. But then, that is SO American-centric of me. When I try to think of a certain American feminism, it’s impossible. Just to think of Bryn Mawr feminism strikes me as impossible. And I’m not trying to suggest that we’re all special feminist snowflakes, or that there is not sense of shared feminist thought or identity. But our shorthand, our labeling of feminisms as rooted in some national identity/location/region can have the possibility of flattening and erasing nuance from how feminists express themselves in a variety of contexts.
Of the many riveting cultural situations that we have only begun to explore in class so far, one of the most striking were those of men and women born in the body of a sex that they do not identify with and how society responds to them as transgendered individuals. As I approach the question of feminism and how it differs geographically, I want to take a look into the transsexual community in America and compare it to that in Iran, specifically after having watched the film “Be Like Others”.
In the United States, transgender issues are rising to the forefront – in films such as “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Transamerica” and in news stories about transgendered children and the increase in support for these individuals and their families. Coming across the color photography project My Right Self was an experience that provided me with a more personal and moving account of what it is like to be transgendered and hopes to do the same for the public.
The website is an informative project while the photographs are intended to be a traveling show and part of advocacy to benefit the healthcare community, those who are transgendered and their loved ones. The website’s eager invitation to use photography as a vehicle to initiate conversation shows that part of America, even if a slim one; is becoming more accepting and actually attempting to understand this point of view on some level.
I have known two things for a while:
1. I like music, and I have feelings about it
2. I like feminism, and I have feelings about it
I realized in class that even if we don't end up with classes dedicated to music and feminism/other cultural movements, I would really love the opportunity to talk about it incessantly with other people. And then I realized we have Serendip and good ideas just abounded.
A SERENDIP FEMINISTY PLAYLIST, DAY/WEEK/INSTALLMENT 1
PROTOCOL: Anyone can offer up a playlist, preferably with links to where we can actually listen to the music. If there are music videos, please post them! Even if it's not the official video and just someone's project, if you like it share it! This particular part does not have a theme, but if someone is inspired to do that sort of thing that would also be totally sweet. The music you post does not necessarily have to be explicitly feminist, it can talk about issues you think are important, or maybe even just have certain lyrics you really respond to. You can also edit and post multiple times, because music is wonderful and I don't think anyone is going to get angry if you add more. If you feel like adding commentary that would also be really cool, but feel free to just post the links and let us ruminate on our own. Interpret this entire activity as you will, there is no "proper model".
My initial contribution:
This post is in response to my groups presentation on language diversity in Ghana.
I really enjoyed presenting on the languages pidgin English and twi in Ghana but I was more interested in pidgin. I found it fascinating that in using English as a medium where all ethnic backgrounds could interact, Ghanaians, particularly young people, made English their own in the form of pidgin/slang English. The concept and use of pidgin English reminded me of Decolonizing the Mind where the author writes about ways in which Africans should and could share their history and culture. However, in contrast to Decolonizing the Mind, I found it interesting that youth were, to some extent, using a combo of English and their native tongue to spread their culture when at first English was used to eliminate it.
For that reason, it is frustrating to know that pidgin is considered as an inferior language. Personally, I find pidgin to be a powerful language because it defies the dominant discourse (Western culture) forced upon Ghana by using English "improperly."
I was in the group that presented on language diversity in Ghana. I was talking specifically about language within the school system, and how English is currently the accepted language of Ghanaian education. It isn't until Senior Secondary School that Ghanaian students are explicitly taught Ghanaian language. This policy makes me feel sad and a little angry, the same way that it does in American schools. Last semester in Empowering Learners, I defined agency as "the learner’s decision to take ownership of the world in which he/she lives and to apply his/her skills to shape that world." This definition was very much attached to language. I see literacy as a crucial skill for shaping the world. When a school system denies a student access to literacy in their native language, the system is taking away some of that student's agency. Waiting to provide this fundamental access to students who make it into schools that have stringent academic requirements is completely in opposition to what I think needs to happen. Language skils should be built upon, not limited. It's sad that this can be influenced by politics or ideology.