Monday, November 1, 2010


For this week’s paper, I have decided to examine several pieces from the past few weeks that I have found particularly useful to my own research. A course on feminist methods is interesting because there are so many diverse ways in which one can understand the word method. Should we have an overarching method in feminist studies? I would think that most would argue no. Do we need to be transparent in the methods we use? I hope that most would say yes. However, what then make something feminist? Is it a self-reflexive term that we can choose to take or is it something that can be placed on works that fit a certain criteria? We can also ask the very important question as to whether or not any of these categories really matter if the work stands up on its own. I find that in my own work, that I tend to examine things from a feminist perspective, but I don’t always acknowledge it. I think the main issue with this is that by not being more forthright, I do not use as much feminist scholars in my work and perhaps people who read my pieces will not also pick up the feminist cause. In another class, we have been reading many pieces on gender from a racial perspective. One author, Patricia Collins, argues that not everyone can be or should claim the feminist moniker. There needs to be a middle ground between the extreme that everyone can be or is a feminist or that only certain groups that have experienced gender inequalities have the right to do so. I think this is important to think about because I would argue that we do need some sort of criteria for scholarship and activism. While everyone has the right to identify as anything they want, this does not mean that it is the most effective way to push certain activist agendas. This is a tricky area, because value judgments are tended to be frowned upon in cultural studies because we are afraid to alienate people, but at the same time life is made up of judgements. One does not want to argue that any feminist research or researcher is wrong in their actions, but perhaps we can argue that there are better ways to do it. Inherently, this all connects to ethics.

Madison argues in terms of how ethics connects to the ways in which we examine our participants in our studies. We must not look at them as simply the other or that we are striving for the greater good of society. I think that the greater good argument is interesting to connect to the feminist movement because of many historical issues within this paradigm. Who gets to determine what the greater good is for all? I guess I am struggling with issues of how to judge something as being more or less useful. The greater good in feminism seems like it has been upper middle class white women, so many have found this to be problematic and have added many different and important perspectives to the literature. Perhaps we need to construct this as the greater good NEEDING to always be challenged in order to push different theories further. I think that the important goal of contemporary feminism is to define itself in conjuncture with current issues and struggles. When a movement becomes static, it no longer has the power to be transformative. Stuart Hall, in an earlier piece we read, argues that when a theory is no longer useful that we need to be willing to get rid of it and create theory that is applicable to the current contextual time period. I think that this is a good way to also think about feminist movements and paradigms. Rather than judge them in simplistic binaries of being simply good or bad, rather we judge them in terms of their usefulness during certain time periods. Perhaps I need to be more willing to talk about these issues in my own work in order to bring these conversations to larger groups of people. So, my goal is to use more feminist theory in my own work as well as to try and flesh out the better works for my contextual period. However, the goal should not be to create more canonical work, but rather to create academic work that answers important questions.

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