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Final Day of Class! December 13


In "Feminist Education for Critical Consciousness" (in Feminism for Everybody), bell hooks argues for the need to give children access to a feminist education. Is this possible? Necessary? What would it look like? Did you have access to feminist education when you were younger? If so, what were (weren't) you taught?

On our last day, I thought I'd show you my introduction to feminist/feminist values: Free to be...You and Me.

top_logo.gifI'm a child of the 1970s (born in 1974). When I was in elementary school in North Carolina, the entire school watched the Free to and me film (Videos/VCRs didn't exist yet...yes, I'm that old) during an assembly. Everyone was really excited because it was a long film--a whole 45 minutes!--and long films meant less class time. Anyway, I don't remember much of what I thought about the film back then (I was probably 6 or so). Yet, I'm sure some of it seeped into my consciousness, helping shape how I experience the world and how I see myself and my relationship to others. 

Originally a book/album created by Marlo Thompson, with a little help from Gloria Steinem, Free to and me was turned into a one hour TV special. It first aired March 11th, 1974 (3 months before I was born). You can find out more about the history of the project here. Several years later, it became a popular film to show in schools around the country (like mine in North Carolina. It was also shown in Minnesota). 

It stands as one example of feminist mass-based education. Would such a show be possible now? What sorts of feminist (or feminist-friendly) films did you see in elementary school? If we were to create a feminist resource for kids, what would/could/should it look like?

Here's one of my favorite songs from the show:

Note: Rosey Grier was a football player during the 1970s. I really like how "Free to and me" challenges the stereotype of who does cry (girls/women) and who isn't supposed to (boys/men). In addition to having Grier sing the song, they also show a series of images of all sorts of people crying. As I was searching through youtube for this clip, I also found this one from Barney, "It's OK to Cry":


Barney is singing to little Beth about how it's OK for her to cry. Does this song undercut a feminist message to boys (and all children), that its alright for everyone to cry?

Day Twenty-four: December 8


Check out Jessica Yee's tweets to our class/about our posts:

Screen shot 2011-12-08 at 9.30.46 AM.png


Here's some other things that I want us to think about today and next Tuesday:

  • Your experiences with the process of developing and writing your feminist reflection papers
  • Your thoughts about social media in the (feminist) classroom
  • Favorite (and/or particularly compelling) assignments/readings/discussions
  • Any discussions/readings you'd like to revisit
  • Your thoughts on how to build community/connections inside/outside of classroom space
  • Any questions about class/feminism
  • Any "this is a feminist issue because..." posts that you want to discuss
And another thing: I posted this entry on my trouble blog yesterday about shifts in language that encourage feminist curiosity (taking women's/people's lives seriously). Here's a brief chart:


Any shifts you would like to add? Hmm...just thought of one more:
old word: illegal immigrant   more curious word: undocumented worker/immigrant
What do you think?

Finally, one last thing: On gaslighting and mansplaining
gaslighting comes from this tweet:
Screen shot 2011-12-08 at 11.00.54 AM.png

For class tomorrow (dec 8) and next Tuesday (dec 13)


In our last two days of class, I thought we could spend time wrapping up and reflecting on our experiences this semester. Come to class prepared to talk about:

  • Your experiences with the process of developing and writing your feminist reflection papers
  • Your thoughts about social media in the (feminist) classroom
  • Favorite (and/or particularly compelling) assignments/readings/discussions
  • Any discussions/readings you'd like to revisit
  • Your thoughts on how to build community/connections inside/outside of classroom space
  • Any questions about class/feminism
  • Any "this is a feminist issue because..." posts that you want to discuss
Note: Don't worry about coming up with answers to all of these questions; just come to class prepared to have an engaged wrap-up discussion about our class.

Day Twenty-three: December 1



  • Turn in papers today. 
  • Check out the second part of your social media assessment assignment here.
  • Discussing the rest of Feminism for Real on Tuesday with diablog group 5. 
  • Discussing your Social Media Assessments on Thursday.
  • Final class on Tuesday, December 13! No final exam.
This is a feminist issue marriage and its effects on family/children (originally posted by Serita)

I just tried using storify for archiving the live-tweet that I created while reading Jessica Yee's introduction to Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism. You can check it out on my blog.

Lee. Introduction

1. on "not hating-on" feminism, but encouraging discomfort and redefinition

"There needs to be struggle in order to lay out a path to co-existence, and that the process of being uncomfortable is essential for non-Indigenous peoples to move from being enemy, to adversary, to ally" (11).
I want to say that I don't think we need to reject feminism though -- I think we need to redefine it, find common points and common ground and involve Indigenous peoples and other com- munities of colour. As long as there is mutual respect and all of our cultural and historic realities are brought into the mix, we can create cross-cultural human movements (18).

2. on being "equal"

Screen shot 2011-12-01 at 9.19.48 AM.png

(How) does our understanding of the goals of feminism change when we shift away from the language of choice and towards the right to self-determination?

Williams/Konsmo. Resistance to Indigenous Feminism

3. on independent women and expressing emotion: 

I also think that feminism sets this bar of "independent, strong women" that are supposed to be able to "handle our emotions". But the Elders I know tell me that laughter and tears are medicine (Krysta 24). 

I don't even know what "independent" means anymore. I think for a lot of folks it's impossible to not be dependent on someone (a partner, family member) or something, financially or otherwise in order to survive. This especially doesn't speak to our communities, where people are depend on each other and share a lot for survival! We understand that things are connected and interdependent and this does NOT mean weakness (Krysta 25). 

4. on the feminist unification project:

the words we use to describe the mentality of mainstream feminists needing to hold hands, learn from each other and be sisters, in one unified circle of feminism, in order to win the fight against partriarchy. But this denies our sovereignty as distinct Indigenous nations, each with our own language, culture, history and experience of colonization (26). 

Tagore. A Slam on Feminism in Academia.

5. on the need/urge for feminist theory, thinking, acting:

some of us need to engage with feminist theory
so we can ground it in our community activist work
our creative works
our personal relationships
for our families, communities and histories
for our own fucking deserved peace of minds

maybe we need to know how to make sense of oppression
because we're so heartbroken

we don't want to end up being locked away in psychiatric institutions
or in a hospital overdosed on pills, getting our stomachs pumped
because we don't know WHY all this shit is constantly driving us CRAZY (40)

Peterson. The Feminist Existential Crisis (Dark Child Remix)

6. on the "proper" way to practice feminism:

I had started to feel significantly less invested in the endless, circular discussions about the proper way to practice feminism, the who's who list, the removal of my rough ideas on feminism from everyday life (46). 

Day Twenty-two: November 29


Today we are continuing Social Media presentations. Here are a few reminders:

  • Final papers (along with your writing folders) are due Thursday, December 1
  • We start discussing Feminism for Real on Thursday. Read up to page 47 (through Latoya Peterson's essay) for Thursday. Finish the book for next Tuesday.

Day Twenty: November 15

Social Media Presentations will begin this Thursday, November 17th. 
I will return your graded folders and worksheets on Thursday. 
No class all next week.
Check out the diablog discussion on "drop the I-word" and my recent re-post of the Arizona Immigration Law from 2010


1. Key Points from "Illegal" Word is a Gateway to Racism video:

Entire being replaced by a single word, "illegal"

Word makes us comfortable with discrimination at its most unamerican:

  • brutal workplace raids
  • racial profiling
  • indefinite detention
  • denial of due process
  • deportations that tear families apart

The word is used to justify a set of policies that dehumanize and exploit immigrants of color along with anybody who looks like they might be one.

2. Key Points from Rinku Sen's talk on "New Feminist Activism" at BCRW

from Rinku Sen on BCRW's "New Feminist Activism"

Goals for Applied Research Center and COLORLINES:

  • Tell stories about everyday people set in the context of the institutions and rules that shape their lives.  moving outside of individual choices
  • Explicit focus on race/racism, but not exclusive. How might this be a helpful distinction?
  • Challenge: "the post-post challenge" ready for post-feminism, questioning undergirding values (either been established, or no longer important)

How can we better frame our own struggles to build support and "grow" our movements?

frames: ways/systems of thinking, dominant ideas about how the world works, become "hard-wired" ex. "good samaritan" or "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps"...triggered by images and stories, never by data...our political choices are not rational, they're emotional

Always an oppositional frame, our job is to trigger oppositional re-frame

Re-framing takes time and experimentation, lots of labor


  • Can track how the word has been introduced within journalism over last 15 years. 
  • Wasn't used by newspapers earlier; was seen as inaccurate and dehumanizing
  • Now used all the time, partly because anti-immigration activists insisted on its use
  • Began being used repeatedly in news
  • Effect: people think of immigrants as criminals (steal a job, plot terrorist activity), must be detained and controlled
  • Re-framing attempt 1: immigrants aren't criminals, they're innocent, hard workers
  • Result: hasn't produced any new policies or relief, blocked potential alliances with other groups
  • Problem: immigrants seen only as labor, extra pair of hands, but this makes them exploited/exploitable
  • New Re-framing 2: re-humanize immigrants, full human beings (Sen's The Accidental American), drop the i-word and the "I Am..." videos/stories (like this one: I Am...Home, Both Here and There)

overall tips for changing people's minds/raising awareness: 

  • offer solutions
  • re-frame
  • don't lead with data, but with stories set within larger contexts

Resources from the "Drop the I-word" Campaign, including FAQ and Action Guide.

Day Eighteen: November 8


Blog/twitter AND Writing Folders are due today.

Split up class today. About half of you will meet with me first, while the other half will break up into your social media groups and plan your project. Here are your groups
  1. Groups presenting at 11:15 and 11:55 on both days will meet with your groups first. You can meet in the GWSS lounge, the FMC (Ford 468), or in here. Please return by 11:50.
  2. Groups presenting at 11:35 on both days will meet with me first. 
See page 6 of this pdf for details on your assignment.

nov 8          Revisiting SlutWalk and Racism

Intersectionality (originally from Kimberle Crenshaw's "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex"

Screen shot 2011-11-08 at 9.58.34 AM.png

Creating Safe Spaces: Do you feel safe here?

Day Seventeen: November 3



  1. See this post: The one post that has it all READ THROUGH THIS PDF CAREFULLY.
  2. Post a comment on the Reproductive Justice Open Thread
  3. Check out my post on different definitions of Reproductive Justice

nov 8          Revisiting SlutWalk and Racism
nov 10           Continuing with Feminism and Social Media
nov 15          Focus on Social Media: "Drop the I word" 

New Feminist Activism from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

DIABLOG #4 on Drop the I word 

nov 17           FEMINIST SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS, pt 1
nov 29           FEMINIST SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS, pt 2

ISSUE 4: Feminist Education revisited 

dec 1/6          The (feminist) Academic Industrial Complex 
  • Yee, Jessica. Feminism for Real 
DUE on dec 1: Final Feminist Reflection paper and folder with all drafts/informal writing 

DIABLOG #5 on the Feminist AIC on dec 6
dec 8             Focus on Social Media: Whose University? 
dec 13           Course Wrap-up



Day Sixteen: November 1



  • Announcements
  • Overview of Issue + brief lecture
  • Small/Big Group Discussion
  • Reminders about assignments/answer questions
  • Informal midterm evaluations


  • Blog folders AND Informal Writing Folders are due on Nov 8 
  • I will give you time in class this Thursday and next Tuesday and Thursday to plan with your social media groups. Make sure to use your time wisely.
  • Any questions? Announcements?

The theme for today's class is: Reproductive Justice, a "woman's" issue? This week, we will continue to be curious about (and complicate) visions of reproductive rights and justice within feminist movement. Today's focus is on how the language used to describe and frame the issue, can be too narrow and lead to the exclusion of some folks, in this case, trans men, genderqueer folks, people who don't identify/present as women but that need and have abortions (and rely on other aspects of reproductive health too). 

One purpose of today's class is to introduce some concepts that you might not be familiar with, concepts coming out of queer and trans theories that strive to deconstruct gender and to challenge the gender binary. Another purpose is to provide us with another way to think about/apply/complicate C Enloe's idea of feminist curiosity and "taking women's lives seriously." Is a feminist curiosity just about taking women's lives seriously? And yet another purpose is to reflect on how language matters and how framing the debate in particular ways shapes who is included/excluded and limits the possible solutions that we can imagine.


1. The failure to include...
"to truly be a trans ally and achieve reproductive justice, we should all stop saying and stop thinking that abortion is a women's issue, since it's not just cis women that have abortions, but also trans men, gender queer people, and many more people who may not fit into the box of 'woman'" (from:

"There are trans men, intersex men, and a whole range of gender non-conforming folks who need access to pregnancy, abortion and birth related health care, to pap smears, to a range of procedures that we talk about in a very gendered way" (from: ).

2. ...leads to lack of access...
"Excluding everyone but women from our understanding of the group of people who have abortions is dangerous. It makes the procedure less accessible to people who already fall into the margins around health care access. It makes clinics less accessible, potentially a hostile place to male or masculine presenting folks. It makes health information less accessible because folks don't see themselves reflected in informational materials (from:

from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

Screen shot 2011-10-31 at 10.50.21 AM.png

3. ...and the reinforcing of a narrow vision of the problem.

"Because we accept that the debate lives inside the rules of the compulsory gender binary, the forcing of everyone into the boxes male and female. One very small box for people with gendered power: men, one slightly bigger for people to oppress along the lines of gender: women. And way too many of us who fall outside the acceptable rules of either of those boxes because of a whole host of intersecting systems of oppression - race, class, ability, sexuality, etc and gender identity are all reasons we're told we don't fit. This binary gender system is used to consolidate power in a few white cis male hands and to oppress cis women and everyone else. Wanting to keep abortion politics inside the narrow box of cis women, inside patriarchy's acceptable box of gender oppression, ain't the way to liberation - or even good health care" (from:

4. We need to be curious...
"how do we begin to address trans issues, particularly trans reproductive issues, outside of transitioning itself? How do we make prochoice about more than the gender binary? How do we work with language? How do we do direct outreach, how do we make clinics and doctor's offices and family planning centers truly safe spaces? What other questions do you have" (from:

5. and expand and complicate our understanding of the issue.
"Because my oppression is tied to your oppression. Because reproductive oppression and oppression based on gender isn't just experienced by cisgender women. Because to get at this reality we need an expanded understanding of gender oppression and an expanded politics built on solidarity among all people experiencing oppression through the same and interconnected systems" (from:

the limits and of LANGUAGE
the difficult labor of INCLUSION and SOLIDARITY
RE-FRAMING THE ISSUE beyond "woman/women"
thinking through the meanings of REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

6. Dean Spade on language and the reinforcing of gender norms

A central endeavor of feminist, queer, and trans activists has been to dismantle the cultural ideologies, social and legal norms that say that certain body parts determine gender identity and gendered social characteristics and roles. We've fought against the idea that the presence of uteruses or ovaries or penises should be understood to determine such things as people's intelligence, proper parental roles, proper physical appearance, proper gender identity, proper labor roles, proper sexual partners and activities, and capacity to make decisions.

to ensure that we aren't reinforcing oppressive gender norms, we should:

  1. talk about body parts (ovaries, penises, uteruses, vulvas) without assigning those parts a gender
  2. use internal reproductive organs instead of "women's reproductive organs"
  3. use "people who menstruate" "people who are pregnant" "people who produce sperm"
  4. use "not trans" or "non-trans" or "cisgender" rather than biologically male/female
  5. use "assigned male" or "assigned female" rather than rather than biologically male/female

If we know we're going to be talking about bodies, taking the adjectives "male" and "female" or "masculine" and "feminine" out of our vocabularies for describing body parts or systems can help us avoid alienating or offending the people we are talking to. This may help improve access to whatever we are offering for people who are often alienated from much needed health services.

terms to define:
TRANSGENDER (from Stryker. Transgender History) any and all kinds of variation from gender norms and expectations
CISGENDER (from Transgriotcisgender means your body and the gender identity housed between your ears is comfortably aligned; opposite of transgender, used to refer to folks whose bodies align with gender identity
rigid gender system in which one is either a man or a woman

Want to know more? Check out these RESOURCES:

See after jump for in-class assignment.

Day Fifteen: October 27



Reminder of due dates including writing process post by Oct 28

THE ASSIGNMENT: Worth 50 pts

You are required to post a blog entry (filed under the sub-category, writing process) in which you critically and creatively reflect on your writing process for your feminist paper. In this post, you should briefly discuss how your definition of feminism is/isn't changing throughout the semester (based on discussions, in-class activities, readings).You should also discuss your reactions to using twitter and the blog in the writing/revising process.You could also discuss any readings/topics that have shaped your understanding of feminism. While there's no specific word requirement for this post, you should aim for about 400-500 words.


nov 1          Reproductive Justice a "woman's" issue? 


nov 3          Reproductive Justice, 2011 
 DIABLOG #3 on Reproductive Justice (you don't have to diablog about the class summary)

  2. MORE DISCUSSION OF READINGS (if time): See Day Fourteen and below
On Choice and consumerism:

In "On Language: Choice," Woods is very critical of the way that choice as become an empty, depoliticized slogan for feminist reproductive politics and feminism in general. She 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 the 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 (in this essay: "Smith, Andrea. "Beyond Pro-Choice Versus Pro-Life: Women of Color and Reproductive Justice") 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 Fourteen: October 25


Class Breakdown:

Here's a reminder of the details for the reflection on writing process assignment:

Worth 50 points
You are required to post a blog entry (filed under the sub-category, writing process) in which you critically and creatively reflect on your writing process for your feminist paper. In this post, you should briefly discuss how your definition of feminism is/isn't changing throughout the semester (based on discussions, in-class activities, readings).You should also discuss your reactions to using twitter and the blog in the writing/revising process.You could also discuss any readings/topics that have shaped your understanding of feminism. While there's no specific word requirement for this post, you should aim for about 400-500 words.

SUMMARY For the next 2.5 weeks, we explore reproductive rights/reproductive justice within feminism. During week one, we will closely examine (and call into question) a treasured valued within feminism: the idea of Choice. During week two, we will explore even more challenges to reproductive rights by looking at how reproductive health issues impact trans communities and how trans folks are frequently left out of feminist discussions (on Tuesday, November 1) and how some organizations are shifting their political visions from reproductive rights to reproductive justice (Thursday, November 3). Finally, on our last day discussing reproductive rights/justice, we will closely examine how some feminists are using social media to further their reproductive rights/justice projects by reading about Angie Jackson's live-tweeting of her abortion. 


The idea of choice--the freedom to choose, the freedom to be who we want to be and to have the power to make the kinds of decisions that we want to make, regardless of our gender, race, class, etc.--is central to feminism in general, and most central to many feminist organizing around reproductive rights. 


  • What does it mean to have the power to choose, to be pro-choice, to be in control of our own reproductive destiny?
  • How do we understand choice? 
  • Who gets to choose? What are the choices we get to make? 
This week we will look closer at the idea of choice-what it means for feminism, how it is understood, what the underlying implications of promoting choice are, etc--by examining a wide range of feminist reflections on "choice". The point of our critical exploration is not to wholly reject the idea of choice, that is the belief in the fundamental right of women to have control over their own personhood--in body/mind/spirit. All of these readings that we will be discussing believe that this is still an important goal. Instead, the point of our critical exploration is to investigate the ways in which this belief has been realized within feminism and the limits of that realization.

The following clip comes from a documentary by PBS called The Pill (available for check-out at Walter Library). For connections to Dorothy Roberts' chapter (and a brief interview with her), see the first 2 minutes:

Roberts. "The Dark Side of Birth Control"

  • Margaret Sanger and planned parenthood: strategic choices
  • Eugenics movement positive: encourage the "right" people to have children and negative: discourage the "unfit" from having children, 60
  • Birth control: not just a right/freedom from child bearing, but way to control and regulate populations
  • Forced sterilization
  • Buck v. Bell (Carrie Buck was sterilized due to "feeble-mindedness" 69)
  • role of science/medical institution in controlling women's bodies
  • women of color encouraged/coerced into sterilization; middle-class white women strongly discouraged

key point: "The focus on the interests of white privileged women led to a myopic vision of reproductive rights" (96)

Sayce/Perkins. "They Should Not Breed"

  • Eugenics, another perspective: "aimed to rid society of the 'burden' of people who were 'inadequate'" (19).
  • pressured/coerced into using birth control and not having children
  • whose rights/choices are valued?
  • the right to choose includes positive right to bear a child
  • more information about choices should be available
  • more support needed for raising children

"The right to choose whether to have a child does not necessarily mean that every choice about what sort of child to have is equally ethical" (23)

"If we frame our campaigns only in relation to the right to choose, we may risk missing other vital political dynamics, like disability discrimination and the need to take a collective stand against it" (24). 

Crews. "And So I Choose"
"Being pro-woman, being pro-choice, means being supportive of any reproductive choice a woman makes for herself....Our bodies are our own, our futures ours to mold. No one should be allowed to interfere with them. Whatever our reproductive choices, nobody can ever deny us our right to them. And this is what being pro-choice means to me" (148-149).

Wood. "On Language"

  • depoliticizing of choice
  • cult of choice consumerism

Ross. "The Color of Choice"

Ross:repro justice = repro rights in human rts/soc justice frame; challenge white supremacy and achieve well-being for girls/women #femd2011
Oct 25 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

For girls to have econ/social/political power & resources, change must occur on individ, community, institutional, societal levels #femd2011
Oct 25 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

After the jump, see our in-class activity for today.

Day Thirteen: October 18


Remember that there is no class on Thursday. Use this time to catch-up on the blog or begin working on your reflection on the writing process (to be posted on blog by oct 28).

Here's a reminder of the details for the reflection on writing process assignment:
Worth 50 points
You are required to post a blog entry (filed under the sub-category, writing process) in which you critically and creatively reflect on your writing process for your feminist paper. In this post, you should briefly discuss how your definition of feminism is/isn't changing throughout the semester (based on discussions, in-class activities, readings).You should also discuss your reactions to using twitter and the blog in the writing/revising process.You could also discuss any readings/topics that have shaped your understanding of feminism. While there's no specific word requirement for this post, you should aim for about 400-500 words.

Other Announcements:

Miss Representation is at St Anthony Main Theater this Weds night! #femd2011 Sponsored by Gender Justice
Oct 17 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

Reactions to/Questions about Stepford Wives?

Key Themes:

  • politics of housework and the "problem that has no name"
  • public (men) vs. private (women) spheres
  • consciousness-raising
  • personal is political
  • patriarchy
  • nuclear family
  • marriage
  • ideal beauty/perfection
  • control over own body and reproductive freedom
  • liberal feminist vs. radical feminists/equality vs. revolution and transformation

Day Twelve: October 13


Today we are watching the first half of Stepford Wives (1975). Here are a few announcements:

one: Your first reading example of feminism is due on Monday, October 17. It must be posted by 11PM. Here are the details (from the assignment):

Reading example posted on twitter/blog 25 points 
You are required to tweet one example from the readings that supports/clarifies your definition/ understanding of feminism.You are also required to expand on this example in a blog post, filed under the category "reading ex." Your blog post must include the tweet, embedded into your entry, copied/pasted at the top OR uploaded as a screen shot. Make sure to tag your entry with your alias/screen name. Remember, use your blog post to engage with the ideas and to document your process of thinking through what your example means and how it fits with your definition. 

two: Remember to read the "Cyborg Mystique" essay (now available on moodle) for class on 

three:  Want to learn some basic HTML? Check out my post.

four: Finally, Slutwalk continues to be generating a lot of debate on the internet. Check out what I tweeted this morning:

In solidarity w/ Slutwalk, but changed name to stomp & holler in Northhampton
Oct 13 via Twitter for iPadFavoriteRetweetReply

Day Eleven: October 11



  • Watching Stepford Wives (1975) starting on Thursday
  • Any questions?
  • Experimental Group Activity today (you can comment on this post with your feedback on our experiment)
Important: Please contact me to set up a meeting if you are having problems with the blog and twitter. It is very important that you are able to access and use the blog and twitter. 

Places to look on the blog for info on twitter/blog:

Day Ten: October 6



  • Feminism definitions must be posted by tomorrow (friday, oct 7) by 11PM
  • Reading for next Tuesday/Thursday:

oct 11  Social Media Focus: the Hollaback! App 


Hollaback!: Feminist Responses to Street Harassment from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

oct 13/18    INTERLUDE: A Feminist Horror Movie? 
  • Silver, Anna Krugovoy. "The Cyborg Mystique: The Stepford Wives and Second Wave Feminism" (moodle)
film screening: Stepford Wives (1975)

DIABLOG GROUP 1 discussion

Open Thread: Do you feel safe here?

General Feedback on your papers

Day Nine: October 4



  • Your papers will be returned on Thursday
  • Your first informal writing assignment is due on Friday, October 7th
  • Any questions? Announcements? 
  • Reports from Slutwalk?
Brief Introduction:
Last week we discussed Slutwalk--what it is; the feminist debates surrounding it; and how it was shaped by/through social media. In the debates, much attention was given to failure of Slutwalk organizers/events to be inclusive in their organizing and vision. In our readings from Thursday, authors argued that: Slutwalk doesn't speak to a wide range of women (specifically women of color); that the term slut is not one that should or can be reclaimed; and that dialogue surrounding the event does not encourage a deep analysis of power and how institutional violence works. One thing that we didn't have much time to discuss was the positive/negative effects of social media on Slutwalk activites/goals. In particular, while using twitter, facebook, blogs, videos and mainstream media enabled feminists to spread more awareness of the event (to create a "buzz" about it) and generate more support, the speed with which Slutwalk organizing/resistance expanded made it difficult for those involved to keep up with and respond to the many important critiques leveled at it. What started as a grassroots action by a handful of students in Toronto quickly became a national/global phenomenon that developed meanings and representations beyond the original intentions.

This week we are discussing Hey, Shorty!, Sisters in Strength and Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) and the projects they developed to respond to street harassment/sexual harassment/gender violence. For today, we will begin our discussion of the book/project and on Thursday the diablog group will lead us as in further discussion.

First, here's a clip from the "Hey, Shorty!" documentary: 

There are many different ways in which we can talk about these projects. Here are some themes I'd like to think/talk about:

What is street/sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwanted behavior or attention of a sexual nature that may or may not interfere with a person's ability to participate in or benefit from a school's programs or activities (139).

  • How is sexual harassment normalized? Especially in schools?
  • How is power involved in who gets harassed/who harasses? What larger structures do you see shaping street/sexual harassment?
  • How/why is it made invisible? Why is it not reported?
  • How should schools/individuals/larger society handle the issue of street/sexual harassment? How do the members of CGE handle it?

Feminist visions and values

  • The students do not claim the identity feminism. Is it necessary to do so?
  • What feminist vision do they offer? 
We are sisters who are strong young women of color following the example of those who came before us to raise awareness about the issues that affect us.

We strive to deconstruct stereotypes and stigmas that plague young women. 

We are determined to create a safe space for girls to help and learn from one another. 

We are fighting for equality and learning what it means to be a female activist.

We are advancing our skills as leaders to help others have a brighter future. 

United, we create strong bonds for change and social justice. 

We weave ourselves to form a quilt of compassion and fortitude. 

Though we are young, we have a voice that deserves to be heard! (48-49)

  • What is gender justice?

Taking lives/voices of youth seriously

  • How does the Center for Gender Equity take the lives/voices of youth seriously?
  • What strategies do they employ for encouraging youth and making visible young peoples' abilities to act, resist, challenge, and organize?

Feminist education in K-12 classrooms

  • What strategies does this organization use for spreading awareness? For feminist education? Promoting feminist values?
  • What difficulties do they face?

Connections to GLBTQ communities

  • How do organizers/participants see connections between the empowerment of women and gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer youth?
  • How do we think about this issue in relation to bullying of gay (or allegedly gay) youth?

Strategies for spreading awareness and generating meaningful dialogue

  • How do the strategies outlined in Hey, Shorty! differ from those used in Slutwalk? How do the members of Sisters in Strength attempt to create meaningful dialogue?
  • What are the benefits/drawbacks of these various strategies (used by Slutwalk and Sisters in Strength/Girls for Gender Equity)

Role/uses of social media

  • more sources for role of social media in this (cyberbullying sources, etc): a. that's not cool, b. a thin line
  • how did students use the blog in their methods? 
  • how could/should this organization use social media for networking, etc?

On page 51, Mandy Van Deven mentions that Sisters in Song watched War Zone. Here's a clip:

Day Eight: September 29


Today we are trying an experiment. Half of the class is starting in FORD 468 and discussing the debates in small groups, while the other half is in FORD 110 with me. We will switch off at 11:40 and all come together at 12.

Here are the Notes on Slutwalk readings and Activity in the FMC.

I'm interested at looking at the online debates about Slutwalk in three different ways: a. content (what arguments are they making? what are their claims about Slutwalk?), b. approach to debate (how are they engaging in debate? tone? approach? are they fostering feminist curiosity?) and c. the role of social media (how is the online format shaping the debate? what differences does it make that the original author's word are open the debate via comments?)

Here are some notes/themes from the online debates:

on strategy 

Samhita: Activism and social change are not as much about what you meant to do, but instead what you do do, and what is Slutwalk doing in the mainstream media? Are people rethinking the role victim-blaming plays in sexual assault or are people too caught up in the term "slut?"

Samantha: Now that momentum has been building, what strategies might we borrow from past generations and/or other movements to keep it going? What are the most effective ways to leverage the growing consciousness over the media's pathetic treatment of sexual assault victims? And as always, how can we create a movement around this momentum with more diverse leadership?

commenter Samantha: But if you were just about anywhere right now and you asked someone about SlutWalks, they would know exactly what you were talking about, whether they support it or not, and you would have a very deep and complex conversation about victim blaming while confronting the views that you also hold about the issue. If it wasn't for the "Slut" part of "SlutWalk"...would we really be talking about sexual assault on this grand of scale in the news? at the bar? in schools? in blogs? on a complete GLOBAL scale? Of course not.

on lack of power/deeper analysis

Jos: I think Slutwalks, like so much other feminist organizing, are missing a power analysis. There's been some great commentary about the disproportionate way slut-shaming targets women of color. What hasn't been talked about so much is that this cuts across a number of identity groups - trans women and sex workers are also disproportionately impacted by this sort of hate.

This every day harassment on the streets, in our bookstores, restaurants, or walking through a park is not based on what people wear. Rather, the harassment is happening for a wide variety of reasons--mostly related to the theories of power and control. I harasser, want to control this space, harasee. I, harasser, want to control you, harasee. I, harasser, want to make you feel good when I stare at you, harasee. I, harasser, don't understand why you ignore me, harasee. I, harasser, am going to curse at you now because you didn't give me [fill in the blanks] which I wanted, harasee.

This event will not stop the criminalization of black women in New Orleans, nor will it stop one woman from being potentially deported after she calls the police subsequent to being raped. SlutWalk completely ignores the way institutional violence is leveled against women of color.

on value/purpose of debate within feminism

Rebecca: feminism has been a banner hoisted rather loosely by those who share an extremely broad and righteous goal, but who also are engaged in bubbling, raucous, often fractious discourse. In fact, in my opinion, disagreement, differing perspectives, competing priorities -- these are not just the inconvenient side-effects of feminism, they actually often give it its form, its momentum, the energy to keep moving forward and changing and growing.

commenter Emily R If we get people paying attention, energized, and have calls to action - how can we ensure that "next steps" happen? How can we have conversations on a more personal level with people who may not totally agree with us, but are willing to listen, who aren't a part of the population that SlutWalks attract? How can we use the momentum created by walks/marches/events to enact systemic change?


  • Read all of Hey Shorty by Tuesday's class.
  • Diablog group #1 should meet with me today at the end of class list of groups 
  • Diablog examples from past classes: here, here, here

Day Seven: September 27



  • Any questions?
  • Diablog group list is online Anyone still need to sign up? IMPORTANT: all students in the class are responsible for reading the assigned material on diablog weeks. Students in the diablog group are responsible for leading all of us in a discussion of the readings
  • blog/twitter tutorial refresher: a. reminder of where to find checklists b. file posts in the correct categories c. saving drafts to work on later
note about Thursday's (9.29) class: You will dividing up into 2 groups. Group 1 will start class in FORD 110. Group 2 will start class in FORD 468 (Feminist Media Center). If your last name starts with A-K, you are in group 1. If your last name starts with L-Z, you are in group 2.

For the next five classes, we will be discussing street harassment and three different sets of current feminist responses to it (Slutwalks, Hey Shorty! and Girls for Gender Equity, and the iHollaback app and campaign). In each of these responses, the feminists involved use social media and the internet to develop, promote and realize their projects. 

  1. We will learn about their different strategies, assess their effectiveness and think about at what cost/whose expense these strategies are employed. 
  2. We will explore how these responses/projects encourage or discourage feminist curiosity (our own and others). 
  3. And we will critically/creatively reflect on how and why the issue of street harassment is the subject of debate within feminism.

framing the issue/framing the debate: How is the issue of street harassment framed (articulated/understood) within mainstream media and inside/outside of feminism? How does that framing affect what discussions take place? What strategies are used? What solutions are proposed? (How) can we frame the issue differently in order to rethink the issue?

great opportunity to assess value of social media: How has social media helped to shape these campaigns? How has it contributed to misinformation? How has it helped spread awareness? What are the benefits/drawbacks of social media for each of these projects?

what is street harassment?
key components:

  • takes place in public spaces
  • perpetrated by strangers
  • disrespectful/unwelcome/threatening
  • motivated by gender and sexism, with specific focus on women
  • a human rights issue
  • varies in degree of threat and violence
  • usually begins at puberty
  • may happen rarely or on a daily basis

2. from iHollaback

Street harassment is a gateway crime that makes other forms of gender-based violence OK. Studies conducted show that between 80-90% of women have been harassed in public. With legal recourse to address school and workplace harassment, streets remain one of the final frontiers in addressing and affirming basic, guaranteed civil rights.

Comments range from "you'd look good on me," to groping, public masturbation, and worse. These "compliments" aren't about sex or about chivalry. They are about power. Young women are particularly vulnerable to street harassment, and at Hollaback! we've gotten stories from girls as young as twelve. Street harassment may be the social and cultural norm, but it is far from OK.

Street harassment teaches us to be silent, that taking action will only escalate the situation. While this isn't bad advice, it has led us down a dangerous road. Ultimately, perpetrators realize they won't be held accountable and continue to harass. 



some background for SLUTWALK

  • "slut" and slut-shaming: policing women's (sexual) behaviors with anything that falls outside of realm of normal/acceptable being deemed "slutty"; using "slut" to regulate/condemn behaviors
  • consequences for being deemed a slut vary, depending on status/access to power
  • women and the public/private split (women are "not fit" to participate in public sphere)
  • cult of true womanhood and women's proper role: how is this policed? (piety, purity, submissiveness, domesticity) 
  • rape culture and victim blaming

a video on Slutwalk NYC: reactions/important ideas/what's at stake

some important passages from the readings:

from Slutwalk Toronto:

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.

How does moral judgment work here? How is it used to regulate certain behaviors?

We are tired of speeches filled with lip service and the apologies that accompany them. What we want is meaningful dialogue and we are doing something about it: WE ARE COMING TOGETHER. Not only as women, but as people from all gender expressions and orientations, all walks of life, levels of employment and education, all races, ages, abilities, and backgrounds, from all points of this city and elsewhere.

SlutWalk has become a mechanism for increased dialogue on victim-blaming, slut-shaming, misogynist and oppressive ideas that need to be challenged.

What sort of meaningful dialogue can Slutwalk encourage?
How does it enable people to "come together" in solidarity and reclaim space?

assessing three mission statements from Slutwalks in Minneapolis, NYC and DC

Day Six: September 22



  • Papers due today. Thoughts about writing these?
  • Changed approval process for comments. To avoid spam, now comments have to be approved
  • Tip for finding comments: control/command + f
  • Posted on uses of feminist social media
  • Reading for Tues/Thurs with slight change: I have cut the Holly Kearl excerpt. We start our discussion of Slutwalk. Make sure to spend a lot of time reading through the Slutwalk Toronto website (especially their About page)
ISSUE 1: Street Harassment 

sept 27       Slutwalk, part one: some background 

sept 29       Slutwalk, part two: some debate 

Discussion of readings:

Go over: This is a feminist issue because...

Go over: Diablog assignment and pass around the sign-up sheet towards end of class 

Day Five: September 20


Class Breakdown:

  • Announcements
  • Discuss Readings
  • Reports on various feminist blogs


  1. Reminder feminist reflection papers are due on thurs, sept 22
  2. Revised Reading Schedule (discuss and distribute)
  3. Due date list
  4. Thoughts on open thread?
  5.  Review diablog assignment for thursday's class--sign-up is on thurs
  6. Any questions?
  7. I've had some great "twitter-sations" with some authors/followers outside the class

Today's Topic: Feminisms, Mass-based Education and Social Media

Differences/Tensions within Feminisms: generational conflict

(How) can feminist movement speak to the issues/needs of a wide range of ages? 

Traister passage:

You want young reproductive rights leaders? Look around you. Look to the Internet, look to the junior ranks of your own organizations, to the women checking people in at the door of your events, to the potential of the women whose pictures you put in your brochures, but whose voices you apparently still can't hear. Instead of clinging to your positions of leadership, hand them over. Share some of your power with the women who see the world and its challenges differently than you do, who may feel critical and not always reverential toward the choices of your generation, but who have hope and drive and means to take their experiences and perspectives into the future, instead of muttering defeatedly and getting stuck in the past.

When is looking back/history important and when does it result in "getting stuck in the past"?

from Stephanie Herold:

Whether we tweet feminism or blog about it, young feminists use the Internet to expand and explore what it means to be involved in the feminist movement. We usually do it in addition to other feminist work, using the Internet to launch campaigns, reach new audiences with our message, and create a sense of feminist community.


  • top-down versus bottom-up feminism
  • relationship between online and offline
  • accessibility to online media? to feminist role models? to feminist communities?
Revisit one reoccurring question: (How) do feminist blogs/social media work/fail to work for feminist education and spreading awareness of feminist issues?

from bell hooks: (download my notes from the chapters here)
"By failing to create a mass-based educational movement to teach everyone about feminism we allow mainstream patriarchal mass media to remain the primary place where folks learn about feminism, and most of what they learn is negative" (23).

"We need work that is especially geared towards youth culture. No one produces this work in academic settings" (23). Is this true?

"Imagine a mass-based feminist movement where folks go door to door passing out literature, taking the time (as do religious groups) to explain to people what feminism is about" (23).

What other strategies can you imagine for community-based education? What kind of feminist education do you think blogs can provide?

Reports on feminist blogs:

Day Four: September 15



  • Readings for Tuesday's class are posted on the reading schedule. In addition to 2 online readings, you need to do the feminist blog assignment. (note: groups will be assigned today; they are the same as your small groups for your discussion on feminism. If you don't attend class today, pick any one of the blogs to browse.)
  • Contingent Belongings Conference tomorrow and Saturday
  • Post comment on required thread by tomorrow @ 11 PM. Make sure you post a comment directly on my post and not as a new entry. 
  • Still having problems with moodle? Let me know...
  • Make sure to follow me (gwssprof) on twitter so I can add you to our list
  • Feminist Papers are due next Thursday (9.22). 

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. Make sure to write your definition down. If we have time, we will discuss them in class. You can also post your definition as a comment on the required open thread option two (which I will post later today). 

Day Three: September 13

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Today we will continue our discussion of how to use blogs and twitter. I'll show you how to sign-up for twitter, follow me and post your first tweet and we'll talk a little bit about how/why we are using twitter and the blog. We will also discuss your blog/twitter assignments, the blog worksheet and your feminist reflection paper (and informal writing assignments).

This may seem overwhelming at the beginning, but as you get the hang of it, it should get easier. I'm spending a lot of time at the beginning of the semester discussing the blog and twitter so that once it gets going we can really experiment with using and engaging with social media.

Why this course blog? See our welcome page


  • To sign-up, go to and "join today"
  • After signing up, you need to set up your profile. You can add a picture and change your background. Make sure to not lock your account or we won't be able to read your tweets. Do this by clicking on "edit my profile" and then account. Scroll down to "tweet privacy" and make sure that the box is NOT checked. 
  • Follow me, by going to!/gwssprof and then clicking on the follow button (below is only a screen shot for reference):

Screen shot 2011-09-12 at 1.28.37 PM.png

What is twitter?

Why does twitter matter for some feminists?

Day Two: September 8

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For today's class, we are meeting in the Feminist Media Center (FORD 468) where I will be providing a tutorial on how to blog and use twitter. Here's a breakdown for today's class:

  • Introduction to the blog, including: pages, categories, entries, tags, comments
  • Introduction on how to blog: checklist and longer how-to guide
  • Introduction to twitter: twitter feed on our blog, class list, @gwssprof 
  • Introduction on how to tweet: checklist 
  • Distribute worksheet and assignment description at the end of session
For next Tuesday:
We will continue to discuss how to blog and use twitter. We also go over blog/twitter assignments and your feminist reflection paper. Check the reading schedule for what you need to read.We will meet in our regular room, Ford 110.

Day One: September 6


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, posted on the course information and reading schedule pages and available for download here)
  • Overview of course topics

To me: Dr. Sara Puotinen

me96111.jpgHi, 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, and feminist social media (especially blogs).

This summer I reread the Hunger Games trilogy. I also just started Cathy Davidson's awesome book on digital literacy, social media and education, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention will transform the way we live, work and learn. Last month I started watching Mad Men on instant netflix and I'm hooked! I definitely see an implicit (and sometimes explicit?) feminist critique in many of the episodes. 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 queering theory this semester. 

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 another collaborative diablog in June 2010 on feminist pedagogy and blogging. 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 you: Go around the room and do introductions + fill out questionnaire.