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Don't Worry, Be Happy

On page 572, Ahmed mentions Betty Friedan and the happy housewife. In case you are interested, I have added Friedan's chapter on it (in the Feminine Mystique) to WebCT for this week. Also, I can't help but hear this song in my head when I think about happiness and worry (I couldn't post the video because the embed function was disabled). Bobby McFerrin tells us, "Don't worry, be happy!". Check out this lyric:

In every life you have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Wait..isn't doubling our trouble a good thing?

Troublemaking in Parenting

A friend of mine just sent me this short article - Transparent - on gender "play" and the experience of parenting a child who does not conform to gender stereotypes. I was interested in the article at first because my mom is a child psychiatrist who has advised parents in similar situations, but I'm posting it here because the author, Susan David Bernstein, uses terms like "troublemaking" and "play" (for those familiar with that chapter from Lugones) in ways that clearly resonate with this class.

I know we had a lot of reading this week, but I'm curious what people think about the article, and the idea of "playful parenting" as a form of troublemaking. On the one hand, Bernstein seems like a great parent, allowing her daughter to explore gender in the way that she does; on the other hand, she also implies that her daughter - being as strong-willed as she is - might've acted the same way, regardless of parenting. It's also clear that Bernstein is in a privileged position, being a white academic in Wisconsin; she talks about "today's multiplication of options" for gender performance, but she might not perceive there to be so many options if she was living somewhere else.

Anyone have experiences with parents who encouraged you to make trouble? As a child, was anyone a troublemaker because of or in spite of their parents? 

Also, is there room for "playful parenting" in parts of the country (or in various communities of race, class, etc) where there might be more of a threat of backlash? What (perhaps subtler) forms would it take on?

Reading Foucault through Horton Hears a Who?

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horton-hears-a-who-1396.jpgCheck out my blog entry about Foucault's "The Masked Philosopher," Horton Hears a Who, troublemaking and curiosity-as-care. Read the whole entry here. But first, check out a blurb:

In "The Masked Philsopher," Michel Foucault describes curiosity and the care it suggests:
[Curiosity] evokes 'care'; it evokes the care one takes of what exists and what might exist; a sharpened sense of reality, but one that is never immobilized before it; a readiness to find what surrounds us strange and odd; a certain determination to throw off familiar ways of thought and to look at the same things in a different way; a passion for seizing what is happening now and what is disappearing; a lack of respect for the traditional hierarchies of what is important and fundamental.
From the beginning of the story (in the book and both versions--1970 and 2008--of the movie) Horton exhibits the qualities of curiosity-as-care. Here, let me break it down in terms of the 2008 version. First, let me offer a scene from early on in the movie. Horton is trying to explain to the Sour Kangaroo why he is talking to a speck of dust on a flower:

Kangaroo: That's absurd. There aren't people that small!
Horton: Well, maybe they aren't small. Maybe we're big.
Kangaroo: Horton!
Horton: No, really. Think about it. What if there was someone way out there looking down on our world right now? And to them, we're the specks.
Kangaroo: Horton! There is nothing on that speck!
Horton: But I heard.
Kangaroo: Did you, really? Ohhoho my. Then how come I don't hear anything?
Horton: Well...hmmm...
Kangaroo: If you can't see, hear, or feel something it doesn't exist. And believing in tiny, imaginary people is just not something we do or tolerate here in the jungle of Nool.
Foucault: it evokes the care one takes of what exists and what might exist; a sharpened sense of reality, but one that is never immobilized before it
Horton: Horton is interested in and attentive to the world around him and open to imagining new possibilities. His sharpened (and heightened) sense of reality enables him to hear the tiny cry coming from a small speck floating by as he is bathing in the stream. Instead of not hearing (or more common, hearing but refusing to listen), Horton listens and responds to the voice that signals the possibility of another world beyond his, a world that seems unimaginable within his world (with its empirical, physical and "natural" laws). He is not threatened or even incredulous at the possibility of a tiny world on a speck; it does not immobilize him. Instead it sparks his curiosity and his imagination about what lies beyond his own observations.

Foucault: a readiness to find what surrounds us strange and odd
Horton: Horton is ready and willing to be open to how our surroundings, such as flowers, trees, specks of dust, may not be what they appear to be. They may be strange and strangers to us (we don't really know them or what they are).

Foucault: a certain determination to throw off familiar ways of thought and to look at the same things in a different way
Horton: Once he hears the voice and believes there that there is a small person on the speck, he is committed to never look at flowers and dust (or the world, for that matter) the same way again. He is committed to staying open to the possibility of other worlds (ones that are smaller and bigger than us).

Foucault: a passion for seizing what is happening now and what is disappearing
Horton: [a stretch perhaps?] Horton is unwilling to let the moment pass and the speck of dust and its inhabitants to perish. When he hears the small voice crying for help, he acts immediately.

Foucault: a lack of respect for the traditional hierarchies of what is important and fundamental.
Horton: Horton refuses to honor the jungle of Nool rule (at least as created and enforced by the Sour Kangaroo): If it you can't see, hear, or feel it then it doesn't exist. He steadfastly stands behind his (empirically unproven) claim that there are people on the speck of dust.

Now, this kind of care--the care for remaining open and interested/attentive to the world in its different permutations--is not often recognized as such. Maybe that is because care-as-curiosity is hardly ever about being careful. It is exhausting, dangerous and quite frequently gets us into trouble (and demands that we stay in trouble by being resistant to rigid rules and ready for new possibilities). But, what if we imagined the type of troublemaking and troublestaying that Horton is doing as an ethics of care? Then, could we begin to value (and honor and promote) troublemaking?

So, Raechel mentioned this interview at the end of class. I thought I would post it since one of my students brought it up on our queering theory blog last semester.

Youtube clips from videos mentioned in Foster

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Here are some youtube clips from "This is what democracy looks like?" and "We aren't scared of your jails":

Women, Blogging and the Academy

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While I was doing some research for my workshop on blogging and teaching (this Monday, in Ford 468, from 3:30-5:00), I came across this youtube video, "A Blog of Her Own: Scholarly Women on the Web":

Uh oh. Hannah Montana is in (gender) trouble!

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Today I mentioned an entry I wrote about Judith Butler and Hannah Montana. Here it is:
Uh oh. Hannah Montana is in (gender) trouble

Superbowl commercials

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Thanks Becky for your last post about the superbowl commercials. We have been discussing them on my feminist debates blog as well. Here is a recent post I made there about the Dodge commercial and a feminist (troublemaking?) response:

Now, the feminist response:

Vajazzling: Bluffin' with your muffin?

Among the many issues facing young feminists today, one problem remains woefully under-explored; how can we make our genitalia more decorative? 

Feminist icon Jennifer Love Hewitt tackled this touchy subject when she appeared on the George Lopez Show.  After a painful breakup, Hewitt abandoned the traditional remedies of Lifetime Original Movies and Ben & Jerry's, opting instead to enlist a friend's help with an avant-guard artistic form.  She described the pioneering practice with poise and eloquence, stating that "a friend of mine Swarovski-crystalled my precious lady and it shined like a disco ball."

Basically it's like confessional poetry, but for your vagina.

But wait, there's more!  Not only can vajazzling boost your confidence after a painful breakup, and distract you from your grief by refocusing your attention on the painful rash that you got from the craft-store glue that you used to D-I-Y vajazzle yourself, it can also spice up an existing relationship!  In a ground-breaking interview with spa-owner Cindy Barshop, revealed that vajazzling has actually been available in select NYC spas since 2000.  She notes that it takes a certain kind of woman to appreciate the myriad benefits of vajazzling:  "Hip, trendy and confident women like Jennifer get this done." 

In fact, according to vajazzling is just one more service that women can do to make themselves more attractive to the men in their life-- I mean, to take care of themselves and make themselves feel good!  "Its like buying a new pair of lingerie or getting a mani/pedi," Barshop says.  "It's a feel-good service...and men LOVE it on women.  They love it even more when it's a surprise."  After all, what could be hotter than discovering that your romantic partner has rendered your likeness in faux-crystals on their crotch?

For the two of you who remain unconvinced, this Craigslist ad will certainly do the trick!  This adventurous New Yorker has come up with several creative vajazzling designs, including a "snow leopard," a "Hello Kitty on rollerblades, or "Anything else representing undying, passionate and eternal love."  I know when I think of undying love, Hello Kitty comes right after Romeo and Juliet.

But vajazzling also raising some important theoretical and methodological questions for the trouble-maker.  Most importantly, in the face of the global economic crisis, how can we ensure that spa-going urban-dwellers will still be able to afford to complement their monthly waxes with a bedazzling?  And what about the embarrassing problem of having Swarovski-crystals fall out of your gym-shorts after a vigorous jog on the treadmill?

To be serious for a moment, obviously I have an opinion on vajazzling, but we might be able to ask some legit questions about it.  Is this possibly a way of celebrating female genitalia, or yet another way of altering and hiding it?  And why has vajazzling become such a big buzz-word; what does it mean that a famous actress is sharing this info on a late-night talk show?  If you have other questions, or just opinions, please post!  Also, I did manage to find a picture, but didn't post it here for obvious reasons, but after extensive research I'm now prepared to answer most of your questions about the how-to's of vajazzling.  

"Precious" as black - or as a black woman?

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I confess I haven't seen the movie "Precious," but I stumbled across this NY Times Op-Ed today that seemed eerily relevant to this week's readings about intersectional identities (particularly the intersection of race and gender). The author, Ishmael Reed, makes a very powerful critique of the movie along race lines, but does not really address the specificities of black female identity. Since I haven't seen the movie, I can't speak specifically to what is missing from his analysis, but it seemed to me like an interesting - and culturally immediate - example of single-axis identification in action.

For those who have seen the movie, what do you think an intersectional focus would add?