All posts tagged: Feminism

Spectacles of death

Reflections on motherhood and weapons systems, public death in Syria, and the spectacle of dying in a Greek hospital

The work of politics

What does it look like to do political work in the every day? Voting is not the only political act. We need to look beyond the realm of high, formal politics to the politics that govern which lives are grievable. I keep reading, particularly among liberal allies who share a lot of the policy priorities but who do not necessarily actively practice political work between elections, is that “we must start working.” To them, I earnestly say: Welcome. The work has been going on — slowly, quietly, invisibly, in the margins, often done by the most marginalized.

Taking feminist questions seriously

What would we ask about the rejection of the Colombian peace agreement if we took feminist questions seriously?

Estranged tongues

Naming ghosts of patriarchy and misogyny was a feminist project to which I have committed my life with little hesitation or regard for propriety (ever the fear raised to caution people away from uttering powerful words). Except, somewhere along the way, I became more comfortable exporting this project to other domains rather than finding the words for it in my homeland. The same can be said for tolerating all other manners of abuse–racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, xenophobia–for which the words felt foreign or the battles felt like they were someone else’s to fight. Is that not a form of complicity in oppression, disguised under the banner of foreignness?

This feminist’s fatigue

Or: an assorted list of arguments I’m tired of. 1. Explaining that we love men. Most every feminist argument I’ve engaged in or witnessed recently, and which attempts to critically examine masculinity or patriarchy, has had to include a caveat along the lines of “don’t get me wrong, I love men.” I am tired of having the choices be ‘thoughtful critique with caveat’ or ‘presumed man-hating.’ When is the last time we heard someone say “don’t get me wrong, I love socialists,” when they engage in a critique of socialism? “Don’t get me wrong, I love aid-in-kind,” when they argue in favor of vouchers or cash instead of direct food and soap distribution in humanitarian settings? Critics of systems other than patriarchy get to engage in deconstructing and pointing out the holes and offering the counterpoints — the very things feminist gender analysis seeks to do in patriarchal systems, only we have to bathe in caveats first, lest we be discredited for man-hating. 2. The choice between likeability and assertiveness. Here, I turn to the …

In your country’s shoes

“I have a question for you… Why do all the Greek girls here wear those shoes that could kill cockroaches?” I was 17, and part of the Greek National Debate Team contingent that competed in the World Schools Debating Championships. I am not sure which is more astounding: that I ever recovered from that level of … coolness, or that to this date, I look back on that experience with the kind of sincere, boundless gratitude that faux teenage coolness could never inspire. Our team had just managed an upset victory in a debate against Scotland, a country which had for years produced debate powerhouses (Yes, “debate powerhouses.” Ceaseless¬†coolness, I tell you.) When it dawned on us that our team full of vividly gesturing English-as-a-Second-Language debaters just might beat the polished Scots, I remember thinking back to all those subtitled movies about underdogs that Greek TV loved to broadcast on Sunday afternoons: the Jamaican bobsledding team that wins in the Winter Olympics, Herbie the Beetle that beats the much cooler cars. As it turns out, …

Hereditary travel neuroses of a Greek childhood

Things I learned in Greece: Never rush your coffee, summer is everything, always chase the dust. This is my last morning in the United States for some time and I have spent it shaking my head at dust. Let me explain. Ever since I was a child, I could never sleep the night before a big journey. “A big journey” then meant a car ride from Thessaloniki to Larissa, 2 hours away, where my father’s family lived. I prepared for those trips for days, lining up all my stuffed animals, deciding which of them get to go on this trip, making packing lists (for them, not me, because the beauty of being six years old was that I could live in a single pair of shorts all summer), writing up itineraries (again for them because, um…), and packing car snacks. In the summer, my aunt Mina would move from her home in scorching hot Larissa to the seaside town of Platamonas. At least two weeks before my family descended on Platamonas to join aunt Mina, …

Questions on representing atrocities

This is a series of thoughts that are emerging from weeks of processing both the testimonies I collected during my recent field work and secondary reading on atrocities, trauma, narrative responsibility, and collective memory. Many of these thoughts are half-baked, as I essentially type from the middle of a conversation between me and the texts. Waiting for perfection is my least favorite form of silence — so here we go, from the middle of the story, knee-deep in footnotes and question marks. ¬† James Dawes writes in the preface of Evil Men:¬† “How can we look at violently invasive and traumatic events with respect and care rather than sensational curiosity? How do profoundly private injuries fit into our mercilessly public spaces? At the center of the answers to these questions is a single, structuring paradox: the paradox of trauma. We are morally obligated to represent trauma, but we are also morally obligated not to.“ In response, I wonder (partially affected by my legal reading on naturalism vs. positivism): What does moral obligation consist of in …

The value of a gender analysis

How I spent International Women’s Day 2010: Facilitating a workshop in Colombia on women and leadership There is a passage by Cynthia Enloe, in her foreword to Carol Cohn’s excellent compilation Women & Wars, that summarizes much of the type of inquiry and conviction that motivates my work. Enloe writes: “That is, gender analysis is a skill. It’s not a passing fancy. It’s not a way to be polite. And it’s not something one picks up casually, on the run. One doesn’t acquire the capacity to do useful gender analysis simply because one is “modern”, “loves women”, “believes in equality”, or “has daughters.” One has to learn how to do it, practice doing it, be candidly reflective about one’s shortcomings, try again.”   On PolicyMic today, I explore some of the questions that hit closest to home for me: What is a gender analysis? What is its value? And where do we begin? Wander over here for – some, only some – of the answers.

Favorite books of 2012

The Saturdays of my childhood involved my father picking me up from gymnastics practice to take me to my favorite bookstore on Aristotelous Square in Thessaloniki. I used to pick out my favorite Enid Blyton novels, sometimes as many as five at a time. We would then buy sunflower seeds and take the bus home. Thus would commence hours of reading, interrupted by my mother imploring me to shower and eat something other than sunflower seeds. Only after reading a whole book would I stop for actual dinner, at which point my mother would ask with bewilderment “How many pages did you read today?!” My father always stopped her, trying to instill in me the sense that pages do not matter. “We do not read for the number of pages. It is not a race, not a competition.” Much has changed since then. Harvard, and graduate school, have been constant races of who-has-more-pages-to-read-than-whom. “Death by reading,” I wrote tongue-in-cheek in September. My father is long gone, and Aristotelous Square is, optimistically, an ocean and two …