Archives for posts with tag: Donna Haraway

Today, I watched the 1964 TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with friends who enjoy the “innocence” and apple spice of Christmas just as much as I do. It’s been awhile since I’ve watched any of these specials, but I knew I was avoiding these shows for a reason…(drum roll)……… gender studies (cue dramatic secret-has-been-revealed music). For these Christmas specials and other things I used to enjoy as a young and ignorant adult, gender studies has crushed. But don’t worry, I’m still in love with hir.

This week, in the crushing realities a gender studies major has learned and applied to media, is the subject of the inappropriate/d. In Donna Haraway’s text, “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others”, the subject of non-normative people and beings is discussed. Currently, and for most of written history, the “other” has become one that needs to be fixed and/or completely erased from society. Haraway shows that society replicates itself, and therefore never changes; no difference is visible. The differences that an “unintelligible” person may possess should be seen as differences, and not as problems, according to Haraway. Because these people are not intelligible, they become inappropriated within the context that they exist. She argues against the stasis of existence within a society, and instead suggests that the focus and acceptance of difference be introduced.

In Rudolph, the main character Rudolph, his friend Hermey the elf who wants to be a dentist, and The Island of Misfit Toys are viewed in the common theme of the misfit. Rudolph’s red nose makes him stand out. Even though it is only a cosmetic difference between himself and the other reindeer, they still wouldn’t let him play in any reindeer games (like Monopoly, lolz).  His father even attempted to cover the bright nose by placing a fake black one over it, but once the others discovered it, Rudolph decided to run away from the reindeer who could not read him. Hermey becomes inappropriated by the other elves when he announces his desires to become a dentist instead of a toy-maker. The head elf scolds him, and this prompts Hermey to run away as well. Rudolph and Hermey find each other, and decide to become unintelligible together, when they run into Yukon Cornelius, the greedy prospector who claims to own the North Pole. They all run away from the Abominable Snowman and find the Island of Misfit Toys. Rudolph and Hermey learn of all these others who have become unintelligble and therefore useless to their societies, and come to the only place where they can be understood. Their differences are recognized, and they bond through this.

There’s more plot and blah blah blah, and now we are at the moment. One foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say (ho ho ho), “Rudolph, with your inappropriated nose so bright, won’t you put yourself to use now and guide my sleigh tonight, even though I was an asshole before I needed you?” And everyone cheers; Hermey is allowed to become a dentist, and the misfit toys find homes. Although everyone is recognized and accepted for their differences, as Haraway suggests should happen in societies, the misfits are only still intelligible when the context has changed. Rudolph is only intelligible and appropriated once there is a use for his bright red nose, and the rest of the misfits’ “acceptance” follows only because of the guideline the story must follow to be successful with audiences. Rudolph went down in history, as an example of the inappropriated other who only becomes intelligible when put to good use. If only Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen had taken Gender Studies 101 instead of reindeer games.

-Eleanor Stevenson

When we read and discussed Donna Haraway’s The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropraite/d Others and discussed it I was very much interested in the idea of inappropriated others.  It is very clear how this term relates to gender because a not being heterosexual or dis-identifying with the gender they are “supposed” to identify with makes some people uncomfortable.  Therefore, people who are not seen as “normal” are considered others who cannot fit into society.  This lack of acceptance is incredibly common and is something that it seems we all must deal with because that is how people are.  But as I thought about it more I realized that if people are taught at a young age to be more accepting than this idea of an “inapropriated other” would be less prominent.


            When I was in middle school my parents had me attend a tiny private Quaker school in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina.  I didn’t enjoy this school when I went there, but looking back on my time there I realize that there were a few amazing things about this school that other schools just didn’t have. 


Let me explain.


            During my 6th grade year a boy named Spencer visited the school for a day to see if he would like to attend the next year.  This at first seemed to have no meaning because several kids visited our school each year, and most were eventually forgotten about.  Spencer was one of these kids.  For my 7th grade year a few new students came to the school, including a 6th grade girl named Spencer.  Because my middle school was so small, everyone knew everyone, and everyone noticed when someone was not there.  One day Spencer did not show up to school, and on that same day the entire school was called for a meeting.  The teacher sat the students in a large room and told us that Spencer was not at school that day because she wanted the teachers to tell us something.  She wanted us to know that she was transgendered.  The teachers reminded us of the boy Spencer that visited the school the previous year and how she told her parents that she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.  One student asked why Spencer wanted the teachers to tell us this, and one responded by saying that Spencer didn’t want to lie and did not want someone to find out and be surprised.  Another teacher responded to that by saying “and I think that’s very cool.”  We were then told that we should try to make Spencer as comfortable as possible, and that some changes would be made in order to do so.  One of the boy’s bathrooms at school was changed to a unisex bathroom and the teachers asked everyone to try to use that restroom sometimes to make Spencer more comfortable.


            Based on how cruel I’ve seen people be about others being transgendered, I would have thought that the kids in my school would have shown Spencer the same cruelty, but we all immediately accepted her just like our teachers had hoped me would.  Almost all of the students used the unisex bathroom, people started calling Spencer “Spencie” because she thought it sounded more like a girl’s name, and the girls in her grade always invited her to all girls sleepovers.  Spencie was one of the girls despite her genitalia.


            This story makes me realized that intolerance is something we are taught by people that have already been taught to be intolerant themselves.  As people we really can be quite accepting.  We just need to start early.


Megan Taub

ImageAfter watching the Vandana Shiva video shown in class and reading Donna Haraway’s piece, “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate(d) Others”,  I understand the separation between nature and society Haraway talks about.

In the video, Vandana Shiva explains how she grows seeds on an organic farm and keeps them alive through the changing environment. She compares this to the industrial agriculture methods used by major corporations.  In my Human Biology class this semester, we have learned a lot about food production by major corporations and genetically modified foods, GMI’s.

My personal opinion on GMI foods is that they are unnecessary and that the natural environment supplies us with enough diversity in food, that we do not need to mess with the genes of our crops to produce new variations of them.  This idea relates to Haraway’s separation of nature and society.  Nature is all that is natural and not man-made.  Society is everything brought on by industry….buildings, cars, clothing, and all society has created.  Although the two, nature and society are not working in opposition to each other, they are clearly distinct, separate things. Thinking of the two this way, does one work for the other?

Does nature exist for society to build on?  In the video, Shiva argues that there is enough variety on earth, no other plants need to be created, but does that mean that although humans have evolved enough intelligence to create new crops that they shouldn’t? What are the boundaries? Is nature here for society, people, to work with and use to their advantage, or should people know when to stop and allow nature to be what it is and work with what it provides?

Maybe people should shift their focus from growth of the environment to interaction with the environment.  Instead of trying to change nature and develop new things such as GMI’s, we should learn to work with nature and explore all it has to offer.

Alexandra Fath

We as society look at people who are different than the norm as monsters.  We have created a society where people feel obligated to get surgeries or take drugs to change their appearance to better fit society.

In the article, Haraway says that we, as a societal whole, feel the entitlement to be able to act like God in certain situations. For example, parents may choose, without insight into their newborn child’s best interests, to determine the sex of their naturally intersex child at the time of birth, without giving the child a chance to decide for him or herself. It is not a parental right, or a human right, to be able to disregard the will of the Creator and natural genetics and choose the sex of a child without regard to the intersex individual’s interest. These intersex individuals may also face being looked upon by society as monstrous inappropriated others.

Haraway felt that we look at “inappropriated others” as monsters or different as well.  We also think that they live in different worlds and cannot possibly live the same life we do.  But in all reality, they are just like us and there is not anything wrong with them. They are not deficient, nor do they deserve being put into a separate class in society.


Jessica Plunkitt

After reading the Donna Haraway article “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropraite/d Others” and talking about it in class I started to think about how we have started to try to be Gods. By we I am meaning society. We come up with all kinds of medicines to prolong life which has more side effects then you want to know. We have flu shots that seem to always make me sick after getting but is to help prevent the flu. The worse is all these drugs we end up getting immuned to and need more powerful drugs to help. For instance I have a really bad asthma and to keep me alive I must have an albuterol inhaler. Well since I have been taking this sine I was an infant I am now immuned and I have to also take a preventative that has steroids in it every day just to help make the albuterol to work and who knows what they will do once I get immuned to that medicine. So with medicine we are constantly trying to make new medicine to help the other medicine. After thinking about this I started to think about how not only are we acting like Gods in the fact we make medicine to keep us alive but we also act like Gods when it comes to having children.

When I was 18 I was told I had Endometriosis and that there is a chance down the road if not taken care of I may not be able to have children. They told me that it was ok though because there were other options like adopting or in vitro fertilization. Since then I will thank about what if I can’t get pregnant and while sitting in class I thought about how easy it is for doctors to sit there and give you the option of in vitro fertilization, I mean yes it sound amazing to be able to have kids to have an option if I can’t, but in order to go through this process you have to stick yourself with needles and take medication to try to have the baby and pregnancy itself is hard lets add drugs to it to help you feel more like crap. Then there is the chance of having multiples that you may not be able to afford. Not every going through this process I decided to look up peoples experiences and I ran across a video blog that this woman made about her pregnancy. She talked about how happy she was to lower some of the medication she was taking and I was thinking man what happened to a normal birth, one where you didn’t have to take all kinds of medications one that was natural. This women sits her and talks about morning sickness which is normal but then starts talking about medication she has to take and the side effects and the fear of her not having the baby in the end. To think all the power of you having a child is not in the hands of nature but the hands of science. Even up to when you actually deliver you’re in a hospital with IVs, hospital noises, and equipment. What happened to the natural birth that my grandma had one where you had a midwife who stayed by your side and made it a stress free time in your own home?

As a side note the best part of this whole video is when the women takes you to the babies room where she shows you the baby cloths and she bought both blue and pink clothing cause she doesn’t know what sex it is. All of what we talked about in this class about gender popped in my head at this point and it made me think wait until they can choose the gender for you so you don’t have this dilemma.

~Kielly Perkins~

In her article “The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others,” Donna Haraway briefly addresses the Human Genome Project.  Haraway argues that while the HGP claims its aim is to gain an absolute understanding of natural processes in the human body, it is in effect obtaining the means to also modify and/or control these processes, possibly for eugenics purposes.  This gain in knowledge on how certain biological and natural processes operate, has in fact, historically led to oppression and control over reproductive capacities for specific disadvantaged populations, namely African American women.  When it was first discovered and produced, birth control pills were not initially a solution to hindering some yesteryear version of “16 and Pregnant.”  On the contrary, birth control was used as a solution to keep black women from having too many children.  It was thought, by white, privileged society, that those damn black folks were having too many kids ::sarcasm::.  But they really did think that.  Damn it, they even convinced some black people it was a good idea.  They were poor after all.  Why should poor people have more babies?  They shouldn’t have any say over their own bodies because they chose to be poor!  Right?  Right?  Wrong.  Didn’t anyone stop to think that a history of extreme racism and sexism had an enormous impact on the disadvantageous financial outcomes for black women?  And that societal moves to control natural processes in black women’s bodies was  necessarily a way to ensure white power and a black minority?  I guess some people probably did.  But it was just really disappointing for me to learn about the racist and sexist history of birth control pills.  I’ve been on them for 5 years and I swear they saved my life.  My period used to leave my incapacitated for several days out of the month, but my pill changed that.  It also somehow managed to remove a plum-sized cyst from my right ovary.  I love the pill.  But I hate its history.

-Stephanie Halsted