Some Final Thoughts on the 2018 #FemGeniusesinBerlin

IMG_8271It’s been a while since I contributed to “Some Final Thoughts.” So, bear with me, please, as I shake some of the rust off.

Despite earning tenure and promotion to Associate Professor this spring, this year had its rough spots—some worse than others, especially the death of one of my closest aunts. Because of that, a few people—some who I thought were close to me and others who I knew weren’t—recommended that I cancel this course. In some strange way, I’m glad they did, because it reminded me of two very important things:

  1. A lot of people who compliment me on this course have no idea what it is, what it does, and/or what it means—not just to me but to my students and my friends and comrades in Berlin.
  2. This course means a lot to me and my students and my friends and comrades in Berlin.

My faith in the course was rewarded by a great group of students. They were thoughtful, kind, patient, interested, curious, and outright hilarious. I had so much fun with them, and I miss them already even though it’s only been one week since the course concluded. I could fill this page with memories:

  1. Charles declaring, “Those two left at the same time.”
  2. Me and Charles, singing, “If you liked it, you shoulda put a ring on it.”
  3. Laila’s hilarious faces and hand gestures—I wish I could type the sound she made to complement her monster face and hands.
  4. Dana’s and my “cheese fight.”
  5. Our first long-distance trip in the course.
  6. Izzy’s visit.
  7. The constant references to John’s future run for Senate.
  8. Sarah’s broad-shouldered dinner jacket.
  9. The search for mom jeans and the finding of a pair “in pristine condition.”
  10. Dereka’s new nose ring.

And as always, we had such a great time with and learned so much from everyone in Berlin who gave their time and energy to the course. Best of all, I think everyone knew just how much we appreciated them, because these students made every effort to ensure that from start to finish. If you haven’t yet, please check out the student podcasts (index below) and share them with anyone you know who may be interested in what we study here.

2018 FemGeniuses in Berlin Podcast Index:
Click here to view a slideshow, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to see more pictures and videos!

Jewish History & Culture Walking Tour and the Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand” by Noah Shuster
ReachOut Berlin” by Madi Doerre
Examining German Colonialism” by John B. Capers, Jr.
Joliba Interkulturelles Netzwerk” by Laila Marshall
Romanja Power and Cultural Preservation at the RomaniPhen Feminist Archive” by Anna Wermuth
Talking Feminisms on Reboot.FM” by Sarah Leve
1968 and The Berlin Wall” by Abby Williams
Initiative in Memory of Oury Jalloh” by Charles Meyer
The Queer Berlin Walking Tour and Visit to the Schwules* Museum” by Dereka Thomas
LesMigraS” by Diana Muñoz
Street Art & Graffiti Walking Tour and the Urban Nation Museum” by Zoë Frolik

To read and/or listen to the finales and view the indices and slideshows for previous FemGeniuses in Berlin, click here

Animal Rights and Misogyny: The Problem with PETA Advertisements

original-print“In recent advertisements, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has released intensely grotesque images of women, hoping to stop animal cruelty. In the process of dehumanizing female figures in their ads, PETA contributes to the normalized misogyny of image-based advertising, and thereby fails to fulfill a humane approach to animal rights. By examining PETA’s advertisements through an ecofeminist lens, we show how the organization contradicts their own claim that animals deserve to be treated with respect, by implying that women do not deserve the same.”
—Katie Lawrie, Lauren Milliet, Anna Wermuth, and Willis Zetter (Block 4 2016)

“The severing of the female body in the print ad corresponds to what Jane Caputi calls ‘symbolic dismemberment’ in ‘The Pornography of Everyday Life.’ In this case, the dismemberment is more literal than symbolic: it plays on the “male sexual objectification, and possession unto death of both women and the Earth’s substances” (Caputi 379). The symbolic aim of the advertisement appears misguided and confused—while it associates the harm and mutilation of non-human animals with images of an abused and dismembered female body, it does so in a way that aims to shock and arouse the (presumably male) viewer rather than educate him.”

“To suggest that these women enjoy more pleasurable sexual encounters is one thing, but to source that pleasure from vegetarianism and the use of vegetables as sexual objects is another. Ultimately, the commercial fails to communicate anything legitimate about the relevant environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet. It only perpetuates hegemonic standards of sexuality, and emphasizes the marketability of the sexy female body. In doing so, PETA degrades women to a commodified status like that of animals, and thereby effectively dehumanizes them.”

new-print“Resisting PETA in the actual sphere of advertising might look like an ecofeminist-minded organization which campaigns for animal rights in a more just manner; therefore, we attempted to conceptualize such an entity. Even the abbreviation for our organization’s name, EFFWAR, is an allusion to anti-war and anti-violence principles adopted by feminists all over the world, and is a way for us to articulate a rejection of the problematic violence seen in PETA’s advertising.”

“In today’s culture, advertising companies feed off the new and rising consumerism, or an undeniable need to ‘keep up.’ Due to this social comparison and manifestation in the bigger, better, and faster products, advertising companies prey on the ethos of viewers instead of logos. Therefore, our new company targets the critical thinking of viewers by using a helpful and informational narrative to stand out in an advertising world dominated usually by the objectification of women in flashy, sped up images.”