Bryn Mawr is my home.
That one phrase is so much more than the five words it contains. Now more than ever before. To me, a home is much more than four walls or a campus. Bryn Mawr is home to me because of its people, because of its community. It is here that I have become comfortable with who I am - my sexuality, my past, my life.
When I first began to think about this final paper, I knew I wanted it to be about this place that means so much to me. Bryn Mawr. I also wanted to incorporate in parts of my other papers. As I reflected over my work and growth in this course, I realized I left my third paper open ended without a firm direction in terms of education for Wabash. During conversations (usually over food) with my friends, I began to see that Bryn Mawr also needs a new form of education. An education in inclusion. I began to think of my second paper on the inclusiveness/discrimination of the straight community within Bryn Mawr's community. I concluded Bryn Mawr needs an intervention.
The phrase "feminism unbound" is strange to me. I thought at first I understood it, but when we began to discuss this phrase in class, I got even more confused. So I sat down to think about it on my own. I thought about the rigors of society, the boundaries have set for ourselves and others, the world we have been told should exist. As someone who has chosen to go to an all-women's college I know I follow certain boundaries within the walls of Bryn Mawr College, regulations the college sets for me. I began to think of similar institutions. A friend of mine also goes to a single-sex institution, Wabash College, an all-men's college in Indiana. Wabash sets regulations for its students as well. A potential new regulation is a gender studies graduation requirement. This debate struck a chord with me, especially when I discovered the contorted view of gender studies some members of the institution had created around this issue . . .
"[The] wimpy, neutralized guys that gender feminists are trying to create: men who are not committed to constructive struggle and conflict and fighting for a cause and coming out the winner." (Michaloski and Allman) This statement was made by Dr. David P. Kubiak, a Classics professor at Wabash College in relation to the debate at Wabash over the proposition of a gender studies graduation requirement.
Well, Thanksgiving is over, time to bring out the Christmas tree, snowflake lights, and the Christmas music Pandora station. Even of you don't celebrate, I'm sure you get swept up in this time of the year. The moment Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas music comes out. The usual "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night" that we hear every year. Among these annual favorites are a few that caught my eye - ones that enforce the media's view on women. For example "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carrey, a contemporary song embedded with the message that all women need is a man and their Christmas (life in general) will be perfect. Or how about "It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas" which continues to reinforce gendered stereotypes in children's toys - "A pair of hop along boots and a pistol that shoots, Is the wish of Barney and Ben. Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk, Is the hope of Janice and Jen.” Or "Baby it's Cold Outside" in which the traditionally male part of the song pressures the traditionally female part of the song into staying for the night even when she has said "I really can’t stay, I’ve must go away, my mother will worry” yet the man persists “I simply must go / but Baby, it’s cold outside. The answer is no / but baby, it’s cold outside” She says the first part of each of those sentences, she says no, but he pressures her to stay. Songs like this one normalize the problematic male behavior, which contributes to and perpetuates rape culture in our society.
Original question: Is it wrong to feel unangered by the exploitation of your gender?
As a gender collective, is every single person in that identity group required to react or defend the group from being marginalized?
Is it a bad thing if you have not questioned your gender?
Can we become activists for the gender fluid and want there to be no gender in society if we have never questioned our own gender?
Why does it seem like we are simultaneously praising gender identity and claiming your own gender AND pushing for a no-gender society? If we take pride in our genders, how can we also be asked to give them up?
Group Members: vhiggins, pialamode, sschurtz, Amanda and Christina (not sure of their usernames)
Link to Radiolab Podcast "Words": http://www.radiolab.org/2010/aug/09/
In our discussion on Thursday, Anne pulled some lines from "Seeing Gender" that talked about "imagining language as a place of possibility, as opposed to a simple scripted repersentation;" we talked about signs and signifiers, repersentations and mimicry and related it all back to gender. This conversation reminded me of a podcast I listened to a while back called "Words". (I have conveniently linked the podcast above and I highly suggest you listen to it right now!). I relistened to it and thought about it in the context of gender. The general theme of the piece is, what do words do for us? are they neccasary? can you think without them? It's fitting that in each of these questions the word "words" could be replaced with the word "gender" and you could have an equally revolutionary conversation. Both socially constructed things seem so essential to life in our ability relate to ourselves and others. I'm currently struggling to articulate many of the thoughts I have and I'm hesitant to come to conclusions before others (I hope) have a chance to engage with the podcast but here are a couple preliminary reactions:
Until class on Thursday, I had never been asked what gender I identify as. I had never thought about gender as something that comes from within myself. I thought of the gender binary as a social construct that was passed down to children from the moment they are born. Once a sex is assigned, parents dress their baby in "appropriate" clothes and colors, and give them gendered toys, like dolls or trucks.
I automatically answered "female" but then wondered if that was even the right word. "Female" and "male" sound more like sexes than genders.I didn't know what language to use for gender. "Woman" and "girl" both have strong connotations for me, and I don't feel like either is appropriate. When I hear "woman," I always think of a specific image, a female older than me. She is wearing a dress. "Girl," on the other hand, is too young. My age is suspended between the two, perhaps because I am in the inbetween age, the teenager still discovering herself.
I come from a conservative household in the South, where the discussions we are having in class and the readings we do for class would never be spoken about. These topics are taboo where I come from. Even though I'm from a large city, which is culturally very different than the rural south, there are still so many stigmas associated with not conforming to "norms." If one does not fit into a certain predetermined box, they are pushed to the edges of society, from which it is hard (but not impossible) to return from. During our exercise on Thursday, Ester drew a picture of me breaking out a box. That's a pretty accurate description of me. I do not think metaporphical, pre-determined boxes should have any part in society, in fact they hinder society. However, I honestly grew up in a box. It was a box with walls of expectations. I was never comfortable in that box. Yet it was not until I was old enough to think for and make significant decisions by myself that I began to question and tear apart my box. I wish I had begun this process earlier because I know now how much of an impact those walls had on me as a person. Our childhood molds us, but it does not make us who we are. I'm still discovering who I am, and am excited to have this class be a part of that journey.
Hey everybody, I don't really know if this has any place in this Ecological Imaginings class, but maybe if we can imagine the preservation of women to be a form of ecology, not unlike the preservation of all plant life, animal life.
I just wanted to call everyone's attention to this excellent documentary currently being shown on PBS on Mon & Tues nights at 9:00 PM. I imagine you guys have lots of time to watch films, yeah! But this is an amazing series.
"Half the Sky" about gender based violence.
Here's the link to the first & second segment:
The military has been traditionally defined as a masculine institution; actually it may be the most prototypically masculine one of all social institutions. Therefore, whenever women soldiers appear in public, they seem to be standout since people tend to think that for women to participate, either the military has to be perceived as transform to make it more compatible with how women are, or women have to be perceived as changing in ways that make them more suited for military service. Many changes have occurred in the past several decades. This period has witnessed a mushrooming of attention to women’s contribution to the army. More and more women soldiers are allowed to actually fight on the frontline or engage in violent and dangerous tasks. It seems that society started to recognize female’s ability as protectors of their countries, giving them space to choose whatever they want, including stepping on battlefields. Many people perceive this phenomenon as a huge progress of feminism, while others cast doubts on it. Interested in this issue, I would like to focus on female soldiers, especially Chinese women soldiers, in my webevent.