Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lecture on Simone de Beauvoir's Life and Philosophy

A lecture delivered at Peninsula College on the Life and Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir by Wesley Cecil. Part of the Modern Philosophers lecture series.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"All Your Gender Is Gender" and "Females First"

don't know what to think about all this... don't know if I agree on some weird level or if I should be seriously concerned... but here it is:

"Start from there, because it is true.
Your female body is not an identity.
Everything else is an identity and is socially constructed.
Feminism is a theory that puts Females (Women) at the center of the analysis.
Not Rich Women. Not Poor Women. Not Overweight Butch Dykes (I am trying to lose weight though, thanks for asking).
Not Women who identify as …
Your identity has “meaning” to you and to others because of society. And those meanings might not always “mean” the same thing to everyone in our society. And those meanings might “mean” something different 5 minutes from now.
Your body is not a social construct. Calling your Female body “something else” or naming it Butch or Dyke or Queer or Trans does not change your body.
Taking drugs to alter your chemistry does not change this.
Surgical interventions do not change this.
Your extremism does not change this.
Temper tantrums do not change this.
Demanding that Other Women recognize Certain Women as the True Representation of Women does not change this.
You are Female.
I am Female.
Women are Female.
What does Identity Politics do to liberate Women?
This is a serious question.
Identity politics does nothing to advance Women as a class.
If it makes you feel better to cling to your special identity, if it comforts you to make yourself feel like you are a better person because you are Working Class or Gay or Vegan or Butch, then you should do that. It’s not unreasonable to want comfort. It’s not unreasonable for you to be you.
You be you.
But your personal comfort does nothing to advance Women’s liberation. You being you is not a political strategy. You telling other Women they are not as good as you because you are X and they are Y is not politics; it’s “something else.”
You being you is you being you.
It’s also not unreasonable to want to affiliate with Women who are “like you.” But confusing your desire to affiliate with Lesbians or Vegan Women is not a liberatory strategy. You feeling “good about yourself” does not equal Women’s Liberation (although I think all Women – even “Man Daters” – should feel good about themselves). You advocating for the rights of a few Women and your right to be you does nothing for Women as a class. And your hurt feelings are also “not feminism.”
Your positioning of yourself amidst multiple identities won’t hide your body.
Female is not an identity.
Sorry about your feelings.
This isn’t “personal.” This isn’t about “your feelings.” It’s not even about “my feelings.”
You are not special (except to those who think you are). I, also, am not special. This is a class analysis.
And some Women might be bigger than others, but we are all Women.
Please don’t lose the plot because you think you are bigger than all of us."
"The last thing Females want to be called is “Feminist” – because that might mean “Man Hating.” That’s bad for Straight Ladies, because then someone might think them Lesbian.  Even though Lesbians don’t want to couple with Males, Lesbians are “supposed” to be socially available to them and not “Man Haters.” (I know I‘ve been called “Man Hater” before!) So heaven forfend if you’re Feminist!
Patriarchy socializes Females to distrust other Females. And we do. Females fall into other Identity Communities – away from – and often at odds with – each other. Goddess forbid Females actually used Feminism to advance rights for Females. What about the Males?
Because of our socialization, Females resist coming together, or even identifying, as aclass.  Accordingly, Females are the most dissolved, invisible ingredient in the Great American Melting Pot. We hear of White, Gay, Black, or Poor People.  When discussing Poor People, nobody asks whether they are Male or Females (even though – as a class – the Poor are Female and the Rich are Male). Only when discussing Females do concern trolls come calling to ensure you discuss PoorFemales, Brown Females, Vegan Females, Gay Females, (Fill In The Blank) Females. That’s no coincidence. Patriarchy places these filters in front of Females to prevent us from perceiving each other as members of the same oppressed class.  These obstacles destroy the need for further derails by Patriarchy because Females don’t talk to each other as members of the same class.  It divides Females.
Baltimore has no “Women’s Community.” We have the Choice Community, Domestic Violence Community, White Lesbian Community, Black Lesbian Community, and Peace Community, to name a few – but Females inhabiting these worlds don’t generally mix.  What would happen if Females talked to each other about whatconnects us – our Female-ness.
As a Lesbian, here’s a truth anathema to the Gay Community and one that does not reflect “the law.” Sexual orientation discrimination doesn’t exist. That’s right. Sexual orientation doesn’t exist anymore than “gender identity” discrimination exists. When I am treated badly because I “look Butch,” that’s sex discrimination. Heterosexual women lose promotions to less-qualified men because of sex discrimination.
Sex discrimination impacts Females.  All Females.  We might suffer in degrees, but the root is the same.  The root is our sex, and how society used and grooms Females.
Call it sexism or misogyny – sex discrimination is the air we breathe and the water we drink. It is so pervasive that Females (and Males) don’t see it. When we do see it, when all the filters are lifted, you might feel crazy. Your 20/20 vision will earn you contempt from the majority of Females (and Males) who ignore how much “being  Female” hurts.
Think about EVERY way in which “society” disadvantages Females. Laws dictate what we can do with our bodies.  We are sold a bill of goods on Femininity that makes us hate ourselves.  We must be Porn Sexy and Slutty. “Traditionally” Female occupations are low wage.
Once you’ve taken inventory, know, Females, that I love you. I don’t like to get mushy with you, but I feel like you need to know. Focus on Females. Yes, other forms of oppression exist. No doubt.
But what would happen if Females started to organize based on our Female-ness?  What if we organized around those agenda items that benefit Females?
We’d need to identify our agenda. Before we did that, we’d have to let go of whatever Identity to which we cling, as these Identities are obstacles to organizing as Females.  After that work, ask “what do Females need”?  Females have concerns related to pregnancy, childbirth and abortion because of biology.  Controlling our bodies is a key element of Female Liberation.  Females that have control over fertility have greater education, employment and political participation than Females who lack that control. Females must dictate our sexuality because sexuality has dire consequences for us.
I understand why Females do Identity Politics. It’s “easier” to localize the “problem” in a smaller Identity Group (wherein I might become a White Butch Dyke). But it doesnothing for Females. Your little Identity Group might be safe for you, but it’s not enough.
Females need each other. Females should prioritize the good of Females. Feminism provides a new lens through which to analyze What Females Need.  What would happen if all Females were Feminist?
Maybe we’d have an Equal Rights Amendment – “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t been adopted. The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly protect and extend rights equally without regard to sex (except the Right to Vote).  Really.
Females, we could do this.  What if we got together in 2012 and realized how much Power we have?
Females – we’re worth it.
Friday, 30 December 2011"

1. Sex is biological sex. Male is the class of humans that can impregnate Females. Males cannot become pregnant. Female is the class of human that can become impregnated by a Male. Females cannot impregnate anyone. Your exceptions don’t disprove this rule about these two classes, so please spare me the “I’m an infertile woman” discussion. Infertile Women = Females. Infertile Women =\\= Males.
2. The fact that Sex exists says NOTHING about who Males or Females can be.
3. Gender is a social construct that places meaning and value onto the Male and the Female. In this placement of meaning and value, Females are ranked below Males. That is, Gender is a hierarchy, with Females on the bottom.
4. Lesbians and Gay Men are – by definition – “gender nonconforming” because we engage in same-sex relationships that are discouraged through a system of Gender that dictates who a Male and who a Female is supposed to love. Our gender nonconformity has real social costs.
5. Many Males and Females are ALSO “gender nonconforming,” whether or not we call ourselves “Transgender.” Our gender nonconformity has real social costs.
6. Transgender is Gender – it does not describe an actual class of humans. Transgender is also a social construct. Transgender as gender nonconformity also comes with social costs.
7. Transgender can only exist in a culture where Gender exists.

In anomalous zones, society tolerates departures from fundamental norms. ... The customers of prostitutes "could experience the suspension of the values theoretically governing outside the district at any time through an easy exercise of mobility." Rather than view the spaces of prostitution as spaces of subversion, I focus on what such temporary excursions on the part of the customers enable. Their temporary abandonment of societal norms does not weaken these men's claims of respectability, but, rather, it puts the mark of degeneracy on the women in prostitution and thus reaffirms the men's position within the dominant group. That is, once men leave the space of degeneracy, having survived it unscathed, they return to respectability. In this way, prostitution reaffirms not only the hierarchies of gender but also of class, race, and sexual orientation.

-Sherene Razack
Race, Space, and Prostitution: The Making of the Bourgeois Subject

“Your silence will not protect you.”

Audre Lorde

Monday, April 15, 2013

Documentary on Simone de Beauvoir

This presentation uses dramatization from fiction and readings from Simone de Beauvoir's memoirs to explore her views on the world and on the role of the intellectual.



FIRE OF REVOLUTION! by femen_org

"By demand of police FEMEN activists went to police station to be asked regarding FEMEN action against religious extremism infront of the Big Mosque in Paris. Tunisian FEMEN activist  Meriam with the help of French sextremists  burned a black salafists flag to protest all attacks of women's freedom in Arab world by Islamists, the reason for the action was the recent demand of one of Tunisian salafist to stone Amina, Tunisian supporter of FEMEN who posted the picture bare breast with slogan "Fuck your morals".

After the anti Islamist act of FEMEN the Big Mosque of Paris complained against activist so here was opened a criminal case by article 432-9 of Criminal Codecs of France. For now police is in the middle of the searching for the facts of crossing the low by FEMEN activists. Those who burned a flag and orgnizators of the action can get a penalty by spending 6 month in jail. FEMEN is noticing that complains and other ways to stop our activity are useless. FEMEN can not agree with the fact that we were acting against the low, we will follow our holy right for freedom of expression and not arrest or 6 month in jail can stop us. As long as they deny woman as a human being we will keep burning their flag and not only. Freedom for women! Freedom for FEMEN!"

"Tunisian FEMEN activist Meriam burned a salafists flag infron of the Mosque in Paris as a symbol of women's fight with wild religious extremism. Arab Sextremist gave a sign of womens standoff to those who kill and rape in the name of Allah. The recent call of Tunisian salafist to stone Tunisian activist AMINA was the last point before big women's riot. As bright as the fire of salafist flag was burning, the Women's revolution against wild traditions of Islamism will start. Maroko and women of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Emena and Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia, you will change the planet with your courage! The one who was Oppressed will become free, the one who was weak will become strong. Our bodies belong to us only! Islamism is strong infront of oppressed but islamism is weak infront of rebellion of our free bodies! Our breasts are more dangerous then their stones!"


Femen Documentary: Topless Warriors

Femen is at war with a patriarchy that sees women as sex objects. What weapons do we have? Our bare breasts

Activists of the women's rights group Femen chant slogans during a march in Paris where they have opened a headquarters in a move to recruit members in their fight against the discrimination of women.
Femen activists stage a march in Paris where they have opened a headquarters in a move to recruit members in their fight against the discrimination of women. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP
You can hear us shouting "Fuck off, dictator!", "I'm not your sex toy!", or "Religion is slavery!" You can see our half-naked bodies facing Berlusconi, Putin or the Pope. You can feel how deep our anger is by looking in our eyes. We are feminism's shock troops, a spearhead unit of militants, a modern incarnation of the word fearless.

We are Femen. Our nakedness attacks the raw nerve of the historic conflict between women and "the system". We are nothing less than its most visual and fitting embodiment. Our activists' bodies represent undisguised hatred for the patriarchal order, and display the new aesthetics of a rejuvenated woman's revolution.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, left, is accosted by a Femen activist in Hanover
Russian president Vladimir Putin, left, is accosted by a Femen activist in Hanover as the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, looks on. Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
Femen is our attempt at rethinking the history of feminism in its entirety. We believe that if women are left with little more than satisfying sexual desires as a life purpose, then our sexuality must become politicised. We are not denying our potential to be treated as sex objects. On the contrary, we are taking our sexuality into our own hands, turning it against our enemy. We are transforming female sexual subordination into aggression, and thereby starting the real war.

Make no mistake about it: we are at war. This is an ideological war, a war of traditionalism against modernity, oppression against freedom, dictatorship against the right to free expression. We are targeting the three principle manifestations of patriarchy: religion, the sex industry, and dictatorship.

"I didn't have time to see if they looked good or not, whether they were blondes or not" – such were the words of Putin after our most recent act of diversion, when Femen activists confronted him in Hanover, shouting to his face, "Fuck you, dictator!" Putin was quick to smile, but a Kremlin official was already demanding that Germany punish our activists. Within half an hour, four criminal cases had been opened against the dictator's assailants.

This is our reality. Femen activists are arrested, beaten up or even kidnapped, as happened to us in Belarus after our protest ridiculing president Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk.

Machismo can be defeated only through feminine rebellion. No authoritarian leader is interested in popular opinion, which would personally hurt him. Femen's tactics aim to do just that: hurt and humiliate them personally. Tossing shoes at Bush is nothing compared to our attack against Putin. Never before had he found his holy body, under the protection of dozens of professional security guards, so imperilled.

We were amateurs when we demonstrated against Putin in 2011, in Kiev, dozens of kilometres away from our target. But we improved our skills when we besieged the polling station in Moscow in 2012, just 20 minutes after our Putin had left the place. One year later, we faced him and bared our breasts in defiance.

Putin is a homophobe and an oligarch embodying the merger of church and state, putting his personal interests before those of 150 million people in the process. Only recently has he announced that Russia is not a country for gay people, just as our George H W Bush, in his time, said the US was not a country for atheists. Putin is not stopping at that, so we are going to stop him.

How, you ask? Yes, dear readers, with our bare breasts alone! We are responding by knocking down the great oligarch and his security-service clowns, and with them, the image he has been so carefully cultivating.

Femen is a huge experiment. Every day we find new ways to destroy the patriarchy, new words with which to answer our opponents. We are calling for a global sexual revolt against the system. We cannot tell you of our upcoming plans, or what the final result of our struggle will be, but we're working on them around the clock. The only thing I can say for sure to all those against whom we are fighting is that we are not about to let you enshrine such shit as yourselves in a cult.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Making Policy, Not Coffee - Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Flo Kennedy and Bella Abzug

Shows why women should become involved in politics and how to produce social change. Also dramatizes the variety of problems and situations that women face and presents the positive direction our society is taking in regard to the problem depicted. Actual footage from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, Women's Caucus.

Living the Dream - Sonia Johnson

Lecture delivered at Humboldt State University April 1991 encouraging listeners to live life by the ideas they truly believe. Feminist Sonia Johnson chronicles the evolution of her belief that consistently envisioning the world as one wants it to be is more powerful than providing resistance to the system, and articulates her dream of the world and herself.

Interview with Simone de Beauvoir 1975 "Why I am A Feminist"

Remembering Simone de Beauvoir

Betty Friedan talks about meeting Simone de Beauvoir and The Second Sex. Kate Millet then speaks to us about de Beauvoir's autobiographies: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, The Prime of Life, Forces of Circumstance, and All Said and Done.

Going Farther Out of Our Minds - Sonia Johnson

Sonia explores how women can leave patriarchy behind and begin living in a new world right now. "Fairness" and "practicality" reasons for their passive resistance have been used for 5000 years and found lacking, so different methods should now be tried.



Daughters of de Beauvoir Documentary

It has been over forty years since Simone de Beauvoir published the Second Sex which heralded the start of the women's movement. In this film we talk to the women who took the baton from de Beauvoir to race ahead with the cause: Kate Millet, Marge Piercy, Eva Figes and Ann Oakley.

Through the eyes of the women she influenced, a portrait of Simone de Beauvoir's unique personality and unconventional lifestyle emerges. Here is an in-depth look at one of the leading figures in the international women's movement.