-inclusive thinking, meaning of diversity, recognizing intersectionality, axes of society, matrix of domination, making invisible minorities visible, though still seen through dominant group values as "others", comparative v relational thinking, ex of men's basketball team
Key Terms: Collins' and Andersen's main argument is that race, class, and gender (as well as other groups like sexual orientation, age, and ethnicity) are key factors that all play a role in how a person is defined in society. These elements all intersect, and a person is not simply defined by one of these.
While diversity is prevalent today which makes "minority groups" more commonly recognized, they are still defined as "other" - excluded and unequal.
Studying race, class, and gender is to understand that there is context in studying any group. "The point is...that race, class, and gender, are fundamental axes of society, and,as such, are critical to understanding people's lives, institutional systems, contemporary social issues, and the possibilities for social change" (Andersen and Collins, 3).
"matrix of domination": posits multiple, interlocking, levels of domination that stem from the societal configuration of race, class, and gender relations". In other words, thisis the paradigm that explains that oppression that stems from race, class, and gender are interconnected. For instance, someone is not only discriminated against because of their
race - gender and class play a role too. (This is contrasted with the "additive model" which suggests that each of these factors is independent).
College basketball is a microcosm of society that demonstrates how race, class, and
Race: So many black men play basketball because many of them came froma background with less opportunity and therefore sought activities like basketball to emerge from this lifestyle.
Class: Often college basketball players don't get scholarships or money from college basketball, so players don't benefit as much as people think. A large majority do not get offered NBA contracts after they graduate.
Gender: Women's basketball is far less popular than men's basketball, and in general women are present far less (and when they are present as coaches they are paid less). "Women have fewer opportunities for scholarships and professional careers" (Andersen and Collins, 59).
Categories defined distinctly:
Race: Individual racism is one person's belief in the superiority of one race over another (prejudice, hostility toward other races). Institutional racism: more systematic, a group is oppressed and controlled because they are presumed to have certain characteristics, part of society's structure. Whites are inherently privileged when it comes to race. For example, blacks are often perceived by whites to be dangerous, hostile, threatening, but this is all constructed.
Class: Social class is marked by wealth and income (white households are on average have significantly higher incomes). This demonstrates a cumulative advantage - class dictates the advantages a family can have such as an education and physical health, insurance. Causes of poverty lie in social class - problems in distribution of wealth. Ultimately lower classes receive fewer opportunities.
Gender: Socially constructed (like race). Rooted in social institutions. Women and men have different advantages and disadvantages, as constructed by society. Sexism: a system of beliefs and behaviors by which a group is oppressed, controlled, and exploited because of presumed gender differences. Construction of gender depends on social class and race, as well. "Different realities for women stem from their racial group membership". Gender
differences are part of an institutional framework of society
-stigmatization of feminism (created by patriarchal mass media),"feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression", everyone a participant in sexism, negative implications of patriarchy for men, feminism is for everyone, history of anti-male sentiment in early feminism/sexism in other activism movements, alignment of women's legal rights with white supremacy, problem of feminism losing definition and being something that can be fit into any lifestyle/belief system
This is the handbook to feminism that Hooks always yearned for, as a way to convey to people the actual message of feminism. In the introduction, she reflects on her experience as a proud feminist having to confront misconceived notions of what that terms means. People assume it requires hating men, going against nature, etc. Rather than thinking about feminism as being about rights, they think it is just "women who want to be like men." She wants to inform them that "feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression." The main point is that feminism is not anti-male, but rather anti-sexism—a system that is perpetuated by both men and women. She notes the difference between the women liberation movement (angry, against patriarchy, anti-male sentiment) and contemporary feminism (effort to create gender justice).
Difference between reformist and revolutionary feminists. Reformists emphasized gender equality. Revolutionary thinkers wanted to change the entire system, bring an end to sexism on the whole. But it was the reformists who got the media coverage, hence the reputation that women liberation was about a struggle for women to get what men had. Revolutionary thinkers realized the intersection of race (and class) with matters of gender equality. But revolutionary thinking was reserved for elite circles, not the masses.
It was not only "white supremacist capitalist patriarchy" that was against revolutionary feminism, but also reformists. Many women felt able to break free of male domination just through reformist methods, and did not feel the need to go further and address systematic issues. But in doing so, they allied with patriarchy to subordinate working class and poor women.
"Lifestyle feminism"- idea that there are as many types of feminism as there are women. It depoliticized it. On the one hand, it made it more accessible. On the other, there is no longer a clear definition which stunts the movement.
-commentary on popular dialogues about feminism: myth that women are now economically dominant, glorification of female CEOs/mothers when mothers have been working since forever, anxiety over women taking "male" jobs, women as "care" workers - care as commodity, etc
We are in an age of celebrating the economic success of women (Sheryl Sanberg, Marissa Mayer, etc), but there isn't much to celebrate. Problems with the outburst of books and articles celebrating the success of the modern woman's ability to balance both work and homelife are as follows. 1) The economy is so bad that "women and men are finally converging on the same low wages." In other words, it is not that women are thriving, but rather that everyone is suffering. 2) For years many women (nannies, for example) have been trying to balance work and home life, but that never gets press. 3) Success is equated with being a CEO/someone who sacrifices "basic biological needs." 4) Most women work in industries dominated by females- low page, bad benefits, etc. 5) Much of the so-called new feminism is simply "naval- gazing"—reflecting/obsessing on oneself solely.
Things to focus on instead:
· focus on care work (nannying, homecare, etc) and whether they can band together to become a unified workforce. Also should reflect on situation of women working in tech fields that is rather male dominated.
· focus on why familial relationships aren't more egalitarian despite improvements in gender justice
· what happens if ignore gender? Can't think seriously about economy of concerns of the Left.
In sum, she advocates for a new feminism, that takes cues from the past, to deal with issues of "work and immigration patterns, the power of labor, the self-determination of half the population..."
-male/nonmale opposition v male/female, woman as Other, "what is a woman?," womanhood v femininity, rare case that "Other" is not reciprocal, women submit to role by note posing themselves as "One," women don't say "we", bond uniting oppressor and oppressed/lack of history as a united people prevents women from organizing, men see "abstract equality" between sexes, concerned with democratic ideal of equality but also seeing women as inferior overcome?"
• "To be" (static, unquestionable) vs. "to have become" (change and development)
MAIN IDEA: BINARY OPPOSITION, MEN = NEUTRAL/POSITIVE, WOMEN =
"Thus humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him; she
is not regarded as an autonomous being."
o Men = Subject, the positive and neutral
o Females = Other, negative, "alterity," "defined by limiting criteria," imperfect males, must define themselves in relation to men
o BOTH CATEGORIES ARE DEPENDENT ON ONE ANOTHER TO EXIST!
Gender isn't always a primary means of identification (class, religion, race, etc.)
• Woman = a womb
• Women are "haunted by a sense of their femininity"
• Otherness is a fundamental category of human thought
• "Women lack concrete means for organizing themselves...They have no past, no
history, no religion of their own..."
• Some weird stuff about transcendence and existence?
• "How can a human being in a woman's situation attain fulfillment? What roads
are open to her? Which are blocked? How can independence be recovered in a
state of dependency? What circumstances limit woman's liberty and how can they
• "To be" (static, unquestionable) vs. "to have become" (change and development)
-post-race, multiple identity of mestiza, contradictory cultural beliefs, metaphor of 2 sides of river, locked into dualism, must be on both shores at once or cross border into new territory, not pieces coming together to form whole - whole greater than sum of parts w/ addition of "mestiza consciousness", future belongs to mestiza b/c future about breaking down paradigms, creation of new culture, belonging to all races/countries, mestiza struggle=feminist struggle, gay men as only challengers to masculinity, problem of category of "man" the oppressor
MAIN IDEA: "Tolerance for ambiguity." Make self vulnerable in order to becomeone.
o Mestiza consciousness- ability to digest and bear witness to oppression/ discrimination even if you are in a privileged position. Ability to see other people's realities à openness, acceptance, recognition! Dual identity/personality = restlessness: "the dilemma of the mixed bread"
"Rigidity means death. Only by remaining flexible is she able to stretch the psyche...characterized by movement away from set patterns and goals and toward a more whole perspective, one that includes rather than excludes."
Must break down paradigms in order to straddle multiple cultures à change the way we perceive reality, the way we see ourselves, and the way we behave Must make yourself vulnerable in order to transform and accept yourself and
Men hurt and demean women because they are afraid of female power, "We need a new masculinity and the new man needs a movement." Cross-cultural understanding: "Our role is to link people with each other—it is totransfer ideas and information from one culture to another"
-"Western" feminism vs Third World feminism (marginalization and ghettoization), textual strategies that codify others as non-Western and imply the writer is Western, colonization = structural domination and oppression, necessity of forming coalitions across boundaries, Woman (other created by representational discourses)/women (real subjects of collective histories), representation of the "third world woman" (sexually constrained, ignorant, poor, tradition-bound, victimized, etc) v Western woman (educated, modern, power over choices/bodies), discourses that set up own authorial subject as implicit yardstick by which to represent cultural others, assumption of women as coherent category of analysis w/ identical interests that can be applied cross-culturally, freezing men into subjects perpetuating violence, empowering women as activists, attention to local power operations, master narrative of female oppression = exclusive/reductive
•Addressing Third-World Feminism and how it is seen in the eyes of Western feminists who have made the "third world woman" a "single monolithic subject in some of [their] Western feminist texts" (17).
o She is clear in pointing out that Western feminism a monolith either
•The Third world woman is an "arbitrary construct" of Western writings, but one that nevertheless continues
She addresses the vast generalizations made not only by Western writers but also by women writers considered to be from or living in what is considered the Third World
Addresses three assumptions:
o That all women are a part of a "coherent group with identical interests and
o That there is " 'proof' of universality and cross-cultural validity"
o And "the model of power and struggle [that the women of the West] imply and suggest.
•She uses repetition in her writing to deprogram harmful ideologies and to draw comparisons in your mind
•Argues that you cannot make assumptions about victims OR perpetrators
•"White" has become unmarked and universal, much like how deBeauvoir says that "man" is seen as the universal standard
•She says that there is no master narrative the works universallyà second wave feminists were arguing that there is a master narrative because the history and plight of females is universal and unifying
o There is also no coherent group that every woman applies to; must think intersectionally.
o "The 'status' or position' of women is assumed to be self-evident because women as an already constituted group are placed within religious, economic, familial, and legal structures. However, this focus whereby women are always seen as a coherent group across contexts, regardless of class or ethnicity, structuresthe world in ultimately binary, dichotomous terms, where women are always seen in opposition to men, patriarchy is always necessarily male dominance, and the religious, legal, economic, and familial systems are implicitly assumed to be constructed by men. Thus, both men and women are always apparently constituted whole populations, and relations of dominance and exploitation are also posited in terms of whole peoples-wholes coming into exploitative relations."
- interlocking systems of oppression, racism/elitism w/in 2nd wave, need for antiracist/antisexist politics, need for autonomy, politics come out of identity-must work to end own oppression, difficulty in separation race oppression from sex oppression, difficulty of aligning w/ another group (black men, white women), socialists, free black women=free everyone=all systems of oppression destroyed
- The Combahee River Collective is a group of Black Feminists who have been
meeting together since 1974. Their goal was mostly "to fight against racial,
sexual, heterosexual and class oppression and see these issues through an
1st section: Genesis of Contemporary Black Feminism
They begin the Black Feminist Statement by talking about the struggle of African-American women in mostly the racial and gender front, making their political struggle unique. "Black women's extremely negative relationship to the
American political system (a system of white male rule) has always been determined by our membership in two oppressed racial and sexual castes." Individually, they were each active participants throughout the second wave of
the American Women's Movement throughout the 60s, but as time came, they realized the need to create a Black Feminist group. According to Combahee River Collective, the "elitism and racism within the movement itself have served to obscure our participation"(p. 211) . The Feminist movement, as one giant entity, simply was unable to address the issues that women of color were facing and embody all of these women's identity. For example, these women resonated with many of the Black liberation movements (Black Panther, Black nationalism), as well as other African-American women who did not identify with the feminist movement, and furthermore, the sexual oppression that
women of color were facing simply summed up to a different experience than others. So, the National Black Feminist Organization was founded in 1973.
2. What they Believe
They continue to talk about how these different social structures, such as race, sexual oppression and class, are interconnected in Black women's lives. They mention that the history of rape of black women by white men is one
instance in which this racial-sexual oppression is neither solely racial nor sexual. Another example that defines the intersectionality of their movement is their allegiance as well as struggle against black men. They stand in solidarity with
Black men on the topic of race, yet they struggle with Black men about sexism. These women are socialists. They believe that to get rid of these social hierarchies, political-economic systems of capitalism, imperialism and
patriarchy must be destroyed. (Integrating class struggle into the movement) They believe that the work should be organized in a way to benefit the people producing the goods, and not the bosses. However, they also emphasize that a
socialist revolution needs to be accompanied by a feminist and antiracist revolution in order to liberate all oppressed people. Finally, the mention that they expand the feminist principle "that the personal is political" (213), meaning
that they try to make sense of their oppression experienced in their everyday lives into cultural and political terms. For example, the collective mentions sanctions against Black intellectual thinkers, and that their intelligence is also
identified as ugliness.
3. Problems in Organizing Black Feminism
The main problem that the collective face is the difficulty to combat against many fronts all at once. "We do not have racial, sexual, heterosexual, or class privilege to rely upon, nor do we have even the minimal access to resources
and power that groups who possess any one types of these privileges have." In fact, these Black Feminists recognize that most Black women are aware of both sexism and racism in their daily lives, but the everyday constructions of their
lives do not allow them to risk struggling against both.There are also accusations that Black Feminism divides the Blackstruggle, because it creates an internal struggle against the male patriarchy within the Black movement. The idea of this group is threatening against most Black people because it questions the assumption that sex should be the
determinant of power relationships. Finally, there is the difficulty of bringing together Black feminists, as they
are living in isolation all over the country. Therefore, the group decided to not only remain as a support and study group, but also collectively began writing and distributing their work to raise consciousness.
4. Black Feminist Issues and Projects
In raising awareness of their group, they are publicly addressing racism within the Feminist movement. However, they make the claim that they are not trying to destroy the women's movement at large, but rather make white women
aware that their movement does not account for all women at large, but rather, white, middle-class women.
The collative reiterates that in order to achieve their own goal of a revolutionary society with nonhierarchical power distribution of power within their group, they too, must examine their politics through criticism and self-criticism.
-on the edge of each others battles, not everyone has same stakes in battles, many varied tools of patriarchy disallow representation of women as suffering same oppression, denial of noneuropean female strength, singular white herstory, separations between women
An Open Letter to Mary Daly is a letter that Audre Lorde wrote to Mary Daly, the white female author of the feminist work Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. The letter conveys a challenging tone toward Daly and enumerates the many omissions and distortions Lorde feels Daly has made regarding the issues affecting non-white, non-European women. This piece was written shortly after 12 black women were murdered in the Boston area in the spring of 1979, a fact that Audre brings up at the beginning of the letter, as Mary Daly was working at the time to overcome what Audre calls "the repressive forces of the University of Boston" (p. 66).
Lorde begins the letter by mentioning that Mary Daly had a copy of Gyn/Ecology sent to her for review.
· Discourses as consciousness raising section.
· Do we see conciousness raising come up in this piece at all? 211, they didn't know how to recognize their feelings
· Why do we get their backstory? They didn't have the same sort of funding/support system. No one else is doing this work. Coming together is key.
· Black feminist talking to black men.
· Where else do we see the idea of getting together to talk? Audrey Lorde: lets get together and sit down and talk it out. Getting together is crucial (For lorde) because she wants this camaraderie. Reenforces idea of oppositions, binaries...
· Differences need to be spoken about. Difficulty of these conversations. Getting together to talk isn't easy.
· Who speaks for whom?: Lorde's critique of Daly: a mix of representation and exclusion. Mary Daly is talking about women, as a collective.
- mary daly uses lordes poem to prove her point about perspective. Lorde wants more of a synthesis rather than just being taken into this script for feminism that already exists
- violence against women not private but systematic, identity categories as negative frameworks prevent embrace of identity politics, exclusion of anti-violence movement by assuming homogenous violence
•Since social issues are mainly discussed through race, gender and other identity categories, social power structures marginalize those who are different
Identity politics ignore intragroup differences
o Feminism: ignore race/class issues. Women of color have problems with racism and sexism but aren't represented within feminism or antiracism
"Structural Intersectionality": ways in which location of women of color (just an example) makes actual experience of violence (rape, domestic violence...) qualitatively different than that of white women
o Battered women's shelters in minority communities.
o Majority are unemployed or underemployed, and poor, many have childcare responsibility, lack of skill.
o Don't have friends with money to help support them
o Shelters ignore these multidimensional factors and intervention strategies are not customized for these women.
o Congress1990- said women who were abused can leave husbands with fear of being deported. But not good because many immigrant women still don't satisfy the conditions necessary- cant get evidence, cultural barriers,
no telephone, language barriers, never alone, dependent on husbands. Also sometimes husbands are also illegal-so women don't leave abusive husbands to protect their family.
"Political Intersectionality": feminist and antiracist politics have helped marginalize the issue of violence against minority women
o Rape: the needs of women of color are overshadowed by white women's needs. Government refused to send out rape statistics because perhaps it would then be seen as a general problem, not just a minority problem- and
this would mean people ACTUALLY have to start paying attention it-sick
o Black communities discuss black-on-black issues such as gang violence, murder... but don't talk about domestic violence
o The black victim has no name/family/context- only victimized and uncooperative
o Black rape victims are least likely to be believed. This makes them easier targets.
o Much more focused on how black offenders are treated worse than white offenders- this overshadows black versus white victims
"Representational Intersectionality": cultural construction of women of color
o "racial and sexual subordination are mutually reinforcing, that Black women are commonly marginalized by a politics of race alone or gender alone, and that a political response to each form of subordination must at
the same time be a political response to both" 1283
o 2 Live Crew lyrics were disgusting- objectified black women and represented them as suitable targets for sexual violence
o court case against them but then acquitted
o Will (analyzing the 2 live crew case) fails to mention black victims of sexual violence suggesting that they only function for him as stand- ins forwhite women
McIntosh's article brings up the various advantages every white person gets without realizing it. She demonstrates that racism is a part of everyday life and lists 26 situations in which white people have a privilege that is not easily thought of when one thinks about racism. (Additionally, she provides a list of the advantages she gets as a heterosexual
individual.) Peggy McIntosh delves further into these hierarchical structures in White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by admitting that hierarchies in our society are interlocking (11). Males are taught not to recognize male privilege, just as whites are raised to be ignorant of white privileges.McIntosh dissects the obliviousness of white privilege as something white people are more or less unaware of that occurs in their daily lives. McIntosh emphasizes the need to understand that a privilege is not necessarily a positive element. The privilege she experiences confers dominance, "the kind of privilege that gives license to some peopleto be, at best, thoughtless and, at worst, murderous" and should not be considered a "desirable attribute" (p. 15). "I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white
privilege," McIntosh laments, "as males are taught not to recognize male privilege."
*Important quote: Some privileges make me feel at home in the world. Others allow me to escape penalties or dangers that others suffer. Through some I escape fear, anxiety, insult, injury, or a sense of not being welcome, not being real. Some keep me from having to hide, to be in disguise, to feel sick or crazy, to negotiate each transaction from
the position of being an outsider or, within my own group, a person who is suspected of having too close links with a dominant culture. Most keep me from having to be angry. (p. 14)
Proposed solution: McIntosh envisages a day when we will use our arbitrarily awarded power to try to reconstruct power systems (17). McIntosh states we must "commit... to more equitable distributions of power (p. 10)" and to "first acknowledge [the social systems'] colossal unseen dimensions... the silences and denials surrounding privilege...
(p.17) and "to try to reconstruct power systems on a broader base (p.17)."
Things to consider: the notion of privilege, binaries (primarily black and white), dominance of one group over another.
Pratt writes about coming to consciousness as a Southern-born white 'anti-racist.' Pratt reflects on living as a white woman in a black neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Ultimately finding that to get outside the cultural, racial, and social boundaries of her upbringing she must be willing to face how much she does not know.
Pratt begins by recounting her uneasiness in speaking with the people she sees— black, white, men, women—as she is intensely aware of the histories of racism, slavery, privilege, and prejudice that still haunt the streets. On page 21 she discusses the ignorance of white people towards the history of blacks in their our town, when
they are told by the black man serving them that there was indeed a strong history of slavery and oppression of black people in their town. Pratt explores the interconnections between race, gender, and sexuality and tells the story of her own evolving consciousness regarding racism and sexism. With her story, Pratt reveals how her home, community,
and culture have restricted her perspective, making her blind to her own privilege and her complicity in the oppression of others. She argues that feminism and racism cannot be separated-we all must explore our own privileges and prejudices that we have as a result of our race so that we avoid oppressing others.
Pratt reveals how others respond to her awareness and observations about being treated differently for her skin color: They say they are not brave enough, didn't notice, doesn't affect them personally, and/or feel that she is being self-righteous (p. 15). Pratt explains that "every time we speak or act there is the likely chance that we'll find
out more about how we need to go on changing, and that we'll meet other women who also want their lives to be the creation of a more just, more loving world (p. 50)." Pratt concludes that she must acknowledge to herself how much she does not know, how necessary it is for her to listen, and that she needs to draw on the aspects of her culture
that can help in the process.
Things to consider: racism and sexism, the intersectional connections between race, gender, and sexuality, privilege
MAIN IDEA: Need to recognize marginalized groups as social services and government aid is becoming increasingly privatized. Sexuality is a field in which personal values guide public policy, leaving queers and people of color largely
unrecognized and unassisted.
• Neoliberal privatization- Decisive shift away from the welfare state. Relationship
between private lives and public marketplace/government
o "...The dismantling of our social safety net and the intensification of privatization disproportionately affect low-income, working-class, elderly, and young queers, and queers of color"
Sexual democracy- "The basic ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality hold
-that people should be free to build lives under conditions of liberty and fairness, and to pursue happiness as they define it."
o Rarely applied to sexuality! Where personal values often guide public policy
• Intersectionality- "offers an analysis of the ways in which structures of racism, economic inequality, gender, and sexuality intersect to shape one's experience of oppression and resistance."
o Relationship between personal, economic, and political life
Critical case study, mission statement
- Incorporates disability and sexuality à multiple oppressions
The body: "Recognition of the way that social relations are materialized through individual bodies, and how parts of the social world are closed to many different people because of the way they inhabit their bodies."
o "Is both a location of oppression as well as a place of liberation and desire." à "Desiring Change is working towards precisely this liberation, in the ways that we inhabit our bodies, demand public space, and build
deep and long-term activism and knowledge in the service of social justice for everyone."
What and who we desire
Justice seeking vs. justice defending
Unity of marginalized groups/social movements: "Relationships among movements can be built through a holistic vision that promotes the well being of all people...In particular, the desire for justice, shared across movements, can
provide the motivating force for new types of inter-relation." Need to connect social service à advocacy. Increased privatization increases need for social services!
• "Culture" is invoked in explanations of forms of violence against Third-World women, while it is not similarly invoked in explanations of forms of violence that affect mainstream Western women
• Dowry-murder = the death of young women in India who are murdered by their husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry
• Narayan discusses how dowry-murders are attributed to Indian and Hindu culture
• Dowry-murder, however, is neither Hindu nor a tradition à it is purely a form of violence
• Many Indian bestsellers that talk about dowry-murder equate Indian culture to Hindu culture, Hindu culture to Hindu religious views, and Hindu religious views to views propounded in various Hindu scriptures, without even registering how problematic this is
o In doing so, Hinduism and cultural becomes equated with dowry-murder
• Because India is considered a third-world country, dowry-murder becomes attributed to its culture
• There is just as much domestic violence in the U.S. (proportionally), so why isn't gendered violence attributed to American culture as it is to Indian culture?
• KEY POINT: Given that roughly the same proportion of women in the U.S. population are possible victims of 'domestic-violence murder' as women in the Indian population are possible victims of 'dowry-murder,' it is interested that one of these phenomena is named, noted, and made into a specific social issue while the other is not
• Although the majority of women murdered by partners in fact are murdered with firearms, gun control has not emerged strongly as a U.S. feminist issue or even a 'visible' issue in much of the literature on domestic violence
• If American women don't know that there are comparable rates of domestic violence in both India and the U.S., it is not surprising that many Americans fail to connect the unfamiliar phenomenon of dowry-murder to the more familiar category of domestic violence
• Discourses about human rights often attribute responsibility for gendered violence to
cultures, rather than to political sources
• Volpp critiques Kristof's columns on buying young prostitutes their freedom in Cambodia
o She says: Kristof failed to think about the origin of the story of human trafficking and
its relation to trade, destabilization of economies, immigration controls, the role of the
U.S. military, labor exploitation, and global poverty
• Volpp then goes on to discuss the war in Afghanistan:
o A justification for American intervention in Afghanistan (often made by President Bush and Laura Bush), was that Afghan women needed to be liberated from the Taliban
o The rhetoric of the Bush administration is important in relation to certain strands of feminist thinking
o Women subjected to human rights violations (Third World women, for example) are depicted by some feminists as subject to gender subordination like all other women, only more so.
o This is a dangerous link (gender subordination with culture), because it leads people to believe that some women would be better off if their culture became extinct, and it fails to address the political sources that are often the cause of the mistreatment of women.
• Afghanistan has become a generic symbol of women's oppression, and the burka has emerged as an important symbol for some women in the U.S., even while the continuing impoverishment and suffering of women in Afghanistan after the intervention has disappeared as a concern
o Instead, the sole concern is liberating women from a purportedly misogynistic culture, and the burka serves as a concrete symbol of that culture
• The depiction of only some acts of violence as the product of cultural pathologies and only some cultures as equated with the violation of human rights is linked to the failure to see the political origins of violence
• Some states have a monopoly on legitimate violence, and in these states, violence is attributed to political sources, not culture
• States with a civil society can thus have their rights violations vindicated by law
o Gendered violence in these states is seen as a deviation or historical remnant on the path towards a violation-free future
o States that DON'T have a civil society are condemned; gendered violence is a characteristic of their failed state and culture
• Meanings are made and perceived by two elements: 1) how viewers interpret or experience the image and 2) the context in which an image is seen (pg 45). One image means something specific to a certain person, images also create audiences.
• Producers intended meanings: audience research is held to have the meanings be interpreted in a certain way, in the purposeful way the producer intended, but we don't know as readers what they want to convey. Producers intentions may not be the same as what reader takes away from message
• Meaning changes within different contexts (time, place, geographic location)
• "meanings are the product of a complex social interaction among image, veiwers, and context" (pg 47).
• Aesthetics and Taste: depend upon cultures, shared concepts of what is or isn't beautiful. Value based on aesthetics and taste. Beauty is no longer universal, beauty is dependent on individual interpretation. Taste comes from class, culture, education, identity. Taste can be part of the elite class, bad taste is associated with ignorance in society.
• Bourdieu studied responses of French subjects to taste. He declares taste is learned through exposure to society and culture, working classes learn to discriminate views and consumers of certain images. "Bourdieu's theory, taste is a gatekeeping structure that enforces class boundaries" (pg 49). All our tastes are interconnected, a web of tastes.
• Reading images as Ideological Subjects: anything natural in a cultural is seen as an ideology, because it defines how life should be (therefore is in that time). Karl Marx theory: those who own means of production own ideas that circulate in media. "false consciousness" spread by masses, must buy into ideas to allow capitalism to grow.
• Althusser opinion on ideology: without ideology there be no means of thinking about or experiencing "reality". Importance of representation, draws from pschoanalysis to show ideas set up from our unconsciousness. But do have agency in our world then? Can we resist to come up with our own ideas?
• Hegemony (Gramsci's theory): "that dominant ideologies are often presented as "common sense" and that dominant ideologies are in tension with other forces and constantly in flux" (pg 54). Power is negotiated by the people , "hegemony is constructed through the push and pull among all levels of a society over meanings, laws, and other
aspects of a given society" (pg 54).
• Encoding and Decoding: all images are encoded and decoded. Encoded with meaning by producers and production etc. and decoding is made by the viewers according to their views. Stuart Hall (three positions viewers can take to decode):
o Dominant-hegemonic reading: can identify the dominant message unquestioningly (passive)
o Negotiated reading: negotiate and interpret images (more useful)
o Oppositional reading: take on opposite position of meaning of object or image (more useful)
• Appropriation and oppositional readings: cultural appropriation is the process of borrowing and changing the meaning of cultural products, slogans, images, etc. been used to seek the opposite dominant ideology.
• 1980's advertisers turned to female consumers who were angered by the way they were portrayed
in the media. Women angered about unattainable beauty in magazines.
• Parallel to the growth of advertising ideological shifts, postfeminism emerged in the 80s who
began to combat the label of feminism that advertisements sold.
• Commodity feminism reminds that the "commodity relations turn the relations of acting subjects
into the relations between objects."
• Advertisers take for their own use the word feminism and make a look or a style out of it. "sign
objects are thus made to stand for, and made equivalent to, feminist goals of independence and
• Punning: combining two meanings and generating a new meaning for a product for women.
"commodity feminism represents the process of punning used to double or join the meanings of
feminism and femininity." (131).
• Advertisers bridge certain products with differences between feminism/not femininity or
femininity/not feminism to have different objects appeal to different women.
• "In mass advertising, feminism takes on a plurality of faces, but its potentially alternative
ideological force is channeled into the commodity form so that it threatens neither patriarchal
nor capitalist hegemony" (131). Feminist ideology is also sold in commodities as a signifier to become "visual clichés and reified signifiers"
• "commodity feminism elides the social dimension which conditions the contradictions experienced in daily life. Feminism becomes 'depoliticized' as ads turn 'feminist social goals to individual lifestyles'" (132).
• We accept certain images as feminine, ex: the line and curve of the female body along with other
poses. In other words, femininity was seen as different female body parts, however, to describe
feminism independence, women in the work force, and self control are used. "commodity feminism presents feminism as a style... that say who you are".
• Advertisers now look to demographic attitudes to know who their target audiences are.
Mademoiselle magazine tries to combine and unite feminism with femininity in a postfeminist
approach to advertising. "the commodity sold here is an audience of women" (136).
• Turning the audience as the commodity: the new Ms. Says the new women is interested in
politics, business, tech, clothing trends... "if you want to reach the top women consumers in
America, reach for the phone... The new Ms. As impressive as the women who reads it". (137)
• 'new 80s women' has a mix of interests: spilling content of her purse: passports, calculator, keys,
gold charm bracelet, business card, etc. (MS. Magazine)
• "Both Ms. And Cosmopolitan represent their women as a consumer of objects that symbolize
the worth of emancipated women- signifying lifestyle leisure activities, disposable income,
professional and personal roles, concern for appearance and travel" (140). Try to sell the idea of
balancing professional work, independence, while attaining feminine beauty and the role of being
• Espirit features real people who are just themselves, stand out by how women are posed and the
messages they say about themselves: more what they do (AIDS educator, cyclist, neo-feminist)
and wear less makeup
• "Espirit constitutes the framework (the sign-universe) within which 'neo-feminism' exists- where
you as a modern women can a) transcend the constraints of patriarchy and choose to define
yourself; b) smash the inegalitarian pretense of fashion and luxury c) redefine elegance and style
in terms of what you can do and not what money can buy" (152).
• Commodity feminism addresses the ownership of ownself in terms of body/total physiciality and
self through the "right acquisitions, can maximize ones value at both work and home" this is
"essential to reproducing the commodity form"
The book Persepolis gives us an interesting take on the Iranian revolution -
through the experience of an insider, Marjane, a young Iranian girl who grew up during
this political turmoil and came to realize the limitations of being a woman living under
the Islamic regime.
In the book, Persepolis, Marjane Strapi, who grew up in well-to-do family, experiences the Islamic Revolution at the age of 10. Dissatisfied with the Shah's corrupt regime, her family was initially supportive of the overthrow, but they soon became even more disillusioned by the new Islamic government. After the Shah's fall, religious
fundamentalism took power and Marjane was obliged to wear the veil in public. As she pointed out, "Then came 1980: the year it became obligatory to wear the veil at school. We didn't really like to wear the veil, especially since we didn't understand why we had to." (Strapi, 3) Furthermore, other religious rules were being strictly observed; Marjane
recalled one instance when fundamentalists harassed her mother for not wearing a veil. In 1980, after Marji and her family went on vacation in Europe for three weeks, they returned home to the announcement of the Iraq-Iran war. During this war, Tehran was constantly bombed and young boys were often recruited into the army, where the
government would give these boys plastic keys painted gold and told them that if the go to war and were lucky enough to die, they have the key to paradise where there would be plenty of food, houses and women waiting for them. During this period, Marji became a teenager and loses her innocence. She skipped classes to hang out with boys and tried
her first cigarette. In one instance, the Guards of the Revolution stopped her on her way home because of her "inappropriate attire" - tight jeans and improperly worn headscarf. However, she manages to convince them to let her go and escape punishment. Throughout this time, Marji also realized that the fundamentalist regime is using this war
to get rid of all internal opposition and make the regime more oppressive. In the succeeding years, the situation only got worse. A missile destroyed Marjane's neighbor's home, and she saw the remains of the 14-year-old daughter. She got
kicked out of school for her rebelliousness. Her parents become worried for her safety and future. They decided to send her to a French school in Austria.
As Marjane became more aware of the political situation through her personal experiences such as Uncle Anoosh's execution, Mahri's class difference, the episode where the school handed out plastic keys painted gold to send young men to die fighting futile war, and finally, Taher's sealed fate, Marjane felt frustrated by the system where people
were punished for disputing and seeks to rebel. At the end of the book, she becomes an independent, brave and intelligent woman, arguably because of the revolution and war, and knows how to question the validity of certain things before coming to terms with it. We must note that while some of these "revolutionary reforms" can be universally
applied to Iranian women (ie: having to wear the veil outside), we must also keep in mind that Marjane does come from an elite position, and she is one of the few Iranian women who received a Western education; therefore, her experiences as a woman of the upper class during the revolution may overall be different than that of another female, such as
Mehri the housekeeper.
I. The Body of the Condemned
· Foucault is exploring the history of punishment, and why "the disappearance of public spectacle" has occurred when it comes to punishment and torture: "The body as the major target of penal repression disappeared" (8).
· Justice is no longer mediated through public performance - there is a move away from the violence-for-violence exchange: "It is ugly to be punishable, but there is no glory in punishing" (10).
· Shifting from physical punishment to things like fines take justice from body-centric to otherwise, "slackening a hold on the body" (10); punishment as it interacts with the body now only goes to 1. Imprison it 2. Make it work and 3. Deprive it of individual liberty
· Why are we so careful to avoid pain in our executions of criminals? We have doctors present to watch over executions, "this juxtaposing himself as the agent of welfare, as the alleviator of pain, with the official whose task it is to end life" (11) - the way we punish bodies today has become very contradictory
· When punishment was so visceral - public lynching, beheadings, etc., exposure to the torture scared people away from disobedience. Now, punishment is very much a means of deprivation of the body - food, sex, freedom are all limited or not available. This transforms it to an "internal economy of penalty" (18) which affects criminals on a much more individual, rather than community or societal, way in punishment.
· With this new system, judges and court systems have shifted towards looking upon the character or "soul" of an individual, rather than just the crime: "they have begun to do something other than pass judgment . . . other types of assessment have slipped in, profoundly altering its rules of elaboration" (19).
· We are concerned with motives and causes - is the offender mentally ill? Is that hereditary? Did his environment drive him to it? What was the motive? How do we view the offender's future?
· The way things exist in the penal system today has judges judging so much more than the crime
· Power struggle between body, soul, prison, crime, penal system; the "prison environment as an instrument and vector of power" (30)
II. Docile Bodies
· "Body as object and target of power . . . manipulated, shaped, trained, which obeys, responds, becomes skillful and increases its forces" (136)
· Bodies are docile, thus may be acted upon, transformed, improved, used, manipulated, controlled
· Docile bodies are optimal for an industrialized world in regards to warfare, politics, education, economy, and general order
· Discipline functions through the distribution of individuals in space:
o 1. It sometimes requires enclosure - a space different and removed from all others (monasteries, schools, barracks, factories)
o 2. Partitioning - "Each individual has his own place; and each place its individual" (143) people can be accounted for at all times
o 3. Functional sites - the physical space of a place defines who and what goes on there (hospitals, workshops, etc.)
o 4. Rank - docile bodies are organized relative to one another, not in a specific position
· Individuals filter through structures of power that determine their futures - for example, partitioning off and quarantining of disease-ridden houses and neighborhoods in France
o "The plague is met by order; its function is to sort out every possible confusion . . . it lays down for each individual his place, his body, his disease and his death, his well-being by means of an omnipresent and omniscient power that subdivides itself . . . to the ultimate determination of the individual, of what characterizes him, of what belongs to him, of what happens to him." (197)
· Authority divides and brands things into a binary (mad/sane, dangerous/harmless, normal/abnormal); branding makes it easier to discipline and control others
· Bentham's Panopticon is an ideal prison. Essentially it is set up like a giant scale of Hollywood Squares, where all the cells are visible to one warden observer in a tower, and all inmates of the cells are not visible to one another. This allows inmates to be "the object of information, never the subject of communication" (200). Visibility traps the objects because the power dynamic is flipped - inmates cannot communicate, plot or spy on one another, and the warden doesn't even necessarily have to be in the tower watching, for the inmates cannot tell if he is present. Thus, inmates bear the power.
· MAIN POINT: The panopticon induces the inmate into "a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power" (201)
· Panopticism is extended to factories, schools, barracks, workshops
· The "unequal gaze" means that individuals will behave more if they think they're being watched
· Conclusion: two images of discipline exist: the discipline-blockade where things are internally controlled and partitioned, and the discipline-mechanism, where power is lighter and more effective (like the panopticon)
· The discipline of which Foucault speaks is a function of power; society becomes disciplined for we are all participants in a "panoptic machine"
Bordo argues about hunger in terms of advertisements, making the claim that ads idealize women who have control over their appetites. Whether or not that ad depicts a woman wishing she could lose weight, or a woman embracing how
much she eats, no matter what she is always shown as having the ability to start and stop eating whenever she pleases, an ability viewers of the ads strive to have. Bordo also examines film and television, claiming that food becomes an object of sexuality, and that women in films are only allowed to eat on these three occasions: 1) when they are actually starving, 2) when they are pregnant, 3) when the food is serving as a metaphor for their sexual appetite. By contrast, men in ads and in film are often rewarded for their large appetites, and are constantly shown enjoying and indulging
in food. Advertisements also use the tactic of sexuality, but use it to play on the stigma that women should be never sexually promiscuous. Women sensually indulge in low-calorie products, but should never dive into anything too fatty, for this would be the same as essentially sleeping around ("cheating" on your diet). Finally, Bordo explores the role of the mother, claiming that the ideal mother would rather feed another than herself, thus the ideology of hunger attaches itself to yet another gender stereotype, and finds another way of making certain women (in this case, mothers) feel guilty feeding themselves, when they have someone else to feed.
Bordo argues that anorexia and bullemia should not be merely looked at as results of our current fashion society, but should instead be seen as a summation of years in our culture leading up to this moment. She references Foucault to make the claim that bodies are engineered, and that there is no actual body shape, but
dominating people in society exact control over the dominated, in this case, anorexics. She looks at the body the way it has been looked at for centuries by philosophers: the body is detached from the mind, the body is representative of a
prison or a cage (something you are limited by), the body is the enemy, which subjects us to hunger and to disease, and finally, the body is all that threatens our attempts at control. In these ways, the body becomes an alien thing, something thatpeople do not associate with themselves, but rather, feel is a burden they must deal with.
Ultimately she sees anorexia as a thirst for control over hunger, rather than the desire to be slim. She also examines why it is that 90% of anorectics are women, and reports that there is some sort of desire to be manly that accompanies
anorectics: they shape their bodies to look less curved and therefore more flat like a man's, and when they speak of having a voice inside their heads that tells them not to eat, this voice is always male. Bordo explains that this is almost a feminist protest, "involving anger at the limitations of the traditional female role, rejection of values associated with it, and fierce rebellion against allowing their futures to develop in the same direction as their mothers' lives."
It was originally believe that anorexia nervosa mostly targeted white, wealthy women; however, that commonly accepted view is quickly changing. Eating disorders among girls and women of ethnic minorities are become an
increasing global phenomena. Distressed and disturbed eating practices are "not just a white girl thing" or even an exclusively western issue. Many girls of ethnic minorities suffer with the culture-clash between western and non-western societies.This culture clash is based on the conceptualization of cultures that are defined, contained, and relatively stable, which we are aware, is often not the case. Ethnic minorities are frequently predicated on a somewhat stereotyped notion of minority cultures being fixed and traditional, in contrast with the ever changing, modern, and
progressive west. Nasser and Malson attribute the spread of mass media to the increase of eating disorders of western and non-western individuals. Increased exposure to dominant, western, mainstream norm and values creates insecurities within girls and women, worldwide. Studies show that there is a direct correlation between body dissatisfaction and the accumulation of mainstream western values. The article fixates on the idea of globalization of western values throughout the media and how it has a negative impact on people of all races.
•Anorexia= "psychiatric illness [that] must be situated within new cultural expectationsabout ideal femininity"
• Institutional structures like clinics help to construct anorectic bodies: relates to Foucault's ideas on surveillance, bodies and their malleability, etc. à there is no such thing as a natural body
o There is a double movement by trying to help people overcome their disease, they unwittingly point out abnormalities and manifest the disease as a part of everyday life by bringing it to focus
o Surveillance increases limits and issues, while it can also help with overcoming the disease.
o At a certain clinic, Walsh, the patients are weighed every morning to "one-tenth of a kilogram every morning" so it can be ensured that they are gaining weight,but this only emphasizes the importance of weight and can cause more issues.
•Gremillion gives us a history of anorexia and its treatment: late 1800's it was considered to be hysteria; 1914 "anorexia was widely considered a manifestation of pituitary dysfunction" and was treated as an endocrine disease; in 1930s-50s, Freudian analysis became a popular treatment; in the 1960s positive reinforcement became the main way of combating the disease (reinforcement of weight gain); today "multidimensional treatment paradigms" are popularà mixture of "strategies for weight gain, individual, family, and group therapy, and biomedical interventions (e.g., antidepressant medications). Despite new interventions, anorexia "remains extremely difficult to treat."
• "Women and girls who live with anorexia can be seen to be engaged in a battle against 'downward mobility.'" This says that women who suffer from anorexia are usually not in the upper classes
•"Therapies for anorexia unwittingly engage cultural practices and ideologies that are constitutive of this syndrome."
o "Psychiatric treatments for anorexia participate in a core contradiction entailed in the making of 'ideal' persons within contemporary capitalist culture, through the simultaneous construction of (1) a self-possessed individualism- in the shape of self-control, 'boundaries' around the self, will-power, autonomy, and productivity- and (2) domains such as the body and the family that appear as 'natural' constraints in people's efforts to achieve autonomous individualism."
o Anorexia occurs largely in North American and European countries, but can alsooccur in countries where there is "a surge of capitalist development."
•Direct reference to Foucault and the panopticon as it relates to hospital environments: "Foucault discusses this arrangement of physical space as an important aspect of much of hospital medicine, modeled after Jeremy Bentham's panopticon, an eighteenth-centuryproposal for the architectural design of prisons..."
o "Body as a socially and culturally constituted entity. Much of this research is concerned with the naturalization of power and draws on the work of Foucault."
• Our excepts included the intro and Chapter 4, which Gremillion summarizes as an analysis of "the race and class politics of 'healthy' families and subjectivities at [the clinic.] White, middle-class patients are the only patients imagined to be always already 'fit' for effective treatment, and certain nonwhite, working class patients are excluded from full participation in the program..."
· Synopsis: Clarice "Precious" Jones is an obese and illiterate 16-year-old girl who lives in Harlem with her abusive mother Mary. Precious has recently fallen pregnant with her second child, the result of being raped by her father, who is also the father of Precious' first child. The school has decided to send her to an alternative school because she is pregnant. Despite her mother's insistence that she apply for welfare, Precious enrolls in the school. She meets her teacher, Ms. Blue Rain, who teaches a pre-GED class for those who are unprepared for high school-level courses. Despite their academic and personal deficits, Ms. Rain strives to ignite a passion in her students for literature and writing.
Themes: visibility versus invisibility, politics of language, Welfare Queen/black women
· welfare mother represents stereotype of uncontrolled substances, and rascisom , the figure embodies a moral deficiency
· politics of language--- how do you take language that you have in order to say something differently? Precious' writing serves as a way of testifying and breaking the silence against incest. This book serves as a recognition of her agency.
· Invisibility versus visibility: these tests make her feel invisible--- the test paints a picture of what is the standard and she does not fit into that standard.
· Race: people are defined categorically versus individually. Precious depletes the system of it's resources. If you look at 1987—innercity kids were being vilified, which was much easier based on geography. There was a development of an urban marker, a coding practice. Carl embodies the black man who is invisible and incestual, an agent of violence, while Precious and her mother are the black, poor woman who extracts resources, overweight and unhealthy as well, physical experiences also play into it. Overweight people are symbols against excess, lazy, docile, jolly. Thin people are motivated and disciplined.
• Poor Black mothers have been traditionally devalued and marginalized
• Conflation of all welfare recipients with single, poor Black mothers is a representation of the conflation of racism, sexism, and classism with the facts and beliefs regarding the identities and behaviors of welfare recipients
• The "welfare queen" public identity is a contemporary name applied to welfare recipients, and it is composed of two things: hyperfertility and laziness
• Furthermore, the emphasis in American political culture on individual-level explanations for sociopolitical problems rather than systematic explanations makes people look at "welfare queens" with disgust
• "Welfare," a program originating in the late 19th century for the "worthy white widow" was quickly characterized as one dominated by the "immoral Black 'welfare queen,'" as Black women, limited by institutional racism, pursued the equal access constitutionally guaranteed to them and thus sought welfare.
• From the very start of the welfare program, "woman-centered" social welfare policy has meant "mother-centered" social welfare policy, allowing the state to be an agent of control over maternal behavior
• Women's activism became part of an effort to maintain race, ethnicity, and hierarchy through the regulation of sexuality and fertility of black women
o Single, poor Black mothers were urged by elites of both races to uphold Victorian ideals of motherhood
• Women represent biological reproducers of the nation AND the boundaries to be preserved by means of restrictions on sexual and martial relations
o Victorian notions of motherhood overlapped with nationalist portrayals of mothers' primary roles as caretakers of the future American citizens
o Thus, women's welfare programs passed easily through state legislature well before women's suffrage because these programs did not threaten male ideals, in fact, they upheld them! (Men supported the Victorian ideal of motherhood)
• Black women's bodies have historically been regulated through laws describing the status of their children as slaves; through court decisions preventing sexual abuse from falling within the definition of cruel punishment; through an economic and cultural context that encouraged forced prostitution
• The ideological justifications supporting these social welfare programs/widows pensions reinforced women's role as traditional mothers and American nationalism
• Tied to this nationalism, which enforced racial hierarchy, widows' pensions became one more aspect of U.S. citizenship denied to single poor, Black mothers
• The "welfare queen" identity pools together stereotypes of single women, African American women, poor women, and mothers into one stereotypical and pejorative image
• Intersectionality of gender, race, and class
• The NWRO (National Welfare Rights Organization) became by and for single poor Black mothers à lost economic and political support from whites
o Yet poor black single mothers still gained a lot from the NWRO
o Reinforced the right of poor people to participate in policy discussions that affect their life
• NWRO had 2 consequences:
o 1. The NWRO found few who were willing to stand in solidarity with its struggle for welfare rights as both a civil and women's movement
o Transformation of public and private leadership from middle-class Whites to welfare recipients themselves
• African American political culture continues to draw an increasingly hostile boundary between deserving African Americans and welfare recipients presumed to be single, poor Black mothers
• COMMON IDEOLOGY: welfare mothers do not deserve government assistance because they are responsible for their own poverty (goes back to the idea that "welfare queens" are either hyperfertile or lazy)
• When single poor Black women try to explain the reasons for policy failure and articulate their own needs, the identity of the welfare queen prevents their political claims from being considered legitimate à prevents their participation in the public discourse
In 1987, obese, illiterate, 16-year-old Claireece Precious Jones lives in the Harlem with her abusive mother, Mary. She has been raped by her father, Carl, resulting in two pregnancies. She suffers long-term physical and mental abuse from her unemployed mother. Her first child, known as "Mongo" has Down syndrome and is being cared for
by Precious' grandmother, though Mary forces the family to pretend Mongo lives with her and Precious so she can receive extra money from the government. Following the discovery of Precious' second pregnancy, she is taken out of school. Her high school principal arranges to have her attend an alternative, which she hopes can help Precious
change her life's direction. Precious finds a way out of her traumatic daily existence through imagination and fantasy. In her mind, there is another world where she is loved and appreciated.
Inspired by her new teacher, Blu Rain, Precious begins to learn to read and write. Precious meets sporadically with a social worker named Ms. Weiss, who learns about incest in the household when Precious lets slip who fathered her children. Precious gives birth to her second child and names him Abdul. While at the hospital, she meets Nurse
John who is very kind to her. After her mother hits Precious and deliberately drops three- day-old Abdul, Precious fights back long enough to get her son and flees her home permanently (also after her mother throws a television at her as she fled).
Shortly after leaving the house, Precious stops at a window of a church and watches the choir inside sing a Christmas song. She begins to imagine herself, and her dream boyfriend, singing a more upbeat version of the Christmas song. Later on, Precious breaks into her school classroom to get out of the cold and is discovered the following morning by Miss Rain. The teacher finds assistance for Precious, who begins raising her son in a halfway house while she continues academically.
Her mother comes back into her life to inform Precious that her father has died of AIDS. Later, Precious learns that she is HIV positive, but Abdul is not. Precious meets Ms. Weiss at her office and steals her case file. Precious recounts the details of the file to her fellow students and is determined to become more than what Ms. Weiss expects her to
be. Mary and Precious see each other for the last time in Ms. Weiss' office, where Mary is questioned about her abuse of Precious, and uncovers specific physical and sexual traumas Precious encountered, starting when she was three. Mary begs Ms. Weiss to help get Precious back, but she refuses upon finding out the extent of the abuse. The film ends
with Precious still resolved to improve her life for herself and her children. She severs ties with her mother and plans to complete a GED exam to receive a high school diploma equivalent.
Things to consider: invisibility/visibility, differences between book and film (characters, omissions), binaries (black or white, pretty or ugly, smart or stupid).
Women's health movement= "epistemological resistance movement geared at undermining the production of ignorance about women's health and women's bodies in order to critique and extricate women from oppressive systems often based on ignorance". Aim of women's health movement was to give women information about medical knowledge, but also to transform the knowledge of women's bodies. Tuana is concerned with circulation of knowledge and ignorance.
Two key points about ignorance: 1) Ignorance is situated; 2) Ignorance interacts with power.
Her taxonomy on ignorance:
1. Knowing That We Do Not Know, But Not Caring To Know (not linked to present interests):
· ex: birth control causes negative symptoms, but drug companies decided they were tolerable for men and not women. Point is that the male contraceptive option was not overlooked, but rather disregarded because knowledge of a history of male contraception was not deemed important. The idea that such knowledge is unimportant is connected to power and privilege and oppression.
2. We Do Not Even Know That We Do Not Know (current interests/knowledge block such knowledge):
· ex: anatomical knowledge of clitoral structures. "The ignorance that had been produced by a conception of women's genetalia defined soleyly via reproductive function was replaced in the epistemologies of the women's health movement with knoeldge arising from embodied experience."
3. They Do Not Want Us To Know (the ignorance of certain groups is systematically cultivated):
· ex: the withholding of information about the negative symptoms of the drug Premarin, which is used to treat menopause. Pharmaceutical companies, to protect their profits, resisted informing women of negative symptoms, thereby putting them at serious risk.
4. Willful Ignorance (they do not know and they do not want to know)
· ex: racism and the insistence of ignoring the "oppressive conditions experienced by nonwhites, the institutions, beliefs, and practices that underlie such inequities, and the privileges that benefit whites simply because of their racialized position." "Willful ignorance is a deception that we impose upon ourselves [those who are in positions of privilege]." Incest is another example: refusal of medical community to accept evidence that suggested that incest occurs in families of all races and classes.
5. Ignorance Produced By the Construction of Epistemically Disadvantaged Identities:
· "Cognitive authority is determined by many factors, including the character of a speaker, her or his intellectual capacity, his or her reasonableness, and so on—criteria that feminists have demonstrated to be imbued with the prejudices of sexism, androcentrism, racism, classism, ageism, and ableism." The speculum is a symbol of the resistance against the medical authority, and the attempt of women to reclaim knowledge of their bodies.
6. Loving Ignorance (accepting what we cannot know):
· all other forms of ignorance listed have been about oppression and exclusion, but this ignorance is about that which 'exceeds our knowledge capacities." In recognizing differences, we also must recognize that there are aspects of reality that "exceed our own and cannot be fully comprehended."
Reason for title: Just as the speculums of the women's health movement were a key technol- ogy of their epistemic practices, I would urge that we see the epistemologies of ignorance that were woven into the practices of the women's health movement as themselves speculums, tools for "widening all kinds of orifices to improve observation and intervention in the interest of projects that are simultaneously about freedom, justice, and knowledge."
A Gendered Brain? by Jordan-Young
-Scientists disagree about when gender is determined in humans
-Are female and male brains innately different?
-Sexologist Dr. Money said gender is flexible in children until age 2
-David Reimer disproves that theory because he was changed from a boy into a girl
right after birth, but always felt like a boy
Jordon- young makes a list describing the relationship between the brain and gender:
1. human brain develops much more slowly than genitals. Genitals are fully developed before baby is born, and again during puberty. Brain takes a long time
2. can draw comparisons between animals and humans in terms of genital function, but not in terms of brain behavior
3. Human brains cannot be "sexed"
Some scientists claim to be able to tell gender by examining the brain Some say that the sex based region of the brain is double the size in men then in women, but this has not actually been proven
4. gender does not determine brain function
5. behaviors and traits can be sex-typed, but are not exact. You can't always figure out a person's gender based on their skills and behaviors. You can only be 60-75% sure
**examining sexual orientation can help in finding out how hormones shape the
-Are interests sex typed?
-Scientist says boys are more atuned to object movement and location, and girls are more atuned to color, especially red or pink
-Young says this assumption is only American, and pink is not considered girly in other countries, and only started to be considered girly in America recently
-Believed that one of the key differences between the sexes is males have more aggression
-Females with CAH (born genetically as boys) were more aggressive than normal females, but males with CAH were the same as males without it
-Majority of women with CAH (born boys but needed to change to girls after birth) cannot experience vaginal penetration during heterosexual sex, common to not be very sexually active
-These women often feel ashamed of their bodies and do not feel beautiful
-Girls with CAH tend to play less with dolls, be more "masculine"
-Most women with CAH are bisexual or lesbian