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Lecture 1: What is feminism?

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Kristen Kolenz

on 23 October 2018

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Transcript of Lecture 1: What is feminism?

Pop Culture Feminism vs. Academic Feminism
Discussion Requirement:
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Lecture 1: What is feminism?
What's a feminist?
Merriam-Webster says:
A supporter of feminism (the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities).
Urban Dictionary says:
Someone who believes the radical notion that women are people.
Beyonce quotes Chimamanda Adichie who says:
A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.
Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards say:
[Feminists are] just women who don't want to be treated like shit.
What would Jessica Valenti say in "You're a Hardcore Feminist. I swear"? Spend some time writing notes in your notebook.
In your response, explain why or why not and how you think your identification as feminist or not will affect your engagement in class. Be sure to reference authors we have read and new information from the lecture.
Feminism is a method of INQUIRY and ANALYSIS
Do I have to be a feminist to do well in this class?
No. You must USE feminism as a method of inquiry and analysis.
Is there a difference?
A Short History of Feminist Organizing
A few things to keep in mind:
The story begins over 150 years ago.
The over-arching goal of this organizing has been to improve women's position in society.
The focus and priorities of the movements are diverse and always changing.
Why did women begin organizing in the 19th and early 20th century?
Right to vote
Access to education
Property rights
Access to divorce (right to custody of children)
What else is happening in the U.S. at this time?
The forced removal of Indigenous/First Nation peoples from their lands.
In 1866, the Civil Rights Act grants citizenship to black men.
What other social movements sparked organization among women?
The temperance movement

The abolition movement
This is very important as we look at the exclusion of black and other non-white women throughout the movement's development.
Important Moments from the First Wave of Feminism:
1792: "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" is published by Mary Wollstonecraft becoming one of the earliest foundational feminist texts

1830: The Indian Removal Act is passed in the U.S. leading to the Trail of Tears.

1837: Women from 10 different states met in New York City for the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women.

1848: The Seneca Falls Convention is held in New York and the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
Check out the document here:
Important Moments from the Second Wave of Feminism:
1863: Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

1870: Black men are granted the right to vote by the ratification of the 15th Amendment.

1848-1920: Women's suffrage

1892-1955: Anti-lynching

1916-Present: Reproductive rights

1940-1945: Women at work

1944-Present: Anti-rape activism

1955-1966: Civil Rights movement

1966-1974: Black Power

1965-1975: Chicano Liberation

1968- mid 1970's: American Indian

1968- mid 1970's: Asian American

The first family planning and birth control clinic opens in Brooklyn in 1916.
The first successes of the movement came for married women and middle and upper class women who gained access to higher education.
Race and Class in the Suffrage Movement
Most active organizers are upper class white women advocating for women like them.
White women organizers often took advantage of racist and classist discourse to advance their cause.
Susan B. Anthony said, "What words can express her [the white woman’s] humiliation when, at the close of this long conflict, the government which she had served so faithfully held her unworthy of a voice in its councils, while it recognized as the political superiors of all the noble women of the nation the negro men just emerged from slavery, and not only totally illiterate, but also densely ignorant of every public question.
Indigenous Influence on Suffragists
Did the suffragists invent their demands on their own or did they have an example of gender equality in practice?
"The Untold Iroquois Influence on Early Radical Feminists"
by Sally Roesch Wagner:

Think about the way Iroquois women dressed and what they did, violence in their communities, politics and divorce.
Does this change the way we look at the early women's movement?
Take some notes about this question in your notebook.
Movement Timelines
1960: FDA approves and released "The Pill"
1963: Betty Friedan publishes
The Feminine Mystique
1963: Equal Pay Act
1964: Civil Rights Act
1965: An executive order institutes Affirmative Action
1965: Voting Rights Act
1966: National Organization for Women is founded
1967: Affirmative Action is extended to women
1968: Shirley Chisholm is the first black woman elected to Congress
1968: First National Women's Liberation Movement Conference
1969 Our Bodies, Ourselves, Women’s Health Book Collective
1969 Stonewall Uprising
1970, Sisterhood is Powerful, Phoebe Morgan
1972 Equal Rights Amendment
1973 Roe v. Wade legalizes abortion
1974 Combahee River Collective
1975 UN Conference on Women, Mexico City
1976 National Black Feminist Organization conference
on racism and sexism
1979 First National Third World Lesbian
and Gay Conference

Black Feminism
The Combahee River Collective
We will read the work from the groundbreaking collective soon. They were instrumental in forming feminism into what it is today. Attention to racial, economic, sexual, and ethnic diversity among women was not always a part of feminist thinking and organizing. The Combahee River Collective made a deeply impactful intervention into feminism by insisting that our thinking and organizing must consider the ways that race, poverty, sexuality, and ethnicity change the way women experience the world. Their work was instrumental in taking the concerns of middle class white women from the center to build a movement that also speaks to the inequalities faced by non-white, non-straight, poor and working class, and non-U.S. women.
When we read the Combahee River Collective Statent, we will think more about....
the differences between white and black feminism in the 1970's and today.
how are the stakes of feminist thinking and organizing different for black and white women?
how does feminist thinking and organizing change when we consider class differences?
how does the statement challenge the common narratives we know about feminism and its history?
Feminism's Third Wave and Women's Studies

Required viewing through 2:30. The rest of the video is interesting, but not required.
Think about the production of knowledge changing by making women the subjects of study, including the perspectives of marginalized subjects, and expanding feminism to other fields like Gay and Lesbian Studies, Queer Studies, Ecofeminism, Disability Studies, etc.
Third Wave Feminism Responds to Claims of "Universal Sisterhood"
How did white feminists' claims of "universal sisterhood" hinder the movement?
What ways we see third/fourth wave feminists respond to the call to recognize the nuances of struggles of women at different intersections of privilege and inequality?
Keep this question in mind in the coming weeks!
Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies in the University
Consider the interdisciplinary field of Women's Studies. What is important about taking a course in WGSS and having a WGSS department at Ohio State?
How do you expect the course to interact with feminism's racist and classist histories?
Pop Culture Feminism
Think about the feminist debates you see in film, on television, in news media, on your social networks. Do the same debates occur in academic feminist networks?
Follow this link to see examples of feminism in pop culture:
Here are some more examples:
Aziz Ansari on what makes a feminist.
Be sure to post by Friday at 5pm.
I will remind you of these questions when we revisit the Combahee River Collective!
These may be difficult questions to answer now, but the reading we will do together over the coming weeks will help us sort through them!
Here are a few questions to consider as we begin our study together:
Let's keep this question in mind throughout the semester!
A common way feminism appears in the media is in the context of postfeminism, meaning that we no longer need feminism because we have already achieved gender equality. You may consider your opinion about this now, but I encourage you to think about the place of postfeminism as we move through the semester.
This video references some of the effects of postfeminism in the media:
You made it through week 1!
Don't forget to post on the discussion board!
Enjoy your day off on Monday and check the syllabus for the add deadlines for next week!
Full transcript