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activist values

by on February 17, 2011

Today’s workshop was an activist possibilities card-sorting session.  The idea was to think about how ideas values and activities can come together in unexpected ways; to rely on each other for ideas, to cooperate, share and  trust within a system of feminist values and social media.

The idea was to pull cards from 2 card decks (with goal and action words pre-written) – and combine these selected concepts with each of your individual ‘activist passions’ in order to facilitate idea generation.  Ideas could be realistic, far-fetched, even fantastical. Posters were made, stickers were stuck, and ideas were generated. And they are great!

In the comments section,  please write about your idea, and what goal and action cards you chose.  In some cases, words could be defined in multiple ways; explain how you understood the words, and what ideas were generated from the process.  If you can, take a picture of your poster, and upload it as well.

Other questions to consider:  Was this a helpful project to begin thinking about what you might want to do? Did you work with a person or people who you might want to work with in a group?  How might some of the ideas generated morph into experimentation within digital medias?

Please post your thoughts on possible projects, whether related to this workshop or not, and I will respond to each of you accordingly.

  1. Fatoumata Bangoura permalink

    The topic I chose for my poster was Global Family. I am very passionate about the institutions and cultures that define the global family because of my own experience abroad. I believe that as a women’s studies student I can take back with me the experiences of activist in this country and reshape them to create social change amongst families in my country (Guinea). The goal and action cards that I picked randomly were privacy and build. This instantly fit into my ideas of social change because I defined privacy as the exact mechanism that kept many women and children in my country in violent and unhealthy situations. The actions that had to be taken were to eventually lead to building new institutions to allow families the right to privacy along with human rights generally reserved for men in my country.

    My group and I defined the word build differently the most people would. To us the word build meant to create so we instantly believe that to reform privacy rights in families I had to create: -Laws that protected women in the family –NGO (inform women of their rights and resources) – marriage laws (age requirements and forced marriages) –programs to empower women – social networks for marriage women –childcare programs (parenting classes)

    I definitely think that the topic of global family is a topic I should explore for my project not only because of my passion, but also because I might be able to turn the project into a reality. The only problem is that the it might not really be social media activism because of the lack of rights and the constraints put on the media by a corrupt government.

  2. Angie permalink

    For WMST200 last semester I had to work with a group to conduct an feminist activism campaign. We were permitted to use social media if we chose to. I pushed for this because we had limited turnaround time and I wanted every group member to have access to all components of the project so one person was not “in-charge,” and thus liable and responsible, because I expected I would get stuck in that role as the “old” person in the group. That’s a primary reason I also wanted to do the website to report on our campaign.

    I have added a postscript to the site that adds more information about how we developed, implemented, and reported on our campaign. Our instructor expressed a desire to use this to illustrate what the campaign can look like for her future classes. It occurred to me that it relates to what we’re doing this semester in Senior Seminar.

    Here’s the link:

  3. Jojo Damiano permalink

    The Idea I came up with was Women’s Sexuality and Sexual Identity. I got it from the brain storming questions we had to do because I realized allot of my life is involved in various queer activities of various sorts so why not focus on female sexuality. The goal card I got was support and the action cart I got was analyze. I understood support to mean was to support women while they discover there sexuality or sexual identity, ways to help them. I defined analyze as looking at data and research to come up with different ways to help and get help for people who are discovering there sexuality or identity. From support my group came up with having queer education in H.S., LGBT organizations and activists groups, discussion groups, OBGYNS who are queer friendly, health care that covers gender reassignment, equal marriage laws, guest speakers and lecturers, lgbt and wmst classes, etc. From analyze my group came up with bullying statistics, studies on school environments, look at queer drop out rates, etc. The project was helpful for me to realize what I wanted to do but I don’t think I’d use the action and goal cards that I got just because they didn’t fit well with my topics. Me and my group members all had different ideas for our topics. I’m still not sure how these ideas or this topic would morph into an experiement within digital media. The only ideas I can come up with is doing a take on the it gets better campaign for hs students maybe making videos about the queer community at college, or doing a kind of out reach to HS students of some kind maybe with a blog or something. I’m not sure. As for this project I’m honestly not sure what to do I know it should probably be queer related since so much of my life is a part of that topic but I’m just not sure what to do within it or how to illustrate it.

  4. Jana Young permalink

    During the class exercise I chose “HIV/AIDS Prevention” as my passion. The goal card I selected was “efficiency”. My group understood the word as how to make HIV/AIDS prevention run more effectively and came up with ideas that would improve preexisting strategies and we came up with new ideas. Some things we brainstormed were: condom distribution, education, promoting rapid testing, promoting needle exchange, increase access to resources, increase funding and study the efficiency and pitfalls of existing prevention methods. The action card I selected was “build”. My group interpreted the word in a literal sense (physically building) and a figurative sense. Ideas we were able to come up with included: converting magazine/book dispensers to distribute HIV/AIDS prevention materials, building accessible clinics, build support groups, build online networks for information sharing and support, and building comprehensive education and awareness programs.

    This project helped me think of unique solutions that I would not have thought of before. It also allowed me to visually separate goals and actions which helped me organize what actions need to be taken to achieve the goals. I am still unsure of who I would like to work with in a group. It seems that there are a lot of great ideas floating around the class. I think I would like to do something along the lines of HIV/AIDS prevention, sex work, or women’s sexual health, but I am unsure of how I want to translate this idea into digital media.

  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we share knowledge inside the university and as students. A lot of times, the knowledge we gain either dies within the classroom or sits to rot in old notebooks. I’ve been thinking about how to spread the knowledge we learn to people who are not as fortunate to attend a class/university. I’ve been struggling with a couple of things on a blog I started:

    Right now, I’ve mostly been thinking about how to spread the borders of the classroom and incorporate people into our class actively rather than creating an archive for our class.

    – Anton

  6. maariya bassa permalink

    The idea that i choose was women’s health in developing nations. What I loved about this project was the fact that by having other people in the group we were able to brainstorm about different ways to improve health that I never would have thought of on my own. For example, one way that the group thought women’s health could be improved was not only through the education of more doctors in the countries, but rather the education of the women being affected. Moreover, we found that the action cards related directly to our goal cards. For example, when the goal was to increase education, our action was to build schools. This project really did help me think about how interested I am in women’s health and the different actions I could take to possibly examine women’s health. Moreover, one of the other girl’s in my group also seemed to be interested in women’s health, so it is possible that maybe she might want to work on in a group focusing on women’s health, either in the United States or in developing nations. I still do not know how I would want to turn the project into a digital media, but it is definately something I still want to think about. Therefore, I really thought this was a great project and really helped me to brainstorm possible ways to turn an area I am interested in into an actual project.

    Please post your thoughts on possible projects, whether related to this workshop or not, and I will respond to each of you accordingly.

  7. Kara D. permalink

    For last week’s workshop, the topic that I chose was sex work. The goal card that I pulled was DIGNITY and the action card was SHARE. For me the word dignity signifies self-respect, both the sex worker’s right to respect herself and to be respected by others. I took the word “share” to mean the spread of knowledge, consciousness raising, and the creation of new forms of knowledge.

    One of the first steps to achieve this goal would be to adopt the term sex worker in everyday usage as opposed to the commonly used and offensive terms such as prostitute and whore. The term prostitute has a whole host of negative connotations attached to it and is often used to describe the value, class, or moral character of sex workers. The shift in usage to the term sex worker has served to legitimize the work that sex workers do as a means to remove stigma and to make their profession seem less deviant.

    We also need to increase greater public awareness in order to debunk certain myths about sex work that serve to stigmatize marginalized populations. To start, the decriminalization of sex work does not increase promiscuity, disease or the number of workers in the profession. New Zealand decriminalized sex work in 2003 and the number of people entering in sex work didn’t change. What did change was the number of people accessing public health services. Sex workers felt more comfortable reporting crimes to the police and now have access to worker’s rights.

    We need to recognize sex work as a basic human rights issue. We need greater unbiased media coverage as well as more government funding to bridge the gap between sex work and HIV transmission. The impact of marginalization and criminalization on sex workers and their HIV risk is usually omitted from discussions about HIV transmission. I believe that one reason for this is that we are so quick to demonize women’s sexual agency coupled with the fact that their work is criminalized . If we don’t have scientifically accurate data, how are sex workers supposed to protect themselves? Also, how else can the government increase greater public health?

    This project got me thinking about how the digital turn has impacted sex workers lives and their rights. How can social media be effectively used to increase social awareness and achieve greater rights for sex workers? (and in turn greater public health- for human rights issues are public health issues).

  8. Charissa permalink

    During class, the topic I chose was Reproductive Rights. I was thinking of doing a project on sexual education to teens and young adults. The Health Center has a group of peer mentors that are called S.H.A.R.E. or Sexual Health and Reproductive Education. I would like to explore how some high schools do not have sex ed classes, or ones that only teach abstinence. I would also like to look into the programs that Planned Parenthood does for young people. I am interested in seeing what programs work better for different audiences.

  9. Angie permalink

    I do not believe that which I am passionate about would effectively translate to a project, but I had to do the exercise, which was fun, and it was fun to work with my classmates. Recently I have been really into invisible power structures, which we have been discussing in Sociology of Gender (if you can ever take a class with Michelle Corbin, do it!!) I had a difficult time explaining the concepts I am interested in to my group members, who latched onto “institutions of power” without the “invisible.” But here’s what we came up with.
    My goal word was “protect” and my action word was “analyze.”
    Since we are not interested in protecting systems of power, we thought we could critically examine (“analyze”) systems of power through continuing scholarly analysis of systems of power and sharing information. We wanted to find ways to protect oppressed peoples from power systems. Want to get rid of media fluff and distractions like celebrity news that are irrelevant, and impede, social change. We discussed calling out media and government, media, economic entities in analysis of these as institutions. Would like the hidden curriculum brought to light and broadcast.

  10. Anjalee permalink

    The topic I picked was music. My goal was support. The action was analyze. These were really interesting card choices that I happened to pick because I’m already dealing with some of this now. Currently I’m trying to promote my band. Since we’re not famous, we definitely fall under the umbrella of local bands that do need promotion. So in finding support for local bands social media plays a large part. There are so many websites that are geared specifically towards bands and music. But there has to be more, because that’s not all we can do. Maybe more people need to be open to new music that isn’t just played on the radio. Or maybe the new music on the radio needs to be better received. My group decided that there needs to be more venues and more music producers that are open to new people. For the action, the analysis needs to be more about the music, less about the band and its image.

    I don’t know if I’d want to pursue this as a topic for research in this class, but i think that it can be formulated into something better.

  11. whirledpeas89 permalink

    The topic I chose was Anti-Human Trafficking. My goal was support and the action was to find. This was kind of an interesting choice of cards – particularly the find one, but our group did a good job of brainstorming. For support, we think it is necessary to raise awareness, because I think a lot of people aren’t really aware of how much of an issue human-trafficking is. It is a modern day slavery, really, and highly prevalent, specifically in (or out of) third-world, underdeveloped countries, but obviously human-trafficking is not constrained to only these countries. We also think it’s important to create safe-zones for people who have been victims to be able to share their stories and hopefully prevent others from going through their experience. Further, creating support organizations is very important, they would be dedicated to gathering information, helping victims, and working on legislation to do to it’s part in preventing human-trafficking as much as possible. Further, on a personal basis, you should not buy drugs, as human-trafficking and drug trafficking are often closely related, and you should not purchase sex, as any victims of human-trafficking are forced into sex work. Also on a personal level, we think it is important to be aware of victims and not stigmatize or degrade them.
    We had a bit more trouble with find – obviously in order to prevent human-trafficking it must be found, but as there aren’t really great ways to do that now, it is hard to think of new things. A few things we came up with though would be to decrease the missing persons wait time to be able to report somebody missing. Another thing is to have the police really care about human-trafficking and actually work hard to words finding perpetrators. Also, by creating more hot lines and organizations dedicated to stopping human-trafficking it would be more likely to find the perpetrators and put an end to it.
    I really liked this exercise because it really made us think creatively about how to concretely solve/help different issues that prevail in this world.

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