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April 23, 2007

disney dichotomy

story

my friend told me once that she was not allowed to watch disney movies when she was younger because of the negative representation of women, either a princess or a witch. she found this article to prove her point.
i love disney movies but i understand.
disney molds young girls into the stereotype of women and imprints on their brains "princess, princess, princess" and what they should and shouldn't be or do.

April 22, 2007

abstinence education is ineffective

a report for the u.s. department of health and human services came out this month detailing the proven ineffectiveness of abstinence education in schools. for my group's presentation, we are looking at the epistimology of sexuality of girls and one of the categories is education.
since fiscal year 1998, the title v, section 510 program has allocated $50 million annually in federal funding for programs that teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for school-age children.
findings indicate that youth in the program group were no more likely than control group youth to have abstained from sex and, among those who reported having had sex, they had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age.
overall, the programs improved identification of stds but had no overall impact on knowledge of unprotected sex risks and the consequences of stds. both program and control group youth had a good understanding of the risks of pregnancy but a less clear understanding of stds and their health consequences.

la litterature, part two: l'autre femme

for my french class, we read the story "l'autre femme" by colette.

this text makes me think about:
- the prescribed role of women in society
- expectations of pretty, feminine appearance
- financial independence and bell hooks, breaking away from patriarchal oppression

a married couple is going out to dinner, man and wife. they arrive and over by the window, the husband sees his ex-wife so he asks the maitre d'hotel to sit them in the middle instead. however, somehow, during the meal conversation, it comes out that yes, his ex-wife is in the restaurant. his current wife didn't even know that he had a previous wife! the husband reveals that the reason for the divorce was that he couldn't make her happy.

the last line of the story is really important:

"elle ne cessa plus de regarder avec un curiosité envieuse la dame en blanc, cette mécontente, cette difficile, cette supérieure..." .... she (the current wife) couldn't stop looking with a envious curiosity at the woman in white (the ex-wife), this discontented, this difficult, this superior...

i think that this is significant because it proves that she is jealous of the other woman because she is able to live without a man and she is happy and capable to live on her own.

my teacher asked us if there were any feminine stereotypes in this text. i think that yes, there are. the story represents a patriarchal society where a woman needs a man and is dependent on her husband. the husband is in control and this is demonstrated in the story when the husband just orders for his wife without even consulting her or considering her opinion. the wife isn't strong. she doesn't stand up for herself. she allows herself to be bossed around. there is a part that details her appearance. she was brunette and a little plumper, but in order to feel more attractive and to look more attractive to her husband, she dyed her hair blonde. there is a line that says something like "she dressed herself as a fair-haired emotional woman", talk about a stereotype of a female. now she is blonde and more innocent and wears a "desguise" to please her man. however, the text does have a feminine twist. the other woman has achieved financial independence and she doesn't need her ex husband. she is at the restaurant by herself and she supports herself. bell hooks says that

"economic self-sufficiency is needed if women are to be liberated" (feminism is for everybody, 49).

according to this statement, since this woman can financially support herself, she is liberated from any ties of dependence to a man. the fact that alice, the current wife, is jealous of the ex wife presents to women that they can do this as well. that is a good thing, it is acceptable, it is possible. the other woman wasn't happy with a man like the husband, which represents the ability of women to choose their husbands and be in control of their situation and they have the right and deserve the right to be happy.

April 9, 2007

hair

frida kahlo and ani difranco are very similar individuals. they are both women artists who do things they way that they choose. they are free spirited, strong willed, political minded, real people. they have lovers of both men and women, and they don't earn a label of homosexual or bisexual beause they don't place labels of gender on those that they love. like frida's infamous unibrow and mustache, ani has hair in what most people would consider undesirable, nonnormative places for she doesn't believe in shaving her armpits. she believes that women should have the same rights as men and should have an equal place in society, and frida contributes to this idea by her recognition in the art world at a time when it was predominantly males.

difranco.jpg

frida.jpg

i think that frida was a really beautiful person. when i saw photographs of her for the first time, i was actually surprised at how beautiful she was. after seeing more of her self-portraits, i expected her to be kind of unattractive with a large amount of facial hair dominating her face. but when i looked at the picture, i saw the image of a delicate, strong, confiden woman starting back at me, the feminine curves of her face accentuated by masculine lines of hair. once, i was taken back that someone was surprised and confused how people could find frida attractive. i had almost the exact opposite reaction to seeing photos of frida. i think these differing views play into why frida painted herself the way that she did. she had different ideas of what beauty is than people during the time that she lived. the public's reaction fo frida's exaggeration of her facial hair is similar to how most people react to hair on women's bodies in general. i don't shave my legs of my armpits, and when people first find out, the reaction isn't normally a positive one. i've learned quickly that the association between body hair and females is not good. people are grossed out by body hair only because they are used to the norm of women shaving and being hairless. but it's perfectly alright that men are hairy when it shouldn't really make any difference whether someone has facial hair or any kind of hair. in ancient cultures, men didn't like hair and have every strand found removed. it just shows that different cultures and times value different things. i think that people are startled by the unexpected. people are turned off by what they're not used to. yet it's weird how quickly people forget that the hair is there, don't think anything of it anymore, and just get used it. so people without knowing anything automatically assume that frida is unattractive because of her facial hair. i think it's important to not only look at someone's looks but their insides too. the complexity of her personality combined with her interesting exterior is what makes frida so attractive and fascinated people. frida wasn't afraid to be different. i like that about her. being different was part of what made her beautiful.

i think about:
- society's pressure to be either masculine or feminine, to adhere to the set binary of gender characteristics
- societal expectations, disapproval
- beauty norms, nonnormative beauty
- gender specific activities, "requirements"

April 8, 2007

adbust

adbust.jpg