Tag Archive | feminism

The Women’s March

On Saturday morning, I woke up to lightning streaking across the sky and rain pelting my dorm room window. It was early, around eight or so, and I wasn’t exactly sure  why I couldn’t sleep through such dreary weather as usual other than the fact, I quickly remembered, that it was a Very Important Day. It was the day I had been looking forward to for months, had carefully written down in my planner with a hot pink pen. It was the day of the Women’s March.

I met my friends in the rain and we sprinted to the dining hall for lunch. After receiving notice of the rain delay, we ate second helpings of breakfast food and watched the sky outside miraculously clear. Then we made our way straight down the road to the Center for Civil Rights, where the march was to begin.

When we arrived, it was already so incredibly crowded that we couldn’t even find the supposed speakers. Supposed, because, were they really there? We didn’t know. Instead we took pictures and embraced the excitement, support, dissatisfaction, strength, and surge of energy that the crowd, with its humorous, creative, threatening, hopeful, and even sad signs, provided. The electricity surrounding us had nothing to do with the storm clouds looming overhead.

After an hour and a half of waiting for the march to actually start, these feeling turned anxious, the cheers turned impatient and pressing. Finally we were told that the speakers were making their way to the from to lead the masses, and we finally began our climb up the hill and towards the Capitol building an hour and a half away.

Being in the march itself was incredible. We were like a river of defiance and solidarity, breaking over a dam of hatred and restraint. We chanted, cheered, laughed. Some people played instruments, everyone held signs, some walked quickly, slowly, danced, pushed wheelchairs, everyone was peaceful. There were thousands upon thousands of our fellow marchers up and down the road where we stood; every new altitude or bend in the road exposed an endless stream of people. Being on the street in such numbers was like being embraced, contained, assured. Safe, despite the threats that brought us here together, safe amongst each other and our shared cause, our differences but our shared and equal humanity.

A feeling of resistance ran rampant, but even stronger was one of hope. Hope amidst the storm clouds, hope in every single person present. Once we reached the Capitol, we all dispersed, heading in waves to our various destinations. But it was, still is, impossible to feel separated or alone.

A Dragon is Not a Slave

As I’ve previously mentioned, I binge-watch a lot of shows. Gilmore Girls. Friends. Most recently, Younger.

But Game of Thrones has very little in common with many other typically “binge-able” shows.

It’s violent. Brutal. Heart-breaking. Terrifying. Thrilling. Funny, even. But it’s extremely empowering, too. And let me tell you, I’ve watched a lot of Game of Thrones recently. I’ve felt it all. And I love ever bit of it, even when it feels like my heart’s been stabbed, which happens frequently.

After all this time, though, as characters come and go and destroy themselves and each other, my favorite character has remained constant. I love Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Arya, but the Mother of Dragons takes the cake.

Daenerys Targaryen is a rare gem in television. She’s smart, strong, independent, brave, noble. She can be ruthless and slaughter cities, but she is just in each and every decision she makes. She is kind.

And yet, she’s weak too. She is betrayed, almost killed. She seeks advice from others, others who do not always have her best interests at heart. She loses love, has her heartbroken, reveals her vulnerabilities regularly.

But this is why we, the audience, can  sympathize with her. This is what makes us want to be her, or feel protective of her; this is why we scream at the TV when something bad is about to happen that she cannot see. This is why, when she does something particularly badass, we appreciate and admire it all the more.

She is the embodiment of “girl power.” She came from nothing and built herself up, with only a little prodding early on. She discovers herself, her own identity, just as she finds her life, her power, her army, and her dragons. She proves those who believe that she can’t success to be unutterably, grossly, and ultimately satisfyingly incorrect.

Take that, male-dominated world of Westeros, full of violence and blood and prostitutes and gore. 

Of course, there are many other extremely under-appreciated and inspiring characters, particularly female ones, in this show as well (Brienne, this is for you). When I wrote this, post, however, I had only made it through season three and was high off of Daenerys kickassery. So, for now I will simply nod at Ygritte, Sam, and Maergery.

For now, like I said, I am fresh off the shrieking-with-excitement fangirl train. So I made a list of my Top Five favorite Daenerys episodes/scenes from seasons one through three. Again, beware of potential spoilers if you haven’t seen through season three.

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Season 1, Episode 10: Fire and Blood. Dragons. I read this in the book before I watched the show, and let me tell you it was absolutely perfect. So unexpected in the book, so welcome in the show. So welcome, and so exciting! I mean, DRAGONS.

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Season 2, Episode 10: Valar Morghulis. More dragons!!!

 

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Season 3, Episode 3: Walk of Punishment. Can you say…kickass feminism? This was one of my favorite little scenes. Another highlight from this episode involves a certain lie about a vault…and a couple of deaths, obviously.

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Season 3, Episode 4: And Now His Watch Has Ended. DANY WHY ARE YOU SO CLEVER. Also, A DRAGON IS NOT A SLAVE!

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Season 3, Episode 10: Mhysa. (Ok really SPOILER though.) This wasn’t the best Dany scene or anything, but it was such a satisfying ending. She came from having no followers to having armies upon cities upon hoards of them. She overcame everything, and now she has a real shot at being not only the mother of dragons and slaves, but being a real queen. I’m so excited to find out what happens next!

 

 

Legally Blonde Day

July 13th was the 15th Anniversary of Legally Blonde.

I found this out the morning of and was extremely excited about it, quite literally, all day. The next thing I found out, however, was that no one around me cared.

I was the only one to whom this milestone, albeit of debatable significance, mattered. No one was amused when I quoted Elle in conversation. I think I received a couple of eye rolls, actually.

I was a little hurt. This movie was one of my favorites. It’s funny, yes. It has Reese Witherspoon, yes. But it’s more than this, I think. I mean, I don’t just like it because I’ve seen it a million times, and vice versa.

It’s really encouraging.

Yes, Legally Blonde. You heard me correctly. It’s so encouraging. Encouraging to a fellow blonde Caucasian female pursuing higher education. I’m not like Elle in any other way that I can think of, but I closely relate to the prejudice she faces when she tells her ex Warner that she is going to law school. When people found out I was going to Georgia Tech, people first questioned my intelligence, then they attributed my acceptance to “oh, it’s just because she’s a girl.”

So, as a girl, I love that Elle proves everyone wrong and literally kicks ass in law school. As a girl, I hope to show everyone that I can do it to, and that they should screw themselves. I mean, I’m not in law school, but even going to a difficult school can elicit a similar response.

I admire Elle, and I love Legally Blonde.

And Harvard, Georgia Tech? “What, like it’s hard?”

I got a little carried way and decorated my coffee cup while studying…

I posted this picture on Instagram…

…AND REESE WITHERSPOON LIKED IT

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Movie Review

But…what the heck did I just watch?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies promoted itself as a horror movie, as a kick*ss, female empowerment film loosely based on Jane Austen’s classic. What I found instead was a shell of a story, the lines and tension and character development replaced with dramatic, frequent, and pointless zombie battles.

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I didn’t not like this movie because I’m a Jane Austen purist. I love her books, but I’m not some fan who would be rap your knuckles for misquoting her, or be aghast at a movie director making alterations from page to screen. I love Clueless, love Joe Wright’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice. I’m not a zombie person either, but I don’t even think that was my main issue. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies just wasn’t right. It was shallow. The actors delivered their lines flatly. They weren’t characters; they were unmemorable people, reading from Jane Austen’s book because they had to. They spit out Austen’s glorious words, quickly, so as to add another zombie attack or battle in the upcoming scenes.

Everything was focused on the zombies, and even that issue wasn’t very realistic or well-developed. There was no story, no characterization, no chemistry. It felt as though they assumed that the audience would know everything already, which you can’t do if you’re directing a movie. You can’t forsake the fundamentals of storytelling for the sake of entertainment. (I mean, Hollywood does this all the time. But they shouldn’t.)

You also can’t just throw a bunch of actors into the shoes of Elizabeth and Darcy and Bingley and Jane. There need to be genuine interactions and tensions between them, especially if you are going to attempt to put this story forward as a love story at all. Darcy and Lizzy didn’t even get to dance at the Netherfield ball! And she never wandered around or awkwardly ran into him at Pemberley? (Wait did Darcy even have a Pemberley in this movie?) These are two of my favorite scenes in the entire story, so I was very disappointed. Their absence made me realize how crucial they are to the development of Darcy and Lizzy’s relationship.

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The major problems really were the lack of depth, development, and characterization. However, this movie is perhaps not so horrible if approached much less seriously. Pretend it’s a comedy. (It’s so over the top that this is easily done.)

Matt Smith (cough Sherlock cough), for starters, was HYSTERICAL as Mr. Collins. His irrational little quips were different, but just as uncomfortable, just as ridiculous, just as true to form.

“Before we know it [the zombies] will be running for parliament”

His dance with Elizabeth was perfect and horrid at once—he reminded me of Weselton from Frozen, dancing like a chicken.

Another comedic saving grace was Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) herself. She was some famous kick*ss zombie hunter, apparently? (Not sure why SHE wasn’t out fighting zombies too, then…) Her eyepatch cracked me up. She snorted and rolled her eyes at everyone and everything and I related to her very strongly each time. I wish that she had actually fought Elizabeth, but I thought that they did that confrontation scene very well. I especially like that she approved of Lizzy afterwards, for fighting, for holding her own and being so brave.

“I do not know which I admire more, your skill as a warrior, or your resolve as a woman.”

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There were a couple of other lines, not necessarily comedic, that I particularly liked as well:

Elizabeth: “I shall never relinquish my sword for a ring.”

Charlotte: “For the right man you would.”

Elizabeth: “The right man wouldn’t ask me to.”

There should have been more of this!

“What’s right to be done cannot be done too soon.”

(This, I have just learned, is actually a quote from Jane Austen’s Emma. Cool!)

“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village she must seek them abroad.”

(OH MY GOD AND THIS ONE IS FROM NORTHANGER ABBEY??)

Bravo, scriptwriters. Very clever.

There were a few other things that I have to nod at as well. They so smoothly turned war and soldiers into zombie battles and fighters; it oddly fit into Jane Austen’s story, in other words. The actual hand to hand combat was impressive too. I’m sure endless training went into making these duels so sharp, quick, effortless-looking. Some were more obviously rehearsed, but Lily and the guy who plays Darcy in particular did a convincing job of masking this. And, okay, so maybe I did like the proposal scene a little too. It was a nod to the book, but was turned up a few notches into a full out brawl when Elizabeth started swinging at Darcy.

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The desire for the Bennet daughters to find husbands definitely took a back burner to trying to survive the half-thought out zombie apocalypse. And as odd and over the top and simultaneously dull as this movie was, it was, for the most part, entertaining. Only, don’t make my mistake. Prepare yourself for comedy, for something truly ridiculous. And then, I daresay, you will find Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fairly tolerable.

Rating: 5/10

Finally Finding Fanny (And The Voice of Women Throughout History)

(I wrote this essay for an independent novels assignment in my AP Literature class. We had to choose a literary criticism and use it to analyze any book we wished. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and feminism? DUH. I’m the poster fan child for both. Anyway, this was really fun to write, and it won the Young Georgia Authors writing contest for 12th grade at my school! I’m so genuinely happy that my uber feminist argument and analysis could be shared on this scale!)

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Throughout history, women have always struggled to be heard. They’ve fought for the right to vote, the right to own and inherit property, the right to speak out for both themselves and others. They have been treated as inferior to men with horrid frequency. They have been simplified and subjugated as housewives, child-bearers, and accessories.

During the eighteen hundreds, this problem was largely ignored – even by women. Many women felt as though, by fulfilling this inferior societal position, they were simply doing their duty. They were content in the “noble” aims with which their gender roles provided them.

Many feminist novel writers, however, were not satisfied with their lots in life. It was difficult to speak out without being silenced, difficult to tell their stories and be heard. So they wrote them down instead. They created characters ensnared in similar settings as they. They spoke through them to reveal the truths about the realities they faced. At least, this is what Jane Austen did.

In Mansfield Park, Austen explores the doubly confining role that her heroine, Fanny Price, plays as a lower class woman; Austen exposes and combats the treatment that both she and Fanny experienced in the hopes that these injustices would finally be understood, their voices finally be heard.

In the very beginning of the novel, a young Fanny is thrust into a world apart from that to which she was born and accustomed. Her mother marries a poor man, despite the wishes and rank of her family. It is from this choice that stems much of Fanny’s fate. For when her mother “marries down,” she takes the social status of her husband. This was always the case for women during this time period. They were completely reliant upon their husbands for both income and social status.

Unlike many, however, Fanny’s mother is eventually pitied by her relatives. They decide to do something that they deem charitable for her: relieve her of one of her children. Children were a heavy burden. They could not yet contribute to society and were another mouth to feed. Therefore, Fanny Price, the oldest daughter, is easily spared. She is sent away to Mansfield Park, where she is to live with her wealthy, arrogant, and oftentimes neglectful relatives, the Bertrams.

The Bertrams are “neglectful” in that they oftentimes overlook Fanny – everyone except Edmund, anyway. They view her as a charity case, a pet project. Fanny is of the lower class, and though they take her in and raise her, their goal is never to erase and reshape her identity. They never attempt to teach her the skills of a refined lady; she does not learn to paint or speak French like her cousins had years before. Her social class and gender define her, establish expectations for her. And this is made painfully obvious through Fanny’s immersion into her relative’s household.

As Fanny grows up, her position in the world is continuously reinforced by those around her. During this time period, women were expected to “come out” – that is, formally be introduced into society, to become an eligible wife. Until a woman had come out, she was expected to be quiet, demure. Afterwards, she should be the life of the party, a flirt, friendly to all, until she was married. Women were expected to change and act differently in order to “catch” a respectable husband. There was no such initiation for men. And while both of Fanny’s cousins partook in this ceremonious rebirth, Fanny herself did not, simply because she was poor. Mary Crawford struggled and failed to understand this, could not imagine how Fanny was so different and inexplicably herself. Once again, Fanny was subject to not only her femininity, but her socioeconomic status as well.

Another instance within this novel that the disparities between the genders is revealed is when Mary discusses men writing letters. This is an activity that all real men avoid, she says; they view it as a task and only share the most crucial and occasional news through their correspondence. Women on the other hand, were encouraged, taught, and expected to write lengthy letters, letters of frivolity and passion and gossip. Men could not be trifled with such matters – they had more important things to tend to. They were responsible for business, be it in the city, the park, or abroad. Women were to take care of domestic matters, and those that were wealthy had servants to oversee their homes, meals, and children for them. In fact, for an upper class woman such as Fanny’s aunt, it was perfectly normal for her to sit at home, lounging about, and doing absolutely nothing. And because Fanny is seen as her relatives’ subordinate, it often falls to her to look after her aunt. She travels less, does not have her own horse, and never speaks up. This last quality, in fact, is why Fanny Price is so misjudged, so irritating, and so admirable throughout the novel.

Fanny is completely silent. She is such a passive character for much of the book that oftentimes the reader will find him or herself completely infuriated by her lack of confidence, involvement, and voice. The reader is shown more of the supporting characters and their actions than Fanny’s own. The novel instead follows her observations of them. She lends her opinion and thoughts to much, but says very little. Therefore, she seems very shallow, very weak. But she isn’t.

In reality, Fanny is headstrong and opinionated. She knows right from wrong, which is evidenced when she refuses to participate in the play that her cousins wish to perform. She knows where she stands and, because she is so observant, she knows where others stand too. Moreover, she knows who she is, what she loves – whether or not she will admit it to herself.

Fanny is a feminist icon, and yet she does not voice these qualities to the outside world. She does not agree with her station, but neither does she oppose it. She longs for fairer treatment from her relatives, but she does not seek or expect it. This is because, once again, Fanny knows her place. Or at least, what society has decided is her place based on both her gender and social status. There is nothing she feels that she can do about it. And what could she truly do, when her cousins have done so much for her? Supposedly, anyway.

Austen uses Fanny’s silence to emphasize the many injustices that she as a character and woman faces. Had Fanny opposed them, combatted her treatment and oppressors in some way, she would appear stronger, certainly. However, this is and was not done. This was not how women of this time and position would have faced them. Fanny’s behavior reveals just how real discrimination based on gender and class were during the eighteen hundreds.

It is hard to believe that a family would treat their cousin like the Bertrams treated Fanny, but they did, for it was customary, proper. Not only have classes come so much farther, but women have also overcome so many obstacles stacked against them since this time period. Women are still discriminated against, still treated differently than men, but hopefully in the future they will fully gain their independence and equality. Hopefully every woman will have the opportunity to overcome the confines of her small attic bedroom, to find true love, happiness, and a chance to finally, after years upon years of remaining quiet for the sake of propriety, speak her mind, just as Fanny Price did in Jane Austen’s infamous Mansfield Park.

Bumblebee Tights

Guess who! That’s right, the busy little bee who swore up and down that she would make time to blog more often. Well, remembering to blog is a pretty key element in this too, it turns out.

I just wanted to post because I had an excellent day yesterday. That’s it. Really. Why was it so excellent? I’m glad you asked!

And so, here is a list of everything good that happened yesterday:

  • I had some particularly excellent tea this morning, was early to school, and my first period teacher brought us donuts just because.
  • We had a senior assembly and it was like movie high school complete with booing and chanting students and screaming coaches and it was EXCELLENT. Prime entertainment and surprising class unity.
  • In European History we talked about Leo Tolstoy and Anna Karenina for the entire class period. I was the only one who had read it – even my teacher hasn’t, and he’s read everything!

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  • I ate stir fry and Thai noodles for lunch. This is my Ideal Meal.
  • I won the Young Georgia Authors writing contest for my grade at the school! Even better: it was my super feminist essay on Jane Austen’s Fanny Price and feminism that won. I’ll share it tomorrow, so keep an eye out.
  • I finished hand-building my mug in ceramics.
  • I made excellent progress on the audio book that I am currently listening to. It’s Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You (yes, the one that all the BookTubers won’t shut up about) and it’s already on it’s way to being one of my favorites. I’ve laughed and cried within the span of a single page. I’m in love with the characters. And Lou’s obsession with bumblebees has made me a little obsessed too. I love how happy she gets about the bumblebee tights that Will gives her. But anyway, more on Me Before You later.

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  • We watched Dead Poets Society in Literature class.
  • I was asked to prom by one of my best friends at my car after school. A Star Wars themed poster was involved.
  • I didn’t have to work, so I went straight home and watched Grey’s Anatomy. I’m only a single episode away from catching up now!

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  • My friends and I planned a birthday party for Mr. Wisner, our beloved and snarky Euro teacher. I painted the banner, Emily got the card, Margie got the present…etc.
  • The other day I decided that I will be attending college at Georgia Tech in Atlanta! I am so excited and today I received my admission packet in the mail. I (and my mother) announced my plans via social media. ‘m still receiving responses hours later.

Anyway, there is nothing to glean from this post really, other than perhaps some amusement from the gifs and photographs. Yesterday was just one of those days where, even when bad things happen, they are immediately forgotten and replaced by the oh-so-precious good. So I thought I would document and remember it.