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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. 

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 nail polish (from Annslie and mcfad0067) and more on Transparent and gender policing

Here are some of my notes for our discussion of Ch├ívez today.

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 and me.

Day Twenty: April 4



This is a feminist issue 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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Day Eighteen: March 28


Today's discussion includes the film, Maid in America, and the following readings:


We will spend a lot of time discussing the film and then moving into the readings. We will continue discussing the readings/websites on Wednesday. 

  • Who are the women in this film? TELMA, JUDITH, EVA
  • What are their stories? Key issues? 
Critical Engagement: 
Issue One: the American Dream
  • What is the American Dream? 
  • What sort of values does the "american dream" promote/perpetuate? neoliberalism choice
  • What are some problems with the vision of the American Dream from a feminist perspective?
  • What important questions aren't posed/explored when we don't critically interrogate the American Dream?
  • How does the film challenge and/or reinforce the ideology of an American Dream?
Issue Two: 
"Rights as Workers in this Country and as human beings around the World"
Issue Three: Ethical and Political Evaluation
  • How can/should/do we ethically evaluate this issue? 
  • How should we frame our ethical and political reflection? 
  • Which questions should we pose? Which ones should we try to answer?
Issue Four: Resistance and Agency
  • Hondagneu-Sotelo argues for reform and working within the system--not to abolish but to upgrade the occupation--in order to transform domestic work (210). What are some strategies she describes?
  • Do the reforms she proposes come at the expense of revolutionary/radical/visionary change? Do her reforms merely serve to work within and reinforce the system or to do something else? 
  • What types of resistance and agency are the women in the film expressing/performing? 
  • Are these women resistant or merely reinforcing ideologies about the American Dream/Worker? (How) can we imagine them as neither victims or uncritical success stories?
  • What is the value of organizing? Making others critically aware?
How can we compare/contrast the movie, Maid In America, with La Colectiva's video:

Comunicando Poder y Esperanza from la colectiva on Vimeo.

Day Seventeen: March 21


I will not be in class on Wednesday. You will be watching the film, Maid in America. The diablog question for the week is related to the film. I will post more details soon. 

Discuss: This is a feminist issue because...: Is being sexy just all a part of the job?

What are the different forms of labor that workers need to do in various gendered professions? What about emotional labor?

Some important information:

  1. Final Group Project assignments
  2. Revised Due Dates
  3. Some thoughts about your papers
Reading Discussion: 
  • What is the care industry? Global care chain? How does this global care chain create relationships between women and across nations?
  • What kind of labor is domestic labor? How is it different from other forms of labor? 
  • What is the role of love/care in this labor? How is love a resource?
  • What do you think of Hochschild's need to develop a global sense of ethics?
  • How can we think about Hochschild's arguments in relation to Latoya Peterson's (editor of Racialicious): "Don't You Just Love Your [insert ethnicity here] Nanny?"
Want to read more? Check out what I wrote about the Nanny Problem and Alice from the Brady Bunch: The Trouble with Alice

Day Fifteen: March 7

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  • Blog folders are NOT due on Wednesday. I will return them to you after break and you will not need to hand them in again until the end of the semester (May 4)

Today we begin our discussion of Work, Labor and Liberation.

Betty Friedan, the housewife and the drudgery of housework 

Historical (white) Feminist Equation: 

WORK = Empowerment, Freedom, Equality (Acceptance in the man's world?)

HOUSEWORK = Drudgery, Degrading, Oppressive (trapped in "women's" world?)

A "classic" idea within modern mainstream/popular feminism is that women have been oppressed within the household, that they have not been able to explore the "working/career" sides of themselves, and that they have been trapped into doing the drudgery of childcare and housework. The goal, then, has been to liberate the woman, allowing her to pursue the career that she was forced to give up, allowing her to work and therefore be free and empowered to live the life she has always wanted. 

Betty Friedan: The Feminine Mystique 

Written in 1963; huge text for feminism, founder of NOW; "mother" of second wave feminism...she was a reporter who interviewed housewives and picked up on the "problem that has no name." So, in the 50s/60s, according to the popular feminist narrative, women were miserable as housewives, having traded in the possibility of a career for feminine fulfillment in the home. So, feminism was aimed at empowering women to move into the workforce and having careers. 

Some key themes:

  • sense of dissatisfaction: Is this all?
  • limited roles, only as wives and mothers, not workers
  • relies on/reinforces "femininity" and the MRS degree (remember The Pill?)
  • pinnacle: the Suburban Housewife
  • trapped in the house, trapped in domestic routine which fragments her life and leaves no time for her own pursuits
  • a yearning for something more

2 Questions that shape our exploration of this feminist issue: 

Which women are/aren't included in this description? 

What important discussions get foreclosed when we frame the problem of labor and housework in this way?

But, before getting to those questions, let's return to the "problem": Housework and being a housewife involve demeaning and devalued labor which contributes to the oppression of women (which "women"? who "counts" as a woman?). At the conclusion of the brief excerpt we read, Friedan writes: 

We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: "I want something more than my husband and my children and my home" (203).

What is "the politics of housework"? What kind of work is housework?


when we talked about housework, we were really talking, yet again, about power. Housework was not degrading because it was manual labor, as Friedan thought, but because it was embedded in degrading relationships and inevitably served to reinforce them. To make a mess that another person will have to deal with--the dropped socks, the toothpaste sprayed on the bathroom mirror, the dirty dishes left from a late-night snack--is to exert domination in one of its more silent and intimate forms. One person's arrogance--or indifference, or hurry--becomes another person's occasion for toil. And when the person who is cleaned up after is consistently male, while the person who cleans up is consistently female, you have a formula for reproducing male domination from one generation to the next (88). 

Solution One: Increase efficiency, make life and labor easier through new inventions and products


Reactions to this clip? How is housework described? What problems do household jobs pose? What solutions does this film offer? 

Solution TwoWages for Housework

Wages for Housework Flyers 1975: The mission of the Brooklyn-based New York Wages for Housework Committee was embedded in an economic critique of how American capitalism affected women. The Committee demanded that women have autonomy over their sexual capacities and power over their experience as houseworkers or workers of a "second shift" in the home. While housework was physical work, since it was not wage-labor, it was unrecognized as employment in a capitalistic system. Housework was not only unrecognized, it also fundamentally supported how workers would earn their wages. One campaign poster read, "We have all sweated while you have grown rich. Now we want back the wealth we have produced." This campaign importantly connected economic independence with social power and freedoms and demanded that houseworkers be granted social, sexual and economic autonomy regardless of their position within or without the formal workforce.

Here's a more recent attempt to discuss wages for housework.

Solution Three: More equitable distribution of labor 

Solution Four: Women become Superwomen who can effortlessly take care of everything and make cleaning look easy, sexy and fun!

Solution Five: Get your own wife 

Syfer, "I want a wife"

Enhrenreich, Barbara. "Maid to Order" and hiring other women to do housework

  • shift the problem as one for other women
  • not value domestic work as work, but continue to devalue it and make it invisible (not a feminist issue any longer--93)

On Wednesday, we will delve even deeper into why and how domestic labor is a feminist issue with our discussion of Joan Tronto's "The Nanny Problem." Here's a two final passages from Ehrenreich that I would like us to think about:

What we risk as domestic work is taken over by immigrant workers is reproducing, within our own homes, the global inequalities that so painfully divide our world.

However we resolve the issue in our individual homes, the moral challenge is, put simply, to make work visible again: not only the scrubbing and vacuuming, but all the hoeing, stacking, hammering, drilling, bending, and lifting that goes into creating and maintaining a livable habitat....The feminists of my generation (1960s and 70s) tried to bring some of it into the light of day, but, like busy professional women fleeing the house in the morning, they left the project unfinished, the debate unbroken off in mid-sentence, the noble intentions unfulfilled. Sooner or later, someone else will have to finish the job (103). 

Day Thirteen: March 2

Reminder about Readings for Next Week:


march 7 Liberation from Housework?


  • Friedan, Betty. "The Problem That Has No Name" 
  • Syfers, Judy. "Why I Want a Wife"

  • Ehrenreich, Barbara.  Excerpt from "Maid to Order"
  • Bose, Christine E. "The Interconnections of Paid and Unpaid Domestic Work"

march 9 The Nanny Problem


  • Tronto, Joan. "The Nanny Problem" 
Here are two "this is a feminist issue because..." posts that relate to the issue of work: labor and liberation:

Day Twelve: February 28

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

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

Can't remember your group? See here.

Day Eleven: February 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

Day Eight: February 14


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

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

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

Day Seven: February 9



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Day Six: February 7


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

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

Day five: February 2


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

MONDAY feb 7        Feminisms and Discord  


WEDNESDAY feb 9   Ruth Wilson Gilmore


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

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

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

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

Day four: January 31


The title of today's class is: feminism, mass-based education and social media. We will be discussing some chapters from bell hooks' book: feminism is for everybody and thinking about feminism in relation to education and social media. Before we get into that discussion, here are a few announcements:

See more of my discussion after the jump...

Day Three: January 26


  • Readings for next week: scroll down to bottom of syllabus to see reading schedule. 
  • Remember that your "what is feminism" paper is due next Wednesday. 
  • Any questions? Event announcements?
Today in class we will continue our discussion about our blog and twitter. I'll go over your blogging and twitter assignments. I'll also answer questions about how to blog or tweet. Finally, you'll break up into groups (3-4) so you can get to know each other and start critically reflecting on feminism/s. 

Small group activity: WHAT IS FEMINISM? 
1. First, spend some time getting to know your other group members by answering (some or all of) the following questions: 

  • Why are you taking this class? 
  • What are your immediate reactions to the term "feminism"? 
  • How is feminism represented in the media/popular culture? 
  • Would you call yourself a feminist? Why/why not? 
  • What kind of impact has the feminist movement/feminist ideas had on your own life or the lives of others? On U.S./transnational culture/politics? 
  • Has the feminist movement been a success? 
  • Is feminism still necessary? Why? 
  • What is a feminist issue? What kinds of issues should feminists be focusing on?
  • What are your experiences with social media? 
 2. Second, now that you have spent some time talking with your other group members about feminism, develop a very brief working definition of feminism. If we have time, we will discuss them in class.  One person should post your group's definition of feminism on our course blog by tomorrow (Thurs, 1/27) evening. You should post it under the category: what is feminism

I encourage you to exchange email addresses with each other. Also make sure to tell everyone your display name/alias and twitter name. 

Day One: January 19


Hello and welcome to contemporary feminist debates! In addition to all of the other ways we might be using this blog this semester, I thought I would experiment with using it as a space for organizing our individual class sessions. Here's what we are doing today in class:


To the Class:

  • Read over the syllabus (your handout is a condensed version of the longer syllabus, available for download soon on the syllabus page)
  • Overview of course topics

To me: Dr. Sara Puotinen

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Hi, I'm Sara or Dr. Puotinen. My preferred pronoun is she. I was born in Houghton, MI, but I have also lived in North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, California and Georgia. I have a BA in religion (Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN), MA in ethics (Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA) and a PhD in Women's studies (Emory University, Atlanta, GA). My areas of research interest are: troublemaking, feminist and queer ethics, feminist pedagogies, queer theory (especially Judith Butler), feminist and queer social media (especially blogs).

Over break I read the Hunger Games trilogy and loved it. I also just (finally) watched Dr. Horrible last night on instant Netflix. I really enjoy teaching in the GWSS/GLBT department--and I especially love teaching classes on feminisms and debate! In addition to this class, I am teaching a graduate course on queer ethics and an undergraduate class on the politics of sex. 

I have been using blogs in my classroom since Spring 2007 and I have been writing on my own blogs since 2009. I started my first blog, a research/writing blog on making/being in/staying in trouble in May of 2009 and I started two more blogs, both collaborative diablogs, this summer. One is on breaking bad consumption habits and the other is on feminist pedagogy and blogging. The feminist pedagogy diablog, It's Diablogical!, has been particularly helpful and inspiring for me this summer. Since 2009, I have written extensively about the value of blogs and blogging in feminist and queer classrooms. In addition to tweeting as gwssprof, I also tweet as undisciplined.

I am really excited to see how we can use blogs/twitter in this class to explore and experiment with what feminism is and what it can/should do. 

To each other:

Tell us about yourself:

  • Preferred name/pronoun
  • Hometown
  • Major
  • Favorite book or movie
  • Why you're taking this class
  • Experience with social media