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What am I thinking?

lvasko's picture

Where are my thoughts? To be honest, my thoughts are telling me that I dislike this assignment because it is actually requiring me to think, hard, rather than just regurgitating information, quotes, or an analysis of the reading. My thoughts are that I would rather be studying for the LSATs, which I take on Saturday, instead of sharing my thoughts with the world.

But since I must, because I have not, yet, disconnected myself from the hierarchical patriarchy of logos that is academia, I will write and we shall see what my body puts forth in an attempt to brighten my dark continent.

When I first entered the class in the beginning of September, I had a vague notion of what I believed feminism was and what it meant to me. All of those notions flew out the window pretty quickly. Any one of the readings we have done has consecutively blown up any new thoughts and ideas I had developed based on the previous readings. Now, a month into the semester, I am not sure where my feelings or thoughts lie.
I did not understand much of Sosnoski’s writing; I found it too convoluted. Yet, he opened my eyes to aspects of the academic world that I was vaguely aware of but not entirely familiar. I knew that the academic community, much like the rest of the world, based itself on competition, but I had never heard it phrased in the way Sosnoski presented it. In fact, he has made me question the reasons why I participate in this academic life of falsificity. Perhaps even more astonishing, he has made me seriously, seriously consider not writing this paper. Why I am writing it right now, I am not even sure. Regardless, Sosnoski’s essay made me appreciate Bryn Mawr and our academic honour code even more than I already do. I love that Bryn Mawr encourages a non-competitive atmosphere. I love that students here are, for the most part, content to work on their personal best, striving to achieve personal goals. It had never occurred to me, though, that this principle which is a cornerstone of our academic and social lives here at Bryn Mawr, finds its roots in anti-patriarchal theory. Is that the case? Do we have an academic honour code in an effort to “feminize” academia? If that were the case, then why do we need to write papers, have grades, allow our intelligence and our ability to be qualified? Why does this aspect of academia deserve to be maintained? After considering these questions, I have come to the conclusion that my writing has continued because of two things: Fear and Cixous. Fear plays the leading role in this mini-melodrama. I am afraid that if I don’t write this paper I might find myself ridiculed or chastised. Worse, I might have a lower grade at the end of the semester, which, in addition to broadening my mind and my knowledge of the world, is a concern. Then we encounter Cixous who enforces a completely opposite stand point in that women should write, must write, in order to combat the patriarchy. Abstaining from it does not help; we must reject the very notions that have been used for centuries to subjugate women, project the anti-logos and emerge as the fully formed, natural woman she wants us to be. One unafraid of her natural instincts, thoughts, urges. Untouched by male dominance, a virgin form of woman, a rejection of the oppressor. So, in order to conform to her ideas of feminism, what is necessary to gain equality, I write.

This is perhaps where my confusion lies. So many new and conflicting theories and ideas have been pitched at me in rapid succession and I cannot catch them all. I feel discombobulated and frustrated with the fact that I do not know which way to turn. Which method is right? Knowing what I know now, how do I proceed? Do I form a community of women in which, like the Amazons, we depend on men for nothing but sperm? How do we amicably or unpleasantly live in co-existence with our oppressor? How do we reconcile the men we love with ‘the enemy’? Our fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends are all a part of the system which subjugates us. And this is not to say that our mothers, sisters, girlfriends aren’t a part of the problem either. Women participate in the hierarchy just as much as our male counterparts. So how do we change? Writing our bodies cannot be the only answer. Perhaps making people aware of the system of subjugation and its effect on women. But, if education is the key, how do we reach people who are not ready to learn?
As I think is the case with most expansions of knowledge, I am left with more questions now than before and am trying to figure out where it all fits together. If that is even possible.


Anonymous's picture

Dear Ivasko, You ask all the

Dear Ivasko,
You ask all the right questions, questions I continue to struggle with well into my 50s. The most daunting, perhaps, being " how do we reach people who are not ready to learn?" I think of people in our culture --male people and female people-- as if they have grown up in a force field. The effects of this field may be salutary on some; certainly a naturally competitive person will need little but talent and access to thrive in our culture. But others will be ground under by it, twisted or thwarted. We lose so many human assets by requiring them to compete (and compete on turf that isn't even their own) to be heard. My own feminism has evolved from "I can do anything a man can do" to "why should what a man does be the standard by which what I do is measured?" The problem is that in this hierarchical, competitive culture, nothing one has to say will be heard unless one has submitted to the dominant discourse and "played the game." If you are interested in Law, read Catherine MacKinnon "Toward a Feminist Theory of the State."
I have just started reading these postings and look forward to seing where the journey goes....

Anne Dalke's picture

blowing up new thoughts

Of course your disliking this assignment, lvasko, precisely because it's making you think...

is what I like best about your approach! Let me encourage you to keep on in these directions, with a few more questions:

I'm struck that (as I'm responding to your piece) you are taking the LSATs; how does that project fit with your critique of competition and falsificity? What is the role of "being content" in the process of "working on one's personal best"? (Is contentment possible, in such striving?) You ask why we allow our intelligence and ability to be "qualified"--do you mean "quantified"? Is there a way (or a need) to measure such things without quantification? And what about the gesture of conformity--"in order to conform to Cixous's ideas of feminism...I write." Is conformity what she is asking of us?

Finally, at the end, you find yourself looking about, asking "which method is right," and "where it all fits together." Perhaps--following Sosnoski, who challenges the whole project of falsification--there isn't a "right method" to find, and no answer that brings it all home. You don't suggest any particular directions for further exploration (sorts of texts, for instance, or particular questions). One I might recommend is Lynn Hershman Leeson's film Teknolust, which seems to me a contemporary "feminist Frankenstein,"  where women do (as you say) depend on men for sperm, but do much more as well, including constructing a very different sort of community that the competitive one you describe here. Interested?