Category Archives: Feminist Theory

“The Queen of the Tearling”: fight for women

I found Erika Johansen’s book The Queen of the Tearling on a list from the Calgary Public Library.  I can’t remember what the list was about, but I glad I stumbled upon it because I really enjoyed this book!

the-queen-of-the-tearling

Source: https://missnessiemarie.com/2015/03/22/book-review-the-queen-of-the-tearling-by-erika-johansen/comment-page-1/

This is a post-apocalyptic book that also shows an attempted fail at creating a utopia.  It’s good to get out of the real world and imagine what could happen if…

The book revolves around Kelsea who was raised by foster parents in the forest and on her 19th birthday becomes Queen.  She sees the devastation and poverty of the field workers as she makes her way to the castle.  She see the horrors of a complete unfair treaty with the neighbouring country and stops it her very first moment entering the keep gates.  As she tries to create a country that is equal, fair, and good for all, she faces years of corruption and violent resistance.  Yet she has a strong and loyal Queen’s Guard to protect her and guide her and she has two magical sapphire stones around her neck.

My favourite part of the novel was the scene where Kelsea, who in her dreams is able to see visions of what is happening in different areas of her kingdom, tries to convince her body guard and the head of the Queen’s Guard to leave in the middle of the night to go and save women and children from being exported to the neighbouring country by the black market king in order to keep his relationship with the corrupt Queen next door.  In the scene, Kelsea orders her Guard to get up, pack, and leave.  They try to convince her that it was just a dream, that she was acting hysterical, and that she needed to get some sleep.  They continued to dismiss her and even tried to physically restrain her.  Luckily for her, the magic sapphires allowed her the strength to push these men through the air and against the wall, and that convinced them to follow her direct orders. Think of what they missed out on by ignoring her and treating her knowledge as unreliable.  Think of what would have happened to hundreds of women and children if she didn’t have the power of the sapphires to help her.

control

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/343962490267800640/

The frustration of being told she was just a young woman, that she was crazy, and that the men around her knew better made by blood boil.  That powerlessness, and that feeling of righteous anger hit me hard.  There are moments in life where men wield their historical patriarchal power and physical power to try to control a situation that they have no business controlling.  There are also moments in my life where men have tried to tell me they knew better because they were men and that I was crazy.  I don’t know if men ever have these moments of complete and utter removal of power.  Do they even know what it feels like to be dismissed and controlled?

fight

Source: http://8tracks.com/explore/fight_the_patriarchy/popular

Today I am joining millions of women around the world to march.  I am marching because we have a lot of work to do in North America in regards to the treatment of women.  We need more say in political arena, businesses, schools, and homes.  We as humans need to recognize the benefit of giving power instead of striping away power.  It is a privilege for me to live in a country where it is a Charter Right that I am allowed to gather, meet, and march with thousands of other women in my city to show my solidarity with women’s rights and the fight for equality.

womens-march-on-washington-calgary

Source: http://dailyhive.com/calgary/calgary-womens-march-on-washington-january-2017

Today I remember all the women whose voices have been taken away or silenced.  Today I remember all of the women whose power was taken away simply because of their sex.  Today I celebrate that women can make a difference and that we are persons.  The meeting point for the march today is at the Famous Five statue, a place that honours women fighting for equal rights.

intl-womens-day-mcclung

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-trump-march-on-washington-women-rights-1.3940991

“Phallocentrism is the enemy.  Of everyone.  Men stand to lose by it, differently but as seriously as women.” (Helene Cixous)

“This is how women are trained to stay indoors, she thought, the idea echoing in her mind like a gravesong. This is how women are trained not to act.” (Erika Johansen)

feminist

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/274719645989890660/

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“Milk and Honey”: loving yourself

I love that a book of poetry is a best seller.  I love that a book of poetry that is so empowering to women is a best seller.  Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is the best birthday gifts I got this year.  For a moment at my family birthday party it got a bit awkward because my two-year-old nephew kept flipping through the pages.  He liked that it had pictures and black pages (too funny!).  I’m grateful that no one else really tried to flip through it because sometimes there’s a time and a place for conversations about sexuality.

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Source: https://www.amazon.ca/Milk-Honey-rupi-kaur/dp/1502784270

I quickly realized that Kaur’s collection was not a one-time read; I knew that I would need to read this a few times in order to let the honesty and the power of the words sink in.  I applaud Rupi Kaur for her bravery and honesty, yet I also understand her compulsion to write the collection, as written in her foreword:

my heart woke me crying last night

how can i help i begged

my heart said

write the book

This foreword set the tone for the entire collection.  It’s about revealing and healing from past hurt.  It’s about finding and regaining control and power over heart and body.  It is a journey of realization and surviving.  Mostly, it is about healing.

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Source: http://femmagazine.com/2015/02/24/rupi-kaur-the-poetess-behind-milk-honey/

One of the things I loved most about this poetry collection is her overall positive message about being women.  Women are constantly being stripped of power and dignity through media and through patriarchal systems, yet she reminds her readers that women are strong and resilient:  “collectively, we’ve seen the worst of humankind and lived.  we have a piece of god in us… we are soft even when the roughness comes and breaks our skin–we live.  we fall and get up and keep living. we live through it all.  so every part of us is worth celebrating.” (From “Rupi Kaur: The Poetess Behind Milk & Honey” by Sabrina Estrella from “UCLA Feminist Magazine“)  I love that line, “every part of us is worth celebrating,” because it is one thing to say this/ write this, but is an entirely different to believe it and honour it.

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Source: https://thebookwars.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/review-milk-and-honey-by-rupi-kaur/

Having just broken up with my boyfriend, I think that my sister, who gifted me this book, knew that I needed it.  I needed to see my relationship as a gift, as moments to treasure and moments to learn from.  I needed to feel confident in myself again, to love myself first.  I do see my past relationship as a gift, and I always did.  Yet now I needed a reminder that I am enough.  I needed to remember that I am beautiful the way I am.  I needed to remember that I am a whole person and I don’t need someone to complete me.  I can find a partner, yet if I can’t love myself I will never be truly happy.

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Source: http://rebloggy.com/post/relationships-poetry-poem-living-relatable-milk-and-honey-rupi-kaur-woc-writers/138170724635

Ever since my grade 13 English class, I have known that poetry is powerful.  Poetry can heal.  I am so grateful for Rupi Kaur for writing Milk and Honey and the healing it has allowed me to find.

rupi kaur

Source: http://www.hercampus.com/school/cincinnati/book-changed-my-life

“if you were born with /  the weakness to fall / you were born with / the strength to rise” (Kaur, Pg 156)

“So God created humans in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

6358166986456201501592463801_rupi kaur 4.jpg

Source: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/10-rupi-kaur-quotes-girl-read

“Faith and Feminism”: authentic living

My thoughts on someone else’s thoughts about writers’ thoughts.

I picked up Helen LaKelly Hunt’s book Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance because of the last tag line in the title: “Five Spirited and Spiritual Women Throughout History.” Spirited women!

helen
Source: http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Feminism-A-Holy-Alliance/dp/0743483723

On the back of the book, the synopsis asks the question, “Why do so many women of faith have such a strong aversion to feminism? And why do so many feminists have an ardent mistrust of religion?” I resound with that second question. I do believe that my faith enriches my feminism. Helen LaKelly Hunt, through her thoughts on five females figures, is offering a challenge for a life of wholeness, to live a life that finds strength in vulnerability.

Stained Glass Depicting Jesus Christ March 4, 2004

Stained Glass Depicting Jesus Christ March 4, 2004


Source: http://www.living-consciously.com/2013/08/jesus-is-a-feminist.html

Throughout the book, Hunt looks at five different women and the contributions they have made to faith and feminism. She looks at five different areas of life and how these women provide insight into these five areas: pain, shadow, voice, action, communion.

I found the book inspiring and engaging, but I mostly enjoyed, or rather needed, the chapters on pain and shadow.

1.) Pain: Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
At some point in school or in life, everyone has read or seen one of Emily Dickinson’s poems. She was a transcendental poet. In it’s simplest form, transcendental poetry sought to show the good in humanity and in nature and the corruption of institutions. Some speculate that Dickinson had some horrible emotional experience at school that drove her to stay home, and some speculate that she lived with the crippling pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Either way, her pain was very real and stayed with her constantly. So why is it that Dickinson and her poetry is chosen by Hunt to show the pain of life? Hunt states that “Emily Dickinson’s life teaches us that embracing the pain in our lives can be the doorway to deeper meaning and purpose” (24). Furthermore, Hunt writes that “Emily did not allow . . . hopelessness to deaden her feelings. Instead, she used it to deepened her experience of grief . . . her poems become a celebration of feeling … Emily understood that pain and joy are eternally mixed–and that each can be access through the other” (34).

This paradox of joy and pain is true. Her poetry is able to see through the every-day busyness and see life for what it truly is, whether it be a dark, lonely night or a bird bathing in a puddle. As Hunt says, “Emily’s poetry charts an evolution from avoiding pain to claiming and being defined by it. Pain shapes us, breaking us open so that we can reconfigure ourselves in a way that more deeply mirrors our authentic self” (36). Pain allows us to cut away all of the trim and masks that we wear and to be our authentic, true selves. Pain cuts to the core, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. By having Dickinson as an example, women, and all humans, can see an example of how pain allows us to not only see ourselves more clearly, but to also see those around us more clearly. Pain creates empathy and understanding, something that Jesus was famous for during his time on earth.

I think that if Dickinson was alive today, she would appreciate the song “The Valley Song” by Jars of Clay: “I will sing of your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy.”
emily.1
Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/emily-dickinson

2.) Shadow: Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Ever since I read Barbara Brown Taylor’s book Learning to Walk in the Dark, I have had a new appreciation for shadows and darkness as a part of life. While in a Spanish convent, Teresa struggled with the desire to have a social life (something that was common in nunneries at the time because of the wealth and power of the church) and the desire to truly love God completely, away from distractions. In her struggles, she revolutionized how people pray and is still taught as a Doctor of the Catholic Church. The struggles she encountered trying to accept herself and then figuring out how to live a fulfilling life caused her to explore her shadows. She never shied away from admitting her flaws and owning her darkness. As Hunt writes, “Shadow characteristics can become detriments or assets. It depends on whether they remain hidden and examined or are accepted with vulnerability. Teresa’s story illuminates the path of courageous self-acceptance that leads to the open heart” (53).

Vulnerability yet determination to create change. Teresa was aware of herself, the bright and the dark. Knowing herself, she was able to find the confidence to create positive change while maintaining her belief that she should not forget her shadows and how they are a part of her true self.

teresa
Source: http://communio.stblogs.org/index.php/2015/03/saint-teresa-of-avila-at-500/

In the remaining chapters of the book, Hunt tells the story of Sojourner Truth, a former slave, who learned how to voice her opinions and sought equality for all people; Lucretia Mott, an influential leader within the Quakers and in the USA, who took action to ensure that women were treated equally, even down to her marriage which was a true partnership during a time when most wives were repressed; and Dorothy Day, whose relationship with God came through her humanitarian work, who valued community and communion with others. All of these women were heroes of faith and feminism who inspired Hunt and I appreciated reading Hunt’s own journey to wholeness by learning from amazing women who struggled before.

From Hunt’s book I am reminded that in our lives, we need to remember that we are complicated. We need to spend time listening to ourselves so that we can live a whole life. We have bright spots and dark shadows; we have chances to speak and to act; we have opportunities to join and live in community with those around us. In order to live a full life, we need to accept and love who we are and be inspired by those around us. Being open to an authentic life leads to authentic actions, as shown in the lives of these five amazing women.

wonder
Source: http://comicsalliance.com/wonder-woman-feminism-meredith-finch-david-finch-dc/

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

“The point of telling our stories, even if only to ourselves, is to help us resurrect the parts we have buried. When we unearth them, even if it’s difficult, we can integrate them into our sense of who we are. Often in our buried self our true power lies.” (Helen LaKelly Hunt)

Reasons-not-to-be-a-feminist
Source: http://sotospeakjournal.org/category/local-feminists/

“Who Do You Think You Are?”: International Women’s Day

The adult book club I belong to (I also lead a book club at work for teens) is getting me to read all kinds of books I would have never chosen to read on my own. We call it Wings and Winning Words Wednesday. We meet for wings on Wednesday and we pick a book to read from a major list of award winners. This month’s book? Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro.

munro
Source: http://www.amazon.ca/Modern-Classics-Who-You-Think/dp/0143054953

Our discussion about this book was very interesting. I had a really hard time connecting with Rose. Rose is the main character in a series of short stories, all the way from childhood to parenthood. Rose did not seem believable to me because growing up I was never around such a weak woman who changes herself so quickly to the people she makes herself dependent upon.

I am so very lucky. I grew up around strong women. My Grandma worked as a nurse, raised five children, and still managed to help my Grandpa around the farm. She gardened, baked, cooked, and babysat the 10 kids that lived on the family farm. My Mom worked full time as an admin assistant in town, milked cows, worked on the weekends on the farm, raised three children, baked, cooked, had amazing gardens, and enjoyed doing painting crafts. I like to joke that the women in my family (Grandma, Mom, and my aunts) worked in town to support their husbands’ hobby farm.

cow
Source: http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/04/03/fund-file-the-imminent-demise-of-the-taiwanese-cash-cow/

The women in my family worked together. They shared, they encouraged, and they survived. This attitude of confidence and strength in ability has been passed on to my cousins and all of my female cousins are strong, independent, and confident women. They are professors, legal assistants, designers, teachers, historians, youth workers, and wonderful women who are truly beautiful from the inside out.

Back to Munro’s novel: the strength and support of the women surrounding me as I grew up is why I could not relate to the character Munro creates in her short story collection. In the collection, Rose has to compete with her mother. Her mother constantly tries to out complain and show up her daughter in every instance. Everything is a competition. As Rose grows up, she is curious in a passive way and she allows herself to be manipulated and pulled all sorts of ways. At one point she realizes she does not love her fiance and tries to break it off with him, yet realizes that without him she has no sense of self or purpose. How sad and tragic! Yet, one of the other book club members could relate entirely. Rose’s history and Rose’ mother were all too familiar in the personalities of their mothers and their sisters. I was shocked. I had no idea that the stories Munro wrote were mirrors of some women’s lives.

spank
Source: http://sophiemarlowelcmedia1415.blogspot.ca/2014/10/gender-stereotypes.html

This week I have been listening to the album Stay Gold by First Aid Kit. One of the songs on the album, “Heaven Knows,” seemed to fit perfectly with this collection of stories: Heaven Knows.

Here are some of my favourite lines:

You’ve spent a year staring into a mirror
Another one trying to figure out what you saw
Paid so much attention to what you’re not
You have no idea who you are

You’ve lost yourself in others’
Expectations of you
Now you prefer this caricature before being true
But you’re better than that…

Lost in others’ expectations and paying so much attention to what you’re not that you have no idea who you are.
Those are terrifying ideas and descriptions.

So, on the eve International Women’s Day, I am so grateful for the women I have in my life. I am grateful especially to my Grandma and my Mom who were strong and independent in a time and place where I think that the majority of women were lost and submissive.

This weekend I will make sure that I support the women around me who are strong and especially those who need the encouragement and support to see themselves for who they are and to see the beauty and strength that lies within them. God created humans and he loved them. He doesn’t love one more than the other and He never assigned roles for each. Society assigns gender, so I am even more grateful that I belong to a family who sees humans as they are: creations of God.

Here are some hashtags to get us started: #MakeItHappen #womensday #IWD2015 #internationalwomensday #PaintItPurple

happen
Source: http://www.freeallpictures.com/international-womens-day-theme-2015.html

God created human beings; he created them godlike, reflecting God’s nature. (Genesis 1:26)

Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male. (Simone de Beauvoir)

Women are leaders everywhere you look — from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes. (Nancy Pelosi)

women
Source: http://www.happywomensday2015quotes.com/top-10-inspirational-happy-womens-day-2015-shayari-sms-messages-in-hindi-for-facebook.html

“The Homesman”: feminist western

I don’t go out to movies on my own very often, but it seems like there are a few movies I want to see that I know my friends wouldn’t pay money to see. So, I walk down to the theatre and get my ticket and popcorn for one. I’ve seen some good films, and also some duds. What kind of movies? Year of the Dog where a woman tries to change the lives of those around her by bringing the plight of animals to the attention of all who will listen. The Mountie which used the poetry of Robert Service and the beauty of the Yukon to tell the story of a Mountie to rides into town and cleans it up. Also, Meek’s Cutoff where a group in a wagon train decides to follow Meek as a guide and ends with the group hungry, thirsty, and lost in the middle of nowhere with no hope. But one of the best has been The Homesman.

homesman
Source: http://www.thehollywoodnews.com/2014/08/07/must-watch-tommy-lee-jones-stars-directs-in-uk-trailer-for-the-homesman/

Tommy Lee Jones co-writes (adaptation from Glendon Swarthout’s novel), directs, produces, and stars in this film that shows the journey of three women–wives and mothers–who are mentally broken and sent back across the prairie East to their families. The West was not a friendly place for women. Isolation. Hard work. Abusive husbands. Lack of opportunities. Little to no support. These women needed to be strong, psychically, mentally, and emotionally. Yet, what happened to those women who were not able to thrive in the frontier conditions? Tommy Lee Jones shows, in sometimes painful and disturbing ways, the lives of some of these frontier women. Of the three women who are locked up and sent back East, one of them is only 19 and had already had three babies die. And even for the women who did survive in the West, there were little opportunities. The woman who agrees and volunteers to drive these three women across the prairies is 31 years old, single, owns her own land, farms her land, and yet no man will marry her because they want to go back East for a wife. The inequality of power in the West is highlighted in Tommy Lee Jone’s haunting film.

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Source: http://nameofthesong.blogspot.ca/2014/09/the-homesman-us-trailer-song-music.html

In an interview about the movie, Hilary Swank (who plays the role of the woman who volunteers to bring the women East) says, “This movie is a feminist movie because it really deals with the objectification and trivialization of women. It takes place in the middle of the 1800s and it’s dealing with issues we still deal with today.” Inequality of power and objectification are major issues in today’s society and the film highlights the destructive nature of that power hierarchy through the lives of three women who go crazy and are sent away to be dealt with. The most striking character is that played by Hilary Swank. Mary Bee Cuddy is constantly being told in the film that she is ‘bossy.’ Her plans to expand her farm and better the quality of her life (like buying a piano) are tolerated by the frontier community of Loup, yet she is not accepted. In at least one scene, she is rejected as a wife because she is bossy and that the man wants to go East to find a proper wife. Mary Bee is intelligent, strong, and lonely. Yet in the West, there is no place for a woman on her own or a strongly independent woman. The men of the West seek to hold onto their power and in some cases use and destroy the women around them in order to assert their power. In her book Captive Bodies: Postcolonial Subjectivity in Cinema, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster writes, “for the moment, the central factor behind the current lack of feminist westerns is best described by B. Ruby Rich: ‘the basic dilemma facing anyone intent on fashioning a mainstream version of the female western is obvious: how to find a way to give women as much power as men’ (22)” (pg 99). In the case of The Homesman, Mary Bee Cuddy has equal opportunities and power on paper, yet in the society in which she lives, she will never been taken seriously.

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Source: http://blogs.whatsontv.co.uk/movietalk/page/3/

In an interview, Tommy Lee Jones says his intentions weren’t to make a feminist western, but he does say this: “I’m a humanist, but my grandmother, mother, wife and daughter are all female, and I like those people. I’m a feminist but that is not all I am.” Humanist. Tommy Lee Jones writes a script about power inequality as it relates to women, the mentally ill, and those who do not follow the strict codes set out by society. Clearly this is a film that grapples with issues which Hollywood is eager to take on; the cast includes big names like Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, James Spader, John Lithgow, Jesse Plemons, William Fichtner, and Meryl Streep. True, the women do not triumph in the film and in the end, the men are the ones with the power and the control over life, yet The Homesman strays from the celebration of male heroism and focuses on the dangers of unchecked discrimination within a society.

Another western that seeks to show that intelligent, independent women did exist in the Wild West is the CBC’s new show Strange Empire. In an attempt to force women into prostitution, a man has his gang kill several men looking to settle near the Alberta-Montana border and blames the murders on the Natives in the area. The show includes a Metis woman who is strong and a capable leader and a female medical doctor from Toronto on a honeymoon gone wrong. As they try to survive and get used to life without their husbands and fathers around, the make-shift town run by these women shows that the power balance can be upended. The show highlights the dangers of a society in which men discriminate and oppress women, Natives, and anyone who is not seeking power and wealth.

strange.empire
Source: http://www.cbc.ca/mediacentre/strange-empire.html#.VKSHuCvF-9Y

I truly enjoyed The Homesman because it showed a woman, Mary Bee Cuddy, who was not a tomboy or presented in a masculine way and followed her life as she struggled to survive and thrive in a society and a time in history which was controlled and dominated men. It was not an easy film to watch and seeing it alone left me feeling a little blue, yet I am glad I decided to venture out on my own. Times have changed, yet films like The Homesman remind us that as a society, we have a ways to go before we reach equality.

“Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.” (Arthur C. Clarke)
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

equal
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/haleyelise/4040072237/?rb=1

Androgyny: breaking binaries

Lately on Facebook there have been some links to the website BuzzFeed.com that have piqued my interest. Before reading any further, take a look at the photos in this post by Sarah Karlan: “Photographing the Butch Women of San Francisco.”

While I was in High School one of my main goals (well, fashion goals) was exactly what Meg Allen describes in the above article: I wanted to “choose to exist and identify outside the gender binary.” I hated the objectification of my female classmates and the way that the boys reacted to the girls in my classes. So, to exist outside of that gender-specific clothing, I wore boys baggy clothes and cut my hair short (my poor Mother was so happy whenever I wore a dress or skirt!). As Simone de Beauvoir writes in her book The Second Sex, “The woman who does not conform devaluates herself sexually and hence, socially, since sexual values are an integral feature of society . . . When one fails to adhere to an accepted code, one becomes an insurgent. . . Woman … knows that when she is looked at she is not considered apart from her appearance: she is judged, respected, desired, by and through her toilette” (pg 642-43). I have a very clear memory from High School of someone trying to insult me by calling me ‘k.d. lang’ and the insult backfired because I was honoured that I might look like k.d. lang.

kd
Source: http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/celebrity/Photos+lang+through+years/4600849/story.html
me

I love Meg Allen’s photo from the Buzzfeed.com link. Although I am not a lesbian, I have thought a lot about the idea of androgyny over the years. In University I was in charge of giving a seminar lecture to my classmates about the novel To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. It was the perfect book for me to explore!

lighthouse

I fell in love with Woolf’s character Lily Briscoe. Lily is a single woman, a painter, an observer, and a character longing to distance herself from the binary of male/female or feminine/masculine. One of Woolf’s main theories is that in order to move away from objectifying genders in art, artists need to embrace the freedom of androgyny, particularly the androgynous mind (Room with a View). She ” approaches the text as a collaborative production involving the writer, the reader and their social, political and cultural contexts” (Melba Cuddy-Keane in Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory (Editor Ireana R. Makaryk), pg 500). Furthermore, in her writing, “the relationship she establishes with the reader is one of interactive exchange not of authoritarian instruction” (500). Because of Woolf’s connection to me as a reader through her character Lily, I was given a great example of a woman longing to be apart from the binary of female and male in society, and all of the expectations, stereotypes, and biases that come along with those distinctions.

In her article/paper “Escaping Femininty: The Body and Androgynous Painting in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse,” Sara Martinsson looks at the role of Lily and the idea of androgyny and has this to say:

By her movement towards androgyny Lily deviates from other women and thereby becomes less desirable for men. Most men seem to be apprehensive of Lily and keep themselves distanced from her. Mrs. Ramsay explains men’s disinterest of Lily by pointing to the fact that there is something special with Lily: “There was in Lily a thread of something; something of her own which Mrs. Ramsay liked very much indeed, but no man would, she feared” (Woolf, Lighthouse 75). This “thing of her own” might be Lily’s striving for an androgynous mind. (pg 21)

As Mrs. Ramsay notices (or I suppose Woolf allows Mrs. Ramsay to notice and, therefore, allows her reader to notice), Lily, as an androgynous person, is not sexually appealing to the men of society, although Lily’s sense of self appeals to Mrs. Ramsay. It is that place (respect, desire, fear, dismissal) that creates such pain and confusion for those men and women who seek to live in the space between male and female. Just like Mrs. Ramsay, as I look at Meg Allen’s photographs in her “Butch” collection, I can’t help but like what I see, yet I know that those who choose to leave behind the binary of male/female have a hard time interacting with and in society.
coffee
Source: http://megallenstudio.com/butch/

Although I am not as conscious about looking androgynous these days, I am still determined to find that line between male and female and to play with those dichotomies whenever I can. And I am always envious of k.d. lang’s hair! The more we learn about each other, the more we can love each other for who we are instead of what we are.

“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages” (The Good Solider, Woolf).
“Love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything” (1 Peter 4:9).

love
Source: http://colingibsonblog.blogspot.ca/

International Women’s Day: equality on the screen

Last weekend I saturated myself with 1980s futuristic dystopian films hoping to find a film I could show in my English class to pair with the play “Frankenstein” by Alden Nowlan. I watched (for the first time) 1987’s Robocop, directed by Paul Verhoeven; 1984’s Terminator, directed by James Cameron; and 1982’s Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott. For me the clear winner was Robocop (although I didn’t show it to my class because of the unnecessary amount of F-Bombs and a crack-snorting scene)! Why was it the winner? Because according to the writers, actors, directors and movie goers of 1987, it is completely plausible that in an action film females can actually be equals with male co-actors.

robocop1
(Robocop and his partner Lewis)
Source: dvdactive.com/reviews/dvd/robocop.html

As a new fan of Robocop I was upset to learn that the new Robocop (2014) has changed Lewis from a woman to a man. Why? BUT WHY?

lewis
(Anne vs. Jack)
Source: http://screenrant.com/robocop-2014-movie-remake-vs-original/

After a week of simmering and wondering, especially thinking about International Women’s Day and what that means to me, I couldn’t help but ask BUY WHY? Is the only role for women in action films to be either the Femme Fatale or the Damsel in Distress? BUT WHY can’t we have intelligent, tough, and relatable women in action films? To be fair, Blade Runner and Terminator didn’t do any better (so not all movies from the 1980s are perfect [what??]). I suppose that is why I loved Robocop and the positive role model in Anne Lewis. But will we really have to wait until 2043 until we can start to see women portrayed on the screen as equals to their male action film co-stars?

In her blog “Action Movies and Gender Roles,” Julie Clawson asks this same question. As she notes about most action movies, female characters “add some emotional content to the plot, stretch the story a bit, but mostly serve as eye-candy.” Again, I come back to Robocop because Anne Lewis was none of these things. She was a police office, a partner, an equal, and she was not there to add emotional content to the story. She was there to be Anne Lewis: kick-butt cop who didn’t need to put on her makeup or skin-tight leather suit before putting on her bullet-proof vest.

I think that phrase YOU CAN’T BE WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE is true. This plain fact is why I have been thinking of Robocop all week. In Anne Lewis and the world of Robocop we have an image of a world where genders are equal. We need more women on screen and in books who take on the role of hero, regardless of the outfit, the makeup, the hair style, the body shape, and the sexual orientation. Really, that is the goal of Feminism: equality for all.

So I will continue to spread the good word about Robocop and Anne Lewis, although not as a film study in the classroom.

women.2
Source: http://365give.ca/day-160-100th-anniversary-of-international-womens-day/

“I believe that it is as much a right and duty for women to do something with their lives as for men and we are not going to be satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us.” (Louisa May Alcott)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

equality
Source: http://www.pattersonhs.com/pattersonpress/2013/01/opinion-women-still-face-discrimination-stereotypes/gender-equality-illustration/