Saturday, August 29, 2009

Beginning to scrape the surface

Hey class, I’m Mary. I’m a recently converted Interdisciplinary Studies student on the Women’s Studies track with a minor in literature, which means I’ll probably be at UCF for way longer than the average business student. I’m one of those people that can be halfway through their undergraduate degree with still no idea what I want to do with said degree when I finish. I am, however, growing more passionate about my activism, particularly with equal rights (animals’, womens’ GLBTQ, what have you. I’m not picky). I spend most of my time (when not in school or at work) writing, daydreaming, thrift-shopping, and making things. I’m taking the girls’ studies class mainly because last semester in my first few womens’ studies classes, I realized how insane my own girlhood was and how many issues girls face today. I’d like to be able to help girls’ in some capacity, because I know just how difficult it can be.

I felt “Your Life as a Girl” captured girlhood in a sense, but it might have been exaggerated to keep it universal. It certainly did universal- several times in the story I heard my own voice or the voice of my friends repeating back those lines to me, like “But you want love now, you want to have a boy standing there after you’ve failed a French test” or hearing a relative say things like “never turn down a date, because he might have a handsome brother.” Sittenfeld outlined what could be considered the typical American girl’s adolescence, but Anna, the everygirl, lacks a distinct personality as she gets older. That could be a statement in itself, though, responding to the pressures that the girls face that make it difficult for them to embrace their own identity. I also thought that the narrative was more about the general victimization girls have to face for existing than anything else.

The essays by the girls in Red seem to refute this, showing their personalities through their writing- writing that impressed me, being strong and spirited and eloquent. Reading the essays, I felt like even the girls that didn’t claim to know who they were knew at least that much, and were okay with it. There are hints in those stories that harken back to “Your Life as a Girl,” but they are ultimately more empowering for girls.

It hasn’t been so long since I’ve been a girl, being that I’ve only just turned twenty, but the essays in “Anything Extracurricular” reminded me just what it was like. I noticed in most of the essys, “East,” “The Hamptons,” and “Alone” in particular, that the writers shared a sense of defensiveness in the things/places/people they loved. I liked that underlying almost aggressiveness- or maybe it’s more accurately an unapologetic tone. It’s unapologetic even when the girls aren’t necessarily sure of themselves, like when Lindsay in “Alone” pleads with her friend to stay at the end of the essay and allows herself to express sadness even though she knows she loves to be alone. I definitely related to “Alone,” as it was something I struggled with (and still do sometimes when I feel like I really should be going out instead of reading at home) when I was in middle and high school.

Let me know if you have any thoughts. :) I really look forward to taking this class with you all!

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