Welcome to the introduction of Fresno’s Feminist Blog! I hope you’ll excuse my lengthy introduction, but I prefer to use my online handle: Sighborg Shepherd. Yes, it’s an alias I created as a sort of shout-out to my fellow forward-looking Fresno City folk. This is a playful pun consisting of one part empathetic “sigh” to acknowledge a certain shared apathy us Fresnans can all relate to if we’re being honest, one part “(cy)borg” myth wherein we imagine ourselves as both “potent fusions and dangerous possibilities” described by Donna Haraway in a “Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” and, finally, one part “shepherd” in which I offer my knowledge as a queer feminist health-care professional raised in the Valley to provide a little bit of a focus.
I am so privileged to have been asked to contribute to Gay Central Valley’s online community. Back in December, I started hosting book club meetings at the LGBT center’s new location here in Fresno. I’ve been running this book club for four years now, and I’m always looking for fresh ideas for new literature or different projects to look at. In line with feminist ideology, the club isn’t about trying to have one person dictate the rules of the group. I love dynamic interactions and different viewpoints! One of my favorite memories in the whole world was talking about feminist perspectives in the Women’s Studies Lounge back at my alma mater, San Francisco State. With this group, I am always trying to facilitate an environment a little like that here.
In four years, members have come and gone, but the goal has always been the same. We get together to share personal perspectives on the works of feminist authors, or literature with feminist undertones, themes, characters, or authors whose names have been associated with the movement. Some of the authors we’ve covered include: bell hooks, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Leslie Feinberg, Marge Piercy, Ursula K. Le Guin, Stieg Larsson, and others. Personally, I was educated on how to look at things through an intersectional feminist lens. Intersectionality is a framework that allows us to examine the multiple ways our identities intersect and inform the kinds of oppressions we face as individuals. As feminist writer and poet Audre Lorde once said, “we do not live single-issue lives.” That is precisely the kind of attitude I bring with me in choosing my next book. I want theoretical devices like those used in fictional literature to enrich my understanding of who I am, how I relate to others, and how I can be a force for positive change.
With every upcoming book club meeting, I will blog my interpretation of the work and ask questions about the work for fellow readers to consider. This is just to prompt discussion. I am not sure how comments on the blog will work yet, but I will be updating news about the blog on our Facebook site. If you are not familiar with our group, we meet either monthly or every other month on the second Sunday of the month. The time changes occasionally, but all the information about upcoming meetings is featured on the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/fresnosfeministbookclub/).
Thank you for reading up on and participating with Fresno’s Feminist Book Club!