Wrapping up One-Dimensional Woman (sections on consumer culture, girls on film, and pornography)
Is porn good or bad? Changes in pornography since WWII: shift from many people on screen to one person. Spectator is no longer in the porn – becomes the viewer. Pornography during the French Revolution – used as a way of attacking established order.
Girls finding the “one” – commodifying one’s partner. Finding men is like consuming goods.
Sex commune: free love – different power structure emerged based on attractiveness.
Alternative ways of living can challenge capitalism, and we were disappointed that this piece did not provide examples of successes, only failures.
Building Coalitional Consciousness
Women’s groups during the 60s/70s. Purpose was to get women together to talk about their experiences, find commonalities in these experience, then brainstorm actions.
Issues with these meetings: groups were homogeneous; excluded other women based on race, class, etc. “Me too” moments helped create connections between the women in the groups, but were also detrimental to overall movement as it could include too many people that may not actually feel that way.
We need to acknowledge ways we are oppressed, and also how we participate in oppression. Look for resistances to oppressions that are already happening – identify specific oppressions, and resistances to those.
Consciousness-raising groups do not need to be “safe spaces” – it is okay, and necessary for progress, to have have conflicts and challenges. Experience discomfort without withdrawing/hiding. Open ourselves up – use discussion tactics. Seeking progress, not a home (or maybe some of both).
Moving from consciousness-raising to consciousness-building: expanding to challenge outside world/society will be a struggle. Privileged members of the coalition may have to give up privilege – challenge to those persons. Struggles of guilt and anger must be collective, not just personal.
Members of our group are interested in trying consciousness-building!
Please check out the Twin Cities feminist practices/projects/groups/stuff I’ve started posting in the comments section of our “TC Feminisms page, and please add more!
See the Readings page to download this week’s reading (Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici – pp. 7-38).
This book is a feminist perspective on the history of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Understanding this history is crucial for any radical practices today, because capitalist practices are constantly expanding and intensifying through processes of “primitive accumulation” – incorporating new communities, bodies, and territories. By examining this transition as historically constructed, we can open up our imaginations for possibilities of change — against the view of capitalism and patriarchy as necessary. This book shows how the history of capitalist development has been tied with the exploitation and disciplining of female bodies. To make this argument, the book reveals parts of this history that have been omitted in dominant accounts: particularly the witch-hunts and discourses of demonization deployed against rebellious women, which resulted in the genocide of hundreds of thousands of women and the continued exploitation of billions.
Many of us will find parts of this book difficult, especially the specialized language from Marxist, feminist, and post-structuralist discourses. To help us work through these tough concepts, I’ll post some explanations of them. For now, I’ll link here to the wikipedia pages for a few key terms: primitive accumulation, labor-power, capitalism, Foucault (or Foucauldian)… more soon!
This is a reminder that we’ll have the 2nd meeting of our reading group (for the Monday group) tonight — 6:00-7:30pm at Arise. (the Saturday group will have its 2nd meeting this Saturday, 2:30-4:00pm at Arise.)
For this meeting, we decided to read the rest of _One Dimensional Woman_ (pp.39-69) and a short (15 page) article by Cricket Keating on “Coalitional Consciousness-Building” (a revision of 2nd wave feminism’s tactic of consciousness-raising groups — I suggested this because we expressed some frustration with _One Dimensional Woman_’s somewhat totalizing critique and lack of constructive practices). I’ll attach that article here, or you can download the latter here: http://www.elimeyerhoff.com/articles/Building_Coalitional_Consciousness.pdf
(if you’d like a paper copy, you can pick one up from a few that I put in a folder under the bench on my porch @ 3237 Grand Ave. S., Mpls.) In case you’re interested in learning more about how these would function in practice, I’ll also attach an outline of a workshop that the author made for this project.
In finishing reading Nina Power’s book, I share the frustration that some of you had expressed for her apparent lack of suggestions of constructive contemporary practices. Particularly, she seems to wax nostalgic for some bygone better time for feminism which doesn’t exist anymore. While I agree with her that some past feminist practices had some more radical potentials than much of the contemporary practices that call themselves ‘feminist,’ I have to disagree with her bleak assessment of the lack of other contemporary radical feminist practices. If her claim is about the relative dominance of consumerized feminism over radical feminism, then I agree with that. But, I think she’s wrong to move there to her claim that “feminism was at one time a great generator of new thoughts and new modes of existence” (p. 69). Her phrase “at one time” seems to imply the contemporary absence of feminist practices that grapple with the problematic she praises Toni Morrison for eloquently addressing: “the relationship between class, race, and gender.” As a counter-example, check out the article on “Coalitional Consciousness-Building,” which criticizes earlier feminist practices for insufficiently addressing those relations between class and racial oppression and gender oppression, and it offers an improved tactic for seriously addressing those relations.
While you’re reading that article, you could try to answer for yourself a few simple questions that we could then discuss in our reading group:
– what were ‘consciousness-raising groups’ in the 70s — how did they operate, why were they formed, and what were their purposes?
– what are Keating’s critiques of the flaws of these groups?
– what are ‘relational oppressions’?
– how does the ‘coalitional consciousness-building’ model seek to address the problems with those earlier groups?
– what do you think about this model? — are there any ways that this model still seems problematic and could be improved?
Also, in Nina Power’s defense, I should say that she at least gestures toward some contemporary constructively radical feminist practices: with her call for critique of the nuclear family and re-examination of alternative, more collective living situations. Unfortunately, she doesn’t cite any contemporary examples. Fortunately, we can fill in that gap ourselves. I know that some of you in this reading group have some experience living in co-operative living situations, and I would be interested to hear your reflections on those experiences in relation to feminist politics (such as re-politicizing the links between sexual relations and social relations: what Nina Power calls “the link that capitalism needs to obfuscate in order to hide its true dependence on the ordering and regulation of reproduction” (58) … “While one of the lasting achievements of feminism is to re-establish the link between household labor, reproductive labor and paid labor, capitalism has to perpetually pretend that the world of politics has nothing to do with the home” (59).). I do not have much personal experience with co-operative living, but I am very interested in trying it, and I’ve recently tried to connect my friendships with more mutual aid relations (with a kind of de-centralized cooperative living spread out across the city). I know of a couple good resources of zines on co-operative living: particularly, the Radical Routes network of co-operatives (housing, working, and social centers in England) — check out their very informative zines here: http://www.radicalroutes.org.uk/publications-and-resources.html . Also, some folks have tried (and maybe are still trying?) to create a similar mutual aid network amongst co-operative living situations here in the Twin Cities — the Cooperative Autonomous Housing Network. They started a wiki with some info here: http://radhousing.pbworks.com/ , and at least one co-operative house came out of this effort (I can put you in touch with them, particularly Laila Davis, if you’re interested in learning more).
As a reminder, I made a blog for our reading group here: https://excoradfeminisms.wordpress.com
I’ll make you all contributors to the blog, so that you can post notes from class, continue discussions, and share links and resources for further feminist theories and practices.
I’m looking forward to continuing our discussion this evening! (and saturday, for the saturday group.) Thanks to everyone for making this reading group really awesome and exciting so far!
Please let me know if you have any questions. Also, please feel free to use this listserve to continue our discussions from class, ask each other questions, and share info and resources.