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January 31, 2007

Feminism

Before I started in this course my knowledge of feminism was low. I had heard of the suffragists and women finally being given the right to vote, however, that was the only part of history I was familiar with. After reading Suffragist City I was horrified to read how unfairly women were treated in everyday life. I was even more horrified when I read Pauls recounts of her jail time in England.

I was clapped into jail three times while in England, and during my first and second terms I refused to eat. When the forcible feeding was ordered, I was bound with sheets and sat upon bodily by a fat murderes, whose duty it was to keep me still. Then the prison doctor placed a rubber tube up my nostrils and pumped liquid food through it into the stomach.
In my opinion, not out of a book, feminism is a belief that females want to be treated as equally as males. Women should have the same liberties as men, should be able to get the same job as a man and be guaranteed the same pay as a man.

January 29, 2007

What is feminism?

I definetaly did not have a definition for feminism or feminist theory coming into this class. I had my ideas, but I would have to admit that some probably followed along the lines of sexism. I read all the articles and books required, but many are hard to follow and understand completely, especially brooks. However, I read the short article in Manafesta, which was probably one of the most thought provoking articles I have ever read. It really made me see how feminism has improved our world in just 30 years. I could not have imagined being a teenager in the 70's and just starting college. Right now I am majoring in chemical engineering, which would never be possible 30 years ago, but it is still considered a mans profession. However, I could never do anything esle besides math or science, it is very interesting and I enjoy learning new things everyday. If we were in the 70's right now this profession would never be an option, and basically I could not do anything that would be in the math or science field. It was so interesting just seeing the rights women have now and how much it has grown. This article helped to show me that feminism is standing up for what you believe in and using tremendous strength and will power to convince people of these changes, which we see the difference now.

Let us educate the chauvinistic 'feminist-haters'!

I had a friend in middle school who was convinced she was going to be the first female president. She told me time and time again that boys are not any better than girls, that she or I or any other girl in the entire world could take on any task that is male-dominated and that I should never forget that. She explained to me that people may try to make me believe that men are bigger, better, and smarter than women, and that I should refuse that notion. Kate was a part of a community that wanted to not only prove to the world that women are strong, equal, and capable creatures that should not be downsized by anyone, but to prevent women from being criticized for having these beliefs. And I envied her.

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A Feminisit is...?

I was rather vague on the actual definition of feminism before taking Intro to Women Studies 1001, and I must confess, three weeks into the class, I still am not as clear in my definition. I have done all the reading for class and listened to what my peers are contemplating during discussion and read their blogs and I still am struggling to define ‘feminism.’ I specifically remember growing up and hearing about radical women who burned their bras, supported the killing of innocent babies, hated men and God, because if you were a feminist, you were absolutely were anti-men and you were obviously an ugly lesbian that couldn’t get a man anyways, so no wonder you were a feminist. Growing up in a male-dominated family and culture I was told that a woman’s place was in the kitchen and if I did not know how to cook – my husband would throw me out of his house on my ass. I was taught that if I spoke up against a man or in a room filled with men, I was out of my place and being rude. I was treated more as a liability in that, one mistake and I could cost my beloved family it’s sterling reputation and my father’s good name would be shamed, my brothers on the other hand, could do whatever the hell they wanted and when I rebelled or asked why, sometimes crying with frustration, the unsatisfying and repeated answer I received was that when I had children I would understand; I would understand that girls are different than boys and only when I became a parent would all be apparent to me.

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Definition of Feminism

Before this course, I had a pretty limited view of feminism. I would have defined feminism as: a movement for women’s rights. However, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what that meant or how that was executed. I did realize that the stereotypes were false (all feminists are angry bra-burners). I also neglected to think about a man’s role in feminism and the extent to which women’s rights and choices were so few not all that long ago and still are today for many women across the world.

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Minor Epiphany

I’ve always understood that it had been a struggle for women to obtain the basic things that we have now-- like the right to vote, know our bodies, have jobs, etc. I’ve known and respected women’s history. Although when it came to calling or labeling anyone a “feminist,? I always tend to let my thoughts fall into the “negative? definitions that we discussed in our first class meeting. I would have never guessed that the events that I’ve always known as women’s history is considered sort of a basis of feminism.

I haven't been very educated on this topic to date, but I'm starting to think that it would be accurate to label myself as a feminist, after all…

I enjoyed reading Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future because it brought up every topic that gave me that above conclusion. I had no idea that that was how women were, in a sense, FORCED to live their lives. Nowadays, some women choose to stay home, raise kids, and be a homemaker, but the difference is that they have that choice now.


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GENDER Equality

I have always thought that feminism was the belief that no matter the gender, people should be treated equally. I believe that most people, even those who disagree, think that this is at least part of what feminism is. In this regard, I have considered myself a feminist for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my main feminist focus was proving to those around me that women were or could be just as capable as men at everything. This is not the most important aspect for me anymore, but at the time is caused quite a stir, surprisingly, to those around me. I have heard and experienced every stereotype imaginable. My father told me at a young, confused age that I had “penis envy?. I’ve never wanted a penis! I’ve been called a man-hater and a lesbian despite the fact that most of the people who have said this are “friends? who are well aware that I have a boyfriend and countless male friends. This has driven me to really attempt to understand why friends and acquaintances use such illogical labels attributed to feminists and feminism. There are numerous ideas that I have come up with.

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Has feminism changed your life?

I had experience with feminist theory before taking this course because I had previously taken courses that addressed feminism. I am a senior and a GWSS minor. At the U, I have taken Feminist Thought and Theory, Women and the Arts, and a topics class, AIDS in Society: Change, Activism, and Policy. I am also a Cultural Studies major and have taken many classes in this department that address feminist theory and issues such as: The Body and the Politics of Representation, Sexuality and Culture, and Issues in Cultural Pluralism. I have found that the American Studies Department has great classes for studying women’s issues world-wide. I don’t know if this class is still around but Comparative Gender and Sexuality focuses on feminism and women’s issues on a global scale and analyzes the trafficking of women on a global market.

I truly fell in love with the study of power structures through my major and began to concentrate my studies on issues of sexuality and how normative thinking manifests as social discipline and law. Last year I worked independently with a teacher on a paper entitled Construction of the Beautiful Body: A Study of Agency in Feminine Body Hair Removal Practices. I hope to publish this paper in the near future.

The goals of feminism lie in thinking outside dominant patriarchical paradigms and are not limited to women gaining equality with men.

Feminism is not dead.
Feminism is a battle that can be fought by all sexualities and genders.
Feminism is the struggle for a space in society created by women for women.
Feminism opposes the defining of women in relation to men.
Feminism acknowledges that “the women’s struggle? is different for all women.
Feminism understands that women are not necessarily united in feminist goals by their gender.
Feminism believes that the structure of women’s domination is influenced by race, class, sexuality, gender, nationality, and physical location, along with other factors.

“Has feminism changed our lives? Was it necessary? After thirty years of feminism, the world we inhabit barely resembles the world we were born into. And there’s still a lot left to do? (Baumgardner and Richards, 9).

The fact that we are all in this class, that college students can earn a degree in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and that women on a large scale are able to attend college at all is evidence that the feminist movement is only just beginning.

Manifesta

I was really moved by Baumgardner and Richards’ Manifesta. It’s one thing for me to think about what America would be like without feminism, but it was another to actually read A Day Without Feminism, so beautifully written and so powerful. The piece put into perspective not only the what living without feminism would be like, but, along with the other articles we had to read, made me appreciate feminism to a greater level, thinking about all the work that women before me have done to achieve equal rights. The excerpt also helped to break down feminism for me. Whereas before I thought about feminists working on broad scale (i.e. equal rights for all women), the article made me think about each individual right women had to fight for—voting, reproductive rights, equal education rights, to name a few. It seems that the role of this movement has been to change the identity of women in our world—in the minds of men and women. I feel that feminist movements have worked to get people to see women not as subordinate “servants,? but as individuals who are an asset to our society, to our economy, who can be self-sufficient and therefore deserve equality. Now that I think about it, feminism today is not too much further from the beginnings of feminism.

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thoughts

Growing up my ideas of feminism was that of women’s rights: the right to vote, workplace equality, and the right to an independent life. When I was young my parents instilled that women should be treated with a great deal of respect and that gender equality wasn’t something to be thought about but something to be practiced

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What is Feminism?

Coming into this class I was another one of those people who didn't really have a good idea of what Feminism really is. I knew better than to think that it was just a group of man-hating lesbians, but I still thought the idea of Feminism was for women to be equal with men and equality in the workforce. After doing some of the reading in this class I have realized that equality in the workforce is only one small part of Feminism, and that Feminism is about abolishing sexism and patriarchy.

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so many definitions of feminism....

In the midst of my crazy work filled weekend, the only article that I was able to read beginning to end without interuption was the portion of Evan's book Tidal Waves. I sat down with one of the women I take care of and read it to her. She honestly never sits with me when I try to read anything to her, but unless she was just tired or lazy she sat with me through the 17 pages.

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thoughts on feminism ....

Coming into this course, I wasn’t well-versed in feminism nor held the right assumptions about feminism. Like many others without proper knowledge of the subject, I perceived feminists and their whole movement as angry, ‘anti-men-hating? women. Although I don’t disregard or disagree with their movement, I didn’t connect with the topic. Feminism was never something that I considered as being on the forefront of important issues to tackle. And as hostile or blunt it may sound for me to say, feminism is another thing that I feel the white majority can complain about and distract people from focusing on the most important issue at hand: racism. Being discriminated because you’re a woman is never by no means appropriate in today’s society. However, people do not kill or treat you as an inferior because your protest about gender inequality.

You are not dragged behind a truck because you are a woman.

You are not called offensive, derogatory, and demeaning words like “ch*nks? or “n*gger? that associate with your skin color because you are a woman.

You are not encouraged to forget your native roots and conform to a society that seeks to institutionalize racism against you because you are a woman.

What it really boils down to is that when color of skin comes into play, it doesn’t matter what gender you are. People of color are treated this way, men and women. For being a person of color and a woman, it’s already two strikes for me. And perhaps for that simple reason alone, I found feminism to be exclusive for white women only, not for people like me.

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My views on feminism

What feminism was and is to me. Before taking this class feminism wasn’t a part of my vocabulary to be honest. Never really heard much about it; except for in high school history classes when a woman’s right to vote was brought up. I really had no idea what feminism was mainly because I had never really heard anything about it. At most if you would have asked me I would have just said I really don’t know, but I think it has something to do with equal rights. It’s pretty sad but very true. I think that’s a big problem with feminism……not many people even know what it is or what feminists are about. Like the video we saw people just think they hate men and want to be lesbians.
After being in this class for only two weeks I’ve learned more about feminism than I ever have and probably ever will. It’s kind of scary being in a class where you don’t know anything about the topic, but that’s also a good thing. It gives me a chance to learn something new and grow a little. After the few classes we’ve had I would have to say that feminism is a movement by people of all races and genders that believe the way women are treated in everyday life is unfair. Not just how they’re treated by men but how they are treated by everyone. They feel like the way women are portrayed and the rights women get are not fair to them and that they deserve better.

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Feminism is...

I learned early on in High School about feminism. I knew that there was a history and that somehow I was allowed the right to vote and have “equal? work, pay and reproductive rights etcetera. However, the meaning of “feminism? has always been hard for me to explain, and a label has been the farthest thing that I have ever wanted to understand. While reading the different articles this week I found the “Suffragist City? article to be historically interesting. I now understand more clearly the suffering that women had to endure and the time it took to fight for the right to vote. I assumed that jail was a negative experience; the force feeding through a tube that went through the noses of these women was visually too much for me. What I found to be the most profound part of this article was in the end when Maude Younger says, ‘“I don’t want to do anything more; I don’t want to be on any board or any committee or have anything more to do, because I think we have done all this for women and we have sacrificed everything we possessed for them,?’ (Rowe-Finkbeiner page 6). These women work so hard, unbelievably hard. I can’t imagine something like this because I take it for granted. I wonder what it feels like to sacrifice everything that you possess and what it would take for me to do that.
“A Day Without Feminism? helped me understand more clearly what I take for granted. There were many things within the article that struck me. I think that feminism isn’t clearly defined, that no one is able to come up with a definition. I always thought of feminism as being stagnant and label specific; the stereotypes always floated in the back of my mind. Now I see that feminism is recreated continuously. I know that reproductive rights are being taken away, but what is the focus of feminism now and is there going to be another wave or is the Third Wave still coming to shore?

January 28, 2007

a string of thoughts

I’ve realized that I didn’t know much about feminism before this class. I limited feminism to a movement to attain rights for women equal to those of men. This is true but I’m recognizing that there is a lot more attached to the definition. I have always believed that females should be considered and treated equal to the male gender but I didn’t have an understood basis for my beliefs. I didn’t deem myself a feminist because I didn’t act on this idea; therefore I thought I was unqualified to call myself one.

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Revolutionary Feminism

Before the beginning of this course, I thought I knew a fair amount about feminism. I took a high school semester of Women in Society, and learned about women’s roles in different cultures throughout history, and the particular women who struggled to change society’s perception of females. We learned about what women have achieved in terms of equality, what we should thank them for, and what particular struggles we still have to face. But through all of this, I do not remember ever learning the ideas of revolutionary feminism.

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do titles bore anyone else?

To be honest, I never really “knew? what feminism was—I knew what it wasn’t.

I grew up with fairly conservative parents, but ones who weren’t always very vocal about their opinions. My dad has a photograph of President Bush on his hearth and I still don’t know why. My mom and stepfather have never, ever told me for whom they voted, no matter how “small? the election. In high school, I read the chapter of Rush Limbaugh’s The Way Things Ought To Be in which he introduces and embellishes the term “feminazi.? I was enraged at the sheer, cruel absurdity of what I’d read, and I railed at it that night at home. My stepdad stopped me cold by saying, “You know, he’s not entirely wrong.? I realized, at that moment, exactly how pervasive that kind of stereotype might be.

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The Right To....

Before this course, my assumptions were that feminists were females fighting for women’s rights. Other than that, I knew nothing. I knew that I thought it was important, but I had no idea to what extent feminism really stretches. I was raised on a farm in a house with two younger sisters and a mother and a father who both worked. When I was first born my parents were both in Graduate School in Green Bay. My mother was student teaching, so my father had to take me to classes with him. I grew up in a household where my father taught us the things he did around the house and I played with Lincoln logs and bugs outside rather than Barbie dolls. My parents have always told my sisters and I that we are able to do anything that we put our minds to, no matter the stereotypes that accompany that particular dream.

From reading these articles and chapters, I realize how lucky I am. I realize not only how lucky I am to grow up in such a motivational and loving family, but also to be growing up in the time that I am. I have so many opportunities at my fingertips, and it is because of the powerful people with voices who have come before me. I have them to thank for the mentality that my parents have passed on to me. My mother went through natural childbirth in my parent's home in Green Bay with me, and she is proud to have accomplished such a birth. Reading of the limited options and sometimes forced operations that took place in 1970 was appalling. “If a woman goes under the knife to see if she has breast cancer, the surgeon won’t wake her up to consult about her options before performing a Halsted mastectomy…? (Baumgardner and Richards 8) was the most shocking, depressing statement that I read. It is said that this procedure was a “disfiguring and debilitating surgery [that] was performed on virtually every woman who presented with the disease, regardless of the degree of the cancer's severity at the time of diagnosis.? (Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society). To know that these women could wake up and find the “the choice had been made for her? (Baumgarder and Richards 9) really represents how unequal the times were. My mother had the option of natural childbirth in her home because of the movement for women's rights to chioce. I look forward to being able to make such choices for myself when the time comes, thanks to the caring, motivational people before me.

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My definition of feminism...

Feminism had and always will be a controversial topic in our society. While I do not disagree with feminism, I don’t find myself to be an extreme advocate for it either. Through the courses that I have taken in the past that focused solely on women, I was already familiar with the concept of feminism. Through my knowledge and beliefs, I define feminism as a movement of equality to advance women’s rights. Among those rights is the idea of equal work-equal pay.
Furthermore, while I agree with bell hooks definition of feminism in which she stated “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression? (pg 1), I don’t find her message about the unification of feminism very convincing. Feminism itself is a very powerful foundation. However, there are so many different beliefs and ideas within feminism that make it impossible for a complete alliance. In other words, different groups of feminists have different values and goals that most of the times; it is hard to come to an agreement. For instance: while radical feminists focus their effort on changing the very foundation of how our society was established, liberal feminists strive their hardest for gender equality. I personally find myself to share the same values with those who are liberal. I don’t see the point of going so far as to uplift the foundation of our society. Is it necessary? Or is it even possible. What does it really mean to change our foundation and what than would our society become? Couldn’t that society also be established as long as there are equalities between genders? What more can be expected if there is no more wage discrepancy between men and women? Isn’t enough that sexism no longer exists? Overall, eventhough I’m not arguing with the fact that feminism has indeed revolutionized our lives, I find it sometimes contradicting and don’t think that it could ever harvest the complete one hundred percent support from people.

It Changed Me!

Before this class, I never considered myself a feminist. Sure, I stood up for women’s rights and equality, but I didn’t think I was a feminist because I never actually was educated on what feminism was really about. Previous to this course, I believed the stereotypes about feminism thinking all feminists were masculine, lesbians, who hated all men. Learning about feminism really hit home when reading “A Day Without Feminism? especially when I read about women in the workplace. “Less than 2 percent of dentists are women; 100 percent of dental assistants are women.? (Manifesta pg 7). I hope to one day become a dentist and have wanted to be one for quite some time. It’s hard to think of a time when women weren’t encouraged to strive for success or educate themselves, but rather to settle down and raise a family instead. I am lucky to have a family and a boyfriend who support me and encourage me to reach for my goals with a career and don’t expect me to settle for anything less. I am extremely happy to learn that women are pursuing dentistry as a profession and that here at the U (and most other universities) there is almost an exact equality ratio in the dental school or at least an expected equal ratio by 2010 (the year I graduate).

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Midwestern Feminism

Having grown up on a farm in Iowa, feminism was never really a topic that people were concerned about. If a person were to visit any rural community they would see that much of Baumgardner and Richard's "Manifesta" still applies to everyday life. "...almost all of the teachers are female" (p.4). "Girls take home ec while boys take shop" (p.4). All of the principles of our district are male (p.4). Feminism is not talked about simply because the women in rural communities are typically of an older generation having grown up pre 1970's. With this in mind, I have little background of feminism and I joined the class to learn about the history and future of this continually developing topic.
It is interesting to learn about women’s' different views on feminism. Hook's idea of feminism was of a "social and political movement" (p.1-2) focusing on the idea of equality as a whole. The three readings that were assigned showed feminism throughout different centuries. I believe each story was fighting for the same cause, but by using their own little "tweaks". An idea which seems to be reoccurring is the resurgence and then dying away of feminism throughout time. It seems as though each movement gets what they want, and then fades away until their authority is questioned again. I believe this is the reason why feminism is still criticized and under attack even today. If the movement would just get a foothold and hold their position with support, then it would get the respect that it demands. My current definition of feminism follows the same road as Hooks’, but like the different authors of the movement’s history it has its own “tweaks?. Feminism is the social and political desire for people of gender and race to be alike. This definition is subject to change and I am hoping that it will change with help from the assignments and speakers that I will encounter over the course of the semester.

What I knew, and What I know…

To me, the words “feminism? and “feminist? have always invoked an image of women who are confident and strong, they know who they are and are not afraid to be it. To me, a feminist was always a woman, I never considered that a man could be a feminist too, that they could believe in, support and fight for the same rights and equalities women were/are fighting for. After reading the three selections, as well as bell hooks Feminism is for Everybody, I realize that there is no clear cut definition that can embody all of what feminism is, or who a feminist is. As Sara Evans says in the selection from Tidal Waves, “There is no question that the women’s movement will continue to reinvent itself.? (p. 17) Feminism challenged/challenges “the common sense mentality that women were naturally docile, domestic and subordinate.?
“Manifesta? was a real eye-opener for me, it’s so strange to think that that is the world our moms, grandmas and aunts lived in. Some of the restrictions women were forced to endure seem outrageous, and I can’t imagine a world where “women are legally encouraged to stay in abusive relationships.? (Baumgardner and Richards p. 6) Now there are women’s shelters everywhere, hotlines to call, and serious consequences for abusers. It seems unreal that women could live without those protections and safety nets. The fact that the mentality that it was okay for “a boss could demand sex, refer to his female employees exclusively as ‘Baby,’ or say he won’t pay her unless she gives him a blow job? was accepted as the norm is highly disturbing. I can’t imagine going into a job knowing that those were your options—degrade yourself or quit. It just isn’t fair and it makes me so grateful that there has been so much progress since then.

Feminism: The Transformation of a Definition

Honestly, I did not know many specifics about feminism before this course. I was not sheltered, though. I knew that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the first women’s rights convention. I knew that feminists nation-wide were and still are fighting for equality in the workplace, home, and society. In high school, I had a few friends who were feminists, so I knew that with the exception of some radicals, most feminists were not man-hating lesbians. My friends were in the top ten percent at one of the best high schools in the country, and from my experiences with them I learned that many (if not most) feminists are well-educated and are well-aware of current events and what is going on in the country that affects them and their cause. I enrolled in this course because my previous knowledge of feminism intrigued me to want to learn more about it. Before this course I would have defined feminism as a political and social movement directed towards the advancement of women in all aspects of life.

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How the old-time sisters dirtied the word (but we love 'em anyway)

Disclaimer: Some of this is revoltingly inflammatory. XOXO

So I was sitting at a friend’s house the other day, and was discussing the verbal harassment of women that goes unacknowledged by the better part of society because it is so devastatingly integrated. Ok, so then someone said something about me being a feminist, and then a record probably stopped or something, but then this guy looks over and he looks appalled that there might be a feminist in the room. So he says, “Wait, you’re a feminist?? Of course, I’m uncomfortable because this is kind of my “outing?, right? Like, is this guy still going to take me seriously if I say yes, will he be cautious around me, or what? I don’t know. Anyways, so I say, “Well, I think everyone is entitled to their opinions and should believe in the notion of equality, so if that makes a woman a feminist, then yes, I guess I am.? So from there he calls me a “good? feminist, apparently contrasting to the “bad? ones that he referenced as man-hating, nonsensical lesbians.

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Feminism Changed My Life

Of course feminism has changed our lives! Whether we choose to believe it or not. In this chapter of Manifesta, Jennifer and Amy accurately paint the picture of feminism and the lives of women 30 years ago, before many of the current women's rights were 'awarded' to us. Feminism's role for myself and other women, has been a means to achieve the goals of equality, proper health care, better sex education, and other issues. The goals that we have for ourselves and for society can be achieved through feminism. I believe that feminism is a means rather than a goal. Feminism as a means can take many forms. For the members of the Combahee River Collective, Black Feminism is the most appropriate form or feminism to achieve their goals. There are many different types of feminisms that one could potentially identify with in order to visualize a better society that incorporates women. Some of my friends identify with ecofeminism and others with a feminism most focused on class relations. The role and form of feminism of the time that Jennifer and Amy describe is much the same as the feminism that Betty Freidan describes. Although they differ about a decade, the education and 'emancipation' of housewives and the typical woman needed to be addressed. Betty Freidan describes in her book 'the problem that has no name' as the biggest issue. The 'housewive's issue' grew to be a bigger issue than many male therapists believed. Jennifer and Amy describe a time when the misconception that working will free women is believed by most all. For me, feminism allows me a venue and a lens to view society differently. One issue that Jennifer and Amy address is that of a woman's 'title': "If a woman is not a Mrs., she's a Miss. A woman without makeup and a hairdo is a suspect as a man with them" (Baumgartner 8). I have filled out many applications in my life, however the most frustrating of them all are the ones that require me to give my marital status. I have made a commitment from now on to call myself Mr. Jessica Englund to avoid having to tell a random company or corporation whether I am single, married, or divorced/widowed. Has feminism changed our lives? Yes. But how you choose to see its changes or which form of feminism you choose to view your goals or visualize society is up to you. As for me, I do not want to limit myself to an identity that places me in a box. Therefore, I have no specific feminism that I identify with.

Gather Round

In “Suffragist City?, writer Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner quotes the New York Herald’s commentary of the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913, “Call it curiosity, call it sympathy, call it opposition; the fact remains that the suffrage parade and pageant here today attracted a greater crowd than any inaugural ever did? (Rowe Finkbeiner 59). In a way the feminist movement can be seen as a metaphorical parade. Participants banded together in procession, screaming their message to a somewhat passive audience...

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Stereotypes and Feminism

I’ve heard the words sexism, feminism, and patriarchy many times throughout my life. I’ve heard stories about bra burning and protests and I’ve learned about suffrage in school but I had never heard what negative stereotypes feminism has been given until I started this course. I first realized this after talking to a friend of mine from high school who I had always really respected. I told him that I was taking a course in women’s studies and immediately he said, “So now you’re going to become a ranting, man-hating, lesbian, huh?? Not only was I offended, but I was also confused; why is it that the word feminism is paired with so many stereotypes?

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What is Feminism?

Before taking this course, I didn’t know much about feminism. I had learned about the fight that feminists experienced in the 1900’s for equality among men with regards to suffrage, equal opportunity in the workforce, and reproductive rights. Prior to taking this course, my definition of a feminist would have been the group of women seeking to end female stereotypes, wanting to be given free will to do whatever they choose with their own lives and bodies, and working to achieve full equality with the male population. I was unaware that feminists stood up for equality among other genders as well, homosexuals and transgender people. I was also unaware of the stereotype surrounding feminism. Personally, I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that all feminists are man-hating lesbians just because a group of women are choosing to stand up for themselves and are not allowing sexual harassment and other forms of gender oppression to govern their lives.

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On "Manifesta" exerpts

Over the past couple of years (since I’ve been discovering and exploring feminism), I’ve been very overwhelmed by all of the negative, sexist things in our society. In a sociology class I took (“Inequality in America?), we discussed theories about why girls perform well in school when they won’t see positive returns for their efforts in the working world; one of the hypotheses was “the Pollyanna approach?, which suggested that young girls growing up today are so unaware of the work world inequalities facing women that they achieve well in school despite almost certain inequality in their futures. I was struck by this hypothesis primarily because I identified so much with this “Pollyanna? character. I felt that I had led a sheltered life, and at the age of 17 when I was introduced to the hardcore pornography that my male friends viewed, I was completely shocked. Suddenly, I felt as if women were demeaned in secret, or unbeknownst to them. I felt horrified; it was as if this secret medium legitimized television roles and media depictions of women.

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A clear definition?

It is hard for me to say what I thought feminism was before reading bell hooks and the other articles. Growing up, my best friends (and often only friends) were typically females. I was never aware of any differences or roles society had placed on females and males. As I got older, I learned about some of the injustices females have faced and still face today. So I guess feminism to me has always been the challenge of questioning and destroying ideas society has placed on us that would bring females down.

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Passionate Politics and Scholarly Feminisms- Feminism in the Academy and Beyond It

Scholarly and academic feminism are important to the survival and success of the feminist movement, but as bell hooks assert there is also a need for activist, “common-people? feminism, since “feminist knowledge is for everybody? (hooks, 24). hooks correctly identifies some of the ways in which the “institutionalization of women’s studies helped spread the word about feminism? (hooks, 21) and brought a wider acceptance and exposure to feminist ideas and theories, but she is also right in her acknowledgment of the growing detachment between the academic-theoretic and folkish-activist strands of feminism, and the problems that are associated with such a split.
When “women and men outside of the academic domain… (are) ...no longer considered an important audience? and “feminist thinking and theory… (are) …no longer tied to feminist movement? (hooks, 22) all of the feminist past, present and future achievements are in danger.

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January 27, 2007

Grateful

I originally enrolled in this course because it sounded very interesting and I wanted to know more about the history of feminism and where it is today. I wanted to be part of a class that explored the power of women. I have always been an outspoken individual and I defined feminism as a way to empower women in a male dominated society.

After reading “Feminism is for Everybody? by Bell Hooks, I now define feminism as “anti-sexist?. By all means I am not implying women are better than men when I describe feminism but no one should experience discrimination and refused certain rights just because of their gender. I have always believed and even more so now after completing the readings that there should be “gender equality – equal pay for equal work, and sometimes women and men sharing household chores and parenting? (Hooks, pg. 1-2).

Even though I am a woman, I should be entitled to the same things as men. I did not realize how lucky I am to be a woman in 2007 until I read “The Way We Were; The Way We Are? by Sara M Evans. According to Evans, “in the early 1960s married women could not borrow money in their own names, professional and graduate schools regularly imposed quotas of 5-10 percent … of women they would admit,… and sexual harassment did not exist as a legal concept? (Evans, pg. 1). I am extremely grateful to the women who have come before me. Because of their courage, I am allowed to explore an education in any field that I chose, I am allowed to chose birth control, keep my own name, apply for any job, and be an independent individual. They paved the way for future generations of women and I hope my generation will keep the tradition alive because we still have a long way to go!

A Broad View of Feminism So Far

This is a response to the first question of the prompt. It is a more broad focus on feminism than a specific passage from our readings.

After I signed up for GWSS 1001 I was a little bit nervous to be honest. I was nervous about how the professor and my classmates would be. I had imagined man-hating women that I would constantly be arguing with in class discussion. I believed a lot of the stereotypes about what feminism was. Fortunately, my opinions on feminism and feminists has changed drastically in the past couple weeks, and I would even go so far as to say proudly that I AM a feminist.

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January 26, 2007

"A Day Without Femininsm"

It was really interesting to see how far the women’s movement has taken our society in such a short time. It has made such a huge impact on our society. I think a lot of people take it for granted or don’t realize that these are things that women have been fighting for, and just accept it as how it is. I know that I have taken it for granted. I’ve never thought twice about the rights that I have now that I wouldn’t have had if I were born a different time.

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Why all the misconceptions?

In Tidal Waves, Sara Evens quotes Paula Kammen, who put the stereotype of Feminist like so: “The twisted, all-too-common logic about feminists goes like this: If you stand up for women, you must hate men. Therefore, you must be angry. Thus, you must be ugly and can’t get a man anyway. Hence, you must be a dyke.?(Evens pg. 7) You hear this description all the time, even nowadays, about feminism and it’s biggest discontent: men.

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What is was like...

Immediately after reading “A Day Without Feminism? from Manifesta, I went to the beginning to make sure that I had read the year these women were born correctly. I couldn’t believe when I saw that they were born in 1970, and these injustices had happened less then 40 years ago. This means that some of our mothers, and grandmothers experienced them. This was unsettling.

After reading the closing statement of the passage, “Has feminism changed out lives? Was it necessary? After thirty years of feminism, the world we inhabit barely resembles the world we were born into. And there is still a lot left to do,? (Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, pg 9) I am grateful that I am living now and not thirty years ago, but I am also angered that women were oppressed for such a long part of our history. Reading this article showed me how far women’s rights have come since the 1970’s.

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January 24, 2007

Tidal Waves: Confidence Through Solidarity

Sara Evans defines feminism as “The democratic mobilization of women to challenge inequality and to claim their civic right to be full participants in making changes and solving the problems of the twenty-first century will be essential for the foreseeable future? (Evans 2). In order for women to “be mobilized? to fulfill these callings, they need self-confidence, which draws strength from the energy of their allies.

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January 23, 2007

On Feminism(s) Assignment - Due 1/29

Category 2: On Feminism(s) - (3 points)
Post by noon on Monday 1/29
300-500 word post

Instructions: Cite at least one passage from any of the course readings (include author & pg#) to respond to one idea in the following prompt -

What did you know of feminism(s) before this course? Now, after some of the readings, how do you define it? What is signficant about feminism, feminist theory, feminist scholarship and/or feminist activism? (Meaning: why might we be spending a semester studying all of these feminist theories and "issues"?)

OR

You may want to focus on a specific reading or passage, for example, you can respond to one of the following reading prompts:

hooks write about her personal relationship to feminism, the "academization of feminism", and calls for passionate politics. What do you think the role of the university and scholarly feminist thought and theory is? How do you see her vision of spreading feminism beyond the academy?

OR

In Tidal Waves Evans also writes of her experience in the women's movement - her participation in feminist consciousness-raising groups and her decision to shape her life's work around women's history. How does her experience help define her feminism?

OR

In "A Day Without Feminism" from Manifesta Baumgardner and Richards write:

Has feminism changed our lives? Was it necessary? After thirty years of feminism, the world we inhabit barely resembles the world we were born into. And there's still a lot left to do.

What do you think? What has the role(s) and form(s) of feminism(s) been? What is it now? What should it be?

OR

What are some of the misconceptions about feminism(s)? Why the backlash? How do you respond to these critiques?

Notes:

* Do not repeat exact response as those who posts before you. If someone has posted what you intended to say, build upon their thoughts, use additional examples to illustrate your point. Or, choose another piece of the prompt to respond to.

* It is recommended that you type your response in word, spellcheck and check your word count, and save it as a document file. Then, copy and paste your writing into a blog entry (warning: sometimes the web will freeze and lose what you type).

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