Feminism of SlutWalk
SlutWalk is a protest event that began in April of 2011 in Toronto to express freedom of expression and anger at double standards. It has since expanded to other cities including New York and Chicago. SlutWalk Toronto was originally spurred by a Toronto police officer who suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” This made a lot of people angry.
SlutWalk Toronto’s website explains that this statement is wrong and hurtful for many reasons. Sexual assault is a serious crime and has nothing to do with the clothing a woman wears. No woman is “asking for it” when she wears a blouse that shows cleavage or when she wears sky-high platform pumps. By placing blame on the victim, it makes her less likely to report it to authorities or seek professional help.
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.
Links for your perusal that may or may not be relevant to class. Add your own! No seriously, add your own.
The H-Word was a series on Bitch Magazine's blog done by a former sex-worker on a variety of issues. I haven't read all of the articles, but I thought the ones I did read were really interesting and worth reading. I would suggest reading most of their series, actually, so go check it out.
Prism Comics is the comic book company mentioned in class.
-There was a very interesting exhibit at Drexel last fall (fall '11) called Half the Sky: Women in the New Art of China full of Chinese women artist's work. I remember reading interviews/articles quoting the artists themselves and how they interacted with/thought of feminism, but I can't remember where I left it at the moment.
Will be edited later. This computer doesn't have my zillions of bookmarks. Also, why don't we have more conversations here? I understand I'm a broken record, but really I just like talking about things with people and this is a convenient (sort of?) way to do it. I know we have more thoughts in class than what we say.
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 week I am revisiting the Lugones reading about world-traveling and feeling at ease in the worlds we travel through. When I first read the reading, I disliked it very much. I did not understand exactly the terms the author used and I definitely could not understand them in relation to literacy. I realize now that the Lugones reading was not something I could read and just immediately get. Instead, I had to experience what she meant by world-traveling and this experience played out this weekend when I attended the Posse Plus Retreat (PPR).
For those who do not know, the PPR is a weekend-long event open to Bryn Mawr students, faculty and staff invited by the Pose scholars on campus. It is an annual event and its goal is to get people connected and to be challenged by conversations about a central topic. The one I attended was on gender & sexuality.
This weekend, I travelled to a new world and it was not without unease. A little ignorantly, I thought that there wasn't much to learn about the topic because I had two gay best friends, I went to a very open high school, and I go to Bryn Mawr, a school that is very supportive and vocal about the LGBTQAAII community. Of course I was completely wrong. Even worse, I left the retreat feeling like I had never belonged or felt at ease in that "world" even when I thought I did at first. Feeling, in some ways, excluded, I left PPR with more questions than answers to my frustrations. I think they are very relevant to the Lugones reading so....
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.
Virginia Woolf calls every woman to join a society that is separate from the society in which men operate – the Outsiders’ Society. She says that we cannot operate within the society of men, because there is “something in the conglomeration of people into societies that releases what is most selfish and violent, least rational and humane in the individuals…” (124). The Outsiders’ Society, Woolf states, is “the kind of society which the daughters of educated men might found and join outside your society but in co-operation with its ends” (126). She indicates that there is power in being outside of the insiders’ society: “the power to change and the power to grow… can only be preserved by obscurity…” (135). Existing and working in this Outsiders’ Society will give women power by obscuring them and separating them from the “limelight which paralyzes the free action of the human faculties and inhibits the human power to change and create…” (135). Virginia Woolf believes that being outside of men’s society will “shroud” women “in darkness.”
Last semester I took a course entitled “Reading Popular Culture: Freaks” with Suzanne Schneider, in which we discussed at length what it means to me marginal and why people in the so-called “Outsiders’ Society” are put there in the first place. The idea of existing outside of society according to what we discussed in Freaks is very different from what Virginia Woolf seems to think about being an “outsider.”
In a class on gender and sexuality last semester, I focused my attention on transgender students at Bryn Mawr, and those that haven't been able to come to Bryn Mawr College because of their sex. Throughout the semester I met with administrators, deans, staff and students around campus trying to learn more about the school's policy on admitting transwomen as well as transmen. Following are the links to these works.
1) All "Women's" College
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 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.