Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The new/old consciousness rasing

I was recently passed along a link about a consciousness raising project called "A Feminist Tea Party" (link the the project is at the end of the post). It actually took me a while to wrap my head around the concept of this project that was started by Caitlin Rueter and Suzanne Stroebe. Without reading their description of what the project is, I immediately thought, "what kind of tea party are they actually talking about? The 50s kind where women sit and talk about weather and health? Or the Tea Party?" The first tea party made more sense because tea parties are considered very feminine but the second made sense for its political implications.
Rueter and Stroebe joined the two very different interpretations of tea party and this is how they explained their project:
"We wed two conceptions of a tea party: (1) the tea party as historical referent and site of political debate (think: the Boston Tea Party or the Beck/Palin “Tea Party”) with (2) the tea party as a gendered and highly-stylized ritual (think: 4 o’clock tea). Provoked by the Tea Party protests, our project recasts the “tea party” as a playful, progressive, inquisitive and inclusive space."
While I have never seen/took part in this "feminist tea party," I'm very interested by what it might imply about feminism being more acceptable when it is toned down or "feminized." This consciousness raising encourages discourse in a setting that is less intimidating and even slightly humorous, but I wonder if it suggests that people don't feel comfortable talking about feminism or taking part in it if it does not hold some characteristic of femininity.
Sure, feminism doesn't always have to be serious and I would probably enjoy a good consciousness raising in a very different/gendered kind of setting, I am just a little worried that if in real life, people won't take part in consciousness raising if it isn't in a setting that was not feminine.
To learn more about the Feminist Tea Party

-by Catherine Yeh

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