Monday, May 4, 2009

Being a Feminist

I wanted to use this blog to describe how I consider myself a feminist. I think I need reassurance that I’m doing what I need to do to be considered one because by this point I know what feminism is yet when I tell people I am one they’re always shocked. This leaves me with two options; 1- I am obviously doing something wrong or 2- feminism is still so completely misunderstood it’s unbelievable.

I stand up for what I believe in and am for the equal treatment of all people. I’m pro-life but I can understand reasons for pro-choice arguments. I do not think women are better than men, nor do I hate men. I think that women and men are better at various things and that these skills should be encouraged instead of chastised. I am for the betterment of society as long as it doesn’t sacrifice my ethical views, and I’m not opposed to change. I will and do voice my opinion when people are being unnecessarily rude or narrow-minded. I am empowered by myself and my role-models. I have career goals and want to have children.

That being said, I still consider myself a feminist. Actually, I would think most people would be feminists if they held similar lists, yet the term feminist still has such a negative connotation to it. When I explained to my boyfriend that I was a feminist he laughed and said that I couldn’t be because I didn’t burn my bra or hate men. This made me 1- seriously doubt his intelligence and 2- wonder why I was dating him. (I’m still with him- I know, I know…) But the challenge to educate people on what feminism truly is, is extremely challenging. Even empowered women that I know don’t consider themselves feminists when they hold the same views as the list above.

It’s interesting going through the women’s studies minor at SMC and realizing how much we’ve changed. Writing the “What is Feminism?” paper 3 times has given me an almost comical illustration of my development. Originally, I viewed feminism more of an extreme almost political stance. I didn’t think all feminists were man-haters, but I didn’t realize that bras hadn’t actually been burned. Obviously now I hold a much different view. Anyway, I’m going to continue to trust that I know what feminism is all about and confidently explain to others why I am one. I’ve received the funny, cynical, and skeptic looks but I am positive that I can make people see the light. It sounds super cheesy but as Saint Mary’s women I feel that we have an obligation to spread our intelligence around.

Music Lyrics

I would like to take this opportunity to rant about today’s music. I would have to say that overall it’s pretty gross, and while I’m no innocent, I’m beginning to understand why my mom didn’t let me have that one Eminem CD when I was in middle school.

Going out to the clubs and dancing is one of my favorite things to do. It’s fun and it’s not meant to be good, clean fun- well at least not at Fever. However, when I hear lyrics like “Do the Helen Keller and shut your lips” I want to find the writer and singer and slap them both. However catchy songs may be, the messages they send are really destructive. It’s hard to control obviously, and I wouldn’t want the government to regulate every little aspect of our culture, but where is the line drawn?! Aside from music, my mom was telling me about a new video game that’s on the shelves. Literally, the entire premise of the game is to rape people. How the heck does that get through the red tape?!

I’ve already touched on society and morals in this blog, but as I mature and begin to think about bringing little gingers into this world, I’m scared for their welfare. I can’t shelter them from everything, and I wouldn’t want to, but when you compare today to 20 years ago, and look at the differences in society, you can only imagine what another 10 years will bring to ours.

Intellectual Life

I’m pretty lucky in the fact that I have a group of friends (guys and girls) who enjoy debating various aspects of society. For this reason I would say that I get a pretty well-rounded education. I think college used to provide more of an intellectual life by definition because classes used to revolve around discussion instead of just lecture. I personally learn better through discussion and hands-on activity, but I know that with the college climate becoming more of a corporate model, class size doesn’t always allow for such things.

Being at Saint Mary’s I feel really lucky since I was able to get so much out of every class. Even my computer programming course- our professor would say a prayer/poem before every class. And believe me, that class required all the prayers possible- ick. But even so, everything seems so well-rounded here because it all kind of relates to each other. I may just think that way since I was in the IB program in school, but I can see the connections (and no, I’m not crazy).

Family Values

I am a HUGE believer in family time and values. I think promoting family is critical to developing children’s morals, education, social skills, and goals. Actually there are a lot more things I could add to that list as well.

In today’s society, I think we’ve lost touch with the family. Maybe that’s because I hold more traditional views as a Catholic, but I will always believe in family dinners and spending the holidays together. I was raised that way and I know, or at least consider myself, extremely lucky to have been given that gift by my parents. All sappiness aside, the facts are that kids who are ignored and abused are usually the ones who have problems dealing with school and society’s rules.

In a feminist POV, I really want to have a career and be able to continue it while my children are still young. This creates a pretty large rift in my family ideals and career aspirations. However, thanks to the joys of feminism I know I can pull off both. I’ll just need to find a man who will be aware enough to take on additional responsibilities

Racial Issues

Being a white-girl, the only time I’m really faced with a race issue is when it’s brought up in class or through friends. I’m going to take this time to rant a bit because my guy friends are completely ignorant on this issue for as much as I try to educate them otherwise.

When I first met my best friend’s boy friend I thought he was a complete racist. Whenever he opened his mouth something ridiculous would come out. Lauren (not her actual name) and I went to a townie bar in South Bend that was predominantly black. This was a HUGE issue because “obviously black men couldn’t be trusted and were always trying to rape white girls.” It’s almost embarrassing to publically state that I hang out with people like that, but they’re not all bad except for this one issue, as ludicrous as it is.

I continue to argue with them, almost on a daily basis, about racial issues. It’s frustrating because I can get them into a corner every time and make my point extremely clear, yet they go right back to the same stupid ideas. Like I said, it’s extremely frustrating, and while I like hanging out with these guys, I don’t want to sacrifice my reputation and ideals by being around them. It’s sort of like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Body Image

I have struggled with my body issues all of my life. It’s sad to think that 5 year olds are dieting today, but I can remember being aware that I was chubby when I was in 1st grade. At this point in my life I’m beginning to accept it for the way it is. I have the “ghetto booty” that’s not going anywhere and I’m ok with that. The extra pockets of pudge that refuse to budge are ok too, as long as I can camouflage them with clothes when the need arise.

As I get older, I’m realizing that the “perfect body” really is a figment of our imaginations. The fattest man in the world is still married, seemingly happily, and is even trying for children! I don’t know how that works but I prefer not to think about it. Anyway, I digress… What I’m getting at is that there’s someone out there for everyone, and in our obsession with getting to that size 2, (that would be one butt cheek for me) we fail to realize that that’s not who we truly are and trying to maintain that weight would keep us miserable and bitchy all the time.

Obviously I talk big- I still struggle with it and compare myself to the ridiculously beautiful people, but I have begun catching myself when I do it. The fact that I can catch myself and realize how silly it all is, is actually very comforting because it makes me see how much I’ve matured since being liberated at Saint Mary’s.

Gender Roles

My earliest experience that I can remember where I realized there were gender roles and that they would affect me was in 2nd grade. Aside from realizing the differences from girl and boy parts I had never been in a position to realize I wasn’t capable of doing anything the boys did. However, during recess on a hot and sunny day, I was told by a teacher that I wasn’t behaving like a lady by rough housing with the boys. Looking back on it today it makes me almost angry. What right does some little old lady, with her 1940’s ideals, have to tell a little girl she can’t play with the boys?

The reason I bring it up is because I’m preparing to enter the business world where it is still predominantly the “old-boys” club. I have been repeatedly told by my male friends that in order for me to make it I’ll probably have to go “the extra mile” and use my sexuality as a tool. It makes me sick to think that they still believe that this is the case or rather that I’d do something along those lines to get ahead. It proves that even in our seemingly “PC” society, views are just as tainted and narrow-minded as ever.

I’ll be playing with the boys every day, and you’d better believe that I’ll be keeping up.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Real vs. virtual old post

So I've been thinking alot about this whole virtual real and real self thing.  I wonder about myself now, how much of me is real and how much isn't?  What is it that I want people to know about my real self and my virtual self?  Where do they overlap?  I don't know it seems like we all have things to hide so does the real really exist?  I dont know.... it so confusing.  People in general are confusing and i feel like this just adds another demension of confusion.

old post.. Past and Racism

So today in class we were talking about racism and the question of past influence of past problems.  I in some ways believe that yes, it should be talked about but not used as a tool of "my brothers" or " my people".  I think it's great to know where someone came from to know how things have changed but the point of it was not you is very valid.  
Also i do believe that it is generational to pass racism but I also believe that it is also generational to NOT pass racism along.  If we start now trying to teach some form of  equality, just like all negativity it will eventually subside.  But also like all negativity and change it will take awhile.  It is also a regional thing.  I think it is more blatant racism in the south but more subtle when in the north.  That is a huge generalization but it really does depend on the region.
And this is the last thing i the confederate flag thing at Ole Miss today really bothered me.  This was mainly because it is simply a heritage thing it is not necessarily a racism thing.  I am from the south and my dad is from the south.  We are proud of that but because we have a few confederate flags and proudly have then elsewhere does not mean that we are racist or that it is a sign of racism.  And if I remember, it wasn't even the official flag of the confederacy.  So just because someone flies a confederate flag  does not mean that they are racist.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Heywood-Gallop Interview Responses

Lo & behold... They're just so damned brilliant!

Questions for Leslie Heywood
1. What does “memoir” mean to you? What does feminist mean to you?
A memoir is a genre of literary art that takes one specific time period in an individual’s life and tells the story relevant to that particular period, taking the details of a life and utilizing them to create an overall meaning or theme. A feminist is a person of any gender who believes that gender exists on a continuum instead of being divisible into stereotypes of feminine and masculine, and who is dedicated to social justice and equal opportunity for women everywhere.

2. Your voice changes throughout the memoir. Sometimes, you seem bold and assertive. At others, you’re utterly vulnerable. What message were you trying to convey through this shift in voice? Was it intentional?
I was trying to call attention to the contradictory messages about gender that were particularly strong in the post-Title IX era, but still exist to some extent today: the idea that if you have a female body, you are necessarily weaker than those with a male body, and can’t achieve as much physically, that if you’re an athlete you have to “apologize” for that by acting and looking stereotypically feminine, that women can achieve every bit as much as men, and are encouraged to do so to some extent, but they’d better be humble about it, and continually try to reassure others while they are doing so. The effect of these contradictory messages was to make teenaged girls feel like they had to both be better than the boys in order to be taken at all seriously, but at the same time that they had to apologize for their achievements so as not to be “intimidating.” Such messages contribute to a real sense of confusion—which is a girl supposed to be, bold and assertive or vulnerable and compliant? The message was always that if you are a girl, you have to be both, whereas boys are never asked to be the latter, only the former.

3. How do you think your memoir impacts young readers, especially young female athletes?
My hope has always been that it draws attention to the mixed messages, and shows how dangerous it is to try to always be all the things people want you to be. By the end of it, I hope it makes girls feel like it’s ok to be bold and assertive, and that you don’t have to run yourself into the ground to please others and be valued by them—that if you worry to much about pleasing them you WILL run yourself into the ground.

4. Why did you start running?
My mother was one of the early adopters of running in the early 1970’s, at the start of the running craze. I started running with her when I was four, and really liked the feel of it. Later, in school, I could always outrun the boys and was stronger than the boys and was really encouraged for this, got a lot of attention for this. So because that’s where I got approval, that’s where I put a lot of my effort in. I started competing in the 8th grade, did very well at many distances, and things just kind of picked up from there.

5. Do you have any advice on how one could balance running, feminism, and caring for the body?
Yes—do it, but within limits. You don’t have to prove yourself to the world over and over. I do think girls and women are culturally valued more in school settings than they were during the time the memoir was written, and although there is residual sexism, the idea of “girl power” has created an awareness of female value and solidarity we didn’t have. To be feminist is to value yourself and others, all others, and to put competition in the context not of overcoming others but performing at your best.

6. How has your self-discipline carried over into your adult, personal life, other than body building?
My sports training has given me wonderful career preparation, because I can work uninterrupted for very long periods of time and not lose focus. The goal-directedness of sports has translated very well into the academic life in that I am able to finish various tasks easily and often ahead of deadlines. Also I have a sense of fearlessness about tackling new projects I know I get from my sports background—it really did give me the sense I could do anything. I’m grateful for that background every day.

7. This semester, we also read Sandra Lipsitz Bem’s An Unconventional Family. How would you describe your family life? Your relationship with your partner? Your treatment of your children? Is it egalitarian? How has running and feminism shifted your understanding of family?
Now THIS is a tricky question. We definitely have a division of labor in the household, but it’s the opposite of the traditional one. My husband is a stay-at-home Dad, and does everything related to the care of the children, as well as most of the housework. I have the job, so I pay for everything. However, my husband is going back to school to get an Master of Library Science degree to become a children’s librarian once our children are both in school (they’re now 3 and 6), so I will do more of the childcare than I do now once that happens, and the money from his job will hopefully pay for our retirement and their college!! So that’s the plan. It seems egalitarian to us, and we’ve been very happy doing things this way. I think my athletic background, and my feminism, made it very important to me that I didn’t do things the traditional way, and I was lucky enough to meet someone who would much rather bring up the children than have a job in the workplace.

8. If you could change one thing about your memoir, what would it be?
I would have developed the other characters better, and not made it so much about me, me, me.

9. What was the response/commentary your memoir received? How did those portrayed in your memoir respond?
Women especially loved it, and many non-athletes who were in fields traditionally dominated by men like the sciences wrote to say how similar their experiences had been. Those portrayed were all fine with it, except on of the cross-country guys, who wrote to say “you SO did not beat me in that practice!” It was very funny.

10. This semester, we also read Jane Gallop’s Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment. What is your opinion on student-teacher relationships, especially in relation to feminism?
Ha! That’s funny, too. Jane and I were together on the Leeza show when both our books came out, and she was the have-relations-with-your-students side and I was the don’t-have-relations side. It was contrived, and the audience sided with me. I still think it’s a very bad idea—I think the power differential always structures the relationship no matter what, and that just makes it wrong.

11. What is your relationship to your body today?
Much better now that I primarily do ashtanga yoga instead of running and lifting! This kind of yoga is very intense, and incredible workout, but it also gives you perspective and peace of mind, things that have always been missing for me. I still worry too much about what my body fat percentage is, and despair over the wrinkles I’m getting, but yoga has made the whole aging thing so much easier, and even the things I still worry about I have some distance from and perspective on.

12. What do you think is the biggest hurdle facing feminism today?
That no one takes it seriously, that it is seen as something that happened a long time ago rather than something we still need now. Outside of academia, everyone completely ignores it or demonizes it, even though so many of the possibilities girls and women have today were enabled by feminism. We need both a respect for the history, and a vision for the future.

Questions for Jane Gallop
1. What does “memoir” mean to you? What does feminist mean to you?
“Memoir” to me is a piece of writing which recounts things from the author’s life and reflects upon those things and what they might mean.
I apply the term “feminist” to anyone who claims the term, to anyone who identifies as a feminist.
A “feminist memoir” is thus a memoir written by an author who identifies as a feminist.
I take “feminist” also to mean in opposition male supremacy, in opposition to anything that treats women as less human than men.

2. Have you done anything to modify sexual harassment laws since writing this book?
I have done a good deal of speaking and writing on the topic since then, especially in the five years following my writing of the book. I wrote and published a couple of articles, lectured around the country, on various aspects of the topic. As a writer and a teacher, my “activism” generally consists of writing and speaking, trying to get people to think.

3. Have any of your views changed since writing/publishing this book?
Not in any substantive way that I know of. It was over a decade ago; so there may be ways in which some of my views (the questions is very broad – “any of your views”) have changed. I am a lot older; my children are grown up; my body has aged. But as far as my sense of what feminism, teaching, sexuality are, they have not changed in any major way that I can think of.

4. What advice would you give to others experiencing similar situations, in relation to sexual harassment?
I guess my main piece of advice is to resist the silence imposed by shame, to find people to talk to, to speak out, to write.

5. This semester, we also read Sandra Lipsitz Bem’s An Unconventional Family. How would you describe your family life? Your relationship with your partner? Your treatment of your children? Is it egalitarian? How has feminism shifted your understanding of family?
My longterm boyfriend and I have struggled to make a fair and thoughtful environment, one that respected all members of the family as differing individuals, resisting the homogenization by which a family tries to smother difference. I have struggled to be an attentive, caring mother who at the same time had serious professional ambitions. I remember with great pleasure the day my son, then 16, came to realize who I was professionally. He expressed it through a sense of amazement that the “mommy” who sang silly little songs to him was also a professor with high standards. He spent some time thinking about how those two opposing images could be the same person. I think he’s a better person for having had to bring those two images out of opposition.

6. If you could change one thing about your memoir, what would it be?
Honestly there hasn’t been one thing I’ve thought of changing. I’m not that kind of writer. I go on and write new books, but I don’t think about doing over those I’ve published. Which doesn’t mean I think they’re perfect, but that I think nothing is perfect. I think every book is a document of its moment in time, with the perspective of that moment.

7. What was the response/commentary your memoir received? How did those portrayed in your memoir respond?
I got a lot of enthusiastic response, but I also got a lot incomprehension. I had written something that was both memoir & theory. People did not understand this hybrid genre. They complained it was too anecdotal to count as theory (I have since published a book called Anecdotal Theory, to explain the idea behind such hybrid work); they complained there was not enough divulged for a memoir.

One of my accusers complained that the book was from my point of view and did not express her point of view. That is certainly true.

8. This semester, we also read Leslie Heywood’s Pretty Good for a Girl. What is your relationship to the body?
The body has been a lifelong site of struggle for me, a place where I have never been very comfortable. I have been located too much in the mind, although that has been a source of real pride and pleasure. I was uncoordinated and a poor athlete as a child. I have been overweight since I was around 40, struggling not to become really fat. As I am approaching 60 more and more of my body begins to give me trouble: arthritis in neck, feet, knees. I wish I had a better relation to my body. I have struggled throughout my life to have a better one. The triumphs in this lifelong battle are real but not lasting.

9. What do you think is the biggest hurdle facing feminism today?
How to credit both the battles in a more liberated society like the US and battles in explicitly patriarchal societies like Afghanistan. To focus on one usually makes it seem impossible to focus on the other. Awareness of societies that are more explicitly male supremacist can make educated feminists in the US seem either shallow and selfish or superior and patronizing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

End of Bell Hooks

I really think that Hooks left Mack due to a mixture of fustration and for modes of empowerment. I think through knowing that Mack would not leave his job to follow her, even though that is what he had promised, that she felt that she had failed in trying to heal him-to make him better. At the same time, I think that empowerment plays a huge role because she knew that she had the hand of power in choosing to leave him, he could not have a dominate role over her anymore, because he had made himself vunerable just by saying that he would follow her. With that he handed over his power to his "little sister woman child". Hooks knew that even if he would not follow her that she could decide to leave. With her leaving Mack she confirmed that power. This is just me thinking out loud (well kinda). I'm interested in what everyone else thinks.

Open Relationship

Today in class we were discussing Hooks' open relationship and how it was her choice to have that open relationship. I think Hooks wanted that open relationship because maybe she viewed her other relationship, writing, as an open relationship as well. Maybe she thought if one was exclusive that the other would suffer. So she really loved Mack and she wanted him to respond to her, but she wanted to be able to have the option to write. We talked about her being insecure. I think that she had both these things so that when one would fail to cure her insecurities that the other would be able to be there to be the back up. She maybe did not want to sacrifice her love for either one to totally maintain her security. She wants to never be alone therefore she has Mack, but at the same time she wants to be by herself, which she does through her writing.

hook's confrontation of race

I really enjoyed bell hooks' discussion of race in Wounds of Passion. I think that this is a voice that too often goes unheard; we are so accustomed to hearing white voices, and I think that this confrontation of whiteness and white privilege was refreshing. While it's true that I am not easily offended when people of color talk about whiteness and white privilege, I found hooks' discussion of white women especially insightful and found a lot of truth in the things she was saying.  I loved that she really took ownership of being black. The instance when she and Mack went out to dinner with Ann and she could tell that Ann was being very insulting to her really stuck with me. I was happy about how she took a stand for herself and did not let Ann put her in a corner. Also, in class, the comment was made about hooks being racist. When this is brought up, as it often is, it kind of bothers me because in order to be racist, one must have power. Since hooks is black, she does not have this element of power, so she is unable to be racist, while it can be said that she may harbor prejudice or negative feelings toward white people. 

Race and Gender

In Wounds of Passion, hooks often focuses on how her white professors and classmates cannot see that race and gender are interconnected, and that "there is now world where just gender matters" (206). After taking many women's studies classes, I like many of you, have learned about how race, gender, class, and sexual orientation are connected oppressions. But, its really hard to read about hooks' own experience with being a black woman in academia, where no one will even acknowledge her blackness. I didn't realize that these connected oppressions were not acknowledged for so long within the academic world. In this way, I admire hooks for being so outspoken and truthful during her oral tests to become a Phd and in writing this book. It would obviously have been easier to go along with what the majority wanted. I would like to think that I would do the same thing if I was in her position, and not be afraid to speak out about my racial or ethnic identity. Would you be as brave as hooks and risk losing your job or promotion by speakin your mind about the oppressions you see and experience around you?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bell Hooks

I really enjoyed the rest of Wounds of Passion. Hooks did an excellent job reflecting on her verbal and physical abuse from Mack. I was struck by his manipulative and mind controlling behavior over Hooks and how she deals with their "open relationship." She convincingly shows how this type of relationship does not work for her, or really most people, because ultimately, one of the partners involved will get hurt.

Still trying to figure out Persepolis...

Okay so I did not really connet well with Persepolis when I first read it. For some reason that really bothered me because I thought it was a compelling way to present a memoir and I just liked it. For that reason I have spent a while trying to think why it is I liked it so much, but could not connect with it. These were the few things that I could come up with as to why I liked and I found my connection. First off, Lily asked a question about the use of black and white verses a color presentation. Well my first thought: Color would be really expensive. Then I thought about it deeper to think that maybe Satrapi wanted to connect with people who would not really understand the history of that particular war. People like me. Dare I say many Americans? Where the majority is white. That was one connection that I could make with why it was printed in black and white. On another level, I think that Satrapi encounters many problems that we might encounter as we reflect on our pasts. Granted we never had to move out of our parents house because of war, or have to worry about a strict dress code, moral code, and religious code, but in a way we do. Satrapi had to move out of her house which is something that all of us have encountered as college students. We all have made friends had our troubles no matter how big or small compared to Satrapi, so in that way I think she is a lot like us. Another thing is in our American culture I think that there is a definate standard as to what people "should" wear, "should" act, "should" believe. None of us really get thrown in jail or killed over it, but there is an underlying sense of what we should define to be a part of the American society. With that I think that Satrapi's life really can connect with that of an American reader. Just some after thoughts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

my first post, my fave book

well, i really didn't know how i would feel about this boook. and the only kind of "graphic novel" i have ever read is foxtrot and calvin and hobbes. but upon reading the first several pages on the train to purdue over break, i was hooked. it really changed my perspective on anything i ever knew about iran and really broadened my understanding on the history of the revolution. also, one something that really didn't get discussed-  lily posed this- was on p. 156. lily brought up the symbolism of capitalism, the other girl- shirin being a symbol of capitalism- selfish and petty almost, as another country- iran (as marjane) views her. i thought this was a very interesting a valid point that was discussed right over in class, seeing as how marjane, as another country, had endured hardship and much troubles. marjane is very troubled by all the dying she faces in iran and is upset when shirin is merely chatting about her scented pens. i thought it was really cool when lily loosely tied this to capitalism. anyone else agree? also, who else agrees with me on the finding it semi-okay to allow marjane to marry reza even knowing she would divorce him, on her father's part? (sorry, i phrased that poorly).. i know i wrote far too much, but then again, i have never blogged and there is a lot to say on this! 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Graphic Writing

When I first opened this book, I was pretty excited to start to read since I have never even seen this writing style before. At first I could not connect with the book because, unfortunately, I did not know much about this issue. However, after getting knee deep in the reading, I thought that I could connect with Marji. Not because I went through anything even close to what she experience but I have also felt out of place and trying to fit in even when I knew my family would be disappointed with the person I was fighting to be. I was so proud of her when she finally got out of this stage of "caring". I think she then started to become some one she was more proud of.

In the end, I was kind of upset for her that her marriage did not work out because she seemed to have such a hard time finding love so I was really cheering for her when she first found him at the party. Nevertheless, I was happy to see that she went back to Europe to become the independent woman that we all knew she was from the time she was young.

End of Persepolis

I really enjoyed the end of Persepolis. I really like how she shows us her discontent for living in Iran and how sexist the University is pertaining to the women's dress and moral codes. I think she portrayed her husband's faults in a really good way so as to not put all the blame on him for their failed marriage-they simply were not compatible, even though they complemented each other because they were opposites. This is a perfect example of opposites who do not work! I was a bit surprised that her father foresaw the divorce but encouraged the marriage in order to serve as a life lesson that you shouldn't jump into a marriage too young. I also thought it was neat how her grandmother was not judgmental or condemning about her divorce, rather, her grandmother made the same mistakes as Marji. I thought it was really cool how progressive her parents were, and that not all Iranians are super conservative, as the media portrays them to be. I definitely thought she ended the book on a good note by leaving her family again and going to Europe to live as an independent woman, as her mother and father always dreamed for her. I wonder if there are many Iranian families who are this progressive and considerate of their daughters? Probably so, but I am completely ignorant on the subject concerning Iranian families and their cultural upbringings.

In Between

In this section of the reading, Satrapi deals with feeling stuck in between two worlds. The guilt she feels for the so-called suffering she endured in Austria cannot compare with the warfare and executions that prisoners and people in Iran dealt with. It is hard to see Satrapi encounter this gulf between her selves, and this becomes especially apparent when she sees her old friends who now wear make-up and are concerned about their appearances. At this point, I both agree with Satrapi, and feel like she has a very condescending view of people who are not as dedicated and aware of their surroundings as she is. For some people, it is easier to forget and ignore the hard times around them then to try and fight them on a day to day basis. I feel like this is one of the many points where Satrapi may be hard to identify with, but at the same time her point about the changing views of the young people around her is important. By focusing on inane things like night clubs and make-up, these women are ignoring the oppression of the fundamentalist regime around them.


I was skeptical when I first saw the book Persepolis because it looked hard to read, but I am really liking the style of the graphic novel. I especially like how she interjects so much humor and life into her writing and pictures. The way she is raised within the tumultous environment of Iran allows her the opportunity to understand the revolution and war from a different perspective even as a child. Even though Marjane obviously comes from a wealthy family since she has a servant and a cadillac, she still faces the same gender limitations under the fundamentalist regime. Not only must she wear a veil in public because of her gender, she also faces the threat of the punishment that Niloufar had. Marjane's parents see that her life as a woman will lead her to be in trouble with the authorities, and proactively send her to be educated in Vienna. The perception that we as Western/Christian women often have of Iranian and other middle eastern women is obviously very different from how they actually live. For example, the posters, sneakers and jeans that Marjane loves would be in conflict with the stereotypical submissive veil wearing Muslim women that we often see in the media. But, it is true that the gender role that Marjane is able to portray in private is very different from the one that is acceptable in public which shows the limited scope for gender expression that women have in Iran.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An Unconventional Family

I thought that this book was really interesting and I still don't know how I feel about their relationship. I think Sandy and Daryl were very progressive for their time and really did make a good attempt at an egalitarian marriage. What I found most interesting how they raised Emily and Jeremy. It can't imagine, even today, attempting to raise a gender-liberated doll with the excessive amount of gender-stereotyped advertising that children are exposed to. Sandy exposing Emily to examples of women in men in untraditional career roles, like the female construction worker, trying to sensor the books, and not distinguishing between heterosexual and homosexual relationships were good ideas and would seem to be very beneficial. If I ever have children I want to raise them as gender-liberated as possible, but I don't think I would let my son go to school with barrettes in his hair because I wouldn't want my child to be made fun of. 

I also think it is sort of strange that Sandy and Daryl would promote or condone accepting nudity in their home so their children would be exposed to and I don't think it is appropriate to kiss your child's vagina to prove that you are raising them as gender-liberated. It is not about people being too focused on child sexual abuse or pornography... I don't think it's right to show children that is okay when if they were to do that to other children or grow up in a society where that is illegal but they don't know it-they could be arrested or violate someone else's person space. 

I fully believe in civil disobedience and rebelling especially against this oppressive patriarchal society, but I don't think gender liberation has anything to do with telling children that nudity and kissing private body parts are okay, when in the real world, they could get in serious trouble for that. There is a point where you have to draw the line, and while you don't like society and its structure, you have to live in it, and you're not going to change everyone's thoughts right away so I don't think its appropriate to make children think that is appropriate when in society it isn't. At least you can teach your children that everyone else thinks that is wrong, and let them critically think about how they feel about that- children are often underestimated, but they do have the ability to think about things like that and make up their own mind. That would truly be liberation. 

On a different note, I think that feminist books and cartoons which promote gender-liberation are good for children and while my sister thinks I'm nuts, my nephews really like these cartoons called "Free to Be Me..." and one episode is about William's Doll which Sandy mentions on page 106. I started showing my nephews this because my youngest nephew who is 4 years old like to play Barbies with our 4 year old girl cousin, but his older brother and the 4 year old girl cousin always teased him for playing with Barbies and I wanted to make sure they knew that it was okay for him to play with dolls if he wanted to so I showed them this cartoon. I posted it below. There are actually a lot of these good cartoons which promote equality between the sexes and even though they are from the 70s little kids still like them!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

End of An Unconventional Family

Okay, so I was kind of disappointed with the end of this book. I thought she took things more slowly in the beginning, explaining and providing details on her unconventional family. By the middle to end, Sandy rushed things and became more impersonal, which I think correlates to her declining marriage. Speaking of her marriage, I was waiting for the part about she and her husband getting divorced and becoming involved in a same-sex relationship. She brisked over this part and maybe mentioned it in a sentence or two. If Lily had not mentioned it in class, I probably wouldn't have noticed that she became involved with a woman.

Certain things were just odd to me. Namely, her two year old daughter asking her to kiss her clitoria, and then when she actually does it. If a father kissed his son's penis, some serious questions would be raised. Also, Sandy acts like her two-year old is so knowledgeable about the female body and sex in general, which I definitely don't buy. This must be some really sophisticated two-year-old.

I liked the question-and-answer section with her son and daughter. I know I'm just reading into it too much, but it kind of irritated me how she put her son's questions before her daughter's, even though her daughter was born first, AND, his section seemed to be longer. Out of the the four, I liked the son the best, because he appeared more neutral and balanced compared to the others. I liked how he gave simple answers to his mom's questions, especially the one when she asks, "Is this affection with guys part of being gay?" and he replies, "I mentioned a girl earlier. You didn't ask then if I was describing myself as straight." She also seemed to idolized her son because he was a "mathematical genius" with a "poet's soul," (taken in my words) essentially. She obviously loves her daughter, but she dwells on her son's gifts and talents too much, paired with his "feminine personality traits," making him appear inhuman.
She seems really hung up on supporting gays in general, and denouncing heterosexual relationships. As for her daughter, she just sounded strange to me. I couldn't get past the image of her wearing bikini bottoms without shaving. Though, I will say, I thought the children inherited Daryl's gentle demeanor, which is definitely a good thing. I would also say that they don't need to "flaunt" or "force" their feminist status, like their mother.

Overall, I thought Sandy captured the reader's attention, but I was lost when she started talking about her failed attempt at being tenured at Stanford, and everything seemed to be written in a drier tone and more formal, like in the Whiteness book. My real complaint is not getting more personal, and that Daryl proved to be passive, as predicted. In all honesty, I don't see the appeal of her idea of an egalitarian marriage.

Well, I've obviously written too much, though there is plenty of good and bad points about this book.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dating between professors and students

This article was interesting. The interviewer asked different faculty members from various institutions on their stance of professor-student relationships.

I'd have to agree that it is unethical and that there is a violation of personal trust between professor and student. I think a professor should only be a mentor, someone you can talk to on a professional, and sometimes, personal level. I think having dinner with a professor in a group situation is fine, but getting drinks together could be crossing the line.

I do know more so of grad students dating their students from their tutorials. I've always wondered why they do this? As a student, I don't think I could date a guy who was teaching me in a classroom and dictating my learning progression in the course of study. I think I'd feel uncomfortable discussing my thoughts on a novel or article with someone I'd been intimate with.

Anyway, would love to hear explanations on why grad students and professors date their students, and why it's ok.

Monday, February 23, 2009


This is one of those "hard to put down" books. I find myself so interested in her life because it is the complete opposite from mine. Growing up I have always seen the man being more dominant in the relationship and the women being conservative. However, it was weird to me how her mother let her kind of walk all over her. It seemed to me that her mom never told her "no" that she was able to do whatever she felt like doing.

At first, I was jealous of the type of relationship she had with Daryl. I first felt this way when she told him she could not marry him and his reaction was not angry but a solution. Later in the book though, i felt like he was a push over and would start to get on my nerves.

I was happy to see that by the end of the reading her parents relationship grew stronger between themselves and with her. I feel that it is truly important for a child to have a good relationship their parents and when they do not, in my own experience, (just a theory/opinion, not saying always) I feel like it will be harder to connect with their children later in life. I am excited to continue reading and to see what happens next.

Race Discussion

Leaving class on Thursday when we had our race disucssion I felt very confused. One part of me was very irritated by the discussion that we were having because I felt very strongly about the issue and I felt that some comments that were made were completely false and negligent. However, I was very happy that we were actually starting to have the discussion about race. In several other classes I have taken here at Saint Mary's, the discussion about race never really took off. A few very carefully thought out comments were made about the issue but that was as far as it went. So I was just super stoked that we were finally having the discussion about race and the stereotypes that are made and the different sides of the argument. Regardless of my views I was excited to see that we could start to have the discussion on a topic that is generally considered taboo at our university.

An Unconventional Fam

I actually really liked the beginning of Sandra Lipsitz Bem's book. At first, I found her marriage proposal to show signs of arrogance and immaturity (because she is only 20 and is ignorant on many levels), though she regained my trust when she describes her childhood memories between her mother and father. I was particularly shocked at what a powerful role her mother played, and how manipulative and controlling she was, even to the point of making her father cry. Because my father is definitely an alpha-male and my mother is very feminine, I can never imagine my dad crying because of my mother's cruel treatment toward him. I think, though, that I would hate my mother if I witnessed her being so mean to my dad to the point of making him cry, (and vice versa).

I also find it interesting how her sister showed early signs of being a lesbian, and how, Sandra also has a difficult time dealing with her sexuality. I wonder why it is that both struggle with their sexuality. It's very interesting, and I'm sure I'll find out later in the book.

As for her attempts at egalitarian partnering, I think she is in complete denial that, she, like her dominant mother, wears the pants in the relationship. She makes all the decisions and justifies her decision-making by saying that her husband is just not a confrontational parent. Because this book is written from her perspective, I cannot fully believe that their relationship was equal.


I found it really interesting in class to hear everyone response to white privilege. I guess my whole life I knew it existed because I had been taught about it from living in America. My family if from Poland, so everyone in my family ,I think, is more unaware of what privileges they have. I guess that I never really put it into perspective that I had an unspoken privilege. Not to say I don't have it, because I am sure that I do, but I think that since I do not really realize that it exist that I can fully understand it. Sorry if that confuses anyone. I guess I never have been in a situation where I have realized that I was white. It sounds stupid, but I think coming from a family of immigrants, I have not thought really of this privilege. I just wonder if any of you have really had a defining moment or if you just knew all along of your whiteness?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Past and Racism

So today in class we were talking about racism and the question of past influence of past problems.  I in some ways believe that yes, it should be talked about but not used as a tool of "my brothers" or " my people".  I think it's great to know where someone came from to know how things have changed but the point of it was not you is very valid.  
Also i do believe that it is generational to pass racism but I also believe that it is also generational to NOT pass racism along.  If we start now trying to teach some form of  equality, just like all negativity it will eventually subside.  But also like all negativity and change it will take awhile.  It is also a regional thing.  I think it is more blatant racism in the south but more subtle when in the north.  That is a huge generalization but it really does depend on the region.
And this is the last thing i the confederate flag thing at Ole Miss today really bothered me.  This was mainly because it is simply a heritage thing it is not necessarily a racism thing.  I am from the south and my dad is from the south.  We are proud of that but because we have a few confederate flags and proudly have then elsewhere does not mean that we are racist or that it is a sign of racism.  And if I remember, it wasn't even the official flag of the confederacy.  So just because someone flies a confederate flag  does not mean that they are racist.

Monday, February 16, 2009

real vs. virtual

So I've been thinking alot about this whole virtual real and real self thing.  I wonder about myself now, how much of me is real and how much isn't?  What is it that I want people to know about my real self and my virtual self?  Where do they overlap?  I don't know it seems like we all have things to hide so does the real really exist?  I dont know.... it so confusing.  People in general are confusing and i feel like this just adds another demension of confusion.

Monday, February 9, 2009

pretty good for a girl

This book was most likely my favorite book that I have been assigned throughout my four years at Saint Mary's College. I know that there are some people that were not able to connect to this book as much as others, but I am sure if you think of it you can. Think of something in your life that you wanted more than anything in the world, something that you worked so hard for but you fell short of your own expectations.

When Heywood was told by her doctor that she had to give up her lifetime dream and something that she worked most of her life for, I felt heartbroken for her. When she was receiving this news I could actually feel myself tightening up in fear of how she was going to react. I could not even imagine how I would react to this type of news. I was surprised to how well Heywood took the news and put her energy into Body Building. At first I was afraid she was over doing it in this sport, too. But I believe by the end of the book she became a stronger person in more ways than one.

Last class period the question was brought up if we believed this was actually a Feminist Memoir or not. Throughout the book I could not see how this was a Feminist Memoir, I actually thought the complete opposite. That was until I got to the Epilogue and she told the readers why she was writing this book. Now, I can see how this is a a Feminist Memoir and how powerful it was at that.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Just a Question. . .

The other day in class, some people brought up the fact that Saint Mary's is too Catholic. I was wondering what y'all meant by that. I have gone to Catholic schools my entire life, both parochial and private, and I do not find this school that Catholic at all. Yes, we are required to take religion courses. However, we are not required to take classes that teach Catholic Doctrine, Church history etc. But we are given the oppurtunity to learn about other religions, Judaism, Islam etc. . . which I think is extremely important to be a well rounded individual in today's society. There are crucifixes in the classrooms, mediation rooms, parietals, but this is a Catholic school. That is to be expected. I mean this school could be way more Catholic, or Christian for that matter. Univeristy of Samford which is Methodist, has curfews for students (they literally lock the gates) and has a no alcohol policy for all its students. Holy Cross College, our neighbor, has parietals and you have to have the door open when a member of the opposite sex is in your room. I know this school is far from perfect, but I am really interested in how other people view Saint Mary's as being too Catholic, or if I am totally missing the boat on this otherwise.

Women Athletes

After reading Heywood's, Pretty Good for a Girl, and having a class discussion about Leslie, I wanted to I guess talk about women's athletics in comparison to men's athletics. I found Leslie to be really reliable, because I am a competitive runner, but I can see how many could not. It is a whole different world to compete in running and to run for pleasure. I don't mean to offend anyone on this comment (sorry if I do). It seems to me though that when ever a women athlete outshines the rest of the athletes on the course, court, field, etc. that she almost has to embody this male persona. It is extremely weird to me to look into the head of another female athlete, a runner in particular, and compare it to my own mind through athletic competition. It looks to me like Leslie uncovers this hidden testosterone, where winning is her only way out. It defines who she is. She no longer takes on a role as a female, she is an athlete, which often (I believe) is a term that can be confused with male. When people come to women's sporting events they are there to either A. cheer on there family members, or B. (which this is the one that pisses me off the most) to see "hot" girls in practically no clothes. I know I spoke about a website that I had stumbled upon when I was looking for a picture of one of my favorite runners. I went back to that website right after class. First off, the website was labeled 50 Hottest Women In Sports and the subtitle, get this, hours of training, dedication, toned bodies, tanned skins. Most, if not all, of the women where on the website in a bikini. This baffled me because I think three of them were winter sports women who lived in cold climates such as Aspen. Now I don't know that much about winter sports, but I think that a little more than just a bikini is needed to preform well. What made the most mad is that Victoria Beckham was on there and she was a freakin Spice Girl!!!! She never played any sport what so ever! Under the picture it said, "She does not play sports, but she David Beckham's (Soccer player) wife. Excuse me? What hours of training and dedication did it take to marry a soccer player? Oh none. That's what I thought. There was so much emphasis on what a women should look like from the result of playing sports (or the marrying to sports figures) more so then the actual action and hard work it takes to play sports. All of the pictures were photographs that were chosen by women athletes to take. So just like Heywood knowing she is beautiful and getting more attention for that, is the same thing that all outstanding female athletes do. They have to fit in to what will make them popular so that they will be watched and idolized and wanted. This is what they do. Another thing to compare this is that men athletes have pictures where they are sweating and preforming, beating someone, winning. Heywood embodied a male athlete because she wanted to be know for her running. I think it is wrong that females have to be this way and they have to be sexy to get signed to do there passion whereas men just throw a football OK and get signed to a college team (sorry I had to take a dig at Notre Dame). I know that it is hard for people who have not been in Heywood's position to sympathize, and it is hard to believe that women athletes think like this, but trust me behind all those toned bodies, and tanned skins is hard work and dedication that has to be hidden by a manly persona. This is how to get noticed, its not fair, but for now (until I become a major female athlete[haha]) this is the way it has to be done.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Welcome to the main portal for ENLT 331 Feminist Memoirs! From here, please create a blog & link it to this main blog. The purpose of your own individual blogs is for you to chronicle your growth and development through class readings and discussions. We will use this main page as an announcement and general blogging zone.

The blog you create is your own. Do whatever you want with it. I invite creativity. That being said, there are some basic rules, which I will also spell out in the syllabus & we'll go over all of it tomorrow.

Welcome all & I can't wait to meet you all tomorrow & get this semester rolling! This is going to be a great class!