Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michael Wilson Is Just One of the Girls

Standard First-Day-of-Class Biography

Hello, my name is Michael Wilson. I am currently a senior in my second to last semester until I graduate with a degree in Technical Communications with a minor in Women’s Studies. When I was searching for classes, I was pleasantly surprised to see this class offered; I am practically a tween girl at heart: I love the Disney channel, for example. I am excited to delve into the minds of contemporary girls. I am fascinated to learn the different types of pressures girls face now versus when I was in elementary/middle/high school. Now, I know there are similar pressures, but I am sure that they are hyper and more potent.

Now for commonality building. I hate reading, ketchup, turnips, mayo, BBQ sauce, 2 for 1 deals (the item should just be half-off), people who stare at me, KY jelly, 1-ply toilet paper, T-mobile for charging me $1.50 because I want to continue to receive my statement via snail mail, and a variety of other things.

I love my cat, Coconut; she is all white with a black tail. I enjoy reality shows, specifically competitive-style ones. I like chicken, steak, mashed potatoes, Asian cuisine, some Mexican food, raviolis, Diet Coke, horror movies, dirty movies, The Simpsons, organization, dry-erase markers, cutting Coconut’s nails, and a variety of other things.


Does Sittenfeld effectively capture “girlhood” through her story and why or why not?

Through the prism of a male perspective, I say she does depict girlhood effectively. Boyhood is equally as daunting and challenging, though. One could argue the vast similarities: not feeling good enough; not fitting in; being told you’re too good at something only to reduce to appease; sexual awkwardness; relying on other things (sports, theatre) to make yourself feel special.

The narrator’s experiences seem to stem from her encounter with the teacher in elementary school; “Anna, aren’t you being a bit vicious?” This one comment drastically changed the narrator’s life. Almost immediately, she floundered. That carried through to her school work as well. For example, the narrator talks about doing poorly in math, but it being OK because she would seem smarter in the lower-level math.

Her lack of a vicious spirit disables her from defining her true womanhood. She is constantly seeking approval from men whether it is doing their homework or waxing her legs; even still, knows that those tasks won’t be good enough. Yet, she continues to try and please.

She buries herself in sports because it’s the only real chance she has to compete with other girls and actually win. In sports, she can be the homecoming queen, the popular girl, the slut. Because when you’re a girl, you’re really put into two categories: slut or prude, like the book mentions.

Being a girl in a patriarchal society has some major downfalls which the narrator expresses well. It seems that the narrator describes the life of a girl from the point of view of someone not capable or good enough to get a man. That seems to be her defining flaw. Only once does she mention her grandmother’s advice on keeping up with current issues to get a well-studied man. But is that really the catalyst for her ongoing behaviors? Or, is her life one big dance where she isn’t even good enough to get felt up without it being from a dare?

How does her story connect to the stories written by girls themselves in Red?

The overall theme threaded throughout the stories is growth. Each girl in each story experience some sort of growth: from the rock climbing girl growing into a strong individual, to the girl who realizes the type of person she does not want to be, to the girl who realizes that she really should be in the medical field.

What do the stories in Red tell you about girls?

They show me that it is the little things in life that can have the most influence on you. Who knew that rock climbing at nine would lead her to become a matured, confident young woman? And while visiting the Hamptons is fun because of the secret, teenage world of MTV and messy floors, the narrator spends most of her time talking about her grandmother, who obviously has impacted her life (possibly without even knowing it).


Leila said...

I really enjoyed your biography and how you relate to tween girls. It made me laugh and I'm happy you are in this class. I agree that the stories show us how the little things can have tremendous impact.

♥ Tara said...

First of all, let me say how excited I am to have a male perspective in this class! I think it will be not only interesting but helpful to have your point of view. Secondly, I agree with your assessment that Anna's elementary school teacher's comment to her had a huge impact on her life. Also the notes home from the math teacher saying that she is "intimidating" the other students. Both of these instances could add to Anna's feeling that she isn't good enough. When she is seemingly doing well, people tell her to stop. There isn't a lot of mention of Anna's parents in the story but I wonder what kind of support or encouragement (if any) they were giving her?