Monday, April 25, 2011

Summary: Enloe

"Being Curious about Our Lack of Feminist Curiosity"

Enloe makes a lot of really strong points in her introductory statement that preface her essays quite well. She begins by explaining that our lack of curiosity can mainly be attributed to laziness. Being curious and questioning our assumptions takes energy. She explains that it is much easier to accept that certain structures and institutions are "natural" or certain cultural habits are simply "tradition." If we frame things in this way then we don't have to question their validity. Enloe claims that these phrases (natural, tradition, always, oldest, etc.) have helped sustain power structures at all different levels. She believes that keeping people, especially women, from being curious about these things must serve a purpose to someone. Enloe thinks that it is important to focus on all women when looking at things from the curious feminist perspective. She says that patriarchy acts in all sorts of ways and if we don't focus on all women we will miss the way it acts on everyone. Patriarchy marginalizes women and encourages them to take on a complicit role in the system. She says that women are pressed into the roles of compliance by becoming secretaries, or factory workers or other roles that allow them to elevate men. Enloe goes on to discuss examples of patriarchy in the military and politics.
Enloe also discusses her recent work on "girlhood" and her recent exploration of her own girlhood during the war in the suburbs of New York City. She questions the way the war militarized her through the songs she memorized and the games she played as a child. She also talks about research in "post-conflict zones" and how countries come out of wars and leave their militarized identities behind, much like the article about Borislav Herak.

"The Surprised Feminist"

In this article, Enloe discusses the need for feminist scholars and activists to admit their surprise. She believes that feminists need to stop being cynical and assuming the worst, and be open to the idea of something surprising them. She says that women have worked so hard to gain respect in their work that many women are unwilling to admit when something shocks them because they believe it will negatively effect their credibility. This is similar to Enloe's introduction and I think it really relates. Feminists need to be willing to look deeper on all fronts whether it's by being curious or by being willing to believe that something surprised them and then question why it did.
Enloe goes on to list all the things that surprised her in the past year and why. She uses the surprise she felt to look deeper and question her own understanding of the events. She believes that surprise allows women to "take fresh stock" and gives them a "willingness to think afresh" (17). She believes that women's cynicism and unwillingness to admit to surprise dulls their curiosity which Enloe believes is so important.


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