New Year, New Books and New Discussions

We rounded out December with our annual holiday book exchange and potluck and made time for a little bit of discussion about the book Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit.  Some of us found the book indeed hopeful, as it outlined examples throughout history of regular people engaging in activism with goals met along the way.  However, not all of us in the discussion felt the book was as fruitful as it could be:  I for one thought the book was a bit sweeping in it’s historical generalizations and it at times ran saccharine which I didn’t find all that uplifting.  However, most of us did find the book very useful in reminding us how so many people have engaged in political activism in so many different struggles and made a difference in their communities – this fact was emboldening and enlightening.

For January we delved into the book, Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics (The Politics of Intersectionality) by Ange-Marie Hancock. Most of our discussions centered around exploring the meaning of intersectionality and how this concept applies to individuals as well as social groups. We also discussed how instersectionality can be used as an analytical tool for understanding oppression and how power is centered in society from a public policy perspective.  This month during February we will finish up the discussion on this book and then start on our next book which will be,  The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs.

Please join us for our next discussion!  We have a public page on Facebook where we post happenings of the group and various links and articles relevant to feminist literature.  You can RSVP for our next group on Facebook as well.

 

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The Cyborg Manifesto

A group of us gathered together at the WCCW to discuss the essay by Donna Haraway entitled The Cyborg Manifesto.  Most of our discussion centered on the recent presidential election and what a Trump Administration will mean for the U.S.  We commiserated and grieved together over the election results and touched upon the reading as much as we could.  A number of people enjoyed the imaginative, creative and poetic language Haraway used to describe a world in which people are a sort of a cyborg considering technology’s rapid development  i.e. people being “attached” to their cell phones.  We also touched upon Haraway’s points regarding identity politics and how people define themselves racially and ethnically. Considering how much the group needed to de-compress together regarding the election results, we decided we would discuss the essay one more time at the November 23rd meeting.  Of course, all are welcome to any of our meetings, even if you haven’t done the reading. Come on by!

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So…what have we been reading for the past two years?

The beginning of the WCCW feminist reading group (and this blog) took place almost 2 1/2 years ago.  We’ve been a tad busy since then!  I’ve re-started the blog recently and now I think it’s a good time to catch everyone up  on the ground we’ve covered over the past couple of years or so. These are the books we have read, in chronological order.  We have plenty more we plan on getting into in the future as well:

hooks, bell. Feminism is for Everybody (2000)
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider (1984)
Butler, Octavia. Kindred (1979)
Federici, Sylvia. Caliban and The Witch (2004)
Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist (2014)
Solnit, Rebecca. Men Explain Things to Me (2014)
Julavits, Heidi, et al. Women in Clothes (2014)
de Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (1949; 2011)
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozie. We Should All Be Feminists (2014)
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble (1990)
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozie. Americanah (2013)
Davis, Angela. Women, Race, & Class (1981)
LeGuin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
Anzaldúa, Gloria and Cherríe Moraga, eds. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981; 2015)
Jong, Erica. Fear of Flying (1973; 2003)
Cixous, Helene. “The Laugh of the Medusa” (1976)
Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others (2004)
Nelson, Maggie. The Argonauts (2015)
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth (2002)
Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood (1936)
McGuire, Danielle L. At the Dark End of the Street (2011)
Zeisler, Andi. We Were Feminist Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement (2016)
Davey, Moyra. Mother Reader: Essential Writings on Motherhood (2001)
Doyle, Sady . Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why (2016) [note: we are still in the middle of this one!  next and final meeting on the last half of this book will be on Wednesday, October 26th 2016 from 7:30pm-930ish pm at the WCCW. There is no need to RSVP or to have read the book! Come on down. Bring a snack to share for our snack potluck if you would like.)
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Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear . . . and Why by Sady Doyle. Part 1 Discussion

We gathered together at the Women’s Center for Creative Work last Wednesday on October 12th for a small but spirited discussion on the first part of this book, Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock and Fear…A number of us mentioned how much we enjoyed the easy readability of this book, along with how smoothly the narrative flowed. I mentioned how much I liked the historical tidbits given as context for Sady’s analysis.  This is including history I didn’t know about, such as with figures like Emily Bronte and Marilyn Monroe.  We also discussed how Hillary Clinton as the Democrat nominee this election season, has the”trainwreck” archetype used against her, by some of the charges thrown at her by the Trump campaign.  Some of us felt that the Trump campaign is trying to turn her into a “trainwreck” type figure in the media.  We also discussed how clothing may or may not fit into a “trainwreck” type of image for women.

We discussed such questions as these:  does dressing a certain way “invite” certain stereotyping for women?  why is dressing provocatively as a woman considered “wrong” in certain circles? what can we do to combat the idea that a woman “deserves” harassment and/or stereotyping based on her clothing?  We also discussed what we thought “trainwreck” was supposed to mean, and some of us said that things like being called hysterical, slutty, crazy and/or out-of-control angry all contribute to creating an idea that a certain sterotype of woman is a trainwreck.  We also critiqued the book a bit.  Event though we all enjoyed the book, a number of us noticed how there are large gaps in history mentioned in the book. There is sometimes a bit of a “jumping around” feel to different historical eras mentioned by Sady, at different points in the book.

With this discussion we didn’t come up with any final conclusions or any firm ideas on what this first part of the book meant. Instead,  we shared our ideas, impressions and experiences with this book and left the discussion as an open inquiry to visit again for the next meeting.

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“We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler”Final Part 2 discussion at the WCCW Feminist Reading Group

On August 31st, the WCCW Feminist Reading Group convened once again, this time to discuss the final half of “We Were Feminists…”  A number of questions were raised among the group during the discussion such as these:  did the author put forth any firm ideas about what to do about a pop cultural landscape that is awash in “marketplace” feminism? is the author for capitalism or against it? how can there be greater representation of marginalized women’s voices in American pop culture and media?  We also discussed all the aspects of the book we enjoyed and also the aspects we didn’t like and/or didn’t quite understand.  By the end of the discussion a number of us felt like this book would be a great introductory primer on modern day feminism.  Additionally, some of us hoped to recommend it to friends outside the feminist reading group.

Till next time…

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“We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler” Part 1 discussion at the WCCW Feminist Reading Group

Hello everyone!  After a two year hiatus of this blog I thought I’d fire up the old wordpress again and bring y’all some short summaries of our feminist reading group discussions at the Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW).  Since the last entry of this blog we have continued to meet twice month every other Wednesday from 7:30pm t0 9:30 pm  at the WCCW in Elysian Valley.

On August 17th 2016 we convened to discuss the first half of the book “We Were Feminists…” and had a lively, fun discussion on the book. About a dozen or so of us participated in the discussion that day and bandied about our different impressions and ideas formed from the book. For instance we pondered questions like these:  how much has the Internet influenced new movements in feminism?  what does “marketplace feminism” mean as defined by the author? will a book as extremely timely as this one become outdated in ten years or so?  We didn’t have any firm conclusions or answers from these questions, or from other questions formed that day, but we were able to do more feminist exploration together in this shared discussion of the book.

I also wanted to say that comments and further discussion on the readings are welcome on this blog!

Until next time…

 

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Octavia Butler’s Kindred, June 25th, 7:30 pm

wccw book group 11 jun 14


Here’s the group last time, at Otherwild in Echo Park. A lovely evening!

Join us next time, June 25th, at 7:30 pm at Otherwild. We’ll be reading the second half of Octavia Butler’s Kindred, from the section titled “The Fight,” through to the end.

Please bring a folding chair if you have one, as seating is somewhat limited and we want to accommodate as many readers as we can. And if you’d like to bring a treat to share for potluck snacks and beverages, your contribution would be most welcome indeed.

Down the road, we’ll be reading Silvia Federici’s Caliban and The Witch, beginning July 9th, which promises to be an exciting new challenge.

Happy reading!

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