June 12, 2010 § 11 Comments
In my Shakespeare class, our final paper was on Shakespeare’s epic Hamlet and out of all the choices of topics we had to write about, I chose Ophelia. During our unit on Hamlet I found myself surprised over and over again by how intensely many people seemed to hate her. (And I don’t use the term hate lightly, I mean they despised her!) “The play would be the same without her!” “She doesn’t DO anything.” “She’s way too passive!” At one point, I ended up in a very impassioned debate outside of class against five other classmates. Guess who the one person that liked Ophelia was?
To be sure, Ophelia is a passive character, but for some reason that fact doesn’t cause me to loathe her. Weird.
I wrote this paper as a sort of defense, if you will. I think that Ophelia’s passivity stems from her environment and that the truly tragic thing about her is that she knows no other way to act. She is one of only two females drowning (forgive the pun–I’m tired) in an overpoweringly large cast of males. She has no support system that encourages her to act on her own and every man around her somehow feels the need to tell her how to behave. But I won’t lay out my thesis right here and now. You can click below to read the full paper.
I figure at least one reader must be a Shakespeare buff. Enjoy!
December 31, 2009 § Leave a comment
Is it just me, or have there been less guilt-inducing New Year’s Resolution ads than usual this holiday season? Usually, late December media is racked with advertisements and stories (aimed disproportionately at women, of course) that first try to convince us that we’re fat, unhappy, or somehow insufficient, and then tell us how a certain diet/dating service/car will fix all of our woes and help us reach our (read: their) goals for the New Year. But I have (happily!) noticed a deficit this year in these stupid, often sexist attempts to make people feel bad about themselves.
According to a piece at Sphere News, Resolutions for 2010 have been radically altered by the poor, poor state of the global economy. 10% more Americans than usual are pledging to change their ways in the new decade, a Marist poll suggests, but the nature of our promises has shifted; the same poll reports that most Resolutions this year are centered around saving/spending money more wisely, becoming more engaged in the political process, being patient as the world gets back on its financial feet, and keeping/getting employment. These more serious Resolutions definitely reflect the scary, sort of shitty times that we’re living in, but I’m definitely happy to see politics, work, and retirement prioritized over hitting the gym and landing a husband (not that love and health aren’t important- but we all know that gyms and dating sites don’t really give a shit). The recession has definitely made life harder for women and children, and that blows. But maybe the hardships will eventually refocus our priorities, and we’ll emerge from the crisis with a better understanding of what’s important to us a country. Maybe.
Have a great New Year’s Eve, and an even better 2010! I hope it brings you and all the people in your life empowerment, equality, and whatever else you may be looking for!
November 26, 2009 § 5 Comments
So, the history elective I’m taking this year is US History since 1945. It involves lots and lots of reading (yuck), but also lots and lots of interesting debates in class (yay). Already we’ve had intense thought-provoking discussions on the use of the atomic bomb, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam. This new unit we’re covering is all about gender and the return to domesticity in the 1950s. As you can imagine, I’m really excited.
The assignment for Monday is to read an excerpt of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.
A page and a half actually of The Feminine Mystique… followed by fourteen pages of a man’s take on The Feminine Mystique. There will be no more Betty Friedan reading after that.
Seriously. What the fuck?
November 19, 2009 § 1 Comment
This week we celebrated “Love Your Body Week” at Grinnell, hosted by the Feminist Action Coalition. Yay! There were (and still are) a ton of great events including a film screening and discussion, a fat activism workshop, open mic night, Grinnell Monologues (comparable to the Vagina Monologues), queer sex-ed, and my personal favorite, two masturbation workshops! It really was very comforting to see how well-attended these events actually were. I think the week did a lot to dispel the myths of apathetic college students across the country.
I think one of the best things about the week (and, coincidentally, about this blog) is that most of the events weren’t strictly serious, stuffy, or overzealous. Who says learning about your vagina has to be uncomfortable or boring? Basically, congratulations to all the humorous feminists on campus, and all of those who got over their fear of humorous feminists. Let’s keep on dispelling more myths (and yes, I probably will use this term several times. Sorry).
Finally, I really appreciated the atmosphere of communal learning that was pretty apparent in all the workshops I attended. Obviously, most people came from different backgrounds. Some were really familiar with all of the ideas being bandied about, but some, particularly at the very well attended masturbation workshop, had received very little education on such taboo topics. The fact that students who knew more were completely willing to help out those who didn’t was super refreshing. What was more refreshing was the fact that women (who attended the female identified masturbation workshop, I have no idea what went on at the male identified one) were not helping each other out of obligatory sisterhood, but out of actual desire.
I do have one question though. It seems as if I am encountering a barrage of social justice-y causes, open dialogue, and fun terms like “doing gender,” “dispel the myth,” and “social construct” just in the nick of time- before I enter the real world. Why does it have to be that way? What If we taught these terms, habits, and ideals before having them hurriedly shoved in our faces? This has been bothering me a lot lately. Obviously this isn’t going to happen any time soon given the other pressing problems in our educational system, but what is so wrong about introducing the concept of loving your body to grade school students? What if these so-crazy-they-just-might-work ideas had a place in every elementary school curriculum? We would probably live in a much more understanding environment, where no one would need to ask in a college class what “the gender binary system” is.
I am so sorry for the above display of crazy.