Cheers, StyleNation, and welcome to the new academic year! Yes, almost everybody in the Northern (academic) hemisphere is back to class now, except for the lucky few – our own E-Jo, for example – who are excused from teaching and will thus spend the term engrossed in their research.
To be clear, gentle readers, for all my griping about prep and marking, I enjoy my time in the classroom. Generally, my students are great, and I LOVE the stuff I teach. But the balance is off lately, and I dream of months of uninterrupted research coupled with some respite from student demands. With almost 200 students this term and very little in the way of assistance with marking, I must (and will) rally. But I’m eligible for leave next year (hurrah!) and am counting down the days!
Professorial rant (scroll down for outfit post)
In the mean time, I have serious concerns about young feminists/feminism. I have this fantasy that this is only happening in my city, but regular (and VERY annoying) exposure (at conferences) to feminist and/or queer cultural studies suggests otherwise. Here’s the problem as I see it: gender-queer practices are the new (so-called) feminism, and the new (so-called) feminism tends to be anti-historical, intensely preoccupied with (Euro-North American) selfhood/identities, alarmingly elitist, and often misogynist. In short, gender-queer politics, at least in the incarnations in which I witness them, are not feminist at all. Instead, there’s an apparent “need” to eliminate the category of “woman” because it is, apparently, reprehensible and ostensibly irrecuperable. In this context, too, gender-queer’s preoccupation with a representative gender-neutral “personhood” seems to over-value a form of (relatively young) slightly re-fashioned masculinity. Gender-queer politics names this refashioned masculinity “androgyny.”
If this is actually a thing now, then, in my not-so-humble opinion, we’ve got a serious – and very tiresome – problem. For my part, I grow INTENSELY WEARY of the refusal, on the part of gender-queer critics, theorists, and students, to interrogate the assumptions underlying their politics.
How does this politics manifest in the undergraduate women’s studies classroom, the nerdier among you might ask? Currently, I am informed on a semi-regular basis, by 17-to-22-year-old persons with carefully-styled “androgynous” hair and clothing, that gender binaries must be disregarded to the point where any research or activism that acknowledges constructed genders is irrelevant.
How many times do we have to learn that socially constructed ideas have real effects, and that “refusing” to engage with a particular ideology does not, in fact, negate its effects in culture? Why can they not hear when a vast and diverse body of feminist cultural critics and theorists points out that even their gender-queer counter-culture defines itself in relation to mainstream gender ideals (i.e. gender-queer NEEDS normative gender constructions in order to understand what it is not)?
Moreover, I am sick and tired of research examining gender-based cultural belief systems that result, for example, in “women’s” starvation and death, or in infant mortality being disregarded and dismissed because those who wrote up the research failed to problematize the constructed categories of “man” and “woman,” or failed to account for a “woman”‘s personal agency when she “chose” to feed her husband and children before herself.
Here endeth my ranting. For now.
Outfit #1: First day of class
No, it’s not exciting, but I wasn’t excited to start teaching, again:
Outfit #2: Teaching Day (today)
It’s chillier today. My classroom this morning was especially cold, so I lectured in this jacket:
Then, it warmed up, so I took off the jacket for my second class in the afternoon:
What’s up with you, StyleNation?
Also, am I being crazy about this gender-queer stuff?