My name is Maya Erlanbdson, I’m a global studies and English major. I am about to be a fourth year. I’m originally from humboldt county in Northern California. I enjoy running, writing, reading, cooking, learning foreign languages and listening to music! I play guitar and piano and some of my favorite bands are the kooks, the fratellis, noah and the whale! I really enjoyed this class especially the blog aspect and the cyborg feminism segment of the course. I will definately continue blogging after this, and thoroughly enjoyed the final blog assignment!
For my final assignment I will be writing a blog about 2 stereotypical identities that a lot of female students assume here in Isla Vista. These identites can be identifies as the “Chill girl” and the “Sorostitute” and the characteristics and implications that seem to be attached to such identities I will be analyzing in my blog why both idnetites. In my blog I will be critiqueing from a feminist standpoint why such identities are problematic as they are both in relationship to men and stem out of this need for competition amongst girls that seems to have become an inherent part of the isla vista social culture. I will be using examples from the handmaid’s tale of slutbashing which ties into this concept of women degrading other women out of a male-related insecurity. These two identites are obviously very overgeneralized and somewhat stereotypical, however in my opinion have a very strong presence in Isla Vista culture, which is problematic from a feminist standpoint.
One of the letters that stood out to me the most was letter three, describing the beginning of Alicia and Teresa’s friendship. This letter exemplifies Borderlands by Anzaldua in a really interesting way. In the letter Teresa is telling Alicia that she had decided to go to mexico city to study for the summer so that she could get in touch with her aztec heritage and immerse herself with her aztec “Brothers and Sisters” to escape the exclusion she feel as a minority in the united states. She however, is disappointed to find that the students are all white, when she says ” Only to find the school with the heavy aztec name a notch above fraudulent status. My shock bored a 3-inch hole into my native spirit, expecting to study with and under brothers and sisters only to find California blondes and eastern wasp, instructors who didn’t speak spanish.” A few paragraphs later, she goes on to describe her surprise as the native hostesses see her as another american guest when she says, ” Didn’t they tell anything by my Indian- marked face, fluent use of the language, Undeniably Spanish name? nothing blurred their vision of another gringa come to stay as I nodded and shook hands during introductions and took my seat.” So we see that due to her mixed cultural identity as a chicana, Teresa is the outsider in both circles, and can’t completely immerse herself in either culture. This concept is the basis for borderlands which poetically describes the cultural confusion of chicanas or chicanos who are rejected by their culture of origin ” to live in the borderlands means knowing that the india in you, betrayed for 500 years is no longer speaking to you, that mexicanas call you rajetas (split; having betrayed your word) for adapting to a new culture, however in this new culture they are “at home a stranger”. The poem identifies chicanas as a “the forerunner of a new race, half and half- both woman and man, neither- a new gender.
The letter also explores the cultural difference between Teresa and Alicia in their views on relationships. “You told me of your lover, Rodney….you astounded me with your causal references to a slew of nameless lovers who’d served your sexual whims……. Although at times I was ethereal to you. I was part of a culture that wouldn’t allow me to separate. You on the other hand saw yourself as isolated even unwanted by men and their world observed me from that reality.” This quote sets a theme in the novel regarding the difference between Teresa and Alicia’s relations to men. Teresa, who bears responsibility towards her traditional chicana culture that prohibits divorce, is forced to remain in a smothering marriage that she so desparately wanted freedom from. Alicia’s experience with men, is classified by a series of casual sexual encounters in which no serious connection is developed and she is often left alone by her love interest. This can be seen as a modern cultural difference in “the grass is always greener on the other side” sort of way. In general; It is traditional for chicana women to marry early and committ to that marriage for life, for poor uneducated chicana women, as they are uneducated they find themselves completely dependant on their husbands, who are often quite controlling and confining. Modern day white women, however who are generally more educated, and financially independant, are not pressured by western tradition to committ to marriage or a serious relationship early or at all even. This has created a cultural standard in modern western society in which men arguably don’t feel as much responsibility towards romantic or sexual relationships. It is typical to date multiple people at one time, or have casual sexual relationships with “no strings attached”. For a lot of women this is an isolating experience, and leaves them feeling rejected, alone and uncared for, which seems to be Alicia’s experience in the novel. This raises an interesting question; can you really have the best of both worlds? can you achieve the independance and experience that comes with higher education and financial stability as a woman while still enjoying the priveleges of a committed, monogamous relationship?
“it was too snowy to think of going to the art school. she lay against his very white pillow and drank her tea peacefully. she had chosen an old white flannel shirt of his to wear in bed and he thought this willful and perverse attire was a simple, sexual defence, for which he forgave her.”
This passage, on page 31, takes place right before Annabel loses her virginity to Lee. The use of color is used consistently throughout the the novel as a representation of sexuality. Annabel’s virginity and subsequent loss is represented by a reference to the contrast of red and white throughout the story. The reference to white in describing Annabels flannel shirt and the white pillow is considered a ‘perverse sexual defense’ by Lee as it signifies Annabel protecting her virginity. The description of Annabel’s white attire is followed a few paragraphs later with a reference to red, foreshadowing her subsequent loss of virginity;”a rummage sale presided over by many pictures of Red Indians cut out of books”. Another example of the red-white binary comes from page 29 when Lee and Annabels room is described and contains a “red plush sofa” a few paragraphs later as Lee and Annabel are discussing the details of the wedding with Annabels parents, her mother says she wants “a white wedding and a church”. On page 32, When Annabel loses her virginity the bed on which they make love, the bed is described as being covered by pastels( a shade similar to white) and when he begins to kiss her breasts initiating sex, she drops a red crayon before she is “deflowered”. The use of red and white to metaphorically represent Annabel’s loss of virginity can be interpreted as Carter’s social critique on the traditional Western wedding. In a traditional Western wedding the bride wears white to signify that she is virginal and “clean”. The groom however, wears a black suit an outfit that can be worn for multiple occasions and doesn’t bear any significance regarding his sexual activity. The white dress is just one example of the way women are classified based on their sexual activity, A societal presure men don’t have to face. Another example of the classification of women is the term “the slut”, women who have multiple sexual partners lose respect when classified as such. Men however, can have as many sexual partners as they want and aren’t classified in any sort of way.
Reading through the poems; The rights of women by Anna barbaruld, and Woman Work by Maya Angelou, I noticed a common theme and that was an indirect comparison to the oppression of women to slavery. In the Rights of Women, on stanza five, the poem says ” Try all thy wit and art to suggest to bend of they imperial foe the stubborn knee. ” The ‘imperial foe is meant to represent men in this case and is comparable to a slaves master that must be outwitted, as many were when slavery was prominent, as wit and skill were the only pathway to freedom from the confines of slavery at the time. In the poem “Woman Work” on stanzas 4,5,6,7 Angelou talks about herself as on oppressed women and describes her connecting to nature and calls it ‘the only thing she can call her own’ on stanza 7. This can be interpreted as a reference to slavery in that slaves, who were merely pieces of property were not allowed to call anything their own, not even their children. A lot of historical slavery-based literature talks about slaves seeing blessings bestowed by God as the only thing to their name comparable to Angelous piece who references nature, a gift that is ‘God-bestowed’ as the only thing she can call her own.
All on that charming coast is no bitter snow and frost,
Like the lands of Virginia-ginia O;
There streams for ever flow, and there flowers for ever blow,
And alas! I am weary, weary O!
There streams &c.
The burden I must bear, while the cruel scourge I fear,
In the lands of Virginia-ginia O;
And I think on friends most dear with the bitter, bitter tear,
This is a passage from the poem “the slaves lament” by robert burns describing the emotional state of a slave leaving his homeland of virginia. He describes what he will miss that he is leaving behind. Instead of posessions, what he laments and says he will miss are the “streams” and coast of Virginia.
Both slaves and women in certain cultures at certain time periods were considered property, as pieces of property they were not allowed to own pieces of property themselves. It seems that identifying nature as your own was a way of resisting the oppression both social groups faced. This can be tied into the concept of intersectionality, which focuses on the multiple ways a single person can be oppressed. In this case we are looking at two systems of oppression; racial and gendered, and what similarities exisst between the two, for example being identified as property by the dominant social groulp ; which is caucasian men in both cases.