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Questing for Fairness


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Taboo vs. Charades

For our teach-in, melal, FrigginSushi and I wanted to look at different modes of expression and how they related to our discussions in class and feminism as a whole. We particularly wanted to look at how people can use words or images to express certain ideas, and the difficulties that arose with each one, and so we used the general format of charades and Taboo to demonstrate this. We picked the words "strong" and "safe" for Taboo, and "weird" and "smart" for charades; all of these words are defined differently based on your experiences, and we wanted to use the difficulty of expressing them to demonstrate that we don't all have these shared experiences.

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Title IX: Has It Solved Our Problems?

While reading “My Gender Workbook,” I came across the following passage that Kate Bornstein had quoted from Mariah Burton Nelson:

"All female athletes are gender outlaws… In the act of lunging for a soccer ball or diving into a swimming pool or engaging in most of the other sports that millions of women now enjoy, the athlete goes beyond gender…She has transcended gender and, even more importantly, sexism. Which explains, in part, why women are so passionate about sports."

Reading this quote inspired all kinds of questions for me. I have known for a while now that athletics is an important part of my life and my identity, but I had never thought about how sports played into questions of gender until now. It does seem to me that in swimming, I can transcend gender; I've trained alongside boys ever since I started, and I've always felt that I was treated as an equal. I grew up in a time when women had equal access to sports, and (at my level, anyway) female athletes seemed to be as visible as their male counterparts. However, this wasn’t always the case. I want to look into women's history in sports to see where we stand today, and see if there are any changes that could still be made to further women's opportunities in sports.

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More Thoughts on Women in Politics

I found this article on called "The Politics of Motherhood" that I found relevant to our discussions of Sarah Palin: (The whole thread of columns in "Advancing Women's Leadership is pretty interesting)

Marie Wilson makes a good point about "female impersonators," something I think we discussed in relation to Sarah Palin, and I think she brings in some good points about the need for a kind of mother-like care for others in politics. I wonder if politics could be an exception to bell hooks' adversity to power feminism. If women are in positions where they can actually make policy, is that any more helpful than women who reach high levels in other areas? Is it even relevant to think about because women who run on a platform of motherhood wouldn't get elected?

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Mantrafesto via bell hooks

From pejordan, michelle.lee and MC

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Thoughts on Sarah Palin

Watching “The Undefeated” this weekend was a very complicated and interesting experience for me. The film itself was quite obviously biased, and didn’t really make much of an attempt to seem otherwise--there was a lot of really exaggerated language, often accompanied by dramatic music or clips of earthquakes and car crashes to make a point. However, it did make me start to think about my perceptions of Sarah Palin. I very much want a woman to be president, to represent women in the government--does that mean that I should support all women who run for office, just because they are women? I don’t think so; if we really want gender equality, then we should support women because we support their politics (and in turn, because their politics support women). Another question that watching “The Undefeated” brought up for me that ties into bell hooks as well is how much ground Palin actually gained for women by running for vice president. bell hooks makes the point that women can be just as sexist as men, and I think that Sarah Palin’s politics don’t help women. She is opposed to abortion (including in cases of rape) and opposed to same-sex marriage, which I think are issues that concern many women in the United States. The National Organization for Women, in fact, supported the Obama/Biden campaign over the McCain/Palin campaign in the 2008 election.

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Here's mine, mbeale and melal's contribution.

Feminist porn is possible.
Possibilities arise from consent.
Consent comes from trust, empowerment and equality.

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Setting the Scene 3/20

Here's a clip of "Defying Gravity" being performed at the Tony Awards--I just shared the song in class, but this gives a little bit more of the feel for the musical.

See video
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Female Athletes and Gender Testing

I've been thinking about female athletes and gender this week after reading a part in My Gender Workbook that described female athletes as being able to "transcend gender" in the act of participating in sports, and trying to figure out how gender plays into athletics in general. For so long, women really weren't seen as athletes. They couldn't play anywhere near the variety of sports that men could, and couldn't compete in the few sports they were allowed at a high level. The advent of Title IX helped to dramatically change that. However, something that I found incredibly troubling is the presence of gender testing of athletes.

In 2009 Caster Semenya, an 18 year old South African, was subjected to a variety of tests designed to ascertain her "true gender" after she won the gold medal in the 800 meters at the World Championships in Berlin. She'd lived her whole life as a woman but authorities called her gender into question because of her strength and appearance. After an extended period of time, Semenya was allowed to return to competition as a woman, but she participated in a make-over for the South African magazine "You" that made her appear more feminine.

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Addendum to Wicked

I just wanted to post some of the lyrics that I find the most empowering from "Defying Gravity" in the hopes that  those unfamiliar with it can see why it appeals to me. I shared it because I don't necessarily think you need to know the plot by having read the book or seen the show to appreciate the message, and I want to apologize to those who felt that it was inaccessible. The show is referenced a lot in popular culture ("Defying Gravity was performed on Glee recently) and I wrongly presumed it was known by a wider demographic.

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