Most of my journaling for this class has already been posted here, in Collie's Bestiary. However, in perusing the syllabus for this class, I re-read that the journal is supposed to consist, amongst other things, of "any other personal observations or revelations which may occur. Entries might include observations about the community work and her reflections and reactions to it: successes and celebrations as well as frustrations, complaints, and longings unfulfilled" (2).

My current response to this class occurs in basically two parts: my reactions to the readings, and to the volunteer work. The readings have been amazing and thought-provoking, to the point that I have a wild jumble of beautiful, exciting ideas that I want to actually do or internally integrate, all tangled up in my head. I suspect I'm going to have to write out a sort of "order of go" on my thoughts so that I can at least organize them a bit — they're far too fascinating to not use in my dissertation, and I don't want to lose them.

By this point in my learning I find myself determined to make sure my dissertation is (hopefully) as socially useful as it is well-researched and -written. I would like that to be a goal for all my future writing, in fact (and which I hope to do a great deal of): to create stories which are both beautiful and symbolic, but also chock-full of inspiring ideas that are actually useful in helping the world to become a better place. I am incredibly impressed with how Wangari Maathai took a simple, useful object – a tree — and transformed it into an astonishing symbol of so many wonderful things: self-sufficiency, living gently upon the earth, ecological farsightedness, feminist empowerment, refusing damaging corporatism… I would love to learn from her experience in offering something powerfully symbolic that is equally useful and empowering for women and men in (at least initially) my own country.

I believe Boggs very much has the right of it: it is a waste of our time and money to look to those in power to free the oppressed. Logically it is absurd to expect the high-ranking within the status quo to change the world, for the simple reason that those now in power achieved that power through mastering the rules of this damaging capitalist/androcentric game. Even if they started with the very best of intentions, why would they wish to tear down the source of their current power? Further, I think ethically and emotionally we are stronger when we choose to work together as a community to help improve life. We should look to ourselves to figure out ways to change the system from the bottom up, even if we end up borrowing financially or otherwise from the top in order to do so. As a student who can afford classes due to financial aid, it would be hypocritical of me to say otherwise!

One of the first and most important steps has got to be changing the educational system so that subjects such as these (community responsibility, horizontal power-with social structures, matrifocality, anti-consumerism, long-term ecological thinking, etc.) are actually taught and shared, generally discussed, and perhaps implemented — because social knowledge of alternatives is a critical step in creating a true paradigm shift within our society. I suspect once some of corporate America's rapaciousness is more socially exposed, and alternatives start to be circulated, that ridiculously pointless consumerism will start to fade.

Frankly, I'd also like to ensure that young women learn these fascinatingly useful and important subjects before they're as old as I am — I certainly wish I had. It is, I believe, the young women who will have the energy and dedication to create a better society. The least I can do, therefore, is to put out all my best thoughts for them to ruminate on and — if the ideas are good — implement.

Regarding the volunteer work (or rather, the complete lack thereof to date), initially I was simply frustrated at how I've not been able to make the connections I wished with the two women with whom I'd intended to volunteer — especially since both of them do work which I believe is incredibly important as well as neglected by this excessively capitalistic and patrifocal society. I still have hopes of being of use to them, since I'm in my planned "free" or catch-up week for this semester. If the packages arrive early enough in the week, I can simply put in a ton of hours of good work this week — maybe a few at the beginning of next week too — and get done what needs to be done.

Upon further consideration, however, I realize this is a rough example of what I find wrong with our society. I know that both the women I wish to work with are breathtakingly busy with research, classes, conventions, writing, and so on — and that's even before issues of having a family, eating and staying healthy, paying the bills, or keeping a clean living space.

How often must creative women struggle to make ends meet, let alone to even be heard at all within a society which deliberately handicaps them — and then expects them to agree this is all for their best interests? Women are regarded dubiously if they're not married and with kids, but they're also viewed with suspicion if they have kids but also a career. They're paid less than men for the same work, they're forced to struggle constantly simply for ownership of their own bodies, they're saddled with an astonishing social double-standard economically, relationally, emotionally, sexually, governmentally, historically, religiously… honestly, if we're so thoroughly believed to be Other, then it's clearly in our best interests to stop playing this game. Why are we still drinking this poisoned social Kool-Aid? How do we stop? I want to find the answers, and I want to share them so we all benefit — men as well as women, because this isn't good for them either.


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