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:

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!!