April 23, 2007

disney dichotomy


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


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.



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



March 24, 2007

"dragons in manhattan"


girl goddess #9: nine stories by francesca lia block

this is a book that i have had for some years now and i read it a while ago and i enjoyed it a lot. the author tackles issues that most don't dare to address, especially when targeted at a younger audience. as puts it;

"the author sets about deflating the oppositions that most people either reinforce or invent in order to distance themselves from others: carefree child/knowing adult; straight/gay; black/white; male/female."
but one story has always stuck out to me and stayed with me in a sense. it was unlike anything i had read when i was younger and the storyline was not one that was applicable to my life at the time but it fascinated me. learning about gender and transsexual individuals, the story came back to me. it is entitled "dragons in manhattan" and it is about a little girl that lives with her two mothers. she loves them both very much and appreciates both of them and loves her life until she goes to school and other kids question her about her nonnormative family. this prompts the little girl to begin to question her parents as well and she starts to see them in the eyes of the other children. she wants to know about her father and who he was and where he went and where he is now. after running away, traveling from new york to california, she finds out that one of her "mothers" is actually her father, a transsexual. her father always felt like he was different and he wanted to be a girl. the story is reminiscent of that of "judy/max" from the middlesexes video, yet sort of reversed. her father falls in love with this girl, however she is a lesbian. so then after they conceive a child, he has a sex change and becomes the woman he always wanted to be and the woman that the other woman always wanted and they live happily ever after with their biological child in the situation that makes them happiest as they deal with others' perceptions.
i realize now how empowering block's work is and how important it is that there are authors like her that are willing to talk about issues that are stigmatized.
"block blossoms in this collection of short stories about love: straight, gay, familial, and otherworldly. Very few young adult authors talk as frankly as Block about sex and some of the other yearnings we feel in this world, yet she guides her readers toward the self-respect and courage necessary to make smart choices about those yearnings." (amazon)

this story makes me think about:
- transsexuals
- acceptance
- love
- familial situations, not everyone lives in suburbia with a dog, two kids, and a mom and dad

March 16, 2007

the handbra


i just saw this picture and i was like good grief. i would die if i saw someone actually wearing this and i would really like to believe that no woman would actually wear this but then i can really easily picture some woman on the beach sporting this hideous article of "clothing".

this picture makes me think about:
- cheesiness
- sex appeal
- body image
- sexism
- man's authority, ownership over the female body

the website that feminsting links to has a section for comments and two of the three comments on the page are very sexist.
zack says

"These bras are not supposed to be worn inside a t-shirt anyway. :) Love to see one of these on the street."

and edward wolf says
"I have two hands. Where do I apply for the job?"

i'm not surprised that it's two males commenting because the bra is ultimately for them, for women to parade around in showing off their bodies. zack obviously is expecting to see the woman walking around only in that because he sees it's not for a tshirt yet he would love to see one on the street.

March 14, 2007

the word gay is not synonymous for stupid

on feministing this morning, there is a blog about the controversy that has started over schools beginning to reprimand students over the use of the phrase "that's so gay."

March 13, 2007


i was watching the news tonight and a certain segment caught my attention about "protestors at a local lutheran college in milwaukee that want to end discrimination against gays."
the line that originally caught my attention was "protestors try to go to church but end up getting arrested." that seemed silly to me. the anchors went on to talk about a group of young activists, including a female priest, that want to end discrimination based on sexual identity. the majority of the group just stayed off the property of the school and help banners depicting their message, but several students went on to the campus to have open discussions about the issues at hand. they tried to have conversations with the college students but most didn't even want to talk to them or learn from them. one girl said that the protestors brought a lot of attention, a lot of media, and a lot of negativity that she "didn't appreciate" yet later that same girl said that she just wants everybody to love everybody and that would make our world so much better. the two statements that she offered seemed to be contradicting to me, or at least projected her ideas that seem to contradict what she said. on one hand, she didn't want to talk to the students about the discrimination and prejudice against certain individuals because of their identity, but she thought that everyone should just love everyone, but that doesn't seem to be the prinicple that she follows. one activist said that "these students are ill-prepared for the world if they require their conversations to occur only within a closed community that all thinks the same way" and i think she is referring to the little box that people are supposed to fit into.

my friend and i were just having a conversation last night about religion and openmindedness and the glbt community. for instance, how it is unfair to say that a woman can't be a priest, if a person has a passion for god and his or her faith, why should that individual be denied the opportunity to spread the word of his or her lord? it's not about gender, it's about one's love and commitment; it is a completely separate issue. also, we were talking about how the bible was written so long ago, how can all of it's teachings be applied reasonably to today? variances in sexual identity are more common in our society today than it has been in the past and we decided that if jesus was here today, he wouldn't restrict his following to straight individuals that strictly male or female, staunchly condemning in their beliefs. he would love everyone. this reminds me of a line from the movie "saved!"-- the main character says

"if god wanted us all to be exactly the same, why would he have made us all so different?"

i looked up the organization on the internet and found their website and the soulforce mission statement:
"The purpose of Soulforce is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance."

Wherever you are on your journey of faith,
Whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity,
Whatever your religion, race, age, ability, color, or creed,
You are welcome to join us in learning, teaching, and applying
the 'soul force' principles of relentless nonviolent resistance
as taught by Gandhi and King
as we work together to stop spiritual violence
against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people
that flows out of the teachings and actions
of religious leaders and their communities of faith.
-The People of Soulforce

What is Spiritual Violence?

Spiritual violence is the misuse of religion to sanction the condemnation and rejection of any of God’s children.

Misusing religion and/or God to support society’s bias against sexual and gender minorities also inappropriately justifies psychological, legal and physical violence against them. Some zealots blatantly articulate spiritual violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people when they scream "God Hates Fags."

Mainline churches may be less blatant and more sophisticated, but they are no less guilty of spiritual violence. It is just as violent spiritually when pastors and parents—quoting scripture—condemn and reject members of their congregation and their family. When this happens, God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children also feel condemned and rejected by their Creator as well.

this makes me think about:
- discrimination
- the little box that everyone is supposed to fit inside
- religion
- unfair actions
- glbt community
- activism

March 4, 2007

la litterature, part one: henrik ibsen's a doll's house

ibsen wrote this play towards the end of the nineteenth century in 1879, and according to a teacher of mine, this work is hailed as the "first modern drama".
i read this play my junior year of high school. reading it in class, i was struck with the statement about women's roles in society. it was extremely powerful to me. then in november of this year, my friend and i went to see it at the rarig center and i was blown away. actually seeing the characters played on the stage emphasized the concepts and ideas constructed by ibsen even more. the play has powerful suggestions about women and it is even more significant coming from a man during that time period. he portrays the unjust circumstances women were leaving under and depicts the survival and perseverance and victory of women, and there are other options for women in that position.
major conflict - Nora’s struggle with Krogstad, who threatens to tell her husband about her past crime, incites Nora’s journey of self-discovery and provides much of the play’s dramatic suspense. Nora’s primary struggle, however, is against the selfish, stifling, and oppressive attitudes of her husband, Torvald, and of the society that he represents. (

what the play makes me think about:
- roles of males and females, particularly within a marriage
- sacrificial role of women
- patriarchal society, dominance, subordination
- stereotypes: mother, wife, homemaker, husband, parent
- rights of women
- appearances
- obligations, filial, parental
- sexism and anti-sexism

women are constantly making sacrifices to fit expectations of the male dominated society. mrs. linde, nora's friend from her youth, gives up true love with a poor man to marry a man with money in order to support her mother and her brothers. she sacrifices her own happiness and chance at love to make ends meet. the nanny abandons her own child to care for nora as a child and then nora's children as time passes.
nora is the play's protagonist. at first, i was disgusted with her. she gave women a bad name. she is entirely superficial, preoccupied with her appearance and others' opinions, especially that of her husband. she is the stereotypical archetype of a woman. she is there for the sole pleasure of her husband and to take care of the children. she doesn't have a life outside of that, no real thoughts of her own. torvald, her husband, is condescending and considers her his possession, a thing, a beautiful doll in his beautiful house that he can boss around and instruct as he pleases. he belittles her with patronizing pet names, and he loves nora for her beauty and obedience. but she encourages this behavior. she basks in his attention and allows him to treat her like this. but as the play progresses, nora's secret is revealed and my disgust lessened. she took out a loan without her husband knowing. at this time in history, women were not allowed by law to take out loan's without their husbands' permission. she is very proud of what she did for her husband, she believed she saved his life, but she hides what she did for him because she understands that he could never accept him from a woman, not even his wife, because he has too much pride, exemplifying the idea of male superiority. while torvald thinks that nora just spends money like sand slipping through her fingers, she is actually using it for the loan, however feeding torvald's ideas that women are only capable of using money for shopping and trivial things. there is a part when they are going to a new year's eve party, and nora needs to look beautiful, dance beautifully, be perfect for torvald and for their appearance in society. she is torvald's sex kitten, she is constantly being objectified him him through his names and his attitude toward her and idea that she is his property. however, by the end of the play, i have the utmost respect for nora. after her secret has been exposed, torvald goes crazy with anger. she was willing to sacrifice her life for his by committing suicide but he catches her before she leaves the house. he says that nora ruined his life but he won't let her leave and demands that they pretend that nothing in wrong so they don't sacrifice his reputation anymore. however, after torvald receives a letter from krostad saying that he will stop blackmailing nora, torvald adopts a completely different attitude. he is glad that the ordeal is over and life can go back to normal. he tells nora to rely on him as her guardian and teacher as they attempt to put their life back together, "because he loves her and finds her all the more attractive for her dependence upon him." his gender bias is especially apparent in this statement and his idea of a wife. nora can't go back to their life after she understands how torvald really perceives her. she was hoping for something glorious to happen, he would love her anyways and appreciate what she did for him, and sacrifice himself for her and for love. torvald tells her that no man can sacrifice his honor, his integrity for love and nora replies that “hundreds of thousands of women have.? she has a revelation and she realizes the stifling oppression of torvald that she has been living under, how she is defined solely by being a wife and a mother, she has no real identity of her own, she has always been trying to please the male figures in her life, her father and husband, she has always sacrificed her ideas and who is for her men, and they treated her as a beautiful creature with no real substance. all of her illusions about love and the men of her life shatter and understands now that they never thought of her as an individual and she decides that she must leave torvald in order to find herself, define herself in her own terms. she realizes that she is as important as torvald and she is independent of him, it is necessary to let him control her life, she wants to take control of her life, she has a responsibility to herself above all. torvald tells her she must stay and fulfill her sacred duties as a wife and a mother, but she doesn't believe in that anymore. she has just as much of a duty to herself and she finally realizes that she is a human being over any of her other prescribed roles.

what this play says to me:
an anti-sexist perspective is capable from a man, biases and stereotypes of women can be broken.

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.