(I missed the beginning of this panel.)
Here is a short video clip from the middle of the panel - Enjoy!
Feminism & identity panel 4:00 Friday
Sylvia Kelso, Andrea Hairston, L. Timmel Duchamp, Lauren Lacey, Joan Haran
Q: What do you mean by bracketing?
Joan: Paradoxical, can't be resolved, not able to work through, leave something aside.
Timmi: I use it often, I read theory and like some of what they say and reject utterly some of it and call that bracketing so I don't have to say I can't stand X, so I can save authors from the dust heap.
Andrea: so not all or nothing.
aud: descendant of CR movement, I belonged to LGBT speakers bureau, all we were experts on was our own indiv selves. Empathize. What are possibilities, as women, as feminists, with that monolithic term, forming a speakers bureau, hearing all the stories,
Timmi: to have more stories, a plurality of viewpoints, a plurality of narratives.
Andrea: I worked with group of refugees from all over the world. Our common language was german. We were going to create a play. Get everyone to tell her story, we were all women, but must tell it in German, because the Germans thought it would help them assimilate into German society, so they asked me to do it as an expert on multiculturalism, (laughter from all) we had to figure out how to respect one another, what was going on for each individual woman, we had to be on her side. That was our form of listening. You must come from that point of view. You can't argue with her, you are helping her tell her story. That is what we do in theater. When it got to her story, she could contradict in her own. When we performed it the audience was weeping. The stories were so different, saying oh horrible group x, no, not group x, oh horrible group y. At the end we were all together. The Germans were very happy, the German guy says "we've had a checkered history" *everyone laughs* "What we need are more instances of this on our soil." He went to English to try and say this. And thank you thank you thank you. I took it as him saying, I didn't know what to do and the more I see this the more I know what to do about who *I* am. In other words his life was now clearer to him, because he listened to a woman from the Sudan talk about her experiences getting to germany.
Joan: That is one of the things that feminist science fiction does for me. That kind of performative walking in other people's shoes doesn't work for me, but reading does. And for me narrative fiction really does work. The more voices in the narrative fiction that you have to imagine yourself into, the better. (Sonya Hardin), talks about feminist standpoint is not something you have, it is something you struggle to achieve, one of my hopes for utopia, is you don't just stick to reading things of a particular type. So I think yes as many stories in as many genres as possible.
Timmmi- You're both talking about people collaborating to help constructing the narrative. When you read you are constructing a narrative, you've given what you need to make the story but the reader has to make the story work. With theater you're making clear each of the stories, activity is more powerful than knowing.
Andrea: Reading a novel is about getting into a voice other than your own, even when you wrote it. You have to give yourself to the story, and be taken where the author and chars are going. If it is really good fiction for me it takes me somewhere I haven't gone. And particularly with feminist sf I find that it does do that.
aud: Last 2 comments, I am not in academia, had bad attitude about it. I live in rural small town Wisconsin, basic question, narrative fic of sf is part of answer, but how do we get the feminist narrative out. Back in early 70s, was in CR, in a lot of those discussions, meetings, people with different background than mine, trying to solve some issues, but if you talk to any woman in my small town, the media has told them what feminism is for, either feminism has fixed this for me and I dont have to think about it, or, ... and what it is, is it's a way of destroying the conversation. and what they think feminism is, really isn't relevant to them.
Lauren: I have students from that town, and I ask them, write about feminism, and they get really uncomfortable, yeah I know it was important and I'm happy about the things it did,
aud: And those women are going to have a job, and they are going to do all the housework and organize the childcare, and...
Lauren: I'm glad you raised that question, one thing is global, transnational feminism, question, well, what about here? We need to take car of things here first! Or it can go in a really productive direction, of we need to take care of it in our lives. Women, caught up in many diff roles, the idea we want them to fight for something else, is a litle too much. For me it is the stories that are important. Uhh... as an English professor... We can give them a book. *laughter*
Andrea: Things that are not working for us, by us I mean, all of us, the state of our society, people are not happy with what they have because it is inevitable and immutable, and if you feel that then you 're just like what the fuck? Why be an activist? *laughter* Butler, writing Kindred, what did the people in slavery think, how could they get through every day, how do you prepare for the next generation where it isn't going to be this way? If we believe in change, if what Octavia writes in Parable of the Sower that god is change, if we convince people of that as a possibility, the char might think there is nothing I can do, but they intervene in small ways, and then bigger, and end up mothering another generation, so we have to ignite, we have to figure out what those changes are going to be. Thinking it's possible to change, then, change is going to emerge. I grew up in the 50s and 60s Pittsburgh, their thoughts, got me to college and doing the things I ended up doing. Get those women thinking, what do I like? What do I want to be in my life and how do I move toward it? What does feminism have to offer us in our lives, they are invested in it if it's their day to day lives.
Joan Haran: Coming back to coalition politics. Social justice project, coalition doesn't have to be labeled feminism, places you can intervene, is consonant with feminist social justice but isn't necessarily called feminist, humility, you can be feminist, but decenter your feminism.
Karen : First I was an activist, academy, now live in middle america, coalition, first things that come to mind is, strategic about your project, why are you coming together.
Beth: How to make effective interventions, work in community development in rural Ireland, my reasons weren't meaningful in any way to the people I was working with.
Timmi reads a long quote from one of her fav books Linda Zerili, Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom
"If there is only the name with which a political collective calls itself into existence...."
"Contrary to the claims of feminist theory... there is no extrapolitical stance... " "women precludes speaking collectively..." "irreducible condition of feminist and democratic politics..." This is the basic problem of democracy"
Timmi: Do you care to respond to that?
Joan Haran: I don't know that I follow the quote! *laughter from all* I can speak, let's say, adjacent to it... *laughs* Not a Derrida scholar at all, but notion that there's some language we just have to use, because you ... you're not sure that the thing is that thing. So the category of "women" we don't buy that there is a ... to that category but we have to use the word
Andrea: It's like the electron, we dont' know how fast it is or where it's going but we have to talk about it... We cannot get to it with our words...
(Joan?) There are times when acting as and speaking as a woman will be ... and times where it's not appropriate and exclusions, there may be particular moments and painful ones... the issue of conflict resolution and being able to speak about what we're done and why. And there may be costs to it. Ep thompson, making of the british working class. (nods from Timmi) The self consciousness of it and the temporality is what is important. It might be putting language under erasure. Provisional use of a word.
Andrea: West african spirituality culture and drumming. This whole quote calls to mind why people don't like academia. To understand that writing it requires some stuff of my brain that I'm not that interested in. Idea that there's a thing I understand and you don't and the bit where I try to bridge across it is the poetry! How can I do do polyrhythm, two drums, and talk (drumming in 2 difefernt times with each hand and talking) (I missed the typing of it because it was so stunningly great) (I start filming just after this)
Link to the short video clip of Andrea Hairston talking, and a member of the audience:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-669702604831730448&hl=en
Lauren: (identity politics)
Aud: (white woman in white shirt from the small town in wisconsin) general perception: this, or that. There is no we if I have it firgure out, its me. It goes back to Octavia Butler, I'm going to point at my husband, who knows the quote,
(Her husband): From Xenogenesis, human beings are both rational, and hierarchical, that's why you blew yourselves up.
Aud: Yeah. How do we get around that one?!
(general unnerved laughter from audience)
Andrea: You're a woman you're not a woman, it's the simulteneity of contradictory things, you have to act as a woman because society... and yet woman isn't real, it's a construct, it's a fiction, it's made up, and you have to hold those things in yourself and not lose your mind!
Lauren: Maybe things could be much much better, imagine life...
Aud: We already hold contradictory ideas all the time in our society, we vote in ... (identity), in our free individual democratic society, and we don't think of this as a contradiction, because no one came in and says, "you know that doesn't make sense" and it has to make sense because as a child the world does.
We so much want to say, instead of assist. We're assisting, people already in a situation, not trying to make their situation OUR situation. Below, above, we think we're above, and then I'm gonna turn around and say someone else is above me. What people want, what they think... (more contradictions)
Figuring out how to ask the right questions, and how to listen.
Timmi reads off a list of concepts we've pulled out from this discussion:
plurality of narrative, and listening which involves construction
Sylvia: Foucault talks about regulatory idea, ideal regime, the concept you are never going to get to, you can hold it in your head, it can be a bad thing. (Feminism?) is a regulatory ideal, that is no good. You can have one, like feminism, democracy, activism. What is to be the regulatory ideal? Never going to get there.
Timmi: That's our feminist utopia.
Andrea: And it's FUN trying to get there.
Guy from aud jaws on. How do we do this without compromising our.. something...
Timmi: great question (shakes head, smiling)
Sylvia : That's what I JUST SAID about the regulatory ideal.
Joan: It is important to hold on and act according to your values. But, one of the principles that I hold very dear from Starhawk The Fifth Sacred Thing, was that means become ends, so ends don't justify the means, whatever your regulatory ideal, what you do to approach it, matters. Don't do shit, to get to something good.
Andrea. If you shit on the road, you have flies on your return.
Timmi: There's no better way to end!