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"Diffracting" short essay

bluebox's picture

At the beginning of this class, I did not know what I was expecting. I figured I would show up and see what happens, because I was bound to learn something. And I certainly did. I had no idea how to define feminism but I assumed it was a good thing, and now I have a concrete definition. Well, as concrete as it can be in these circumstances.  Feminism is about equal treatment of men and women, but in order to do that we have to equalize treatment of races, classes, appearances, abilities, etc.  Feminism is really about equality for everybody, and that is something worth fighting for.

I feel like a very different person from the one I was at the beginning of the semester, but I know that is only because I’ve lived longer and experienced more.  My first serendip posts more or less had a distinct point to them—I knew what I thought, whether it was right or not.  They gradually got less and less certain, which reflects my experiences as a person over the last few months.  I questioned everything in the last few months, partially because of this course. Before this semester, I simply accepted that I knew what I knew and that there were always going to be things that I didn’t know.  That never stopped me from trying to find answers, but it was more acceptable to me if I never found them.  After this class, I question everything and I need to have a definite result of my questioning, and be able to defend it.  It is a very defeating kind of feeling.

In this class I have been learning from listening to other people’s points of view and seeing how they compare with my own.  I feel like this class has made me learn about myself more than anything else, but that is a good thing.  Now that the class is over, I know what kind of feminist I am, even though that will probably change.  Now that I’ve been forced to think about things that I would not have otherwise, I have opinions on them and know myself better.  I have come to realize that things in the world can be connected with me, even though I don’t see them or take part in them. The excerpts from Half the Sky were the biggest part of this realization.  I knew that forced prostitution happened in the world—but I could not see it. I feel like that is something a lot of Americans have in common: if we cannot see something, we do not really believe that it exists.  The discussion with Half the Sky eventually turned into questioning the authors’ intentions in writing the book, and we came to the conclusion that the purpose was to get upper-middle-class white people to understand that there is such a thing as sex slavery today…and maybe guilt them into donating a few dollars to the cause, or to go experience the culture of the underclass where this sort of thing is common.  That made me question what I got out of the book, being white and middle-class, if I just wanted to help because this book was moving or if I actually cared.  Then, even if I did actually care, what could I do about it? I do not have much money to donate, and activism opportunities are few, as far as I know.  Even if I could do those things, it would not make much of a difference. Like one drop in the ocean. I decided that if I wanted to really affect change I would have to give it my all and be a superhero—like Jimmy Corrigan.  Making the step from mere mortal to superhero is quite daunting. (By being a superhero I mean being a spectacular person.)  At this point in my life I am trying to figure out how to get from who I am now to the person I want to be when I grow up, so this class in particular made it impossible to view my next three years at college as an investment, so that my real life would start when I graduate.

At the moment, I think the edges of my learning lie mainly in learning about myself. I am not too concerned about this, because after all, I will be living with myself for the rest of my life. Also, I think it is a necessary part of my college experience, if not life experience.  I know I will grow out of it soon so Iwill have more capacity to learn about important things like social sciences and humanities.  This semester has helped me realize more how everything is connected, even if it does not seem like it at first glance. I would expect nothing less from a serendip course.