kmgilles: (Default)
i still haven't fully decided how i want to actually use this journal, although i am about to unlock the series of posts i made for a take home final exam last semester (yes, the class was that cool).

i don't know why i'm posting at 6am, because i couldn't tell why i'm even awake right now, but hey here i am. and the here where i am is one where march is about to be here, and the wrechitude of february can be put aside.

i got my enrollment date for next semester, and like i usually do i went to go double-check the course listings so i'll definitely know what i'm doing in a couple weeks. sadly, a course i was really excited they were offering is now nowhere to be found - i'm guessing for the same reason it's never offered, that they don't actually have an instructor for it. i've picked out what i'm going to take instead, and it's a course that allows you to pick which assignments and what percentage (within a range) you want them to be worth; this is both perfect and completely terrifying. also, it's a summer course that only takes half the full term, which is again both perfect and terrifying.

i think 2013 is going to be magical, february notwithstanding (but since i don't actually remember most of february, i guess it won't withstand consideration of 2013 anyway).
kmgilles: (Default)
it was a great class! i would keep pop culture videos and clips, maybe add more. having a guest speaker was great, more of that could be awesome. even a field trip might be interesting - there probably isn't an amazing documentary about everything that might be worth discussing. i would reorganize the way group work was done, although i'm not entirely sure how, i just know that it was a worthwhile component that didn't work as well as it could have. this sounds like a selfish request (or, well, maybe not as it isn't like i'll be taking the class again), but fewer readings before the midterm might be helpful. we didn't get into as much depth in class as we could have, and some of the readings were fairly heavy not so much in terms of length but in content. also, in that vein, trigger warnings would be greatly appreciated both for readings and for in-class viewings.
kmgilles: (Default)
this is now the second time where the class day of a GSWS class was my favourite, and it was because of content not because it was the end. i guess to some degree it can only happen at the end; camaraderie can't exist at the beginning, and neither can collectively gained knowledge. but they both had this friendly last-day-of-the-school-year kind of atmosphere. they both had presentations, and these presentation were actually good and were done by people who were really passionate about their topics.

i don't really like public presentations, no matter how much i can't stop talking in class, so i didn't do the optional presentation component. however, i really enjoyed every presentation we saw. hell, i really enjoyed the spirit of this whole course and the way that it came through in these presentations. from clever use of slides, to the systemic dissection of citations in an article, to a video examining pop culture and everything in between, it was a cathartic way of ending a class that sometimes dealt with really fraught topics. while my other GSWS class this semester would sometimes feel like a group therapy session during discussion (uh, in a good way), this class never did, so the catharsis felt especially good and especially needed.

it makes me reflect upon what an interesting semester it was, that even on the last day i could learn something new and have it come from my classmates rather than the instructor. i learned more individually definable things in this class than the painful "learning class" on grammar i took last fall*, and i can step back and appreciate those things: what the process of learning to view canadian history differently, what being a woman firefighter entails, and how there really are amazing people out there making a serious difference in the world and doing it while at different times young and old. and about what that process and what that new knowledge means to me as a woman, as a student, as a scholar. it makes me want to do things and talk to people, to help keep hope alive that things can get better and that people are making them better every day. that we all need to participate in making things better every day.

*well, it's their fault that they tried to teach me generative grammar and gave me no opportunity to write about why it is a terrible theory, instead giving me tests on that terrible theory.
kmgilles: (Default)
today we spent a big chunk of class watching a really amazing documentary, called who's counting. it came out of the NFB, and is about a woman politician from new zealand, but i had somehow never heard of it or her.

it was really well put together and engaging (maybe not the #1 most engaging documentary i've seen all year, but there's stiff competition). it had beautiful photography of new zealand that gave me hobbit feels, but mostly it had this remarkable and amazing woman who accidentally became a member of parliament, spoling a perfectly good career as a musician. her interest in helping disadvantaged women, in calling out how ridiculous our economic system is (for giving me the opportunity to learn that it's based on how britain was going to pay for WWII), in rethinking how to calculate value are all so refreshing. despite the age of the documentary, its subject, and her career, refreshing is the most accurate way to describe the entire experience of watching it.

i can't understand how there isn't a biopic about this woman's life - about all the women who's lives she's touched. in the deep of the backlash against feminism - no matter how well the year of war on women ended in terms of the make-up of the US senate, i still believe we have yet to reach the zenith on the backlash for so many reasons i can hardly enumerate them all here - it would be so inspiring to see this story of this woman in a way that would be accessible to mass audiences of women. to see what seems impossible be possible, to unlearn and denaturalize our economic system which devalues us and acts to ensure that if we want to marry men we're likely to get one who thinks cooking and cleaning are not real work.

i also really enjoyed her pedantic insistence on bringing out the etymology of words like radical and economics. i love etymologies, this makes her a woman after my own heart, but the best part is that i only knew one of them. i knew that radical means "from the root" but not that "economics" means "the care and management of a household." that really puts a different light on things, doesn't it? the domesticity has been erased from the term and make the very things its about ineligible by robbing domesticity of recognition. and at the time i couldn't help but think - how redundant does that make the term "home economics," because what other kind are there?
kmgilles: (Default)
so my roommate has become kind of obsessed with firefighters since she started watching chicago fire. i watched the pilot with her, and it seemed okay - slash and canon gay, ladies, characters of colour, the firehall set seemed like it has atmospheric endurance etc - but it didn't do it for me enough that i've kept watching when i have limited time and energy. but - she is super jealous of me right now, because three real life firefighters visited my gender studies class today. i'm not really sure why the two men were there (i'm only sure that roommate is legitimately angry that i didn't surreptitiously photograph them through my hair for her), but the woman who spoke was really cool and interesting.

i don't think i was able to get all the statistics correctly recorded - in which jurisdiction how many or what percentage were women firefighters, how firefighters many died on particular calls etc. - but her presentation was broad and informative in a lot of other ways. it feels weird to know that she and her crew could tell when firefighters were dying while watching news coverage of 9/11 - because they could hear their PASS alarms were going off. until today i wasn't even sure whether those were fictional or not, so it's sobering to not only know they are not a plot device, but to have it illustrated in such a painful context.

i really enjoyed her answers to my questions, and to the questions a lot of my classmates asked (it's really nice having ALL my classes this semester have good people who seem to care about being there). she talked about how they dealt with nitty gritty stuff - like separate bathrooms, changing rooms and bunks when the station had previously been all male - and the blunders that would be made in solving them - like taking away the private washrooms of the highest ranking members of the hall.

it was really good to hear her talk about coaching other women on alternative ways to do certain tasks and bodily movements. it's one thing to say women need to be allowed to do something different from men, but it seems qualitatively - maybe even quantitatively - something else to talk about how women should do the same thing but do it differently. it's sad to learn there's no standardized way of informing female recruits about these things, that it's a matter of luck whether someone is there to show them these other ropes, but not really surprising. it was also nice to hear her say that the 'fireman's carry' is a terrible idea, because it raises the victim into the smoke.

as much as firefighting in general seems to be an underrepresented profession in media - i can think of only three US tv shows, one of which is chicago fire, and one film - it really seems like women in firefighting (since they clearly exist! and since it clearly produces interesting experiences and circumstances) is even more underrepresented in the media. from what i saw not a single firefighter on chicago fire was a woman, only the EMTs. i never watched third watch, and while it does look like some of the firefighters were women, it was an ensemble show where the characters were not all firefighters. i think i tried to watch rescue me and it seemed gross and misogynistic, so without further research i'm not even going to consider that it might have been able to manage decent representation.

just think how great a tv show about women firefighters would be - it could start with one or two joining a hall, all the shenanigans with bathrooms and being hazed extra hard by the more senior members, but then it could settle into a case-of-the-week style procedural, with an ongoing plot line about her family and how she finds she has more time for them than a lot of her friends in more 'traditional' jobs. there could even be semi-regular interactions between her and junior recruits, just to make sure the show passes the bechdel test extra hard every week. maybe the other new woman in the hall is younger, single, and she can have a romance plot with one of the other firefighters. it would be empowering for female audiences to see women doing the same physical things as men, but doing them differently.
kmgilles: (Default)
i started off my university career taking an english class, one of the 100 level classes that the instructor can pretty much make about whatever they want. i got lucky, and the version i took focused on the nonfiction writing produced by women during the nineteenth century (and slightly earlier, because we did read something by wollstonecraft). it was a really great class, and gave me a strong appreciation for further aspects of the nineteenth century that makes it so relevant to study today because of the ways in which it mirrors contemporary developments, events and discourses. what it also did was give me a grounding in feminism that was very much restricted to the evolution of rights and thoughts in the UK.

in general i've been really pleased with how many of my classes have put a canadian lens on what we study, because that's really been missing from my life where i've been overly interested in british and american history. but as a gender studies minor - rather than a women's studies or GSWS minor - i haven't had a reason to go back to basics with feminist history before the class i'm taking right now, so that lens has rarely been applied to feminist history or theories. as someone with a background in GSWS, i was among those who were told this week's readings were optional. i did skim them, because i wanted to know what they particularly said, but nothing jumped out as unusual or new to me.

but the lecture and discussion did. canada, which to a large degree i still have rose-tinted glasses on (for probably at least in part because of how hard it is not to compare us to the US), apparently was slow to make reforms. the only reason we have the vote is because the privy council was made to decide on it, and because the UK was far enough ahead of canada it seemed more than reasonable to them to pass it.

my notes from class aren't that helpful for getting the specifics of what we discussed in class and i didn't record my reaction at the time, but i remember feeling just blindsided by the idea that in canada women had had more restrictions on their ability to own and control property than they had in the UK, that "all forms" of contraception were illegal until 1969, and that spousal rape was not legally recognized until the 1980s. i don't know why it hit me so hard. maybe just because it was all news to me, or because it contradicts my personally held imaginings of canadian history.

fine me:

November 2013

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