National Women's Studies Association

I'm in St. Charles, IL, at the National Women's Studies Association Conference with such famous people as Deborah Siegel, Jessica Valenti, and Courtney Martin. I'm also hanging out with a fabulous cohort of WGS program directors from around the country, like Astrid Henry, Karlyn Crowley, and Ann Braithwaite (who's actually from Canada, but I think Biffle might be willing to relax his "I hate Canadians" stance for her sake).

I've been thinking a lot about feminist governance. Karlyn suggests that someone in Political Science needs to use NWSA as a model--perhaps a model of failure. Sitting through meetings with a room full of academics, each of whom wants to have her say and believes that her perspective makes a necessary contribution to the conversation, even if she's just repeating what other people have said--well, it's made me feel a little cynical about democracy. During one such meeting, Karlyn passed me a note that said "Hysterectomy or Democracy?" with check boxes. I checked Hysterectomy. Then she sent it back with "Feminist singing with guitar and drum or Democracy?" Feminist singing won, but not by much. Then I sent it back with "Hearing people talk vs. Gnawing my own leg off," and very soon I checked "Gnawing my own leg off."

Karlyn asks, "Is effective feminist democracy impossible since we're all trained to undermine and question leadership?"


claire said...

a word in favor of democracy -- no one ever said it would be anything other than messy, inconvenient or ineffecient. Surely much of life is about wanting to gnaw your own limbs off -- and it is a good source of protein to boot (something you are sorely lacking -- even with the addition of half a veggie wrap). The best antidote to democracy either seems to be massive amounts of mindless violence -- or good food and stimulating conversation with a small group of people who have no need to get anything particular done.

Conseula said...

Questioning leadership doesn't mean democracy isn't working. I say it's working best when we are all questioning and undermining--that keeps the leadership on its toes.

The Mom said...

Listen to your friends! And good nutrition will make you feel better both physically and emotionally. Didn't your mother teach you that?? :-) See you soon!

Kimmy Cat said...

As somebody who knew Karlyn Crowley way back when she was passing notes during the worst Dreiser lectures on the face of the earth (that is, during grad school), I'm glad to know that she is still as naughty as ever. And my question is, aren't naughty feminists the most democratic of all?