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February 27, 2009

Question #4

The articles from this week brought up the issue of workplace equality as it applies to a wide variety of positions. The main difference that can be seen today in regards to workplace equality, or lack thereof, is between white-collar jobs and blue-collar jobs. While women have issues to deal with such as the glass ceiling and the maternal wall, at least they are able to, as Joan Williams states, “step onto the job ladders” in the white-collar industry. However, women are frequently unable to do even that much in the blue-collar industry. In this sense, while women have gained at least some ground in the white-collar industry, they have made little or no progress in the blue-collar industry because, as Joan Williams points out, the blue-collar industry is based on patriarchical physical and social ideals, which are much more difficult to overcome than the barriers experienced in white-collar positions since they are integrated into more concrete structures (pun). In the case of blue-collar jobs, gender norms drive the industry and dictate worker norms, such as policies based on overtime, which stifle a family-friendly environment.
On the other hand, while family-friendly and flextime schedules have become widely-used strategies, they seem to exclude single women who are not depended on to support a family, either financially or emotionally. However, with the implementation of proportional part-time benefits and pay, as well as job-sharing, all women, as well as men, will most likely be able to enjoy a balance between work life and social life, whether that includes a family or not.

Blog 4

How do the readings address the different values placed on different types of workers? How are worker norms tied to gender norms? What strategies have feminists used to address inequality in the workplace, and whose needs and contributions have not been recognized by traditional feminist strategies? Can the same strategies successfully address the needs of workers across the spectrum of jobs?

February 25, 2009

octuplet mom porn offer

So apparently the octuplet mom Nadya Suleman was offered a million dollars if she would do an adult film, and with all the conversation in class about her situation I figured some people might be interested in this new development in her story.


February 24, 2009

stupid suburbs

Betty Friedan was formulating her definition of feminism and feminine woes in an atmosphere that was incredibly un-inclusive, racist, and in a weird la-la land of white suburbia that continues to be a marker of domestic and financial achievement.

The movement, as well as the fluidity of culture I suppose, has succeeded in creating a space which recognizes and legitimizes the success of women and men outside of the suburbs, but I would argue that those values are still prevalent in the 2009’s we live in today. Would we have elected a Black president that had not built himself up into the epitome of a white-picket-fence life? That fence still needs to be spotless, those babies fed their veggies, and those damn dust bunnies vacuumed. Now it is just the help that does it all.
Though Friedan’s realization of the white suburban housewife’s ambiguous “problem” failed to include the real life struggles of the multitude of identities outside suburbia, it continues to be the basis of what domestic workers face right now. The failure to recognize the work women do inside the house as such is what both Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo make a point of in their pieces. Hondagneu-Sotelo makes the shift from the plight of a housewife to a highly racialized association of domestic work with Mexican-American or immigrated women very apparent. Though the lack of recognizing housework and family raising as work at all is still an issue within in many households, there is now an entire group of workers who are employed, legally or illegally, to do that work and are not valued on even a human level. There is no way this is not, or should not be a political issue. The long hours, unfair pay, lack of benefits or job security, and lack of respect in general is cause for a political plan of action on behalf of these worker’s rights.

Blog #3

As a human being regardless of our gender, women and men should have equal opportunity to get hire and promote to traditionally held jobs by men because each women and men will have to make his or her own living in order to survive in this world. A women cannot always depend on the men who have all those privilege to get a job to take care of the women because a women and a men may or may not live with each other forever. The women needs to have all the privilege men has in order to survive independently. "Female workers have moved into male-doinated professions, but...they are still dramatically underrepresented at the highest levels of occupational status and financial reward..." (Williams 67) showed that the work place has not changed much. It changed little by little, which only selectively few women get the job, however, they did not escape the "masculine gender display" Hopkins defined because they are underrepresented. That means that they must wear blue-collar work. Appearance is one of the aspect in the work place, but it shows a lot how unequal pay is related such as in the education department and law school. It is still a big issue in today's everyday job because an excuse like the reading mention to not promote women and for equal pay is being pregnant and motherhood. Women should have equal priviliege otherwise they will have to sacrifices their career for motherhood or ignorant for motherhood, etc. We have to be able to live, that is survive with a job by having equal pay and promotion and the opportunity to reproduce which is a law that does not go against nature.

Who's place is in the kitchen now?

According to Friedan, Ehrenreich, and Hondagneu-Sotelo, housework includes all general maintenance of a household. This includes cooking, cleaning, taking care of children, etc. This form of work is very much so, in our current society, thought of as being inferior to other occupations. An example of this comes though very clearly at my workplace. I work as a manager of an apartment building and when someone signs a lease they must have a co-signer on their lease. Normally this is a parent. As a leasing company we actually can not accept someone as a guarantor if they put housekeeper down as their employment. This shows that this type of career is not even considered being in the workforce to some people.
On the other hand, I do think that more people today feel that it is more than just the female's job to take care of the home, however this job normally lands on the female's responsibilities either way. Even now in today's society jobs like nannies and maids are becoming more popular. This is even another feminist issue at the fact that the householders may be too busy to run a home so they leave the "busy work" as some my call it to the maid.
This very much plays into politics within a debate of equal compensation. Women that stay home may feel that men will be getting paid more, so if one person is going to find a job outside of the home and someone stay home it should be the male figure. I have personal qualms with this issue because going into college I actually wanted to be a home keeper with a part time job. I knew right away that this was thought of as a women's job because as soon as I told someone about my plans I was actually laughed at by several female friends saying that guys are not supposed to do that. Both women and men alike are perpetuating the thoughts of today's society that are within these articles.

Nothing Better to do

It seems as though Betty Friedan’s view and overall contentions contributed to the strife that is seen and described in the two following blogs. It is her idea that women should have something more to live for, in conjunction with the fact that she doesn’t even consider the possiblility that the husband to these housewives should do any work. This seems shortsighted and lacking in one of the biggest aspects that made feminism, at that time, what it was.

Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo take on the view that housework is essentially work that is done in a house, and so those who live in the house should take on part of that work. At times, Hondagneu-Sotelo seems to shun the idea that there should be maids at all. I find Ehrenreich’s argument that house work is left for those with “Nothing better to do” as opposed to the more affluent people who have “something better to do” with their time is, to a level, insulting. The housekeepers that Ehrenreich refers to are commonly immigrants who have little to no higher education, or English speaking skills. I have been lucky enough to be able to pursue higher education, effectively, that means, that it is more worth my time to pay someone, for whom this may be one of the few chances at job, than it would be for me to be doing that same work. I do have something better to do with my time, but that housekeeper needs a job, and I can give her one, so essentially, it is worth her time far more than it is worth mine.

However, the ability to work to a higher goal is one that all people should get as much help with as possible in achieving that. This should start with the housekeeper getting the respect and dignity that everyone “affluent” expects. This respect and value will go a long way in improving the conditions of workers, as their view of themselves in this society will change, and more opportunities will be taken.

This should be a political issue, as house keeping is a legitimate job, and the workers should be protected the same way workers in all parts of society are protected. This is the first step in promoting respect for those in this field.

February 23, 2009

Question #3

From these readings, we can conclude that housework consists of labor which maintains the home and the family. This labor is not only physical, but emotional as well. Friedan claims that in the mid 20th century, housework was non-professional work; work by which women could still make money, but money that it was earned in the home, by use of their domestic skills, and not theirs to freely spend. Friedan explains how unhappy so many women were in their suburban, middle-class setting, stuck at home and forced to limit their entire life's purpose to the cleanliness of their home and the happiness of their children and husband. I understand her point to an extent, but I do think that she is really undermining the love and talent it takes to raise a family, and that many women were and still are passionate about homemaking. Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo bring to light, however, that when it is not the mother staying home, that a lot of times it is poor women who travel here from other countries to serve as nannies and housekeepers while their white, middle-class American employers are off at work. A lot of times these workers are not paid enough and are taken advantage of. I think this is definitely a political issue because, as these reading highlight, this work does not come with benefits like others jobs; it is not (or rarely) fair and forgiving with vacation time, raises, insurance, etc. So something needs to be done to insure that these workers are treated fairly and respectfully.

Blog Question #3

Friedan, it seems, views housework in terms of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment of suburban housewives in particular. It is a task that, along with the care of husband and children, was supposed to form the entirety of women’s goals and dreams during the mid to late 20th century. Friedan’s article is written primarily from a suburban woman’s perspective (as Friedan was herself, along with being a successful journalist). Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo, view housework as a way in which we maintain a patriarchal, classist society. Upper and middle class women delegate their housework to workers within their home. These workers are usually of a lower class and primarily African American and Latina women. Both Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo mention that the laws standardizing practices for these workers are inadequate and not enforced or even encouraged. Hondagneu-Sotelo mentions that part of this inequality stems from the fact that housework occurs in such a private area, i.e. the home, and that housework needs to be considered the same as any other job and afforded similar benefits and dignities.
I think its clear that housework has become a political issue, simply due to controversy over certain groups being systemically obliged to seek these kinds of jobs, and that their benefits and terms of labor are not satisfactory. Solutions to these problems will occur on a political level, as legislation over proper wages and hours must be created and enforced on both the federal and state level.

Question 3

In the three articles, housework is mainly referring to the manual labor involved with keeping a house clean, such as vacuuming, dusting, picking up and sorting items, etc., but also relates to overall household activities like childcare. The work itself is devalued because it doesn’t produce a commodity. You can’t sell a freshly mopped floor to someone. Because it is something that always needs to be done, but doesn’t have an obvious product at the end, many people simply overlook it as not real work. They fail at appreciating what went into the clean floors and the amount of time and energy that was invested in maintaining a certain standard of living. Personally, I think that all members of a household should do the housework. (Obviously up to their ability. A three year old can’t vacuum or play with cleaning supplies but can pick up toys.) When people don’t do their fair share of work, it puts the strain on other members living there and those members don’t deserve the extra work. When those with the extra work (generally women) are liberated from it by enlisting a maid or cleaning service, they are placing that work on someone else’s shoulders. Those shoulders are often female, immigrants, have little education, and disrespected. They are often not seen as real workers and our laws don’t fully protect them. Many in our society don’t view maids’ work as ‘real’ work and this results in lower wages, often coming out to below the minimum wage. These women can and are taken advantage of. This makes it a political issue because they are doing a service that should have the same amount of political safeguard as any other job but doesn’t.

Blog 3

All three authors stress that housework is viewed as a woman’s duty, not any kind of work that would entitle employees to a living wage, time off, and respect from employers. Friedan’s piece, which is much more dated than the other two, addresses the social environment that bound all women to housework and childcare at that time. The chapters by Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo, both written nearly 40 years after “The Feminine Mystique,” make it clear that women can successfully escape the daily routine of housework, but at the expense of other, ill-compensated women. Women who are capable of securing a better-paid and more enjoyable position than domestic work leave a void that is quickly filled mostly by poor immigrant women. Because housework and child care are not viewed as respectable occupations, and because of the stigma already associated with lower-class immigrants, these domestic workers living and/or working in wealthier homes are not treated with respect and often not compensated their entitled wage.
I believe that housework should be a political issue. As it stands today, domestic work as a field severely restricts the mobility of a class of people that already face a set of challenges. By keeping these women in positions of servitude and quieting any of their protests, we are perpetuating the same problem Friedan popularized back in the 1960s. The social advancement of one population is not progress if another population is held back.

cruel cycle

Housework, for all three authors, is a devisive feminist issue that stems from a pervasive social hierarchical power inequality. Although the three articles have different perpectives, all have the same focus – people at the bottom of a hierarchy of power who are unable or unwilling (because of societal pressure) to take control of their work lives. It seems a cruel cycle that those who perform menial household labor are regarded are devalued and therefore have no alternatives but to perform menial household labor at the behest of those with more power or more valueable careers. Erenreich writes from the perspective of someone priviledged enough not to have to perform household labor but who cares to know how the industry works from the inside. Hondagneu-Sotelo writes from a position of activism, and Friedan from the perspective ofan earlier feminist outlook. But all three women recognize the basic inequality that has caused the greater devaluing of domestic service – men (for the most part) refuse to engage in household chores at the same rate as women. This makes all topics surrounding domestic labor feminist issues. As with birth control, race is a motivating factor, and one that is left out of Fridan’s piece. When looked at sequentially, these articles in some ways document a move toward a system that views housework as even less worthwhile. It becomes something no one would voluntarialy do so that only those in the lowest positions in society will do it. I also thought about the way maids are sexualized and romanticized in popular culture. Naughy or sexy maid costumes are sold for Halloween, and movies like Maid in Manhatten romanticize a situation that in reality never ends up happily ever after. Housework is a feminist issue and should be a political issue. Sadly, like many other issues that effect millions of women’s lives in our country, it is seen as less vital than issues that threaten the prosperity of the privileged.

Blog 3

After reading all three articles, I feel that each author makes valid points regarding housework. I think that these women differ in many of their opinions, but they all stand together and agree as to what kind of work housework is. Housework is consists of the everyday labors that need to be carried out in order to sustain a functional house. This consists of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. In Freidan’s article, I felt that she belittled housework by constantly using the words “problem” “dissatisfaction” and/or “incomplete”. In my eyes, she discredited those women who engage in housework, especially by referring to these women as “women who had once wanted careers” or “they are not career women.” This is where the authors disagree. Ehreneich and Hondagneu-Sotelo view housework quite differently, conveying housework as an occupation. This way of thinking immediately qualifies housework as a political issue, particularly because these workers are being treated unfairly. Not only are houseworkers underpaid for the amount of work that they perform, they are also limited in regards to bonuses and benefits. These workers are being exploited due to the lack of demands within cleaning careers, yet the majority of high-scale employees would never take part in the dirty work of the cleaning industry. As Ehreneich describes this situation, it is most likely because the employer has “something better” to do with their time.
I felt that Freidan did a nice job of revealing the emotions of house workers, but Ehreneich and Hondagneu-Sotelo introduced their readers to the unfamiliar side of this issue: the politics regarding the lack of pay, the lack of benefits, and most importantly, the lack of recognition and respect. These workers deserve more for what they do. If better wages and working conditions cannot be granted immediately, I think value can be.

Blog 3

According to Friedan, Ehrenreich, and Hondagneu-Sotelo, housework includes cleaning and maintaining the house, cooking, taking care of children, and the overall domestic management of the house. It is definitely devalued in relation to other forms of work. Other forms of work, or as people refer to them “real jobs”, often requires someone to have a particular area of expertise or a special skill. Although housework requires skill, it is seen more as “common knowledge.” Also, it is hard to determine the level of skill needed because the level of “cleanliness” desired differs in each household. Especially in today’s popular media, housework is not seen as a “job.” Primarily, these are tasks that are completed by women. However, as our gender roles continued to be challenged by today’s society, more and more men are seen engaging in this “housework.” Feminists who desire to be “liberated” from this type of work have done so at the expense of other women. Often, women wealthy enough to afford “outside help,” take their liberation to the next level. Instead of doing the work themselves, they hire other, often lower-class immigrants, to do the work for them. Since these women see these tasks as “remedial” and unimportant, the women they hire to do it for them are often not fairly compensated.
I think that, clearly, this has become a political issue. We can’t ignore the fact that there is a certain stigma to the word “housework” the kind of people that are required to do these tasks. Certain groups of people are forced to seek labor in this field and because it is so undervalued, they are not treated properly or compensated fairly. Politicians need to get involved so that these women are granted fair wages and treatment.

Blog #3

I felt that Friedan devalued housework by describing that being confined to your own house was a disease, an unnamed sickness that could not be explained but could in some ways be defined as wondering, “is this all?” Friedan made housework a mindless, unfulfilling task for the women who only wanted to be “feminine” and not real women (in Friedan’s definition) who “…want something more than my husband and my children and my home.”
Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo had a different view on housework and perceived working in the home was another occupation but that the fact that the people doing the housework were not only looked down on but also overworked, underpaid, and exploited in other ways was the aspect that needed to be reformed and not the abolishment of the industry altogether. I see how when some women leave the home to work, that someone else has to take over the home in some areas, but I feel that everyone has a choice whether this is oppressive and at the expense of another person or not. It comes down to whether the employer wants to make the housework seem beneath her and the person who “does her dirty work” inferior or if there can be equality and respect between the employer and employee.
This should and is a political issue for the public and for the authors because common benefits and attributes of many other jobs aren’t often found in the cleaning industry. I acknowledge the problem with the large percentage of immigrant workers in the cleaning industry who prefer to be paid off the books, but this still doesn’t mean that and immigrant worker shouldn’t receive competitive pay and bonuses like overtime allowances and sick time. This is a political issue because there is so much variance across the country on benefits and salary and this will continue to be a political issue until there is adequate standardization.

February 22, 2009

Question 3

According to Friedan, Ehrenreich, and Hondagneu-Sotelo, housework is all the things that need to be done on a regular basis around the home. This includes laundry, dishes, cleaning the floors and dusting, etc. Friedan also saw taking care of the children and cooking as housework, but from the other readings I thought that the authors meant housework was more of the chores around the house that no one wants to do, and less of the things such as cooking and raising the children. It is devalued by society because even though a there are skills involved, there is no right way to do this kind of work. Housework has more to do with personal preference in what the people who live there want and need. Also, it is a life skill learned gradually instead of a professional skill learned in an educational setting, which we have been taught to value because people with the most education make the most money. Traditionally women do the housework, but now a-days it seems to be split between women and children who do their chores that are dolled out by the parents. Strangely though, most men still have a kind of supervisory role in the housework. They do not do it, but want their opinion heard when it is not done to their liking. Bringing someone in to do the housework can help avoid the heirarchy in the home, but hired help is a complex issue for feminists because most maids are lower-class women. The problem is that even though having help for the housework liberates the woman who can then go out and work, it exploits the poor woman who is hired to clean that house because, as Ehrenreich said, she apparently has “nothing better to do” which implys she is inferior to the woman she is working for.

Question 3

According to the authors Fredan, Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo housework includes maintaining the house in a physical sense as well as maintaining the family in the domestic sense. (I.e. cleaning, cooking, taking care of the children ect.) Fredan’s opinion on housework was somewhat unnerving, suggesting that it does not take any particular talent to do these things. She also described women’s liberation in these terms of being able to leave the house hold to pursue and maintain careers while leaving the domestic work to hired help. I see several holes in this argument; the most gaping of which is the fact that not every household can afford hired help. Even with both parents holding stable careers, raising children is not exactly financially effortless. Also, it is not an uncommon fact that children benefit most from being raised by maternal parents. Whether it is the mother, father, or preferably both parents, it is healthier for children to grow under the guidance of their biological parents. Having a hired hand constantly doing all domestic work would create a barrier in family life. Another argument that I believe should have been brought forth is the idea that “housework” can and should be a shared responsibility. There is no reason why every member of a family cannot contribute to the maintenance of the home. In this sense I do not see the need for housework to become a political issue. It has breached the political playing field because of labor laws and fair wages being paid to those who do hire help—but in the sense of the feminist issue; who should be doing the housework, politics really does not have a reasonable application.

Question #3

Friedan, Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo say that housework includes cleaning the house, raising children, and managing the household. Friedan devalues housework in relation to working outside the home. As she sees it, women have the capability of being more than just mothers and wives, suggesting that it does not take anyone especially talented or bright to do what a housewife does. Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo see it a different way; they value housework in relation to other forms of work. They agree that housework can be taxing, both mentally and physically, and it they advocate more rights for those that do housework. Friedan fails to mention that men could be more helpful when it comes to housework, but the other two authors both agree that, while it is more stereotyped for women to be doing housework, it can and should be the responsibility of men as well. Friedan's vision of women's liberation was that women could leave the home to pursue careers, leaving the housework for hired help. Ehrenreigh and Hondagneu-Sotelo brought to light the fact that while those women are liberated, the ones that they hire to do their housework are being exploited. Housework then becomes a political issue because the women being hired are not being payed as well as they should be, are not given the benefits they are entitled to, and are treated without respect. I agree that it should be treated as a political issue because these women are just as much a part of the work force as any else. They have rights, yet are being exploited and convinced that it is okay for them to be treated like that. Though there are laws in place, they need to be revamped and enforced, and until that happens it will continue to be a political issue.

February 21, 2009

Reproductive Rights Agenda

Our agenda will be known as "Educate America". The tenets of our cause are:

-Informed consent to birth control
-Access to birth control, both preventative and post-conception
-Unbiased reproductive education in schools and community centers
-Access to parenting classes
-Freedom to choose (or not choose) birth control and abortion
-Inclusion of men

Our central project will be education and access. We hope to make reproductive education widely available through community centers or existing organizations such as Planned Parenthood. We will tailor our programs to the needs of the surrounding communities, and no special emphasis will be placed on white, middle-class issues. We'd also like to include an internet component. Visitors of our website would be able to join chat rooms and post in message boards that address their specific situation, and we'd have extensive literature posted on the website for quick access. It will be crucial to our success that we popularize our resources so men and women know what help is available to them. Our inclusive and unbiased approach will positively affect many lives.

February 20, 2009

US state's 'personhood' law would hit birth control: opponents



February 19, 2009


i was just thinking about our last class and the language that was surrounding the discussion on disability. i was hearing a fair amount of the word normal being thrown around, and frankly it was kind of offensive. though i am slightly biased, being a graduating senior and having spent a few hours in gwss classes, i couldn't help but question our notion of "normal."

ideas surrounding normality, normal bodies, normal mental capacity, normal experience, so on and so forth, are incredibly narrow and politically positioned categories. we each live our own normal, and have surrounded ourselves with other normals just like us in order to connect and form bonds as human animals tend to do. but the lens through which we view the world around us is a subjective one. the world i live in, the world most people i know live in, has been framed for me, and that framework is dangerously static and non-inclusive. i think it is the underlying goal of this class in particular to disrupt that framework and create a normal that at least has the capacity to include the reality of the individual.

Blog Question #3: Feb 23

The Politics of Housework: According to Friedan, Ehrenreich and Hondagneu-Sotelo, what kind of work is housework? How is it (de) valued in relation to other forms of work? Who does (and/or should do) the housework? How have some feminists' visions of being liberated from home and this housework come at the expense of other women? Why is housework a political issue for the authors? Do you think it should be a political issue? Why or why not?

February 18, 2009



This was a pretty good article comparing Angelina Jolie and Nadya Suleman. I thought the most interesting part was when the author pointed out that the Suleman family is going to be a lot less taxing on the environment than the Jolie family, who will no doubt use an enormous amount of resources in their very privileged lives.

Pro-choice lobby day!

Hey everyone, I meant to mention during class that March 25th is Pro-Choice Lobby Day, and everyone should sign up! It's pretty much a full day (food provided) of meeting with representatives, break out groups, and a rally. Go here to sign up, or for more info: http://www.prochoicelobbyday.org/. The University Pro-Choice Coalition is having a preliminary meeting to figure out transportation, logistics, etc. on March 10th at 5:30 in Coffman 202.

If you can't make it, stop by Coffman 202 (which is the WSAC room, by the way) to fill out a NEAT postcard to senator or representative, and we'll drop it off for you when we go. There'll be snacks and button-making! You can write your own message on the postcard, and we can all talk about how our congresspeople should conceptualize choice in a social justice framework!

February 17, 2009

More Choice

Choice occurs when you have a multitude of options and the ability to select whichever of them you prefer. One choice is whether or not to bear children. Another is to become a mother. But these decisions build on a legacy of choices that the ‘choice’ debate seldom mentions, like the choices to pay attention in sex ed, to read Savage Love, to consent to sexual activity, and even to rape. Still other choices may occur parallel to the pro-life/pro-choice debate. Some of these include the choice to work, to sell your eggs, to stay home, to pay for day care, to save for your children’s college, and to return to college yourself. When we talk about choice, I’m concerned we are ignoring these choices.

The right to choose is important to each of us, and to feminists, because choice (control over your own lifestyle) is essential to ending oppression by others and by other systems.
But I think we need to remember what choice really means, and that choice is something all people deserve, rather than collapsing it into a pro-life vs pro-choice binary.

Question #2

I think that the readings that we were assigned this week brought up a completely different side to the issue of “choice? that I had never considered before. They brought up the fact that choice is being able and encouraged to choose to give birth, or not to give birth, to choose adoption, to choose the type of birth, and all other choices based on an individual’s desires, not forced by any other individual or group.
However, in Sayce and Perkins’ article, they bring up the point that we should be able to “choose? not “pick and choose,? meaning that while we are free to make decisions for ourselves, we need to make them for the right reasons, for example not aborting a child simply because a woman does not wish to have a female child, the article states.
In Nadya Suleman’s case, I think that Sayce and Perkins would disagree with her choice. I think the main point of their article was to advocate that women have the right to choose, but they also have the responsibility to not make careless choices. On the other hand, Allison Crews would have a different view on the topic in my opinion, because I think the main point of her article is to advocate that women have the right to make choices for themselves and for their own lives, and no one has the right to question those choices but the woman herself.

Choice- Entry 2

Choice. It’s obviously not an easily defined word. It encompasses many meanings that can be very subjective. I do think that the right to choose is a fundamental right for feminists. However, I would further argue that it is a fundamental right for all humans. Unfortunately, however, it can come with downfalls. With choice comes power. One person’s choices can affect a lot more than that one person. Not only positively, but also negatively. Choices can also be selfish. Nadya Suleman was give the right to chose to have children. She chose, and she ended up with 14 of them. Nadya should have definitely been granted the right to choose to have children, to chose to have in vitro fertilization (and she was granted this right).
However, as Sayce and Perkins so poignantly put it, this right also goes hand in had with the “right to debate particular choices.�? The fact that Nadya, a single, unemployed, mother of six was able to bare 8 more children without any debate shows a failure in our system. In my mind, to be “pro-life�? is to be “anti-choice.�? Abortion rights are merely giving women the right to choose what to do with their bodies. If Nadya Suleman is able to chose to have 14 kids, then what says someone can’t chose NOT to have 14 kids? How can the same person criticize Nadya’s choice and at the same time criticize those who chose to have abortions? Choices need to have limits, but whom do we CHOOSE do decide those limits? The world is full of choices.

No one has a choice

The articles we read for this week delved into many of the layers of the debates over choice. But I feel like even the most heartfelt of what we read (Allison Crews’ piece) didn’t quite manage to capture what lies at the heart of much of the debate over choice. The socialization at work in our society marshals women into ideological camps that pre-ordain what choices they are willing to make. If I truly and, possibly, religiously believe that abortion is wrong, then I will not ever view it as a choice. The choice all these authors complicate does not recreate the issue in any meaningful way that would ever let us get past our initial assumptions about what the issue of choice is actually about. Roberts argues about law and constitutional rights, and Sayce and Perkins champion a more complex version of choice that limits discrimination but empowers both a feminist and disability rights platform. Saxton focuses on what new technology means for the idea of choice and preference. All these authors call history, either personal or national, into their understandings of choice. But none of the rhetoric actually addresses the underlying war. This issue can only get more complex and more violent, and some of our authors for this week put forward ways to move forward the feminist doctrine on choice to be more inclusive and supporting. However, I do not believe that the choice issue will ever be resolved as long as we continue to build upon a flawed rhetorical base that is used to mobilize both pro and anti choice proponents. The word choice does not mean an actual choice at all. It only lays bare what side of an ideological war one is fighting on. The issue of choice has become so fundamental in defining which women are feminists that all other issues lose primacy. Has anyone else noticed that no matter who is portraying women involved in coverage around these issues, some women is described as the villain. My friend had an abortion last year, one of my relatives feels compelled to enter a loveless marriage immediately so as to bear her unborn child with imagined propriety, and Nadya Suleman has produced octuplets. Society has conditioned all these women into acting in ways they feel appropriate and expected of them. None of these women is facing the same "choice" yet the only word we can use for their rights and emotions and mistakes is choice. Do we really feel that any of us have that much control over our lives and emotions? We really aren't that rational. No one is.

February 16, 2009

Question #2: Choice

I am not exactly sure how I feel about this question of "choice". To me, it means the ability of a woman to decide to abort or continue with a pregnancy regardless of race, economic status, or disability. I believe that if one woman is allowed to choose then all women should be allowed to choose. It should be the duty of the mother to decide if they are able to support another child, but what if their judgement is wrong? What about all of the children already who are unable to be cared for, living in poverty or going without adequate care? These questions are hard to answer, but in the same light, the decision must be left up to the mother because the government would not restrict men who have fathered children and then left those children without support from having more. What if vasectomies were required for men who were considered "inadequate" in some way? On the other hand, the right to choose also has another side; the right to choose "who" to abort. I don't believe in the use of abortion to create the perfect child; it should not be a "tool" for those people wishing to have a certain child or to rid themselves of a baby who could possibly be disabled. What happened to "it takes all kinds of people to make a world"? In response to Nadya Suleman and her choice to have octuplets, I think that all of the authors would support her choice because they are against selective abortion. The collective agreement is that choice should be extended to all women but that it should not be used as a eugenics tool to weed out minorities and disabled persons. It should be the mother's responsibility to decide if she is able to support the human being that will be brought into the world, however, it should not be her right to decide how much support she is willing to give based on the babys' traits, but this decision cannot be governed by anyone because the real motive behind people's decisions cannot really be deciphered unless they choose to make them known.

Suleman, Choice & Reproduction

I feel that choice is to be made by the individual. Not to be dictated by other’s opinions or our government. I feel that the right to choose is the most fundamental right for feminists. If it were not for the right to choose in the feminist movement life as we know it would not exist today. Women would not have the choice to decide and determine when they would like to become mothers. However, I do believe there should be limits to the right to choose. Just because we have the option to choose doesn’t mean that we don’t need to choose carefully and people can do whatever they feel like in society. I feel when an individual’s choices become the burden of society one’s rights needs to be restricted. For instance, I feel that Nadya Suleman’s rights to her reproduction should no longer be her own. And I am unable to understand the logic behind her decision making. She couldn’t/can’t take care of the previous six children she had, and she has placed a great burden on her parents and society with the birth of her other eight children.
I would hope Sayce and Perkins would choose to debate Nadya Suleman’s choice(s), but based on their article I feel they would agree with her choices. I say this because they said “For feminist, the right to choose was fought for collectively-it is part of what defines women’s relationships with society and to male power. As such it must be protected? (pp 24). Ross said, “Population control policies are externally imposed by governments, corporations, or private agencies to control-by increasing or limiting-population growth and behavior, usually by controlling women’s reproduction and fertility? (pp 54). Therefore, I feel that Ross would want Suleman to make the final decision in regards to her reproduction.

Blog Two: The right to choose

According to Webster’s choice is “the power to choose and the act of choosing.? Having options is choice and choosing to act on your options is choice. I believe that sometimes choice is taken for granted. Not so long ago many people did not have the right to chose when it came to voting or schools. Even today in many states people not have choose that effect their lifestyle. I fully believe that the right to choose is the most fundamental right for feminists still today. It is easy to forget that women did not have the right to vote many years ago but it is a right that women had to fight for. Women are fighting for the right to equal pay which is out of their control at times. Women want the right for abortions and better birth control coverage something that even though we have right now we are still fighting for. I believe that everyone not only women deserve the right to choose but everyone. No one has the right to take certain freedoms anyway from anyone. I do not know about having limits to choices, I believe there are certain instances where limiting choices could be the right thing and in a perfect world if someone could not afford to provide for their children they wouldn’t be able to. However I do not believe that there would ever be a fair and equal system that could limit choices without being bias or corrupts in some way.
Sayce and Perkins “The right to choose and the right to debate particular choices have to go hand in hand? seems to fit perfectly with Nadya Suleman’s choice to have octuplets. When thinking about her situation I am always conflicted like so many people. I believe that she should have the right to have children for herself, but I do not think she is making the choice for her children. Her choice has brought up a huge debate in our society about whether she made the right choice and her true intentions for having children. She is creating a debate of her choices and her right to have all those children. Does society have the right to criticize and scrutinize her choices? I do believe that people have a right to their opinion and it can be something talked about but you do not have the right to take away the choice from her without good reason? It is something that seems to be very complicated and controversial.

Blog Two

I feel completely conflicted when I think about Nadya's choice. I sat here for a good twenty minutes trying to formulate an argument one way or another, but I can't fully commit to either side. Crews' moving piece on her choice to give birth when most people found her incapable makes me think outright condemnation of Suleman's choice to have octuplets is wrong. However, I've volunteered many hours in women's homeless shelters, and my experiences make me predisposed to think that large families headed by women in poverty don't provide sufficient resources to the children. It'd be one thing if every baby born to a poor women had the same opportunities and quality of life that babies born to upper-class families have, but they don't. Some people argue that women like Nadya, who give birth without the means to raise the children, negatively affect society and the economy. I believe that the issue here is the children. The mother's choice negatively affects the children who are raised in an unsatisfactory environment. I want to stress that this is not always the case, some women find a way, but I've seen the horrible conditions some children face through no "choice" of their own.

But whether or not my opinion aligns with Suleman's choice should have no effect. When Sayce and Perkins said that choice and debate should go hand and hand, I think they meant that people's right to choice is shaped by the debate over time but the debate itself should have no say-so in a person's individual decision. It is important that we have opinions on what the right choice is, and eventually that may bring us closer to a mutual understanding of a correct choice, but it is imperative for the feminist movement and women's rights that people have complete autonomy over their reproduction.

Blog Question #2

I would argue that choice is one of the most important issues for feminists today, especially in the area of reproductive rights. Roberts notes that “….to most Americans, ‘reproductive rights’ is still synonymous with ‘the right to have an abortion’?(300), but more complex choices of reproductive rights and women’s rights in general are at issue here. I personally believe that Suleman’s actions are irresponsible, as would I if someone of upper or middle-class made this decision; it’s not necessarily only an issue of economics, but an issue of social responsibility in a world that is already overpopulated. However, I want to stress that I believe that my own opinion (or those of anyone else) should not have effect upon this or any woman’s decision. As noted by the assigned authors (Crews, Roberts, Ross, etc…), reproduction is a very personal issue, and women should have the right to control over their own reproduction, as well as continued care for their children. “The right to be let alone (Roberts, 309) is inadequate, and liberty should be a positive right, not only a negative one against tangible harms (295). This is where Sayce and Perkins’ quote: “The right to choose and the right to debate particular choices have to go hand in hand?(24) comes in. Suleman should have the right to bear children and receive the necessary aid for those children, but individual debate and disagreement concerning her and other women’s choices are necessary and, I would venture, even critical in a changing world where bioethics and women’s reproductive choices are becoming more and more intertwined. It’s just unfortunate that this woman is going through national media scrutiny over this choice. In terms of the limits of choice, Sayce and Perkins make a good argument that “selection of an embryo based on eugenic characteristics…is perhaps a case where choice is not a sufficient basis to challenge injustice? (24).

Question #2

I find this question very debatable. My first reaction is yes! I support the right to choose because choice belongs to the beholder and no one, including our government, has the power to take that right away. This argument is debated amongst many pro-life and pro-choice advocates, and it is a belief that is commonly tied to abortion in the United States. Do we, as women, have the right to choose what we do with our own bodies? Pro-choice supporters say yes, but would these people share the same response when this question is applied to Nadya Suleman and her choice to reproduce? Crews states “being pro-woman, being pro-choice, means being supportive of any reproductive choice a woman makes for herself? (148). Therefore, this quote implies that pro-choice crusaders should indeed support Ms. Suleman’s decision. When you take the quote –“The right to choose and the right to debate particular choices have to go hand in hand?- and apply it to Ms. Suleman’s situation, Nadya’s situation can be looked at in an entire different way. Yes, she has the right to choose, but did she and her doctors debate this particular choice to the magnitude it deserved?
In my eyes, I don’t think she did.

Blog #2

It is hard to face with a choice between abortion and motherhood. There is not right or wrong answer to this because it is the condition, age, and education that are the cons side of not having bearing the child. If a female has a good education, at a legal age to work, and get a good job then no one can question her whether to bear or not to bear the child. Allison Crews experience is a true experience because we can make the same mistakes like her. In the reading she said she was surround by pregnant teenagers when she was little not thinking she would be one of them one day. If anything choice we have made before is easy, choosing to abort or be a mother is not an easy choice. It really depends on the time one were born such as being in the generation where one have access to birth control or not because of race, gender, discrimination, and disability has been the obstacles. If we have a choice, it is something our body either create a permanent being or destroy this being in us. It is always good to be happy with somebody's choice to have a child and encouraging to them. If they are not yet pregnant, but are thinking about becoming a parent at a teenage then it would be appropriate to tell them what are the disadvantage and advantage. This is the way a parent would teach their children. This is why when the child happened to be pregnant then the parents still is supportive of them like in Crews case. Friends and other people are part of the society that do not understand the child best as the parents do. Crew showed this when she said, " Yet, I never carried through with any of those appointments." (Pg. 145)

Question #2

Choice. How do we decide how much choice any one person is to have? How do we decide where to go with choice? How do we define choice? Not many people define choice as the same thing. Some emphasize justice, others empathize the importance of living within ones means. Many feminists believe that choice is one of the most important aspects of feminism. The choice to have children, the choice to work, the choice to vote, etc. Choice is what feminists have been pushing towards since feminists inception. However, we now are faced with questions that may split the feminist group. Does everyone have the same choice ability? When are we to draw the line?
In my opinion, it must be awful for Nadya Suleman to be in the heat for making a choice this drastic (having 14 babies). However, it is not in the best interest for her, her family, or the country to have this many children without the financial wealth to do it. Declaring bankruptcy in 2008, Nadya clearly will not be able to afford the diapers, food, bedding, clothes, etc. for all 8 of her new babies. College tuition is going to be difficult, basic living is going to be difficult. I feel that if Nadya really wanted something in the best interest for her children, she would have put extra care and attention into just a few children rather than bring 14 children into the world that she can’t take care of. The choice that she made was not the choice in the best interest for her family. All in all, when people make choices, they should think of a larger scale as opposed to the right here right now thoughts. That’s one issue with choice that we have to clarify.

Blog 2 - Choice

The right of choice should be equally distributed amongst the sexes and open for our abilities to shine. Women and men alike should have the choice of their own body, feelings, thoughts, opinions, work and educational opportunites, and so forth. Feminists as well should voice about what they feel most importantly. I believe that everyone should have the freedoms and right to choose and do as they please as long as they don't harm others or essentially break any laws. If everyone was true to themselves and others, the world would go round.

I enjoyed reading Allison Crews' work "And So I Chose" because it hit home a little bit. I could relate some of her feelings and experiences to my best friend as she was in the similar place as the author and those we advocated for and against. "And her rights were ignored because she was young, she was female, and she was pregnat" (145) related to my friend. Far too many people were quick to judge and oppress in these situations. Who are they to judge? I believe with the saying walk a mile in my shoe...

Nadya's decision and position she is in, is hard for me to understand. She knowingly went along with the procedure and said she understood that her house was in foreclosure, her other six kids were being taken care of by her mom, they lived off of welfare and food stamps. With how society views her and her decision we discriminate and point our fingers, however, who are we to say who can and cannot have children. If she loves them and takes care of them to her best ability, isn't that fair enough? I am torn between that issue and do not know exactly how I feel or view her. I am curious to see how the doctor justified his reasoning given the circumstances.

Group 4 definitions

Birth Control: When is it a right? When is it a duty?
It is a right to have as many kids as you want; therefore, access to birth control should be a right because when you are done having children, you should be able to stop having kids when you want.
It is a duty to use birth control if economically, you can not support a child. It is a duty to live within your means. Also, one should use birth control if you know you are not able to raise a child and probably wont use a condom when engaging in sexual activities.

Positive Eugenics is a way to selectively reproduce by having the better members of society produce more (generally ended up being the white members of society)
Negative Eugenics is not allowed inferior people to not reproduce.

Carrie Buck and Buck vs. Bell
THe Supreme Court Case in which the treatment of mentally ill people was questioned. It as thought to be in violation of equal protection, the Supreme Court, however, decided it was in the governments interest to not treat mentally ill people equal. That decision was later overturned.

Question #2

Choice (as defined by Webster) is the right, power, or opportunity to choose; option. The ability to choose is something that has blessed and plagued humanity since the beginning of time. I would consider choice to be a fundamental right for all people, not necessarily just select groups. All people should have the ability to choose the way in which they would like to live their life. This is the idea behind democracy and freedom. However, with autonomy comes a dark liability. The fact that we are able to make vital decisions that will affect not only our lives but the lives of those around us puts a heavy responsibility on the aspect of choice. Of course our ability to choose should be limited, hence the reason there are laws. Without some regulation on the choices of all people—there would be anarchy. A society without restrictions would produce chaotic results.
Hence we have—the question of the right to choose an abortion. It is a woman’s right to choose exactly what she does with her body and how she does it, there is no one that can honestly deny another human being that right. But, is it that woman’s right to choose what happens to a child? Once pregnant, a woman’s body is no longer holding just one life, and her choice is no longer just affecting her.

Blog #2

Personally, I don’t believe there should be any restriction on any woman’s right to choose to have an abortion or not, or to choose to have prenatal screening of any sort or to decide against it. I do think that the right to choose is one of the main feminist ideals and that no one, including the government, should restrict anyone’s right to choose in any way shape or form. I don’t believe in limits to choice or that anyone should be able to decide those limits because that creates a feeling of inequality which is something feminists are trying to fight.
I also feel that although I might not completely agree with Suleman’s decision to have octuplets from in vitro fertilization, it is not for me to decide what she feels is best for herself and for her children. There is no way that I could know her, or any other woman’s personal situation or disposition enough to warrant hindering her options and decisions. I feel that many of the authors I have recently read for this section would also agree that there should be no limitations on choice and that no one is qualified to make decisions for anyone else.

February 14, 2009

Question #2

I think all of the authors we read this week are making the point that we must incorporate a more comprehensive definition of choice into the movement. Roberts holds that choice in a social justice framework allows for greater equity, and Ross also integrates the notion of justice into her definition of choice. Crews, Sayce and Perkins, and Saxton all remind us that choice must also be extended to those who want to have children but are pressured not to. This is the same situation that Nadya Suleman is in. Because of her financial and marital situation, she has been pressured and encouraged not to have more children, even though children are clearly her passion. This is very much the same as encouraging working class or impoverished women not to have lots of children; the “responsible? thing to do is to have only as many children as you can afford. I think the reason Suleman is taking so much heat is because her pregnancy was the result of in vitro fertilization. In this case, it’s not just that Suleman accidentally got pregnant and didn’t have an abortion, it’s that she went to great lengths to become pregnant in the first place in order to have LOTS of kids she knew she probably couldn’t afford.
I like thinking of this situation in the framework Sayce and Perkins set up; that women should be supported in any choice they make (that Suleman should be able to raise her kids with any and all assistance that she needs), but also we need to be careful when we implicitly encourage some women to have abortions (those who will give birth to disabled children and those who will have trouble supporting their children). The difference between Suleman and that one family on TLC with 17 kids (which, admittedly, I’ve never watched) seems to be the financial situation. So is it fair to give one family a show (which I would say amounts to implicit approval of their choices) and call the other one crazy and irresponsible?

February 12, 2009

Group 3 definitions

Comstock Law: Prohibited use and distribution of information about contraceptives
1977 Hyde Amendment: Prohibited federal funding for abortions; response to Roe v. Wade
Race Suicide: Fear from African American community that promotion of birth control was a form of genocide

February 11, 2009

Sex-Postive Shabbat

Friday, Feb 13th at 7:15 at Hillel (1521 University Ave SE...across the street from Folwell) there will be free delicious dinner and a sex talk. We're going to examine some of the problems that arise from rigid gender roles, expand our definition of consent beyond the "no means no" model, and address any questions/thoughts/ideas that you have too.

If you have any questions or think you might be interested but want someone to go with call/email/facebook me at 414.803.0566/lynch245@umn.edu/jessica annabelle

Group One Definitions

Voluntary Motherhood- choosing if and when to have children

Abortion rights vs. Pro-abortion- not saying whether abortion is right or wrong but whether someone else has the right to make her own decision

Birth Control as Freedom- Taking the fear of unplanned pregnancies away from women

Other readings on birth control

Here are a couple of sources that address in more detail some of the birth control issues that were raised in the readings and film:

Laura Briggs, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico

Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality has two chapters on the "discovery" of sex hormones that address how prevailing conceptualizations of masculinity and femininity affected scientific research into hormones. Available via Googlebooks at http://books.google.com/books?id=c3lhYfZzIXkC

Laura Briggs's work on women in Puerto Rico

Last night Rebecca mentioned Laura Briggs and her work on sterilization and women in Puerto Rico. If you want to read more, check out: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~lbriggs/puertorico.html

Blog Questions #2

What is choice? Is the right to choose the most fundamental right for feminists? Are there other rights that are just as important? Should there be limits to our ability to “choose?? Who gets to decide those limits?

How do we think about “the right to choose? in relation to Nadya Suleman and her choice to have octuplets (see: Nadya Suleman-and-the-choice-we-never-respect)? How do you think Sayce and Perkins, in “They Should not Breed? would respond to this when they write: “The right to choose and the right to debate particular choices have to go hand in hand? (24)? What about some of the other authors (Ross, Crews, Saxton or Wood)—what do they say about the limits and/or possibilities of choice?

End Violence Against Women Day

Although it is too late to attend, I thought this was an interesting site. There is a link for updated articles but it wouldn't load when I tried it. Hopefully it works for you guys!


Eugenics- The study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable traits or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits.

Sterilization- A medical procedure that prevents women and men from ever reproducing.

Birth control- The use of the pill or sterilization in order to prevent reproduction, by particular groups of people.

February 10, 2009

Your groups

Here is the group Sign-up sheet. Make sure that you exchange contact information with each other and start planning for your presentation.

Please email me (or stop by my office hours) if you need some suggestions on sources for your topic.

Since when is abuse "Fair Game"


Problems with Feminist Blogging


Blog #1

At a first glance, it may seem harsh for someone to believe in such a thing as eugenics. However, after further investigation, it seems to me as if Margaret Sanger knew something others didn’t. To me, she was smarter than the average bear. She knew how to play the system. She knew that if she sided with a larger group, that there was a greater probability that she could have her ideas passed in laws. In fact, Sanger only sided with eugenics as a means to prevent children from being born into a disadvantages life and completely dismissed positive eugenics for upper class – which to me, signifies that she was not racist and not a full-hearted eugenic supporter. She rejected types of eugenics that took the option of birth out of the hands of women – this is only further evidence that she was in favor of liberating women and completely about options. She disapproved of the eugenics movement in Nazi Germany further exemplifying her non-racist views. After much investigation, I have found that Margaret was, in fact, not racist (in my opinion) because she was glorified by people such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and W.E.B DuBois.

Blog #1 - Sanger

In my opinion, Sanger did sell out when she campaigned for effective, safe, free birth control. I know that sometime the saying goes if you can't beat them join them, but by doing so she created all sorts of problems for the future. What bothers me the most is how she came from a poor background and had about ten brothers and sisters, so I would think she would've been more sympathetic to the group of women beng suppressed. Both Davis and Roberts would agree because both quoted the multiple problems that the racist idea of "controlling" inferior races or handicapped people created. The whole point of birth control is choice but by changing the idea of birth control for the advancement of women to the eugenics idea of controlling populations, Sanger helped to exclude poorer women and minorities from the choice anyway. Since they were frequently subjected to involuntary sterlizations, which led this group of women to be skeptical of the abortion movement later on makes me feel like what was the point? Although we now have access to birth control, the lasting effects of eugenics make me think that it was sort of like taking one step forward and two steps backward. Also, I feel like this skepticism and exclusion of minorities caused a split in the feminist movement which bell hooks talked about too.

Blog #1 - Sanger

I don't think that Sanger was a racist. Although her message could be taken either way, in the end she was communicating for one side - birth control for all. She did speak to the more 'white elite' and discuss the different social classes within society, however, she was never quoted to be for the sterilization of Black women. The article discussed that if people were unfit or lived in poverty that they should not be allowed birth control, but also should not bear chidren - how does that make sense? Doesn't that contradict itself?

"It appears that Sanger was motivated by a genuine concern to improve the health of the poor mothers she served rather than a desire to eliminate their stock. Sanger believed that their afflictions arose from their unrestrained fertility, not their genes or racial heritage" (81) is a great quote that sums up what Sanger was getting at. Both Robert and Davis agree that she is not necessarily racist, however, could see that some people would take her messages and views in different directions. I don't believe that this article was an attack necessarily on men in response to others blogs. In the section about birth control as a racial genocide, the quote that Dick Gregory states is a perfect fit for the social times and racial views of the 'white elite.' "For years they told us where to sit, where to eat, and where to live. Now they want to dictate our bedroom habits...Now that we've got a little taste of power, white folks want us to call a moratorium on having children" (98). How fitting is that.

Blog Response #1 2/9

I believe that the ideas supported in Margaret Sanger’s article are sound. All women have the right to control their own bodies, and this is a condition mandatory for women’s liberation from oppression and exploitation (Sanger, 138). It was very enlightening to read a comprehensive history of eugenics in D. Roberts article, and I do in part agree with her assessment; whatever Sanger’s personal views may have been, she promoted the tenets of eugenic thinking that society problems are caused by the reproduction of those deemed “unfit?, and that their reproduction should be halted (Roberts, 81). However, I don’t believe that Sanger’s efforts should be completely renounced because of that fact. There is a fundamental difference between women’s control over their bodies through available legal birth control, and the exploitation of immigrant and African American populations to achieve misguided and repugnant societal goals. I agree wholeheartedly with A. Davis that, hand in hand with access to free and legal birth control, there needs to be an eradication of involuntary sterilization and sterilization abuse (Davis, 204). The moment when the focus shifted from individual choice to population control (Davis, 215) was when the movement became destructive. As Davis points out, one of the main reasons that African American women were so suspicious of the feminist birth control movement was because of the history of the birth control movement itself, entrenched in both racist and eugenic ideology. There needs to be an acknowledgment of that history, as well as the complete eradication of sterilization abuse, an injustice primarily affecting minority populations. But Sanger’s main tenet, that birth control is a fundamental right for women to control their own bodies and sexuality, is still just as prevalent today as when it was written.

Sanger, a Sell Out?

Although I thought that the excerpt we read was poignant, I didn’t find it very valid at times. I felt as though the article was more of an “attack? on men and our then a promotion of women’s rights. Sanger was loud and clear with her message, “birth control is a woman’s responsibility.? However, her approach was a bit harsh and sometimes, untrue. Despite her radical ideas, she was able to tone down her message in able to achieve her primary goal. I do not think that she “sold out? to Eugenics. Sometimes, people have to make compromises in order to achieve the outcome that they wish for. By making birth control more about population control and family planning, Sanger was able to appeal to a much larger crowd. Instead of pushing her radical feminist ideas on society, she was able to relate to the whole population (rather than just the feminist one),

In their articles, Roberts and Davis feel that it is hard to blame Sanger for her “sell-out.? Their articles pointed out to the readers that Sanger was simply appealing to society and common societal beliefs at that time. Although her feminist message was ultimately suppressed by her overwhelming appeal to Eugenics supporters, she was still able to achieve her ultimate goal. In my mind, this was no sell out.


I completely agree with your argument Alex.

As students in a University setting we are able to dissect the beliefs and politics of every individual in every one sided history account that we can get our hands on. Whether or not Sanger personally sided with the eugenics movement is irrelevant, she made her own choices. What we often fail/cannot understand as students is the social and political atmosphere of the eras we study. The feminist movement does not have a pretty history, and made apparent by the fast-talking floundering of the woman we watched debate last Tuesday night, nor is feminism a particularly unified or coherent voice.
Justifying or criticizing Sanger’s choice to align herself with the eugenics movement is not something that I feel is particularly relevant; she went about her cause in the way that she saw fit. It just was, and since we have moved on. As noted by another student the act of sterilization is not something of the distant past, and I wouldn’t doubt that nearly all of my peers have some experience with birth control. Both of these issues continue to be relevant, both have been manipulated in ways that make them easier to swallow with modernity.
I still don’t think that it is okay to impose any institutionalized standards of who can and cannot have children on any single human body. And I still don’t want any hormone oppressive birth control in my goddamn body.

Sanger's Compromise

As a fighter in the name of birth control, Sanger undoubtedly achieved her goal and looking back we can truly consider her a masterful politician and a persevering crusader. However, in the name of Feminism, Sanger is perhaps as anti-feminist as a person can possible be. Sanger, in her care for women’s rights and as a proponent of birth control, was lead, or perhaps lead herself, to betray her feminist roots in favor of seeing birth control become a right of all women. It was her belief in feminism that lead her into the fight for a woman’s right “to determine for herself whether she will be a mother.? This single-thought mind-set allowed her to tarnish her feminist banner in order to raise the banner of birth control.

It would be reasonable for Davis and Roberts to be bitter about the actions of Sanger, however, their arguments were clear, supported by Sanger’s own words at times. It stands that as a feminist Sanger sold out all that she was as a feminist. But as a white, middle-class women struggling to find her footing in the world through the control of her ability to bear children, she was undoubtedly pure to her cause. However, one must wonder, is it worth it? Without Sanger, Eugenics would have still been a major ideology, but without her influence, would it have lasted as long? Without Sanger, would we now have the right to use birth control? Or would we still be waiting? In the end, it seems that we must consider is recognizing our right worth the suffering of other’s?

Response to Blog Question #1

As they say, "politics makes strange bedfellows." Sanger's collaboration with the Eugenics movements is just another example of feminist movement trying to make traction. For example, who would ever have thought that the feminist movement and the conservative Christian right would agree on anything? Yet, many in both movements campaign against pornography. With that said, the racist eugenics movement of the early 20th century gained a lot of ground in the academic realm as well as the mainstream media, but that doesn't entirely negate Sanger's wiliness to align with the racist ideology. Though I do not condone her racist tendencies, it is important to note that her other ideas of women's liberation from the confines of maternity and maintaining control over one's body are issues that have positively affected women in general. I believe that Dorothy Roberts is correct to point out the ties that the feminist movement has to eugenics, but the fact the movement no longer has ties to or condones eugenics helps to negate the previous connection. Both Roberts and Davis do cite that it was a thought of the times and though it is disgusting to associate aptitude and race/ethnicity, I believe that Sanger was not a true proponent of eugenics, rather a feminist who was trying to make birth control widely available by any means necessary.

February 9, 2009

Sanger & Eugenics

I do understand to some level why Sanger sold out to the eugenics movement. “She saw women’s ability to control their own reproduction as essential to their freedom and equal participation in society? (Roberts pp 57). And, Sanger, felt the only way she could achieve women’s reproductive freedom was though the only avenue available to her at the time (eugenics). However, I do feel that Sanger became too close to the eugenics movement in order to advance her own agenda. Unfortunately, with her eugenics alliance she eliminated a large demographic of women. Many women were no longer in love with the idea of reproductive freedom because they were fearful for their lives and they felt that birth control meant the end of their existence.
Roberts and Davis both felt that the feminist movement in regards to reproductive rights was undermined, by Sanger’s affiliation with the eugenics movement. Roberts said, “The twentieth-century eugenicists were not content to rely on evolutionary forces to eliminate biological inferiors; they proposed instead government programs that would reduce the Black birthrate? (Roberts pp 71). I feel that Roberts and Davis could not possibly agree with Sanger threading birth control with racial betterment because both of these women are black and eugenics sought to eliminate the black race. Davis said, “The fatal influence of the eugenics movement would soon destroy the progressive potential of the birth control campaign? (Davis pp 213).

Blog 1

I think we’re hitting on some fundamental questions about social movement and the leaders who promote it. The question, simply put, is this: to what extent do we hold individuals accountable for the compromises they make in the implementation of their ideas? This is a key inquiry for a number of reasons, but for our purposes (because Sanger’s ideas had negative impacts) it is for apportioning blame.

Someone said earlier it was not Sanger’s intention to marginalize; others pointed to Davis’ and Roberts’ forgiveness. Good arguments were cited: historical context, Groupthink, the necessity of working within the system to achieve progress. So with all of these factors in mind, to what degree is the individual responsible for the compromises they make for their cause? We all read Sanger, her zeal was palpable—she clearly cared about this issue fanatically, almost desperately—to compromise for it, to sacrifice for it, for her, was probably a no brainer. But when we judge a historical figure, is our leniency graduated based on their fervor? Or should we hold them more accountable to their ideology—even if that means less productivity?

I think it’s an important question to consider whenever we judge great historical reformers.

Blog #1

I have never known about this issue. I have never thought of sterilization as an abuse. The first time I heard of the word sterilize is about two years ago, the first time my mother have a carssean because my baby sister head does not turn the right way. I was transalating for my mother. I asked the doctor what "sterilize" mean. Like the reading, I thought sterilize was for temporary. Although I am translating, I only can translate. I do know the meaning and consequence. I am glad my mother chose not to. I only know that sterilize is one of the option to be healthy because I do not want my mother to be pregnant and undergo carsean again. After reading these article, I learned so much about the bad side of sterilization abuse. I could see how ignorant I am, but I am glad this is the modern time, however, I still fear of doctors sometime of performing sterilization abuse even though this is 2009, it is not too far from 1970 and 1980 estimate account on sterilization abuse on people of color last noted.

Now, I can understand why some girls regret saying, "I don't wanted to have babies when I grow up". I was one of them. My mom told me not to say again because this could make one's fertilization eggs feel bad in a spirit sense. Later on when one marry one really wanted to have kids, but they cannot because they have made the eggs spirits feel bad. I can see that this is not as bad as sterilization abuse where one completely cannot have children for the rest of one's life. By saying such words, one can apologize and have children again because one is capable. Sterilization abuse make one's body incapable, which I belived it is genocide.

Position Paper

Here is the assignment for your required position papers.

We will discuss them at the end of class tomorrow night.

Blog Feb 9

When I first read Margret Sanger’s article, I shared many of the feelings that have already been posted on the blog. I thought that she promoted birth control and her work for women but compromised her message by siding with the system. While affiliating herself with the eugenics movement, she is forcing her readers to question her loyalty to the genuine work of feminism—ending oppression. I was confused by her attempt to join the two movements, but that confusion was somewhat clarified when I took a step back and placed her article in history. She published this article in Woman and the New Race in 1920, the same year that the right to vote in the United States could no longer be denied on account of sex. At that time, women were finally starting to be heard and able to gain ground on such a hard fought battle. Her approach might not have been ideal in our minds, but times today are incredibly different than they were in 1920. These women were trying to establish a successful process in order to spark the feminist movement. I do not condone her approach, but it possible that using the system was a strategy that needed to be tested?

I don't hate Margaret Sanger

It is easy to look back and criticize the shortsightedness and bigotry of those who went before us. We look at the eugenics and sterilization projects of birth control proponents and respond with horror and contempt. But we cannot expect all well-intentioned pro-female advocates to be able to see outside their own political context. M. Sanger was unable to present a successful case for birth control access in the United States without falling back on a theory of eugenics and racism. That does not mean that her ideas for women’s freedom were faulty. Davis writes that the “progressive potential? of the early birth control movement fell prey to the racist ideology of the time period. It is not Margaret Sanger’s fault that she lived and worked in a political field that was horribly racist and imperialistic. The history of the United States includes more bigotry and death than we normally acknowledge. The fact that the movement to enable women to chose when and how many children they had also participates in the crimes of America’s racist and sexist past does not mean that it was not progress. If Margaret Sanger had not couched her rhetoric in the language of eugenics would we have gotten to where we are today? Or would selling birth control still be a crime? Although I think Roberts and Davis both prove the valid point that the birth control movement has a dark, sordid, and regrettable past, we cannot expect our current morality to exist retroactively within the close-minded past. In the “ideal world? Sanger refers to in her writings, I am sure she allowed for all mothers black or white, to make a choice about when to bear children. In the political era she lived in, however, there was not even a conception of a racially ideal world for her to imagine.

Blog #1

It is important to women’s rights that birth control be available, so it is understandable why Margret Sanger went the route she did. One might ask if the feminist message was somewhat lost through the way she campaigned for the topic, but in the end I believe she was still working for women’s rights. Feminism is associated with many stereotypes, which makes it important to have a feminist message reach and be heard by everyone. That’s why that Sanger fought for birth control the way that she did, she made this issue palatable at a time when eugenics was a goal of those in power. Many people argue that putting birth control under the guise of eugenics was wrong because her goal was reached through racism, but I don’t believe that she had any desire to oppress anyone. There is evidence that Sanger did not believe birth control was important for the same reasons that the eugenicists did. Sanger sought to set the lower class woman free from the burden of unwanted pregnancy through birth control, and even if she had to appeal to those who wanted to oppress those same women, she ended up helping and liberating many women of the time.

February 8, 2009

Blog Response #1

Sanger over-compromised her ideas in order to promote more control for women. Though the message that she meant to portray (that women should be able to choose whether or not they want to be mothers) was a good one, the message that she ended up portraying was not. Since she joined with the eugenicists, the message that went out was that of racism and classism; she did not use the system, it used her. I think that what the eugenicists were doing and teaching was incredibly backwards, wrong, and very similar to what the Nazi's did in Germany. They were such obvious racists that I am left confused as to why Sanger would work with them. Feminism is meant to unify between class and race, but eugenicism is the complete opposite of that. Roberts seems to think that while Sanger did not agree with the eugenicists, she did make a mistake of working with them. Davis seems to think that it was okay for Sanger to side with the eugenicists as long as it helped women to gain more control over themselves. I think that Robert's approach to Sanger's compromise was better than Davis's approach. It is not okay for someone to side with overt racists who are out to eliminate certain groups in order to reach a goal. Though I am grateful that Sanger was able to help women procure more rights over their own bodies, I am disappointed in the way she went about it.

Blog Response #1

Although Sanger felt strongly about birth control and would use any approach to promote it, I feel that promoting it though eugenics was detrimental. For one, claiming a superior and an inferior set of people based on their race and intelligence only suggested a hierarchy and the presence of class and inequality in society that the feminist movement disagreed with so strongly and was working so hard on to abolish.

I feel Sanger sacrificed some of the success of her ideas and the success of a woman’s reproductive and sexual freedom by making birth control seem more about controlling the population and fueling the “white elite.? I understand that sometimes compromises have to be made, especially with a controversial issue, to further the project, but compromising Sanger’s morals, her radicalism, and the pillar or feminism she is basing her work on was selling out to an extent.

I feel that there are always alternatives and other ways Sanger could have gained support for birth control but aligning herself with eugenicists was not wise. I do applaud her for utilizing our pre-existing political system to substantiate her ideas and to argue the importance of birth control by using a system most people think is fair and lawful.

Blog Response One

In her support of eugenics, Margaret Sanger went too far. It’s true that she accomplished her goal of bringing birth control methods to the general population, but these methods varied widely for women of different class and race. Educated white women were able to secure oral contraceptives and were dissuaded from sterilization, while women of lower classes and different ethnicities were often only given the option of sterilization, if it was their choice at all. Many black women were either pressured into this procedure by doctors threatening to cut off their welfare support or sterilized without their consent. Certainly Margaret Sanger, with her strong working class background, never intended these conditions to befall the lower classes under the guise of “liberating? women. Still, her sentiments toward eugenics and population control undoubtedly helped to bring about this racist agenda.

However, I find it difficult to put all the blame on Sanger, and Roberts and Davis seem to feel the same way. Their essays strongly emphasized the social climate at the time. It was not a small group of birth control advocates that believed in eugenics, it was most of the educated upper class. People maneuvering around the upper echelons of society, Sanger included, most likely became swayed by a kind of groupthink. Still, the racist agenda her movement acquired, as well as the consequences it had on thousands of impoverished women, is far from admirable.

Blog Response

There are many cases in feminism’s history where working for change within the system has proved more expedient than overthrowing the system itself. One example of this can be seen in efforts (both past and present) to prove that women are equal to men, without questioning whether or not gender is a valid category in the first place. Another example is encouraging women to take self-defense classes rather than asking how we can stop rape and sexual assault from happening. In each of these cases, working within the system enables women to make some advances but fails to completely eradicate the actual problem. Similarly, Margaret Sanger’s efforts to increase access to birth control by working within the system failed to answer the larger problem of women not having the right to control their bodies. But unlike in other cases of working for change within the system, Sanger’s alliance with the eugenics movement only improved the lives of some women and did so at the expense of others. Because Sanger compromised to the point where her goals were achieved by causing harm to other women, I don’t believe she can be called a feminist. Feminism is about ending oppression, and Sanger’s alliance with eugenicists was unfair and oppressive.

February 7, 2009

Response to blog question #1

Sanger’s work for women is completely undermined by her work in the name of eugenics. The problem is not just that Sanger’s rhetoric re-entrenched racial hierarchies. It’s that it re-entrenched the existence of hierarchy in general. As long as the idea that some people are superior to others because of some set of essential characteristics still exists, gender hierarchies will exist. Legitimizing one hierarchy legitimizes all of them. When Sanger writes that “Only thus can [women] restore to [men] that of which he robbed himself in restricting her,? she acknowledges that injustice towards women is an injustice to men. The same is true for women of color and working class women. It is impossible to limit the notion of hierarchy to just that between races. Justifying the idea hierarchy anywhere justifies it everywhere. Equality cannot be discrete. Also, any participation in eugenics undercuts the message of her movement: that the true emancipation of women requires control over the number and timing of their pregnancies. Loss of the capacity to have a child is just as much an assault on women’s autonomy as loss of the capacity to not have a child. I’m glad Roberts makes a qualitative distinction between acknowledging the social causes of racial degeneration as the root problem, as opposed to blaming some inherent set of inferior traits of people of color or of lower socioeconomic class, but I agree with both Roberts and Davis that ultimately the product of such a line of thought (deeming some people fit and some unfit for reproduction) is just as damaging. In this case, even relatively enlightened ends do not mitigate the injustice of the means.

February 5, 2009

Some more handouts from class on 2.2

Here are the Feminist Debate handout and the Group Presentation handout that I distributed in class this past Tuesday.

Revised Blog Assignment

Here is a detailed description of the revised Blog Assignment that we discussed in class on Tuesday night.

You are still required to do 10 blog posts.
5 of those should be new entries that respond to the question that Sara or Rebecca post.
5 of those should be comments that respond to another class member's post.

February 4, 2009

Blog Question #1 for 2/9

Write a (roughly) 200 word response to the following questions:

M. Sanger promoted the cause of birth control, but, in order to get support for it, she linked her cause with eugenicists. Her goal was to work within the system, to challenge and to change the laws in order to provide more control for women. But, in order to change the system, she had to compromise her ideas, downplaying her radically feminist message (as stated in the excerpt that we read for this week) and making birth control more about population control and family planning. Did she sell out too much? Or, was she able to use the system to get what she wanted? What do you think? What does Roberts think? What does Davis think?

February 3, 2009

Group 6 Defenitions

Feminism: the movement for progression in equality and acceptance.

anti-feminist backlash: anti-feminist women who resist change in patriarchal society (p. 115)

radical/revolutionary feminist visions: the alliance of men and women in the movement towards a greater equality (p. 115/116)

accessibility: the ability to acquire

February 2, 2009

$20 laptop

Apparently a company in India is working on a $20 laptop. There are problems with financing and distribution, but I think this really speaks to Traister's discussion of access, and the lack thereof, for women in rural areas and developing countries. Right now, this laptop is being considered mainly for educational use, which is of course great, but I think it also has implications for a potential feminist community in developing nations. What if every woman in India had a laptop, and access to the internet? That would be amazing.