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Feminist Lens #7

Although hidden behind a thick layer of ironic comedy, Ali Wong makes some strong allusions to the double standards revolving around women and Asian American women especially. From being fetishized to underappreciated, the ridiculous nature of the repetitive struggles is brought to light through humorous anecdotes. At one point she mentions that everyone always praises men for doing the minimum effort saying “that is amazing that he comes with you to every pregnancy check-up appointment”! She points out, however, that the only effort he is putting in is playing phone games whiles she’s being examined, having her blood drawn, and told which different vitamins to take.  Of course, the gravity of the situation is a bit exaggerated but the point is made clear- there is a clear double standard here!

 

At the same time, she jokingly blames feminists for taking women out of the comfort of their homes saying “You don’t have to prove we can do everything. It was a secret!” I love this parallel universe were women for so long were simply pretending to be incapable in the eyes of men so that they didn’t have to be responsible for everything. Of course in an ideal sense, some people might argue that they would enjoy less responsibility but, actually we know through research on sociology, people prefer more responsibility rather than feeling stagnant or bored. Furthermore, did not have free leisure time to spend in their homes and their neighborhoods. Often times their autonomy was taken away and they had no rights against abusive husbands.

 

The underlying joke of the whole comedy special (besides the fact that she is pregnant) is that although she had argued that she never wanted to work and that’s why she married a Harvard graduate, but actually she is paying for their new home with the money she earned from her TV specials. I think it makes people think about wants and expectations clashing with reality but making the most of situations when possible. To have a different pie- you’ve got to make it… no funny business!

 

 

Feminist Lens #6

I was very intrigued by the discussion that we had in class today about abortion. However, I think that in order to really talk about this controversial topic, I should be better informed about abortion. The “Stuff Mom Never Told You” podcast just came out with “A revisionist History of Abortion” which they clarified was going to be about the United States- it’s a very important distinction to make that I and all transnational feminists must certainly appreciate. Discussions about abortion are different depending on the culture, country, and time and should be addressed as such. This does not imply a lighter stance, but rather, a more accurate and pointed one.

These women, Kristin and Caroline, did this podcast to try and give some context to an issue that has become so mixed into politics and because of this we have forgotten some of the history of abortion. In ancient Greece, Aristotle advised abortion for couples who already had too many children. In ancient Rome, before a mother could feel the first movement of the child, it was still considered just a developing part of her body.  Even the catholic church did not condemn abortions before 40 days arguing that the “soul hadn’t yet entered the fetus” although today, the rhetoric has changed drastically and claims that the soul appears at the moment of conception. Therefore, in general, early abortion (around first trimester) in ancient times was up to the mother’s judgement.

Apparently, herbal remedies were the most common methods at the time where these women would essentially drink teas with ingredients that would poison them (slightly) enough so that the body would have to miscarry the fetus to protect the mother. Still, taking these remedies that were eventually made into pill form, seemed to always be somewhat secretive as is indicated by extensive euphemisms in letters between women and anonymity when visiting doctors who prescribed the remedies. Although, while it wasn’t a moral favorite yet, there were no laws under English Common Law and the early United States, against these abortions. Abortions after this time period, under English Common Law, was punishable by death. Arguably this was still with the mothers safety in mind to deter them from poisoning themselves… so, don’t poison yourselves ladies, or we’ll kill you. Obviously, there was a lot of room for growth back then too.

Feminist Lens #5

Starting a movement means paying attention to the details- it’s essential when you want to send the strongest and challenging message possible. Its understandable that our responsibility is to make sure that we are all working towards the best goals, however, I feel that, sometimes, the discourse deters from the real issues that need to be addressed and focuses attention on distracting critiques of the details.

 

I decided to talk about this aspect of the feminist discourse when I found myself listening to a conversation among my roommates that seemed to correct everything that the third girl wasn’t present to listen to. I feel sometimes (and this may totally be due in part to a lack of understanding) that we often do this to many organizations; we criticize through thorough analysis but often don’t provide an alternative method or solution. What would happen if we were able to take our research a step further and offer solutions that organizations can attempt to consider improvements. Perhaps this is already happening, in which case, I hope it is helping.

 

An article like “Feminism is Female Self-Destruction” from AmeriKa.org  is indicative of only a small slice of the incredibly inaccurate and offensive critiques from those people who continue to be misinformed. Therefore, isn’t it our responsibility to demonstrate our solidarity and our sisterhood especially in the face of ignorance? Who knows? Maybe improvements from within by some experts may be beneficial. On the other hand, perhaps failing to point out these flaws in organizations and movements even just in reports would be detrimental in the long run to the bigger picture?

 

The irony of this line of questioning is that it exemplifies my point exactly. Here I am, writing a blog post about how I think the feminist discourse should improve by spending less time on criticism… The best solution I can muster up is to create a network of researchers that offer solutions, improvements, and possible outcomes as a resource for any organization with honest intentions to be able to make the best impact possible.

Feminist Lens #4

 

Over the weekend, my family had invited over a couple of Argentine family friends. We spoke about a wide range of topics and eventually discussed the message behind international women’s day. They made a really good first impression, to say the least!

 

The father, Federico, spoke about machismo and why it was an antiquated way of thinking that only exposed the insecurities of the men that didn’t allow their wives to hang out with friends at night or forced them children they didn’t necessarily want. I asked then if there had been any events or marches for women’s day and his eighteen-year-old daughter looked at me with saddened eyes. She told me the stories that had plagues the newsstands in the days following March 8th when “intolerant feminists” had attacked and shooed men that had tried to join the topless women’s rights rally. There was also coverage of the woman who, with the help of a handful of other pink ski mask wearing women, staged “the abortion of christ” outside of a catholic church. A woman dressed as the Virgin Mary standing over a stream of blood stole the attention away from the entire day’s activities, events, and messages.. Regardless of what the messages of these violent scenes may be, I think that it deters from other pressing feminist issues that more people can identify with. What can violence achieve in an argument for understanding and equality?

The acts of these small groups of people acting out on their own beliefs that do not necessarily mirror the values of many feminists (and male feminists) in argentina will always gain more media attention. Unfortunately this continues to perpetuate negative stigmas associated with feminism and gives an inaccurate image of the group of women that feminism tries to help.

Feminist Lens #3

Feminism Guru

In Taiwan, I lived with girls that had never heard of feminism in the way that I knew it. That’s not to say that they weren’t feminists but they had never asked themselves if their situation was equal to that of the men in their country. They were expected to be good so that one day a man would marry them. Over the months that I lived with the girls and because of our girls-night-in conversations (which I imagine they thought were very mischievous) I recognized a great deal US relationship culture while learning about theirs.

I was the California girl from the movies that had already had boyfriends (plural, they noted) and shamelessly kissed boys that were never my boyfriends at all. They were raised to understand, they explained, that they were to get married to someone that was stable to please their grandparents and families. Often, they asked about relationship culture in the US. Describing the culture was much harder to do than I expected simply because of the incongruences of what we believed to be true. They took days considering the strange things that emerged from my mouth like, “You don’t have to date someone with the intent to marry them” or “Dating, for many people, is a casual experience – not an obligation”. I hadn’t realized how privileged my perspective was until I saw the reactions from girls raised on the other side of the world from me.

I think that in the US it is generally accepted that an adult woman can date whomever she wants regardless of her family’s opinion. It is also assumed that a relationship may (and perhaps should) be developed initially based on mutual feelings of attraction. In Taiwan, a relationship is supposed to be a strategic step towards an established life that would please parents and grandparents.

Feminist Lens #2

 

“Because he is a man, he will not say his mother’s name”.

I spend an hour a day as a conversation partner with the American Language Institute.The majority of the students this semester come from Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E and, aside from a few women, most are (very wealthy) young men. Through our conversations, I have learned a lot about what Ayman, Faisal, Naïf, and my other new friends hold to be deeply set beliefs concerning women, politics, and priorities.

From a western cultural context, some of the customs or traditional signs of respect described to me to be by these young men would seem like indications of blatant sexism. During one of our group conversations, I had asked Faisal for mother’s name and suddenly the entire group erupted in laughter. “Ana! Faisal will only say his father’s name!” I was shocked (discreetly and internally) that these boys would deny their mothers their identity but, after some explanation, I learned that traditionally, a mother’s name was not said aloud in public in order to safeguard her from name-calling or possible ridicule in the public eye. Specifically, men might not say their mothers name as it implies weakness. I could not get an elaboration on this point, however, the students did further explain to me that many of today’s young adults say their mother’s names aloud and, most importantly to me, are proud to do so.

In US and Latin American culture, someone’s name is a powerful and essential tool that establishes some identity. So I asked myself; is this change in the approach to a woman’s name altered because of natural liberalization over time or is it a western influence? Both? Regardless of their stance on the issue, the young men respect each other’s decisions about how they chose to honor their families. Learning about different cultural approaches to identity is vital to progressive feminist discourse.

Feminist Lens #1

Global Feminism Blog

I was listening to the podcast “Stuff mom never told you” from the Stuff You Should Know series when I heard one of the broadcasters say something that I have been saying for a long time, “We (in this case, white feminists) need to be more comfortable with getting uncomfortable”. They were speaking on the controversy behind the Women’s March on Washington that many people were pointing out as being a white woman’s march. Black women, 96% of which voted for Hillary, did not need to be told that there is inequality towards women- they had already taken action and transformed their beliefs into votes. It was mostly white women that voted for the reverse of progress so, many people viewed the march as an admittance of guilt by this demographic of women.

Regardless of the statistics and who started the March, I was excited to see such mobility. The podcast, however, got me thinking about the other side (just as the responses of Susan Okin’s paper had done) and I could apply the issues that we’ve been learning about in class to a pin pointed representation of the problem; intersectional groups of women are not on the same page yet. So, when I had said, so many times before, that I know that a movement isn’t done from the comfort of our social media homes, I was inherently forgetting that so many women that face the inequalities from American and other cultural groups were already very uncomfortable. It it is obvious that women in minority groups feel somewhat overlooked by a specific demographic of women. Whether that sentiment is shared is irrelevant- what we need now is action to show solidarity.

I feel that the March should have been that symbol. I was saddened to see that women, regardless of who started it, did not all support the March and rather (I think, unintentionally) undermined its goal. We are all uncomfortable now. We must take strides together.

Lanyu (Orchid Island), Taiwan.

Lanyu is a small island, about 45km², to the southeast of Taitung. It’s a choppy, four-hour boat ride away. It’s not luxurious living. The terrain is rugged and, at first, the island feels dark and mysterious. It is Orchid Island – one of the most breathtaking displays of untouched aboriginal life that this author has ever seen.

from Things to Do and See on Lanyu, the Orchid Island written for Taiwan Savvy.

Taiwan is an easy must-go location.

Add Taiwan to your bucket list.

If you’re a budget traveler that wants to really understand Taiwan within the time that you’re in Taipei, scan over Taiwan’s “must – do ” list while in Taipei for the best way to do it all.

When I wrote that article for Travelicious.world.com about the things you must-do in Taiwan, I was just about to start my month long trip around the island on a scooter. Now, after the trip, I can definitely say that you can get a big bite of a taste of Taiwan just with a few days in Taipei. So, if you don’t have a lot of time in Taiwan, you can still have the full experience in Taipei.

For other interesting reviews on more places around the world, you can check out the Travelicious website.