My name is Marci and this is my last semester here at UCF. I am an Interdisciplinary Studies Major and minor in Political Science. I love people! I love to help people and feel like I am making a difference. I hope to continue my education and get a M.A. in International Relations, and make the world a better place. I truly believe that you must be the change you wish to see in the world! I have previously taken two Women’s Studies courses: Introduction to Women’s Studies and Third Wave Feminism. Both of these courses opened my eyes to a world unknown and have given me strength I did not even realize I possessed. I am taking this course to fulfill my requirement for Humanities as well as broaden my education in Women’s Studies. I greatly enjoyed my two previous courses and expect the same will be said about this one.
I believe that Sittenfeld effectively captures girlhood for the most part. I could not personally relate to her story in the sense that I was never the girl who ran fast, or threw a ball hard. I am not athletically inclined at all. The parts of girlhood that I can associate with that Sittenfeld portrayed were the constant feelings of never feeling beautiful enough. Sittenfeld at one point states that “everything about you is horrifying: your voice, body, hair, inability to be witty and panicky desires for approval and companionship (5)”. This quote sums up girlhood in my opinion. Every girl goes through that “awkward” stage as many like to put it, where everything is truly horrifying. For me that was about 13, I was overweight, had mangy hair, and braces. I was so insecure. I believe that girls are always trying to win the approval of not only other girls but boys as well. Girls have the innate desire to be noticed, to be called beautiful. We try in our own awkward way to relate to boys and find common ground, but as we journey through girlhood the gap gets wider. At the end Sittenfeld dreams of old times in elementary school when running a timed mile dreaming where “for a minute, in the sunlight, they smiled at you, and you smiled back as if you all had something in common (10).”
From the time girls are born they are given this preconceived idea of who they are to be. From the moment of celebration of a little girl everything is all pink and frilly. As children we are given Barbie’s, puppies, make-up, and anything else pink and “girly” to play with because that is who we are suppose to be. We are not supposed to be interested in catching a ball; after all, it might mess up our newly manicured hands.
The stories in Red show real girls whose struggle in their childhood had such a profound effect on their future. The girl in the first story talks about her love affair with a rock. She talks about how the boys worked harder “craving approval and praise from the crowd” while the girls “stuck to the intermediate wall, climbing about three-fourths of the way up and falling down” (177). This is a perfect example of the typicality of the girl playing the innocent, weak victim, needing to be rescued by the big, brave boys. We are teaching our girls that helplessness is the norm. But, one girl broke away from the preconceived notions not only gaining confidence and strength in her path, but also discovered who she was.
In another story Jaclyn starts by sharing her desire to be a doctor inspired by her own woman pediatrician. Her desire intensifies when her mother was assaulted and put into the hospital. It was hard for her to see her mother so helpless, when she viewed her as this strong, fighter. She decided that she no longer wanted to just sit there helpless in a hospital and never would again, and even began volunteering at hospice. The experience she went through and images in her head haunt her everyday, enough so that she took immediate action.
I love the story “The Management” the girl tells her story of working in a pizza shop and how her male boss treated her. I love how she stated “you taught me about the type of person I never want to be (197).” Our childhood and girlhood will either teach us who we are to be or who we do not want to be. As teachers, mothers, and friends we need to encourage the young women in our lives. We need to support their ambitions in all aspects whether they aspire to be a make-up artist or go into the military and fight for our country. It is time we break out of the little pink box we are so use to and just let girls be themselves, not who our society believes they should be. Girls will never feel confident with who they are, but we must teach them to embrace and love who they are, for what they are.