Friday, December 11, 2009

New Class Offered Next Semester

Hey everyone Girls and Leadership will be offered next semester with Meredith Tweed, and a prerequisite is Girls Studies sooooooooo all of you are eligible.

The course number is WST 4021!!! take it it is Thursdays 6-9:50( i think that time is correct)

Book Review of White Oleander

Book Review
Janet Fitch’s "White Oleander"


Astrid Magnussen takes the reader with her as she journeys from her strange, but familiar world with her mother through her unpredictable, tragic teen life into womanhood. Janet Fitch’s first novel "White Oleander", follows the narrator, Astrid through the many twists and turns her life takes after an enormously life-altering event.

Accompanying Astrid through the heartbreaking episodes that are her life, enables the reader to understand why someone who has the life Astrid has, would make the decisions that she does. Without the context of the book, Astrid may seem like an unlikely character, however, the situations she finds herself having to survive explains how she develops into the person she becomes. This aspect of the novel expands beyond the book into the real world.

With "White Oleander", Fitch is able to do two important things for different kinds of readers. For people, particularly females, who have lived a life as chaotic as Astrid’s, Fitch provides a character with whom they can identify. This is important because people with this sort of history rarely find characters they can truly recognize themselves in. For anyone who can identify with her, Astrid is written so realistically. The choices Astrid makes and Fitch’s development of her character are flawless.

For people who cannot necessarily identify with Astrid or her life, Fitch is able to generate awareness to readers that they might never have developed otherwise. This awareness facet of Fitch’s book is of great importance. Fortunately, the majority of people find it difficult to identify with Astrid or her disastrous life. However, Fitch’s realistic approach to this book makes it difficult to ignore the realities faced by so many young women in the position of the fictional Astrid.

It becomes obvious fairly early on in the book, that Fitch has a strong understanding of the type of character she writes in Astrid. For this book, Fitch did extensive research. Information was obtained from many perspectives that provide “outsiders” with the insight needed to understand the life, attitudes and decisions of someone like Astrid. By gathering information from kids of incarcerated parents, foster daughters, social workers and doctors, Fitch is able to write a full, rich person in Astrid.

While the situations Astrid faces may seem outlandish, there is nothing she faces that is completely ridiculous, when taken in context. A teenage girl getting shot by a foster mother may seem absurd, however, when you read about the life Astrid has with Starr and Ray, the events that take place and the character of Starr, Astrid getting shot does not seem so outlandish. Comparing this with the lives of real girls, in which outcomes may seem preposterous, living or knowing the events that lead up to those outcomes can make the endings seem almost logical. "White Oleander" educates people and expands awareness to some of the many realities faced by foster girls and/or children of imprisoned parents.

Before Astrid loses her mother, Ingrid, the two have a dysfunctional, bizarre life and relationship. Ingrid is cruel, evil and distant from Astrid, yet Astrid loves her. Ingrid is what Astrid knows and aspires to be. Ingrid’s distance and evil streak extend beyond Astrid into a relationship with a man. When Ingrid is left to feel the fool, she retaliates with murder. Thus begins the tragedy of Astrid’s life.

At only twelve years of age, Astrid is placed in her first of several foster homes and begins the long wait of her mother’s return. When Astrid is shown affection for the first time, she plummets into love with the (adult) boyfriend, Ray, of her foster mother. This relationship becomes sexual as Astrid tries desperately to find someone to hold onto (and someone to hold onto her). The tragedy that begins here torments the reader throughout the novel, as Astrid’s beautiful innocence is continuously ripped from her soul, until it is no more.

The affair Astrid pursues with Ray creates such a rift in Astrid’s and Ingrid’s relationship, that Astrid finally shows some anger and resentment towards her mother. Ingrid’s disapproval of the affair becomes more fervent and cruel. Calling Astrid “retarded” in a letter, she writes, “You’ll attach yourself to anyone who shows you the least bit of attention, won’t you?” (149). With her epic failure to provide Astrid the attention and affection any child would require, Ingrid has essentially created the devastating flaw that she so quickly despises her daughter for possessing.

Janet Fitch’s characters and stories in "White Oleander", have the ability to teach readers the significance adults have in children’s lives (including teenagers). The reader learns how a man can be seduced by a child, and how important it is for men to be steadfast in their decision to be appropriate. No matter how enticing and convincing Astrid became, Ray was a grown man and he was ultimately responsible for his actions as well as Astrid’s well-being (physical, mental and emotional). The strength this book holds is in its ability to educate adults on just how crucial their roles and decisions are to children. The instability, lack of love, neglect, and abuse that Astrid endures all contribute to the person she becomes. Any one person in Astrid’s life could have done or said things differently and changed the person she would become. It is an undeniable wakeup call to readers connected to children that their role matters and everything they do or say (or don’t do or say) can have an impact, positively or negatively.


Word Count: 912

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Film Review

Film Review: Mean Girls
Written by Elizabeth Nesbitt

This film was written by Tina Frey and Rosalind Wiseman in 2004. This movie deals with several girl issues family, friendships, body image and popularity. The movie begins with Cady played by Lindsay Lohan who had been home schooled in Africa. Her family moved to America in her senior year where she had to attend public high school. When Cady starts school she knows nothing about cliques. The first friends Cady encounters are known as the “Artsy freaks.” Cady then meets the “Plastics” a group of popular, gossiping, shopping, glamorous girls who see themselves as inferior to the other girls in school. Cady starts hanging out with the plastics, when she is really spying for her artsy freak friends. In Africa Cady had a good relationship with her parents and they enjoyed spending time together. Moving to America and attending public school Cady violates her parents trust by lying and having parties. Cady transforms into a plastic, fake, and a self-absorbed follower. She manipulates lies and backstabs in order to compete with Regina queen of the plastics played by Rachel McAdams. Regina and Cady get into all out war over Regina’s ex-boyfriend leaving a path of devastated fellow students.
Towards the end of the film Cady must evaluate how plastic she has become. She must reconcile with her family and friends that she hurt climbing to the top of the social pyramid.

Around the first week of October we did a blog on girls’ and body image. In the film Cady is surprised about the girls critiquing their bodies. Cady states “I thought there was only skinny and fat.” She now knows there is much more to criticize about your body. Cady doesn’t understand the obsession the plastics have with the way a person looks. Yet when she transforms into a plastic she is primping and glossing her lips all the time. Another body image problem in the movie is all the students eat unhealthy. The film makes this point in the cafeteria scene. There was a designated table for the girls’ who eat their feelings, a table for girls’ who eat nothing, and a table for five girls’ who share one diet coke. I was surprised the film made reference to eating problems in Girls.” I also was a little perplexed that the film didn’t have an adult character say something in the cafeteria to address the eating problem.

Finally another girls’ issue in the movie was popularity. It amazes me the extremes people will go to in order to be popular. In the movie one girl states “Regina punched me in the face, and it was awesome.” The plastics are glorified in the film and the other girl students know everything about the plastics, yet the plastics act like the other girls’ don’t
even exist. The popularity issue in the film reminded me of the true legal case involving the girl who killed her friend a cheerleader so she could take her spot on the cheerleading squad. I think we as a culture need to evaluate what impressions we teach girls’ and young children. This film Mean Girls’ really touched on a lot of the issues we have written about in our weekly blogs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Film Review- Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

The Beauty of Being Norah
by Amanda Williams



Film Overview: The film Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist records one eventful night for Nick, Norah and their friends. As passionate lovers of music, Nick and Norah first meet when they set out separately on a quest to find the same elusive, obscure band performing late that night. Upon meeting Norah, Nick begins to really like her (she also begins to truly like Nick). Norah must then choose whether or not she is willing to compete against Nick’s “perfect” ex-girlfriend in order to win Nick over.



Norah, played by Kat Dennings (40 Year Old Virgin), is not the kind of girl we typically see portrayed in film. However, she does seem to be more of a real girl. She seems very much like someone you might know in real life. In this way, Norah challenges society’s depiction of what it means to be a girl.


Norah’s character challenges the stereotypical “girl” role & develops into someone different, yet familiar. Norah listens to obscure bands and walks around wearing huge headphones. (In media, this is typically something a boy would do.) She is self-conscious (like most girls) but also finds strength when she needs it (like most girls). She calls people out on their nonsense, but because she is not completely confident, she tends to do it passively. She has a rich and very powerful father but does not let everyone know about it and does not act as if she is better than everyone because of it.

Norah (Kat) is a very pretty, even beautiful, girl. She is not the “traditional” pretty, though. She is not a tiny, skinny girl. While she is certainly not plus-size, she is definitely curvy. Her body and beauty is more representative of the average, attractive American girl than the representations of girls we have gotten used to seeing in the media. This is important for all the girls in America who rarely see a true representation of themselves in movies or on TV. Norah is also quite busty, yet she does not flaunt that- in fact, she almost seems self-conscious about that, as well. This is also good for girls, because they can see that they do not have to act or dress in a way that is revealing in order to be attractive.

Norah seems to change her view of herself based on the circumstances and who she is around. This challenges media’s typical portrayal of girls and women because the media normally shows females changing their attitudes and behaviors consciously in order to be appropriate or to fit in. In Norah’s case, though, (as in real life) she does not seem to be aware of how her attitude and behavior changes because of her surroundings. For girls with identity or self-esteem issues (and I think that covers most of them/us), this shows that they are normal and watching Norah might help them become more aware of their own subtle changes in different circumstances.

When Norah is first getting to know Nick, she is awkward and uncomfortable about herself in general, and about her appearance, in particular. She jokes with Nick about being able to “floss” with his ex. When Norah is compared to Nick’s ex, Tris, (either by herself or by someone else), she instantly feels physically inferior. Tris tells Norah that she (Norah) will have better luck with college guys because “that’s when guys really get into stuff like how smart a girl is. You know, it’s not all about looks” (15:25). When Norah is alone, however, she seems completely content with her body and with herself as a person.

This movie is a wonderful portrayal of what it is really like to be a girl. It will help girls to see that they can be beautiful as they are, that they do not need to change themselves for anyone other than themselves, and that being insecure is completely normal. I loved this movie. It is well-written, the acting is great, and it is well-directed. The result is a touching film that will make you laugh.

A Barbie Doll in Amish attire

I saw this story and wanted to share it! It is about how the Sun Maid raisin girl has been given a makeover. Another marketing atrocity that will affect our girls.

"Nevertheless, Sun-Maid recently decided to join Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth's in giving the female face of their product a substantial makeover from a young, early 20th-century girl into a buxom, modern young woman, leading some to say that the newly made-over raisin girl looks like a Barbie Doll in Amish attire"


Click Below for the full story:

http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/108296/sun-maid-girl-makeover-sparks-controversy.html?mod=family-love_money

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Awesome Website

I'm not sure if this video has come up during class or not (so forgive me if it has) but I love it! If you click "agree" to the question, you will get a short, amazing video. Enjoy the rest of the semester!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Film Project: The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides. Dir. Sofia Coppola. American Zoetrope, 2000

The Virgin Suicides was a film set in the mid 1970s in a small upscale neighborhood in Michigan. The basic premise of the story is the life of five teenage girls settled in a seemingly normal American society, and how the pressures of adolescence changed their existence. What I found to be the most compelling aspect of the movie was the type of parents that these five young girls had influencing every facet of their lives. What these two parents expected of their daughters (more so the mother than the father), was an unattainable picture perfect idea of the untouched, unheard, god-loving American beauty.
To their community they are viewed as just that, until a tragic chain of events is ignited by the suicide of the youngest daughter, Cecilia. The only other daughter that plays a big role in the movie was Lux Lisbon (Kirsten Dunst) who is one of the older sisters. Lux’s biggest struggles are with her sexuality and with approval, which of course is only addressed by her parents through strict discipline.

The girls seemed to have an incredibly strong bond with one another, just as a group of close girlfriends would, which ultimately was a disservice to them. Many teenage girls believe that their parents are too strict with them and tend to turn to their friends as an outlet. This is when detrimental pacts start to arise, because girls tend to lose trust in their parents and put more reliance on their friends. The theme from this movie that most relates to girls studies is the idea of keeping girls ill-informed and under lock and key will keep them safe. Both parents felt they were very loving and grounded, but they paid zero attention to the girl’s emotional needs, which caused all of their children to have internal conflict. There were major issues with sexuality, religion, independence, and communication. The mother felt that it was appropriate to raise daughters in the image of chastity and purity, over self-expression and knowledge.

There was one scene in the movie where the girls are allowed to go to their school dance, and Lux didn’t come home with her sisters that night. She had spent the night with her first love, Trip Fontain (Josh Jartnett) and woke up heart broken because he had left her in the night. This is when you really start to see Lux seek for approval through smoking cigarettes and sleeping with random guys on her rooftop. This is when the parents became even stricter with the daughters. They took them out of school, which cut of all socialization with anyone but each other. She also took away their rock record albums that even remotely hinted sexuality, because in her eyes anything sexual was evil. This is when you really began to see the girls struggle to understand themselves and their situation. Lux seeks for approval through smoking cigarettes and sleeping with random guys on her rooftop.

The text that most relates to this film was The Purity Myth by Valenti. This movie was the visual aide portraying the repercussion of young girls who are expected to live up to morals and ideals that completely stifle their sanity and well being.

Week thirteen Girls' Activism & Cybergrrls

Be Assertive, Take Action and Don’t Be Afraid of What You Believe

While I was reading it made me think and take a closer look at how I feel about girls’ issues and women’s’ rights. Girls’ need an outlet like a blog on the web to express their feelings.The internet as a form of communication can be good. The internet can also be a nightmare, not knowing who you are chatting with. In the book Queer Girls’ “In other words, youth make use of the Internet as a realm to try out. Play with, and perform their identities and desires through provisional combinations of images, words, and narratives.” (pg170) In my opinion this clearly states the internet is an outlet for girls’. The book makes its case for the need of queer websites that allow middle aged girls’ the ability to chat with other girls’ ask questions, receive answers and not be criticized.(pg171) Suicide rates are higher among queer girls’ due to isolation, and harassment. Web sites like ikissgirls and birls are making it possible for girls’ who are queer, bisexual or girls’ who identify as boys’ to express themselves openly. The writer of the book chatted and took notes from two online groups ikissgirls and birls. Her observations express how girls’ need these online groups for support, education and social recognition. I feel everyone needs a place, space or group. We all have different hobbies, talents, and employment which separate us while making us unique individuals. I think everyone needs to feel a since of belonging and individuality this can be achieved through different groups online. It is extremely important to listen to girls’ by listening you can gain perspective about where they are coming from. Listening can enable parents and others to understand how girls’ feel about different subjects, questions girls’ have and hopefully to provide answers. Listening is a powerful tool we all need to use it more often.

In the red book I like the story Ms. President. In the story she is discovering the definition for extraordinary.”I think I have the answer. It’s you, it’s me, it’s us together, as a generation who can find the extra in each of our ordinary lives so that we can make a positive impact on the world we live in.”(pg 230)I think this girl really hits home about together we can make a difference in our world she is a very smart girl. She also states “Ordinary girls have the power to be truly extraordinary.”(pg 231)She believes girls can do anything and I do to. I was really impressed by the story repeat. This girl looks at the world and how history has repeated. She does an incredible job of telling the truth that no one wants to hear. She says “we will be humans we will close our eyes once more to the pain of the world because it hurts too much to see it” This story is why we need to listen to girls.’ I think if we would listen to this generation we could learn from them and just maybe not keep repeating.

The writer in the purity myth tells us to go out and make a difference. Get organized and educated find out about current legislation affecting women’s rights. Another key element is support local organizations in your communities by getting involved. Help to form local groups that impact girls’ and women’s rights.

By: Elizabeth Nesbitt

Film Project:Mean Girls

Mean Girls, a 2004 film written by Tina Fey and Rosalind Wiseman, is a film overflowing with modern girl culture. The film tackles the issues of girls and family, sexuality, friendships, and school. The film documents 16 year old Cady Heron’s pilgrimage out of Africa and home schooling and into the modern and cruel world of American teenage girls and “The Plastics.” The Plastics are a group of gossiping, glamorous popularity queens who consume themselves with primping, shopping, and making everyone feel inferior to them. New to the school, Cady is befriended by the “Art Freaks” and delves into the clique of The Plastics accidentally where she serves as a spy for the Art Freaks. Soon enough Cady is in over her head both the audience and Cady find it difficult to understand where the Plastic ends and the real Cady begins. The film climaxes with the Plastics’ queen bee dethroned and Cady being revealed. As the film draws to an end Cady must evaluate just how Plastic she is and reconcile her persona with the family and friends she has hurt on her way to the top of the social pyramid.

Cady Heron is a perfect example of what many girls experience in their lives and specifically in high school. When Cady enters school she is like a “Martian” when compared to the other students. She is not up to date with the popular music or trends. She spends time with her parents and enjoys them, unlike the other girls, specifically Regina George (The Queen Plastic), who is constantly berating her mother. By the end of the movie Cady is lying to her parents and violating their trust by having parties in their absence.

Another very crucial part of Cady’s socialization in high school is her relationship to her academic progress. When she enters school, Cady is in 12th grade Caluclus and truly gifted yet, after meeting a cute boy in class, she is failing. She often feigns confusion in an attempt to talk to the boy and ask him to tutor her. The strange thing is, Cady continues doing poorly and even opts out of the math league all in an effort to not appear nerdy or too intelligent. We previously discussed a similar practice employed by many girls, especially in middle school, where they feel doing poorly is cool or where they simply stop achieving their previous level of success.

Body image is another theme addressed in the film. Cady is surprised when the girls were critiquing their bodies. She even goes on to say, I thought there was only skinny and fat. But now I know there’s much more to criticize about your body. Cady, unexposed to the vanity of the other girls doesn’t understand the obsession with looks, yet by the end of the movie she herself is constantly primping and glossing her lips. The most disturbing thing was how accepted unhealthy eating was to the kids in the movie. There’s are even designated lunch tables for the girls who eat their feelings and the girls who eat nothing, a group of about 5 girls sharing one diet coke. The film obviously sought to satire eating disorders yet it offered no real solution to the issues of body image and eating disorders.

Most importantly, Mean Girls highlights the extents to which Cady and the other girls go through to reach popularity. The worshipped Plastics are the center of everyone’s universe. One girl even says, “Once Regina George punched me in the face. And it was awesome!” I was completely taken aback during this scene. How can one think it’s awesome to be punched in the face?! The bottom line is that these Plastics are so exalted. All these girls know everything about the Plastics and the Plastics do not even know they exist! Girls, as we’ve learned, usually end up in cliques consisting of a few intimate friends yet in our readings there was consistently the theme of wanting to be popular despite the ramifications that come with it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Film Project - Juno

I chose to watch Juno for this film project, even though Now & Then is one of my favorite movies from my teenage years and I have already seen Mean Girls and Thirteen.

I thought this movie was a pretty good enactment of how teenage pregnancy occurs. I applaud how she handles her "situation" as far as how everyone else looks at her. I feel she made a responsible decision as to what to do with her child, considering she was a child herself and had no real way of supporting her baby. This movie takes you through all her emotions, although I feel like if I had been her I would have been freaking out a lot more than that. She kind of took on the whole pregnancy thing herself, left out the father and didn't really involve anyone else for the most part. She was naive, yet responsible for her age (except for the part about getting pregnant... haha).

I feel as though this is a movie that would help a fellow pregnant teenager to feel better about her situation. Obviously this kind of thing happens a lot, it seems as though there are a lot more teenage pregnancies occurring now than when I was in high school. The film shows how Juno was judged based on her situation, and how the father of the child, also a teenager, wasn't really impacted by the situation - although I think that is because Juno wanted it that way. I feel like the movie didn't go in-depth enough about all of the stresses that come with being pregnant at that age. It kind of touched on how she felt at school, but there is more to it than that.

I am choosing to focus on Juno because I feel that because she was a strong person, this didn't phase her as much as it would have someone who may not have been as strong. Other parents didn't care for her - and she didn't care. She didn't really care what anyone thought of her, this goes for while she was pregnant and prior to that. The friends she had accepted her for who she was, and those who didn't... well they just didn't matter. There aren't a lot of teenagers who could say the same. She was put in a tough situation and she made the right and responsible decision - mostly on her own. I feel like the pregnancy allowed her to become more in touch with herself and her feelings, especially her feelings about the father of the baby.

I feel like the part of the movie that most teenage moms could identify with was when she told her parents. There was shock, disgust, and in time - acceptance. Her stepmother was there for her when she went to the doctor, and her dad tried his best to show her that he loved her. This would be the ideal situation for any girl trying to tell her parents this kind of news.

This movie covers many things discussed through our text and other readings/assignments this semester. It deals with self confidence, sexuality, pregnancy, and family - to touch on a few things. Teenagers are going to experiment with sex. This movie illustrates the many consequences of having sex and getting pregnant.

Lauren Kousouris
L1434451

Girls Will Be... Mean Girls

“Cady Heron moves to a new home from the bush country of Africa. She goes to a new school where she meets Janis and Damian. Her new friends warn her to stay away from the Plastics: the A-list, popular, crude, and beautiful clique headed by Regina George with Gretchen and Karen. When Cady sees Aaron Samuels, she falls in love. When Regina discovers this, she seeks revenge by taking and dangling Aaron in front of Cady. Now, Cady, Janis, and Damian plot to bring Regina's status down. However, as Cady continues to spend more time with the Plastics, she begins to become one of them” (Mark Alexander, IMDb).

Mean Girls’ themes parallel what we have been discussing in this class.

Cady’s Infatuation with Aaron
Cady’s initial crush on Aaron made me think of Jocelyn in “Red.” In it, she writes: “You were tall, cute, and athletic. You had dark hair and dark eyes, and perfect skin that was tan even in the middle of winter. You always seemed to be surrounded by people, always a group of smart and good-looking teenagers all as smart and good-looking as you. You always had a pretty popular girlfriend. You were on the soccer team. You were one of those people who had everything… I was invisible” (143).

Body Image
We’ve spent some time talking about body image. Mean Girls does a great job of exposing girls’ obsession with looking good. The first time Cady goes over Regina’s house, she witnesses first-hand the obsession: “I used to think there was just fat and skinny, but apparently there’s a lot of things that can be wrong with your body.” Cady’s ignorance was bliss, but her ignorant bubble burst in that very moment.

In “Red,” there’s a whole chapter designated for body image. That alone speaks volumes to how much of an issue it is with girls. From Amy’s bitterness over being fat, to Alison’s too-skinny body, and Jane’s thick, Jewish hair, girls will always find things about themselves that they don’t like. In Mean Girls, Regina hates her man shoulders, while her two minions despise their hairlines and nail beds.

Then, there’s Regina’s obsession with being thin. She is so willing to accept Cady’s carb-burning bars to lose “three pounds.” What I found most fascinating was Regina’s knowledge of weight-loss drugs like Ephedrine and Phentermine. Obsess a little?

Peer Pressure
Even though we haven’t touched on peer pressure much, I found it fitting to discuss it as one of the film’s themes. Cady starts out as a na├»ve, home-school girl only to be sucked into a world of perfection and popularity. Her first pressured moment is in Regina’s bedroom when they first looked at the burn book. Cady felt the urge to dis her new friend, Damien, calling him “too gay to function.” She liked him, so why did she have to go there? Sure, Janis said that of Damien earlier in the film, but Cady’s naivety and overwhelming sense to fit in forced her to say it.

Also, Cady’s “Regina persona” got the best of her. To continue that persona, she would have to forfeit her stellar grades in order to win over Aaron. Ultimately, the pressure to be liked took control of her.

Film Review: Thirteen

Thirteen is a movie centered on two very different teenage girls, and what happens when they become best friends. Tracy starts off as what you would call a “good girl” trying to make it in a new school. She quickly notices Evie, the most popular girl in school, and sees the amount of attention Evie gets. It is apparent that Tracy yearns to be like her, and suddenly decides to do everything she can to be her friend. Tracy finally earns Evie’s acceptance after pick pocketing a woman’s wallet when she is rejected from a shopping trip with Evie and her friends. Tracy and Evie become very close and it all turns into a downward spiral from there. Thanks to Evie, Tracy experiences stealing, sex, drugs (using and dealing), and lying to her mother who she was once very close with. It isn’t long before Tracy’s new world and attitude takes a toll on her, her family, and old friends.


Thirteen is a quintessential girl movie. I could definitely see Tracy’s character in some of the girls in Red. Like them I think she was begging to be heard, and she also had similar issues as some of the girls in their stories. I have never seen a movie more accurately depict a period of life that many girls go through. I think it is a stage when girls suddenly are not okay with who they are anymore, or are confused about who they are. This period is usually accompanied with a change in a once very close mother daughter relationship. It is like they were walking on the same path and the daughter suddenly veers to the left. This can be hard for both parties. Tracy was trying to grow up, but she was going about it in all the wrong ways. Seeing Tracy fight with her mother, and her mother’s confusion about where her little girl went felt all too familiar, although when I went through this stage it wasn’t as intense as Tracy’s experience. Tracy reached a point where she did not want to be seen as a little girl anymore, and she did everything in her power to break this image. She craved the independence that Evie seemed to have. Anytime she felt like her mother was treating her like a child, she flew off the handle. I think she believed that her only ally was Evie, and it becomes obvious that this isn’t doing her any good when she starts cutting herself. This movie shows how important a strong family bond is for a young girl. Tracy’s parents are divorced and it has an effect on her emotions. The one time we see her dad in the film it is apparent that he is pretty much unavailable to her. Young girls need their parents. In a world that sends out so many mixed messages, it is crucial that girls have their parents to turn to so that they can be reminded about what wonderful people they are, regardless of what society and the media is putting in their head. This movie really reinforced the importance of a mother daughter relationship for me. All I kept thinking to myself while watching it was, “This girl needs her mother!”

Movie Review - Juno



Juno is the story of a pregnant teen girl, Juno McGruff, who decides she is going to have her baby and give him/her up for adoption. A local couple, Mark and Vanessa are her choice for adoptive parents. The movie follows her throughout the pregnancy until after birth.

A lot of people consider Juno a comedy, and there are parts that are funny. Juno’s character is witty and solicits a few laughs, but to me, the movie isn’t one I would consider a comedy. For me, the movie acted as a commentary on the weight that pregnancy places on women. As much as your significant other can try to be there for you, or as much as your parents and friends support you, Juno’s situation shows that some parts of pregnancy you do experience alone. And Juno is one of the lucky ones. Her parents are (eventually) extremely supportive of her, she has a supportive best friend, and Mark and Vanessa are there for her to help her and pay all of her medical expenses. Lots of pregnant teenage girls don’t have the support that Juno has. In a sense, Juno is lucky.

“Juno” definitely helps develop representations of girls in regards to Girls Studies. One issue the movie brings up is the idea of being “sexually active.” Juno struggles with the label, and asks if it means she might one day “deactivate”, or if it’s some sort of “state of permanent being”. As we read in “The Purity Myth,” there is a huge emphasis on girls’ sexuality that makes them feel awkward and unnatural. Juno is uncomfortable with the way her intimate life is labeled, it seems like it’s less hers, and less special. By labeling girls’ sexuality like this it emphasizes the initial decision to have sex too much. Now that Juno has had sex she is soiled and will forever belong in the “sexually active category,” even though during her appointment at the doctors office she says that she is “off sex.” In “Juno” we also see the way women judge other women. The ultrasound technician calls raising a baby as a teenager a “poisonous environment.” As we read in some texts this semester, sometimes women are the ones pushing each other down, instead of being their shoulder to lean on. “Juno” allows us to see into the difficult world of being a teenager, and then delves deeper by showing us the life of a pregnant teenager. Throughout the movie Juno is just trying to find answers. We see how she is just like every other young girl despite her circumstances, she just wants to love and be loved.

Oftentimes in society we see pregnancy as sometime between a husband and a wife, people always say “we” are pregnant, but “Juno” shows the situations in which pregnancy can be just a woman’s struggle. Between Juno and Vanessa, it is obvious the bond that women share a bond through the common thread of childbirth. Overall, “Juno” shows a side of pregnancy that is often hidden, the unwanted pregnancy. The movie shows that Juno is more than a pregnant teenager, she is a girl: a sweet, funny, witty, smart, loving, charming girl. We can learn from “Juno” that it’s time to stop judging the decisions of young girls, and start embracing their struggles.

Juno-Film Project


I’ve seen many girls in my high school pregnant from 9th to 12th grade. I can’t believe how young they were and with no sound future for themselves or their children. After watching Juno I was surprised by the strength one young women had throughout her pregnancy and her determination for that child to be raised correctly. Ellen Page plays Juno MacGuff a witty 16-year-old woman who decided to give her unborn child up for adoption. After a brief and not so romantic sexual encounter with her best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) she ends up pregnant. She wade her options and she decided the best route was to give her baby up to “the perfect” couple Vanessa and Mark Loring played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. I loved the movie because she didn’t seem scared or dismal about herself. She would walk around big and all without a care that people were judging her. The movie makes you laugh and think about the many young women that get pregnant and go through what Juno has gone through. Not many girls laugh at their scary situation they may cry, scream, get kicked out their parent’s home, or are homeless, or hurting. Juno may not be the accurate depiction of teenage pregnancy but it does show that young girls can have the option of adoption. They can have hope for themselves or their child. We want young women to make better decisions about their sexuality and take responsibility for their actions. Young girls need a safe place to go for help when pregnant and alone. In the movie, Juno wasn’t alone she had her father and step-mother to help her. She had a strong family unit to help her out and guide her through this important decision.
Resource: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0467406/


When I read Red; Crushes Sweet and Excruciating, Sex, and a Love That Ends in Desert Rehab you can see that young women involve themselves with guys. HELLO, we can’t stop this psychological and biological force. It’s nature for them to have feelings but they need better atmospheres that can teach them to be responsible. Responsibility I think is the key to the sudden burst of young girls becoming pregnant. I know it may not be easy but when you want our kids to be better adults we need to find ways to teach them about sexual intercourse and the consequences to their actions. Eliza Appleton writes, “Sex education at my school is geared toward making every physical connection between a man and a woman into a disease” (153). As adults we make it really hard for teenagers to express themselves when all we say is NO. Growing up I know that was what my problem was. Sex was wrong and we couldn’t do anything to change it. Therefore, we need to be more aware of sexuality with our young women. We need to express to them that what they are feeling is not a negative emotion but something you need to be responsible about. Though we may not stop having Juno’s in our high schools we can reduce the amount of young women that fall prey to their own feelings.

Film Project- Mean Girls




Film Project: Mean Girls
I went online to recall phrases from the movie that struck out to me, and I read on a website (http://www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/review/films/mean-girls/332 ) that the movie is based on the experience of the writer’s sister in high school and was written by Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live. This is interesting because Tina Fey is pretty and sharp and names the girls who have empty spirits but flashy bodies and accessories as “The Plastics.” My high school did not have so many cliques, especially the sub-categories like “Hot Asian girls” and “Mean hot black girls” which is not a direct quote. This one is:________________________________________
Janis: [reading list the major cliques in high school] You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity jocks Unfriendly black hotties, Girls who eat their feelings, Girls who don't eat anything, Desperate wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually active band geeks,
[a picture of herself and Damian come on screen]
Janis: the greatest people you will ever meet, and the worst. Beware of plastics.
The main character Cady, was homeschooled all of her life and ends up going to high school (public school) for the first time. She befriends the art students (one is gay, the other has been called a dyke and therefore rejected—although was not gay) and soon after the most popular girls in school adopts Cady like a pet. Unfortunately, Cady sets her sights on Regina's ex-boyfriend. Regina, is the head of "The Plastics." Now, Regina must have her ex back out of spite and power. Of course, initially Regina offers to help set up the two but intentionally sabotages it. This is the start of a downward spiral in which with the help of Cady’s “art student friends”, begins the plot to undo Regina; Mrs. Popularity. In the end, Regina is undone and Cady becomes the most popular girl in school. Unrealistically, the main cliques end and the former members become the gatekeepers preventing future plastics.
The most realistic parts of the movie are in the way girls see themselves and the high school relationships (to some extent). Obviously body issues were huge and the popular girls nitpick about body problems (as if it is the “thing to do”) and the end up waiting for Cady to comment upon her own faults. Cady cannot compete. An example of the emphasis on thinness is when Regina puts on too much weight for her Spring Fling dress. “Saleslady: Sorry, we only carry sizes 1, 3, and 5. you could try Sears.” (Mean Girls, 2004). Weight is a huge issue.
“Regina: I can't go to taco bell; I'm on an all-carb diet.
Also, the movie touches upon some of the unwanted harassment that girls receive from boys in high school.
Jason: Is your muffin buttered?
Cady: What?
Jason: Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?
Cady: My what?
The coach who teaches sex-ed, ironically is having an affair with students. The sex ed classes were a bit over-the-top.
Coach Carr: At your age, you're going to have a lot of urges. You're going to want to take off your clothes, and touch each other. But if you do touch each other, you *will* get chlamydia... and die.
Speaking of which, being a slut is huge. Many characters say it in common speech but it is also used as a weapon to degrade females. Numerous times, girls are labelled as sluts and Regina even says she was a "half-virgin" the first time she had sex with her ex.

Also, there is a quick joke on feminism!
Gretchen: Irregardless, ex-boyfriends are just off limits to friends. I mean that's just like the rules of feminism. Teenage self-acceptance is important because humans want to find a connection but are stuck adhering to rules of society.
Cady: [voiceover] The weird thing about hanging out with Regina was that I could hate her, and at the same time, I still wanted her to like me.
There is a montage to dumb blondes too:
Karen: You know who's looking fine tonight? Seth Mosakowski.
Gretchen: Okay, you did not just say that.
Karen: What? He's a good kisser.
Gretchen: He's your cousin.
Karen: Yeah, but he's my first cousin.
Gretchen: Right.
Karen: So, you have your cousins, and then you have your first cousins, and then you have your second cousins...
Gretchen: No, honey, uh-uh.
Karen: That's not right, is it?
Overall, the movie for me was unrealistic because once a girl (in my experience) “made it” to the most popular group, there was never a realization. However, they usually would end up being the worst immoral character, much like Cady was before she realized that had become the new figure-head for The Plastics. She had a seemingly moral and worldly upbringing in Africa and perhaps had something to fall back on; like empathy and ideals. This movie really shows some of the class struggles in high school and the social rule tightrope that students walk on in order to survive. There is more in the movie than I possible allude to in 500 words.
Sources:
http://www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/review/films/mean-girls/332
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0377092/quotes
Mean Girls, 2004

Movie Review - Juno

I watched Juno a movie about an independent, confident and wise sixteen-year-old pregnant teenager. Juno’s parents are divorced and she lives with her father, stepmother and young half- sister. Paulie is Juno’s love interest and the father of her baby. Paulie’s mother does not think Juno is good enough for her son and is not pleased that they are friends; because of this, Juno does not allow her parents to tell Paulie’s mother that he has impregnated Juno.

Unplanned pregnancy and the effect on a teenage girl is the theme I found most interesting in this move and will explore in this post. Although Juno explores the idea of having an abortion when she discovers she is pregnant, I felt that a choice was not available for her because of the lack of clinics available to perform the procedure. When talking to her best friend Juno rules out going to one clinic because as a minor she would need to inform her parents. When Juno visits the one clinic that will allow her to have an abortion without parental consent, she leaves the waiting room before completing the paperwork. The clinic, which I felt was unreputable, waiting room is dark and dirty, the receptionist is not helpful and a classmate is outside picketing the clinic. According to Wikipedia, “Juno was interpreted by some critics as having a pro-life theme.” I would have like to see Juno receive counseling in the film and then make her decision. I feel that if Juno could have received counseling in the movie it would have been beneficial to girls in the same situation and it may have helped them make a knowledgeable decision.

When Juno talks to her parents they are supportive of her decision to put the baby up for adoption and both are, involved in making sure she receives medical care as well as making sure the adoptive parents do not exploit her. Other adults in the movie are not as supportive. An administrator at the school gives her a dirty look and the ultrasound technician belittles her. Juno realizes that classmates at school are talking behind her back and that although she had sex with someone in order to become pregnant she is the only one that has telling evidence of the relationship.

When thinking about purity balls I do not think Juno would have been the girl thought of as pure and worth inviting to the ball even before her pregnancy. Although she is not a minority I think that Juno’s class status and her family not being religious makes her unworthy of the virgin label. Alternatively, it could be that because she was confident and self-aware she would have been considered too much of a feminist. The progressive puppy website states, “New York Times: Recent studies have suggested that close relationships between fathers and daughters can reduce the risk of early sexual activity among girls and teenage pregnancy.” I felt that Juno had a good relationship with her father and that “date nights” would not have changed her mind about having sex.

Eatheana West

Movie Review- Juno

*SPOILER ALERT*
The film Juno is about a teenage girl (Juno Macgruff) who had unprotected sex with her best friend (Paulie Bleeker, played by Michael Cera) and got pregnant. Juno needed to decide what to do with the baby. At first, Juno thought she wanted to get an abortion and went to the clinic, but decided not to go through with the procedure. Then, Juno decided that she would put the baby up for adoption, where a nice suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa, would adopt Juno’s baby.

Throughout the movie, Juno remained witty and upbeat. Although she struggled with the physical and mental effects of pregnancy, Juno remained strong. While Juno’s attitude was the high point of the movie, I felt her character was more “indie film character” than actual pregnant teenager. Juno’s supportive parents were another high point for the movie. I’m not sure exactly how the parents of a pregnant teen would behave, but it seemed like Juno’s parents took the pregnancy in stride and were supportive of her decisions. Juno’s ability to laugh at herself and her parents’ support were the only things I liked about the movie.

I personally felt this movie portrayed teen pregnancy unrealistically. Juno’s decision to put her baby up for adoption was a very adult decision. The adoptive parents, Vanessa and Mark, represented the modern American suburban couple. However, Vanessa was desperate to be a mother while Mark had reservations. Mark also missed his youth. Mark and Vanessa were the most accurate character portrayals in the whole movie. Mark and Juno became close friends, however their friendship, to me, was slightly unsettling. The pair bonded over horror movies and rock music, which was understandable, but something about their interactions made me feel like there was some sort of romantic undertone. In the end, Mark and Vanessa split up, but Juno still gave her baby to Vanessa to raise on her own. This part of the movie also represented modern families- a single mom adopting a baby.
Although Juno did grow up rapidly and had to make a lot of adult choices, the movie ended in a fairy tale-esque way. After Juno gave up her child, she felt no remorse, no sadness, no post-partum depression…there was no point for reflection at all. Juno and Paulie became a couple and sang cutesy-folk rock songs. If anything, the movie could have offered some point for Juno to reflect on the heavy decisions she made rather than skip off to play acoustic guitar.

This movie’s intention was probably not to portray teen pregnancy accurately, but for some abstinence-only schoolchildren, this might be all they hear about sex and reproduction. The movie was intended to be a cutesy indie movie, but I think because it had such a wide audience, the movie producers/writers/directors could have taken on some responsibility to reflect without being preachy.

Juno’s story reminded me of Jessica Valenti in The Purity Myth. When Valenti had sex with her high school boyfriend, her peers judged her and considered her impure. However, Valenti did not have to deal with the burden of pregnancy while Juno did. Not only was Juno shunned because she was sexually active, she was also shunned for being pregnant.

If I got anything from this movie, it was that we need sex education in schools.

The Virgin Suicides film review

Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides is a look into the lives of five sisters that could be in any American family- middle class, sheltered, beautiful blondes that only want their freedom. The movie follows their lives through the eyes of an unnamed male neighbor who, along with his neighborhood friends, has a fixation on the girls. They represent to the boys sexuality, daydreams, and later, when their mother keeps them inside the house for weeks at a time, the chance to be the proverbial knights in shining armor. None of these concepts become realized, though, and it is the girls’ haunting, early suicides that make the story.

The five sisters, aged thirteen through seventeen, all embody the ideal teenage girl- virginal (at first), beautiful, and apparently happy. The image begins to crumble apart when Cecelia, the youngest, attempts suicide for the first time. She survives, though, and her middle-aged male doctor, in a fit of Freudian clarity, decides what she needs is more men in her life, and implies to her that her pain is not very real. The movie has many sharp one-liners, but my favorite is Cecelia’s response: “Obviously, doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl.”

Their mother takes the doctor’s advice to heart, though, and to the delight of the neighborhood would-be suitors, throws a party for the girls. The party ends traumatically, with Cecelia ending her life quite publicly on the front lawn.

Though the movie is only just beginning here, and the plot moves along at a tensely slow pace (it’s called The Virgin Suicides for a reason, the viewer is reminded, and is left apprehensively wondering when there’s going to be another beautiful girl gruesomely ending her life), and is primarily focused on Lux Lisbon, the most rebellious daughter, I found Cecelia to be the most intriguing character. We find out later that she was intelligent, always writing in her journals and daydreaming. She cared about the environment, worrying about the trees that were apparently dying in her neighborhood. Her suicide is a catalyst to the rest of the lives in the movie, and forces everyone to acknowledge something they’d rather not: that something is not quite right in their ideal suburban home.

The narrator is puzzled by the death of Cecelia but the girls still seem to be a novelty to him and his friends, as they collect puzzle pieces of their lives to make sense of it. Even when the film is over, though, he still won’t understand- because, like Cecelia said, he’d never been a thirteen year old girl.

The events following Cecelia’s death eventually lead to tragedy for the whole family when the parents overcompensate by becoming more and more protective until a transgression of Lux’s leaves them all locked in the home, with no escape and no means of expression and communication. At school, the sisters act like they’re not missing one, and no one talks about why Cecelia killed herself. It is obvious that everyone is supposed to assume that she was crazy, or stupid.

I saw this tied in with the theme of strangled expression quite clearly. She was just another beautiful daughter to protect by restriction. These theme is shown again and again, when the girls leave tiny notes to the neighborhood boys instead of having conversations, when Lux has to burn her music collection, and when the girls sneak around to play records for boys over the phone. They are desperate to understand themselves and the dreams they have even when they are denied that freedom again and again- and they all take the only choice they feel they have left, which is their own lives.

The film, I believe, speaks very poignantly on Jessica Valenti’s Purity Myth- these girls are seen as commodity, something to be treasured and not “dirtied.” Lux notably struggles with this, although it is shown in the other girls, too, particularly when they go to a homecoming dance together. It is clear that their beauty and purity are what drives their parents to keep them locked inside. The film is a cautionary tale of sorts, in that sense: girls, no matter how young, vulnerable, and beautiful, need to be able to express their individuality and communicate- if not, the rebellion could be dangerous.

Film Project: The Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola



The film The Virgin Suicides was written and directed by Sofia Coppola in 2000. The story takes place in the suburbs of Grosse Pointe, Michigan in the early 1970s and it follows the struggles of the Lisbon family. The Lisbon parents are very overprotective, authoritarian, and religious, adhering to strict moral disciplines and sexual suppression. Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon have five beautiful, blond, daughters’ ages ranging from 17 to 13, Therese, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, and Cecilia. The Lisbon girls suffer a great deal from their parent’s strict moral code, they are not allowed to associate with boys, apply their talents to after school activities, date, or ride in cars. The Lisbon parent’s strict moral code is meant to keep their daughters pure, pure in mind, soul, and sexuality.

However, after the tragic suicide of the youngest daughter Cecilia, and the persistence of Lux (the second youngest) Mrs. Lisbon allows all the girls to attend a school dance with dates. Lux is different from her sisters; she is very pretty and very rebellious. Lux has had a secrete relationship with heartthrob Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett) and it was her efforts that amounted to the parental permission of the school dance. However, Lux leaves the dance with Trip and succumbs to his sexual advances. After loosing her virginity, Lux wakes the next morning alone. Because Lux missed curfew and was with a boy, Mrs. Lisbon takes all the girls out of school and imprisons them in her home. She takes away all comforts of music and television and the girls are forced to suffer together without outside influences.

Lux rebels immensely by smoking cigarettes and having sex with boys on the roof of her house at every chance. After every sexual encounter she asks the boys what they think of her “do you think I am dirty?” and various other questions of approval.

The Lisbon girls suffer a great deal from what we now know as the Purity Myth. The perfect, upper middle class, white, blond girls are the epitome of every Purity Myth. These girls have everything to live for, they are adored by all and mysterious to men. And their mother and father have protected them from the outside world like little keepsakes. The problem is the purity of these girls is an unrealistic expectation because girls are humans with feelings, desires, passions, and aspirations. The Purity Myth teaches us that if girls are not quiet little virgins than their outrageous sluts, and that fear is what keeps the Lisbon girls on a tight leash. According to the actions of Mrs. Lisbon the girls’ morals are strictly based on their virginity. Any form of sexual display is looked at as pure evil. For instance, when the girls were permitted to attend the dance their dresses were designed by Mrs. Lisbon to be very loose and old fashioned.

The Purity Myth and The Virgin Suicides are trying to provide evidence and explanations as to how detrimental the ideal of Purity can be to young girls psyche and personality. Girls are not meant to be restricted to such unrealistic standards. Parents and society should focus more on teaching girls to think for themselves, and use good judgment, rather than adhering to virgin morals.

Movie Review - Juno

Film Review: JUNO

The movie Juno, directed by Jason Reitman, is quirky, comedic and dramatic all at the same time. I have heard great reviews about this witty “dramedy” but never got the chance to see it until now. Juno (played by Ellen Page) is a 16 year old girl whose boredom and curiosity leads her to have spontaneous and unprotected sex with her best friend and boyfriend, Paulie Bleeker (played by Michael Cera). She soon discovers that she is pregnant and is forced to grow up quickly and take on a world of new responsibilities. Juno considers having an abortion but rapidly changes her mind as she is sitting at the women’s health clinic attempting to fill out the required paperwork. She chooses to keep the baby and begins searching for adoptive parents. She finds Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) in an advertisement for parenthood in the Pennysaver classifieds and decides that they are a perfect match for her unborn child. Vanessa is a sweet, successful corporate type woman who longs to fulfill her calling by being a mother. Her husband is wistful for his old days as a music and movie junkie and taps into that youthfulness with the help of Juno.

Despite the seriousness of the situation presented in the film, the movie is surprisingly lighthearted and amusing. Juno finds humor in her pregnancy and often refers to herself as the “cautionary whale.” Viewers are easily entertained by her wise cracks and sarcastic nature. The film also explores the realities of being a teenager in high school. Dealing with school, prom, and the judgments placed on her by her peers are all issues Juno must face in addition to coping with her pregnancy.

Although the film was very entertaining and comedic, I felt that it wasn’t very realistic. As we follow Juno throughout her pregnancy, she faces tough decisions and flirts with adulthood. However, teenage pregnancies do not often end like the movie does. Not many teenage girls give their children up for adoption, and happily go back to their normal lives. If Juno chose to follow through with the abortion, the movie would have been a lot more realistic and much more serious. Even if she did not have an abortion and kept the baby, we would have witnessed the struggles teenage mothers go through with raising a child. I enjoyed the film but just felt that it lacked truth regarding teens and pregnancy.

This film made me think of The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti. In the chapter entitled “Sex, Morals and Trusting Women,” Valenti notes that the United States has higher rates of teen pregnancy, abortion, and birth than other industrialized nations. It is a problem that is largely socioeconomic, as lower income teens are more likely to get pregnant, because of the lack of access to contraception (Valenti, 192). This is something the film failed to touch on and explore.

I am aware that the film’s goal wasn’t to state the explicit facts and statistics regarding teenage pregnancy; however, I feel that it is something that shouldn’t go unaccounted for. I did enjoy how Juno was a coming-of-age story and that each of the characters developed and matured in their own unique ways.

Movie Review - The Virgin Suicides

The 1970s Michigan suburb of Sofia Coppola's directorial debut The Virgin Suicides is quiet, filled with wood-paneled station wagons, manicured shrubbery and the occasional creak of a bike tire as a youngster rides to his friend's house. This is the setting for Coppola's rendition of Jeffrey Eugenides' 1993 novel (also titled The Virgin Suicides), a film that attempts to decode the short lives of five sisters, lives that play out against a backdrop of 1970s rock music, nail polish, pink lipstick, crucifixes, cigarettes and Peach Schnapps. The story, told from the unabashedly male perspective of a now-grown neighbor of the Lisbon family, begins with a glowing image of 15-year-old Lux Lisbon, played by Kirsten Dunst, in a plaid bikini top and toying with a red popsicle in her mouth. For the narrator and his friends, the Lisbon girls are a mysterious cocktail of sex, love and adventure, a cocktail they take only sparing sips from before the film's end.

Across the street the struggle that is girlhood plays out in vivid fashion, the first scene allowing the viewer to walk in on wrenching image of 13-year-old Cecilia Lisbon floating in the bathtub, wrists cut and bleeding, blond hair drifting away. Cecilia survives the suicide attempt and when asked by her doctor how she could do such a thing when she's "not even old enough to know how hard life gets," Cecilia responds with a jab to the heart of every female: "Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl."

The remainder of the girls' story is led by Kirsten Dunst's performance and slow sweeping shots of the Lisbon girls, huddled around each other to watch television or flip through magazines in hovels of 'girlieness,' lace curtains hanging and makeup scattered. They appear on the lawn occasionally, Lux sunning in a bathing suit and the youngest Cecilia placing her hand in the knothole of the oak tree in their yard. Following Cecilia's second successful suicide attempt and ensuing Lux's delinquency the girls' tragedy plays out within the confines of their home. Mrs. Lisbon, the devout Catholic mother played by Kathleen Turner, has the girls burn their rock records and keeps them out of school for weeks. Mr. Lisbon (James Woods) continues his life as the bumbling father attempting to reach out to priests and his family but finding more solace in discussing the aerodynamics of planes. All the while the girls attempt to live normal lives, playing records for the neighbor boys over the phone or, in Lux's case, escaping to the roof to smoke cigarettes and quick make-out sessions with unnamed boys.

It is Lux that confronts the reader with the complexity of girlhood, the grapple that is confronting your sexuality and exploring yourself. While the other Lisbon sisters do diverge from the strict moral code outlined by their mother, it is Lux that does so with full-flung force. Lux plays footsie with the young man her parents invite over for dinner and jumps at the chance to slip under the gym bleachers with heartthrob Trip Fontaine. But she also dreams about traveling the world with her sisters and listens to her Kiss and Aerosmith records. In following Lux and her sisters, Coppola's film taps into the notion of the purity princess that has been explored so in-depth in this class. Mrs. Lisbon deals with her daughters in direct relation to their sexuality. In response to Cecilia's suicide attempt she allows the girls to host a party to interact with boys. When the other four sisters go to the homecoming she makes dresses that reach the ankles and adds two inches to the bust. The girls are left to realize their worth only through their sexuality (one of the sister's smartly notes that their homecoming dates are "just going to raffle us off" when they choose who is taking who) and in response Mrs. Lisbon's grip becomes tighter. On the one hand you sympathize with Mrs. Lisbon's commitment to protect her children. On the other she promotes a vicious cycle that leads to the family's downfall.

One of the film's final scenes depicts a debutante ball with the theme of "asphyxiation," a theme prompted by a swamp smell that descends over the Michigan town during an especially hot summer. The guests mill around in tuxedos, lacy dresses and gas masks, green lighting and smoke encircling their arms fitted with drinks. One can feel the suffocation of girlhood as a father raises his glass to introduce his daughter to the world (as if she hasn't been living in it for much of her early teens). It's a stunning visual of the suffocation American girls endure when they are defined not as individuals but as objects of sexuality to be locked up or "raffled off."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Film Review: The Virgin Suicides

Film Review: The Virgin Suicides


The Virgin Suicides is one of those films that even once it has ended it leaves the viewer asking himself/herself many questions. The focus characters, the five Lisbon girls, are introduced early in the film (Celia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese). The Lisbon girls’ ages range from thirteen to seventeen. The narrator of the film is an anonymous man who knew the Lisbon girls in his teenage years, and just like other teenage boys of the neighborhood, he was obsessed with them. The narrator tells the viewer the Lisbon girls’ story from his point of view that is why there are many questions left unanswered.

The story truly begins with the tragic suicide of the youngest Lisbon girl, Celia. Celia’s suicide had not been her first suicide attempt; Celia had tried once before by cutting her wrists. It did not take long for the neighborhood/community to find out what had happened to the Lisbon family. However, the Lisbon family attempted to continue their lives as if nothing had happened. The remaining Lisbon girls attended school and acted unaffected.

At first the viewer can’t understand what might have led Celia to end her life but throughout the film one starts to understand. The Lisbon girls did not live the life of normal teenage girls, and their mother made sure of that. Mrs. Lisbon overprotected her daughters way too much, they were not allowed to ride in cars, go on dates, or even join extracurricular activities.

Trip Fontaine who “loved” one of the Lisbon girls (Lux) gains the courage to ask her father permission to take her to Homecoming dance. After a deal made with the mother all the Lisbon girls are allowed to attend the Homecoming dance. The girls had “the time of their life” regardless of the grandma-ish dresses their mother made them wear. But, when curfew came around Lux did not make it home from the dance with her sisters. Lux had drank alcohol with Trip, who convinced her to go out to the football field where they end up having sex. Lux wakes up the next day and to her dismay she’s all alone. Once Lux gets home she is not punished for missing curfew, rather she is “imprisoned” along with her sisters. The girls are not even allowed to attend school, which my be what pushed them to the film's ending.

In the film Lux’s character illustrates various issues many teenage girls go through, and can relate to. Lux is like the typical girl, she is boy-crazy. Lux doodles all over her notebook about the boys she “loves” but she can’t openly be with. Due to her mother’s over-protection Lux uses her sexuality as an outlet. Lux’s mother controls so much of her life that she rebels by becoming sexually active, smoking, and drinking. I think that Lux's reaction is normal, many times when girls have vices it is their way of calling out for help,rebelling, or attempting to fulfill some sort of void. I believe Lux has sex to rebel because that is the one thing her mother cannot control. After having sex Lux looks for the guy’s approval, she asks one of the guys she sleeps with if he thinks, “she’s dirty”. The Purity Myth worries Lux, like it does many teenage girls. Many teenage girls are sexually active but society has made sure to make them feel "dirty" for doing so. Society's perception of purity has such a dramatic effect on some girls that some consider suicide. Regardless of all of Lux’s attempts to lead a normal life her mother does everything to prevent it.

No one seems to understand the reasoning behind Lisbon girls’ suicides. That is why it so crucial to understand and reach out to teen-age girls,"The suicide rate among preteen and young teen girls spiked 76 percent in 2007" (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/06/health/main3239837.shtml). There are so many issues that affect young girls lives’ and it is crucial stage their lives when they are figuring out who they are. Girls should not be suppressed because there can be tragic outcomes. Society needs to provide young girls with outlets to express themselves.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Film Review- Mean Girls

The movie “Mean Girls” contained a lot of references to what has been discussed in our class. It has the tales of all different girls and their experiences in a stereotypical high school setting. The film contains scenarios dealing with the trials and tribulations of relationships, new and changing friendships, and finding one’s self. The character of focus is Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan. Cady is starting a new high school with a blank slate of a reputation. Her experience mimics what a typical girl at a high school may go through in her life. I think that her life at this high school – complete with a complex artwork drawn by one of Cady’s new friends at school of the stereotypical lunch tables in their cafeteria- is generally a good representation of what a girl can experience in high school. Many of our readings – especially in Red- had to do with experiences of girls in high schools similar to the themes of this film- rejection, backstabbing, friendship, and influence of others.

Cady starts off meeting two friends, who are extremely opposed to the “Plastics,” who are the popular girls in school. She goes undercover to sabotage and research the three girls, only to find her genuinely associated with the Plastics as the movie continues. This shows what I think is one of the main themes in the film- influence during girlhood, a concept about experiences that girls go through while they grow up. Cady was easily influenced by the so-called glitz and glamour of the “Plastics,” and this influence led her to slowly go against her morals and ethics that she had started with before meeting these girls. This reminded me of some of what was discussed in our course. The girls in Red seemed to have overcome influences by others and gave off an independent vibe. In Mean Girls¸we watched Cady be easily sucked in to the ways of the popular clique, or the mean girls, in high school all the while learning that their life is not as glamorous as it seems.

Many of the stereotypes and occurrences in this movie about high school were generally exaggerated. In one scene, the gym teacher during a sex education class handed out the students condoms as he lectured, “Don’t have sex because you will get pregnant, and die.” This reminded me of The Purity Myth and what we discussed in our course about what girls and society are taught about sex. Some sex ed high school programs teach students that sex is “bad,” which is what this scene repeated in a stereotypical manner. This shows an influence on students from the school staff in which the students trust what the staff says about sex education, therefore contributing to the purity myth believed in society today. The manner of the leader of the Plastic’s mother – trying to be hip with her daughter and her friends and saying that she would rather them drink alcoholic drinks inside the house under her watch mimics reality of the life of high school girls. The mother is influenced by the so-called glamorous life of her daughter and her “popular” friends and basically lives vicariously through her daughter and her group.

In this film, Cady experiences backstabbing – done by herself to others as well as being done to her. Dangerous three-way calls and the suggestion of a weight loss bar that actually causes weight gain are just some of the tactics that went back and forth within the “Plastics.” This film exaggerates actual schemes, but it realistically shows just how easily a girl can be influenced, and then changed by that influenced, in a short period of time in her girlhood. Cady allowed the “Plastics” to influence her while losing sight of the things that mattered to her most. This film projected a somewhat real-life portrayal of what a girl presented in a new situation in a critical period of her life might encounter.

"Juno" Film Review

Being a 16-year-old girl is tough; being a 16-year-old girl who is pregnant is even tougher. The movie “Juno” conceptualizes the social problems and tendencies that young girls have growing up dealing with the moral dilemma of teen pregnancy. Juno MacGuff, the title character of the film, is too odd and too intelligent to be the stereotypical case of teen pregnancy. With her intellect and poise she takes on the responsibility of overcoming her pregnancy by searching for an adoptive family for her unborn child.

Juno does not treat her pregnancy as a joke, but rather accepts it, often mocking herself and her huge belly. Juno’s friend, Paulie Bleeker, offers to help Juno carry some of her bags, yet she replies sarcastically, “Oh, what’s another ten pounds?” Comments like these solidify Juno’s conception of her own pregnancy, taking it light-heartedly yet realistic. Juno starts off with thoughts of abortion and her parents openly accept what she wants to do, because it is her baby. She calls up the clinic and uses sadistic sarcasm, “Hello, I’d like to procure a hasty abortion,” although this shakes the audience with the blatant reality of the situation at hand, Juno eventually realizes that abortion is not the correct course of action for her to take.

The reality of the situation is this; Juno is not as smart and capable as she would like to believe. She has impulsive unprotected sex with her friend Paulie Bleeker, she decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption, against the advice of her friends and parents. The major problem is that Juno thinks she understands the world better than her elders, but the reality of the situation is that she does not.

Where this movie excels is the stereotypical realities of American social culture in teens and adults. This is largely true with Juno’s adoptive parents, Mark and Vanessa, who are stereotypically heterosexual and domesticated. In this reality Vanessa is uptight and materialistic with her home, belongings, and the habits of her husband; meanwhile, Mark, her husband, is holding on to the glimmer of his youthful “coolness” by watching horror movies and collecting rock music CDs (even trading them with Juno).

This movie empowers young girls confronted with the situation of teen pregnancy. Juno is witty and intelligent, sharp and observant. Yet she falls short of the experience and expertise of her situation. It is hard for her to overcome these problems while rejecting the help of her parents and friends, thinking that she knows best. These tendencies can be the realities of teen girls today. With such a “technological gap” between parents and teens, young girls probably come out feeling more competent than their parents. This may be true with technology, but situations as far as pregnancy, such as the one Juno is faced with, her parents and elders ultimately know what is best for her.

This is where the movie shines. It shows teen girls as competent, functioning members of society, yet it also shows where they are lacking. They are empowered with the knowledge that they have access to, yet they cheat themselves when they do not listen to their elders and heed their advice. Juno serves as a humorous lesson to parents and children, helping each explore the weakness and power of their socialized mentalities.

"On Wednesdays, we wear PINK." Film Review: Mean Girls

Mean Girls is hilarious and should be taken with a grain of salt. This 2004 film explores all of the high school stereotypes while telling the story of 16 year old transfer student, Cady Heron. Although there may be some truth to the stereotypes presented in the film, there are definitely some obvious embellishments.

The stereotypes are presented in the beginning of the film in the cafeteria scene. As the camera goes around the dining hall, the audience is able to see people of all different groups. Some of the different crowds that are mentioned include “preps,” “jocks,” “sexually active band geeks,” “unfriendly black hotties” and “Asian nerds” (Mean Girls, 2004). The “plastics,” however, are the most exclusive, and popular, group of them all. As Cady is invited to sit at this prestigious table in the cafeteria, her journey through a public high school as a teenage girl begins.

Cady’s original intention of hanging out with the plastics is to collect and provide the inside scoop to her friends, Janice and Damien. As she begins to spend more time with them (the plastics), she finds herself becoming more and more like them. This is a common theme of growing up as a girl in general. Many girls are so desperate to fit in with the “popular” crowd that they often find themselves changing to make everyone else happy. As the movie progresses, we see how Cady goes from a blue jean wearing, not made-up, “A” student to a pink skirt wearing, always concerned about how much lip gloss is on her face, failing math student just to get the attention of others. As she conforms from the innocent Cady, she loses her personality, her kindness and respect.

Another parallel theme I found in this film was the theme of talking about other people behind their back. I just want to clarify that I know there are LOTS of girls out there who truly avoid talking about other people, but for the purpose of this essay, I am going to go along with what I had personally experienced in high school. In high school, I witnessed many girls talking negatively about others. In Mean Girls, the audience sees how prevalent talking badly is among girls. Of course this is embellished. But, I personally have been a victim of a three way conference call “attack.” These things really DO happen. At first, Cady struggles with confusion as to what is going on but after she becomes frustrated with Regina George, Cady, too, starts telling secrets and spreading rumors.

As Cady witnesses more and more of the betrayal displayed by both guys and girls alike at her school, she compares her high school to the watering holes of Africa, alluding that high school students are animalistic to a certain extent.

As far as comparing this movie to the text goes, I found a similarity of what we have been studying in class with virginity. Even though this is done in a humoristic manner, Coach Carter tells his health class “do not have sex because you will get pregnant and die” and “if you touch each other, you will get Chlamydia and die” (Mean Girls, 2004). While reading The Purity Myth, I was able to learn how many young adolescents are only told not to have sex instead of being taught how to practice safe sex. Coach Carter in the film is doing the same. He was brainwashing the students to think sex was bad instead of discussing safe options.

If anyone wants to learn about the struggles and stereotypes of high school while getting a good laugh, watching Mean Girls is the way to go. Like I said before, some of it may be embellishments, but they are funny embellishments to say the least. It is also an interesting way to find parallels from our women studies class. I would highly recommend this film to any male, female, teen or adult!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Virgin Suicides



The Virgin Suicides was directed by Sofia Coppola in conjunction with American Zoetrope in 2000.

The Virgin Suicides is a film about teenage adolescence and the struggle to be understood. In the film, the five Lisbon sisters attempt to cope with strict parents, societal pressures, sex, boys, and a loss of control over their own lives. After their youngest sister, Cecilia, commits suicide, rumors about the girls spread wildly around town. They become a commodity, desired and feared by almost every guy in their school, as well as obsessed over by their neighbors, the narrator and his group of friends. Lux Lisbon, the second-youngest at 14, is played by Kirsten Dunst. Lux is the wild child of the sisters- flirtatious, rebellious, and struggling to understand her own sexuality. Nearly every guy in the school desires her, but during the film she falls briefly for the school jock, Trip Fontaine, only to lose her virginity and get her heartbroken by him.

More than just dealing with standard teenage problems- the possibility of love, boredom, and trying to find one’s purpose in the world- this film contains an underlying current of absurdity regarding the status quo. All of the sisters are blonde, white, middle class young women. Their parents are married and get along well, and they are growing up in the suburbs in Michigan in the 1970s. They are not drug addicts and they do not want for anything materially. So why, then, are these girls so miserably unhappy? Why do these girls with their picturesque life decide to all commit suicide rather than endure their setbacks? The answer is simple: girls want, and need, more than to be objects of desire or beauty, more than to be commoditized and cherished for their passivity, virginity, “goodness”, more than to be controlled and kept quiet. Young women need a creative outlet, should be valued for their differences, and should not be judged by their “purity”, as Jessica Valenti would define it.

The idea that women must be protected from themselves for fear of them being “ruined” becomes the focal point of the film after Lux breaks curfew on Homecoming night, returning home the following morning. Outraged, the Lisbon parents withdraw all of the girls from school and literally lock them in the house for weeks. Mrs. Lisbon even forces Lux to burn all of her rock albums, in order to take away one of the only outlets she has left. This film is an interesting commentary on the attempt to control young women’s lives, and the desire for girls to rebel from that control. After the lockdown begins, Lux rebels by routinely sleeping with random men on the roof of her home. Perhaps if the girls had more freedom they would not have felt so desperately trapped and hopeless. Had they been given a voice and respect, they may have found that they really are worth something, and not felt overwhelmed or pressured to be what society expects of them. When expectations for young women are so high, it is no wonder that self esteem plummets after they fall short of an unattainable goal.

Changing the way society values women is an important issue in girl studies. Self esteem, confidence, health, family, school, and many more things are affected when young women are valued only by their sexual worth, chasteness, or submissiveness. In The Virgin Suicides the Lisbon sisters are driven to end their lives because of this view. We can start by changing the way young women value themselves, but it is not until that change in value is universally recognized that girls will be seen as the autonomous, capable, worthwhile beings they already are.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

“Love your sisters and love yourself” Film Review: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants






I decided to do the The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005) because I had seen most of the films on the list and this movie seemed like it could fit in with our material. I know the film was based on the book under the same title, which was read by many young women. This film opens on a group of four girls who are preparing to spend their first summer/time apart, while out they find a pair of pants that magically fit all of them. This leads them to make a manifesto in order for them to stay together for the summer.

Their manifesto has 10 rules, probably the most important ones are each girl keeps the pants for one week, when trading the pants you must write a letter detailing the most exciting thing that happened when wearing the pants and the last rule is “love your sisters and love yourself”. As for the girls there is; Bridgette the wild and unstoppable one, Lena shy and beautiful, Tibby the rebel and Carmen the writer. Each young women has something they work through in the film, however I want to focus on Carmen, who is planning on spending the summer with her father in North Carolina. Carmen’s parents are not together, the film does not say if they were ever married but we do find out that the two of them have never spent more than four days together. She is more than excited to have time to get close to her father; however she soon finds out that he is engaged to a woman with two other children. The issue is not that this was a surprise rather this new family is completely different from her memories of when her father and mother were together.

The reason why I focus on Carmen is because her story of an estranged father is so much like my own life. She is put in a new situation and has to learn to deal with it on her own, she is forced like many of the girls we read about in Red to face adult situations at an age where they are expected to have nothing to worry about. Among one of the differences of this new family is that the family is all white and lives in the suburbs, they play tennis, soccer, and are all “fit”. Carmen is Puerto Rican; she is curvy, speaks Spanish and lives with a single mother. Watching the film her story reminded me of Zulay Regalado’s essay in Red, Zulay had to learn to be proud of her family in a white, she states “they made me feel different, something I thought I could never overcome.” (63). The interesting thing about Carmen’s story is that she has to learn to accept this other family that her father is apart of. Carmen has to overcome jealousy, rage, and feelings of abandonment to come out on top, to be a better person.

The other girls in the film overcome many things and they used the pants as a way to face their problems with strength and courage. Since the beginning of the film the pants held a magically aura about them, making the girls feel invincible, connected, strong, independent, and smart. However at the end of the movie the magic of the pants is questioned, was it the pants that helped them stand up to fathers, adults, fears of abandonment, love, death? Or did each girl grow a little over the summer because they had to and because they were strong enough? Was it the pants or was it the sisterhood and their love for each other that helped them? This film gives girls great examples of what to be, none of the girls use profane language, they are supportive of each other, they never talk about each other or “back stab”. During class we often talk about media representations of young girls and this film has great characters that young girls can look up to and aspire to be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Film Review - Heathers

I've known about this movie for quite a while but I had never actually seen it. I'm glad I finally did though! For those who have not seen it, Heathers is a dark comedy about Veronica Sawyer, a popular girl whose clique is called "The Heathers" (three out of four girls in the group are named Heather). The clique basically runs the school through intimidation, contempt, and sex appeal. Veronica realizes that she doesn't really like her friends and fantasizes in her diary about killing them. She thinks that if only the Heather Chandler (the leader of The Heathers) were dead, her high school would be a much more tolerable place. Veronica then meets and falls in love with J.D., a rebellious new boy at school who tricks her into feeding Heather Chandler drain cleaner, which kills her, and then forging a suicide note. J.D. gave Veronica what she was hoping for, the death of the head Heather. But as soon as one Heather dies another assumes the role. J.D tricks Veronica into killing two more popular kids at school and again leaving suicide notes. With the popular kids dropping like flies, teen suicide becomes all the rage at Westerberg High. Instead of making the popular kids look weak and lame for killing themselves, their "suicides" made them martyrs. One of the unpopular girls tried to commit suicide by walking in front of traffic and when she failed she was mocked for trying to "act popular". Veronica finally realizes that the killings haven't changed anything, but J.D. doesn't feel the same. He decides to blow up the school during a pep rally and forges a mass suicide note by getting everyone to sign a petition for a band to play at prom. In the end, Veronica stops J.D. from blowing up the school but she is unable to stop him from blowing himself up. The first real suicide of the movie.
While this movie is pretty outrageous, I think it really shed light on some of the things that real girls go through in high school. In particular, Veronicas relationship with the head Heather, Heather Chandler. I think this line sums it up extremely well:
Veronica: "I just killed my best friend"
J.D.: "And your worst enemy"
Veronica: "Same difference"
I think that in cliques, your best friends can really be your worst enemies, but sometimes girls crave that popularity so much that they will hang out with people they don't like and do things that they wouldn't normally do. Veronica stopped hanging out with her real friends and did mean things to other girls simply because The Heathers told her too. This is not true friendship, but for some girls in high school its hard to break free from it. Another thing that this movie dealt with that I think real girls go through is peer pressure. I'm reminded of the old saying "If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?" Sadly for some girls, yes. In this movie, if the popular kids did it then it was cool, even killing themselves!! I realize that this is an exaggeration of what most high schools are like but it really does make you think. I'm sure that most if not all of us have done something that we didn't want to do or something knew we shouldn't just because our friends were doing it. Peer pressure is an incredibly hard thing to deal with sometimes. Overall, I think that while this is obviously a satire about high school drama, and while it is definitely an exaggeration, I think that Heathers really makes a point about how hard it can be to deal with high school.