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Blog 5: Extra Credit - Speak Up

I wanted to comment on my own entry for week 5 after thinking about the readings throughout this week.

I said that I was skeptical about the notion of placing emphasis on storytelling. I thought it was an exercise in futility because "story" is so broad and sweeping of a word. One can contrive anything as a story. That was what I wanted others to infer when I quoted the definition of story. Telling a story is just that-- telling. Why yes, we should communicate. Why is this an issue? Why are we reinventing the wheel? I have found three main faults with my line of thinking and have thus changed my mind.

The first fault in my initial view is one of a false analogy. When I say that I blame the creators of law of failing to be objective enough, I put the onus on lawmakers to better understand multiple views. In a perfect world, this wouldn't be that bad, but we don't live in a perfect world. There are existing hierarchies in the structure of law and society.

The second fault is the presumption that those in power will hear the voices of subordinate groups. A story is a narrative. If the narrative persuades or reinforces beliefs, then it has power. Therefore, stories themselves are a source of power. The subordinate groups are already silenced. Like in the case of Mrs. G, they are afraid to speak. If they are silenced, then those in power, even though it might be unintentional, might never hear those different views.

The third and final fault is that I presume that those in power will sooner or later reason out inequities in law. By placing that responsibility on lawmakers, I further perpetuate the structure of dominance. This encourages the class in power to do a better job, but neglects the possibility that someone with a different viewpoint might come up with a better argument or premise that someone has forgotten.

So, I slightly change my mind. Rather than feeling passively about storytelling, I encourage it. Speak up.

Storytelling

I believe storytelling, both as a narrative tool and for cultural transmission, are a double-edged sword. Stories, and the telling thereof, can help people and persons in many ways, the least of which is by creating unity and a common set of experiences for people to follow. By giving others who don't share the narrative of the storytellers a chance to see them, empathy between people can be enhanced.

Unfortunately, it is entirely possible to become -too- enamored with a story and narrative. Stories and narratives are inherently biased from the storytellers point of view, which can lead to problems when dealing with different paradigms. Also, the strength of a certain narrative can easily overpower that of a 'weaker' one, forcing those who wish to use narratives for a goal to rely on the 'stronger' one.

Storytelling

I think that storytelling has an important place in law as well as in other disciplines for expanding our knowledge of any subject. Storytelling does often come up in the context of expressing minority points of view, but I don't think this only applies to women of color. Women, while not a numerical minority, ARE a minority when it comes to the expression of relevant aspects of female life.

This debate seemed to surface a lot as a result of Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, because of her comment in a speech that approximately said that her experience as a Latina offered her insight into the workings of law that a white male would not have. Many journalists and political commentators were outraged about this comment, wanting to believe that law is an objective practice. The debate brings up a lot of questions about objectivity. There is a school of thought, which I find persuasive, that says that minorities and underrepresented classes have broader access to knowledge, since they are able to understand a certain issue both through the eyes of their own demographic as well as that of the dominant demographic because academic programs socialize us to see issues through the eyes of that dominant class. And I think there is weight to this idea.

Week 5: Storytelling

I don't know if storytelling would constitute as consciousness-raising. I feel that consciousness-raising is more about making people aware of an issue, or (and I hate to use this word due to the baggage, but its applicable)an empowerment technique. Storytelling to me seems to be about argument through resonation.
What I mean by this is that storytelling is not really about finding a story to fit a situation, but for the listener to understand the story by relating to certain elements. It seems to me, that by being able to relate to certain aspects of a story that the listener should then be able to understand, or at least be sympathetic to, the rest of the context. Or they may walk away with some other idea or thought.
In other words, consciousness-raising is about the self and storytelling is about others. Both are affirmations of issues in the world, and both are aiming to be inclusive. In consciousness-raising everyone starts off on the same foot, but storytelling is an argument. I think all the writers would agree that storytelling is important, but certain authors, like MacKinnon, would disagree on the effect.

On a side-note: Reading MacKinnon, I was under the impression that her tactic was to compete by the rules of the Patriarchy, and then introduce new elements after being accepted. Trying just to use something like storytelling in an empirical courtroom probably would fly if there was not someone credible behind it.

Week 5

By sharing experiences through storytelling, groups and individuals pass on beliefs, values, and explanations relating to their personal life: experiences the listener might otherwise never experience. Stories can be useful in supporting legal arguments, and yet, as with the case of John Henry in the Delgado article, must be taken in context. Stories can change depending on who is speaking, and one cannot rule out the possibility that an account might be a complete fallacy. While some stories can be verified, founding a legal argument or change on hearsay can have a negative impact even if the intentions are good.

The White article attempts to use story telling as a vehicle for reform. In an attempt to change what she refers to as "the negative cultural imagery of gender, race and class" (p.55), she uses storytelling almost exclusively as a tool for consciousness-raising on the particular issue she was covering. Matsuda argues that this type of storytelling provides necessary examples for lawmakers. She makes a strong argument about how having multiple levels of consciousness is the most effective way for an individual to acquire a broader understanding of possible social or legal injustices.

While all three articles told stories about racial minorities, I do not believe that the approaches described by the authors should be exclusively applied to marginalized groups. Storytelling can also be effective in creating feelings of solidarity among people who are members of the 'majority' and lead them to action. Fundamental to all the reasons that Matsudo, White and Delgado give for storytelling is the belief that it can effect change.

I think that MacKinnon would agree that storytelling is necessary when bringing women's issues to the attention of those who are not directly affected by them. I am not certain, however, whether or not she would assert that storytelling is particularly effective in the case of securing women's equality. She might concede that telling stories could create a unity among women, but argue that even armed with examples of discrimination, women would still be at the mercy of male influenced lawmakers.

Blog 5: Lack of Objectivity

Like a lot of other Feminist Theories, storytelling questions the current system. I'm skeptical about the notion of placing emphasis on storytelling. At least, I believe that putting emphasis on storytelling is just shifting semantic sand. Rather than placing emphasis on storytelling, I suggest placing more emphasis on better objectivism. According to the dictionary at wordnetweb.princeton.edu a story is defined as:
narrative: a message that tells the particulars of an act or occurrence or course of events; presented in writing or drama or cinema or as a radio .
report: a short account of the news; "the report of his speech"; "the story was on the 11 o'clock news"; "the account of his speech that was given on the evening news made the governor furious"

A story is a sort of persuasive argument in this context. Since it's a persuasive argument, it follows that one should take into account all sides of a story to be objective in deciding on a viewpoint. Storytelling can be useful, but I disagree with Delgado saying, "The supposedly objective point of view often mischaracterizes, minimizes, dismisses, or derides without fully understanding opposing viewpoints." Instead of those writing law being TOO objective, I would say that they are LACKING in being objective by not taking into consideration other viewpoints.

Delgado also says, "Implying that objective, correct answers can be given to legal questions also obscures the moral and political value judgments that lie at the heart of any legal inquiry." Delgado places this in such a way that it would be natural for one to conclude this, but he doesn't seem to have any premises to this assertion. Why can't we have objective, correct answers? Or (since one can argue that that is an impossibility), why can't we have the most possibly objective, correct answers?

Blog 5

I believe, and the articles support, that the ways in which stories are told do shape and construct our values and norms in society. Matsuda, Delgado and White reiterate and give examples of how stories have shaped our laws and worldviews. While each of the authors strongly support consciousness raising their opinions as to where to go from there vary. Matsuda focuses on a forward but practical use of consciousness raising. Her theory consists of what she calls multiple consciousness. This refers to not only bringing the realities of oppressed populations but also realizing the importance of working within the current law system and resisitng ideological goals. On the other hand, Delgado adamantly pushes the importance of consciousness raising especially within the realm of law but her plan of application is lacking.

MacKinnon, I believe, would lean on the side of Matsuda's argument because while it is not a plan of radical activism it does admit the male dominated field of law. MacKinnon is much more for some sort of action than theoretical and ideological ideas and plans because they do not directly effect the women who need it. I

I think that story telling or consciousness raising can be a very useful tool for any group of people who are struggling to find a legal voice. Delgado's article makes a really good argument but I just feel that there is no practical use for it while it is a good theory.

Week five

I think the power of storytelling is great, for the one telling the story and for the people listening. when you are good at telling a story you have a way of captivating your audience which connects the both of you in a different way or in a deeper way. The three authors all have their way of structuring their storytelling but their main goal is to connect with some one and be able to reach out to them. wheather the audience is aimed towards women or people of color you are going to reach someone other than your focul audience.

So for me that is the power of telling a story, because you can create a beautiful picture, or a sad, pitiful story with just the action of using words. Another thing that is very interesting with storytelling is that the story teller can reached that opressed group, that hardly mentioned group and so many other groups by just telling what is real. in this case storytelling is not speaking for others and representing them in a manor that they might not agree with but talking for that group or individual that can not, will not speak for themself. As a classmate mentioned about rape victums. if a story is told and it reaches that rape victum they may feel compelled to tell their story and express their own pain.

So again storytelling is very powerful in my book, especially they way that you deliver your message. You can tell a story in sooo many ways, it just depends on the method that the storyteller feels best fits them emotionally.

Blog 5

Storytelling in jurisprudential contexts as discussed in the readings by Matsuda, Delgado and White is something that I feel can be supported from both sides of cultural and radical feminist viewpoints. Each of these theories rely heavily on the stories and experiences of women to show where they stand.

In Jurisprudence and Gender,page 64, in section 1, titled, "The Narrative and Phenomenological Critique", West states "The way to do this--the only way to do this--is to tell true stories on women's lives."

I think that MacKinnon would agree to the usage of stories being an important element in the practice of law and useful towards resisting social inequality. We all have our own stories, these are our life experiences which form our own personal perceptions of the world around us. This is not a matter of seeing things in black and white. There are too many variables in the areas of race, class & gender that need to be taken into consideration. A man will not see women's issues the same way as a women nor will a woman see things from a man's point of view. Simply because they each have their own perceptions and experiences that have formed them. Through conscious raising and a development of multiple consciousness one can understand more fully where another person is coming from in their own thoughts and views.

Storytelling is done in various ways. The methods used to express and share the experiences of those who are or have been oppressed and/or marginalized is done through writings, poetry, music, art etc. All of these methods make this persons story available to both outsiders and insiders within society.

Blog 5: Storytelling

In regards to storytelling, I do view this as a crucial aspect to understand in order to fully realize an argument or belief that is discussed, presented, etc. in the court. Storytelling is a piece of our lives that we don't even think about, it is one the of the most common ways that we communicate and what is crucial to notice is how one story will be completely different when told from numerous stories. As Delgado states, "We participate in creating what we see in the very act of describing it" (Delgado 2416). What Delgado is trying to say is each individual constructs a reality that is partial to their own. A person will view an event differently depending on their socioeconomic stance, gender, race, etc. Not only will this person view an event, crime, person, etc. differently, but they will tell others differently (i.e. storytelling.) Taking into account the "creating" of a story and how different it is to each individual, understanding these differences in storytelling therefore are crucial to studying legal cases and theory. For example, Catherine MacKinnon, taking into regards her individual feminist legal standpoint and personal history, I would argue would view the idea of storytelling as being evident in our court system and an element of the court that is crucial to understand. MacKinnon might argue that because women are inherently different from men, their stories will be different and would not be fully understood by an all male jury or male judge. Since there is an inherent misunderstanding, there will be issues in the case because the story is coming from a female perspective that men can never and will never fully understand.

I see Delgado, Matsuda and White not looking to story telling as a repeat of consciousness raisings, but instead bringing attention to storytelling as a crucial way of understanding social inequality (not necessarily a cathartic experience as consciousness raisings are.) The social inequality, as stated before, can deal with race, gender, socioeconomic stance, etc. Although the three authors mainly dealt with racial stories and the impact these had on their cases, these stories could differ in many different ways that would lead one to further understand social inequality in a patriarchal society. I found all three articles very interesting and I must admit that I had never considered storytelling as an element to look further into when studying a case. I understood that people have different perspectives and therefore stories will shift, but I didn't understand the impact this could have on how an individual is view in and out of court.

Blog 5

I found the readings on narrative very interesting. I believe the method of storytelling can be very powerful as it can give voice to those who have been silenced or oppressed. I think this approach corresponds to other theorists we have read. I believe that Catharine MacKinnon would find this approach useful. In her article, she writes about rape and how it is defined in society and in law. Storytelling or the use of narrative could be useful in discussing rape and law; it would allow victims to share their experiences with the legal system when it comes to rape and other sexual misconduct crimes. The sharing of these stories may help feminists to look at the current state of rape laws and to search for ways to change them. The approach that Matsuda, Delgado, and White describe in their articles seems similar to the consciousness-raising method that Levit and Verchick outline in their chapter on feminist legal methods. The method of consciousness-raising encourages women to tell their stories in order to make an effort to create social change and equality. Matsudo, Delgado, and White expand on this idea by looking at who is telling the stories, how they change from different perspectives, and the language used during the story-telling process. Although these theorists focus on storytellers from minority groups, I believe that the storytelling method can be applied generally. I think that any group of people that is oppressed or silence by the law or society in general could benefit from storytelling. Storytelling would allow their voices to be heard and may help their experiences to be better understood. Although I thought each reading was interesting, I particularly liked the White article. I found the sections on speech very interesting, and they helped me to better understand the narrative and storytelling approach.

week 5 // narrative

Storytelling gives life to identities in ways that cannot be replicated, and that as a way of changing law is entirely realistic. The authors who discuss narrative may write about race specifically, but I think it would be applicable to what we have been talking about. As far as Catherine MacKinnon goes, I think that the overarching method of narratives is something she would agree with. As women are largely ignored in law, consciousness raising would, in effect, combat that. On the other hand, narratives could not be a cure-all. They could simply exist to serve the interests of the majority (white males) which is already represented in law. Mackinnon addresses this briefly, about how male understanding of consent is used in rape cases and how commonly women's stories may be rejected as reputable. In this way... narrative works against women. Though I think that does bring up a few complications with narratives - whose narrative do you listen to at the cost of others? The author in our West reading was the one giving the narrative - was it to serve Mrs. G or to serve as a description of how troublesome it is to be an aid lawyer? Another thing I found to be confusing was the way that Mrs. G was described as heavily changed by the welfare system. She was constantly in fear, and had very trained methods of understanding the system. With narrative, it is difficult to fish that out without just tossing aside what someone says as being brainwashed, because it is never so simple. Anyway, I'm excited to discuss the power of narrative in class, as it is something I have been looking at more and more lately!

Week 5 Blog

This readings by Matsuda, Delgado, and White all discuss the operations of storytelling in jurisprudential contexts, focusing on the ways in which storytelling by dominant and subordinate members of society differ in purpose, structure, reception, and impact.

We have all been in situations in which outcomes are determined by who is telling the story and who is listening. Whether the situation is two siblings each trying to convince their parent that the other started the fight, or politicians trying to convince people that they deserve to hold elected office, or parties in court trying to convince a jury of guilt or innocence, we tell stories to convey our understanding of the world and our place in it.

For this blog post, I would like you to consider the notion that storytelling constructs our social realities and that those involved with the law should thus be attentive to storytelling. Does this approach concur with or dispute the other theorists that we have read? Would, for example, MacKinnon agree that the ways in which we tell stories is an important element of the practice of law and a useful strategy to resist social inequality? Are Delgado, Matsuda and White expanding on feminist uses of consciousness-raising, or do they have a different purpose in calling for attention to storytelling? All three authors specifically discuss people of color and storytelling; are their approaches only applicable to storytelling by minorities, or are they generally applicable? What else about these readings struck you as particularly enlightening or confusing or dubious?

Suggested length: 200 words