Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sarah Palin's Feminism?

Ran across this.

The article is about Sarah Palin's membership in a Pro-Life Organization, which the article claims has "the centerpiece of their work being that abortion is exploitative, coercive, and always wrong and harmful, for any and all women everywhere, in every circumstance."

But the article also points out that "their web site speaks out on numerous issues of concern to women, such as violence against women, honor killings, coercive sterilization, literacy, child care, sex trafficking, and female genital mutilation."

So conservative groups are not only using feminist discourse, they are also using feminist causes. The group even explicitly names itself as feminist. But in the media and in politically minded arguments these groups do not count as feminist.

Perhaps one way to open up feminism to a larger body of supportive individuals is to include these conservative feminists into our left leaning definition of feminists, calling attention to these groups in conjunction with organizations like NOW and NARAL. This may be a way of revitalizing feminism in the public eye, and perhaps a step along the way to resurrecting it from the grave TIME supposedly dug in 1998.

At the very least, the fact that these feminist organizations are pro-life should not exclude them from being invited to join in other feminist efforts.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More Feminist Republicans

"Mr. Giuliani then launched an attack on people who have questioned whether Ms. Palin will have enough energy to focus on the vice presidency as the mother of five. “How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president,” Mr. Giuliani said. “How dare they do that? When do they ever ask a man that question?”"

I think that this move is incredibly interesting. It uses feminist arguments, but not in ways my feminist self wants to see. In most contexts, I would love to see this question raised, but "feminist" comments like that are at the head of a Republican attack to construct the media as unreliable, unamerican, out of touch, and hopelessly liberal.

So I am conflicted about this, because I think that a Republican in office again would have the opportunity to overturn Roe v Wade and would not affect the pay gap, who would simply sweep a great number of feminist concerns under the rug.

How should I feel about these co-oped feminist messages?

Clearly, supporting a message is not the same thing as supporting the messenger, but I would appreciate any input on how we might deal with supporting feminist messages that we feel are coming from conservative forces.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gender, Race, and Philosophy Blog

I thought some readers of this might find the following blog interesting:

Gender, Race, and Philosophy Blog

It was started very recently and doesn't have too much interesting content yet, but the list of contributors is fantastic. For now, I recommend checking out the post on Obama and the comments on it. There's a comment in there that addresses whether Obama or Clinton is the better feminist candidate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Double Bind

Via Feministing.

Yes, that is Katie Couric asking Hillary if she was known as "Sister Frigidare". It's also a question that limits the possible replies. If Hillary claims it's an inappropriate question, the hidden accusation becomes true. She has to reply in a way that leaves the question as valid. Insidious.

Hillary, good job for turning that into humor, but I wish it was possible to attack the question.

Fashioning the female body

Over the past few weeks, a regular feature of the Lawrentian has become a fashion "conversation" that ultimately involves two women critiquing the corporeal styles and practices that they see on the Lawrence campus (normally as these styles and practices manifest on female bodies). This week's installment involves dressing for the body you have, not the body that you want and includes suggestions like this one:

Let's talk about pants as another important basic, both in the jean and non-jean form. I just can't handle seeing any more ill-fitting pants. It's just not okay to buy pants that are too small unless you are going to wait to wear them until you've lost some weight -- nice jeans can be a good incentive to do just that. No matter how skinny you are (or think you are), pants that are too small will make any skin you have on your hips bulge over your waistline. Do not look at the size of the pants -- just look in the mirror when you try things on. Women with more meat around the lower abdomen should opt for higher rises and wide waistbands. This is especially great for dress pants, because then the love handles are ***in*** the jeans instead of hanging over them. Shaping undergarments are also a great secret weapon, especially if you're wearing something dressy and fitted. Spanx brand is incredible for the purpose of smoothing otherwise un-smooth tummies.

The fact that, in 2008, spandex and "shaping undergarments" are described as secret weapons should seem anachronistic (corsets, anyone?!), but this article suggests two disentanglable issues: first, that the female body should be controlled and made legible according to fixed standards of beauty and (more nefariously) that when bodies don't adhere to these standards, other women will examine them and judge them according to their failure to conform.

Responding to an article like this one is complicated because as a feminist I think that clothing, make-up, and the other micropractices by which we all perform our gender/sex and inscribe our bodies with a complex bricolage are important. From high theory (like Judith Butler) to more popular understandings of fashion and clothing espoused in Bust and Bitch magazines, the relationship between fashion and the elaboration of the body is treated as being of paramount importance. Yet when these signs and sites of legibility are made into the object of the misogynistic gaze, some of that power of performance seems to be defused in ways that are worth discussing...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nasty Statistical Links

Not only are 1 in 4 (!!) women domestically abused, there is also a connection between domestic abuse and other serious health problems. I know that doesn't prove causality, but it's still one of those strikingly high statistics (like rape statistics) that make everyone squirm.

For me, these are challenging things to hear. On one hand, this is information that clearly reveals that something is rotten with the state of women. But because these statistics are talking about such a specific problem, people think you just have to drive down these rates and sexism will become a thing of the past.

I think 2nd Wavers say domestic abuse laws should be changed - that will help challenge sexism. 3rd wavers would claim sexism causes domestic abuse, and you have to change stereotypes of women in order to effectively challenge domestic abuse.

But, I frankly don't have enough of a background to make those kinds of claims, anyone know a little more about the differences between 2nd and 3rd wave feminism?

Always Already a Subject.

While browsing around on Jezebel, I came across this picture and this article, which made me want to talk about being a subject. That magazine cover constructs Faith Hill as a beautiful subject, but it's interesting that we see beauty that doesn't reflect how she actually looks. In fact, almost no one looks like the "after" picture, but because ten thousand magazine covers came before and set the standard of beauty, to become a beautiful subject means you must become wrinkle-less and attain tiny, tiny arms. To become a beautiful subject (at least in a cover girl sense) an individual must take part in the repetition of a standard which doesn't reflect reality. There never even was a person who looked like this, but somehow that standard of beauty came into being anyway.

This repetition of something that never existed is one way of thinking about gender. You see a hundred thousand enactments of gender everyday, and we have all felt the social pressure that comes from our assigned gender (race, sexuality, or religion). But because we feel that pressure every day, people start assuming that being a gender is actually the way people are. We have no "before" picture for comparison, so gender starts to look natural even though it is just people acting gendered because that's what they are told to do.

This is definitely the type of stance that I have taken for the few years I have paid attention. However, this stance rejects the experiences of those people who feel that a particular gender is desired. We can of course say that those people haven't seen the light yet, but that puts theory too far out in front of practical concerns for me. But, that's just my account, anyone out there want to share their own interaction with gender?