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Celeste's blog

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self evaluation

When I signed up to take Critical Feminist Studies at Bryn Mawr College, I’ll admit that I had some images of what the class would look like.  But I’ll only tell if you promise not to laugh.  I imagined reading novels by Virginia Woolf and talking about the big bad man.  Of course, we would read Gloria Steinam and “empower” each other, all while nestled into the ever present gender binary, discussing issues that really affect only mainstream identities—all, of course, in the name of goodness and equality for all beings. Ha!  I remember it so clearly!  I was sitting in my chair on the first day of the class.  My hand was raised.  Anne called on me and bluntly asked, “Is it feminist to raise your hand?”.  I had no idea how there was any connection.  In fact, I thought the question was “stupid” and didn’t make any sense.  Herein lies where my experience quickly became what I least expected from the course.  Believe me, I am very happy about that.


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temporality: web event 4

“Let any one try, I will not say to arrest, but to notice or attend to, the present moment of time. One of the most baffling experiences occurs. Where is it, this present? It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.” – William James, The Principals of Psychology


As a little girl, I always dreamed of being a time traveler.  Everything belonged to me.   I would tie a dishcloth over my eyes and stand on the precipice of my bed and timber down onto the mattress.  It was simple.  As soon as my body hit the mattress, bouncing violently, I would be taken to Victorian England, or the raft of Lewis and Clark.  It happened! It must have.  I was always able to describe the worlds I saw, down to the smells and times I had to use the bathroom.  It may very well have all been real.  Sometimes on special occasions, I promised myself that I would fall through the bed sheets and land in space—tulips of embers would rest in my palms.  Flying through the dark past planets, the goddess of time, nothing would disappear ever again.  The power to conjure up worlds was mine and mine alone.  True loss was therefore impossible.  I was immortal—truly immortal—and could never die.


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Final thoughts on maps

Here I am! Writing my last post on the teach-in that Emma, Erin, and Rachel shared with the class last tuesday.  If you don't remember our concept, we each drew "maps" of our personal feminisms.  Before presenting in class, we had actually started our maps together, but finished them separately.  Point is, I hadn't seen the finished products, and was pretty amazed by them.  For example, I was really only expecting to see topography and road maps, but instead, Erin came out with a dragon! How interesting to think of feminism as a body--or, at the whim of a writer like Acker, maybe that's what it always was.  

I've thought more about the topography of my feminism in the past few days.  When I drew "Binary Arch", I constructed it so that the winding path of identity/cathedral of self lay BEYOND it.  I thought by making that choice, I was freeing up the idea of gender and arguing that by looking past gender, we can be englightened with ourselves in a way that is impossible within strict gender performance.  However, the irony of a gender-fortress is perplexing and misleading...

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Is Feminism The Word To Use? web event 3

Unbinding feminism has been the greatest challenge presented to me yet in this course.  All semester, our class has explored the confined of being a feminist—the varying components (and intersectionality) within feminist identities.  To deconstruct the goals and desires of feminism feels impossible without questioning the word itself.  The word suddenly feels inefficient.  Not incorrect, yet still inadequate for a form of activism that no longer relies on gender or sex to define itself.  I first question the possibility of feminism’s unbinding.  Then, alternate terms.  I’m pretty fascinated by the etymology of the word itself, and supplemental terms used by varying groups of intersectional identities to better define themselves.  As Wendy Brown asks, “Are we proposing to be after sex and gender, no longer bound by them or perhaps no longer believing in them, and yet in the peculiar offering that only temporality makes, bringing along what we are after even as we locate it behind us?” (Brown 98).  In the unbinding of a term that at first felt so simplistic, yes, that is quite what we intend.  But are we left with feminism?


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When It's a Bad Time - Web Event 2.

When It’s A Bad Time 

The college process is hardly kind to anybody.  As a freshman in college, I am finding myself looking back on my admissions process with more of an understanding as to its long-term effect on the mind.  The selection process utilized by most colleges and universities essentially aims to compare the qualities and statistical achievements of a student to those of the current student body, thus determining a certain “fit” that must be met to determine acceptance to the school. A mosaic of sorts, or so it seems they aim for: what “student” are you, and is that what we are looking for in our “community”?


Bryn Mawr was the only college that seemed truly invested in figuring out my place (or lack thereof) in the college’s community.  Admittedly, it is a huge marketing pull on their part.  Standing with such open arms on the opposite side of the harrowing college process was indeed a wonderful feeling, but it prevented me from accurately reflecting on the extremely problematic nature of the pre-college admissions process, more specifically towards those who struggle or have struggled with mental illness.


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on mourning, temporality

"in mourning, one discovers horizons, banisters, firmaments, and foundations of life so taken for granted that they were mostly unknown until they were shaken. A mourning being also learns a new temporality...the future is unmoored from parts of the past, thus puncturing conceits of linearity with a different way of living time." (p. 100).

Change is inevitable.  A constant.  Everything moves.  Everything falters?  Or does it melt? 

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thoughts on class

Power feminism--not a term I had heard prior to our last meeting.  Feminism always felt/sounded like this unifying term that acted to unite the experiences of margianalized people, rather than separate them.  I know so many people who worship Hilary Clinton at her feet, but is she not the power feminist we critiqued in class on Tuesday? Sometimes, I struggle with deciding if there is a "line" to draw in examining feminism.  I hope that makes sense.  When does reflection become useless?  If every feminism/leadership is somehow problematic, what is the end point?  

Perhaps on a less fruitless note, I was interested by hooks's statement that one cannot be anti-abortion and still a feminist.  If feminism is for everybody, then must we have these expectations?  Not to throw myself into the mud here, but I do have a bit of a problem with the idea of abortion.  I think that women should have the choice, as it truly is their body in the end, but that we too easily fail to recognize that in aborting a fetus, you truly are killing a creature.  Having a serious medical producure like an abortion is no coin toss--it's a complex and painful situation.  And frankly, I'm not willing to merely sign on to believe that it's just simply 'ok' or 'not a big deal' or an easy, assumed option.  I don't think I'm any less of a feminist for believing that.

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some notes on the pause

I decided to take this post to consider the changes we made to the classroom structure.  After deciding on the idea of the 'five second pause', it become obvious that the system had its certain flaws.  The system was put in place to inhibit people jumping onto the end trains of others' comments.  Clearly, it only created a five second buffer before the inevitable 'jump' occured.  From what I could see, the point of the 'five second pause' was to encourage a moment of self reflection before the class continued the dialogue, to PREVENT the jump.  Here is where I found the issue; it's not a question of rule or law in the classroom. Ironically, it is about self limitation or self censorship.  Although it's important to voice your opnions and participate in the classroom, the only way to ensure a fair environment for all the student in the class is for those who speak more often to limit THEIR speech to make room for the comments of others.  Everybody just simply needs to be mindful of themselves, how often they are speaking, and whether there might be other students who want to express themselves as well, and whether their excessive speech is hindering that experience for them.  It really might be as simple as that, which no class-wide rule can inspire.

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Mimesis In Abstract Poetry: Reflecting on Acker's "Language"


I started writing in the sixth grade.  Under my bed (to this day), tucked inside a plastic bin of winter sweaters, there is a green binder inked with the words “LE JOURNAL OF CHRISTINA” on the front.  The first entry reads,

“December 17 2006.  Hello. My name is Christina Celeste Stella.  I am eleven years old and this is my diary.  I attend Moravian Academy, and I think it’s safe to say that I hate it.  Sometimes I can be nice, and sometimes I can be a bitch.  I like to think that I’m funny, but it’s probably not true. But I do have two cats! That’s true. And a brother, and a mom and a dad, and we did just get a fish who I named Solomon. I named him that because Solomon was the name of a King, and all fish are kings of their own castles (or fish bowls, whatever Sol likes better).  I have pretty cool friends. I’m in love with Derek Turner.  He’s so beautiful.   It’s really cold out, and I’m tired, so I’m going to bed. I love you diary! Good night.  I’ll tell you how tomorrow goes.  You don’t have legs, so I’m not really that worried about you being there when I wake up, and if you’re not, I’m going to call the police.  Love always, Christina!”


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Wrapping up with my gender--or not?

I was laying in bed the other night, thinking about whether I'm a very effective student.  My most recent example that says otherwise is my reaction to the Bornstein's Gender Workbook.  I am not sure if gullible is the right word to describe myself--easy to trick, easy to please--or if I simply err on the less critical side as I read.  I watched many of my classmates make effective, concise arguments against the many issues with Bornstein's method of judging how we view gender and identity, mainly through the use of multiple choice quizzes.  It's been repeatedly noted that the quizzes featured a certain bias.  Although I was able to see that I was being herded like an intellectual sheep, I could still find value in the perspectives that were presented by the featured replies.  For me, this provided an interesting, albeit directed opening perspective to the idea of gender fluidity.  As Anne said in class, it is often as good an opportunity to read with an open mind as it is to read with a critical one.  Like the glass of water metaphor, I found a fair amount of information to reflect upon after picking out the "dirt" in the glass of water. I found myself questioning what I consider to be male and female traits--something that truly hadn't crossed my mind before opening the book.  It also became clear to me that my perceptions of gender rely heavily on the exterior, such as appearance and clothes and the way a person speaks of themselves.

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