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Direct Engagement-Question 5

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Sorry this is late! I had forgotten until reminded in class today!

The political-
Political issues are all around us. Feminism is a political issue. Any type of freedom or fight for equality will fall under the category of political. Politics is a process where groups make decisions. Taking a look at feminism under this light, feminists create groups in order to try and sway society's current viewpoints. Feminists fight for an anti-sexism world; this is stated in bell hooks' book Feminism is for Everybody. Majority of our world engages within politics. It entitles a person to make opinions for different issues and stand up for what they believe in. People take sides and come to numerous conclusions about each and every issue. On the issue of feminism, this is the case as well. Confusion comes into play when people are unaware of what feminism even is. There are many people who have the wrong impression of what feminism is, or else in some instances, they are just lacking any information on the subject as a whole.
In Feminism is for Everybody, the very first chapter is dedicated to looking at feminism as a political issue. The end of the chapter presents the idea that there needs to be a more clear definition of the term feminism. In that sense, I agree that there needs to be a better explanation for what feminism is in order for people to be able to figure out the politics of it and engage in working towards a movement. I think titling something as political is very easy because of the term being so broad. Political issues tie in with many different categories, one of them being feminism.

Direct Engagement

The feminists that we have read have been influential politically because the issues they bring up seek resolve within our current society. The term "political" is a rather broad term and in my use I will define it as "an issue that requires political attention and action." When posed with the question "is the political personal", I instantly thought of the problems with legislation regarding domestic workers brought up in Cleaning up a Dirty Business. Within this article all sorts of problems are brought up regarding how Government regulations impose poverty and subjugation through severe regulation or the lack of regulation. There is a dire need for better understanding and communication of the laws that affect domestic workers. "Virtually no attempt has been made by the government or media to educate domestic workers and employers about these laws". These political problems become very personal to the lives of the individuals that they affect. If the minimum wage was not enforced for citizens across the country it would become a personal issue to many more individuals. The problem that is often found within the government is that our elected officials focus on issues that affect the majority of the populous. This method of prioritizing issues disregards a portion of the population that needs the most help and protection from the government. When the spotlight is away from these issues it becomes easy to ignore them and perpetuate "us and them" perspectives. While this can go on for a while the ignorance and disregarding attitudes can affect the foresight of a country and this is how things like racialism and subjugation are allowed to be perpetuated. It is a common misconception that the political is not personal. The constitution set up a government which is FOR THE PEOPLE. If we ignore the personal aspect of our government and the political realm, then we have missed the intended mark that our forefathers set before us.

clear/concise definition with unity


Feminism is obviously a political issue. As on the front of 'Feminism is for Everybody' by Bell Hooks it states, "Passionate Politics" It is something that can be extremely controversial and is something that women have been fighting for for a substantial amount of time now. The thing that strikes me most about the fact that it is a political issue is the fact at how global it is and how it is a battle and it loses steam and gains it in the course of the fight. This is how many political issues go, and the political issue of feminism and 'gender equality' is no different. There is such a wide range of support and interest in the fight for gender equality, and this is what drives the fight and makes is such an issue of legitimate 'politics'. Since there is so much interest in it and since it affects almost every person in the world, it is immediately considered something of politics. As far as it being global, it is emphasized in 'Feminism is for Everybody' that all over the world 'female freedom fighters' have been struggling against the patriarchy and male domination. However, earlier in the reading of 'Feminism is for Everybody' it specifically emphasizes that feminism is not only a female's fight, but a male's fight as well. It says that it effects everyone and is not only a woman's issue in any way, shape or form. It is contradictory statements like this one that lead to fall-backs in the fight for feminism. The feminism fight and political issue needs to create a more clear-cut and concise definition of what their goal is. Bell Hooks states that women of all types are saying that they are so called 'feminists', when they don't even know why they are and what makes them different or defines them as 'feminists'. The movement needs more precision. Just as with politics, issues that do not have precise goals never get the time of day and nothing gets improved. Lastly, as far as global feminism goes. The fact that the feminist movement is so global, is the reason it creates such a boom and can be considered a political issue. However, the global aspect of the movement is also creating segregation among the 'freedom fighters' It is as if the "privileged-class white woman swiftly declared their 'ownership' of the movement, placing working-class white women, poor white women and all women of color in the position of followers". This is wrong and when one thinks of a party's political fights, no party ever makes advancements on their political issues without uniting the political party as one. This is the same with feminism since feminism is a political issue. The fighters in the movement need to unite and make a common goal and then give it their best efforts. Without doing these things the political issue of 'feminism' will never go anywhere and will be at a constant stand-still.

narrow "the political"


I think the term "the political" should be narrowed and specified rather than generalized and broad. According to the book, Feminism is for Everybody, "Feminist politics is losing momentum because feminist movement has lost clear definitions." We have and know these clear definitions of feminism but the problem occurs when they aren't being shared to the public; that is when confusion comes into play. Hooks states that for a person to understand feminist politics, they have to understand the definition of sexism. Most people don't fully understand sexism and if they do, they don't consider it to be a problem in the feminist movement. People are getting their information from unreliable sources that only focus on mainly gender base equality. Hooks also states that politics is being slowly removed from feminism because people are generalizing that there are many different versions of feminism. I believe if feminist politics can narrow their definition, it would be easier for the world to understand what feminism is and what it truly stands for. There wouldn't be the option of thinking that there are numerous definitions for feminism. If feminist politics can be narrowed, a chain affect would occur; the correct and clear definitions of feminism would be shared to the world and a better understanding of feminism would be interpreted.

The Transvaluation of "Shit": a political issue


"When we look at culture through the lens of shit, we end up transvaluing shit. And when we transvalue shit, we transform a culture based on domination of others and exploitation of the natural world."

"The flipside of progress is shit. The concept of shit, in fact, of something both disgusting and superfluous -- and disgusting precisely because superfluous -- is uniquely capitalist; is uniquely the product of a surplus-producing economy. Only within an economic system predicated upon not only the possibility but the exigency of excess, surplus, profit -- only within such an economic and cultural system can there be a concept of uselessness, discardability, flushability."

-- M. Cortez, Scatologist

When Barbara Ehrenreich writes, "Almost everything we buy, after all, is the product of some other person's suffering and miserably underpaid labor," she not only establishes the political significance of underpaid labor - a point she makes throughout her essay - but also of individual, consumerist choices: choices seemingly inconsequential, because their consequences are made invisible (in order for some to freely reap the benefits). In the spirit of Cynthia Enloe, I pose the question: what does delimiting "the political" do? For "the political" just may be as infinite as the questions not asked -and, thus, unexplored: so, rather than speaking of the political importance of "shit" work, perhaps it would be more productive to consider the political consequences of devaluing such work as "shit" (shit work/work shat (?))- situating that which has been situated as worthless at the forefront of the discussion.

shit work.jpg familial capitalism.jpg

The intention of my curiosity on this issue stems from Ehrenreich's discussion at the conclusion of her essay, "Maid to Order," where she illuminates the "consequence-abolishing effect" of constantly being cleaned up after - of regarding oneself as free from recognizing the waste one produces; which does produce an effect (and an affect), that is not inconsequential (or invisible - not to those upon whom it weighs). Shit, of course, is, by definition, an adverse category - on the hierarchy of value, "shit" is by far the lowest variant - and, as Ehrenreich states, those whose livelihoods depend upon the waste of others are expelled from the vault of value: flushed away, as it were, out of sight - out of mind - out of political discourse. What Ehrenreich aims to propose at the close of her essay is a transvaluation of 'shit'; suggesting that Were 'shit' to be made visible, the consequences of individual waste would be made visible as well.

Personal is Political

"In feminist terms, the 'personal is political' refers to the theory that personal problems are political problems, which basically means that many of the personal problems women experience in their lives are not their fault, but are the result of systematic oppression." This theory--that women are not to blame for their bad situations because they experience gendered oppression and massive structural inequalities--is important to contemplate in discussing all topics of feminist debate, including ones of reproductive rights and work equality that we have covered in class thus far.
Within the 'personal is political' debate, one issue I find particularly interesting has to do with what is often called "woman-blaming"--the idea that if only women could stop doing things that conflict with their ability to attain equal treatment within society, behavior that works to perpetuate their own oppression, that many of their problems would go away. From the past week's discussion on domestic workers, a strong argument has been made for this. In "How Serfdom saved the Women's Movement," Caitlin Flanagan discusses "how so many middle-class American women went from not wanting to oppress other women to viewing that oppression as a central part of their own liberation."[pg.111] The outcomes of the professionalization of women in America pinpoints the hypocrisy that has arisen as a result of the struggle for equal representation within the workforce. When it comes to women wanting to make their mark outside the home, the personal has indeed become an increasingly political topic. How they choose to resolve the personal affairs at home has great implications for how, quote unquote, "powerful women" within society are able to positively represent the feminist movement, and (more importantly) how the true status of women in the world is able to evolve and improve over time.

Question 5: 3/2-3/4

Term: the Political

Since we don't have any readings for this week, I thought you could respond to some more open-ended questions that are central to our discussion of feminism, feminist debates, and feminist strategies for social justice. Group A should post their entries by Sunday (2/28) and Groups B and C should comment by Tuesday (3/2) at noon.

How have the feminists that we have read so far defined the political?
What is meant by the feminist idea, "the personal is political"?
How broad (or narrow) of a term should "the political" be?
What makes an issue a political issue?

Make sure to connect your discussion directly to (at least) one of the readings we have done so far.

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