Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Live Girls Unite

I have never been one to consider pornography as self-empowering, as I have normally viewed it as an act of women who were willing to subject themselves to degrading acts. In my opinion this was not something that have helped uphold the values of feminism. Yet, after watching this movie, I have no idea how I feel. I don't see how anyone could argue against women coming together and unionizing, in an effort to fight for their rights in the workplace. Although I still feel that stripping is degrading toward women, the movie has further blurred the feminism issue of sex as work. From a political standpoint I think that these women should be able to unionize, and should be legalized because it is going to happen either way. From a feminist's point of view, feminism would want to help give girls different options, but in the same token, feminists would probably also say it's important to make sure sex workers aren't exploited. Either way, it can't be denied that this is a feminist issue because 1. those women need support for their cause, and 2. women should be prevented from being seen as solely sex objects. It is a difficult question to answer, because you never want to take away someones 'choice,' but you also don't want to help promote sexual exploitation. All in all, I was also very impressed by the way these women handled themselves, shedding new light on the sex industry as a whole.

Live Nude Girls Unite Comment

I have always thought women who participated in pornography had little self-worth or were powerlessly subjecting themselves to degrading acts because they were desperate for money. This film made me rethink my views, because the women unionizing had the self-respect to stand up for their rights as laborers. They were certainly not powerless, especially as a group. I'm not sure if they were right in saying that it's a job like any other; clearly there are deep cultural taboos against what they literally do for a living, which are anchored to our country's Protestant roots. The filmmaker mentioned people's disdain for sex industry laborers, and I still think it is degrading to women. However, I do agree with the women that feminism is about giving women choices, and the liberty to make any choice they want. Nobody can tell anyone else what to do with her or his body - I certianly wouldn't think it was fair if someone told me I was wrong for choosing work in which I had to be clothed. Also, perhaps peep shows and strip clubs can serve a positive purpose to society; maybe it's better for men to get sexual release there than in violent or outrageous ways. Then again, maybe these clubs just perpetuate stereotypes about women - being sexual objects, or being packed into a small room (like they're "underwater" - an interesting comparison). I'm altogether impressed that the women in the film took a stand and that other women are following their example.

Monday, January 29, 2007

another F- word?

"The original meaning of the word "family" (familia) is not that compound of sentimentality and domestic strife which forms the ideal of the present-day philistine; among the Romans it did not at first even refer to the married pair and their children, but only to the slaves. Famulus means domestic slave, and familia is the total number of slaves belonging to one man. As late as the time of Gaius, the familia, id est patrimonium (family, that is, the patrimony, the inheritance) was bequeathed by will. The term was invented by the Romans to denote a new social organism, whose head ruled over wife and children and a number of slaves, and was invested under Roman paternal power with rights of life and death over them all." - Frederick Engels

This is an excerpt from Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), and while Engels is probably not the only one who knew/ knows about the latin roots of the word "family," I think it's an interesting fact. I never really thought that word could have such a negative connotation...

Welcome to the Blogosphere: Some Resources

Looking to learn more about the blogosphere? Specifically interested in the feminist blogosphere? Check out these (admittedly most academic) resources...

"A sampling of blogs by women, for women, and/or discussing women's issues." Feminist Collections 26.2-3 (2005).

Blood, Rebecca. The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Maintaining Your Blog. Cambridge: Perseus, 2002.

"Round-up: blogging women's studies." Feminist Collections 27.2-3 (2006).

Rak, Julie. “The Digital Queer: Weblogs and Internet Identity.” Biography 28.1 (2005): 166-82.

Stone, Biz. Who Let the Blogs Out?: A Hyperconnected Peek at the Wrodl of Weblogs. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004.

Watt, Jenn. “Blogging Busts Out for Women.” Herizons (2006): 7.

Tobias, Vicki. "Blog this! An introduction to blogs, blogging, and the feminist blogosphere." Feminist Collections 26.2-3 (2005).

Wilson, Trish. “Women in the Blogosphere.” Off Our Backs (May-June 2006): 51-5.

What resources should be added to this list?

Reaction Paper #1

Comparisons between Betty Friedan, Harriet Taylor, and NOW

Connections between Friedan and Taylor include acknowledging that women are generally dissatisfied with their lives and the correlation of this to their lack of personal ambitions, or unawareness that they might have ambitions outside of home and family at all. Friedan writes of women whose goals are marriage and motherhood; these women are discontented but don’t exactly know why. According to Taylor, there is no need for women to “voluntarily choose to devote their lives to one animal function” (Taylor, 9), though I question how “voluntary” the choice is; society taboos forfeiture of motherhood to this day. However, Taylor’s idea suggests to me that the housewives Friedan writes about are exasperated and subconsciously realizing they lead unchallenging lives wherein they lose their identities as unique individuals altogether. They recognize that they have been promised happiness (from society) if they settled down as homemakers. But since happiness is defined by everyone differently, that women must now try to define it and then attain it – each by themselves, for themselves. I am struck by the sense of impermanence the housewives feel, as though they know their existence is but temporary and now feel with astounding urgency that they must do something more in life than laundry and cooking. I imagine this is troubling for them to think about because as they grow older with each passing day, they feel their lives slipping away. Yet they are still unable to identify what might make them feel alive again. Simultaneously, they are committed to child-rearing and wifely duties which might make them feel even less able to change their lives; people are depending on them and society is expecting them to be fully dependable. As they age, women are regarded as less attractive, less able to contribute via childbearing. This means that as the housewives age they lose even more power; in conjunction with feelings of nonexistence, feelings of regret and wasted time must be overwhelming.
A point touched upon by NOW and Taylor is women’s disassociation from “the feminists” who operate on their very behalf. NOW alludes to women restricting themselves so as not to be called a feminist (NOW, 3). Taylor even writes of women criticizing feminists – probably in order to further distance themselves (Taylor, 18). But Taylor also writes that the “paramount virtue of womanhood is loyalty to men” (Taylor, 12). Taken all together, I think NOW recognizes that feminism has been so negatively represented by men and the media that women dread being grouped in with them, even if those women agree with and would like to promote feminist pedagogy. I think it must be obvious that men who feel threatened began to use “feminist” as an insult, to mean someone bitchy or sexless. The word feminist used in this way reverses the efforts of feminists if women are going to self-impose silence. Women are afraid they won’t own their womanhood anymore if they are disloyal to men. This is what Taylor was talking about in the above quote. I think women must recognize that they must be loyal to themselves before they can truly be loyal to men, because women are likely to resent men until they have the same opportunities and respect men get in society.

First Five Things You Should Do As a New Blogger

1. Set up your Blogger, or other blog service of choice, account.

2. Develop your profile based on the degree of anonymity you would like to maintain as a blogger. Think about how you would like to present your public blogging personae.

3. Check out what's going on in the blogosphere. Spend some time surfing the web. The Carnival of Feminists is a good place to start if you are interested in the feminist blogosphere. Or, for a more academic approach A Blog Without a Bicycle (yes, a shameless plug). As you find blogs you think are really cool, you may find it useful to set up an account with Bloglines or another similar site that will help you to keep track of blogs you would like to check regularly.

4. After perusing the work of other bloggers, create your first post! It's as easy as posting-->create-->publish, if you are using blogger. Remember, you are publishing your writing in a public domain; keep your audience in mind.

5. Comment on other blogs. Respond to comments on your blog. Submit your blog posts to blog carnivals. Participate in the blogosphere community! And have fun.

**This post is largely directed to the students of WSTU 125, but I hope it is helpful to any aspiring bloggers out there.**

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

welcome

Welcome to our blog. Thanks to TA/grad student Elizabeth Curtis for setting this up. I will use the opportunity to rant about the bookstore for a moment. The reason most of the class doesn't have books yet (as of 1/24) is that the bookstore decided to cut my request for 45 copies down to 15, based on their estimates of how many students might buy books elsewhere. When they ran out, they orderd 6 more which have not come in yet. They promised to order more and these should be received in less than a week. But if they decide that many of you will decide to order elsewhere, they will not order enough. So, we a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because they don't order enough books, you are better off going on amazon, saving money, and getting the book sooner. Then, they will use that as the reason for not ordering enough books.

I hope the book problem is solved by the time you log onto the blog and that you have more important things to discuss.

Cindy