Tuesday, December 9, 2008

service learning

Here's the link to the website I made like I promised. I highly recommend viewing it in Firefox though, because it doesn't render properly in Internet Explorer. I still have some bugs to work out, sorry!

el eligado cinco

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ahh! Better late than never (I hope)

Yesterday my cousin and her roommates (two of my really good friends) were visiting and we were sitting around my kitchen table. We got onto the subject of having kids and my cousin remembered how when we were little we'd play the game Life all the time. There was one instance in which she had the misfortune of landing on every "You just had a baby!" square and ended up having so many kids that she couldn't fit them in her little plastic car. I remembered this vividly and laughed just as much as I had the night it happened, probably over ten years ago. I told everyone that she had so many plastic people that I had to take some of them in my car.
She reminded me, "Yeah, you told me, 'I'll take your dogs but you can keep all the kids in your car.'"
I suddenly remembered how normally when playing I would put my husband in a back seat and my dog would sit up front with me. As my cousin said, "She wouldn't just put the husband behind her, she'd put him waaay at the back of the car.'"
After thinking about these stories, I realized that I really have always been a feminist, even as a little girl. That's not to say that feminism is about hating men or children, but I think independence and non-conformity are both values I've always held.
This class gave me the opportunity to connect my experiences as a little girl to the feminism I celebrate today.
Like I said at the beginning of this semester, I had reservations about taking this class. I already had a busy schedule and the drive to Cocoa was not all that enticing. On top of that, girls' issues never really intrigued me. But looking back at my decision, I'm really glad I made the choice I did.
I didn't have the best time growing up and I tend to block out bad memories. But taking this class gave me a safe space in which I could revisit my childhood and teen years from a feminist lens.
I've enjoyed every women's studies course I've taken. I love being able to sit around a circle and, essentially, have a consciousness-raising session. But I think Girls' Studies is unique in its own right, for many reasons. On the one hand, it's such a new class and I think we're especially lucky to have it offered at UCF. But it also is unique in the way that it is so focused on one topic, and its one topic to which we can all relate. I loved sharing stories about grrrlhood. It's interesting to see how our unique experiences have influenced each of us, how we've all changed since those elementary/middle/even high school experiences, and how ultimately those experiences brought us to the same point in life.
Even though I learned more about my friends and became closer to them, I also learned about myself. I've been able to see how my own experiences have shaped me and I think that's made me a stronger feminist.

- Bianca

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cultural Artifact- Hannah Montana

After talking about Hannah Montana in class, I decided to watch a few shows. The first one I saw “You Are So Sue-Able to Me” I decided to do my cultural artifact paper on Hannah Montana. I already knew that so many girls absolutely adore Hannah, but I found myself aggravated by the Hannah character.

First of all, I don’t like the fact that Hannah is thin, blond, very flashy with her wardrobe, and that she wears a lot of makeup. So many people worship Hannah, but Miley, on the other hand, who is plain in her clothing, and has brown hair, is barely noticed. What does this tell young girls?
I also do not like how the Disney Company produces so many Hannah Montana products. Parents would have to struggle financially just to afford all other the CDs, DVDs, clothes, and everything else imaginable that Disney put out for them to buy. Instead of making things, like friendship bracelets, or spending time swapping clothes with friends like I did as a child, girls now are told to shop, shop, shop! And to make matters worse, all of the products are pink, purple, covered in glitter, or gold.

Girls need an alternative to Hannah Montana. Lilly is a step in the right direction with her love of skateboarding, and not to ‘girlie’ actions, but Hannah openly criticized Lilly for being different, including in this episode. Is this really the best thing for young girls to watch?

Hannah tries to make Lilly more 'girlie' in order to impress a boy...


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ruby the 7 y.o. Feminist

This is amazing! Be sure to watch it to the end, especially for the awesome feminist song she performs;) Girls Rock!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Heart Blogging! Connecting Girls Studies’ Voices to T&T

As many of you know, I am working on my PhD in Texts and Technology (T&T)—an English degree at UCF. While I have played with social networks and blogs in my personal and professional spaces for some time, I only recently found theoretical homes for the work I have been doing. As part of my theory-based Introduction to Texts and Technology course, I decided to utilize our Girls Studies blog as part of my "Digital Artifact" assignment. The assignment asks us to:
…design, produce, create, modify, or otherwise bring into being an artifact that makes a point about relationships between texts and technologies. […] The object must include new media tools, connect in some way to class readings and discussions, demonstrate relationships between texts and technology, and be thought-provoking. (Bowdon)
I created our Girls Studies blog as part of a Summer assignment that inspired me to take online class discussions out of closed, password-protected forums and into more open spaces. The nature of Girls Studies makes it an appropriate place to experiment with blogs because girls are frequently engaged with electronic spaces like blogs, social networks, and other multi-user domains (MUDs). I try to connect my teaching practices with course content as much as possible, and this was a prime opportunity. Many of you (my Girls Studies' students) expressed that you enjoyed the blogs and found unique opportunities to express yourselves here. You have also expressed a desire to continue participating with the blog after the semester ends. This was my goal--to engage you and others interested in Girls Studies (particularly/hopefully girls themselves) with this blog beyond class requirements. Because, as we have learned from our class discussions, the issues raised in Girls Studies impact us daily—as women, as individuals, as ex-girls, and as potential parents of future girls (and boys!).

I look forward to the potential this blog holds for each of you, for students of Girls Studies in future classes, and for others who find our blog via various avenues. I have included quotes from each of the theorists I have read in my Introduction to Texts and Technology course that relate to blogs. Some of these writers speak about blogs specifically but most of them address technology in a broader sense applicable to our use of technology through this Girls Studies blog. A couple quotes are countered by the power and potential of blogs, while others direct us to this power. I hope you will find this blog entry relevant to the work you have done here and that these quotes will inspire you to continue participating in a technological culture where your voice is central—where you are a creator, a producer, and participant of technological culture rather than a mere consumer.

What do/did they know about blogging? More than we might realize…
What did they imagine?
What do you imagine??
BecauseWe are the future of technology.

This is (y)our revolution.
Sincerely,Your Teacher

"The Internet is another element of the computer culture that has contributed to thinking about identity as multiplicity. On it, people are able to build a self by cycling through many selves" (Turkle 178).
"A new form of 'politics' is emerging, and in ways we haven't yet noticed. The living room has become a voting booth. Participation via television in Freedom Marches, in war, revolution, pollution, and other events is changing everything" (McLuhan 22).
"The new medium compels us to acknowledge that all previous forms of writing are as much technologies as fully computerized hypertext—that writing itself is not merely influenced by technology, but rather is technology" (Bolter 239).
"…what if television, playing video games, and surfing the Web are actually good for you? What if exercising the modes of cognition demanded by visually sophisticated video game and Web environments could actually increase one's intelligence?" (O'Gorman 72)
Language is the tool of human self-construction, that which cuts us off from the garden of mute and dumb animals and leads us to name things, to force meanings, to create oppositions, and so craft human culture" (Haraway 81)

[Ong articulating Plato's charges against writing and, by extension, computers] "a written text is basically unresponsive. If you ask a person to explain his or her statement, you can get an explanation; if you ask a text, you get back nothing except the same, often stupid, words which called for your question in the first place. [] Writing is passive, out of it, in an unreal, unnatural world. So are computers. (Ong 79)
"I have proposed the term "democratic rationalization" to signify user interventions that challenge undemocratic power structures rooted in modern technology" (Feenberg 108).
"…in the United States, blogs have taken on a very different character. There are some who use the space simply to talk about there private life. But there are many who use the space to engage in public discourse. Discussing matters of public import, criticizing others who are mistaken in their views, criticizing politicians about the decisions they make, offering solutions to problems we all see: blogs create the sense of a virtual public meeting, but one in which we don't all hope to be there at the same time and in which conversations are not necessarily linked" (Lessig 41).
"The computer is providing us with a new stage for the creation of participatory theater. [] The more persuasive the sensory representation of the digital space, the more we feel that we are present in the virtual world" (Murray 125).
"Fifteen years ago in popular culture, people were just getting used to the idea that computers could project and extend a person's intellect. Today people are embracing the notion that computers may extend an individual's physical presence" (Turkle 20)
"The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village" (McLuhan 67).
"Blog space gives amateurs a way to enter the debate—'amateur' not in the sense of inexperiences, but […] meaning not paid by anyone to give their reports. It allows for a much broader range of input into a story…" (Lessig 44).
"In an electronic information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other" (McLuhan 24).
"The transformative power of the computer is particularly seductive in narrative environments" (Murray 154).
"Technology has […] given us an opportunity to do something with culture that has only ever been possible for individuals in small groups, isolated from others. Think about an old man telling a story to a collection of neighbors in a small town. Now imagine that same storytelling extended across the globe" (Lessig 185).
"One important method of making systems easier to learn and to use is to make them explorable, to encourage the user to experiment and learn the possibilities through active exploration" (Norman 183).
"…this book is for those who are concerned about the future of [education] in a digital culture, and who seek to resist the dehumanization of higher education, which is carried out blindly in the name of 'technological process' (O'Gorman xvii).
"As human beings become increasingly intertwined with the technology and with each other via the technology, old distinctions between what is specifically human and what is specifically technological become more complex. Are we living life on the screen or life in the screen. Our new technologically enmeshed relationships oblige us to ask to what extent we ourselves have become cyborgs, transgressive mixtures of biology, technology, and code. The traditional distance between people and machines has become harder to maintain" (Turkle 21).
"The best of blog entries are relatively short; they point directly to words used by others, criticizing with or adding to them. They are arguably the most important form of unchoreographed public discourse that we have" (Lessig 41).
"Web-based distance education has already changed the way we understand the university, but it has simply transposed print-centric habits (with varied success) into new learning space. I believe that the transformation of the academic apparatus is most likely to occur by means of physical agents that engage directly with the traditional material structures of learning, from the essay, to the classroom, to the entire campus itself" (O'Gorman 103).
"When we step through the screen into virtual communities, we reconstruct our identities on the other side of the looking glass. This reconstruction is our cultural work-in-progress" (Turkle 177).
"To change the material artifact is to transform the context and circumstances for interacting with the words, which inevitably changes the meanings of the words as well. This transformation of meaning is especially potent when the words reflexively interact with the inscription technologies that produce them" (Hayles 24).
"The fundamental problem of democracy today is quite simply the survival of agency in this increasingly technocratic universe." (Feenberg 1o1)
"An emergent property, materiality depends on how the work mobilizes its resources as a physical artifact as well as on the users interactions with the work and the interpretive strategies she develops—strategies that include physical manipulations as well as conceptual frameworks" (Hayles 33).
"Writing had reconstituted the originally oral, spoken word in visual space. Print embedded the word in space more definitively" (Ong 123).
"The solution now is to find radical political resources immanent to technologically advanced societies" (Feenberg 108).
"It is not a matter of emancipating truth from every system of power […] but of detaching the power of truth from the forms of hegemony, social, economic, and cultural, within which it operates at the present time" (Foucault 75).
"The Internet has become a significant social laboratory for experimenting with the constructions and reconstructions of self that characterize postmodern life. In its virtual reality, we self-fashion and self-create" (Turkle 180).
"The more realized the immersive environment, the more active we want to be within it. When the things we do bring tangible results, we experience the second characteristic delight of electronic environmentsthe sense of agency" (Murray 126).

These Quotes Were Lifted From the Following:
Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing. NewJersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 1991.
Feenberg, Andrew. Questioning Technology. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Hayles, Katherine N. Writing Machines. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2002.
Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. New York: The Penguin Press, 2004.
O'Gorman, Marcel. E-Crit Digital Media Critical Theory and The Humanities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy. New York: Methuen & Co., 1982.
McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. New York: Bantam Books, 1967.
Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press, 1997.
Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Rabinow, Paul, Ed. The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.

Better late than never ; )

When I tell people about Girls Studies the class, a lot of womyn respond, 'O so basically we all should have had that class during middle school.' It's pretty messed up that girls are purposely cut off from a lot of the information we got to ingest this semester. A lot of the authors in our texts would talk about girls' sexuality and comment that in our culture, or in most cultures, girls supposedly have no sexuality. I caught myself feeling a little uncomfortable about thinking about the fact that twelve-year-old are sexual people, even though I've been really aware of my own sexuality since preschool, no joke.

I'm grateful for late night sleepover conversations when my middle school friends and I talked about taboo topics, but it would have understood myself and been so much more confident if I had been able to talk about sexuality openly. I really appreciate the research that contributors to our texts did on girls' perceptions of sexuality in media and in their lives. Also, discussing the sexual stereotypes that are placed on girls has been really useful to me. From my experience growing up, most of the time I felt that I belonged to one category of girl: the good girl. The reputation followed me, so I either upheld it or every now and then fought to break it down.

For me, doing theatre was an important place where I could step outside of the stereotype that I lived, and be a person who was proud and loud about sexuality. From our readings and online assignments, it seems like a lot of girls find the internet as a place where they can explore who they are and who they want to be and discuss with other girls.

I notice that I still find my self stepping in and out of the good girl stereotype in my head. When I begin to discuss sexuality with people I knew growing up, I catch myself thinking, is it OK for me (a good girl) to be talking about this? I have to remind myself that I'm a woman and I'm allowed to have a sexuality. So I guess I'm still internalizing lessons I picked up from this class. A girl doesn't need to become a woman to claim her right to sexual independence. Our society's rules for girls behavior are harmful, and I would like us to all have the opportunity to learn to ignore them. Also, I'm sad that this class is over.

Hey Ladies!

So looking back on this past semester, I really didn’t realize how much that I have learned until I sit down to think about it. Throughout Girls Studies, I have subtly gained knowledge that I can carry and pass on to everyone in my life. Thinking all the way to the beginning, I remember looking at a video on advertising and how over sexualized womyn are portrayed in the media, and how young girls see this and think this is how they are supposed to be. This class allowed me to reflect on my own childhood and think back on things that I thought or did because I saw them in magazines or on TV and I wanted to be beautiful like those womyn. And still today, it is difficult just how it was in middle and high school to see these “perfect” womyn constantly thrown in your face, and realizing that you don’t look like them, and most likely never will. But now I do have Feminism, and now I realize that people are airbrushed, and that a very low percentage of womyn actually do have the bodies that are shown. Before this class I never really thought about younger girls to be honest. I never thought about the giant impact that the media does play on a young girl’s outlook on life and herself. Now that I recognize this it really frustrates me because anorexia, bulimia, and drug use of grrrls and womyn could completely get eliminated if we weren’t exposed to the pressure at young ages of trying to look perfect, and be this feminine being that is so closely linked to Barbie.

This class has allowed me to fully evaluate our society and the principles that are installed in our minds throughout our childhood that move onto our adulthood. Again, it is so aggravating because you see it everywhere you go. Whether you’re watching TV or looking at your own family structure. What we are taught in the very beginning of our lives never leaves us. We might not remember learning how little grrrls or boys are supposed to act, but we will most likely follow suit and not even know why. That is what this class has really opened my eyes to. I know society is screwed up and it has helped to screw up many people, but to look back and analyze when this all came about is sickening, because we had our lives planned out before we even came out of the womb. The minute “you’re having a grrrl” was announced minds were made up on how to raise this child and the kind of life she will have.

So yes, Womyn Studies is of course awesome, but Grrrls Studies gets down to the core root and brings you back to how you used to think, and why you did things the way you did. This class was remarkable, and I definitely advise everyone to take it. I had so much fun, and I know everyone else did as well! :)


It is soo much more than Spice Girls

I am a grrrl, we are all grrrls! That is something I have become comfortable calling myself and others. Before this class, grrrl seemed like an insult, inferring that someone is young, immature, naive and most of all underestimated. This class has shown me the power of grrrls and the power for us to identify as them! Through the readings, class and my service learning I have experienced the potential and ability that grrls have today and that they are using their power more than ever, like with blogging. This has been a really cool outlet for discussion, I never did it before but really enjoy the style of it, and its another way for grrrls to alternatively get their voices heard. Grrrls today seem to already have the critical eye for conscious raising and culture jamming and it amazes me to see their accomplishments. If people only knew this, and the difficulties it is to be a grrrl today, they would give them a lot more credit.

I am so glad that I got to be in this class at the begginning and got to know all the intelligent and just plain awesome grrrls. Before and after every class I have gotten to look back at grrrlhood and those car rides and discussions have also been one some of the greatest parts. Exploring websites like gurl.com and taking quizzes about how much i really know about feminism or STDs made me go back in time but also see how things have developed to educate grrls about difficult topics but in a comfortable and fun atmosphere. Also with my service learning and interacting with young girls I was able to see first hand at what grrrls are learning and dealing with in society. The whole combination of face to face discussion, to activism and blogging made this an experience more than just a class. I know I sound sentimental, but I wish all my classes were this close and genuinely interesting like ours. I cannot wait for more courses like this and to continue the bond of being the guinea pigs of Grrrls Studies at UCF <3