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February 12, 2007

breakfast on pluto


on saturday afternoon, i decided to watch this movie and i was delighted. cillian murphy rocks as the main character. i was fascinated by him, he is so beautiful as a woman that i find it hard to remember that i think he is really attractive as a male as well.

breakfast on pluto makes me think about:
- gender, gender roles
- stereotypes
- masculinity vs. femininity
- transgender, transvestite, transsexual
- discrimination, prejudice
- beauty, ideas surrounding it
- sexuality
- gender norms
- love, hope
- politics, the "seriousness" according to kitten
- family (unconventional, functional)
- resistance to conformity

a general plot summary of the movie is as follows courtesy of breakfast on pluto:

set in the 1970’s, breakfast on pluto follows the exploits of patrick “kitten? braden, an endearing, but deceptively tough young man. abandoned as a baby in his small irish hometown and aware from a very early age that he is different, patrick survives this harsh environment with the aid of his wit and charm, plus a sweet refusal to let anyone and anything change who he is.

i ended up thinking about manifesta's "a day without feminism" for a few reasons. first, this movie is set in the sixties/seventies, which corresponds to the same time period of the descriptions offered by baumgardner and richards. but there is a specific part in the movie that inspired the connection. there is a scene in which kitten gets into trouble and is sent to the headmaster, principal person's office for a scolding. somehow during the conversation the situation arises and kitten asks if instead of taking pe, he could take a home economics class so he could learn to sew. this made me think of how girls and boys were automatically placed in a class based on society's notions on what a girl, boy should be, should like and having to deal with it whether they like it or not. the quote is found on page 4:

in junior high, girls probably take home ec; boys take shop or small-engine repair. boys who want to learn how to cook or sew on a button are out of luck, as are girls who want to learn how to fix a car.

fortunately for kitten, he is able to get into the class that he wants but even then he still is forced to tell his teacher that the glamorous clothes he is making are for his sister, seeing as it is completely radical and unacceptable in his society (probably any at that time) to crossdress.

the reason that kitten gets in trouble (one of the times) is when he writes the story of his birth, creation, impregnation of his mother by his father. i think this story as he tells it is an example of male dominance, female submission, a man's right to have a woman if he wants her, man's temptation, woman tempting the man sexually, woman as a sex object, stereotypical female beauty. the priest, father liam, gets a new housekeeper and is immediately "randy" at the sight of her. while she is cleaning, while she is cooking, she is constantly turning him on, though she appears to be doing it unconsciously, it seems as if it is just the natural way of woman to do that to a man, almost as if it's her job, her right, her calling as a female. finally after trying to resist, he is all of a sudden on top of her on the floor, penetrating her. the beautiful housekeeper is saying things like "what are you doing" (in a playful, coy voice of course) and it just seems like he had the right to do it, she was asking for it. however, she gets pregnant from this incident. although this is a false version, the aftermath is pretty much still the same regardless. the situation is unacceptable in society, since the father is supposed to be celibate, not take a wife, so the mother feels she is forced to leave, thus abandoning the baby. she caved to the pressures of society.

what this movie says to me:
it's possible to survive as a transsexual individual. i think it's great that cillian murphy took this role.

pretty cillian.jpg

February 11, 2007

iron jawed angels

when i went home last weekend, i bought iron jawed angels because i really watched to see all of the movie, so on friday night, my friend and i watched it in its entirety. i think the movie is very powerful and portrays the events with accuracy and i liked it very much but i was pissed about the romantic entanglement that occurs between alice paul and the most likely fictional character ben weissman. we talked about this issue in class and i thought it was silly then that the movie had to be affected by hollywood and the writers felt that they had to make it more likable and sellable to the people that aren't watching it with just a simple interest in the historical value. but after actually watching and witnessing the "relationship," i was just mad. it was unnecessary in the first place but when the movie ended and i realized that they hadn't even really concluded the love story, i was doubly mad. it was pretty pointless. a lot of times i felt myself thinking "don't distract her! she's doing important things! more important than you!" and the scene where both of them are making tea is also rather irrelevant to the plot (but not to the romance plot of course). but perhaps the strangest scene or the most surprising to me was that in which hilary swank is masturbating in the bathtub mixed with the two of them dancing. i have contradicting thoughts about this scene. first, this exemplifies our society's obsession with sex and erotic acts involving women in a movie that should be void of that and it objectifies her. but on the other hand, this scene fights against the idea that she needed a man for pleasure, that women can't and shouldn't masturbate, and presented the contrasting idea that a woman can be in charge of her own sexuality.

vday and the vagina monologues


i didn't really know how to begin my research. when i started, i googled something like "feminist organizations in minneapolis" and then changed it to events and groups, but i found some of the things that other people found or just nothing really relevant to the topic. after getting mildly stressed out, i came across the vagina monologues either just in my head or on a website advertising feminist events. i can't really remember anymore. i can't believe that nobody out of the twentysomething people that posted before me hadn't used this. this is a really popular event and one that is coming up really soon and that is coming to our very own campus.

on the website that had the showtimes for the colleges around st. paul, it had a link that said "what is vday?" because i didn't know what they had to do with and i figured i should know for my explanation of this event, i clicked on it. i was taken to the vday site and began to investigate. through this, i found the organization's mission statement.

V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.

Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups within their own communities. In 2006, over 2700 V-Day benefit events are taking place by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls.

i didn't know, but i guess i should've figured, that there was a motive, and a powerful one at that, behind the vagina monologues. rock on. it has a large international following and is performed all over the country.

The V-Day movement is growing at a rapid pace throughout the world, in 81 countries from Europe to Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, and all of North America. V-Day, a non-profit corporation, distributes funds to grassroots, national and international organizations and programs that work to stop violence against women and girls. In its first year of incorporation (2001), V-Day was named one of Worth Magazine's "100 Best Charities." In eight years, the V-Day movement has raised over 30 million.

something else that i also didn't know was that the vagina monologues are only performed around valentine's day. i guess i have never made that connection before. i think it's great that valentine's day actually has an association that is significant, larger than life, bigger than candy, flowers, and love.

the 'V' in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.

i enjoyed looking around the website. i liked the section "v-moments" that had a bunch of thoughts and quotations from the creator. they offer further insight into the mission of vday and explained to me eve ensler's motivations and inspirations for doing this and the impact it is having.

the vday website

cindy sherman's untitled #276

sherman cinderella.jpg

i realized that i couldn't reiterate what the book said about the artist cindy sherman in any other way that would do justice to her work so here it is verbatim. it is phrased extremely powerfully.

the career of the american photographer cindy sherman addresses one of the more recent concerns of feminist artists: the fact that the traditional western image of the female- sweet, sexy, servile- has been shaped by male needs and values. such images, say contemporary feminists, which dominate the world's "great artworks," reflect the controlling power of the (male) "gaze." ... feminists like sherman make visual assaults on gender stereotypes-- those projected by the collective body of "great art" and by the modern-day phenomena of television, "girlie" magazines, and other mass media. sherman's large, glossy studio photographs of the 1970s feature the artist herself in poses and attire that call attention to the body as a political or sexual object. ... she recreates commercial stereotypes that mock the subservient roles that women play: the "little woman," the femme fatale, the baby doll, the "pinup," and the lovesick teenager.

in this particular photo, she represents cinderella, a famous female from western myth, and portrays her in a way that is radically different from any other representation and is polar opposite to that of say disney. probably the only similarity between disney's cinderella and sherman as cinderella is their blond hair. disney's cinderella is innocent, sweet, modestly dressed in a beautiful gown and jewels with a perfectly proportioned body stereotypical for an attractive female, waiting for her prince to come and take her away from her problems. however, sherman is made up to look like a prostitute. her dress is see through and her breasts are visible. her legs are spread and there is a big black bush that appears between them that made me question if that was her pubic hair. she looks anything but innocent as she assumes a confident, sexually charged attitude in a take me or leave me kind of posture. she looks like she could give a damn if her princes comes and perhaps she wouldn't even acknowledge him if he did arrive. ironically, she is holding a lily, which is according to my book, the traditional symbol of purity.
sherman completely reconstructed the image of cinderella.
originally when i was looking at this image, i called my friend over to look at it. i simply wanted to ask her opinion about the blackness under her dress. when she saw the photograph, she told me that the woman was really ugly and when i told her that this was supposed to be cinderella, she had a hard time believing it. i think that this is exactly what sherman wanted for this photograph. she wanted to present a sort of mind boggling image of such a stereotypical female icon in our society. also, i think that this reaction is typical, a symbol of the sexism present in our society, traditional beauty is good, a whore, unconventional beauty, a promiscuous woman, nudity is bad, dirty.

when i look at this picture i think about:
- nudity
- promiscuity
- sexuality
- confidence
- body image, a realistic portrayal of a woman's body
- stereotypes

robert mapplethorpe's lisa lyon


this picture is in a section headed "SEXUAL IDENTITY"
lisa lyon was a weight lifter.

i think about:
- stereotypes of female beauty
- masculinity vs. femininity
- body image
- sexuality
- "blurring of sex roles" (page 117)
- mourning, the black veil

women are generally portrayed as delicate, fragile, "the damsel in distress". they don't normally have big, strong muscles or biceps. that is generally left to men, an image, an idea that is associated with the male stereotypical image. women are rescued by big, strong men on white horses, females aren't supposed to be strong. often women who are extremely muscular are thought of as masculine, trying to be men, ugly, intimidating. this picture blends masculine and feminine with lisa's beauty, feminine features such as her dress, her breasts, her pretty face, the veil with flowers, and features linked with masculinity like the bulging biceps and strong hands. this pictures exemplifies sexuality and the ability to be sexy and still be strong and have muscles and be beautiful in regards to the traditional feminine beauty. another thing that sticks out is that her dress is made of leather. that material is often times more associated with men-- for instance, big harley motorcyle riding men. also, in terms of body image, because of her strength and her weight lifting, the size of her breasts might be due to the pectoral muscles underneath, not just the fatty substance of her bosom. something that perplexes me about this image is the veil. a black veil is connected with the idea of mourning. i'm not sure what she would be mourning. it seems to me that she should be happy, celebrating instead of possibly mourning, for this image breaks molds of stereotypes.

on page 117. there is a line describing mapplethorpe's photography and it stands out to me. i love the part bolded because i think it is so true of his work and this picture.

his photographs depict contemporary sexuality in a manner that is at once detached and impassioned, but they often gain added power as gender-bender parodies of sexual stereotypes.

what this picture says to me:
i am woman, i am strong. i am beautiful, but i can kick your ass. don't mess with me.
this is a literal and a figurative example of her strength as a woman and the power of the women's movement.

as mentioned before, this image is compliments of "the humanistic tradition" by gloria fiero. perhaps why this book has fair representation of women is because the author is female.

another source for feminist learning

in my humanities class, we read virginia woolf's "mrs. dalloway". at the same time, my teacher assigned for homework the section in our book ("humanistic traditions") the one concerning woolf. this particular segment is entitled " the quest for gender equality" and contains different excerpts of feminist literature, various feminist poems, and different examples of feminist art.
i think that the book fairly represents feminism and its ideas and i was impressed that it covered so much ground. it informed people outside of a gwss class of the conditions and oppression that women have fought against for so many years. i liked that i was hit with two different outlets of information about feminism because it reinforced ideas.
my book defines feminism as " the doctrine advocating equal social, political, and economic rights for women", which i think is an accurate definition without going too much into detail.

i liked these phrases from the introduction. i thought that they were powerful, i also like the word misogyny.

throughout history, misogyny and the perception of the female sex as inferior in intelligence and strength have enforced conditions of gender inequality... though female inequality has been a fact of history, it was not until the twentieth century that the quest for female liberation took the form of an international movement.

different works include:
- excerpt from virginia woolf's essay "a room of one's own"
- excerpt from simone de beauvoir's the second sex
- anne sexton "self in 1958"
- sonia sanchez "woman"
- adrienne rich "translations"
- rita dove "rosa"
- niki de saint phalle black venus
- judy chicago the dinner party
- ana mendieta tree of life
- cindy sherman untitled #276
- barbara kruger untitled ("your body is a battleground")
- robert mapplethorpe lisa lyon

unfortunately, however impressed i was with the information provided by my textbook, i was rather unimpressed with the extent that my teacher went over it. he talked a lot about woolf and de beauvoir, not only about their work presented in the text, but other works as well that i plan to read such as woolf's orlando and de beauvoir's all men are mortal. he didn't speak much about the poetry or the art. maybe he will when we actually read the entire chapter in class and he only spoke to the relevant part, but why would he have us read all of it if he didn't deem it important enough to cover in class? not that i'm saying that we shouldn't have read it if he wouldn't talk about it, but i don't understand why he didn't address it. i hope he does in the future more.
also, something similar occurred a few weeks earlier. we were learning about the surrealism movement. the book covered male artists and female artists (another thing that i enjoyed-- they acknowledged both sexes) but my teacher didn't talk about any of the female artists. i was super excited because frida kahlo was mentioned and i love her but i didn't get the chance to talk about her in class.