Still some find it okay…

We would like to say that our society has come a long way in eradicating racism, but little comments in the media like these ones, show how some still find it acceptable to joke about racial stereotypes. Interesting how some of the people making fun of other races in this video are minorities themselves.


Race and Gender in Hollywood

We can even see who leads dominate discourse by paying attention to casting in Hollywood movies!

My Final Project

The most important lesson I have learned from this class is the necessity to acknowledge differences in gender, ethnicity, class, and sexual preferences when engaging in political and social discourse. Judith Butler, made a really resonant point to me, when she explained that one cannot be classified under only one identity because in reality we all belong to many different communities. Acknowledging intersectionality is extremely important in order to engage in egalitarian discourse. This is why for my final project I have decided to do a blog that will attempt to speak up for all minorities: women, immigrants, homosexuals, the poor, etc… Although due to shortage of time I will only be able to do a few entries in the blog, I intend to keep on maintaining it for a while. I think it is a good way to keep up with current issues, and to express my ideas about them. Here is the link to my blog. I hope you enjoy it and that you follow it even when we are done with this class. Thanks!

Mestizas Missfits

In “Letter Twenty-Two” of The Mixquiahuala Letters, by Ana Catillo,Teresa describes hers and Alicia’s interaction with two unknown men in Mexico. The men in this letter carry themselves in a very confident way, as if they know everything there is to know about social rules. For starters, they approach the women betting on their country of origin basing their bets merely on their clothing. Blue jeans meant “gringas”. The women on the other hand, are uncertain and timid when approaching unfamiliar situations. While they need to watch their words and actions, the men take charge of conversation and situations. For instance, the man dancing with Alicia thinks it is okay to slow dance with her and kiss her face without her approval. In addition, one of the engineers, Luis, makes the assumption that Teresa was a “liberal woman”. Teresa knew that this assumption, although correct, had a negative connotation to it. To men in Mexico being a liberal woman translated to being “…trash, whore, (and) bitch”. He seemed to think that because Teresa is a liberal woman she was easily going to sleep with him. However, she corrects him by explaining that being liberal meant having a choice to always do what she wanted and to never do what she did not want. She impresses him by keeping up with his drinking, and by being able to hold a witty conversation. Although he clearly still feels skeptical about her and superior to her, she keeps on surprising him by stating that she was interested in politics, environment, and on men with nice personalities. This conversation seems to gain her some respect from Luis, because he behaved politely and appropriate afterwards, but still, the gender roles schema engraved on him by his culture prove to weigh heavily when he seems to judge Teresa by her past marriages.

This letter is a good example of Anzaldua’s argument that although families of Mestizas cross physical borders from country to country, the emotional boundaries between cultures are harder to define and harder to cross. She describes how she treasures some of the values from her ethnicity of origin, but acknowledges that many of these cultural values are constructed and repressive towards women. She qualifies her behavior as rebellious because she refuses to live passively as her culture expects her to do. In “Letter Twenty Two”, Teresa still maintains some of her Mexican culture such as being religious and superstitious. However, like Anzaldua, she refuses to conform with the gender stereotypes typical to the Mexican culture such as the belief that women must as men say, and must stick to domestic jobs. As Anzaldua explains, this refusal to conform can be problematic in that Mestizas receive judgment from both cultures, the Anglo and the Mexican. While Americans refuse to accept Mestizas as fully American, Mexicans see them as women who like to live in sin and do not know about “respeto”. Their idea of respect, however, reinforces hierarchical relationships. The letter I chose shows how complex crossing emotional frontiers can be for Mestizas. Teresa, for instance, is misinterpreted as an easy woman because she identifies as liberal. Later Luis seems to raise his eye-brow at her due to her marriage history. While she is close toher Mexican roots, she wants to astray away from the chauvinist hierarchy that her roots demand. This, as Anzaldua explain makes her an alien in both countries. Mestizas are unable to fully find a place where they belong and constantly struggle to respect their roots while their beliefs are re-shaped by the Anglo culture.

These readings about Third World Feminism really speak to me as a Peruvian immigrant. There are things about my Peruvian culture that I feel proud of, such as being close to family, and in a shallower note, dancing and eating amazing Peruvian food. However, after migrating to the U.S. my views on religion and social issues have taken a more liberal spin. I would especially like to focus on religion. I was born and raised Roman Catholic which comes along with many rules that I am sure most of you are familiar with. Amongst these are no pre-marital sex, no abortion, and skepticism towards homosexuals. I think that these rules are meant to maintain hegemonic relationships between men and women. Women should be able to choose how they use their bodies without being judged. Also, the term “homosexual”, as Anzaldua explains , must be re-defined so to not mean “abnormal”. To me, being sexually conservative is not representative of being a good person. While moving to America has caused me to reshape my morals and values, I still feel very Peruvian. I still speak Spanish with my family and keep in touch with my Peruvian childhood friends. However, visiting Peru after ten years of not being there made me realize that in Peru I do not really feel like I belong either. Compared to people there, I was much more liberal (with the same negative connotation given to the word by Luis). The difference between me and Anzaldua is that my family has been very supportive of my changes and has managed to find a balance between remembering our roots while still fitting in with the Anglo culture. To me, the experience of feeling like a misfit has actually been interesting and fun; well, most of it. 

“Love” by Carter: How much of it was love?

In the novel, Love, Angela Carter narrates the romantic relationship between a young woman and two brothers. Whether “love” actually exists between the parties is debatable because their relationship is mostly driven by the desire to accomplish specific goals. The two brothers, Lee and Buzz, use the girl, Annabel, as a mean to sex, revenge, and personal satisfaction. While these brothers live in a constant state of competition and are depicted as what society would call “masculine,” Annabel is fragile, emotional, and craves for love and tender care. When she finds out that her husband, Lee, had cheated on her, she attempted suicide, but was rescued by Buzz from bleeding herself to death on the bathroom floor. After this traumatic event, Lee asked Buzz to move out for Annabel’s sake. She stayed with Lee longing for her rescuer to come back, while unwilling to touch or look at her husband. One day Buzz returns to seek out what seems to me like revenge, and has sex with Annabel. In this passage (page 92-94), Carter conveys the different expectations that both Buzz and Annabel have for their sexual encounter. These differences eventually lead Annabel to kill herself, due to the disappointing play out of her fantasies.

Carter manipulates tone and analogies in order to depict the different intentions that each party has for having sex together. The tone when developing Buzz’s character expectations for the encounter is revengeful and pragmatic, instead of romantic and fantastic. Words like, “jealousy”, “resentment”, “attack”, and “hatred” convey that Buzz wanted to have sex with Annabel in order to cause pain while making himself feel better about his misfortunes. To him, Annabel was a tool, which we can see by Carter’s use of the words “utilize”, and “handle”. Also, by using analogies to cold inanimate objects such as “chilled rice paper”, and references to words that represent stiffness and coldness, Annabel is objectified. On the other hand, when describing Annabel, Carter uses a tone of hopelessness, subjugation, and pain. To her, this encounter is the return of her “saviour”, which she has anticipated with “desperation”.

This passage, and whole book, is an example of Butler’s argument that when gender is constructed in a way that biological male beings must act proud, strong, and with assertion, while female beings must engender fragility, sensitivity, and submission, inequality occurs between the sexes. This makes women dependent, and like Wollstonecraft explains, it puts them in a perpetual state of childhood, where they must rely on men without ever achieving their own goals. In this passage, Buzz acknowledges that Annabel “made her body act out the role he had devised” (p.93), which acknowledges that different gender roles reproduce themselves by lack of social consciousness and respect towards humanity. This passage also shows how gender differences can hurt both men and women, as hooks explains. Although Buzz is the more dominant figure in this scene, one can easily tell that he is bitter, sad, and full of regret. This is clearly not a fun sexual act for him. He might feel the same desperation, need for love, and pain as Annabel, but society forces him to show it in different ways than her.

Sad Women/ Shakespeare’s Sister

Sad Women.

Sad women always get up 
to make breakfast for their children, 
To tell him, ”have a nice day”
Sad women go to work and always do their best, 
they make lunch and always sit last, 
Sad women buy groceries on the way home, 
make phone calls to hear someone’s voice, 
they are faithful to their promises, 
Sad women take upon other’s grief
Sad women comfort others and say
”everything will be okay”, 
they don’t let their sadness to come out, 
Sad women don’t have time to be sad, 
Sad women cry when lights go out.. 

Daria Mateja Domitrovich

This poem by Daria Mateja Domitrovich, reflects the roles that society has assigned to women, which are used to perpetuate hegemony. Not only do women tend to handle domestic chores, but they are also put through intense emotional work. Virginia Woolf, in A Room of One’s Own, tells the hypothetical story of Shakespeare’s sister, and how disregarding her talent and passion as a writer, society would force her to stick to household chores and marry. By standardizing gender roles in the labor force many women are held back from achieving their professional dreams.The glass ceiling, for example, refers to the theoretical barrier that keep women from achieving equally high positions in the workforce as men, and from receiving the same salary. The frustration and struggle that result from trying to receive the same opportunity and respect as men is what produces the “sad women” in Domitrovich’s poem, and what leads Shakespeare’s sister, in Woolf’s piece, to commit suicide. In fact, Woolf herself is a perfect example of a sad woman that will also commit suicide due to hegemonic gender stereotypes/pressures that push women at the bottom of the social hierarchy. As I mentioned, gender roles in the workforce can be deteriorating to women’s goals, but also, handling nurturing jobs demands a great amount of emotional work that goes unnoticed. Many times, when women try to pursue their professional aspirations they find that they still have to take care of the home and the family, which doubles their workload. Mexican mothers for instance, once they move in the United States, feel extreme guilt when they renounce being there for their children 24/7 in order to work two jobs instead. Finally it is also important to note that gender roles do not merely hurt women, but like hooks explains in her feminist theories, gender stereotypes also hurt men. Just think about all the jokes made about men nurses, stay at home dads, men that cry, or even men that wear pink! Gender roles, in my opinion, are a a speed bump for the efficient development of society.