Rational Creatures

We are a group of Women's and Gender Studies students at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington and we created this Tumblr to share with the interwebs our culminating project.

Inspired by Mary Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman," we rational creatures will share with you our work, our experiences and our musings.

Please enjoy and if you feel the need to reach out, send us fan mail, tell us how silly we are you can do all of that by emailing us at: rationalcreaturesmedia@gmail.com

Have a splendid time poking around this here tumblr and thanks for stopping by!
Click here to check out the Outline for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education that was developed in our capstone class. 
Whether you are a parent, student, or teacher, this outline can serve as a guide for comprehensive sex education!  

Click here to check out the Outline for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education that was developed in our capstone class. 

Whether you are a parent, student, or teacher, this outline can serve as a guide for comprehensive sex education!  

Doin’ It With the Lights On Interview: Kelsey 

Kelsey Johnston, a student at Pacific Lutheran University, discusses the changes that she would like to see in sexual education, including more discussion about gender, sexual orientation, and relationships.   

Doin’ It With the Lights On Interview: Paul

Paul Garcia, a student at Pacific Lutheran University, discusses his personal experience with sexual education and advocates for the changes he would like to see in sex education. 

Doin’ It With the Lights On Interview: Bethany

Bethany Petek, a student at Pacific Lutheran University, dispels sexual myths, discusses her personal experience with sex education, and advocates for the changes she would like to see in sex education. 

Doin’ It With the Lights On Interview: Jared and Kenny 

Jared Wright and Kenny Stancil, students at Pacific Lutheran University, discuss sex myths, their personal experiences with sexual health education, and what they think sexual health education should really look like. 

Ariel, Making Feminist Theory Accessible 

I think one of the most common misconceptions regarding feminist theory is that it is not accessible to “normal” people. And while there are certainly theorists who write incredibly complex theoretical works (*cough* Spivak *cough*), I wouldn’t want this to scare anyone away from diving into the wonderful world of feminist academia. In her essay “Theory as Liberatory Practice,” bell hooks writes that feminist “work deemed truly theoretical is work that is highly abstract, jargonistic, difficult to read, and containing obscure references.” This system of valuing, according to hooks, has led to works “written in a manner that renders [them] accessible to a broad reading public” to be “de-legitimized in academic settings.” However, as hooks claims, works that are written in “simple” language are often extremely effective in “enabl[ing] and promot[ing] feminist practice.”

Since my work at Scarleteen is textually-based, I have found myself thinking back to hooks quite a lot. I’m writing for an audience of young people — many of whom probably haven’t read Judith Butler or hooks yet — not a college professor. I have become so accustomed to writing for an academic audience that I’ve found it difficult to make the transition to conversational and more personal writing. I don’t need to throw complex theory at my readers in order to give them advice and resources for answering the questions they may have. That’s not going to be useful or effective. I can write important things that advocate, advance, and promote critical thinking about gender, sexuality, identity, and empowerment, and I can do it in a way that is accessible to a large group of people.

Karter,

The feminist theories that have had the biggest impact on my life are those  that are more apparent outside of the classroom then inside the halls of academia.  You can read things, you can absorb bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and the like and get your official feminist card* in the mail right away but if it doesn’t leave the classroom what good is it to you or the world?  I have found that my work, focusing in on youth political empowerment, is made better when I can bring the words of feminist writers alive in my actions.  

In particular, I find myself thinking about Audre Lorde’s call to reexamine our actions as either masters or liberators tools.  It has changed the way I approach my activism and helped me find conversations about feminist theory outside of the classroom or the non-profit office.

Is Lupe Fiasco’s song perfect?  Maybe not - but I don’t think feminist should write it off either.  But it engages folks in a conversation about feminist theory that would never feel welcome in a feminist theories classroom.  If we want feminist theories to really have a chance to change the world that’s what we need.  

Nina, Feminist Theory and Domestic Violence 

I work at a domestic violence resource center and the majority of our clients are women and children. Due to the nature of our work, feminist theory is implicit and necessary to all the work we do. As Kimberle Crenshaw notes in her paper Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color, “Over the last two decades, women have organized against the almost routine violence that shapes their lives. Drawing from the strength of shared experience, women have recognized that the political demands of millions speak more powerfully than the pleas of a few isolated voices.

This politicization in turn has transformed the way we understand violence against women. For example, battering and rape, once seen as private (family matters) and aberrational (errant sexual aggression), are now largely recognized as part of a “broad-scale system of domination that affects women as a class” (1241). As this suggests, often we are working in a system that is still often sexist, racist, and based in patriarchal and hierarchical structures. The laws and social systems, try as they might, are still a long way from perfect and as victim advocates we must also daily fight our own prejudices and experiences.

Working in domestic violence in particular highlights the multiple layers of oppression that many of our clients face due to their class, race, religion, and of course gender. We often do trainings to specifically address these concerns. For example, I recently took an online course in Language Access and the concerns of women that might also be oppressed or limited by their immigration status. A woman who doesn’t speak English and doesn’t have citizenship has a particularly difficult time escaping domestic violence and it is our job as advocates to be sure they have access to quality interpreters, resources and that we gain or have some knowledge of their culture and how that might impact their decisions and they ways in which we support and advocate for them. There is rarely a simple case and each individual client’s concerns need to be addressed in order to properly advocate for him or her. I say advocate and not help because our job is not to serve as the “rescuer” and thereby placing the clients in the position of “victim” but to empower them to make decisions about their lives. We are here to advocate for their needs and desires and to be sure they have all the information and access to resources in order to make the best choice for themselves.

Finally we also work to incorporate a strong sense of community and equality at the center. Although there is a system of hierarchy in supervision all of the people working there are treated equally with respect and dignity. Often as and intern I have marveled at the ways older and much more experienced advocates are willing to hear my input as well as offering me advice and support. The things the advocates and other workers do are very intentionally based in feminist theories even if not expressly presented that way and they are constantly looking for new ways to evolve or better serve the community and self assess. It really is amazing to see feminist pedagogy alive in the world and doing such important work.

Selina, Intersections of Theory and Practice
“The value of a feminist work should not be determined by whether or not it conforms to academic standards.”  - bell hooks
In her book Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, revolutionary author and social activist bell hooks writes about the underlying struggle between theory and practice within feminist movement. She notes that often women engaged in feminist practice do not see theory as a relevant part of feminist movement, while many feminist theorists develop ideas that have little or no relation to the lived experiences of most women. For hooks, feminist movement must strike a balance between theory and practice—those engaging in feminist practice must value and engage in feminist theory and feminist academics must make theory more accessible to the masses.
Much like hooks, I find value in both theory and practice; I strive for my work both inside and outside of the classroom reflect a balance between these two important aspects of feminist movement. My work at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, in particular, requires both theory and practice. While working in an organization that promotes access to reproductive and sexual health services for all women and men, feminist theory can help explain the historical, social, and economic factors that affect access to reproductive and sexual health services. On the other hand, feminist practice reflects the lived experiences of women and men who have been denied access to reproductive and sexual freedom. Together, feminist theory and practice can be used to increase access for all individuals to the reproductive services that they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

Selina, Intersections of Theory and Practice

“The value of a feminist work should not be determined by whether or not it conforms to academic standards.”  - bell hooks

In her book Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, revolutionary author and social activist bell hooks writes about the underlying struggle between theory and practice within feminist movement. She notes that often women engaged in feminist practice do not see theory as a relevant part of feminist movement, while many feminist theorists develop ideas that have little or no relation to the lived experiences of most women. For hooks, feminist movement must strike a balance between theory and practice—those engaging in feminist practice must value and engage in feminist theory and feminist academics must make theory more accessible to the masses.

Much like hooks, I find value in both theory and practice; I strive for my work both inside and outside of the classroom reflect a balance between these two important aspects of feminist movement. My work at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, in particular, requires both theory and practice. While working in an organization that promotes access to reproductive and sexual health services for all women and men, feminist theory can help explain the historical, social, and economic factors that affect access to reproductive and sexual health services. On the other hand, feminist practice reflects the lived experiences of women and men who have been denied access to reproductive and sexual freedom. Together, feminist theory and practice can be used to increase access for all individuals to the reproductive services that they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

At my internship I mostly see the unhealthiest relationships, the ones that have ended in abuse. The unfortunate thing about this is a lot of women and men who end up as abusers or victims of abuse have themselves been abused or raised in abusive homes. There is a distinctly disturbing cyclical pattern to abuse. I firmly believe if there was more intervention in young children’s lives to educate them about what healthy relationships look like and how to have sex and relationships in respectful and smart ways that there would be far fewer clients for our center. No one talks about what is ok and not ok in relationships. Kids introduction and education often is only that which they witness in their own home and the things they see on television or hear in the music they listen to. The lessons learned from the media are often distinctly gendered, sexist, racist, classist and often extremely poor role models for what a healthy adult relationship should look like. And while some kids are lucky to have good examples at home many kids do not have the same good fortune. If all they hear at school is the biology of being human (and also an often very heterosexist, gendered version at that) then where on earth are they supposed to get the tools to deal with the tricky problems and risks that come from intimate relationships? We need to stop sending our children into such a complex and dangerous realm with inaccurate knowledge.  Not talking about sex and relationships doesn’t protect our kids it makes them more vulnerable to disease, hurt, rape, unwanted pregnancy, and abuse. It’s time for us to take responsibility and to address the realities of the world that we live in so that the kids that grow into adults can have  half a chance at making things better.