Women in the 21st Century

            Sex vs Gender and the Female Body

            Sex is a biological determination of male or female, whereas gender is socially constructed, and designates the roles and responsibilities of woman and man. The body is a way in which gender is established, and the stereotypes that define a body confine gender within certain social norms. Ideas of what a ‘real’ woman should look like and how she should dress for her husband to please him confine women to a certain type, and if we fall short of these images we are not good enough or we do not fit the female gender norm. “The female body is inscribed socially, and most often, individually experienced as a lacking, incomplete or inadequate body… Women’s oppression is generated in part by these systems of patriarchal morphological inscription- that is, by a patriarchal symbolic order- or part by internalised, psychic representations of this inscribed body, and in part as a result of the different behaviours, values and norms that result from these different morphologies and psychologies.” (Riley 106-107) In other words, women have used feminism to advance within the public sphere, but we are now faced with a new challenge. “Moll Flanders,” “Penelope” and Goblin Market are literary works that I have analyzed to find the feminist features in each. After analyzing each work I found that the authors worked to write “New” woman and most importantly REAL woman into being, and we can see that these texts are a guide for the women of the present and future, but the women of the 21st century are now faced with the patriarchal view of women, one that we often fall short of attaining.

Everywhere you turn women are bombarded by images of what a woman in the 21st century looks like and how she should behave. And many of these images are untrue definitions of woman.

v s model

How women are portrayed in the media

bridesmaids

“You’re setting me up for a loss already”

MANY women, including myself, are physically incapable of looking like a Victoria’s Secret model, what is more important is that very FEW women want to even look like a Victoria’s Secret model.  There is reality and there is fantasy, and many women like the look of reality over the look of fantasy. Take Tara Lynn for example, a french model who is the embodiment of the definition of real woman. tara lynnBut, western society is very much a patriarchal society still and women’s bodies are repressed because our society only shows certain images that are unattainable, leaving women to feel inadequate in comparison. However, there are still women and adolescents who are unhappy with their body images and desire to look like the fantasy woman that the media portrays us to be. THIS is a major problem, because this fantasy woman is everywhere, she sells us lingerie and states that if we buy this lingerie we will look like her, when the reality is we won’t, “what has always been lacking is a due recognition of the specificity of women’s bodies” (Riley 101). We need media to portray a proper body image that is more like reality than fantasy. More women like Adele need to be in commercials and need to be seen as proper role models. Adele believes her value is in her talent not her body and she says on multiple occasions that she’d rather be larger with an amazing album, than be skinny with nothing to show for her life. 

adele quote

Recently a Victoria’s Secret model was interviewed and in her interview she states that she feels guilt over the fact that she promotes a body image that is, for the most part unattainable. For the most part I like what she has to say, but she does say that some women are lucky to win the genetic lottery that makes them look like Victoria’s Secret models. I understand what she’s trying to say, but I wouldn’t say that having a body like that makes people lucky. This word implies that women who do not fit the Victoria’s Secret body type category are unlucky and again inadequate.

This inadequacy is present in current events and popular culture and we need to change this. In the 20th century we had Buffy the Vampire Slayer a show that’s protagonist is a female hero who is physically stronger than men, but more importantly this strength is symbolic of ‘New’ woman’s strength in all spheres of life. Buffy is a 90s feminist, whereas, in the the 2000s teens are given Bella Swan as a role model.

Buffy vs. Bella

what twilight teaches tweens

Like “Moll Flanders” and “Penelope” Buffy is the ‘New’ woman who is written into being by a male author, whereas Bella is written by a woman who believes herself to be a feminist. HOWEVER, Bella is far from being a feminist, she is weak and incapable of caring for herself, and her life revolves around the two men who are fighting over her. Further, the woman who wrote Bella proclaims to be a feminist, not only is this untrue but it is fatale to the teens who read her works. Bella is not a role model who should be looked up to, but she is. Instead we need to look to such heroines in our popular culture like Katniss Evedeen, Princess Leah and Hermione, just to name a few others.

We also need more women who are forward thinking like this annonymous woman who responded to a gym ad that is the basis of women’s oppression in society. When a gym posted an ad for their summer memberships they used this idea to push women into buying their memberships, “This summer, would you rather be a whale or a mermaid”.

mermaid-or-whale

The story is that an anonymous woman of unknown clothing size responded to the gym ad and said this:

“Dear people,

Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans). They are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness. They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on CDs. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?

They would have no sex life and could not bear children. Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad. And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I’d rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.

We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.

Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: “How amazing am I?!”” 

I for one, would like to see gym advertisements that don’t attack women’s body image in order to sell their memberships. Instead they need address the issue of health, and make that their greatest concern. As long as you are healthy, no one should be judged for their body image.

That’s a Wrap

Throughout this blog I have looked at different literary works, scholarly essays, other blogs, popular culture and the media, to illustrate the representation of a true woman in literature. And I have found her, I have mapped her journey through time to demonstrate where a true female identity started to the present. What I have found is that authors started writing woman into being in order to properly represent women of the early 18th century and on. This representation is first seen in “Penelope” with a woman who is narrating her entire day, this representtion is of the real woman, one who is extremely different from the woman of the early 20th century. She shows the reader that she does enjoy sexual pleasures, is human (ie., she urinates, menstruates and passes gas like the rest of us!) and believes that women are more than just images of beauty, that we have a greater purpose than to just please our male counterparts. Rewind to the 18th century and Daniel Dafoe writes into being Miss Moll Flanders, another woman who also professes a desire for sexual relations, is not the typical maternal figure, and a woman who can take on the role of the head of the family and strives to make a place for herself within a male dominant society. Then there is Goblin Market a poem that illustrates that female sexual desire should not limit women or repress them within a society. It is through sexual pleasure that Lizzie is able to save her ‘sister’ Laura from death. In the present there are a lot of examples in literature and popular culture of a true female identity, but there is also an equal amount of literature and popular culture that writes the ‘Old’ woman into being. A woman that restricts women from moving forward in society, and one that is unattainable in this patriarchal society that we live in.

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Freedom Through Female Eroticism

Why are we so Repressed and Regulated?

It’s a good question, don’t you think? Women are consumed by the double standard of saint and slut. If you don’t sleep with a man your a saint or a bitch cause you wouldn’t give it up. But if you do sleep with a man, you’re a slut because you gave it up. Not only do women have to be consumed with worry over whether they should sleep with someone, and what that would do to their reputation, they also have to worry about the desirability their body gives them. I believe that through sexuality women can be freed from this repression and regulation. It is through literature and other mediums that women can gain a positive image and illustrate that pleasure does not make ANYONE any less of a person, and someone to be judged. LESSON: think about why YOU have sex and what you GAIN from it before you judge anyone else. The unwritten law of society is that sex is for reproduction, whether everyone believes this or not, I fully believe this is how society judges sexual activity, if not, then why are so many women ostracized for their sexual activities? Because if a woman is not participating in sexual relations to conceive then she is a whore for finding pleasure in sex. CONFESSION: I sometimes make snap judgements before I can remember to look to what I gain from my own sexual relations, because at this point in my life, it is NOT babies that I hope to gain! I will confess that I have, on multiple occasions called a woman a slut for sleeping with a man in certain situations, but really, who am I to judge? Is my sexual past any better than hers is? Who makes that decision?

Up to the 18th century, and I believe these are still ingrained in our society to this day, there were three explicit codes that governed sexual relations, and these three were focused on matrimonial relations. This controlled sexuality and allowed there to be a law around sexual relations. Seen before the 20th century “Doubtless acts ‘contrary to nature’ were stamped as especially abominable, but they were perceived simply as an extreme form of acts ‘against the law'” (Foucault 38). Obviously today we do not look at sexual acts that are ‘against nature’ to be acts ‘against the law’, but we do judge them in a similar way. Foucault claims that repression of sexuality has two ruptures if you try to trace it throughout history, the first being what I covered above, and the second is a 20th century occurrence that is characterized as “the moment when the mechanisms of repression were seen as beginning to loosen their grip; one passed from insistent sexual taboo to a relative tolerance with regard to prenuptial or extramarital relations” (Foucault 115). But a loosening has not gotten us very far. Women are still shamed for their sexual activites, and once again I want to ask, who gets to decide the judgement of these sexual acts? How is it even any of your (society’s) business anyway?

Let’s Change This

Through a positive representation of women and their sexuality this can be changed. Women need to help women, to write new woman into being, which can be done through many different forms of media, not only literature.

female eroticism

This post is to highlight the ways in which women can achieve sexual freedom from society through sexuality, whether it is in a heterosexual, lesbian, or ANY relationship women can be found in. I do not want to place a constraint on any relationship in this post by saying that freedom can only be achieved through a certain sexual relation. So, forgive me if I do make the mistake of classifying relationships in my attempt to free women from sexual restraint.

Goblin Market

I have chosen Goblin Market as the final literary work that I will analyze because this blog is all about the evolution of women throughout literature, and thus far I have looked at “Penelope” and “Moll Flanders” two text that have great intentions for women, BUT are written by male authors. Not only am I analyzing the content but I am also analyzing who has written the content and the implications of the authorship. Thus far I have seen how two men brought ‘New’ woman to literature and gave her a strong feminist character in doing so, but these texts are ventriloquized, whereas Christina Rossetti’s poem is written by a woman, and about women in a male dominant society. The text themselves have illustrated the evolution of women in literature because they have not followed a chronological order of time, but have followed a path of what the authors have done for women. So, Rossetti’s text is last because it is the ultimate goal for women, for WOMAN to write WOMAN into being as Cixous states in her work “The Laugh of the Medusa”, as well as freeing woman’s body from the value that society places on it.

Goblin Market written by Christina Rossetti is a parable for the prostitutes in Highgate Penitentiary. The story has a moral for fallen women, that even though they have chosen a life of prostitution and have fallen from grace, their ‘sisters’ can always pick them up (Humphreys Jan 31). As great as this moral is, that women have the power to help their fallen prostitute sisters, I am reading this poem in a different way, one that still has the same moral. The Goblins and market in the poem illustrate society’s temptation for women to fall, that is for women to give into society’s temptation of pleasure, then be ostracized for their doing so. Through different mediums women get the idea that all women should look a certain way and be a vixen sex goddess, but once women have done so, they are shamed for their behaviour, and it is only until women set an example that female pleasure is NOT a taboo, can we free ourselves from society’s judgements. Why should others tells us what we can and cannot do? This is your body ladies, so claim what is yours!

When viewing the goblin men Lizzie knows the harm of falling victim to society, but Laura is unable to resist their charm. Laura wants to peep at the goblins while Lizzie scolds her,

“No,” said Lizzie, “No, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.”

Lizzie first rejects the society that the goblin men represent and runs from their temptations. But Laura is fascinated by the goblins and their ware “Curious Laura chose to linger / Wondering at each merchant man” (69-70). When Laura stays behind to peep at the goblin men she is drawn into their temptation and must sacrifice a part of herself in order to find the pleasure the goblins offer:

playboy goblin market lauraShe clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away (126-137)

As the days pass Laura searches for the goblin market but cannot find it anymore. Because Lizzie has not tasted the fruit of the market she still hears the temptation, but Laura is unable to find the pleasure she found before in the market (society) because it is now ostracizing her. Because Laura gave into the temptation of society she is now being repressed from having any further sexual encounters with the society and she loses her desire to gain sexual pleasure and starts to wither away under this repression.

Laura turned cold as stone
To find her sister, heard that cry alone (253-254)
 
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
 And gnash’d her teeth for baulk’d desire, and wept
As if her heart would break. (266-268)
 

Again when Laura thinks of the goblin men and their fruit the poem takes on an erotic image of Laura in bed with Lizzie and being painfully aware of her baulking desire that she cannot satisfy. She continues to feel this desire go unsatisfied and Lizzie watches as her ‘sister’ withers under the repression of the goblin market. Lizzie cannot bear to watch Laura wither away:

Till Laura dwindling 
Seem’d knocking at Death’s door:
Then Lizzie weigh’d no more
Better and worse;
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kiss’d Laura, cross’d the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook:
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look. (320-328)

It is only until Lizzie rejects this society openly that she is able to save Laura.

“Good folk,” said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie:
“Give me much and many: —
Held out her apron,
Toss’d them her penny.
“Nay, take a seat with us,
Honour and eat with us,” (363-369)
 
“Thank you,” said Lizzie: “But one waits
At home alone for me:
So without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I toss’d you for a fee.”–
One call’d her proud,
Cross-grain’d, uncivil;societys oppression
Their tones wax’d loud,
Their look were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbow’d and jostled her,
Claw’d with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
Twitch’d her hair out by the roots,
Stamp’d upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat. (383-407)

Lizzie braves the goblin men for her ‘sister’ and rejects their offers of pleasure because she wishes to return to Laura and save her from withering away to nothing. The Goblin Men once again try to coax Lizzie, as they did Laura, into tasting their fruit and when she will not they become violent with her because she will not partake in their goblin pleasures.

She cried, “Laura,” up the garden,laura and lizzie
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeez’d from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me;
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men.” (464-474)

When Lizzie returns home to Laura she beckons for her ‘sister’ to taste her, lick her and suck her juices. Through erotic imagery Goblin Market illustrates how Lizzie can save Laura from dying through female eroticism. Lizzie knows that the market (society) will only repressed women, and that it is only through a rejection of this society and female eroticism that women can transcend this repression and save one another. Lizzie shows Laura that it is ok to have this desire and to express it, this is what saves Laura from dying under the repression of the goblin market.

Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town):
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.” (548-567)
 

When they are grown women with children of their own, Laura will tell her children of her ‘sister’, a woman who saved her from the repression of society. Lizzie was able to help her ‘sister’ reclaim her body and transcend the repression of the goblin men who tried to take her sexuality from her.

Why a Sister is the Greatest Friend a Woman Can Have

amanda todd I need someone

Bullying, it is a major problem for many children, a problem that for the most part goes unresolved. How does bullying have to do with this blog? EVERYTHING. This topic is close to me, and I do hope that readers can see the relationship between society’s repression of women’s sexuality as seen in Goblin Market and the case of Amanda Todd. I want to look at Amanda Todd and the bullying she received as a teen and the death that resulted. I said above that women are ostracized from their society when they partake in sexual activity that they are tempted with, then they are shunned from society. That is exactly what happened to Amanda Todd. For what is bullying but ostracizing someone from the society in which they reside.

This video was made by Amanda to tell her story and experience with society. When she was in grade seven, she was chatting with new people and she was prompted to show her breasts to a boy she was talking to. She did as she was asked, and one year later she was bullied into doing more, but she wouldn’t, so her photo was sent to everyone she knew and she was ostracized for being a ‘slut’. Not once was the guy thought less of for asking a complete stranger to do such a thing, or even exposing that she had done it. The blame fell completely on Amanda Todd, and the repercussions were gruesome. The Todd family was forced to move several times to try to get away from the main person responsible for the exposure of the photos but he continued to harras Amanda wherever she went, and others, once they found out what she had done, would shun Amanda even if they had become friends.

All she needed was a ‘sister’ in the fight for freedom from a repressing society. Instead Amanada Todd was forced to kill herself, because her peers, mainly girls, insisted she should. In her youtube video of her story, she uses flashcards to narrate her story, the last flashcard says, “I have nobody, I need someone”. Like Amanda, Laura was at the mercy of the goblin market (society) and withered under its repression, but Laura had Lizzie to save her, whereas Amanda had no one. If only there were another to save Amanda she would not have had to kill herself, and maybe, she would have been able to escape the repression of her society, and by doing so, understand that female eroticism is not a bad thing, but a freeing act, when women band together and separate themselves from the repression of society. 

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Feminism: A Comparison of Moll Flanders and Thelma and Louise

thelma and louise in the endmoll flanders“Moll Flanders” and  Thelma and Louise illustrate early feminism in two different time periods. Each work displays the conventions of the time, how women are viewed, and what these women must do to survive in a male       dominant society.

Both movie and text start off with characters who are entrenched in a male dominant society, and live their lives accordingly, however, it is once they are faced with certain situations that their roles change and they forge new identities as women. Three components that make both these works feminist in nature are evident. Here they are:

1. Rejection of a male dominant society

2. The Power of Female Friends 

 3. Reinvention of female identity

With “Moll Flanders” quotes and examples are the main way that evidence of a changing female identity is illustrated, but with Thelma and Louise pictures and video clips can be used to illustrate these changes. With both works there is a strong sense of change, one through words and another through visual. With Thelma and Louise, the text is strong and illustrates these changes, but the images of these women changing is the strongest. Without the dialogue this change, of both a shifting female identity and a rejection of the male dominant society that these women live in, is conveyed, just through the visuals of the changes in body language and the way the women clothe themselves. The analysis of Thelma and Louise will have both text and images in order to illustrate this dramatic change in the course of two days for these two women. What this means is, my analysis of Thelma and Louise will be a lot longer than “Moll Flanders” so please try to follow it, it will be long, but I believe, well worth it in the end!

Brief Outline

Moll Flanders

Because this novel is one on our syllabus I do not want to take too much room up in this blog with an outline so here is a link to a summary if you need it.

Thelma and Louise (SPOILER ALERT)

The movie begins with the coercion of Thelma into going for a weekend cottage trip with her best friend Louise. Thelma leaves her husband, who is domineering and allows her nothing, a note informing him that she has left for the weekend. On the drive the two women stop at a truck stop for something to eat, and Thelma starts dancing with a stranger. He takes her to the parking lot and tries to rape her when Louise shows up and after insisting he stops, with him telling her to leave them alone, Louise shoots him dead. The women run because they do not believe that the cops (men) will believe them. The movie follows the two women trying to make it to Mexico, their trials and tribulations along the way, and concludes with their defiance towards the state, a state that is dominated by men, in the form of their chosen death.

The Comparison

The Comparison

Rejection of a Male Dominant Society

Moll Flanders

The novel “Moll Flanders” illustrates the protagonist’s rejection of a male dominant society after she learns the hard way of living as a woman in such a society. “Moll Flanders” is a response to the well understood idea that women need to look to others, men that is, for help and protection (Humphreys, Feb 28). Moll is, for a lack of a better term, burned by the majority of the men that she comes in contact with. It is not until she decides terms for herself that she is able to reject a society where men rule all and transcende into a society where she calls the shots for herself. This is seen early on in the novel with Moll’s second husband. With the help of a female friend (I will go into further detail of the power of this friendship in a bit) Moll is able to have her choosing of a male suitor. Moll refers to her choosing as a “subtle game to play” (Dafoe 78) in which she picks her husband, “This was my Man, but I was to try him to the bottom, and indeed in that consisted my safety” (Dafoe 78). So, not only does Moll have a choosing of a husband, but she plays him into loving her before she tells him she is poor, and not rich as he believes. This illustrates Moll’s rejection of a male dominant society because she becomes the dominant in this relationship with tricking the man, as the elder brother did to her, into loving her for her own gain, not his.

Women in 18th century England are well known as the ‘other’, or the subordinate in society, but once again Moll proves her rejection of such a society when she takes on the profession of thievery. A woman is considered a second class citizen who cannot survive without matrimony, but Moll proves that she can and will survive without a husband when she looks to her female compatriots and solves her problem of being poor and desolate. Moll may have been taught by a woman in the profession but there are many examples of men holding the position of thief, and Moll notes that, illustrating that she is rejecting her place in a male dominant society. Moll is dressed as a man when she becomes too well known in the profession as Moll cutpurse and her governess places her with a male partner who never knows her to be a woman, further, there are many instances when she sees men stealing, and being chased after a robbery. Lastly, it becomes known that Moll’s Lancashire husband is a thief, but he does not bring her into the profession with him, because he thinks the profession does not have a place for a woman. It is only because Moll, along with other female friends, reject a male dominant society, and their ‘traditional’ roles of being a woman in this society, that they are able to forge a path as a new woman and care for themselves without the aid of men.

Thelma and Louise

Like “Moll Flanders” Thelma and Louise is a response to the idea of women being incapable of taking care of themselves. This movie illustrates how these two women  experience a male dominant society and that they wish to reject it instead of participate within it as Moll rejects her society. In the beginning of the movie, Louise, a diner waitress calls her best friend Thelma and asks her if she is ready for their weekend vacation. Thelma lets Louise know that she still hasn’t asked Daryl, her husband yet. Louise retorts, “Is he your husband or your father?” This statement illustrates Louise’s defiance of a male dominant society. From the start it is quite evident that Louise has a soft spot for her on and off again boyfriend Jimmy, but it is also clear that she does not easily fit into a male dominant society as a meek woman, she is very independent, unlike Thelma. Thelma, spurred on by her best friend, decides to pack her belongings for the trip and leave her husband a note instead of asking him in person, because she knows he will say no, to this, Louise tells her “You get what you settle for”. I believe this is why Louise won’t settle for Jimmy, because then she will have to give up her independence in this male dominant society, a society where men do nice things for women because as a detective tells Thelma’s husband, “If she calls pretend like you’re happy and you miss her, women love that shit”.

Response to male dominance

Response to male dominance/sexual assault

When Louise finds Thelma in the process of being raped, Louise kills the man Harlan, for not stopping when she tells him too. Louise instructs Thelma to get the car and they drive away from the crime scene. Thelma asks Louise what they are going to do, and Louise tells Thelma to keep driving and keep quiet so she said figure it out. Thelma suggests they go to the cops:

 
Thelma: Shouldn’t we go to the cops. I mean I think we should tell them…
Louise: Tell them what Thelma?
Thelma: I dunno, just tell them what happened.
Louise: Which part?
Thelma: That he tried to rape me!
Louise: Just about a hundred people saw you dancing cheek to cheek with him all night! Who’s gonna believe that? We don’t live in that kind of a world Thelma. 

In this scene it is clear that Louise wants to reject the help of the cops because they are men, and she believes that men won’t believe them after what had transpired over the course of the evening. Thelma is still unsure of leaving this type of a society, one where women turn to men when they are in trouble, but Louise has completely left this society after viewing the attempted rape of her friend, a terrible reminder of her own past and what men had done then to her and now to Thelma. Further, later in the movie when Thelma calls home to see if her husband knows anything Louise speaks to the lead detective and he pleads with her to come in and just be questioned, that they haven’t been charged with anything, but because of what happened to both of the women, neither want to believe the detective or be regulated by the state (cop=men).

The Power of Female Friends

Thelma and Louise 

ThelmaLouise female friends

The shooting of the would be rapist by Louise illustrates a major point for the importance of friendship for feminism. However, I have spoken at length about this issue so I will move on to the next example. After borrowing money from her boyfriend Jimmy, Louise gives it to Thelma who loses it to J.D a ‘student’ they meet and give a ride to along the way to Mexico. Louise has come through for Thelma, she has made the plan to get to Mexico,  guided Thelma up to this point, and been strong through it all. But when J.D steals their money Louise thinks they’ve lost, and it is Thelma’s turn to rally to the occasion. She picks Louise off the floor of the hotel room where she’s crying, just like Louise calmed Thelma directly after the shooting (wiping her tears for her with her scarf), and they get back on the road. They stop on the road and Thelma robs the convenience store so they have enough money to make it to Mexico. At this point Louise thinks they’ve lost, just as Thelma has felt until now. So, when Thelma is down, Louise picks her up, and when Louise is down Thelma picks her up.

Thelma to the Rescue!

Thelma to the Rescue!

When Louise gets pulled over for speeding and taken to the police officer’s car, again Thelma steps up and deals with the situation. She apologizes to the cop for holding him up, and tells him “If you were to meet my husband, you’d understand why” she is acting out in such a way, why she is rebelling against the male dominant society. Then she gives some advice, for the cop to be kind to his wife and kids, “My husband wasn’t sweet to me, look how I turned out” (just a side note to reinforce the idea that these women had reason enough to reject a male dominant society). But back to my case for the power of female friends, without each other, Thelma and Louise never would have made it as far as they did in their attempt to flee the cops in the States. And without each other, they never would have found the courage to reject the society they were immersed in and to find the ability to reshape their identity, one that they are happiest with.

Moll Flanders

As stated above, Moll Flanders works closely with women in order to reject a male dominant society, as Thelma and Louise work together, and work toward a reinvention of a female identity. The first example of this is when Moll first helps a lady who is abandoned by her courter because she wanted to inquire into his character. Moll fixes this with spreading gossip about the Captain, and the lady and Captain eventually marry. Once the lady is married she ventures to help Moll find a man as well, because Moll’s funds are running low, “I Communicated my Thoughts to my intimate Friend the Captain’s Lady; who I had so faithfully serv’d in her Case with the Captain; and who was as ready to serve me in the same kind as I could desire” (Dafoe 76). This first instance of women banding together illustrates the power of female friendships in the 18th century. Instead of looking to men to take care of them, women instead turned to each other in order to survive in this male dominant society.

Moll has other small friendships with women in her life, but the most important one is with her Governess, whom she meets when she returns to London after marrying her Lancashire husband, pregnant and in need of help. This Governess has a house in which she takes in women who are pregnant and without a spouse. After the Governess finds a woman to care for Moll’s child so she can marry the banker who has been waiting for her, Moll leaves the Governess, but returns years later after her fifth husband dies and she is desperate and in need of help again. When Moll appears at her Governess’ door she is immediately taken in and directed to a woman of a certain trade that could help Moll make a living for herself. This woman, her school-mistress, teaches her “shop-lifting, stealing of shop-books and pocket-books, and taking off gold watches from the Ladies sides” (Dafoe 201), this is how Moll makes a small fortune for herself before she is convicted of thievery. During her days of stealing Moll first learns the trade from a woman, then continues to live with her Governess who helps her to sell the goods she has pilfered. In every aspect of this time in Moll’s life, Moll has looked to her female friends in order to gain power within 18th century London as a woman.

Reinvention of Female Identity 

Moll Flanders

As illustrated above, Moll Flanders reinvents herself over and again to suit the man or situation she is dealing with. Identity is not stable, which is good, or Moll Flanders and Thelma and Louise would not be able to survive in such a heavily male dominate society. In the beginning of the novel Moll wants to be a gentlewoman and provide for herself “by being a gentlewoman, was to be able to work for myself, and get enough to keep me” (Dafoe 13). However, Moll is seduced in her teens and is abandoned by this man. By this point Moll has already seemingly shifted identities from wanting to be a gentlewoman who provides for herself, to wanting to marry and love a husband. From this point on Moll turns into a woman who wishes to look out for herself in any way possible. When being courted by her third husband (her brother) Moll “pretended on all occasions to doubt his sincerity” (Dafoe 76) in order to manipulate him into marriage. So, instead of showing how she is successful at scheming men into marriage for not only herself, but for friends too, Moll meekly manipulates men through shifting identities.

Moll’s ultimate shift of identity is when she reinvents the female identity of meek housewife, to the patriarchal figure of the family. From their first encounter again after many years separated, Moll immediately takes the role of authority figure when making plans for her Lancashire husband and herself to be transported to America instead of being dealt the death penalty in jail for their crimes. Moll is shown as the provider in a marriage, a role that men traditionally hold. Moll reflects that her Lancashire husband relies on her the way a woman would reply on her husband. Overall, it is evident that Moll has forged a new identity for herself, that being a female patriarch figure in society because she not only cares for herself, but she provides for her husband, she makes all the business decisions, which they profit from, and she allots her husband an allowance for his own use and pleasure. By the end of the novel Moll has completely shifted identities in a male dominant society, emerging a feminist through and through.

Thelma and Louise

Another part of the cop scene with Thelma and Louise that can be categorized as a shifting identity for Thelma is when she takes control and tells Louise to shoot the radio in the car. Louise takes aim and shoots the radio… the FM AM radio, Thelma exclaims “The cop radio Louise!” Louise takes aim again and shoots out the cop’s dispatch radio. This is a major shift in identity for Thelma and Louise, in this scene Thelma takes charge and gets the job done, while instructing Louise in what to do in order to narrowly escape from the law. This scene is compelling because the audience is able to see Thelma change right before their eyes into a woman who is independent and who can take charge when need be, to save both herself and her best friend.

thelma and louise before blow upThroughout their journey Thelma and Louise have come in contact with a truck driver who is very rude towards them, giving them lewd gestures and saying inappropriate things. After their escapade with the cop both women are feeling awake and different. They are starting to see society through new eyes and want to say something about it. They come in contact with the trucker one last time and invite him to pull over, when they do pull over they give him a lesson he’ll never forget:

Thelma: Yeah, we think you have really bad manners.
Louise: Yeah, where do you get off behaving like that with women you don’t know? Huh? Huh? How’d you feel if someone did that to your mother? Or your sister or your wife?
Trucker: What are you talking about?
Louise:Huh? You know good and damn well what I’m talking about. 
Thelma: I mean, really! That business with your tongue, what is that? That is disgusting!
…..
Tucker: You women are crazy!
Louise: You got that right. 
Thelma: We think you should apologize.
Trucker: Fuck that!
Louise: You say you’re sorry or I’m gonna make you fuckin’ sorry…. I don’t think he’s gonna apologize.
Thelma: Nah, I don’t think so.

 truck_explosion_thelma

This scene shows Thelma and Louise’s reactions to men in their society. During their shift in identity the women find less and less tolerance for this trucker who they keep happening upon. The first encounter they ignore him, the second encounter they are exasperated but again Louise tells Thelma to just ignore him and not say anything when he makes lewd gestures. But the final encounter, with their identities shifting, puts them over the edge and causes them to react violently, illustrating their shift in identity and their rejection of a male dominant society.

After speaking with the detective one last time, Thelma is unsure if Louise will continue with their journey and asks her if she is planning to make a deal, since she still has Jimmy to consider, Louise states that ‘Jimmy isn’t an option’ and that she isn’t going to make a deal because she does not want to go back to a male dominant society now that her identity has shifted. Thelma is happy because her identity has shifted too, she has changed and she can feel it. She tells Louise, “Something’s crossed over in me and I can’t go back. I mean I just couldn’t live.” She tells Louise that she feels “awake, [that] everything looks differently, like you have something to look forward to” after everything they’ve been through. 

The ending scene is important but I can’t figure out where to put it, so I’ll say beforehand that I am writing about it in this category, as I wrote Moll’s ending in this category but I do believe that it illustrates both a reinvention of identity as well as the rejection of a male dominant society. After being seen by the cops a chase ensues and the girls are followed until they reach a cliff. At this point the women have to decide what to do, to turn themselves in and except life in prison in a male dominant society as meek, weak women, or continue on in their journey. By this part of the movie the women have found themselves and are unable to look back. Thelma has already said that she couldn’t live like that anymore, so when Louise looks to Thelma for her approval, Thelma answers, “let’s keep going. Go!” This indicates the women’s desire to leave behind both their old identities as well as the male dominant society. They know they can’t go back because no Thelma_Louise_cliff-1one would be on their side, nor would they want to if they could. So, in the end, their suicide is not a bad thing, it is an act of defiance against their society, they have chosen this life and they will live it as they see fit. For me, this ending says it all, it illustrates female friendships at their strongest, a reinvention of a shifting identity through a rejection of a male dominant society.

I end this post with Thelma and Louise because I wanted to explore this movie a litle more than I do the novel because I presented my topic of Moll Flanders as a feminist already and feel as though I made quite a case for it then. So, I still go into enough detail to make a case for it now, but I wanted to do so even more for Thelma and Louise because it has both a visual and text to follow, and I believe that the visuals, as I stated above are very important. I just wanted to end this post with a view of Thelma and Louise’s transition through the movie, mainly through images, enjoy!

Note the makeup and perfectly done hair

Note the makeup and perfectly done hair. A reminder that they belong to a society full of norms for men and women

MCDTHAN EC019

Louise Before Her Transformation Begins

Thelma Before Her Transformation

Thelma Before Her Transformation

Response to male dominance

The Incident that Starts It All

And So It Begins

And So It Begins

Pretty Much There: Notice that Thelma has dropped her dress and her hair is in a mess, and Louise has exchanged her dress shirt for a tank top and messy hair as well

Pretty Much There: Notice that Thelma has dropped her dress and opted for a t-shirt with cut off sleeves (the kind men wear! how scandalous!) and her hair is in a mess, and Louise has exchanged her dress shirt for a tank top and messy hair as well

Let's Go

Let’s Go

Embracing Feminism

Embracing Feminism on Their Terms

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Literature Becomes You

The Evolution of Woman in Literature

Over time, and in many avenues of expression, literature, popular culture, etc. women have been given characteristics that do not support who woman really is, thereby giving society a negative and unreal view of who and what a true woman is and does. Although this is still a problem in our present society, I believe that many authors, both male and female, have paved the way for a better and more precise representation of who woman really is, and this process has not just surfaced in the 20th century.

The Stages of Bringing Women to Literature

Elaine Showalter breaks down how women’s literature has evolved, starting in the Victorian era in A Literature of their Own. Showalter divides this movement into three categories:

The Feminine 1840-1880

The Feminine phase is categorized by the women writers of the mid to late 19th century. These writers include, Elizabeth Gaskell, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot (George Eliot is Mary Anne Evan’s male pseudonym) and many more well known female authors of the time. This period begins with the male pseudonym first being used in the 1840s, and ends with George Eliot’s death. The Feminine phase is characterized by the women writers who emerged into the public sphere of writing that was the domain of man, these women writers came into writing with a mixture of obedience and resistance, a theme that is reflected in their literature.

The Feminist 1880-1920

The Feminist phase is categorized by the rebellion of the subordinate of society, the woman, with lashing out against the traditional norms and values of women in society. Through their literature women were fighting for their right and sovereignty to be recognized. Literature was provided in forms of social commentaries, and women would illustrate their sufferings in various modes of society, such as through the suffering of the poor, slaves, the working class and so on. Novels would be written in their traditional form of the destruction of the erring heroine, but the storyline consists of the problem of women’s oppression in marriage and the economy.

The Female 1920-Present

The Female phase is categorized by self-discovery and a freedom from the opposition of real woman. This phase consisted of women writers turning inward for their search of identity, but this phase is concerned with bringing female sex connotations and sexuality to the forefront of literature. However, Showalter criticizes the works of female writers in this stage because their works lack actual contact with the female body and sexuality (The Victorian Web).

What This All Means 

Even though Showalter only looks at how women writers benefit women in literature which has a direct influence on women in society as a whole, I do believe that men are trying to help women as well. James Joyce’s “Penelope” was written throughout the Feminist and Female stages and illustrates Molly’s sexuality, which allows the reader to connect with the female body, and illustrates Molly’s rebellion of the traditions of marriage, even though the author is male. This chapter of “Ulysses” voices the feelings of the women in the early 20th century, and follows the unpunctuated soliloquy of Molly Bloom. So, not only are women writing woman into being as Cixous states,  but men are apparently trying to help us too.

Thoughts on “Penelope”

A Woman’s Thoughts

Reading James Joyce’s “Penelope” from Ulysses is no walk in the park. It is a text of a woman’s thoughts… thoughts that run on as I’m sure most people’s thoughts have a tendency of doing… at least mine do… But once I was able to navigate my way through Molly’s never punctuated, and never ending dialogue I was able to come to the conclusion that James Joyce has written this chapter of Ulysses in order to write woman into being as Cixous states woman needs to be. At first Molly’s dialogue seems to be a confessional of her life, one that includes the ups and downs of her marriage, her affair, and her daughter. However, when analyzing it with Cixous and Showalter in mind, I have come away from my reading with many observations of the time this piece was written in, and for what reason Joyce has written a dialogue in a run-on sentence in the form of a woman’s thoughts.

The time periods in which Showalter divides women in literature up becomes apparent in Joyce’s “Penelope”. This work was written in both the Feminist and the Female stages and both are only too apparent in Joyce’s chapter of Ulysses titled “Penelope”, however, I will focus on the female stage because it is the most important stage. The chapter is so prominent in connecting with the female body, that the book was banned from publication in all parts of the world for some time, with Paris being the first city to publish this book with the help of Sylvia Beach.

The 'New' Woman

The ‘New’ Woman

The 'Old' Woman

The ‘Old’ Woman

The Female stage becomes prominent with Molly’s dialogue giving intimate details of her daily rituals and routines, giving the reader a connection with her body, because of the way in which she describes herself. Molly openly illustrates what she finds pleasure in and what she thinks society has done to women. Society has placed a certain value on women’s bodies, and Molly wants to reject this value. Molly states that women’s breasts are on display for men, “they’re supposed to represent beauty placed up there like those statues in the museum,” (Joyce 10) but this only hinders woman’s progress within society, because a woman’s body should not be viewed in such terms. Women’s breasts do not just have an aesthetic function for men, they mean much more, breasts sustain life, and give woman pleasure, in no way should a man benefit from something that a woman possesses, only because she is the ‘subordinate’ figure in society. It is because women are viewed in an aesthetically pleasing way that their entire being is devalued by the gaze. Cixous states, “your body is yours, take it” (Cixous 876) and that is what Joyce is trying to do with “Penelope”. He is trying to write woman into being by giving her her body back, he is “subscribing the female body without prescribing female value” (Humphreys Jan 24).

A Little Help From Our Male Counterparts

In a blog called “Thanks, Guys: Five ways Men are Fighting Sexism” author Hugo Schwyzer outlines five ways in which men are trying to stop sexism. Number one on the list Men against assholes and Misogyny: More of them than you think, illustrates how men are upset with the perception of a misogynist male figure and are speaking out about it. A valid point, and one that should be dealt with, however, that the list is missing is men against the misrepresented woman figure. Why is it that a Victoria Secret type model is the representative figure of women for many clothing and lingerie commercials. These women share the same body type, however their skin tone changes as well as their hair colour and cut. The idea behind this is that women will identify with a model because of the similarities between skin tone and hair colour, and think ‘I’ll look like that if I purchase,’ for example, ‘lingerie from Victoria’s Secret’. But as my 18 year old cousin’s boyfriend put it “Jigs, no one wants to date a straw”. If men really feel this way, then their thoughts need to be voiced, and placed on Schwyzer’s list of ways men can help us women out in our struggle to kill the old woman who is making it difficult for the new to survive (Cixous 881). Men, take note from James Joyce, a man who writes a woman into being who, is a true representation of who woman really is.

Freedom from the ‘Old’ Through the Body and Mind

From the Victorian era to the present women have had to correspond in their body and mind with the features that society has established. In response, Cixous wants to free all suppressed sexual desires and impulses that women have, because the societal image that has been established for woman restricts her in her entirety. There are many figures in popular culture and literature that show the two sides of women in society, the ‘Old’ and the ‘New’, and I for one find it astonishing that James Joyce can write woman into being in the early 20th century, but authors like E.L James, a female writer, so easily writes a terrible model of woman into being in her novels “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

How is it that Charlotte Bronte can write “Jane Eyre” in 1847 with a leading female character who is independent and pro-feminist for its time, a time in which women are viewed as the subordinate in society, and then we have writers like James, writing the ‘Old’ woman into being in the 21st century? “Jane Eyre” follows the life of its main character Jane and watches as she grows into an independent woman who takes care of herself. When marriage is proposed by Mr. Rochester Jane excepts, but when light is shed on Mr. Rochester’s previous marriage, and the fact that his wife is still alive, Jane leaves Mr. Rochester and finds new employment. He begs her to move to the South of France to live as husband and wife but Jane refuses becomes of her morals. It is only on Jane’s terms that she returns to Mr. Rochester to find the house in ruins, and decides to marry him.

Not only is James’ book written and read enthusiastically, it has been rated a bestseller of all time by The Telegraph a UK based newspaper. You heard me… bestseller of all time! A book that follows a girl who is easily manipulated into bed and a sexually dominate/subordinate relationship with a man years older and maturer than her. A redeeming quality in the book comes when Anastasia is told by her boyfriend Christian Grey why he likes dominant/subordinate relationships. In an act of disgust she leaves him, tells him it’s over and leaves him behind her! But wait… after only a week, she’s reduced to the shell of the woman she used to be, and she’s lost ten pounds, and runs back to Christian Grey, after a WHOLE (that’s like eternity right?) week. It seems a win win, right? NOPE. But I’m sure many women who have read this book would say, ‘Lucky! She gets the guy and loses weight!’ These thoughts come to mind due to the view of women in society, a view of what women should look like and how they should behave. The sad truth, I know all this because I too bought into the fame of this novel. This novel is a giant leap backwards for women if you ask me. Oh and the movie adaptation is coming out soon too, just another avenue in which women are brought into being in a completely false light.

golden girls

Golden Girls to the Rescue!

Given, the Golden Girls aren’t exactly current popular culture, the show did first air about thirty years ago, and I’m sure a show about old women living together isn’t exactly an eye catcher to the audiences of today, however I do believe that Golden Girls is show that shows different realities of woman through its various four characters. This show illustrates how women’s lives are not all about marriage and family, that women’s lives don’t end with that, but continue on to finding a new place in life. Blanche in particular is a character I adore because she does not follow society’s model of how a woman in her 50s or 60s, it’s never revealed in the show, should act. No, she does not pass the Bechdel test, (1) two women (2) who have a conversation that does not involve men. But she doesn’t need to pass Bechdel’s test when she passes Cixous’. Cixous pleads women to take back their body, and help to write (perform) ‘New’ woman into being through freeing the suppressed desires of women. Blanche answers that call, through outwardly displaying her desire for sex and following through. She is unapologetic for being such a sex hound and behaving the way she does. At this age it is common to think of women in their sixties, who are divorced or widowed, to be in retirement homes, or living with their children and knitting booties all day. However, these four witty older women have made their own family and support and lean on each other while being confortable sharing their sexual desires and experiences. These women break the mould of the ‘Old’ woman and break in a new mould for the ‘New’ for woman at any age.

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The Phallocentric View of Women Throughout History

This blog is intended to illustrate the New woman of literature; a woman who is written to show the true reality of female roles throughout history. The ‘traditional’ view of women is one of stereotypical roles, that being, women are the caregivers, and caretakers of the house and family – especially the husband – women belong in the private sphere, whereas men belong in the public sphere where they are successful breadwinners. These ideas and more are analyzed and challenged in this blog through the course of three different literary works. However, these literary works still show a phallocentric view of women, one where women are expected to adhere to a male dominant figure, and in some ways or another do adhere to the stereotypical roles women are portrayed with. The world is focused on a structure that gives males the idea that they are the most powerful, this is a phallocentric view of the world (Humphreys Jan 24). So even though authors are trying to make the new woman arise from the ashes of the old woman, the old can still be seen, even in this journey that is illustrating the true reality of woman’s every day life, there are still hiccups to contend with.

“Advice to Mrs. Mowat” by Anne Hecht
 
Small is the province of a wife                                                         
And narrow is her sphere in life,
Within that sphere to walk aright                                              The Good Wife's Guide
To grace the home with prudent care
And properly to spend and spare,
To make her husband bless the day
He gave his liberty away,
To train the tender infants mind,
These are the tasks to wives assigned. (12-21)
Then shun, O shun that hated shelf,
Still think him wiser than yourself.
And if you otherwise believe
Ne’er let him such a thought perceive. (78-81)

 

Penelope 

“Penelope” is the final chapter of James Joyce’s   “Ulysses” and it is narrated by a woman. This literary work illustrates a woman who is written into being quite successfully, even though the author is a man. However, the author still shows the problems of living in a male dominated society, problems that manifest themselves within the characters of the literary works I will examine. Throughout Molly’s dialogue in “Penelope” the reader sees a very open woman who says what is on her mind. A male dominant society, where things are judged by the way a man would have them is a distressing time and place, however it is and was very prevalent. While having sexual relations with her boyfriend she recalls how pleasurable the experience was and how she wanted to express herself but didn’t want to come off as obscene, “O Lord I wanted to shout out all sorts of things fuck or shit or anything at all only not to look ugly or those lines from the strain who knows the way hed take it you want to feel your way with a man theyre not all like him thank God some of them want you to be so nice about it” (Joyce 11).

A Penelope of Our Time: Blanche Devereaux

A Penelope of Our Time: Blanche Devereaux

Blanche finds out from Dorothy that women look better lying down in bed with men because if they are on top they become unattractive due to gravity.

So even though Molly is a woman who speaks her mind about her sexual experiences and enjoys whatever she can, she still thinks about how a man would perceive her in the midst of orgasm. I do not believe Joyce is writing this into the dialogue as a guide of how to behave/react in the middle of sexual relations, I believe that Joyce is making mention of this because this is how women think, and he wants to show how entrenched we are as a society in certain ideals and ideologies, and that they are only noticeable when spoken about. No matter how liberating Molly is in “Penelope” the male dominance is still visible and a part of Molly’s way of thinking.

Moll Flanders 

“Moll Flanders” is a novel written by Daniel Dafoe, and like “Penelope” it is a woman who narrates the story of her life. Through this narration the reader is shown a woman who is an early feminist because she must find her place within a male dominated society as a breadwinner, which she finds by the end of the novel. However, early on Moll Flanders gives into society’s demands and becomes a housewife to her first husband. In her early years, Moll is raised by a woman who takes in orphans and teaches them the basics to being a servant. Moll defiantly claims that she does not want to be a servant and will do whatever it takes to provide for herself as a gentlewoman. Moll has an entirely different definition of what a gentlewoman is, “by being a gentlewoman, was to be able to work for myself, and get enough to keep me” (Dafoe 13). But as she matures and grows within a household that takes her in after her Motherly nurse dies, she becomes vain in her appearance “I had all the Vanity of my Sex. That being really taken for very handsome, or if you please for a great Beauty, I very well knew it” (Dafoe 19) and conforms to society’s view of the necessity that all women need a husband to protect them and she marries one of the brothers of the household. Moll uses her body as exchange for financial security in this first marriage, as well as in her other marriages because as a woman of low class she has no other means in which to secure her safety and livelihood. So not only does society state that women must be protected by men, the grounds of this protection is based on marriage as a form of prostitution (Humphreys Feb 14).

The Walking Dead has many diverse characters and I would like to believe that in the event of the end of the world that women would not revert back to the society of Moll Flanders. But I am sad to say that some women do. In the entire first season of The Walking Dead, fans are introduced to a camp of survivors who take on VERY ‘traditional’ gender based roles, the women cook and clean and the men protect the camp of survivors.

These roles are accepted by the survivors and life moves on as normally as possible in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. However, by the second season Andrea breaks the norm of public and private spheres and becomes a female member of the group who wants to protect the farm. Lori on the other hand wants to create stability by reverting to a society where the men rule by dominance and power and the women take care of their basic needs.

Goblin Market

Goblin Market is a poem that does not have a female narrator, but it does have a female author. Christina Rossetti writes a poem that shows the dangers of a patriarchal society and what that society will do to a woman who falls prey to the men who try to tempt and destroy women. While Lizzie is able to run away from the goblins in the beginning of the play, “No,” said Lizzie, “No, no, no; / Their offers should not charm us, / Their evil gifts would harm us.” (Rossetti 64-66). Laura stays behind to glimpse the goblin men. The goblin men tempt her with their chant of “come buy come buy”, and when they find her they, “[Leer] at each other, / Brother with queer brother; / Signalling each other, / Brother with sly brother.” (Rossetti 93-96). This poem looks at the gaze of women and the objectification of women when they give into the patriarchal norms of society. Rossetti is writing a poem that illustrates what happens to women who fall prey to men, but also of their redemption when women stick together.

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