April 2011 Archives

How do we document mass rape? Feminist issue?

I just finished reading the book "A woman in Berlin" and realized that history has the strangers ways of recording mass rape of women. When talking about WWII one can definitely see that history is constructed through a male perspective. His-tory vs Her-story? "A woman in Berlin" holds a unique place in the canon of World War II literature. History is written by the victors, as the saying goes - who are usually male. How many readers have given a thought to what it felt like to be a German woman made to pay the price for her country's belligerence in 1945? Though the precise statistics will never be known, existing estimates are breathtaking: 2 million women were raped in Germany, many of them more than once. In Berlin alone, hospital statistics indicate between 95,000 and 130,000 rape victims. After reading this book, it is impossible for any human being to see these numbers as pure statistic, because one is brought face to face with the reality of the situation through three hundred pages with the gashes upon the soul inflicted by repeated rape and gang rape, not to mention prostitution, makes one turn back to all the evil atrocities of the period and suddenly realize they weren't numbers on a scorecard of infamy, but souls tortured, and in many cases murdered. The writer of this book makes the reader realize that each person had their own separate individuality and each one suffered in ways we cannot even imagine, to perceive one person's suffering gives us an immense insight into what that kind of life these women lead. Even though Anonymous wants to give individuals that suffered at that time a name, the essence of this book is really the emphasis of the complete collapse of a moral, social, and human code and system of values. German women such as the heroin in this book had a protected and comfortable space in the Nazi regime, where their identity was confined to Kinder, Kirche, Kueche in society. This role came with the privilege of security, which was annihilated during the Limbo stage of the Russian take over of Berlin. In the candlelit basement of her apartment building, a 34-year-old journalist leads us into a world of mass rape and unimaginable violence by simple scribbling her impressions of the collapsing society around her into a school book. Early on women in Berlin begin to realize that nobody will be able to secure their bodies ones the Russians take over. This sense of disparity and helplessness makes them understand that they have to move forward and begin to play a new role in society. Her equanimity is severely tested, however, when the Russians show up and she is raped repeatedly, along with thousands of other female Berliners. Far from wallowing in despair, however, she conceives a plan to protect herself. Using her few words of Russian to lure well-placed Russian officers, she trades her body for food and protection. "No question about it: I have to find a single wolf to keep away the pack," she writes. "An officer, as high-ranking as possible, a commandant, a general, whatever I can manage. After all, what are my brains for ..." After the narrator makes this testimony, the reader leaves the simple notion of rape behind and has to redefine the heroin's role in the power struggle between her oppressor (rapist) and herself. The author herself comments in wonder on the picture of a highly educated middle-class girl turned whore for a handful of potatoes. I believe that this statement is something that many German readers weren't able to handle or forgive in 1960. This book brought a whole different level of analysis to that particular time. The diary shows a transformation that had taken place that many historians, anthropologist, or sociologist neglected for a long period of time. As a rape victim, Anonymous didn't remain silent in shame, like many rape victims are expected to. Instead she started an honest discussion about her pain, anguish, and disbelief of her situation. This allowed for many women to find a discourse and agency to identify with her, and analyze their own tragedies at that time. Throughout the book I found myself cheering her on for her resourcefulness, buoyancy, and fierce will to survive. Despite the grim subject matter, she is often a delightfully witty and intelligent commentator on the times. Perhaps, in truth, what 20th century readers couldn't stomach was the shameful picture of German men standing helplessly by while their women were degraded. As Anonymous tells her diary, "Among the many defeats at the end of this war is the defeat of the male sex." There are many diary entries in which she clearly discusses the specific failures of the other gender. Many of these disappointments had nothing to do with the subject of rape, which I found very interesting. Early on the author begins to explain her disapproval of the incredibly young soldiers. She looks at the Volksturm units and only sees boys, children, innocent infants that shouldn't have to deal with the issues of war let alone the actual act of war. She emphasizes this critic by saying: "Up to now being a soldier meant being a man. And being a man means being able to father a child. Wasting these boys before reaching maturity obviously runs against some fundamental laws of nature, against our instincts, against every drive to preserve the species." As a woman she finds it criminal to take away the innocence of a child in order to advance in a war. "People aren't supposed to do that", she declares. I believe that this shows the complete change of norms in that war. It was the place of the man to take on nature's call of protecting both child and woman, which he failed to do at the time. This failure resulted in the young boy having to take on the identity of the man. One nineteen year old girl was raped by three different soldiers one after the other, then she had marmalade smeared into her hair and coffee grains scattered over her face. If this would have been a single rape, in any community it would have been considered an atrocity. However what takes place when this becomes and everyday reality for a woman? The right of the women to see their catastrophic incident as singular, distinctive and exclusive was stripped from them. Instead of understanding the specific details of their own horrors and elucidating their status as a victim, women had to take on a mass identity as rape victims. I believe this is one of the reasons why this book doesn't have a specific author. Anonymous decided that it wasn't solely her story that she was telling but rather a communal one. It gives them a kind of collective identity as women and a collective despair with men. As they queue up once stability is restored to collect ration books and get jobs, the chat amongst the women is of how many times they've been raped and how they will deal with their husbands about it. Fears of sexual disease and pregnancy also proliferate in the women's mind. Many women build a sense of solidarity and trust through this common dominator. Some victims of the Russians found comfort in knowing that they had a better chance to stay alive in Berlin than in Air-raided Dresden or Potsdam. This mentality was often portrayed by the grim humored jokes: "Better a Russki on top than a Yank overhead!" As a reader one is saddened that a woman had to accept rape as a daily reality that she couldn't escape from. What makes the book an essential document is its frank and unself-conscious record of the physical and moral devastation that accompanied this particular time. This book gave the world the understanding of the drastic alteration in identity for many people during World War II. The experience she went through, completely changed her and other women's reactions to men. The fear created lasted long after authority was restored- she notes that when she goes out in the evening, she never sees women. Also in her eyes, men become diminished, parasites or rapists. The most intriguing question this book brought up is: Why go back and conform to the old role of a woman in the patriarchal society, when that system had failed in such a disastrous manner. Both the book and the movie make me wonder how we look at mass rape of women in the past. This is definitely an important feminist issue, since history many time leaves out individually experienced atrocities. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEZxcSf9HwM

Why I Love GWSS


The reason that I love GWSS discussion based classes, as most are, is because I've learned more in these classes than most others that I've taken. The assigned readings are merely a base of the class. A beginning place for learning. The class, however, is where I've learned the most. There have been so many articles and writings in the past that I have read and understood very little. There are always people who have read it previously and others who have taken away different things from the readings. Another reason is there are no real 'right' or 'wrong' answers. Unlike most other subjects and more like real life, there are so many shades of gray and the black and white are deceiving. Those who have taken a variety of GWSS classes, and those that haven't taken any, bring to the table different perspectives on theories and events. For me, the material in the class is fascinating but hearing other people's take on it, as well as personal experience that applies, is what adds so much depth that not only is enriching but also applicable in life. It makes you think, really think, about the world around you. Why are things the way they are? What is the normal and who decides what that is? I've also noticed that GWSS classes, including this one, have vastly improved my writing. It's not the amount of writing that matters but what you're writing about. Writing about things that aren't just based on facts but on digging and looking and weighing one thing against another has left me using the same frame of thought while writing for other classes. This class not just encourages, but requires you to ask questions and look for answers. What's so great about that is there are other people who along the way are offering even more questions and more answers. As a result, the class material you've started with has become material with often even more questions. While this can sometimes be confusing, the more questions that we are left with, the more answers we search for. This search is continued with the class but also outside of it. This class is about the material, absolutely. However, something even greater is the way you learn to think; not outside of the box, but rather that there is no box.

Lingerie Football League..... Is this a Feminist Issue?

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The Lingerie Football League is gaining popularity throughout the country especially since there is a potential lockout with the NFL. This is hitting closer to home too since Minnesota is on the verge of hosting a team. Is this sport degrading towards women? Is it really necessary that they play in lingerie? Why can't they wear uniforms like NFL players?

Here is a site to read more about if you want more information.


DE April 27


The most memorable reading and biggest take away for the class came from Summer Wood's On Language. It came at a point in my life when I was open to different ideas of what a particular abstract notion meant. I was considering many new ideas, and Summer Wood's description of what choice really meant hit home for me. I was able to see how the term had become politicized, and instead of pro-choice being associated with only abortion; I recognized that it meant much more. It is best put in her words,

"For many young feminists, 'choice' has become the very definition of feminism itself--illustrated by the standard-bearing right to choose abortion and supported by the ever-advertised notion that they have choice in everything else in life as well."

It was at this point in the course that I was happy to call myself a feminist, a term I wouldn't have used to describe myself prior to taking the course; or even doing this reading. I was able to understand that feminism really was for everyone, and for me that meant I could choose to emanate values that may seem contrary to those of my peers. I could truly value other people, and respect their individual choices if I wanted them to respect mine.

The Beauty Myth-- Developed Social Media Project


Our Beauty Myth Blog

We chose to develop a blog on the Beauty Myth. We chose wordpress.com because it is an accessible blog site, largely due to the fact that it allows public access. This is not so for other blog sites, which discourages a great portion of the population from participating because many people do not want to have to make a blog account of their own. In addition to posting and updating our blog, we added our blog to the stumbleupon.com and twitter.com databases. This allows a wider audience to come across the information posted without specifically searching for it. People are currently sharing information through a number of websites on the Internet. These sites include Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. People are able to communicate, discuss, and share information with others near or far from them. With public access to a number of these sites other individuals can gain access to this information even if it was not originally intended for them to view or read. We can use social media to spread awareness and curiosity about feminism by bombarding the Internet with posts, blogs, and discussions. With more information on the topic of feminism it gains more public exposure and likelihood for awareness. Although more information about the topic out in cyberspace increases the likelihood of people coming across the information there are still limitations to social media sites--especially blogs. Limitations of blogs include the fact that they are not as widespread as other social network websites. This is due to the fact that one needs to have knowledge of how to navigate, gain access, and initiate dialogues on blog websites. If one is not familiar with this form of social media, and has never had exposure to it before, the fact the information is out there in this form will not necessarily reach them or encourage a dialogue between them and others on the issues posted.

Undie Run a Feminist Issue?


The Undie Run at the U of MN to raise awareness about homelessness and to get clothing donations is sparking some controversy among students. They claim this event is degrading towards women. The group admin. recently changed the event photo from a bra, to a heart due to complaints. What do you think? Is running "nearly naked" degrading towards women? Should we discourage this kind of event, or does it show just how far women have come: to be able to run ALMOST NAKED, instead of fully clothed and appropriate?


Bringing an end to frats as a feminist issue....


Check this out!

Caitlin Flanagan wants to end fraternities due to violence against women. What affect will this have on women? On men? Will it shine a positive or negative angry light on the issue? What about sororities?


DE Apr 25

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I took this class for couple of reasons; it fulfilled certain requirements that I had and the subject matter seemed interesting and relevant. The world of feminism wasn't a complete unknown but I was not by any means well versed in the terms and most of the feminist rhetoric that we used in this class. After four months of class discussions and after reading many different articles and essays on the subject I feel that my opinions of feminism haven't changed but my understanding of it certainly has. If anything this class gave me a stronger ability to delve further into these issues, some which I did not think we relevant to the world of feminism. I ask a lot more questions in my everyday life about a variety of things and their relationship to feminism. This is due I'm sure to the much deeper understanding of it.
When it comes to the social networking aspect of this class, I was completely at a loss in January. Before this class I had never even read a blog yet alone written on one. I didn't and still really don't understand the point to twitter. After the first couple weeks, when I finally figured out how to comment on a blog post and figured out all the different sections we had set up, I really started to enjoy it. It was such a different way to address class topics because it allowed us to have a conversation via the blog about whatever. The blog turned out to be great because it was a distinct way of doing homework. This class certainly opened my eyes to a new perspective on many feminist issues.

DE for April 27


Blogging for this class has been a very new experience for me, as I've never had to do anything like this for school before. I've actually enjoyed writing the entries and engaging with the readings in this way, but the commenting system has felt a little weird. I didn't like that we had assigned weeks to comment because some weeks I just didn't feel that there was much to comment on that was really engaging, while other weeks I wanted to comment on everything and have discussions with people. I think that assigning comments limited that discussion in a way and also made us write pointless commentary that didn't say much sometimes. I think that maybe having an overall comment quota to meet would have been better, as it would have left us to engage with things that we thought were truly interesting.

As for advice for people who take the class in the future: Don't just limit yourself to the readings that you're given. If you're curious about a topic or don't understand some of the vocabulary, ask a classmate or go find other resources. There are tons of places online with social justice information that are just a google search away that can really help you understand the class better. I would also recommend having some kind of background in feminism, even if it's just a personal interest, because even a little bit of background goes a long way in a class like this.

As I was watching sports with a few boys the other day, they commented instantly on the sportscaster on the television. It was of course a female. 20 years ago you would have never seen a female sportscaster or one respected by males. But, do males really have respect? Or do they just like to look and think girls really have no clue what they are talking about when it comes to sports?



I came across this on Feministing.com. To me this is encouraging ignorance and promoting inequalities and discrimination. What are your thoughts?


Skinny Products as a feminist issue....


Skinny Products like "Skinny Girl Margarita" as a feminist issue....

What are these new "skinny" products saying to the image of women in our society?
The Skinny girl margarita is a popular drink created by Bethany Frankel a reality star on Bravo.... are products like Bethany's potentially harmful or harmless?
Are messages about getting skinny, and staying skinny promoting an impossible image for women to reach?
What will reaching these farfetched images of beauty result in?

Skinny girl.png

DE April 25

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I have never taken a class in relation to feminism so this class really aided in my understanding of what feminism means to me and what it means to others as well. My favorite section was the section about family values because I thought the discussions were exciting in that everyone has different family values and the definition isn't as clear cut as one may think. I also really like the day we watched "Free to be you and me" because it showed a lot of issues within family values and it helped me look at family values from a feminist perspective. I found some of the papers to be rather difficult because there were so many different reading and perspective to take into account and it was somewhat overwhelming. I think that the papers helped me organize my thoughts and understanding of what was going on with the feminist issues being presented. For me, this class was difficult because I felt as though I needed the basics before I could critically analyze all of the specific issues presented in class. I would have been a lot more comfortable with the material if I had a class prior to this class to offer me a platform of knowledge of feminism to work with. I thought the blogging experience was very helpful because it helped me look at other people's opinions and insights, which helped me understand reading and certain issues. I think the blog allowed me to get a lot of different information, so if I didn't understand one person's comments or opinions I could read someone else's. The blog was a very good learning tool for me personally. Twitter was very difficult for me to follow, I think because I had never used it and really didn't get engaged as much as I did with the blog. I do think that twitter is a useful tool for educating large amounts of people about feminist issues. I would tell students thinking about entering this class to have a groundwork of feminist theory before entering, otherwise they may feel lost at times like I did. Also I would advice future students to read the reading critically and bring the reading to class as pages are referenced very often during conversation. All and all I really enjoyed this class and the insight it gave me in relation to feminism and feminist theory.

Day Twenty-three: April 25


Today in class we are discussing your final projects and feminist revision papers.
Also, one announcement: It's Gender Freedom Week

The GLBTA Programs Office is sponsoring a screening of "Put This On the Map" (I linked to a vimeo of the trailer last week) during class time on Wednesday. It's a great opportunity to see and discuss this movie. So, here are your options for Wednesday. 

  • Use Wednesday's class time to work with group members on your final project/presentation
  • Meet with me to discuss the class + project + final paper, etc
  • Attend the screening (with free pizza!)
If you want to meet with me, I will be in my office during class time. I can also meet with you and your group in the media center if you have any technical questions. 

DE April 27


When I started this class, I wasn't sure what to expect because I've never taken a GWSS class before. I thought that the social media parts of this class would be overwhelming, but I've been surprised on how much I've come to enjoy using Twitter. It's probably something that I'll continue to use once this class is over. One of my favorite things we've done in this class is watching the movie "The Pill." I did not know the history of birth control and was surprised to learn about all of the opposition to it. Another one of my favorite things we've done in this class is the small group work. I feel that the small groups were a good way to spark in depth conversations about the topics. One thing I wish I would have done is take a lower level GWSS class before I started because some of the class discussions went over my head, and some of the terminology was new to me. If I could change one thing about the class, it would be to have less handouts. My binder is full of paper handouts, and it makes it hard to find the things that I need. Perhaps more of the paper handouts could be posted to the blog instead? Overall though, I've had a good experience in this class, and I have learned a lot.

Why animal rights are (still) a feminist issue

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An egalitarian society will never come about while sections of it are oppressed, whether on the basis of their sex/gender, race, ability, sexual orientation - or species, writes Katrina Fox.

Recently I attended 'F', the first feminist conference in Sydney, Australia for 15 years. During the course of the weekend, a jam-packed program featured a diverse range of panel discussions and workshops.

An attempt had been made to include at least one person of colour on the panels, the majority of speakers acknowledged and discussed white privilege, and some workshops were held by men, sex workers and trans people. The conference had a policy of inclusion and was open to all.

So far so good. But while progress had been made on some fronts, there was one area that had fallen off the agenda and indeed, it seems, feminist consciousness, and that is speciesism: the assigning of different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species membership.

Nowhere was this more obvious than the catering, which included a stall selling meat pies, including veal, an abundance of dairy milk for tea and coffee and a conference dinner that was held at a non-vegetarian restaurant. All in all, it added up to an epic F for Fail.

Failure, that is, to see the intersectionality between various forms of oppression - in this case, between female humans and non-humans.

How do feminism and animal rights issues intersect?

While all animals suffer under the system of intensive or factory farming, the females of the species usually experience the most heinous and prolonged abuses:

* Battery hens are imprisoned in tiny cages with several other hens. Their beaks are cut off with a hot wire guillotine, an extremely painful process and many have great difficulty eating properly for the rest of their short lives. They are forced to lay egg after egg and after a year, their bodies 'spent', they are dragged from the cages, stuffed into crates, trucked to the abattoir and shackled upside down on a conveyor belt to await slaughter. Many suffer multiple fractures during this process.
* Dairy is an industry built on the control of the reproductive systems of female non-humans (surely a feminist issue given the movement's emphasis on fighting for women's rights to control their own bodies and reproductive systems). Cows are kept perpetually pregnant, so that their babies (whom they carry for nine months, much like human mothers) and their babies' milk can be stolen from them. Cows bellow with grief at the loss of their young. Female calves' horns and extra teats are cut off with no anaesthetic and in some areas the same happens to their tails. Milking machines attached to the cow's body result in painful infections of the teats such as mastitis. The cycle of forced pregnancy, birth, theft and grief continues until the cow's body can give no more and she is shipped off to be slaughtered.
* Female pigs are forcibly impregnated and kept in 'sow stalls' - tiny spaces not big enough for them to turn around, where they often go insane with boredom as they are social creatures. They are kept like this for life, constantly impregnated. After giving birth, they are forced to nurse their babies from the confines of gestation crates where they can barely reach them.
* Animal rights groups have obtained video footage from undercover activists showing abbatoir workers sexually abusing female animals.

That's not to say that male animals don't suffer, of course, including a non-human mother's male babies who are considered 'byproducts' with little monetary value:

* Male calves in Australia are slaughtered for veal and in other countries are destined for the veal crate, designed to be so small that they can't turn around so their muscles atrophy. They are deprived of essential nutrients to ensure they are pale and 'tender'.
* Male chicks born in battery operations are simply disposed of - usually by being shredded alive in a macerator.

So it's disappointing, not to mention sadly ironic, that a feminist conference invited a keynote speaker (Greens MP Lee Rhiannon, a vegan) to talk about abortion rights at the official dinner. The irony being that 'dinner' involved attendees putting someone else's body (probably female) and secretions (definitely female) into their mouths while talking about their own oppression and fight for reproductive autonomy.

Why has animal rights fallen off the modern feminist agenda?

Back in the '70s and '80s there was a much stronger link between feminism and animal rights and an acknowledgement of the links between the two. So what happened?

What does the term 'ecofeminism' and its association with animals and the environment conjure up in the minds of today's feminists?

Well, some will associate it with essentialist ideas of women being connected to the earth or the anti-porn, anti-sex-work and transphobic rhetoric of some ecofeminists. It's fair to say that blanket generalisations that all porn is bad, all sex workers are victims whether they know it or not, and undergoing surgical and hormonal treatment to transform your sex or gender is unnatural have alienated many feminists, especially queer and younger feminists.

That's not to say, however, that the discourses within ecofeminism have not moved on - indeed much ecofeminist theory has pointed out how problematic and regressive concepts of essentialism are.

But while feminists writing in mainstream media and indeed much of the feminist blogosphere focus on raunch culture, body image and analysing pop culture - the 'hip' and 'trendy' topics - ecofeminist theory gets left by the wayside, relegated unfairly to the 'old-school' or 'uncool' box when in fact it's more relevant than ever.

Of course it could be argued too that animal rights groups such as PETA have had a part to play in the disengagement of feminism and animal rights due to their adverts that are viewed by many to be sexist and in some cases, racist.

Race issues

The issue of race of course ties in with the intersectionality of oppressions.

In her new book Sistah Vegan, in which black female vegans talk about how they perceive nutrition, food, ecological sustainability, health and healing, animal rights, parenting, social justice, spirituality, hair care, race, sexuality, womanism, freedom, and identity, author Breeze Harper quite rightly points out the white racialised consciousness and white privilege of the mainstream animal rights movement and the stereotype of vegan = white, skinny body.

Interestingly, these reflections in Sistah Vegan, which are from a diverse North American community of black-identified women of the African diaspora reveal that they have not necessarily come to veganism through animal rights. Instead many consider that they are actively decolonising their bodies by embracing a healthy whole foods or raw food veganism way of eating.

However, when promoting the message to go vegan - which I do and wholeheartedly believe it is the way forward to minimise harm to ourselves in terms of health, the environment and of course animals - it's important for the white-dominated animal rights movement to consider issues of race and class, as well as gender: it may be cheaper to buy a McDonald's so-called 'Happy Meal' than organic, fair-trade, cruelty-free foods. And as we know, the majority of people living in poverty are likely to be people of colour due to the institutionalised racism of western societies.

Building alliances and coalitions

This is why it's important to build coalitions and raise awareness of the intersectionalities of oppression: to realise that our fight for justice as women, as feminists, is inextricably linked to racism, homo/transphobia, class and speciesism as well as the devastating destruction of the planet and the damage to our health through unethical corporations' promotion of products that they deceitfully label 'food'.

That's not to say it's an easy thing to do. Building alliances often means acknowledging our privileges and making major changes to our behaviour, actions and lifestyles. As Breeze Harper in her video Would You Harbor Me? points out: Transformation is not comfortable. It's hard because much of how we build our identities is through processes that perpetuate privileges of gender, race and species membership.

Two things tend to happen, Harper says, when one person goes to another and says, "Your actions (whether they be sexist, racist, homo/transphobic or speciesist) are hurting me, I find them problematic - can we talk about it?"

The first is the person challenged goes on the defensive and refuses to acknowledge that what they are doing is impacting negatively on others. The second is that person may have an epiphany and then be consumed with shame or guilt at their lack of awareness and for having contributed to the suffering of others.

We all come to realisations at different points in our lives as our knowledge and awareness increases. So while as feminists we may be (finally) open to acknowledging that it's not acceptable for us to be racist or homo/transphobic, this consciousness needs also to extend to us not being speciesist.

The multi-billion-dollar animal agriculture industries have done an outstanding job of promoting images of 'happy cows' willingly giving up their milk and concealing the torturous practices in all forms of animal farming, including those outlined earlier in this article.

Farmed animals feel pain, fear, loss, grief. By consuming their bodies and excretions we give our approval to them being tortured and abused. As feminists we must hold ourselves to ethical standards that align with and are considerate of the struggles of others, including non-humans, otherwise we are no better than the patriarchy that seeks to dominate and oppress us as women.

It's not a case of fighting for EITHER human OR animal rights, for being involved in feminist causes OR animal causes. You don't need to attend an anti-vivisection demonstration instead of starting up a rape crisis centre, but we can choose not to support the exploitation of non-humans in our day-to-day consumption - and especially at feminist conferences.

Image courtesy of Jenny Downing http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenny-pics/2432117840/ issued under Creative Commons Licence http://www.creativecommons.org

DE April 27


What I learned in GWSS 3004W?
Coming into a feminism class I thought that the class was going to be a lot different than it turned out. As a misinformed male, I thought that it was going to be bashing and blaming men for what has happened with inequality amongst the genders. I realized that it was nothing of that sorts and that was the farthest thing from the truth. I learned more about how education and having others open their minds is the key to equality. The only thing to blame for the inequality is the system of miseducation and arrogance by both men and women that perpetuate the cycle.

What can be changed for next semester?
THe most challenging part of this class that I had and it seemed as if others had was the amount of prior experience one needs to start this class. Maybe their should be prerequisites? It seemed like a lot of the vocabulary and topics were a bit academic and went over my head. In my opinion it may be better to bring it down to a more real life situation based course.

Ben Franklin.jpg

Above is a link to an article I read in the New York Times recently. It's a fascinating piece of history, and speaks volumes to family values, choices, opportunity, and gendered circumstances.

Two family members, two futures, two worlds.

How does the demolishing of her house contribute to the lack of concern we give in education for "her" history ?

How does Jane's life situation speak to opportunity and equality, more specifically the importance of opportunity and equality in the 21st century?

What other stories about other women are out there that are undocumented and unappreciated and learned from today?

DE for april 27


In this final blog direct engagement for Group B, I would like you to reflect on the class and what you learned this semester. You could write about:

  • one of your favorite readings
  • how your understanding of feminism has been influenced by our discussions/readings/papers 
  • your thoughts about our blog and the blogging experience
  • whatever else you want to write about in relation to the class.
Also, I will be teaching this class again next fall. What advice would you give students who will be taking it then?

Group B should post your entries by Monday evening. Groups C and D should post your comments by Wednesday at noon. 

Are "Family Oriented" Magazines a Feminist Issue...


I was looking through my mom's magazines and came across Family Circle. The images were all flowers and laced in pink. The magazine claimed to have, "quick-fixing, delicious recipes ... do-it-yourself decorating ideas ... fashion and beauty secrets ... plus advice for raising a healthy, happy family - and more!" The pages were covered with predominately white mothers and their smiling children..no fathers, gay couples, different races, trans couples, etc. What do magazines like this say about "family values?" I looked further on their website and there's a "Momster" blog. What does this say to fathers/trans/gay couples who are interested in bettering their families? Why aren't other genders and races included?

Panel Discussion


In the Panel Discussion on April 18th, Chavez talked about the coalition movement. She spoke about a re-imagining of belonging, where queer politics and immigration policy meet. Much of her discussion was on the Dream Act. The Dream Act has many parallels to queer LGBT movements with the idea of "coming out". The concept was that the knowledge of coming out will compel change. The primary goal of the Dream Act, however, was singular, focusing only on the passing of the act. This ignored the intersectionality and layers of power/categories that are related to the issues the act addresses. Although word about the act was vast, media was manipulated and much discussion was on this topic, in the end the Dream Act failed to pass.

During the Q&A time Chavez explained her perspective of coalitions. She stated that if one is not shaken to the bone then they are not participating fully in a coalition. She spoke about how coalitions are about pushing boundaries. One thing that really resided with me while listening to Chavez and the other panel members was when someone asked how to create a coalition that expanded to a larger culture and how is it possible to create possibilities for social change. What Morris discussed ignited thoughts to flame in my mind. He responded by saying how the education curriculum needs to be manipulated for change; how this change can also be achieved through legislation. That the seed bed of interest that was planted in the past must be attended to and we must "trouble the notion of socialization". What are ways we can trouble the idea of socialization when so many systems are institutionalized and influential? Do you trouble socialization? Have you ever?

News from our Families


Chavez's talk about "News from our Families: at the Borders Talk" featured Dr. Daniel Brauer, Dr. Charles Morris. This talk addressed the LGBT adoption, sexual orientation, military service; hate crime law, call for immigration equality, a change in anti-discrimination laws against LGBT people and also a call for coalition. These speakers were able to discuss the pain and oppression faced by gay, lesbians, and undocumented workers by presenting stories regarding HIV positive born child with two gay parents, military services against homosexuality, and so on. For instance, Dr. Morris was able to discuss this hardship in details sharing with us a news story that featured a boy born with HIV with two gay men as parents. With this story, he was able to discuss the rejections faced by these two gay men to serve as a parent and how it eventually became a positive influence on the community after the child died. These speakers were also able to discuss how homosexuality is viewed as a degrading act among military men and women. Also how they viewed homosexuality as an act that would create an acceptable risk to the high standard of moral and discipline that are the essence of military capability.
At the end of their talks, they were able to call for a need for belonging that "calls us to reckon with the ways in which we are oppressed so that we may place ourselves where we can have an impact and where we can share experience". They discussed a need for a "change for legalization not acceptance". They also encouraged the audience to share their stories because "our lives and stories serve as a tool for political change".

EC Who's University


I went to the panel discussion for the Who's University and was struck by the many issues and steps forward the university needs to take to make our institution open and assessable to more people. The panel members spoke patiently about how they feel about their departments access to funding, staff, and also the student's within there said spaces. This relates to feminism because the women's study department is also one that has had problems with funding and other issues of accessibility to different groups of people in different spaces. In a time of economic trouble some of the ethnic study departments are being faced with a chances of being eliminated and the panel spoke avidly about how we as a university need to work together and challenge this possibility. The Chicano Studies panel member said that this day isn't about 1 group; its about a history we all share, and who's knowledge is address and heard. Basically he is posing the question of who is learning from the texts the university provides, what group is being represented, and what skills are being transferred and who will those skills benefit. This day was meant to raise awareness about who is being represented and who needs to be represented. The panel members want to produce citizen members that can produce and transform the U.S. and the University especially into an institution welcoming to all groups and welcoming all people into those said spaces. I think this day was very important because they are asking us to think about the future and anticipate what it will look like and how the U will accommodate the needs of the population in the future. These questions are important and students, staff, and community member need to be aware. We need to set high expectations for the U and we all need to work together to make those goals possibilities.

Whose University- E.C.


After working a bit with the Whose U campaign, and attending the teach-in and final performance yesterday I am struck by the ways in which the campaign itself poses questions present in much of feminist discourse. Whose University puts into question the priorities that the U of M claims to have and contrasts those with which programs are funded, which populations of people, and which types of knowledge are supported within the institution. Whose U poses the questions of, "who has access" "whose knowledge is valued" and "who is supported". The Day Of Education presented us with tangible evidence regarding the answers to those questions. Students from the U of M's cultural centers created consciousness around the importance of spaces in which minorities groups can find support, and with the presence of hundreds high school students I was continually reminded of why it's important to challenge any movement towards elimination of these spaces.
While Whose U focused specifically on the priorities and accessibility of the U of M, questions concerning support, access, and the value of certain kinds of knowledge over others are questions that are continuously posed within feminist discourse.



Dr. Daniel Brower, Dr. Charles Morris, and Dr. Chavez were the featured panelists at the seminar featured at Humphrey Hall. All three gave great insight regarding the queer movement. My particular interest was sparked when Dr. Charles Morris, Boston College, gave his insight. Dr. Morris began his speech discussing a New York Times Article titled, "Against All Odds, a Beautiful Life." This news story discusses a little boy with two gay men as parents. Their son Maurice, that they adopted, was born in 1990 with AIDS as he was born to a crack-addicted mother. His sister, Michelle was not as fortunate and lived only 20 months. Maurice got lucky I would say with the two gay men as they were looking to take in a child with serious medical needs. After being told he would only live 6 months he began to thrive. In 1996, Tim and Tim adopted him becoming the first gay couple in Washington to adopt a child. Christmas 2002, Maurice's parents bought him a horse. This was not standard for the town they lived in and they became the talk of town with it. His life seemed to be going great until he caught pneumonia, sepsis, and had acute renal failure. "It's time" was his famous phrase as his time was approaching. His funeral drew 500 people as he died at the young age of 20 on January 14, 2011. This family, although unique, was talk of the town. Although this couple exemplifies anything but the norm, we see the positive effect throughout the community. This story was really great to hear and really inspiring to advocates fighting for this cause. It was truly inspiring to me and a really incredible story Dr. Charles Morris shared.


Whose University?


From my understanding the Whose University event is about promoting equal access and opportunities for underrepresented groups at the University of Minnesota. This issue has arose because the space designated for certain cultural centers in second floor Coffman Union are being threatened. This event was designed to bring visibility to these issues and put pressure on the administration to listen to the students, the people whose lives are affected by these changes.

I attended the 3:00 presentation featuring various dance and step groups. There was a live DJ and a light party mood throughout the room. The event starts with two men from a fraternity doing some sort of step dance and chant. Each of the speakers had an uplifting message that "our" [student] voices matter; it seemed basically like a rally for change. For example, one of the rapper's rapped,"we need choices, we need justice, we need action." At one point leaders of certain groups spoke about the need for student voices to be heard, and even more importantly the voice of the underrepresented. I thought this event was a breath of fresh air because it showed students doing something to get their voices heard. The men up on top may think they have all the power but the students that go to this school and study here should have a say. I think the students who organized Whose University showed just that.

Check out this video on "Science on Sexual Orentiation":

What do you think?

This talk featured three scholars (Dr. Daniel Brauer, Dr. Charles Morris, and Dr. Karma Chavez) with concentrations ranging from queer rhetoric, communication, queer/feminist/race theory, and the queer migration research network. The speakers addressed several different parallels that included true stories between soldier funerals and sexuality, HIV positive-born news headlines, re-imagining belonging, and between coming out in undocumented workers and with sexuality. Specifically, Chavez spoke about coalition moments and re-imagining belonging. She addressed how queer and immigration politics united. One of the examples she gave was an image of Coming Out of the Closet Day (sexuality) 88comingout.gif and the image of undocumented workers using the phrase "coming out" to campaign that they were coming out as "undocumented and unafraid" as Chavez described it (Dream Act). 2011comingout.jpg Chavez's correlation described "coming out" as something that you would tell people about your "status" (so say sexual orientation or as an undocumented worker) that you normally wouldn't. The undocumented were different in the message she stated, because they did not want to stop at acceptance, they wanted change. I enjoyed the talk, but wished Chavez would have spoke more.

DE April 20th Family Unvalues


In this class we frequently address the language or rhetoric that is correlated to feminism and feminist discourse. For example, it was brought up that "family values" is a concept that is in the cloud shared with the nuclear family, Christian heterosexual privileges, and the American Dream. We discussed that "family values" can be simply just words that mean different things to different race, class, genders, religions, etc. When reading Family Unvalued, I took close notice to the Glossary. I found myself wanting to make flashcards of these terms (one of my ways I can guarantee I will remember vocabulary). Many of the words in the Glossary were not familiar to me; unless I'm just an unacknowledged U.S. 21 year-old girl, which completely could be the case, I would expect that these words are unfamiliar to many people in the United States. For example, I can guarantee that out of my three roommates, no one could describe the different types of visa or maybe even the difference between several gender identities; to be honest I would guess that they would never know how to use these terms because they wouldn't want to offend someone - I guess I just don't know or I don't trust certain websites to give me a direct yes or no answer. But is that just ignorance? Should everyone know these words and how to use them in the correct context? It could be, and I believe that it is in some situations. I wish I could have said I knew these terms before I took BIO 1003 the Biology of Sex or even this class, but I willingly put myself in those classes to learn more about the topics that I truly didn't cross paths with in my daily life.

I digress, but I feel that the play on words is what is discussed many times in "Family Unvalued." The same-sex couples that wrote about expiring visas for their loved ones had to state, "'I am very proud to be an AMERICAN...'" (Family Unvalued, 8) or bring up "'I am also a veteran of the United States Navy and have done my time and service to my country,'" in attempt to sway the judge's opinion on keeping her partner from New Zealand in the U.S. (Family Unvalued, 9).

I don't know how to sum up my confusion, but the power of words is used for people to defend the "marriage is between a man and a woman," or it can be used to promote the famous statement that Harvey Milk said in one of his speeches, "All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words."

DE April 20


Chavez discusses the use of normalizing rhetoric used by immigrant and LGBT communities. We saw examples of this in Maid in America when the domestic worker's union talked about how they obeyed laws and paid their taxes.

According to Chavez, these communities imitate heteronormativity in order to gain legitimacy. Chavez talks about this with a sort of contempt, putting "family values" and similar terms in quotes.

Yet Chavez also recognizes that to act differently is very difficult, and highlights the class aspect of behaving differently.

I'm still kind of confused about the central argument of the piece. Chavez doesn't seem to be making suggestions about whether or not to adopt heteronormative family values; there seems to be a more subtle point about legislation and coalitions.

In "Families, Unvalued" and "Border (In)Securities" both focused on the more conservative family values as well as the more "radical" ones. The Human Rights Watch piece was working within the system of immigration in the U.S. with portraying homosexual couples as having that "norm" sense of family values. The people whose stories were featured usually had children, were white middle class, were successful and had access to lawyers etc. This picture seems more relatable for those conservative individuals/lawmakers who are having a hard time getting past the homosexual aspect of it. Chavez questions this approach, basically saying it is too exclusive of other family values/ways of life/"non-normal" families. "Families, Unvalued" holds the institution of marriage as the standard for families. Chavez questions this in her piece saying that working within this system, using marriage as a standard, is ignoring the other "sub culture" because they are too different. I feel like these two pieces boil down to this very point: working within the system vs. working outside it. My question is how do you work outside it and still make concrete (new laws/reform) progress? A student said today in class that it seemed like the Human Rights Watch piece was a liberal way of fighting for progress, while Chavez is more radical. I feel like there should be a point when the two merge, but I am unable to identify what that would look like, ha.

Direct Engagement April 20th


Reading Family Unvalued the family setting/dynamic that is being primarily discussed is that of a same-sex relationship in which one of the partners is of immigrant status. Border (In) Securities highlighted problems within the Family Unvalued of classism, homonormativity, and privilege. Prevailing themes discussed in the articles regarding family values were:

*rights/ acknowledgment
*good/bad citizen
*civil marriage/gay marriage

The articles both touch on a lack of recognition of entire family units and individuals within the families. Specifically addressed were same sex family units that were dealing with immigration. Chavez mentions a conforming of same sex couples to "traditional" family values rather than challenging the various systems of oppression. Both articles address problems of marginalization and belonging, which both effect immigrants and individuals who "deviate" from societal norms. The "deviation" of these people is what causes "threat" to the nation via a number of things including race, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship, families, etc.

Is media like this a feminist issue?


Do videos like this one, by Jenna Marbles, pose a "threat" to our society? Do they tell us that being beautiful/maintaining status is more important than an education and career? Of course this is a little bit ridiculous and sarcastic, but does it hold a deeper meaning for what our society really values? (It does have over 15 million hits.)

D.E. April 20


As I was reading the pieces for this week, I first started by reading Family, Unvalued, after I got through a couple pages I turned to Border (In)Securities where I became aware of the ulterior motive behind Family, Unvalued. Chavez explains that Family, Unvalued uses a strategic homonormative discourse of middle class family values to accomplish a number of objectives that foremost include: introducing the reader to the serious harm that bi national same-sex families endure as a result of current immigration laws; and making recommendations for different bodies of the US gov't on how to remedy the aforementioned problems.(140) More specifically, it's main goal was to pass the Uniting American Families Act, which would change the word "spouse" to "permanent partner." This is problematic because it only allows those reading this piece to view LGBT people through a homonormative lens. As Jackson brought up in class today, I also find the line on pg. 141 interesting..."Although this story involves some queer slippage, as the two scribbled numbers with a drag queen's eyeliner, the transition to their lives in the US quickly reiterates normative narrative as they struggle to provide for their child and do whatever they can to keep their family together." It implies that the slippage was somewhat of an accident. That it would need to be an accident for a man to disclose how him and his partner met if it includes any LGBT reference. Even the mention of the word drag queen, and one might scare off the heteronormative legislatures. Chavez goes onto explain that each bi national LGBT story used in Family, Unvalued is described along traditional notions of the American family. The same questions keep passing through my head, what is normal? Who defines it? Why is it defined? Why are certain people excluded? Chavez goes on to explain how Family, Unvalued fails to address certain groups, those that are underprivileged or not in position to have their voices heard. Unfortunately, Family, Unvalued, had a calculated motive so the issues it presented were exclusionary. Although it touches upon a variety of abstruse issues, it doesn't fully disclose the range of issues at hand.

DE for 4/20

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Both authors discuss a sense of belonging and the norm. However, not all groups are considered "good" or normal. Classifying someone as law abiding is somewhat unrelated to the issue of belonging. Many legal immigrants/citizens of the United States are still not law abiding even if they fit into the model of acceptable. I believe this goes for being lazy, stupid, being responsible, doing things the "right" way, etc. And what about "threats" to typical family values? How is different still such a threat to our society? Obviously the way we're doing things is oppressive and unsuccessful. Isn't no change more threatening than acceptance?

Another question I have lies within the determination that same-sex marriage is not recognized by the state. Being a straight, middle class, white Americans is what's acceptable. This debate has always had a simple answer, in my eyes: church and state are separate. How can the government decide this matter? Isn't it unconstitutional? Why are all political leaders hesitant to change it? Sexual orientation is not easily seen as color, for example, so how can a movement like the Civil Rights Movement even be relevant? It's not so blatantly obvious, or in lawmakers faces, so is this the reason they continue to deprive these citizens' (or non-citizens') of a simple right? How can our government say fall in love with this person, of this color, within our own country, as discussed in "Families, Unvalued?" And if they can say this, is it because we're fearful of the threat that people of other nationalities/from other countries pose a "threat" to the way our society functions now?

There are several terms that still raise questions for me, personally. In particular, homo- and heter- normativity. (What exactly classifies as normal within both contexts? Who gets to decide normal? Is it possible to question this normativity if we're outside that realm, and if so, do we have to define our own normal? The word queer within the LGBT community,and widespread also raises questions for me. Queer, to me, seems to be a mostly derogatory term socially, overall. (At least from my perspective and understanding.) To me it seems like referring to oneself, when gay/lesbian/trans, is comparable to an African American person calling themselves the "N" word. I'm not trying to offend anyone, by any means, but from my experience this seems to be the case and I'd like clarification from someone who has a personal opinion/experience more relevant than my own.

Stage 2: Analyzing Resources/ Carly Schomaker


Source*: Youtube video Tropes vs. Women: #2 Women in Refrigerators

Part One: This source is relevant to the topic our group choose because it discusses the negative aspects of some popular comic books that children read and how these perceptions of women super heroes can affect the children reading them. The image portrayed of the women super heroes is more often than not very harsh. This video displays the many ways women super heroes are perpetuating defensive stereotypes. When these comic books portray women loosing super powers, being thrown off towers by male super heroes, having children kidnapped, women being cheated on, tortured, and highly sexualized visions, etc children are gaining a negative portrayal of the women characters. This information given in the video is valuable because it shows how different portrayals of women in popular reading material among children can further defend stereotypes affecting women. These stereotypes are being shown to children at very young ages and this can be a concern for many parents.

Part Two: This source and other youtube videos are readily available to people that have internet access. People that are curious about issues with comic books and common negative portrayals of women in the media can be found easily by doing a quick search in youtube. I think that youtube can be helpful to a lot of people because it can touch a population that may not be able to read well or may only read in a different language. A lot of the time people who speak a different language can still understand English when it is spoken to them. Also, sometimes people don't want to read a long article expressing ideas like the ones portrayed in this youtube video and these kinds of videos are a great alternative. People can simply listen to the ideas expressed and watch visual examples as ideas are being expressed verbally, which may be a much more favorable alternative for some people.

Day Twenty-two: April 18


Check out the bonus extra credit possibility on the DE for this week.

Some thoughts about your papers:

The different feminist perspectives that you discuss should be taken directly from our readings and films. One other goal of this paper is to demonstrate that you have read and can engage with our course readings, so make sure that your articulation of the different perspectives is based on articles/authors that we read. 

This is a feminist issue because...pink nail polish (from Annslie and mcfad0067) and more on Transparent and gender policing

Here are some of my notes for our discussion of Chávez today.

Stage 2: Assessing Resources/Kim Ayres


Stage 2: Assessing Resources

One: I am assessing the relevance for the TIME magazine resource named, "Not So Pretty in Pink: Are Girls' Toys Too Girly?" I liked this article as a resources for analyzing feminism in the media, how it is created, and how young girls are affected by the objects that are advertised to their gender and age-group. TIME magazine is known for addressing the issues for the people so possibly unlike other resources used in our project, the article is not written by a feminist and the audience is not necessarily only feminists. This article introduces the advocacy group, Pinkstinks, that is mentioned in another article for our group, but the fact that TIME is publishing the  article means it is not necessarily just for feminist viewers, but to introduce the idea to the public. One of the main ideas for feminism is to get people to understand and listen to the issues that should be addressed, this article is coming from a magazine with a broad range of people's issues.

Two: This resource is very accessible to the community and the public. TIME is known as one of the largest weekly news magazine, if not the largest with a wide range of domestic U.S. viewers, but a large global audience. One of the barriers of this resource is that TIME is in a partnership by CNN. CNN claims to emphasize its strictly factual news, but its ratings have been falling in the past year whereas news stations like Fox News that are criticized for having a right-winged sway on the stories portrayed are experienced increases in viewers: "CNN continued what has become a precipitous decline in ratings for its prime-time programs in the first quarter of 2010, with its main hosts losing almost half their viewers in a year." (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business/media/30cnn.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=cnn%20fails%20to%20stop%20fall%20in%20ratings&st=cse ) The barrier that this TIME article may have is the decline in viewers with its partner news distributer. It seems as though all news media have a magnifying glass over them in the current state. This article seems to provide a solid story about where the specific feminist issue of girls and media advertisements are a sign of the Western projection of gender roles. This resource seems to be very accessible; when I first found the resource, it was used as a link from a feminist blog.

DE- April 20th


Within "Border (In)Securities" as well as "Families, Unvalued", the authors spend a great deal of time reconstructing the breadth of family values, and in the case of the Chavez reading critically analyzing the ways in which those values are framed and problematized. "Families, Unvalued" seeks to revolutionize the ways in which marriage has become an exclusively heterosexual privilege in spite of the fact that historically the institution was fought for as a right for all people. This piece further seeks to expand our understanding of family values by uprooting the nuclear family construct and providing examples of "non-normative" family structures (particularly gay and lesbian, and bi-national couples), and spaces such as South Africa in which these family structures are supported in their own right.
While ultimately both of these readings seek to critically engage with the idea of family values and the restrictions placed upon individuals due to the enforcement of these "values", the Chavez takes a more radical stance at doing so. "Border (In)Securities" looks at the ways in which the systems seeking change oftentimes create exclusions by attempting to work within the system they are trying to uproot. Chavez continually reminds us of the push and pull between assimilation and revolution, particularly as it is framed within works such as "Families, Unvalued." Within this framework, we are forced to examine who is left out of the picture when "Families, Unvalued" constructs narratives around seemingly "non-normative" family values and family structures. Chavez highlights the ways in which organizations frequently attempt to assimilate non-conforming individuals and couples into normative frameworks in working towards equality for these individuals. "Border (In)Securities" was eye opening in that it forces us to grapple with the was in which we create further exclusions as we try to create inclusive spaces within a system already fraught with oppression.



Jennifer Hejna
Source: Disneyfamily.com
Part one: This source is very relevant to the topic our group will be focusing on. It discusses the effects of toys (such as dolls) and their effect on children's image. The source seems reliable; it appears to be more of a forum of where authors can post their ideas about children. It is not a scholarly source that would make it more trustworthy. The information is valuable in that it discusses issues that concerns parents about their children. They present and discuss the issue and offer recommendations for parents when raising their own children. Many of these concerns brought up are concerns many parents have.

Part Two: These sources are very accessible to those who have access to computers and the internet. If parents or just curious parties are searching for this type of information when choosing toys for their children, this site if very simple to find. I simply "google" searched children and toys and this was one of my first options. It was not an article I had to really dig around for and it gave very relevant information. If people do not have access to these sources then it is not as easily accessible. Those who maybe cannot afford to have the internet or computers do not have the easy access to read this article. There are also parents who did not grow up with the internet and do not know it in quite the way the younger generation does. For those individuals without a computer, many local public libraries offer the use of their computers. They could also contact friends to use their computers. The older generation that does not know computers as well could attend classes or ask those who are educated with this technology to assist them. There are many ways in which people can access this information without a computer if they have the desire to use this type of media.

Stage Two- The Beauty Myth

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Source: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/45134.html
Part One: I found this source to be very relevant to the topic, as it directly discusses the issues surrounding conceptions of female beauty within feminism, and offers multiple feminist views concerning 'ideal' beauty and the implications of society's emphasis on female beauty. I also found the source to be moderately reliable, as it was posted on an "opinion" web forum and not in a peer-reviewed journal, which would have required that scholars within the field critique the article. However, it is still moderately reliable, because the author draws from outside sources within the field of feminism. The information presented within the article is incredibly valuable, as Phelan not only brings to light the common beauty rituals that we as a society take for granted (waxing, makeup, shaving, etc.), but also what purpose these rituals might serve, and how these rituals might be oppressive.

Part Two:This resource is accessible to anyone with access to the Internet, which, in some communities, might be very limited, or even nonexistent. Also, while the article is itself geared toward a more general audience, it requires that the audience be somewhat familiar with feminism and the issues that some feminists might have with society's conception of female beauty. Therefore, I would say that the source is only widely accessible to people of middle- to upper class with high school or college education.

Source: Blog.shrub.com
Part One: This blog is relevant to our topic The Beauty Myth in that it has several posts that discuss this phenomenon. They discuss this in regards to gaming, to one's personal perception of their body, and to society's expectations, pressures and perception of bodies in the binary gender context. Although the bloggers are not well known they seem to care about the topics they discuss and promote discussion on these issues. The reader must keep in mind, however, these are the points of view of individuals and they can be engaged with and challenged. With this understanding I believe the information is valuable in that it can arouse curiosity in order to dig in deeper and challenge one's own beliefs on the topic in conjuncture with the blog's stance.

Part Two: This resource is quite accessible to those with Internet access. However, like many blog and websites one must be looking for the topics/issues it pertains to specifically in order to engage with the website. In order to get a wider audience publicity is needed. This can come from those who follow the blog telling those close to them about it (word by mouth) or through other ads and websites (one that comes to mind in stumbleupon.com). With trusting followers to perk up interest and curiosity in their acquaintances and loved ones, and by using sources that a large diverse population uses for many means, they may be able to have more conversations and more of an impact with a even more diverse group of people.


Stage 2: Women in Hip Hop Source Analysis


Assessing resources - Sex, Politics and Hip Hop
by Amy Peterson
is going to be a great one for us because it has so many diverse opinions,
links, conversations, and readings. It is very relevant since it is being
updated currently and is exactly pin-pointed to the topic. The
"trustworthiness" of it depends on what information you take. If you
look at the readings you can be sure that they are from feminist sources
but if you look at the blogs you must realize that they are reactions to
the material and may include the bloggers opinion.
Accessiblity really depends on what you mean by it if you are talking
physically accessible then this is accessible to most people since it is
easily searchable in Google. The only real barrier being if you do not own
a computer and/or are not familiar with blogs. I can see how the lay-out of
something like this can be confusing to someone who is not familiar with
it. Another issue would be the terminology used in some of the postings. If
you are not a gender studies major or have no background in suck it may be
difficult to understand the analysis being done on the information.

Prof Isoke's statement that: "This is the place to blog about all
things hip hop: women and hip hop, gender and hip hop, politics and hip
hop, hip hop and social justice, hip hop homos, hip hop moms, ... the list
goes on. Be heard!" is helpful in making the reader understand that this
is a safe place to express yourself regarding these subjects.

*Gender Across Borders (GAB)*
by Katelynn Monson
Gender Across Boarders is a blog created to grapple with Feminist issues
using the resources of a global Feminist community. Any individual can
connect with GAB through their blog, Facebook page, or twitter account; they
even provide an email list for those individuals that prefer to be
individually reached. Gender Across Boarders is an open blog willing to
accept new writers from all over the world (with little, some, or a lot of
previous blogging experience) leaving their blog open to Feminists
everywhere with a variety of opinions on numerous issues within Feminism
(gender, race, sexuality, patriarchy). Many issues are organized into
series making them more accessible for readers interested in a specific
aspect of Feminism. Since GAB encourages a variety of writers to submit
their work, they admit that they are not an academic journal, and while they
will post academic pieces, they will not be exclusive to that. They say
this is because GAB is organized to be easily accessible for every kind of
reader, and must include a plethora of styles so anyone can find something
to read, engage with, and enjoy. Primarily GAB is an English language blog,
but they do accept articles written in any other language (as long as they
are accompanied by a good English translation to be read and edited before
okayed for publishing). The information GAB provides, although not always
being "academic" is highly eclectic and affective towards to the goal of a
Feminist aware world. It is open to anyone and is a site for everybody to
read, while also requiring source material and fostering researched
opinions, not merely un-objective points of view that encourage discussion
and dissection.

On issues of accessibility all mediums that require computers have a barrier
to the poor, who are ironically often focused on in Feminist debates
concerning equality. They lack the resources many times to afford
computers, smart phones, or electronic readers leaving Feminism at a
disadvantage using social media when raising awareness in these populations.
People living too far outside of the city limits may live in "dead spots"
where internet or cell phone service may not be available. Certain
communities don't believe in technology or the modern world like the Amish,
and many others are still wary of the use of computer technology because of
privacy issues. In addition, elderly populations who haven't grown up with
computer technology may want to engage with these debates but not know how
to operate computers or navigate the internet, and they may have no idea how
to find classes or people to help them.

Queen Latifah "Ladies First"
by Sara Huebschen
The information presented in this song is very relevant because it is a first hand example of women in hip hop, specifically as artists (in contrast to being subjects of the music, rather than the creators). It is trustworthy because it is not an opinion or an article, but an actual example of the topic, and it presents very valuable information because of that very reason. It is a source that can be examined and discussed in itself.

This video is found on Youtube, which is a very popular site and well known and accessible among internet users. However, it is a site where you primarily have to search for something specific to access information or be watching something similar for it to show up as a recommendation. This limits the people who would likely be viewing it not only to people with the class privilege to be accessing the internet on a system that can watch videos and on Youtube, but also people who are specifically seeking it out or music that is similar to it.
Additionally, there is the fact that it is only accessible (and understandable) to English-speaking people, as a translating program would not work since there is no transcript provided for the song and it is in video form.

Prepare Yourself
by Ashley Probst
1.This source, I feel, is quite relevant. It highlights music that is popularized right now and talks about issues that are facing hip artists of today, as well as a few decades ago. They also feature music from many female hip hop artists.
2.The blog/archive is created by Marcyliena Morgan, who is a professor in the department of African and African American Studies at Harvard. The archive recognizes how influential hip hop has been and still is among youth and young adults. "The Hiphop Archive organizes and develops collections, initiates and participates in research activities, sponsors events and acquires material culture associated with Hiphop in the U.S. and throughout the world" (Hip Hop Archive). The people who work on the site do a lot of research for what goes into you. You can view all of the scholars who work on it and view all of their citation information. I feel the site is very trustworthy.
3.The feminist part, or the women in hip hop section, of the site gives valuable resources for those who are interested in women artists. It also gives different opinions and interviews on how women are portrayed in hip hop/music videos etc. I think there could be more but the information is definitely valuable.

The accessibility to this site is limited. In my opinion, only those who know Professor Morgan, attend Harvard or are in the artistic/music scene would even stumble upon this site. I didn't see it until I typed in a very specific phrase when searching for sources. Although, the issue of women in hip hop may seem only relatable to those making music or being involved with that type of scene, the images we see of women in music videos, or the lyrics we hear about women on the radio affects us all. Some people even try and relate to those songs/videos too much. This site would be more beneficial if more people were able to access the information.
I think there should be facebook options/pages for this site and possibly a twitter with a common tag so that people could find it easily. I think many women and men would have things to say about the issue of women in hip hop and their portrayal, and more female artists would be able to get their names out there. However, I really don't know how you get people to notice pages/sites that have information they don't really think they are interested in. When you get to the hip hop archive, you have to click on the tab that says women in hip hop, so even people getting to the site can avoid seeing all that information. This is another barrier. Perhaps a separate page for women in hip hop would be the most beneficial.

Is Hip Hop Feminism Alive in 2011?
by Katherine King
My source was Akoto Ofori-Atta's article, "Is Hip Hop Feminism Alive in 2011?" I found it on theroot.com and thought it was really valuable to our group's examination of women in hip-hop. Just like other different forms of feminism, hip-hop feminists look at women's rights in a genre and culture that have many conflicting messages about what a hip-hop generation woman should look like, how she should participate in the music, and the value of her contribution.
Near the end of the article the author uses Nicki Minaj as an example of a highly visible hip hop artist who has publicly "challenged" sexual norms by openly addressing her bi curiousity and sexualized performances. Her image is constantly changing and heavily shaped by appearance and identity factors. What the author wanted to know is what this says for "the next" Nicki Minaj. How will Nicki's performances and contributions to hip hop set the stage (no pun intended) for future generations of women who love hip hop but don't know how to engage in a male-dominated genre? The author talks about different definitions of feminism and the needs of the hip hop community, and whereas I think she could have gone more into how the music translates to real life relationships, she did a good job highlighting the importance of studying hip hop feminism in 2011.
This article is relevant to men and women of the hip hop generation because the Nicki Minaj's of America are there to influence the way young women feel about themselves and their partners. Everyone is affected by it, even if they are not a hip hop generationer (born 18965-1985). That generation is so large and ubiquitous, the problems afflicting the group affect the larger population as well.
I think the link is trustworthy. When I looked up sources for hip hop feminism, I wanted something more credible than a blog and something more reader-friendly than one of FEW scholarly peer reviewed journals online.
The Root is a daily online magazine that engages contemporary issues with "a variety of black perspectives". It is aimed at anyone interested in black culture around the world.
The editor-in-chief, Henry Lousi Gates Jr. is a distinguished professor who holds degrees and Ph.Ds in black and cultural studies from various Ivy League universities. He was even named one of the "100 Most Influential Black Americans" by Ebony magazine in 2005.
The author, Akoto Ofori-Atta, earned a masters' from Georgetown and works for The Root as a freelance writer. I think they are qualified to address feminist issues and I trust that even if I don't agree with an editorial, the people hired to write for The Root are well-informed and know how to present information.
The website is accessible for anyone who has the internet and is aware of the website's existence. It is also available on other social media outlets, like Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feed, ipod/iPhone apps, and even podcasts. It's also easy to find a phone number and street address, which makes me think that The Root values communication with readers and encourages feedback of any kind.
The only barrier to access I could find was just limited to internet accessibility. They have The Root in so many different forms, that with the ubiquity of public computers today, I believe that the only way they could make it more accessible would be to print it on paper.
The Root seems to support discussion from all angles, so provided the readers can access the material, I don't believe that they are trying to restrict their reader demographic in any way. The content ranges from global politics to pop culture but is not written informally or over the heads of a casual reader. Because of this variety, I think that they are consciously working on extending accessibility to anyone who wants to learn more about black culture.

This is a feminist Issue....J Crew Ad


There seems to be a huge controversy over an ad published by J.Crew. I received the ad myself via email and thought nothing of it. However all the major networks felt differently as they all reported on this. Specialists were brought in to comment on apparent "gender bending" that occurred in this ad. Some claimed that the ad was promoting the feminizing little boys. It seemed a little crazy to make such a big deal about about a mother and child having a little fun. Is this gender bending? If it is why is that an issue? Why is it ok to make girls act more like boy but not the other way around? Was this ad meant to promote so called "gender bending" or was it just designed to promote J.Crew?

This link is just one of many about this topic.


Stage 2- Body Product Ads and Gender


Thanh, Meghan, Jordan, Madeleine, Courtney.

1. (Thanh)
We're surrounded by advertisements that desperately compete for our attention. Everywhere we look, we find ourselves inevitably drawn to images of scantily clad attractive men and women that are supposed to somehow inspire us to purchase products they endorse. Sure, this attention-getting strategy is popular. But, is it effective?

Sex appeal can increase the effectiveness of an ad or commercial because it attracts the customer's attention. It's human nature to be curious about sex. A pair of long legs on a billboard is more likely to catch (and hold) a guy's attention than a puppy, regardless of how cute it may be. Even women are drawn to them, perhaps with the desire of having goddess-like legs.

The purpose of advertising is to convince people that products are of use to them in one way or another. If people agree, they will buy them. However abusing your audience's attention is a dangerous thing. Many campaigns deemed offensive have started brand boycotts that affect sales and damage brand reputation.

The website below is example of sex ads from big business:
15 Ads That Prove Sex Sells...Best?

2. (Courtney)

Bitch Media: Mad World

Part 1) The Mad World blog is from Bitch Media, the website for *Bitch*magazine. The website and blog's mission, as stated on the website, is "to provide and encourage an engaged, thoughtful feminist response to mainstream media and culture". We are studying advertisements which is a part of mainstream media, so this website has the information we need. *Bitch*magazine and its affiliated website and blogs are a part of a non-profit organization. The magazine and other *Bitch* media has been critically
acclaimed by legitimate sources, so I believe this source to be reliable.

Part 2) *Bitch* magazine is available through many different outlets. The magazine has 11,000 subscribers worldwide, the website was one of the first resources I stumbled upon while researching so I believe it gets a lot of internet traffic, 21,000 people are registered on the website. They have a facebook, a twitter, retail locations for the magazine, and downloadable
audio podcasts. This amount of media outlets and prevalence makes this a very accessible source.

3. (Meghan)
Project Muse: Advertising and Society Review

1 - This website was found using Google and helped me with some preliminary research for this particular project. After reading it through I discovered it was relevant in terms of sexual advertising in general. In focused on a variety of products, including fragrances. It asked and slightly explained the question "does sex sell?" It more asked the questions then gave a good solid response. The Muse Project sponsors the site, which is a collection of journals from non-profit publishers. The fact that they are not seeking a profit makes them a little trustworthy. This article is more explanatory and in my opinion does not really push a specific feminist agenda but simply asked the question. The same question my group is examining.

2 - These resources like many of the other resources we have used are not extremely easy for the public to access. Most people who read these articles, blogs, or other works written in or from the feminist perspective have to be looking for them. They usually don't pop-up on the front page of the New York Times or the Huffington Post and most of the time people who come across these resources are looking for a specific thing or share similar views with the writer. This particular source was found by using Google. I was looking for a specific blog or article or something relevant to our group's topic and even with a specific goal finding this source was not easy. The access to this website is not impossible but a person has to be looking for something specific.

This information could of course become more available but several things would have to happen. The information, which is readily available, is the information, which interests the most people, and sadly to say that is most often superficial information. This is why the most Googled people tend to be celebrities and not politicians or key world figures. However, this information was on the Internet and therefore anyone in the world with access to the Internet could access this computer. By making feminist issues more prevalent in peoples lives and by making the worldwide web easier to access across the globe more people will read and understand these issues better.

4. (Madeleine)
Feminine Things.

This website is very relevant to the question of the way fragrances are sold in our culture. It is written by a "perfumista" who devotes her blog to examining every imaginable aspect of perfume, its appeal, and its marketing. Because this is a woman who has set out to become an expert on her subject area, and who posts intelligent and thoughtful entries frequently, she can be considered a worthwhile voice on this topic. If we accept the premise that one does not need to be published in a scholarly journal and/or have a doctorate to be taken seriously in a subject area, then this source is certainly reliable. The entries that she writes often do not mention feminism explicitly, which in my eyes almost adds credibility because she is not relentlessly "on a mission" to prove a specific point she's already decided must be true. When she writes about feminism, it's because something has made itself clear to her even though she's been looking at the wider picture.

She does have a section of her website devoted to feminist entries she's written:

Perfume and Feminist Aesthetics

This information is valuable because it presents us with specific examples of the ideas behind the kinds of campaigns we're focusing on in our project. It also allows us to begin our thinking with an expert's musings on the subject.

This website is fairly accessible. Even though it can only be accessed via the internet, it does not require a super-fast internet connection to be read easily, the way some websites do. Any internet speed would do in viewing this site. It was also quite easy to find after a quick internet search...two of our group members found this resource, using different search terms but the same concept. It would be difficult to make this information more accessible than it is now. Anyone around the world can access it with an internet connection, including those without computers who have access to a public library. The blog is also simple to navigate, unlike, say, Twitter. Even though Twitter is also available to everyone with an internet connection, the "newness" and intricacies of Twitter can make it seem inaccessible to those who have never used or heard of it before.

5. (Jordan)
Bad Reputation

The previous website is a website targeted towards feminist bloggers that is relevant in our topic of gender roles and "sex sells." It's trustworthy/reliable because any information that is talked about, the bloggers try to supply the readers with further links or directions to go if they wanted to further look into what is discussed. The information on this blog is valuable because it is open to subscribers to express their opinions about what's going on in the media and what feminist issues they come across. It's an open space for people to bring awareness to others

and for them to speak their minds.

Some of the barriers associated with this website is that it's mainly in the U.K. I think that a big part of a website not being able to be as accessible is that it's not advertised or promoted. I found it through google and don't think that I would have come across it had I not found it through the search engine. Social media is accessible if you are searching for it. The reader must seek out these blogs and websites in order to find the information they are looking for.

Stage 2


Whose University Project Facebook Page Ana

The "Whose University" project (and web resources that the project has utilized) are hugely relevant to contemporary questions concerning who and what is privileged in academia and the University system itself. As this project is focusing on the demographic and ideological make up of the university's values, this project is dependent upon having information relevant to the ways in which certain systems and individuals are supported more than others within academia. For this reason, the information provided must be trustworthy- success of the movement depends on the accuracy of the information that is being problematized. The "Whose U" project works towards principles of feminist consciousness because it puts into question the privileging of certain bodies of knowledge over others, and certain populations over others. In looking at who is supported, and who's knowledge is valued, and who has access to the University system, "Whose U" solicits a feminist curiosity by causing us to critique the present values of the university system and the ways in which they will define the future generation of university students.
When looking at the ways in which these various movements have utilized social media as a tool for publicity and movement building, it is important to recognize the ways in which social media is limited as a means for activism. Social media must be understood as a tool for mobilization of specific communities with access to technology, but cannot be relied on for the generation of knowledge and movement mobilization by itself. It is important to remember that one must take into account the scale of the population that is being reached through social media, with recognition of the ways in which access to technology can be not only location dependent but also class dependent. When social media is used as tool for outreach, it is important to acknowledge the fact that often times the communities most in need of outreach may not have access to social media due to factors such as socioeconomic status and location. Accessibility can be maximized by critically examining which populations are important to reach within different movements. Realistically, social media can be seen as tool for publicity in support of movements that will ultimately reach people in the streets and engage with people on an interpersonal level.

Media Mobilizing Project / Youth and Education

The "Media Mobilizing Project" looks at several different sections of activism and the ways in which blogs can mobilize communities. They divide the blog into specific sub-categories such as Youth and Education, Media Mobilizing, and Labor Blog. This is extremely helpful when it comes to finding current news in social justice work relating to education and literacy since they have a special section for this topic. I believe this blog is quiet relevant to the struggle for access to higher education since they continuously dedicate space to information including videos and images of the protests that have sprung up in most states surrounding education reform. The Philly Education Justice Union submitted several posts that talked about the campaign for Non-Violent schools asking for "More classmates and less inmates". Several marches were facilitated through this social media space. This blog is all about community journalism. At the heart of their mission statement one can find key mottos such as: "Movements begin with the telling of untold stories." I think this is very telling, since the emphasis definitely is put on trying to bring the voices of the underrepresented people into virtual spaces. The blog does a wonderful job starting to recognize that many people don't have access to naturalized spaces such as the Internet. While this blog doesn't have an exclusively feminist agenda, I would argue that their work is inherently feminist since it dedicates the space to communities to spread different strategies of community activism and how to take social actions against oppressive structures such as shortage in school funding. There are several posts that talk about mothers taking actions in order to create a better future for the students/children.

ABC's and PhD's: Gender Equity in Academic Science Colter

Despite being published in late 2008, I feel that this article carries heavy relevance within academia. It argues that Title IX should be extended further than the realm of sports and opportunity, and into the world of academia and brings in to focus the question of whether programs are getting funded equally or not. The article concludes that they are not, and in the past two years the funding crisis has only gotten worse, with budget cuts come tough decisions that have left liberal arts departments strapped for funding in comparison to other sciences. I feel that this article is fairly trustworthy, in that she cites a good deal of external sources, and her factual basis exists for her opinion and arguments. I feel that the information is both very provocative and valuable for spreading feminist ideas. The idea that Title IX should be spread to academia is a novel, and should be explored to a further level.

Saying that this resource is to everyone would be an ignorant statement, because it relies on the assumption that everyone has access to a computer, and that if they do they also have access to the internet, but granted those assumptions this article is exceptionally accessible. All sorts of individuals have access to this resource, feminists in academia including both teachers and students both would have access to this. Beyond that though, everyone else has access to it because there is no pay wall to grant access for the site, so financial resources bears no constraint if someone has a computer and a wi-fi signal to pick up. Barriers include:
Owning a computer
Having the Internet

I am rather short on ideas as to making it more accessible, but one possible solution could be a laptop guarantee as a part of our social welfare policy, this would guarantee a basic equal access to technology, while admittedly not granting an equal access to all technologies. Also, if more people were to share this sort of link on their facebooks and twitter, not only would accessibility increase, but so would awareness. The same affect would probably be had if this article was featured on the front page of Inside Higher Ed, or a new news story was published on Google News similar to this story.

One Dimensional Woman

I feel that this article is incredibly relevant (and not just because it was published 2 months ago) in the world of today's news media, filled with political punditry and theater where words are thrown out for the sake of scoring points and losing meaning day by day. Sian Norris argues that the word "feminism" and the identification of being a "feminist" may risk losing it's meaning. She worries that malleability of the word "feminism" brings the possibility of it being bent and shifted to fit nearly anyone that wants to tote the name, and that a somewhat universal definition must emerge in order for it to retain any real meaning. I feel that this information is quite trustworthy, because the author, Sian Norris is quite credible and writes frequently on the subject of feminism. I actually do think that this issue is incredibly relevant for the realm of academia, because their entire field is transversely under attack. In order for feminism to exist, let alone stay relevant in academia, there needs to be some sort of agreement on some principals within feminism in order to prevent it from being hijacked by the right.

This resource is readily available to anyone with a computer and the internet, but to say that these were the only ways in which one could measure access would be far short of examining the whole situation in the realms of accessibility. This article is most accessible to followers of The F-Word blog, it will show up in their RSS feeds and when they check up on the website, these followers are probably avid feminists, who enjoy keeping up on issues and understanding new perspectives. They themselves may be in academia already. Your causal feminist also has access to this, it is written, as not to be intimidatingly academic in nature, and the language in which they use in the blog post is mostly comprehendible by all. People with no interest in feminism whatsoever more than likely will never find this article, for it is buried away at the F-Word, so to increase accessibility, the article could first fall under a more specific category than "Reviews," also they could share a link to it on the front page of the website. This would also gain strong traction if it were to be hosted on another news site that would link people to the blog/post. All of these solutions, however, are contingent on people having a computer and access to the internet, a problem more prevalent than most may think. While a readily alternative in the status quo would be access at public libraries, even they have their limits, like "who can be a member" "who much does it cost to get a card" and other blocks that would keep disadvantaged individuals and populations from getting access to this blog. A solution may be to provide laptops as a part of one of the Federal Government's social services programs.

"When 'feminist' and 'gender' become embarrassing dirty words in acedamia" Hana

This article is very relevant today because most people in general society still have the wrong idea of what the word feminism means or encompasses. In academia one would expect people to have a higher understanding and knowledge, but feminism seems to be just as misunderstood. In academia, according to this article, it seems to mainly be mocked, the reason for this being a twisted misconception of what the media and folk discourse have created and falsely represented feminism and gender to be. This blog source is very reliable; it is a well-known feminist blog from the UK. This article definitely touches on some very prevalent problems that have always been present in feminism, mainly that people have misconstrued ideas of what it really is. This is coming from a feminist blog, meaning that only readers of such interest would stumble upon this. It is a very accessible article though, that language is not hard to understand and it brings up some interesting points.

My Late April 13th, DE.

| 1 Comment

Martin says, "One might argue that it is through socialization (and the management, negotiation, and resistance of it) that children learn how to operate in gendered structures, learn the repetitive stylized performances that constitute gender, or how to do gender in interaction and how to avoid sanctions for doing wrong (457)."

Gender-neutral child rearing means offering the same opportunities to all your children, regardless of gender. While reading I became curious as to the way one, as a parent, "offers" opportunities. It seems to me that by participating in "offering" any kind of activity whether that activity is most associated with the male or female gender is participating in some kind of socialization of that child. In Free To Be You and Me, William wants a doll, and everyone seems to be against that because having a doll is a female thing. In the end it became okay for William to have said doll because his grandmother who fits into the "older and wiser" socialized stereotype justifies his wish because he will be a father someday, therefore implying that he shouldn't have a doll otherwise. His mother was largely absent in this short clip of his upbringing, which shows a hierarchy in the home because of age and gender between the father, mother, and grandmother. I'm curious as to the effects patriarchy and domestic hierarchy have on raising children in a "gender" neutral state? For instance, how are children supposed to be raised outside their "normal societal" roles if their family looks and acts like the "normal" nuclear family? And if said family tries to interest their male child in Barbies for instance, isn't that it's own kind of socializing? How can Feminists step outside this system and create a new family, instead of perpetuating the old problems?

To kind of tie this up and bring it back to Martin, I noticed that there are so many references to parenting research and advice books, and I've known many a new parent that finds out their first born is on they way and they rush out to the book store to buy a new parenting book. Who writes these? Who approves them for publishing? How could feminists use this area of book sales to spread gender-neutral parenting ideas, and feminist concepts? How might feminist principles be polluted by these books? How might the (mistakenly) interchanged definitions of sex and gender be perpetuated?

I'm sorry this is so late, I've been having major computer problems the last couple of weeks and that's really thrown a wrench in participating in a class that relies on blogging, commenting, and tweeting. Computer problems could be an accessibility issue in terms of using technology to participate in feminist debates.

Domestic Workers Rights in NY


As a followup to our unit on labor and talking about domestic workers in CA trying to get laws protecting them passed, I found this article about the state of domestic labor in NY after they passed a Domestic Workers' Bill Of Rights which grants overtime pay, days off, and other benefits. It seems that while they have rights, domestic workers either do not know that they are entitled to benefits, or that they are too afraid to stand up for their rights.

Stage 2


Part One Simi, Jon, Annslie, Abbie & Reid

1.Beyond black & White (Abbie)
Christelyn Karazin, 2011


The thesis of this blog post is that the independent Strong Black Woman attitude of the 1990's made other people, including feminists, less sympathetic to their continuing plight. Empowerment was codified as independence, which was interpreted as isolation.

Whether this argument has any truth or not, it brings in an interesting perspective. It draws attention to two things:

1. Culture and media have an integral role in shaping political and personal events.

2. Representations can come from any direction, not only those in power.

The post does not provide any facts or figures; it is merely the perspective of one black woman who provides anecdotes of trends that she has personally observed. Like most blog posts, it doesn't provide any citations.

The comments are almost more relevant than the post itself. Women tell stories of their unwed friends and interpersonal relationships that have been affected by race. One person comments on the origins of the idea of the Strong Black Woman.

This post is like a Wikipedia entry. We cannot rely on its validity, but it gives us more ideas of what to

2. Marriage Among Unwed Mothers (Jon)

This article is really relevant to the difference in treatment of different races in respect to unwed mothers. The article provides many various facts and figures relating to this subject. The information is also very trust worthy as it comes from a nationally recognized organization, The National Institute of Child Development and Human Development. However, there is going to be a bit of skew with the statistics since they will want favorable data. It will be good information for this project though because the organization tends to have more feminist ideals.

3. Abortion Gang (Simi)

A site becomes trustworthy and reliable when it ends with "org" "gov" and "edu". This site
named "ABORTION GANG" describes a good example of a good and trustworthy site due to the fact that it ends with "org". It also shows the characteristics of a good source due to the fact that it gives room for opinions and comments. The name of the blog "ABORTION GANG" also shows a great awareness of feminist issue and reproductive rights. It discusses the reproductive health as feminist issue and gives "blog rolls" for easy accessibility for some other feminist issues. I belief the information are relevant and genuine due to the fact that it is able to recreate sources from which the information were originally from.

4. Bluemilk (Reid)

The strength of this post from Bluemilk is in the authors interpretation of the political and social arguments regarding single mothers. The author is herself a single mother, so what she is saying is not theoretical -- it is a result of her practical experiences. In that sense, the information in this blog posting is completely reliable, and embodies what feminism is supposed to be. A voice that previously could have been marginalized now has a forum for posting her own ideas, which are legitimately presented.

Assessing mediaandwomen.org


1. I will be assessing the website "Girls, Women + Media Project" which is a website that focuses on how women are portrayed in the media. This website is relevant in that it directly focuses on the influences of the media, and provides resources for ways to change the media. However, while the focus of the website could be considered a feminist issue, the website does not specifically identify as feminist. While most of the website is opinion based, where there are verifiable facts the website does provide many sources to back up their claims.
2. Accessibility is always an issue when it comes to websites. Obviously those that do not have access to the internet, or those that do not speak English will not be able to access the contents of this site. While some people will be able to use public computers in libraries, there is always an issue of website censorship on public computers. Also, in regards to access to public libraries, those who live in more rural areas may not have easy access to a library. It could also be a concern that those in other countries may not have publically funded libraries through which they could use the internet. Luckily this website does not seem to have many graphics or java-supported features which would make this website harder to load for those with slower internet connections. To make this site more accessible, the articles could be translated to different languages, so that those who do not speak English could also benefit from the information. Also, I noticed that this site does not utilize other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, nor does it have any sort of comment section so that guests could exchange information and ideas with each other. I believe that the Girls, Women + Media Project could benefit from a Twitter and/or Facebook presence so that they can address a wider audience, and to increase interaction between those that maintain the site and others interested in this topic.

Part Two: Assessing Resources


The resource I'm evaluating is the blog post, Debunking the Myth of the "Welfare Queen": Who Actually Receives TANF Benefits? From the Women's Law Project Blog http://womenslawproject.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/debunking-the-myth-of-the-%E2%80%9Cwelfare-queen%E2%80%9D-who-actually-receives-tanf-benefits/

Part One:

This blog post was made Nov 2nd 2010 and it's especially relevant given how the specter of the welfare queen is still prevalent in society/politics, despite being a term coined in the 1980's by Ronald Reagan the image has been an enduring one. Given the economic recession and hostilities towards government spending and the metaphorical "belt buckling" that government and citizens are expected to adhere to, programs like welfare have especially come under attack. The idea of poor minority women living off of handouts provided by taxpayers is one that is continually used and the statistics skewed to present a justification to punish our most vulnerable citizens. The website and information within the blog post is a good source given the statistics they present in their argument are backed up by the websites (sources) indicated within their post and any other assertions via numbers and ideologies like women not profiting from welfare are linked to other articles and blog posts. The site consistently backs up its sources as well as cites them as a means of accountability and strength for their argument as well as not blatantly plagiarizing someone else's works.

I think the information it presents is valuable because it takes an issue that's been around for a while and presents information that is relevant to the debate now as well as framing it in a way that could be understood and deemed relevant now. For example, the author opens the post by relating a story from another blogger on the site about, "their experience observing an 11th grade classroom. The post discusses a student performing a poem that mocks a poor woman who encourages her seven children to steal food. When the character confronts police officers and runs into the drug-addict father of her children, she delivers the punch line - 'You can have my welfare check!' According to the post's author, when asked who the poem was referring to, the student said 'Minorities, because they're the main ones on welfare.' That post was just made in February and its value is derived from debunking the idea that poor black women have overcome the negative stereotypes meant to punish and demean them and reassert how important this issue still is today because of the radical misconceptions still being reproduced and even interpreted in these particular ways in a high school. It's a reminder for feminists that there is still work to be done on this issue as well as making relevant an issue that often gets forgotten now given a surge in conservative politics and more restrictive access to abortion, healthcare, and Planned Parenthood. The information is also valuable because of the statistics and studies used to back up their points as a means of showing how the issue intersects with a number of issues facing a wide range of women that feminism has an interest in addressing, confronting, and problematizing.

Part Two:

The Women's Law Project Blog is fairly accessible if given the persons in question have access to a computer and internet sources. That being said the blog itself is fairly easy to find and search for using a general search engine like Google. It's not a personal blog but rather one that's a publicly supported domain via donations. A person using a library computer with a limited amount of time could find it fairly easily. The blog itself is also linked/has links to a numerous amounts of other women's issues/feminists blogs that creates a wealth of resources. They also have a Twitter feed and Facebook page featured on their site. It makes good use of using many forms of social media as well as featuring email subscription (I suspect for those who don't particularly like Twitter/Facebook). The barriers to this wealth of information and access of course is dependent on a person's access to the internet. That is the biggest and most unfortunate flaw when using blogs and social media to distribute ideas and information. A person is able to go to a library and use public computers but there's limits to the amount of time such access is granted as well as some censorship used by libraries to limit certain searches. It's hard to remember at times but obviously not everyone owns a computer or has internet access at their fingertips so to make this information more accessible it would perhaps be helpful if a blog like this one had some sort of journal that could be produced monthly that contains different blog posts and information concerning other resources that could be used for persons who don't have internet access; it could only act as a sample size of all the information and linking resources but in that way the information could at least be distributed via another medium as well as provide information about centers and organizations that can be located/contacted outside of the internet.

In general though this idea would be time consuming as well as fairly expensive--one of the reasons I believe social media and blogging has dominated a wealth of the information and discussion occurring within society around issues that you wouldn't see every day on the news or in the paper. Social media in a lot of ways is demonstrative of the power that privilege provides to certain sects of society while leaving out others. The "others" more often than not are persons that are particularly vulnerable and could use more resources but are not able to access them. Hopefully more will be done with free wifi programs in larger cities as well as a greater presence of public computers/affordable laptops and desktops to be made available for people that simply can't afford spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on such tools.

Phase 2: Humorous, Feminist Sex-Positivity

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Group members: Allie, Gina, Jackson, Ariel, Briana


WandaSykes.jpg1) Wanda Sykes
I believe that the site and video for Wanda Sykes is relevant. Often through comedy one can say things that otherwise may go unsaid. She is a very well known comedian that reaches a wide audience. Through comedy people of differing background can come together, laugh and learn. Sykes is willing to push the boundaries, questioning sexual normativity. Comedy opens up a space for discussion and evaluation of dominant discourse. This form of spreading awareness is valuable because female comedian do become very noticeable and credible voices for change. This format allows the audience to engage on a personal level. This format can be seen as a technique for conscious rising and improve understanding of gender concepts and inequalities.

Erotic-Revolutionaries.jpg2) Erotic Revolutionaries (Shayne Lee)
Erotic Revolutionaries by Shayne Lee was recently published in 2010. The book discusses current injustices faced by black women including sex, sexuality, and bodily representation within the media and their own communities. The chapter Lee has deemed "Erotic Queens of Comedy" discusses the importance of black women in comedy and their use of humor to address social injustices including sex, sexuality, race, age, and body representation. Lee has received his PhD is sociology from Northwestern University and is currently the associate professor of sociology and African Diaspora studies at Tulane University. Lee's critique of black comediennes helps to shed light on an arena (comedic performance) that has been and is yet today over shadowed by men. Lee mentions comedy scholar Nancy Walker and her explanation, "...that feminist humor mocks gender inequality in an attempt to render it absurd and powerless" (110). The entrance and exposure of black comediennes has given sexual agency to all women by addressing issues such as inadequate sexual performance, hygiene, oral sex, penis size/function, etc.

Porn-for-Women.jpg3) Liza Donnelly
This source is highly relevant to feminist humor because Liza Donnelly is a female, feminist, comedic cartoonist! I believe our topic, feminist/humorous perspectives on sex, fits cohesively with Liza Donnelly's message of using humor as a tool for social change. Even more specifically, Donnelly draws upon her own cartoons to spread feminist messages pertaining to topics such as marriage and sex. Because this is a more opinionated-based source I don't think that reliability is a concern, but I believe her achievements verify her qualifications. She has been a staff cartoonist for The New Yorker Magazine, a writer and public speaker, spoken at TED, The United Nations, and much more. I think this is valuable information for spreading feminism because it communicates a message using humor and feminism in an unconventional way. It grabs peoples' attention and that is effective in getting any message across.

Wikipedia-logo.png4) Sex-positive Feminism Wikipedia Page This entry is relevant to our project and to feminism in general in its capacity as comprehensive explanation of the history and manifestations of sex-positivity with in the feminist movement. While it doesn't explicitly address humor or humorous perspectives, it is important to have an understanding of where much of first-hand sources we are addressing are coming from. Wikipedia's trustworthiness has been openly debated in many circles. I present it here, however, as a reliable source. I have found no lapses in its content and I genuinely (if perhaps naively) trust Wikipedia's contributors. The entry is cited as being US-centric, which is not a concern for our particular project. I would like to assess the value of this source by looking at the main 'Feminism' entry, which this source is an off-shoot of, based on the fact that this is probably what most people would run into if they were interested in exploring the various meanings of feminism. Wikipedia is invaluable in its wide-spread use and accessibility. It is arguably the first source someone might use to get basic information about feminism (and then explore more in depths for its nuances). The potential is boundless.

PullingOurOwnStrings.jpg5) Pulling Our Own Strings is a collection of feminist humor that covers the gamut of second-wave feminist issues: labor, menstruation, motherhood, sexual violence, female objectification, and more. As a compilation of women's humor, which is undeniably rare, it deserves acknowledgement and value. However, it is rather dated. Its content and style are very seventies. Moreover, the feminism that is represented is a characteristically white, middle-class one, which reveals a great deal about the feminist movement at the time of its publication. The book is useful to a point; many of the issues it addresses are still pressing today, and as a historical artifact it helps to track the progress and transformation of the movement. However, the gaps in its scope should not be excused.
Wanda is very accessible for multiple communities. She is an artist that is seen in multiple forms of media. She is a well known African-American lesbian activist comedian and actor. For this artist, I believe there are few barriers to accessibility. Through her site there are links to other organization that Sykes is involved in. I think that sites for celebrity access can provide sources to other sites that one may not have found on their own. Social media sites can begin to change the discourse around feminist issues by opening up the dialogue and including those who might otherwise be heard.
I believe that Erotic Revolutionaries may be best accessed by those who are knowledgeable in/seeking feminist thought and theory. Because this book is a scholarly piece it will most likely be accessed by educated persons interested in reading feminist theory, particularly a black feminist's perspective on black women's sex positivity. Although this topic is relevant to anybody seeking a sex positive, feminist perspective Lee's work cannot be easily found on the internet or in a magazine. In order for this book to reach a larger audience I think it should be promoted through social media sights, television, classrooms, magazines, and community gatherings. On that note, if the academic language is not relatable/comprehendible for certain individuals the use of community meetings to share the important information from the book can be verbalized and shown through examples mentioned in the book (Beyoncé, Mo'Nique, Sheryl Underwood, etc.) to spread this wealth of knowledge.
For anyone with computer access, Donnelly's cartoons are easily accessed; a google search will result in her website. Unfortunately some people may not think to type "feminist, humor, sex" into google. I had never heard of Donnelly before researching for this topic so I wouldn't know if she well-known. I believe social media is very constructive when it comes to westernized feminism because we all have computers and it is relevant considering many of our issues are not urgent or pertaining to a life or death concern. For feminist issues pertaining to third world countries I believe social media is somewhat irrelevant. Although it spreads awareness, awareness doesn't necessarily rectify all situations.
As I previously mentioned, Wikipedia is widely known as a forerunner among internet databases. Therefore, the Sex-positive Feminism entry is widely accessible by anyone who might search for related terms on Google or Wikipedia. It's translatable into most widely spoken languages, making it even more accessible to those who's first language is not English. Because it is compiled by numerous contributors, the information is varied and boundless. Of course, internet access is necessary, as with most of our sources. It may also be moderately difficult to find, as it is somewhat buried within the main entry on Feminism. With just a little digging, it's more than available and readily readable, discernible, and educational.
Pulling Our Own Strings is fairly accessible for its medium and its age. It is mostly available on Google Books, which is free and easy to find (assuming you have internet access and enough online literacy to know how to use Google Books, which assumes a certain degree of privilege and education which accompanies a certain social class). I also obtained it easily at the university library, and there are two more copies in the public library system. However, it is an old book and probably fairly obscure; although copies are accessible in theory, most people probably don't have the awareness of its existence or interest to seek it out. As far as I know, there is not a book-on-tape version, which there probably should be - many of the essays and stand-up comedy transcripts would be more effective with an auditory component.

Stage 2: Assessing Resources/Hannah Gustison

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1. The source I will be looking at closer is the blog entitled PinkStinks. This source is certainly applicable to our topic as there are several entries addressing media influences the choices of girls. Specifically there is a post taking a close look at some skinny jean ads by the Gap and looking at a toy catalog. Their main focus is on the media effects on enforcing gender roles and the self awareness of girls. As for its trustworthiness, it's like any another blog where anyone can put one together. Although the site is well organized and professional in its appearance and they take a clearly feminist approach. In some ways, I wonder if it may be too black and white however, the information is present which can be extracted without having to adhere to their interpretations.

2. The accessibility of this site raises the same concerns as any other blog. This is a site that you likely wouldn't find unless you specifically searched for it or someone told you to check it out. It is very specific! It also must be taken into account that it is centered out of the UK and while there is no problem with that, it is important to remember that companies actually create different ads for different countries because of the different demographic. So, when looking at the Gap ad that they refer to, that is an ad that the Gap created with a European demographic in mind. Thus, we have to look at not only the American feminist prospective but also the European feminist prospective. It's a matter of open-mindedness that has to be considered when addressing this site. The fact that it is European also creates an American accessibility barrier in the sense that it is even less likely that it would find an American audience.

As with any blog the matter of accessibility is always a challenge. The point of a blog is to be opinionated and thus will always shut someone out. The only way to make something like this more accessible to incorporate other views to the point where it becomes more of a conversation rather than a statement of opinions from a group of people who share relatively the same ideas. This site however, has a goal of raising awareness so I doubt that having conflicting views would help much. They do advertise though to get their name out. It's unfortunate but advertising and networking really seems the best/easiest way to make these types of blogs more accessible.

DE for april 20


Group C should post their DE entries by Monday evening and Groups A and D should post their comments by Wednesday at noon.

This week (4/18 and 4/20), we are reading Chávez's essay, "Border (In)Securities" and parts of Families, Unvalued (note: Read 7-18, 135-144 and closely skim 46-91). For this DE, reflect on the following questions:

  1. How do the authors discuss family values in these readings?
  2. Any terms/concepts/ideas that are confusing for you?
BONUS EXTRA CREDIT: Earn 15 extra points for your total grade by attending one of the following events and posting a 200-300 entry about it by April 22. File your post under the category, "extra credit":

J Crew Gender Controversy


So ironically enough after our discussion Wednesday about children and gender roles I ran into several articles discussing this advertisement by J Crew:


A boy who likes pink nail polish is apparently newsworthy. Here are two different takes on the issue from the opposite end of the spectrum.

Fox new's response: Here are some of the more savory quotes from the article.

"These folks [J Crew] are hostile to the gender distinctions that actually are part of the magnificent synergy that creates and sustains the human race."

"This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity--homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such "psychological sterilization" [my word choice] is not known."

The blog Afterellen picked up the story and offered it's own "doomsday scenario" of what might happen if the gender lines are no longer firmly entrenched.

Choice quote: "I don't know why conservatives always fly off the handle about stuff like this. One trip to a toy story proves that the gender binary is still firmly in place. Heck, at ToysRUs.com you can even sort your search results by "boy" toys and "girl" toys (helpfully color-coded pink or blue). Also, actual science AND Lady Gaga are here to tell you that dolls and Halloween costumes don't make a person queer." Here's their own spoof on the issue:


Thoughts, comments? I particularly like the notion of "psychological sterilization" friggen hilarious.

Gendering children


During class today, I was struck by the ways in which gendering children is so pervasive in our society, even in messages that attempt to critique our strict gender binary. First of all, I was thinking about "William Wants a Doll" and how problematic I found it, despite the fact that William does eventually get his doll in the end. As brought up in class, I find it disturbing that preparing him for fatherhood is the justification for being able to have a doll. To me, that is such a ridiculous excuse, as he is not permitted to just have one because he wants one, and I hardly feel the taunting of his peers will die down if he informs them, "Don't worry guys, I'm practicing for fatherhood." If anything, I feel that reason will be further reason to mock the poor kid. I also must argue that, as a female who grew up with her fair share of dolls in a family of all daughters, dolls taught me nothing about parenting. To me, dolls were just more toys. I lost them, cut their hair, drew on them with markers, they received no delicate treatment from me simply because they were babies. I could simply lack motherly instincts, or it could also be attributed to the fact that I always just had dolls. As the youngest of three girls, they were just there. I never had to ask for one, with the intention of playing with it with extreme care in the way that William did.

But I digress; the actual intention of this post was to discuss a comment that came up towards the end of class. I was intrigued with the idea of baby showers and the ways in which children are gendered while still in the womb. I immediately thought of the old myth (that many people still swear by) that pregnant women carry boys differently than girls, most commonly the idea that boys are carried lower in the stomach than girls. So, I find it ridiculous that we are a culture so obsessed with pointing out differences in males and females that we've concocted up how they supposedly inhabit their mothers' stomachs. This also made me think of a recent Kohl's commercial where a new mother is thankful that she purchased her baby items Kohl's because their return policy made it easy to return the blue items she purchased in anticipation of a "Daniel" instead of the "Danielle" she ended up with. It just seems crazy to me the ways in which a child's surroundings must be tailored differently depending upon their sex. I just fail to wrap my head around how almost institutionalized this system of gendering has become, despite our claims of valuing individuality.

The Kohl's commercial, for your viewing (dis)pleasure:

Talk next Monday at 7


Karma Chávez (we are reading her for next week) is speaking next Monday: 

Screen shot 2011-04-12 at 9.35.02 AM.png

Uniting American Families Act- A Feminist Issue

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"Don't let our families be torn apart"

A bill being reintroduced to Congress soon. Do you see this as a feminist issue? Do you think it will likely be passed any time soon? Why or why not?

Day Twenty-one: April 13


We wil be watching this video in class today:

Tomboy from Barb Taylor on Vimeo.

Here are some questions to consider from kjfalcon's discussion of the movie:

  • What are some of the main messages from the cartoon?
  • Why is gender something that has to be policed?
  • In the cartoon how do you interpret the representation of the intersections of gender and race? If you don't see the explicit connection between gender and race/ethnicity does it matter that this Alex - the tomboy - is a Latina character?
  • What do you think of the representation of the mother character?
  • This is meant to be a tool for teachers learning how to teach - is this affective in this sense? What value do you see in encouraging dialogues around these issues to occur through this movie?
Is it possible to raise children in a gender-neutral environment? How do toy advertisements discourage this and encourage rigid gender divisions?

We are also watching some clips from free to be...you and me.

So...I lost cable and internet last week due to an extremely high bill so I strolled down to the Southeast public library and picked up season 2 of HBO's series "Big Love" and had a marathon all weekend. As I was watching, my feminist curiosity took off... the show depicts a modern day polygamist family off the compound...think TLC's sister wives.


Despite their high level of normalcy, I can't help but become frustrated with and at the same type sympathize with these "sister wives" and the religion in which they have chosen to live by. Because the main character, the husband, has three wives, each wife only gets two nights a week with their husband. Although the women try to harness their jealousies on a daily basis, there is still a sense of competitiveness between them. The dynamics of a usual marriage is thrown into a whirlwind as the relationship becomes more of a group dynamic where they literally vote on issues. One episode shows Margie, the youngest wife, absolutely delighted just to learn she wasn't the last one to find out about the husband's business venture.
To add to the mix, each wife has children with the husband. The episode I watched last night showed the toll this patriarchal religion has taken on the oldest son. The oldest son decides to become in engaged to his girlfriend at sixteen so as to not live in sin any longer because they engage in sexual activity. One of the sister wives, his mother, explains that this is no reason to get engaged and that he is still young. The boy replies by saying something to the effect of, "If our love is not eternal, I can always find my second wife." To me, this type of thinking implies that women are somewhat disposable. After this remark, the audience can tell the sister wife is very troubled by her son's perception.

Is this a feminist issue?

Can feminists, those who I believe strive to respect others' choices and beliefs no matter how socially unacceptable or stigmatized, recognize this religion as legitimate belief system?

What does this religion communicate, when it not only allows, but mandates one sex to have multiple partners to gain access to the "divine path" to heaven?

To me, this question is ridiculous but relevant to our unit; could a Mormon, polygamist family hold feminist values? What would it look like? Is it healthy for children to grow up in this environment?

DE Option 1


Bernstein's reading stirred up many thoughts for me. It made me question parenting and the advice that parents take, which Martin helped me zoom in on. Bernstein's daughter, Nora, made me curious about what it would be like if all parents parented the way Bernstein does. The reading made me question the psychological effects on children from opening them up to the idea of exploring genders. Society is so heavily influenced by gender roles and vice versa. I wondered what Nora's gender curiosity did psychologically to her. I wondered how hard it would be to be a young child exploring genders when all of the other kids were fitting the gender normatives. I also wondered how Bernstein held up all that time since she claims "adult tolerance for transchildren is low." How sensitive the issue is altogether made me curious. The issue that both Bernstein and Martin raise, though, is that gender is tied to assumptions about sexuality which is problematic and may be associated with homophobia. This especially made me think deeper into gender identity and the difficulties that go along with it. Gender identity and sexuality have been assumed by many for a long time. With sexuality, it is now known that there are shades of gray. I feel that gender identity on the other hand has been generally black and white to many people. This is also problematic because it ties us down to gender roles without their being shades of gray. I like that Bernstein allowed her daughter to explore and although I find it to be a bit risky, I feel that she has successfully done gender neutral child rearing. I also had some curiosity about socialization being a part of children defining their gender. If there were to be more gender neutral child rearing, what , other than gender norms, could gender neutral children identify with? Something outside of male roles and female roles? Almost everything is linked to a gender, whether it be a job, a color, a type of house, a shoe design...masculine and feminine. What would it be like without those labels and stereotypes and gender normative rules and roles?

DE group D


For the direct engagement for this week I will address question one of option two: What does it mean to engage in gender-neutral child rearing? Martin writes "advocating...means ...parents should not only permit but encourage children to move beyond gender stereo-types" (Martin, Pl 468). I'm not sure that one even if they tried could fully raise a child gender-neutral. A child is not solely raised by their parents; society also has a large role in gender socialization. One would need to get rid of every bit of the outside world. Bernstein writes of Nora seeking out her identity, with support from her mother. I believe this should be the goal of the parents. I don't think that it is helpful to encourage any gender role. Bernstein allowed her daughter to find her own place with in society. As a parent myself I am not so concerned with the biology of my child, I am aware that physical gender does little to inform his interest. The focus may need to be on the parents and not so much on the child. A child can't fail at gender expectations if there are no expectations. I feel that it is more important allow children to explore all aspects of identity if THEY so choose.

DE entry 4/11


For this direct engagement I decided to go with option two and take on some of the questions Sara posed that made her curious. In particular the questions concerning gender neutral child rearing and the "William Wants a Doll" song.

I think gender neutral parenting is dependent upon the different definitions between sex and gender. In general these two terms are often used interchangeably and are seen as the same thing. It's problematic however because of how it normalizes gender stereotyping and confuses a biological state of being (a person's sex) and the ideas constructed around the differences between men and women that are socially derived (gender). Via this model a person's gender then is in many ways a performance, a way of acting out one's gender according to a normalized male/female binary with those not fitting in often being perceived as somehow different and worrisome. Gender neutral parenting then is aimed at trying not to dictate certain roles or behaviors to a particular sex. The color of a child's bedroom, the toys they play with, books they read, etc all carry certain messages that create particular norms associated with each gender, so parents seek to subvert as many of these influences as they can and instead allow children to decide for themselves what they like rather than being consigned to predetermined notions of what their tastes and behaviors should be.

In the song "William Wants a Doll" the last part of the chorus asserts that "William has a doll, William has a doll 'Cause someday he is gonna be a father, too." This line in particular is interesting because it's very telling of the underlying fears of non gender conformity in which a child like William who wants to play with a doll is somehow not normal with "normal" being implicitly tied into sexuality. Generally speaking effeminate men are often assumed to be gay. Though it's a stereotype there's enough evidence to suggest it's an underlying concern and acknowledgement. By asserting William wants a doll because he's going to be a father someday the message sent is one that tries to be gender neutral by endorsing a greater male role/understanding in parenting. While that's not inherently bad in itself what's left unsaid however is the assumption being made about fatherhood and the perception of a family. Most fathers are assumed to be heterosexuals so if William is gonna be a father someday it seems to imply he'll too eventually get married and have kids like any of his counterparts. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it but honestly I'm left asking:

"What is so problematic about not conforming to gender norms that sexuality must be questioned but in how there needs to be some justification as to why a boy like William wants a doll?

Religion is a Feminist Issue Because...


Toy commercials: This is a feminist issue because...


This week's readings have gotten me really interested in the whole gender identity thing. While parents can decide to raise their children gender-neutral, is that really enough? There are many different points of influence a child will encounter that parents may not be able to control. For example, television. Here is a video from Bitch Media that talks about commercials played on channels for young children, such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network:

How much of an influence do you think things like this have on the development of a child's gender identity? Does it at all?

DE 4/13 Gender-neutral child rearing

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Karin Martin's article made me curious about a lot of things. She explored gender-neutral parenting well and at least skimmed each question that I've ever had about raising a child without imposing any gender structures onto them. I was particularly interested in her exploration of biological differences between male and female, and if they do in fact have any effect on gender identity. I don't have much knowledge in this area, but as far as I know there are differing hormone levels between male and female, particularly testosterone and estrogen. Science has found these hormones to affect the way in which a person acts, and things like temperament are believed to be innate and not learned...but how much do these actually affect a person's personality or gender identity? I don't think they could actually dictate whether a girl likes the color pink and a boy likes loud trucks. Martin pulled a quote from a child care book from 1996 about this:

"But while certain societal expectations relate to sex roles, there are also certain biologically based leanings, which have led some experts to suggest that the tendency to
nurture girls and boys differently actually stems (at least in part) from the fact that
girls and boys by nature behave differently. Differences in the brain and in hormones
seem to manifest themselves in differences in temperament and behavior that are visible from birth. In general, newborn boys are more physically active and more vigorous, while newborn girls are quieter, and more responsive to faces and voices. Typically, boys are more aggressive, girls more social; boys respond more to objects, girls
to people. (Eisenberg, Murkoff, and Hathaway 1996, 223)"

What about the gender roles of other animals? Do they exist? We could say that we are just like animals, and if gender roles are biologically determined for them it must be for us, too. However, there's a quote I like from Michel Foucault that makes me think otherwise: "a society's 'threshold of modernity' has been reached when the life of the species is wagered on its own political strategies. For millennia, man remained what it was for Aristotle: a living animal with the additional capacity for a political existence; modern man is an animal whose politics places his existence as a living being in question" (Foucault 143).

I don't believe biology has much to do with it, but its an interesting perspective to struggle with.

Group Sources -


1. http://femininethings.blogspot.com/

I found this source by googling "feminist perfume". The entire blog is
dedicated to reviewing perfume, often in a feminist context. The author is
a self-identified "perfumista" who writes in her bio that her blog is an
opportunity to explore her ignored-until-now feminine side.
The intended audience is women who are interested in finding a good
perfume, but also being aware of the origins of the perfume and what
tactics-- moral or not--are being used to sell it.


I arrived at this website by googling "tom ford fragrance controversy". I
knew there had been a controversy about a super graphic fragrance
advertising campaign a few years ago, and I wanted to check it out. The
source, Marie Claire, is a popular magazine devoted to the interests of
women. They publish the typical fashion and dating advice but also articles
about issues that affect women directly, such as this advertising campaign.

3. http://www.theaxeeffect.com/#/axe-campaigns/cleans-your-balls

I googled "Axe" to get here. I know Axe has a history of racy marketing
campaigns, and I was not disappointed. Axe literally has a "clean your
dirty balls" campaign, the tagline of which is "No one wants to play with
dirty equipment". The selling strategy contained in the videos on this site
seems to be the appeal to men of getting attractive women to say the word
"balls" a lot and smile coyly at each other. Axe is a men's hair,
deodorant, body spray, and shower gel company. Their purpose is to sell
their product, and their intended audience is males.

4. http://www.femail.com.au/sex-sells-opinion-abctv.htm

I found this source on google while looking for psychological effects of
"sex sells" ads. This page has the opinion of a few different people and
why they believe these ads are not a good influence on children. The
intended audience is women and most likely parents. They are focusing on
the issues these ads may raise and what effects they have caused.


I also found this site while searching on google. This blogger discusses
the difference in this ad from others. The tagline of the ad is "Real Men
Wear Pink," which is something we have seen before but she points out
that this particular ad is easier on the eye than many other perfume ads.
Intended audience is most likely bloggers, feminists in particular.


This was also found while google searching "feminist perfume ads." This
blogger gives four perfume ad links and discusses the questions and issues
she has about objectified women in perfume ads being targeted towards other
women. This "ideal" woman seen in perfume ads is marketed at men but
also mainly women. The intended audience is most likely bloggers who are
interested in women's studies or those in this particular Women's
Studies class.


I found this website from Take Part (
http://www.takepart.com/news/2008/03/13/top-ten-feminist-blogs/) after
googling "feminist blogs". The blog is an extension of Bitch magazine. The
website has an area that focuses primarily on popular culture, a blog called
Mad World. I found some blog entries specifically about gender
representation in perfume, cologne, and deodorant ads. Bitch magazine is a
non-profit organization whose mission is to "provide and encourage an
engaged, thoughtful feminist response to mainstream media and popular
culture" (Bitch Media). It has a diverse, young audience.


I found this blog when googling "feminism perfume advertisements". The blog
is ran by a man who has studied and photography and visual culture. I
believe the purpose of the blog is to examine the phenomena of culture,
focusing on the visual (such as advertisements and fine art photography)
through an international perspective. It does not say it has a primarily
feminist perspective, but the articles are politically charged and discuss
gender representation issues. The audience seems to be broad, but I believe
this is very aimed at people in the fine arts field, particularly in

9. http://inventorspot.com/articles/ads_prove_sex_sells_5576
Author:Amy Gifford. Audience: everyone who look at the ads on the tv, playstation2, ipod touch. I search the sex sell on the google

10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCb-C6hOzpc
Author: MostWantedOmen
I search on youtube by sex sale. The song is good but Look carefully about
the waist of the 2 russian singers.

Author: Pauline Chiou CNN
I search on google.com. This talks about the girls sex sale in Hong Kong

DE 04/11: Gender-Neutral Parenting


For this week's direct engagement, I have chosen to discuss a question from Option Two: what does it mean to engage in gender-neutral child rearing? Martin's raises some interesting points in her article, "William Wants A Doll..." regarding child-rearing in contemporary society, namely the fact that many feminists have largely abandoned the issue of gendered child-rearing, and no longer consider it to be a problem. However, one must acknowledge that gender stereotypes still play a role in child-rearing, and that this gendered upbringing affects the ways in which a person behaves and interacts with others in his/her adult life. I have to wonder how my own upbringing might have changed if I had been a boy, and I have no real way of knowing because I don't have any brothers to compare myself to.
Engaging in gender-neutral child rearing means to offer the same opportunities to all your children, regardless of gender. Whether your children embrace or reject those opportunities is a non-issue, the important thing is to encourage your children to do what they enjoy, whether that means your son plays dress-up or your daughter climbs trees. One shouldn't assume that a boy will enjoy playing with cars and a girl with dolls, and reinforcing these gender roles so early in life will affect your child when he/she grows up. Martin states: "One might argue that it is through socialization (and the management, negotiation, and resistance of it) that children learn how to operate in gendered structures, learn the repetitive stylized performances that constitute gender, or how to do gender in interaction and how to avoid sanctions for doing wrong." (457) I agree with this statement, and believe that raising children in a gendered setting only furthers the oppressive, heteronormative, stereotypical gender roles that feminists have been trying so hard to change. The question I have to pose is this: How are we to engage in gender-neutral child-rearing when media representations of gender tend to fit within the frame of the oppressive, heteronormative, stereotypical gender roles that we are trying to avoid? How are children NOT going to be affected by these representations, even if their parents encourage behavior that is gender-deviant?

Class canceled for today (4.11)


Sorry for the short notice, but class is canceled for today (4.11). We will discuss the readings and watch video clips on Wednesday.

Gender, Perfume, sex sell ads


My group project has mcfad067, weitz051, galma002, ring0171 and myself.

1. http://femininethings.blogspot.com/
I found this source by googling "feminist perfume". The entire blog is dedicated to reviewing perfume, often in a feminist context. The author is a self-identified "perfumista" who writes in her bio that her blog is an opportunity to explore her ignored-until-now feminine side. The intended audience is women who are interested in finding a good perfume, but also being aware of the origins of the perfume and what tactics-- moral or not--are being used to sell it.
I arrived at this website by googling "tom ford fragrance controversy". I knew there had been a controversy about a super graphic fragrance advertising campaign a few years ago, and I wanted to check it out. The source, Marie Claire, is a popular magazine devoted to the interests of women. They publish the typical fashion and dating advice but also articles about issues that affect women directly, such as this advertising campaign.
3. http://www.theaxeeffect.com/#/axe-campaigns/cleans-your-balls
I googled "Axe" to get here. I know Axe has a history of racy marketing campaigns, and I was not disappointed. Axe literally has a "clean your dirty balls" campaign, the tagline of which is "No one wants to play with dirty equipment". The selling strategy contained in the videos on this site seems to be the appeal to men of getting attractive women to say the word "balls" a lot and smile coyly at each other. Axe is a men's hair, deodorant, body spray, and shower gel company. Their purpose is to sell their product, and their intended audience is males.
4. http://www.femail.com.au/sex-sells-opinion-abctv.htm
I found this source on google while looking for psychological effects of "sex sells" ads. This page has the opinion of a few different people and why they believe these ads are not a good influence on children. The intended audience is women and most likely parents. They are focusing on
the issues these ads may raise and what effects they have caused.
I also found this site while searching on google. This blogger discusses the difference in this ad from others. The tagline of the ad is "Real Men
Wear Pink," which is something we have seen before but she points out that this particular ad is easier on the eye than many other perfume ads.
Intended audience is most likely bloggers, feminists in particular.
This was also found while google searching "feminist perfume ads." This blogger gives four perfume ad links and discusses the questions and issues she has about objectified women in perfume ads being targeted towards other women. This "ideal" woman seen in perfume ads is marketed at men but also mainly women. The intended audience is most likely bloggers who are interested in women's studies or those in this particular Women's Studies class.
7. http://inventorspot.com/articles/ads_prove_sex_sells_5576
Author by Amy Gifford
Audience: everyone who look at the ads on the tv, playstation2, ipod touch.
I search the sex sell on the google
8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCb-C6hOzpc
Author: MostWantedOmen
I search on youtube by sex sale. The song is good but Look carefully about the waist of the 2 russian singers.
9. http://articles.cnn.com/2009-09-24/world/hongkong.teenage.prostitution_1_hong-kong-compensated-sze?_s=PM:WORLD
Author: Pauline Chiou CNN
I search on google.com. This talks about the girls sex sale in Hong Kong

Family Values


Angela Davis explains how the embracement of anti-racist ideals is necessary in redefining family values. If you see feminism as a movement that strives for equality and the eradication of policies, mind-sets and practices that place people in a hierarchy, othering different groups of people who do not fit in the socially constructed norm, it is not difficult to see how these ideals are explicitly feminist. As explained by Gloria Steinem "family values" is singular. This implies there is a "normal" family; one that is accepted and all others that are not. The "normal" family in our society is based on white heteronormative patriarchal ideals. There is so much diversity in our nation in addition to our world that by creating this "ideal" family, and defining what people should strive to be, we are ignoring all the other groups of people. By practicing and embracing anti-racist ideals not only are we accepting every group and every individual but also we are promoting healthy, nurturing values. To be anti-racist is to be peaceful, accepting and to promote equality. These are my values I personally try to, and want to, incorporate in my family. They are my family values and I believe are the values feminism is striving to insert into the broader population's idea of family values. This "family" is not only one's biological family, but it is also one's neighborhood, city, state, nation; this family is individual kin and communal societies. It is narrow and broad which I believe is a very new and necessary dynamic.

Curiosities: Failure/Advice


For this engagement, I am going to use the first prompt option in order to extract points from the Bernstein and Martin readings that made me personally curious during my reading. Given the limits of length for this assignment, I am going to engage only two primary sites of curiosity: (1) how failure operates in gender socialization and in determining the success of gender-neutral parenting and (2) the various ways in which Martin engages with advice/advisement in her research.
There are two distinct aspects of my first inquiry into the operation of failure. First, Martin postulates that feminists gauge the success of gender-neutral parenting by its impact (or lack thereof) on the rigidity/flexibility of gender norms in society at large. Martin says on page 457, "...attempts at gender-neutral socialization did not begin to radically transform gender." This is cited as the reasoning behind the abandonment of socialization theories by feminist scholars in the mid-1980s. However, I would like to suggest here that given the relative newness of gender-neutral parenting, "radical transformation" cannot be reasonably expected to occur in such a short amount of time. What standards for success/failure of gender-neutral socialization might be more adequate? Secondly, the failure of children to adhere to rigid gender expectations is addressed by Spock and Parker (as cited by Martin on page 470), "...they are made to feel inadequate to the degree that they fail to conform to the supposed ideal." How do failure and inadequacy affect children? Can gender-neutral parenting subvert gender failure? How does failure operate in Bernstein's account of Nora?
Martin's research addresses a substantial collection of advice material for parents. I am curious here about how parenting authority is distributed and how this might perpetuate a hierarchy of parenting knowledge (perhaps even the medicalization/pathologization of parenting). Also, Martin brings up issues of access to certain formats of advice on page 462. How does this affect gender-neutral parenting? Who is granted access to advocates for gender-neutral parenting? Also, who cares about gender-neutral parenting and why do they care?

DE for april 13


Here are two options for the direct engagement for GROUP D. Post your entries by Monday (4.11) evening. GROUPS A and B should post comments by Wednesday at noon:

OPTION 1: How do the readings (Martin, Berstein) make you curious? You can engage with this question in any way that you wish as long as you follow these basic rules:

  • Your direct engagement must address at least one of the readings
  • Your direct engagement should be aimed at making us curious and demonstrate a respectful and critical engagement with the ideas/readings
  • You may include your own opinions about the readings, but those opinions must be  explained and supported by examples (from the readings, your experiences)
  • You should include some sort of question that you pose to your readers
OPTION TWO: Does this approach seem too broad for you? Does it make it difficult for you to engage with the readings? Here's another option for your direct engagement: you can respond to one of the ways in which these readings make me curious:

  • What does it mean to engage in gender-neutral child rearing? 
  • How are gender and sexuality connected in terms of child rearing and the development of gender identities? This is a key part of Martin's argument--I am curious about what you all think she is saying with this argument and if you agree with it or not.
  • We will be watching the clip from Free to be...you and me, "William Wants a Doll" in class on Monday (I couldn't find it on youtube to post it, but you can check out the lyrics here). What sorts of strategies (theories of gender, etc) are going on in this song? What do you think about how this song frames William's behavior in terms of his role as a father? 
  • In her essay, Martin describes one of the critiques made against socialization theory, that it offers an "exaggerated view of children as unagentic, blank slates" (457). (How) are children active participants in their gendering process? How do they process and reflect on their own gender performances (their practices, actions, etc)? Are they just products of socialization? Or, are they both projects of socialization and agents who negotiate their gender identities/roles/expectations?

Feminist Humor on Sex: A Collection of Resources

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1. a) Sex-positive Feminism Wikipedia Page
b) Found by Googling 'feminist sex'.
c) Published by Wikipedia as part of a collection of entries on the subject of feminism. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia-like database written and edited by the general public. It is part of the Wikimedia Foundation.
d) The audience is not specified. Supposedly the general public.

2. a) The Vagina Monologues
b) The link was provided in a blog questioning feminism's impact on women's sex lives.
c) Eve Ensler is the compiler/playwright/researcher who is responsible for The Vagina Monologues. She interviewed many women during the process of her research. The story has been published as a book and the play has been performed in myriad contexts by many organizations.
d) The audience for this specific site are people interested in movie/play/speech transcripts. However the play itself, which is the resource we are presenting has been viewed by many people in many contexts. The primary audience (from personal experience) are women and progressively-inclined Americans.

3. a) Jessica Valenti
b) I found Jessica's blog after having read her book He's a Stud She's a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.
c) Jessica Valenti's blog, which came after her success as speaker and author, continues her feminist thought with pure truth and humor.
d) Valenti's audience would include anyone interested in current, feminist issues with a comedic twist.

4. a) Erotic Revolutionaries
b) I am currently reading specific chapters from Erotic Revolutionaries for Black Feminist Geographies here at the U.
c) Erotic Revolutionaries author, Shayne Lee, offers sex positive thinking in black feminist theory.
d) Lee's audience could include anyone looking for scholarly work on black pop culture, a sex positive black woman, or black sexual politics.

5. a) Wanda Sykes
b) found her during my search on feminist humor
c) topics covered are: politics, gay marriage, karma, healthcare, racial profiling, the pressure of being a woman and the perks of getting older.
d) Audience is very wide most popular within the feminist and lgbtq communities

6. a) Liza Donnelly's feminist perspective on sex through cartoons
b) Found by googling, "Humorous, feminist, sex."
c) Donnelly is a pubic speaker/lecturer and presents on topics such as women and humor, childrens' books and The New Yorker, and has given talks at TED about using humor as a tool for social change.
d) The audience is not specified. Supposedly the general public.

7. a) A psychology perspective on differentiating sexual responses from males and females
b) Found by googling, "Humorous, feminist, sex."
c) Experiment and article by Frank J. Prefrost; offers a psych perspective.
d) Anyone interested in psychology or in the psychology field.

8. a) Pulling Our Own Strings: Feminist Humor & Satire
b) Recommended by the wonderful Sara Puotinen.
c) Compilation of essays, comic strips, stand-up comedy transcripts and other examples of feminist humor published in 1980.
d) A resource specifically for feminists, but with the understanding that feminist humor can - and should - transform American society at large.

9. a) A clip from Chelsea Handler's show, "Chelsea Lately," with special guest Jenny McCarthy
b) Youtube search for "Chelsea Lately"
c) Chelsea Lately is a late-night comedy talk show hosted by Chelsea Handler on the E! cable network.
d) Whoever watches E!

10. a) The Grotesque Pussy
b) An academic essay by Susan Pelle analyzing the work of Margaret Cho.
c) Again, recommended by Sara Puotinen.
d) This article was published in the scholarly journal Text & Performance Quarterly. The audience is primarily academics and folks who can afford to pay $34 to read an essay on the internet.

Stage 1: Women in Hip Hop Sources


Gender Across Borders (GAB)
Their mission statement is as follows.
"Gender Across Borders (GAB) is an international feminist community
where issues of gender, race, sexuality, and class are discussed and
critically examined. We embrace people of all backgrounds to come
together to voice and progress positive gender relations worldwide."
The audience of GAB seems to be anyone who is curious about feminism.
It is easily accessible to the general public via search engines like
This article is by Amy Littlefield.

The Crunk Feminist Collective: Hip Hop Generation Feminism, A Manifesto
Here's a link to the CFC mission statement:
This hip hop manifesto was posted by susiemaye, and really puts a
definition to the term hip hop feminist.
The CFC is also a fairly accessible site that exploreds feminism using
multiple feminisms and ideologies to reach many different kinds of
people, not just "typical feminists."

Prepare Yourself
Author: Marcyliena Morgan
Audience: people who are uneducated about hip hop (says on homepage)
I found it by searching hip hop sites....

Yvonne Bynoe's "Buppies, B-Boy's Baps and Bohos"
Author: Yvonne Bynoe
Audience: Broad; general public; those interested in hip hop--black
I found it as I was searching, I came across an article on "(still)
invisible women in hip hop" and saw that she was the author and then found
her blog.

Fresh Bold and So Def: Women in Hip Hop changing the game
Author: Martha Diaz, Irma McClaurin, Rachel Raimist
Audience: students to inmates
I found this after searching groups on facebook.

Queen Latifah "Ladies First"
Author: Queen Latifah
Audience: Women in the late 80's and early
90's--the greater push was feminist ideas meeting old rhetoric like
"ladies first" through doors used to make a message about women's
value in society.

Drop and Gimmie 50: The Consequences of Listening to Hip Hop
Author: Mikki Zimmerman of For Harriet
Audience: Hip hop fans, specifically black women

Sex, Politics, and Hip Hop 2011
Author: GWSS 3390-2
Audience: Students in the course or related courses, mostly available to those in the same/similar academic area (only ones with knowledge of it).

Author: Safiya Umoja Noble
Audience: General audiences and academia
"This project is a reflection of experiences growing up in the hip-hop
generation--a true Generation Xer. When thinking about the scope of this
project and it's potential longevity for adding insight to community
empowerment and social justice movements, including the experiences of low
self-esteem, domestic violence, sexual abuse, eating disorders and health
related problems linked to cosmetic surgery, it seems even more important
to do this."

The Hip Hop Archive
Audience: General audience
The Hiphop Archive is celebrating Women's History Month by showcasing the
updated Women In Hiphop Collection. This collection of books, films, and
magazines is available at the Hiphop Archive.

"HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes"
Author/Filmmaker: Byron Hurt
The film explores such pressing issues as women and violence in rap music,
representations of manhood in hip-hop culture, what today's rap lyrics
reveal to their listeners and homoeroticism in hip-hop.

Stage 1: Sources


Here are the sources for our group:

Serena Handel

Girls, Women + Media Project
1) I found this source by google searching "girls and media."
2) This organization looks to promote media awareness and provides education resources for those that want to promote change within media.
3) The audience is everyone.

1) I found this source by google searching "girls and media."
2) The target audience of this organization is young adults. They aim to provide media and digital literacy, and to provide awareness about how the media works, and how it can affect their lives. ]
3) The audience is young adults.

Jennifer Hejna

http://family.go.com/parenting/pkg-school-age/article-795755-socially-responsible-toys-for-girls-t/ - Socially Responsible Toys for Girls
1.) I found this site when searching on google "media and toys on young girls"
2.) Written by Teri Brown and was discussed under the parenting section of disneyfamily.com. She talks about girls toys and how they present girls being sexy rather than pretty and the effect it has on these girls such as eating disorders.
3.) Audience seems to be parents of girls and how to develop them healthy starting at a young age with toys

http://www.ecclectica.ca/issues/2006/1/index.asp?Article=25 - Young Girls: Body Image & Well Being - Where do they learn harmful habits?
1.) I found this when doing a google search of "toys that affect teen girls."
2.) Jennifer Oakes wrote this paper because she was interested in the topic of the effects of media on young girls, growing up she remembered the pressure of media constantly telling girls to be thin.
3.) Audience is all (feminists and parents)

Carly Schomaker

Title: The Gap Vows to be "Always be Skinny%e2�
-I found this blog when I searched feminist body image and it brought me to the cite "WIMN women in Media and News%e2� Author: Melanie Klein WIMN women in media and news
Purpose: To educate people about women and how media and different aspects of society affect women.
Audience: Anyone

Title: Tropes vs. Women: # 2 Women in Refrigerators (youtube video and blog)
Youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DInYaHVSLr8&feature=player_embedded#at=53

-I found this when I was looking for how feminists and their views on popular toys and reading material for young girls or women in general.

Author: feministfrequency The video is used to express different aspects of populat comic books and how they negatively portray women and further perpetuate certain stereotypes.
Audience: Anyone Tropes vs. Women is a six-part video series by Feminist Frequency that explores the reoccurring stories, themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows.

Kimberly Ayres

1. I found this source as a reference for a blog on Feministfatale.com
2. Time is an informational magazine, this article specifically pertains to toys that are too-girly and provoking the wrong message. It mentions Pink Stinks as well.
3. Audience is anyone (parents, feminists, etc.)

@_GirlsAction, http://twitter.com/_girlsaction
1. I found this when searching young girls in the media
2. Many feminist twitters (Jezebel and others) link to _girlsaction
3. Audience is young girls, feminists and feminist activists

Hannah Gustison

1. I found this source by doing a simple google search for self-image and feminists.
2. The organization is called Pink Stinks which is a campaign and social enterprise that challenges the stereotypical "pink culture" and seeks to find role models for girls who will motivate girls to achieve greatness based on their talents and not looks.
3. I think their audience is feminists.

1. I found this source through a google search for toys and feminists.
2. Jezebel appears to be a huge organization of feminists. Their site doesn't follow a clear pattern or have one distinct purpose.
3. I think their audience is feminists.

Stage 1- Sources: The Beauty Myth

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Our topic is the Beauty Myth. Here are the sources we have compiled. Click below to check them out.

Stage 1


politicizing of feminism in academia:

The F-Word, When 'feminist' and 'gender' become embarrassing dirty words in academia
• This article argues that feminism is losing prestige and legitimacy in academia, because it is being depoliticized. People no longer think about the feminist perspective that brought about change to the way we view the world because it has become normalized, so progress and attribution is not given to feminism.
• The F-Word is an online magazine dedicated to talking about and sharing ideas on contemporary UK feminism. The webzine exists to help encourage a new sense of community among UK feminists, and to show the doubters that feminism still exists here, today, now - and is as relevant to the lives of the younger generation as it was to those in the 60s and 70s.
• The primary audience for this source is feminists involved in the blogosphere and social media, as it is a feminist blog.

The F-Word, One Dimensional Woman
• Argues that feminism risks becoming a meaningless word, utilized by politicians and pundits to score political points, because it's true meaning has been forgotten/taken away/less understood.
• The F-Word is an online magazine dedicated to talking about and sharing ideas on contemporary UK feminism. The webzine exists to help encourage a new sense of community among UK feminists, and to show the doubters that feminism still exists here, today, now - and is as relevant to the lives of the younger generation as it was to those in the 60s and 70s.
• The primary audience for this source is feminists involved in the blogosphere and social media, as it is a feminist blog.

Defunding of humanities research in the UK:

Clarissa's Blog - UK's David Cameron Pushes for the Destruction of Academia
• The higher levels of UK government are cutting funding to humanities research that is not consistent with the idea of "big society" one of the most at risk being that of feminism research.
• Clarissa's Blog is an academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.
• The primary audience for this source is feminists involved in the blogosphere and social media, as it is a feminist blog.

Educational Values:
Mary Churchill in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "How Our Educational Values Reveal Attitudes About Class"
• This article provides a reference to a shift in the value in a better investment in our knowledge-based economy over the past few years, and now that the goal is to prepare ALL students for college.
• The Chronicle of Higher Education is the No. 1 source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators. Based in Washington, D.C., The Chronicle has more than 70 writers, editors, and international correspondents.
Mary Churchill identifies as a feminist & a fighter. She is a higher education administrator who wants change NOW!
• The Primary audience would be individuals interested in issues of higher education, as it is an online publication on the subject of Higher Education

Feminists in Academia:
Mary Churchill's Twitter-feed
• This is the twitter feed, of a feminist in academia, her tweets provide incite into issues concerning higher education and feminism as her unique experience as an administrator. It also provides links to each of the platforms in which she blogs.
• Mary Churchill identifies as a feminist & a fighter. She is a higher education administrator who wants change NOW!
• The primary audience for this would be Mary Churchill's twitter followers

Women's Centers- blog, debate.
The Chronicle - Why Women's Centers matter
• Provides a debate over the legitimacy and value of Women's Centers. The defense is overwhelming in comparison to the attack on women's centers.
• The Chronicle of Higher Education is the No. 1 source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators. Based in Washington, D.C., The Chronicle has more than 70 writers, editors, and international correspondents
• The Primary audience would be individuals interested in issues of higher education, as it is an online publication on the subject of Higher Education

Gender equity in Academia:
Inside Higher Ed - ABC's and PhD's: Gender Equity in Academic Science?
• Argues that Title IX should have the same implications for academics as it does for sports, and highlights inequity broken down by gender in academia.
• Susan Bassow earned her PhD in Biology from Harvard University. She is now a writer for Inside Higher Ed. Inside Higher Ed is the online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education.
• The Primary audience would be individuals interested in issues of higher education, as it is an online publication on the subject of Higher Education

Whose University? The Campaign's Facebook Page

Whose University? - Introduction Video
• The Whose University? Campaign is an autonomous student-led initiative that has charged itself with the duty of organizing students, educators, workers, and community members to challenge the University of Minnesota's priorities in equal access and resources for underrepresented groups. The Whose University initiative serves to challenge the current paradigm at the university of Minnesota. Questions: Who's admitted? Whose knowledge is valued? And Who's supported?
• The primary audience for this would be people interested in Social Justice and exploring funding and representation, especially at the University of Minnesota


Our group is made up of Annslie, Simi, Jon, Abbie and myself. We would like to ask (among many other things) this:

What would feminist politics look like that advocated the interest of all women in the reproductive autonomy that is essential of human dignity for women? Check out some answers to this question, and more, after the jump!

Stage 1

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Group Project Sources -

Check out this great day of events


Dear GWSSers,

In celebration and support of Asian American Studies at the UMN, please join us at this all-day extravaganza to both commemorate and invigorate AAS at the U!

What: UMN AAS Showcase
When: Saturday, April 30th, 9am-6:30pm
Where: Heller 1210ABC -- except the party :)

A more detailed description of all the days' events are included after the jump.

Screen shot 2011-04-06 at 12.30.17 PM.png

Whoa, y'all. Remember this heart-warming anti-abortion campaign?


Well, the same organization - Life Always - has just launched another billboard campaign targeting black women. And this time they're using Obama's face! Isn't that cute.


Family Values

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Mary Pardo's article on the activism of the Mother's of East Los Angeles illustrates the Latino women as heterosexual who is active on behalf of her family. In other side, Valerie Lehr provides a different construction of family which is lesbian and gay roles. Children is really important and cannot missing in the family whether heterosexual or homosexual couple. Children draw upon the family. Therefore, children are the purpose of fighting for justice in order the children in our community to live in a safe environment. It also draws upon the view no typical family. All types of families are accepted whenever they are raising good children, responsible and take positive action. This differs from the traditional view of "family" where the household is headed by "the male - headed patriarchal nuclear household" (Steinem, 47). In traditional family issues the male would be the one dealing with any kind of conflicts or political issues. The male voice would be heard and taken into account over the female voice. Although women are still fighting to have better life, but they still stay in the traditional roles because they knew that without a male presence they would not be heard. Therefore, women kept the traditional "family" by doing their work in the community but making sure the house was clean, there was food on the table and did all the responsibilities.

April 6 DE- Feminist Family Values


Of the feminist family values expressed in the Feminist Family Values Forum, I find a particular assertion from Gloria Steinem to be particularly compelling. Her ideas about our society's definition of family are particularly intriguing. She states, "I think the first thing we need to reconsider about 'family values' is saying 'family' in the singular. The minute you say 'family' in the singular, it defines one kind of family as normal and renders all other forms peripheral or wrong." Her point is very interesting as we in the United States, as is context of my strongest understanding of "family," do have a tendency to have particular associations with, and expectations for, the word. I feel as though Steinem's point about the word "family" is a feminist family value as feminism has historically been motivated to be inclusive of marginalized individuals, or families, and challenge dominant conceptions of nearly everything. Therefore, I feel that it does indeed go against many traditional family values as it challenges the notions of a tradition family to begin with, drawing into question what a family is and who compromises one. By problematizing the very term "family," Steinem forces us to face the very (mis)conceptions that we have of what it means to be part of a family and to, as an outsider, recognize a family as a family.

DE: Escaping the Prison


In reading Gloria Steinem's section of the Feminist Family Values Forum, I was struck by her boldness, her bluntness, her willingness to critique almost everything about the way we understand ourselves and our role in society, and stand by it. Because it needs to be stood by.

Steinem calls the term "family values" an artificial construction, created entirely by the function of industrialization and capitalism. According to her, this idea of "family values" exhibited by the nuclear male-headed family, is an extremely new idea in American society, and came about as a result of the developing needs of modern America (161). This has led to black and white, patriarchal concepts about how men and women should act.

One idea of hers that particularly stood out to me as important was her idea of how parents should raise their children, because "there is a direct line between the kind of families we have and the kind of society we create" (162). She asserts that the only way to escape the "prison of gender" is to raise sons more like daughters, so that they will grow up without these preconceived notions of how they should behave and what they can do, whereby continuing the cycle (163).

This value is feminist because it seeks to address the inherent inequalities present in our society, which often originate in the way we were raised. This value addresses a need for a family structure not steeped in the traditional "husband should do this, wife should do this" family values. Rather, it speaks of freedom--of growing up in a family where someone can be who they want to be and enter society as a person they're happy with.

DE: Feminist Family Values


I grew up thinking that my family was anything but traditional. First off, I grew up in a family with 8 children which is no longer the norm as it had been when my parents were growing up. It was many times difficult and frustrating as everyone in the community knew you because your family was so huge and getting joked about daily. It was hard to keep a smile and think it was funny. Although I have grown to appreciate this lifestyle immensely now, it was not all happy growing up. In a way it was more traditional as Maria de los Angeles Jimenez states. I grew up where my mother was always there taking care of me and all my siblings. My father worked very hard and long hours and traveled often to support such a large family. When Jimenez talks about the role of the mother being "the primary caregivers in families and caretakers of communities"(157) this is true in the way I grew up as well. My mother was the one at PTO meetings, socializing with other moms at all our sporting events, and organizing play dates in order for us to hang out with friends. My mom was the one building those social relations as well as taking care of everything at home. My family differed greatly in the traditional 2.5 children 2 parent white picket fence but it was traditional in the sense my father was the one hard at work to support all of us and my mom hard at work to raise us all in the social sense.

DE: Family Values/Feminist Issues


I think one of the key values from the Feminist Family Values was the idea of the woman being the rock of the family. On page 157 there is a line which reads, "the burden of sustaining the family, of lessening tensions, of attempting to sustain adequate living conditions for all members of the family, becomes the burden of women." I think this is considered a feminist family value because it's an issue/value that should and easily could be shared between both partners. I think this is also interesting because men are often entitled with being the rock of the family based on them being supposedly stronger, more emotionally stable and the ones "bringing home the bacon". However, today it is becoming more and more common for women to be working full time jobs in edition to being the CEO of the homestead. Thus this value is drawing upon the less modern ideal family where the women manages the home while the man works in the world. Although today this can be opposite, it isn't all that uncommon for a man to stay at home or to be less financially helpful. My mom supported my family for the majority of my life (until recently being laid off) and I would be lying if I said that it didn't have much impact on the home-front. Considering my parents grew up with the notion of the man supporting the family, my dad always felt intimidated by my mother. Meanwhile, my mom was still in charge of maintaining the family (and the household for that matter). This is certainly a feminist family value that needs adjustment, in my opinion. Family maintenance is not a one person job.

DE: Feminist Family Values

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One of the feminist family values that made my family values differ from the traditional family values is the idea that parenting should be taken up by both parents. Despite the fact that my parents comes from Africa where we believe in the traditional family values that assumes a separation of work and responsibilities, my parents were still able to adopt a feminist family value when raising us. The reason why this is a feminist family value is because it eliminates the role of gender and separation of work between genders.
In Africa, the idea of traditional family value is assumed as the definition of a family structure. We believe that a woman is the homemaker while a man is imagined in the public world of work. Young women were also made to believe that being a good wife means abiding by the traditional family values which was socially constructed by the government to promote social hierarchies. I remember that my mum sometimes told me that while they were having babies and my father had to help out, his friends taught my parent's relationship was not a real African relationship. They saw my father as a shame to the African figure and my mum has a lazy African woman. This explains Patrick's idea that "class, gender, race, ethnicity, religion constitute categories of belonging that invoke family rhetoric". This brings me to the point that the context of culture is a very important context which needs to be taken into great consideration when discussing feminist family values.

Day Twenty: April 4



This is a feminist issue because...men and feminist education:

Here's an excerpt from: "Teaching boys feminism":

I've read many horror stories about women's studies professors being heckled by male students who are just there to make a sexist scene. In the high school setting where I teach, I have never had that experience. Instead, the boys in my classes are curious about how feminism might connect to their lives. They want to know if feminism can help them become better versions of themselves in a world that tells them only one version is acceptable.

The boys in my feminism course have taught me that it is essential that we teach them about the various global feminisms so that we can finally reach gender, racial, and economic justice together as fully realized men and women. They have taught me that it is crucial that we bring a feminist lens to not only high school classrooms but middle and elementary schools as well.

My dream as a result? That whole generations of young women and men will never experience and/or perpetuate everything from street harassment to rape; frat boy misogyny to workplace discrimination; bullying of queer kids to the banning of LGBT soldiers in the military. All of these issues connect along lines of gender and sexuality, power and politics. If we teach gender justice to all young people, we might just make lasting institutional change.

Want to read more?
(Why) is it important to think about men and feminism in the context of feminist family values?

And here's another important way to be curious about the issue of "men" and feminism: 

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DE 3 Feminist Values


In the Feminist Family Value Forum, Maria de los Angeles Jimenez discusses the concept of motherhood, focusing especially on motherhood in Mexican culture. Naturally motherhood is a very important concept in the feminism, but also in the idea of family values. What role is the mother expected to play in the family? Is she the one mainly responsible for the children? The mother in a family is the one who bears the children and nurtures the them, but to what extent? She describes the concept of motherhood as being expressed dually in the Mexican culture by two prominent figures, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and the Llorona. The first is the pure mother, while the second is not pure, having committed crimes against her children in seeking vengeance against her husband. She says that whichever way a mother may be seen, she is still defined my the concept of being a mother. She says that in the family, the mother is the central figure, which I would say is very similar to many other cultures as well. Maria goes on to say that for Latinos in particular, culture plays a very important role and brings many important contradictions of motherhood up. In the context of her culture, which is bound in a patriarchal system, women challenge this system by fighting for their rights, dignity, and independence. The idea of motherhood is very important, Maria continues to say that, "The burden of sustaining the family, of lessening tensions, of attempting to sustain adequate living conditions for all members of the family, becomes the burden of women" (37). She is presenting motherhood and the role of the women in a different and non-traditional way because she is representing people who are usually not seen at the forefront. She represents marginalized mothers and women who she says are usually "faceless" and "unknown". Maria shows that the family structure is a complex and dynamic one in which mothers play the central role, but it is also places certain restrictions of them.

D.E. #3 Family Values


From where I come, Sudan, our Family Value's most important aspect is the family. Everything revolves around not only your mother, father, and siblings but rather with your cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other relatives. Sometimes I feel that values kept with my relatives is more important in our family than those kept with my siblings. I think this is mainly due to the embedding of our religion, Islam, into our culture where our Prophet Muhammad said "None of you have faith until you love for you neighbor what you love for yourself." This embedding of the religion creates a lot of my family values. But to the question of what makes my family values explicitly feminist. I think that this is answered in the role women play in holding our family values. In my culture, the children of a couple is always a million times closer to the mothers family then is to the fathers. Although it is a patriarchal society, that aspect of life is held mainly by the mother. The family values of the mother and her family is passed on to the children, and because usually marriage is to relatives, the values are passed on to the next generation, and so on. I think if anything my family values is closest to Maria de los Angeles Jimenez from the Feminist Family Values Forum. She talks about how her culture is a patriarchal culture, but the family values is held by the mother. She also says that the woman and her activities are what develops the family, which is likewise in my culture. This is probably because the woman is the most one that influences the family due to the amount of time she spends with the family.

Family Values

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Many years ago, families had moral values that served a purpose in their lives. Mothers stayed at home and care for the children while dads went to work and provided for the family. In the home mothers would make the children to do their chores and homework before they could go outside and play. Back then, there were no computers or video games to play with so kids had to entertain themselves. By the end of the week, the family would go to church on Sunday. These were simple family values that build foundations for families back in the day. People were committed in doing the right thing. Even though most families could not afford fancy cars or nice clothes, they continued to make the best of everything. The most important value learned back then was respect and self-respect. Parents taught their children to respect them and other adults and respect themselves.
These family values differ from family to family world-wide.In my mind, a family is simply a group of people, who loves, supports, and helps each other unconditionally, and endlessly. Family is drawing upon by work, play and love.Family values are the foundation for how children grow, are taught and supported. Traditional family values usually include such topics such as religion, marriage, communication, traditions, morals, holidays, interactions with relatives and how time is spent together. Traditional family values are usually passed on from one generation to the next, giving children the structure and boundaries in which to function and thrive. Family time, love, play and work give children this foundation. Take the time to share your family values and traditions with your children. Schedule family meetings together, share meals together where the family gets together to talk about the day, schedule recreation and relaxation into your day-to-day life. The definition of family values is the social standards defined by the family and a history of traditions that provide the emotional and physical basis for raising a family. Work together within your family to identify and create your own family values.

What are...family values?

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In this post I want to briefly discuss feminist values/family values and how I have organized this section. Before getting into that, here's a pdf of my reading notes for the Patricia Hill Collins' essay. 

The essay that we are reading for Monday's class (4.4) is partly responding to a particular moment within American popular/political culture when rhetoric about family values was frequently used to critique feminism and to position feminists as against the family and family values. One oft-cited example of connecting the promotion of family values with the critiquing of feminism is Pat Robertson's remarks in a 1992 letter opposing Iowa's equal rights initiative*:

The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.

Another notable (and perhaps the most popular) example of connecting feminism/feminist goals with the erosion of the family and its values is Dan Quayle's (in)famous comments about the fictional character, Murphy Brown in May of 1992:

It doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown -- a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman -- mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another `lifestyle choice'. I know it is not fashionable to talk about moral values, but we need to do it. Even though our cultural leaders in Hollywood, network TV, the national newspapers routinely jeer at them, I think that most of us in this room know that some things are good, and other things are wrong. Now it's time to make the discussion public. -- Vice President Dan Quayle addressing the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco and criticizing Murphy Brown's decision to be a single (highly successful) mother, 5/19/92.

Important to note is that Quayle's comments on Murphy Brown are part of a larger speech in which he claims that one of the primary causes of the LA riots (which happened in the summer of 1992 right after the police who beat Rodney King were found not guilty) is the erosion of traditional family values. Here is a transcript of the entire speech and a news clip with an excerpt from the speech:

As an aside: Did you watch the entire clip? What do you make of the juxtaposition, by the newscasters, of the clip about Dan Quayle and his description of Murphy Brown as mocking the importance of fathers with the clip about Robert Reed (Mr. Brady) and the revelation that he had died of AIDS and not cancer? Is this merely coincidence that one clip leads to the next? Or, is some connection being encouraged in the viewer?

It would seem that for both Robertson and Quayle, feminism poses a serious threat to the family and its values about "right and wrong"? But, why is feminism such a threat? Why does feminists' desire to work for an equal rights amendment (Robertson) or a feminist's choice to be an unwed mother (Quayle) elicit such extreme responses? What anxieties/fears about white masculinity do these feminists claims tap into (see Chloe's post for more on this)?

In her essay, "It's All in the Family," Patricia Hill Collins focuses her attention on "the family" part of family values by exploring "how six dimensions of the traditional family ideal construct intersections of gender, race, and nation (63) and produce/reinforce gender/race/nation hierarchies. She argues that it is crucial for organizations --feminist or Black Nationalist, for example--to be critically aware how they use/invoke  'family.'

In their various contributions to the Feminist Family Values Forum, Lloyd, Jimenez, Steinem and Davis focus much of their attention on the "values" part of family values. Indeed, the purpose of the forum was to bring a wide range of women together to talk about what values actually mean and what values feminists want to embrace and promote.

In bringing all of these readings together, I want us to be curious about:

  • What are families? What are their values?
  • Is feminism bad for families and their values?
  • What sort of values do feminists promote?
  • What does it mean to value something?
  • Why is language about values (and morality) so exclusively linked with one particular vision/version of the family?
  • What differences do you see between the phrases "family values" and "families values"?

Final Group Project


You can download the assignment here.

  • Worth 200 points 
  • You and 4 of your classmates will explore the value of social media for feminist education by:

STAGE ONE: collecting resources on a feminist issue 

STAGE TWO: assessing the relevance and value of information for mass-based feminist education 

STAGE THREE: using some (or all) of those resources to produce your own feminist media education project and share it with others


  • 1 blog post for each of the 3 elements (so 3 posts total) 
  • All members of group must contribute to all 3 parts of the assignment 
  • Present findings/project to class on May 2 or May 4

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