By “the Man” I really mean “the system,” but I thought the metonymy was apt since we’re talking about patriarchy and sexism.
I don’t have a helluva lot to say about these readings, not because they’re not important, but because I’m distracted by my Reading Lists, the ultimate mixed tapes of the Ph.D. student, who are calling out to me from behind every instance of “composition,” “pedagogy,” “rhetoric,” and “Internet” that I see. They demand to be added to. You’re right, Lauren: grad school is terribly hard, and what’s hard about it (for me) is that there’s just too much important stuff out there written.
The theme of today’s articles is that when we gleefully flee the subject positions our boring old biological bodies offer us and run to the Internet, we find many of the same old subject positions already there, waiting for us. This is because we can’t entirely escape our names (Romano), our bodies (Hawisher/Patricia Sullivan and Laura Sullivan), or our discourse practices (all three). As feminist and social constructivist teachers, though, we have to at least disrupt the status quo, hard as it may be. Romano puts this well:
Positioned institutionally as constructivists, as instigators of student writing, and as the parties responsible for assuring its value, teachers may wish to distinguish between virtual space and discursive space, taking action to assure an ample range of discursive positions for all students. The above ample excerpts demonstrate the delicacy of so doing – the small turns of phrase by which the instructor carefully, gingerly, makes offers to students of possible selves. Even so, he is not able to extricate himself from his connections to these selves and from his own responsibility for their being. (265-6)
Since we’ve all administered discussions with students – on- or offline – we all know how hard it is to invite students into other possible selves, especially on the fly. (I’m reminded, too, of our discussion on Tuesday about the bewildering speed of chat discussions.) Another complication, of course, is that students often don’t want to try out other selves; as Laura Sullivan notes, “In addition to structural changes, internal changes in both men and women will have to occur before cybersexism will disappear” (201). Which brings be back around to online spaces and their opportunities for new selves: between what these spaces do or don’t allow in terms of gendered identity construction, our commitment to challenging the status quo, our students’ willingness to try, and the larger cultural constraints working on everything/-one, revolutionizing gendered subject positions is fraught indeed.