Independent Study – My Experience

exam-memes-funny.jpgPhoto Credit.

This independent study was quite possibly the best way to wrap up my undergraduate studies. The thing about independent studies are that they push you to work by yourself, develop your own lesson plan and complete tasks on time with no formal reminders.

The above photo does not describe my experience with this class, because on the contrary I enjoyed it a lot, but it describes my time as an undergrad student. I’ve started to feel, in the last year and a half, that we as students work and work and work without really enjoying ourselves. I’ve taken many classes that I didn’t *want* to take (French class, I’m looking at you) but having this independent study with my Professor, Dr. Clemens, gave me the opportunity to plan my semester on exactly what was of interest to me. And in fact, this class gave me the opportunity to hone in on one particular subject, humor in feminism, and present it at a Women’s and Gender Studies conference.

I can tell you that in my four years of college this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to present something because of a class and a professor. The class Clemens and I came up with was Feminism on the Internet, which basically consisted of any aspect of feminism on the internet – bullying, racism, humor, etc. What I enjoyed most was being able to dive as deep as I wanted into each topic. There have been times in classes that I’ve wanted to really research, really learn and understand a certain topic, but couldn’t because the class was on such a strict schedule to get everything done. I enjoyed having the opportunity to learn about what was of interest to me (which makes sense considering I’m paying for my education.)

Have you ever taken an independent study? What was your experience?

Advertisements

LVAIC Women’s and Gender Studies Conference

On Saturday I presented a poster with my research about Sexism in Humor. The experience was wonderful and the conference was empowering. To be surrounding by people who are working towards and believe in similar things as you do…

 

My poster board presentation outlined examples of sexist jokes, key components, the effects they have and what to do about them. Under the effects I wrote a small blurb:

Sexist humor demeans, insults, stereotypes, victimizes and objectifies women based on their gender. We see sexist humor in the media, at the workplace and in social interactions.

“It’s only a joke,” is a comment most likely heard after a sexist joke has been told and “This may be sexist, but…” is a signal that the coming remark should be taken as humor.

In a research project led by Thomas E. Ford, Psychology expert at Western Carolina University, he found that “exposer to sexist humor can lead to toleration of hostile feelings and discrimination against women.” In other words, the sexist remarks and jokes create a perception that this humor is socially acceptable.

When this benign amusement affects the perceptions of people in social surroundings, causing them to be comfortable with the behavior. In his research, Ford came up with the conclusion that “exposure to sexist humor can create conditions that allow men [and women] – especially those who have antagonistic attitudes toward women – to express those attitudes in their behavior.”

A study done in the International Journal of Humor Research by Annie Kochersberger showed that sexist humor and the amusement of sexist humor has nothing to do with gender. Anyone can be sexist, anywhere, anytime.

Sexism masked in humor can be dangerous. The lightness of a joke to cover a hideous prejudice.

Another thing about the conference that I really appreciated was the guest speaker, Marlana Eck. During her talk, she mentioned something that I’ve been thinking about for the past two days…Woman-fluences. She challenged us to think about the women in our lives who have influenced us the most. I’m not going to share my list on here yet, but I was wondering – who are your women-fluences?

Sexism in Humor

woman-sandwhich
Photo Credit.

On Saturday, April 9 I will be presenting at the LVAIC Women’s and Gender Studies Conference on sexism in humor. This is a very personal topic for me and a topic that I’ve felt passionately about for years – even before coming to college and taking Women’s and Gender Studies courses. This is a topic that, in the past, I’ve felt strongly about but haven’t completely known how to talk about it in an appropriate, active way.

The article I read this week is by Thomas E Ford called, “Effects of Exposure to Sexist Humor on Perceptions of Normative Tolerance of Sexism.” The article really hit on how I feel and react to sexist humor. There were a few points that Ford mentioned that encompass what I want people to take out of my presentation at the LVAIC Conference.

The first:

“Accordingly, suggested that by making light of the expression of sexism, sexist humor communicates a’meta- message’ 􏰀or normative standard that, in this context, sexism need not be taken seriously or scrutinized in a critical manner.”

By making light of a sexist joke, remark or conversation, we are essentially ignoring a very real problem in our society. People think that making these comments is okay, they think it’s normal. And it shouldn’t be. Think about it: when you hear a sexist joke or remark, what do you do? Do you ignore it or do you say something? If we’re ignoring it, aren’t we also to blame for perpetuating sexism?

I see this like I see bullying. Let’s say you saw someone being bullied, you’d step in and say to stop and that it’s wrong. Aren’t sexist jokes, remarks, etc. just like this? When I hear something derogatory about women and I know it’s in my power to stand up and say, “Hey, that’s not right. Stop,” I do. And I think it’s important to do so.

“The receiver’s acceptance of the sexist humor, then, contributes to the construction of an implicit local norm of tolerance of sexism.”

The above picture is one of many that lined Google after searching “sexism in humor.” Go ahead, try it. It’s ridiculous and demeaning, but I can honestly say that I have heard all of the jokes on the first page of that search and the one I pulled for this post is one of the less  sexualizing of the jokes.

I want to hear from you guys: how do you feel when you hear a sexist joke or remark? Do you say something about it?

I’m a Feminist and I Want to Think Like One

tumblr_o3r3tkwqp81v24ceao1_1280

Photo Credit.

This week I read two essays in “Third Wave Feminism: A Critical Exploration” – Ch. 1 ‘Feminists Love a Utopia’: Collaboration, Conflict and the Futures of Feminism by Lise Shapiro Sanders and Ch. 20 ‘Wake Up and Smell the Lipgloss’: Gender, Generation and the (A)politics of Girl Power by Rebecca Munford.

After reading these two essays, I realized that sometimes my inner most thoughts are not always feminist. Sometimes, I hate to admit it, my thoughts are sexist.

Let’s take the recent example of the Kim Kardashian nude Instagram post. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about – here.) On International Women’s Day, yesterday, some women were outraged and took to slut shaming. While others were proud that she was embracing her body post-child. Everyone seemed to be on one side or the other.

Let me take a moment to say that I am being totally honest right now. I see feminism as something you stand for,  live by and try to demonstrate. It is something that should affect the way one thinks, talks and behaves. Now, have you ever had an ugly thought about a woman? Maybe, “I can’t believe she’s wearing that.” or, “She’s so bossy!” or, “Wow, she must be desperate because she’s sleeping around.” Something along those lines…

I’ve definitely had at least one of these thoughts and I don’t think these inner thoughts make me a bad feminist, I just think they show I have room to grow. (As we all do.) I rarely ever hear a man slut shaming a woman. What I hear most often is women slut shaming other women. Or another example, stay-at-home-moms…I hear women all the time say, “That’s what you want to do with your life?” as if being a stay-at-home-mom wasn’t as rewarding and equally difficult as any other job.

One thing I personally want to get better at is respecting other women. Which is something that I often preach. I want to wonder, ask questions and feel comfortable while doing these things. There is no need to be hostile to women who aren’t exactly like us or don’t think exactly like us. This is something I want to remember, work on and truly change.

 

“[T]here have always been, and will always be, differing versions of what feminism is about…” – Segal

Say Something When Yah Hear Something

hashtag-feminism

Photo Credit.

This week I read “Between Feminism and Fun(ny)mism: Analyzing Gender in Popular Internet Humor” by Limor Shifman and Dafna Lemish and “Third Wave Feminism: A Critical Exploration” Ch. 6 Theorizing the Intermezzo: The Contributions of Postfeminism and Third Wave Feminism by Amanda D. Lotz.

What is postfeminism? What is third wave feminism? Those were questions I had before starting these two texts this week, which are heavily laden with the terms. Luckily for me, Lotz breaks down both terms.

“Within the US, postfeminism had primarily been used in the popular press to suggest the current era was ‘after feminism’ in a manner that at least implicitly suggested that feminism’s goals had been achieved and activism was no longer necessary.” – Amanda D. Lotz

Lotz also talks a lot about third wave feminism in this chapter, but I’ve found this definition to be the simplest way of explaining the complex movement…

“Fundamentally…a political shift in feminism’s conceptual and theoretical agenda.” – Ann Brooks

 

I hear ‘postfeminism’ a lot more than I hear ‘third wave feminism’ and that scares me because our goals haven’t been achieved and the activism IS still necessary. Take, for example, the other article I read by Shifman and Lemish. The article talked about humor and feminism. Sexist humor is still alive and females are still the target of jokes. In the article there are mention of four key components that make up sexist jokes: the jokes
“target and ridicule women” while putting an emphasis on their ‘inferiority’ in comparison to men, in many cases the jokes are implicit, the jokes use traditional stereotypes where women are portrayed as “stupid, dependent, illogical, and nagging sexual objects” and the jokes emphasis a clear hierarchy of women’s ‘inferiority’ to men.

Not only are sexist jokes all over the internet, but I hear them on a daily basis. In fact, the other weekend, after having some people over the night before, I started cleaning my dining room table in the morning. As I was cleaning, my roommate’s friend states, “you’re a good woman.” In his head, this was a light joke, nothing serious. But in mine? The woman that the joke was directed at? All I could do was look up and stare and think, “did he really just say that?”

Yes. I am a women. Yes. I was cleaning. But his traditional stereotype of a women cleaning being a “good women” was so utterly offensive. So, back onto the topic of postfeminism…

We are not beyond the need of feminism. In fact, we have a long, long way to go. And  yes, this joke wasn’t necessarily the hardest slap in the face, but it is just the tip of what I, and many other women, go through.

So I will end with this. The next time you hear a sexist joke, or hear someone question the need for feminism, stop and think. Do you agree? If not, say something because #feminism.

Is Feminism Masking Racism Rather Than Uprooting It?

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.09.59 PM.png

Photo Credit

This week I read “Hashtag Feminism, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and the Other #FemFuture” by Susana Loza and “In Defense of Twitter Feminism” by Suey Park and David J. Leonard.

“When feminist theory and politics that claim to reflect women’s experience and women’s aspirations do not include or speak to black women, black women must ask: ‘Ain’t We Women?’ If this is so, how can the claims that ‘women are’, ‘women believe’  and ‘women need’ be made when such claims are inapplicable or unresponsive to the needs, interests and experiences of black women” – Loza

In all honesty, I’ve drafted this piece about four times. I want the words I’m about to write to mean something. Although this is only one tiny blog in the infinite web, I want whoever reads this to know my eyes have been opened.

Gentrification is spilling over to virtual spaces. Women of color have resorted to online spaces like Twitter and Tumblr to voice their stories, opinions, feelings, and they are receiving horrible, negative backlash. And because of this, some are deeming these online spaces “toxic.”

“‘Facebook was safe and protected; MySpace was dangerous and full of predators.’ History is repeating itself. Twitter is the new MySpace: a ‘dangerous’ online ‘ghetto’ that threatens white middle-class users.” –  Park & Leonard

When I scroll through the front page of a website that is categorized as feminist or openly promotes feminism. There are mostly Caucasian writers. Zines, magazines, television staffs and hosts are composed of mostly Caucasians. Why am I just realizing this? Probably because I am white. Probably because I haven’t forced my eyes open or read enough articles that challenge me to take a second look. Well, I hope from now on, my eyes see what’s right in front of me.

I read something in “Hashtag Feminism, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and the Other #FemFuture” that struck me, pulled me out of the text:

“Trudy of Gradient Lair reminds us that ‘this quest for ‘unity’ through erasure and silence has another word for it: oppression.”

Isn’t this what’s happening? The online presences of WOC has been stuck into a little corner of the Internet.  Through erasure and silence WOC are being oppressed.

After reading these two articles, which I highly recommend you reading, I realized the reason I drafted this blog post more than once is because I want to do something more than open my eyes. My eyes should have already been open! (And by this, I’m not saying that I’ve never noticed oppression of WOC, I’m just saying I haven’t been as aware as I have been since reading and putting more thought into these articles.)

So, what I’m trying to say is: now that my eyes have been fully opened…how can I be an active advocate for WOC?

Feminism on the Internet

tumblr_o1ysjwdtvI1sztttdo1_500.jpg

Photo Source

I chose “Feminism on the Internet” as my subject of study this semester after realizing how prevalent the ‘internet’ and ‘feminism’ are in my life, but simultaneously, I rarely read, address or participate in them together.

This week I assigned myself two articles, “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars” by Michelle Goldberg and ““Welcome to the Feminist Cult”: Building a Feminist Community of Practice on Tumblr” by Sarah M. Connelly which discussed feminism on Twitter and feminism on Tumblr, respectively. In “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars,” Goldberg addresses and discusses the harsh realities of conversations between feminists on Twitter and how the majority of the conversation consists of calling out others for ideological offenses. In “”Welcome to the Feminist Cult’: Building a Feminist Community of Practice on Tumblr” Connelly speaks on Tumblr’s positive feminist community: how support, understanding and education are at the forefront.

Before I get into the meat of my post, I want to say that there was a point in Goldberg’s article where her text resonated with me,

“Katherine Cross, a Puerto Rican trans woman working on a PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center, wrote about how often she hesitates to publish articles or blog posts out of fear of inadvertently stepping on an ideological land mind and bringing down the wrath of the online enforcers.”

After I read this I realized exactly why I had never participated in any online feminist discussions: I was afraid. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing – I didn’t want my uneducated ignorance to offend anyone, because I am still learning, growing, changing in many ways and especially as a feminist. So, that is exactly why I am keeping this blog.

Feminism by definition is “The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men” and that’s what being a feminist is, being apart of a group that believes and advocates that. The community of feminists are women and men who believe this while accepting, supporting and educating each other. It’s simple, but yet complicated when you bring in different personalities and ideologies, but on the basis, it’s straightforward.

“Online, however, intersectionality is overwhelmingly about chastisement and rooting out individual sin…this comes from academic feminism, steeped as it is in a postmodern culture of critique that emphasizes the power relations embedded in language…An elaborate series of norms and rules has evolved out of that belief, generally unknown to the uninitiated, who are nevertheless hammered if they unwittingly violate them. Often these rules began as useful insights into the way rhetorical power works but, says Cross, “have metamorphosed into something much more rigid and inflexible”” (Goldberg).

These rigid, unbending rules keep people, like myself, from growing and learning and discussing things that need to be discussed, need to be talked about, from all parties. My hope for this blog is to have an educated conversation, where I am consistently growing.