Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I would have to say that my "click" moment was when I completed a social justice project in my final year of high school. By researching the different ways in which women's rights were progressing in different countries made me think about my own limitations as a young woman living in North America. As I read different academic literature in Women's Studies, I began to see that my oppression lies even deeper than what I thought I saw on the surface. I was racially and ethnically oppressed because my own views were not being acknowledged in the literature I read, and the ways that I could talk about my own oppression were limited. At that moment, I fully realized that my feminism could grow and change in a way that could not only be empowering to me, but to other women who may share similar experiences as me. So how did I go about this? With the help of my friends, I created a blog that could hopefully work through the issues that I found to be so important to me. By creating this online space, I finally realized that there is the full potential to create a new space that seeks to understand the different conceptual forms of my own feminism, and the feminism of others.
So, we would love to hear what your own "click" moment was!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Feminists concerned about human rights emphasize the confluence of issues here. on the one hand is the right to freely express one`s religion in public or private so along as doing so does not threaten the rights of others. A ban on appeal that appears directly at Muslim girls and women does not seem to be upholding the right to freely express one`s religious beliefs. Nor does it seem to treat everyone equally given that its effects are most evident on school girls. but on the other hand is the right to equal protection and security in one`s person and the state`s obligation to carry that out. If France understands religious symbols as posing a potential threat to an individual or to a group, and views a ban on such symbols as the best way to protect those individuals, then it might be argued that the state certainly has a right to enforce the ban even if it appears to target Muslim girls. Moreover, feminists are divided about the whether the head scarf and other forms of veiling are themselves indicative of sexual inequality or are otherwise demeaning of women. Some argue that the head scarf or veil is freely chosen and even empowering insofar as it protects women from at least women of the objectifying gaze of males. Other argue that the veil is a symbol of women`s subordination and lack of autonomy in some cultural and religious traditions.
Regardless, the feminist efforts to secure human rights internationally, in spite of difficulties determining what that would mean, are important extensions of feminist efforts to secure the legal, social, political, and economic rights of women within one`s own nation.
Women have made tremendous gains all around the world but there is still more to accomplish. Women are still more likely to be victims of violence, women still disproportionately care for infants and children, and women are still underpaid compared to their male peers. Some of the changes in legislation now need to be backed up with cultural changes that affect how laws are implemented. In addition, not all of the manifestations of oppression can be remedied through changes in legislation, the structure of the economy, or even social and political transformation. Oppression is often internalized-incorporated into how one thinks of oneself and others.
Some monologues include:
- I Was Twelve, My Mother Slapped Me: a chorus describing many young women's and girls' first menstrual period.
- My Angry Vagina, in which a woman humorously rants about injustices wrought against the vagina, such as tampons, douches, and the tools used by OB/GYNs.
- My Vagina Was My Village, a monologue compiled from the testimonies of Bosnian women subjected to rape camps.
- The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could, in which a woman recalls memories of traumatic sexual experiences in her childhood and a self-described "positive healing" sexual experience in her adolescent years with an older woman. In the original version, she is 13, but later versions would change her age to 16. This particular skit has sparked numerous controversies and criticisms due to its content (see below).
- Reclaiming Cunt, a piece narrated by a woman who illustrates that the word "cunt" itself is a lovely word despite its disconcerting connotations.
This week, the agency that we have chosen is the Hiatus House. This social service agency offers confidential intervention for families who are experiencing domestic violence. It allows for women who have been abused to remain in a safe facility with their children until they can make a clearer decision on their new life. The Hiatus House also looks at these issues through a gendered lens and acknowledges that women can also abuse men, and abusive relationships can also occur within same sex couples.
Although I have never experienced an issue where I have had to take myself or a friend to this shelter, I have heard many great things about this social service agency.
I hope that by promoting their website on our blog, we can show others that there are resources in our community that can help women who have been abused by their partners.
Middle Eastern soap operas are what this post is all about. Whether you live in North America or the Middle East, you have seen your family members turn on their Arabic satellite and watch countless dramatic shows that tell the most risque stories. These shows are bold, enticing and brilliantly done to the point where even if you do not understand the Arabic language clearly, you will sit there reading the subtitles or ask your parents what the characters are really saying.
From watching these shows and strengthening my own views of feminism, I cannot ignore the way violence is portrayed against women. Women are portrayed in situations where domestic violence occurs as weak and always in danger. The characters of these women are emotionally and physically abused, however, no one ever stops to think that these women should leave their husbands. From my own personal experience, every time I question why these women do not leave, I am always told that because of their culture, that they do not think that they are abused, and thus, it is normalized to stay within a relationships such as this.
This is problematic for a number of reasons. For instance, if violence against women is normalized in the media, then others are desensitized to it, thus, viewing it as normal. When culture is brought into this, it creates an even more complicated matter. By allowing an excuse for violence because "a culture allows it" you are conforming to the false representation that individuals for that culture need western society to go into their countries to end their oppression. Also, by stating that violence is depicted in these shows then you are forgetting that there are also television shows in North America that depict abuse against women. By forgetting that these issues are also prevalent here, we then choose to forget about our own oppression, therefore, our feminist activism is not being used to help our own selves.We also forget that violence against women is a shared experience that women across different borders face; and therefore, not an invisible one.
So the question remains; what can I do as a Chaldean woman living in a western society where these shows are displayed to my younger siblings. The answer is simple. I would do the same thing that I would do regarding any other show, whether it be a show produced in North America, or the Middle East. I would argue that these women are abused, and that they should look towards themselves and their community resources to help empower their own lives and leave an abusive relationship. I would also still argue that violence and abusive relationships are not healthy, no matter where it is stemming from.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The idea that virginity tests are still performed are not only illogical, but they so ingrained with the oppression of women because it tells others that a girl (girls are only called women in the Arab nations after they are married; thus, losing their virginity) is only worthy of respect if her hymen is still intact. By performing a virginity test, you are implying that a female only has one sole responsibility: to remain sexually silent and restrict her sexuality to the rules of patriarchy.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
One thing is for sure, there is no membership card or pledge of allegiance to the cause, there is no litmus test or any sort test actually. Perhaps we might answer to be feminist one merely had to claim it as an identity. But identity is itself a troubling word. If I say I am feminist does that mean that everything I do will be as a feminist? Does that mean that I have to dress, act, and speak like others who also that they are feminists? Do I have to follow a feminist dogma? And what about this notion of an individual claiming an identity? What could that mean and do all individuals have the freedom and power to do such claiming? For that matter, why would we want to say being a feminist is merely a choice for an individual? Clearly, there is a lot to think about regarding these terms feminism and feminist.
The most common and perhaps most general understanding of feminism is that feminism is about equal rights for women. Feminism is more about equal rights for women but what that means is much more complicated than it appears at first blush. Moreover, feminism isn’t just about equal rights for women. Feminism is a critical project. It looks at all aspects of life to identify those elements that might be oppressive and suggest alternatives. By critical I do not mean that feminism rejects anything that it does not like. Rather critical means that there is an inquiry into the message and values of something. Criticism is an activity that seeks to analyze and understand something- a practice, a custom, a language and a social role. In seeking to understand, however, criticism also asks what values and presuppositions are being implied by the thing. A critical look at the world would dissect it into various parts- language, laws, social roles, practices, for instance- and seek to uncover what else is being suggested beyond the facts. A feminist reading, as a critical project, would look especially at what is being said about women; what social roles are they expected to take, what are their liberties or privileges in relation to men, and similar sorts of inquiries. In addition, if the feminist has specific interests or concerns, then she or he might emphasize particular aspects of the critical project. Feminist glimpse the world through a different lens and what they see usually requires a response. Feminism in other words follows the critical project with action to bring about to social change.
Sisterhood is a notion of unity among all women, that is, that all women are sisters. But what makes us sisters? One idea of sisterhood is founded on shared experience and oppression. Women might bond over shared anxieties, sufferings, and trials. Perhaps women share a bond or seek to connect with other women because they relate over the difficulty of their experiences of being subordinated, the victims of violence, stereotyped, excluded or otherwise oppressed. Women talking with other women and sharing experiences plays a large role in bringing oppression to public consciousness.
Sisterhood implies moral and epistemological bonds between women regardless of whether individual women actually know one another. The idea is that all women are subject to sexist violence, marginalization, and exclusion and by virtue of this subjection women are united. Sisterhood should mean that sisters should aid their sisters in need. But of course women do not always or even often respond in compassionate ways to other women, sometimes, women even blame one another for the violence they suffer.
Sisterhood is also problematic in a number of ways. We want to share how not all women actually shares the same experience of oppression. If feminist organizing relies on a bond among women and the bond is grounded in a shred experience of the same oppression, and if there is no shared experience of oppression, then no bond will form and feminist organizing will be paralyzed. Moreover, any number of particular circumstances may affect how a woman experiences oppress. Sisterhood also tends to emphasize victimhood. Certain naming and identifying a problem shared by others is important many women find the initial experience of consciousness rising quite empowering. Nevertheless, focusing on the many ways that women are victimized can be all consuming and quite paralyzing. Is sisterhood stops at how women are victims together then they never get to the point of changing the social and political systems that cause victimization. Women have to move beyond being victims in order to identity that many strengths women have and act on those strengths for the good of all.