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DE April 27: Group B

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While this course has been my first official foray into the GWSS department, feminism and gender politics have always been a pet project of mine. This class provided a much-needed platform from which to articulate new ideas and refine existing ones. The readings and class discussions helped me to bring my already-formed viewpoints into dialogue with new perspectives, and to approach familiar issues from different angles. For me, this course has emphasized that there is no finality to an issue, but a multiplicity of discourses that interact and sometimes oppose one another.

The class blog has been a mostly useful way to exchange ideas and promote discussion, both online and in class. Often, posts people have made on the blog sparked interesting conversations in class, and vice versa. Also, posting one's thoughts in written form can provide the illusion of a safe distance, perhaps making it more comfortable for people to express their opinions without the terror and pressure of public speaking. However, the relative anonymity provided by an online medium, where some of us choose to be identified by an alias or x500, also provides an easy out, excusing one from taking responsibility for one's thoughts and writings. While this has not been a problem in our class, and the exchanges here have been entirely civil, I think there is value in publicly declaring oneself, and allowing one's body as well as one's name to be associated with one's attitudes. This is not so much a critique of the class, but of our generation and of cyberculture as a whole. How is the internet changing how we communicate with each other? How does it change how we form and per-form our identities?

I also question the format of obligatory participation that frames our engagement with this medium and with each other. Because the blog is assigned, not optional, something feels inherently forced and, in a way, false about interacting with each other because we have been told to. Ideally, these conversations would be self-motivated, self-directed and would happen organically. However, I understand that this is problematic because we are all students and, thus, are unfathomably busy all the time; doubtlessly, without some compulsory mechanism in place to keep us on track, the blog would sit empty most of the time. I don't have any good suggestions to improve this.

ALSO. For the record, I hate Twitter. I don't understand how it is useful. The structure of a blog enables and encourages commenting and constructive conversation, which is awesome. Twitter, however, has a character limit that makes any kind of detailed critique or complex analysis impossible. It might be a useful exercise in brevity, but ultimately its limitations are too constrictive. Furthermore, it doesn't allow for comments. If someone posts a tweet that you like or want to respond to, you can do the little "@such-and-so" hashtag thing, but those tweets are uploaded independently and are not attached to the original tweet they are attempting to reply to. The result is a cess pool of random, isolated virtual sound bites that are ejaculated into the ether, encouraging everyone to participate in a self-indulgent and masturbatory barrage of discourse. Fuck that.

Why I Love GWSS

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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.

DE for April 27

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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.

DE April 27

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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.

DE April 27

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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.

DE for april 27

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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.