womxn

Feminist theory and arguments in its origin encounter a simple question: what constitutes a woman? Even today, people are still defining what it means to be a woman, though the definition has already been years in the making. In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir wrote The Second Sex, arguing that woman was defined as an apophatic construct to man; everything a man was a woman was the opposite. And more recently in 2016, Sally Haslanger’s Social Construction: Gender and other Social Categories unravels what it means for something to be socially constructed and what that means for gender. Haslanger explains how gender is socially constructed, and how that does not negate the realness of gender and its effect on people. Defining gender and understanding how it came to be is integral in understanding feminism. 

Sexist oppression is different than other manifestations of oppression in that women are not a minority. Women make up around half of the population, and this is where it was hard to prove that discrimination on the basis of gender was even real. Defining womanhood is one of the very first steps to understanding the argument of feminist as sexist oppression. Cognizance of how gender and sex are constructed in our society gives insight into how inequality has been formed in the gender binary for women and other non-binary conforming people. 

Gender “marks social differences between individuals or about the location of groups within a system of social relations” according to Sally Haslanger’s Social Construction: Gender and other Social Categories.  Gender is a function of one’s role in a social framework or identification with someone who typically occupies said “gender role”, which will differ depending on a person’s race, class, ethnicity and more. Haslanger’s definition of gender is apt; it creates space for different cultural interpretation of women and also references the concept of how “woman” has come to be defined historically. One of the most fascinating points that Haslanger makes is how gender is a social construct, but that in itself does not invalidate feelings and sentiments of the individual about gender. 

The most interesting question that Haslanger brings up, in my opinion, is how the flaws in the binary sex/gender system should be amended. Should we expand our view of sex/gender to encompass more than one category? Or should we simply expunge any classification based on sex/gender? I feel like in our society today, we have begun to create a space that non-binary genders exist and are respected. Maybe this is because doing away with gender seems to hard an endeavor to successfully accomplish. The use of pronouns is an important part of our language (and many others). I also believe our social construction of gender is rooted so deep, it is hard for many to comprehend the damages that the social construct of gender has had on people. The construct is limiting and detrimental to the freedom that we hope to provide our posterity. 

Simone de Beauvoir focuses on the otherness that has historically defined womanhood in her Introduction to The Second Sex.  In understanding how a woman is constructed opposite men, Beauvoir demonstrates how the dynamics of power are interlaced in our very understanding of men and women as a binary. She discusses how men “profit… from the otherness” of women. This understanding of how sexism originates from the very construction of gender ties directly into how bell hooks defines feminism as a movement to end sexist oppression. Beauvoir’s “otherness” insinuates that women do not have “full membership in the human race” because they are lesser than the foil that they are defined to–men. This definition of women is closely linked with ideas of sexist oppression and connects deeply with contemporary feminist arguments, though it does not include other gender and sex identities. 

My title is “womxn“, which is a term that English-speaking feminists have more recently begun to use as a more inclusive term than “women”. “womxn” serves to shed light on injustices towards women of color and trans-women, and define “women” as independent and separate from “men” even in spelling. This spelling and concept can be seen as a  reclaiming of the word to stand alone from “men”, especially in light of how Beauvoir explicates how “women” is defined. 

What Is Science?

1/15/18

This morning, I went to a class that I was not particularly looking forward to taking. I walked into History of Science until the Newton/17th Century.  It was just as much as I expected. Our professor is from the Netherlands (I believe), and he has an accent, but he seems very passionate about the material. For the first class, we went over a brief timeline of events and writings and studies that the course will cover. Most of our material will draw from the 4th Century BC and the 17th Century AD, or Ancient Greece philosophers and thinkers and the Scientific Revolution. The course will mostly cover material on ancient sciences, nothing like what we study now. We will analyze the philosophy of nature, alchemy, astronomy, medicine, and astrology. 

As we went over different subjects of science that we may be studying, Dr. Vermij asked, “What is science? What subjects should be considered science?” and another student answered, “Whatever subjects have sufficient scholarly material on them?.”  Dr. Vermij explained that science is always changing and gave the example of astrology. Human beings have been studying astronomy since the beginning of time, looking up at the “heavens” for answers and guidance. For many, this meant using the stars and planets to predict the future. Nowadays, we see astrology as a fun, silly column of news that no one truly believes. 

If science is always changing, so must the scientists that study these subjects. I believe that this also includes physicians and doctors. Medicine is a science that is constantly being changed and improved upon. There is a need for flexibility in medicine that is often overlooked. The connotation of the hard sciences is strict and precise. There is no room for error or leeway. I believe that this is not completely true. Much of scientific research is guessing (though it is very educated guessing) and then checking or changing. 

The saying goes, “it is not a perfect science.” But there is no perfect science. Science is always changing, and it is always being redefined, whether those definitions are bound by ethics, discovery, or social change.

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“I ask no favors for my gender”

In this excerpt by bell hooks, a fundamental problem within feminism is addressed and answered: what is Feminism? Feminism has a very polarizing connotation, which causes many people to shy away from the movement and its aims. hooks explains the circular reasoning that surrounds the undefined nature of Feminism, and how this vagueness is actually detrimental to Feminism itself. 

Feminism, sometimes “women’s liberation”, is seen by many as a movement that hopes to advance women to equal standing with men (238). This is the most common understanding of the movement’s objective, and it is probably the reason why many people shy away from the word and movement. It was once an accepted fact that women were inferior to men. Some people still hold that men and women are inherently different and internalized the sexism of our society without truly recognizing the repercussions of their thoughts. Feminist movements led by privileged white women have already seen much success in the past, as inequality gap between white men and white women are smaller than say, the gap between a black woman and a white man. The intersectionality of women has created complexities in feminism over the years, as women of color, LGBTQ+ women, transgender women,  low-income women, and all other women have felt unwelcome in general feminist places. 

Without a central, solidifying definition of feminism, the movement is politically weakened. Without a definition, feminism has no identity and it has no substance. People can attack feminism without understanding the ideas that it champions, and those defending feminism do not have a solid base to stand upon. When someone says that they are not a feminist because they have a boyfriend and do not hate men, no one can fully convince them differently because there is no conspicuous objective that explains what feminism is. Feminism is equal pay for all peoples no matter what identity they hold. Feminism is the dismantling of societal norms and ideas that are damaging to certain identities. Feminism is the amplification of the voices of the people who typically go unheard. Feminism is a solution to problems of inequality. The cause of this inequality is sexist oppression. 

The answer to a lack of a central feminist objective, according to hooks is defining feminism as “a movement to end sexist oppression” (240). I agree with hooks and believe that this definition is apt. Sexist oppression extends to cover all the injustice that affects all peoples, regardless of sex and gender, race, socioeconomic status, and others that Feminism stands to disrupt and address. This definition creates a space in which anyone can be a feminist, while still giving substance and meaning to the movement. 

I believe that in today’s society, we are getting closer to universally understanding the meaning of feminism. The #MeToo Movement allowed women to be vulnerable and open about experiences with sexual violence. While the shared experiences are anything but joyful, the shared fears and stories have brought women closer in a twisted central experience that is perpetuated by sexual oppression. Feminism and society have not become complementary quite yet, but I think that social movements such as these are opening the door for ALL women to feel included in a single definition of feminism.

Literature Cited

Hooks, Bell. “Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression.” pp. 238–240.,

       mcc.osu.edu/posts/documents/sexism-bhooks.pdf.

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iac international bazaar

October 4th, 2018

This morning, just after class, I went to the International Advisory Committee’s International Bazaar. The IAC has this event a couple of times a year, where different international students in different international organizations are able to set up tables and share their country and pride with others. I spoke with a girl from the Iranian Student Association who was selling handmade and hand-painted Iranian dishes. Her friend is the artist, and she hand draws a mandela-esque (think symmetrical and geometric) design onto a shallow bowl. Then she uses colorful shiny paint that creates an intricate, beautiful design on the piece. She also hand painted a vase as well. They were beautiful pieces that I could not afford, but it really cool to see a way that someone is able to remain in touch and close to their culture and who they are through this art.

Then I met two girls from the Turkish Student Association, and one of them was wearing a fez. I got a bunch of trivia about Turkey wrong, and then they offered me some food! I had some tea and a cookie. There is so many different student associations that I honestly had never heard of. The Ex-Yugoslav Student Association gave me some candy, I talked to a guy from the Peruvian Student Association. There were representatives from the Indian Student Association that danced in front of everyone, and Focus Africa was an African Student Group that emphasized rethinking Africa. I talked to a guy whose favorite event just happened recently on Empowering Women in Africa. It was fun to hear other students hold onto their culture through their student associations and this bazaar. I loved feeling their pride in who they are and know they feel comfortable expressing that pride on campus.

learning how to fill the seconds

9/4/18
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So I’ve always been very into “knowing myself” and being an introspective person, but in all honesty I have not been my best for a while. I had a rather taxing sophomore year. It’s been hard to recover, and come back as fierce as I would like to be. I feel a little less motivated than how I would generally see myself, and I have been already slipping up when it comes to schoolwork and deadlines—ALREADY. It’s the second week of school, and I’m feeling the repercussions of last year and never really addressing any of my poor tendencies or problems.
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So that I could get everything done that I had to last year, I would stay up just about all night, and then I would “nap” around 3:30AM-7:30AM until I had to go to class. Needless to say, it was not a super healthy lifestyle. And then my spring semester was just a hot mess to say the least. I had studying problems, commitment problems, motivation problems, mental health problems, time management problems, and self-awareness problems. I got through that time in my life of lots of self-destructive motions and fatigue, but I never dealt with any of the poor habits that I perpetuated by making up excuses for myself.
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My fifth strongest strengthfinders trait is “restorative”. Which means refers to the ability to solve problems and sometimes more of a proclivity to seek out solutions. This is the strength that I have always had problems identifying more with. I never have really saw myself this way. I’m a more timid person than I would like to admit. I don’t like conflict, and I tend to avoid it at all costs. This means lots of problems are left unsolved in my life, especially the ones that are mine own.
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This weekend, I did a lot of self realization with the help of Conner, my boyfriend. I was more thoughtful than usual, making myself feel more myself. And it was good. It was great. I felt like I was being more honest with myself about the person I was, and I had more time to consciously think about the choices I make and things that I do that may not be the best of choices for my wellbeing. I put things off until the last minute. I let myself feel unmotivated. I do not prepare for things, and I am just not super great at working ahead. I let myself nap and do unproductive things when I could be getting thing done.
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But I started making some conscious changes this weekend. I bought books! To keep my mind active even when I’m bored or done with homework. And on the car ride back, I finished one of my books before we made it back to Norman. I felt so good. I stopped myself from falling asleep, and instead chose something more meaningful, productive, and beneficial. I made a budget for myself. I looked over my expenses, and thought about what was an appropriate amount of money to spend on things, and being thoughtful about how I not only spend my money but what experiences I am getting by spending. I paid my bills too!
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I’ve been joking to Conner that I have been adulting lately, but I think about after a restful weekend, I’ve really been able to think a lot about how certain choices to be productive or not be productive have affected my mood, outlook, and well being. I’m going to make more conscious decisions to be on top of things. When I have free time I need to spend it doing something productive and meaningful. I am putting that restorative strength to work, giving myself the opportunity to do so. Someone I know once said that they measure time in moments–in how fast that time goes by. When you’re having fun, time flies. But in moments, the ones that matter the most, time seems to stop. I wrote about time stopping a while ago. But I think that those moments are not things that you just stumble upon naturally. Sometimes they are, but most of the time, you get out what you put into something. I want to work harder to make moments happen and just feel like I am filling my time with something better than taking a nap because I’m bored. The person that I am and will become is best measured in what I choose to take part in and do in those moments.
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