Monday, October 25, 2010

A History Book Goes a Long, Long Way

Instead of explaining the reason to WHY I am posting this Historical Evidence, I hope it just simply, speaks for itself:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Sojourner Truth (March 24th, 1867)
Dear Sojourner Truth,
Will you try to be present at our coming anniversary & help us to burn the woman & the negro in the citizen, & make N.Y. State a genuine republic?
Yours Sincerely,
E Cady Stanton

Susan B. Anthony to the New York State Colored Men's Convention (Oct. 1, 1886)
To the President and members of the Colored Men's State Convention.
Gentlemen: Permit me in behalf of the colored women of the State of New-York to urge upon you to extend your demand for the ballot to your wives and daughters-your mothers and sisters. By the laws of our State the grievances of colored women are a thousand fold greater than those of colored men. While colored men not possessed of the requisite $250 to make them voters are exempted from taxation, all colored women worth even $50 are compelled to pay taxes. That is, the colored man to-day is worth $200, and it exempt, he dies to-morrow, and his widow is immediately assessed as a tax-payer. Then in all the trades and professions your sisters and daughters have not only the obstacles that are everywhere thrown in your way, but also the prejudices and impediments everywhere thrown in woman's way, in addition. Now, heaven, and all colored men, know that the barriers that hedge your pathway on every side are most discouraging; I ask you, then, to remember the women by your side, and secure to them all you claim for yourselves. Now is the time to establish the government of our State, as well as the nation, on the one Democratic Republican Principle-the consent of the whole people- black women, and white as well as black men must now be brought within the body politic.
Respectfully Yours,
Susan B. Anthony

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paris is Burning, Venus Boys

I know we talked about both of these films over the past couple of weeks and I wanted to play them next to each other to show to examine them both:

After watching both of these films, I drastically viewed performativity and drag balls, female masculinity very differently but I also want to investigate these films with a documentary or ethnographic lens. How do they play into what we have begun to talk about? These are questions that I hope to answer in the next couple of weeks.

I Cannot Take Credit for This

This is from one of my favorite blogs, Everything.Is.Terrible and I must say, I do not know what to make of it but I wanted to share it with all of you.

Gurl, Please

This is a call out.
This is a statement.
This is a rant.

Know the history,
Before you "speak" your mind.
Know the history,
and not just the HBO special.
Know the history,
from the actual archives.

Don't think this isn't a call out.
Because it is.
Don't think that I don't know your pissed,
Because I do.
Don't think that I didn't expect this,
Because I did.
Don't Think that I'm not listening,
Because I Am.
Don't Think that I don't understand you,
Because I do.

Don't think that anger doesn't come from a place within,
Because it does.

This is a call out,
to you, to them, to us.
This is a call out,
to tell you to know the facts,
your power,
your story,
you speak.

This is a call out,
plain and simple.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's About Power....Right?

Dear Everyone,
I really enjoyed the discussion in today's class, no matter what was said! I guess that's the point, opening up a dialogue where our discomforts, pain, joys and happiness all meet head to head and no matter what you think or feel, this class has been a great resource for opening up these ideas and important dialogues and more importantly where you feel mad and angry or happy and joyful.

I think I've done enough talking and frankly I always feel like I screw it up a little bit so therefore I'm going to let Buffy do the talking for me. I respect and value your opinions but I think that the thing I got most from our conversation and it's OK to BLUNTLY say it, the anger, that was present (it's ok to have anger) is where and who has power? What is power? and why is it the primary thing we are always talking about?

We all see and use power differently and more importantly, we all have different types of power but if it's all about power, then what is life really about? I saw power in everyone's videos, regardless of their subject lines and I loved how we all addressed these in unique, new ways that help create new discourses and ways to think about certain ideas/subjects. If power is present everywhere, then has there ever been a time when it wasn't there?

If power is all we talk about then what types of power, do you have and HOW do you use it? This video presents power in many different ways and maybe this, is what I wanted to show in my video. How is power presented? I have to thank Buffy for it always puts things in perspective.

Power can be both good and bad (the dichotomy between the two I hope is clear in this clip) but more importantly, the ending line strikes a chord with me and has for many years: "It's not about right. It's not about wrong. It's about power."

Maybe this is what I wanted to say all along?!

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Ain't I a Feminist?"

Before starting this video essay, we presented our ideas in class. After expressing what I wanted to do someone asked me, "What's your stake in all of this?" This person wondered what my stake or role was in feminism. Where did I stand? and more specifically, how would my video idea address these issues.

I have to thank this person, for I had the usual answers to "Why are you passionate about feminism?" like: "Equality is a human issue" or "Oppression is something we all need to work against regardless of our gender." Now, because of this video essay (and my thoughtful classmate) I can now vocalize my true feelings. I am involved and passionate about feminism because I am a contradiction. I am a man who is passionate about Women's Liberation. I am a man who works to end the discriminatory practices created to destroy equality, I am a man who calls himself a feminist. I am a white man that is socially and culturally embedded with the "patriarchal power" that we read about. Being the contradiction empowers me to work harder, to make sure that in everything I do, the embedded social and cultural hierarchies that are embedded within me, are broken down.

I have a responsibility and it's to make sure that in whatever I choose to do that I always remember how harmful oppression is and how easy it is to simply become the problem rather than work against it.

I want to make sure that people understand that in my essay it is not my belief that "Girls Gone Wild" is necessarily a bad thing. By juxtaposing this imagery with the empowering speech by Alice Walker (who is reading Sojourner's Truth "Ain't I a Woman") I hope to express a different opinion than that of a man simply objectifying women via his gaze and simply being another man saying "You worked so hard for the vote and look what you do with it now." If I were to do this, I would simply be falling back in the power/privilege role I struggle with daily as a male feminist. I would no longer be trying to solve the problem but adding to it.

More importantly, I want to pose the question, aren't the women in the "Girls Gone Wild" videos still women and/or feminist? The answer I am afraid is hard to realize. As feminists we are granted a very politicized gaze and we are critical of how the male, objectifying gaze hurts women. More so, if we see this video as men simply abusing their power and gaze to appease the masculine world with hyper-sexualized imagery, then yes, I do believe there is something COMPLETELY wrong with this video.

However, on the other hand as feminists we have to see this video as something else, something no women could do prior to the 21st century. Women worked hard to obtain equal rights and that too means being able to, like men, bare all if they so choose too. The problem is not whether or not they choose too it is the very gaze that is acted upon them as a result. Do these women too then fall victim to a female gaze as well?

Women worked hard for the vote in MANY different ways to achieve MANY different outcomes and one of these outcomes does mean being able to bare all. They are still women, they are still powerful, they are still voices that need to be heard. Can these videos be empowering to women? I think that they are. Upon asking some friends, they look at the Girls Gone Wild videos and say: "I will never let that happen to me." Instead they conclude, "I will use my power as a woman to get a job once held by a man or get a higher degree in education so that my life is not dependent on my spouse/partner/or husband." In a twisted way, these videos are empowering for they ensure that other women, who view them as objectifying, don't fall into the trap of the male gaze.

It was my hope to prove this by then moving away from the Girls Gone Wild into more contemporary women's rights movement activities. By showing how women from all walks of life have used the right to vote and be heard publicly. It was my intention to end the video by stating too that if these women, who worked so hard to change the world want to be heard or represented, then the MEN who work to objectify or subject women to social ideals of beauty or sexuality, better let them because the women's right's movement is powerful with or without "Girls Gone Wild."