popular culture scrapbook “ entries .” remember W r i t i n g
This course will introduce you to a range of examples from popular culture, but they will necessarily only represent a very small fraction of what is out there. Consider this assignment your invitation to apply course readings, concepts, and materials to the popular culture that you consume. Any form of popular culture is welcome – please just post it in a form that we can access (e.g., a link to a youtube music video; a clip/scene from a TV show or film; or a screenshot of a tweet or meme). There is a “pinned” discussion board in which all students should post their popular culture scrapbook “entries.” Remember that you are required to post one during each of the 5 units. When you post, include an explanation of how it relates to a keyword from class and apply a direct quote/passage from a course reading to it.
Read Ivey, “Combatting Epistemic Violence with Islamic Feminism: Qahera v. FEMEN
Here is an outline of what we talked about:
With the Ivey reading, we continue our final unit, “seizing the medium to shift the message.” It is about how we can resist existing oppressive structure, re-imagine new kinds of possibility and building new futures through how we imagine these possibilities. In the last video, we imagined new possibilities through sonic layering – the example of sampling music from other justice-oriented forms of music-making and applying them to one’s own context. Today, we explore the keyword subversive, which refers to the intention to subvert – or disrupt – existing systems and institutions. In the case of this course, the intention would be to disrupt oppressive (sexist, racist, classist, ableist, heteronormative, etc.) systems and institutions.
We have two case studies here – both the group FEMEN, which uses naked protest as a strategy to subvert patriarchal norms – and the web comic Qahera, which critiques FEMEN for its Islamophobia. Though FEMEN claims to be feminist and subversive, it is not intersectional insofar as it uses anti-Muslim rhetoric and imagery in some of its protest strategies.
First, let’s take a look at FEMEN for context. We’ll watch this short video:
NEWSNIGHT: Inside the Femen boot camp:NEWSNIGHT: Inside the Femen boot camp (Links to an external site.)
[note, the video I wanted to show had been taken down/ it covered the question of how naked protest can be strategic in particular contexts.]
We need to understand the context of how FEMEN’s activism has included protests against Islam/ism for assumed oppression of women. One of the key assumptions is that the hijab is a symbol of oppression, because it forces women to cover.
To exemplify the idea of “portable seclusion,” you’ll take a look at the video: “10 Hours of Walking Through NYC as a Woman in a Hijab” in Activity 5.3.
All of this gives us some context for understanding Ivey’s argument (in your reading for today) that:
- “Qahera wears the hijab not to conceal her identity (as many superheroes do) but to project her identity. … By positioning Qahera as a Muslim/feminist superheroine, Mohamed directly combats what Spivak calls ‘epistemic violence’” (Ivey 384).
Though Femen issued a statement in defense of their protests targeting Islam, Ivey describes their protests as a form of “epistemic violence”: https://femen.org/femen-response-on-silencing-muslim-women-insinuation/ (Links to an external site.)
“Epistemic violence” is a phrase that describes how knowledge is connected to power, how knowledge is created and the authority that upholds it. In this way, “epistemic violence” can be connected to orientalism – a word that specifically described the ability to create knowledge about an entire (fabricated) region of the world, much of which is not based in the realities of the many cultures, religions, and contexts of it.
Finally, let’s look at Deena Mohammed’s response to FEMEN’s epistemic violence:
Combatting sexism/ first comic:
https://qaherathesuperhero.com/post/64031330049 (Links to an external site.)
Deena Mohammed’s Qahera comic on Femen in particular: https://qaherathesuperhero.com/post/61173083361