Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Volunteer/SL opportunity

The Zebra Coalition is going to start a hotline for GLBTQ youth in the Central Florida area. They would like it to be run 24/7 and are looking for volunteers who can donatate just an hour a week to the cause. I belive you will even be able to answer calls from your cell phone!!!

There is a mandatory training session on Sept 25 from 9am-3pm at the Center for Drug Free Living.

Click here for more information.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Beauty and Body Image in the Media


I found this article from the Media Awareness Network. I thought it goes great with Week Twelves discussion and other discussions in the past.

How does the media effect girls and their body image? Does it lower their self-esteem? This is a great resource for answers to those questions and many more. Enjoy!

http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/women_and_girls/women_beauty.cfm

Sunday, August 8, 2010

END Sex Trafficking

This site was created to educate the public about sex trafficking through education and creative media (this problem affects over one million people--girls being the most vulnerable).

~Anj

Girls, Models, and Warped Body Image

This is an article from USA today looking at how young girls are bombarded with the message that they need to be super-skinny in order to be sexy (what of young girls feeling the need to be sexy?).

~Anj

Body iCON

I came across this golden nugget of a site while doing research for a sociology course regarding gender. This site was created by graduate students of Columbia University, for their masters project in journalism:

"We set out to interview a diverse group of women and experts to give us an up-to-the-minute report. Here, we provide an insightful look at the private and pervasive issues surrounding our bodies."

I have spent hours on this site--it is fantastic.
I ha

Nist.tv

This website is basically the YouTube of feminism. It's great. It has all sorts of videos, commercials, PSAs, previews for feminist documentaries, lectures, and more thing relevant to feminism. I've spent hours and hours on here already. It is truly a wonderful resource.

Gender and Tropes in advertising

This is a very comprehensive website that is quite interesting. It began as a power point and now has over 25oo images that can be accessed as learning tool for gender studies by anyone. Check out the section entitled "kids and ads" and tell me what you think (a little disturbing?).

~Anj

1001 Feminist Links and Other Interesting Topics

I thought this was a fabulous site, there is a lot to explore (something for everyone), I hope that you will enjoy!

~Anj

It's a girl

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, "It's a girl." ~Shirley Chisholm

I came across this quote and thought it was so true. I remember as we talked about this at the beginning of the class this summer. Just thought I'd share!

U By Kotex

I'm sure you've all seen this commercial before, but I love it, and the others like it. I love that a tampon company finally realized that they were insulting our intelligence by thinking that seeing a woman in white pants, dancing, would convince us that their tampon was the best. I don't care what tampon I'm wearing. I am NOT wearing white pants on my period! Anyway, I find this to be a step in the right direction when it comes to treating women like humans, treating their problems frankly, and not being afraid to be honest about menstruation.

Gender Policing Phrases

When I was working on my service learning, I was helping out on the Hidden Treasure Farm. Because there were no women or children to work with at the time, I was set to doing farm tasks. At one point, I was cleaning chairs in an area that turned out to be full of wasps and ran away. After getting a class of water and calming down, I headed back to set aright the cleaning supplies, which were now strewn everywhere. As I did so, I gave myself a pep talk, which consisted of "Okay. Time to grow a pair and pick up the buckets." And then, of course, I was appalled at myself. Grow a pair? Of testicles? Because I needed testicles to go be around wasps.

As the girlfriend of man who is afraid of bugs and runs away screaming (like a girl?) every time he sees a tiny spider, I know that being man does not make one brave or able to handle little stinging things. I even know that having testicles does not make a man. But phrases like "ran away like a girl" and "grow a pair" are used so often that they seep into our psyches and become attached to gender stereotypes. I consider myself to be pretty aware of myself and highly feminist, but even I kept having thoughts like this the whole time I was completing tasks that took "masculine" strength. In order to lift branches, I felt I should "man up". Why is that? Why on earth wasn't I just thinking, "I should really work out" versus "I should be a man"? How can I change the lines of thinking and really common phrases that pop to my mind unbidden? And in the meantime, how do they affect me and my perception of men and women?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hot X: Algebra Exposed!


Heard an interview with Danica McKellar (Winnie from the Wonder Years) on NPR's Science Friday last night. McKellar is a math wiz and has finished her third book Hot X: Algebra Exposed! which combines math equations and personal stories about getting through middle and high school for girls. There is relationship advice and even an excerpt about domestic violence and the rise of dating violence among young people. This is from McKellar's website:

Straight from Hollywood, two-time New York Times bestselling author Danica McKellar delivers Hot X: Algebra Exposed!

With Math Doesn't Suck and Kiss My Math, actress and math genius Danica McKellar shattered the "math nerd" stereotype by showing students how to ace middle school math and pre-algebra in her unique, just-us-girls style.

Now Danica takes on the most feared of all math classes: algebra! Sizzling with Danica's trademark sass and style, Hot X: Algebra Exposed puts math-phobic students at ease, showing anyone how to become confident and totally "get" topics like square roots, polynomials, quadratic equations, word problems, and more. Each chapter features:

•Easy to follow, step-by-step instruction
•Time-saving tips and tricks for homework and tests
•Illuminating practice problems with detailed solutions
•Real-world examples that teens can relate to!
•True stories from Danica's own life as a math student and actress
Hot X: Algebra Exposed also includes special features like "How Can I Focus and Avoid Distractions?" giving students real solutions to help them be their best!

Combining fun reader-favorites like personality quizzes, creative illustrations and real-life testimonials with handwritten step-by-step math lessons, Danica's irreverent, lighthearted approach helps girls everywhere conquer their fears of algebra, opening the door to higher scores, better grades, and overall math success.

With Danica as personal tutor and coach, girls everywhere can stop dreading algebra and watch their scores rise!

It's sad as women we need to resort to these measures

I came across this thing on my best friend's page on Facebook and shared it with everyone on there ( I didn't seem to get much response). But i personally was very outraged at the extent that women need to work to protect themselves. This is an article of a new type of condom that was made for women just in case they are raped there are some special teeth on it and it grips onto.... well you get the idea. The article is that link. Unfortunely the extent of the violence on women that is endured in Africa has resulted in women resorting to this.

Enjoy!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Just thought i should share







For my service learning I had the opportunity to share with a group called Las Princesitas~~~ translation The Princesses. I just wanted to share their pictures and share how close i got to these young girls and hope that I somewhat helped or impacted their lives with what I had to share with them.

On the top left is Jenny she's 13 and my little sister (literally), then theirs estrella and lorena. She's the leader of the group and thats her daughter she's 13.And they have the most amazing relationship. Then at the bottom left is Paola she's 12 and then Bryana who's 13. All these girls are very beauttiful on both the inside and out and best of all they know it and are not ashamed.

Just thought i should share!

Girl Power!



The Girl Power! A Healthy Woman Event connects parents and their daughters in an afternoon filled with laughter, learning and listening. The event includes:

•Engaging certified experts in the fields of nutrition, self-esteem, safety and communication
•Interactive, fun exhibits
•Delicious treats
•Fantastic Prizes
•A gift bag to be filled with goodies

The 2010 Girl Power! A Healthy Woman Event will be held Saturday, August 28, 2010

Orange County Convention Center South Concourse 12:30 - 5:30 p.m

Here are a few of the speakers for the one day event:
•Nurse practitioner with Dr. Catherine Zelner, GYN
•Co-founder, Parents Everywhere
•Columnist, Moms Like Me
•Parenting Educator (teaches workshops in town)
•Reiki & Qigong Practitioner
•UCF College of Nursing Adjunct Faculty

Cool Girl Julie



I am across this website/blog about this cool girl Julie. This is from her cite:

"I live in Chicago. I am in the gifted program at school. I love playing music, dancing, and drawing. I am in Girl Scouts."

"I have a lot of pets:3 dogs ( Lilly, Laui, and Cocoa)2 cats (Winnie, and Buddy)
1 Beta Fish (Swimmy)1 Guinea Pig (Lucky)"

She reviews music, has her own videos and sells merchandise.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Urban Outfitters Awfulness

What do you think of Urban Outfitters campaign and collection of t-shirts that encourage eating disorders? 

A Letter to Girls from Eve Ensler

A few months ago, I spotted Eve Ensler's new book in Borders. I didn't have the money to buy it, so I sat down and read the entire thing in an hour. I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World is said, by Ensler, "a literary text inspired by traveling the world, by witnessing events, by listening to real and imagined conversations. On occasion a monologue was inspired by an article, an experience, a memory, a dream, a wish, an image, or a moment of grief or rage."

The monologues inside made me laugh, made me cry, made me question, made me angry, etc. Much like the The Vagina Monologues, it is empowering and sad and rage-inducing and beautiful. I urge all of you to check it out, to buy it for yourself or for a teenage girl in your life, and to share the stories with others.

I wanted to post Eve's "introduction"/letter to girls/readers in the beginning. This was posted in a magazine a few months ago (Glamour, I believe) and it's available under the "Search Inside" function on Amazon so there should be no copyright infringements violated. It is a little long, but it's beautiful.

--

Dear Emotional Creature,

You know who you are. I wrote this book because I believe in you. I believe in your authenticity, your uniqueness, your intensity, your wildness. I love the way you dye your hair purple, or hike up your short skirt, or blare your music while you lip-sync every single memorized lyric. I love your restlessness and your hunger. You are one of our greatest natural resources. You possess a necessary agency and energy that if unleashed could transform, inspire, and heal the world.

I know we make you feel stupid, as being a teenager meant you were temporarily deranged. We have become accustomed to muting you, judging you, discounting you, asking you--sometimes even forcing you--to betray what you see and know how you feel.
You scare us. You remind us of what we have been forced to shut down or abandon in ourselves in order to fit in. You ask us by your being to question, to wake up, to reperceive. Sometimes I think we tell you we are protecting you when really we are protecting ourselves from our own feelings of self-betrayal and loss.

Everyone seems to have a certain way they want you to be--your mother, father, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, boyfriends, fashion gurus, celebrities, girlfriends. In researching this book I came up with a very disturbing statistic: 74 percent of you say you are under pressure to please everyone.

I have done a lot of thinking about what it means to please. To please, to embody the wish or will of somebody other than yourself. To please the fashion setters, we starve ourselves. To please boys, we push ourselves when we aren't ready. To please the popular girls, we end up acting mean to our best friends. To please our parents, we become insane overachievers. If you are trying to please, how do you take responsibility for your own needs? How do you even know what your own needs are? What do you have to cut off in yourself in order to please others? I think the act of pleasing makes everything murky. We lose track of ourselves. We stop uttering declaratory sentences. We stop directing our lives. We wait to be rescued. We forget what we know. We make everything okay rather than real.

I have had the good fortune to travel around the world. Everywhere I meet teenage girls, circles of girls, packs of girls walking the country roads home from school, hanging out on city street corners, arm in arm, laughing, giggling, screaming. Electric girls. I see how your lives get hijacked, how your opinions and desires get denied and undone. I see too how this later comes to determine so much of our lives as adults. So many of the women I have met through The Vagina Monologues and The Good Body and V-Day are still trying to overcome what was muted or undone in them when they were young. They are struggling late into their lives to know their desires, to find their power and their way.

This book is a call to question rather to please. To provoke, to challenge, to dare, to satisfy your own imagination and appetite. To know yourself truly. To take responsibility for who you are, to engage. This book is a call to listen to the voice inside of you that might want something different, that hears, that knows, the way only you can hear and know. It's a call to your original girl self, to your emotional creature self, to move at your speed, to walk with your step, to wear your color. It is an invitation to heed your instinct to resist war, or draw snakes, or to speak to the stars.

I hope you will see this book as something living, that you will use it to help you to identify and overcome the obstacles or pressures that prevent you from being an emotional create. Maybe after you read these stories and monologues you will be inspired to write and share your own, or paint your bedroom wall or fight for polar bears or speak up in class or learn about sexuality or demand your rights.

When I was your age, I didn't know how to live as an emotional creature. I felt like an alien. I still do a lot of the time. I don't think it has much to do with the country I grew up in or the language I speak. In this book you will meet girls from everywhere. Some live in remote villages, other in huge cities or posh suburbs. Some worrying about whether they will be able to afford the latest purple UGGs, some worrying if they'll ever get home after two years of being held as a sex slave. Some deciding whether they are able to kill a supposed enemy, some on the brink of killing themselves, some desperate for the next meal, some unable to stop starving themselves. Girls from Cairo, Kwai Yong, Sofia, Ramallah, Bukavu, Narok, Westchester, Jerusalem, Manhattan, Paris. All of them, all of you, live on the planet right now. I think whatever country or town or village you physically live in, you inhabit a similar emotional landscape. You all come from girl land. There you get born with this awareness, this open-hearted have to eat it, taste it, know it, defy it. Then the "grown-ups" come with their rules, their directions. They teach you how to make yourselves less so everyone feels more comfortable. They teach you not to stand out. They get you to behave.

I am older now. I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting. It has taken me so many years to be okay with being different, with being this alive, this intense. I just don't want you to have to wait that long.

Love,
Eve

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives


Changing Bodies, Changing Lives

A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships

An essential road map through the difficult terrain of adolescence, Changing Bodies, Changing Lives gives teens a thoughtful, empathetic and personal look at the issues that affect them daily.

Teenagers need a place to find factual, straightforward, and thorough information on sex and on the many ways puberty affects their emotional and physical health. Since 1981, Changing Bodies, Changing Lives has been the source for teens who want facts and confirmation that they're not alone in what they're feeling and doing. In this newly revised and expanded edition, reputed by clinic directors, sex educators, parents and teenagers to be "the best in its field," Ruth Bell and her co-authors continue to offer nonjudgmental advice on every issue confronting adolescents today. Not only has each chapter been fully updated, but there are four new chapters addressing issues of today's teens. Based on quotes and stories from hundreds of teenagers and Bell's meticulous research, Changing Bodies, Changing Lives thoughtfully answers questions and concerns teenagers confront today, including:

• Changes brought on by puberty
• Eating disorders and body image
• Mental health care
• Teen pregnancy
• STDs and how to avoid them
• Positive role modeling
• Preventative health care
• Drug and alcohol abuse
• Birth control and safer sex
• Sexuality
• Violence and Abuse

Laurie Halse Anderson - Speak Poem



(Trigger warning)

I know that Abigail did her Book Review on Speak, and if any of you aren't familiar with the book or the film, you should check it out. I read this book in high school and it was incredibly emotional.

Laurie Halse Anderson wrote and read this poem for the 10th anniversary of the book. The poem is composed of lines from emails/letters she's received from people who have read the book. It's incredibly touching, and shows how words on a page can transform, change, and save lives.

...

You write to us
from Houston, Brooklyn, Peoria, Rye, NY,
LA, DC, Everyanywhere USA to my mailbox, My
Space Face Book A
livejournal of bffs whispering
Onehundredthousand whispers to Melinda and
Me.

You:
I was raped, too
sexually assaulted in seventh grade,
tenth grade, the summer after graduation,
at a party i was 16
i was 14
i was 5 and he did it for three years
i loved him
i didn’t even know him.
He was my best friend’s brother,
my grandfather, father, mommy’s boyfriend,
my date
my cousin
my coach
i met him for the first time that night and—
four guys took turns, and—
i’m a boy and this happened to me, and—

… I got pregnant I gave up my daughter for adoption …
did it happen to you, too?
U 2?

You:
i wasn’t raped, but
my dad drinks, but
i hate talking, but
my brother was shot, but
i am outcast, but
my parents split up, but
i am clanless, but
we lost our house, but
i have secrets - seven years of secrets and i cut
myself my friends cut
we all cut cut cut
to let out the pain

… my 5-year-old cousin was raped –
he’s beginning to act out now
… do you have suicidal thoughts?
do you want to kill him?

You:
Melinda is a lot like this girl I know
No she’s a lot like
(me)
i am MelindaSarah
i am MelindaRogelio i am MelindaMegan,
MelindaAmberMelindaStephenTori
PhillipNavdiaTiaraMateoKristinaBeth it keeps hurting, but
but
but
but
this book cracked my shell
it keeps hurting I hurt, but
but your book cracked my shell.

You:
I cried when I read it.
I laughed when I read it
is that dumb? I sat with the girl—
you know, that girl—
I sat with her because nobody sits with her at lunch
and I’m a cheerleader, so there.
speak changed my life
cracked my shell
made me think
about parties
gave me
wings this book
opened my mouth i whispered, cried
rolled up my sleeves i
hate talking but
I am trying.

You made me remember who I am.
Thanks.

P.S. Our class is gonna analyze this thing to death.

Me:
Me:
Me: weeping

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Animal Safehouse Benefit


Animal Safehouse is having a benefit concert at Natura Coffee & Tea on Friday August 6th from 8:30pm-1am. Natura is located 12078 Collegiate WayOrlando, FL (behind Friendly’s and AppleBees on University Blvd.) Please spread the word and come support the cause.

Animal Safehouse of Brevard is a not-for-profit effort geared towards providing temporary safe placement of pets who, like their owners, need to flee from domestic violence situations. While there are shelters for women and children, there are currently no facilities for their pets. Most women with pets will not leave their abusive homes if they cannot bring their furry loved ones along in fear of retaliation.

Leandra Preston, Professor of Women's Studies at University of Central Florida, has worked closely with the Domestic Violence Task Force of Brevard, the Salvation Army domestic violence program, and Serene Harbor for several years. As an avid animal lover, she recognized the desperate need for a safe place for pets who are also subject to abuse while their owners seek safety. Animal Safehouse of Brevard was formed in Summer 2008 by Leandra as a network of individuals committed to helping both women and pets who are victims of domestic violence. We serve all of Central Florida, though Harbor House of Central Florida is soon to have a kennel to meet needs of women in shelter there.

Winter Girls


Synopsis

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.


Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies.
But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives.
Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way – thin, thinner, thinnest – maybe she’ll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.

Why I Won’t Watch True Blood Tonight: Violence Against Women


True Blood is an HBO television drama series based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris. The show is about vampires “coming out” to human society because of a synthetic blood like drink. The story follows Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire partner Bill Compton in Louisiana. The show is very violent but Pema Levy from Women’s Rights points out that the show is taking a dangerous turn and the violence has become increasingly sexual.

“It’s not violence per se that is unacceptable, but rather the context in which it is portrayed: showing violence against women without simultaneously condemning that violence. The writers believe that they can justify this by using a theme: vampires are inherently violent, like blood, like violent sex. In doing so, True Blood buys into the same myths about violence and rape that do real harm to women today: that men have more sexual drive, that rape is an act of passion rather than domination, that women mean yes when they say no, that violence against women is part of the natural order.”

Girls Drawing Girls

Evertone ought to check out Girls Drawing Girls. This collective of female artists create pin-up drawings which comment on the sexualized art of women made by men. There are a lot of talented women present here. (Some art is a bit NSFW but it's nothing a woman hasn't seen before!)

A Storm in a AA.



I'm really posting this about the article that's linked to the "Title," of this post. I ran across it while at work (...yes, I read feminism articles while on the clock, SUE ME). I was pretty mortified by what I read. I'm also mortified by the TLC HIT show: Toddlers & Tiaras. Don't get me started. Enjoy!

Feral Children in Our Own Backyard

Probably if you've taken a psychology class, you've learned about the phenomenon of "feral children". Basically, it is a non-medical term used to describe children who have grown up without any consistent human social interaction. There have been some famous cases, like a boy in France who was apparently raised by wolves, and a girl named Genie, who was found strapped to a potty chair in her adolescence.

A few years ago, a case like this surfaced in the Tampa Bay area, and a link to the article is above. A seven-year-old girl named Danielle was found starving, surrounded by bugs, in a locked room, where she 'lived' with her mother and two older brothers. You can find all the information on her progress in the article, and it's pretty inspiring, but I wanted to know what everyone thought of the situation.

The mother chose to keep caring for her adult sons, one of whom was mentally handicapped, but never even took her daughter outside. She blamed many of the circumstances on being left alone by her boyfriend. Do you think it was relevant that Danielle is female? Would the mother have treated the boy differently? This article is definitely worth a read, as it will get you thinking.

Women at Point Zero

Below is a response to a discussion on the book "Women at Point Zero." I am sharing it becuase it is personal to me and hope it will encourage others to read the novel.

Essay Response to a discussion on the novel “Women at Point Zero.”

1. Firdaus states that “I now knew that all of us were prostitutes who sold themselves at varying prices” (76). Explain the import of this statement in the context of the entire novel.

I felt almost obligated to write on this topic. It might be because of the glaring instances in the book or the connection that such a topic has with me personally. Whatever the reason, this is what I have chosen and while the examples that I have pick out to discuss are clear to see in the narrated story I find them the most relevant to our lives as women, especially mine.

From the beginning of the book our narrating character, Firdaus, has been groomed, blindly by her immediate family in the commodity of human service. Reading through page 16 we see her mother displaying servitude to her abusive and dominating husband in exchange for staying in favor with him. That is the price her mother pays for living an honorable life of marriage and having a roof to take shelter in. As a grown girl with no live parents to provide for her, Firdaus is transferred to the protection of her uncle. For this her price is sexual submission to him. When her uncle marries Firdaus is in a position of servitude to the uncle and his wife. Her choice, or price, is to stay in a home and live honorably according to Islamic law or strike out on her own. When there is a decision made by her uncle and his wife to place Firdaus in an arranged marriage she decides that is too high a price for the guarantee of a home. When she is alone in the streets she awakens to the reality that her choice to be independent of a husband will be higher and more undesirable than agreeing to an arranged marriage. This thinking did not turn out to be true for her, because her husband was oppressive, greedy, and dominating to her. She had witnessed this before with how her father treated her mother and knew the price her mother paid, she had given her joy up for a life of bitterness and hate. Firdaus did not want another to determine who she would become so she left her husband and learned the life of prostitution.

During her journey through life between controlled by family and prostitution, Firdaus allowed herself to buy into her emotions of caring and love for another person. In these instances her purchase resulted in an empty return, like a coin slot that she had placed all her assets into and upon pulling the lever found she had lost it all. It was devastating her and cost her dearly each time. I think about this and see how it replays in her life, and how any one of us could replace ourselves with Firdaus, and gain empty returns.

How wise she was to understand through observation and experience that we all have our price we pay for what we want or fear we do not want to happen. We do things out of our comfort zone or against what we see as right living to stay in good graces, avoid and argument, or keep ourselves from living in poverty. In the end of the novel Firdaus transcendences the social pressure to pay a price for what others define as righteous living. Her act was violent but just as it was necessary to her decision not to go on paying the price for free living.

Most of us will never summon the courage and strength to rise above paying others in some way for what we want how we want to live. There will always be a trade off; looking the other way at work when others make harassing comments, keeping silent when you know someone or yourself is abused. For those who do sum up the courage to “blow the whistle” their life will change, some for the better, many for the worst, but it is in the conscious that those who do transcendent paying the price will find a return on their gamble.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Born A Woman




I was heading to the lake this weekend, listening to XM Radio's "Station 6," which is 60's Music. This song came on and I sent myself an email to post this here. The lyrics say it all...this is our life.

It makes no difference if you're rich or poor
Or if you're smart or dumb
A woman's place in this old world
Is under some man's thumb
And if you're born a woman
You're born to be hurt
You're born to be stepped on, lied to, cheated on
And treated like dirt
Ah if you're born a woman
You're born to be hurt
A woman's lot is to give and give
And go on giving
A woman's got to love and lose
And go on living
Well I was born a woman
I didn't have no say
And when my man finally comes home
He makes me glad it happened that way
Because to be his woman
No price is too great to pay
Yes I was born a woman
I'm glad it happened that way
Oh I was born a woman I'm glad it happened that way

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Operation Beautiful




Operation Beautiful – transforming the way you see yourself one post-it note at a time

This blog of people leaving post-it notes all around where they live of messages of inner beauty and self acceptance. There’s an event going on from August 2-7th in which people place notes in women’s bathrooms and other various places saying things like “You=Perfect” and “You are Lovely” trying to bring people smiles and spread the word of loving our bodies and ourselves and rejecting societal standards. National Organization for Women has done this type of Love Your Body campaign in the past and I hope that others at UCF leave these messages of love around campus this week.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Slow Me Down!

So many girls today have so many expectations set on them by society. At times we need to remember that they are just growing up in a crazy world, and need a minute to breathe! I watched this video and immediately thought of sharing this with you all! I think it is a great video for girls and for us women. It is a great reminder that sometimes we need a minute to slow down and just breathe.

Friday, July 30, 2010

No health benefits, only harm


Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types.

1.Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
2.Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are "the lips" that surround the vagina).
3.Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
4.Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

After discussing Violence Against Women, extensively, I thought I'd share this. I'm just mortified and I feel like I've reopened Pandora's box. I want to stop this ridiculous practice. I get that we can't all agree that there's "difference" in FGM and MGM but...come ON! You're not torturing a baby boy....they're not tortured. They have antiseptics, they have numbing creams--most sleep through the procedure. What's happening to females is a tragedy. Period. It's not the same thing, and I'll argue that with anyone who says it is. It's a violent act towards women to prevent them from feeling sexual pleasure--until their husband wants to slice them open, have their way and then stitch them back up in some cases. You want to compare the two? I'm sad.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

UCF Developing Virtual Game About Sex Ed

I really have no words about this, but wanted to share the link. Hooray for tuition hikes, huh?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If you really knew me?

If you really knew me just premiered as a reality TV show on MTV. This show is based on an amazing project that is sweeping through schools across the nation. In my opinion this show can be a very positive experience for young girls and boys. This project helps break the Walls of prejudice, discrimination, and hate. Please read this article and check out the show for yourself! Please let mr know what you all think.

What many girls go through when they look in the mirror!

There is so much pressure out in the world for young girls. Young girls have to be popular, pretty, smart, virginal, sexual, silly, frail,and strong all at the same time!
There are so many contradicting messages that are being told to these girls. How do we expect them to love themselves if we live in a so society of contradictions?
How do we expect girls to be confident in who they are when there are pressures in the world to look "perfect". I remeber thinking like this poem describes at many points in my youth. I am sure that many of you did too. :(

Olivia Munn vs Playboy.

I'm not quite decided on whether I truly sympathize with Oliva Munn's predicament. Whatever your opinion on the magazine, you have to admit that it's a powerful cultural force in America today. People want to read it to be titillated. Many people want to be famous and read about in publications with the largest circulation possible. I don't believe it's right to want to benefit from the readership of Playboy and expect the sexist rules it applies to all of the other women in its pages not to apply to you. On the other hand, I don't believe it's right to have those sexist rules in the first place, or ignore a contract the way that the crew of the photo shoot did. Another part of me feels that if you're willing to go topless with hair covering your breasts, is it really any less modest, dignified or classy to actually show your breast? Fully nude or not, Munn was apparently encouraged by her publicist to appear in a magazine that is known for objectifying women and she went along with it. How do you feel about this situation?

Sequential Feminism

When it comes to comic books, you may think of them as being particularly male oriented reads. There are plenty of wonderful examples, though, of comics created by females that are more realistic and heartfelt than the rugged late 80s-early 90s norm which is, thankfully, going extinct. Women have been drawing comics for as long as there have been comics, but only comparatively recently has the market for these works been acknowledged, and it's much easier to find graphic novels drawn and/or written by women not just in the underground 'zine section but also on the mainstream shelves. This mainstreaming of feminine comics is a very good thing, bringing a broader range of perspectives to the comics world.
There are plenty of great artists you can look up, like Lynda Barry, Colleen Coover or Amanda Conner. But I wanted to write this post because of a surprising read from Eric Powell, known for his watercolored comics about thugs, zombies and women who look like 50s pinups. I've loved his characters and art for years, but never expected anything resembling feminism from his work. Taking a break from his main projects, though, he created a 3-part miniseries called Chimichanga, about a little bearded girl at the circus named Lula. Lula is a surprising character as far as Powell creations go- She has indomitable self esteem in the face of a society that finds her ugly.

The rising incidences of this kind of attitude in male-created comics shows that we've made progress, I feel. Please take the time to check out more comic works by female artists!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In Her Shoes




I wanted to let everyone know about a great book that I just picked up and can not put down. It is called "In Her Shoes" by the well-known author Jennifer Weiner. The book was also made into a movie in 2005 staring Cameron Diaz. This book relates to all women, but I think its especially great for young women who are currently going through college. It's the story of 2 sisters who go through the lifes struggles growing up in the typical family. I have not finished the book yet, but have heard great things about the book as well as the film. Wanted to recommend it all to you as well. Enjoy!


FGM

I just thought I should post this link because of this weeks discussion.
In my opinion it is incredibly sad what these girls have to go through!

My Girls

As some of you may know I work for a local non profit organization that houses foster kids. Thanks to this organization I have learned a great deal from these kids especially from the young girls. There are two very sweet twins that I work with. They are both in high school. They were seperated from their family because their older brother did some inapropriate things to them when they were younger. They have been in foster care for 3 years now. Even though, they have been through horrible things in their short lives they are so strong hearted. They have an unbreakable bond with so much love. They do not wallow in their own sorrow, but they make the best of their situation. They are intelligent, sweet, and strong individuals. I know they have a bright future ahead of them because of their incredible strength and faith in eachother.
Just thought I should share this with all of you lovely ladies !

Monday, July 26, 2010

Being Girl

Do you remember when you first got your period?

Do you remember having all these questions, but were embarassed to ask your mom or friends?

Here is a site I used to use as a young girl, that still exists today. It's a website sponsored by Always and Tampax and answers all questions related to having your menstrual period. I think it is a great resource for "girls" first experiencing puberty. Recommend it to your young sisters, or to use with your own daughter. Enjoy!

http://www.beinggirl.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

All Girl Army

Found here:

Are you a young feminist looking for a vital community, peer and mentor support, energized discussion and a great place to be seen and heard? The All Girl Army wants you!

The main part of the All Girl Army site is the individual blogs for no more than 29 girls and women between the ages of 10 and 25 who identify as feminist, and a single, collective blog which highlights entries from the individual blogs, as well as news items pertinent to women and girls and topics given for more writing and discussion.

Blogs are expected to represent you and your life, so are personal in some respect, but should address women's and feminist issues en large, evaluated through your own lens. Remember: the personal IS political, so every post needn't be a political screed, but personal entries should have express relevance to feminist/women's issues in some way. You can always evaluate issues in your daily life via a feminist lens in some respects, or share experiences you know other women are also having.

Bloggers are required to post regularly: a minimum of twice each month. Bloggers will also need to read the blogs of the other collective members, participate in and help moderate the discussion areas of the site, and take an active part, including leadership roles, in creating and managing site plans, polices and practices.

Because we have set a limit on the number of women blogging at a given time, there is an application process. The application information you share below will only be seen by the application reviewer(s), except where otherwise noted. Once bloggers pass the age of 25, they may elect to become part of the board collective composed of a group of women over 25, working in support of the younger women.

If accepted, there are some basic rules and guidelines you will be expected to adhere to and abide by. Take a look now, before applying, to make sure that these will work for you. The application follows at the end of this page.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Purity pledges on the Internet

Do you read The American Virgin? If not, you should. It's a really great blog with a focus on "virginity" -- both the purity movement, abstinence-only education, and they also do some first person interviews with people who consider themselves "virgins" with questions about their opinions on the topic.

The latest post has to do with virginity pledges happening on Facebook. Full disclosure: I find nothing wrong with people abstaining from sex for any particular reason that they choose to. As a sex-positive feminist, who am I to tell people what they should or should not do with their own bodies? Making informed choices about sex -- whether it's having a happy, healthy sex life within a monogamous relationship, or having a happy, healthy sex live with as many partners as you'd like -- also means that you have the option to make informed choices about not having sex. The key word is "informed" -- are you remaining abstinent because it is what *you* truly want to do, or are you remaining abstinent because you think it is what you *should* do?

The many questions I have for people who sign purity pledges are: what will you do if you never get married? What will you do if you do get married, have sex with your new husband or wife, only to find that they become unfaithful or leave you? Will you become a "born again" virgin? What if you find you are not sexually compatible at all? These are not meant to be judgmental questions, but things that are never talked about within the purity movement and ones that I would be interested in seeing how they are handled.

Coupled with the promise of staying pure, it also puts a lot of pressure on marriage and the idea of finding "the one" -- but does this mean people will settle? Or worse, rush into things? Divorce rates are higher today than ever, yet the people who are often behind the purity movement are also the ones fighting against same-sex marriage, which is another interesting aspect tied into it.

I know we're all over The Purity Myth but it's a topic that continues to fascinate and confuse me, all at the same time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don'g blog it

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/24320935/detail.html
This is a news story that I found today on ClickOrlando.com. What struck me about this article is circumstances that surround the 11 year old girl and her parents reaction. I am not going to mention details about the article, because I want you to read it and think about it, and also think about how you use the internet’s blog sites. Do you consider who is really watching your blogs? Have you ever considered that future employers or scholarship awarders might come across your blogs when they research you on the internet? Did it ever occur to you that someone you baby sit for might happen upon what you write on the internet, and that can impact their impression on your ability to care for their children? Blogging is not private, or secure, or even wise. It is no different that leaving your diary on the lunch room table, or even worse, it being read daily over a loud speaker so all can hear. My advice as a 33 year old mother of two who does check the internet for those who watch my children is; don’t use it to express private and personal information and opinions. Keep it clean. If you would not show an employer, parent, or grandparent a picture then don’t post it. If you would not say it to everyone, then don’t blog it.


Robin Apelado

Stories on Sex Ed

Just from reading the postings of my fellow classmates, I have come to realize the variety of experiences women have both in their formal sexual education and the way in which they received "the talk" from their parents. It hit me, though, that most of us represent the same generation of women, learning about sex from pretty much the same generation of adults. If those experiences were so radically different, my mind was abuzz with possibility.

When my grandmother was a child, her mother was terrified to discuss with her anything about the changes in her body, so she simply didn't bother. One day, my grandma went to the bathroom to discover that she was bleeding heavily, and she was scared out of her mind. With no information on menstruation, she jumped to the conclusion that she was dying and began sobbing hysterically. She went running to her mother to tell her, and her mother apparently deemed it appropriate to tell her that she had simply gotten her period. As a result, my grandma started discussing menstruation with my mom as young as six or seven, to keep that from ever happening to her.

Here is a link to a post from a while back on Feministe, about the ways in which girls were taught about their bodies. The post itself is interesting, but the best part is the comment section, filled with amazing stories from women of all ages about their experiences. I highly recommend reading through them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Abstinence and Pop Culture

Relevant to our discussions, there's a great post up at Feministing about mentions of abstinence in pop culture.

As someone who has read all of the Twilight books, it is the one thing that really freaked me out about them. Like the Feministing post states, the messages about sex in the books are incredibly confusing. The worst part, however, is when Bella and Edward do have sex, it is very similar to rape, i.e. she wakes up, has no clue what happens, and is covered in bruises because he can't "control" himself.

With regards to Taylor Swift, I know that she is often pitted against Miley Cyrus to further perpetuate the virgin/whore dichotomy we see repeated in society. In her popular song "Fifteen" it's written from the perspective of a girl who watches her friend fall in love with a boy, lose her virginity, and then get dumped. The lyrics in question are: "Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind, and we cried." (Everything she had, indicating her virginity?) There are a lot of things to love about Taylor Swift (she's young, talented, writes her own music, plays an instrument, and seems to really enjoy what she does and interacts with her fans), but this song is definitely sending the wrong message to young girls. I know the overall message is that boys come and go and that the majority of girls think they are in love with their first boyfriends but it's rare that those relationships last. But it also places a lot of stock in how relationships can ruin you, and doesn't speak a lot about girls having independence outsive of romantic relationships.

And yet, parents seem to think these things are okay for their children despite the messages they send. It begs the question of: is anything in pop culture really "safe" for girls?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

HUGE

I've been watching the new series called HUGE on ABC family for the past couple of weeks. It just started two weeks ago and it stars Nicky Blonski (the girl who played in Hairspray). It's about this girl, Willamina (Will for short), who has been sent to fat camp to put it bluntly. There are people at the camp from every shape and size. Their daily tasks consist of exercising, eating healthy, and talking in groups with each other about their struggles with being overweight. I'm overweight myself so I really like the show and can relate to quite a few things that have gone on so far. On last weeks episode a new girl came to camp and her parents and little sister came with her and stayed a few nights even though camp leader was against it. At one point the girls little sister stood in front of the mirror observing herself. She held her shirt up and would suck in her little gut. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her weight. It just killed me to see this young girl about 10-11 years old doing that. To me that should be the last thing on her mind. Just thought I would share....it's a good show. It comes on Monday nights at 9 if anyone wants to watch it.

-Lindsey

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vindictive Valenti

We started to read “The Purity Myth” this week. I do have to say the author Jessica Valenti is a rather angry woman when it comes to the standard of maintaining virginity until marriage. If one can read through her rants on Christian organizations, the real meat of her thoughts comes into view. Her point is that the conservative view of maintaining virginity overshadows the bigger sexual issues that plague our country. Valenti points out the over sexualizing of youth as one of these bigger issues, and she is right, to an extent. This particular issue is addressed by many of the same conservative Christians that promote waiting until marriage to have sex. This is just one of many topics that plagued me while working through the chapters. The other thing that plagued me was the thought of this book actually promoting youth sex. Is it? I really am not sure. Her voice may be intended for the 17 and older reader, and if her statistics are correct, is about the age when teens are having their first sexual experience. Valenti could have been more powerful with her message to this older teen group if her thought process was a bit more clear and less of a personal rant against conservative Christian groups. She has a great deal to say and valid points concerning the sexualizing of women and girls that should be addressed by our society.

Robin Apelado

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pretty Face



What is this mess if photographs I've made into a collage above? It's just images I've found on the internet of women, and men, saying ENOUGH with the negative media. Enough. It's girl power, and it's boy power. We live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by negative media...media telling us who we SHOULD be. What we SHOULD look like. How we SHOULD dress. Who we SHOULD date. How much we SHOULD weigh. Let me touch on this for a moment..How much we SHOULD weigh? What's a good weight? Does wii fit know? Really...does it know what I should weigh, to feel "good about myself," or is it telling me when I get on the scale I need to weigh what it says in order for people to look at my body and not be mortified. Have you ever heard someone say, "She's a butta face." Everything looks good...butta face. That infuriates me....but it's the same thing when someone is viewed for only a face....only her face looks good, her body is despicable. Why? Is it because society says so? Continuing on my tangent...The magazines, newspapers, internet sites tell us what color our hair SHOULD be. What color eyes we SHOULD have. What face shape is MOST appealing. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of trying to look like someone I'm not, act like someone I wouldn't want to be friends with, and trying to emulate the cover of some bullshit magazine. I'm me, and I like me just as I am...and you SHOULD too.

Here are some websites I've come across lately...and I've enjoyed. Check them out:

http://womensglib.wordpress.com/

http://thefbomb.org/

http://www.girlsforachange.org/


Forget the media, what do they know anyway?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tampon Timeline

Ever wonder how tampons have evolved? What did they use back then during the time of BC? I was searching through the gURL.com website and came across this tampon timeline. It is very interesting and gave me a few laughs, but I also learned from it. Just a few I found interesting:

During the BC Era:

Egypt: disposable plugs from softened papyrus.

Ancient Greece: wrapped scraps of lint around a lightweight wooden stick, probably reusing the stick and replacing the lint as needed.

Africa: rolled up long blades of grass from the planes to create their tampons and pads.

Japanese: molded paper pulp into plugs to wear as tampons.

Pacific Island: harvest absorbent sea sponges from the ocean and insert them as tampons.

Thought these were interesting, check out the other eras. The link is:

http://www.gurl.com/findout/guides/articles/1,,716773,00.html

PRECIOUS- ‘the teenager who made a come-back’.

PRECIOUS- ‘the teenager who made a come-back’.


I chose to review the movie Precious starring Gabourey Sidibe, Lenny Kravitz, Paula Patterson, and Mo’Nique, written by Geoffrey Fletcher, directed by Lee Daniels based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” In the movie "Precious" Claireece Precious Jones is portrayed as an obese, illiterate, black 16-year-old teen that is pregnant by her father with her second child. Most girls and women have experienced some kind to gender discrimination while growing up, and will acknowledge that this possible took place either at school, our in their community. Precious endures many hardships in her young life such as, constant physical and mental abuse daily by her peers in her neighborhood, her mother, and repeated rapes by her father. The story supposedly took place in 1987 in Harlem, in New York City. I was able to draw a few connections between this story and the narrator of ‘The World and What’s Wrong’, when she says, “You can choose to let others control your life, or you can choose to believe in your power to make a difference. When someone gives you that you’re worth-nothing look, you should return it with a smile instead of the same (Goldwasser 231). In the story she resides in a rundown apartment and the family survives on welfare. Her first child, has Down Syndrome and is being cared for by Precious's grandmother. Grandmother’s raring baby for young girls is nothing new; this has being happing from generations back. As females we appear to be the best choice for the narrator’s voice, because many of us has gone through the same emotions that Precious went through, so we might find ourselves thinking before we come to a conclusion. Precious felt overpowered by father throughout her story, and thought she had to continue to have sex with him. She experiences rejection by her mother and hates herself for not being able to stand up to both of her parents. However there became a point in the movie when Precious’ mother felt intimidated by her sudden forthright behavior after she had visited the social worker who assured and encouraged Precious to stand up to her mom. At that point the sharp gaze of her eyes showed that she had overcome her fears and was willing to accept whatever consequences resulted thereafter.
During Precious’ second pregnancy, she is suspended from her junior high school and is referred to an alternative school by the principal. “I do know that there are a lot of things thrown at teenage girls these days. Like the media. They tell us we have to be a size zero, and what do even the prettiest of women promise us we can look forward?” (Goldwasser 230). Reporters who go around gathering information for media most times will highlight the minorities in urban areas, but one should remember that girls in all races, and socio- economic status experience and live similar circumstances. It is my believe that the reporters do not take the time to go into the rural areas to get their information/ stories, because ‘juicy information sells faster’.
“As girls mature into young women and enter adolescence, the physical changes of teen hood accelerate them into awareness of the body as a site of sexuality” (Lipkin 2). Like the ‘Maury’ show aired on television, we see similar stories daily, about girls having sex or baby with their, father, step-father, uncle, best friend’s husband or boyfriend even their neighbor. Precious is a true to life story that the public needed to know about. Many young girls are faced with similar situations daily. Like many teen girls in her mind she envisions another world, one in which, she is loved and appreciated. Precious uses imagination and fantasy and sees herself in music videos; believing she is a superstar and thus strive for the attention. She looks at photo albums, and imagines the pictures are her. When she looks in the mirror, she sees the image of a pretty, white, thin, blonde girl, and in her mind she envisions another world, one in which she is loved and appreciated.
Several teenagers experience the same faith. In many cases it is not that they are ‘bad’ or stupid, but it is mainly due to the lack of guidance. I truly admired her love for her children, despite the verbal and physical abuse she underwent by her mother; she managed to remain faithful and respectful. Her mother never offered compassion or words of encouragement. Instead precious was belittled with name calling, slapped around physically and would be reminded at all times that she did not have the looks, body or ability to make it in the real world. The only independence Precious had with her family was the key to the apartment door, and even so her mom complained about her hours of coming and going.
Throughout the entire movie all Precious strived for was LOVE, yet she remarked that “Love makes me feel worthless.” I think the ending is kind of a new beginning to another teenagers’ stride for acceptance. After hearing Precious’ struggles, I am surprise she did not commit suicide, due to feeling ashamed of herself. I was pleased to see her quick halt in realizing, ‘that she can rid herself of all the emotions, and fears she had built up inside of her’. Her strength was taking her tragedy and turning it into her success story. The movie ‘Precious ‘has shown many young people both males and females how one can break away from a destructive settings and become, ‘the unsuspected’. To me that’s a real success in life! Like the saying goes ‘if you can think it you can achieve it’. All Precious needed was love and some words of encouragement.

Here is a sneak peek at a part of the movie. Enjoy! http://www.moviefone.com/movie/precious/31794/video/precious-based-on-a-novel-by-sapphire/23765163001

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Movie Review on Speak

I chose to review the movie Speak which was released in 2004. The movie was directed by Jessica Sharzer and is based on the novel written by Laurie Halse Anderson in 1999. The independent film stares Kristen Stewart, Steve Zahn, and Michael Angarano. It is a story about a high school freshman dealing with the traumatic experience of being raped. Within her school she is known as a snitch because she called 911 at a house party after she was raped. It was the end of eighth grade and she was sexually assaulted by an older high school boy though when the police arrived the rape was not reported. Many of the students who were still at the party got in trouble for underage drinking she began her ninth year being shunned by most of the school. The main characters name is Melinda or Mel for short. Throughout the movie she deals with her suffering by withdrawing and refusing to speak. She is alone and ignored by all of the people around her except a new student and an art teacher who together help her reclaim herself and her voice.

The boy in the movie who attacked her at the house party intimidates her at school to keep her silenced. He even begins dating Melinda’s ex-best friend and uses the relationship to taunt his victim. The close friends Melinda had before the party moved on to different groups and ignored her obvious pain. Her parents also notice the obvious different in their daughter but are too busy and self consumed to put any real effort in trying to help. The movie and book do a great job of creating the depiction of depression, loneliness, silence, intimidation, and ignorance that so many young girls face in high school. When girls are experiencing troubles they are often pushed to the side and made to feel lesser because our society dictates that females are suppose to be put together and orderly. One of Melinda’s teachers Mr. Neck is definitely a culprit of this as he tries to bully the young student. Her parents don’t seem to really care about what she is going through or don’t realize that her problems are extremely serious. In addition, the school therapist seems to be reciting something out of a textbook and no one seems to be honest in the situation and reaching out to Melinda. That is no one except for the schools new art teacher and a new boy that is Melinda’s lab partner. Her lab partner Dave befriends Melinda and tries to help her in dealing with her teachers and classmates. The art teacher Mr. Freeman sees that his young student is dealing with something significant and opens his room and time to her. They work together on her artistic techniques and he advises her to work out her internal demons through art or some other form of self expression. This relationship enables Melinda to begin to push back begin to deal with her pain, confusion, numbness, and silence. She fears that her friends, family, and school will not believe her if she tells. She fears for her friend who is in a relationship with the boy that assaulted her, she worries about him doing it again. She wonders why he chose her and not someone else hence blaming herself and fearing that there is something about her that is less than others. Melinda internally and externally through her art deals with this pain and fear and by the end of the movie Melinda finally is able to open up about her victimization and trust the people in her life. Watching this movie makes me so angry and makes me realize that there are countless girls who are bearing the burden of victimization alone. The stigmatization and self blaming of rape begins at a very young age and often remains with women throughout their entire lives. For this reason Speak is a hugely important novel and movie and I hope that we all work to break the silence of rape and empower victims of all age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, class, and so on.

Lauie Halse Anderson has written many stories dealing with the tribulations of high school and unveiling the truth of what girls are having to deal with and handle by themselves. This is a truly great story and is inspiring and heart breaking all at once. If anyone is interested Anderson has a new book out entitled Wintergirls which is about young anorexic girls. I heard a story with her on NPR’s show Here and Now which was extremely interesting and is on their pod cast at http://www.hereandnow.org/media-player/?url=http://www.hereandnow.org/2010/06/rundown-630-2/&title=Dying To Be Thin&segment=5&pubdate=2010-06-30.

10 Things I Hate About You

Andrea Roberts. WST 3020. Film Review

I am doing a movie review on the film 10 Things I Hate About You (Touchstone, 1999), directed by Gill Unger and written by Karen Mc Cullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, based loosely on William Shakespeare’s famous tale, The Taming of the Shrew. In this film, Julia Styles plays Katerina Stratford “Kat,” the protagonist, referred to in the movie as a “heinous bitch.” Here we can see Shakespeare’s shrew appropriated, and updated as a feisty young feminist who defies the stereotypes reinforced by her peers. We have two female voices (the writers of the film) complemented by the “male gaze” (Lipkin 2009) of the director. It makes for a charming story that is both funny and heart wrenching. The story follows Kat who eventually falls in love with tough guy, Patrick (played by Heath Ledger), her formidable, and unexpected love match—who initially pursues her with ulterior motives, but than realizes that she is not who, he, or everyone else, thinks she is. The story examines the pitfalls of teenage love and life in the nineties, for which I will expand on, and flesh out with my own feminist reading of the story and trace important “girlhood” developments throughout this review.

Early on in the film Kat can be seen curled up in her living room reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and heard criticizing the school curriculum for it being sexist in its selected readings, as can be witnessed in her retort to a female classmate in her English class who found Hemingway romantic, “Romantic? Hemingway?! He was an abusive alcoholic misogynist who squandered half his life hanging around Picasso trying to nail his leftovers” (Kat, quoted from 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999). Kat frequently brings to the fore the power differentials between the sexes within a patriarchal society, especially within the dynamic of her English classroom, usually in response to Joey, the prime example of everything she can’t stand about the stereotypical teenaged male. He who refers to Kat as “a bitter self-righteous hag who has no friends” (Ibid), for which she replies, “I guess in this society being male and an asshole makes you worthy of our time. What about Sylvia Plath or Charlotte Bronte or Simone de Beauvoir?” (Ibid).

Her passion for second wave feminists is out of place, relative to her peers’ interests, and is thus a rejection of their values and social norms, what is interesting, though is that this film was made in 1999, coming off the heals of the Riot Grrls movement, in the midst of third wave feminism. Kat’s character allowed many girls a character for whom they could locate themselves in or identify with, and thought this was clearly not a visible aspect among the film’s characters, in reality, this “girl” was being realized on the ground during that time, furthermore, this film and Kat’s very character, could be viewed as evidence of this.

With a more critical lens, we can see Kat’s third wave perspective come into focus as she evolves, and vacillates between respective waves. Though she is well versed, and respectful of her first and second wave feminist fore mothers, she embraces the contradictions and personal empowerment fostered by the Riot Grrrl movement of the third wave (Lipkin, 2009). As the story unfolds, more context is revealed to shed light on precisely why Kat is so ill tempered, and the subsequent tension between, not only her and the arrogant Joey, but also with her sister, Bianca (who is two years her junior and the quintessence of femininity)—the type of girl that Kat openly rejects being anything like.

Quite clever to note, on behalf of the writers of the film, is the part of Kat’s English teacher, Mr. Morgan. He is a sharp tongued black man who’s role often serves to reinforce Kat as she puts Joey in his rightful place, and to some degree, legitimates her feminist point of view, but he is, at the same time, very quick to remind her of her own unrecognized privilege, he states: “I know how difficult it must be for you to overcome all those years of upper middle class suburban oppression, It must be tough”(10 Things I Hate About You,1999). After all, Kat is white, and the able-bodied, heterosexual daughter of a well to do obstetrician and lives in a gorgeous home overlooking Puget Sound, replete with pool and hot tub.

Walter Stratford, Kat and Bianca’s father, likes to keep his girls on short leash, and has gained notoriety for being a difficult pain in the ass who doesn’t allow his daughters to date. Kat doesn’t mind this much in regard to dating and boys, as she rejects many of the things that are cause for his worry, but they do lock horns in other ways—as her biting independence leaves him feeling like a “spectator” to her life. They fight over her going away to college at Sara Lawrence, a liberal arts college that is 3000 miles away on the East coast (where noted writer, Alice Walker attended). Clearly, though, he worries more about Bianca’s impressionability, in regard to peers and boys, than Kat’s, and according to him, he has good reason for this, he states, “Kissing isn't what keeps me up to my elbow in placenta all day long!” (Ibid). He does have a point. As a single father, I can see that he struggles at times, and seems overly protective, but at the end of the day, he adores his children and wants for their happiness.

Bianca resents her overbearing and controlling father, as her different subjective experience of what it means to be a girl, and what her goals are many times unrealized as she is subjected to double reinforcements—as Kat always “backs up” their dad, and thwarts her efforts to “enjoy her adolescence” (Ibid). Her traditional perception of boys, dating and social norms is largely presupposed by the surrounding characters in the film, and by us, subsequently as she can never fully develop this. Bianca’s character is never allowed to fully explore her own feelings through direct experiences of her own making. What’s more, she is continually made to feel like he stereotypical girl she looks like. In fact, the way her character is treated in the film, serves to show in quite an exemplary manner, exactly how we foster this stereotype and enable women—and it truly hampers development. And though it is not done purposely, it should remind us of why we should not judge a book by its cover.

Bianca could easily be the subject of No Doubts, I’m Just A Girl, in many ways—crippled by an overzealous desire to protect. Unlike Kat, who is trusted for her ability and independence, Bianca, by proxy, stands in sharp relief—seemingly not able to think for herself. Upon realizing this, in seeing her sister’s despair—by way of observing her quiet resolve one day—and almost as if Kat feels guilty for her part in this, she makes an effort to approach Bianca. Kat lets down her guard—sharing that she had a “fling” with Joey, “after [their] mom left” for a month in the 9th grade, but that he dumped her and broke her heart. She goes on to explain that “not all experiences are worth having” and that to spare her sisters feelings, she remained in lockstep with her dad, in his keeping her sheltered from the guys at school. Bianca is very angry, and quick to point out that she isn’t Kat “and wouldn’t make the same stupid mistakes” (Ibid), but that she should be given the same opportunities—even if they result in hurtful experiences—further pointing to the contradiction inherent in Kat’s statement (she wouldn’t know if some experiences aren’t worth having, because she is never allowed to have the experience).

This tension between Kat and Bianca is good, as it also reminds us that feminism can come in many forms—and that Bianca’s form should not be excluded. It is here that we can see that Bianca is not a “vapid” empty-headed ditz without a brain who can’t be left to her own devices, in fact, it is Bianca who keeps her head screwed on—even at her first party—where, ironically, it is Kat (the gatekeeper) who gets completely wasted and winds up dancing on the table top to a crowd of cheering guys, while Bianca actually rejects advances from the usual suspect [Joey], and claims that she is tired and wants to go home, where, nice-guy, Cameron furnishes her ride. Interestingly here, too, we can see Cameron turn his respective stereotype inside out, as well.

When newcomer to Padua High, Cameron “Cam”—all around “good-guy”—always under the radar, falls deeply in love with Bianca, he employs the aid of Michael—his day one tour guide—and subsequent “b.f.f.” Michael helps him learn the ropes of Padua (note, the school’s name is the same name as the town in Taming of the Shrew), and to do whatever it takes to win Bianca’s heart. He learns through [disapproving] Michael that Bianca is not allowed to date because of her overly strict father, and tries to convince Cam that he is in pursuit of the impossible—as snotty, spoiled, shallow Bianca is way out of his league—but at the same time, offers him an in, as he shares with Cam that she does need a French tutor. The story becomes a farce when Cam can’t get a date with Bianca via his own efforts, realizing that her “shrew” sister Kat is the major impingement, since Bianca can’t do anything unless Kat is doing it. Michael and Cameron scheme together and come up with a plan to get Kat a date, so that Cam can land a date with Bianca. The ensuing sub-plot becomes a competition between Bianca’s respective suitors.

For Kat, Cam thinks that the equally petulant Patrick Verona would be a good pairing, so he sets out to convince Patrick of this. Patrick, not all too willing to give his assistance, scares Cam off so, Michael suggests they get Joey involved. Suggesting that he could be the “patsy to take the fall” as he is also attempting to date Bianca and makes a wager for fun that he will “nail her by prom” —reluctantly Cam agrees, because only Joey can afford to pay Patrick to take Kat out. Money does talk to Patrick, via Joey’s wallet, and he does finally agree to take her out. Kat, however, proves to be unimpressed by Patrick. She remains completely irascible with no interest in dating him, and repeatedly turns Patrick down. He does finally succeed, at taking her to “Bogie’s party,” but she could really care less, and even forgets that he is supposed to take her, but goes instead out of pity for her sister. So, when Patrick comes to pick her up, she is annoyed, and continually dismissive of him throughout the rest of the night, where she grows more, and more, reckless, while watching Joey close in on her sister.

Many feminists would take issue with the fact that Patrick (and the other characters, too) is acting like a typical masculine slime ball, motivated by money, and not having any concern for Kat, or Bianca and using them for their own ends. And though I can’t argue with this, to some degree, I will say that Patrick’s character (and Cameron’s too) proves to be a little more complicated than this. He, himself, proves to be somewhat of a rejection of the stereotypical male we initially have him pegged to be. He is not like Cameron in that he is not afraid of his own power, he is self assured, but not like Joey, in that he is not arrogant or self absorbed—in fact, the opposite can be evidenced when we see Patrick very tenderly caring for Kat when she gets drunk at “Bogie’s party” (their “first date”).

Instead of taking advantage of her while in her drunken state, Patrick actually rejects her advances, showing respect for her, by not wanting her to do anything she might later regret. This is definitely not typical, and though he was paid to take her out, he was not paid for anything beyond that—(babysitting her, keeping her safe, sound and cared for—in fact, she drove), these acts of integrity were his own doing—even though she was not vey nice to him, mind you. Unfortunately, she does react in angry way—as she feels dejected by him, and so pushes him away again. Of course the tries to get back into her good graces, but has to go the “outer limits” to get their—and he does. He serenades her in the school stadium while she is at soccer practice (such cute scene), but it is ironic that she took that stance, and that he had to suck up to her, for being a gentleman (reinforces that Kat has some un-dealt with issues).

Kat, unaware of the money Patrick receives to date her, transitions. Her caustic nature quiets down, but this is not a conformist resolve—as she maintains her sense of self, and her independent identity remains in tact, even as she gets closer to Patrick. But what we do see is her heart [even feminists are allowed one of those] and her ability to trust again and to respond to someone else caring for her, something that her experience with Joey [and probably to another degree her mother leaving] had robbed her of for a long time. Until Patrick came along, Kat was very much the embodiment of the negative stereotype of the feminist [feminazi], perma-angry, man-hater—we can love her strong sense of self and her independence and unwillingness to conform to the sheep like mentality of other girls, that is great, but don’t necessarily have to love her bitterness.

Anger is good, healthy even, but remaining acrid for life and putting up a wall is counter-productive. It seemed as though Kat hadn’t dealt with her anger over Joey, and over her mother leaving—perhaps Bianca was an easy target—as Kat used be popular and feminine like Bianca, and look where that got her—broken hearted. As we have learned, “girls anger is disallowed and […] often [results in] excruciating pressures girls experience as these feelings are suppressed with few acceptable outlets…” (Elline Lipkin 2009, 92). In my opinion, Kat’s trust issues and rejection of everything she felt was responsible for her broken heart was likened to this. Her character’s displaced anger manifested into her taking “control” over her sister’s life, something easier done than dealing with her own feelings. This is my armchair psychology, anyway. For some feminists they may see this as “a taming of the shrew” and Kats willingness to let Patrick in, a resignation, but in my opinion this was not the case.

Meanwhile, Bianca tries to convince her father to let her go to the prom, but he refuses because Kat isn’t going. When Kat finally reveals that she previously dated Joey and that he had used her for sex, she also conveys how her feelings of isolation from her peers ultimately stemmed from the incident. This is important because this is something that does happen in real life of girls, more often than not, but instead of girls reclaiming themselves, as she did—they let this happen over and over again—this works directly back to the recapitulated notion that girls are needy, and only here for boys to use. Ultimately, Patrick and Joey wind up taking Bianca and Kat to the prom, respectively.

Joey, furious that Bianca has gone to the prom with Cameron, confronts Patrick about their financial "arrangements" in front of Kat at the prom. Completely humiliated, Kat blows up and leaves the scene. Joey subsequently confronts Cameron about manipulating the 'deal' for himself, with Bianca, but when he punches Cameron, he gets a surprise triple blow from Bianca in return, who isn’t such a feminine princess after all. She runs over and punches Joey twice, and then knees him in the nuts… one punch for Cameron, one punch for Kat, and the kneeing, well she does that for her self!

At school, a few days later, Kat reads a poem which she wrote for English class, titled "10 Things I Hate About You" and while reading the poem, she exposes her true feelings (in front of the entire class) for Patrick. In tears, she shows her vulnerability, yet her strength, neither is indicative of her tough character. She seems to finally be coping with her anger directly, and not letting it fester inside of her. Patrick, obviously moved by Kat’s heart-felt disclosure, secretly plants a guitar he bought for her in her car, so that she can be empowered to start her own band—recognizing her strong will and desire to be a “chick that [CAN] play her instrument” (Ibid). He did this with the money Joey paid him, and in his own vulnerable moment, he reveals to Kat that he actually messed up the entire deal with Joey because he actually fell in love with her.

Kat forgives Patrick and they do make up, so the story has a somewhat formulaic ‘happy ending’ but again, this isn’t a reflection of her acquiescence, so much as it is a rising up to meet someone half way—Kat become her fuller self, not in the way of being “completed” by a man, but being more complete in allowing herself to love, forgive, and be a strong, intelligent and sexy, girl. This is really a story about relationships and how we, as people, are truly more flexible than we give ourselves credit for—especially girls. And as for the "taming" of the shrew in 10 Things I Hate about You, I would say that involves, not an enforced submission to male authority, but a rounding off of the sharp edges that makes the stereotyped version of the second-wave unappealing to many girls. This story shows many examples of what it means to be ‘girl’ and how adaptable she is.

References:

http://www.awesomefilm.com/script/tenthings_transcript.html

Lipkin, Elline. Girls studies. Berkeley, Ca: Seal Pr, 2009. Print

10 things I hate about you. Dir. Gil Junger. By Karen Mc Cullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. Perf. Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Touchstone, 1999. DVD