I thought I understood feminism in its most basic of terms upon deciding to enroll in this course. Now, after having attended the handful of classes held so far, I know that there is no simple way to describe such a word, such a movement. I had imagined my basis of feminist understanding as rather commonplace. Having a mother and aunt who were supporters of Planned Parenthood throughout their early adult lives and onward, I too came to learn about what the organization supported and the importance of standing up for my rights and recognizing that they should be equal to the rights of men.
This past October, Planned Parenthood turned 95 years old. It has spent that time “promoting a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.” An organization in sharp contrast, Feminists for Life, was established in 1972 and has spent its time "shaping the core feminist values of justice, nondiscrimination, and nonviolence” and does not take a stance on “pre-conception” issues. Maintaining a focus on college campuses, the group pushes against movements like Planned Parenthood that offer abortion, their coin phrase “women deserve better than abortion.”
I think I enjoyed portions of Three Guineas, but there was something that really just bothered me about it.
Virginia Woolfe's description of the "four great teachers of the daughters of educated men" (emphasis mine) made me rather uncomfortable for a multitude of reasons. All four "teachers" have intimate associations with how women are controlled, and though Virginia Woolfe's definitions of each "teacher" are hardly the standard definitions for these words, seeing them connected to an essay on how women should act felt very off-putting.
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.
While reading The Goblin Market, I had trouble deciding whether the poem was about the events surrounding a girl's first sexual experience or an encounter with addictive substances. I felt it easily went both ways.
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.
Laura's whole personality has changed at this point in the poem either from sex or drug withdrawal.
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnashed her teeth for baulked desire, and wept
As if her heart would break.
Again, this line is ambiguous and, I felt, could be interpreted both ways. Laura could be experiencing a serious desire to have sex again or she could be desperatly wanting to fulfill her next drug fix.
Either way, I saw The Goblin Market as a cautionary tale for all types of addictions. Whether it be a sexual addiction or substance abuse, the general plot of The Goblin Market could be applied to all sorts of addictions.
Perhaps sexual and drug addiction were a focus because they were prominent during the time the poem was written?