It is okay to have your standards, what is not okay, is imposing those standards on others. The same is true for feminism, this became clear as we discussed Saba Mahmood’s ‘The piety of freedom’. Everyone has the freedom to choose; I wonder if one of these freedoms is the freedom to be oppressed. One’s freedom ends where another person’s starts. A part of me thought feminism is all about getting people to subscribe to my views on who an empowered woman is. On the contrary, feminism is all about letting women be the people they want to be. It still irritates me that to be a girl generally means to be weak, pretty, over-emotional, soft and pretty; to be a girl is to be yourself and the same goes for boys. However, to choose this for someone beats the point. I hope we can open each other’s eyes so that we may go after what we desire and not what other people desire, because only then do we find true fulfillment.
Today has been really tiring. ☹ As my team might be able to tell, I was quite disappointed that I could not get to the seminal readings for today. However, a part of it was my fault. If I had downloaded the videos I needed on time, I might have been able to finish with the session earlier.
Still, I would like to continue by saying that I am VERY VERY proud of my awesome #emoartists. We achieved a lot today. Unfortunately, I lost my phone but good Samaritans exist! We went shopping for supplies at Macro and somehow…I lost my phone there. Well, somehow, someone helped me take it home and asked me to come pick it up tomorrow. I am really excited about this.
Also, my curriculum planning buddy and I have been working really hard on the curriculum and I must give a huge shoutout to Mandisa Zondo because we are really moving efficiently. I like that our sole purpose is not to move quickly but to ensure that we delve into each topic adequately. With camps like these where the times for preparation are so short, I think we run the risk of simply letting things we think are unimportant fall by the side because of pressure. I must admit that at this point, it is difficult for me to make that balance but I’m really glad that my teammate and I are making this work! I believe other teams are also reaching that compromise (but I will try not to assume)
For now, I am still at the office, working my butt off to make sure we have all of this ready by tomorrow. Ciao!
Freedom is one of those iffy terms that people find difficult to explain and often respond by saying Freedom means being free or it means I can do whatever I want. Neither of these responses sits well with me because in my opinion a completely free society cannot function. Freedom often implies that you can do something without getting in trouble for it, so if we were allowed to do whatever we want without getting in trouble then we would be living in anarchy. I’m pretty sure people will disagree with me but that’s the whole point of a discussion. Basically my view of freedom is that it does not exist. We live in structured societies that are deemed free based on their lack of oppressive laws. When groups of people begin to feel oppressed then the freedom of a country is questioned and eventually the laws and society is restructured. For us to maintain order and our freewill, I believe that my Freedom ends where another persons starts. Essentially this means we need to respect each other’s boundaries and limits in all aspects f life and find a compromise instead of blindly yelling, “It’s my right!”
What is freedom? A simple question, consisting of only three words yet the answer is not as easy. Today when we began our discussions I was asked this question. My mind raced to find an answer but i failed to come up with a concise answer. Saba Mahmood in her Essay about Feminism defines Freedom as Positive and Negative. Negative Freedom refers to the absence of external obstacles to self-guided choice and action whether imposed by the state, cooperation, or private individuals. Positive Freedom on the other hand, is understood as the capacity to realize an autonomous will, one generally fashioned in accord with the dictates of “universal reason” or “self-interest,” and hence unencumbered by the weight of custom, transcendental will, and tradition.
It took my mind a while to try and go around these highly intellectual ideas but after some thought a question came to mind. Mahmood ‘s definition of Freedom is based on two assumptions that free will exits and also that there is “universal reason.” But what is free will-free will is sometimes defined as freedom from causation, furthermore do we as people have free will?
To put it into context the Muslim 16 year old girl who says she chooses to wear a Hi jab, is it really her choice? Is she not saying she would rather choose to wear a Hi jab than face the consequences that come with post-structuralism? (Another big term learned today) In the same breadth who dictates what society should consider post-structuralism? And as for women is there a singular definition of Feminist Freedom that can be applied across the board-from the blond haired blue eyed woman walking the streets of New York to the chocolate skinned, thick Afro hair woman walking the streets of Kenya?
All these questions I have not answers to but discussing these concepts opened my mind up to try and seek the answers from my peers and also from the world.
This week the Facilitators are discussing various scholastic materials regarding Feminism and sharing their thoughts and what Feminism means to them.
In today’s session we read a passage from the politics of piety by Saba Mahmood. I must say that her words were not the easiest things to decipher (especially when you had to wake up at 7m in this cold south African winter). However, the session really came to life and I was really struck by some questions had not thought about. I read her essay as a freshman in Amherst College and her ideas were lost on me at first. However, I really caught on especially when she spoke of positive vs negative freedom. This is why I picked that chapter for our first seminal reading for the facilitator’s training, which started today. Mahmood’s essay is set as a critique of popular notions of liberalism using the veiled women of Cairo as an example of women who attain empowerment and resist subversion through their piety. The main of idea is summarized effectively when she says:
“If we recognize that the desire for freedom from, or subversion of, norms is not an innate desire that motivates all beings at all times, but is also profoundly mediated by cultural and historical conditions, then the question arises: how do we analyze operations of power that construct different kinds?”
Her ideas of negative vs positive freedom circulate around the question of how freedom cannot be based on a binary standard of the free vs the enslaved. Positive freedom assumes that humans can come to a self-realization of what they want while negative freedom is the type of freedom that people come to when they realize what they do not want within a set of norms. However, I find it difficult to separate the two because it could be a mix; I mean, can’t I realize that something is not for me because I have tried it and I just know. Have you ever known you w ant something different without knowing exactly what you want? I have had this feeling many times which means I came to realize I want something else by realizing that what existed did not appeal to me. Or did I realize what I wanted and felt less interested in what existed? How can we locate when one starts and one ends. More specifically, how can we bring this to the discussion about equality? Are we all clamoring for this goal because we do not like the inequality that exists or because we just know that we want to be equal? Is equality an end goal or a strategy to something bigger that we just don’t know? If it is any of these, how “free” will we be then?