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Trans* Task Force: DLT Training and Q-Forum

Trans* Task Force: aybala50, amorphast, S. Yeager, MC and myself

Working towards breaking the gender binary at Bryn Mawr College and helping the queer folk on campus feel more welcome and at home. 

Quick definitions for our visiting guests:

Customs week – one week before classes start, the freshman arrive on campus for a week long orientation led by the DLT

Customs group – freshman are grouped together generally by hall to create customs groups, which are led by Customs People. 

DLT – Dorm Leadership Team

This includes:

HA (Hall Advisor) – One student on every dorm hallway who is basically in charge of everything on the hall.

Customs People – 2-3 students on each hall who are in charge of helping the freshman through their first year at Bryn Mawr.

CDA (Community Diversity Assistant) – Previously one per dorm, now only six on campus. They are students who “are charged with raising awareness of diversity issues and helping their friends and neighbors talk about them.”

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Teach-In: What Does Feminism....?

Several things inspired the idea for MC and my teach-in for this class.  The thought of engaging all of our senses in Feminism is fascinating. Recalling the "This is What A Feminist Looks Like" movement that went around recently, we thought that perhaps we could go further than just looks.  We got the idea to do something similar to the "This is What A Feminist Looks Like" movement, and ask people what they thought about the other senses.  We chose to ask them what FEMINISM looks/tastes/smells/sounds/feels/emotionally feels like, as opposed to what A FEMINIST etc.  This was because A) it would be more useful to explore feminsm as an ideal as opposed to the people who perscribe to it, and B) we were probably going to get a lot of flesh-related responses that were not going to be useful. In class we dealt a lot with taste and feminism, and for the Book of Salt we even did a small taste workshop; Anne even talked brieftly about how she had once started the class with a "sensory smorgasboard," an idea that caught us and brought us to the final project we presented.  We decided to take the responses people gave us and bring them into class so that the class could experience feminism the way their peers were experiencing it.  

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Voices Still Unheard

            Story telling is an important part of the human experience, and in this class we have focused very much on the stories that people tell.  Feminism is about story telling, and, as MC said long ago, “…listening, particularly to people who are often given no voice or agency, is a solid tenant of feminism.”  In order to listen, we must also tell.  Throughout our journey in Critical Feminist Studies, we have heard stories about a wide variety of folks – ladies, men, and people above, below, around and in between; queers, straights, and everything else; white people and colored people; people from this world and from other worlds; people who are rich, poor, famous, obscure, enslaved, powerful, intellectual, uneducated, able-bodied, “others,” outsiders, insiders, and every level in between.  Hundreds of stories about hundreds of different people.  The voices we hear, however, are not always the voices of the people whose story is being told.  This is something we have discussed often in class, and the curriculum is carefully constructed to give us a wide selection of voices.  Not all of these voices are the ones we’ve been wanting to hear. 

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bell hooks and Sara Palin Matrafesto

dchin, sekang, and I wrote this Mantrafesto from bell hooks's statement and with Sara Palin in mind.


The voices of “power feminism” tend to be highlighted in mass media. (42)

Media rewards those who reinforce structures that are already in place.

Structures in place put Sara Palin in the McCain campaign.

The campaign exists within a structure that bell hooks wants to break free from.

Break free from reform, engage in revolution.

Revolution and presidential campaigns do not coincide (?) cannot coexist (?) one does not lend itself to the other (?). 

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buffalo, MC, and I have four statements to show for this excersize:

Feminist pornography is possible.

Possible problems with objectification.

Objectification depends on the viewer.

Viewer access to non-creepy porn.

Porn …?

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Breathless and French Feminism

This semester I am taking Intro to Film with Michael Tratner.  We recently watched a 1960’s French New Wave film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Breathless.   This movie featured two main characters: Michel and Patricia.  Michel steals a car, impulsively shoots a policeman, and spends the rest of the film on the run from the police.  He imposes himself on his “girlfriend” Patricia, a young New Yorker who sells newspapers in the streets of Paris.  Michel spends most of his time trying to convince Patricia to sleep with him and have her run away with him to Italy, and Patricia spends most of her time blowing him off and pursuing her career as a journalist. 

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Our Ideas for the Rest of the Semester

These are the notes from the discussion between FrigginSushi, MC, meowwalex, and I.


-       Globalize but also non-white American feminists

-       More theory – not necessarily gender and performativity but what do feminist writers think feminism is. More of a foundation.

  • We would have to decide from where we want to draw that foundation. There is so much out there and we would have to determine what would be useful. We have to pick and choose.
  • That is how most other English classes are structured, but is that how we want our structured?
  • Pick one topic and give basic theories on that. But that is picking single women out to represent feminism and we’re trying to avoid that?
  • Can’t really give a “crash course.” It would also be a lot of heavy academia reading.
  • Look through Feminist Ryan Gosling tumblr and discuss the theories brought up in the memes. 

-       Liked the documentary. Do another one?

-       Poems are fun. Don’t have specific examples of feminist poetry.

-       Queer stuff. Other voices. Non cis women. It would be new, unexplored territory.  FrigginSushi really likes Tyra Banks.

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The Outsiders' Society and Freaks

 Virginia Woolf calls every woman to join a society that is separate from the society in which men operate – the Outsiders’ Society.  She says that we cannot operate within the society of men, because there is “something in the conglomeration of people into societies that releases what is most selfish and violent, least rational and humane in the individuals…” (124). The Outsiders’ Society, Woolf states, is “the kind of society which the daughters of educated men might found and join outside your society but in co-operation with its ends” (126).  She indicates that there is power in being outside of the insiders’ society: “the power to change and the power to grow… can only be preserved by obscurity…” (135).  Existing and working in this Outsiders’ Society will give women power by obscuring them and separating them from the “limelight which paralyzes the free action of the human faculties and inhibits the human power to change and create…” (135).  Virginia Woolf believes that being outside of men’s society will “shroud” women “in darkness.” 

Last semester I took a course entitled “Reading Popular Culture: Freaks” with Suzanne Schneider, in which we discussed at length what it means to me marginal and why people in the so-called “Outsiders’ Society” are put there in the first place.  The idea of existing outside of society according to what we discussed in Freaks is very different from what Virginia Woolf seems to think about being an “outsider.”

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Ask 25 people about feminism and get 25 different answers.

Although I love the study of gender and sexuality, and believe strongly in (what I now see as one view of) feminism, I am relatively new to the whole idea.  Even as a second semester Sophomore, I am what I would call a "baby feminist." Somehow I managed to grow up without ever having a proper idea of what feminism was about, and therefore I feel that I am still woefully uneducated on the topic.  I find myself agonizing over what to write in this post, because I have very little background in feminism, and although I try my best to educate myself, I would say I am early in my academic journey.  The interesting thing about this class is that clearly there are people who have spent a long time studying this subject and who have very strong opinions about feminism, and there are people like me who feel like they are relatively new to - though not any less interested in - the field, and have fewer opinions on feminsm, if any at all.   And of course there are people who fall in between those two extremes.  

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