• 13 Lunas 13/13 Moons 13: A Video-Project About Sexuality and Menstruation

      Escaja, Tina (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2018-04-25)
      The subject of menstruation is filled with powerful socio-cultural implications involving language, religion and gender relations. Yet, the topic is often relegated to silence, considered taboo, and strongly associated with impurity and shame. This schism between the natural reality of menstruation and its socio-cultural damnation highlights the marginal and oppressed condition of women who are considered inferior and impure in many cultures and religions for the mere fact of menstruating, despite ancient practices that validated and celebrated women’s menarche. The multimedia project 13 lunas 13/13 moons 13 allows for the interactive exploration of these themes while reflecting upon the patriarchal foundations of the taboo of menstruation. This essay examines primarily the video 13 lunas 13, a video of testimonies by thirteen Spanish women form different generations and social backgrounds. Fear, shame, lack of sexual agency, are some of the common experiences expressed by the women interviewed, particularly among older generations. Along with these testimonies on sexuality and menstruation, this project seeks to collect and reveal euphemisms, myths and cultural practices that are being erased by global practices, while pointing to new technologies and attitudes towards menstruation. Other variables of this project include art installations, poetry, and an interface that allows the collection of testimonies via the Internet, reaching out to new generations of men and women wishing to expose an experience intrinsically related to their lives.
    • "Der Sozialismus Siegt": Women’s Ordinary Lives in an East German Factory

      Kranz, Susanne (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2017-09-01)
      Socialism Triumphs adorned the roof of the office equipment factory (BWS) in the Thuringian town of Sömmerda until 1990. The factory became a driving economic force in the GDR. The city, called “the capital of computers,” represents a unique case of urban development and governmental support, showcasing the state’s anticipated unity of economic and social policy. This article explores the everyday lives of women working in the factory (1946 and 1991) and examines the state-sanctioned women’s policies, how they were implemented and how women perceived these policies and the officially accomplished emancipation of men and women. Sömmerda had roughly 23,000 inhabitants in the 1980s of which 13,000 (nearly half of them women) worked in the BWS. This research relies on archival records and personal accounts by women who worked in the factory. These records shed light on and question the actually accomplished equality of the sexes that was so imperative in socialist state rhetoric.
    • "Everything Remains the Same and Yet Nothing is the Same": Neocolonialism in the Caribbean Diaspora through the Language of Family and Servitude

      Barrio-Vilar, Laura (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2016-07-11)
      This essay examines Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy, a novel that tackles the process of decolonization from old and new forms of colonialism through the language of servitude and family (specifically, mother-daughter relationships). The novel’s protagonist is not only an example of the wave of West Indian migration and the feminization of labor, but her agency also provides Kincaid with the necessary platform to deploy her views on U.S. imperialism. I propose reading Lucy’s evolution toward self-determination as not only an individual but also a collective experience. I interpret the novel as an allegory that can help us better understand the nuances, tensions, and challenges involved in the historical journey of former British colonies in the Caribbean, from colonial rule, through political independence, and into the current challenges posed by neocolonialism. Kincaid’s Lucy suggests the need for Caribbean countries to question, if not reject, the influence of American culture, economics, and politics, in order to achieve absolute independence and freedom to determine their own fate. This allegorical reading also illustrates how race, class, gender, and national origins are intertwined in Kincaid’s rendition of the Caribbean migrant experience. What makes the novel more relevant to discussions of current Caribbean migration patterns is how the author also weaves in the significance of the colonial past in approaches to the new globalization culture. Although Lucy’s story reflects a yearning for a borderless world where cultural differences do not restrict the individual’s choices, Kincaid does not allow her readers to escape the legacy of colonialism, challenging them to consider the complex nature of current U.S.-Caribbean relations. Lucy thus becomes a symbol of the neocolonial condition, experiencing the economic and social challenges that both Caribbean peoples and postcolonial writers face in today’s globalization era.
    • "Frauen fur den Frieden - Oppositional Group or Bored Troublemakers?"

      Kranz, Susanne (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2015-01-30)
      This paper explores the autonomous women’s group Frauen für den Frieden (Women for Peace) that was founded in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1982. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the reasons behind the foundation of the group as well as its functioning and its rather quick decline and dissolution. A crucial reason for the establishment of an autonomous, yet illegal, women’s group was the ratification of a new military law that specified drafting women into the military service in case of a national emergency. Additionally, women challenged the existing Friedenspolitik (policy of peace) of the socialist state. Opinions and views about ideology, religion and politics represented minor matters within the group yet they played a decisive role in weakening it, which was further facilitated by the infiltration of the organization by the Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), short Stasi. The group has been discussed in previous research, primarily German-language sources, but often only as part of the larger peace movement and not in its own right as an independent organization. Its role leading up to the events of 1989/90 has also been overlooked. The paper relies on archival sources, accounts of former activists, and members of the SED who perceived the group as “bored troublemakers,” broadening the existing knowledge on autonomous women’s organizations in East Germany and Frauen für den Frieden in particular. It offers new insights into an important oppositional group indirectly challenging the state’s power which was established as a women’s organization without explicit women’s issues on their agenda.
    • "Growing scar tissue around the memory of that day": Sites of Gendered Violence and Suffering in Contemporary South African Literature

      Every, Kate (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2016-02-23)
      In the words of renowned criminologist Antony Altbeker, South Africa is suffering from a “crisis of crime.” The outworking of tensions from the perceived inadequacies of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission have seen an explosion of violent crime, which has little improved in the two decades since the end of the Apartheid-state. Contemporary South African literature has spoken to this violent reality in myriad ways, from the violence of South Africa’s most written about novel, J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, to the more recent trends in crime fiction and true-crime genres. The novels considered here, Disgrace and Margie Orford’s Like Clockwork, work together to form an aesthetic of violence. Where Orford’s work is bounded by generic convention to solve crime and seek restitution, Coetzee leaves us in a state of uneasy non-resolution. The growing popularity of the “crime-fiction” genre then, speaks to a desire to make sense of a violent reality. If protagonist Clare Hart can restore order and enforce clear boundaries within the space of 300 pages, can readers feel assured in “a country at war with itself”?
    • "Seething Underneath": Objectification in Iris Murdoch's Early Fiction

      Tait, Emily (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2016-02-20)
      This essay is about the objectification of women in the early novels of Iris Murdoch, particularly A Severed Head (1961), Under the Net (1954) and The Italian Girl (1964), and how this is subverted by complex characterisation. In focusing on novels predominantly with male narrators and a first person male gaze, I will draw on Sartre’s analysis of “the look” in Being and Nothingness (1943) as well as feminist film theory to firstly consider evidence of immobilization and then re-examine criticism of Murdoch’s female characters as “puppets”. I will contend that Murdoch does not objectify her female characters but instead draws attention to their active passivity and resistance to petrification. Throughout I am concerned with the immobilizing gaze and with the comparisons that can be drawn between woman and Medusa, a figure embodying the core themes of the gaze and object-hood. To this end I examine how the gaze can be re-appropriated by female characters and utilized as a tool of female empowerment rather than objectification.
    • "Speaking Back" to the Self: A Call for "Voice Notes" as Reflexive Practice for Feminist Ethnographers

      Mazanderani, Fawzia Haeri (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2017-02-19)
      While what comprises “feminist research methods” is subject to debate, research with a feminist orientation is often characterised by heightened reflexivity and a recognition of the subjective nature of knowledge claims (Ryan-Flood and Gill, 2010). By drawing upon ethnographic research conducted among young people in post-apartheid South Africa, this paper interrogates the potential value of audio recordings or “voice notes” during fieldwork, in conjunction with the more traditional form of the fieldwork diary. I argue that, by providing an additional means through which to articulate the inevitable messiness of fieldwork, the recording of “voice notes” enables the researcher to “speak back” to themselves, generating valuable material to reflect upon when analysing and writing up one’s data. By privileging voice, this companion method potentially elucidates the conscious, and unconscious, self-censorship we impose when relying solely upon a textual rendering of experience. As such, it helps to lessen the uncomfortable distance between what researchers feel in the “field” and what they express at the “desk.” Mobilizing the insights of post-structural feminist scholars, I consider the importance of acknowledging ethnographic “processes” as well as “products,” in order to develop more reflexive research practice and a feminist sensibility, which interrogates the representations that it makes.
    • "The personal is political science": Epistemological and Methodological Issues in Feminist Social Science Research on Prostitution

      St. Denny, Emily (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2014-10-31)
      Unlike academic and policy discussions over enduring and pervasive social problems like poverty or ill health, which focus on how they should be tackled, debates concerning individuals in prostitution are divided over how, and to what extent, prostitution even is a problem. This has led to apparently intractable disagreement over the legitimate representation of a subject at the juncture between vulnerable invisibility and liberated agency. Concretely, this raises a paradox whereby feminist researchers, seeking to facilitate emancipation through the illumination of the experiences of a stigmatised and invisible subject, must carefully give voice to the voiceless without speaking on their behalf. Drawing on contemporary feminist scholarship on prostitution, this essay argues that, to begin resolving this paradox, the field must explicitly engage with the underlying epistemological and methodological implications of conducting emancipatory social science research on prostitution. The essay concludes that, in order to contribute meaningfully to the feminist research agenda on prostitution, practitioners must acknowledge the inherently political nature of emancipation, as the expression of choice and power.
    • "We neither are of the past nor of the future" : Analyzing the Two Opposing Aspects of a Female Character Through Four Modern Works of Persian Fiction"

      Karami, Ronak (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2019-09-07)
      Under Iran’s growing contact with the West from 1925 until 1979, which caused cultural changes, modern writers were stuck between two realities: the vanishing culture of the past with its unified view of women and the modern Western-oriented culture of the present with its doubting, ironic, and fast-changing view of women. Both labels, the ‘ethereal’ (or inaccessible paragon) and the ‘whore’ (or accessible temptress) for female characters emerged in a major literary work of the 20th century in Iran, The Blind Owl (1937), by Hedayat due to these cultural changes. Furthermore, the labels appeared within some later modern Persian fictional works such as Prince Ehtejab (1969) by Golshiri, The Night of Terror (1978) by Shahdadi, and Her Eyes (1952) by Alavi. This essay aims to discuss why and how the two aspects of the ethereal and the whore appear in these four, modern works of Persian fiction. To do so, the paper displays the similarities that these female characters share with one another, the way they appear to share similarities with the male narrator’s mother, and their relevance both to fine arts and with nature. Analyzing these four modern Persian fictional works in this essay is something more than just an effort to show how women were underestimated in literature even after Iran’s modernization, but also to offer insights into persistent cultural assumptions, including relationships between women and men.
    • "We Thought We Were Playing": Children’s Participation in the Syrian Revolution

      Saleh, Layla (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-12-23)
      This article explores the participation of children in the Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Assad. The involvement of children in democratic social movements and regime transitions has not been addressed in the literature, although some works describe the role children can play in making public policy or in the humanitarian domain. I argue that just as the role of women and of university-aged youth was gradually incorporated in the body of research on the social movements and regime transitions, so should the role of children be studied. I then characterize the role of children in the Syrian uprising as a three-stage cycle, whereby children unwittingly sparked the revolution, then were targeted by the regime in response, and finally, have been, along with adults across the country, spurred to further anti-Assad action, rather than silence and submission, as a result of the regime’s brutality. Providing empirical evidence to illustrate how this cycle plays out in Syria, I suggest that additional research is needed to further examine and theorize about the role of children in social movements and regime transitions.
    • "You Keep Yourself Strong": A Discourse Analysis of African Women Asylum Seekers' Talk about Emotions

      Clare, Maria; Goodman, Simon; Liebling, Helen; Laing, Hannah (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2014-02-19)
      The current study investigates how asylum-seeking African women use talk about emotion to construct empowered roles for themselves. A discourse analysis was conducted on interviews with African asylum-seeking women. Participants used two interacting repertoires, ‘rejecting pity’ and ‘being strong’, to resist inferior positions. By constructing themselves as strong and not needing pity, participants positioned themselves as in control of their lives, and thus presented as responsible and capable mothers, a role they are accountable for. Clinical implications and findings for future research are discussed.
    • 'Better off Dead' - Sasha's Story of Living with Vaginal Fistula

      Gatwiri, Glory Joy; McLaren, Helen Jaqueline (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2017-01-31)
      This paper draws on the narrative of a Samburu woman, whom we call Sasha, from northern Kenya. She has been living with recto- and vesico-vaginal fistula for more than ten years. Her homeland is characterized by abject poverty, patriarchy and traditional practices involving witchcraft, which is intertwined with the teachings of Christian evangelist missionaries that traverse the last two centuries. Sasha’s research interview offered representations of the broader social and political aspects affecting women with vaginal fistula and how this influences their lived experiences. We suggest that this condition is more than a biomedical issue, which we explain through our interpretive feminist analysis of Sasha’s story. An African feminist lens enables attention towards the influences of patriarchy, African ethnicities and underdevelopment of the African continent.
    • 'Playing it Right?’: Gendered Performances of Professional Respectability and ‘Authenticity’ in Greek Academia

      Tsouroufli, Maria (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2018-08-07)
      This paper draws on the career narrative interviews with 15 female academics to unravel the performative politics of gender in Greek Medical Schools. I explore the gender positioning and embodied performances of Greek women as they relate to the contingencies of participation, recognition, and esteem in academic medicine and framed within the wider gendered discourses and structures of the increasingly neo-liberal Greek academia and society. Drawing on Butler’s notion of performativity, I illustrate the possibilities of making the successful Greek female academic subject through subjection to normative, gendered discourses of respectability, encompassing integrity, respectable aesthetics, and affective work and scripted along intersecting privileges of class and heteronormativity. I argue that although Greek women’s gendered professional authenticity and respectability projects demonstrate intentionality and agency, they leave little, if any, room for displacement of gender norms. Gender transformation and promotion of gender equality in Greek academia requires institutional support and political action.
    • 'Sisters; was this what we struggled for?': The Gendered Rivalry in Power and Politics

      Ingiriis, Mohamed Haji (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2015-01-30)
      This article explores the role of Somali women in the twentieth-century history of modern Somalia. This includes exploring the role of women in the decolonisation and post-colonial movements and gender changes during the military dictatorship. The article examines women’s social movements that made some significant changes in Somalia over the past seventy years, even though these have not paved the way for fruitful results. In demonstrating that the current attempts to position themselves in political circles by Somali women has its roots during the decolonisation and post-colonial successive Somali governments, the article argues that women failed to benefit from their feminist agenda as the notion of governmentality changed on the way–from democratisation to the dictatorial military regime.
    • 'What on earth is <em>she</em> drinking?' Doing Femininity through Drink Choice on the Girls' Night Out

      Nicholls, Emily (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2016-02-20)
      In a supposed “post-feminist” society of gender equality, engagement with contemporary spaces such as the Night Time Economy (NTE) may offer young women positive opportunities to redefine femininities through leisure activities and alcohol consumption. Whilst the NTE is depicted as an increasingly “feminised” space where women’s drinking is normalised and expected, this essay will demonstrate some of the ways in which alcohol consumption remains highly gendered and women continue to be expected to buy into normative femininity through their beverage choice by looking at a specific mode of engagement with the NTE - the “girl’s night out”. Drawing on the findings of my PhD research with young women in the North-East of England, I will highlight some of the ways in which young women manage drinking practices and choices in the potentially highly gendered and (hetero)sexualised contemporary leisure spaces of the NTE when going out with female friends. With the consumption of more “girly” drinks such as wine and cocktails both normalised and positioned as a key way in which to “do” gender and femininity on the girls’ night out, I argue that women’s scope to rewrite the dominant scripts of femininities in these particular contexts is limited and constrained. However, other social occasions or drinking contexts and settings may potentially offer women more opportunities to resist, challenge or ignore gendered expectations and norms around alcohol consumption. Highlighting specific examples of resistance from the data, I will draw attention to the important role of context in shaping the ways in which women manage and negotiate their drinking choices in contemporary leisure spaces.
    • 'Your Woman is a Very Bad Woman': Revisiting Female Deviance in Colonial Fiji

      Mishra, Margaret (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2016-07-31)
      This article sets out to retrieve two accounts of female deviance in colonial Fiji. It will posit rule-breaking behavior as a reaction to colonial and patriarchal efforts to regulate female behavior and sexuality. The article simultaneously aims to undo rigid categorizations of female deviance by relating such acts to historical circumstance. Police records, court proceedings and news items from The National Archives of Fiji are cited to show how indigenous Fijian woman, Davilo, and indentured Indian woman, Sukhrania, transgressed socially constructed paradigms of morality by procuring abortions in 1884 and engaging in prostitution in 1909, respectively. By relabeling these alleged acts of deviance as survival strategies emerging out of women’s experiences of ‘double colonization’, this article will reconstruct two ‘minor’ anecdotal fragments awkwardly wedged within the realm of ‘mainstream history’.
    • <em>all the ways…</em>

      Lobo, Natasha (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-12)
      ‘all the ways…’ was written for a Women’s Studies module – ‘Identity, Difference and the Body’. This module explored feminist perspectives on the nature/culture divide and the production of sexed, gendered and raced bodies, and surveyed a range of different feminist analytical approaches to the body, including postmodern, phenomenological, Black feminist and post-colonial perspectives. It considered the construction of sex, gender and sexuality through different cultural and social practices which take the body as their principal focus, and examined a variety of case studies such as: body image and norms of femininity; food, dieting and eating disorders; body modification; body adornment. The unit also considered feminist analyses of medical, scientific and technological discourses and practices aimed at the female body, including scientific representations of the body, cyborg bodies, and constructions of disability. My essay is a creative exploration of the female/feminine body, drawing on the style of French feminist thinker Luce Irigaray. The intention of the essay is to incorporate elements of all the material covered in the module, using my own understanding and interpretation… I picked a creative assignment because I wanted to take the opportunity to explore a different aspect of academic writing. It is the first piece of creative work that I have written for many years, and I found the assignment both challenging and very enjoyable.
    • <em>Fanm Vanyan</em>: A Cultural Interpretation of Resilience in Haitian Women

      Lacet, Castagna (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2016-07-11)
      The purpose of this study was to explore the factors that promoted resilience in Haitian women earthquake survivors. The literature on mental health among Haitians is sparse. Furthermore, the concept of resilience is not easily translated across cultures. In the aftermath of the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, relocated victims struggled to adjust. This study looks at what factors helped women adjust to their new environment and cope with the traumas and losses suffered from the earthquake. A qualitative design was used to discover and describe resilience. Findings indicate that cultural values and strengths were key factors in the women’s perseverance.
    • <em>Happy Days</em> Sinking Into Immanence: Samuel Beckett and <em>The Second Sex</em>

      Hennessy, Susan (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2016-02-20)
      Dysfunctional, fragmented, and restricted bodies are a cornerstone of Samuel Beckett’s stage, a place where characters and actors alike find themselves forced to express the inexpressible, with notoriously diminished resources. Historically, existentialist readings of the Beckett canon have offered an insight into works which seem to raise essential questions regarding what it means to be when normative metanarratives have ceased to govern and “realist” escapism is denied. When it comes to discussions of phenomenological existentialism and its proponents, however, the works of Simone de Beauvoir often seem to be eschewed, or assimilated into those of the more famous Jean-Paul Sartre. This essay argues that if we revisit Beauvoir’s The Second Sex we can gain fresh insight into Beckett’s construction of his female characters (who, like Beauvoir, tend be overlooked), and a new existentialist reading of parts of his oeuvre can begin to emerge. Beauvoir, as well as being a figurehead of feminist theory, was a phenomenologist in her own right, and by using Happy Days as a case study her theories can be applied to Beckett just as readily as those of her male existentialist counterparts. This essay argues that in Happy Days, we are presented with a protagonist, Winnie, who does much to illustrate the limitations placed on the female body, which in this case is enclosed literally within the earth, and figuratively in its own immanence. I propose that Winnie presides “happily” over reduced but familiar circumstances which see her rendered captive not only by the demands of a relentless and punishing text, but also by a “cultural script” that would fix her to the spot. In her attempts to transcend herself as object, Winnie actually makes of herself her own "other", and demonstrates what it means, for her, to “become” a woman.