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Global Feminism

Global feminism is the idea that women all around the world will unite together as one, to fight the male supremacy. Robin Morgan the author of “Sisterhood is Global” states assumes that all women around the world are the same and have the same goals and views of oppression. This idea that global feminism can transcend the world seems unattainable; because that would mean that everyone would have to have the same goals. Although this idea of global feminism is a hopeful movement, it seems impossible that such a culturally diverse world to unite as one.

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Sex

Sex is the state of being male or female. According to Monique Wittig, “sex is natural and also social”. Sex is not just physical and anatomical differences such as differences of  sex organs, the amount of hormones, particular characteristics and body shapes between men and women. At first, how do people recognize them either men or women? From their body functions? or From tehir feeling about themselves? People generally suppose to decide their sex by genitalia, when babies are born. However,the concept of sex which is human beings have either male or female is constructed by society. Sex is connected a concept of femininity and masculinity. So, when babies are born, we connect vagina with girl, and also we connect penis with boy. Because people recognize genitals as either girl or boy, they socially choose and decide their sex. When people can not identify their genitalia as either female or male, they can not recognize them as human beings. If we don’t have sex, aren’t we human beings?

Language

Language is used as a useful term of poststructuralism for feminism in Deconstructing Equality-Versus-Difference: or, The Uses of Poststructuralist Theory for Feminism by Joan W. Scott. Language is a system of communication, and it is done by speech and writing in a certain contry. Language is ways we can express things and opinions. People express themselves and understand what they are by communicating with others. Language is a important part of poststructuralism. Language expresses how a particular society is organized and what people experiences. Analyzing language let us understand the relationship between a person and society in the particular place where the language is used. Language is analyzed in texts and in comments.

Compulsory Heterosexuality refers to the idea that heterosexuality, as a default sexual orientation, can be adopted by people regardless of their personal sexual preferences. Compulsory means “mandatory”, “obligatory”, or “required”. A person’s heterosexuality is generally assumed until proven otherwise; by both one’s self and those around her. Those who have never “thought about” or questioned their heterosexual orientation may be accused of “compulsory heterosexuality”. Since heterosexuality is integral to the way a society is organized, it becomes a naturalized “learned behavior”. When a woman decides she is a lesbian (if this “deciding” even occurs), she is rejecting the ‘compulsion’ toward a heterosexual lifestyle and orientation. But Compulsory Heterosexuality makes coming out difficult, because it keeps women from being able to separate their “true sexual desires” from their “compulsions toward heterosexualty”. This is a concept that stems from the question of whether or not “anyone” could be a lesbian, and what agency an individual has over her sexual choices and desires.

As far as I know, this term was made popular by Adrienne Rich in her essay “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”, which is a critique of heterosexuality as an institution and it’s negative affects on women. Rich suggests that heterosexuality keeps women from actualizing their full sexual and emotional capacities by denying them a sexual way of being that is unrelated to male pleasure.

Binary

Binary: The root of this word is “bi” which means two, so when we speak of the binary we are talking about that which has two sides. An example of this, seeing as we’re talking about women’s studies, is man and woman. In a simpler context we have the idea of on and off, or up and down.

In our society today we have a strong desire to use the binary to label things right, or wrong, with us, or against us, and the idea of “us” and “them.” This idea holds true with gender as well, you’re either a man or woman in our society with no room for anything else. Bell Hooks calls this “competitive either/or thinking.” This idea that everything has two sides is a very simplistic way of looking at the world.

Invisible

Invisible: To be invisible means to be out of sight, hidden, and unheard by others. Invisibility is the act of “flying below the radar” so to speak, in order to avoid the spotlight or the attention of others.

Do some people intentionally choose to be invisible by not expressing an opinion on a controversial subject, because it’s easier to stay quiet? In avoiding “making waves” there seems to be suppression of emotion and feelings, because it’s easier to step back and be quiet, than speak up and be judged.

Who makes us feel like we should be invisible and unheard though? Is it societal pressure, parents, or peers? Yes, most likely all of the above. Yamada brings up the fact that some women’s desire for invisibility is a “conditioning process” that is taught from a young age.

This conditioning is an issue Yamada had dealt with for some time. By speaking out at her work she was going against the idea of invisibility and the response was; “she seemed like such a nice person, so polite.” There is this idea that it’s wrong to be seen and heard if it goes against the norm. She also talks about letting racist remarks slide and about “quietly fitting into the man’s world of work.” She writes about how tough it is to speak out against stereotypes and how being visible can be difficult because it can make a person vulnerable.

There’s always a risk of criticism involved when a person is visible, but is it a risk worth taking?

Long hair

Long hair is a physical characteristic associated with both “femininity” and “masculinity” conventionally defined.
It is a pervasive Western (patriarchal) norm that women grow their hair long and men maintain their hair respectably short(er). Revealingly, men retain a great deal more freedom in hair length normativity/social expectation than do women.
There are exceptions to this norm, but deviants of both genders risk being socially ostracized by defying hair length normality. In United States history, noteworthy examples include:
-The “Flapper” movement of the 1920s in which women adopted a short “bob” cut and took more “lenient” positions regarding the woman’s proper relation to sex, drinking, partying, dancing, and “masculine” activities such as driving cars and smoking. The Flapper was consequently ostracized by “society” (or “Society”) due to her deviation. This movement all but disappeared with the coming of the impoverished Depression 1930s as opposed to the opulent economic conditions of “the Roaring 20s” that gave rise to such feminine liberation. (this is an interesting correlation to bear in mind: whether economic comfort lends itself to greater opportunities for women liberation? There is–or is there?–a connection.)

-The 1960s ushered forth a social rebellion against established norms. The youth population expressed its discontent with US foreign policy and stifling social expectations by being socially reactionary. Men wore their hair long–whether in protest against norms or simply to “conform” to the non-conformist hippie movement. Long hair was “liberating” but also stigma affixed itself to wearers of long hair and this trend (as a trend) died with the end of the 1960s. However, the 60s men wedged their foot in the door of historical norms, thus allowing for men later in US history to wear their hair long and not to be regarded as a “savage” or space alien.

-The 1990s-today allow for many hairstyles that defy normality. Women with short hair and men with long hair can readily be found. However, social and gendered/sexed significance is still attached to one’s hairstyle, indicating that we haven’t moved nearly as far from Victorian ideas as we’d like to believe. A woman can shave her head, but that MEANS something. A woman can leave her hair long, and nothing more is thought of it. We’ve not escaped foolish hairstyle norms.

One is left wondering: why should hair say anything about what’s in between my legs? And the answer is: it shouldn’t. Frank Zappa once remarked, in an exchange with an interviewer:

Interviewer: “So Frank, you have long hair. Does that make you a woman?”
Zappa: “You have a wooden leg. Does that make you a table?”

(NOTE: this is a severely inadequate history of American hair length–particularly because the women and men involved were all white and middle to upper class in social standing. But, then again, isn’t that the typical historical subject of American history? If anyone has other ideas about hair length and historical normativity, please add!!!)