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Expanding the Conversation

The VLogs

For our final web event, sekang, dchin and I reflected on the process of our class presentation and asked ourselves the questions we had asked others for the interviews we conducted.

*Both videos are long, so please allow time for loading before watching.

In the first video we reflect on our motivation for our class presentation, the process of interviewing strangers at Philadelphia train stations, the process of editing those interviews and how the product we created related back to the discussions we have had in Critical Feminist Studies this spring.

In the second video, we interview each other in the same style that we conducted the interviews for our class presentation.  We then reflect on being asked these questions and our new perspectives on documentary filmmaking.

The Editing Process

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"Hey Critical Feminist Studies..."

       In late 2011, the “feminist Ryan Gosling” (FRG) meme became an overnight internet sensation.  For those who haven’t heard of him, Ryan Gosling was already a presence in Hollywood, starring in movies such as “The Notebook,” “Half Nelson,” “Lars and the Real Girl” and “Blue Valentine” among others1.  A blog2 had already been created which showed images of Gosling with captions meant to appeal to a heterosexual, female audience.  These posts always start with “Hey girl…” and go on to show how lovable and sensitive the idealized Gosling is.  Some examples are shown below.  Feminist Ryan Gosling3 follows the same formula except that the text following “Hey girl…” contains some feminist idea or theory (examples of these are also included below).  Given the multitude of content that can be found online, why did “Feminist Ryan Gosling” become so overwhelmingly popular, especially considering the lack of involvement the actual Ryan Gosling had (none of the captions are quotes) and what role does the blog play in the discussion of male feminism?  Do we praise male feminists, and even those who are portrayed in some way to be feminist by outside voices, to an unreasonable degree (see rayj's post on another f

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Setting the scene - And Tango Makes Three

Here is the link for And Tango Makes Three on Amazon.  You can see several of the pages through their product page and the reviews are worth skimming.  

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Still troubled...

Going through My Gender Workbook has made me think a lot more about what gender is and what it isn't.  I still find myself thinking in a fairly conservative way, that there are "men" and "women," but I actually am starting to think about why I think that way and if those assumptions true and what they mean.  It's very hard for me to understand what a "non-gender" would be.  It's also confusing how Bornstein talks about rejecting gender, but at the same time talks about her (hir?) own gender and how we can all find our own gender/expressions - there gender or not?  Or are there many genders that are personal to each individual?  I also have trouble understanding whether Bornstein believes that our gender identities are fluid (as she seemed to in the beginning of the book), or if we have a TRUE identity which is hidden by our own performance of socialy-constructed gender.  Does Bornstein argue that we have an essential self at all, or that everything about us is dynamic?  I guess the message of the book is getting through to me...somewhat.  

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In the defense of language

       The 1970s saw the emergence of a new form of feminism in France, known as l’ecriture feminine, or the writing of women.  This form was introduced by French feminists such as Monique Wittig, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous and Julia Kristeva, among others[1].  These influential writers and feminists asserted that traditional writing centered on the male experience and was therefore phallocentric.  This phallocentricity essentially either forced women to view the world through a male perspective in their language use, or subjugated them to silence[2].  The introduction of l‘ecriture feminine’ was meant to give a voice to the female experience and allow women to express their unique, non-male experiences and selves.  As society has marginalized women and their experiences, language has been used as a tool of institutionalized oppression and even furthered it[3].  However, language in itself is an organic, and even inherently feminist form of communication.

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"Persepolis:" Adding Feminism to the Graphic Novel

          “Persepolis” tells the story of Marjane Satrapi’s childhood, adolescence and transition into adulthood set on the changing backdrop of her cultural location and identity[1].  Through her personal story, Satrapi educates her audience on what it means to her to be an Iranian girl and woman, the political situation in Iran at the time of her upbringing, and how she often clashed with her surroundings and fought back against oppressive and simplistic ideology encountered in both Iran and Europe.    As inspiration for her graphic novel, Satrapi cites “Maus” by Art Spiegelman[2].  While in some ways “Persepolis” is very similar to “Maus,” the changes that Satrapi has made can be seen as her way of creating a feminist text out of an uncommon genre – the graphic novel.

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Can we have it both ways?

I have been thinking about how Spivak refuses to simplify "Breast Giver" into a parable about India, yet how she doesn't seem to mind making "Jane Eyre"  into a story about a poor white woman achieving her goal (a rich white man).  I don't see how she can do both things - is it acceptable to make a story about an individual into a neat story about a type of individual when we share their race or background?  I actually liked the idea of "Breast Giver" as a metaphor for India's relationship with its people, but I also liked the idea that we should be careful in making people into lessons or parables.  So, how can Spivak do both with different texts...any thoughts?

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Isn't exclusion necessary?

When we were talking about how Persepolis excludes many women, and only tells the story of one woman, I kept coming back to the idea that exclusion is necessary.  Although feminism seeks to give voice to those who have been underheard, I don't think that works of literature can, or should try to show every side of the story or have every voice heard.  Of course, it would be great if everyone's story were told through some medium, but individual works shouldn't have to do any more than tell one story.  It's up to the reader to think about the other characters, such as the extremists in Iran, who we are not hearing from.  I don't think that excluding an opinion makes something un-feminist.  So many choices have to be made in the process of creating a story or work of art, that it seems ridiculous to say that feminism means hearing from the unheard, and therefore a text or peice is not feminist if it only gives one side to a story.  A feminist person should try to hear all opinions, but it's too much to hold up each text and ask if it represents all sides of a story, although it is important to keep in mind who we are actually hearing from and not hearing from.  

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Probably going viral at Bryn Mawr...

Pretty much sums up my past 4 years at Bryn Mawr, thought I'd share it with the class!

See video
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Should Christina Rossetti be at the table?

Originally, I saw Goblin Market as being about the dangers of “strange men,” but by looking at commonalities in the interpretations offered by other critics, I can see that Goblin Market lends itself to a wide range of interpretation.  The common thread seems to be that the goblins must represent something forbidden that young women could fall prey to (drugs, sex, food, consumerism…etc…).  The real point of importance to me is what all of these interpretations could say about women and sisterhood.  Regardless of what the temptation is, the roles given to women are both one who falls victim to temptation, and one who selflessly rescues a weaker victim.  On one hand, it seems very feminist to have a heroine who does not need the help of a man.  On the other hand, it seems that everyone who falls victim to temptation in the world of Goblin Market has been a woman, the only reference to past victims was also a woman and there is no significant mention of human men.  What would have happened in the poem if a father, brother, or other male figure was present?  While a female helping another female seems very feminist, a temptation that only corrupts women seems strange and could be promoting women as the “weaker sex.”  I am still not sure whether Christina Rossetti deserves a seat at the table – although she promotes independence and sisterhood, the sisterhood came at great expense and does not seem to exist in a broader world that includes men. 

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