Some Awesome Things We Saw at The Oscars

I don’t typically watch The Oscars. It’s not that I don’t care nor is it because I boycotted it.

#OscarssoWhite was trending and let me tell you, I think it is important. I’m sure many have seen this around the internet as The Oscars came closer.

It’s important. It really is and I saw some of those problems come to light last night. Notably, the foreign winners who were rushed off stage much faster than the American ones. Bravo to Pawel Pawlikowski for talking through the music that tried to rush him off stage. He kept going and we were loving it.

Neil Patrick Harris didn’t quite do the best as an Oscars host, but in my experience, nobody really does. It’s hard to grab a hold of that crowd. Some of his jokes were a little off color. I thought that he brought attention to the white problem in the Oscars. Maybe he was playing it down by joking, but it’s better to call that out even if the crowd wasn’t accepting it.

Who doesn’t like a good song number? And of course, Anna.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff.

The SPEECHES!

This right here is why I’m glad I didn’t boycott the Oscars. I want to hear what these stars have to say. The Academy has serious problems and it is amazing when their recipients are giving out speeches that empower all sorts of different people.

Attention was brought to ALS, Alzheimer’s, veterans, suicide, black rights, women’s rights, and how the country treats their immigrants.

I encourage readers to watch all the videos if  you didn’t catch them. They are well worth your time and were inspiring. I would also discourage you from reading the comments. The general rule is to not read Youtube comments, but I never can help myself. I read the one for Common and John Legend’s acceptance speech and felt sad. The fact that some people still think that saying “…be happy with how far this country  has come” will appease people is beyond me. Yes, we have a black president and yes, there are successful black people doesn’t mean we are equal. It means we’re getting closer to racial equality, but if people stop fighting, there will only be steps back.

I, of course, am going to talk about Patricia Arquette’s speech, winner of best actress in a supporting role. Here’s a video clip:

The support from the audience was fantastic, most notably Meryl Streep. What I found to be puzzling was some of the shocked faces. Happy, but shocked.

It’s crazy that saying women need equal rights can be so shocking to people. The faces were not angry, they were happy. They were only surprised that this woman would dare say it.

The argument Arquette made was perfect. “To every woman who gave birth to every citizen and taxpayer of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights.” That argument.

Right away, she slams down people who ask ‘what do women really do?’ She uses childbirth as a necessary job that women do for this country. She doesn’t argue that women work and volunteer and give back to their community (which they do), she throws out the fact that women have primary roles in childbirth and rearing. That is fantastic.

I have read the arguments against her speech and each of those would need a blog post in itself. Some I have already talked about, but most I still need to.

-The wage gap
-‘Care’ of women
-Housewifery
-Women in other countries

There are a lot more of course, but these were just some of the problems youtubers had. Unfortunately, most were complaining about ‘first world feminists’ and how they all need to die out. Once again, ignorance breeds hate. It’s unfortunate. I always wish I could argue with them, but I can’t. It’s one of those never-ending battles.

If you have any questions or would like me to comment on a specific problem the community has with feminism, please  let me know. I will not attack you, just answer with the knowledge I have.

I hope readers go and watch the other videos. They are well worth it and were beautiful. Read other blogs that focus on the discussions that those speeches started. Once again, well worth.

Off topic but go watch Lady GaGa’s performance. I was surprised and shocked at how wonderful it was.  Never knew she could actually sing.

Gillian Flynn, a Feminist

**Shouldn’t contain spoilers and if there are, they are small**

For the last four days, I rushed through Sharp Objects and Dark Places unable to put either book down. Sharp Objects captured me with the twisted mother-daughter relationship and the ending that made this a psychological thriller. Dark Places did not capture my attention as well, but I still turned the pages in a rush to see how it was going to end. I read Gone Girl in June of 2013 (thanks Goodreads!) and gave it a four star, but it probably deserved five. After finishing Sharp Objects and before I read Dark Places, I started to wonder, is Gillian Flynn a feminist?

There are a few things that led me to ask this question. I wasn’t passionate about feminism when I read Gone Girl so the review I wrote on Goodreads had not a comment about it. Now,  I am. While reading Sharp Objects, the question of Flynn’s feminist stand started to nag at me. There’s this section where Camille has a conversation with Detective Richard. She asks if an eighth grade girl had sex with four high school guys, would that count as rape. He said hell, yes. The girl is underage, the boys are around fifteen (?) and she was obviously vulnerable. Most feminists would say that this is rape and would say the guys were only out for themselves and they probably were. Camille’s response makes readers take a double take. “And sometimes drunk women aren’t raped; they just make stupid choices– and to say we deserve special treatment when we’re drunk because we’re women, to say we need to be looked after, I find offensive.”

Now that’s a statement.

Time to unravel!

When I went to India, there was a conversation of the backlash of all of the protective measurements for women to stop rape. The backlash was reinforcing the idea that women need to be protected. This is like saying women can’t go out to parties by themselves or they might get raped. Unfortunately as much as I want to say that it isn’t true, it still is. I’ve heard multiple stories. We shouldn’t say ‘why didn’t she bring a friend?’ or ‘she shouldn’t have dressed up like a slut,’ but the problem remains. It sucks and puts women in a difficult situation. It also puts men in a difficult situation. We assume that men only want sex and unfortunately, most men reinforce this idea. I’m not saying that they’re all rapists or even capable of rape, it’s just that we see comments from guys talking about how their girlfriend doesn’t give them sex or they want sex. Okay. I’m going to keep that as a mostly truth though I know it’s not always true because it could be a social construction; either way it exists.

Now to look back at that quote. The boys she was with might not have been capable of rape, but could still be fine with being a guy she had sex with. This is where an argument comes up. If she was drunk and inhibitions gone and they were drunk and she was obviously able to be taken advantage of (considering her home life), does it count as rape? When can somebody make a decision? Of course, she was thirteen and legally, it was rape. What about socially? I agree with her quote. To a point. I’m not sure, but I believe I at least planned a post where I talked about some of the ways men debase women. One of the unintentional ways is “I would never hurt a woman, she needs to be protected.” Ouch. This is a problem and it should be addressed. Women do not need to be protected. We can see this in the characters Flynn creates. You can’t argue that they need protection; if anything the men need protection. Detective Richard is more horrified by everything Camille does than any of the women. Her step-father has no clue what’s going on and is being manipulated without even knowing. Her writing begins to prove that women do not need protection.

Unfortunately, Gillian Flynn’s ideas are progressive. This is good, but it also assumes a world exists that’s out of our reach currently. Right now, we’re trying to rework the relationship between men and women. We’re trying to see people as individuals without grouping them together with similar characteristics just because of their gender. We want women who can be seen as people and not objects and men who can be seen as more than just sex seeking. Gillian Flynn is moving past this teaching men that rape is never okay and women should be able to have sex for fun to the understanding that women do not need protection and can make decisions even when drunk; that protection is not needed. This is a theory that’s difficult to wrap our heads around in a society where we’re trying to reform the idea that when drunk, it counts as rape and victim blaming is not okay. Flynn presents a new argument that is both hopeful (women not needing protection) and harmful (potential victim blaming). It’s progressive but may be too progressive in our current situation.

Gone Girl presents a female character that is more obvious than the others (save for Camille’s mom). I can’t talk much about this book without spoiling it, but the characters are both hated in the book. I asked one of my friends if he liked the movie (still haven’t seen it) and he said yes, but that the woman was a bitch and he hated her. He never said anything about hating the husband who is equally as horrible just in a different way. The husband’s behavior is acceptable in current circles. While it’s bad, we can understand it. Her behavior on the other hand isn’t. She’s called a bitch because she’s manipulative. We don’t see that often and when we do, it’s her fault. He was the one affected and his behavior was a reaction. Her’s is never accepted. She’s seen as the instigator.

Of course, Flynn does not seem to be in agreement. She creates a woman who gets back at her husband with manipulation. A woman will lose in a fist fight (in most cases) but manipulation? That’s harder to fight. People hate her, but when we examine her behavior, it makes sense. What else was she to do? Of course, she is insane. That can’t be ignored. She never tried having a conversation with him, but instead took it to the next, next, next x10 level. She’s a psychopath, but an intelligent one who examines the social contract and uses it for her own purposes. It’s twisted, yes, but it’s difficult to call Flynn a misogynist when she portrays strong women in a progressive, not backwards, way.

Gillian Flynn has said that she is a feminist. She takes assumptions about women and flips them. In Sharp Objects, the detective says the killer has to be a man because women do not kill unless it’s for revenge or from jealousy. All of the perceived notions are switched on the readers, making the writing twist our familiarity to something that we can barely recognize. I do think Flynn is asking for a world that is more progressive and radical than we are at. I’ve heard women and men say that woman shouldn’t be protected when they’re drunk, but it’s with accusatory tones and filled with excuses for behavior that they know was wrong. This type of understanding she is asking for is with respect for the doer, knowing that it was a decision that one person made and it shouldn’t be forgiven when it was her choice.

Flynn is definitely an author that feminists should keep their eyes on and people who blame the woman or say ‘she was drunk; she wanted it’ have to watch or read with more knowledge than what they currently hold. I hope to read more from her in the upcoming years.

“I’m Kinda Older Than I Was When I Reveled Without A Care, So There”

This has nothing to do with Lorde, I just really like that song.

But it does have to do with music!

And Feminism. Of course.

Where I stumble and fall from my feminist seat is in the subject of music. People have ripped a part music for the sexism it embodies and the disgusting portrayal of women in the words that are used and worse of all, the videos we see.

I agree with all of that, but I these songs are unfortunately, my favorites and I can’t seem to stop listening to them.

How do I live with myself?

Well, I’m not what you would call a cultural feminist. I do have some aspects of it, especially when it comes to literature and language (I’ll blog about this soon, as well), but I don’t see changing music as being able to change the way people look at women.

It sounds as if I’m trying to defend myself here. I think music represents what we see as important in the culture and what’s allowed. Music that includes sexism reflects the type of culture we live in and that’s not okay. It’s a reflection though and I’m not confident that changing some lyrics and videos will change the way women are looked at. It will still be there, but music will stop being a reflection of what’s going on culturally.

I’m not saying these songs should be swept under the rug. We definitely should fight against what we can and stand for the mis-representation of women and the disgusting stereotypes that we’re supposed to live in.

So what’s my favorite song?

“Rock You Like A Hurricane” -Scorpions

If you haven’t heard this song, look it up on YouTube. If you don’t want to go as far as that, here are some lyrics: “The bitch is hungry/she needs to tell/so feed her inches/and feed her well.”

The music video features a mostly naked woman in a cage.

I’m totally not into the misogyny, but I would be lying if I said I hated the song. I’ve already said it’s my all time favorite song.

This doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist.

What it means is that there’s history behind that song: a childhood where I fell asleep in the car with the music pounding, a song that connected me to people who also lived with parents who refused to come out of the 80’s, and something that’s comforting.

Yes, it’s not a women-positive song.

No, I don’t hate women all of a sudden.

Yes, I still think Blurred Lines is an awful representation of women (though once again, I have danced to it more than once).

Music shows where our culture is at as a whole, but it doesn’t represent one person who happens to be listening to it.

What’s Your Pressure?

I’ve been taking a Materialist Feminism class and have been reworking where I stand as a feminist and what I believe in. What I love about this class is that it’s not a women versus men. It’s the oppressed versus the oppressive. We discuss race, class, and gender altogether because it’s necessary to understand that oppression can’t be separated and categorized.

We had an assignment to write a narrative where we discuss a pressure we feel. This is something that doesn’t let us be who we want to be and something we succumb to. In writing, it was hoped that we began to see the root of the problem in the capitalistic society. Unfortunately, I already realized I forgot a very important part of my narrative after I sent it in (and I had until midnight to turn it, but I got over-excited). What I would have liked to add is how by succumbing to this pressure, I have brought my resume down in the major and the career path I have chosen by not being selfish. Also, this seems to be more about the language used on me and I hope it comes off as something different. I’m realizing the ending isn’t what I wanted. (It’s always after you submit work, you realize all of this)

Anyway, to the assignment. I’m posting it here if you’re interested in reading some of the struggle I’ve experienced. If you’d like to write a response in where you experience a pressure, I’d love to read it.

 

 

“It’s Time to Be Selfish”

 

I am reminded to be selfless every day and am made aware of what people don’t have. I am white and therefore, do not have to deal with racism. I am the daughter of a working class family and therefore, have a roof over my head. I am a girl and therefore, I can cry to get out of things. I am reminded that when I’m stressed out at school, that some don’t have rights to education. I am reminded that I need to have time for my family, boyfriend, and future children when I tell my family I want to go to Grad school. I am scolded for saying that I’m happier reading or writing. I am scolded for saying I like to spend time by myself. I am expected to be selfless in every way. I am expected to give up my identity to become an Elementary teacher even though I know that’s not who I am. When I assert myself, I am reminded I have no reason to do that. I am never told that I am a woman and need to stay in a job where I work with children though it sits below every word that’s said to me. I am never told to do what makes me happy.

                In fourth grade, I was placed as a reading buddy with a first grader like the rest of the class. What made me different was that another fourth grader who struggled in reading was added to our group. Jon was a nice kid and we were friends out of default on account of not having any other friends. Jon was a good friend nevertheless. He always listened to me and liked to play the games I wanted to play.

                Ms. O’Rourke came to me after my reading buddy placement to ask if I was okay with the situation. “I just wanted to make sure it was okay with you to help Jon because you’re so good at reading.”

                I was quick to agree. I didn’t want to make her find somebody else and most of all, I liked feeling important.

                “Thank you, Kelsey. I thought you’d say yes because you’re helpful.”

                That was my earliest, clearest memory of somebody calling me helpful. I was important in my ability to say yes. Of course, I did help out, but I wouldn’t be helpful or important if I went so far to say no. I was a good girl when I said yes and was agreeable. These were all the aspects of being selfless. If I had decided that struggling along with a fourth grader and a first grader who read at the same level while I was one to skip ahead and  grow bored of a lesson that kept going and going, I would be more of a pain than it was worth. I didn’t dwell on it. I was helpful and selfless. That was who I was.

                I understood myself as this and I could do my best in this place. I might be seen as a teacher’s pet, but I never went that far to bother the teacher after fourth grade, being told I was being annoying. Sure, I talked too much and made up a lot of stories then presented them as truth (some would call this lying), but I was a good girl and would walk away shame-faced if a teacher told me to leave. I was good in this domestic field though it was much more minor than the one my mom was in, but I was good at taking care of people. I was told by many family members that I’d be a good mother and maybe a good wife if I could shut-up once in a while.

                Through Middle school and High school, I built up a resume of selfless activities. I was a Girl Scout and participated in the community service quietly while my best friend would complain about the thought of waking up before ten on a Saturday to clean up the roads. I was in Big Brother-Big Sister and persevered through despite my first year being with a boy who refused to say a word to me. I struggled through that program since I didn’t always go, but I was still told I was patient despite knowing I couldn’t stand to sit in that room anymore. I tutored a fourth grader in math my Senior year when I was told going into Education might be a good path for me. I always politely, but firmly, told them that Creative Writing was what I would major in. They would shake their head, but accept what I said.

                I had a secret through all of this. I didn’t enjoy working with the kids. They said I was patient, but I could never see why when my fists were clenched when a child wouldn’t talk to me or when I purposefully skipped out because I wanted to spend time with people my own age or with a good book. They said I was selfless in the way I gave up time, but I never felt like I was doing enough, that I could do enough. Maybe it meant I strived to be even more selfless than where I was at, but either way, I didn’t like where I was.

As a college freshman, I loved taking classes and felt happy with what I was doing. I wasn’t living up the college life and never attended an Oswego party, but I was the average college student worrying over exams and papers with complaining about professors thrown into the mix.

Yet, I was faced with the same problem as before college. I didn’t know what to do with this major. It’s something you actually have to feel confident about. I went through a Creative Writing class, but these classes don’t just tell you if you’re a good writer or not. They give you critiques and you have to sit there and decipher what they’re trying to say. If you’re not good, then there’s four years of college down the drain (some people would say it’s still down the drain whether you’re bad or good).

I went to an advisor and thought it out and finally, changed my major to Childhood Education. My mom was thrilled, my grandparents were thrilled, those people on Facebook were thrilled, and I was hoping that it wouldn’t take everything I loved away from me.

Two years later, I was back to Creative Writing and this was that move. It’s the move that everybody stares at you and judges you for. It’s the move that makes it so you suddenly have to answer every question to prove you’re not spiraling out of control.

“It’s selfish.”

This was the start of when I realized something’s wrong with the expectations people have of me. Frigga Haug writes that women are socialist by nature in the aspects that they have such as “maternal love, the gratification of needs independently of achievement, love, care, domesticity…” (Haug 130). This is true, but those aspects are also an expectation of women. If a woman steps out and takes on a career path that’s seen as independent (such as writing), they are seen as Other than woman or man.

It was my second cousin who told me I was selfish. He’s thirty-something and in the Marines, so I couldn’t quite say he was being selfish. I did tell him that in Creative Writing I was happier. I even went so far to tell him I felt like I was losing who I was in Childhood Education. I didn’t feel like it was mentally stimulating, I saw the teachers looking like they’d rather be anywhere than in the school, and I was already looking for kids to yell at than to praise. I knew I needed to get out as quickly as possible and made my escape when I saw it. While I saw something in teaching, I knew it wasn’t the type of change I wanted to make. If I was going to influence minds, I didn’t want to have a filter. I knew that if I was to teach, it would be in a college setting. If I wasn’t going to teach, I wanted to write books that changed people or speak, to move people or do anything but sit behind a desk and receive too many dandelions from too many kids I secretly hated.

Still, my cousin went on. His overall claim that it didn’t matter what I wanted. It didn’t matter what made me happy. If I gave enough of myself, I would be happy because those who received what I gave would be happy. This is an idea that reflected the ones I learned early on in church. If I gave so much, I would get so much. There was something to say about having the satisfaction of giving. I whole-heartedly believe this, but I didn’t see any value in giving my whole self away without considering my needs. I told him that I was losing myself and that I didn’t know how I would be considered selfless if I stayed in teaching where I would give up and not do anything good for those kids. Despite my arguments, he stayed stuck in his opinion and refused to even consider mine. I lost my identity once again, this time to being selfish.

All of these stories have mounted up and I began to see connections and they’re still forming. I based my life around my family and am swayed by their thoughts. But where do their thoughts come from? Church reinforced them in the expectations they had of me being a part of the Christian family. When I changed back from Childhood Education, they think it’s my mother’s influence. My mother, who was the bad wife. She divorced my father and claimed unhappiness. They openly complained about her and only asked how bad it was. They never wanted to hear about what a release it was to not have to hear the shouting and the arguing, so I stayed silent. School even told me that working with kids was the best idea there was for me, but those were the only opportunities I had in High School. They weren’t giving out community service for writing.

I stayed silent through my family and my school’s critique of my life. I was expected to stay in the domestic sphere, to want to stay at home and cook and provide for my family. They put the blame mostly on my mother and that I talked too much. There was no reason for book writing or getting into that mess. Why couldn’t I be like my cousin, Hayley who wanted to work in a salon one day? Why couldn’t I be like my cousin, Kayla who wanted to work with babies? Hayley would be working in a job that wouldn’t be giving back, but she never stepped into childcare, so that was fine. And plus, she loves babysitting and is already engaged at seventeen. Or Kayla? Kayla will be working with kids and has already said she wants five of her own. Why couldn’t I be like any of them?

I never knew what to say, but now I’ve become more confident. They want me to work in this sphere that gives me time to be a mother. Supposedly, for my best interest though they don’t ask what might be interested in. I am told to be selfless in all that I do, but the men of my family are okay to go out and drink and never get jobs. I need to be the rock when I meet that type of man and to whip them into shape so they can provide for me and my future children. They say I will control the family though it will look like he does. This is supposed to satisfy me. Why? Why should I feel okay knowing that I’m seen as a weak woman? Why can’t I put my words out for the world to see? To raise my voice and make connections? To be a part of a group that all have the same root of oppression and know that to take it back, they can’t be selfless anymore?  

I’m expected to give my identity up as a writer and instead, become a teacher, to become another woman who found where her place is. Teaching is important as is being a housewife. As what Ehrenreich says, housewives are at the very heart of the working class; without them, there is no working class (Ehrenreich 68). Teachers are paid, but they are consistently overlooked and told that they shouldn’t want to be paid because they should love their job and love working with children. After two years of just getting a taste of teaching, I can definitely argue that teachers aren’t paid enough. I don’t’ plan to sit in this domestic sphere. It’s not out of a desire to break away from the expectations that people have of me because of my gender, but because of my own needs and desires. This pressure to be selfless is still one I’ll continue to struggle with, but I plan to do my best to understand that there’s a line I have to make for myself to understand when I’m being selfish and when I’m doing what’s necessary to be who I am. If I’m told I’m selfish because I stand up for what I want, I can accept that word.