Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Real vs. virtual old post

So I've been thinking alot about this whole virtual real and real self thing.  I wonder about myself now, how much of me is real and how much isn't?  What is it that I want people to know about my real self and my virtual self?  Where do they overlap?  I don't know it seems like we all have things to hide so does the real really exist?  I dont know.... it so confusing.  People in general are confusing and i feel like this just adds another demension of confusion.

old post.. Past and Racism

So today in class we were talking about racism and the question of past influence of past problems.  I in some ways believe that yes, it should be talked about but not used as a tool of "my brothers" or " my people".  I think it's great to know where someone came from to know how things have changed but the point of it was not you is very valid.  
Also i do believe that it is generational to pass racism but I also believe that it is also generational to NOT pass racism along.  If we start now trying to teach some form of  equality, just like all negativity it will eventually subside.  But also like all negativity and change it will take awhile.  It is also a regional thing.  I think it is more blatant racism in the south but more subtle when in the north.  That is a huge generalization but it really does depend on the region.
And this is the last thing i the confederate flag thing at Ole Miss today really bothered me.  This was mainly because it is simply a heritage thing it is not necessarily a racism thing.  I am from the south and my dad is from the south.  We are proud of that but because we have a few confederate flags and proudly have then elsewhere does not mean that we are racist or that it is a sign of racism.  And if I remember, it wasn't even the official flag of the confederacy.  So just because someone flies a confederate flag  does not mean that they are racist.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Heywood-Gallop Interview Responses

Lo & behold... They're just so damned brilliant!

Questions for Leslie Heywood
1. What does “memoir” mean to you? What does feminist mean to you?
A memoir is a genre of literary art that takes one specific time period in an individual’s life and tells the story relevant to that particular period, taking the details of a life and utilizing them to create an overall meaning or theme. A feminist is a person of any gender who believes that gender exists on a continuum instead of being divisible into stereotypes of feminine and masculine, and who is dedicated to social justice and equal opportunity for women everywhere.

2. Your voice changes throughout the memoir. Sometimes, you seem bold and assertive. At others, you’re utterly vulnerable. What message were you trying to convey through this shift in voice? Was it intentional?
I was trying to call attention to the contradictory messages about gender that were particularly strong in the post-Title IX era, but still exist to some extent today: the idea that if you have a female body, you are necessarily weaker than those with a male body, and can’t achieve as much physically, that if you’re an athlete you have to “apologize” for that by acting and looking stereotypically feminine, that women can achieve every bit as much as men, and are encouraged to do so to some extent, but they’d better be humble about it, and continually try to reassure others while they are doing so. The effect of these contradictory messages was to make teenaged girls feel like they had to both be better than the boys in order to be taken at all seriously, but at the same time that they had to apologize for their achievements so as not to be “intimidating.” Such messages contribute to a real sense of confusion—which is a girl supposed to be, bold and assertive or vulnerable and compliant? The message was always that if you are a girl, you have to be both, whereas boys are never asked to be the latter, only the former.

3. How do you think your memoir impacts young readers, especially young female athletes?
My hope has always been that it draws attention to the mixed messages, and shows how dangerous it is to try to always be all the things people want you to be. By the end of it, I hope it makes girls feel like it’s ok to be bold and assertive, and that you don’t have to run yourself into the ground to please others and be valued by them—that if you worry to much about pleasing them you WILL run yourself into the ground.

4. Why did you start running?
My mother was one of the early adopters of running in the early 1970’s, at the start of the running craze. I started running with her when I was four, and really liked the feel of it. Later, in school, I could always outrun the boys and was stronger than the boys and was really encouraged for this, got a lot of attention for this. So because that’s where I got approval, that’s where I put a lot of my effort in. I started competing in the 8th grade, did very well at many distances, and things just kind of picked up from there.

5. Do you have any advice on how one could balance running, feminism, and caring for the body?
Yes—do it, but within limits. You don’t have to prove yourself to the world over and over. I do think girls and women are culturally valued more in school settings than they were during the time the memoir was written, and although there is residual sexism, the idea of “girl power” has created an awareness of female value and solidarity we didn’t have. To be feminist is to value yourself and others, all others, and to put competition in the context not of overcoming others but performing at your best.

6. How has your self-discipline carried over into your adult, personal life, other than body building?
My sports training has given me wonderful career preparation, because I can work uninterrupted for very long periods of time and not lose focus. The goal-directedness of sports has translated very well into the academic life in that I am able to finish various tasks easily and often ahead of deadlines. Also I have a sense of fearlessness about tackling new projects I know I get from my sports background—it really did give me the sense I could do anything. I’m grateful for that background every day.

7. This semester, we also read Sandra Lipsitz Bem’s An Unconventional Family. How would you describe your family life? Your relationship with your partner? Your treatment of your children? Is it egalitarian? How has running and feminism shifted your understanding of family?
Now THIS is a tricky question. We definitely have a division of labor in the household, but it’s the opposite of the traditional one. My husband is a stay-at-home Dad, and does everything related to the care of the children, as well as most of the housework. I have the job, so I pay for everything. However, my husband is going back to school to get an Master of Library Science degree to become a children’s librarian once our children are both in school (they’re now 3 and 6), so I will do more of the childcare than I do now once that happens, and the money from his job will hopefully pay for our retirement and their college!! So that’s the plan. It seems egalitarian to us, and we’ve been very happy doing things this way. I think my athletic background, and my feminism, made it very important to me that I didn’t do things the traditional way, and I was lucky enough to meet someone who would much rather bring up the children than have a job in the workplace.

8. If you could change one thing about your memoir, what would it be?
I would have developed the other characters better, and not made it so much about me, me, me.

9. What was the response/commentary your memoir received? How did those portrayed in your memoir respond?
Women especially loved it, and many non-athletes who were in fields traditionally dominated by men like the sciences wrote to say how similar their experiences had been. Those portrayed were all fine with it, except on of the cross-country guys, who wrote to say “you SO did not beat me in that practice!” It was very funny.

10. This semester, we also read Jane Gallop’s Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment. What is your opinion on student-teacher relationships, especially in relation to feminism?
Ha! That’s funny, too. Jane and I were together on the Leeza show when both our books came out, and she was the have-relations-with-your-students side and I was the don’t-have-relations side. It was contrived, and the audience sided with me. I still think it’s a very bad idea—I think the power differential always structures the relationship no matter what, and that just makes it wrong.

11. What is your relationship to your body today?
Much better now that I primarily do ashtanga yoga instead of running and lifting! This kind of yoga is very intense, and incredible workout, but it also gives you perspective and peace of mind, things that have always been missing for me. I still worry too much about what my body fat percentage is, and despair over the wrinkles I’m getting, but yoga has made the whole aging thing so much easier, and even the things I still worry about I have some distance from and perspective on.

12. What do you think is the biggest hurdle facing feminism today?
That no one takes it seriously, that it is seen as something that happened a long time ago rather than something we still need now. Outside of academia, everyone completely ignores it or demonizes it, even though so many of the possibilities girls and women have today were enabled by feminism. We need both a respect for the history, and a vision for the future.

Questions for Jane Gallop
1. What does “memoir” mean to you? What does feminist mean to you?
“Memoir” to me is a piece of writing which recounts things from the author’s life and reflects upon those things and what they might mean.
I apply the term “feminist” to anyone who claims the term, to anyone who identifies as a feminist.
A “feminist memoir” is thus a memoir written by an author who identifies as a feminist.
I take “feminist” also to mean in opposition male supremacy, in opposition to anything that treats women as less human than men.

2. Have you done anything to modify sexual harassment laws since writing this book?
I have done a good deal of speaking and writing on the topic since then, especially in the five years following my writing of the book. I wrote and published a couple of articles, lectured around the country, on various aspects of the topic. As a writer and a teacher, my “activism” generally consists of writing and speaking, trying to get people to think.

3. Have any of your views changed since writing/publishing this book?
Not in any substantive way that I know of. It was over a decade ago; so there may be ways in which some of my views (the questions is very broad – “any of your views”) have changed. I am a lot older; my children are grown up; my body has aged. But as far as my sense of what feminism, teaching, sexuality are, they have not changed in any major way that I can think of.

4. What advice would you give to others experiencing similar situations, in relation to sexual harassment?
I guess my main piece of advice is to resist the silence imposed by shame, to find people to talk to, to speak out, to write.

5. This semester, we also read Sandra Lipsitz Bem’s An Unconventional Family. How would you describe your family life? Your relationship with your partner? Your treatment of your children? Is it egalitarian? How has feminism shifted your understanding of family?
My longterm boyfriend and I have struggled to make a fair and thoughtful environment, one that respected all members of the family as differing individuals, resisting the homogenization by which a family tries to smother difference. I have struggled to be an attentive, caring mother who at the same time had serious professional ambitions. I remember with great pleasure the day my son, then 16, came to realize who I was professionally. He expressed it through a sense of amazement that the “mommy” who sang silly little songs to him was also a professor with high standards. He spent some time thinking about how those two opposing images could be the same person. I think he’s a better person for having had to bring those two images out of opposition.

6. If you could change one thing about your memoir, what would it be?
Honestly there hasn’t been one thing I’ve thought of changing. I’m not that kind of writer. I go on and write new books, but I don’t think about doing over those I’ve published. Which doesn’t mean I think they’re perfect, but that I think nothing is perfect. I think every book is a document of its moment in time, with the perspective of that moment.

7. What was the response/commentary your memoir received? How did those portrayed in your memoir respond?
I got a lot of enthusiastic response, but I also got a lot incomprehension. I had written something that was both memoir & theory. People did not understand this hybrid genre. They complained it was too anecdotal to count as theory (I have since published a book called Anecdotal Theory, to explain the idea behind such hybrid work); they complained there was not enough divulged for a memoir.

One of my accusers complained that the book was from my point of view and did not express her point of view. That is certainly true.

8. This semester, we also read Leslie Heywood’s Pretty Good for a Girl. What is your relationship to the body?
The body has been a lifelong site of struggle for me, a place where I have never been very comfortable. I have been located too much in the mind, although that has been a source of real pride and pleasure. I was uncoordinated and a poor athlete as a child. I have been overweight since I was around 40, struggling not to become really fat. As I am approaching 60 more and more of my body begins to give me trouble: arthritis in neck, feet, knees. I wish I had a better relation to my body. I have struggled throughout my life to have a better one. The triumphs in this lifelong battle are real but not lasting.

9. What do you think is the biggest hurdle facing feminism today?
How to credit both the battles in a more liberated society like the US and battles in explicitly patriarchal societies like Afghanistan. To focus on one usually makes it seem impossible to focus on the other. Awareness of societies that are more explicitly male supremacist can make educated feminists in the US seem either shallow and selfish or superior and patronizing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

End of Bell Hooks

I really think that Hooks left Mack due to a mixture of fustration and for modes of empowerment. I think through knowing that Mack would not leave his job to follow her, even though that is what he had promised, that she felt that she had failed in trying to heal him-to make him better. At the same time, I think that empowerment plays a huge role because she knew that she had the hand of power in choosing to leave him, he could not have a dominate role over her anymore, because he had made himself vunerable just by saying that he would follow her. With that he handed over his power to his "little sister woman child". Hooks knew that even if he would not follow her that she could decide to leave. With her leaving Mack she confirmed that power. This is just me thinking out loud (well kinda). I'm interested in what everyone else thinks.

Open Relationship

Today in class we were discussing Hooks' open relationship and how it was her choice to have that open relationship. I think Hooks wanted that open relationship because maybe she viewed her other relationship, writing, as an open relationship as well. Maybe she thought if one was exclusive that the other would suffer. So she really loved Mack and she wanted him to respond to her, but she wanted to be able to have the option to write. We talked about her being insecure. I think that she had both these things so that when one would fail to cure her insecurities that the other would be able to be there to be the back up. She maybe did not want to sacrifice her love for either one to totally maintain her security. She wants to never be alone therefore she has Mack, but at the same time she wants to be by herself, which she does through her writing.

hook's confrontation of race

I really enjoyed bell hooks' discussion of race in Wounds of Passion. I think that this is a voice that too often goes unheard; we are so accustomed to hearing white voices, and I think that this confrontation of whiteness and white privilege was refreshing. While it's true that I am not easily offended when people of color talk about whiteness and white privilege, I found hooks' discussion of white women especially insightful and found a lot of truth in the things she was saying.  I loved that she really took ownership of being black. The instance when she and Mack went out to dinner with Ann and she could tell that Ann was being very insulting to her really stuck with me. I was happy about how she took a stand for herself and did not let Ann put her in a corner. Also, in class, the comment was made about hooks being racist. When this is brought up, as it often is, it kind of bothers me because in order to be racist, one must have power. Since hooks is black, she does not have this element of power, so she is unable to be racist, while it can be said that she may harbor prejudice or negative feelings toward white people. 

Race and Gender

In Wounds of Passion, hooks often focuses on how her white professors and classmates cannot see that race and gender are interconnected, and that "there is now world where just gender matters" (206). After taking many women's studies classes, I like many of you, have learned about how race, gender, class, and sexual orientation are connected oppressions. But, its really hard to read about hooks' own experience with being a black woman in academia, where no one will even acknowledge her blackness. I didn't realize that these connected oppressions were not acknowledged for so long within the academic world. In this way, I admire hooks for being so outspoken and truthful during her oral tests to become a Phd and in writing this book. It would obviously have been easier to go along with what the majority wanted. I would like to think that I would do the same thing if I was in her position, and not be afraid to speak out about my racial or ethnic identity. Would you be as brave as hooks and risk losing your job or promotion by speakin your mind about the oppressions you see and experience around you?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bell Hooks

I really enjoyed the rest of Wounds of Passion. Hooks did an excellent job reflecting on her verbal and physical abuse from Mack. I was struck by his manipulative and mind controlling behavior over Hooks and how she deals with their "open relationship." She convincingly shows how this type of relationship does not work for her, or really most people, because ultimately, one of the partners involved will get hurt.

Still trying to figure out Persepolis...

Okay so I did not really connet well with Persepolis when I first read it. For some reason that really bothered me because I thought it was a compelling way to present a memoir and I just liked it. For that reason I have spent a while trying to think why it is I liked it so much, but could not connect with it. These were the few things that I could come up with as to why I liked and I found my connection. First off, Lily asked a question about the use of black and white verses a color presentation. Well my first thought: Color would be really expensive. Then I thought about it deeper to think that maybe Satrapi wanted to connect with people who would not really understand the history of that particular war. People like me. Dare I say many Americans? Where the majority is white. That was one connection that I could make with why it was printed in black and white. On another level, I think that Satrapi encounters many problems that we might encounter as we reflect on our pasts. Granted we never had to move out of our parents house because of war, or have to worry about a strict dress code, moral code, and religious code, but in a way we do. Satrapi had to move out of her house which is something that all of us have encountered as college students. We all have made friends had our troubles no matter how big or small compared to Satrapi, so in that way I think she is a lot like us. Another thing is in our American culture I think that there is a definate standard as to what people "should" wear, "should" act, "should" believe. None of us really get thrown in jail or killed over it, but there is an underlying sense of what we should define to be a part of the American society. With that I think that Satrapi's life really can connect with that of an American reader. Just some after thoughts.