Boshemia founders asked the staff writers to think about what pop culture creates their feminist practice. V shares her feminist syllabus.
These are the feminist materials that have punctuated my life: my basic syllabus of feminist culture. It is by no means conclusive and there are many more pieces that I would recommend for in-depth study, but if you want to get my everyday feminist references, look no further.
Happy New Year, 2017 was terrible! Donald Trump just swung his dick everywhere and the world suffered for it. Remember the Alt-Right March and how it seemed so long ago? That was in August. This year has had about five years worth of stuff shoved in and as a result, I’m very tired and in dire need of a nap for the next millennia. Please wake me up when we’ve formed a more civilised society on Mars. (Oh what a neat concept, I wish there was a magazine that wrote about that kinda stuff).
It’s a frosty winter’s day, and I’ve just finished class. When I arrive at my daughter’s preschool, Rye comes bustling up to me to tell me about how their class talked about Santa Claus that day. (Her preschool is in full holiday mode.) She cannot wait to tell me that she has a list of things that she wants for Christmas. At the top of her list is a Ninja Turtle Toy and a Doc McStuffins doll. Now this may seem insignificant to nonparents, but my Feminist heart is smiling, because the little ways that I ease Feminism into every day play and learning are taking root. This sweet little girl, not only has already figured out that gendered toys are bogus, and that ambitious women of colour rock. It didn’t take much to get her to this point, just consistency, and a relaxed at home curriculum that encourages Feminist values, ambition and education.
So what does it take to instill these things in your kids? It honestly is very simple. The principal elements are being committed to a set of values that dismantle patriarchal enforcements, dispel gender constructs, and encourage learning in all forms. You may be thinking that those goals don’t sound so simple to introduce. They are such large concepts; how could it be simple to incorporate them into the daily life and playtime of young children? It is, I promise! It starts with simple verbiage and attitudes toward gendered activities. Much in the same way that our dear departed, Carrie Fisher, raised her daughter Billie without gender, I am doing the same with Ryenne. This doesn’t mean that I discourage her from being feminine, but it does mean that I encourage her to be herself. I put very little focus on gender when it comes to the activities in which she chooses to partake. I praise her girlhood, and I laud other strong women, but I do not ever place any expectation on her to be girly in a specific way. I explain to her, in simple terms, the idea that there is no singular way to be a woman, that she can be whoever she wants to be as long as she is kind, respectful, and empathetic. I provide and example for her by encapsulating this idea myself in the way that I make an honest effort to be the truest version of myself at all times. When our children our able to see all of the many facets which make us who we are as women, they learn to develop personalities and dreams of their own which follow this model.
To kick off our Boshemia Book Club this autumn, we dove into Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (2003). Mohanty is a prominent postcolonial feminist theorist and Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Sociology, and the Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University. In brief, Mohanty’s book serves as a critique of Western academic feminism, and how the project of Western feminism has collapsed the identities of Third World Women into a reductive “Other,” united in their presumed exploitation and a monolithic notion of sexual difference. Rather than imagining Women as a cohesive group, through her essays, Mohanty analyzes the borders that divide and differentiate us.
Winding through the tourist scattered streets of Málaga on a Sunday afternoon, sun beating down on me, I headed to El Centre de Pompidou, a smaller branch of the world famous contemporary art gallery in Paris. Making my way through the gallery, I stumbled across many striking exhibits, such as ‘Self Portraits’ which featured feminist icon Frida Kahlo’s The Frame (1938), as well as a sincerely thought provoking exhibit, ‘The Man Without A Face’. However, it was the gallery’s segment for ‘The Political Body’ that struck my attention most. This is where I discovered Sigalit Landau, an incredible Israeli female artist who uses video, sculpting, installation and her own body to create political art. Her art was astounding, but her message was even better.
From the Studio Theatre in Washington, Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem tackles classic thorny debates of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience with a fresh perspective and ample wit. Directed by Matt Torney, the play is a sterling example of the signature style we have come to expect from Stoppard—a script that doesn’t shy from controversy or high-brow intellect. The Hard Problem is an elegant exploration of the complicated beliefs surrounding consciousness, faith in the divine, and how we endeavor to reconcile the unexplained.