Bailey Kushinsky FP

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Reading Responses

Session 2: April 21

page 204 (bell hooks) (quoting Freedom Charter): "our struggle is also a struggle of memory against forgetting" -> page 205 "there is an effort to remember that is expressive of the need to create spaces where one is able to redeem and reclaim the past, legacies of pain, suffering and triumph in ways to transform present reality. Fragments of memory are not simply represented as flat documentary bust constructed to give a 'new take' on the old..."

bell hooks rejects the notion that the past is static, reframing the past as malleable; in contrast to the prominent narrative of hopelessness, of "deprivation"(208), the past has the potential to be repurposed and used in radical contexts as a liberating force. She later discusses her personal history, how she "had to struggle and resist to emerge from that context and then from other locations with mind intact...I had to leave that space I called home to move beyond boundaries, yet I needed also to return there." She goes on to say "One confronts and accepts dispersal and fragmentation as part of the construction of anew world order that reveals more fully where we are, who we can become, an order that does not demand forgetting" (205) She quotes her mother who at one point said to her "You can take what the white people have to offer, but you do not have to love them." bell hooks interprets this, saying that "she was reminding me of the necessity of opposition and simultaneously encouraging me not to lose that radical perspective shaped and formed by marginality." (207) It is important to have a deep enough understanding of the system and language of the oppressive/dominating/colonizing group to take advantage of it, use it to elevate yourself, take what you can from it, gather "useful knowledge" (207) without "participation in ways of knowing that would lead to estrangement, alienation, and worse-assimilation and co-optation"(207) Essential to this is retaining the memory of personal history, histories of oppression, origin stories, family narratives, etc.

The importance of the telling of one's own story is also a central issue for Cixous, who throughout the text emphasizes the importance of women's writing, and most importantly women writing about women. "Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies...Woman must put herself into the text-as into the world and into history-by her own movement."(875) The woman must write herself into existence, "Write your self. Your body must be heard." (880) In this, there is something inherently physical about the act of writing, that a woman writing herself into existence by extension assertively occupying a greater space in the bodily/physical realm, not just the political/structural/intellectual.

Session 3: April 25

Much of T.L. Cowan's 'Transfeminist Kill/Joys: Rage, Love, and Reparative Performance' is centered around defining the term 'transfeminist kill/joys' and understanding its relevance and applications in various scenarios. In her abstract she explains that "the trope of the transfeminist kill/joy can be read as a set of proliferating dialects expressed as the rage that comes into being through living the violent effects of transphobia and trans-mysogyny and through the practice of transformational love as a struggle for existence." (501) Kill/joy examines this perpetual dichotomy between rage and love, and the power granted by each. Referencing/quoting Aoki she states that "through the operation of rage, the stigma itself becomes the source of transformative power" (505), recognizing a) the power which lies in the etymological connection between 'trans' and 'transformation' and b) that stigma can be reframed as the force behind rage, the force behind radical transformation and upheaval of oppressive structures. In her second scenario, she explains the way in which Yapping Out Loud "performs the ultimate transfeminist kill, by equating within the structure of her piece the violence done by antiprostitute (and antitrans) feminists...with the violence done by the Whore Hunter, a serial killer who targets prostitutes" (506), a comparison establishing trans-exclusionary feminism as a violent act.

Page 509: "Transgender phenomena, in short, point the way to a different understanding of how bodies mean, how representation works, and what counts as legitimate knowledge. These philosophical issues have material consequences for the quality of transgender lives."

'Reclaiming Our Lineage: Organized Queer, Gender-Nonconforming, and Transgender Resistance to Police Violence' primarily discusses the erasure of tales of rebellion against state and police violence, especially those of "street youth, gay and lesbian people of color, sex workers, drag queens, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people" from the modern narrative of LGBT politics. She cites stonewall as an example of this, saying that "the story of the Stonewall riot has been refashioned into a homonormative tale of the LGBT community's first proud public proclamation of gay identity and rejection of social stigma." She goes on to write off organizations which she believes to be working within the system in a harmful way, such as organizations pushing for "hate crimes legislation" in the 90s, saying that "these laws increase sentencing and hence can also increase the already un precedented numbers of people incarcerated in the United States.

Simpson's talk is structured around the telling of four stories, all tied to the Nishinaabeg nation. The first is a tale of Binoojinh's discovery of Maple Sugar. They find it via observation of a squirrel in a tree, and when they tell their mother about this discovery she and other elder family members take Binoojinh for their word, despite their young age and the fact that they initially struggle to recreate the discovery for them. Simpson uses this story as a way of defining several Nishinaabeg values and they in which they differ from those of colonizing powers. Her second story is an experiment in indigenous futurism, confronting the problem of persistent historicization of indigenous peoples as well as imagining what their future may hold, in this case taking the form of a sort of distopian harlequin romance in which two indigenous people are given access to the natural land of their ancestors. Her third story is of the recent disappearances and murders of indigenous women and the lack of action on the part of the police and the state. Her final story was a personal anecdote, which took the form of a song and video, of her daughter's first exposure to the bigotry of a racist man in the woods.

Session 4: April 28

Gabby Bess' article Alternatives to Alternatives addresses the experiences of various black women in the punk scene of the late 90s. The first woman discussed is Ramdasha Bikcem who documented her experience via her zine 'Gunk' which, at least at the time this article was written, was the only zine written by a black female author available in the NYU zine library. Bikcem expresses her frustration with having to be the Black One, and a hesitation when talking about her experiences for fear of becoming a footnote. Tamar-Kali Brown expressed that she had been unimpressed with the riot grrrl movement, that it felt like a "bubblegum expression" while she was just trying to survive. A quote of her's which really stood out to me was "I was aligned philosophically in terms of understanding, but I still felt on the out because it was a white-dominated scene." The riot grrrl ideology, as strong as it may be in many ways, spoke to a primarily white audience. Brown and the network of black women in punk she eventually found in New York started playing and organizing a series of 'sista grrrl riot' shows, not only giving themselves a platform, but also creating an important point of entry for the women attending these shows.

quote from the article: " 'The thing that was really kind of heartbreaking and awesome was that none of us had ever played to so many black people in one room in our lives until we threw that first riot,' said Coleman. That night, they could just play music, for once. As women, as black women, and, most of all, as unapologetic punk rock musicians. "

The Brujas article was really interesting to me because the act of creating a "collective of girls who love to skate" seems so obvious and so simple yet in reality is something which is utterly essential and the impact of which is profound. The article goes into the ways in which the girls influence the politics of the spaces which they occupy, quoting one girl who says "The skate park might no longer be a man cave of refuge anymore...Less and less spaces exist that are just places for men to get together and let their misogyny go unchecked."

Session 5: May 2

The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto served as an interesting response to Afrofuturism. Most of the manifesto seemed to be a critique of afrofuturism's lack of pragmatism. The author is saying that the future will not be this utopic place free of racism and economic restrictions; the most effective way of imagining the future is keeping in mind the realities that will have to be reckoned with. Another important point which was made was the importance of being skeptical of "facts" and "science" because they are a form of "normative, white validation" and have been "used throughout history to serve white supremacy". What she means by this is that what is often regarded as objective fact is skewed by centuries of western prioritization of the white narrative.

“The black female’s body needs less to be rescued from the masculine “gaze” than to be sprung from a historic script surrounding her with signification while at the same time, and not paradoxically, it erases her completely.” —Lorraine O’Grady

The article Closing the Loop by Aria Dean acts as a critique of white feminism's discourse surrounding the importance of female visibility via selfie culture. Dean poses the argument that for black women, simply documenting one's own existence is not enough, that there is no single unifying experience of 'woman' and because of this it is unreasonable to expect the binary of 'woman' vs. 'male gaze' to be universally effective or even applicable. She also makes the point that though these selfies posted by white internet celebrities will most likely empower primarily young able-bodied white girls who will most easily identify with the images they are being presented with.


Have you seen Born in Flames??? Very very cool movie directed by Lizzie Borden, the whole thing is on youtube (!!!) :

"The story involves several different women coming from different perspectives and attempts to show several examples of how sexism plays out, and how it can be dealt with through direct action. A famous scene is one during which two men are attacking a woman on the street and dozens of women on bicycles with whistles come to chase the men away and comfort the woman. " [1] Also, interestingly enough, this movie takes place in a post-socialist revolution United States, which is what I think is so makes this film so relevant to class/exhibition in particular, especially since throughout the film one of the primary modes of thinking which these women are fighting against is the notion that the U.S. has already arrived at utopia and that the work is done, which is very clearly not the case.

^^bicycle scene is from 8:18-10:00 in the youtube video, (cw: assault)


lol also just realized that this was already posted in the facebook event page but its still good

Another Brujas Article:

Very cool, slightly longer and more in depth