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Live Blogging Today’s Panel

2009 March 2
by Laura Blankenship

Intros left AH–>Alex M–>JS–>Hong–>AH

Story vs. theory or story as theory.

Geishas being created or manufactured–woman of art or woman of technology.

To what degree are your people people of art or people of technology.

Women body builders–using technology to sculpt their bodies, i.e. steroids, weightlifting. Might be more extreme than geishas.

Foot binders–manufacturing anti-technological women. Men find this beautiful. Considered an art. My question, what does this then prevent them from doing? Status symbol. Mythologically a cure for sleepwalking.  Me: in the same way as hysterectomies were used to cure disease, yes?

Contrast between body builders and foot binders: gaining agency vs. losing agency.  Technology as empowering or not–trying to not categorize it one way or another.  Things that are done to our bodies to gender our bodies.

How machine-like are the people in your group?

Machine-like=on script, having no agency.

Male feminists go off scripts. Aggressive college students, goes off script. Question: what is a machine anyway? Taking an input which results in a predictable output.

Is what makes humans not machine-like our randomness?

Talking about video games and aggression. Is it the content or is it lack of social interaction or physical activity–Ruth and Anne.  This whole issue is quite complex. People want this to be clear-cut. Nat bringing in 19th c. German drama, watching villains, etc. on screen might prevent from being one.  Imaginatively working through aggressive tendencies. Competitiveness might contribute to aggressiveness rather than violence within the game.

Sugar Spice discussed film teaching you to be gendered.  Is there an ideal gender?  And how does film create this ideal gender? Romance novels have a film-like quality to them in terms of gendering the reader and there’s the stereotype of of the readers–desperate housewives, etc.  This idea of readers has shifted.  Now these readers tend to be more educated and there tend to be more men reading.  Are the readers, especially men, learning to be properly gendered subjects?

In the 1950s, Leave it to Beaver represented what people wanted families to be.  

Technology of in vitro disengenders the body–the body becomes a machine. 

Historically scouting is about creating the perfectly gendered people.  Boy scouting was especially meant to make boys more masculine; they believed that men had become effete. Girl scouts were taught to do something with their bodies other than decorate them.  What it means to be a good woman is constantly changing.  There are technology badges.

The DAR creates properly gendered people.  Their major educational project is through quilting and needlework, which is a conventionally gendered technology.  Must go through gene sequencing and prove your lineage.  “They all have the same hardware, so to speak.”  Interesting response from the class–the group feels exclusive in the negative sense.

Abenaki people were considered inferior for their perceived lack of technological advancement. There were definitive gender roles. But there was a general respect for all adults.  We see their technology as gendered but they may not. They had a concept of two spirits or two genders and people with this quality could choose which gender to follow.  There were certain jobs exclusive to men or women. In agriculture, both men and women participate equally.

Affinity group vs. identity group (rel. to identity politics). Example: Natasha’s phrasing of pro-feminist men vs. feminist men?  Supporting feminism vs. claiming to be feminist.  Why, though, if I’m a man (Solomon) and I support all the tenets of feminism, why can’t I be a feminist?  We seem to be struggling here with the definition of feminism.  Can you claim the identity of a belief system? Also might be that affinity is community based while identity is individual.  Wouldn’t excluding men from the feminist movement be a bad way to go?

Online trans support groups sometimes only accept people who identify as trans, not even relatives of trans people.  Online at least, those trans people who are less clear about what gender they claim, are often not accepted. Trans people believe they’re not cyborgs but that their chosen gender is really their natural gender.

Feminist bloggers are mostly female and their mission statements often declare that they’re giving women a voice. 

Mosuo women–contact with the outside world via technological means. Benefited them economically.  But it’s mostly about tourism and the women wear the appropriate clothing.  Use technology to propagate their image.

In what way has technology changed the groups?  Mosuo have resisted outside influence on their gender structure.  Romance novels have moved to electronic forms; now not embarrassed by the covers.  Foot binding was abolished in the cultural revolution, but people think it’s still done in some rural villages.

Good discussion.  Please feel free to correct or comment at will!

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