Still Learning to love

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I know it’s not perfect

I know I stumble, stutter, screw up, and fall

I know I freak out

I know I tremble

I know

I know how afraid I am

Mostly I hope

I hope you will love me back

I hope this is forever

I hope that we live together, raise children

I hope that we travel

I hope that we cuddle

I know and I hope

But I’m still learning to Love

Remember your Dreams <3

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Dreams. Some of us have. Some of us do not. Sometimes. All the time. Somewhere and everywhere. There are sometimes built over time with posters in bed rooms, movies running in our minds, and hope in our hearts. As with some movies, these can take unexpected and sometimes unfortunate turns. Because sometimes we get sick. We forfeit the championship game before the try-outs even start. We hang up our soccer shoes and remember things like the nick names we got while we attempted to fulfill them. Bruiser was my nickname and a part of my dream. Soccer was my sport, defense was my position. Then after eighth grade I got sick, and sophomore year called for no more P.E. period. Funny how some dreams bring other ones into light. The dream to create. To be part of something bigger than yourself. How to be humble. My junior year I stepped into this new world and new dreams were pressed on fast forward. Dreams. You never really forget your dreams. They stay with you as you complete your morning jog, your salad, your chores, your romantic dinner, your fight with the cable guy. As much as you try to alienate yourself from them. They call to you. To be social was another dream I never fully held on to. It seemed to always be slipping from my grasp when final it seemed it had never existed. Now on the in-betweens, I’m trying to envision new dreams. Not to replace old ones. To be a smile now. You see funny thing about dreams. They never retire.

Throwback Thursday: Nina’s dark dream world

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I cannot dance to save my life, but I love watching dance and have never seen Swan Lake. You have probably seen hundreds of films, plays, and musicals, but you haven’t experienced anything until you have witnessed Black Swan. Natalie Portman is gripping from start to end. The film is captivating and takes us into Nina’s (Portman’s) world of Dance which we are quick to enter and her mentally ill mind. Masterfully directed by Darren Aronofsky, many angles of this film are ones you consider once the movie is over. It is like a song in your mind and parts of it splash on to you like a hurricane. You cannot look away no matter how disturbing because you want to be side by side with every minute of action and at times you feel that energy. I watched the end in disbelief, knowing it was worth it and that “I felt it, it was perfect.” She wanted it so badly. To become the lead ballerina and the Choice is Swan Lake. We meet Beth, the older dancer who has a horrendous accident the night that Nina has an important dinner presenting her as swan queen to the public. Her teacher is a womanizer and his lexicon is suggestive but Nina wants the Swan Queen role. Enter Mila Kunias.  Lily who has emotions “she’s not faking it” says the teacher, Tom. They are told the story of the black Swan and Nina is chosen to the anger and jealous of other dancers. It is assumed that Nina is having liaisons with Tom. His nefarious behavior or kissing her and groping her is despicable, a man we love to hate.  She is this look of fear that never really goes away. She has no role model.

I was taken aback by her mother’s disturbing influence. Her mother has Nina under her watchful eye and it is alarming to see that while Nina is self- mutilating, her mother just is drugged out in the other room. The little music box plays and sends our protagonist into dreams with the dark, devilish prince that causes her to awake in fright. The male teacher in charge of the company suggests that Nina touch herself, but hurting herself is something Nina begins to fancy. The clothes are extravagant and the film has amazing graceful ballet. It explores a dark side. Nina is falling apart and I can’t help but want to put myself through the screen and hug her. It appears that it is too late for that as The White Swan Nina plays masterfully. It is the black Swan that troubles her and fogs her mind. There are many aspects of this film that you don’t know if they actually occurred or not. Her having sexual intercourse with Lily after lily puts a drug in her drink to let her “roll”. Also, when her mom takes the door knob away and tells Nina she called and said Nina wasn’t well, Nina gets out of the apartment or rather storms out. It is opening night. Here she has a scene with Lily that I will never forget.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would cross the line for reaching it? This dream she has had for so long is her moment! No one can swoop up and steal her precious time that she slaved away practicing and bleeding in the name of ballet. Perhaps Lily, the new girl, embodies the qualities of the black swan. This film teaches and shows us the dark element of dance. I would never want to dance or have dreams like Nina.  It takes you far past the edge into this world of obsession and madness that Nina cannot turn away from. What I love about this film is that there isn’t time and money and talk about the weather as things that bother you or make you stop and question things. It’s organic in the way it chooses to alarm and electrify your very being. Amid her woes you see that see loves dancing and it is everything to her. This lavish, decadent life she receives a glimpse of but on the downward spiral I want to scream but know it is too late. It’s over before you can help or see anyone who can. Truly it sways and rocks you into a troubled slumber of your own. Not for the weak of heart, I recommend Black Swan to anyone who has ever had a challenge in their life and given up or grown obsessed with that very challenge.

Tap

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When I awoke I heard the sound

Soothing rap hit the ground

Hit the window and leave a stain

It will wash away, the power of rain

When hope seemed lost you came along

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Just never finding the right guy

Because of their wants and actions 

It’s enough to make one cry

I felt like giving up why even try

Then you messaged me and it surprised me

Our conversation started with grad school and moved quickly to all kind of things 

Our conversation grew wings

I felt that I could fly

Your compliments were not in short supply

After dinner we continued talking and despite the the storm

I forgot all about it, because the butterflies made me feel so warm 

You told me I was beautiful and so much more.

Your kindness and thoughtful words I couldn’t ignore.

When I most needed encouragement 

You were there to give it

The happiness I wanted, I began to live it. 

When I thought I was weak, you showed me I was strong

When hope seemed lost, you came along … 

Ice

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It swallowed me

Half of me hates all I am

Hates all that I have become

Who am I?

What happened?

I fell through the ice

Thinner

Until it cracked

I almost drowned

And then hypothermia came knocking

Now,

I just thread water

I just get by

I DON’T WANT TO JUST GET BY

It is only a matter of time before

I fall through the ice again

This time

I know

I’m ready

I won’t fall through

I will be just fine

Getting by

Then I will

Pick up

Move away

Shadow and now

A ghost later

New life

That means more than getting by

So much more

I emerge from the ice

Like a phoenix from the ashes

I am changed

Hidden Figures

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The idea behind this diversity exercise came about one Sunny Tuesday afternoon. Abby and I wanted to see this movie after seeing the preview, waiting for the latest Ben Affleck movie to start. Later on during studying, she suggested we make it a qlc event. So, on a warmer than usual Tuesday where classes were sparse but enthusiasm was everywhere, seven Shimer students embarked on the short train ride to Roosevelt to see Hidden Figures. I still recall seeing the trailer for this movie and being particularly excited about the concept: Three women of color with brilliant minds overcoming racism to use their brilliant minds to get a man in space at the NASA program. In addition to keeping our rivalry with Russia very clear, the movie Hidden Figures did something I was surprised with because it did a good job focusing on the work lives of the three women. Often, movies with strong women still put emphasis on their family and this movie did a nice job of showing their families in a pleasant way that helped us gain perspective on them as women. However, it was more in the background and their crowning achievements in their careers were celebrated in this movie. Kate was extremely good at math and worked in that department at NASA. She was a widow with three children and she was asked to check the equations of an all white male division of NASA. She had to overcome the adversity of the colors only coffee pot the men installed one day, and the biggest struggle she had to get her work done was the bathroom situation. The colored bathroom was almost a mile away in another building. This becomes a problem because she cannot affectively do her work, with the amount of time spent running to the bathroom.
Kevin Costner had a wonderful role as a mentor of sorts, I thought, being kind to Kate, the mathematician. But, unfortunately, I found out that his character was not part of a true story. He was a “white hero” invented by Hollywood and based on the texts I am reading in IS6 and in Fem Theories, it was particularly difficult to deal with the fact that they couldn’t stay true to the history and create a white hero who knocks down the colored bathrooms sign, but in real life that didn’t even happen. The adversity these three women faced as women of color is clear from the beginning with their car breaking down and the white male police officier demanding respect. Sadly, in a more passive aggressive way, the second brilliant woman is denied a promotion and it is clear the tension between the white and black women in this movie. The third women, who wants to be an engineer has to take courses at what is a segregated high school. So, to achieve her dream of becoming an engineer she must petition the courts to allow her to study at an all white school. Despite all the backlash and struggle, these three women were pioneers of math, computers, and engineering. I only wonder if they weren’t held back so much if they could have achieved even greater things if their race was not in the way.

Evolving Thoughts, Enlightening my Mind

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For two years now I have been concentrating on a thesis regarding romantic love. When I fell in love in 2013, I decided I wanted to write about it and since experiencing a painful end to that relationship, I have been channeling positive energy to explore love. Through the lens of using love in terms of philosophy, science, and personal experience, I have developed a theory about love that I am very proud of. That theory I came up with is constantly evolving as are my interactions with various men. In searching for my Mr. Right, I developed high standards that I refuse to deviate from. The result was accepting nothing less than total respect and slowly noticing when men were being sexist. Something happened in our society to heighten my awareness of just how enormous a problem that this continues to be in our society.  The recent election of a male chauvinist pig as our president has made dating more interesting as I hear white men mostly, defending Trump and his completely out of line comments of “grabbing a woman by the pussy”.  He has made countless attacks against women, and sexualized his own daughter, talking about her breasts. The amount of repulsive comments made by this man is sickening, and thinking that this man represents our country now is even more sickening. How horrible is it to think that those men may actually believe the same core beliefs that our fine President Donald Trump has brought forth.

Now, realizing how many men want to control women and what they ate, their job, and their reproduction, I am seeing the use of patriarchy in dating and am absolutely disturbed, mortified and saddened that I haven’t seen these signs more clearly and soon. I have been thinking and writing and experiencing love for much longer that I realized how sexist the world we are living in is. More importantly, how loving someone doesn’t change how they believe and how they may use your vulnerability to perpetuate the patriarchy.  In my first and only experience of loving a man, he said things and behaved in a sexist way. At the time, it was off putting, but I put up with all of it because I loved him and stupidly because I thought he would change. Dating now and how I view comments made by men has changed since I started this course. The Dworkin reading called Woman Hating particularly stood out to be because of the notion of fairy tales. As young girls, we are taught to love fairy tales and emulate them as much as we can. There is this notion of the damsel in distress in all the fairy tales that Dworkin discusses. In Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel all the women need saving. I don’t want to “need saving”. In fact, I have moved out to live with roommates, and I plan to live an independent life, not depending on and taking care of a man. Her writing starts with, “This is a book about action, a political action where revolution is the goal. It has no other purpose. It is not cerebral wisdom, or academic horseshit, or ideas carved in granite and destined or immortality” (Dworkin 17). That is a really powerful way to start a book and I want my thesis to do for love what this book is doing for women, reclaiming the place in society they always deserved but were never allowed. I saw over and over the strength she shows by not accepting the fairy tales and tearing down the stories within them in such a remarkable and note worthy way.

The huge problem is that in these fairy tales women are taught to be passive and just have the man save them. The mother figure in the fairy tales is also problematic. What I find more problematic is the men never have accountability for their actions. Hansel and Gretel are left by both parents, but the mother is the monster in the story and the father who didn’t do anything to get them back is welcomed back with open arms. “Though the fairy tale father marries the evil woman in the first place, has no emotional connection with his child, does not interact in any meaningful way with her, abandons her and worse does not notice when she is dead or gone, he is a figure of male good. He is the patriarch, and as such is beyond mortal law and human decency” (Dworkin 48). Anther long but strong passage that demonstrates my huge problem with fairy tales is this, “Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow-white, Rapunzel – all characterized by passively, beauty, innocence, and victimization. They are all archetypal good women – victims by definition. They never think, act, initiate, confront, challenge, feel, care. Or question. They have one scenario of passage. They are moved from the house of the mother to the house of the prince. First they are objects of malice, then they are objects of romantic adoration, They do nothing to warrant either” (42). This is particularly disturbing because of the notion of romance. I want to be loved by a man very much. Would it be wonderful if he loved me because I was beautiful to him? Yes. However, my intelligent, my humor, my quick wit is something I want to be loved for. I want to be loved for my talents and the way I laugh or the silly way I dance. No more do I want to fall under a spell because someone thinks I’m beautiful. I’m so much more than a pretty face, and that’s all the women in all these fairy tales are – a beautiful victim to be taken advantage of. I never want to be viewed as someone who needs pity!

Another enormous problem I see Dworkin present is the idea of how a women is supposed to look according to society and to be desirable for a man. This enormous problem I personally have with my self-esteem is largely a social construct of how woman are supposed to be. There are parts that I do for myself, such as shaving my armpit and leg hair and maintaining my pubic hair. Now, I developed the third idea on my own, but all the shaving makes me question if it was engrained in me, so I do it, or if I actually want to do it or I’m so used to it that I cannot deviate from it. Dworkin says “She is evil because she acts” (49) and this is true of many examples of powerful women. The media has made this idea of a passive woman, and controlling everything about her body goes way way out of control. I myself struggle with my self-image. I like wearing make up from time to time, and I love picking clothes to show my style. What I do not like is the constant pressure I receive from home and from the media to lose weight. I actually go to the gym and find it insulting that my self-worth is determined by how I look for so many. As a white woman, I have the skin color than our society finds desirable. Yet I shudder to think that so many beauty standards for women were far more tortuous then losing weight. I will say that I have developed an unhealthy relationship with food and struggle to accept my body. It is upsetting to try on clothes that don’t fit, but more upsetting to be reminded over and over how I need to lose weight.

The saddest part is that I wanted to lose weight for myself. I wanted to fit back into some of my clothes and feel less tired from carrying the extra 20-30 pounds around all the time. But, I decide to make that change on my own because it will make me happy. I decide to wear a dress that I bought, because it makes me feel beautiful. Not because society says so. Because I say so, damn it! I will be in control of my body and be a champion for others to follow me in accepting who you are. The foot binding in this book was a way to not only control women but make them sexually attractive. I cannot express my disgust enough at the idea of mutilating a woman when she is a girl, forever destroying her feet, for a man’s enjoyment. That notion of foot binding as cultural is true, because it was practiced in China, but the effects of controlling a woman’s body are horrifying. I connect the idea of an idealized skinny body to that of foot binding. The idea that women should eat salads on dates is so depressing. I am all for a healthier lifestyle as my family history shows I have a higher chance for many dangerous illnesses. But I cannot live in a world and accept that women are to be seen and not heard. People fear how much power women can have, and therefore try to take it away constantly.

To continue the idea that fairy tales make woman in society devalued and pushing this idea into reality a victim is a book called The Image by Jean de Berg. Claire and Anne are two women and Jean is a man who wants but cannot have Claire because she does not desire him. Claire abuses Anne physically and sexually but the text claims that Anne is always wet and always wanting this kind of treatment. She sucks Jean’s cock and a rose with thorns is forced inside her. All of this is deeply erotic (?), but is actually incredibly disturbing. On page 85 the ending is this “Jean de Berg goes home, has a dream about Claire, is awakened by a knock on the door, and lo and behold! Claire has recognized her true role in life (I have come, she says quietly) that of Jean de Berg’s slave. He hits her, and she lives happily ever after.” What I understood of this very creepy, perverted way to portray women is that women because we don’t have a penis will be tortured by another woman for a man’s pleasure until the woman he actually wants to ravish realizes she is the missing piece in the master/slave equation.

Women are lacking someone and that makes them less of a person. I never understood this, and learning that it is something people actually believe to be true is really nuts to be quite honest.“The Image paints women as real female eunuchs, mutilated in the first instance, much as Freud suggested, by their lack of cock, incapable of whole, organic, satisfying sexual union without the intrusion and participation of a male figure.” (67) How unbelievable a thought that I am not a complete human because I do not have a penis. It is a ridiculous notion that Freud came up with and now is used as a tool by men over women. This story made me physically cringe as I read it and feel so enraged for this was a very popular book. This book is about abuse of a woman and worse is that she wants all the abuse and is shown as submissive first to Claire then to Jean de Berg. I felt sickened and wronged even though none of this happened to me. And people thought this was deeply sexy? To thrust a thorny rose inside a woman? To rape a woman? And to show that the woman torturing Anne realizes that she should be the one experiencing the abuse just shows how deep sexism runs in our society. I did not find this story erotic or sexy at all. I felt nauseous and furious the entire time and fearful of what would happen to Claire. The Story of O is equally sickening as women are used only for sex. The idea of the value of a women being the space between her legs and when that is no longer of interested that she should be killed and asked to be killed is beyond disturbing. This story is called “love for love’s sake”. Is there any kind of love actually in this story of a woman being raped and tortured until she is no longer needed? The people who wrote both these books are confusing love with lust. Furthermore, if it is lust they desire, it should be a consensual one, but of course that shatters the image of the submissive woman. We cannot disturb what they have set up.

Every part of the book Woman Hating makes me think of a quote by T.S. Eliot, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” Do I dare question the notion that I am a sex object according to society? That I as a woman need to play the victim and be submissive? I do not accept any of these roles as my reality but in the introduction Dworkin points to a bigger issue of women not wanting to push the boundaries that have been placed upon us, and ones we do not want to accept. “The money available to middle-class women who identify as feminists must be channeled into the programs we want to develop, and we must develop them. In general, middle class women have refused to take any action, make any commitment which would interfere with, threaten, or significantly alter a lifestyle, a living standard, which is money and privileged” (Dworkin 17). Dworkin has opened my eyes using what I thought was something wonderful and precious, fairy tales and proving how much it devalues women. Using the Story of O and The Image, as well as discussing foot binding and the magazine Suck as just perpetuating sexist ideas, the chance to have my eyes opened has happened.

I always knew that women were unequal to men but I thought it was supposed to be that way when I was much younger. As I grew up I recognized how great it was when a woman was powerful and independent but how men were threatened by that. They are threatened because they don’t want to lose the social order where they enjoy so much power and privilege as a male. Now, the door is bursting open for me to challenge those ideas. I want to challenge the reasons that Dworkin points out are reasons for love. Because, truly that’s not love! For the woman it is a life of torture and for the man it is abuse without consequence. I see no love in these fairy tales or in either of these erotic stories. Dealing with issues of how we look and our bodies as objects is so difficult, but while accepting myself for who I am, I don’t want to fall into the comfy lifestyle and not challenge injustice.

Through my love of football, campfires, power tools, wood working, drinking a good drink, and working out I am challenged at home by females who see me doing what is considered “the man’s job”. For as long as I can remember I have been asked to cook, clean, and behave daintily, like a desirable woman would. All of this is disgusting to me. While I love dresses and I like makeup, I value respecting myself and being who I want to be above all things. I will never change who I am to impress a man. Therefore, I will shave because I want to. I will wear make up for myself. And, I will continue to have the hobbies I wish to have, while still being a woman. My strength is recognizing all the things I do have as a white woman. This text just shows I and all women have a lot further to go to be respected and shown as an equal to men. We are capable of so much and we shouldn’t have to prove our worth any longer. All the great women that helped shape history have already done that for us. Despite our current president and all that he wants to do to reverse any progress we have made, I feel compelled to not sit still. I feel compelled to act and when it comes to love, to never accept someone who doesn’t respect me or belittles me as a woman. I am just as valuable as a man in this world, and I wish with my entire heart that I didn’t have to constantly need to prove my position in this world. The gift of this reading is awareness. Without awareness, nothing can change, and now that I am aware of all the twisted things going on, I intend to fight for a world where love isn’t based on looks and my sexual desires alone. That is not love.