Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

S. Yaeger's blog

S. Yaeger's picture

Setting the framework for further work with the BMC Community regarding gender on campus

Over the past year, I've been working across several classes and with several other students, as well as some people out in the world, to try to improve the way we handle gender on campus.

This project started with a post on tumblr from a young trans woman who was very angry at the idea of trans women being excluded from a women's space.  

At first, I and a few other mawters reacted defensively, but then I started thinking about gender on campus and all the ways we don't talk about it effectively.  

I started a conversation with her on serendip, wherein we discussed some of the problems of a Women's College in a post binary world.  (Post binary in the sense that not everyone identifies on the binary)

At the same time, Aybala was doing her work within the administration of attempting to determine the potential of admitting transwomen into the college.  She's already provided a link to that work in her post here.

Recently, and with a lot of help along by this class, I have begun to think about how the BMC community exists in several places at once.  

We are defined by the admistration as a space for women, women here presumably meaning people with vaginae, but we are not all women, and not all women are admitted here.

S. Yaeger's picture

Feminist Henson

Hey All,

Here is the link to Feminist Henson.  I plan on keeping it going and accepting submissions if anyone wants to play around with it.

Dearabby and I would also love to hear/read people's thoughts and suggestions.  

S. Yaeger's picture

transgender task force

Our group (myself, Debbie, and Maya)  didn't get much further during our first meeting than determining that a more open dialog regarding gender variance needs to occur early and often on campus.  During our second meeting, we discussed the potential intersection of our liberal idea regarding gender, and the college's marketing blitz in countries where rigid gender roles, and specific ideas about female chastity, would make it difficult to recruit students.  We also discussed the ways in which BMC has a specific narrative in place causes it to be a less open environment than we think it is.  I suggested, with Halberstam's help, that the word "rigorous" might be harming our ability to reconcieve gender on campus by presenting a very specific idea about who attends BMC, and what is expected of them.  We really couldn't come to any sort of peace regarding the topic though, as it is a few nuanced issue, and time was short.

S. Yaeger's picture

TW: Discussion of rape) On Possibly Breaking The Bubble of Silence: How Our Community Discussions of Rape Are Harming Us

I should have written this paper a long time ago, but the truth is that I was scared to approach the topic and felt somewhat unqualified in my position as something of an outsider in the sense that I don’t live on campus. However, as we’ve come through this semester together, and since we’ve discussed “Half The Sky” extensively, and the way that rape gets addressed on campus briefly, (thank you to rayj for providing some really great links and some really great insight) I’ve come to understand that hesitating to speak is part of Bryn Mawr’s problem.  From what I have read and heard, we, as a community, rarely talk about rape, and when we do, we do it in a very particular way.  In our collective mind, and in the school’s covert marketing message, rape is something that happens when a strange male attacker (perhaps that fabled “suspicious male on campus”) assaults a woman.

S. Yaeger's picture

Further thoughts on our discussion of Half the Sky

Since I was pretty clearly shaken up and a little incoherent today during our discussion of Half The Sky, I thought it would be beneficial to post here with my calmer, less certain thoughts, and see if we can't figure out a very complex set of problems together.

To begin with, I think that one thing that's important to discuss is the problem of problematic language vs valuable action.  This to say that, while I found much of the language in the text problematic, and while I felt rendered helpless by it, neither of those things make the actions of those inspired by the book less valuable.  Similarly, while I'd love to see, and try to work toward, a less binarist language of gender, using binary terms while attempting to raise money that will help to educate those who would otherwise be denied access does not negate the absolutely real and tangible value of such a drive.  

It's easy for me to sit in a position of relative priviledge at BMC and call out the problems in a text for which I am most likely not the audience, but the reality is that actions like those advocated for in Half The Sky are absolutely needed, and those actions absolutely need the financial backing of wealthy and well connected people to carry them forward. The questions I am left with, however are numerous.  At what point is problematic language a problem that takes presidence?  At what point does abuse closer to home take priority over global abuses?  Where does actual progress and solution end and white knighting begin?

S. Yaeger's picture

Possibly of interest on a few levels.


This morning, I stumbled accross the linked news story about a trans women being disqualified from Canada's Miss Universe Pageant for publicly acknowledging that she is trans.  I thought this topic might be of interest to our class for two reasons.  The first being that Jenna's disqualification illustrates how much tranphobia is a part of the cultural landsape of many western countries and how little understanding there seems to be about trans identities.  

The second is that beauty pageants have long been a hot bed issue for feminism as feminist activists protesting the Miss America pageant in 1968 recieved national news coverage.  In fact, I believe that it was that protest that led to the misconception that femnists burn their bras, as a threat to do so was made at the protest.  The women protesting the pageant in 1968 were protesting the way that women were viewed as objects and cut off from many potential careers.  Even though the protests drew a good deal of attention, it seems like little has changed in the world of pageantry since then, and I think that Jenna's story illustrates that.

S. Yaeger's picture

Injecting some levity into a tense situation

I thought the class might enjoy the above video clip from the Colbert Show.

S. Yaeger's picture

New 360 with Anne, Jody Cohen and Barb Toews

S. Yaeger's picture

What's That Word For When You Have To Break It To Find It?

Change. Change. Change. Change…change. Change. Chaaange. When you say words a lot they don’t mean anything. Or maybe they don’t mean anything anyway, and we just think they do.”  -Delirium


" Fish live next to the bodies of dead pirates."- Kathy Acker

Since our discussion of Persepolis as a story of a young woman attempting to find her own identity among great destruction and trauma, and our subsequent discussions of feminism in relation to graphic narratives, I’ve been stuck on the idea that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman character Delirium might be a nice counterpart to Marjane Satrapi.  Delirium, one of seven characters who are the embodiment of earthy concepts,  is, like Satrapi, a child trying to find her way in the world.  Also like Satrapi, she is the product of some great trauma, though this trauma is never quite defined.  However, the resemblance ends there.

S. Yaeger's picture

Salt and Sexuality

I was troubled by our in class salt licking, not because I dislike salt, but because ordinary table salt, licked out of our hands, is so different from the way salt is described in The Book of Salt, and so contrary to how salt is used in cooking.  Throughout reading the book, and throughout class on Thursday, I had this unformed idea in my head that we never really got to understand the significance of the salt in the book.  Then, when we read parts of Jessy's post about the queerness in the book being a fact that is simply allowed to be an ingredient that, though it enriches the story and brings a complexity to it, is not overburdened that I understood what was vexxing me.

Syndicate content