February 2011 Archives

Mapping the Issue: Reproductive Rights/Justice


Here are all of the mappings of the issue that you did in class today.

Day Twelve: February 28

Overview of Class:
  • Small/er group discussion on mapping the issue
  • Large group discussion on "what is to be done"
  • Hand back papers, discuss peer review on Wednesday. See here for more information.
SMALL/ER GROUP DISCUSSION (see handout here)
We will be breaking up for two different activities:

4:05-4:25  Groups A/B will discuss readings with me, Groups C/D will map the issue
4:25-4:45  Groups C/D will discuss readings with me, Groups A/B will map the issue

Can't remember your group? See here.

Feminist Reflection Papers: Some Thoughts


On Wednesday, you will be breaking up into groups in order to discuss your definitions/reflections on feminism. To prepare, you should do the following:

  1. Bring a tweet-length version of your definition of/reflection on feminism (140 characters or less) to share with your group members. 
  2. Also bring a one paragraph discussion of an example that helps to support and explain your definition. 

I have really enjoyed reading your papers about feminism. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Firstbell hooks is not capitalized. Want to know why? Read this

Second, while I don't expect you to know everything about feminism/s (who could?), you are expected to explain and support the claims that you do make with evidence. Don't make broad and over-generalized claims. Instead, focus on making claims that you can support and explain.

  • Assume your reader hasn't read the articles and doesn't know much about the topic. Make sure to always explain the claims that you are making and the passages you are providing. 
  • Use the readings to help you to develop your points. Your arguments about feminism (or about the various issues) should be taken from and/or directly put into conversation with the readings. 
  • Avoid phrases like: "some people" (unless it is followed by, such as "author x") or "all feminists."

Third, as promised (in class on Wednesday), here's some more information about Using semicolons. Check out this helpful entry by Oatmeal that explains when and how to use semicolons. 

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DE- Feb 28


Based on the articles "What's Love Got to do With It" and "A New Vision for [...] Reproductive Rights," it is very clear the ways in which women are already disadvantaged in relation to reproductive justice, and the fact that further legislation is attempting to make things even more complicated is devastating. Just looking at the ways in which health care and abortion are trying to be changed and demonized is heartbreaking, to the point where pregnant women who are dying can potentially be denied abortion that would save their life, ergo being denied proper health care, is completely unreal to me.

I feel as though of the most important things that both the Crunk Feminist Collective and the ACRJ focus on is the way in which poor women and women of color are really the ones that are being targeted in all of these bills and amendments. Although the CFC focuses more so on African American women, and the ACRJ specifically on Asian women, their sentiments are the same. Women must be able to receive proper access to reproductive health services (reproductive health care providers), reproductive rights (legal protection to health services), and reproductive justice (woman's control of her own body, sexuality, and reproduction). I find myself confused that there are so many women who are denied all of the above, and yet there are those advocating for these women to lose out on the opportunity to ever have access to it, and also taking it away from those fortunate enough to have such access. It seems as though many politicians are so focused on getting rid of abortion that they are willing to risk all services that assist women and families in being safe and healthy, many services that have nothing to do with abortion in any way.

DE # 2


Reproductive rights are at the forefront of current issues today. I am really glad to be taking this class currently and having access to such articles because they really open my eyes to the injustices occurring. Feminists have a lot at stake currently, but not just them, every woman has a lot at stake. The Crunk Feminist Collective article gives excerpts of bills that are trying to be passed currently in our government. Reading through them I was just stunned at what they are proposing. These people who are supposedly against abortion are referred to as being pro-life, as in the favor of life. It seems very contradictory that they would refuse a dying woman an abortion, because then they would ultimately lose two lives. I just can't seem to understand their thought process through all of this. Women's freedom and everything that goes along that is at stake. Taking away our choices and voices and trying to oppress women. I do not think it is fair that most of these decisions are being made by men who will never have an abortion, or even get pregnant. It is just very unjust and contradictory. Nobody should be able to make those types of decisions for women, women should be able to decide. The billboard that was recently put up in Soho also really angered me, how blatantly racists and oppressive it is! Throwing those types of statements around in such public places and putting those things in the media gives many people the wrong idea. These sort of things can have profound effects on people who don't know much about feminism and reproductive rights and choices. It just really bothers me that such things can be thrown around in the media so easily.

Both articles suggest that they way feminists and women should respond is by being active and showing these people in our government and in the media that the voices and choices of women cannot be taken away or limited. The ACRJ articles says that, "reproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities in all areas of our lives." I really like this quote and very much agree with it. A government is supposed to be there for its people and not try to oppress them.


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In the Crunk Feminist Collective reading, the government is attacked poor women, women of color and reproductive rights. It looks like they have more rules and most of them are against the women. The women have freedom to do abortion or not, but in the other side the doctors and hospitals would allow doctors and hospitals to refuse to perform any abortion, even one that was needed to save the life of a pregnant woman. They don't care about the health of the women. That means women tries to fight to help our self, but the government will take away much of the federal funding for any type of abortion care and all funding for Planned Parenthood, specially poor women who needs more money than the other classes.
In the reading Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ) New Vision for Reproductive Justice, there is three categories: Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Justice, and Reproductive Health. These terms describe three different sides to protect the women. As ACRJ states "reproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities in all areas of our lives." (page 1). She explained that women should stand up for their rights, give women a choice and the power to fight for what they want.

Direct Engagement #2

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I think that the feminist movement has a lot at stake in terms of the womens reproductive rights. I hesitate in using the word "rights" after reproductive because after reading the ACRJs New Vision for Reproductive Justice, it seems like there is three categories to show the whole struggle. Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Justice, and Reproductive Health these terms describe three different sides to one subject and I think it is very helpful for the cause to differenciate between them so that a proper case that is seen from every light can be withheld.

I think that the government is somehow playing a role with society to show womens reproductive rights as bad thing. It seems like more bills are being passed to prevent women from having freedom of their bodies and the decisions they make in life regarding reproduction. Especially with the Pitts Bill that "would allow doctors and hospitals to refuse to perform any abortion, even one that was needed to save the life of a pregnant woman." This bill makes women inferior to doctors, who are mostly all Christian men. This bill also gives a major factor of a womans life to another human being, who does not know the womans circumstances as well as she does, which just seems like a negative thing. As more bills like this are being created, the feminist movement needs to find out efficient ways to battle them so that women can truly have freedom over themselves.

DE: Reproductive Justice, Health and Rights


Honestly, this issue of reproductive justice, health and rights is really overwhelming. The attack of capitalism is frustrating and hurtful. However, the beginning of the reproductive justice movement began as a result to end all forms of oppression in relation to women. The Crunk feminist collective was able to provide a framework of how the legislature, state and the message of cultural war are forming a rage to end the reproductive power of women. She explained how they have decided to limit women's access to health care by setting a reform. She also classified the ongoing attack on women a matter of race and class-based attack on women of color.
Also, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ) was able to provide strategies on how to protect the reproductive rights of women. Although the situation at hand seems overwhelming, if we take a deep thought in this, we will understand that there many things at stake. According to ACRJ, "controlling women controls her life, potential and the entire communities". This implies that if we allow the reproductive rights of women to be overruled, then the world will return to its former state of slavery. We would again be women with no reproductive powers and sexual rights. The right to choose will be taken away from us. This means that lack of health care, accurate health data and lack of information will eventually lead us to lack of political rights.
In ACRJ paper "A New Vision for Reproductive Justice", she was also able to provide feminist with strategies on how to protect our legal rights to reproductive health care services. She explained that women should stand up for their rights. She urged us to participate actively in the political process and vote for political representations. She further explained that supporting the women leadership or campaigns that fight women's oppression should be every woman's goal. She also explained that we should build networks, awareness, and set up research to end this oppression.
Finally, I believe that women we are powerful when we are united. So, if we can all stay as a community we can end this oppression.

DE # 2


The health reform bill is a very major issue currently in the United States. The issue of reproductive rights is one that is really gaining more and more debate. It is obvious that Democrats and Republicans cannot and will not come to an agreement on this topic. Currently, Congress is doing what it can to undo the national health care reform in how it was in favor of reproductive rights. In the Crunk Feminist, congress is trying to overrule certain rights, including: doctors being allowed to refuse to perform abortions, no matter what the circumstance, even if the mother is in danger. They are also trying to take away much of the federal funding for any type of abortion care and all funding for Planned Parenthood. The argument in this article is that Congress is targeting poor women. These are women that rely on the government's funding.

ACRJ is a group devoted to reproductive rights for Asian women. They have three main focuses that include reproductive health, reproductive rights, and reproductive justice. The issue it describes is giving women the choice and instilling power in them. ACRJ gives women the power to stand up for themselves and be able to decide what's best for themselves. Some responses to reproductive rights is what ACRJ states, giving women the power to fight for what they want. Rep. Moore's statement exemplifies this power that ACRJ is trying to implement in women. "The ultimate goal of our work is to build self-determination for individuals and communities."(p 8) I am very interested to see what is decided with this reform. It is interesting to see the fight that women have to do in order to receive their rights. How long will this fight keep going?

DE #2


Currently feminists are confronted with the issue of choice and variety of options being reduced and limited significantly. This is being done through debates, legislation and bills on the table regarding reproductive rights, justice and health. Eliminating federal funding to Planned Parenthood, bills limiting the option of abortions to women and limiting or eliminating health care coverage for the procedure are all topics being discussed. By taking away options to one's reproductive health it can come down to following the law and doing what is right for one's health. Feminists argue that with the passing of these new regulations, laws and cuts in funding not only will it affect the individual woman but also children's, families' and communities' well-being. As argued in the readings, there are many situations in which this "murder" is actually saving and the act of responsibility. By leaving only one possibility and then stating it is a choice an individual has to make you are leaving no options. In addition, with these restrictions individual bodies and reproduction is being controlled by unconnected powers, disregarding individual and communities physical and emotional health and well-being. As ACRJ states "reproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities in all areas of our lives." (page 1)

Direct Engagement - Feb 28

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Currently, the feminist movement is in danger of losing reproductive rights that have already been won, such as abortion and health services. Many bills are popping up nation-wide which, if passed, will seriously inhibit women's power over their own bodies. While these legislative acts affect all women in the United States, they especially target the poor and women of color. (For example, the Smith Bill would prohibit government from providing financial support for abortions, which would primarily impact low-income women.) If these laws go through, we face returning to the dreaded days of wire hangers and crochet hooks. While upper-class women might find creative avenues to access reasonably safe abortions, perhaps through a trusted family physician or international travel, poor women will absolutely experience the full brunt of this onslaught against female bodies. Arguably, the biggest threat to the feminist movement is not merely the loss of reproductive rights, but the mistreatment and institutional reproductive discrimination against women of color, immigrants, queer and transgender women, and the poor. ACRJ quite astutely demands that the feminist movement place priority on reproductive justice, as opposed to reproductive rights or health, because the latter are extremely limited in terms of providing a framework for long-term change and do not factor in the question of access or relative agency. Most marginalized women are struggling with multiple systems of oppression based on race, class, sexuality, ability, age and immigration status. Reproductive justice addresses these questions of intersectionality and fundamentally links feminism with social justice and human rights in general. ACRJ suggests that one of the most important strategies is to educate women and girls about their bodies and communities in order to foster political agency.

DE- Seeking Reproductive Justice


To be honest, I'm still a little bewildered by the title of the Crunk Feminist Collective's post, "What's Love Got to Do With it?". Everything, the beginning of the article says, yet it is never fully explored in the rest of the post. I am left to speculate that, considering the paragraphs pondering the possible future of back-alley abortions and the blatantly racist abortion billboard in Soho, that the Crunk Feminist Collective is referring to the necessity of people being able to love others, and their ability to show that love through compassionate actions and mutual respect.

In terms of framing, the Crunk Feminist Collective focuses more on the problems currently facing feminists in America (in this case, the bills to restrict abortion and other family planning services). The author writes of a "3-pronged attack against reproductive justice", the prongs being national legislation (Congress), state legislation, and finally what the author calls the "culture war, aka an attack on poor women and women of color". The author maintains that billboards like the one in Soho ("the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb") are put there for the purpose of targeting poor women.

Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice offer three frameworks that must all be utilized in order to end "reproductive oppression": Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, and Reproductive Justice. These frameworks represent three overall needs for women, especially poor women and women of color: access to affordable reproductive and overall health services, laws protecting whatever decisions women choose to make with their bodies, and the end of women being exploited and oppressed by not having control of their own bodies.

This is a big theme in both of these articles: women need freedom to choose their own reproductive journey, but merely having these abortion and birth control services available now is not enough. Abortion and family planning laws (Reproductive Rights) are being attacked all over the country, and poor women and women of color are facing additional obstacles, such as the offensive billboard in Soho and what it represents about the state of inherent racism and bias in America.

The messages of Crunk and ACRJ are similar in terms of what feminists can do about ending reproductive oppression. Crunk advocates loving and standing up for each other, while ACRJ's main instrument of change is educating future leaders, "those who are directly impacted by reproductive oppression". While there is emphasis in both articles on the government making change (or, rather, preventing it), a large responsibility for change falls to women themselves.

DE: Reproductive Rights, Health and Justice


First of all, I think it's important to note how very straightforward these readings were. They stated facts as they are without much emotional input which I always appreciate when reading something in which I am trying to extract information.

With that being mentioned I feel the need to also express how very removed I have been from the current issues lately. This has been quite a lot to digest in one sitting.

Now moving onto the assignment part of this...

What's at stake for with this issue for feminists currently?

I think that what's at stake is autonomy. It's really quite as simple as that. In the Crunk Feminist Collective reading, each of the bills that the authors outline are taking away some choice. There's the obvious debate about abortion but what about the woman's life? The Pitts Bill states that a doctor would have the choice to deny an abortion even at the cost of the life of the mother. I wonder, is this what pro-life advocates had in mind? In the Pence Amendment, what we find is the loss of the choice to have decent personal health. If the funding for Planned Parenthood is cut or denied, it effects abortion, yes, but moreover it effects the health of mothers or mothers to be. In the ACRJ "New Vision for Reproductive Justice" reading there is this quote: "Reproduction encompasses both the biological and social processes related to conception, birth, nurturing and raising of children as participants in society. Social reproduction is the reproduction of society, which includes the reproduction of roles such as race, class, gender roles, etc." This brings up this idea of the broader influence of reproductive rights as well. The umbrella term "reproductive rights" then stands for not only the direct processes related to childbearing but also social terms of human rights. In this way, taking away or limiting reproductive rights also limits our basic human rights.

So... What are some responses and strategies feminists are proposing?

I don't think that the Crunk Feminist Collective reading actually gave too much in the way of strategies. The final quote of the article by by Leila Husseini and Anu Kumar mentions in the last line, "When abortion is inaccessible either legally, financially or physically, women are more likely to turn to the back alley." I absolutely agree with this prediction. It happened in the past and I don't see why it wouldn't happen in the future. We live in a world where people are willing to buy skeptical Botox off the internet, home abortion doesn't seem out of the question. This leads to wonder what legislation thinks of this, perhaps this is another issue of don't ask don't tell? The ACRJ says that reproduction justice will be achieved when females not only have the right to make their own reproductive decisions but also economic, social, and political power. I think their overall message is that women to be active agents in this process.

Interracial Adoption... Feminist Issue?

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In essence, interracial adoption has two main arguments in this debate. Some say that interracial adoption is great for both parent(s) and child(ren). Parent(s) are able to have a family, perhaps they want the diversity, and that all children deserve loving homes. Others say that interracial adoption is wrong and unnatural since it takes a child from his/her own culture, completely instituting a foreign culture that will forever detach them from their own. Thoughts?


Music....feminist issue?


I was listening so some of my favorite Pandora artists when an artist I really enjoy listening to named, CocoRosie, came on. I had never heard this song of hers titled, "By Your Side". I listened to the entire song and could not believe my ears. This woman was singing about how she would love to be her lover's housewife and nothing more. The part that surprised me the most was that this was coming from a female artist. It is not a new discovery to find male artists slandering women with slang terms and degrading them, but I never thought I would hear one of my newly discovered favorite female artists wanting to be nothing more than a servant to this man! Do you think that she is using sarcasm as a tool to bring the issue of women in songs to light? Is this a feminist issue, or just a simple song displaying a devotional love for a lover? How do you feel after listening to the song? Do you find yourself seeing AND hearing more and more feminist issues?

I'll always be by your side
Even when you're down and out
I'll always be by your side
Even when you're down and out
I just wanted to be your housewife
All i wanted was to be your housewife
I'll iron your clothes
I'll shine your shoes
I'll make your bed
And cook your food
I'll never cheat

I'll be the best girl you'll ever meet
And for a diamond ring
I'll do these kinds of things
I'll scrub your floor
Never be a bore
I'll tuck you in
I do not snore
I'd wear your black eyes
Bake you apple pies
I don't ask why
And i trys not to crys

I'll always be by your side
Even when you're down and out
I'll always be by your side
Even when you're down and out
And its nearly midnight
And all i want with my life
Is to be a housewife
Is to be a housewife
'Cause it's nearly midnight
And all i want with my life
Is to die a housewife

Is to die a housewife

Here's the link to the URL to the music video, because I couldn't attach it the the entry. Please watch and listen!

Women in the Weight Room.... A feminist issue?

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As I was working out the other day, I was curious as to the amount of women that incorporate lifting weights into their workout routine. I know I used to in high school, but after coming to college I began to feel much more intimidated in the weight room. I read this article that talks about the University of Toronto. This University has set a side a few hours a week that devotes the weight room only to women to try and increase their participation. Overall it has seen a positive effect. I personally think if there was time set for only women to lift that I would utilize that. I would much prefer to work out with people that lift similar weights when typically men can lift much more. Do you ever feel too intimidated to lift weights when at the rec center or any workout facility? What do you think about the University of Toronto's idea?


Mail order bride................a feminist issue?



This has became a popular business in many countries. Women sold out as bride to unknown men. do u think this is a feminist issue? Check out this video

DE Question for feb 28


For your DE this week GROUP A should do the following:

Carefully read: 

Drawing upon these 2 readings, how are some feminists framing their conversations about reproductive rights, reproductive health and reproductive justice? Use the readings to describe:

  1. What's at stake with this issue for feminists currently
  2. What are some responses and strategies feminists are offering
GROUPS B and C should comment by Monday at noon. 

The Wedding Industry: a feminist issue?!

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photo property of http://wedinator.icanhascheezburger.com

The business of getting married is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. And not because everyone is raring to spend obscene amounts of money in a down economy (20-25 thousand is average in the U.S.), but because the wedding industry has established an idea of what "the perfect wedding" and "the perfect bride" should be. Our society now has expectations for how brides should behave-- spending thousands on "the perfect dress", getting excited over mundane details, or spending hours poring over hairstyles. The wedding industry has created one small mold brides are encouraged to fit into.

Do you think this is a feminist issue? Do you think there is pressure put on newly engaged women to be one thing or the other? Is there anything unfair or sexist in this? Do you think there is a specific ideal for brides to live up to? Is there an assumption for how brides (and wives?) should act?

Summer bikini car wash............a feminist issue?

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We all know that this is one of the popular ways of making money during the summer. Do you think this is a feminist issue? Why women? Why women in bikinis not shirt and jeans? Why skinny women with flat belly? Why not men in bikinis? Do you think the purpose of the creation of a woman is to attract men and society with her body? is this a feminist issue?


DE Feb. 21


Summer Wood's notion of choice in On Language: Choice provided me with an interesting perspective of how this term has been construed to mean something it is not. She identifies this as "the linguistic shift from abortion rights to the 'individualistic, marketplace term choice.'"

In this sense, choice is an illusion. It is not truly a choice when the terms of the decision are provided by some authority (moral, economic, etc.), and not the one who is choosing. The marketplace analogy drawn by Summer Woods is extremely apt at illustrating this type of illusion. The almost incomprehensible number of products at a supermarket, for example, provides the individual with only a sensation of choosing. The choice for what products are available to the individual has already been made; what is stocked on the shelves. In other words, the choice is up to you -- but here is what you may choose from.

In much the same way, the pro-choice movement has suffered from this prescription of terms. The idea that choice can be to have an abortion, or to not have an abortion is restrictive. Is it choice if the system bestows it upon you? Freedom to choose should exist along the entire spectrum of life, from beginning to end.

Summer Bikini Car Wash.............A feminist issue?


We all know that this is one of the popular ways of making money during the summer. Do you think this is a feminist issue? Why women? Why women in bikinis not shirt and jeans? Why skinny women with flat belly? Why not men in bikinis? Do you think the purpose of the creation of a woman is to attract men and society with her body? Do you think this is a feminist issue?

Day Eleven: February 23

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  • Readings for next week on the schedule.
  • Papers will be returned on Monday. 
  • We will be discussing the Group Resources project on Monday, March 2

What is choice? Who gets to choose? What choices?

In her article, "The Color of Choice," Loretta Ross argues for a shift in language and purpose, from reproductive rights to reproductive justice, and a shift in demands from choice to the "protection of women's human rights to achieve the physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic and social well-being of women and girls" (1). She also argues that we need "to make change on the individual, community, institutional, and societal levels to end all forms of oppression" (13-14).

  • What might this look like? 
  • How does this shift from an emphasis on choice to reproductive justice shift our attention and the questions we ask, the critical conversations we have, and the agendas we produce? 
  • What would working for rrproductive justice look like on these different levels?

Let's think about these questions in relation to the following youtube clip. How does Rep. Moore discuss these issues that Ross raises?

  • Now, check out these two tag clouds that I made concerning the defunding of Planned Parenthood. One of these is made out of the words from Rep. Pence's speech. The other is made out of the words from Rep. Moore's speech. Can you tell which one is which? How do these tag clouds represent their different visions/agendas?

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Want to do your own tag cloud with words? Check it out here

In "On Language: Choice," Woods writes:
The result has been a rapid depoliticizing of the term and an often misguided application of feminist ideology to consumer imperatives, invoked not only for the right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy but also for the right to buy all manner of products marketed to women, from cigarettes to antidepressants to frozen diet pizzas (146)
She describes this commericalizing/commodifying of choice as "the cult of choice consumerism" (147). Here's one example I found last year in a bathroom in a Chicago-area church: 


 In her further explanation of the term, Woods adds that this cult of choice consumerism
wills us to believe that women can get everything we want out of life, as long as we make the right choices along hte way--from the cereal we eat n the morning to the moisturizer we use at night, and the universe of daily decisions, mundane and profound, that confront us in between (147)
Do you see any connections between this above passage and this commercial?



I want to put Wood's "cult of choice consumerism" into conversation with Andrea Smith and her discussion of the limits of mainstream feminism's focus on choice. Smith writes:
the pro-choice position argues that women should have freedom to make choices rather than possess inherent rights to their bodies regardless of their class standing...[they] do not question the capitalist system--they focus solely on the decision of whether or not a woman should have an abortion without addressing the economic, political, and social conditions that put women in this position in the first place (134)

Traditions of Dating... A Feminist Issue or not?

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Do you agree that even though we are living in the 21st century there are definite rules/procedures to dating in heterosexual relationships? Are men still expected to pay the bill, get the door, and provide the transportation? If so, is this a feminist issue? What are our expectations and where do they come from?

If feminism intends to find equality with men, does that include the interactions between those embarking on a relationship? Or is this something that is too personal to be considered a feminist issue? Is it something that depends on the culture in which one is raised?

Is a woman any less a feminist if she lets a man support her? This ties into the ideas of marriage. Is marriage a feminist issue?

This is an interesting site which outlines the history of dating and how it has changed over the years.

Here is another site which offers some interesting perspectives.

Who is...Loretta Ross?


One of the readings for this week is Loretta Ross's "The Color of Choice." It comes from the anthology, The Color of Violence: The Incite Anthology. In the essay she discusses reproductive justice and Sister Song. Check out her biography/bibliography on the Sister Song website. Also, check out this youtube video on reproductive justice:

And here's a very recent video clip in which Loretta Ross discusses the origins of the phrase, "Women of Color":


Scent...A feminist issue?


NYT fertile women.jpgMany words/variables/studies/knowledge's/behaviors alerted me in this New York Times article from Feb. 21st "The Threatening Scent of Fertile Women". Is this a feminist issue and why?

Reproductive choice may now be in jeopardy, for the republican-lead congress is looking to cut the ENTIRETY of governmental budget for Planned Parenthood.

Though the Hyde Amendment prohibits any federal funding from going to abortions, republicans accurately argued that:

"putting ... federal money in Planned Parenthood ... could actually be subsidizing abortions, because it's money that Planned Parenthood doesn't have to raise on its own to spend on those services."

But Planned Parenthood estimates that the $317 in Title X funds went to

things like breast exams, cervical exams and infertility counseling last year.

Yet, the House of Representatives successfully passed the bill, eliminating all federal funding of planned parenthood for the fiscal year.

So now the question to be asked is, where do disadvantaged women go for breast exams, cervical exams, and counseling? The answer will probably still remain planned parenthood, but absent the government funding, they will likely have to scale back greatly the work that they are able to do, meaning that not everyone is likely to get treated, locations may have to close, and equally bad, quality of care may decline due to the overburdening of the system.

Enjoy the bigoted rant of Indiana Congressman Mike Pence

Fortunately, not even all pro-lifers fall under Pence's extreme. Pro-Life Democratic Congressperson Stephen Lynch fortunately falls on the side of ration and sees this limiting of funding as unjust,

"This is about the ability of Planned Parenthood to conduct women's health care, to offer services that are deeply needed in many communities where no other source of health care is available.... I don't have many friends in the Planned Parenthood community. They don't support me. I am pro-life. But I respect the good work that they do."

Not all hope is lost though, in order for the bill to become law, the bill must still make it through the Senate where democrats still maintain a respectable majority.

DE for Feb 21

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In my personal opinion, choice as a concept is so essential for feminism because it's about autonomy, which was historically only given to men, so personal choice over things like lifestyle and body become a central issue and thus a topic of much debate in feminism, as all of these articles have proven.

One thing that I could not get past in all of the readings, however, was the topic of choice as just a women's issue. Because, quite frankly, women are not the only ones affected by birth control and abortion, seeing how everyone with a uterus is not a woman, and not all women have uteri. The blatant trans* erasure in these articles was sad, especially since some of them were so recent. I think that the feminist movement really needs to think about the way they write about things like choice as just a women's issue and how it enforces the gender binary as well as genital essentialism. There's plenty of language that is much more open-ended that is available for use, if people take the time to do the research and learn. Terms like "uterus-bearer" and "FAAB" (Female Assigned at Birth) are at least a start for eliminating trans* erasure, but it's something that really needs a lot more attention and discussion, and definitely more involvement from trans* activists in the feminist debate on choice. In my opinion, feminism is about the equality of all genders, so it's important to prevent erasure.

DE- The Lie of Choosing


The English language is full of complex and ambiguous words and definitions. In, On Language, the authors address this concerning the word choice. "Choice, is, in essence, an empty word, people with vastly divergent political viewpoints can be united under its banner (145)." However, the word choice is instead approached as a concrete, either/or definition. Andrea Smith illustrates this in her interviews with Native women and their views on pro-life and pro-choice platforms. Both of these stood by one camp or the other, but their reasoning for choosing either one did not match up with the meanings behind each position. Yet, the way that reproductive rights are presented leave only two options that, in different yet similar ways, surround the empty word choice.

When Allison Crews gives her account of growing up in a pro-life environment and the challenges she faced when she became pregnant as a teenager, she remembered seeing a girl leaving a clinic being hurried and shamed through a crowd of protesters. Allison was surrounded by people telling her she was unfit to be a mother. Some choice when abortion is actually a legal procedure. Loretta J. Ross asks the question, "Why are there obstacles for women who seek abortions while our society neglects mothers and children already here (1)." Once again, there is no choice here. What Smith calls "'free' choice," is being fought for a group of women who are already allowed to make choices in their lives.

Recalling Mona Lisa Smile, in On Language, the point to our consumerist culture that tells women that we can get everything we want in life, "as long as we make the right choices [emphasis mine] (147)." What are the right choices? Can the options presented to women legitimately be called choices? The black and white polarization of pro-life/choice is what allows the criminalization that Smith talks about. It creates a situation where only one choice can be the right choice and we see that everywhere with protests and lobbying. Therefore, this approach not only allows criminalization, but brings the focus to the crime itself.

"If we strive to disarticulate crime and punishment then our focus must... also be directed at all the social relations that support the permanence of prison (Smith, 123)." The fundamental issue for feminists concerning this topic is not choice or prison but 'those' people and institutions that are continuing to support the prison industrial complex and its relation to the reproductive rights of women. What is necessary to analyze, however, is, who are 'those' people? "Defining white supremacy as extremist in its racism," says Ross, "often has the results of absolving the mainstream population of its racism (2)." She also goes on to criticize the opposition of pro-life/choice by pointing out that they both function under assumptions that do not make moves towards life, or choice, for women of color (120).

Are we, too, mindlessly and uncritically standing next to a banner that is actually void of any of the meaning we've been taught it has? The ability to choose relies on what a woman already owns. A choice can only be made from what is available. We must ask ourselves, if the so called choices set out for women should really qualify as choices?

Instead, I propose a grammatical move from the use of the word choice to the word right. A right is something that belongs to a person. It is something they own. A choice is something that, even ideally, can only be framed in terms of either/or. That framework simply does not allow for a complex system of thought needed. A right can be denied to a person. For a women to not have choices, or limited choices, is to frame it as a privilege; one that can be limited. Working for the complete ownership of a women's right, puts the subject of reproductive rights in different light. It is something that has unrightfully been taken away. Also, fighting for rights is much for broad and covers much more ground for women than fighting for reproductive choices.

The social structures that need to be challenged or as much a part of us as anyone else unless we continue to challenge our own thinking while challenging others. We are inevitably part of the social structure we live in. Small, mindful changes are necessary. At the end of Allison Crews story, after listing many of the choices she made, she lists even more rights. What caught my eye, however, was one of her statements. "We have the right to choose when, where, with whom, and how we bear children (148)." Now switch it around so that it reads; we have the choice of when, where, with whom, and how we bear children. Which statement speaks with power and ownership?

Direct Engagement Feb 21


Choice to me is a person's right to make conscious decisions for one's self. I do believe that choice is one of the most fundamental rights for feminists because a person should not only have the privilege of making their own life choices but also be treated fairly and justly for those decisions. I think that one of the big places where feminists face the reality of making difficult decisions is in reproduction choices. Birth control, abortions, plan B etc. are products and commodities that have helped women protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy, and have also created more options and choices, which can sometimes make the decision making process for females even more challenging. Andrea Smith talks about the limits that are created in reproductive choices and how these limits affect many women in modern day society. Yes, there are things such as birth control and abortions but those things are limited to a small percent of the female population. A woman needs money in order to use these types of protection, which for low-income women living on there own is a nearly impossible thing to come by. These women are the women left without choices and nowhere to turn for family planning and protection.
I honestly do think that limits are necessary but it should not be limited to the portion of the population that has the means to buy products and make decisions. Money seems to be one of the major limits, and in my opinion this isn't right. The laws that protect women and give them the right to choose should be for all women not just women that can afford it. The lack of resources available to women shouldn't be an excuse, in order for a woman to have a choice they need the option in the first place.

Direct Engagement Feb 21


For me, choice means having the ability to decide the path of your life, and I think it is a fundamental goal of feminism for everyone to be free from the constraints that limit their choices. The availability of choices is important, whether it be the choice to have an abortion or give birth, or the choice to have a career or stay at home and raise children. Because there is no one right choice for everyone, we need to let everyone decide for themselves the best choices for their life.
When I saw Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore give her speech on why Planned Parenthood is so important, her message tied into Andrea Smith's article about what limits reproductive choices. Even though we have laws that protect a women's right to reproductive choices, such as birth control and abortion, these options do not often apply to low-income women. Because of the lack of resources, I'm sure many women feel that they do not have a choice when it comes to deciding whether to have an abortion, or what kind of birth control methods they have access to. We have laws giving us choices, but until all women do not feel forced into particular family planning options because of their lack of resources, for many they are hardly choices at all.
Generally I do not think that there should be a limit on choices, unless of course your choice violates another's rights. When we start limiting choices, it becomes problematic. For instance in one informal poll about 50% of the people polled said that women should be mandated to take their husbands name after marriage. I think that reasoning like this is problematic because it forces unnecessary ideology on others. I feel that rather than focusing on restricting choices, we should be focusing making sure that everyone has access to choices in their lives, and then letting them live with their decisions without judgement.

DE Feb 21

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What is choice? In this modern era the word choice is most commonly associated with reproductive rights. However the ability to choose ones own life applies to many more areas than just the right to have a child or not. While the right of reproduction takes center stage in the debate over choice, it is not the only major choice that the modern feminist makes.
In the essay on the language of choice it is very clearly explained that choices can be about anything in life. While making modern references to movies and TV shows such as Sex and the City the author explains that choice is the "very definition of feminism itself." The modern feminist has the right to make choices about every aspect of life, including but definitely not limited to the right to reproduce of not.
I believe that when making choices about anything it is important to be educated about the situation and the possible outcomes of each. If a person wants to have a career and try to "have it all" or if a they wants to stay at home and raise children or go to college or not go to college or if they want to do anything at all, more power to them.
The word choice by definition is the act of making a decision. Therefore choice is something that that can only be made by the individual to which that situation concerns and I firmly believe in that. The whole point of choice is being able to live life the way you want to. I believe that in making choices about ones own life there are very few limits. However, if others are affected by a certain choice then that choice is no longer just about them. Most choices in life are not easy and therefore have to be taken into careful consideration. But it is my belief that choice is key to feminism and key to making ones life their own.

Breaking News: Planned Parenthood funding cut

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Check out these various posts on the recent decision in the House to block funding to Planned Parenthood:

How to we put this recent event into conversation with our readings?

Direct Engagement for February 21


I thought that in Summer Woods, "On Language: Choice" article was very interesting. I thought it was interesting how they chose the word 'choice'. As stated in the article about the term "choice," by Solinger, "The way liberal and mainstream feminists could talk about abortion without mentioning the A-word." I know that the word abortion is often associated with killing of babies and can be a scary word, but I think there is a better term than "choice." They talked about the word "rights" and I feel as if that is a better term. You think of right as something you are entitled to, but choice is something that is not as concrete and not an entitelment.
Should there be limits to our ability to "choose?" I believe in a democratic society that there should not be limits to our ability to choose, but with that being said, only to an extent. I do believe that we should have the ability to choose to have an abortion or in that case anything that is not detrimental to our health or well being. I believe that there are other rights that are just as important as the right to choose, such as the right to vote, freedom of speech and other democratic rights.

This is a feminist issue... Workers' Rights


As you may have heard, there are protests across Wisconsin in attempts to block legislation that would reduce the collective bargaining power of public employees. Some state Democrats have left the capitol in an effort to block the rapid passing of the bill by Republicans, and newly elected governor Scott Walker.

We all understand the importance of having a balanced budget, but at what social cost? Unions are a source of social power for those who have no voice individually. There is potential for this bill, if it were to be passed, to be used as precedent for future reductions of workers' rights in other locales. Collective bargaining is a major tool to be used for feminism, in order to seek a higher quality of life than the system would allow at its bare minimum.

Wingmen Are A Feminist Issue Because...

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We've all heard of wingmen, right? The hilarious scenario of dudes helping their buddies pick up chicks has certainly proliferated in our cultural atmosphere in Judd Apatow projects and television shows like How I Met Your Mother. But apparently some men are now taking this idea much more seriously, and have developed the heretofore informal practice into a highly precise methodology, including various techniques of persuasion and subtle manipulation. Wingmen - a feminist issue?


A feminist... Romance Novels


Compliments of Germaine Greer's The Female Eunech and her inset quote from one of Jackie Collins romance novels.

"He caressed her body as though there were nothing more important in the
world... Her breasts grew under his touch, swelling, becoming even larger and
firmer... When it did happen it was only because he wanted it to, and they came in
complete unison. Afterwards, they lay and smoked and talked. 'You're wondeful,'
he said, 'You're a clever woman making me wait until after we were married!' (51)."

I believe that this type of narrative is a feminist issue because it is harmful to men and women's expectations, both in and out of bed. This portrait of a big strong man controlling the woman's orgasm and the perfection of the woman's breast is painting a picture that doesn't really exist. Not only that, but do men then search to be this Fabio-type of man? This emphasis of the man's control over the woman's body and sexuality, while only a fictional narrative here, very much reflects the stereotypes that we have today.

Are these types of novels a reflection of our societal expectations or do they themselves propel these roles? This a feminist issue because allowing these novels to continue without being analyzed and confronted let's them sit as something thats ok, a fiction that is only a fiction. However, as much as they are known to be only a fantasy, they continue to be a norm at the same time; what every man and woman strives to be, or at least portray to the object of their lust.

This is a feminist issue..... sexual abuse in the military


This is a feminist issue because...


this link is to an article about an recent lawsuit against the us military.

should the military change their policies regarding sexual abuse? if so how?

The Conscience Clause is a Feminist Issue...

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Last month the conscience clause came up in the news when a Walgreen's pharmacist denied a woman anti-bleeding drug because she may have had an abortion. The anti-bleeding medication is oftentimes prescribed after an abortion, but may also be used after a miscarriage. Because the woman refused to tell whether she had an abortion or not, the pharmacists denied her the prescription under the conscience clause.

Most states have some kind of health provider conscience clauses, which were enacted after Roe v. Wade to allow doctors and hospitals to refuse to preform abortions. In some states the laws have since been expanded to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and emergency contraceptive based on personal moral beliefs. In Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued emergency rules that require pharmacies in the state to dispense FDA-approved contraceptives.

Should pharmacists be allowed to deny prescription medication because of their religious or moral beliefs, or is it a form of limiting women's reproductive rights?

Because of the time sensitive nature of emergency contraceptive, some claim that should not be any delays in obtaining the medication. Because of this should emergency contraceptive be exempt from the conscience clause?

Some pharmacies have a policy of not selling emergency contraceptive to men on the grounds that it might be used as a form of reproductive coercion. Do you think this is a fair rule, or an undue burden on men who are obtaining the medicine for legitimate reasons?

Jezebel article on the Walgreen's pharmacy

An article for the conscience clause

An article against the conscience clause

Jon Stewart addressed this issue a few years ago:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Pill of Rights
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A boy from Iowa refused to wrestle a girl in this weeks state wrestling championship. The boy was one of the favorites to win the event, but disqualified himself when he found out he would have to wrestle a girl. The boy said it was against his morals and religion to wrestle a girl.

What was the real reason for the boy not wrestling the girl?
Is it fair that he had to wrestle a girl?
Why are women always seen as less of athletes, even though this girl must have been talented if she made it to state?

Here is a link to the reading: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/highschool/news/story?id=6131909

DE Question for feb 21

hp_naral_logo.gifWhat is choice? Is the right to choose the most fundamental right for feminists? Are there other rights that are just as important? Should there be limits to our ability to "choose"? Who gets to decide those limits?

Focus your direct engagement on how some or all (Ross, Sayce/Perkins, Crews, "On Language," Smith) enage with these questions.

This direct engagement is for Group B. Groups B and C will be commenting. 

Note: For some reason, the reading schedule is currently not available. Here are the readings for next week:

feb 21 Reproductive Rights: What is choice? Who gets to choose?    
            What choices? 


  • Ross, Loretta J. "The Color of Choice" 
  • Crews, Allison. "And So I Chose" 
  • Sayce, Liz and Rachel Perkins. "They should not breed: Feminism, disability and reproductive rights" 
  • "Language: On choice" 
  • Smith, Andrea. "Beyond Pro-Choice Versus Pro-Life: Women of Color and Reproductive Justice" 
feb 23 On Choice, continued... 


This is a Feminist Issue Because... The Modern Corset


As a fashion history and corset enthusiast, something that really catches my attention is debate about clothes historically being used to control women. The general consensus with the corset is that it was used as a tool of the patriarchy back when corsets were widely worn in everyday fashion.

However, in recent years, the corset has made a sort of comeback, at least in some places (high fashion, alt. fashion, fetish wear), and there are a lot of different opinions on it. My question is: What is your feminist opinion on the modern corset? Is it even a feminist issue at all?

Background reading:
Feminist view of historical corsets
Information on the modern corset
One feminist's viewpoint of the modern corset

This is a Feminist Issue Because...Doritos Commercials



Frito Lays aired a Dorito's commercial during the 2011 Super Bowl titled "I Told You So" which caused quite a bit of hype on twitter and other blog sites. There are other Doritos commercials that haven't aired on live television but are available on the internet where sexual orientation is depicted in very specific ways.

A few questions:
At what/who's expense are these ad commercials affecting?
What feminist issues are brought up in these commercials?
Should a person of a certain sexual orientation be stereotyped for humorous reasons, and to gain advertising acceleration? Why or why not?

The Internet is a Feminist Issue because...


Female gamers get a bad rap from the twerps on the InterTubes.


Kate Beaton also expresses her discontent:

(And she has some other things to say about portrayal of women and stuff, with better art):

My impression of user-generated content sites like 4Chan, Digg, and Reddit is that these sites are decidedly masculine. There is some self-critique within these sites, but it is ignored the next time someone has the opportunity to make a Barefoot and Pregnant in the Kitchen Joke, or a Stupid Irrational Woman Doesn't Know What She Wants Joke.

Computer Science majors are overwhelmingly male. Think of the most famous geeks you know: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerman, Wil Wheaton, Joss Whedon... Pattern?

Who are the main characters of most video games and sci-fi stories? Men, boys, and masculine aliens of ambiguous gender.


When you meet someone for the first time, what are the first questions you ask? It has been my experience growing up that people want to know my name, age, and what I want to be when I "grow up."

In rural Rajasthan, people wanted to know my name and marriage status. Like clockwork, the issue of marriage came up in any conversation within the first five minutes. Am I married? Why not? When am I getting married? Will I marry an American or Indian man?

Like a lot of oddities and annoyances that I experienced in India, I just assumed I would be rid of them in a few months anyway. What was the point of worrying about it?

Then I saw this video:


Do you think the obsession with female virginity and marriage is widespread? Do you see it in American society or not?

How much does a woman's marriage status affect her ability to move about in the public sphere or gain social and political power?

Here is another Letterman gem just for fun:

DE February 14th


Linking the birth control pill and eugenics hurt the movement for women's sexual freedom, I believe. After reading Roberts, "The Dark Side of Birth Control" I was extremely surprised about the negativity towards black women bearing children and the coercion of government run family planning organizations to have them use birth control and be sterilized, which was stated in the article. When watching, "The Pill" I viewed black women not taking advantage of the birth control pill as unwise and, in a sense, stubborn.
Once I read this article it really opened my eyes to the type of injustice that these women faced. Of course they would be weary of this all-empowering birth control pill for white women. By linking eugenics and birth control black women were at a disadvantage. There was no reason to trust the white doctors prescribing them, if these same doctors were known to have sterilized some women. This made it part of the feminist agenda to not only safe and easily available for white well-off women, but also for black, skeptical women in poor areas.
Next, I think birth control became a tool of social control for women because it gave us the power to choose. It provided the ability for women to say no to bearing any children. It gave women the power to hold important and powerful jobs, without the threat of having to leave due to an unplanned pregnancy. And lastly, it gave us an unseen control. We could finally, if we chose, be as promiscuous as any male with a condom. AND we could ask these men to wear a condom if we so chose. It's amazing to me that this was ever even questioned! To me, this is most important. I'm not saying I'm supporting any form of promiscuity, but it's the idea that women finally held the sexual power that they had been deprived of, and that had even been used as an act of domination against them, for thousands of years!

Margaret Sanger and Birth Control


Birth Control, eugenics, and the improvement of a country
The eugenics movement was used to "cleanse" America of the "feebleminded" by improving the race of a nation by increasing the reproduction of the best stock (60). Birth control, in combination with eugenics, was then used as a tool to regulate the poor, immigrants, and black Americans (59). Even more damaging and permanent was the use of sterilization as a remedy for social problems (61). "Between 1929 and 1941, more than 2,000 eugenic sterilizations were performed each year in the United States...[an] estimated...70,000 persons were involuntarily sterilized..." (89).
**Positive Eugenics** Reproduction of the best stock (60)
**Negative Eugenics** Prevention of socially undesirable people from procreating (65)
The use of negative eugenics on the feebleminded, sexually deviant, criminals, imbeciles, and immigrants, specifically sterilization, moved from a primary focus on the sterilization of women only to men as well. Prison inmates in state institutions would have vasectomies performed no matter the crime. Sterilization for women was also used as way for the feebleminded who had been institutionalized to be "safely" released back into society. A favor was being done for these women and society as a whole. "Young women who were at most mildly retarded were often admitted to facilities for the feebleminded for the sole purpose of being sterilized" (69).

Sanger, eugenics, birth control
*a public health issue
*a matter of national welfare
*helped to contest religious objections to birth control
*birth control to lower the birthrate of the unfit/ less desirable classes
***Sanger's choices and actions***
Sanger and Gamble (heir to Proctor and Gamble fortune) discussed the most effieceint way to get information out about birth control to the "uneducated black" population (77). Sanger to Gamble (1939) discussed the use of Negro doctors at the birth control clinics in order to earn and keep trust with the patients. She also discussed the use of the minister so they could relay the word of safety and reliability of the clinics (78).
This questionnaire was given in North Carolina where Gamble funded the Eugenics Society. Note " test your knowledge of this important health and social measure". The questions act as a reassurance for those who may be sterilized. Life does go on after sterilization, but we are going to control what you do with your black/immigrant/feebleminded/hysterical body. After reading this article on Sanger I think it is very important as feminists to see who is getting left out or even punished/oppressed in particular moments where others seem to be advancing. Sanger clearly was a pioneer for white women's rights, but it seems to me that she was happy to cleanse the US from those she and others deemed undesirable/lazy/non-white/hysterical/sexually deviant. bell hooks had also mentioned black women being left out of the women's lib movement when race was concerned. It was a time a privileged white women advancing women's rights, but on their own personal agenda. This is also present within Sanger's oppressive use of birth control. The oppression of one women is holding back all women.

Rhetoric of Choice


Rhetoric of Choice
Women's choices have always been constrained by economic and social factors. The development of capitalism eventually incorporated women into labor, providing the basis and conditions for black women's productive and reproductive labor to be fully exploited. "The location of "Third World" women in the global economy has hinged around their use as cheap laborers as well as their ability to produce additional cheap labor." This is why the reproductive capacities of women have to be manipulated in response to the need of market forces or labor shortage. Thus, "the human body is itself a politically inscribed entity, its physiology and morphology shaped by histories and practices of containment and control." Overpopulation is determined according to the need of labor in a global economy that thrives on the exploitation of cheap labor. Through this economic system the female body becomes an over determined site of economic power. The manipulation of women's reproductive system is in direct correlation with the global economic system.
Every time an American tax-payer complains about the welfare mother that takes 'advantage' of the system that allows her to breed even further welfare dependent children, a person has linked the government and the individual choice of a person, to an act that can be deemed as irresponsible and irrational towards the greater society. One community that was heavily oppressed by this language was the Native American population in the U.S. "No one even today knows exactly how many Native American women were sterilized during the 1970s. One base for calcuation is provided by the Gerneral Accounting Office, whose study covered only four of twelve HIS regions over four years (1973 through 1976). Within those limits, 3,406 Indian women were sterilized, according to the GAO." (Forced Sterilization 2009) Even though the debates about globalization, poverty, and environmentalism to this day still heavily depend on the same ideas and concepts of early eugenics hardly anybody would admit to basing their global population policies, or American foreign policy on eugenics.
In this blog my concentration doesn't lie within the question of condoning or dismissing eugenics, instead I want to put into question the liberal state, that allows for the colonialization of the female body while justifying it with the eradication of poverty. This keeps the language of eugenics alive and uses the understanding of the individual responsibility for reproductive rights to condone the very core of eugenics. It is the individual woman that is responsible for the high number of population, or her need for social welfare support. In this discussion I want to focus on the idea that the individual woman is "allowed" to make the "rational" choice of either reproducing or aborting a child only if she is up to the liberal standard (i.e. financial stability, purity of her race (namely white), sexual orientation (namely heterosexual) when it comes to her emotional, physical, mental, and financial abilities.
The ways in which this access to 'choice' has been regulated, used, debated, and constructed has a variety of effects on different demographics. With the development of effective and safe contraception's in the 1960's, it was made possible to control the timing and number of children a woman would have. These developments in technology have caused widespread public debates and legislation in many countries, posing the question of pro-choice, meaning the choice to abort 'life' instead of pro-life, which advocates that every pregnancy no matter how early should be carried out. One thing that has remained constant in this debate is the conflict between private choice and public regulation. The option to chose to deny having a child seems to be offensive to the moral sensibility of many. However to be denied the right to choose motherhood for some women, with specific attributes, seems to never enter this ethical debate. The choice to become a mother is given to 'all' that are 'fit' and reasonable, and this is why it hardly enters the public discourse of birth control regulations. This is one of the reasons why I think it is important to complicate how we look at the birth control movement, which is used multiple ways.
I want to investigate the creation of the binary relationship between the state and the woman in the popular dialogue of choice that is driven by the contemporary liberal approach. The emphasize of the pro-choice vs. pro life produces a dichotomy that assumes that there is only an ethical question at stake that didn't evolve out of a patriarchal environment, but rather a universal humanitarian, and philosophical question. The concept of pre-embryo life, and the basis for the current view on human reproduction, is stuck on the question of when life 'begins'. The reason why I think it is important to explore the questions of ethics, choice, and regulation, is the fact that the question of choice, once again connects to the liberal notion of who is capable of choosing, and what counts as a choice vs what counts as determination. It also brings up the connection of who becomes an important person to deny the choice, and the regulation that becomes more oppressive to some than others. For example, while Hitler made it illegal to abort Aryan babies, he believed it was the most rational and best protocol for a Jewish mother to have the "choice" of abortion. This 'choice' was later eradicated and made into law. "On July 14, 1933: Law passed in Germany permitting the forced sterilization of Gypsies, the mentally and physical disabled, African-Germans, and others considered 'inferior' or 'unfit'." (Kline 78) This shows that allowing for somebody to have the choice to not reproduce is always politically charged, and never divorced from the issues of racism, sexuality, and politics. In Foucault word's, "Biopolitics deals with the population, with the population as political problem, as a problem that is at once scientific and political, as a biological problem and as power's problem." The Phrase "keep government out of the bedroom and away from our body", often employed by pro-abortion groups is sometimes tossed aside and ignored when the objective is to reduce population. Suddenly, the 'personal' decisions to become pregnant becomes of paramount interest to government bureaucracies and their surrogates in private family planning agencies. When it comes to the poor, the question of pro-life is hardly ever debated, since their life is a burden to the government.
Another important issue that comes up early on in the genealogy of the pill is the sacrifice that some women (Puerto Rican) had to make in order for the more privileged woman (white U.S citizens) to gain the right to have a sexual revolution. Even though the pill was promoted to be accessible to all women, and a common struggle for the overall sisterhood, this in reality was only a fictional relationship. It is fascinating to see this movement towards the breaking and destruction of the chains of sexual oppression, as a universal case for all women. Unfortunately some women had to pay a greater price for this goal. The very ideology that supports the means to the ends, allows for characters such as Margaret Sanger to be seen as a feminist first and supporter of eugenics second, because it is more important to see her as a universal feminist, than a politically active figure that engaged in extremely racist ideologies. Margaret Sanger is considered to be historically an important figure in the field of feminism she advocates that the problem of the poorest is not that they are exploited but that they are deprived of the opportunity to stop reproducing children that they can't afford. It is not only the concepts and her ideology that are problematic but also the dehumanizing language she uses. "On their way to market like rats from their holes." Sanger begins to explain the danger of having these types of 'people' reproduce. It is not the system that is the tragedy but rather the pregnancies that are almost a chronic disease within this community. What does it mean to the canon of feminist literature to include activist such as Margaret Sanger that not only promoted reproductive rights but also pushed for the development of eugenics. In the piece "American Eugenics Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism", Ordover puts into question Margaret Sanger's fight for the birth control pill, which is often credited with liberating women sexually and socially, and transforming society (Ordover). This glorification of Margaret Sanger as a feminist has a distinct narrative that allows historians and many western feminists to place Sanger in a particular role in the genealogy of the suffrage movement. While it is no secret that Margaret Sanger was an active member of the eugenics movement at the moment in time, it is difficult for many to see how interconnected her racist ideologies were to her work for women. Even though her past isn't a secret, it is often put in the backseat in order to look at the more important issues that are at hand namely: "gender equity, self-determination, and redress of economic and person privation". This leads one to think that, due to the liberal 'choice' that Sanger brought to the "fit" women, she must not be able to be a racist of any sorts, but rather a victim of her Society that experienced at that moment in time 'a popular craze' of eugenics.
I believe that it is crucial in the discussion of contemporary feminism to complicate the liberal notion of 'choice' that arises in the discussion of birth control. Who benefits from the choice? Who is allowed to make the choice? Who is coerced into a specific choice? Sanger once proclaimed: "No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously wether she will or will not be a mother" It is unfortunate that she didn't recognize that this statement stands in direct contradiction to eugenics.

Margaret Sanger-The Pill; Direct Engagement: Group C


Wow! Just got done viewing the documentary The Pill and I found it quite interesting and enlightening. I love the journey the feminist movement takes from women's suffrage to the more recent feminist revolution in the 1960s. I did have one thought that puzzled me during the documentary that was not addressed. When birth control was first approved by the FDA were doctors more than willing to prescribe it? That is the way the film portrayed it. I wonder if there was any backlash from the doctors, considering at this point in time they were all male? Were there any catholic doctors that were morally opposed to birth control? A more recent example of this dilemma concerns the Plan B contraceptive pill that is now available. In S. Dakota, where I am from, I am aware that doctors are aloud deny the pill if they are personally and morally opposed to it's function.

Also, I thought it was interesting people were concerned about female promiscuity when the pill was released but no one gave a thought to male promiscuity when the condom was introduced- such a double standard!!

Moving on to the questions for this week...

I think it was very problematic for birth control to be linked to eugenics. First and foremost, I think it is never a good idea to attach your revolution to an extremist practice. By nature, I think a lot of people are opposed to change and even more so an extreme change. The idea of eugenics is controversial today so I can only imagine it was even more controversial and extreme then.

I think the documentary does a great job of displaying how the pill became a crucial tool for social change. The pill gave women control reproductively and sexually. The pill instigated an entire revolution.

Margaret Sanger can teach us a lot about feminism and change. Just by reading Sanger's excerpt one can assume she was pretty radical for the 1920's. She said, "Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that within her which struggle for expression. Her eyes must be less upon what is and more clearly upon what should be." I think Sanger is saying that no matter how far you have to reach a goal or an ideal that it should not deter you from starting the fight. I think Sanger was ambitious and motivated to bring these issues to the table in such an early time and that it is a lesson feminists should remember. No matter how out of reach or how hard or extreme the issue is...one must set their eyes upon what SHOULD BE.

Day Eight: February 14


Today, we are watching The Pill. As you watch this film, think about the following questions:

  • Why was the pill so revolutionary?
  • What were/are the limits and dangers of the pill?
  • At whose expense was this pill developed?
  • What are some different ways that you imagine the pill as a feminist issue?
On Wednesday, we will be discussing the essays from Dorothy Roberts and Laura Briggs, both available on WebVista.

Here's a film worksheet that I am distributing in class today. 

DE Feb. 14 Women's Decision to Create


While reading Margaret Sanger's passages, I had to remind myself that it was written in the 1920's. Sanger was extremely bold in her expression of beliefs of female oppression. I was a little confused when she was trying to link the birth control issue to slavery but I can see that her point she was trying to make is that females are somewhat slaves to their bodies until they choose to take control. Women's sexual freedom and expression is on the line because of birth control. All of Sanger's arguments still apply to us today because of the fact that men simply cannot give birth. Sanger's quote "it is her love life that dies first in the fear of undesired pregnancy" provoked thoughts that remind me that women don't have full sexual freedom. A man can go and sleep with whomever he pleases and never has to worry about becoming pregnant. Another issue tying to that is the issue of women being "sluts" if they "sleep around" when men have the acceptance to do so. A second issue at hand today is abortion which still keeps a woman from having control of her body and the decision to have children or not. I also think that Sanger marks on a feminist issue of motherhood by saying "within her is the wrapped up future of the race - it is hers to make or mar." It is a woman's choice as to whether or not a person may come into this world. Birth and motherhood is so easily taken for granted by many and women must challenge that. Sanger says "woman must not accept; she must challenge" and what I get is to challenge society and challenge everything they have because women have the power to create or not create. Without a woman's creation there would be no life, which is a huge burden to handle but us women should be able to make that decision.

Finally, what can/should we learn from the case of Margaret Sanger as we think critically about feminist movements and their attempts to develop and implement agendas for reproductive rights/justice?

My initial reaction to Margaret Sanger's Birth Control - A Parents' Problem or Woman's? From Woman and the New Race was that I could not believe that it was written in the 1920's. The excerpt seems to echo some of the same issues that arise in modern feminism. She outlines a modern notion of the ambiguity of feminism and an ultimate goal of the feminist movement: "Her mission is not to enhance the masculine spirit, but to express the feminine; hers is not to preserve a man-made world, but to create a human world by the infusion of the feminine element into all of its activities," (Sanger, 127).

It seems like she nailed a large part of the "feminist movement" right on the head with the early perception of a world of gender equality. She also mentions the viewpoint upon which feminism still continues to draw: "Woman must not accept; she must challenge," (Sanger, 127). Since feminism is a critique of issues that arise in the cloud of society, Sanger seems to underline that concept directly in the twenties. A learned concept from the initial feminist directive versus the modern feminist directive is that the two are not much different from one another. Sanger's voice in this excerpt is leaning toward the part of the female's-reproductive-choice-only-wing of feminism, but the direction that she pushes for the rights of reproductive-control is recognized as a modern issue toward the ultimate "feminist movement".

DE-February 14th -Woman's Freedom of Choice


-Finally,what can/should we learn from the case of Margaret Sanger as we think critically about feminist movements and their attempts to develop and implement agendas for reproductive rights/justice? Do not use your response to answer the question: Was Margaret Sanger a racist? Instead focus on thinking about what questions her experiences/her choices and actions raise for you.

While reading the article by Margaret Sanger, I couldn't help but think about how applicable it is today, except take out "birth control" and stick in "abortion." The feminist movement's influence to preserve women's reproductive rights is vital. It is frightening to think about what would be the norm if feminism did not include reproduction. When Sanger writes, "While it is true that he suffers many evils as the consequence of this situation, she suffers vastly more," I thought how that simply defines why women should have control over their bodies before anyone else. How that simple notion clears up, for me at least, one of the most heated debates in the world. From lack of contraception to forced pregnancy, this debate, and the women's movement that preserves it, is key to keeping Sanger's belief's alive. What we should learn from her is that these notions of a woman's freedom (whether she chose her words wisely or just never thought of them being used in comparison to racial oppression) is not only from others, such as men, other women, government etc, but also from herself. Depending on whom you ask, being able to give birth is a blessing or a curse, but it should be understood unanimously that women then should have the RIGHT to control it. Sanger concludes her article with giving all of the responsibility of birth control to women. Whether it is the pill or abortion she is absolutely correct.




Finally,what can/should we learn from the case of Margaret Sanger as we think critically about feminist movements and their attempts to develop and implement agendas for reproductive rights/justice? Do not use your response to answer the question: Was Margaret Sanger a racist? Instead focus on thinking about what questions her experiences/her choices and actions raise for you.

What most struck me about Sanger's article were the contradictions between her notions of oppression in relation to femininity and reproduction, versus, her understanding of racial oppression and the language of slavery. Sanger argued in favor of the ability of "the feminine spirit to free itself from bondage" through having full power over the decision to procreate. Her notions of sex as a tool for power, while a bit Freudian in essence, definitely were persuasive as she argued that a woman is "enslaved through her reproductive powers." By contrast, her use of the term "free race" became problematic with her statement that, " A free race cannot be born out of slave mothers. A woman enchained cannot choose but give a measure of that bondage to her sons and daughters." This statement emphasizes the problematic nature of the use of slavery as an analogy for women's reproductive oppression. The idea of an enslaved woman merely passing on her own oppression to her children, in combination with Sanger's utilizing of the term "free race" creates a notion of stagnancy in racial oppression. The disconnect between the Sanger's understanding of racial oppression as opposed to that of women's oppression was further emphasized by the following viewpoint, "woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her..." Such a powerful message around what Sanger would likely understand as a freedom from bondage, seemed to break down when it came to notions of race. This feature of Sanger's writing, made me realize the importance of understanding intersectionality. It emphasized the ways in which language can frame a feminist argument in problematic ways. Because of this, this article can serve as a reminder of the importance of recognizing the universality in the human experience of oppression.

This is a feminist issue...ORGASM!



This is a movie review by Mark Jenkins (NPR) of Liz Canner's documentary Orgasm Inc. I have not seen this yet, but I think it is something that will apply to the course and interest us all.

Some things to think about...

***Viagra has been out for 11 years now; what about female sexual dissatisfaction?
***In the article the struggle to help women who are sexually dissatisfied is discussed. Along with this is much confusion behind the lack of desire and the failure to reach orgasm the "right" way. What do think about this?
***What type of medicalization is present here? Are there options unrelated to pharmaceuticals available for women?
***Vaginoplasty is also mentioned in the article. What is making women feel the need to reconstruct their vaginas; and is the surgery a matter of getting pleasure back or aesthetics?

DE Question for feb 14 (feb 16)


NOTEBecause we are watching the film for Monday, we will not be discussing the readings that much until Wednesday. Therefore I am extending the deadline for your direct engagements. Instead of posting entries by Saturday and comments by Monday, group C should post their entries by Monday evening and groups A and D should post their comments by Wednesday at noon. 

In "The Dark Side of Birth Control," Dorothy Roberts writes:

Sanger's shifting alliances reveal how critical political objectives are to determining the nature of reproductive technologies--whether they will be used for women's emancipation or oppression. As the movement veered from its radical, feminist origins toward a eugenic agenda, birth control became a tool to regulate the poor, immigrants, and Black Americans (58-59).

Answer at least one of the following questions: make sure to draw upon the readings

  • What were the dangerous consequences of linking the promotion of birth control with eugenics?
  • How (and in what specific ways) did birth control became a tool of social control?
  • Finally,what can/should we learn from the case of Margaret Sanger as we think critically about feminist movements and their attempts to develop and implement agendas for reproductive rights/justice? Do not use your response to answer the question: Was Margaret Sanger a racist? Instead focus on thinking about what questions her experiences/her choices and actions raise for you.


Alexandra Orr FemDeb. This is a Fem. issue because...Extra Credit.

copy & paste article into new window:


1.) What do you think of the modesty movement making claims that date rape, sexual harassment, and sexual violence is because of lack of female modesty?

2.) A Harvard professor says, "Women play the men's game, which they are bound to lose. Without modesty, there is no romance -- it isn't so attractive or so erotic [to men]." Is the purpose of a woman to please and attract males? Does this statement affirm our patriarchal society? How so?

Day Seven: February 9



  • Here's the citizenmedia global blogging pamphlet that I mentioned in class on Monday. 
  • Handing out the Sanger reading for Monday. We are also watching The pill

Today, we are talking about excerpts from Ruth Wilson Gilmore's Golden Gulag and prisons.  

What is to be done?
How/why is this a feminist issue?

Much work has been done on theorizing about this problem as the prison industrial complex. Here's a mapping of this concept and how activists/theorists understand the prison industrial complex.

I thought we could also discuss this issue in relation to the recent prison protest in Georgia. Here is a list of the prisoners' demands. In this clip, with the prison activist Elaine Browne, many issues related to the Gilmore reading are raised.

  • What is the problem with prisons?
  • What sorts of solutions are these prisoners attempting to create?
  • What sorts of questions should we be asking/discussions should we be having?
Key Passages from Gilmore 

on DEHUMANIZATION: Dehumanization names the deliberate, as well as they mob-frenzied, ideological displacements central to any group's ability to annihilate another in the name of territory, wealth, ethnicity, religion. Dehumanization is also a necessary factor in the acceptance that millions of people (sometimes including oneself) should spend part or all of their lives in cages (243). 

on SCHOLAR ACTIVISM: the questions and analyses driving this book came from the work encountered in everyday activism "on the ground." However, the direction of research does not necessarily follow every lead proposed from the grassroots, nor do the findings necessarily reinforce community activists' closely held hunches about how the world works. On the contrary, in scholarly research, answers are only as good as the further questions they provoke, while for activists, answers are as good as the tactics they make possible (27).

on POWER: Power is not a thing but rather a capacity composed of active and changing relationships enabling a person, group, or institution to compel others to do things they would not do on their own (248). 

Here's the information about Gilmore's talk this Friday:


Please join us for an exciting talk by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She is the author of Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, 2007). Gilmore will present a talk on "'Gender Responsive' Prison Expansion: The Case of California." A small reception will follow the talk.

DATE: Friday, February 11, 2011
TIME: Talk starts at 4:00 p.m., followed by a small reception at 5:00 p.m.
LOCATIONHubert H. Humphrey Center, Cowles Auditorium

If you were not already exposed to the Go-Daddy Superbowl commercial, the New York Times writer Stuart Elliott, sums it up fairly explicitly in paragraphs 8-11: Here is the youtube link to the commercial in case the embed doesn't work: Go-Daddy is a veteran to the Super Bowl and they bought two commercials for this year's Super Bowl as well... They obviously are successful advertisers that know what practices will entice the largest amount of audience/consumers. So I ask these questions: -- How are commercials like this a feminist issue if it tailors to the demographic Super Bowl audience? -- How would these commercials be perceived to women/feminists in countries other than the United States? -- What are your thoughts/feelings about this commercial? Thanks!

On September 24th the homes of anti-war activists in places such as Minneapolis and Chicago were raided by the FBI for charges concerning "material support of terrorist organizations". After reading these articles, I'd recommend Google-ing "Grand Jury" if you're not familiar with the term. It should help to understand the potential implications of the charges these activists face.

The New York Times article isn't up-to-date, but provides a good summary of what happened immediately following the raids.



How is this a Feminist issue?
What is your immediate reaction to the Grand Jury process? Through a feminist lens, what does it say about the American justice system?

Study: Kids' weight increases when mom works more



Read Article below:
(Copy & Paste into new window)


1.) Should working mothers take the blame for children gaining weight?

2.) Should mother's be held solely responsible for their children's diet and health?

"We don't have a choice. We have to go to work," Han said. "How does society as a whole support working families so I still am able to provide healthy food for children, so their weight will not be compromised?"

3.) What do you think of this quote?

bell hooks said, in a passage from, "Feminism is for Everybody," "Males as a group have and do benefit the most from patriarchy, from the assumption that they are superior to females and should rule over us. But those benefits have come with a price. In return for all the goodies men receive from patriarchy, they are required to dominate women , to exploit and oppress us, using violence if they must to keep patriarchy intact. Most men find it difficult to be patriarchs. Most men are disturbed by hatred and fear of women, by male violence against women, even the men who perpetuate this violence. But they fear letting go of the benefits. They are not certain what will happen to the world they know most intimately if patriarchy changes. So they find it easier to passively support male domination even when they know in their minds and hearts that it is wrong. Again and again men tell me they have no idea what it is feminists want. I believe them. I believe in their capacity to change and grow. And I believe that if they knew more about feminism they would no longer fear it, for they would find in feminist movement the hope of their own release from the bondage of patriarchy."

Do you agree with this statement?

Is it believable that even men who are a part of domestic violence towards women only take part in the violence because they feel they have a "role" they need to fill? (It is said that violence is learned.)

Are men too afraid to shake the gender roles we are given just because they don't understand what feminists "want," and are too afraid of change?

DE Response WEEK 2


In "On Becoming Educated" Joy Castro pours the frustration of an undergrad seeking understanding and appreciation of her feminist experience through academia onto paper. As a young student she seeks a discourse on "simple" feminist issues, such as unequal pay, sexual assault and domestic violence; things she's experienced first hand.

The young Castro is in much contrast to her class' instructor who views her ideas as simple and not worthy of her time as an academic, and of higher academia. This is most evident in her attempt to talk about a recent tiny provision of the Violence Against Women Act with her professor, whom had written a long scholarly paper on the provision. When approached by Castro about writing an article that would be available to the masses the instructor merely scoffed at the idea of writing for such common magazines such as "Ms.," "Good Housekeeping," or "Cosmopolitan," because their work was going to "trickle down"

This critique of elite and "educated" could be associated to nearly any other field, academia or otherwise, that being said, this arrogance within feminism serves nothing more than to silence voices. The elitism within the movement shut people out from involvement and advocacy. When looking to Allison Jagger, she says that we must seek as may experiences as we can to view the intersections of the movement.

Castro goes on to become an instructor at an all-male school teaching feminism. She goes on and joins the academy, which she previously despised, and allowed it to work for her, instead of the other way around. She taught practical feminist experiences to students rather than complex feminist theories that are quickly and easily forgotten.

Day Six: February 7


In today's class, we are discussing Feminism and Discord. In addition to discussing the readings (and your DE posts and comments), we will reflect on the question, What is Feminist Debate? Here are some key topics for today's discussion:

  • What is the value of difficulty and difficult labor? 
  • What is difficult about engaging in feminist discussions and critical reflections on feminist issues?
  • How can we engage in the difficult labor within the classroom? Outside of the classroom?
  • What is the place for emotion in feminist debate/feminist reflection? Anger? Frustration? Feelings of hopelessness and being overwhelmed? Joy? Happiness? Hope?
  • Annslie: "What I'm still wondering though is how does academia then get itself a reality check? I mean, how are we able to begin the discourse around issues and subjects that make people uncomfortable and challenge strong held beliefs or ideologies of a given field like feminism?" 
  • Madeleine: "There's an interesting correlation between what you're saying here and what the DE entries were about last week (feminism in social media). Someone made a point about how they didn't think feminism blogs and accessible feminist sources outside the academy would be effective, because only people who are already feminists would read them. These blogs and other social media get feminism out of its position of "locked away in academia", in your words, but how do get feminism out of its "snug room", as Castro puts it?" 
  • How do we make feminist education/ideas/information accessible? 
  • Are tensions and differences always bad and limiting to feminist movement?

DE: Feminist Killjoy (and other willful subjects)


This article gave me an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. There are so many different people in this world with all different experiences and backgrounds and morals and opinions, I understand her explanation as political activism as "a struggle against happiness"...how in the world is it possible for every single person to be happy? I'd love to see a day where everyone is treated fairly, but Sara Ahmed and again with Allison Jagger show us just how difficult this will be. Even within the community of Feminism, a community fighting for equality, there are divisions and "tensions". I would not even know where to begin to dissect these complex tensions of class, gender, race, sexuality, and religion in the entire world outside of Feminism. I suppose this is why Ahmed connects the Feminist with the killjoy. The more aware I am of the complexity of intersectionality the unhappier I become; I feel frustrated, confused, overwhelmed. The amount of things I begin to worry about and try to struggle to understand keep building up. Jagger says "There is no magic formula for reaching fair and workable resolutions of these pressing and complicated problems. The best we can do is resolve to be as open and sensitive as we can to the diversity of interests and range of values involved". Would there ever be an end to the amount of things we need to study and understand? Once we've tackled one injustice, with time another one will pop up, and another. It is an uncomfortably overwhelming thought, but definitely a motivation to raise more questions and to learn and understand more.

DE #2 ( Group D)


Castro's article "On Becoming Educated" points out an interesting dilemma in academia, where does the real world meet scholarship. Often times is my own experiences in the class room we talk of feminist issues as if differing culture, races, classes are not represented in the room. We know realistically that there may be, but many of us are more concerned about being heard ourselves and proving our right to be in higher education. Often we miss the point that there many who do not have opportunity to be heard. I'm not saying that we all did not work hard or deserve to be where we are but, we need to recognize the privilege we hold. We played by the "rules" to get here. Most of the scholars we read played by the rules, how do we hear those who do not get to play the game. Castro writes that we should be taught the "text written by poor women", often we hear from those who studied marginalized communities and not from the women themselves. When we do hear from the few representatives from the margins, it is met with hostility and confusion. Castro writes "It's the anger in the text, I learn, that bothers them."She's so angry," they keep saying. For the whole session, I find myself arguing in defense of the books worth, trying to articulate the difference between being angry by temperament and expressing justified anger in response to violation". It is uncomfortable to many to deal with real feeling. Academic speech and writing can mask emotion, it is safer. Can we come to a time when the people can speak for themselves? Feminist issues are as Jaggar writes are "multidimensional problems" and need many voices in the debate. While the classroom provides a space for many voices to be heard it is a privileged space.

The Feminist's Complex Work (DE for Feb. 7)

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Jennifer Nash's article, "On Difficulty: Intersectionality as Feminist Labor" left me somewhat frustrated and confused. Throughout the last year, since I began my work in the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies program, intersectional theory and methods have been stressed as the most productive way to approach marginalized identities. Previously over-simplistic methods of addressing one form of social oppression at a time are no long valid; we must simultaneously address how our identities, as whole and multidimensional entities, work within society and the systems of power that permeate our lives. Of course, this will be difficult, as Alison Jagger makes quite clear in her chapter, "Addressing Feminist Contradictions". While Jagger upholds this complex work as a core value in feminist studies (while emphasizing the needs for the need for varying voices to be heard and recognized within academia and the movement), Nash challenges us to reconsider the value of difficulty. Nash says that intersectionality cannot become the only way we address identity and oppression; there is a need for us to consider its limitations and exclusions. This draws from our discussion of feminist curiosity. We also have to consider who is left out when complex theoretical jargon is used to define the feminist movement, and who these theories don't reach when confined to academia. Nash encourages us to view intersectional theory/method/politics as but a possible metaphor for understanding multidimensional identities, and not a proven fact of how they work. The need for a heightened and more expansive curiosity within feminist pedagogy and politics is clear, but we must simultaneously devote ourselves to the difficult, complex, messy (and sometimes unhappy) work that is feminism.

The Creating of Unpleasant Women


In "Feminist Killjoys (and other willful subjects)," Sara Ahmed creates a metaphor of the societal and feminist tables. An image of a table is perfectly situated within feminist debates as it brings to mind a plethora of topics underlying feminist principles. Illustrations like ideals of a "nuclear family" are seen as outdated but still play a large role in the rhetoric of everyday life; the power struggles between a wife, husband, and their children today and in the past come to mind immediately.

How does society construct a man and woman's roles in their own home? How do simple things like the placement of one's "chair" affect the outward impressions made of them? How does the act of sitting in one's metaphorical chair help them, or deter them, from their "commitment to ending women's subordination?" And in turn, does the action of taking a seat at the table take away from everyday experiences where one might be forced, or come upon by their own accord; the "complex and multidimensional" problems that help feminists in evaluating their own values?
In constructing the feminist table Ahmed uses happiness and unhappiness, along with the figure of the feminist killjoy. The individual and collective killjoy becomes a sort of antagonist in societal workings creating controversy in pointing out the convalescence of sexism, racism, and injustice that is overlooked and therefore subtly accepted into society.

"To be willing to go against social order, which is protected as moral order, a happiness order is to be willing to cause unhappiness, even if unhappiness is not your cause (Ahmed 3)."

She uses a story of bell hooks' about racism bringing unhappiness with a different skin color; how then do we factor in things like psychology, sociology, and culture into discussions of racism? Will these things also bring unhappiness or happiness to some? Tension is also caused when one white person steps into a room full of individuals of a different color? Is that tension internal or external? As bell hooks' also wrote about internal patriarchy, can those thoughts also apply to race?

Is the issue of feminism to be a rejector of happiness? Can happiness exsist alongside upset at injustice?

DE #2 (Group D) "On Becoming Educated"


Joy Castro's piece, "On Becoming Educated," strongly resounded with Alison Jaggar's assertions about needing to, "confront complex, multidimensional problems that require us to balance a variety of values and to evaluate the claims and interests of a variety of groups." That is to say, Feminism cannot merely be content to exist in a realm of comfortable universality; it's not realistic or proportional to the world we live in. There are not only different groups of women ranging from ethnicity, sexuality, class, gender expression, political views, etc, but men too, should be included in this conversation. If part of the goal of Feminism is to fight patriarchy then certainly men's role in society and their own broad range of experiences should be expressed and navigated as well.

Castro notes in her article how she "got to teach women's literature, including Latina literature, and feminist theory to classrooms of thirty-five men at a time. Farmboys and lawyers' sons took my classes... I value those voices, those questions, that red-state hostility, because they taught me how to make feminism's insights relevant to people outside a closed, snug room of agreement." Castro's insight about her own first experiences teaching demonstrates how feminism can and needs to be expressed and taught outside classrooms of highly educated and interested students that are a vast majority female. A person need not be an entitled scholar to learn and benefit from what feminism is able to teach and likewise feminism shouldn't be locked away in academia for a select few--inaccessibility breeds stagnation because there is no longer a myriad of ideas, thoughts, opinions, and experiences being discussed.

And finally, As Jaggar also points out, "if we are sincerely concerned with ending the subordination of all women, feminists cannot afford unquestioned assumptions, orthodoxies, or dogmatic commitments to positions alleged to be 'politically correct.' What is common of often "accepted truths" is that these assertions are meant to include everybody but in fact leave out a good number of people. Something is not a fact or justified simply because a majority of people agree with that rhetoric; it's that kind of thinking that has marginalized women for so many years. Castro in her experiences with grad school faced a similar situation in one of her classes. They read, Gloria AnzaldĂșa's, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, and apparently "it was too disjointed, too polemical. Students quickly chime in with their discomfort over the book's 'angry' content..." Castro goes on to say how, "my professor and classmates hadn't stumbled over W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, or Maxine Hong Kingston, but Gloria AnzaldĂșa is somehow too different, too much....I find myself arguing in defense of the book's worth, trying to articulate the difference between being angry by temperament and expressing justified anger in response to violation." This situation exemplifies how certain materials written by authors of a different ethnicity and perspective can instill a particular amount of unsettlement in the audience.

The book's merits were dismissed because the material covered a wide range of subjects, was strongly worded, and it made people feel uncomfortable. These characteristics should not disbar a piece of work. It's good to feel that discomfort, especially over someone's being angry, because it challenges readers then to reconcile not only their own experiences with the author but to really evaluate the issues being brought up. It's okay for an author to be angry; the very real problems that face women aren't something that should be just viewed in a distanced objective manner--it discounts the very real situations and struggles that these different groups of women face.

What I'm still wondering though is how does academia then get itself a reality check? I mean, how are we able to begin the discourse around issues and subjects that make people uncomfortable and challenge strong held beliefs or ideologies of a given field like feminism?

Covering up is a feminist issue


Look check it out this reading:
This reading is really interesting.
What do think about this reading?

The Academic's Responsibility


In both the Castro article and the excerpt from Jaggar's article, there was an emphasis on the importance of recognizing the varieties of feminists and feminist needs that exist. There is not only the need for direct engagement with misogynistic literature, but also the need for female minorities to be treated as equal to their white counterparts. The Castro article delved into the issue of accessibility, and how there are not only feminist scholars, but also poor women who yearn to be educated so they know their rights as human beings. Castro mentioned the scholar, Stephen Greenblatt, and his statement to effect that, as Castro interprets it, "Eventually, if I am superb enough, the chosen few will manage to discover my work." (5) Castro points out that this attitude is an issue among many scholars. How is the everyday woman supposed to access the information necessary in order to make good decisions? Or even, how is a woman supposed to know her rights under the law if no one is making that information accessible? According to Greenblatt, it is the responsibility of the reader to discover his work, as opposed to the writer making his/her work readily available to the general public.

Web sites like this are a feminist issue because...

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Since we're experimenting with different ways to explore feminism through social media and other internet sites, I dug a little deeper using a few Google searches. I've listed a few sites I came upon which pushed me to think further about the bell hooks readings in terms of education and inaccessibly of feminisms in the everyday lives of many people.

How can feminists spread a positive feminist message to the women reading the messages of these sites?

If confronted with a situation where one might have to discuss their views to someone holding these ideologies, what would be good points to bring up?

How has religion used these websites to specifically target feminism, therefore; changing its very definition?

How does a rhetoric of submission, obedience, and quotes like, "...a man's business is God, a woman's business is the man" perpetuate patriarchy specifically? How can feminism gain a foot hold for positive change in both sexes of all religions?

What form of government is feminism most compatible with? Socialism as the last link suggests, instead maybe democracy, anarchy, or monarchy?




Strippers are a feminist issue because...



I would just like everyone to check out this link:

and read this article. Just an excerpt for some food for thought:

"You might feel uncomfortable that this is my work but that is, quite frankly, insulting and stupid. Insulting because you think that women should be getting naked and treating you like the king that you are for free, or that this type of behavior should be only be natural and acknowledging it as anything else offends your sensibilities. This is the same reason why other sorts of traditionally gendered work is low-paying: because women should naturally care-take, or nanny, or teach, and not greedily demand money for it! Stripping, like many other work, is gendered and classed."

Tell me what you think about this!

Pejorative? Amelioration?


Here are some helpful links:
Wikipedia's 'Bitch' entry
Google image search 'Bitch'
Bitch magazine's website
Twitter search 'bitch'

Merriam-Webster's definitions:
pejorative (n): "a word or phrase that has negative connotations or that is intended to disparage or belittle : a pejorative word or phrase"
ameliorate (v): "to make better or more tolerable"
"1: the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals
2: a) a lewd or immoral woman
b) a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman --sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse
3: something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant
4: complaint"

How does the word 'bitch' make you feel?
In what contexts do we use it?
Can it be affirming?
What is the history of 'bitch'?
Is it 'okay' to say 'bitch'? For whom and in what situations?
Should feminists be concerned with the amelioration of 'bitch'?
Is there consensus on this issue? Among women? Feminists?
Should we be doing anything about? What should we do?
How do you deal with 'bitch' in your life?
Is it a feminist issue?

This is a feminist issue...


As a psychology major I have wondered why Aspergers, an autistic spectrum disorder, is more diagnosed in males than in females. Why are males getting diagnosed more frequently? How many females are there that have not been diagnosed? How does this affect a family when they don't know that their daughter or child has Aspergers or a form of autism? Here's a website page titled "Girls and Aspergers Syndrome" > http://www.yourlittleprofessor.com/girls.html. It talks a little about the problems with identifying Aspergers in girls.

This Is a Feminist issue..Cleanliness


Why are women expected to stay clean? An article on NPR suggest that women suffer from health issues that men do not because they are expected to be overly clean. Many mothers that I know with little girls insist that their daughters must be clean every minute of everyday. I however as the parent of a son, only require him to take a bath once a week.



DE Question for b. feb 7


All of the authors for this week write about the difficult labor of negotiating between differences within/between feminists and feminist understandings and articulations of important issues and agendas.

In "On Becoming Educated," Joy Castro discusses the difficulties of negotiating her feminist practices inside and outside of the academy as she struggles with questions about whose voice count and who/what feminist education is for.

In "In Difficulty: Intersectionality as Feminist Work" Jennifer C. Nash challenges readers to think beyond a mere call for more and more "intersectional analysis" as a way to negotiate differences between feminists. She cautions readers that such a move can obscure actual lived experiences and can lead to a celebration of difference/complexity for its own sake.

In "Feminist Killjoys," Sara Ahmed describes the value of being willful/killing joy and refusing to be happily ignorant for "making sense of the complexity of feminism as an activist space." She argues that the shared experiences/feelings of being the killjoy at the table (even as our tables exist in very different spaces/situations) offers up the possibility for shared joy and solidarity.

In your 200-250 word response, pick one the above articles (Castro, Nash or Ahmed) and reflect on it in relation to the following passage from the Alison Jaggar excerpt:


The purpose of these direct entries is to get us started in thinking about the readings. In your response, you can raise questions about the readings (things you didn't understand, things you want to talk about more in class, etc). Do not use your response as a space for expressing what you did/didn't like about the essay. Instead use it as a space for taking your chosen article seriously and for struggling with how to understand it. Make sure that refer to a passage/s from your chosen text. 

The editors of this special issue on Polyphonic Feminisms, put together a feminist soundtrack for the issue in order to "demonstrate the many vocal registers of feminism, the polyphony of sounds feminism can make." So, if we created a feminist soundtrack for our class, what song would you like to add? 

Here's mine (I'll resist the strong temptation to explain why I picked it...): "My Eyes" from Dr. Horrible's Sing along Blog


Phones are a feminist issue in Bangladesh

i am looking around to read the new. I saw this article is kind of interested and related to feminist issue. Therefore, i put in this entry. http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101213com3.html After reading this i feel very innovative approach from fixing the economy from the bottom up. Bangladesh is doing quite well in this regard. First the Grameen Bank, and then several other entrepreneureal businesses that are concentrated on improving the lives of the poor.

Is fat a feminist issue?

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My cousin have a very complicated relationship with dieting and body image. Looking in the past, my cousin was overweight,and she tried to lose weight by skipping breakfast or lunch. She ate only one time a day and most the time drank the water. Because she didn't eat much, so that her body couldn't take up enough energy to burn a day. One day, she passed out in the gym class, and ended up in the hospital. After that, she participated in the loosing weight program. So far, she was doing well. She went to my meetings every week, and met other people who was facing the same challenges that she was, and she has lost many pounds and now she is at the standpoint.
i give this example not only to say weight loss is feminist issue but also open some debate about teenager. Most girls reported that they were trying to lose weight even though, from a health standpoint, most of them didn't need to. Is dieting anti-feminist? Do we support dieting person or/and support people when they choose to make healthier eating decisions in order to improve their overall well-being? And how's about men, is fat men a feminist issue?

Names and Legacies

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As a woman who is engaged to be married, I have been asked more than once about whether or not I am going to keep my name. My answer is always, "Of course I'm going to keep my name!" Why is it that in this supposedly feminist society we live in, it is still expected that a woman should take her husband's name, and that, in turn, if she has children, those children will automatically bear her husband's name? It can be argued that children should be named after the man because then it is clear that he is the father (it is usually more obvious who the mother is), but what about the woman's legacy? Is the woman's legacy automatically her husband's legacy?

Day five: February 2


Here is an important announcement concerning a slight adjustment in readings for next week: 

MONDAY feb 7        Feminisms and Discord  


WEDNESDAY feb 9   Ruth Wilson Gilmore


  • Gilmore, Ruth Wilson. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California
-The Prison Fix
-What is to be Done

NOTE: Professor Gilmore will be speaking on Friday, February 11th. Here's some information:  

Please join us for an exciting talk by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She is the author of Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, 2007). Gilmore will present a talk on "'Gender Responsive' Prison Expansion: The Case of California." A small reception will follow the talk. 
DATE: Friday, February 11, 2011 
TIME: Talk starts at 4:00 p.m., followed by a small reception at 5:00 p.m. 
LOCATION: Hubert H. Humphrey Center, Cowles Auditorium

Today, we are discussing Cynthia Enloe and feminist curiosity. Here's the handout that I distributed in class with my live-tweeting of the Enloe essay, "Being curious about our lack of feminist curiosity". 

Mobilizing Resources


The majority of India's poor still live in rural villages, while the many living in the urban areas have increasing purchasing power. In response to this growing disparity an Indian organization, GOONJ, has developed a large-scale resource mobilization initiative to re-use surplus clothing from the urban consumers to the rural poor; rather than simply giving away the clothing the villagers are motivated to engage in community projects such as the repair of roads or de-silting existing water in exchange for the clothing. Strategically, GOONJ started with recycled clothes - clothes did not involve heavy investments and policy changes - with plans to expand to deliver critical resources like medicines and books using the same distribution model.
The distribution network engages over 100 grassroots organizations as dispersal partners in rural areas since local groups can best analyze the needs of its locality and have access to some of the remotest regions. Urban collection camps are staffed by volunteers working with corporations and schools to collect and transport the recycled material.
Systemic changes to the way urban households think about discarding consumer goods and engaging with those less fortunate can have lasting impact throughout India. Lessons learned from observing those impacts and the ones learned from a scalable distribution network responding to populations living in poverty or post-disaster can be applied throughout the world. Started as a national movement it could turn into an international one.

In our culture, there is a strict distinction of only 2 different genders: Male and female bathrooms, male and female clothing stores, male and female names and colors and roles, and Feminism: the belief that men and women are equal. What about the people that fall somewhere in between? The people that may not identify with being strictly male or strictly female? I have not researched deeply enough into Feminism to know, so I ask: is there recognition of the transgender community in Feminist theory and belief?