August 5, 2008

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August 1, 2008

my film



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July 11, 2008

All good things

I must say I really enjoyed this class a lot too, it gave me a new perspective for watching film, and in particular reminded me that there was still a good genre out there: the documentary. For some time now I had been growing weary of the general cinematic experience. When as many times as not when I would sit down in front of that box or that screen and suffer the same plot lines, angles, scenes, (god forbid, cgi) and come out feeling nothing greater, nothing learned I did what one does when something continually disappoints them. I dumped it. I know, maybe I was hard on it and yes we still see each other once in awhile, we were lonely, but I lost a lot of trust. I was glad to have the documentary genre reintroduced to me.

Also this class helped me with some unanswered questions I had about gender politics. With the above reflections revealed, I think it's moot to say that I was interested in Rachel's course for the feminist aspect, rather than the film. Throughout my own exploration of ethics I had troubles concretely answering the question of feminism as it relates to hierarchy in general. The theory seemed incomplete to me in terms of how it regards the nature of the hierarchical structure is opposing in general. That is, does it oppose hierarchal structures altogether, does it still wish there to be such a stark Capitalism caste system, for example, are poor women equal to rich men and if so why not, and in which ways is it acceptable for them to be unequal? Why is this so? In short, was feminism concerned with the future as a matriarchy, a capital-archy, or anarchy? Don't let the term throw you, we are simply talking about the complete absence of hierarchy. Also, if gender itself has ever been seen as a hierarchy, will we be able to ever resolve the effects of the damage that it imposed? While mostly we appreciated the critique feminism and feminist film studies have brought to vivid attention, and did not have much time to spend on understanding a possible reification of the theory on the the politic side, I still believe I have come a lot closer to answering that question. (See my other post about my paper.)

But yes, in all I only wish we could have had this same class over a longer period of time. I would have liked to try to make a film! I wasn't very confident in my abilities to do that, and was blown away by what some had did with little or no experience. Hearing some people's experiences with gender, both amongst ourselves and from the films was fascinating and a growing experience.

Emma's conclusion was that all forms of hierarchy, the one which kept women oppressed as well as the one which kept people poor, as well as one which presumed things about you because of your race. Emma worked with other anarchists of the time to construct an ideology to be called "anarcha-feminism" which advocates that all oppression comes from the same general structure which could be directly combated. It recognized, more than anything, that equality among two classification's of humans is always going to leave a subset of people and therefore someone is left to discriminate against as long as there remains oppression and coercion in general. Many don't believe human-kind is mature enough for this sort of system, and I'd have to agree that they were right, right now we're not. But, a goal to aim for, and a defensible theory about why it is hard to fight only one small part of oppression at a time, as long as the general structure remains.

Final project summary

For my final project I delved into the topic of why it is difficult to realize a directed response known as "feminism." Searching around some I found some branches of feminism which attempted to imagine the manifestation of feminist theory. One of the most interesting activists of the early public onset of gender issues in the political realm in America was Emma Goldman. Today seen as one of the founding thinkers in the roots of feminism, at the time she did not consider herself a supporter of the suffrage movement, what today is referred to more generally as an aspect of first-wave feminism. Emma from the beginning, while obviously and ardently a support of women's rights, she noticed immediately the irreconcilability of it with hierarchy in general. As she put:

"Needless to say, I am not opposed to woman suffrage on the conventional ground that she is not equal to it. I see neither physical, psychological, nor mental reasons why woman should not have the equal right to vote with man. But that can not possibly blind me to the absurd notion that woman will accomplish that wherein man has failed. If she would not make things worse, she certainly could not make them better. To assume, therefore, that she would succeed in purifying something which is not susceptible of purification, is to credit her with supernatural powers. Since woman's greatest misfortune has been that she was looked upon as either angel or devil, her true salvation lies in being placed on earth; namely, in being considered human, and therefore subject to all human follies and mistakes. Are we, then, to believe that two errors will make a right? Are we to assume that the poison already inherent in politics will be decreased, if women were to enter the political arena? The most ardent suffragists would hardly maintain such a folly."

Just as true as in 1911, American politics remain a garbled mess that have hardly done anything noticeably different since women gained the right to vote. In Emma's eyes to recognize your place in culture's hierarchy and to fight for a better position within this merely displaces the rights of others. One can only get to the next rung of a ladder on the struggle of the rung below it. Only when one questions this very model, until we fight against or give up the things we benefit from for our discrimination (a whole longer discussion) the system will recreate itself in a new way.

My research helped me realize that feminism is incomplete if it does not recognize the role that hierarchy in general plays into the theorems. If it misses this subtlety then the reckless system it wishes to depose will only manifest itself in another way, which will further serve to discriminate against some classification of people. For these reasons Feminist needs to study and establish a position on hierarchy in general in order to successfully become a powerful subversive and liberating force.

Bye, everybody!

I’ve really enjoyed taking Feminist Film Studies this summer. I came in expecting to watch Hollywood films and critique their representations of women. Obviously, there’s a whole lot more to Feminist Film studies than I’d thought. I knew next to nothing about the theories we studied in this course—the male gaze, oppositional cinema, the feminist avant-garde, the connection between feminist film making and documentary, and the possibility of the female gaze (as potentially manifest in Campion’s The Piano)—all of these ideas were new to me. Even arguments critiquing existing feminist film theories, like critique of the absence of a female gaze and bell hooks on the problematic male gaze. With this onslaught of theory and critique, I felt that some of the beauty of filmmaking was lost (of course this always seems to happen to some degree when art is picked apart and analyzed). And I don’t mean to throw out analysis— I’m just worried that we shouldn’t be so hasty to trash dominant cinema altogether due to a past we’re now conflicted about. Audre Lorde says that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house? – but what if some of the master’s tools work well, and positively? What if they create beautiful results? Can’t we merely throw out those that don’t work for us and replace them with newer models? All of cinema’s norms and constructions prior to feminist film studies were not necessarily bad. It would be a shame not to enjoy a classic Hollywood movie solely because of it’s lack of proper depiction of women. To some degree, I believe that these films may reflect the views on women held by society in their contexts. Though we look back and cringe, I think the cultural context needs to be taken into account and a bit (if only just a bit) of grace should be granted. I don’t want to have the entire illusion of cinema exposed by critique. I hope we can somehow strike a balance between understanding where a film is coming from and being critical of its content and form, all the while getting lost in the cinema magic.

I've really enjoyed being in a class with all of you. Thanks!

-Anna K-O

This is the end

Besides opening my eyes to many different films and authors, this class helped me make sense of feminist and queer theory. I had taken a class this past fall called "Theorizing Dancing Bodies" in which we talked about Butler and other such theorists but I simply couldn't grasp warren their ideas/concepts. After this class, however, strengthen my understanding for which I am greatful.

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My Reflections...

First of all, I would just like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this class. I have never taken a film studies course before and I am so glad I did. At first I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect from the class, or Rachel, but now I feel like I have learned a significant amount of information as a result. I can “officially? call myself a blogger now, and I have gained the necessary tools in order to look at media through a feminist lens, which is something I really never did before. After this class, I know I will never watch a film the same way again.

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the end

The best thing I've gained from my class experience is unquestionably the jump-start of my video project. While I've been collecting footage for a few months, I was actually feeling rather uninspired to start piecing things together-- which would have been a big mistake. This is the first time that a class has actually inspired my movie-making, and for that I am really grateful. I am so glad that this class was able to be as intimate as it was, and I believe we're all very lucky to have shared this unique structure. If I had taken this as a lecture, I would have gotten a lot less out of it.
I've also been able to work on my understandings(/respect) of words and theories that I tend to find problematic. My position as a queer, trans person has given me a certain type of critical awareness, a kind that has kept me away from readings that I knew would be less-than-current. Being forced to read some important theory that I would not have chosen to was a rewarding experience. Even though I still feel the same way, I have a better grip on the context of some of these texts. I know there's plenty of work left to be done.
I look forward to doing mine.

It Feels Good!

The main thing I am going to take from this class is an increased confidence in my ability to understand and discuss film through a feminist lens of analysis. The scholarly readings we did helped me to gain a good working knowledge of the history of feminist thought with regards to the cinema. I had often read excerpts from Mulvey’s article and had heard passing references to other theorists in my other film classes, but I never felt I knew enough of the theory to discuss it with respect to the films I watched or to formulate my own opinions and theories with respect to the ideas that have already been circulating for years.
The other incredibly valuable thing about this course for me was the classroom environment. It was wonderful to be working with a small group of dedicated, thoughtful, diverse and respectful individuals. The atmosphere was both intellectually rigorous and incredibly comfortable. It was a great place to work together in order to develop our opinions about the various theories presented and share our analyses of the films we watched. The respectful atmosphere made it easy and comfortable to share opinions and ideas and the diverse and thoughtful student group made the conversations lively and interesting. (Obviously, so did Rachel, but if I say that, even in these parentheses, I sound like an awful kiss ass) What is most important about all of this is that after taking this class, in this environment, I feel familiar with the theory and comfortable with my ideas about it. I feel like I will be able to bring the theory I learned and opinions I developed in this class into other classes I take into the future and into other discussions with students and intellectuals, and that feels pretty damn good.

ClosingTime

I wanted to take a film class and knew less than I would have liked about feminism so I decided to take this class, so glad I did! I have learned so much about film, feminism, and technology. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am taking so much information with me. This class has caused me to look more critically at the media in my everyday life. I cant help but notice things in movies, Internet, magazines, everything. Looking at the production company seal, where the villain stands on the screen, and frames frames everywhere. It is impossible to watch movies like I used to.

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A new lens to look through

I have enjoyed this class so much. In the beginning, as Rachel had warned us, I wasn’t used to and therefore didn’t appreciate being able to analyze film and media in a critical way. It didn’t take long though for me to get into the habit and find a greater purpose behind watching movies and media with a closer eye and sharper analysis. I know now that, at least for a while to come, that I won’t be able to watch anything the same way. Now that I have spent time with a great class and a true teacher who has taken the time to discuss and process the images and messages of film and media, which are so often skimmed over, I have develop a new kind of knowledge that I wasn’t expecting to gain. I no longer just sit down and turn on the television and “zone out? as I used to, now I see the details that go into making film and media, and to me that’s a good thing.

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Reflections

When I registered for this class, I wasn't really sure what to expect. It had been a while since I'd taken any film classes, and I'd never really discussed feminism in depth before. I absolutely loved taking this class. I felt that we had some great discussions, and we really had an awesome group of people who were genuinely interested in talking about feminism and film and where and how the two intersect. I loved the variety of the films we watched, and I thought they fit in very well with what we were discussing in terms of the readings.

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Final Thoughts...

First of all, I just want to say how much I loved taking this class. I learned a great number of film terms I never knew before, and now find myself analyzing movies constantly. Mulvey’s article and terms were the most helpful in terms of feminist theory, and Kaplan’s feminist theoretical models were simple and descriptive, so that I could understand the basics of each term. I also particularly enjoyed learning about the history of feminism, especially second wave feminism because I was always perplexed as to the details of this movement. The Hip-hop documentaries we watched in class were also very helpful, because they gave an overview of the music industry and music videos, and provided a great deal of information—I have taken other classes that discuss hip-hop, but have not shown films like these, that provide so much information.

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All good things....

This was such a great class and I really learned a lot from it. I think the two most important things I picked up from it were the film terms and the idea of intersectionality. We had talked about intersectionality a little in my past GWSS classes (taken at another University) but I felt like we really explored it in this class. Looking at No! and Water it was so apparent that the issues these women face are no way near the issues I have to face when it comes to my womanhood.

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July 10, 2008

Growing up Puerto Rican

For this Final Project I decided to do a short three-minute video summarizing my unique story concerning my ethnicity. I wanted to express my feelings and struggles growing up Half Puerto Rican in a small Minnesota town. I was a first generation American born Puerto Rican on my father’s side, but I lived with my mother who was born in mound, my grandma still lives in mound. I identified with this very close community in my town, however I still felt curious and unaware of my Puerto Rican heritage, growing up and I knew very little about that part of me. I felt like I should know more and started to have questions about the culture as the world was asking me to define my ethnicity, check the box Puerto Rican, Hispanic, Non-white. I would do this but did it mean? I spent a week in Puerto Rico during the end of high school. It was this wonderfully enlightening experience that helped me feel confident in identifying myself as Puerto Rican.