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Notes Towards Day 23 (Tues, Apr. 10): IS Feminism for Everyone?

Anne Dalke's picture

sekang and melal setting the "scene" with Mulan--A Girl Worth Fighting For

I. Coursekeeping

tomorrow and Thursday: "Women of Power:
A Two-Day Documentary Retrospective"
(films about Hilgegard of Bingen, Ada Lovelace,
and Virginia Woolf...)

for Thursday, read Michael Kimmel's 2003 essay on
Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame and Silence in
the Construction of Gender Identity
" [in our password protected file]
and as much as you can of Chris Ware's 2000 graphic novel,
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.

postings from the weekend included our "mantrafestos" -->
FrigginSushi, bluebox and aybala:
Feminist pornography is possible
Possible or maybe possibilities
Possibilities foster hope
Hope requires change
Change takes time
Time is money
Money is power
Power is evil
Evil is anti-feminist
Anti-feminist is anti-feminist
Anti-feminist degrades people
People watch porn
Porn is produced for pleasure

buffalo, MC and Colleen:

Feminist pornography is possible.
Possible problems with objectification.
Objectification depends on the viewer.
Viewer access to non-creepy porn.

rayj, amophrast, hwink:
Feminist pornography is possible.
If it’s possible, we have a responsibility to strive for it.
Striving for change inspires innovation.
Innovation may or may not be marketable.

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

and then we went on thinking....
jd linked to pages about "why women have sex,"
and sexual trends among youth,
rayj and MC to explications of feminist porn,
FrigginSushi to rape fantasies --which generated
the most conversation, about "rape porn,"
by dear.abby, rayj, bluebox, S.Yaeger, aybala
melal, bluebox and epeck on sex work vs. sex @ work
dear.abby challenged the representation of sex workers' "impaired agency "
dchin wrote about the fear of being the object of looking

bell hooks, "A Feminist Sexual Politic" (Chapter 15):
We still need to know what liberatory sexual practice looks like.
A truly liberatory feminist sexual politic will always make the
assertion of female sexual agency central ... a space of sexual
integrity where she controls her body.... feminist politics still is the
only movement for social justice that offers a vision of mutual
well-being as a consequence of its theory and practice.

III. earlier, I had you follow Kate Bornstein's
model and write a series of questions...
Thursday we tried instead to follow
Alex Juhasz's counter-impulse to "manifest"--

--and you wrote some declarative sentences.
We're going to do some of both today--
and much more deliberatively.

So: get into groups of 3-4
(count off by 6?7?).
we need a computer operator in each group....

Til 1:30, share your thoughts about the various
representations of Sarah Palin you viewed over
the weekend-->

pejordan: A 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...I do realize that
women need to support women, but Palin is only perpetuating patriarchal and sexist
ideas and I don’t think that supporting those policies will help to improve gender equality.

michele.lee: Is politics too inherently patriarchal that it is impossible for a woman
to place her own standards?  Is it better to become a prominent figure by "playing
the game" or fighting your way through the system in a way that does not reflect
the patriarchy?

Come back to the large group, and (til 1:45)
let's turn some of bell hooks' claims into questions
(thinking about Sarah Palin as an example):
IS feminism for everyone?
(does hooks think so?)
CAN there be such a thing as "power feminism"?
(do you think so?)
CAN work liberate women?
ARE women violent?
IS force an acceptable means of social control?
CAN there be love without justice?
IS chosing feminist politics a choice to love?
DOES class elitism shape the direction of feminist thought?
IS it misguided to believe that we could be feminist and anti-abortion?

Then, return to your small group and (til 2:00)
choose a line from hooks' text --in the form of a statement--
this won't be hard, because she doesn't ask many questions!--
a statement that had some resonance in y/our conversation.
Use that statement as the first line of your "mantrafesto,"
taking care to take turns in crafting each line thereafter.

Then re-read the mantra, taking care
both that
all of you can sign on to the whole....
and that Sarah Palin is in there, somewhere, somehow....

Post it in our on-line forum, so we can all read it,
as we report back/read out--and post!

IV. Anne's Reading Notes

Feminism is for Everybody
"Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression."
Men benefit the most from patriarchy…But those benefits have come with a price.. they fear letting go of the benefits.
the strongest patriarchal voice in my life--my mother's voice
I needed feminism to give me a foundation of equality and justice to stand on.
Imagine living in a world where…a vision of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interaction.

1/Feminist Politics: Where we Stand
From its earliest inception feminist movement was polarized. Reformist thinkers chose to emphasize gender equality. Revolutionary thinkers did not want simply to alter the existing system so that women would have more rights. We wanted to transform that system….

The vision of …women wanting what men had…was easier to realize….Reformist feminism became the route to class mobility.

Lifestyle feminism …as many versions of feminism as there were women…without fundamentally challenging and changing themselves.

There can be no such thing as "power feminism."

7/ Feminist Class Struggle
Class difference...was an feminist movement…long before race…Conflict arose between the reformist vision…which demanded equal rights..within the existing class structure, and more radical and/or revolutionary models, which called for fundamental change in the existing structure….being confined and subordinated in the home as housewives…really was only a crisis for a small group of well-educated white women….a huge majority of the workforce..would have seen the right to stay home as "freedom"….Working-class women …knew that...wages...would not liberate them…. class interests superseded feminist efforts to change the workforce…

Rita Mae Brown: "Class involved..your concept of a future, how you understand problems and solve them how you think, feel, act"….supporting…white power reformist feminism...undermined the radical politics of feminism….The most profound betrayal of feminist issues has been the lack of mass-based feminist protest challenging the government's assault on single mothers and the dismantling of the welfare system.

The only genuine hope of feminist liberation…challenges class elitism…When women with class power opportunistically use a feminist platform…they betray themselves.

9/Women at Work
reformist thinkers suggested that work would liberate women…working for low wages did not liberate poor and working-class women from male domination….economic self-sufficiency is needed….positive benefits of...entering the workforce do with increase self-esteem and positive participation in community.…a housewife was often isolated, lonely, and depressed. While most workers do not feel secure @ work…they do feel part of something larger than themselves….Poverty has become a central women's issue….There is no feminist agenda offering women  a way out--a way to rethink [the meaning of] work….Addressing the economic plight of women may ultimately be the feminist platform that draws a collective response.

11/ Ending Violence
contemporary feminist movement…exposed the ongoing reality of domestic violence…."patriarchal violence"…reminds the listener that violence in the home is connected to sexism…it is crucial for feminist movement to have an overriding agenda ending all forms of violence…women are not nonviolent…children...often are the objects of female violence…women... perpetuate the idea that it is acceptable for a dominant maintain using coercive force …lots of women believe that a person in authority has the right to use force …as an acceptable means of social control…it is especially vital that parents learn to parent in nonviolent ways.

17/To Love Again: The Heart of Feminism
the feminist take…@ the start of the movement was that female freedom could only happen if women let go their attachment to romantic love….[which renders one powerless and out of control]…was linked to notions of possession, to paradigms of domination and submission….women came to women's liberation to…break the bonds of love…

living for one's children …was presented as another trap love set to prevent women from achieving full self-actualization….The mother who tried to vicariously live through her children was a dominating, invasive monster….

Early on the feminist critique of love was not complex enough…The heartbeat of our alternative vision is that…there can be no love when there is domination…A genuine feminist politics always brings us …to loving…mutual partnership….there can be no love without justice. To choose feminist politics…is a choice to love.

19/Visionary Feminism
To be truly visionary we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality....The dream was of replacing that culture of domination with a world of participatory economics grounded in communalism and social democracy, a world without discrimination based on race or gender, a world where recognition of mutuality and interdepndency would be the dominant ethos, a global ecological vision of how the planet can survive and how everyone on it can have access to peace and well-being.

Radical/revolutionary feminist visions...were often obscured byt he absolutism of reformist feminists...working for change solely within the existing social order...Women of privilege...have rapidly invested in the sustained subordination of working-class and poor women.

There is no feminist school, no feminist college....we have not produced a body of visionary feminsit theory written in an accessible langauge or shared through oral comunication.

class elitism has shaped the direction of feminist thought.

feminist politics is necessarily radical....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.

Parasitic class relations and the greed for wealth and power have led women to betray the interests of poor and working-class women....The representation of feminism as a lifestyle or a commodity automatically obscures the importance of feminist politics.

There is no one path to feminism.

Radical visionary feminism encourages all of us to courageously .... understand our position within the imperialist white supremacist capitalist ethics of mutuality and interdependency ... offers us a way to end domination....

Feminism is for everybody.