Book-Text-Read-Zines · Philosophy · Theory

A Carefully Crafted F**k You: Nathan Schneider interviews Judith Butler

Judith Butler’s philosophy is an assault on common sense, on the atrophy of thinking. It untangles not only how ideas compel us to action, but how unexamined action leaves us with unexamined ideas—and, then, disastrous politics. Her work over the last few years has been devoted to challenging the Bush/Cheney-era torpor that came over would-be dissenters in the face of two wars and an acquiescent electorate. She does so not with policy prescriptions or electoral tactics, but with an analysis of the habits of thinking and doing that stand behind them. It is in response to the suffering of others, she insists, of innocent victims in particular, that we must come to terms with the world as it is and act in it.

Butler is, at University of California at Berkeley, Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature. Her reputation is secure as the most important theorist of gender in the last quarter century, thanks to books like Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (1993). The thrust of her contribution is to destabilize—to queer—identity by disentangling the fragile performances that give rise to it. Whether in gender politics or geopolitics, her analysis shows how failing to grasp these sources of identity blinds us to the common humanity of others.

Excerpt from Nathan Schneider’s interview via Guernica. Continue HERE

Human-ities · Social/Politics

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All

It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.

Eighteen months into my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other—or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me. And the previous spring I had received several urgent phone calls—invariably on the day of an important meeting—that required me to take the first train from Washington, D.C., where I worked, back to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his 12-year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.

Excerpt from an article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, The Atlantic. Continue HERE

Architectonic · Design · Human-ities · Social/Politics

Infographic: Women in Architecture

Via Archdaily

Art/Aesthetics · Human-ities · Philosophy · Social/Politics · Theory

Why is feminism out of fashion in contemporary art?

High-profile exhibitions on surrealism and abstract expressionism rarely resurrect debates about the validity of Freudian psychoanalytic theory or Clement Greenberg’s rejection of representation. So it might be germane to ask why the current resurgence of institutional, critical and media attention on feminist art has sparked impassioned discussions about the relevance of feminism in today’s allegedly “post-feminist” art world?

The answer is not only because women of all generations remain conflicted about feminism, but because art is arguably the most appropriate medium to represent feminism’s complex history, meaning and purpose. As the best of the recent feminist art survey shows demonstrate, “feminism” is far from a fixed term. Putting aside feminist theory’s distracting obsession with semantics, the term still encompasses too many and too varied ideological factions, political agendas, identities and histories to fit any single definition that is not troublingly essentialist, reductivist or vague.

One proof of gender equality might be that the feminist movement’s history has played out like other revolutions by splintering into a host of militant and mutually antagonistic subgroups. Yet in spite of divisiveness within the active feminism movement, the revolution’s salient principle – that women are intelligent, capable people – has saturated our culture at large to the point of being taken for granted.

Written by Ana Finel Honigman at The Guardian. Continue HERE

Image above: Art work by the Guerilla Girls. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi

Film/Video/New Media · Human-ities · Performativity · Technology · Theory

Robot Women & Film: The Bad Girl ‘Bots

I was now about to form another being of whose disposition I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness…and she…might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation…She might also turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man…trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged… I left the room, and locking the door, made a solemn vow in my own heart to never resume my labours (Mary Shelly – Frankenstein, 1818)

From the earliest days of film, story tellers have been fascinated with the image of the mechanical woman. Maria, the dark and destructive fembot of Metropolis (1927) requires little introduction and has thoroughly captured the cultural imaginary.

We may say that Maria is the prototype of all “bad girl robots” who follow her. Bad girl ‘bots seem to be pathologically preoccupied with the destruction of humanity and this remains a dominant character trait of robot women in film. Unlike her male counterpart (i.e. Bionic Man; Dekkard; Robo Cop; etc.), she is seldom charged with keeping/restoring order on behalf of the State. And if she is, she inevitably malfunctions or rebels (or both).

Andreas Huyssen argues that technology represented as female monstrosity or maschinenmensch emerged at the turn of the 18th century as the literary imagination appropriated the image of the human-like automaton, popularized during the 17th and early 18th century, and transformed it from the symbol of Enlightenment, “testimony to the genius of mechanical invention,” to an image of terror and “threat to human life” that is so familiar to us today.

Blade Runner’s (1982) Pris and Zhora are bad girl ‘bots in that one is a mercenary and the other a “basic pleasure bot” (prostitute: but without pay) who defy rules concerning replicant (cyborg) autonomy.

Contemporary films like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), continue this trend with such memorable female machines as the TX.

All text by Glenda Shaw Garlock from Intimate Machines

Relevant Info:

Push Comes to Shove: New Images of Aggressive Women by Maud Lavin (interview).

Architectonic · Games/Play · Human-ities · Performativity

A new Lego line for girls is offensive, critics say.

Lego toys have always seemed pleasantly gender-neutral. Perhaps that’s why the new Lego Friends line for girls has triggered a fair bit of protest from some health and equal-rights organizations.

The new line, whose characters sport slim figures and stylish clothes, will contribute to gender stereotyping that promotes body dissatisfaction in girls, said Carolyn Costin, an eating disorders specialist and founder of the Monte Nido Treatment Center in Malibu.

Online petitions have been started to protest the line, which includes a Butterfly Beauty Shop and a Your Fashion Designer Workshop. The International Assn. of Eating Disorder Professionals said the toys were “devoid of imagination and promote overt forms of sexism.”

Written by Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times. Continue HERE

LEGO Group commentary on attracting more girls to construction play