So I occupy an odd position in my academic home — a department in which seven of nine faculty are men, but seven of ten undergraduate majors and graduate students are women.
So gender dynamics are a part of every class I teach, nearly — it could be as simple as teaching students what the Bechdel test is in a tangential aside as part of another class, or working through the implications of European art traditions for contemporary gender representations in advertising.
(The Bechdel test: to pass the test, a movie or TV show must have:
at least two named women in it,
who talk to each other,
about something besides a man
for at least 90 seconds)
There is always friction — it takes a while for anyone, student or otherwise, to grasp that to succeed, it’s not so simple that women must “behave more like men” — that there is a double-bind in being a woman in the workplace. To be too traditionally feminine disadvantages them, but to be too masculine also can cause dissonance in their supervisors and co-workers (and can result in them being called “bitchy,” for example — something that is [almost] never claimed of men who behave similarly.
When I talk about women’s issues in Duluth, I do so from a very limited perspective. I lived her for three years before I recognized that we were home to an internationally recognized model for understanding domestic abuse (the Duluth Model). So I know I am myopic.
But it’s on my mind lately. Saturday is the next bout of the Harbor City Rollerdames, an organization I would call “feminist” — I wonder whether every member would accept that description of the organization.
At that bout, the local feminist zine Minerva may have its next issue ready for distribution. This is a clearly feminist project, and one with ties to the Dames.
But what is the state of feminism in Duluth? What do I, as a teacher trying to do well, need to know about the state of feminism as an idea and as a thread running through some community organizations in Duluth/Superior?
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