using twitter to talk back? #notbuyingit

Can twitter enable folks to talk back and resist sexist commercials?  The following tweet links to an article from Mother Jones that discusses how people watching the Superbowl tagged their tweets about the commercials with the hashtag, #notbuyingit. The hashtag was started by Miss Representation (check out their description of the project on their blog). You can check out an archive of some of the tweets, along with the commercials being tweeted about, in a storify created by Mother Jones. I really like how Mother Jones combines the commercial video with tweets about it; I can imagine some pretty cool class assignments that could use storify in this way! Feministing also discusses the hashtag. I wonder, do any of these sources link “talking back” with bell hooks? [implied answer: if not, they should]


on Safety: versions 1, 2 and 3

A couple of months ago, I posted an entry—”on privilege“— in which I put together a number of different sources, including some online class summaries.That post was the first in a series of entries in which I take material developed for my 20 classes that I taught at the U of Minnesota and organize it into larger themes. This series is an experiment; I’m not sure what I will ultimately do with all of these themes. A series of podcasts? An iBook? Who knows. For now, I’m just interested in archiving as much as I can in one central location: my blog.

For this entry, I want to focus on Safety. In the following three examples, I offer up 3 different versions of “on safety” (see my other post for another experiment with three versions). Each of these versions draws from similar theoretical and practical approaches, but offers up a slightly different approach to what safety is, who gets to claim it, and how it functions differently in different contexts and for different folks. In putting these three different approaches beside each other, I hope to trouble any easy, uncomplicated, “common sense” understandings of safety.

ONE: Safety on social media and in the classroom
from: feminist pedagogies: fall 2010 class summary
theme: Feminist Pedagogy and Facebook: Vulnerability, Privacy, Community
1. Beckenham, Annabel. “Face off online: Pedagogy and engagement in social network sites”
2. Schwartz, Harriet. “Facebook: The New Classroom Commons?
3. WMST-L. “Using Facebook in the Classroom”
4. Boyd, Dana. “MySpace and Facebook: How Racist Language Shapes Social Media (and Why You Should Care”
5. Kishimoto, Kyoto and Mumbi Mwangi. “Critiquing the Rhetoric of “Safety” in Feminist Pedagogy: Women of Color Offering an Account of Ourselves
6. Fisher, Berenice Malka. “Chapter 5: Dangerous Curves: Safety and Self-Disclosure

As instructors, how much access (to our personal lives, to our time) should we give our students? How is this question complicated when we become facebook friends with our students?

How do we negotiate our various selves/roles/identities on facebook? Can it be productive to make our “personal/private” selves visible for those who normally only encounter our “professional/public” selves? What are the benefits of this visibility? The drawbacks?

Does this visibility enable us to be vulnerable to/in the midst of others in potentially productive ways? What are the limits/dangers of this vulnerability?

How do public and private function in a feminist classroom? On facebook? (How) do these spaces complicate and demand a rethinking of the public/private distinction?

What is privacy? Check out this trailer for a longer video on “Choose privacy week

Choose Privacy Week Trailer from 20K Films on Vimeo.

Should/can a feminist classroom be a safe space? Is facebook a safe space?
safety: (from Fisher, 140):

Honest participation in feminist discourse meant bringing as much of yourself as you could to such discussions, drawing on experiences, feelings, and ideas that might promote liberating actions (Fisher, 141).

Is trust important to feeling safe? Or in engaging even when one doesn’t feel safe? Does facebook make us more/less trustworthy?

key words:
“differential vulnerabilities” (Fisher, 150)

Kishimoto and Mwangi:

However, just like Munro, we ‘seek simultaneously to create and disrupt notions of the subject’ (1) and thereby create fluid spaces in which to articulate and make sense of our positionalities in different contextual landscapes (90).

Does facebook allow for these types of negotiations? Is it a fluid space where we can make sense of our various positionalities?

On self-disclosure
Mwangi writes:

Self-disclosure is the element of explaining who I am, where I come from and where I am going, as well as my professional background at the beginning of the course. I often feel obligated to do this to establish my presence in the classroom. It is like letting the students know–“hello, I am here! And I have something to offer!!”–Self-disclosure becomes a way of not only authenticating my presence in the classroom but also talking back to myself acknowledges up front that I am in a position of vulnerability and thereby invokes a reminder to myself that I am braced to do what I need to do (92).

On a false sense of safety
Kishimoto writes:

This false sense of safety implied by surveillance is only creating a controlled and predictable environment that does not challenge the hegemonic system, thereby ignoring our subjective positionalities (94).

On the value of being unsettled (troubled?)
Mwangi and Kishimoto write:

To imagine that learning only occurs in a place of “calm” is to miss the ways in which contradictions, ambiguities, anger, pain, and struggles can be sources of energy to facilitate critical consciousness necessary for individual and social change (98).

note: While looking through past notes for this version 1 of safety, I found an article that I might want to skim in the future: Incongruity and Provisional Safety: Thinking Through Humor

TWO: on feeling safe
from: feminist debates fall 2011 Do you Feel Safe Here?
note: This was posted on our course blog as an open thread. While many students posted comments to this thread in expected ways (safety = no physical threats, “feeling” safe from harm while walking around campus), a few were able to expand our conversation to include a wider range of ways of thinking about safety: whose safety? what safety? where? Check out the comments on the original post.

Today, on my way to my office, I took a picture of this sign on the ground between the Washington bridge and the new Science Education building here at the U of Minnesota:


Here are some questions that this sign prompts for me:
Is the U of M a safe space?
Is our classroom a safe space?
What makes a safe space? Is safety possible?
What does it mean to feel safe? What does safe mean beyond physical safety?
Does the question–do you feel safe?–make you curious (a la Enloe’s feminist curiosity)?
What does safe mean?

On page 100 in Hey, Shorty!, they create a list of what safe/safer means:
no tolerance for harassment/bullying–no matter students’ identities
conducive to learning
emotional safe space
less police presence
freedom of self-expression (wear what you want and walk where you want)
addressing violence head on
respect for students’ identities
competent staff
partnerships between youth, parents, teachers, community members

And, on that same page, they offer two suggestions for how to achieve this:
prevention, especially through education
a bill of rights for students (policy)

Yesterday (oct 5) was National Safe Schools Day. Here are some suggestions from Safe Schools Action Network on how to take action.

THREE: on the PIC, protecting borders and SB1070
from: feminist debates: spring 2010
theme: Protection, but at what cost?
1. Gottschalk, Marie. Excerpt from The Prison and the Gallows
2. Meiners, Erica. “Never Innocent
3. Hoffman, Jessica. “On Prisons, Borders, Safety and Privilege

Have you heard about the Arizona Immigration Bill that was signed by Gov. Janice Brewer on Friday, April 23rd? According to the New York Times,

The law would require the police “when practicable” to detain people they reasonably suspected were in the country without authorization. It would also allow the police to charge immigrants with a state crime for not carrying immigration documents. And it allows residents to sue cities if they believe the law is not being enforced.

Brewer contends that the purpose of this bill is to protect the people of Arizona and secure the border:

There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life. We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north.

In her explanation, Brewer claims that this new law will not result in more racial profiling and that she is committed to training officers on how to properly determine when and if to stop individuals and request their identification (this “proper” way, according to her, must not be based on “the color of their skin”). But, many people think that this bill will allow racial profiling (or even encourage it) and are highly critical of the implications and intent of the call for “safety” and “protection.” In responding to Brewer’s above statement,  the Feminist Texican (who wrote this great post on why we should “stop saying ‘illegal'”)  writes:

In a country where “illegal” is a noun that’s synonymous with “Mexican” (Mexican drug cartels, Mexican border violence, border wall along Mexico,brown people swimming across the river from Mexico, etc.), I find it hard to believe that racial profiling rates against Latin@s aren’t going to rise.  I seriously doubt police are going to start asking white people for their papers at even a fraction of the rate they question brown people.

In an article over at the Arizona Republic, a law professor echoes Feminist Texican’s sentiment, claiming

“That is almost inevitably going to be enforced in a racially
discriminatory way, because how are the police going to have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that you’re here illegally?” said Paul Bender, a professor of law at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and a principal deputy U.S. solicitor general from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton. “They’re not going to ask every Anglo that they stop for speeding to show their immigration documents. If they did, we wouldn’t have them and we’d all go to jail. They’re
going to ask the people who look Hispanic. Some of them are not going to have them, and they are going to be arrested.”

[Note: Do you carry proof of citizenship around with you–a driver’s license doesn’t count. Addendum: Or does it? I have found conflicting reports and wonder, what proof do you have to give if you are stopped?] American Progress describes four dangerous economic, social and legal consequences of this law: 1. It legalizes racial profiling, 2. It undercuts the constitution and imbues local police with federal authority, 3. It will harm the state and local economy and 4. It is expensive and takes police away from community policing. For even more on this law, check out Stephen Colbert’s humorous (yet critical) take on the issue:

The Word – No Problemo

What are the implications and consequences of this bill from a feminist perspective? What sorts of questions should feminists ask? What should feminist focus their attention on? How can we link this bill, and its consequences, to the issues we have explored all semester? I can imagine connections to all of the issues–reproductive rights/justice, work, family values, sex wars and the PIC. What connections can you make?

In her article for Gender Across Borders, Erin Rickard discusses how racial profiling makes Latin@ communities afraid of the police and less willing to contact them when domestic violence occurs. What are the consequences of this fear of the police for women? American Immigration Council wonders how
much this bill will cost
and if the people of Arizona can afford it. I wonder, what (types of) programs will be cut in order to pay for this bill? Due to the financial crisis, Arizona has already had to cut children’s health insurance. Will women’s health care (particularly reproductive health) be next? Immigration Blogprof wants us to ask, Why are there so many undocumented workers?, which makes me think of our discussion of La Doméstica and prompts me to ask: what rights do/should undocumented workers have and what rights are they denied with this law? Mark B. Evans over at Tuscan Citizen is curious about what counts as “reasonable suspicion” for pulling a driver over and checking their proof of citizenship? Will those outside of Gayle Rubin’s charmed circle be targeted more? Do their “deviant” behaviors arouse suspicion? Prof Sussuro over at like a whisper outlines the effects of a law like this. Here’s one they mention that seems to be speak directly to the issue of family values: “leaving children on the side of the road to fend for themselves when
parents are arrested.”

A discussion of this bill from feminist perspectives fits nicely with our reading today, On Prisons, Borders, Safety, and Privilege. How is safety and protection functioning in this law, and at whose expense? What are the consequences of trying to ensure safety? Whose safety? Here are a few passages from the text that speak to these issues:

Who is made safe by strengthening a violent law-and-order system? And what does strengthening that system have to do with ending violence (3)?

What is your feminism for? If it is not for disruption and redistribution of power across society (i.e., not just for women [or people] like you), it cannot be so ignorant of, exploitative of, and even counter to the prison-abolition and immigrants’ right movements–not only because marginalized women are involved in and affected by those struggles, but because they are where some of the most significant challenges to power are being made (6).

If feminist is about social change, it is about recognizing that safety in this society is a fantasy afforded only by assimilation to power, and the cost of that fake safety is the safety of those who cannot, or will not, access it. If feminism is about social change, it is about radically challenging prisons and borders of all kinds (7).

What if we crafted a collective feminist response to this issue–one that is not so much based on our own opinions but on the readings, discussions, films, issues that we have discussed this entire semester? What would we want to put in that response?

Maybe one place to start this response is with this statement by Critical Resistance and INCITE! Women of Color against Violence:

We seek to build a movement that not only ends violence, but that creates a society based on radical freedom, mutual accountability, and passionate reciprocity. In this society, safety and security will not be premised on violence or the threat of violence; it will be based on a collective commitment to guaranteeing the survival and care of all peoples (226).

Addendum: I just found this overview of more feminist responses to this issue at feministe.
Addendum 2: As I re-post this entry about Jan Brewer and her unjust practices in the name of protecting “safety,” I have to include one of her most recent appearances in the news. Remarkably, yet again, she engages in unjust practices in the name of protecting her own “safety” (well, and trying to sell more copies of her new book).

on live-tweeting

Yesterday, while looking through old drafts of posts, I found one on live-tweeting. It seems to speak to a question that I posed at the end of one of my recent posts:

I wonder, does the point of twitter exercises for class and/or tweets in general, always have to be about “attracting other people’s attention”? What other goals do twitter users have besides attracting attention and sharing information?

Here’s the draft with some extra reflections from my most recent live-tweeting experience.

Fall Reflections on Live-tweeting

I’ve become increasingly interested in the value of live-tweeting for enabling me to engage (and document that engagement) with ideas and readings. While a lot of attention is given to twitter as a tool for sharing links and information, not enough attention is given to other potential purposes for twitter, like using live-tweeting to document the thinking/discussing/exploring/engaging process. Over the past few years, I have spent some time experimenting with and writing about my own live-tweeting.

While live-tweeting enables you to share/make public the process, the primary goal is not to share, but to document and archive a process and make that process accessible to others. For me, it’s great if people read my live-tweet notes; I can get feedback from them or maybe provide them with new information. However, I don’t live-tweet just for the purpose of sharing; I live-tweet because the brief character limit + the public nature + the easy interface encourages me to quickly/immediately post my reactions to/thoughts about key concepts and ideas. Plus, with all of the tools for archiving now, I can put all of those tweets together and create a timeline: a document of how I engaged with an essay/how I think. Live-tweets reflect how I think–something that is very important to me, documenting how I engage and communicating that with others. They enable me to make visible/expose my process.

Here are some ways that I’ve live-tweeted (using storify or screen shots, which is very tedious).

Yesterday’s Live-Tweet with @kjcfalcon

Yesterday afternoon, I did my first tweet-chat/live-tweet with my It’s Diablogical writing partner, KCF. She archived our tweets over at storify: Diablog(ical) Live-tweet with @Undisciplined (me) and @kjcfalcon. It was the first extended, explicitly dia(b)logical twitter conversation that I’ve done. My past live-tweets were almost all about taking notes for a class presentation or about a book, film, article. Occasionally those live-tweetings would involve interactions with other twitter users, but usually it was just me, in the moment, documenting my engagements. Here’s how I tweeted this fact:

At first, I thought it was difficult to keep track of everything that was being tweeted. I also found it difficult to respond to all of KCF’s great questions. And, I’m not sure, in the moment of tweeting and tweet-talking,  that we were able to achieve many deep moments of engagement (I think we had a few). However, I don’t think the deep and meaningful engagement needs to always come in the moment of the tweeting. Part of the live-tweeting process for me is to archive the tweets. Here’s what I tweeted about how and why this is useful:

I really appreciate revisiting past live-tweet archives. I’ve used past/archived tweets for remembering an experience of an engagement, finding key passages for blog/article projects, re-connecting with a text or idea that I had forgotten about, and for further reflection on ideas that “came to me” through the process of live-tweeting. Here’s one tweet exchange that KCF had during our live-tweet that I want to reflect on further (and which I think I’m already doing in this blog–at least a little bit):

I want to spend some time (soon, not now on a Saturday morning) developing a quick statement on how and why I use twitter.

Teaching with Twitter: Thick and Thin Tweets

Ever since I started thinking about using twitter in the classroom (and before I actually used it, which was in fall, 2010), I’ve been following the interesting and innovative work of David M. Silver and his media studies classes at the University of San Francisco. He has a helpful blog that he uses mostly for class assignments. I also follow him on twitter. Yesterday he tweeted to his class about an article that he had written for the Chronicle of Higher Education last May: Twitter Meets the Breakfast Club. He also assigned, via the tweet, another one of his articles from his blog: The Difference Between Thick and Thin Tweets

Here’s his brief description of thin and thick tweets:

thin tweets are posts that convey one layer of information. thick tweets convey two or more, often with help from a hyperlink.

While he encourages students to experiment with all sorts of tweets, he requires that they do thick tweets for his assignments. His blog post offers some great examples and explanations of how thick tweets work. I think this approach might be helpful for enabling students to think more carefully/deliberately about their tweets as forms of communication. I also think his introduction of the assignment, with so many help examples + explanations, is a great model for how to introduce an assignment.

I was struck by something he wrote at the end of his post:

As i wrote above, i encourage my students to use twitter in any way they see fit. but my bias is evident. by requiring them to post thick tweets and by encouraging them to pack multiple layers of information within 140 characters or less, i’m trying to teach my students how to craft creative, meaty, and to-the-point messages that attract other people’s attention.

I wonder, does the point of twitter exercises for class and/or tweets in general, always have to be about “attracting other people’s attention”? What other goals do twitter users have besides attracting attention and sharing information?

some sweet tweeting!

I’m always looking for great classes that use twitter in interesting and valuable ways. Check out my reply tweet and the original tweet that I found: