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Welcome back to the battle. This last chapter of the Slut-Shaming Trilogy is what I was first going to call “the last epilogue” (hence the E), but “Notes” is more telling. I’m taking a women’s studies class and plan to bring back feminism into my blog since I’m now fortunate to have discussions about these matters with other people. Exchanging and receiving new ideas makes a huge difference in my way of approaching the topic.

For one, I had never given it a thought that tall girls might have to face scrutiny. One of my classmate—tall, blond, beautiful, clever woman—told us that when you’re a tall woman people see you as something strange or monstrous. They tell you, “Oh, you’re so tall” or make other rude comments about your height, thinking it makes her feel superior. She said people are unaware of difficulties she has to face, all the way from finding clothes her size to the way people treat her.

Another classmate of mine told us that she hit her head at the glass ceiling a couple years back, and came to the realization that people treat you differently as a human being once you become a mother. It’s even worse when you’re a single mom, let alone with two children and one of them who’s disabled. After her divorce, people would suddenly throw judgment and disrespect in her face for being a mother without a husband.

We also stumbled into the discussion of fat studies and how women who are overweight are perceived and how they deal with this other form of discrimination. Another one of my classmates—rather big woman and happily married—said that this matter wasn’t discussed enough. Later when we talked about the topic “women as wombs,” she chimed in with her take on it. She doesn’t want to have children, because according to her, she has no patience for them. Yet her husband’s family, strictly religious, want her to have children and they see it’s her duty as a woman to bring many babies into the clan. It’s high time for women’s right to choose without others guilt-tripping them.

Gloria Steinem (4)

***

[part of syllabus]

WST 297C/ENG 395C

Reading and Writing the Body

Autumn 2013

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course uses a feminist lens to explore historical, philosophical, political, scientific and social constructions of gender and sex; cultural expectations about ideal bodies, especially as they pertain to health and beauty; raced, classed and sexed representations of women’s bodies; and the impact of disability studies and fat studies on such analyses.

COURSE OUTLINE:

Representing and Deconstructing Sex and Gender

Racialized Bodies

Memoir, Sexuality and Disability

Women and the Rest Cure

Women as Wombs

Women, Sex and the Body

–> Side-note: request from some students to talk about fat studies, too

REQUIRED TEXTS

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s tale

Terry Galloway, Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir

Jackie Kay, Trumpet: A Novel

Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Marjane Satrapi, Embroideries

–> side-note on books: a futuristic story talking about “women as wombs”; a memoir about a woman who grew deaf as she was young and at the same time she discovered that she was also gay (disability mixed with sexuality); interracial couple in Scotland; women with mental illness; African American literature and norms of beauty; women in politics.

***

Question to class: HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE FEMINISM?

[words written on the blackboard]

sexism, power, privilege, body of thought, inform, destruction of patriarchy (side-note: patriarchy does NOT mean that we hate men or that all men are bad; patriarchy is a society that is largely controlled and contorted by men and misogynistic beliefs), acknowledgment of oppression; commitment to resolving, dismantling, towards equality; everybody is queer (meaning no one should be put into a box); viewed, categorized, treated; gender norms; worth as human being; sexual inequality; ability/right to be full self; role in society; global desire for equality; freedom to choose; empowerment

feminism is… political, philosophical, personal, part of society

WAVES OF MOVEMENT

1. Suffrage

2. Post war era (1960s)

3. Third wave? Post-feminism?

cannot focus on gender alone (racism, classism, heteroism)

King Abzug Friedan

***

[After having read The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough by Anne Fausto-Sterling, one student clarifies certain terms and explains mistakes in the article.]

intersex—people born with a combination of sexual characteristics

tranvestie—“bad word” (medically changed sex)

transition (not sex change) — not only one surgery will change your sex; different procedure for each person

transgender (not transgenderED)

cisgender (instead of “normal” female or male) — person with female gender and female sex; person with male gender and male sex

[on the case of AGNES] –> called “penis” a mistake in order to be allowed surgery and be fully turned into a woman; scripted interviews with doctor; had to fit into category completely (adjusted her very own personality to be seen as feminine); cannot be both, no wiggle room (all “right” bodyparts) [in Emma’s case, she led a happy life with both a vagina and a penis]

*

[Going into the article Doing Gender by West and Zimmerman.]

baby showers (financial need) vs. gender reveal party (religious obligation)

used interchangeably: “What are you having?” vs. “What’s the sex of your baby?” It’s not the same thing.

The pressure is on before the baby’s even born: blue/pink; attitude; how to raise the child

policing gender, held accountable (parent, teachers); cause for bullying

fear of moving beyond categories

five sexes—queer (openness)

surgery directly after birth after baby with different characteristics –> negative effects later in life (no sexual satisfaction or ability to have children, for instance); it’s a cosmetic procedure, not operational

*

women-unite-330x333

[back to feminism]

Post-feminism—many different definitions and lots of backlash

* women who are ugly, unhappy with sex life; anti-men, ect.

* distancing yourself from group (“I’m not a feminist, but…”)

internal and external levels of self-control 

internal self-control (identified as yourself; your opinion alone but similar to the group’s beliefs)

external self-control (sharing opinion and idea with group; want to be heard; okay with being in a group)

“loaded oppression” — ex. Latina woman (discrimination for being a woman, discrimination for being someone of color, discrimination for being a minority)

various understanding of the term QUEER 

* “outside of the norm; challenging the normal”

* “different but nothing bad, and something that should be embraced”

* very negative in the previous generation; derogatory definition, historically

* Allen Ginsberg is “queering America” in one of his poems

queer is more “open” as a definition/term than the word “lesbian”; queer is less telling (stereotypical lesbian dresses a certain way, love and have sex with women; more to the experience)

social attitude is forcing people into a box (“Will&Grace” phenomenon is a good example, plus it’s only about ‘white upperclass’; nothing wrong with that, but homosexuality is more complicated, people overall have more to them)

according to queer theory, sexuality is historically and culturally determined; other theories claim it’s eternal moral factors and biology that determine sexuality

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