Sister”, Crazy Feminist, and No under the pseudonym BS. These pins focus on body image, fatphobia, the feminist killjoy, and racism. In this reflection, I will examine how these moments in my life changed my perspective then reflect on the system and other posts I read while placing my own pins. While I found the assignment slightly difficult due to the nature of the content, I believe the analysis caused by the assignment is valuable and I found the system utilized simple but possibly exclusive.
Hairy Legs, “Get On The Scale”, and “Talk to Your Sister” all focus on body image with the last two focusing specifically on fatphobia in our society. Hairy Legs discusses the first time I recognized gender performance and how it affects body hair for men and women. As a 3rd grader at the time, I did not understand why my “hairy” legs were a problem but the boy’s hairy legs were fine. Now I recognize hairlessness is a societal standard of gender performance for women. This was the first time I had a negative comment directed towards my body and the first time I thought of my body in term of “good” and “bad”. “Get On The Scale” and “Talk to Your Sister” are 2 events about a decade apart that made me realize how people treat my sister and I differently due to our weights. As a small girl and woman, my mother only mentioned my weight when she believed I might have an eating disorder. However, my mother started talking about weight with my sister more frequently when she began to gain weight; even going as far as to try to convince me to talk to me sister about losing weight. After the events in “Talk to Your Sister”, I recognized it and the events of “Get On The Scale” as the double standards surrounding weight women face and the general fatphobia in our society. These events remind me of a quote from “The Body Politic-Meditations on Identity” by Elana Dykewomon: “Women in almost every society offer their daughters up to the prevailing cultural standards of beauty and usefulness for women…if women don’t prepare their daughters to meet institutionalized male demands, they know their daughters will suffer in life” (Dykewomon 453). I believe this accurately describes what my sister and I went through in these events.
The third post, Crazy Feminist, describes the beginning of how I came to understand my identity as a feminist and how grateful I am for taking that step. I had not thought of feminism or considered calling myself a feminist until I joined Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL). I had been discouraged from joining and staying in the group during my first and second year of college. First from my friend’s sister commenting on how it is a “crazy feminist” group then with my parents’ continued attempts to convince me to drop the group and Women and Gender Studies minor for a “more useful” math minor. It was these attempts and the influences of WILL the led me to my “crazy feminist” identity which has been more helpful to me and given me more skills, in my opinion, than a math minor would have as a woman in science. The final post, No, is the story of the day I discovered my father holds racists beliefs. I was shocked when he came to me asking me to explain to my sister that she could not date an African American boy. This event did not change my view of racism so much as it made me realize how truly wide spread it is in my own life. It made me look more closely for subtle racism in my life as well.
I found the system used for the Situated Knowledge Map simple to use overall. I believe it is important to create online tools that are easy to navigate if the group creating the tools want them to be accessible for everyone. In the article “Invisible feminists? Social media and young women’s political participation”, Julia Schuster argues that the use of social media and the internet by young feminists make them invisible to older feminists and the use of these tools leads to the exclusion of certain groups of feminists. This effect seems to be happening with this tool, as the clear majority of the pins I looked at were authored by apparent college students, and may be invisible to older feminist groups who are not using these forms of media. I also examined interesting perspectives from reading several of the pins on the map. One particular pin that made me examine my standpoint was Church; a pin written from the perspective of a Methodist discussing the Catholic ceremony of Confirmation. This pin made me think about religious privilege from the perspective of a child not experiencing violent religious percussion but subtle religious exclusion. Before reading this pin, I had never considered how a child may feel excluded and othered by other children’s shared experiences from and dislike of their parents’ religion.
I found this project to be slightly difficult for me because I had to admit, not only to myself but to possible hundreds of people, that these experiences affected my behavior, particularly in Hairy Legs, and that my family holds these beliefs. However, I also think it is important that I analyze these events that have clearly shaped who I am today. In regards to the system used for this project, I found it simple to use; however, I am an individual who has had the privilege of growing up surrounded by this technology. People and groups who do not have this privilege may be excluded from using these tools. In addition, reading the perspective of previous posters led me to thought processes I would not have if I had not read their experiences.
Dykewomon, Elana. “The Body Politic-Meditations on Identity.” This Bridge We Call Home-Radical Visions for Transformation. Ed. Gloria Anzaldúa and Anaouise Keating. New York: Routledge,2002. 450-457. Print.
Schuster, Julia. “Invisible feminists? Social media and young women’s political participation.” Political Science 65.1 (2013): 8-24.