Precarious and Performative Play
I was all set to react to the second Butler lecture given on 11/14, but somehow her talk became entangled with ideas we’ve been playing around with in class and these two thoughts are the result of that entanglement...
As we transitioned into snacktime, Anne summed up Part II of our class session by posing the question:
Does something trump choice?
I was reminded of this video, which may contextualize, problematize, and/or stigmatize (y)our understanding of the choice(s) you/we have as individuals and as part of a larger American culture/society... is it just me or am I making this statement highly inclusive?
Anyway, what do y'all think about this?
I work at the Women’s Center on Haverford’s campus, and we deal with a host of issues relating to sexuality. While I was at work this week, a male friend of mine came into the center, and somehow our conversation turned to the subject of how the issue of sexual assault is presented to freshmen during Customs week. While I admitted that I didn’t really remember the specifics of the talk that was given during my own freshman orientation, he told me he had been shocked by the emphasis he felt the campus put on the idea that when the issue of consent is in question, men are always to blame, and that and it is entirely the male partner’s responsibility to halt the encounter, particularly if alcohol is involved. He stressed to me how scared and helpless he felt at the implication that simply by being male and pursuing a sexual encounter he could unintentionally assault someone.
As some of you may know (and some of you may not), I just posted a rather negative course evaluation. I was nervous about posting it. I talked to another classmate who felt it was "ballsy" that we had been asked to submit non-anonymous mid-semester evaluations. We talked about how we still are getting graded, how we still are regularly interacting with professors and classmates, and how it feels a bit risky to post negative feedback. So, anyway, my heart was racing a little bit while I was writing my evaluation, and posting it was rather scary.
But a song came on my iPod that really encouraged me, and helped me keep going. Weirdly enough, it was the song "Roman's Revenge" by Nicki Minaj, which is an offensive song for a number of reasons. I'm even a little ashamed that it is on my iPod in the first place. You can read the lyrics here (http://www.directlyrics.com/nicki-minaj-romans-revenge-lyrics.html) or listen to the song here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9h_I90M8-M).
Usually when I listen to this song, it makes me uncomfortable. But for some reason, listening to it tonight made me feel stronger. How could this song, which is so offensive, empower me? Make me feel like a stronger woman? Is it the strong beat? Is it the angry tone? The words? I have no idea. I just thought it was interesting that a song that is so offensive, particularly regarding gender and sexuality, could light a fire under me about a gender and sexuality course.
One of the things I most enjoy about our class is the variance in perspective that comes from engaging with individuals who study in alternating areas. I, for example, am an English and Creative Writing student; other in our class may be studying Biology, History of Art, Psychology, or another area different than my own. In Rebecca Jordan-Young’s selection Brain Storm, she describes the term network and how it is used to “describe groups of connected people, and in science studies especially to describe how personal and professional connections among scientists shape the scientific knowledge they produce” (Jordan-Young 8). We may all be pursuing different areas of academia, but this class is our common link. By meeting each week to discuss Perspectives on Gender, we become a part of a network.
I was particularly intrigued by Jordan-Young’s perception of sex, gender, and sexuality as a three-ply yarn. They are all distinct strands and alone are functional; however, they may be wound together in the formation of a new entity that may be slightly “fuzzy around the edges.” This ties back into the idea of network, of individual people or thoughts that are connected through a commonality. But what do we call this newly formed three-strand yarn that is sex, gender, and sexuality? Do we even need to give it a name?
While not related to our current Act, I thought that this video was interesting and encompassed some of our ideas of being "at home" within one's body. It's a good reminder not to make preconceived judgements on others, as things may not be as they seem (I also just found it really amazing to watch and wanted to share). There's also a behind the scenes video which features some thoughts by Rico Genest, the gentleman featured in the video campaign. Enjoy!
The excerpt below is taken from an interesting article from the Gawker by Ryan Tate in the Censorship and Authoritarianism section:
"The internet allowed people around the world to express themselves more freely and more easily. With the App Store, Apple reversed that progress. The iPhone and iPad constitute the most popular platform for handheld computerizing in America, key venues for media and software. But to put anything on the devices, you need Apple's permission. And the company wields its power aggressively.
There are a few things that I always do when I go home for academic breaks: I spend time with my family, I catch up on sleep, and I swim laps at the local YMCA. Before coming to Bryn Mawr, I was a competitive swimmer for twelve years and swam in both club and Y leagues. When I was in high school, I brought a lot of my academic and pesonal stress to the pool, and my coach and I had to make an agreement: my nightly two-hour practices would be a time when I couldn't think about anything other than the set. The pool was my sanctuary, and I still view it as such.
Last week, I met my dad at the pool one afternoon to swim for a little while. After saying hello to my old coach, I hopped in and did a warmup. While stretching before completing my main set, another swimmer a few lanes over randomly called out to me. Now, when I swim, I'm in my own world and don't appreciate being interrupted; though a little bothered, I answered the gentleman's question about whether I was the new coach (I am not), whether I swam there on the swim team (I did), and where I went to school (Bryn Mawr). When I said the name of my school, I was greeted by a strange yet familiar expression: he had never heard of it. "It's a women's college outside of Philadelphia, one of the original Seven Sisters," I went on to explain, thinking that would be it.
"Oh, so you must be a man-hater," he responded. "You're anti-man, right?"