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Final Web Event: Mental Illness and Feminism

Mental Illness and Feminism

            In my first Web Event, titled “Web Event #1: Fear and Self-Representation”, I discussed my personal struggles with fear in the classroom, as well as analyzed where fear comes from and how it interferes with self-representation. I came to the conclusion that my fear resulted in a “self-preserving” performance that did not represent who I truly am, but the person I was okay with others seeing. It was the “me” that could not be criticized or called out for being incorrect. This “self-preserving” performance was difficult for anyone to criticize mostly because it was silent. And it is really difficult to be wrong when you are silent.

            Fear has been a defining factor in my life for almost as long as I can remember. For many years, I have suffered from depression and anxiety. I feel that my anxiety has kept me from being the ideal “strong, intelligent, independent woman” that, it is often supposed, any feminist (and “Mawrter”) should be. I’m surely not alone in this concern. The view of the mentally ill within the feminist movement (as well as in academic spaces such as Bryn Mawr) is not something that is often considered, but can be understood through disability studies theory.

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Thoughts on Teach-In

Trying to make out a "map" for my group's teach-in was an interesting experience for me. I wanted to do something that was my own, but I couldn't come up with any "locations" to draw for a map. On top of that, I didn't know how to relate it to feminism at first. I finally decided to draw feminism in a way that made sense to me: as an entire body, a "creature." I wanted to draw the dragon because, though we cannot see it, we can see the power of fire, which it breathes. This is similar to feminism because, though many people cannot see the theory that goes behind it, they can see the actions that destroy harmful institutions and help create progress. Like the body of the dragon, though all the parts have different functions, they all can cooperate to have one common goal. I felt that drawing my "map" helped me better understand the idea of feminism as well as educate the class on my perceptions.

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Web Event 3: Unbinding Power Feminism

Unbinding Power Feminism

It’s easy to envision feminism as female CEOs breaking the glass ceiling, or an upper class woman who seems to “have it all” and lets nothing in her way. Many think of this as evidence that feminism is pushing women closer to equality to men. However, they forget that this is only pushing certain (and privileged) women towards equality. As with any other movement, the voice that everyone seems to hear in the feminist movement is the voice that has the most power. Privileged (often white, upper class, and educated) women seem to shape what the mainstream view of feminism is, pushing the voices that strive for equality not only in terms of gender, but also race and class. This creates a “feminism” that works within a system that caused oppression in the first place. This “power feminism,” while it helps achieve equality for certain women within the already-standing system, it also promotes the oppression that system caused in the first place.

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Something that is on my mind since our discussion in class (as well as with the Butler reading) is the nature of mourning. Mourning is not an act that is set to accomplish anything, but rather a kind of reflection and attempt at closure for the sake of oneself. In a way, mourning is more centered on those who mourn rather than the person or object that is being mourned. We mourn, not because of the death or departure of who/what we mourn, but because we have lost something that can no longer provide for us. People never truly mourn for the sake other people or objects. People mourn for the sake of themselves.

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Thoughts on Power Feminism

In class, we discussed the concept of power feminism and whether or not it is helpful to feminism as a whole. Many people felt that power feminism was individualistic and working within the patriarchal system that already exists to gain power, hurting those who are oppressed by the system along the way. I then began to wonder about the concept of empowerment within feminism. Feminism, at its most basic level, is the belief that we are all equal despite our gender. However, we live within a patriarchal system. How can the concept of empowerment work so that all everyone oppressed by the current system can gain equality? So that it's not really "power" feminism, but rather "empowering" feminism? Should power really be a goal at all? Is a hierarchical system coming into play when we consider the concept of power?

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Thoughts on time

During class this Thursday, we talked about the concept of time, specifcally in reference to Eva's Man. We debated the different ways it operates in different kinds of time (queer time, crip time, traumatic time, etc). I began to wonder if the time within the novel works within any of these concepts of time at all, or perhaps if it exists in all of these concepts of time at once. Perhaps there is a blend of different concepts of time within it. From this thought I began to wonder if, by defining concepts of time by "queer time" or "crip time," we give those concepts their own "normative" boundaries. Though these concepts are different from normative time, they have their own set of rules (however flexible they are) and have a defined nature to them. Perhaps time is not supposed to be defined, but to exist in its own way; for time to go by undefined by the concepts we create in our minds. Everything exists within the bounds of time, and yet we choose to define it as if we have any control over the matter.

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Web Event 2: Classism and the Queer Community

            When most people think of issues facing the LGBT community, they think of issues such as gay marriage. Few can see a major problem that is found both inside and outside of the community. This problem ignores the needs of many people in the community. It excludes people from a community where they were told they were safe. The problem is classism, which finds its way into the queer community to better fit a capitalist structure. Classism within the queer community as a result of the commercialization of queer culture causes exclusion of LGBT people of lower socioeconomic status and ignorance of their needs.

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On the topic of silence

Silence is a recurring theme in the novel Eva's Man. Which brings to mind the question: why do we choose to remain silent? One idea may be that we are afraid to speak. We are afraid of what consequences may befall us after we speak and that our words may cause harm, so we would rather be silent than be accountable. Another is that we truly don't know what to say. The words suddenly escape us (or were never there in the first place) and all that is left in our heads is total blank. But perhaps it is neither of these things. Maybe we aren't afraid. Maybe we really do know what to say. Maybe there is a kind of power in silence, in withholding the answers we have, knowing that it belongs only within ourselves. Perhaps there is a kind of greed in silence, a desire that we have for our words to be our own, never to exit our minds into the world.

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Thoughts on Queer Time

I found the discussion we had on "queer time" in class interesting because it really brought to mind not only how Western society views the idea of time itself, but how Western society views success and "milestones" in a person's lifetime. Many of these ideas of success and milestones revolve around very traditional concepts, such as the idea that everyone should be married and reproduce at a certain point. The issue with this "normative" time is that it is exclusive of certain people, such as those who choose not get married, or those who cannot reproduce, and so on. That is where the idea of "queer time" might come into use. When I was learning about it, I was pretty confused about how "success" would be measured in queer time. Then I thought "Why does this idea of success have to factor into it? Is life really just a sum of successes and failures?" I may be simplifying it too much, but that's what we're often told life is: success and failure. We're constantly under the pressure to perform in order to succeed, learn from our mistakes the first time, and place value on who we are based on these things. However, if the ideas of success and failure were taken out of the picture entirely, I don't believe I, or many other people, would be productive or want to learn from experience. Both "normative" and "queer" concepts of time have their problems, but it was good to learn about ideas of time outside of what I've always known.

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Web Event #1: Fear and Self-Representation

“I guess I think that maybe perhaps if you want to hear to my opinion, but I’m no expert, so I’ll make it brief…” is not an uncommon way for me to preface what I have to say. I am a strong believer that a five-minute-long disclaimer is enough to protect me from any criticism whatsoever. I believe strongly in a lot of other things, too (for one, I consider myself a feminist), but you wouldn’t know it from the way I talk. I sit there biting my fingernails, taking in what others have to say, feeling that their thoughts are much more intelligent and valid than my own. I dread being called on and sharing what I have to say, the best case being that I just said something painfully obvious and the worst case being that I said something completely wrong. I fear judgment. I fear criticism. I fear being wrong. Luckily, I’m not alone in my fears. My fear of speaking out is shared not only by other women, but many people who are marginalized by society. Fear limits self-representation to a self-preserving performance, making us unable to represent ourselves as we wish to be represented.

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