Paradise ends without justice for the people affected by the violences which occur in the novel. Dr. Beth encouraged us to consider what the effect of, what some people in class have described as, an unsatisfying ending. Specifically, what this absence of justice pushes us to consider as students at a state school on occupied land. As Dr. Be…[Read more]
I like the connection Daisy (http://morrison.sunygeneseoenglish.org/2016/10/19/jazz-and-listening/) makes between the reactions based on listening made between musicians on this bandstand and between the characters in Jazz. Harris highlights that this conversation between artists on a bandstand sometimes stems from what some people perceive as “…[Read more]
In Rachel’s post, she points to the etymology of the word “flesh” in the lines “Jacob flinched. Flesh was not his commodity”. She suggests that when he does trade enslaved people, he views them as bodies; as fungible, mutually interchangeable, as in without individual personhood.
I’d like to examine these lines through a different lens. If…[Read more]
With your post in mind while continuing the readings in “A Mercy” I have given Florens’ and the blacksmith’s relationship some thought (though deserves much more going forward). We see the threat of violence, […]
I am unfamiliar with the term “semiotics”. I like how you connect this study of signs and one’s interpretation of them with what Morrison calls “visual literacy” (O.E.D.). It is expansive when one thinks about […]
Some of my facebook friends of color have been posting statuses voicing their disgust towards the decisions not to indict both Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo. The news about the separate cases have come out […]
A student in the creative writing class I’m in wrote a short story from the perspective of a young man who sexually assaults his classmate. It is a well-written account of the build-up to the rape. The reader sees the narrator, Ben, try to weave unreliable logic together in order to justify his actions. He reminds himself that he cares about his classmate, that they are in love. In reality the “couple” had only shared a few sentences before the night began. At the end of the workshop, another classmate commented that she really liked the original point of view it was written in. The writer responded that she had written a first draft of the piece from the victim’s point of view, but that she thought that had been done before, so she rewrote it from the attacker’s point of view. The teacher added, almost leaping across the table how happy she was for making that change.
“Thank you!” She exclaimed. “I have found that the female’s point of view is so over-written. I commend you for taking on a different perspective.” There were a series of other comments from students agreeing with what my teacher said.
I sat there thinking to myself, what the hell type of books have these people been reading that they’re tired of reading the perspective of sexual assault victims? In my four years as a high school student and half-year as a college student, I have read one novel solely dedicated to the perspective of a pedophile, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and one novel that devotes two chapters, if that, to the narrative of two women who are sexually assaulted, Meridian by Alice Walker. “Am I missing something
?” I thought.
Even in the news, I am more used to seeing stories from the attacker’s perspective, than the victim’s. From any number of NFL players refusing to acknowledge their domestic violence, to artists taking no responsibility for sexual assault “scandals”.
I asked my family about this in the car and they came to an agreement that in their experiences they had not noticed the same thing my classmates did about the overwriting of sexual assault narratives by the victim. My brother said he bet if I had pressed my peers about what specific pieces of literature they were talking about, they would have a hard time coming up with an overwhelming list.
I sat back wondering what would happen if I had called out my classmates about their opinions. During a class before this, the discussion touched on the issue of bullying. One classmate made what I thought was a very powerful comment about the issue of victim-blaming in situations where violence is committed on vulnerable people. I approached this student afterwards telling her that I thought the point she made was very important. She said she wished our teacher would engage those types of discussions more often, the ones that make us uncomfortable, because those are the important and the fruitful ones.
“I think we signed up for the wrong class,” I responded jokingly, “Maybe we need to separate the political from the poetic, it is just an introduction to creative writing class.”
“But they’re the same thing!” She exclaimed. “Politics are personal. We’re in this class because we want to write about the things in life that affect people deeply, we want to explore and argue about it. There’s a girl sitting in that class who was picked on in middle school and felt that politically tinted comment emotionally,” she argued, her passion pushing me back rather than engaging me. “You can’t separate politics from personal experience,” she said.
Over a month removed from this conversation and I feel my classmates words sit in my gut as I read about the nurse resisting the 21-day quarantine in New Jersey, the protests in Ferguson, or try to stay up to date on the many things going on abroad. It’s easy to think about these stories as just words filling up white on a page, a way to claim I’m an informed citizen, but they are stories that affect lives as real as my own.
The choice many of my peers in my creative writing class along with my teacher’s decision to praise the writer’s choice to write from a point of view that takes all of the power, is a dangerous political choice. It sends a message that discredits, or makes smaller an already vulnerable point of view. It quiets an already hushed voice that is an important voice to give credence to. Politics are personal. That’s why movements begin. Enough people are touched personally, are outraged and inspired to make change. Because enough people aren’t yet tired of hearing survivor’s stories. Personal is political.
Hannah Embry commented on the post, High Homicide Rate Among Young Black Men through a Feminist Lens, on the site Reader and Text 6 years, 7 months ago
Michal, I think you make an interesting and relevant point. I had only gone so far as connecting this to the fictional characters Toomer creates in Cane. But the brave and real action Till’s mother took in […]
Hannah Embry wrote a new post, High Homicide Rate Among Young Black Men through a Feminist Lens, on the site Reader and Text 6 years, 7 months ago
I have not thought of feminism in an interdisciplinary way, or at least not thought to use those words. I remember my brother speaking about the extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown, an African American teenager in Ferguson, MO, as a Feminist issue. I was initially very confused. How is the killing of an unarmed young man by a police officer a Feminist issue? He explained that when young African American men are shot down in the streets, their mother’s are left to bury them. Unfortunately, cases like Michael Brown’s and Trayvon Martin’s are not uncommon. Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that “the country’s young black men are nearly six times more likely to die from homicide than young white men…” (Campbell, Janie. “Homicide Leading Cause Of Death Of Young Black Men, Says FAU Researcher.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 Sept. 2014). This article gave a few reasons for this, some being low graduation rates and poor job opportunities.
In the fairly well covered cases of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, both parents were involved in both of the
boy’sboys’ short lives. However, this is not always the case for other young men who’swhose sudden deaths have not been publicized to the same extent. Many poor black women have children without partnership at a young age. According to a government statistic in 2010, 72 percent of black babies were born to single mothers, (“Blacks Struggle with 72 Percent Unwed Mothers Rate.” Msnbc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.). This happens for a few reasons. A couple of which are: 1) Limited access to healthcare such as abortion clinics and contraception; and 2) Insufficient sexual education in middle and high school, which can lead to early and dangerous (non-consensual/ unprotected) sex. All of this combined means that many young African American women are having children without the support of a partnership, and before they reach economic stability. The sacrifices these women are choose to make in order to raise their children are immense. As my brother argued, mothers of black children live with an almost constant fear of loosing their children to a number of different threats. In cases like Trayvon Martin’s, the simple risk he ran was being a young black man, he was left as a casualty of institutionalized racism. His grief-stricken mother and father are impacted greatly by the loss of her child. Feminist and race theory helps us understand a scope of the pain of young back men’s deaths.
There was an episode of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, shortly after the killing of Trayvon, when Melissa voiced something, I as a white woman would not think of. She talked about feeling such relief when learning she was pregnant with a girl and not a boy. She said, if she had a son, he would too easily be put at the same risk as Brown and Martin were and so many young black men before them. As we read Cane, I now see parallels between the paranoia and anxiety that cripples Kabnis and this fight for survival of young black men and their mother’s have. I’ve become increasingly aware of patriarchy rearing its gross head through herstory and I find myself becoming more in-tuned to it’s connection with institutionalized racism.
As a recent graduate of Earlham College, my brother, with a Sociology/Anthropology degree underarm, seems to be asking more of the difficult questions I found irksome at a young age. However, now I find them exciting. And I think my feminist ways are rubbing off on him.
I was surprised and happy to see a passage on Feminist theory in Interdisciplinarity. It’s author Moran writes: “Feminist theory… is about challenging the values and priorities of the existing disciplines rather than merely integrating them,” (Moran, Joe. “Theory and the Disciplines/ Feminism and the Body.” Interdisciplinarity. London: Routledge, 2009. 92. Print.). The majority of popularized academia has been developed and led by white men. Because of this, marginalized groups including women get left out of this “higher” way of thinking. Through my brother’s re-conceptualization about Michael Brown’s killing, he integrated the female experience into an issue that is important, but often leaves out the perspective of the mothers affected. This absence of complexity in speaking about the female experience addresses the traditionally patriarchal lens womanhood is viewed through.
Feminist theory seek to bring together disciplines in the sciences and humanities to help account for women’s experience (Moran, Joe. “Theory and the Disciplines/ Feminism and the Body.” Interdisciplinarity. London: Routledge, 2009. 93. Print.). It is argued, that this experience cannot be explored and explained simply through one discipline, as it has often been approached by men. This absence of complexity in speaking about the female experience speaks to the traditionally patriarchal lens womanhood is viewed through.