Tuesday, April 26, 2011
In the introduction Enloe questions the natural assumptions about life and gender that society makes. Patriarchy has seemingly always been around so it is natural in the Western world. She is challenging patriarchal systems that put masculinity first and femininity in the outskirts. If we allow ourselves to stop being curious about traditions of masculinity and femininity then nothing will ever change. There is a great danger for feminists than not being curious. This reminds me of investigative reporters who work hard to answer the questions that they are curious about and expose the truth for the rest of the world to learn. In a way Enloe's feminist is an investigative reporter, who challenges patriarchy to find the truth. Feminist curiosity is not limited to the public patriarchy that surrounds society, but also the private life. Why do women cook and clean more than their spouses? Why are women more likely to work in a sweatshop? Enloe points out how patriarchy only survives because men and women allow for it. They are not curious enough about the system to learn more about and to change it.
In chapter one, Enloe focuses on the importance of surprise and how we should allow ourselves to be surprised. She questions the assumption that being surprised means you are not qualified or creditable. There are some things that you may be able to predict if you look closely enough, but this is not always true. Enloe talks about some of the things that surprised her, such as the collapse of the Brazilian economy or the success of the U.S. Women's National Basketball Association. Admitting her surprise is the only way that she will be able to move forward. I wonder how being surprised came to be a bad thing? Why is it that if you cannot predict something than you do not know enough about it? If nothing ever surprised you than there would not be anything more to learn. People may not like surprises, but that does not mean that they are bad. Enloe concludes her chapter by saying that being surprised is vital to being a feminist and a human being.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
This chapter by Greenstone explores how she came into her own identity. She begins by telling the story of when she was in middle school and one of her friends made an inappropriate common about being Jewish. When Greenstone defended herself to this friend she ended up losing the friendship, and was later bullied by her. Like Pruce, she went on a trip to visit the Nazi concentration camps. This trip made her identify very strongly with her religion and it’s history of oppression. She, again like Pruce, realized that she has a responsibility to never allow something like the Holocaust to occur again. The Holocaust can never be forgotten, not only for those who suffered from it, but also so it will never be repeated. Some would say that other genocides, like Darfur, have and are occurring though.
Greenstone continues her narrative of how she became a leader and a feminist by explaining how college inspired her to follow her dreams. After college she worked for an activist organization. Her age made her self-conscious but she learned to confront her fears as well as those who did not listen to her because of her age.
She began to work closely with young women and discovered how there is a great need for feminism work with young women. Adolescents (and even younger) face a media and society that tells them that their appearance matters more than anything else. Greenstone tries to teach young women that their self-confidence should not lay in their appearance but in their actions and thoughts. By dealing with insecurities of other females, Greenstone found the importance of having self-pride. Her message of having pride in oneself is one that can apply to everyone, not just to insecure teenage girls.
"Navigating Identity Politics in Activism..." (Attenello)
Like Greenstone, Attenello looks at how she became an activist and a feminist. She started to take classes in college that analyzed how race and gender operate in social movements, only to discover that women were mostly ignored. The gender inequality that was represented in the literature shocked her. She found her own literature about women and embraced feminism. Attenello focuses on identity politics and what this means for her and for others. She became an activist that is committed to combating gender-based violence.
How she began her activist career is really interesting. She attended Rutgers University at the same time as a serial rapist was attacking Rutgers female students and Mexican women. Attenello points how she realized that the newspapers and police focused much more of the Rutger's students than they did on the Mexican women. To do something to change how vulnerable women were, she joined a march in protest of how the rape attacks were being handled. In this she met a very important woman named, Lupe. Lupe and her exchanged numbers after Attenello expressed an interest in helping Lupe (and her organization).
Attenello worked closely with Lupe’s group because of her organizational and leadership skills. As time went on, though, she recognized that she should not be the vice-president because she did not represent the group well enough. The group was all Mexican, except for her, and she also wanted to focus more on women’s rights. She learned a lot about what it means to be a leader from her time, but moving on was the right decision. She is still engaged in activist work today for women’s rights.
"Blurring the Lines that Divide" (Pruce)
In this chapter, Pruce looks at how she identifies herself and how this results in her being a leader. She begins the chapter discussing how she grew up being told that she could do anything that she wanted to. Her identity as a Jew, a leader, and a woman is very important to her. It is her identity that has led her to where she is now. Her religious identity is very close to her. She writes how she went to Poland to visit the death camps, and realized the responsibility she feels for never allowing something like this to occur again. She goes on to write that she spent a year in Israel, before college, and how this experience made her identity as a Jew grow stronger. She gives a little of the history of Israel, but is very biased. Pruce says that she recognizes this, but in her writing does not seem to try and be more objective.
Pruce tells how when she went to college, she really began to take a role in active leadership. She founded a Jewish Zionist group, but received some really bad attention from the college and her peers. She recounts how she was called a fascist and a right-wing extremist. This did not stop her from leading though. Her identity as a woman became very important to her when she took her first women's and gender issues course. Seeing how gendered the world was made her change her own perspective on things, and she also recognized how much she wanted to change things for the better for women. She writes how she learned to protest with other women one day, and then the next protest against the same women because of their differing opinions. She says that she respects her "opponent" who is Palestinian, but never seems to give their cause much thought. At one point in the chapter she says how her opponents rally against Israel, but I have to wonder if it is really Israel they are rallying against or if they are rallying to support Palestine. At another point in the chapter she talks about not being openly a feminist in front of Christian leaders for fear of it undermining her goals, but from what I can tell from my religion class, Judaism and Christianity are very similar on their views of women. It confused me as to why it mattered that they were Christian.
She ends the chapter by looking at how her activism and her identity have made her choices for her. She is clearly a very strong woman with strong beliefs. She wants to create social change for the betterment of women and Jews. Pruce's character is one of a leader who is careful to stay true to herself.
Friday, April 22, 2011
The Stop Deceptive Advertising in Women’s Services Act, is a law that would have serious effects on the pregnancy centers throughout New York City. It is referred to as Bill 0-371 A and would require 10 different disclosures in both English and Spanish. The disclosures would have to be made in person, in advertising, in signage, and on the phone. The disclosures would essentially tell women that they do not provide abortions, contraception, or have licensed medical personnel available (Jensen). It would also hold the pregnancy centers to a new standard of confidentiality. They would not be able to report cases of child molestation, child prostitution and child trafficking through these new confidentiality practices (Christian Newswire). Essentially, these new restrictions would force crisis pregnancy centers to specify that they are not, in fact, able to help women medically. They would keep women from seeking things that cannot be provided by crisis pregnancy centers and being confused from misleading signs or advertisements.
The main reason these demands are being made of the pro-life pregnancy centers is because many people believe they intentionally try to mislead women into thinking they provide services that they do not and then the women are “indoctrinated with anti-abortion propaganda” (Jensen). Although this is probably a bit of an exaggeration and most clinics are likely just trying to help women, there have been many cases where the centers remain rather ambiguous in their services. In one case, a center “set up shop in the same building and on the same floor as a Planned Parenthood clinic” (Jensen). When women are pregnant, scared and confused, it can be extremely misleading to see two centers claiming to help pregnant women right next to each other. One specific example that Carolyn Maloney refers to is a center in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. The Robbinsdale Women’s Center, an anti-abortion, religiously affiliated operation, is directly across the street from the Robbinsdale Clinic which is the actual medical facility. Joyce Johnson, the office manager of the Robbinsdale Clinic reported that at least three or four patients a month are “confused by the center’s proximity and vague name” (Stevens). She believes that this is a deliberate tactic by the Robbinsdale Women’s Center and claims that the “patients who go there are not told that they may be in the wrong place” (Stevens). This is part of the reason why city officials are lobbying for transparency because these types of delays infringe on pre-natal care and abortion services (Jensen). If women are not told explicitly what type of care they will receive at the pregnancy centers, they may be misled until it is too late to seek the services they require.
However, pro-life crisis pregnancy centers are arguing that these laws are unconstitutional and infringe on their right to free speech. Jor-El Godsey, the vice president of affiliate services at Heartbeat International, in response to the Robbinsdale issue said he believes that “All advertising is designed to lure somebody into something. Crisis pregnancy centers operate on the same strategy that competing grocery stores do; they open up near a rival to draw their customers” (Stevens). The main issue many people have with the bill is that pro-choice clinics are being left completely untouched by any such restrictions. Mark Rienzi, who led the fight against Baltimore’s similar restrictions on crisis pregnancy centers, argued that the bill “certainly cannot target pro-life speakers for special sign requirements and fines while leaving speech by abortion clinics entirely unregulated. This new regulation violates every core principle of freedom of speech” (Christian Newswire). He definitely has support in his conviction and many people feel similarly that it is unjust to only require pro-life organizations to meet these standards. Councilman Daniel Halloran agrees that the law is particularly unbalanced. He said he “wouldn’t mind if we had a bill that talked about regulating both Planned Parenthood and crisis pregnancy centers” but the fact that both parties aren’t regulated is unreasonable (Galdi). The thought is that it places pro-choice clinics at the advantage.
On the opposing side, pro-choice groups that would like to impose these restrictions, argue that all that matters is transparency and truth in advertising. An attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union was asked to speak before the council as to the validity of the law under the First Amendment. He believed that the bill passed the First Amendment test because under the amendment the government can require truth in advertising which is essentially what the bill would be doing (Jensen). Councilwoman Jessica Lappin says that it is simply about transparency. “We want women to know and to make sure it’s clear walking in the door,” that they are in a place that cannot offer them medical services (Galdi). The law would be the device that ensures women know exactly what they are signing up for instead of being deceived by misleading advertising or information. If the information or advertising they are projecting to the public is untrue, it is the government’s responsibility to regulate it until it is honest.
The implications if this law is passed are extensive. We discussed in class that women are often deceived in these centers and often being misled for even a few days can change the outcome of a pregnancy. Abortion is a very time sensitive procedure. If a woman were misinformed by the crisis pregnancy centers, by the time she realizes her mistake it could be too late to have the procedure done. Along with that, we have discussed how many states have very strict regulations for abortion anyway. Many places require women to go to bias counseling which preys on young, vulnerable and sometimes uneducated women. Some of the crisis pregnancy centers seem to be applying the same tactics. As Arcana discusses in her article, no woman wants to get an abortion. It is a difficult choice for any woman to make and once she chooses that route she should be respected for making the right decision for her unborn child. There are enough wires around the birdcage of female health services without women being purposefully misinformed.
Although the regulations on crisis pregnancy centers would be a change, it is one that is necessary to cancel the ambiguities that have long been confusing women who are already in difficult and sensitive situations. The laws would ask a lot of pregnancy centers, but if they are already clear in their objectives, it shouldn’t be very much to ask. It is understandable that it seems unjust that pro-choice centers have no such regulations. That is something that I believe needs to change. If pro-life organizations are asked to state their goals and services, then pro-choice organizations should have to comply as well. It will be interesting to see where this heated, and clearly personal to some, debate goes in the near future. The implications of laws on transparency are great, and could have a serious impact on women’s healthcare.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Save Money. Pay Women Less.
The largest employment discrimination lawsuit in American history is Dukes vs. Wal-Mart. This case is being fought on behalf of 1.5 million current and former Wal-Mart employees over discrimination in pay and promotion. What connects these 1.5 million people? They are all female.
The case began in 1999 when Stephanie Odle was fired from Wal-Mart after complaining of sexual discrimination. This New York Times article explains how women from across America have joined together to fight for their rights: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/opinion/07thu1.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=women&st=cse. Wal-Mart denies the discrimination, but that is not their main defense. Wal-Mart’s lawyers argue that there is not enough “cohesion” among the women to justify treating them as a single class. The plaintiffs may have differences, but all of them have experienced sexual discrimination at the hands of Wal-Mart, and they are tired of it. Together these inspirational women are trying to prove that if their sex is enough in common for all of them to be paid less than men in the same positions as them, they have enough in common to sue for sexual discrimination. Their fight to stop sexism in the workplace is surely a case for all womankind.
Christine Kwapnoski is one of the main six women suing Wal-Mart. When she told her boss that she wanted a promotion he told her to, “blow the cobwebs off your makeup” and to “doll up” in order to advance. Kwanpnoski joined the other women suing Wal-Mart for practical reasons. Filing a suit against one of the world’s largest corporation would be too costly and stand little-to-no chance of ever being heard.
Sexism in the workplace is nothing new. Since the founding of America (and it seems the world) discrimination against women has perpetuated. Wal-Mart’s sexual discrimination is also common. Many large corporations exploit women, “Nike, the largest athletic footwear in the world, posted a record $298 million profit for 1993” uses women globally to make a profit (Enloe 44). Wal-Mart and Nike use similar techniques in how they treat women. Nike might exploit women more globally compared to Wal-Mart, who in this case, exploit women in the U.S.; the connection is women being exploited. Women are vulnerable to sexual discrimination in the workplace because jobs are so competitive, thus women are afraid if they complain they might get fired.
Society today says that women are separate but equal from men. Sexism is supposed to be dead, but as demonstrated in Wal-Mart’s case this is incorrect. In Leading the Way, author Anuradha Shyam writes about the sexism that South Asian women face. She is speaking of South Asian women when she says, “It is expected that we behave with deference and modesty at home, but it is imperative that we demonstrate assertiveness and decisiveness in the corporate world” but this statement can be applied to most women living in America (179). The fact that women have consistently earned less to a man’s dollar in America proves sexism is not gone, but Wal-Mart claims to be the exception.
Wal-Mart might be arguing that it does not discriminate, but the evidence speaks for itself. The sheer overwhelming number of women claiming to have been discriminated against cannot be a coincidence. This picture shows the difference between men and women’s income:
The evidence is clear, but the judges' decision may not be. To side with the plaintiffs the Supreme Court would need to go against the largest private employer in America. In 2009, the Court denied a big business case against a woman, so until early summer (when the decision is most likely to come out) everyone will have to wait to see the decision. The real issue is, will the highest court in America decide if being female is enough to treat them as a single class? Would their decision be different if the defendants were all male? What began as a grievance over pay and promotion among a handful of women at Wal-Mart has turned into the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in America. No matter the ending, the six women who have filed this lawsuit have proved what women can accomplish when they come together.
Enloe, Cynthia H. The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire/Berkley: University of California Press, 2004. Print
“Wal-Mart vs. Women.” Editorial. The New York Times 7 April 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/07/opinion/07thu1.html?sq=walmart%20wome n&st=cse&scp=1&pagewanted=print.
Trigg, Mary K., ed. Leading the Way: young women’s activism for social change. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010. Print.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Ibrahim, Bunch, and Abu-Lughod all focus on how feminists have not been heard on this issue enough. Ibrahim found activism through her own trials with dealing with prejudice as a Muslim-American women. She is defensive about being American and Iraqi. Being a Muslim woman in America can be very difficult. People assume things about you before they ever speak to you. This is what Abu-Lughod looks at. She wonders where this obsession with the rights of Muslim women came from. Women are oppressed all over the world, yet there is a push from the West to save Muslim women. What about the women in Africa who are forced to go through genital mutilation? Abu-Lughod talks about the political element of “saving” Muslim women, and the propaganda involved with the Iraq war. While reading her article, I thought how it is ironic that Americans fight to tell Muslim women not to wear any head covering. Telling someone that they should not wear a headscarf is as oppressive as telling someone that they should wear it. I do think that Muslim women should have the choice to not wear a covering, but I also think that if their choice is to wear it then it should be respected. I have heard news reporters and politicians explain women still wearing the head covering by saying that they are brainwashed. This is really condescending and eschews Muslim women’s intelligence.
I thought that Bunch made a good point that feminists need to be heard on local and global issues, but thought that she made some generalizations. She writes that, "the unholy alliance of the Vatican, Islamic fundamentalists and right-wing US forces is still working together when it comes to trying to defeat women's human rights." I think this is blaming certain groups that may have contributed to the problem, but it is oversimplifying the issue. All of the readings really do not like the Bush administration, but fail to mention how most of America participated and agreed with the Bush administration at one point or another. I do think agree that there are some serious issues with how propaganda was spread by the Bush administration, but to blame it solely on the Bush administration may be unfair.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Enloe focuses on the Bosnia mass rapes. The Bosnian war is one example of a mass rape, but rape is found in every war. The Rape of Nanking and in the Rwandan genocide are also examples of mass rapes in war. She focuses on how the rapist, Borislay, felt a need to prove his masculinity, and the way he proved it was through rape. I thought it was incredibly disgusting how Borislav was taught to rape women. He did not want to show that he even felt guilty. I wonder if he had just one other male in the group who outspokenly said that he did not want to rape anyone, what would have happened? This culture of rape in war is terrifying. It is hard to comprehend how rape came to be a way to show masculinity. It is scary to think of the terrible things that people can do to each other.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Steinem's article mainly focuses on the male identity that is based on supremacy. She says this is especially apparent in white, middle class, heterosexual males. Research shows that the most acts of violence, especially impersonal and hate crimes, are committed by these characters. They show their superiority through the fact that they can impose pain on others and kill others. This gives them power which they believe they deserve simply because they have grown up white, middle class, heterosexual and male. Steinem points out that all other criminals and murderers kill and do other acts of violence mainly to improve their own conditions. The poor kill for money or drugs, minorities sometimes kill to claim their own space, and women often kill in self-defense. White, middle-class males, have generally killed only for dominance. Steinem backs herself up by showing the statistics that the portion of serial killings not committed by white males is proportional to the number of males who are anorexic. She questions whether factors of race, sexual orientation, and economic status would remain so undiscussed if the perpetrators weren't of the dominant race, orientation and status. I think this is a really incredible point and a true one. If the killers were of a minority, their backgrounds would be questioned. If they were women or gay, people would question societal oppressions that effect them. However, Steinem provides hope by saying that if men are raised more like daughters and taught the value of empathy and the welfare of others, they could grow up differently and perhaps place less weight on dominance. I think this is actually true because looking around, I know many men who are sensitive and kind and are more likely to be dominated by a woman than to dominate someone else.
Enloe's article also brought up some really interesting points. I thought it was really great that she started out with different people's willingness to speak up in the classroom. I thought that it related really well to the greater problem of women's ability to speak out in general. I definitely noticed a birdcage like scenario in her argument. Women are faced with 6 criteria that they need to consider before speaking up for themselves. They are fenced in by these 6 wires, sometimes only one or two of them are acting, but they consistently have to think of every single one. Enloe's point about factory workers essentially being silenced reminded me of the Globetrotting Sneaker article that basically explained exactly why women couldn't speak out.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Enloe also discusses male superiority, but she does it on a more global view. Enloe looks at the silence that male superiority creates for women. She makes the good point that silence robs people of the chance to hear everyone's thoughts and/or understandings. This reminded me of voting. Many people in the United States do not vote, yet it seems that everyone complains about the government. When big elections come around people rally together to try and get the most votes cast. I remember during the most recent presidential election campaign celebrities (as well as other people too) wore shirts that read: "Rock The Vote" or "Vote Or Die." Their points were not that if you do not vote you die, but that you should vote because your opinion matters. I know in some countries it is mandatory for everyone to vote, and I am curious what that would mean if it were implemented in America. I think there would be a lot of issues with it, but perhaps then more public opinion could be gathered. Enloe goes on to talk about the violence done against women, and how people who want to talk about the violence are silenced through various means. She mentions the peace and conflict theorist, Hannah Arendt, and her beliefs, which differ from many feminists. The issue of whether things should be discussed in private or in public comes up. If something is said in private then is it silenced? I do think that when something is said in public then obviously more people know of it, but things said in private can have power too. There is the issue of "respectability", or of keeping the nation's image good. Either way, I think silence on these issues allows them to perpetuate. For both sexes to have their fair say in how things are in the world, this silence needs to end. At the end of the chapter, Enloe gives a new way to test violence against women. She focuses on how women are treated generally, if they dare to speak out, how they are greeted when they do speak out, and how dependent is society on female silence. She ends arguing that if a government is to become more representative on the entire population than female silence needs to end.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
In Crenshaw’s article she discussed rape and violence against women too, but she focused on women of color. She, like Brownmiller, looked at the link between patriarchy and racism. She argued that there is not enough done to reach out to women who are victims of rape or other violent acts. The politics that she discussed in regards to how victims are treated was awful. She brought up the example of Anita Hill (and like Susan Douglas) explained how Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment were treated unfairly because she was a woman accusing a powerful man. There are many issues when trying to help rape victims (such as a language barrier), but politics should not be one of them. One example in the article really shocked me. It was the discussion of what Shahrazad Ali wrote in her book. She actually encouraged black men to dominate the females in their lives, and to use force sometimes. (Never enough to seriously injure them, but some physical violence is just fine). It surprised me that a woman wrote that. I guess I just thought as a woman she would be more sympathetic to her own sex. If not sympathetic than at least more understanding than she is.
Both of these articles discussed the need for feminists to change how women are treated, and to do something to stop the rape cycle. Neither article really addressed what men should do though. Other than obviously not rape, where do men fit in this fight? Brownmiller accused all men of benefiting and participating in the rape cycle, so what should these men do? I know that my dad would be horrified and upset if I told him that I believed because he was a man that he participates “in a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear…” (Brownmiller 312). If just by being male makes you part of the process, how can a man win?
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Follow Up: “Choosing Nursing: A Feminist Odyssey”, “Finding the Face in Public Health Policy…” and “Acting on a Grander Scale…”
Mendez and Kaminsky write about their personal experiences as members of the medical side in the health care debate. Both are medical personnel, but make different points. Mendez writes about the need for bilingual doctors, and her personal experiences with it. Kaminsky writes about how nursing is considered a feminine job, but explains how that should not down play how important of a job it is. I think this relates to the debate on being a housewife. A woman should not be seen as less depending on her job, but in today’s society she is. Housewife and nurse are both feminine jobs, and both are looked down on. The connection between the two is that a typical woman’s job is worth less than a typical man’s job. Mendez’s point is that it is not only men who look down on nurses, but feminists as well and this should change.