October 1, 2008


In Cusp, we watched as Alice negotiated gender and power in her daily life. She experienced both obvious and subtle gender expectations. When growing up in a society that places value and privileges on normative gender performances, it is difficult to realize that power is allotted to some and withheld for others. Watching Alice’s story enables us to better analyze gender and power from a broader perspective. We can see that gender and power plays out in the classroom and in school settings all the time. For instance, Alice and her female classmates were often overlooked during class, waiting patiently to be heard from and to engage in the material. Instead, the impatience of the boys was rewarded with special attention and recognition. This kind of unfair treatment between girls and boys in classroom settings translates to internalization of inferiority for many girls. With teachers repeatedly ignoring girls, they tend to stop raising their hands in class and seek less teacher guidance and help. This can limit the achievements of girls in comparison to boys. Furthermore, the relationships between girls and boys are quite different from eachother in the movie. We can see that boys seem to have little problem getting along, while there is a girl v. girl mentality. Instead of solidarity, there is competition and animosity. Alice faces this when she is not invited to the sleepover and suddenly loses her best friend to the “cool kids? because she is not pretty/wealthy enough: “Look in the mirror, look at your face.? Her confrontation with beauty standards (including “beauty’s not out there, beauty’s in my tits,? playing dress-up, magazines, her desire for jewelry, and her mom’s friend saying, “you gotta look gorgeous every time.?) shows our culture’s infatuation with looks and the expectations of women to communicate sexual desire through body image. These expectations limit women from complete mobility, unlike their male counterparts.

September 30, 2008

gender, Power and Everyday Life

There are many examples of how power and gender play themselves out in the movie, "Cusp," usually appearing in the form of males having far more power to dictate their needs and desires above those of women. For instance, the services provided by the school overwhelmingly favored boys over girls; the boys in Alice's math class were able by sheer immature whining to sway the teacher into focusing on their needs instead of the girls'. Men also felt free to single handedly dictate the terms of relationships they had with girls. One little boy took it upon himself to "kung-fu" her everyday, not caring how Alice felt about this arrangment. The young man working at the corner store and the man working at the street jewelry outlet also felt free to either cheat Alice or give her free items depending upon how it benefited their own circumstances. Sam, Lilas short lived romance, also felt free to come and go as he pleased without consulting Lila in any way, and made his control over Lila felt by leaving his things at her apartment as if he could walk in again unabashed. On the other hand, far from dictating, the women in the film were expected to pander to men's dictations. Lilas unhealthy obsession with Sam illustrates this rather well. Also, the way in which the young man running the corner store expected the girl he was with to accept his offer of a relationship if he pressed her hard enough. All these examples are played out in a way that is specific to geographic/historic location, race, class, ethnicity, age, and personalities of the persons involved. Alice herself responds to the limits power imposes on her ability to express herself. Instead of being free to choose what she wears or how she appears, people are constantly telling her what to do, and even take the initiative and doll her up themselves (Lila). Once she wears the acceptable badges of womanhood, she cannot walk freely through the world without fear, discomfort, or humiliation. She quickly learns that everywhere she goes in life, what she can expect is to be harassed, marginalized, bossed around, and judged. She also learns that only so many females can be recognized as valid in any way, and she joins in by judging and competing with other females, mimicking what has been done to her (for example, when Alice tells her mother, "It's not my fault that no one can stand to be around you."). Through the process of becoming a recognizably gendered person, Alice is taught that she can expect a life of menial labor (there are no men to help with the dishes), harassment, of pandering to the whims of not so scrupulous men, and an overwhelming feeling of disappointment bred of the marginilization of her needs and wants by the world around her. The film does, however, end on an empowering note; in a successful display of counter-power, Alice confronts the "kung-fu" boy and wins.

September 29, 2008

Gender, Power, and Everyday Life in Breakfast at Tiffany's

To be completely honest, I did not make it to the West Bank for class last Wednesday. I apologize for missing class, though it is to my own disadvantage; consequently, I did not view the film. Rather, I will make a comparison from the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn. Though her character Holly Golightly is not on the brink of adolescence, her everyday life, like Alice’s, is different compared to that of her childhood. Holly was married at 14, presumably unwillingly, as she ran away from home only to end up living a seemingly lavish lifestyle in New York City.

Because films of the era are less than risqué, Holly’s activities may not be obvious to the viewer. One can infer, however, that she upholds her lifestyle as a prostitute and/or escort for wealthy and established men. Gender is thus portrayed in a negative way. Holly as a young woman at 14 had no say in her marriage, given that she ran away from it. This escape is seemingly an action of a strong woman taking control of her life. Nevertheless, Holly is still fully dependent on many wealthy men for financial stability. Holly represents all women as being dependent on men.

Consequently, men have full power over Holly. For example, she always fantasizes about marrying a rich man. Unlike Alice whose “frustration results from a confrontation with “limits? of power that take away certain possibilities for her self-expression,? Holly does not realize the limits of the power of men. As the title identifies, Holly eats breakfast in front of Tiffany’s every day, dreaming of owning the jewelry inside. She clearly likes sophisticated material goods. Therefore, she does not see male power as a limit to her self-expression but rather as an opportunity to acquire those expensive material items that she wants.

Blog Four

Gender and power are visible in everyday life, as found in the example of Alice in the movie “Cusp?. They did gender in the movie when Alice was told over and over again to dress like a girl (her neighbor) and to always flaunt it. Her mom was always telling her to be strong and fight back. Her friends and her were always acting the part of a “girl?, like having to always apply lip-gloss before class. Power was also evident for Alice in the movie during class. The teacher could not control the boys in the class and was forced to answer their questions first. Alice is always observing couples in life. She is limited in the fact that her family does not have a lot of money, she is limited in the fact that she is a girl in a society that favors men over women and is limited in the fact that she is going through a difficult stage in life as an almost-teenager.

Blog Entry Four

In Alice’s everyday life, power is often linked to the material possessions you have. For example, Alice’s family can’t afford to buy her a sleeping bag. The girls she is “friends? with at school use this against her to tell her that she isn’t good enough to hang out with them and isn’t worthy of their friendship. Her friends demean her sense of self worth by telling her that because she doesn’t have the things they do, she is inferior. Men are another symbol of power in Alice’s everyday life. The women who don’t have men in their lives don’t have the social advantages of women who do. Alice’s mom is a single mother and because of this, she has to work harder than most mothers do. Her mother’s friend (I forgot her name) is disadvantaged because the man in her life left her. She feels desperately alone and talks about how the next time she sees him with another woman, she’s going to say or do something about it. However, every time she sees him, because of her insecurities she keeps quiet. Another example of how men hold power in “Cusp? is shown when a bunch of elementary schools boys convince the teacher to go over number nine on their homework by chanting while Alice quietly raises her hand and is ignored. Another aspect of Alice’s life that limits her opportunities is the fact that she is still a child. Because adults always know better, her opinions are often laughed at or completely disregarded.

blog four yo

The everyday becomes as changeable as gender as performance, when we think of it as a concept constructed by society. Henry Lefebvre in his article says that we create a norm of “everyday? behavior by being influenced by the gender norms and power norms. These are often confusing and conflicting, as we can see by the characters behavior in Cusp.
Alice, the lead character in the movie, is confronted by expectations from all directions, in all aspects of her life. These expectations are meant to give her a grounding in what it means to be an adult within the world she lives (“You gotta wise up, girl!?). Her mother expects her to be an adult, to do the dishes, to run errands, to generally do what she is told. When Alice fights back she is told to “grow up.? This is solidifying a concept of power with relation to her mother. Her response is, “its not my fault no one can stand to be around you.? This is after speaking with Lila, the neighbor, who suggests to Alice by her actions and words that the only way for a woman to get along is to have a man to take care of her. This experience is giving Alice fledgling ideas of the role of gender. These ideas about gender roles are further underscored by watching couples yelling on the street, her interactions with the bodega counter-boy, and watching her schoolmates interactions. These experiences all come together in the mind of an adolescent girl as information about how to conduct herself in her small society. The scene that most poignantly showed how the societal norms created by these experiences conflict with eachother is when Lila dresses Alice in her clothes, puts makeup on her, and sends her home walking telling her the only way to get anywhere in life is to look gorgeous everyday. As Alice is walking home, she feels increasingly uncomfortable in the role she is performing, and covers herself more and more.
Cusp illustrates well how what might be seen as simple, everyday experiences really inform our behavior more than we think. Because adults have internalized the everyday, it takes the eye of a child to tell us how we learn to act within these conflicting societal restraints imposed upon us by the construct of the “everyday,? as proposed by Lefebvre.-- Britta


I think the film Cusp displays well gender and power and how that’s the “everydayness.? Alice seems to be really confused because she is trying to figure out what the real role of women in society is at a very young age. I think she is put in the situation where she has to decide if she should actually “act? as a woman and take the responsibilities of a woman. I think that’s very smart for a kid of her age to do or even think about, because other young girls like her would just simply embrace the fact that women must dress up or must do certain things. I would call Lila a bad influence on her, because she is ruining Alice’s little world where she believes that women are just pretty and they put on make up, dress up and that’s it. Lila is telling her that they do it for the man, and they have to do it every day, otherwise they won’t get the man and the attention they desire. Alice realizes this when Lila dresses her up and puts make up on her. She walks down the street and the man are looking at her and she tries to cover up.
Power is also something that is portrayed well in the movie. There are two kinds of power that come up in the film: social power and the power between gender. Social power is seen when Alice is ranked as less and not cool in her school from not having a sleeping bag. Not owning this material puts her in the not cool list and she loses her best friend. Power between genders is seen when the boys in Alice’s class are all loud and rude but, and while the Alice who has also raised her hand but in a more polite manner doesn’t get called on. Maybe if she was as loud she would get called on too, but again she can't be loud because society doesn't allow her, that's her gender role. This shows that the boys have more power. Also the man have the power to make Lila sad and desperate.

Week Four

I believe the concept of everyday is interesting to look at. In the eyes of an unobserver, the term can appear trivial and unimportant. However, after viewing the film Cusp, anyone can see that it is in the everyday we see important examples of gender and power. When anyone thinks about it, gender and power would not be such a controversial concept if it appeared outside the everyday life. People would be able to recognize it, digest it, and at least come up with a form of a compromise that would fit everyone's needs and comfort levels. However, it isn't that way and that is because it lays subtly in the everyday actions.

In the film Cusp, Alice is an adolescent that is in the transition of becoming a woman instead of a girl. Any female can relate to this large change in their life. After the film, many from the class commented on certain actions and scenes from the movie that they saw in their own life. I, myself, felt the same way. It was the pressure of Alice to get a boyfriend, it was the pressure of Alice to be pretty, it was the pressure of her trying to fit in that people relate to. This stuff is universal. It happened with we were little and it is still happening now. What if Alice was attracted to women? Society would do as much as it can to change that about her. People would strip her down of anything she deserved, such as friends, a stress free life, a loving home to go home to. This is wrong, but it happens so subtly that it happens before anyone can do anything about it. I mean, not all things the society tells her is bad, it just that some of it IS bad, and she has to go along with it or else she is rejected. Rejection is a sort of limit to her happiness and power over her life. Alice it forced to fit into a box which she has no control over creating. It eliminates her from self-expression.

Although I missed some of the movie (my fault, didn't check e-mail, got lost, ect.) the few scenes I saw showed her limits on self-expression. Take for example the scene where her friend told her to get lost and that she didn't want to be friends anymore. Alice was just being HERSELF, and because she didn't fit into this box of "coolness/acceptance" she is rejected from her best friend. I, myself, remember being in situations like that. I will spare you the pain of me ranting endless stories of my not-so-lovely tween years, but like I said in the before these situations are universal and wrong.

I liked this film. I finally have something to relate to which helps. A lot. All these readings are finally making sense. :)

Also I like how her name was Alice. To me, I interpreted it as being close to 'Alive'. Alice felt a lot of pain, formed relationships, made hard decisions, failed, and succeeded. This is what it means to be a human being. I don't know, just a little side note.

Blog Four

In the movie, it was very clear that men generally have more power than women in their everyday lives. Whether it was the man selling jewelry on the streets or the young boys in Alice’s class, the men in the movie had very dominating characteristics. The women in the movie seemed to almost depend on the men’s actions to define them as women. Alice’s mom’s friend was very dependent on her boyfriend for happiness. When he left her, she was very upset and began to be very foul towards men. I think that this lady was a very bad example for Alice’s and was a bad role model. She gave a very distorted look at what being a woman should look like and how women are supposed to act. This is also a form of teaching gender. I think this was a very extreme case of overtly teaching gender.
In the movie, Alice is confronted with many limits of power. A prime example of this is when her mom’s friend decides to dress Alice and do her makeup. Alice is being taught how women should dress, not how she feels comfortable dressing. When she left the house, she was confronted by many men making comments about her looks. She feels uncomfortable by the comments of the men but at the same time, I feel she felt like it was just the way it should be and this was ok behavior for the men. I also don’t think she felt it was ok to defend herself against any of these men. She would have learned that from her mom’s friend as well. When they passed her ex-boyfriend on the street with another girl, the lady didn’t say anything or defend herself, teaching Alice to not confront men.

September 28, 2008

Blog Assignment Four

The way gender and power is depicted in Cusp, isn't necessarily everyone's "everyday", but shows a great deal of all the different depictions present in society as a whole. Already at Alice's young age, she is learning the concepts and differences gender and power hold in society. To an extent her observations and frustrations might be a little distorted from the norm of society, but at the same time very present in society for certain people.
For Alice, there is really not male figure present in her life, everything she is told makes men seem bad, and there are really no totally good figures in her life at all. What she is told and showed by her mother and Lila is that men are no good and that they always leave. Also, that you must look good in order to get one and that inevitably you need one in your life to make everything okay. This shows Alice that in order to be a woman she must perform her gender in these ways. She must look good and find a man. It also shows her that men have power over women.
Also, showing male dominance is all the events at school that Alice goes through. The teacher specifically gives the boys in the class power over the girls by calling on them, rewarding their bad manners and punishing Alice's good ones, and by allowing them to make noises and laugh at Alice when she is in front of the class. Not only does this show male superiority, but also the fact that it is okay for boys to act certain ways but not girls. It is normal for boys to be rude, loud, and disrespectful.
Alice faces many limits that prevent her from being able to fully be herself and be accepted. First, because of Alice's financial status, having a single mother with low income, she is made fun of for not having a sleeping bag. This causes her to lose her best friend and makes it hard for her to put up with her school life. Having a single mother also prevents Alice from having a normal home life because she is expected to do more and has more responsibilities than some other kids.

Blog 4 Anna Wakefield

In the movie Cusp, Alice’s character lived primarily in a community of women. Alice’s mother, a single parent, worked as well as raising Alice and her brother by herself. Sometimes, Alice would spend time with the neighbor lady, Lila. At school, Alice’s teacher was a woman, and her closest friend just about to become one. The movie focused primarily on the everyday lives of women. Alice learned about the struggles of living as an independent woman like her mother. She observed the way Lila’s boyfriend left her without explanation or apology. It is evident that Alice may have thought abandonment by men is most likely women’s fault. Alice made this clear when she tells her mother she is alone because no one can stand to be around her.
Alice is also given the impression that boys and men cannot control their own conduct, making it acceptable for them to act irresponsibly or misbehave. We see this in the movie in several places. We see it in the way the Alice’s teacher allows the boys to dictate activity in the classroom by being unruly and disruptive. We also see it in the way Lila reacts with eventual complacence after she is insensitively dropped by her boyfriend. Finally we see it in the presence of Alice’s younger brother in the movie. Though he is not seen in most of the movie, when he is, he is climbing around in the background or bugging his older sister.
In short, in the movie men roles were limitless in the sense that they were able to vacate situations unfavorable to them. The relationships of Alice’s mother and Lila account for that. These women did not seem to have the same mobility. Also, in Cusp, there was more of an emphasis on the regulation of the behavior of the female characters than the male. Male characters behaved irresponsibly and were in turn rewarded. These lessons were lessons on the the limits of power for Alice and the women around her.

Week Four

Through Alice's “everyday? life we can see already how, even at such a young age, differences in gender and power can already make a difference. For example, Alice's teacher listens to the rowdy, rude boys in her class, therefore giving more 'power' to the boys due to gender, instead of listening to Alice who was politely raising her hand. Furthermore, the same teacher made sure everyone was quiet when one of the boys was giving his presentation but the moment Alice got up to do her presentation the teacher just ignored all the noise that the boys were making and urged her to just keep talking. The teacher feeds into the 'boys have more power than girls' idea a lot in this movie.

Having varying degrees of power plays a big part in this movie as well, especially through Marx's power theory of materialistic power (ie. having more things gives you more power). For example, Alice lost status and power in the eyes of her friends, and the eyes of the rest of the school, when they all found out that she didn't have a sleeping bag and couldn't afford one. Because she couldn't afford a sleeping bag everyone knew she was financially challenged and then, like Marx explained, she had less money therefore less material things, therefore less power. This limits her power as she quickly realizes when her best friend ditched her for one of the more popular, rich girls once her financial situation was realized. The fact that she is a girl also limits her self-expression which is also shown when she presented her project in class. Nobody, except for the loner girl in her class, appreciated her project even though it was really cool because she was a girl.


While it probably wasn't the director's intention to imply this, but strictly from wathcing Alice's everyday life, it can be surmised that power comes from dominating women. Although Alice's fighting back at the very end of the film defies this conjecture, I have disregarded the event, as it wasn't a part of her 'everyday' life, at least not within the timescale of the film. Apart from that incident, however, there were no displays of power in which women were not the victims. Although, the attackers varied between men and women, it seemed that women were the ones being abused.

Some direct attacks against women include Lila's boyfriend leaving her unexpectedly, and the boys ganging up to dominate the classroom discussion. In both of these, the girls but up an entirely feeble effort, if any, to resist, with Lila's actions epitomizing passivity. However, when women were the attackers, such as when Alice and her mother fought, or the drama taking place between Alice and her friends, there was quite a bit of discourse, arguing, and resistance from those on the defensive.

Witin this paradigm, Alice is incapable of expressing any sort of power in her everyday life. She is unable, initially, to confront the kung-fu boy, based solely on gender, and in her conflicts with other girls, she simply is underhanded. Because of her financial situation and existing social alliances, she is unable to exert power over her friends, and is unable to dominate her mother given a parent's inherent authority. She seems to lose this frustration at the end, when she breaks out of that system of power by fighting back, and winning, against the kung-fu boy.

Week 4

Alice's everyday life is fraught with conflicting information about what it means to be a woman, and what that entails. This conflicting information often came from the difference between the ideal (as projected from characters in the film) and the actual. The conflicting information between various characters say and how they act shows us some of the limitations that our reality has imposed.

Consider the basic concept of feminine beauty. After being confronted by her teacher about being late, she was told that beauty isn't on the outside, that beauty comes from within. Such was a speaking of an ideal, that how we physically appear is superficial. However, as Alice experiences in her everyday life, we see that reality does hold the same influences. Beauty as seen on the cover of magazines, and beauty as seen after being dressed up and having makeup applied by the mothers friend. Now beauty is being portrayed simply as how you appear on the outside. Not only does this counter the ideal presented to her, but it also is inherently restrictive. There is only so much we can do to change our physical appearance.

Similarly, the same ideal/real influential conflict arise in the concept of the knowledge. The ideal that intelligence should be considered as a positive thing. Asking questions was encouraged, and an intellectual project was praised, but the question went unanswered in favor of those (the boys) who took the situation less seriously. The praise to Alice's project was far outweighed by the constant snide remarks make by the majority of her class. Should we consider knowledge as power, the classroom setting did very little to encourage Alice's growth and far more to discourage it. Such hindrances show the limiting factors of her reality.

WEEK #4 brittany

While contemplating Alice’s everyday life the observations that I made were how gender in relation to power and in relation to “doing gender? is not something that a person is born with. Doing gender and finding out what power you have in relation to gender is something that you learn from the society you live in. And sometimes knowing where you stand or how you should act in society is very confusing and frustrating to learn.
This relates specifically to Alice in the movie cusp. Alice is a young teenager trying to find out what power she has and who she is in society but is presented with many mixed singles that she has to sift through to understand society in relation to her. Alice’s neighbor lady who helps her mother bring her up is telling Alice to look pretty, wait for a man to come along and do whatever they say. In contrast to her neighbor lady’s suggestions and “life advice? Alice’s mother tells her to stay strong and to stick up for herself when men try to bully her. Specifically, her mother impounds this in her head with the vendor selling the jewelry gives Alice the incorrect amount of change.
According to Marx, power comes to those who have material things and posses a lot of money and objects. If you don’t have the material unfortunately you have less power and therefore have less say and respect in our culture. Alice encounters this in the everyday life and creates a great deal of stress on her. For example, Alice was yelling at her mom because of the stress of school and friends. Her friends decided to exclude her and treat her poorly because she did not have a sleeping bag or “the object? therefore she is less powerful.

Week Four Blog

In Alice’s “everyday? life many of her thoughts and observations about gender and power are influenced by her mother, neighbor and schoolmates/best friend. Her mother teaches her to be a strong, independent woman. This is shown in examples from the film when Alice is given the wrong change. Her mother gets angry at this incident and tells Alice that she needs to be careful. Another incident was when she fought back to the “kung foo? boy at school. Alice was immediately praised for her response. From these occurrences we might make the assumption that women are weaker and are generally treated in these ways yet Alice’s mother is trying to teach Alice to go against these norms. Alice has a single mother which is one reason Alice is being taught this advice seeing how her mother has to be strong and independent due to her situation. Her and her mother’s relationship is where some of Alice’s frustration is built upon. She is confused whether or not she is an adult as shown in their argument over doing the dishes.

Her mother’s friend/neighbor is another character that deeply affects Alice’s thinking. She teaches Alice that beauty is basically everything, and that women tend to need men, without them they are an emotional wreck. This is displayed through the neighbor lady’s actions following her break up. Even Alice’s classmates influence her both showing her that beauty is necessary and that boys are more dominant. In the classroom setting the # 9 boys overpowered the class and got to choose which homework question and Alice’s best friend stopped being her friend due to her status/beauty. Alice has frustration due to her limitation of status. Financially her family cannot afford to buy her a sleeping bag which worsens her classmates and best friend opinions about her. To them money and beauty go hand in hand because once they found out that she did not have a sleeping bag they added the comment “I mean look at you, your ugly?.

Blog 4

Henry Lefebvre’s thesis on the everyday is very paradoxical. He claims that it is a set of functions which we as a society produce, and it structures the way we live. It is repetitive and cyclical, yet changing. In looking at the life of Alice in “Cusp,? we get a clear example of how her world is routine, yet non-static in the way that she is aging. The women in her life act the same day in and day out, and as Alice becomes a young adult she is expected to act the same.

Alice’s mother is a single parent, trying to maintain a stable living situation for her son and daughter. She deals with a lot of stress trying to balance her work and home life. Alice is old enough to see and understand this, and it no doubt has an effect on her perception of the responsibilities of women (and perhaps the lack thereof for men). The mother also tries to impress this upon her, as it is seen when she demands Alice to help with the dishes. She takes an authoritative tone which says “you will do it because I am your mother and I said so,? yet the reasoning she gives Alice is that she needs to help because she needs to be adult-like. The mother positions her as a child, but at the same time tells her she’s practically an adult. Alice is never allowed to be both at the same time—the people around her are constantly pushing and pulling her in both directions.

Power is taken away from Alice when she is designated as a child, which frustrates her, yet her responsibilities as an (adult) woman also make her uncomfortable. She is told she needs to keep a beautiful appearance (by the family friend and her classmates) and assume more responsibilities in the home and with men. It’s no wonder that the “everyday? of puberty is a frustrating and confusing Henry Lefebvre world.

Week 4 Blog

This week we saw how every day life is similar and relates to gender and power. We don’t control what our everyday life is like, we “do? it and therefore we live it. Different parts of life play into what one’s everyday life might be like.
By looking at Cusp, Alice is a young girl who is not only feeling stuck in between two stages, but is faced dealing with her everyday life in ways she never knew before. By looking at Alice’s everyday life, we can see how both gender and power play a role. She is a young girl, yet she wants to have more responsibility at times she sees right. She therefore wants more power in her life. She wants to be seen as an older girl, someone that the boys want, someone that is “cool? at school, and someone who can do what she wants. She still has to do what her mother says, she still has to do her chores, she still has to do things “little girls? do. She is still tortured by other girls, and she is still bothered by the boys. This in way shows gender and power. It’s because of how she does her gender that is why is treated the way she is.
Alice life isn’t the easiest. She lives with just her mother and brother. They don’t have a lot of money. They have to work for what they have. Alice doesn’t always like that, but it’s the reality of her everyday life. Her everyday life is helping her mother, it’s doing the dishes, it’s helping her brother out, or it’s running on errands. She doesn’t always like it but that is what she has to do.
Alice has limits of power. She is still young so she can’t do whatever she wants to do. When she fights with her mother, she realizes she is still the one that needs to follow rules. She doesn’t have the power yet to tell people what to do. She has trouble with this at first but starts to realize it later. She has trouble understanding how certain kids at school have more power and are “higher? than she is. She finally understands that it is just how the “norms? are and that the people who think they can push others around aren’t actually the people to be. She finally grasps the fact that she should be who she is, she should express herself through what she believes, and that should be good enough for everyone.

Week Four Blog

In the film “Cusp? the main character is 13 year old Alice. Every day she sees how gender can influence power. Alice sees how the boys of her class have more opportunities that the girls. In the film Alice see the boys of her class get picked by the teacher and yet they are more respected than the girls. At home Alice sees how dependent her mother and mothers friend are on men. She is picked on by her brother, and then gets blamed by her mother. In Alice’s environment she is taught that men have more power and women should depend on men. Even on the streets she sees how men are very controlling of the women in the film. I think the biggest factor in Alice’s life is the characters that are part of her life. Each character is never just a child and each adult is never just an adult, they are always acting an age that benefits them. They use age as a power tool which plays a huge part in the film as well as in Alice’s life. Alice not only has to deal with being a female and being taught that it’s a male based world, but she also has to deal with her mother, her mother’s friend, and the girls at school. The only people Alice has to look up to is her mother and her mother’s friend because they are older and they have been the only people in her life. Unfortunately for Alice, they are extremely bad role models and perpetuate the idea that men are more powerful than women and women are to be dependent on men. With all the restraints she is taught, Alice will have a very difficult time in expressing who she really is because it could go against her family and friends. She does not know how to act in a different way, because of the restraints from family, friends, and society.

Week 4 Blog

In viewing Alice's struggle with adolesence, the movie portrays this vision of women needing to be beautiful to fulfill all of the men's needs/wants. She does not get treated well by the boys in her class; she gets picked on instead of them telling her they actually like her (Kung Fu boy). Having Lila in her life shows how women look like they are dependent on men by how desperate Lila is to have her young boyfriend back after he left her for another woman. Once Lila dresses Alice up and puts loads of make up on her, men whistle at her when she is walking down the street, so she almost gets this feeling that in order to have boys notice her in a more "adult" manner, she has to look like this all of the time. Again, this is an example of "performing" gender and proving who she is to society and more specifically, men. I believe this is also an example how Alice is seeing the "limits" she has on her power of expressing herself. She sees being beautiful as a way that men will accept her, and she does not seem like she wants to be apart of that yet. She is still in the middle of being a kid, but also getting the responsibility of growing up and becoming a woman. Alice's mother plays an important role in her life by telling Alice to stick up for herself and do not let anyone tell her that she is anything less than a great, young woman. From this advice, Alice stands up for herself with her friend and the boys at school. She starts to gain some self control in the aspect that she is becoming a young, smart woman, and people cannot keep stomping all over her and taking advantage of her.

From watching Cusp, viewers are able to observe that the males in the movie are sort of favored, if you will, and women have to "prove" their existence to be in men's lives be performing beauty. Alice learns from Lila that in order for her to attract men, she needs to wear all of this make up and dress her best at all times. In other words, women cannot get men without performing beauty 24/7 because this is what men want and expect of them. Another example of gender and power would be when the teacher asks the students what questions they have on their homework, and she chooses to answer all of the obnoxious boys' questions over any of the patient girls that are raising their hands. Along with the examples from above, these are ways that men and women are perceived to Alice. This is where I believe she has a problem with discovering who she is and who she thinks she should be from the influences that surround her.

Blog Four

I didn't see the movie as being as much about gender disparity as it may have been portrayed. Instead, I saw it as a comment on power and class disparity. The movie also seems to be another generic coming-of-age story that have been spewed out of Hollywood pretty often. This one has the added sentimental bonus of a daughter being raised by a single mother. Clichéd.

Nevertheless, the main area that I found that Alice struggled with was related moreso to her age and class rather than her gender. The film did realistically portray how children and teens want be treated as adults, up until they have to burden some responsibility for being an “adult.? This is evident for Alice when she refuses to do the dishes when her mother asks, stating that she has to go to school (as if elementary/middle school is the hard) while her mother works a full time job doing God knows what. It casts the main character as naive child, unprepared to actually be an adult and more importantly, unworthy of my sympathy.

She battles with being lower class, as she is unable to attend the slumber party of some other bratty child because she's poor and no one seems to like that. So better have a sleeping bag or no one will like you.

Lila cries because that guy left her, but it seemed to be not because she was a woman, but because he was a scumbag anyways. And Alice is sad because the teacher didn't pick on her, but I find it hard to believe that it would be sexist if a female teacher didn't call on girl.


The film, Cusp, clearly demonstrated the difficulties young girls face when in the adolescent-to-adult process. We saw numerous examples of gender issues within the film. For instance, the girls in the bathroom were putting lip-gloss/makeup on because that is what they thought they needed to do. Later on, Eliza informed Alice that their best-friendship was over because Alice’s looks didn’t measure up to Eliza’s standards. That must have sent a negative message to Alice regarding the importance of appearances. Also, Leila tells Alice that she needs to look good for men at all times, which sends the message that women need men in their lives and/or that finding a man/looking good for a man is the most important goal in a female’s life. It really places men above women.

There were many examples of power in Cusp. One specific example that I can think of is the sleeping bag situation. Not having a sleeping bag was like the end of the world to these girls. Alice’s financial situation affected her social life, and her young-little- adolescent life is really a reflection of what life would be like for her as an adult (if she remained in a sticky financial situation). Money is power. Interestingly, men make more cents per dollar than women, so to say that money is power is indirectly saying that men is power.

I think Alice’s frustration emerged because she came to the realization that beauty isn’t everything after all; beauty has importance, but it’s not necessarily the best way to focus life off of. Eliza broke off their friendship due to Alice’s appearance, and the guy on the street made a comment to Alice while she was “looking good,? resulting in Alice covering herself up. Alice faced many mixed signals throughout the film, but in the end, I think she was really able to see the relationships between gender and power in everyday life.

A Day in the Life of Alice

Alice's life is complicated to say the least. She must juggle school work, family life, social life and all the while deal with becoming a woman. Her world is full of situations that push her power as a child to its limits. A few times during the movie Alice's age were brought up sometimes explicitly and sometimes it was just implied as a limiting factor. Her mother said that she needed to grow up and wise up when the street vendor tried to take her money, Lila wanted to stay young and look good forever, and Alice herself, wanted to grow up faster and be an adult but only in certain situations. these scenes in the movie show the constant struggle in society where the young want to be older and the old want to be younger. Although this is not an example of how gender plays into her life, I believe that the movie was at least partially about age as a factor in everyday life and what it means in terms of how power is determined. An example of how gender affects Alice is how value is placed on men in society, in the movie the boys of the class dictate what the class accomplishes and the girls effectively have none. This uneven distribution of power prevents Alice from learning because she has just as much right to the teacher's help but because the boys were overwhelming in their demands they are rewarded with attention. Alice's frustrations are a result from her inability to overcome the limits that are placed on women; men take advantage of (Lila), no free passes (teacher treatment), and conditional treatment(store clerk).

week four blog assignment

I think Alice represents what many of us were once like before the ideas of gender and how it defines us and our world were set in a concrete way in our mind. The movie was very realistic, but in the same sense, it was sad that she didn't have many positive role models to solidify what her gender should mean to her, and how it should define her (if at all).

Through her eyes we were able to see that gender and power do define so many things in our everyday life, things that were new to her but would be taken for granted by us. These things have become so common to us that unlike Alice, they are part of what Henry Lefebvre talks about in his article "The Everyday and Everydayness", mundane, but not mean meaningless.

What might be considered as Alice's 'failings' to perform gender seem to prompt the adults around her to impress upon her their ideas of gender and how it should define her. I don't think that Alice's frustrations were specifically due to gender and her learning the correct ways to perform it, but in an indirect way, her troubles with her so-called best friend do reflect gender issues, since these problems are very different for young boys when compared to young girls. However, these tensions between her, her best friend, and her best friend's 'new' friend also had a lot to do with her being raised by a single mother with limited income. I feel that this was also an important factor to her lack of power in day to day situations, as well as her age and gender.

blog 4 (Alice)

In the movie Cusp, we were introduced to Alice and her usual everyday life. She has being giving ways of how to perform gender through life by, her mother, the neighbor, and her friends at school. Her mother tells her she need to be the second adult to take responsibilities in the house hold chores too, because her mom cannot do it all by herself. Her neighbor and her friend on the other hand tell her she needs to put on makeup and dress up to attract men.

For me I think Alice is confused on how to perform gender the way she would feel comfortable of performing it. Power also performed in Alice life a lot too. When her teacher was taking questions in class, the teacher didn’t even bother to see that the girls’ hands were up; because the boys were shouting out the number they wanted to be answered out loud. When the neighbor and her boyfriend had broken up, Alice see that guys can do what ever they wish to do to a lady. When her friend Eliza didn’t want to be friends with her anymore because she wanted to be cool like the popular girls then being with her who is un-cool.

Alice’s faced many frustrations through the “limits? of doing things in her life which are, chores responsibilities, her confrontation with the kung fu boy and watching men taking advantage of women. For example her dad who had left her mom and her neighbor’s ex-boyfriend.

At the end Alice realize that a way to performed gender is through power.

Blog Week 4

I found the movie, “Cusp, very poignant for several reasons. I found the older women in her life, her mother, her neighbor, and her teacher, demonstrating a wide spectrum of lack of personal power. She didn’t have the best female role models that would demonstrate personal power so it would be hard for her to learn by example.

Although Alice appeared to be interested in school and responsible for her homework, it seems every time she was working on her homework, her mother would tell her to “do something.? Her mother did not take an interest in Alice’s learning. As if, doing her homework was always less important than a chore she should be doing. Her mother verged on abusive with Alice during the scene in the kitchen over the dishes. Alice is limited by her mother’s expectations of her to do something other than her homework, which is important to her. Alice’s frustration is very apparent during that scene.

During Alice’s presentation to the class, the boys in the class were allowed to continue their rude behavior because the teacher took no control of the situation. Alice had worked hard on her project and she was treated with disrespect.

Alice’s relationship with the neighbor is also not conducive to learning to empower oneself. Alice also witnesses the neighbor’s male friend calling the neighbor, a beautiful thing; the neighbor allows herself to be objectified. The neighbor also puts makeup and clothing on Alice, because it is so important to be pretty.

I think the underlying message that Alice was learning was that it was not desirable to be smart, but you get your value only by your appearance. This message was clearly demonstrated by Alice’s neighbor, mother, and her peers and friends at school.

September 27, 2008


The movie Cusp is a portrayal of an adolescent girl who struggles to find the balance between being a child and becoming an adult. Through Alice’s journey, we see how power and gender affect every day life. One of the biggest examples of power we see in the movie can be described by Marx’s theory. Marx states that power is a direct correlation to material possessions; Alice is left out because she has no sleeping bag for her friend’s sleepover. When her friend asks whether or not her mom can just buy her a sleeping bag, Alice knows that her mother can not sway the funds for the sleeping bag and merely brushes it off. Another example of power can be seen in Alice’s life at home. In a traditional family setting, the mother stays at home and tends to the household and the needs of the children. Alice’s mother on the other hand, works outside the home to support her family as a single mother. This upsets Alice because she is forced to dry the dishes. Alice complains that none of her friends have to dry the dishes thus creating a large argument between her and her mother.

Gender’s affects on everyday life can also be seen through the eyes of Alice. Two girls walk in late to class and are written up for detention by the teacher, whereas. Several boys are acting out and yelling problem numbers to the teacher and receive no punishment whatsoever. The teacher seems to let the boys’ behavior go unnoticed; whereas the girls are punished. Another example is seen when it comes to Alice and her homework. It seems as if every time Alice sits down to do her homework, someone finds something “more important? than she needs to be doing. This is kind of a reflection of the past where it was more important for women to learn housekeeping skills than receive an education.

Though somewhat exaggerated in the movie, the struggles Alice faces in life are real and happen to different people every day. Gender and power play into our daily lives in ways that we may not even notice because we have adapted and grown used to them.

Week Four Blog

The film Cusp was an outtake of the experiences of a pre-teen girl, Alice, in her “everyday.? Alice’s everyday was filled with implications of power and gender. The viewpoint was perfect to explore these implications because she was a pre-teen – unsure of where she fit in and trying to pick up on the social cues that embody the gender experience of adults.

Power was very clearly represented in this movie. One could easily see that men and boys held the power in many situations in Alice’s life. An obvious example is during class when Alice and Eliza are given detention for being late, but the disruptive boys are rewarded for their misbehavior by getting their question answered. Men also hold the power elsewhere in Alice’s everyday, though it may not have affected her directly. For example, Leila’s partner left her, and it had a devastating effect on her. This experience was a message to Alice that men have the power – he could pick up and leave when he wanted, and Leila was supposed to clean up after him. There was nothing she could do about it.

Gender is seen in other ways throughout the film. Alice is told numerous times that she is supposed to always look “gorgeous? for men. The message is also sent that she needs a boyfriend to be happy – even her little brother tells her this. She also needs to be beautiful to be happy, as implied when Eliza and her new friend tell her that she is ugly. Gender is also effected between the mixed messages of whether she is a girl or a young woman.

Alice’s frustrations arise because of this – she does not know where she stands as far as gender. Is she a child or an adult? A girl or a young woman?

Kelsey Hippen :)

In Cusp, although emphasis was obviously placed on the “female-doing? of gender, we can synthesize many ideas about our own everydayness through this film. Throughout the film, the strength that gender and power had was variable and flexible. Sometimes we saw strong representations and other times, we saw weak ones. For example, when Alice’s mother scolded the man on the street for intentionally stiffing Alice, we saw a representation of “strong single mother? taking charge for the good of her daughter. On the other hand, we also saw weak representations of power, like when the mother’s friend nonchalantly walked past her shady ex-boyfriend on the street, saying to Alice, “Sometimes you just can’t fight.?

From these examples, we can observe that the strength of power that we demonstrate is allowed to shift, and as females, both demonstrating power and not demonstrating power are each culturally approved. Alice becomes frustrated when she confronts “limits? of power—but this is only because the women around her impose their interpretation of power on Alice, saying that she should act the way that they find effective in terms of their own everydayness. I believe that the way a woman performs externally should reflect her chemistry internally. Perhaps this means that a woman’s everydayness reflects her wants and needs. Much dissonance resonates within Alice throughout the movie, and understandably so. She does not yet understand the way gender and power work for her.

I noticed that while the women were at home their interactions changed dramatically. They were not vigilantly pursuing the performance of any specific role; in fact, they were genuine, intimately touching each other’s hair and faces while they talked. They looked like a tribe of women, listening to and comforting one another uncritically—with no reference to what they ought to be. It was wonderful to watch, because the essence of each character was 100% present, whereas when they were responding to oppression, they often reacted unnaturally.

September 26, 2008

Week Four Blog

If we contemplate Alice’s “everyday? life we may conclude that gender and power are unequal amongst men and women. We see in the film that the boys are not reprimanded for chanting the homework number they want the teacher to go over; however, the girls who are late to class each receive detentions. This demonstrates the boys getting special treatment from the teacher and ultimately more power. Additionally in Alice’s everyday school life the girls are fighting with each other and not getting along, which we see in our own lives. Boys generally get along but it is the girls who are catty and mean to each other. Alice is expected by her mother and neighbor to be a grown up and a woman which are essentially different things. Grown ups are seen as having valid opinions and being responsible whereas women are supposed to “be gorgeous everyday? to attract men but never have a man because he will only run off with another woman. The women are definitely portrayed as the downside, with men having the power. For example when Lila saw her ex-boyfriend in front of the bathroom with another woman he was able to do that yet she felt unable to walk past them to go to the bathroom. After she did she went home and broke down.
These observations are specific to Alice’s life because she is learning the fine line between being an adult and a woman at her young age where she is “at the cusp?. In the end she finally grows up and stands up to Kung-Fu boy and ultimately the girls who were cruel to her.
Alice’s frustration resulted from a confrontation with “limits? of power that take away certain possibilities for her self-expression. She reached her breaking point with Kung-Fu boy. She was sick of acting passively and watching men around her take advantage of women and get away with it. For example her neighbor’s ex-boyfriend and her father who left her mother. This made her act out for not only her but also all the other people she knew who sat back passively and were taken advantage of.

Blog Assignment Four Instructions

Week Four
Blog Assignment

This week, we capped off our first full unit by beginning a discussion around how gender and power function in everyday life. We became especially interested in understanding the concept of “the everyday.? According to Henry Lefebvre, the everyday constitutes the ordinary, the mundane, or the day-to-day lived reality of people. It is something that we all hold claim to, but which we all experience differently; indeed, “the everyday? is what the unique inner-workings of gender and power produce in our lives. Just as no one experiences gender and power in quite the same way, no way experiences the everyday in the same way. It is for this reason that “the everyday? can become a powerful resource for understanding how/why people perform gender the way they do and in response to certain factors.

In Cusp, we are introduced to Alice, a girl on the brink of adolescence. We watch her in her day-to-day life, as she begins to realize how gender and power function differently in this new, almost adult, age, versus how things were when she was a child. In turn, we get a very interesting depiction of a subject who is responding- often through gender- to powers she’s only encountering for the first time. If we contemplate Alice’s “everyday? life, what observations might we make about gender and power? How are these observations specific to Alice’s life? In what ways is Alice’s frustration resulting from a confrontation with “limits? of power that take away certain possibilities for her self-expression? In a 250-300 word blog, explore these questions, making sure to draw specific references from the film to support your claims.