It's Diablogical!
A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
Accessing my feminist self/selves

So, I know this is a part of our “official” plans for what we were supposed to do this week but I think it connects because I was reviewing some resources I had put aside as I was preparing for our discussion on “Creating Community” and I think that we’ve mentioned that a further way to explore this is to continue connecting to this idea of virtual consciousness raising. I’m not sure if we want to start compliling these links to our resources tab of diablogical but I could start plugging some of these in if we are indeed interested in making a central place to refer to these readings as we come across them. I also began my journey to thinking about our main question that SLP posed for this week:

How does using blogs in the classroom and blogging while teaching enable  you to access your feminist self/selves? What is/are your feminist self/selves? Any examples from your blogs?

One article that reminded me I have many others set aside that I should list as resources is called “Feminist Empowerment through the Internet” by Lucretia McCulley and Patricia Patterson (from Feminist Collections vol. 17, no. 2, Winter 1996, pp. 5-6). I think I was the most excited about this piece, even though it’s a bit dated, because they start out by quoting bell hooks’ words from Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989).

Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side a gesture of defiance that heals, that makes life and new growth possible. It is that act of speech of “talking back,” that is no mere gesture of empty words, that is the expression of our movement from object to subject — the liberated voice. (hooks, 1989, p. 9)

The authors then go onto write that thier goal in the article is “to reflect on women ‘talking back’ in a different medium, that is to say, in cyberspace.” I see the connection between the goals of feminist consciousness raising and how I access my feminist self/selves through my own blogging. This idea of speaking back clearly adds the political element so necessary in our teaching, as well as provides space to share stories which is one of the three highlights you pull out of Kennedy’s article in your post here. The rest of this article focuses on the documentation of how implementing more concetrated efforts online and through email networking (woah!) that they use in some women’s studies classes that they teach about women in politics. Ultimately, I value the project of recording the use of internet technologies in their course work and what they see in terms of the importance of this work, but I also really only enjoyed th aspect of their article where they purposefully situate their work within the framework of “talking back” through hooks’ theory.

While I don’t have any specific examples in my La Kitchen Chicana blog on how I try to “talk back” I do believe the entire goal/mission of my blog is to do exactly this. As I speak about this in my “why I love to blog” post, I developed La Kitchen Chicana as I began to get really drawn into the world of (millions of?) cooking blogs. As I started readings some my Mama J (my partner’s mom who is an amazing gourmand) suggested, I realized how incredibly white everything was and how upset I got when I would come across white (often rich/privileged in other ways) women cooking “traditional” Mexican food and talking about how this tasted really “authentic” or how this was their “tradition” in making food that I feel an actual deep connection to in ways I sometimes can’t even articulate. For instance, some of my most favorite memories as a young girl involved watching my abuela (grandmother) making cheese enchilladas (sin cebolla por mi mama), pan-fried tacos (which, I would argue are the best thing in the whole world and for those who don’t know what they are haven’t truly lived), and gorditas (not some fake Taco Bell crap) but delicious maza corn patties that she would carefully and lovingly stuff with beef and papa, peanut butter and jelly, or melted butter. This comida isn’t just “ethnic night” for me, but rather represents a connection to my culture that I needed and craved as a half-brown, half-white young girl. So, to counter this flippant attitude many had to the food that meant so much to my identity as a Chicana, I created La Kitchen Chicana. Every single one of my blog posts contains a story of mi familia (my mama, sisters, tias, abuela and/or the family I have made with my partner) alongside a recipe. Sometimes for me, the story is much more important than the recipe itself, like in this entry that I wrote for my relationship to Dia de Los Muertos and the recent passing of my Aunt Cindy.  I also use my blog to document my experiences alongside mi familia, and actually, this entry features my abuela making enchilladas which have come to symbolize so much in terms of how the smells of her chile sauce really evoke a sense of family gatherings for me. These entries also allow me to create feminist theory through experience, and lead me to thinking about how I link, experience and writing, in my more creative pieces. I see my blog as an avenue to explore how I relate the importance of Chicana feminist theory to my own life, this takes many forms, the connection between identity, culture, and food and the ways I privilege the story in sharing these connections. After writing about my abuela and my research trip I learned so much about how important food was for my aunts and grandmother to gain additional income as they used to make tacos once or twice a week for a white-owned restaurant in their small Kansas town and wrote about this experience here. To me, this embodies one aspect of my Chicana feminist self. As this all connects to my dissertation project, I find that oftentimes blogging or writing about my experience as a Chicana feminist solidifies my ideas and grants me “authority” in the sense that my ideas are out there for others to interact with, it’s not just my thoughts that roll around in my head daily, but rather I have moved these thoughts into a public sphere for others to engage with them.

I think this question has been a great entry point for me to think through the value of this blog project for me personally, as a means to assert my opinions into the cybersphere as well as share stories, two components (while not mutually exclusive) seem to work more efficiently together as opposed to only in isolation. I think we’ve shared a lot of how we use blogging while teaching as a means to access students’ feminist selves that might not have had avenues to emerge and I’m sure we will talk about this more in person. This entry has been helpful in making me think through some of these thoughts in relation to creating community, virtual consciousness-raising, and the feminist self/selves.

5 Comments to “Accessing my feminist self/selves”

  1. SLP says:

    This is a wonderful statement, KCF! I love how you connect your ideas to talking back and bell hooks. Your reflections on why you blog are inspiring me to push at what I have already written and say more about how I access my feminist troublemaking self through my blogs. I also envision my blogs as a form of talking back–to those forces (and institutions/communities/individuals) in the academy who try to impose rigid restrictions on how I should think (like a proper scholar who never cites popular culture!) or how I should write (with lots of jargon and in ways the reflect “rigorous” scholarship) or how I should become a professional academic (don’t waste your time on blogs; that kind of writing will never get you a job!). Wow—I have a lot more to say about this, but not much time. Maybe I should write more in a future entry…

  2. KCF says:

    You know, reading through your comment more carefully I started thinking about how doing a blog project like this does or doesn’t count in a tenure file. I wonder if there are resources out there that discuss how online writing contributes to your tenure file. There are lots of PhDs writing blogs out there, as a feminist I think about it in the blurring of the binary of theory/action – for instance, Sociological Images is run by two women academics who both teach at different institutions see more here. Does their work “count” toward their professionalization? I see it as engaging community with the ideas that so often emerge in college classrooms, therein expanding access to what we teach in college (they specifically use images and sociology) but we use different aspects of feminism to engage beyond the realm of our classroom alone. (So, maybe we could discuss this in creating community or busting binaries?) This may be a tangent, but I think it relates, I would like to explore this further.

  3. SLP says:

    So in the mad rush of trying to get everything done, sometimes I can’t read things as carefully as I’d like. This weekend I was finally able to go back and read this entry (and click on all of the links to your blog) again. I love your statement here; it’s very powerful. Have you considered making it part of an about page on your la kitchen chicana blog? I think it would be great way to integrate more of your selves (and it might help your students to critically reflect on the blog and what you are hoping to do there).

    Going back and re-reading your entry brings up an important point about blog reading. We can get overwhelmed by all of the information/ideas that we have access to. How can we manage our time and how can we possibly read everything that we want to carefully and critically? I wonder if it might be helpful in a class to build in days (or assignments) where students are required to go back and read past entries again and comment/reflect on them? I love how blogs enable you to mess with time and chronology. You can use them to structure your class and readings in non-linear ways. I think I might have my students do an assignment like this–where they have to pick a reading from a different week and read it again.

  4. KCF says:

    That’s a great idea! You know, as I was looking through my blog to see if I had posted a recipe that I often make or not I stumbled across this post that I did kind of try to do the whole “about me/LKC” positioning here. I’ll add it to the list of things I need to do after I’m done with everything else.

    I totally understand what you mean by being overwhelmed. Oftentimes I click through feminist blogs so much (because they link to others and I follow those links) that I often get lost and/or forget to go back to where I came from. I get so overwhelmed by the wealth of feminist writers out there that sometimes I have to just click out of the page because I’m realizing what started out as a quick five minute break from “thinking” has turned into a 30+ minute procrastination-fest.

    I like the idea of changing/playing with chronology. Kind of like what we’re doing here right? We’re having a conversation about “accessing the feminist self/selves” that I had originally posted over 10 days ago, but we’ve come back to revisit it. I’m really thinking that I want to have an assignment where students are asked to track one particular blog of their choosing throughout the semester that deals with these types of issues. That way, they can choose to explore more if they want or they could be really focused/pay attention to all that takes place over the course of a semester on one blog. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I would love to do that as an assignment myself…

  5. Madame Butterfly says:

    Sounds lovely! I just came back from mexico last month and find myself addicted to these incredible enchilada recipes now!! Must go back next year sometime, I suppose, and this time head off of the beaten path a little. Looking to reading more!