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May 24, 2007

If You're Reading this blog...

This blog is a course blog for GWSS 1001 - Gender Power and Everyday Life: An Introduction to Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota, Spring 2007.

The course has ended.

Please feel free to browse the site, and remember blogs happen in reverse chronology, so if you want to start at the beginning, click HERE and scroll to the bottom, or browse the links on the right-hand sidebar.

Enjoy!

May 13, 2007

Women in the military

I find it to be too bad that women are not allowed in combat in the military. If a woman is capable and willing to go into combat and fight for her country, than she should be allowed to do it. The army should have its best fighters go into combat, and we don't even know what women could do and how much of a help women could be if they were allowed to in combat in the military. I feel this is reflected of our patriarchical society where men are supposed to lead and women are supposed to follow.

GWSS 1001

I found it disappointing but representative of male gender roles that there was only a small number of males who were in this course or what take women's studies courses in general. I think many males would really find this course very interesting but would probably never take it because they don't want to be known as a guy in a women's studies class. I think there needs to be more males who try to take women's studies courses, and more males who are aware of feminism and what it really is.

Comcast Commercial

I remember seeing a commerical for Comcast a few months back with Jessica Simpson as her character from Dukes of Hazzrard. She mentions a feature to the package that is being advertized, and says that she doesn't even know what that means, but she wants it. The commercial puts across the message that women are stupid and buy things that don't understand what they products they buy do, nor does it matter. I thought that this commerical was relevant to the class because of the way it portrays women as stupid and gullible.

My friends and I were hanging out a few nights ago, and the topic of boys crying came up. Two of my friends, one being a boy and one being a girl, thought that it was weird for boys to cry and that they should not because it is uncomfortable when they do. I thought this was an interesting conversation because my two friends have both apparently decided that boys should be tough and should fight the urge to cry. I thought this was a good demonstrating of genderization.

Extra Event Posting

On April 28th, my friends and I attended the Young Women's Leadership Conference in Duluth. This program is sponsored by the Feminist Majority Foundation. The program begins at around 10:30 and ends at 5:30. This one-day conference focuses on issues important to women and the often overlooked connections between reproductive rights and health, sweatshop labor, HIV/AIDS, slavery and human trafficking, foreign policy, women in conflict, and violence. The program’s main focus is to promote the idea that women, especially young women, can change the current state of the world if they can only grasp how the problems are interrelated.

In the beginning, the only reason I was going to this conference was because I was visiting my friend in Duluth and it was convenience that I could attend this for extra credit. I was not even planning on staying for the whole day. But due to the high cost of the ticket price, my friends and I decided to stay. However, due to my surprise, I really enjoyed the program. It was very informative and interesting. All the guest speakers were very motivated and passionate about their topics.
We began the program at about 10:40 with an opening introduction from directors of different feminist’s organization. I was impressed that our senator, Amy Klobuchar was there also. Followed by the welcome statement was the watching of a short video called “They Lied?. Afterward, we went on lunch for about an hour. After lunch, there were more discussions on women’s issues. But that part of the afternoon was my favorite. First, Kirby Rafter presented us with the topic of women’s struggle across the border. Her main point of the discussion was that women everywhere should have the right to have access to reproductive health services and contraception. I really like this topic because I agree with what she had to say. In order for women to succeed, they need to have access to reproductive health services. They are entitled to their reproductive rights. If they cannot even control their own bodies than how can they succeed in any other field? Women in the United States need to come together to solve this issue. Only through this can women everywhere achieve equality.
Also, another activity in the program that I liked very much was the exploration of other cultures. In this one hour activity, we were able to ask questions and explore other cultures from a panel consisted of three speakers. I like this because I get to discover about the difficulties that women in other countries are facing.
Overall, I was glad that I decided to go. My friends liked it as well. The program was informational and engaging. I really enjoy talking to the guest speakers as well as hearing on what they had to say. Programs like this are very helpful, especially toward young women. The information that was presented in the program really goes along with the different topics that we had discussed in class. Besides that, there was new information about reproductive rights and women’s struggle worldwide that I was glad to learn. I came out of this conference feeling very informed and inspired. I would definitely recommend young women to attend this program. It may seems long but it is completely worth your time.

May 12, 2007

Kiss My Fat Ass!

This video makes me think...
- if a supermodel like Tyra Banks can find a way to still love herself after a million eyes critique her, than so can I
- hmmmm...Tyra is not fat, how is she plus-size?
- what's the deal with Top Model? All those girls are really kind of...perfect. What message is that show sending out to all the young impressionable girls out there?

This video makes me...
- cry
- grateful for strong women, especially women of color who rock
- wish my little sister didn't have to put up with a double standard every where she looks
- annoyed with the media, Hollywood, celebrities, men and women who don't use their resources and influence to make the world a better place. Instead the media creates a model that no one can fit or should be able to fit, while Hollywood is just in it for the money, so many celebrities become as superficial as their characters, and a lot of men and women don't fight the system - they just perpetuate stereotypes, internalize oppression, and continue pass on sexism to our future generations. GRRRrrrrr.....

A Girl Like Me...

This video makes me think...
- that we still have a long way to go in erasing racism from our society
- i cannot believe that the studies still had the same results as years ago - it's just sad!
- that this world is really a sad one, all the internalized oppression that is still going on today is horrible
- the media as a lot to do with oppressing and helping people internalize oppression

This video makes me...
- feel the pain of years of internalized racism
- cry when the young beautiful girl was conflicted about which doll looks like her or which one she wants to associate herself with
- sigh with just being tired of social injustice and wanting racism to be over and done with
- wonder which doll I would have chosen

Kanye's Workout Plan...

This video makes me think...
- Kanye sings about the hypocrisy of gold diggers, but I wonder what kind of women are flocking around him night and day
- Why is that a fat, old, ugly man can have all the beautiful women, as long as he is rich and famous, but the double standard dictates that old, bigger, and not so pretty women definitely does not get to roll around with beautiful men – even if she is rich, there she is still not has “cool? compared to a man.
- Who wants to be a video girl? How do you get in a position that you are willing to sell your body to be the woman of the day for a rapper or actor's entourage...it's demeaning
- I understand what Kanye is trying to say about trophy wives, but I want to know where the hell are his songs and videos are pointing out the hypocrisy of men. What now, Kanye?
- I think that this song trivializes everything that women go through: For example, trying to support a child, a family, fighting for self confidence, going against the media and the negative body images they present and competition against other women which is in no way productive to anyone.

This video makes me...
- laugh. The whole process of making yourself grade A 'le boeff" (name of Parisian girl in the video, which means "the beef") is down-right ridiculous
- annoyed at the double standard for men and women, especially as portrayed in the media
- wonder why Kanye's videos and songs such as 'gold digger' and 'workout plan' address issues in a way that targets women in such a negative light but never men. How is it always a woman's fault
- annoyed at Kanye

Be A Mindsticker...

This video makes me think...
- If I am to be a “mindsticker? I have to have a shape he can’t forget
- That guy is so creepy! Like a stalker he watches her from afar
- A perfect shape is like an tab bottle. Hmmm..I can drink sugar-free, great tasting cola and use the bottle as a measurement for how my body should look. After all, when he is away I want him only to be thinking of me. Bullshit.
- That woman isn’t really playing tennis, she is just walking around looking pretty in her really short tennis dress…

This video makes me...
- almost glad I didn't grow up then, granted, it was a simplier time...but still...
- wonder why it is her fault if he cheats on her. If she didn't have the perfect shape is it okay for his mind to wander?
- tired of sexism
- annoyed with how advertisements like this are still visible today in our media, just a little more subtle, but still

Listen

This video makes me think...
* of all the times men in my life told me what to do and what to think and how to do things
* that sometimes I really do feel all alone and that no one will listen to me, and if I do speak, I can't help but be passionate and emotional about it which is not okay to the men in my life and that frustrates me
* that my daughter will not have this problem - I will make sure of it
* that sometimes I am helpless and can't say what is on my mind because of internalized oppression and I hate it!
* the reason I identify with this song so much is that sometimes I really am not at home in my own home. I come home thinking I am safe and put my defenses down, but no, have to keep those walls always up - you never know where the comment, "Man up!" or "stop being so emotional - it makes you weak!" comes from. It just kills me inside that my own brothers - the three men in my life who I love the most and really look up to would say something like that to me.
* Why is emotion so bad? It is just another level of communicating with someone...I don't get why it is disgraceful
* my crossroads are: 1) either close myself off to the comments and just keep silent, because that is a woman's place or 2) share my emotions, thoughts, opinions and be labeled a 'femi-nazi' or a 'lesbian.' Because, after all, what am I fighting for? Women can vote! The war is over...I am 'fighting for nothing.'

Listen I am alone at a crossroads I'm not at home in my own home And I've tried and tried To say whats on my mind
There was someone here inside Someone I thought had died So long ago Oh I'm screaming out And my dreams will be heard They will not be pushed Aside or turned

This video makes me...
* cry with regret that I had to fight so hard to gain control of my life
* bitter because I am not in total control of it
* sad that the men in my life, some of who I love deeply still don't understand, respect or listen to me
* hopeful that maybe one day I will find my own voice...my own complete voice...one that is all mine
* conscious of all the work I have to do to get over my bitterness and to use my experience to continue to grow and improve myself
* simultaneously tired with having to fight every battle because of my two strikes, (being a woman, and being a Woman of Color) and passionate to continue the fight - because I have to do it for my sister, my daughter, my future generations.
* wonder what it would be like if I didn't have to go through my experiences? what would I be like? my experiences cause me to grow, but the journey, it is so painful and heartbreaking. It would be nice to have the choice to step back from the war every once-in-a-while...

But now I got to find my own - my own

To wear Hibjab, or to not wear Hijab...

This video me think...
* of my Christian friend who lives in Pakistan and has to lie about her religion everytime she leaves her house and all her problems with her father that she has had
* uh, I wonder why a man is speaking about a Muslim woman's choice, "you know what I am saying?"
* I do like the whole idea behind the Hijab - a person looks at another based on their mind or personality versus their outward appearance. I also like the arguement that there is a double-standard: Nuns vs. Woman who wear Hijab - why is the later viewed as oppresson?
* of all the ways religious practices, rituals, customs, and strongly suggested rules are oppressive of woman
* that people are relgiious when it is convenient...it is so funny!
* think of all the American feminists, documentaries, and the US media, that feature Arab woman as oppressed and Islam as a negative relgion

This video makes me...
* laugh at the small truths in this video: I have totally witnessed women who choose to wear their Hijab inappropriately or incorrectly.
* wonder what I would do if I lived in a household or country that required or strongly suggested that I wear a Hijab
* agree with the author of this video - there is a difference between culture and religion and I hate that most people confuse one with another or insist that both go together
* ponder on whether or not Islam is oppressive of women, or Christianity for that matter
* consider the difference between culture and religion and it's affect it has on American feminists - viewing Islam as oppressive or Muslim woman as oppressed, maybe it is just a different culture? or maybe we should not judge...we have our own oppressive vices here in America, who are we to say another culture is wrong? But what if it is oppressive...? I am really at a crossroads here. I was raised experiencing four religions: Christian (me), Muslim (dad's side), Jewish (godparents, best friends, community, etc...) and Hindu (mom's side). Which is right? Are they all going in the same direction?

Prussian Blue: The Olsen Twins of the White Nationalist Movement

img alt="prussian_blue2.jpg" src="http://blog.lib.umn.edu/khanx089/mediajournal/prussian_blue2.jpg" width="300" height="300" />

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So these two blond-hair, blue eyed girls: Lamb and Lynx Gaede sound like the most naive and sad little girls ever! They are brainwashed by their mother, who exercises her right to teach her daughters at home, by instructing them that the holocaust didn't actually happen and that the best thing they can sing about is keeping their race pure. I love how they identify with the Nazi swastika, when the original use of a swastika dates back to being used by people of color – Indians, American Indians, Mayans, etc… I looked up their lyrics and some of their music videos and found a lot of odd little underlying characteristics that I wasn’t expecting. They epitomize all things beautiful, in varying shades of white and use darker colors and blackness to symbolize evil and malevolent. Ironically, their voices don’t match their angelic faces; their voices sound like grating nails on a steel board. Maybe it was that I have a general disdain for the meaning behind their music or I am apprehensive about what it is that these young ladies will do when they “enter the real world? and realize that the world, really isn’t the place they were brought up to think it was. I just didn’t like their music, their lyrics, their voices, or their mother...but hey, who said this little review was supposed to be objective? :-)

ABC News: Young Singers Spread Hate
(http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=1231684&page=1)

Thirteen-year-old twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede have one album out, another on the way, a music video, and lots of fans. They may remind you of another famous pair of singers, the Olsen Twins, and the girls say they like that. But unlike the Olsens, who built a media empire on their fun-loving, squeaky-clean image, Lamb and Lynx are cultivating a much darker personna. They are white nationalists and use their talents to preach a message of hate. Known as "Prussian Blue" — a nod to their German heritage and bright blue eyes — the girls from Bakersfield, Calif., have been performing songs about white nationalism before all-white crowds since they were nine. "We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx. "We want our people to stay white … we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race." Lynx and Lamb have been nurtured on racist beliefs since birth by their mother April. "They need to have the background to understand why certain things are happening," said April, a stay-at-home mom who no longer lives with the twins' father. "I'm going to give them, give them my opinion just like any, any parent would." April home-schools the girls, teaching them her own unique perspective on everything from current to historical events. In addition, April's father surrounds the family with symbols of his beliefs — specifically the Nazi swastika. It appears on his belt buckle, on the side of his pick-up truck and he's even registered it as his cattle brand with the Bureau of Livestock Identification. "Because it's provocative," explains April of the cattle brand, "to him he thinks it's important as a symbol of freedom of speech that he can use it as his cattle brand."

Teaching Hate

Songs like "Sacrifice" — a tribute to Nazi Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy Fuhrer — clearly show the effect of the girls' upbringing. The lyrics praise Hess as a "man of peace who wouldn't give up." "It really breaks my heart to see those two girls spewing out that kind of garbage," said Ted Shaw, civil rights advocate and president of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund — though Shaw points out that the girls aren't espousing their own opinions but ones they're being taught. On that point, April Gaede and Ted Shaw apparently agree. "Well, all children pretty much espouse their parents' attitudes," she said. "We're white nationalists and of course that's a part of our life and I'm going to share that part of my life with my children." Since they began singing, the girls have become such a force in the white nationalist movement, that David Duke — the former presidential candidate, one-time Ku-Klux-Klan grand wizard and outspoken white supremacist — uses the twins to draw a crowd. Prussian Blue supporter Erich Gliebe, operator of one of the nation's most notorious hate music labels, Resistance Records, hopes younger performers like Lynx and Lamb will help expand the base of the White Nationalist cause. "Eleven and 12 years old," he said, "I think that's the perfect age to start grooming kids and instill in them a strong racial identity." Gliebe, who targets young, mainstream white rockers at music festivals like this past summer's "Ozzfest," says he uses music to get his message out. But with names like Blue-Eyed Devils and Angry Aryans, these tunes are far more extreme than the ones sung by Lamb and Lynx. "We give them a CD, we give them something as simple as a stick, they can go to our Web site and see other music and download some of our music," said Gliebe. "To me, that's the best propaganda tool for our youth."

A Taste for Hate

Gliebe says he hopes that as younger racist listeners mature, so will their tastes for harder, angrier music like that of Shawn Sugg of Max Resist. One of Sugg's songs is a fantasy piece about a possible future racial war that goes: "Let the cities burn, let the streets run red, if you ain't white you'll be dead." "I'd like to compare it to gangsta rap," explained Sugg, "where they glorify, you know, shooting n****** and pimping whores." Sugg shrugs off criticism that music like his should not be handed out to schoolyard children, arguing that "it's just music, it's not like you're handing out AK-47s." Perhaps not, but Shaw says it's the ideas in the music that are dangerous. "When you talk about people being dead if they're not white," said Shaw, "I don't think there is much question that that is hateful."

A Place to Call Home

Despite the success of Prussian Blue and bands like Max Resist within the White Nationalism movement, most Americans don't accept their racist message. Like many children across the country, Lamb and Lynx decided to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina — the white ones. The girls' donations were handed out by a White Nationalist organization who also left a pamphlet promoting their group and beliefs — some of the intended recipients were more than a little displeased. After a day of trying, the supplies ended up with few takers, dumped at a local shop that sells Confederate memorabilia. Last month, the girls were scheduled to perform at the local county fair in their hometown. But when some people in the community protested, Prussian Blue was removed from the line-up. But even before that, April had decided that Bakersfield was not "white" enough, so she sold her home, and hopes that she and the girls can find an all-white community in the Pacific Northwest.

Drama

Drama by R. M. 7:38pm Saturday, Mar 3 2007

"Drama. It can mean passion, anger, confusion, and pain. It can be a club at school or a frustrating situation. I am choosing to address the type of drama that people experience negatively on a daily basis.

I think we can agree that a good amount of drama is instigated by those who are females. Although many females will admit this, I expect backlash from those who are too drama-oriented to accept the truth.

I have met many different types of women. There are those who can be around guys and just fit in, not seeking to be the center of attention or any attention at all. Then there is the polar opposite, the girl who takes everything you say the wrong way, twists it around and uses her limited, but well practiced, vocabulary to make your head spin.

I decided to make an equation for all of those guys out there are sick of dramatic women. Look at any girl, and run her through this:

C(M)=x

First, you evaluate how much clothing the girl is wearing. The less, the higher value C will be. Rate it on a level of 1-10. If she's wearing jeans and a tee, give her a 2-3 depending on how tight the jeans and tee are. If there is belly showing, add a point. If she's wearing a mini skirt and halter top, give her at least an 8.

Second, you evaluate how much makeup the girl is wearing. This is tricky because select few women are makeup artists, but they will be thinned out because they usually wear a decent amount of clothing. If the girl is wearing a little foundation and discrete eye-liner, give her a 1-2. If she looks like a stripper (as many girls do these days) she deserves a 9 or 10.

Run these numbers through the equation, and if the girl scores more than 70, stay clear. She will only bring confusion and anger to your life."

I wrote the following to the author (R.M.) who is actually a close friend of mine. Obviously, we don't see eye-to-eye on everything and as usual, I decided to add to the drama in his life by contributing my two-cents to his post and commenting on the other poster's thoughts.

*So the perfect woman for you would actually be a girl, (because you do use the word that refers to a young female) who doesn't call attention to herself at all and doesn't speak much? Why is her vocabulary limited? How is it well-practiced? A lot of women are silenced in and out of their home. Should this woman be repentant because she uses words that make your head spin? Whose fault is that? Sounds like a personal problem to me...

* Also, I am not sure what I think of your equation, only that it further proves my point that men are oppressive of women. Men size women up all day long and judge us from what we wear how we dress, even though we are really only trying to fit in with the standards set by, guess who? MEN! See the schism we are in? We are either the cock-tease virgin or the vamp slut...Just can't please anyone! Oh, and for the women who judge other women - that is a direct result of internalized oppression because we are so used to being judged by men that we have used the same standards on each other, which is admittedly detrimental in so many ways. Feminists are not calling for more rights or the extermination of men - we (men and women who call themselves feminists) just want EQUAL rights...which we still don't have by the way.

P.S. Social injustice = the consequence of White, heterosexual men having power systematically and institutionally.
I cannot take things like social injustice "lightly." Saying that "people should take things lightly" is like saying, women should get over not being heard or considered in important decisions that involve us every day. Feminists aren't about making white people, men, and heterosexuals feel guilty at all. We just want you to be aware of your privilege. Oh, and for clarification...that Adam and Even shit does not fly here with me. I (Eve) didn't cause any man (Adam) to do anything he did not want to do - there is always a choice...I just hate when people use the Bible as a crutch and revert back to it so quickly.

Drama (noun): any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results -or -composition in prose or verse presenting in dialogue or pantomime a story involving conflict or contrast of character.

Key word: Emotional - tends to be used when referencing woman only...I wonder why? We could go into all the ways in which some things are masculine and feminine but that would be a whole other topic

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Pro War?!

One day I came across a pro-war group while browsing Facebook. I was intrigued and decided to investigate further, and upon doing so, I came across these three images that stood out ot me the most.

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* Did the creator of this image purposefully mis-spell Koran and force and mis-use resort? I guess I didn't appreciate this image at all. I do support "our men and women" over in the Middle East but there needs to be a point in time where "some people" realize that the majority of Afgan / Iranian / Pakistani / Egyptian soldiers are just fighting to protect their country as well.

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*Where in the Koran does it say that women are forbidden from receiving an education? I think this is a big indicator of the strong impact that the misuse of culture plus religion that has infiltrated our society. I won't deny that some Muslims have misused Islam to perpetuate their oppressive culture and some people of Arab descent have termed some cultural habits as religious rules...it's annoying! It has caused so much confusion and stereotypes that really hurt everyone!

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* Yay! I love the exotification of my culture! This picture is SO accurate, because you know Afgani people travel via magic carpet ALL the time! So this picture is so accurate in it's portrayal of the US military forces versus the Middle East armies - It's unfair, is what it is!

Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It...

“Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It? by John Petroski

Most people today would claim that rape is a terrible crime almost akin to murder, but I strongly disagree. Far from a vile act, rape is a magical experience that benifits society as a whole. I realize many of you will disagree with this thesis, but lend me your ears and I’m sure I’ll sway you towards a darkened alley.

If it weren’t for rape, Western Civilization might not exist as we know it today. When the Romans were faced with a disproportionate ratio of women to men in the early kingdom, they had to do something, lest their flidgling society die for lack of sons. To solve their little dilemma, they did what any reasonable man would do: they threw a festival for their Sabine neighbors, and then stole and raped their women. It’s quite logical; in fact I don’t understand why the settlers at Plymoth didn’t do the same to the local Indians–it certainly would have saved on shipping costs.

Obviously, in the case of the Rape of the Sabines, rape was a tremendous help to society. The Sabine women, for their part, didn’t seem to mind so much, as they threw themselves between their brutish old Sabine husbands and their charming new Roman ones to prevent bloodshed when the Sabine men came to reclaim their wives. Yet even when society was totally against a rape, the raunchy act has benifited society too. Where would the Romans be, after all, if it weren’t for the Rape of the Lucretia infuriating the people to the point of overthrowing their last king, Lucius Tarpuinius Superbus? If it weren’t for that event, the world might have never had the Roman Republic for a pristine example of a flawless government.

Rapes glorious advantages are not, however, exclusively found from 2,000 year old examples. In actuality rape advantages can very much be seen today. Take ugly women for example. If it weren’t for rape, how would they ever know the joys of intercourse with a man who isn’t drunk? In a society as plastic-conscious as our own, are we really to believe that some man would ever sleep with a girl resembling a wildebeest if he didn’t have a few schnapps in him? Of course he wouldn’t–at least no self-respecting man would–but there in lies the beauty of rape. No self respecting man would rape in the first place, so ugly women are guaranteed a romp with not only a sober man, but a bad boy too; and we all know how much ladies like the bad boy.

Ugly women are not, however, the only people who benefit from rape–prisoners enjoy as many perks too. What, after all, could be possibly be more boring than spending years of your life confined to some tiny cell 23 hours a day? The answer, of course, is spending years of your life confined to some tiny cell 23 hours a day and never getting some hot action. With rape, prisoners never have to worry about that. Instead, they merely need worry about treating their rapist with enough love and respect to earn a quick reach-around.

But if there is one bread and butter reason for why rape should not only be accepted, but even endorsed, it is because our news editors are in dire need of interesting stories for our front page. Bookstore stories? Fossils? One dollar coins? Please. Now, some saucy circle-jerk rape

I first came across this article in my Intro to Women Studies class and I was infuriated at the author of this article and just saddened by his ignorance and proclaimed naivety. In interviews with the press John said that he never meant to hurt anyone that he honestly thought that his satirical piece, which was printed alongside other regular opinion pieces, wouldn’t be insensitive at all.

I cannot believe the extent he went to in order to research this supposed satirical piece! I find it ironic that a heterosexual White male would write so ignorantly about the dangers of rape, I would never even write an article like this, even for satire. I guess I don’t understand his ultimate goal for this article. What is he poking fun at? Women who yell rape when they are raped? I don’t get it. There isn’t really a motive behind his writing this insensitive and ignorant piece. Who said that every single session of sex / intercourse with a man is joyful? Bah humbug! I say to John! He pokes fun at ugly and fat women, never saying anything about ugly or fat man that are always much more accepted in our society.

Why is that there is a double-standard for men and women? I also love how he pokes fun at women prisoners who long for nice session of hot steamy sex to break up the monotonous day of doing nothing in a cell for long periods of a time. They shouldn’t definitely worry about STI’s or HIV or violent abuse…nope, as long as they are getting the lucky chance of getting penetrated… hey, a win-win situation! I am glad that the author of this article was demoted, but I wonder what would have happened if the author were a woman or a person of color? Would s/he been fired?

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"at an impasse..."

* What a bitch! She makes me so mad! And she is so confident about her slur usage, it pisses me off!
* She looks like she is so fucking pleased with herself, I could slap her!
* I think she just says what she says to get attention, I am angry that she used the word 'faggot,' but even more angry at her self-confident childish ass!
* Hey! Her stupid crazy comments are assuring the Democrats of winning in 2008, I mean, if this doesn't what else will? She is making like P.Diddy in 'Rock The Vote' and really just ruining the chances for the side she is actually fighiing for.
* Political correctness does stifle authentic speech and a safe space, but only if those two things have created and it is understood that, that is what it is
* Even if she didn't mean any harm by her childish attitude, she still hurt and offended people, it isn't the intent we need to focus on, or else we are just victimizing the aggressor...which is not what is suppposed to happen.
* I hate Fox news, their coverage of this incident is so biased and one-sided, if I were to only watch them, I would totally be brainwashed
* So Ann says that her use of the word was to invoke a school yard taunt....hmmn...since when is she 12 years old and since when is the Republican convention a school yard? GRRR!
* How is faggot NOT offensive to Gay people? Ann makes me ashamed to be a woman almost, she sets us back hundreds of years...and it doesn't help that she is blonde - people will immediately fall back on the dumb blond jokes.
* So is Ann saying that he is a 'pussy' or a 'girlie-man?' if she is not calling him derogatory word? It still think it's wrong...the word doesn't really hold a lot of meaning for me because I am heterosexual, but I feel for my gay friends. She used the word inappropriately, in a professional arena and wasn't professional at all. It isn't the word really to me, it's how she said it and where she said it - that is what makes me mad!

May 11, 2007

Beauty without makeup

I was reading a recent issue of People magazine and it was about the most beautiful people of 2007. The very first section showed photos of stars like Drew Barrymore, Jessica Biel, and Eva Longoria without makeup and showing that they're still beautiful even without the makeup. I think ti's sad that us women need to feel like we're beautiful and have products that cover up our true look .. they didn't have makeup through the 1800s or so .. so why now? The standard of beauty has gone up and so has the competition to look even more attractive to the male eye. I just found it rather funny and sad. Amazing how we have to buy so many things to make us feel like we're worth looking at.

Amazon Bookstore: A TC resource for feminist literature

About a month ago, I wandered into Amazon Bookstore (located at 4755 Chicago Ave So. in Minneapolis). It’s an independent, feminist bookshop that also sells some music and merchandise. Anyway, it is AWESOME, and if anyone is interested in reading up on feminist issues or looking for great books written by women, you should check it out! I browsed through Amy Sedaris’ “I Like You!? entertainment book while my friend Steve looked through memoirs (I guess I’m lucky to have a friend like him, who’s interested in feminism and who’ll also front me a whopping $30 for a Bust magazine and a hefty book on college women, “College Girls: Bluestockings, Sex kittens and Co-eds, Then and Now? by Lynn Peril). I’m excited to read it after school is out. I promise that the trek to South Minneapolis is well worth it for the bookstore- it’s even across the street from Turtle Bread Co. and the Parkview Theater (which, although dilapidated, is absolutely amazing). After having taken GWSS, I have a newfound appreciation for the books and resources they offer at Amazon (readings, etc.)

Group Presentations

Overall I thought that the last set of group presentations were rather awesome. I especially enjoyed watching Women in Politics the most. I think that the group went that extra mile to make the presentation not only extremely informative and interactive with the class in a great way, but also the overall look and construction of the actual powerpoint presentation was very impressive. I thought it was a great idea to interview students on campus to learn what their knowledge was of certain issues that are very relevant to this class and day-to-day issues. Great job on the graphics and changing skin tones and faces on slides .. it kept my attention throughout the presentation, and if you can do that and learn as you're having fun, that will stay imprinted on a person for a long time. So great job everyone! ^__^

Who Doesn't Like A Good Cross-Dressing Movie?

To be honest, I think the comedic “gender-bending comedies? that I saw as a child actually opened my mind to the idea of homosexuality and transgendered people.
One that jumps to mind (aside from the classics Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire, neither of which I’ve seen, surprisingly)—is a lesser-known Disney movie from 1998, “Mr. Headmistress?. The basic premise involves a guy who gets out of jail, man is followed by the mobsters that he screwed over before going to jail; man escapes on a train, and beats up an old woman in a train car, steals her clothes, and takes her identity (which is the new headmistress job at an all-girl’s school). That sounds pretty farfetched now that I type it out- it didn’t seem so back when I saw it at age 11. Anyway, it’s your typical man-dresses-as-woman, Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady? and Tom Jones’ “She’s A Lady? play in the background while man struggles to put on pantyhose and lipstick shtick (though I have to say, in my defense, that star Harland Williams pulls of the whole scene with particular aplomb).

Well, I can glaze over a few of the glaring sexist flaws in this film (he beats up an old woman, ties her to a chair, and we don’t care because…. She’s a mean old lady???). What made me really think about gender at the age of 11 was that a male teacher at this school was attracted to the cross-dressing Williams- they have several encounters, and the male teacher is encouraged even more. He tries to woo the male headmistress that he perceives to be female. Yes, this is aimed to get a laugh as opposed to make a social statement—but the questions that such an attraction raises are undeniable. The protagonist’s relationship with another female teacher at the school (who he was sexually attracted to) added yet another layer.
This made me wonder about attraction—what does it mean if you’re attracted to someone that you think is the gender you’re attracted to, but then discover that they aren’t biologically? Does this make you straight if you’re gay or gay if you’re straight? Even at a young age, I theorized about a spectrum. It must be an easy mistake to make! In a world where transgendered individuals can express themselves more than ever before, it can be very hard to tell what the biological gender of a person is. I think the shock or surprise at finding out that you are attracted to someone you hadn’t though possible must be our response to the compulsory heterosexuality (Feminist Frontiers, Tolman 307) that’s been imposed upon us growing up in our heterosexist society. Why should the biological gender of a person come into play, when all that matters are our outer perceptions (which can be fooled)?
The film Southern Comfort asks these questions, too—since the born-female-turned male character had a sexual, romantic relationship with a born-male-turned female person—if either one of them had been both transsexual and gay, they might not have been attracted to one another. Or would they? It’s so complicated! The nuances of psychology, biology—in the end, we’re dealing with human-to-human bonds, and these bonds defy gender and sexuality.
When I attended Jack Halberstam’s talk about animating counterculture, he mentioned that animated films can break certain boundaries but reinforce others (like racist stereotypes). These comedic cross dressing films do this as well—although they can challenge young minds to question gender and attraction, they include their fair share of gender stereotypes (thus the films are funny). Though I’d have to say we’re far from making perfect films that don’t hurt or offend anyone, my mind-bending experiences as a child were very important and noteworthy. I’ve come to have an open mind about gender and sexuality partly because of them.

Well, that's one way to sell jeans...

jeans1.jpgjeans2.jpgjeans3.jpgjeans4.jpg

I was surprised to find so many denim ads that used this exact same concept- a naked woman except for her jeans. Obviously, the jeans are "highlighted" by making them the only garmet visible, but it's pretty clear that these ads are selling trim model figures and not just pants. They are nearly naked, barely covering their own breasts. What struck me most about the first image I saw (Levi's Capital E jeans, on the right), was that both the man and woman were in the same nude position, but at different levels of power due to the fact that it's acceptable/legal for a man to be shirtless in public (but not a woman). The women are vulnerable in their topless states. It does not sit well with me.

Final Reflection

I didn’t know what to expect coming into this GWSS class, and now coming out of it there were things I really enjoyed and some things I probably could have done without or just kind of disagreed with. Overall I really am glad that I took the class because it opened my eyes to a lot of issues, some I knew were out there but had never really discussed or approached from a different perspective and others that I had just never known about or been exposed to at all. One of the most horrifying and moving things we did, for me at least, was watching the documentary on the disappearance and murders of the girls in Juarez. The fact that such corruption, cold heartedness, deception and murder can go on basically in plain view and with so many people involved blows my mind. I can’t imagine what kind of life that would be, to live in constant worry that you, your daughter, your neighbor, wife or friend could be next. The acts in and of themselves are horrible and gruesome, but the fact that people know about what is going on, not just in the corrupt Mexican government and that of Juarez, but that there are people here in the United States who would have the power to make it safer or to intervene (those who own the factories or those who run them) instead turn a blind eye and do nothing. I don’t know what kind of people can do such a thing.
Other than the documentary, I really enjoyed listening to and watching the final presentations. There were some really interesting topics covered and it was great to see how they tied into feminism and especially on a local level. There were a lot of things that were scary about peoples points of view (from interviews), what they knew and didn’t know and the availability of different resources in the area. The difference in women’s pay to men’s pay here at the U was especially troubling, you would think that today even if there was a discrepancy in pay, it wouldn’t be so incredibly glaring. I guess things have changed, but they still have a long way to go.

Where to even start?

As many of my fellow classmates have previously stated, this class has opened my eyes to alot of things that constantly surround me that you never really think about. Through readings, discussions and blog entries I feel I have learned alot about feminist theory, the progress that is and isnt being made and about myself through my own critical thinking on issues and others thoughts and opinions. I loved how the class was different every week, the topic and the format and enjoyed how much media was incorporated into everything.

To be completely honest the use of the web blog wasn't to appealing, but after a semester of submitting entries on here I have become quite fond of the idea. Some one else mentioned doing media journals online (meaning everyone) and including more incorporation between those and the entire class. Although for me it was hard to stay on top of a journal and putting my findings along with my thoughts into a common place, I did view news, magazines and other various sources of media in a different way and found a lot of very interesting stuff. I found that I talked alot about issues that were brought up in class while outside of school and with completely different people. At work for the past few weeks we have been talking about transgender youth and intersex babies. While doing clinical work on a labor and delivery floor I also found myself in yet another conversation about intersex and was entertained with the doctors and resident's responses when they were asked about it. This was interesting for me because my nursing classes the information is stuff I really enjoy learning about and it 100% useful; however no one wants to discuss how to catheterize a man over lunch...
I was pleasantly surprized to walk away from this class with the new base of knowledge and a new 'feminist' view of my own. It was nice that everyone was able to participate even though we all fit somewhere completely different on the feminist spectrum. I know my opinions were changed, strengthened and questioned throughout the course of the semester but I like walking away knowing I have real thoughts on pressing feminist issues.

May 10, 2007

Final Reflections

I look back on this semester, and I'm really glad that I decided to take this class. I learned about subject matter that I had never considered before. I learned how I ,too, have been blinded by normative gender roles my whole life. This class really made me think critically about how I think about the world. I think that one of the most interesting things that I learned all semester was about blurring gender roles. Gender isn't biologically based; it's a societal norm. It really made me feel compassion for transgenders because I can't imagine the struggles that they go through day to day. Even something so little as deciding which rest room to go into would be a challenge.

I wasn't expecting that the class would have so much of a scholarly feminist background, but I think that it really added to the class. When you know that you're reading an article by someone who's educated about the topic and not just stating an opinion, it only adds to what you gain from the reading.

I agree with others in the class by saying that some sort of GWSS class should be a CLA requirement. The class really gives you information you wouldn't hear elsewhere. It forces you to think critically about the world in which we live.

Semester Reflection

Looking back on this semester, I would say that I learned a lot about feminism. Coming into this class, I really had a vague idea of what feminism was. I learned a lot about gender and how it is constructed by society. This class definitely helped me to learn to think critically and to think about everyday things, like what is on TV and on commercials, and how women are portrayed in TV and movies.

I am glad that I decided to take this class and I feel I learned a lot of things that I probably would not have learned somewhere else. I am probably going to take another GWSS class before I graduate if my schedule will allow it.

A pensive reflection to a great semester

As I reflect over the past semester I am relieved and saddened that the year is almost over. Relieved, that summer is year and I can finally do nothing for three whole months! Saddened, that this class is over and I will have to actively look for new ways to educate myself about feminism and topics pertaining to feminism. When I first registered for this class, I had made an unofficial goal of answering my question: “Why do I want to minor in GWSS?? Now that it is the end of the semester, I really don’t have a concrete answer. Perhaps, it is merely that I am more educated on issues of reproductive rights, or that I learned how to be a better ally to the GLBT community, or maybe I am more on the up-and-up on feminism in the news, or I have thought of new and different ways race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability affect feminism and me. Maybe it is just a mix of all of those things…yes, that’s it. I have honestly, challenged myself and how I “do sexuality? and process sexuality as a socially constructed identity.

One thing I would suggest for the class: Improve or create a closer classroom by forming groups, and encouraging students to interact and get to know each other more. I left our class not really knowing more than five people very closely and less than ten names of my classmates. The blog really helped me to connect with other classmates, but I did not really read my friend’s posts, because their posts just got lost amongst the numerous other blog posts from everyone else.
Overall, I loved this class and I really enjoyed reading the articles in our textbook Feminist Frontiers, and I feel that the discussions we have had online and in-class have challenged my thought process and encouraged me to ponder feminism in new light and by using different lenses of analysis. I also have increased my blogging ability tremendously, which is way cool and I think that I will continue to add to my media journal for my own benefit of keeping track of interesting things I come across in the media and record what my opinions and thoughts are about them. Loved the class! Looking forward to taking more GWSS classes next year!

Changing My Mind

I’m glad to have covered as many topics and theories as we have in GWSS 1001—as thought provoking as they’ve all been, I’d have to say that what I’ve gotten most out of the class is a change in my own feminist perspective. A year ago, I gave a speech about feminism and porn to my entire high school. I wrote the speech as a response to my feelings about the porn my male friends watched. Although I tried to include many perspectives in this speech, I realize now that my reaction (and my resulting feminist stance) did not cover all it could have. My feminism has been born out of many years living a privileged, upper class white life.
By learning about the diversity of feminism and feminists, multiracial feminism, hip-hop feminism, punk feminism, male feminism, transsexual and transgendered feminism, I’ve become more aware of the multitude of backgrounds and experiences different feminists bring to the table. I feel a bit guilty knowing that some of my concerns really do result from growing up the way I did, and that many feminist measures (like workplace equality, etc.) do in fact address my concerns but not the concerns of others. I rarely have to think about racism, unfairness in welfare or gender binaries that make bathroom etiquette uncomfortable for transsexuals. We are all in this together, and there are definitely important issues that get ignored because those who have them lack power in our society.
I’ve really enjoyed this class; though I’d have liked it if the blog were more integrated into the class (perhaps links to people’s media journals would have been cool?) I had hoped to use it more than I’ve ended up using it. The readings on feminist theory have also been enriching (though I wasn’t as much of a fan of bell hooks). I still feel as though I have a lot to keep digging for- which is exciting, since I opted to keep my textbook. I want gender equality issues to float back into the mainstream! I’ll do my best to have conversations that will steer people in that direction. Thanks for a good class, Rachel!

A Final Thought

So there I was, stuck with not being able to register for a class over winter break because of a time conflict. Because of this, I opted to broaden my global perspectives by enrolling into GWSS 1001. Little did I know that this would be one of the most rewarding classes that I am sure I will ever be enrolled in. I had no idea that the oppression of women, and the feminist movement for equality was as strong as it is. I was very glad that the instructor incorporated technology in all forms of learning from computer and blogging to various media clips that demonstrated readings in class. I think using technology to educate society about a hot topic is probably the best way to go because it gets them more involved and interested. I think this class along with others should be required by either the late stages of high school, or in your college years at some point. With more knowledge of the subject, there is a possibility of more respect for women including less abuse and oppression. With continued support from the voice of feminism, gender equality is a realistic goal for all nations. Once again, I am very glad I enrolled in this class, and hope that everyone has a great summer!

Are they like YOUR family?

I watched Brothers & Sisters the other day and thought about how interestingly they portrayed the family. This Walker family is claimed to be a modern American family. The family is composed of Nora and William, the parents of Sarah, Tommy, Kevin, Kitty and Justin. I enjoyed watching this show because of the seemingly chaotic family. It made a crazy family back home seem normal. This show contrasts many of the family shows that I grew up watching.

Sarah and Tommy both work at their Father’s family business but they run into trouble. Nora finds out that her husband has been cheating on her with Holly for twenty-something years. When William dies, surprisingly of a heart attack, the Walkers’ find out that that William and Holly had a child nearly twenty years ago. Sarah is trying to figure out how to balance being a mother and run the family business. Tommy is trying to start a family with his wife Julia and also start a new branch of the family business. Kevin is a gay lawyer trying to find out how let others love him and how to love them back. Kitty is a right wing politician whose opinions are in opposition to the majority of the rest of his family. Justin is dealing with post war trauma and addiction. Each member of this family is dealing with their own issues.

I think that this family really drew me in initially because it was a big family. The first episode that I watched, I thought that it was one big loving family. Much to my surprise, I found out that the family was full of its quirks. I enjoyed learning about the personality of each person and what each person was dealing with. Despite all of the complications that the family member endures, the family really comes together to when anyone is in need.

I think that one of the biggest reasons that the dynamic of this show is so different from so many of the other shows that focus on “typical? family life is that the children of the family are all grownup. The dynamic changes because the children don’t all go to school together; they make an effort to see each other. The members of the family are extraordinarily different, yet all come home for the same reason. The sarcasm and the humor of the family are also particularly interesting and catchy.

I enjoy the show because it doesn’t portray an “ordinary? family as 5 siblings who fight only on the surface. I enjoy seeing families who resemble a family more like the one I grew up in. The family is portrayed as a family with lots of love to give and plenty of bitterness to go around. This family conveys my image of a modern American family much better than any other TV drama I have ever seen. I enjoy the effort that is being made. Of course, the show is not flawless, but it is a step in the right direction!

Pornography

While I enjoyed all the presentations in class and thought it was a really nice way to end the semester, I thought the presentation about pornography was quite interesting! All of the group members seemed to be very mature with this topic that could be considered very uncomfortable. The presentation was very well rounded: history, governmental issues, porn videos/magazines, and different sex stores.

The comparison between “Sex World? and the “Smitten Kitten? was very important to discuss and very accurate. I have not been to “Sex World? but I have been to the “Smitten Kitten?. I went during this semester with a few girlfriends and I felt surprisingly comfortable. All the staff was very informative and nonjudgmental. It was great that they made this comparison because people need to know that there are comfortable sex shops out there!

Final Blog

I was really looking forward to taking this class and I was not disappointed at all! I have all my classes in the music building on the West Bank so it is always nice to have a little change. I thoroughly enjoyed the comfortable environment that was immediately established because I always felt comfortable sharing my thoughts during class discussions. The blog was really because I have never used one before and it allowed all of us to reflect on certain topics discussing in class but outside of the classroom.

I felt that every lecture was well planned and each issue was very interesting. I have never taken a feminist class before and I learned so many things that I would not have learned otherwise. This class taught me to look at issues we encounter everyday (i.e. women portrayed in the media, rape, reproductive rights, etc.) with a critical eye. It was really interesting to look at video clips like the Hip-hop/rap documentary, Libby Lou, transgender, etc. I had learned a little bit about the transgender community before entering this class but we went into much more detail which I found very helpful! I really enjoyed this class and I think everyone should take a class like this because it covers many issues that are important to our everyday lives: feminism, gender, and sexuality.

thankyouthankyou thank you for expanding my mind.

i didn't know much about the feminist movement prior to this class and i learned lots and lots and lots in this semester and i loved every minute of it. all of the readings were super interesting and thought provoking. it's so sad to think that there are a shit ton of people who will never be hit with this information and will continue to be ignorant and affect others negatively and believe all of the stuff that the media throws at us. it's also sad to think that i might never have became aware of this movement and all that it entails or stimulated my interest in these topics had i not taken this class.

this class challenged me and made me think critically about the world that surrounds me and i am foreva changed. feminism covers so much ground and includes so many people, ideas, theories, opinions and i am glad that i am more knowledgeable now.
of all the things that we covered, what resonates with me the most is the sex/gender distinction. it had never really occurred to me that sex was an ambiguous area. i know that gender can be bent and shaped and played with but the idea that sex is not clear cut was somewhat mind boggling. these concepts fascinate me.
i plan on reading grassroots and the rest of my textbook and other related texts this summer because i don't wanna stop.

Final Reflections

I knew very little about this subject when I began this class. I took it because my sister is a feminist and what she talks about I find fascinating but most of the time I have absolutely no idea what she's talking about. I feel like at the close of the semester, I now have the tools to understand what she says and what's really going on in the world around me.

I find myself looking at things a little different now. I will see a commercial, or a tv show, or a song that before I wouldn't have thought twice about and now I will stop and think about the way a feminist would analyze it. I wouldn’t call myself a feminist yet but I definitely see the injustices in the gender, women, and sexuality studies and look forward to learning more about them.

The media and the way it was used in this class amazed me. I loved that we would read sections of the book and then come to class and discuss what was in them by watching a Pink music video, listening to a song, or watching a film clip. It was so exciting to have a class that I looked forward to; not only because of the content, but also because of the way it was presented.

I really enjoyed this class and would definitely recommend it to anybody and everybody (and I have!)

Feminism is My Unofficial (and not so new) Religion

Most of my learning this semester was in handling of technology (Moodle, Bloging, etc.), but there were also many little pieces that added to my ever-growing and expanding interest and research of feminism. I see most of the problems and challenges we discuss in the course of this course as related to one another, for example: the gender/sex perception we are molded into, and our parents (or generally older generation) influences cause much ignorance and confusion about gender and sexuality. The religious/conservative perceptions and ignorance guide people to not instruct their children about sexuality and gender, and so they grow on false beliefs, traditions, stereotypes, gossip and media. The result? People think that gender and race are scientific facts while they are a merely social constructs. One most be a boy or a girl, no place for "others" (even if there is an acknowledgment that some "others" exist).

Men are socialized to be emotionally unresponsive and irresponsible, women are socialized to be object: to be passive, beautiful, receive whatever they get (whether it is violence or love, or mix of them both). I can go on and on, but to save poor Ms. Raimist-Glazes' nerves I will focus on the one issue that interest me the most: the connection between sex-work, media and men's violence against women.
So: most of the parents in the U.S. do not want to teach their children about sexuality, gender differences or sexual identities. The result? Media is source of knowledge (very skewed and corrupted source), and it teaches men to be violent/murderous rapists/serial killers. In a binary of offenders/victims women usually have to be the later one.
You cannot protect yourself from pregnancy, STI's HIV, incest, rape, abuse, harassment, etc. if you do not know anything about your rights as a human and about your own sexuality and gender identity (as well as others' identities and behaviors).
Ignorance breeds violence that in turn breeds ignorance, breeding violence...
Feminism is my new religion:
• Do you want to end the class struggle in America (or the world)? Feminism deals with that.
• Want to end sexual/physical/emotional violence against women, GLBTQQ's and women? Feminism is the right path for you (begin your education there and move forward to action).
• Worry about politics, media, sports, or whatever else? Check out feminisms- I am sure they have a say on each and every issue that may come to your mind.

I hope in the future feminisms will be present in every course in every course, university and college in America (and the rest of the world). This course was excellent, and more that it changed my life I hope it influenced many others, those who never thought about sex and gender and identity, or race or class or the media influence on their lives.

Thank you for all the students that hang in there for my groups 45 minutes presentation on violence against women, and to all those who got involved and express themselves during this semester.

And thank you Rachel for all the guidance and help with these tricky computer things, and all the rest.

See you all in the summer course (there is still plenty of space left).

final thoughts

There were a number of things that this class taught me. One thing that I found really useful was the ability to take the theory I read about and then to apply it to advertisement and media I see daily. This has given me to theory in which I can look critically at the world around me.

This class has also helped me in my activist work. Many of the theory that we read has application in the area of queer activist. Issues of race, class and gender affect us all, and the works written by many feminist activists have application in a vast array of social movements. Many of the theory can be applied to activists fighting for a new queer collective identity. The LGBT community today is a community were members are designated a letter then are at war with each other and within their own subgroups. My vision for the future of the community is where the factions can come together to form a new queer identity. A new queer identity that reaches across sexuality and gender lines on the issues that effect us all breaks out of single identity politics, that strives for grassroots community building, that fights against assimilation, that fights against political apathy, and one that fights against the destructive elements of heteronormativity. We can use our diversity as an asset to strengthen a movement of transformative social change. No longer will the letters of LGBT be fractured, but united in the experiences with we share. As queers we can move beyond single identity politics and work towards a new global future. A new global future that fights for the social equality of people across lines of gender, race, class and sexuality, these lines will become blurred lessening the effectiveness of wedge politics. As queers we can be part of something large, where all marginalized people take action, and the disenfranchised take to the streets creating something revolutionary.

Feminism: Vital Movement-- Bad Name

I’m grateful for the focus this class had on the media: images, messages, effects, and structural hierarchy of the majority of the mass media system. I’ve been disgusted with the majority of media (especially magazine and television) viewing options for years. It’s invigorating to now have used intellect, analysis, and theory to study the negative images bombarding society. Instead of just attempting to avoid these mediums, I feel empowered to challenge them.
This course has also provided me with interesting, provocative, and diverse resources. The textbooks were effective in giving me an over-all understanding of the diversity and all-encompassing base of feminism. I’m looking forward to continuing my education on matters regarding oppression in a patriarchal society. Finishing the remaining articles of Feminist Frontiers and Grassroots will assist me in this endeavor. It’s not too often that I’m willing to read textbooks outside of class in my summer free time, so that is quite the compliment.
Now, for my rant, I purpose a question that feminism may or may not be addressing: Is the term “feminism? the most representative title for what it stands for? Part of me deeply appreciates a title focused on women, or what society relates to women. It’s something to be proud of and raise a fist in the air for. On the other hand, could the title be partly or greatly at fault for some of the stereotypes that are associated with the movement. I’ve posed this question for some very open-minded individuals who would be completely uncomfortable calling themselves “feminists? even after understanding that it stands for individuals against any type of oppression. Many men will not feel comfortable using such a feminine title. I would be resentful of a similar movement that was referred to as “masculinism?. It is just not inclusive; in fact, one of the friends I discussed this with asked me what I would call it, and upon no answer he suggested “inclussionism?. Considering the power language has on peoples, which we’ve learned about throughout class, I pose this title as an unfortunate problem, one that I find important to consider when talking to those people who share the same stance as feminists who could add knowledge and support, but will not refer to themselves as such.

Feminism: Vital Movement -- Bad Name

I’m grateful for the focus this class had on the media: images, messages, effects, and structural hierarchy of the majority of the mass media system. I’ve been disgusted with the majority of media (especially magazine and television) viewing options for years. It’s invigorating to now have used intellect, analysis, and theory to study the negative images bombarding society. Instead of just attempting to avoid these mediums, I feel empowered to challenge them.
This course has also provided me with interesting, provocative, and diverse resources. The textbooks were effective in giving me an over-all understanding of the diversity and all-encompassing base of feminism. I’m looking forward to continuing my education on matters regarding oppression in a patriarchal society. Finishing the remaining articles of Feminist Frontiers and Grassroots will assist me in this endeavor. It’s not too often that I’m willing to read textbooks outside of class in my summer free time, so that is quite the compliment.
Now, for my rant, I purpose a question that feminism may or may not be addressing: Is the term “feminism? the most representative title for what it stands for? Part of me deeply appreciates a title focused on women, or what society relates to women. It’s something to be proud of and raise a fist in the air for. On the other hand, could the title be partly or greatly at fault for some of the stereotypes that are associated with the movement. I’ve posed this question for some very open-minded individuals who would be completely uncomfortable calling themselves “feminists? even after understanding that it stands for individuals against any type of oppression. Many men will not feel comfortable using such a feminine title. I would be resentful of a similar movement that was referred to as “masculinism?. It is just not inclusive; in fact, one of the friends I discussed this with asked me what I would call it, and upon no answer he suggested “inclussionism?. Considering the power language has on peoples, which we’ve learned about throughout class, I pose this title as an unfortunate problem, one that I find important to consider when talking to those people who share the same stance as feminists who could add knowledge and support, but will not refer to themselves as such.

May 9, 2007

Final Reflection

Overall, I find the class enjoyable. There were many topics that I find interesting. One of them is transgender. Up until we discussed the issue in class, I have never really given it much thought. It really hit me when we talked about the lack of support we have for the transgender community. The fact that there is only one unisex bathroom in Coffman available is discouraging. In the future, I do hope that the U of M will make more of an effort to accommodate people that are transgender.
Also another topic that I like is the journal analysis. I did not realize the horrible messages that advertisement company are implying. The powerful effect of the media on our society is unimaginable. The rate of eating disorder has gone up, more and more women are obsessed with being skinny. Similarly, the one aspect that scares me the most is how the media affect young children. It is disturbing to see young children in makeup, wearing clothes that are age inappropriate. Stores like Libby Lue should really be banned. I really don’t understand why some people would think that it is cute. But to have people thinking that it’s cute only means that they are not educated enough about feminism. That’s why I think classes like this are useful. Even for those who don’t really believe in feminism completely, at least they can still acknowledge what can benefit women and what hurts them.
Last but not least, the reality TV analysis is also one of my favorites. I did mine on The Hills. I watch that show a lot but it wasn’t until I had to do the assignment that I started to notice the difference. That assignment made me realize how show like that can really influence young people. Now I don’t watch it that often anymore.

Semester Reflection

After looking back on this semester, I can really say that I am now a pro-chioce feminist. Before coming into the class, I didn't really knew what feminism entailed. I really was naive to it along with all the components wrapped around it such as gender roles, male privilege and white privilege, reproductive rights, and equality in the workplace. I really liked the week where we anaylzed advertisements and now cannot look at an ad in a magazine and think about how women are portrayed. I think I am much more willing and want to listen about political issues such as abortion, because I am educated on it and know both sides to it and where I stand. This is never a class that I probably would have taken, but I am really glad I did and have learned so much about feminism and about myself throughout the semester.

Sex Ed

I was really interested in the group presentation last night on teaching sexual education in schools. When I was in fourth grade our parents got a letter explaining that sexual reproduction and puberty was going to be talked about to us. My parents signed me up. Parents could come to the discussions with their kids, and my mom joined in. In fifth grade we got a more detailed description of what actually is going on in your body and then in seventh grade we watched a movie of an egg being fertilized and then the baby growing and then the actual birth. As gross as a lot of this was to a kid in elementarty and middle school I felt that these classes were very important. One major aspect of high school sex ed that I found interesting was how my health classes didnt teach abstinence only. They told us that abstinence is the only way to avoid diseases and pregnancy but they also went into huge discussions about ways in which to protect yourself if you do decide to have sex. This I thought was great because the more you tell a kid NOT to so something the more they are going to want to do it. My high school even handed out condoms at prom. My mom has also been a huge part in this process. She made sex and puberty talks very comfortable. I still talk to her about problems. There are times we both say a little too much but I love knowing that I can go to her for anything I have questions about. She knows everything! I dont hide anything from her. I think its important for schools and parents to be open with their children about sex. I know that I learned a lot from my friends about sex but I feel that the most important information I learned from my classes and my mom.

May 8, 2007

Life Long Journey

My mom has been talking about feminism all my life. It wasn’t until this semester that I sought out what feminism really meant in the larger scheme of things. To be able to view things not only on the local, somewhat narrow view of things, but also on the national and international, broader view is empowering.

I now feel as if I can carry on a knowledgeable conversation with people who are either are opposed to feminism or is unknowing of the beliefs and movement. To learn for myself is one thing, but to be able to spread the knowledge to other is the greatest achievement of all.

I learned about the different theories and the perspectives within the broad term feminism. I learned the variety of shapes, sized, colors, genders that feminists come in. I learned to be more accepting of opposing ideas and views. I learned how to openly discuss my ideas.

The best part of the curriculum is that anything that I have learned in this class will be the basis of my formation of a feminist identity. This class has created the beginning of a new journey. This journey will continue the rest of my life.

I look forward to being able to continue to learn about feminism and the agendas that accompany the movement. I look forward to being more involved in the community now that I have many resources. I extend the hope to the rest of the class. I hope that people will become more involved in activist events and will invite friends and family. We are the future.

Interesting...

I came across this while doing my daily celebrity blog search. What do you think of this?

Former MTV producer Terrance Dean has written a memoir titled Hiding in Hip-Hop: Confessions of a Down Low Brother in the Entertainment Industry, which will chronicle "the author's life as a closeted homosexual working in the film and music industry and his relationships with other closeted homosexuals—film stars, rap artists, and music producers," according to RadarOnline.com.

A spokesperson for the publisher told RadarOnline.com that the book will not name Dean's closeted exes but that they will be easy to identify, adding, "Let's put it this way—you'll know who they are. It's a no-holds-barred look at Hollywood and hip-hop and who's living on the down low."

Dean is the founder of a New York nonprofit group called Men's Empowerment that works to help men of color. The book was reportedly sold to Atria last week and should be released next year. (The Advocate)

Peace

There are many things that I learned in this course. It changed my viewpoints on feminism and how to approach it as a male. I never once felt out of place because I was a male; in fact it wasn’t even an issue.

There are many things I learned over the course of this semester. Many topics I look forward to embellishing on while completing my GWSS minor. One specific facet of the course that I consider more helpful is by doing a feminist analysis. Before I was purely evaluating based off my personal bias and experience with no reasonable guidelines. I have used feminist analysis in many situations. I really learned with the Reality Television exercise, in which we needed to evaluate these programs through a different lens. It’s fun to approach media I am exposed to on a daily basis from a different angle. Being an Advertising Major, it is especially useful to master this analysis because it provides an alternate route in evaluation. I found that this class was a perfect fit with my major, which I why I decided to pair GWSS as a minor with my major.

I found that the readings had a greater effect on me than h thought they did. I find myself referring back to them if I come across something in the media that relates. Even though I may have found her overbearing, I find myself continually referring to bell hooks. I will be watching the news, reading an article or listening to the radio and I’ll hear something that will make me think, “Oh bell would really hate this. If he mentions white patriarchy…?.

Reflections on this course.

I really enjoyed this class. Because I’m a graphic design major, most of the classes don’t incorporate much critical thinking outside of the design world (though they could). And I’ve always considered myself a very aware person, but there were many issues we discussed and read about that I’d never really talked about or learned about. This class was very refreshing because it dealt with so many issues that society is afraid or embarrassed to talk about. I also enjoyed that most of our assignments were done on a blog where everyone could read each other’s work; because the class only met once a week it wasn’t easy to get to know people very well, so at least reading other’s thoughts gave me a deeper connection to the class. The books we read were great and incredibly appropriate, especially beginning with bell hooks’ piece of literature. I found all of the essays in Feminist Frontiers to be very well researched and interesting. Overall, the class was achieved beyond what I thought it would, and really made me think critically and broadened my perspectives.

Finally, I think classes like these should be mandatory. I believe that ignorance is what causes hate and hate crimes when talking about many of these issues, and even I broadened a lot of my thought throughout the course of this class.

Women in Politics Presentation Slides

Download file

Hanna, Karina, Kevin and Stephanie's PDF presentation that Rachel asked us to post!

Final GWSS Post :(

This class completely changed my view of feminism. When I entered this class, I was afraid I would be in a class with a bunch of feminists. I realized very quickly that I was in a class with a bunch of feminists and that I was one myself. To be honest, I had the stereotype of what a feminist is in my own mind. This class helped me to grasp truly what feminism is and what a feminist is. I know that feminism, more than anything, is a way of thinking and a set of beliefs, but these beliefs are not concrete and many people have differing views on what is and is not feminist thinking.

From the beginning of the class, I have changed how I look at certain issues based on a feminist way of analysis. These issues include, rape, patriarchy, family, abortion, gender discrimination, power and control, white male privilege, sexuality, homosexuality, gender, and its social construction. Further, I better understand the effects of race and class on these issues as well. If I had never had this class, I would have been blind to the real truths behind these issues. I think everyone should have to take a class on gender, feminism, and sexuality studies.

It's the final countdown doo de do dedooooooo

This class was cool.
I like to learn about women.
I also enjoy making videos, and I'm very glad the project allowed me to.
That was nice.
I like to meet new people, and I'm very glad this class allowed me too.
That was also nice.

In this class, I was introduced to a lot of feminist writers that I felt had very excellent perspectives. I am constantly attempting to learn about new issues that feminists are concerned with, so these articles helped a lot. Of the greatest concern for me is trying to get people to care again, and diminishing the stigma that "feminism" holds. I was glad that other people had the same frustrations with being "outed" as a feminist. To me, a feminist is any woman who is self-respecting and carries some sort of opinion. This obviously is a broad definition, but I think it's important to have a broad definition. While I am writing this, it is important to note that my brain is fried, therefore, there will be no wonderfully enchanting ideas coming from my fingertips against the keyboard. Rather, I am focusing on the clicks my keyboard makes and realizing that it is a very nice sound. I think that women's studies has a place in school curriculum, and it should forever have a place there. How else will people have a more broadened perspective on what that commercial perpetuates or what those diet fads are the product of? I like it a lot. I like women's studies. And I like people who take the courses. This is a good feeling.

Final Thoughts on the Course

Overall I have enjoyed taking this class. It’s been interesting to learn perspectives of current-day feminists and reading actual scholarly resources that have gone against what many people’s stereotypes of feminists have been and what their beliefs are. It was unfortunate that I held some of the stereotypes about feminists that weren’t necessarily positive, but they were definitely proven wrong. I think feminism is a movement that has been put on the backburner for a while, but has seemed to have shown light in the forefront now in society.

I think patriarchy and the marginalization of women, particularly women of color has been one of the biggest issues I think we’ve discussed throughout our course discussion. Although I appreciate studying and reading the materials we were receiving in this class, it would’ve been nice to read a few of the arguments presented from the opposite side. For a while it seemed like everything was very repetitive and one-sided, even though I understand that we were trying to read up on as many materials as possible that were published by great feminist activists and scholars. Maybe a suggestion for a future course?

Again, I was glad to participate in our class discussions and appreciated the viewpoints expressed by both students and our teacher.

menarebetterthanwomen.com

I stumbled upon this site because my friend had a facebook group called “women suck? which was a joke. Someone had left a comment on the wall of the group about the website www.menarebetterthanwomen.com. This is a website for men to bitch about women for no reason. Women are supposedly not allowed at this site. They even have t-shirts and things that you can buy with their logos on it some of which are just decapitated women’s restroom symbols. I just thought it was ridiculous that someone would actually make an entire website about this. Some of the articles are kind of funny but I think people are taking them too seriously since there are serious fights going on in the comment sections. Some of the articles include “feminism is stupid?, “every women is a cheating whore? and “space…the male frontier?

Final Post

I think this course really exposed me to a lot of things that I would have never been exposed to on my own. A lot of the ideas and theories we talked about in class are things that were right in front of my face but I just didn’t notice because I wasn’t aware of them. I also didn’t realize how different it was for women just a few decades ago. There were a lot of things I didn’t realize or took for granted before this course. I don’t really think about the rights I have as a women as something that people didn’t have before. For me it is just so normal that I don’t pay attention to it. It’s hard to imagine a time when women couldn’t vote even though it wasn’t that long ago. I probably never would have been exposed to blogging like this either. I have a blog for another class but is only the teacher who blogs on it. I think making the assignments in the form of blogs really exposed me to something new that I wouldn’t have really used before. I also would have probably never gone to the events on my own. The talk I went to was actually very interesting and really opened my eyes to how the media portrays things whether it is true or not. I think I really took a lot from this course.

May 6, 2007

Transgender 20/20 last week

Last week ABC's 20/20 did a show on transgender youth and the stories these three children shared were so powerful that my coworkers are still talking about them. Quickly after I mentioned this class and the final presentation my group and I did on transgender and intersex individuals they urged me to include some of these stories or clips into the presentation. Due to timing, here are the text stories from all three children and a link to 20/20's website if you want to view clips of the episode aired 4/28

abc_2020_riley_070424_ms.jpg
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3072518&page=1
ht_2020jeremy_070425_ms.jpg
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3077906&page=1
abc_transgender2_070427_ms.jpg
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3088298&page=1


And ABC's website if you want to watch clips http://abcnews.go.com/2020/

May 5, 2007

Price on Love?

I was sent this article by a friend this morning. What has our world come to! This disgusts me.


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- The government has ordered an Internet auction site to remove an advertisement in which a Brazilian man offered to sell his wife for about $50.

The Secretariat of Public Policies for Women announced late Friday it had ordered Mercado Livre, partially owned by eBay Inc., to remove the ad and warned it was violating a law banning the offer or sale of "human organs, people, blood, bones or skin."

The advertisement was no longer visible on the site Saturday.

It was posted by a man who gave his name as Breno and said: "I sell my wife for reasons I prefer to keep short ... I really need the money."

The described his wife physically and listed her qualities as a homemaker and companion. He reportedly said she was 35 and "worth her weight in gold."

The Estado news agency said it wasn't clear if the ad was meant as a joke. It said Mercado Livre told it the ad hadn't been noticed earlier because of the large number of products offered on the site -- nearly 1 million.

There was no answer Saturday at phone numbers for Mercado Livre or its public relations agency.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/05/05/wife.sale.ap/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

Dear Diary...

I came into this course pretty naïve about feminism and gender studies, but I am definitely glad I took the opportunity to explore a new area. I learned that “feminism? encompasses a broad range of perspectives and degrees of intensity, and for the most part, it is not as hard-core angry radical as it is often portrayed to be. In fact, I found that feminism is actually very compatible with most of the core beliefs I already held, such as empowering women, being accepting and supportive of a variety of different lifestyles that people choose, standing up for the rights of marginalized individuals even in other countries, and deemphasizing physical appearance as a way of judging people.
I think many people would be more in line with feminist ideals than they will ever have the chance to find out. The effect of the media has been to stigmatize feminism, and people are discouraged from learning more about it for fear of being labeled a sissy (men) or a lesbian (women). This stereotype needs to be obliterated for feminism to gain more credibility and influence. For example, a friend of mine who does not “look? like a feminist is actually very involved in the movement and is pursuing a GWSS degree. She recently wore a bright pink shirt around campus that said “This is what a feminist looks like.? She said she received some pretty odd looks from people, but this is what they need to see!

May 4, 2007

Final Thoughts

This class has really challenged me to think critically about the society we live in. I thought I was pretty critical of media and society before this class, but I really learned how to focus that criticism and analyze the racism, sexism and bigotry that surrounds us in our daily lives. Just being aware of the implications of the media and how it shapes our culture and "norms" in our society is a good lesson learned. But I think this class offered so much more. The theory and discussions provided me with many peoples view points and stories which I can now apply to my life and the culture I am surrounded by. Learning about women's struggle to be recognized and to earn rights has opened my eyes and expanded my thoughts. I have learned a lot of all my friends (being that most of them are women) and have a new found respect for their lifestyles. The feminist agenda is an amazing movement that needs to continue and I realize that I want to be a part of it. The most valuable lesson I have learned through this course is that feminism includes all people. The movement is fighting for equality and changing the way that society interprets roles performed by all genders. I really enjoyed this class and I think it should be a requirement at this University for all students to take a course that challenges our perceptions of our own society.

Thought I would share...

Of course I would come down with strep throat the weekend before finals.

Anyway, so I went into Boynton to get a strep test and on the information forms that I had to fill out prior to my visit I saw something that I didn't expect to see, but definitely was excited to see. It said:

"Gender: (check one)
Male..........Female..........Transgender..........Other"

I was shocked, but I found myself actually feeling a little bit proud regardless of what I checked. This is the very first place that I've seen this and I had to wonder if it had anything to do with the University of Minnesota being in the top 20 univeristies in the nation with great LGBT communities, which I did read recently in relation to my group's presentation on gender.

Have any of you seen this any other places either around campus or the Twin Cities?

May 3, 2007

:)

I really feel like this class was one of the most useful for me so far in my college career. They always say, “You need to take a math class, and a science class, and at least x number of writing intensive classes,? but they never mention anything about taking a Gender, Women, and Sexualities class. As many of us in the class agree, a GWSS course should really be a requirement for every college student. Some of the issues discussed in class are crucial for everyone coming into the real world to know and understand.

I had wanted to take a Women’s Studies class since I was in high school because I had friends who were active in some feminist organizations and really wanted to become more involved; I just didn’t know how. Rachel invented and organized some really cool assignments for us to do in order for us to become more aware and involved in the Twin Cities activist organizations. I not only learned from my own research, but other students’ blog posts and insightful class participation. I now feel so much more confident about going out and talking with people about some of the most pressing issues facing women in today’s society.

I, also, had never used a blog before and with the provided feminist blog and news links, I have discovered so many new ways of retrieving very useful and innovative information. I never realized half the stuff I have learned in this class, and never thought of half the stuff that all of these scholarly women are coming up with. I respect every single person who shared the 2 ½ hour session with me every Tuesday because they are taking the time to learn and understand what is really going on in the Feminist world. I actually enjoyed coming to a night class and I now realize that it is going to be a lot harder going to my Econ night class next semester than coming to Rachel’s class. Thank you everyone for making this an enjoyable semester!

My Final Thoughts

This course is one that is not in my major, yet it has been one of the most enjoyable courses I have taken this year. I have learned so much not only about women’s studies, but also about how to use blogs and how to interact with people using this means of communication. Before taking this class, women’s studies is something that I had never really given much thought to. When I would think about it I just thought it was a bunch of women who are fighting for equal rights for women. Little did I know that there are many facets of this subject. Now, after taking the class, I feel I have a much deeper understanding of what women’s studies is. I understand how many issues feminists face, ranging from issues regarding transsexuals to sex segregation to ethnic segregation and many more.

I have enjoyed this class because now I feel more educated on the subjects relating to feminism, and I now feel that I can have educated conversations with people regarding the topics. I am able to come up with convincing arguments so I can argue what I believe in, where before I would just be saying what I thought, with no facts to back my argument up.

All-in-all this was a fun course because it is a topic that really interests me, but it was also made very interesting by the different ways in which we were exposed to the material. I enjoyed analyzing the songs we listened to, watching the video clips we watched, and hearing everyone’s opinions in our class discussions. It was a great class that was made even more fun by being able to see how women’s studies related to my everyday life.

Final Reflection

Over the course of this semester, I have learned many things concerning feminism. As I’ve said before, my middle school and high school never taught much about the feminist movement; my teachers only touched on Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Roe vs. Wade. This class really did a good job of exploring the many different facets of feminism, not just the struggle of women alone. I really liked the aspects that concerned race, class, and sexuality because those topics made me think more about them than I used to do. I was comfortable in my ignorance of the struggles of minorities and non-heterosexual people, but now, at the end of the semester, I am comfortable addressing, talking about, and understanding (as much as I can), the struggles of such people in American society. I think the biggest thing I took out of this class is how to think with a feminist lens. The ability to do a feminist analysis has helped me in many of my other classes as well, especially when I have to do cultural analyses or cultural criticisms; being able to analyze in multiple directions has proved helpful and useful.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this class is the opportunity to use a blog. I’ve never used one before, but I definitely enjoy this application of technology. It was a nice way to keep the class involved with each other; we could all see what we posted and we were able to comment on them.

Finally, I liked the use of multiple forms of media in the class. Analyzing music, movies, and text provided enough variation to keep me interested and attentive during the two and a half hours of class. It was a large block of time, but I feel there was rarely a wasted moment. I had a lot of fun with this class, and I definitely got a lot out of it.

May 2, 2007

Feminist Spoken Word

So so so cool! Check it out!

Final Thoughts

Before I entered into this class, I was unaware of the feminist movement in its entirety. I knew that women were fighting for equal pay and that the womans movement stems much deeper than gaining the right to vote. I was watching an episode of Family Guy the other night and in one scene Peter says to his wife that it is illegal for women to drive. Before this class I would have probably laughed very hard at that comment, however, when he said this I just sat there and thought to myself "wow, is this really what society thinks about women?" Obviously I know that women can drive, but I guess it just bugs me that comments like this are made. I've never thought of myself as a feminist and this class hasnt changed that idea in my head. However, because of what I've learned I do see womens rights in a new light. I do feel that women should be paid equally for equal work and I also wish women werent discriminated against in their attempts at gaining a job.

Racism and Young Children

http://tyrashow.warnerbros.com/show_recaps/yesterday_recap.html

On Wednesday May 2, 2007, Tyra's show was titled "Focus on Race:Kids and Race". Children were asked to look at photographs of different races and state what they thought about them. The results were surprising. Every one of the kids exhibited some form of racism. A body image expert talked about how these children's opinions are based on things that they are exposed to at home. Their views are actually reflections of their home lives.

The real surprising part of the show came when Tyra invited Drew and Amy and their children onto the set. Drew and Amy are white supremacists and are striving to instill the same values in their children. This was a really scary segment. When Tyra was interviewing the children she asked one of the children Arik what he hated about black people; his response: " It's not that I hate them but I hate the things they do, including theft, gang related activities and hijacking." Later, she asked his sister why she hated Jewish people, and she responded, "They are the seed of Satan". This family scared me because they,especially the father, seemed to have the same viewpoints as a modern day Hitler. They talked about how they were prepared to fight, to get all those colored people and Negroes to go back to their homeland. I couldn't believe that someone in this day and age could grow up so blind to how wrong views like these are.

Tyra talked about how racist ideas start with our children. Children are the future of the world, and we need to educate them about how race isn't even biologically based; it is a social construct. Children need to know these things today so that they can be more accepting leaders as adults.

Final Reflection

In this course I learned many different things from my original field of study. I am a chemical engineering major and I am used to studying math and science. I took this course because I heard from a friend that it was very interesting and I thought it would get me away from my math and science classes I had all this semester. It turned out to be totally different than what I expected. I did not expect it to be so much on feminist theory, but that turned out to be very interesting.

I am very happy to have taken this class. When I came into this class I really had no concept on what feminism was and what was involved in feminist studies. Now that we are done, I can understand further the magnitude of the issues women need to fight for. Especially, after listening to some of the presentations this week, I understand how much women are dismissed in the work place. That was one of the biggest things to me, I want to go very far in my career and now I fully understand the accomplishment it is for a women to become an authority figure in her workplace. Everything in this class was new to me and normally I would not like that, but this turned out to be one of my most interesting classes this semester.

Nikki Giovanni's Truth-telling

February 28th I attended Nikki Giovanni’s “Truth-telling and the Need for Poetry: from the Harlem Renaissance to hip hop. She was announced as being a woman who has been presenting truth on issues of racism for 40 years. The introduction was quite impressive, and since I had only read a few of her poems in the past, I was excited to learn more about her.
What Nikki Giovanni says about…

Fame: She is hysterically funny. Posing, and poking fun of famous personalities with their lies, obsession with the physical, and fakeness. She obviously was not speaking about every famous person, but what fame tends to do to someone if they are not careful. It seems as if she has really focused on staying true to who she is and not conforming to what is reviewed about her. She was very charismatic, but blunt. She was rarely politically correct. For someone to be speaking in front of an entire room of admirers and not watching what she said or tripping over how to sound most eloquent showed me exactly why she has so many admirers, and possibly why her words are so effective.

James Tate: Apparently, the infamous bus driver of Rosa Parks had recently died. Giovanni was mobbed by “bored? news journalists to see what her reaction would be. Her reply, “Another one bites the dust.? When Mrs. Tate heard this news she explained that ‘Mr. Tate was a man of his time.? Giovanni then proceeded to thank God that Rosa Parks had not been a woman of her time.

Rosa Parks: Giovanni read a children’s book that she had just won an award for. It was based on the true day Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, as opposed to how the history is told in text books. Rosa Parks normally did not take the bus. She had to that day because her mother was ill, so she had to make the breakfast and get her children ready for school that morning before she went to work. Because they only had one car, her husband would have been late for work had he waited for her. “Husbands sometimes do that. We get used to it,? Giovanni said of his actions. At first I was disappointed that she would act so nonchalantly about gendered household powers, but I realize, that she was close friends with the Parks and she was still speaking the truth. She made me think, and maybe that was all she was trying to do with that statement.
Giovanni relates the rest of Rosa Parks’ day in a way that keeps Parks from sounding like a character. Sometimes it is difficult to remember how one person can influence so many others. Keeping Rosa Parks a true person who worked hard, had a family to take care of, and a personality, gives me personal strength.
Another reason why everyone should go and buy this book (ha) is that any book that will positively affect a child should be supported. I nanny and PCA for children of a few families and it’s amazing the crap-ass books that I do not want to read to them. Socialization starts young, from the day someone is born. Reading the Rosa Parks story to children can teach them about strong, individuals who are not always portrayed as being so.

Condeleeza Rice: “Crazy old bitch. Rosa Parks’ casket moved when she [Rice] touched it.?

Then Giovanni read some of her poetry. I can not even attempt to describe them or relate them to you. That would not do them justice; however, I found one on the internet:

Nikki-Rosa
childhood rememberances are always a drag
if you're Black
you always remember things like living in Woodlawn
with no inside toilet
and if you become famous or something
they never talk about how happy you were to have
your mother
all to yourself and
how good the water felt when you got your bath
from one of those
big tubs that folk in chicago barbeque in
and somehow when you talk about home
it never gets across how much you
understood their feelings
as the whole family attended meetings about Hollydale
and even though you remember
your biographers never understand
your father's pain as he sells his stock
and another dream goes
And though your're poor it isn't poverty that
concerns you
and though they fought a lot
it isn't your father's drinking that makes any difference
but only that everybody is together and you
and your sister have happy birthdays and very good
Christmasses
and I really hope no white person everhas cause
to write about me
because they never understand
Black love is Black wealth and they'll
probably talk about my hard childhood
and never understand that
all the while I was quite happy
Then it was time to ask Nikki Giovanni some questions.
Q: What should young rappers read to be better.
A: Sister Soldier, Tony Lawrence, Langston Hughs. “If we want the young to listen, we must listen to them.? She also went on to say that the hip hop world does not need to change, they need to mature.
Q: Why is “Thug Life? written on your forearm?
A: Mourning 2pac

I guess that I enjoyed Nikki Giovanni speak so much, that I wanted all of you to be able to get a glimpse of what I did. Her bluntness, and tell-it-like-it-is attitude was so refreshing, I could not refrain from relating her words to you.

Final Course Reflections (3 points)

Thank you for being a part of this classroom community, for being diligent bloggers and for thinking deeply about issues concern gender, power and our everyday lives.

Best to you all.
-R

+ + +

Please post a 200-300 word reflection to this course by 11pm on May 10th.

This post is an open space to share your thoughts, reflections or responses to course topics or the course itself.

For this post you could:
- list things that you've learned this semester (from blogging to being more critically aware)
- discuss topics or themes that resonate with you
- address things that surprised you (or didn't)
- share what you may be interested in studying further
- proclaim why (or not) GWSS is an important field of study
- discuss how feminism has changed (or continues to change) your life
- suggest improvements to the course
- suggest alternate assignments or additions to course material (like readings, films, activities)
- consider how or why feminist thought can (and should) occur in your discipline

Truly, this is an open assignment for you to share some final thoughts!

Group Presentations

Good job on the group presentations. You've all definitely set the bar of expectations for the rest of us. I wanted to comment on several things from each presentation that I had in response to them or things being said.

Group 1: Sexual Violence
I found it interesting that the rape rates were the highest (was it 88%?) among whites, while women of color were the most involved in prostitution. The reason for it being interesting is because the rapes that tend to occur in the U. S. are most often pursued by white men. Even on television on the program Law & Order: Special Victims Unit their pedophile and most serious rape cases have the white man being the perpetuator. Why is it this way? Is it a societal thing? Do white men have the desire to have more control over their women? Perhaps this could be one possible suggestion, given the fact that white men are the ones that govern our country and are the positions holding the highest power. Or could it be because their self-esteem might be lower of a man of color when it comes to attracting women? Because white women are the leading women in bi-racial relationships and are not as concerned with being with white men, has this caused problems for white men?

The idea of women of color having the highest rates of involvement with prostitution does not surprise me. Women of color are continually perceived as exotic and sexually-driven “animals?, particularly black women. Because many people of color are from a lower-class than the average white person, it makes sense that they would end up doing the more “dirty and self-degrading? jobs that the upper-high class does not involve themselves with.

One of my questions that I had asked in class was about the campus escort service. The reason being is because we were talking about rapes and sexual predators, most often who are men. It’s interesting that in order to be protected from your possible predators, you need to be escorted by one who is of the same gender. I am not saying that the male escorts are also sexual predators or anything like that. However, I just think it’s interesting how society’s “mind? works. This idea goes back to our discussions about women always needing a man because women cannot be on their own. They are not physically strong as men and need someone to help protect them. This shows that women are still consistently seen as the lesser of the two genders.

Group 2: Gender Discrimination in the Workplace
I had an issue with one of the quotes in the presentation:

“I think the first step to erasing males being the majority in this field is awareness.?

More specifically: “erasing?. I think a better term or just a better and more positive sentence could’ve been used instead of the one given. I don’t think it’s going to spark people so much if we keep using negative terms to motivate women to become more involved. I think if the presenter had used a sentence like this:

“ I think the first step in advocating and motivating more women to join a field that is dominated by men is by awareness.?

By using a term such as “erasing?, we are also beating down men just as they are supposedly beating women down. You do not beat the other when you act and behave in the same manner of the other.

I also thought about how the number of women in the veterinarian field has increased. It’s a very good thing. The only problem was that I know that most people generally think of a veterinarian field as not being on the same level of a medical doctor because it’s with animals. The funny thing is that we discussed how vets need to have the same level of knowledge, go through the same number of exams, and do everything that a medical doctor does. It’s a common stereotype that I often see and hear from others. Because it is a more dominated field by women, perhaps this ongoing stereotype will evolve into something like “women can only go to vet school because it’s a female’s job. Vet school is the closest thing they’ll get to in becoming anywhere near to being a medical doctor.?

Group 3: Deconstructing Gender & Sexuality

This was the only group that had me disagree with one of the quotes that was mentioned by an author:

“Socialization determines the sex of a person?

Because I am of a somewhat Christian background, I have to say that I don’t necessarily believe that it in fact does determine the sex of a person. I don’t think that we can continue to make all these subcategories for gender because it will keep continuing to the point where every single person is in their own category, and no commonalities can be shared by a group of people. Everything becomes less and less until you have no more. Since socialization determines the sex of a person, it determines the names of objects that we use everyday as well. It determines everything. The problem is convenience. We call food “food? because it is a general category that unites everything in it because they all have a shared commonality: their purpose is to be eaten. We have categories for people as well: Asian American, African American, White, etc. As unfortunate as it is that our society couldn’t do a less ignorant job of classifying groups, the system has continued to work. A group of white students walking down the street see an African American person (who may be Ethiopian or Kenyan) but they classify them as African American. The same thing goes for people who want to be seen as a different gender than they are. But the problem is society continues and wants to place them in a category for convenience.

I’m not sure if this paragraph made any sense at all, maybe it’s just random thoughts I had about that particular phrase. I hope it makes somewhat sense, even if you may or may not agree with it. Just an opinion.

The point of the group presentations was to inform the audience and to spark responses, so I know that it did that for me so thank you for doing such a wonderful job. :)

May 1, 2007

rainbow families conference

rainbow.jpg

A few months ago, my friend told me about an opportunity to make some money working with little kids. Just from that, I was hooked, but she went on to explain that it was at a conference for GLBT families. After that, I became even more interested. The organization responsible for the event is Rainbow Families, which is one of the largest regional lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parent organizations in the country. On the application, I had to fill out what experience I had working with children, what activities I had planned for them, and lastly, my reasons for wanting to work at this conference. I think that this organization is super important in supporting a community that generally receives negative attention, and I wanted to help by spreading the positive message.

The mission statement for the organization is as follows:

“Rainbow Families works to build a safe, just, and affirming world for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents and their children? (rainbowfamilies.org).

For the past twelve years, Rainbow Families has held a daylong conference for the whole family, and the event is the largest of its kind in the entire nation. This year it was held at the Bryn Mawr Elementary School in Minneapolis on April 21 from 8:30 to 4:30. There was a wide range of activities for both children and parents. The children were grouped by age and placed with a pair of teachers (aka babysitters involved in playtime), while the parents did more fun adult things. They were allowed to choose three workshops to participate in, which ranged from a variety of topics concerning familial topics such as legal and financial issues, social justice, school, and general parenting. Abigail Garner, author of Families Like Mine, was the keynote speaker, and according to the Rainbow Families website, she "has been on the forefront of nurturing dialogue and increasing visibility for LGBT families in both queer and mainstream communities". My fellow teacher and I were assigned eleven first graders and given a schedule for the day. The most important part of our job was to provide the kids with a supportive environment where they could have fun and enjoy themselves. This was one of the only spaces in their lives where they didn't have to deal with questioning from other children about their nonnormative families and they could easily feel comfortable and proud of their parents. These children came from families with two daddies or two mommies or perhaps they were raised by grandparents or other such situations but we as supervisors were instructed to never refer to them as their "mom and dad", simply as "parents", because we didn't want to exclude anyone based on their personal experiences. My partner wanted to teach the kids some lessons throughout the day and she was very adamant that they know that it's okay to be different, it's okay to be yourself, and you have to respect everyone even if they are different from you, and you still have to be nice. At random points during the day, we would ask them what they had learned and it was really powerful to listen to them spout off these lessons in their own little kid ways. They were very smart and perceptive and aware. With all of the children present at the conference, there was a parade with musical instruments and we all sang "it's a small world after all" and marched through the auditorium where all of their parents were listening to a speaker. There was storytime with variations on the typical family children's books. The first one we read was titled "and tango makes three", which featured two male penguins at the central park zoo that want to start a family like the other heteronormative couples and they raise a little girl. The other story, "king and king", is about a prince whose mother tells him he must marry, who in reply tells his mother that he never cared much for princesses and ends up living happily ever after with another prince. At one point during the day, I witnessed a scene that was reminiscent of what I imagine children like Noah from Middlesexes go through on a daily basis. There was a little girl in my group who had long dark hair but was wearing a spiderman tshirt, and one of the other children asked her if she was a boy or a girl because she wasn't dressed stereotypically as a girl should be. Unfortunately, I didn't eavesdrop well enough to hear her answer. Overall, this was a really enjoyable experience. The little kids were really sweet, well behaved, interesting individuals. I'm glad I got to participate in an event that benefited others and I was able to support the GLBT community.

Animating Revolt - Envisioning the Alternative

For my scholarly event, I attended a lecture by Jack Halberstam, a transgendered professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California and a critic of gender representation in the media and their importance to our society. The talk was held in the Nollte Center for Continuing Education on campus on April 26th, and was put together by the Global Sexualities Research Collaborative of the Institute for Advanced Study and the Transgender Commission.
In the talk, Halberstam explained his theory that alternatives to our cultures harmful dichotomies (male vs. female, heterosexual vs. homosexual, family vs. individual) have already been envisioned and are able to be seen in some of our popular media. The media that Halberstam examines for gender alternatives are forms of animation, both in kid’s movies and horror films. Halberstam describes children’s films as alternatives to our dichotomies because children tend to think in terms of the collective instead of the individual like our adult culture encourages. They see themselves as part of a whole and the films targeted towards them, such as ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Over the Hedge,’ reflect the inspiring idea of strength in numbers and unity over the individuals.

An example of animation Halberstam used in the talk was the recent film ‘March of the Penguins.’ Although ‘March of the Penguins’ is a live film, Halberstam justifies that it is animation because the footage is carefully constructed to follow the narrator’s story, and therefore becomes a puppet-like tool to the creator. If you have seen or read about ‘March of the Penguins’ you may know that it was widely publicized by the religious right to support traditional family life. It was supported because it showed the power of monogamous relationships and sacrifice for the child. Halberstam argues that although the narrator tells that story, the penguins show a different lifestyle. Halberstam points out that although the penguins are monogamous in raising a chick, they are only so for one year, which in our language is not monogamy at all. The type of childrearing the penguins engage in is also a form would not be encouraged by the religious traditionalists. Parent penguins only care for and protect their young until shortly after they can walk, in which they become responsible for taking care of themselves.
Halberstam also explains that the narration lacks a few key points in the survival and reproduction of penguins. The first of which, is that penguin sex is very hard to distinguish, even for them, which makes penguin sexuality indistinguishable and unimportant. Although the narrator implies that all the paired penguins on the screen are heterosexual, in reality they are probably not, and cases of two penguins of the same sex raising chicks together has been observed and documented. Halberstam also explained the collective actions of the penguins as opposed to the single-family units the narration suggests. Since not all penguins produce or succeed in raising an egg, there seems to be no point in them staying in the frigid, barren breeding grounds under the single-family model. But in reality, if the non-reproducing penguins returned to the ocean and skipped the breeding procedures, there would not be enough penguins to keep warm during the winter or to feed the chicks when they hatched. This shows that penguin reproduction is truly a collective action requiring every able being in the herd instead of the single-family units described by the voice.
The second example of an alternative in an animated feature Jack Halberstam focused on was in ‘Seed of Chucky.’ Halberstam argued that the film portrayed gender as culturally and behaviorally based instead of biologically. He found this in the child that Chucky produced, in which the genitalia was ambiguous and could be viewed as both male and female. By the end of the movie, the child’s gender is established by his actions (killing his father) instead of his anatomy.
I greatly enjoyed Jack Halberstam’s talk and the ideas he presented, and plan to learn more about his theories through his books. I would strongly recommend seeing him and listening to his ideas if you ever get a chance.

Class Presentations

The first group is presenting on sexual violence. Domestic violence - 85% of reports are from women. The spouse still feels love for their partner, hopes for a change, fears for their life, or doesn't even realize abuse is occurring - that is why they stay. Control of a relationship is why most domestic abuse occurs. Among black marital partners, wives were just about as likely to murder their husbands as husbands were to murder their wives: 47% of the victims of a spouse were husbands and 53% were wives. The family court for abused victims has the power to order temporary child support. Criminal court only has the power to send the abuser to jail permanently or issue a temporary restraining order. Family court cannot accept any case because the abuser and the victim must be together, but where is the line? A minor of 16 or older can make an appeal on their own behalf against a spouse or former spouse, or a person with whom the minor has a child with, if the court determines that the minor has enough maturity and judgment and that it is in the best interest of the minor. Rape is defined as vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by the penis or any other object without consent of the other person. This definition can vary based on the person's viewpoint. 22% of all rapes occcur before age 12 and more than half occur before age 18. Accordign to "Fraternities and Rape on Campus" by Martin and Hummer (Feminsit Frontiers, pgs. 417-424), fraternities stratigically use alcohol to "get laid." A person can be raped or assaulted by his or her partner or spouse. 10-14% of married women are raped by their partners during the marriage. In Minnesota State Law there are certain allowances under which men can rape their wives legally or with minimal consequence. Gender role binaries, the construction of power within the society and the patriarchal family structure are potential causes for marital rape and domestic violence. "Prostitution in and of itself is an abuse of a woman's body...that is the essence and the meaning of male dominance" (Andrea Dworkin). The average age of entry into prostitution in the US is 14 years old. Most prostitutes are non white or women of low socio-economic status (or both), experienced incest or other child-sexual abuse before becoming prostitutes, or experience high rates of physical and sexual violence in prostitution and want to find a way out of it. Prostitution is, at least according to feminist theorists: an extreme form of men's control and violence of women, children and sexual minorities & inherently abusive and oppressive, at least in the way it is rune in the last two hundred years or so.

The second group focused on Gender Discrimination in the Workplace: gendered positions (secretaries), equal pay for equal work, glass-ceiling effects (Title VII), effects of women's traditional roles at home (pregnancy discrimination act), and affirmative action. Discrimination in the Twin Cities: Sennewald v. UofM - full time status awarded to men's gymnastics coach but not women's softball coach; ruled in favor of U of M on premise that it was based on budgeting decisions at the time of request for full-time status. Women in engineering and science fields: women are minority in academia; women are minority of engineers in the corporate world; number of women is increasing, but there's still a long way to go. There are few women who are professors or professors of color. Departments at the University of Minnesota - In the Chemical Engineering Department, there are three female professors and 35+ male professors; the office is full of female secretaries. These patters are consistent with "Sex Segregation in the US Labor Force" article by Christin E. Bose and Rachel Bridges Whaley: "Indeed, only a fraction of women work in occupations that are dominated by men (Draut and Luna 1992). Encouragement to Involve Women: national science foundation provides grants that help fund the labs at the U and ask how many women work in the lab; Charfac just aplied for a renewal on their 5 year grant and had to list the amoung of women who use the lab, what lab has done to promote amount of women using the lab. UofM has a Society of Women Engineers chapter. Despite having a womens studies program at the University of Minnesota, we still have other departments that practice male dominance. The institute of Technology is an example because the majority of professors and graduate students are males. Women and Animals: there have always been more men than women involved in the vet school here at the U; lately, the amount of women has increased, and the amount of men has decreased. There is a larger percentage of women in Animal Science classes. The head vet at Research Animal Resources is a woman. Gender equality in sports: the number of sports, coach's pay, scholarship funding, facilities for athletes and fan base. Number of sports: 12 male and female sports at the U; Title IX helps; 3 female pro sports in Minnesota & 13 male pro sports in Minnesota. Coach's Pay for Basketball: Tubby Smith - $1.75 million a year; Pam Borton - $150,000 a year. Scholarship funding: men still get more and specific sports can add to the funding (men do more). Facilities: women share stadiums with men, if they have their own stadium, it is smaller than the men's. Fan Base - attendance at men's games are greater and the media promotes men's sports more. Conclusion: gender and other forms of discrimination are present here in the Twin Cities.

The third group focused on: Socializing the Individual - Deconstructing Sexuality & Gender. Video Clip of Girls vs. Boys - Girls have long hair and Boys have short hair; Girls like barbies, unicorns, makeup, princesses and Boys like video games, star wars, computers; Girls should help animals and Boys should build houses and go to outer space. Transgender Clarified: a broad term used to encompass all manifestations of cross gender barriers; it includes all who cross dress or otherwise transgress gender norms, and all others who wish to belong; the Minnesota Human Rights Act includes transgender people. "Labeling someone a man or a woman is a social decision. We may use scientific knowledge to help us make the decision, but only our beliefs about gender - not science - can define our sex. Furthermore, our beliefs about gender affect what kinds of knowledge scientists produce about sex in the first place" (Ann Fausto-Sterling). Paris is Burning: gender performance and cues, realness and passing, is drag subversive? "Butler claims that gender is disciplined: 'in the interested on the heterosexual construction and regulation of sexuality within the reproductive domain' (500)." Butler questions whether drag questions and reaffirms the normalization of gender. Androgen Insensitivity: Maria Patino, 1988 Olympics; spain's top woman hurdler; required sex testing for the olympics; she had a Y chromosome and no ovaries or uterus, her cells couldn't detect testosterone. 'First we sex the body then we gender it.' Intersexes: preferred term to encompass a variety of syndromes previously classified on basis of gonadel history as true hermaphroditism; on having both male and female sexual characteristics and organs; at birth an unambiguous assignment of male or female cannot be made. Girl or Boy? - physical appearance-phallus length of less than 2 cm; hormonal contributions; nature vs. nurture; societal pressures. Implications for Gender Assignment: reproductive potential, sexual function, minimization of medical procedures, gender-appropriate appearance, stable gender identity, psychosocial well-being. Medicine & Feminist Ties: Concealment-Centered Model: abnormality, nurture, medical problem, "normalize" genitalia; Patient-Centered Model: anatomical variation, nature/nurture, psychosocial support, right to self determination, autonomy, supported by activists, historians, LGBT community and feminists. Long Term Outcomes: Medical outcomes are non-life threatening, Psychosocial aspects: sexual identity, 'niche-searching', and quality of life. Local Activism - Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, Gender Education Center, and OutFront Minnesota. Sexing the Body by Anne Fausto-Sterling.

If anyone is experiencing what they feel may be domestic violence, be it emotion, verbal, or physical, PLEASE visit the Aurora Center website. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions, I will be more than happy to try and answer them or refer you to proper resources. My e-mail: englu057@umn.edu

The Vagina Monologues

For my artistic event I decided to attend The Vagina Monologues. Basically this is about the celebration of womens sexuality. This play is an account of over 200 womens experiances about their sexual experiances. Many people have been able to see this because it has been performed in many cities and college campuses acrosst the country. Eve Ensler shows a real portrayals of womens intimacy, sexual self discovery and their vulnerability. The Vagina Monologues is celebrated as the womans bible, just like Cosmopolitan Magazine. Basically the Vagina Monologues gives rise to womens deepest fantasies and desires. It also refers to their fears as well. This was something very unexpected to me! I didnt realize this is what the Vagina Monologues was about. After seeing this I would tell other people to see it as well, you really do learn more about yourself through this.

Group Presentations

I was very pleased with the group presentations that I heard tonight! The first group discussed the many forms of violence which are aimed towards women: violence within marriage (I was not aware of marital rape), domestic abuse (within relationships between man and woman, parent and child, etc.), and violence associated with prostitution. I hate to admit it but I never really took the time to consider the violence associated with prostitution. It is a “profession? that I do not particularly agree with but nonetheless, women in these situations still ought to have respect and deserve to feel safe. Many of these prostitutes were previously victims of sexual and physical assault so many fall into these job as a last resort. I also really enjoyed how they presented their information. By making it a game, they incorporated the audience and we were not just sitting there. It was not boring at all!

The second group presented on gender discrimination within the work place. While their presentation was quite simple, I found it very affective because many of them shared their personal experiences. “Kim #1? shared her experiences in the Institute of Technology and how she is one of the few women in this competitive career. “Kim #2? explained how more women are entering vet school. She also stated how vets have to fight for respect because they are considered but some to be “fake? doctors. They are real doctors! The presentation ended with Clayton discussing women in college and professional sports. Everyone’s participation in this presentation was evident and it was very well prepared!

Debra Davis

A few weeks ago I got a chance to meet and speak with Debra Davis over in McNeal Hall on the St. Paul campus. A rather large group of students turned out for her presentation and workshop, and that surprised me because, at the time, I didn’t really know who she was or what she was all about. Soon thereafter I did find out that she is nationally known not only for being the first secondary educator to transition from male to female, but also for being the Executive Director of the Gender Education Center which is “A Minnesota non-profit corporation of differently gendered people dedicated to support, advocacy, and education.?

Debra Davis is also “an award-winning transgender educator and activist.? Her awards include, but are not limited to, 2001 Brian Coyle Leadership Award by the Human Rights Campaign, 2000 Minneapolis Pride Grand Marshal, Person of the Year? in Lavender magazine, and she continues to be a role model and mentor at many LGBT evens all over the nation, but particularly here in the cities.

Debra, however, is still somewhat modest. She is not outright about anything, but will answer any question about herself and the transgender community. However, she is careful to not speak for anyone or any group, and there is one question she will not answer: What are her parts? She doesn’t feel that it is necessary to disclose that because it’s not like our “same gendered? people walk around asking each other about their parts; in addition, that is a very private thing for only her and her partners to really know. Her response to this was very respectful, and made me even more curious about her story.

Her story was eye opening and I felt so much love and respect for her as a person as she told us her story.. The basics of her story: She lived as a “he? for about 40-something years, was married for 27 years to a woman and worked as a Media Specialist in a high school in the Minneapolis School District. He had two daughters while married and they are very accepting of her transition and new life. She also has grandchildren who are aware of the transition although they were still quite young when it happened.

I had never met someone who was openly different gendered and upon first meeting her I didn’t necessarily know how to react or perceive her friendly gestures. I didn’t want to seem disrespectful because that was not the case, but for a little suburbanite like myself, I just had never been exposed to someone so confident and full of personality. Although, I do remember her saying that she is not a confident person, I do believe otherwise, and if she isn’t then maybe she should be because Debra is a beautiful person inside and out.

Another issue that I was faced with while meeting with Debra is how to articulate politically correct. In everyday language even around campus I hear terms, some derogatory and some fairly neutral, but for me I didn’t always know which was which. I learned quite a few appropriate terms to use when speaking to or about a different gendered person. I took that away from this experience and am now fairly confident when I speak about gender and sexuality, at least more so than I used to be.

I really enjoyed the discussion on how Debra explained events to her grandchildren and how open she was with her students when she did transition. The students at Southwest High School were more curious than they were hateful, and I found that incredibly reassuring when a lot of what media depicts are these negative attitudes about people who are “different? in any way.

I will definitely be keeping tabs on this lady and attending any other gatherings or story telling times that she hosts because above all else she had a great sense of humor.

Race Is Not a Card: White Privilege, Racism, and the Culture of Denial

Who: Tim Wise (lecturer)
What: Race Is Not a Card: White Privilege, Racism, and the Culture of Denial (on-campus lecture)
When: Friday, April 27th 2007 from 7-9pm
Where: Walter Mondale Law Center
Sponsor: Sponsored by the College of Education and Human Development, the School of Social Work, The Social Justice Minor, the Cultural Competency Advisory Board, The Office of the Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity, The Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice, and SW-Act!
Web Link: ww.timwise.org

I went to see the anti-racist activist Tim Wise last Thursday, and by the time the two hour lecture and Q&A had finished, I left the auditorium feeling quite pensive and somewhat encouraged to continue the fight against racism. I say “somewhat,? because I can’t really afford to be burned out and I don’t have the luxury of taking some time off to have a vacation from fighting for social justice. Wise talked about the use of “the N word? in hip hop and of (White) critics who say that hip hop is to fault for it’s prevalence in present day society. In response to those critics, Wise talked about the numerous underground hip hop artists who attack the use of the N word in mainstream media, but considering that a majority of Caucasians are not exposed to underground artists that fight against derogatory terms, I am not surprised that hardly anyone considers that fact.
Wise also spoke of the term “stereotyping threat? or “stereotyping vulnerability,? it is when a targeted identity (People of Color) become so anxious of disproving the stereotype that the agent identity (White people) has of them, that the very stereotype they work had to disprove is evidenced. For example, students of color, who become anxious of testing against the majority of White students, will do worse on a standardized test of intelligence, thereby their anxiety actually affecting their score. He also spoke about results of a test that pitted a Black American basketball team against a White basketball team in a test of “natural talent,? where the outcome was that the Black American team beat the White team in a huge win.

Wise also talked about the fact that when anything bad happens in the news involving a Person of Color, national organizations of People of Color have to come out publicly denouncing that individual, because they do not want to seem affiliated with that person. It is interesting to see how when a White person, a Christian, a heterosexual, or a man is involved in a local or even a national tragedy, that these identities do not have to come forward to denounce others like them in order to distance themselves from the incident. In class we briefly talked about privilege and I thought it was interesting to hear Wise’s perspective on privilege, considering his entire lecture covered different privileges White people have that People of Color are unable to have access too.
Wise talked about the irony of the term “underprivileged? and how it is often used incorrectly and most passively in regards to “minorities.? He made the argument that if there is an underprivileged identity, then indeed there must be an overprivileged identity, but all too often the underprivileged are recognized as not having taken the appropriate actions to get themselves out of the hole of being underprivileged; not that the overprivileged have done nothing to be privileged. This also brings up another class topic to my mind, one of affirmative action in the workplace and our discussions of how it affects us as students.
Wise talked extensively on affirmative action and how it is often that People of Color are seen as less qualified or cashing in “the race card? to get into college or to get that job over a White person. It is interesting to note that, the reverse of this situation is hardly ever noticed by White people who are always gaining access to higher education and jobs than People of Color because they are White, but I guess it is a privilege to be ambivalent to one’s privilege.
Wise also discussed the idea of race being a card that People of Color can just cash in whenever we feel like in order to get more access to jobs and higher education; when is race ever a fun card to play? And if we do “play? it, will it always work? It seems to me, that I am not one to pull the race card in tough situations, because I know that whatever I do as a Woman of Color will reflect to others (aka White people) as a behavior that all People of Color do. I recognize that White folks in America do not have to worry about speaking or acting on behalf of their entire race, but I do not have that luxury. Wise used a metaphor to describe privilege and how those who are privileged react to affirmative action: A person is driving in a shopping center looking for a parking space and all that is left is a few spaces reserved for handicapped drivers, the driver is then annoyed that the only spaces left are handicap spaces. While, this metaphor suggests a correlation between People of Color and physically handicapped people, which I am not a fan of, I see the irony of the driver yelling in frustration about not being able to park closer to the shopping center because the space is reserved for those who are not has privileged to be physically able.
Several days after the lecture I am still pensive, but much more energetic about my fight for social justice. I have learned so much about privilege and the more I learn, the more I realize that I have a lot more to learn. I am continuing to explore where I fit in this world and the systems of power that affect my everyday life, while being fully aware that it is entrusted onto me and my generation to clean up the mess, of social injustice, that the ones before us made.

Race Exhibit

For my scholarly event assignment, I went to the Race Exhibit on Thursday, April 5, 2007 at the Science Museum in St. Paul. Though I had wanted to go for awhile, I ended going with the kids from my work. I work as a tutor for the Ginew Golden Eagles after school program at the Minnesota American Indian Center in Minneapolis. The kids that I work with range from ages 10-18 and are taught things about their native culture through this after school program. I did not realize going into this particular field trip that I would learn as much from the actual exhibit as I would from the kids reactions to what we saw.

One of the first exhibits that we stopped to see was one about white privilege. I knew about the meaning of white privilege from class readings and discussions and felt so uncomfortable standing there as the only white person in a small group of Native American kids. While I was doing my best to read the studies and facts, the kids did not have any interest in participating. Though I did my best to encourage participation, I felt like a hypocrite and racist telling these kids to read about the privileges I am given merely because of my race. Standing there attempting to learn and encourage the kids, I felt ashamed to be white; I had no pride in my background. All of my life, before I took this class anyway, I have operated under the idea that racism was in the past, and that in today’s society race does not matter. My lack of comfort while at the section of the exhibit discussing white privilege only re-cements the fact in my head that race does matter.

After moving on, we came to an exhibit about the Native American race. This part was interesting to both me and the kids. The part that interested me most was about the Fighting Sioux mascot. I live an hour from Grand Forks (where UND is located) and most of my relatives live there so I have been a fan of Sioux sports since I remember. Though I have known about the issues with the mascot name of “The Fighting Sioux?, I have never really thought that much about it. A few of the kids I was with found that this mascot name, and many of the other ones displayed, were very offensive and implied negative stereotypes about their culture. One of the girls went on to explain that her heritage culture has always thought of themselves as peaceful. She thought that the way for explain, the Sioux mascot is shown as “fighting? sends the message that all Native Americans are violent. I admit that during coverage of the controversy of the team name, I thought to myself that I would not be offended if a team had a mascot of a “whitey?. It occurred to me after I remembered that thought, and also remembered my lack of pride and almost embarrassment about my own race, that perhaps the lack of pride is why I wouldn’t be offended. The pride that the Native American kids have for their culture is seen through the offense taken by the slaughtering of their name.

I admit, coming out of the race exhibit, I learned less from the readings and displays than from the situation I was in going into it. Although a lot of what I saw did enlighten my thinking. It is obvious after going to the race exhibit that while there may be no biological proof behind the differences in races, the society we live in says it matters. Besides the differences in race due to societal views, I think that a big difference comes from the pride or lack of pride that different cultures feel.

Will it ever end?

I attended the Aurora Center’s Sexual Assault booth at Coffman Union. There I was encouraged to discuss how I felt about the nature of assault, what I could personally do to change my actions to prevent the continuum of violence, and many facts about the behavior itself.
I learned many things about sexual assault and violence that I was unaware of before attending this event. First, one out of four women will experience rape or attempted rape while in college and of those almost 90% of women know their attacker. Secondly, only about 5% of college rape cases report their attack. It was also stated that “sexual assault remains the most drastically underreported crime in the United States.? Therefore, I wanted to know the statistics of our campus considering I view it as a pretty safe environment. I asked, “How often does rape happen around our campus?? I learned the answer.

At the University of Minnesota alone there are approximately “500 men and 1300 women who experience unwanted sexual contact each year.?

With all this information I sat down to write out the survey that was given to me as I approached the booth. The only question written on the paper was; what can ‘you’ personally do to prevent the spread of violence? This is how I answered; After taking a women’s studies class I realized that there are many ways in which we are predisposed to this behavior while growing up in our culture. The way that the media sensationalizes violence, sex, and the demeaning of women, just to name a few, I would do anything in my power to change it. Yet, what can one person do? Therefore, I have decided to reevaluate the music I listen too. I am all about the freedom of speech, however, why do we have to dishonor certain people while doing so and by continuing to purchase music that reinforces harmful values I am just perpetuating it. Secondly, I have always wanted to work with victims of violence. I have been lucky to have never been an object of violence myself, nevertheless my strength and willingness to not only be a part of the solution but also to encourage women to stand up to the abuse and end the cycle.

The Race Exhibit in the Minnesota Science Museum

The ways people define race in the Unites States has changed multiple times in the past and continue changing and evolving today. The definition of who is Asian, African, Native American and White changed at times quite rapidly, but the saddest and most persistent discrimination, according to the “Race exhibit? in the Minnesota Science Museum, is the fact race still matters today in the United States.
One’s ability to receive loans, health insurance, adequate treatment in the hospital and even a job is till influenced by race, even if it so less than before. The most persistent discrimination seems to be against Native Americans and Afro-Americans, which does not come to say that people of Asian or Latin-American descent have exactly easy lives in the United States. It does seem, however, that Latin-American people and Asian-Americans are more likely to pass as “white? (sometimes) than Native Americans or African Americans.

While I cannot say that there were a lot of new things I have learned from the race exhibit, it did made me think about some of the little known facts that all human beings are sharing more than 99% of their genes and that 100,000 years ago all humans were Africans. It is even harder to believe that only forty years ago 27 states in the U.S. still forbid interracial marriages, and that the first time the word “White? was used in regard to race (in the U.S.) was in legislation to forbid marriages between African Americans and “white? people (1691).
Would the notion of race disappear in the next century of centuries? Only time will tell, but I think that all of us may have part in this enormous project of making all of us, men, women, GLBTQQ’s, people of every identity and ethnic origin, not complicated and complex definitions but simply human beings, regardless of background, identity, religion or creed.
Until that dream of true and complete equality will come, exhibitions like the Race exhibit in the Minnesota Science Museum would continue to be important education tools in our lives, and those of our children.

Group 8 Final Presentation Supplement

Tonight I will be talking about intersex individuals and briefly hitting on the physiological aspect of it. For anyone curious or wants a clearer visual of this is a great website to illustrate the similarities and differences between male and female development. If I have time I may show it in class but wanted to put it here incase anyone is as curious as I was.http://www.sickkids.ca/childphysiology/cpwp/Genital/genitaldevelopment.htm

Arabian Nights

arabian_nights.jpg

On Saturday April 21st, I attended a performance of Arabian Nights at the Rarig Center on West Bank. I went on a whim with a friend and had no intention of using it for my event write up. In fact, I had no idea that Arabian Nights would even be a potential candidate. But I was surprised with the content of the play having to do with many ideas we discuss in class (Gender, Sex, Stereotypes, Power, etc).

I didn’t have any prior knowledge about the Arabian Nights story. You could say my awareness was very limited (Aladdin, anyone?). I was pleasantly surprised when I found out how dominant the themes of gender, sex and power were in the stories. The basic story is about a ruler who catches his wife in bed with another man, and from that point forward every day will take a virgin from his people, marry her and then proceed to kill heart dawn. This ritual continues every day until he marries a young woman of one of his loyal followers. She tries to use her talent of storytelling to delay her imminent death. Each night until dawn she would tell a story, and end each with a tense cliffhanger or segue way into another story. He agrees to keep her alive for “one more night?, for the sake of finishing the story. This goes on for nearly three years. The performance bounces back and forth from the reality of the young virgin fighting for her life, and the characters of the magical stories she weaves.

Undoubtedly intentional, each story related to the situation that the woman was facing. For example, in one of them she tells the story of a young man who traveled across many lands in search for the lyrics to a song he will give anything to learn. He begs a woman who knows of the song that he would do anything to hear it. The detail of their agreement escapes me, but the song is representational to the storyteller’s father, who waits silently at dawn with her death shawl every day for three years. The ruler refuses to let her speak to him, and vice versa. The silence is comparable to the silence the young man feels in being unable to know the song. In another comic story, she talks about a man on his marriage day who begins to “pass gas? non-stop. He travels through the lands and is known as the man who won’t stop farting. At the end he states, “People have me marked on the calendar, as the year of the fart.? This story relates to how the ruler will be known as the man who murdered virgins, and will likely be marked as so historically.

One of my favorite pieces of the performance was a young woman who was brought to a counsel of great minds in order to be questioned of her knowledge. She knew everything from the heavens to the earth, and was not afraid to express it. Each member of the counsel inquired her of her knowledge, thinking a woman would not be able to hold such wisdom. She proceeded to stump each member, and in return earned their royal robes that represented their knowledge in the sciences, religion, etc. At the end the woman is asked by the king to marry him, for he would be honored in having a wife like her. She turns him down, wanted to not be tied down by a title, and remain to freely live and share her knowledge. I found this piece to be very powerful.

It is important to note that the protagonist was a woman who was able to gain power over the king. It was because of her wisdom and wit that she was able to save her life and indirectly reinforce stories of morality, love, justice and understanding in the mind of the ruler.

After watching the play I realized how many of these themes we discussed in class. Even the roles of sex, gender and power were dominant literature tools when this was originally written.

Take Back the Night

I attended Take Back the Night on Thursday April 26th from 5:30 until 10. It was sponsored mainly by MPIRG, but many other groups cosponsored. I not only really enjoyed this rally, but I also really think it is important.

Take Back the Night is a rally to speak out against sexual and domestic violence. We marched down the streets with positive signs and positive attitudes. We enjoyed live music and lots of food. Then there was a speak-out where women and men alike could tell their stories of experiencing violence, words of wisdom, or stories of others. The theme of take back the night is to protest the violence that happens in the streets of our communities, the sexual and domestic violence that happens in our homes, and to raise awareness to prevent future violence.

The rally in the beginning was when we were informed of statistics and the benefits for attending the rally and the reason we were gather in a public park. We gathered in Loring Park because it is a park in which many women do not feel safe walking alone in at night. We were there as a mass of women and men to speak out against the violence that could happen in our local parks and parks all over the country. We were informed a woman gets raped every 2 minutes. I think that it was important to use such profound statistics to hit home how serious violence is in our society.

During the march we marched down the streets of Minneapolis and chanted positive sayings. We held signs that stated blunt words to get our point across. We marched for about an hour. This was really a bonding experience. People who you may never see again walked and chanted together to inform our community that no matter where we go, and how we dress, yes means yes, and no means no.

When we got back to Loring Park we ate Pizza Luce, talked to our new friends, laughed and celebrated. Once things settled down we started the speak-out. This was the most important part of the rally in many ways. This is where the group became and place of free speech, of comfortable secrets. Many women and one man got up to speak about their experiences. For some, this was the first time it came out of their mouths, for others it was the first time publicly, for other it was a story told many times over, but for all it was an emotional experience. These women and men were brave and strong in that moment, many spoke only after lots and lots of debate.

One of my best friends got up and spoke about the time she was raped last year. This shocked me because she had never told any of us, except her boyfriend. She finally had the courage to tell not just a couple of her good friends, but also complete strangers. When she asked me to go with her, I was overjoyed because I had heard such positive things about Take Back the Night. I did not know how much it meant to her for me to be there until after we were packing up to leave and she said to me “I would never have been able to speak out like that if you hadn’t come. Thank you.? This was one of those times when you feel so thankful for the friends that you have and for how much you can accomplish as one caring human being.

I would recommend for others go next year to the 11th annual Take Back the Night sponsored by MPIRG. It is an experience that is well worth the easy bus ride to Loring Park. You never know who you may be able to help just by being there. And Remember…
2-4-6-8! Stop the Violence! Stop the Hate!

bell hooks Book

I remember in class much earlier this semester talking about male feminists and males who are allies to feminists. It seems like a lot of males who are feminist are viewed by other males as just trying to find a way to get girls. I found it interesting that many people think that way, and when I was at work at my job as a parking attendant, I was reading a part about this very topic in the book by bell hooks.

A man pulled up to my booth and saw what I was reading. He said "Ohh reading about feminism huh? Bet there are a lot of good looking girls in that class!" It was funny because I was just reading about this like 5 minutes earlier. After that he said "Well you can't let them know the real reason you took the class, you know, play it cool." And then he drove away, and I was thinking to myself how he just assumed I took the class to pick up girls and never thought about the fact that I might be interested in the subject. I just found it to be an amusing visual aid to what we were talking about in class and what was mentioned in the bell hooks book.

The Revolting Queers’ “My Jazzy Crotch" Event

This past Saturday the Revolting Queers held there second event, a music show featuring five local bands. The slogan of the event was “getting a beer means getting involved.? The purpose of the event was to build solidarity and to spread our message to people across gender and sexuality lines.

Five bands played music from 10 pm to 2 am. This was paired with various gender bending performances giving the event the feel of a circus of queerness. All too often members of the queer community are desexualized. When they enter mainstream gay bars many are made to feel unwelcome and less than human based on their bodies, or their race. When entering the more heterosexual communities that they have a cultural affinity towards many queer people are expected to downplay their sexuality or gender presentation to make the heterosexual members feel more comfortable. The event served to challenge heterosexual comfort zones, raise awareness of queer politics and to allow queer people to express themselves however they see fit. The event was highly successful in building connections with heterosexuals who are also oppressed by society’s hegemony regarding gender. The event was also successful in building queer solidarity and by allowing new connections to form between people.

The Avengers

The Twin Cities Avengers is a group of activists devoted to issues facing lesbians and lesbian visibility. Of the meetings I have attended we mainly worked of the 2007 Dyke March and butting heads with the Twin Cities Pride Committee.

Dyke March is a protest march which raises lesbian visibility against the backdrop of Pride. Often a lesbian presence is ignored at Pride. A lot of the focus and the events are aimed towards gay men. A vast majority of the members of the Pride festival committee are gay men. Their personal biases show through in dealing with lesbian’s, bisexuals and trans gendered people at pride. In the past Pride members have aggressively tried to suppress the Dyke March. The event has not only been ignored by the Pride Committee by members in the past who have tried to bring awareness to the event in Loring Park during pride have been kicked out of the park and threatened with police action. Many members of the committee have labeled the Dyke march as a “disturbance,? and failed to recognize the importance the march plays in building community. This year the Pride Committee reorganized giving us an opportunity to address Prides failure to work with the Avengers and Dyke march in the past. As a gay male and member of the Avengers I was put to work to harass members of the Pride Committee, as they may be more inclined to listen to my voice. A sad commentary of the Pride Committee that they would continual ignore the other members of the Avengers yet listen to me. The tactic worked and we were able to obtain a booth at Pride, something that has not been able to happen for several years, and get formal positive recognition and promotion of the Dyke March by Pride.

The Clothesline Project

For the artistic event I attended The Clothesline Project. This display was held in the Great Hall of Coffman Union on April 9th. The Clothesline Project is a grassroots network that was started by a small group of women to break the silence on the issue of violence against women. The women wanted to find a unique and powerful way to educate people on this issue and encourage change. One of the women in this group thought of the idea of shirts hanging on a clothesline. This idea stemmed from the tradition of women doing the laundry and sharing thoughts and experiences with other women in the neighborhood while hanging clothes up to dry in the yard. Also, this was a way to “air out society’s dirty laundry?. The group’s first display was held in 1990 in Massachusetts at “Take Back the Night?, an anti-rape and violence against women rally. Not long after the first display, the network’s popularity rapidly expanded and today there are over 250 known projects over the world, in 41 of our 50 states and 5 nations. The total number of shirts that have been designed since the beginning of The Clotheslin Project is between 25,000 and 30,000.

I wasn’t sure what to expect entering the display. There were many shirts hung on clotheslines, but there were many different messages. Some shirts were mournful, some hopeful, some resentful, and some proud. The messages on the shirts were shockingly honest and personal. The first shirt I looked at said, “He was my friend?. This is such a tragic thing, and it happens more than we realize. When you hear this it is clearer to see how women who have gone through this may never really recover or fully trust men, or anyone for that matter, again. The next shirts I saw said, “Charles: He got 12 years, I got life? and “Your first love raped you in your sleep?. These were both pretty powerful and they show the wide range of opinions and views on this subject. The first was a hopeful victim while the second was obviously the view of a person who knew something that suffered from rape. Other shirts communicated less through words and more through images. Some of the shirts had pleasant pictures on them that represented recovery and healing. Other shirts had very disturbing pictures that represented suffering, horror, confusion, and resentment. As I moved on to other shirts on the Clothesline, I saw some very simple designs and some very clever designs. For example, one shirt had a list of about twenty names or so. Of course I don’t know exactly what those names represent but the mystery of those names was really neat. Those names could be the people that helped this victim recover after rape or violence was committed against her. It could also be one victim’s friends that suffered from the same thing. Or it could be someone who hadn’t directly suffered, but who knew all these people who had. One shirt that really caught my attention had on it, “I have the right to wear what I want, get drunk with my friends, talk to men, say NO to sex, walk late at night, and live free from violence?. This is a well thought out message, and a profound one too. Women should not have to take such precautions like not talking or even flirting with men because society says that if that situation led to rape, it could possibly be your fault because you “initiated? the situation.

Overall, I thought this artistic display was really interesting. I am glad I attended, because the messages were so personal and powerful, it was like getting some sort of close-up on the issue instead of hearing about violence against women and rape politically or statistically.

Race Exhibit

Last Thursday I visited the Race Exhibit at the Science Museum in Saint Paul. Ever since reading Peggy McIntosh’s essay in our Feminist Frontiers book, I’ve thought a lot about the privileges that I have because I am (actually half) Caucasian (I look more white than I do Asian). The other day in downtown Minneapolis I saw a black woman about my age, maybe younger, holding the hand of a four-year-old black girl and I thought, “I bet most people who don’t know her think that it’s her child and she’s a single mother struggling to make ends meet, whereas if I had a young child by my side, more people might think I was just babysitting.? Situations like this really have been running through my head ever since we began discussing white privilege. Where I come from, in Milwaukee, segregation of races is especially apparent. Like in most cities, there are freeways that divide neighborhoods; cross under one and you can be in a completely different income neighborhood. Driving through Milwaukee one can see the gross inequalities of segregated living, where whites and further north, white suburbanites live in gated houses along the lake, while blacks and Mexicans live in run down housing. Driving through Whitefish Bay, an affluent suburb right outside of the city, one can get pulled over in an instant for being black, or even driving a “junky? car. Police brutality against Mexicans and blacks is another serious issue where I live – and it seems that police are still getting away with it. A lot has to change.

So I visited the Race Exhibit to further understand inequalities between races and genders, and I was so surprised at how much I still had to learn.

I really thought it helped that the exhibit was interactive – it’s a good way for kids to want to learn about these things, and of course I think it’s important to teach kids about this at a young age. There was a place where people could try to identify different ethnicities by skin color flaps, and in most cases I was incorrect. When scanning my skin and seeing it up close next to others who had done the same, it reiterated in my mind how alike we actually are, how are skin and bodies are all made up of the same “materials.? The same fluids run through our veins; the same organs keep us alive.

So the question is: are we so different? No, we’re not, and I think that this exhibit really helps people understand that all races are more genetically alike than we think. Years of evolution and geographical differences/separation have changed the colors of our skin, the shape of our eyes, our height Again, biology loves diversity: society hates it. I was really happy to visit an exhibit that was so thorough, whose facts forced people to confront the issues, and hopefully inspired viewers to go out, get involved, and fight for equality.

Lisa Duggan and the Revolting Queers

Lisa Duggan from Beyond Marriage gave a lecture at the Loft Literary Center Saturday March 31st. Lisa is a part of the April Working group which formed last year to present a new vision for LGBT activism. Lisa talked about how the focus on gay marriage has stalled the LGBT movement and lead to a backlash that has produced major set backs.

Instead of reinforcing the heteronormative institution of marriage Duggan stresses that we have to have a new approach to marriage. The institution of marriage is strongly tied to many economic benefits. Duggan suggests that we should be fighting to make these benefits available to all sorts of non traditional nuclear families. A vast number of people live in non nuclear families, ranging from single mothers to groups of elderly people who act as each others care takers. Duggan suggests that the LGBT community need to reach out and build alliances with groups that are not living in nuclear families regardless of sexuality. By doing this the LGBT community can shift the marriage rights movement from a wedge issue to one that can unite people across lines of sexuality. Duggan also stresses that the LGBT community needs to focus on issues of race, class and gender. Currently we are living in a society with decreasing health a civil service benefits. It makes little sense that members of the LGBT community are fighting for access to a partner’s health benefit plan if those benefits will be nonexistent in a few years. We have to fight for a caring civil society where all people can gain access to heath care regardless of race, class and sexuality. By forming a bold new vision which links the LGBT community with other groups and by shifting the focus from self interest to a global vision of the future we can better fight against the right’s politics of economic greed and oppression.
Following Lisa’s talk the Revolting Queers had an after event fundraiser. The Revolting Queers is a group like many across the nation that echo the beliefs presented by the April Working group. The Revolting Queers are planning a protest/artistic presentation at this year’s Pride festival. The Revolting Queers are focusing on the issues facing the queer community that are left behind by the mainstream LGBT focus on marriage. Also the Revolting Queers are commenting how Twin Cities Pride has become less about community and more about corporations and economics. The focus has shifted from building community to cow towing to major corporations and politicians who are trying to get the queer vote and the queer dollar. Instead of being excited to have sponsors like Miller and Target we should be taking a closer look at the corporations and their policies regarding members of the LGBT community.

Jack Halberstam's Animation Talk

As the semester came to a close I found myself pressed for time when selecting a scholarly event to attend. Walking into the Nolte Center last Thursday I was in a new environment, surrounded by a different population of people participating in an event that was completely different than anything I have participated in the past. At the end of the night I feel my lack of knowledge and experience kept me from gathering all the information I possibly could

The introductions started and Jack/Judith Halberstam was introduced I became curious to see what kind of lecture I was about to hear. A personal friend of Jack’s gave a sincere introduction of their friendship and of his many scholarly and activist accomplishments. She spoke clearly and moderately paced so I was able to get a feel for who Jack was and what I maybe could expect from him. Once he took the podium I found myself interested but also struggling to keep up with the bulk of his arguments.
Others have mentioned that this talk focused on ‘animations’ meaning both what you initially think of in Finding Nemo or Over the Hedge and pictures such as March of the Penguin and the Seed of Chucky. His interest was in “pixarevolts? that were defined as clear narratives of collectivity. Examples of these were March of the Penguins, Over the Hedge and were of interest as they focused on groups and not individuals. On the other end of the spectrum animations such as The Incredibles and Happy Feet are poor examples as they primarily look at the individual and display only the stereotypical dichotomy of ideas. Characters in both of these movies are very black or white, male or female and overly express the side they portray.
The majority of his talk was spent analyzing the movie March of the Penguins. When looking at animations Jack stated that he is not looking to come up with a theory after reading or viewing a piece of work or media; instead one must look to find the theory imbedded by the original author. In the March of Penguins Jack discussed the conflict between the imbedded theory, the actual behavior displayed by the penguins and the narration provided throughout the movie. The footage pieced together for this film was shot over a long span of years and if one were to ask a penguin expert, many of them would say they were unsure of exact penguin behavior, sex of individual penguins and the reproductive patterns penguins follow. The voice over however influences they way one views this film and makes you see what you are told to see. Jack explained how the Christian right got a hold of the footage and wrote a narrative to express heterosexual Christian family values and norms, obsessed with the idea of reproduction (when in actuality the film display a non reproductive tract theory as their march is attributed to the global warming and the melting of their homes.)
Jack started his discussion with the idea of “transbiology?, a concept shared with feminist scholars Donna Harrowway and Sarah Franklin. Relating to the movie transbiology is a rouge component of science and many strive to relate the behaviors of all organisms to the concepts of intimacy and relationships; instead of the new ways of being in life and death. He explained that we live in an intense scientific society and new technology continually calls for new language and technology. Jack hoped to convince us to join the collective activism and read against the tests and through the sciences to help gear away from binomials and dichotomies and be open to new hybrid entities.
As the first two entries mentioned he did shared his analysis of the Seed of Chucky as well, but I was so overwhelmed with speed and vocabulary used to share the insights on the first movie that my notes to the second half are even more choppy than the first half of this reflection. I found all of his information extremely interesting; however learned that I don’t have the background to keep up with the pace of such a scholarly lecture. Others had great questions and the discussion seemed like it could have carried well into the night. At 8pm however I had experienced enough and was ready to go. In the future I would want to look up the speaker I will be listening to so I have a base of knowledge about their work and previous theories and ideas so I can focus on their expansion and growth and the information relevant to the topic at hand.