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Waxing Gibbous

Pemwrez2009's picture

September 28, 2007
Critical Feminist Studies
Anne Dalke

Paper 1: Waxing Gibbous

    When I first enrolled in the course, I was expecting class to be structured in a way where we would be introduced to feminism and the waves of feminism from a more historical approach. My past experiences discussing feminism on campus have been extremely unsuccessful, most of the women on campus have either been extremely uninformed about feminism or have wanted nothing to do with the ideas that they had of feminism. There are many notions of feminism that come from a very stereotypical 1960’s idea of the bra-burning activist. Many women see feminists as man hating, bra-burning, activists, to those women, feminism is not an identity worth claiming.
    All of the authors have offered what seems like some way of approaching feminism rather than what their feminism is. For example, Allen’s article asks the reader to be introspective and to compartmentalize their identity to see their feminism from different ways. Kaufman on the other hand, expressed her idea that the truth is obtainable only if we separate ourselves, well, from ourselves. Though, I appreciate looking at feminism as something to approach, I believe feminism, or some variation of the idea/term is something we call upon within ourselves and shouldn’t be sought as just one entity, because the different features of our identity contribute to our feminism. To compartmentalize and separate our contexts and our identities denies the kind of feminists we are. I am just as married to my feminist identity as I am with my gender identification and presentation.
    Both in In our texts and class discussion, “gender” has been a term that has been thrown around. As someone who was born with a female body but identifies differently, the separation between gender and sex is extremely important, and the difference between male and female is much more fluid. When applied to the physical representation of the body the term gender, means nothing (at least to me). Sex is in your anatomy. For me the line up is this:

Sex is in your body
Gender is in your head
Sexuality is in your heart

    I feel like we draw to separating the genders far too much in class and at time we are looking at gender when we should be looking at sex and vice versa. However, most importantly, I fear that we are not complicating gender enough. The minute you identify as female or male, you are buying into a definition of what it means to be either gender. This also implies the absence of other gender identifications. For those of us who pull away from a gender binary we are being held to it. This is where feminism complicates itself and becomes very ethnocentric in it’s workings.
    Sometimes it is waring to identify as a feminist when the language of feminism is the dictated often by rich, upper class, white women who want to direct you to their feminism, rather than letting you find it from inside of you. So much of my feminism comes from my passion to fight for what I strongly believe in. Without my trans-identity, my socialization, my hardships, I don’t know that I would have ever come to my feminism. Instead of struggling with shifting around our “foregrounds” and “backgrounds”, we should allow ourselves to let the different parts align, allowing us to understand what makes us ourselves. Instead of focussing on the reasons we react certain ways to certain things, and what parts of our feminisms are awakened when we are affected my different situations, it is important for us to try understanding why we are  reacting the ways we are. Without complex ideas of our own identities, it seems impossible to do that.


Anne Dalke's picture

Body, head and heart

So, Pemwrez2009, I'm sensing some movement here, from a week or so ago, when you were saying how nice it was to be able to watch someone compartmentalize their life, to now, when you are saying that such compartmentlization "denies the kind of feminists we are." I'm hearing here a call to "let the different parts align," to acknowledge the complexity of the intersection of body, head and heart...

what this has to do with the convexity and/or protuberance and/or humpbackness of being "gibbous" I don't know (?!)--help me out here?

You have also described here what you expected of our course-- that it would be more historical, more informing of where ideas have come from. And you have described your experience of what we have been doing instead: reading texts that describe approaches to feminism, not experiences of being feminists. And you contrast both--your expectation and the reality--with your own story of where your feminism came from.

What you don't do is say where to go from here. Whereto? And whereby? That is, along what pathways, using what resources? Who better represents the sorts of complexities that are our lives?