All posts tagged: Gender analysis

Taking feminist questions seriously

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

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, …

Our honest places

It is the smell that catches you first. You open the front door gently, a skill you learned when you were 15 and tried to glide into your house without anyone noticing you are wearing blush. You didn’t know then that mothers can detect makeup on their daughters with infrared vision, even if the teen magazines swear that it’s a “natural neutral look.” But you did know just how to turn the key so the door doesn’t squeak and which tiles to step on so you do not wake up the whole house. This is how you still enter your childhood home, even though your cheeks can shimmer without inspection.It is always the smell. It does not emanate from the people. It is steeped in the place. You have left and returned here before, but you always somehow forget about the smell. It escorts you from room to room. You feel larger than life and play Alice in Wonderland with the objects of your childhood. Were the shelves always quite so low? Were the curtains …

Malala and narrative co-option

This has, in many ways, been Malala’s week. Despite not having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala has dominated headlines, in ways that have prompted Max Fisher and Zeynep Tufekci to craft delicate, thoughtful responses that reflect on Western advocacy. Tufekci writes: “[…] But she is but one courageous person. Fortunately for the world, there is no shortage of such brave, courageous individuals. In fact, there is an abundance of them, especially in poor, authoritarian countries. If you think Malala is rare, that is probably because you have not spent much time in such countries. Most Malala’s, however, go nameless, and are not made into Western celebrities. (That interview’s most telling moment was when Jon Stewart said “I want to adopt you” to her right after she repeatedly mentioned how great her own father was — such a striking sentiment in which our multi-decade involvement in Pakistan is reduced to finding a young woman we admire that we all want to take home as if to put on a shelf to adore).” Fisher adds: …

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 …

Field notes from Colombia: Memory

The text on the bottom left reads: “Nobody Wins.” On the right: “Silence is forgetting, is death.” For someone who aspires to mindful presence, I certainly spend a lot of time reflecting on the topic of memory. Earlier this week, I shared some of my reflections on arriving anew to a country you once called home. I wrote then:   In many ways, arriving anew in a country you once called home lends itself better to processes of memory than discovery. As I wrote in an email to Elijah yesterday, “can you still count firsts if it’s a ‘first time on this trip’ as opposed to a first ever?” There are endless layers of Colombia I have yet to uncover and even more that I have yet to fully understand, so the memory versus discovery conundrum is not for lack of novelty. Rather, it emerges out of a realization that a return to the field,particularly a return to a site you once called home, inspires — almost unwittingly — a comparison of memories. Does this …

Notes from the Women in International Security Conference in Canada

In early June, I had the pleasure of presenting my research and work on the topic of wartime sexual violence at the Women in International Security (WIIS) Canada conference, which took place at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto [see here for the original call for papers]. Telling the story of the experience is challenging because it was, in itself, the convergence of the stories of scholars, policymakers, and Canadian military representatives. Therein lies the first refreshing lesson: In my experience of conferences and seminars so far, it is truly refreshing to have individuals from different realms and agencies with different mandates, resources, and sources of expertise in the same room. I wish it happened more frequently, and I wish the conversational cross-pollination were the norm. The agenda was organized around issues related to women and security, ranging from women as agents of violence to women as peacemakers, and most presenters took into account broader questions of gender, including the role of men as victims and the importance of understanding wartime iterations of masculinity. This …

Resurfacing: Lessons of a graduate school spring

Postcard from a Boston spring: Blossoms and post-Marathon love I wish there were a way to pick up digital conversations where one left off, as though the internet were a best friend who lives on a different coast. I wish I felt no responsibility to connect the dots of narratives, to tell the story of what happened between then and now. The relevant ‘then’ is the Boston bombing, which was the last time I was able to write anything that did not require a footnote. The bombing took all my words away and grief filled the spaces in between. Spring came. Everything bloomed the day after the bombing suspects were apprehended. It felt like the universe winked at Boston, like it decided that the city had had enough pain and had earned its blossoms. I have always had trouble with sudden transitions that require shifting from agony to jubilation, so I stumbled my way from the manhunt to the dancing, the snowmelt to the flowers. This was the spring that I fell in love with …

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.