Recently in Open Threads Category

Open thread on prioritizing feminist issues


Yesterday the question of whether or not to prioritize certain issues as most important to feminism came up. I wanted to start an open thread to keep the dialogue going. What do you all think?

  • Should feminists or folks/communities working with and for feminist principles prioritize certain issues over others? What does it mean to prioritize certain issues? How do we prioritize? What issues should be prioritized?
  • Does broadening the scope of feminism (and expanding what is/isn't a feminist issue) weaken or strengthen feminist movement?

Open Thread on the "feminist unification project"


Williams/Konsmo write the following in their critique of "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).

Why wouldn't these authors promote the value of "learning from each other" and working for unity?

Earlier in the book, Jessica Yee writes:

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).

(How) can we read these passages together?
What are the limits of working for unity?
What shifts when our goal is "cross-cultural movement" and not "unity"?

Open Thread about the final paper


As promised in class on Thursday, I'm starting an open thread about your final papers. Have a question about the assignment? Want to get feedback from us on your ideas? You can post them (and anything else related to the paper) as comments to this entry.

Can't remember the details of this assignment? See them again after the break.

Open Thread on Access


During Thursday's class the question of access came up. Who has access to social media? To online feminist information? Who doesn't? And why don't they?

For this open thread, I'd like to get your thoughts about access:

  • What does it mean to have access/to not have access?
  • (Why) is it an important issue for feminism and thinking about mass-based feminist education via online/social media?
  • How should we address the issue of access? Possible solutions? Theories? Ideas? Actions?

Open Thread on Reproductive Justice


What is Reproductive Justice?

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 reproductive justice look like on these different levels?

Let's think about these questions in relation to the following youtube clip from last year. It is a response to the possible de-funding of Planned Parenthood. 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?

Screen shot 2011-02-23 at 1.56.37 PM.png
Screen shot 2011-02-23 at 1.57.54 PM.png

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

Here are also some tweets that I did yesterday, related to reproductive justice:

Is goal for reprojustice worldwide change or creating spaces for voices that are ignored? Or both? #femd2011
Nov 02 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

What does it mean for feminists to work together? Do all feminist have to agree, have same vision?
Nov 02 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

Post a comment to this entry responding to my questions in this post or anything else that relates to reproductive justice. 

Open Thread on the Stepford Wives


In our discussion of The Stepford Wives last Thursday, we spent some time trying to make sense of the violent ending. Anyone else want to chime in on their thoughts about the ending (and maybe what it does/doesn't say about feminism). What does the ending suggest about Stepford and the men and women who live there? Does it reinforce feminist critiques of housework, male/female relations, beauty expectations, control over one's own body...or does it undercut these critiques? If you could rewrite the ending, what would you have happen to Joanna? Feel free to comment on these questions or on anything else related to the film.

Note: I just posted this tweet

Just bought Stepford Wives on iBooks. I'll try to post a book review for #femd2011 after I finish!
Oct 24 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

Open Thread on iHollaback


You can keep our discussion going by posting comments about iHollaback on this open thread. Feel free to comment on anything related to iHollaback--the video, the website, the app and/or street harassment.

At the end of class laurenw127 asked about a moment in the video when Elaine May, the co-founder and director of iHollaback, discussed how once she started hollabacking, the number of times she was harassed went down (she discusses it 12 minutes into the video). What do you all think? What can/does hollabacking do? What is May suggesting? (laurenw127: would you be willing to post your question about this issue as a comment? I'm not sure if I'm remembering correctly what you asked.)

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

In connection with the above question, I want to hear about what you think the purpose of iHollaback is and why it is/isn't an effective feminist strategy. Here's what iHollaback says about their project/movement:

Screen shot 2011-10-12 at 1.23.41 PM.png

Open Thread: Do you feel safe here?


Today, on my way to my office, I took a picture of this sign on the ground between the Washington bridge and the new Science Education building here at the U of Minnesota:


Does anyone know about this sign--who put it there? why it's there?

Here are some questions that you might want to respond to. Feel free to comment on anything related to this picture or feeling/being safe. Keep in mind that this blog is a public site; anyone with access to the internet will be able to read your comments.

  • Is the U of M a safe space? 
  • Is our classroom a safe space? 
  • What makes a safe space? Is safety possible? 
  • What does it mean to feel safe? What does safe mean beyond physical safety?
  • Does the question--do you feel safe?--make you curious (a la Enloe's feminist curiosity)?
  • What does safe mean?

On page 100 in Hey, Shorty!, they create a list of what safe/safer means:
no tolerance for harassment/bullying--no matter students' identities
conducive to learning
emotional safe space
less police presence
freedom of self-expression (wear what you want and walk where you want)
addressing violence head on
respect for students' identities
competent staff
partnerships between youth, parents, teachers, community members

And, on that same page, they offer two suggestions for how to achieve this:
prevention, especially through education
a bill of rights for students (policy)

  • What are some other ways GGE and Sisters in Strength work for safer schools?
Yesterday (oct 5) was National Safe Schools Day. Here are some suggestions from Safe Schools Action Network on how to take action.

Open Thread on Hey, Shorty!


Today in class we began talking about Hey, Shorty! Feel free to comment on anything related to the book in this open thread. You could also comment on these questions:

Is the definition of sexual harassment offered in Hey, Shorty! too broad? What are the benefits of a broad definition? What are the drawbacks? Why do Sisters in Strength/GGE use such a broad definition? What about our discussion (with the terms put on the board) of the causes/forces/institutions contributing to the problem of sexual harassment/street harassment--is this too broad of an analysis?

Open Thread on Slutwalk and street harassment


Are you intimidated by speaking up in a 30+ student class? Did we not have time to get to your thoughts/questions in class? Are you worried about your participation grade and want to demonstrate that you are thinking about/engaging with the ideas that we are talking/reading about in class? Why not try this open thread! I've created these as a space for us to continue our discussion and to provide opportunities for more people to engage. Let's keep the conversation going!

Today we talked about Slutwalk. I thought I'd start an open thread so we could continue our discussion. Feel free to comment on anything related to today's class discussion. Here are just a few questions I am interested in exploring:

  • How should we define street harassment? 
  • What is at stake with this issue? 
  • How do different Slutwalk satellites (Minneapolis, NYC, DC) understand Slutwalk and its goals/purpose? 
  • How should we think about Slutwalks as connected to earlier feminists efforts to claim public space--like Take Back the Night? 
  • Does Slutwalk allow for/encourage meaningful dialogue?
  • What are the benefits/drawbacks to calling it a "slutwalk"?

Open Thread on readings from Enloe and Jaggar


Yesterday we had a great (but too brief) discussion about the Enloe and Jaggar readings, particularly these two passages:

ONE: There is no magic formula for reaching fair and workable resolutions of these pressing and complicated problems.The best we can do is resolve to be as open and sensitive as we can to the diversity of interest and range of values involved.This in turn requires us to commit ourselves to seeking as many different perspectives as possible. If we are sincerely concerned with ending the subordination of all women, feminists cannot afford unquestioned assumptions, orthodoxies, or dogmatic commitments to positions alleged to be 'politically correct." Instead, we must find ways of hearing the voices of women muted in the dominant culture, and we must respond to these voices by giving special attention and weight to the concerns they express (Alison Jaggar 11-12).

TWO: So many power structures--inside households, within institutions, in societies, in international affairs--are dependent on our continuing lack of curiosity.'Natural,' 'tradition,' 'always': each has served as a cultural pillar to prop up familial, community, national, and international power structures, imbuing them with legitimacy, with timelessness, with inevitability....I've come to think that making and keeping us uncurious must serve somebody's political purpose (Enloe 3).

For this open thread (which is not required, but is one of your possible choices for the three remaining open threads that you must comment on over the course of the semester), I would like to read more about what you think about these passages and our discussion. Here are a few questions that you could comment on:

  • What did you write about in your free-write?
  • What do you think about the term "political correctness"? Should we be politically correct? How does the term, "politically correct" get used? What does it mean?
  • Are there other ways in which to be respectful towards others?
  • What is feminist curiosity?
  • (Why) is it important to be curious? Ask questions? Take women's lives seriously?
  • Which term makes you more curious: "patriarchy" or "white supremicist capitalist patriarchy?

Required Open Thread: Option Two


In class today we started developing tentative responses to the question, "What is feminism." For required open thread: option two, I'd like to read more about your tentative thoughts on feminism. You could post a comment here about:

  • How feminism is articulated in the hooks, Castro and/or Hoffman reading from today. Any passages that you found particularly compelling/troubling/helpful?
  • The experience of developing a definition with your group members. Was it difficult?
  • Stereotypes about feminism represented in mainstream media
  • Or anything that relates to the question of how to define feminism (maybe whether or not we should even try to define it).
You could also post the definition that your group came up in class today. If you have already commented on open thread option one, you don't have to post here as well (although you can and earn 2 points extra credit). Your comment is due by 11PM tomorrow. 

Required Open Thread: Option One


This week you are required to post a comment* on my open thread question/topic. You should post your comment by sept 16th. Here's a description of the assignment:

4 Open thread comments 4@10 = 40 points
You are required to post comments on 4 of my open thread blog posts. Your comments should demonstrate a serious critical/creative engagement with the questions that I raise in my post. Your first comment must be posted as a response to my open thread entry during the week of sept 13-15. The second comment should be posted by the time you hand in your folder on nov 7. The final two comments can be posted anytime during the semester but no later than dec 7. You may post additional comments for extra credit. See the blog/twitter worksheet for details. 

*Remember that you post comments directly on our public site. See the blog checklist if you can't remember how to do it.

For this week, I'm giving you two options for your required one thread. In this post, I'll offer up option one and then in another entry (posted after Thursday's class), I'll offer up option two. 

004.pngOPTION ONE: In class yesterday, we started talking about twitter and its limits and possibilities for feminists' political and ethical projects. At the beginning of class you read a blog post about how some feminists are using twitter and then I broke you up into groups so you could continue your discussion. For this open thread, I'd like to hear more about twitter. Here are just a few questions that I'm interested in:

  • According to the author of the post, what are some ways that feminists are using twitter for their projects?
  • What are the biggest benefits for using twitter? The biggest drawbacks?
  • Any twitter tips for us?
  • Any recommendations on feminist twitter users to follow?
  • If you use twitter already, how do you use it? Why?
  • Have you used twitter in a class before?
You don't have to answer all of these questions; just pick one or two to get our online conversation going.