Phineas and Ferb is a show on the Disney Channel about the summer exploits of a pair of stepbrothers. Phineas and Ferb are boy geniuses who can create literally anything they imagine in the convenient time span of about one episode. Of course, before the episode is over, there is frequently some unexpected consequence that teaches the characters, usually Candace, their older sister, a valuable life lesson. The secondary plot concerning Perry the Platypus, the family pet who is an undercover secret agent and his arch-nemesis the evil Doctor Doofenschmirtz, who can also create nearly any contraption that he can imagine with the intention to enact revenge or to take over the tri-state area. Doctor Doofenschmirtz’s machines nearly always malfunction and helpfully dispose of all evidence of Phineas and Ferb’s inventions.
When our class watched the film Game Change to further our discussion on Sarah Palin, one of the most striking aspects of her portrayal was the public’s focus on her role as a mother, and further, as an “everyday person” who understands the needs of the average family. I quickly remembered that this depiction was incredibly true to reality, as Palin’s role as a mother and wife was continuously touched on, whether in a negative or positive light. When her daughter, Bristol, was announced pregnant during the race, the construct of Palin’s “family first” outlook was questioned by some and applauded by others. A question that arose for me was how Bristol’s pregnancy affected Palin’s already stereotypical gender roles that were being emphasized throughout the campaign.
While reading “My Gender Workbook,” I came across the following passage that Kate Bornstein had quoted from Mariah Burton Nelson:
"All female athletes are gender outlaws… In the act of lunging for a soccer ball or diving into a swimming pool or engaging in most of the other sports that millions of women now enjoy, the athlete goes beyond gender…She has transcended gender and, even more importantly, sexism. Which explains, in part, why women are so passionate about sports."
Reading this quote inspired all kinds of questions for me. I have known for a while now that athletics is an important part of my life and my identity, but I had never thought about how sports played into questions of gender until now. It does seem to me that in swimming, I can transcend gender; I've trained alongside boys ever since I started, and I've always felt that I was treated as an equal. I grew up in a time when women had equal access to sports, and (at my level, anyway) female athletes seemed to be as visible as their male counterparts. However, this wasn’t always the case. I want to look into women's history in sports to see where we stand today, and see if there are any changes that could still be made to further women's opportunities in sports.
-The Daily Show discusses Oklahoma's personhood bill.
-Since children's media seems to be of interest, here is a list by Malic White at Bitch Media's End of Gender series of story books on the mulitiplicities and complexities of gender. The End of Gender series this past week has covered parenting and gender non-conforming children.
-A Mighty Girl: An entire site dedicated to positive media portrayals of girls. It looks very exciting to me as someone who read and enjoyed many of the books that are listed on the site, and as someone who continues to consume children's media aimed at or inclusive of girls.
-A Feministing post about The Dinner Party. There isn't much to it besides stating that it exists, but considering our discussions of the piece earlier in the year, what does it mean that a well-known feminist site simply presents the piece with out any commentary?
I think this demands some critical attention, and it's not perfect, I mean, it's a CollegeHumor video so, it's not going to pe perfect, but I also think it gets at our discussion of women and the shame of watching porn, that women would be more reluctant to discuss their porn watching habits with others, and kind of capitalizes on the shock value situation. Why shoudl it be so shocking to have a hegemonically pretty girl yelling about how much she likes anal fisting or POV?
During our question-writing session in class last week most of my questions focused on the politics of a career choice.
"What are the politics of selecting a job?
Of starting a career or learning a trade?
What are the differences between learning a trade and having a career in our social dictionary? What are the consequences of these differences?
Is anything "just" a job?"
A lot of my feminist reading as of late has been on the debate of the political vs private, and how the private more often than not, and whether we want it to be or not, is political. It's rather overwhelming to think that every decision I make is impacted by the political environment I move through, but it makes sense. It makes me hyper-aware of what and how I consume and speak, as well as the consumption of others. As a feminist (specifically aware that I am a white, upper-middle class, female-identifying, non-religious feminist) is there any decision I make that could be considered free of political thought?
I would suggest looking into all of Janelle Monáe's album The ArchAndroid both for musical/cultural value but also for its message and presentation (especially if you plan on reading the Moya Bailey article). It's very readily available from standard music venues, or just ask around for people who have the album.
Mentioned in class:
Double Rainbow was the blog series done by Caroline Narby for Bitch Magazine's blog about the autism spectrum.
Vampires and Cyborgs: Transhuman Abilities and Ableism in the Work of Octavia Butler and Janelle Monáe by Moya Bailey at Social Text Journal.
I have mentioned and explained once in class and in one of my web events that I am asexual aromantic, which is one reason why I have mixed feelings about My Gender Workbook. The author in many instances assumes that the audience identifies as a sexual being, and her wording often gives the impression that sexuality and gender while not the same thing, are deeply dependent on each other. And while society's impression of your gender is often connected to their impression of your sexuality, as is the language they use, self-identification of gender does not always hinge on sexuality. I still identify overall as cisfemale, even though because of societal expectations and connotations I do not feel I have access to many of the words describing cisfemales. The word woman is deeply connected to being a sexual and/or reproductive being; menstruation and the construct of losing one's virginity and engaging in sexual or romantic relations is a sign of growing up, of a girl becoming a woman. And while I have the reproductive capacities of a woman, I have no intention of using them, and the idea of being sexually or romantically involved with others bothers me to my very core. As such I will retain my "virginity" (I have no time to explain how upsetting I find that word to be), my innocence, my chastity, which keeps me in the position of a girl, which I still cannot belong to because I am an adult (also because girls are expected to grow up into women). Does that make me an adult girl? I'd rather not be.
Merging the Female Movie Star and the Politician
I invited Sarah Palin to the conversation at our “feminist table” because I thought she and most voices like to hers would be excluded otherwise. I have though about her and other very visible public female personas frequently since then. And I have come to understand these women as part of a separate public world, which must be, in terms of feminism, examined it were a “separate geographical location” entirely. This public world requires a specific examination, just as the woman of the global south or the Korean woman might require examination through a specifically feminist lens or gaze. Others have addressed issues of “double standards” arising in very particular circumstances in very different parts of the globe. The public gaze (constantly directed at this public world) creates a unique combination of “double standards” when it turns towards the female body. I would like to explore the very unique position the public woman finds herself in, both in terms of the political and popular worlds and how these once very separate worlds have come to merge.