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Final Web Event - Addressing Inclusiveness at Home at Bryn Mawr: A Seminar

Bryn Mawr is my home.

            That one phrase is so much more than the five words it contains. Now more than ever before. To me, a home is much more than four walls or a campus. Bryn Mawr is home to me because of its people, because of its community. It is here that I have become comfortable with who I am - my sexuality, my past, my life.

            When I first began to think about this final paper, I knew I wanted it to be about this place that means so much to me. Bryn Mawr. I also wanted to incorporate in parts of my other papers. As I reflected over my work and growth in this course, I realized I left my third paper open ended without a firm direction in terms of education for Wabash. During conversations (usually over food) with my friends, I began to see that Bryn Mawr also needs a new form of education. An education in inclusion. I began to think of my second paper on the inclusiveness/discrimination of the straight community within Bryn Mawr's community. I concluded Bryn Mawr needs an intervention.

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Breaking out of society's boxes

I saw this video on Tumblr and just had to share it with the class.It is about breaking the boxes of gender stereotypes. Most of the video does not have words, but it is so impactful. I found myself rewatching it! It is time to break free of the boxes society creates for us! We can break out!

See video
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The finale

Today, we had the first three groups of our final presenations each lead a teach-in. I found the experience fascianting, not only my own presentation, but also the others. It was the begining of the cultimation of teh semester, however each group chose to illustrate it. My group addressed how we each have our own types of feminism, that we create. From this basis we constructed maps of feminism. Not only did I have lots of fun with glitter, paint, and patterned paper in my room; I also learnt a lot while doing it! I learnt a lot about myself and about what I have learned/will take from this class. Before taking this class, I'd never taken a gender and sexuality class at Bryn Mawr. Truthfully I only enrolled because I needed an English class to fulfill a requirement and this one fit with my schedule. But I'm glad I took this class! I wouldn't change my choice. I leave this class with more understanding, more answers, and most of all more questions on feminism, gender, and sexuality. I'm glad I spent a semester with y'all learning, questioning, and exploring! I hope to find time in my remaining three semesters to take another gender and sexuality course. Yet in the short-term because I can barely see past next week right now, I'm excited for the final three presentations on Thursday!

Oh and I'm attaching images of my two maps for y'all to look at up close!


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Fear of Feminist Indoctrination at All-Men's Colleges

            The phrase "feminism unbound" is strange to me. I thought at first I understood it, but when we began to discuss this phrase in class, I got even more confused. So I sat down to think about it on my own. I thought about the rigors of society, the boundaries have set for ourselves and others, the world we have been told should exist. As someone who has chosen to go to an all-women's college I know I follow certain boundaries within the walls of Bryn Mawr College, regulations the college sets for me. I began to think of similar institutions. A friend of mine also goes to a single-sex institution, Wabash College, an all-men's college in Indiana. Wabash sets regulations for its students as well. A potential new regulation is a gender studies graduation requirement. This debate struck a chord with me, especially when I discovered the contorted view of gender studies some members of the institution had created around this issue . . .

            "[The] wimpy, neutralized guys that gender feminists are trying to create:  men who are not committed to constructive struggle and conflict and fighting for a cause and coming out the winner." (Michaloski and Allman) This statement was made by Dr. David P. Kubiak, a Classics professor at Wabash College in relation to the debate at Wabash over the proposition of a gender studies graduation requirement.

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Some sexist Christmas cheer

Well, Thanksgiving is over, time to bring out the Christmas tree, snowflake lights, and the Christmas music Pandora station. Even of you don't celebrate, I'm sure you get swept up in this time of the year. The moment Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas music comes out. The usual "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night" that we hear every year. Among these annual favorites are a few that caught my eye - ones that enforce the media's view on women. For example "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carrey, a contemporary song embedded with the message that all women need is a man and their Christmas (life in general) will be perfect. Or how about "It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas" which continues to reinforce gendered stereotypes in children's toys - "A pair of hop along boots and a pistol that shoots, Is the wish of Barney and Ben. Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk, Is the hope of Janice and Jen.” Or "Baby it's Cold Outside" in which the traditionally male part of the song pressures the traditionally female part of the song into staying for the night even when she has said "I really can’t stay, I’ve must go away, my mother will worry” yet the man persists “I simply must go / but Baby, it’s cold outside. The answer is no / but baby, it’s cold outside” She says the first part of each of those sentences, she says no, but he pressures her to stay. Songs like this one normalize the problematic male behavior, which contributes to and perpetuates rape culture in our society.

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Dehumanizing death

I agree with the arguement Judith Butler makes in her essay "Violence, Mourning, Politics" that we have become desensitized to death. I, however, do not agree that it is a dehumanitization and/or desensitization that is only targeted towards the deaths resulting from violence against "the Arab people." More than 30,000 people in the United States are shot and killed by civillian gun violence every year. The names of these people are not repeated across the country, and in large cities these deaths could be at most a five-second piece in the evening news; that is all. We, as a people, are desensitized to death in general. Society, especially the influence of the media (the commonality of death in TV shows, the lack of respect for murder on the news, etc.) tell us that death is not a big deal, that instead it is a common occurance. I know we will all die one day, and that death is a way of life. But that does not mean we should have a lack of respect for the dead, especially those dead at another's hand. Instead of having death a part of everyday life, we should be trying to prevent pre-mature death, not sweep it under the rug and ignore it because it will not go away. 

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Accountable for our silences

I was going to make a post about "Freedom's Silences" in Edgework by Wendy Brown, until this article came up on my facebook newsfeed. It's a really great read! It is entitled "Your Silence Will Not Protect You" It opens with how when we are young we are told to simply ignore the hateful comments people make towards us about who we are. Then the author makes this statement "I decided that I wasn’t going to be sorry for standing for what was rightthat I wasn’t going to be sorry anymore." We cannot live our lives being silent we are opressed and put down by others. Being silent will not change things. I agree that being silent does have its place and in certain circumstances it can be effective, and even powerful, but when one is attacked head-on, one cannot be silent! We have to defend and stand up for ourselves. Calling others out on their actions may be hard, it may be uncomfortable, but we have to do it. We cannot live our lives in a comfort zone when other attack us. If we chose to be silent when we are openly attacked, we accept the attacker as more powerful and/or correct. We have to speak up. "We must be held accountable for our voices, but we must also be held accountable for our silence." I am all for choice. We are all independent indivduals who have the right to make a choice. But we must accept the consequences of our choices. We must accept the consequences if we choose to be silent.

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Questioning what is feminism

I enjoyed today's class discussion on feminism through the eyes of bell hooks. Some of the quotes really got discussion flowing. Feminism is for everyone. I agree with this statement; however, our discussion today made me question it. I tend to think of feminism as the coming together of individual feminism towards a greater movement to empower women. But this quote by bell hooks made me stop and think "Advancing the notion that there can be many "feminisms" has served the conservative and liberal political interest of women seeking status and priviledged class power suggest that one could be feminist and be another misguided is a feminist principle that women should have the right to choose."

Feminism is about choice. But what if one person's view of feminism has a negative effect on someone else? Is that still feminism? Is feminism really about individuals or is it just a collective movement? I thought I was understanding feminism more, now I'm not really sure. But I love questioning!

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Web event #2: Bryn Mawr: Community? Empowered? Sisterhood?

An institution described through the eyes of its members tells a lot. Bryn Mawr College through the eyes of its students is one such institution. Consider the following terms used by Mawrters to describe Bryn Mawr: sisterhood, home, academic success, traditions, community, stress, empowered, intellect.  

These words describe the culture that is Bryn Mawr College, a culture created by the cultural identities of the student body.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, culture is "the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization" (Merriam Webster). One's environment throughout one's life influences these sets of characteristics, to comprise of one's cultural identity. Culture is not a single factor; rather, it is the intersection of many identities. Eli Clare, a white genderqueer activist and writer with cerebral palsy attempts to verbalize the intersectionality of these multiple cultural identities "gender reaches into disability; disability wraps around class; class strains against abuse; abuse snarls into sexuality; sexuality folds on top of race...everything finally piling into a single human body" (Clare, 143). We gain and develop these characteristics of our cultural identity as we progress through life, influenced by the culture of those around us and by our own individual actions.

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Sweden bring gender bias in films to light

Some very interesting happenings in Sweden. Swedish cinemas have created a new rating scale for movies based on the absence of a gender bias. To pass the exam on the Bechdal Scale movies must have two named female characters who talk about something other than a man. This new system has only been in place for a few months, but already movie-goers are surprised at how few films pass the test. "The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, all Star Wars movies, The Social Network, Pulp Fiction and all but one of the Harry Potter movies fail this test," said Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, an art-house cinema in Stockholm. More about this system can be found at this link.

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