“We teach girls to shrink themselves…”

Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieWhen I first heard Beyonce’s song, Flawless, on her recently-released visual album, I had to play it at least 37 more times so I could memorize Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s verse on feminism.  “We teach girls to shrink themselves to make themselves smaller.  We say to girls: you can have ambition, but not too much.  You should aim to be successful, but not too successful otherwise you threaten the man.  Because I am female I’m supposed to aspire to marriage.  I’m supposed to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important…Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”  After listening to this on repeat, I wanted to learn more about the fascinating woman who uttered these incredible words.  I found Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Tedx Talk and was immediately captivated by her love and admiration for women, and her desire for all people to be feminists.  As I’ve said before about my own personal journey with feminism, is the fact that I found it to be an extreme and scary word – almost anti-man.  And while some feminists are anti-anything male, that’s not what Adichie was speaking about, nor does she believe that that has to be the case for someone to self-identify as being a feminist.  Also, it shouldn’t and CAN’T be just women who are feminists.  Everyone should have the desire for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

Oprah Interview

Oprah and BeyonceThe other day I was trying to find videos that focused on Beyonce’s feelings about her own feminism and how she balances being a music mogul, a wife, and a mother.  What I came across was her interview with Oprah (as this title would lead you to believe) from February of last year.  What struck me most about the chat was Beyonce’s comment about how “[she] would not be the woman [she] is today if [she] did not go home to that man,” obviously meaning her husband, Jay-Z.  My idea of feminism, which seems now more like a relative term as I do more research on it, was always centered on a woman being independent from a man, and her own success being separate and more important than his.  While my thoughts about
feminism have changed, I still have not been able to work out in my mind the boundaries a woman has when it comes to being emotionally dependent on a man, while still being able to maintain her label as a feminist.  I have come across several sources that find Beyonce’s relationship with Jay-Z problematic, or threatening, to the larger project of feminism.  But what does that even mean?  Isn’t the point of feminism to have women being their own agents and decide what is best for them – whether that includes a man and children and a career or it doesn’t?  The issue I find with a patriarchal or male-dominated anything isn’t the fact that a man is involved, it’s the fact that women (historically and even today) haven’t had the same opportunities, and things were/are still expected of women that they don’t necessarily want for themselves.  Feminism should be about a woman’s prerogative to choose a life that is best suited for her and to have the equal opportunity as men to live that life.  So if Beyonce wants to call her world tour the Mrs. Carter World Tour, then she’s gonna do it.

Illustrated Passages

For my Writing 400 class, we have the opportunity to get points for several different writing assignments or projects that we complete throughout the semester.  Most of my blog posts most likely will, subsequently, be sparked by an idea that I got from my class or from my final project/portfolio.  This particular assignment was to find a group of about three people, pick a passage from a book, magazine, essay, and then find an image that illustrates the emotion of the passage, not just the literal content.  The first passage that we agreed upon was about euthanasia and the morality of “assisted suicide.” sad-interview_1018126i I found that the emotion of the passage was truly expressing desperation and sadness for these people that do not have the choice to die “peacefully” or with dignity, as most of the interviewees would describe their experience with this law that prohibits them from doing so.  I felt that the author was truly trying to get across a message for these people with whom he felt really sorry for.  Upon reflection, I found this image (shown on this blog post) of a distraught-looking man being interviewed by several people, who are seemingly pulling him all different directions as he just looks down at his feet.  I felt that this displayed the emotion of the article that we read because the person writing the article was trying to capture a bunch of different sides of the story, but it was not possible to get into the minds of the interviewees, or the people that were being affected by the law that does not allow them to die in the way that they feel would uphold their dignity or keep them in the least amount of pain as possible.  Like the picture that I chose, the interviewer probably asked several questions and really tried to get into the emotion behind the dying people, but was only able to scratch the surface of the issues throughout the article.

Writer to Writer

maria coteraHello, faithful followers of my blog.  I’m back, and full of fancy new knowledge!  Last week I was able to attend one of the most inspiring lectures hosted by the Sweetland Minor in Writing Program.  The featured author was Maria Cotera, an esteemed professor in the Women’s Studies department at the University of Michigan.  I never expected it to be as moving as it was – I mean, I really only went there to get the boost in my Writing 400 grade, but it turned out to be better than I could have hoped.  My final project for Writing 400 (which I’ll have to expand upon in a different post) is focused on the evolution of women in entertainment, so I was incredibly and pleasantly surprised when Professor Cotera began speaking about how her interests in writing have been focused on women, especially Latina women, and their evolution through literature.  I felt especially intellectually excited when she went into depth about how important it is that women express their voices in a thoughtful way so that the feminist movement can begin to take hold again.  Also, she spoke about how the style of writing needs to change, and made me think really deeply about the lack of emphasis that is put on creative writing and storytelling.  I plan on further exploring these questions in my evolution as a writer essay, and hopefully will be able to put forth an extension of Professor Cotera’s arguments for a reevaluation of what we consider to be influential academic writing…with an emphasis on feminism, of course.

Hindsight is 20/20

ImageDo you ever look back on something and think “man, I should have done things differently”?  Of course you do.  Anyone that tells you that they never look back and are disappointed by things that they did or did not do, well, they are just full of shit.  This semester especially I have tried to act in ways with the mentality of: will my future self be happy that I did this, or said this, or behaved this way?  Believe me, I doubt the future Sami will approve of everything I am doing now, but I take solace in the fact that I do that I know make me happy, and I don’t do things that I know would bring unhappiness to my life.  Obviously there are things that you have to do that don’t make you especially happy, like studying for these stupid finals, but even then I like to think that my future will be better off because I did study (even if I put it off until the last minute).  Since I’m feeling ultra philosophical right now, I learned in my Philosophy of Law class about the idea of utilitarianism, or acting only in ways that maximize happiness and reduce suffering.  I like to think of my life that way, or I should try to think of my life that way more often.  Why do things that make you sad when you could be doing so many more things that make you happy?  Why would I act in a way that I would be disappointed about in the future, or not do something just for the sake of having fun?  I want to spend my life in a way that maximizes my happiness, reduces my suffering, spreads happiness to others, and in a way that I can look back on and say “yeah, you did some pretty awesome things with some pretty awesome people.”  That just makes the most sense, doesn’t it?

Grateful

I was lying in bed yesterday and could hardly sleep, so I decided to attempt these new yoga moves that are supposed to help with relaxation.  I’ve been going to these hot yoga classes for the past month with my best friend, Katie, and all it seems to bring me is frustration and excessive sweat.  But, I was desperate for sleep so I decided to give it a go.  As I was trying to balance my knees on my elbows and then grow into a headstand, I overheard E! News in the background talking about the details of the Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.  I had obviously heard about the incident before last night, but for some reason as I was in my headstand (looking like a fool I’m sure), I was overcome with the most unbelievable sense of grief and confusion.  As I lowered myself down I continued to sit on the floor and just stare blankly at the T.V.  Why have I been so lucky with the most amazing life, and these kids and parents have to deal with potentially the most devastating loss and heartbreak in the world?  I know that I do not deserve the things that I have: a supportive family that I love to be around, all six of my grandparents and step-grandparents still alive, I go to one of the most prestigious schools, I have an incredible boyfriend, and kick ass friends that would do just about anything for me to protect and make me happy.  I know I don’t deserve these things, or at least I don’t know why I do, but I could not be more grateful for the life that I have been given.  I wish that it did not take a national tragedy for people, and myself especially, to realize all of our blessings.  I will continue to count the little things…not a bad life, that’s for sure.

Unlikely Friendships

This past Friday, my fabulous teacher, Ray, held a reading for his newly published book, Special Powers and Abilities.  Not only was it super fun to see Ray in front of all of his friends doing what he does best (entertain), but it was pretty amazing spending time with the rest of my classmates beforehand.  We held a little party at Caroline’s house and planned to walk over to Vault at Midnight together to see the book reading.  It was like we had been friends all along.  We have the most amazing variety of people in the class and everyone just embraces each other’s differences like it was some kind of perfect melting pot.  I am in the Greek community and I feel like most of my friends are either in my sorority, are in a different sorority, or are in a frat.  Not because I don’t want to have GDI (God Damn Independents) friends, I just am usually with my roommates who are all in my sorority, my boyfriend who is in a fraternity, or with friends I have met through the same community.  The people in Ray’s gateway course are some of the most intelligent, kindest, funniest people I have ever met.  I never would have thought we would all have so much in common besides our class content, but it has been one of the best experiences of my college career and I am truly grateful that I got to meet these people.  I know it must sound so super cheesy, but I’m being serious!  I have learned so much from them in class about how to become a better writer and also about life in general.  I know that they all feel the same way.  It’s like we have this hidden underlying connection because we all just understand.  Happy Wednesday, everyone.