Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Notes

Hi Folks,

Sorry that there have not been blogs the last week or so. Being that my partner was our sex positivity speaker I felt like I was in an awkward position to comment on the material. On the note of that class however, if there is anyone who would like more information about anything we spoke about, or where to get more resources and support you can let me know and I will pass it on to Deirdre or arrange for you to meet with her.

As for the election...

Wow. This one was tough for me. Early in the day Dee and I first went to LaSalle so that she could vote and then on to my home town in Massachusetts so I could vote. It was her first time voting so there was a good amount of excitement all around but after we had both done our duty it was a hard wait. We had a lot riding on this election such as

-Question 3 in RI (of course we wanted new buildings for RIC!)
-Question 1 in Massachusetts was to legalize medical marijuana (important for mine and my families health issues)
- The Massachusetts Warren/Brown race was the highest funded race in the country (70 million dollars)

and of course the Presidential race.

Being that we both plan to finish school soon and start a family this race was critical. There are many conflicting problems with individual state laws regarding my transition in terms of legal documents, discrimination, and access to employment for example. Because Massachusetts (and Rhode Island) have difficult laws for changing your birth certificate for which it is up to an individual clerk to decide if I qualify- a same sex marriage may be my only option if I choose to have a state sanctioned marriage. Combined with the conversations regarding reproductive rights and health care this presents a very complex picture for my marriage and family opportunities. As a result- ALL of those issues, health care, reproductive rights, and same-sex marriage are fundamental to my life and why I stand on the left side of the political spectrum. Which is why emotionally, Dee and I felt a lot of anxiety, pressure, and fear about the outcome. We sat close together but silent or scrambling to do math ahead of the predictions for most of the coverage. My parents kept trying to tell us it would be ok, that even with the outcome there would be a way, or that Romney couldn't do everything he said he was going to to LGBTQ people and families. They said we wouldn't have to move out of the country.

My parents have come a long way throughout my process. Though, I was reminded last night how different our stories can be. After all, while kids of color have parents of color LGBTQ students have straight parents. I don't know if it was because they were scared too, or if they thought I was over reacting but I realized it was much more emotionally invested then they were.  As each state came in we would ride the roller coaster of success or dismay and by the end we were exhausted but both of us were glad we had done our part. Our work is not done but there were many success.
1. The first openly lesbian senator (wisconsin)
2.4 states upheld or passed marriage equality
3. first disabled veteran Congresswoman
4. first woman senator in Massachusetts history
5. 19 women elected to the senate
and of course the re-election of President Obama. I find it interesting too that Obama was elected by single Women, Black Id'd people, Latino Id'd people, and (though not mentioned in official data) LGBTQ people. What does that say about the concept of INTERSECTIONALITY that we had talked about in class?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kimmel- Quotes with reflection

"Feminism encourages men-and their sons- to be more emotionally open and expressive, to develop empathic skills, and to channel emotional outbursts away from violence. (158)

"Real boy crisis is a crisis of violence." (159)

"In their view, males are biologically propelled to be savage, predatory, sexually omnivorous creatures hard-wired for violence."


Boy am I glad I didn't read this at 21 in the midst of my early gender dysphoria. A lot of what Kimmel names was some of my deepest fears about coming out to myself and pursuing medical transition. I feared becoming one of these "savage" men, feared losing my feminism, feared perpetuating violence against other men, women who I held to the highest esteem, and the queers/lesbians I thought I was leaving behind. Its amazing how far your mind can take you when you let it race into dooms-ville. On the other hand its amazing to see how many things Kimmel names as "boy crisis" that were my crisis- so in an odd way its a validation of some inherent understanding of myself-my relationship to my own emotions, and my interactions with others.

I had a few places in the reading I had to pause and consider my own position. On page 158 when Kimmel entertains the argument of biological determinism versus privilege I understood his position. This juxtaposition was the crux of my fears of transition-that somehow testosterone would change me inately, and that the transition that resulted would leave me with this privilege that made me resent my history and anger at my present and future. What I can tell you is the following:

1. I don't think biological determinism is false. I think there are SOME differences between men and Women- between Estrogen predominant individuals and testosterone predominant individuals. HOWEVER- I think like Kimmel that it is the PRIVILEGE associated with these differences- and the VALUE placed on testosterone, maleness, and masculinity that is grossly problematic. For example- I know that testosterone has made my voice drop, my hair patterns change, my fat redistribute, my muscle growth change, my sleep pattern change, and my emotional responses shift in that its harder to cry because my emotions are not so close to the surface but easier to get frustrated or irritated (just to name a few). This is a reality. BUT- that doesn't mean that I should get bigger portions in the sandwich line at donovan, not get sexually harassed or treated like I don't know anything at the mechanic, not have to worry about getting followed at night (though I still do-and the first time a girl crossed the street to avoid me when it was just the two of us on a road I cried my eyes out) or have my voice heard first and taken more seriously in a classroom. I shouldn't have my anger or my attractions deemed the result of a slavery to my hormones.

2. It is this presentation of masculinity that is the crisis of boys in my humble opinion- not the violence that Kimmel names that is the problem- because while I think violence is the presentation of the problem it is not the root-much like a cough can be a symptom of a cold but bacteria is to blame. I do however find solace and agreement with Kimmel in his assessment of Feminism as the tool that can be used to redefine the crisis, and boyhood, and masculinity into something healthier and more closely aligned with a sense of gender equity.

3. The idea that men are slaves to their biology-hard-wired to primal instinct and nothing more- should be problematic not only to Women but to men as well. It is this very argument that helps to perpetuate rape culture, sexism, and violence against Women. It says that we cannot think critically and justly, that we cannot control our urges, and therefore we are something to be feared. It helps to foster the idea that Women are to be "protected" and "saved" from our impulses, that they are the weak victims of our testosterone driven force. It is a bad paradigm all around.

Thankfully, I can say that I am living proof that Feminism can be a tool for men who do not prescribe to the masculinity we have created for them. I am living proof that testosterone and biological difference does not have to be social hierarchy and epistemic violence. If you are curious about the way hormones have affected different people and their understanding of sex, gender, and socialization/privilege- I recommend The Testosterone Files  by Max Wolf Valerio an FTM man who writes about his process with hormones both personally and socially, She's Not the Man I Married by Helen Boyd the story of a Woman who is married to an MTF partner who underwent transition while they were together and the effect hormones have had on their relationship, youtube transition journals, or research things on intersex, hormone, or thyroid disorders as these groups of people have experience with hormone difference that may shed unique perspective on this piece.

Looking forward to class,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reading Questions for Lorde

What does it mean for Lorde to position herself as a Black Lesbian Feminist early in the piece? How does it affect your reading?

"What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow perimeters of change are possible and allowable." (36)

"Only within a patriarchal structure is maternity the only social power open to Women." (36)
How does this relate to Rich? Does it support or challenge?

How does Lorde define community? How is it related to the notion of "acceptable Women"?

"The Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change." (36)

What/who is the Master's house and tools? How do you know? How does it relate to SCWAAMP? What is the solution?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hi Folks,
As we discussed in class, you must be registered in order to vote, and you must be registered one month prior to the election. Don't have time? Don't know where to go? Don't know what you need? Well RIC has answered your prayers! They are teaming up with the American Democracy Project to bring voter registration to campus on Sept 25th. Check out the Facebook.

Remember... First Wavers fought so hard because the right to vote is that important!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


So this week I too found a candidate, an issue, and an article. I chose Green party candidate Jill Stein. You can find out more about the Green party and its position on all sorts of political and social justice issues from Jill Stein's perspective here.

While the two main party candidates are having discussions largely focused on the economy and some key "hot button" social issues such as reproductive rights for Women or LGBTQ rights, there are a few fundamental concerns flying under the radar. The First Amendment is the US Constitution protected right to freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly. It is the right to speak, to protest, to say things that may not be popular about the government, education, and the world we live in. It is the right to the media, to having your voice be heard and seen even if it is controversial. The First Amendment and the rights it protects are under attack in our country and is flying under the radar in this election, but I chose this article where Jill Stein discusses in an interview the implications of the First Amendment, why it is important, why it is under attack and why it matters for us as citizens. It may seem like a waste of a vote, or a lost cause in a country that focuses so strongly on a bi-party system, however check out this article from Huffington Post about how possible a Green Party candidate could be, and how it may be just the answer you were looking for.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Oppression- Marilyn Frye (week 2)

Marilyn Frye's piece Oppression begins to breakdown a fundamental concept of Women and Gender studies and many other related fields. What is oppression? How do we know? What makes it similar and different to other kinds of struggle? How does it impact individuals and social systems? It is with these questions in mind I approached Frye.

Note that Frye, (as mentioned on page 175) does not address the question of who is oppressed and who does the oppressing, in some finger pointing argument but instead looks at oppression on a larger thematic scale.

Fundamental to Frye's argument is two frameworks. The first is the concept of Mold. Immobilize. Reduce.

Second is the analogy of oppression as a birdcage, where each rung of the "bird cage" is representative of the many forces which combine to oppress an individual of a marginalized group, or a marginalized group as a whole.

Some questions to consider:

1.  Using Frye's definitions and understandings what are some populations of people who would be considered oppressed? What structures, forces, and relationships help to form their birdcages?

2. What social and political things are used to help Mold. Immobilize. Reduce? By who? For what?

3. What is your own relationship to experiences of privilege and oppression? Do you have your own birdcage?

Monday, September 3, 2012

The F-Word 9/4

The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy: Women, Politics, and the Future
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

(Page 20 start)

How does the history in these few pages support/oppose the information presented thus far in the film? Are there any surprises?

"The Fifteenth Amendment grandly stated, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude," yet the word "sex" was conspicuously omitted.

What would Rowe say about the omission of "sex?" Do you think it was intentionally done? Why?

On page 24, Rowe-Finkbeiner discusses the culture surrounding voting rights during her Grandmother's era. Has this culture changed? How do you know? What does it represent for our modern day political culture?

On page 26, the author addresses the accomplishments and related criticisms of Second Wave Feminism. Would you agree with the criticisms? How would you respond to the accomplishments?

"What makes defining the third wave challenging is that not only is the shared label (feminism) missing, also missing is a shared movement that connects the factions of modern feminism and moves shared issues into the broad arena of popular concern."(32)

Do you agree with the notion that the shared movement and label of feminism is missing? Why or why not? What do you think Rowe-Finbeiner suggest as a remedy?