[just speak nearby the borders of our minds] <-- link
This is a piece about borders. About communities. About movement and restrictions and ideologies. I wanted to interrogate how feminism is at times bounded by qualifiers, that is, to differentiate between French feminism and Third-World Feminism, and the ways in which those are both appropriate and constructed such that the result is constructed identities viewed as essential.
Among artists in the 20th and 21st century, explicit reference to prior works has become a mode of producing pieces. This may be in the form of collage or pastiche of some kind, and in video art, it is typically through found footage that these references can be made. Video Artists like Dara Birnbaum have spoken on the power of reappropriating footage, specifically, in her case, from popular media sources, but some of the logic remains in what I have done. Birnbaum wanted the agency to engage with the images being presented to her, to take ownership and subvert their meanings to create new meaning, asserting that she wanted to “talk back” to the media. Further, she asserts:
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.
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.
Being that this is a story that displays hermaphoditism through the eyes of a teenager, it's no surprise that a lot of the book is centered around the physical body. Most of the scenes with Dr. Luce really emphasized what had already been the present throughout most of the book about the importancy of physical attributes as well as physical attraction.
The scene where Luce shows porn to Callie to see what sex she was attracted to really bothered me. Being physically attracted to someone, to me, doesn't necessarily mean you're more male or more female (especially thinking about the controversy surrounding the idea that changing your gender is a way to escape homosexuality). Judging Callie's dominent gender based on sexual attraction wouldn't show the type of attraction that Callie has for the Object which to me is a better indicator of her gender than anything. Of course Luce wouldn't know Callie's feelings about the Object because Callie is hiding that from him, but I felt like a lot of his questions were only surface level questions since most of what he's basing his diagnostics off of is in fact gender sterreotypes.
It just makes me think about how sex can never determine your gender in the way that Callie's physical appearance (the way she carries herself, speaks, write, ects) can never determine which of her genders is more prominent. I've felt throughout this book that Callie's hermaphoditism doesn't affect her as much as it affects people around her (her parents, friends, etc) which makes me believe that it's not so important to her.
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.
Going back to my notes on that reading - there was a heavy focus on alienation. Adults may be alienated by being illiterate, but then, forcing them to learn could also be alienating.
I’ve been thinking about all these things because I’ve been reflecting on my internship from last summer, trying to find a connection between that experience and the 360/Educ 250. I worked in the Education department at Nationalities Service Center, especially in classrooms in which immigrants and refugees are learning to speak English. This experience had a huge impact on my academics last semester - I applied that passion to classes on bilingual education, cultural tensions/fusions, and immigration. After that internship, I found connections between the experience and courses about Language, Culture, and Policy. However (and thank you to Alice again, for helping me flesh this out), I wasn’t thinking about the fundamentals. - Fundamentals being, I think, Literacy. So of course there is a connection between my tutoring adults and the class I am taking now.
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....
After weeks of class and many interactions with media and technology, I now feel like I am in a position where I can really assess how technology is affecting (good and bad) my life.
Just from this class alone, my tech and computer literacy has sped up faster than I expected. Not only can I type super fast, navigate the world of touch screen, and balance multiple social/interactive websites, I can also think in very short, twitter-like sentences (I am not so sure that is a good thing). However, I am struggling in the sense that I do not know how to (or can't at all) balance between my "worlds," as lugones would say, in school, personal, and social/online life. In some ways it is uncomfortable to have the three merged because there is no sense of identity. Part of having an identity is knowing that there are distinct "sections" of myself and I feel like they have all become one, muddled pile. Is it at all possible to make clear distinctions between identities once tech and social media is involved? Do we have control over these distinctions now that sites, like Facebook, can be left to the viewer's interpretation?
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.
It’s interesting to see the definition of literacy develop and how they vary, whether within my own definitions, external definitions, or dictionary definitions. The definition of literacy in its most basic and most well known meaning is: “the ability to read and write”. The definition on my computer goes on to note a second explanation: “competence or knowledge in a specified area”.
My own working definition that I wrote down in class on Tuesday was, “the way we interact with one another, how we communicate and understand each other”. In a way it seems that there are two distinctive forms of “literacy”, as the ability to read and write are very specific skills, but broadening the definition to include competence in any area makes the former definition seem redundant. Part of me continues to work out a definition for “literacy” that makes sense within our discourse. But maybe it is that the class will be incorporating literacy in all its forms.
The revised definition that came out of our small group discussion was: “a way to manipulate secondary discourses to give one agency”. In a way it reverberates my original, working definition but also expands on it. This definition also seems a bit removed from that which sees literacy as simply “the ability to read and write”, all of which serve to complicate and clarify my understanding of literacy as we discuss it in class.