“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.”
― bell hooks
- Source: zeezeescorner
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”
― Gloria Steinem.
- Source: zeezeescorner
Women are powerful and dangerous.
- Audre Lorde, who described herself as: “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.”
Every day, for centuries, women all over the globe continue to fight to be heard and to have their human rights respected. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you had/are having an amazing International Women’s Day.
- Source: zeezeescorner
Hispanic women are fully aware that our culture is entrenched in misogyny, but not necessarily any less than American culture. Women in the United States are often expected to take their husbands’ last name. Many men still go to their bride’s father to ask for her hand in marriage; just because we see it as a sweet gesture it does not mean that it isn’t patriarchal in nature… Loving tradition and having pride in your culture does not mean these women cannot vocalize the gender issues of their communities. My mother’s feminism was the truest form of feminism for me; a belief in the potential upward mobility of all women.
Patricia Valoy, Civil Engineer, feminist blogger, and radio host reflects on gender politics and the sacrifices her stay-at-home mother made for her children after they migrated from the Dominican Republic to the USA. Valoy writes that Western feminism encouraged her to see her mother as being trapped in patriarchy, but she argues that we need to find a way to move past narrow conceptions of feminism:
Feminism cannot continue to exist as a monolithic block, or we will never be able to include women from all walks of life.
“While early organizing saw abortion as one of many facets of women’s liberation and reproductive autonomy, in the decades following Roe, this more expansive view has somewhat narrowed. More recently, mainstream feminist organizing around choice has focused predominately on contraceptive services and abortion. In many respects this shift has marginalized the panoply of ways in which reproductive choice and autonomy is constrained in the lives of women of color in a number of discursive spaces and institutional settings. Indeed, feminists of color have long resisted this narrow definition of reproductive choice and autonomy. While emphasizing the central importance of access to contraception and abortion services, women of color activists have also highlighted the ways in which the denial of reproductive capacity and the denigration of their identities as mothers has been central to their subordination in the context of slavery, colonialism and Jim Crow. Women of color also contested the idea that they were unable or incapable of controlling their reproductive destinies. In so doing they mobilized to fight sterilization and other practices that burdened the choice to bear children. Yet for many poor women of color, full reproductive choice and autonomy has remained elusive. Indeed, the reproductive capacities of women of color are often targeted for suppression or derision within contemporary political discourses and official policymaking within a number of institutional settings including the criminal justice and welfare systems. The injuries suffered by women of color in this context, however, are seldom articulated as part of the broader attacks on reproductive rights of women. This targeting of women of color and their families, and the silences that often accompany this targeting, combine to form what I am calling “reproductive profiling.” I use the term “reproductive profiling” to draw upon the ways in which people of color are profiled in the policing or law enforcement context. Similar to the failure of the Fourth Amendment’s privacy rationale to fully extend to victims of racial profiling, individuals subject to reproductive profiling are denied the autonomy and privacy interests guaranteed by the Constitution. As Dorothy Roberts and others have noted, the lives of poor women of color are often public due to frequent interactions with government agencies. Consequently, those who choose to become parents do not benefit from the privacy or dignity rationales represented by Roe and its progeny. In various institutional contexts, such as immigration, prisons and social welfare, poor women of color are subjected to behavior policing policies that limit reproductive autonomy or punish the choice to become a parent. As Michele Goodwin has noted, this “brings private, intimate spaces into the public theatre, creating spectacles of poor, pregnant women and their children; and this public humiliation functions to visually inscribe these women’s place in the social hierarchy.” Moreover, like victims of racial profiling in the policing context, women of color are singled out for suspicion because they are deemed to be in places that they do not belong. Indeed, poor women of color have historically been denied identities as mothers, which are informed by the normative values of the white middle-class. In this way, constraints on their choices to become parents are a reflection of social views that women of color who seek to parent are attempting to access a space that is inappropriate or one that they are not equipped to navigate. The race, gender and class identities of women of color, when attached to their choice to become parents, often raises a suspicion of wrongdoing. Consequently, they confront significant regulation of those choices and are subject to pervasive surveillance.”
Priscilla A. Ocen, “Roe and the ‘Reproductive Profiling’ of Women of Color,” Balkinization 1/13/13
- Reblogged from racialicious
Nowhere in the world should it be an act of bravery for a young girl to go to school.
- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
On the 11th of October, the United Nations held a webcast on Ending Child Marriage. Speaking about the struggle that young girls face in getting educated rather than married off, Ban Ki-Moon spoke about 14 year old Malala Yousufzai, an education activist who was shot last week by terrorist group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Yousufzai has campaigned tirelessly for the right to attend school in a rural area where marriage is seen as a higher priority for girls than education. Yousufzai began her advocacy by blogging secretly for the BBC and later under her real name. She was able to start attending school as her cause gained international attention. The TTP had publicly identified Yousufzai as a target due to her advocacy. During the UN Webcast, Ban Ki-Moon spoke about the right for girls to get an education without fear.
- Source: othersociologist.com
So over the last few weeks there has been a little bit of fuss surrounding Ikea as their culturally sensitive catalouge in Saudi Arabia has erased all traces of the female models apparent in the same catalouges in the rest of the world.
A similar thing happened to Hilary Clinton in an Isreali conservative newspaper which erased her from the Obama’s opertaion room when Bin Laden’s compund was raided. Just to show that it isn’t simply an anti-Hilary bias, the next photo shows the Isreali parliament with and without its female members in order to appease the ultra-orthodox. For parity we have a ‘girls only’ version of the Bin Laden opertaion’s monitoring room too.
The media in the UK are currently trying to come to terms with the blatant sexism that exists in the media. It has oddly taken a plethora of abuse claims against a dead BBC Radio personality for this introspection to occur. Women make up less than 30% of journalists yet women are ubiquitous on the covers of our magazines and newspapers argues the Guardian today.
The process of erasing women is actually entrenched. The very crude and obvious examples by Ikea and the conservative Israeli camp are actually upfront and obvious in comparison to the insidious erasing that has become endemic. This erasing is the photoshopping of women on magazine covers, removing blemishes, making limbs more slender, straightening natural curves. Creating an imagined femininity, which values no one and has no real role model.
At the very same time the promotion of women in purely glamorous and sensual ways continually erases the social progress that so many women have fought for. This erasing of value was brought in to sharp relief by the recent suicide of Amanda Todd. There is simply so much commentary about women’s appearance. Such is the pursuit of beauty that we have seen beauty clinics in Hong Kong offering expensive medically questionable procedures that have hospitalised 4 women and killed 1.
I think Ikea is the least of our problems.
- Reblogged from everydayhybridity
Thinking critically is at the heart of anybody transforming their life
- bell hooks.
American cultural theorist bell hooks’ distinguished contribution to sociology has been to unearth the intersecting issues of cultural difference, race and knowledge within feminism. Starting out as a literature professor, hooks would go on to challenge cultural studies in the early 1980s with books such as Ain’t I A Woman?: Black Women and Feminism and Feminist Theory: From Margin to Centre. Her work shows how women of colour have been marginalised by power structures in society as well as by white feminists who purport to speak about the universal struggle of all women. hooks argued that mainstream feminism silences experiences of race, ethnicity and class.
For the past three decades, hooks has explored the representation of race in popular culture, and how this affects social relations and public education. In the Cultural Transformation video series, bell hooks explains the importance of critical thinking not just for women, but for American society in general. Her work has been adopted and adapted by non-white feminists and cultural theorists around the world.
hooks talks about popular culture as a site for pedagogy - this term describes a reiterative relationship of learning from student to teacher and vice versa. She discusses how students she taught in white, privileged schools feel a sense of entitlement about their future in a way that non-white, urban students do not imagine for themselves. hooks’ students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds have jobs, children and other responsibilities that shape their expectation of the future. It is not that hooks’ students from Harlem were any less brilliant, the issue is that they exist in a reality where the education system only deemed to provide them with the basic “tools” to get a job, rather than to enhance their lives in a more profound way.
hooks notes that critical thinking can enhance not just these students whose choices are constrained. Critical thinking is just as important for them as it is for middle and upper class people who are materially privileged, but who are experiencing a personal crisis. Critical thinking is about having the language and frames of reference to examine one’s life as well as the world around them and ask questions about the things we take for granted. Why is it okay to watch movies and expect women to be raped and killed as part of the narrative arc? Why do sexually desirable women in Hollywood so often get cast in the role of prostitute who gets beaten up? Why are women characters denied a complex personal journey? Women often have limited dialogue in the full scheme of the story. Men get to be heroes with interesting tales, even when their characters are despicable drunks. Why does Hollywood tell stories the way they do? Why cast a Black kid in the role of a thief? Why is it James Earl Jones who voices the the villain in Star Wars? Who decides that a deep Black male voice represents evil? Why is Spike Lee seen as a “failure” in Hollywood? Does an increased consumption of “Black culture” by white, privileged youth help eliminate social inequality, or is “Blackness” simply a commodity?
These questions may seem familiar to students of sociology, but they are not straightforward. hooks argues that it is possible to enjoy big release movies and yet ask questions and problematise what we see on screen. Why was this story told this way? Whose voice is being heard? Who is being silenced?
hooks discusses examples from the 1990s (the series is from 1997), such as Larry Clark’s controversial film Kids; the spectacle of race, gender and crime in the way news is reported (the O.J. Simpson trial); and Madonna’s exploitation of Black men and her sexuality in the pursuit of “greed.” hooks’ comments on rap have vital resonance. hooks explores whether rap culture can be thought as “authentic”, when mainstream rap producers are “pushing a product” - that is, the pursuit of wealth, via images and language that make abuse seem erotic. Rap music also perpetuates a “colour caste system” within Black culture, by elevating the status of lighter-skinned, straight-haired Black women over those with darker skin.
Finally, hooks argues that despite an increasing focus on visual forms of communication. reading and writing are incredibly important to critical thinking. hooks says that the books she has read have been at the heart of “major radical interventions” in her personal life. The written word complements visual representations, as hooks reminds us:
We cannot over-value enough the importance of literacy to a culture that is deeply visual. I mean rather than seeing literacy and the visual and our pleasure in the visual as oppositional to one another, I think we have to see them as compatible with one another. I don’t think we will get much further in terms of decolonising our minds. So that we can both resist certain kinds of conservatising representation and at the same time create new and exciting representations.
Speaking of major radical interventions - bell hook’s Margin to Centre had an incalculable impact on my ability to think critically. It’s a must read. I draw inspiration from it to this day, as well from hooks’ other works. I’m especially partial to Black Looks: Race and Representation.
Watch the Cultural Transformation series: start with part 1 here and part 2 will lead you to the subsequent four videos. I also encourage you to read the PDF transcript to help you digest the wealth of ideas.
- Source: zeezeescorner
Oh dear… Germaine Greer on the cover of a vintage edition of Life magazine from 1971. The text reads: “Saucy feminist that even men like.” Yes! Feminists are woefully preoccupied with how attractive they are to men. Men have an aversion to feminists… unless they’re deemed attractive. This is a fantastic example of why even on a surface level, feminism is important in challenging sexist notions of what it means to be a woman and a man. Feminism for all!
Image via Sarah Jensen.
- Source: zeezeescorner
So, first, we had the whole Caster Semenya saga: a female athlete who is really good… so good indeed that it is suspicious. Is she really a woman? Let’s test. Ok, she is. But she is not feminine enough, so, let’s pump of her full of hormone to increase her femininity and lower her performance because she is getting way to close to men’s performance levels and that is just wrong.
And now, we have the Chinese Superwoman, as Le Monde calls her. We are talking about Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen who’s killing it at the Olympic Games in London. She’s good. Too good. Well, she’s obviously a woman so her men-level performances can only be explained by doping (Chinese, y’know).
“The world of swimming may have spent 36 hours in a ferocious debate over the means by which she could achieve such astonishing feats, but the 16-year-old had other things on her mind. As the electronic beep sounded to mark the start of the race, she leapt from the blocks, put her head down, and swam.
On Saturday, Ye had stunned a crowd that thought it had already seen the shock of the evening 40 minutes before, when the great Michael Phelps failed to win a medal in the men’s 400m individual medley.
In the women’s race of the same event, Ye swam a final freestyle leg of such jawdropping acceleration that she overhauled the race leader, finishing almost three metres ahead in a time which shattered the world record. On Monday, in qualifying for Tuesday night’s event, she had gone on to break the Olympic record for the longer distance.
It was awesome, astonishing, unbelievable. And it didn’t take too long for a leading US coach to say what many had been muttering.”
And the real issue is this:
“La Chinoise Ye Shiwen, 16 ans, médaillée d’or sur 400m 4 nages samedi, a battu le record du monde de cette éprouvante discipline (4 m 28’ s 43 centièmes), mais elle a surtout crawlé les cent derniers mètres de sa course presque aussi vite queRyan Lochte (58 s 68 contre 58 s 65), sacré la veille chez les garçons, au terme du deuxième 400m 4 nages le plus rapide de l’Histoire (4 m 05 s 18 centièmes).”
She swam almost as fast as the male winner in the same category. Something is wrong. Except not:
It is interesting that when women performance improve and get closer in line with male performance, then, that is an issue. The same thing happens with scholarly achievement. How many books have been (and continue to be) written about the relative greater success of girls in school and women in universities? All of them deploring the loss of gender supremacy for boys and men. And sometimes calling not so subtly for a restoration of such supremacy through intervention (all couched in terms of making school less ‘feminine environments’ and more attuned to alleged masculine needs).
The case of these women athletes getting closer to men performance levels generates the same kind of anxieties, if not direct intervention, as in the case of Caster Semenya.
- Reblogged from globalsociology
Alyx Gorman quotes her friend in a good deconstruction of the latest Australian advertising beauty campaign to condescend to women. The ad pretends to “get real” about women’s bodies by using the word “vagina”, feeling pleased with itself, thank-you-very-much, for being so honest. The ad features a thin, white, naked and conventionally attractive woman talking about “that bit of discharge” in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The ad then usefully offers women a solution to our dampness/wetness problems: we should wear panty liners every day! Hooray and thank you!
Gorman does a great job of showing that this ad is part of a long line of advertising that pushes a product most people do not need and manufactures it as a solution to our (non-existent) problem. This is a stock premise of advertising: it creates problems and solutions for consumers to guilt or shame us into spending money. The issue here is that the message is twisted: vagina is not a dirty word, says the ad - it’s just women’s bodies that are gross.
Read Gorman’s article on The Vine.
- Source: zeezeescorner