Gender in Literature

157

Women in Soledad by Cruz and Old Mary by Mohr Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 22nd, 2020

Introduction and background information

Historically, people from different origins migrated to America in search of better living standards that were lacking in their countries. Persons from Puerto Rica, for example, are among the people who had to leave their countries because of poor economic status. Puerto Ricans were affected mainly in the 19th century, when they were under the Spanish rule. The Spanish people treated them like their subjects, just like what other European nations did in some countries outside Europe. The reasons for their relatively high levels of relocation are partly attributed to the Spanish American war, which made them flee from the Spanish leadership. Initially, they were treated like immigrants to their country by their new rulers (Laviera 34). They were, however, allowed to travel to America without passports after an act of parliament was passed, resulting in many cases of immigration (Laviera 28). They believed that they were going to leave poverty behind and start better lives, just like people in the US. This paper analyzes two authors, giving their similarities and differences in view of their thematic presentations, especially in regards to the affirmation of sexuality that is evident during the maturation processes of the main characters. The two authors whose stories are analyzed in this paper are Angie Cruz and Nicholasa Mohr. It also looks at the viewpoints of the novelists in the contexts of expressing the relationships between power and reactions to oppressive social structures. Thus, the aspects of gender and immigration are the pillars of this paper.

Body

Soledad by Angie Cruz

Angie Cruz was born in America to an American father and a Puerto Rican mother. The parents separated when she was still young, and this made her life somewhat difficult. In her novel, Soledad, she has brought to the fore an aspect of sexuality in an artistic manner. The story is about a girl, Soledad, who is talented in art and lives away from home. As the story begins, readers are informed that Soledad has to return home to look after her mother, who is critically ill. It is worth to state that the girl is now independent, which is demonstrated by the fact that she lives far from her home (Cruz and Rosario 749). The novel revolves around several female characters, including her sister and her aunt, who is a witch. From the story, one can directly link the story of Cruz with that of Soledad. During her process of maturation, she had the kind of life that Soledad has in the novel. She became independent at the age of 18, moving into her apartment, although her mother did not like the idea. Cruz believes that she can do anything that men can do, and her relatively high levels of influence are obtained from male dominant figures, such as Malcolm X. In fact, the book holds that Cruz aspires to be like Malcolm X in the future.

Being an immigrant, she has to fight for survival in such a way that she stands out from what her other people are undergoing, including poverty and prejudices. She so much believes in the power of women. Females can change their minds when convinced by males. Unlike Cruz, Soledad believes that women have nothing in the society, but subjects to men. According to Cruz, immigrant women get married to get financial support and education from their husbands (Cruz 65). She portrays this through her main character to express her view on the aspect of sexuality in society. Thus, Soledad will only marry a person because she likes him, but not for the reasons of passion and love that should be expressed in the long-term (Cruz 76). Owing to the problems that Cruz has experienced in her life, she uses the main character to put across her emotions to the world. Soledad says that “I want to find a mountain that I can sit on that will never change or move, which I can always come to when I am stressed. I want that in a man, in my family, and in my home. I am tired of the unpredictable world” (Cruz 68). Having been raised by a single mother, her experiences are not different from Soledad’s. In the first chapter of the novel, the novelist uses Soledad to express her views of what she wants in marriage, i.e., to get a man that she loves, to be independent, and to lead a real life.

The novel presents a young woman, who is doing all she can to escape from the life she is living for a better one. Thus, she is not happy with the social structures that are used to oppress women. Toward the end of the story, the author has attempted to show the character’s appreciation on where she comes from, regardless of how ugly it might be to readers (Cruz and Rosario 749). The illustration of the love of one’s environment is seen when we note Soledad returning home to aid her ailing mother, and she is forced to investigate the death of her father. In this context, Cruz is communicating through her writing, telling us that, although people may find things difficult in a particular place, they cannot entirely run from a place that they once called a home. The book also gives the reader an idea that it is not only a place that has an impact on a person’s life, but also the community in which he or she lives. Finally, there is a clear expression that women would want to be powerful people in communities, just like men.

Old Mary by Nicholasa Mohr

The other author discussed in this paper is Nicholasa Mohr, whose works include Old Mary, through which she introduces readers to an immigrant woman, Mary. The main character receives a letter from her son, who she has not seen for over thirty years since she migrated from Puerto Rica. Mary, just like other immigrants, believes that moving to America would change her life. Thus, when her son sends a letter to tell her about his coming to America, she is overwhelmed with joy because she believes that he would change her life. This is based on her assumption that he is more energetic to scramble for opportunities in the US. Readers not that “…at the hotel all that the workers ever talked about was going to New York City. In New York, they said that wages were high, and opportunities were more than in other parts of the United States. Old Mary knew that she had to go there” (Mohr 12). In her story, Mohr shows the reader how a significant number of people saw migration to New York as an improvement of their lives. Mary puts all her hopes to her son, because not only is he younger and stronger, but also for the reason that he is a man that would tell her about everything that she wants to know. She believes that the discipline of her other children would improve when her son would be around. In addition, she would have maximum protection. The novel focuses on “the theme of women dependency on men” (Mohr 56). For instance, there is a girl that is a drug addict in the novel, but she says that the fact she does not know her father is the reason behind her drug addiction. Readers note that “So you steal, and you turn a few tricks and then you get a man for protection. A pimp, so you got more rights on the street” (Mohr 41). In her book, the author addresses the issue of sexuality as part of Mary’s and other characters’ maturation processes. It is evident that the Mohr would like to see a community that gives power to women. If the society does not give powers to women, then they would be typified by high levels of fear and anxiety. The expressions of the author are highlighted in the context of responding to oppressive structures in communities.

Conclusion

The two authors have both similarities and differences, but their narrations are based on a similar origin. They have written their stories using females as the main characters, but from different points of view. They show that the aspects of culture, power distributions, and oppressive social structures negatively impact immigrants. Cruz presents her woman character as a person that is struggling to be independent, regardless of social pressure. Mohr, on the other hand, portrays women in a male dominated society, where they are helped by men to perform their tasks. The theme of migration and gender is discussed in the two stories in a way that is not straightforward. The authors, being women, one would expect that the line of argument would be similar, but this is not the case with two writers. They address all the problems that are associated with migration, but the presentations of relationships of power and reactions to oppressive structures are slightly different.

Works cited

Cruz, Angie, and Nelly Rosario. “Angie Cruz in Conversation with Nelly Rosario.” Callaloo 30.3 (2008): 743-753. Print.

Cruz, Angie. Soledad. London, United Kingdom: Simon and Schuster, 2001. Print.

Laviera, Tato. La carreta made a U-turn. New York, NY: Arte Público Press, 2000. Print.

Mohr, Nicholasa. In Nueva York. New York, NY: Arte Publico Press, 2009. Print.




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175

Women’s Opression in Arab Women Writers’ Stories Research Paper

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 21st, 2020

Feminist aspirations and concerns are not new to the people of the 21st century; in fact, fighting for women’s rights has been on the agenda of the human race for quite long. However, it would be wrong to claim that the concept of feminism is being shoehorned into the discussion of modern gender roles and relationships between men and women (Paludi, 2012). Al-Saadawi, Al-Uthman, and Al-Zayyat shed some light on the current gender stereotypes, particularly the ones that pertain to women and address the flaws of the present-day image of a woman in contemporary society. Although the three stories in question seem to share only very basic characteristics, such as the fact that each of the short novels are narrated by women, the novels, in fact, nail down the superfluous nature of the stereotypes of women that are popular in the modern society, as well as map the methods of fighting these stereotypes, some allowing for retaining sanguine hope, and some involving indispensable sacrifices. Each story in question makes a powerful statement about oppression distorting women’s lives and depriving women of an opportunity to evolve in both personal and social aspects of their lives.

Narjis, the woman depicted in the novel by Al-Saadawi, is the symbol of what might be viewed at first as a rather shallow problem to analyze. With the topic of the story revolving almost entirely around appearance and the visual representation of women in contemporary society, the novel taps upon a range of complex social issues. In fact, one may argue that the above-mentioned image of women in society is not as vapid a topic as it may seem at first glance. After all, visual information is essential to the process of shaping opinion about a specific phenomenon, concept, or object, and the way in which women are portrayed in contemporary society affects their roles and lives to a considerable extent. To be more specific, in the novel in question, it is not the social prejudice that is interpreted as the key factor contributing to the restriction of women’s freedom, but the fact that women themselves sustain the flaccid and superfluous stereotype defining their family roles and restricting their freedoms: “At that moment, she imagined that she had discovered a new human misfortune: you could see other people’s bodies but not the body in which you were born and which you always carried around” (Al-Saadawi, 2005, p. 60).

The second novel, on the contrary, features the story of the person that used to be a social butterfly, a woman that seems to be going through a midlife crisis and slowly realizing that she needs change urgently. On the one hand, the development that the character is going through does not make her look good; in fact, it makes the narrator look rather ugly, as she is thinking of having an affair seemingly without any obvious reason for it. The narrator even admits that she realizes how unfair towards her husband her behavior is, and, even though at some point she makes it obvious that she has her reasons to doubt him, she still realizes that her urge to experience the thrill that she has never had in her life before will only exacerbate the already deleterious relationships between her and her husband.

Nevertheless, she feels that she needs to cross the line, and, more importantly, she realizes that the gender roles imposed on her and her husband by the society are the reason for this desire to emerge: “But I was a woman who needed a long time to build a bridge between herself and a man, a woman cautious in her choice, who didn’t’ rush into things, who didn’t beg a man” (Al-Uthman, 2005, p. 75). The fact that even the social status of a wife does not make her equal to her husband in terms of the role that she plays in the family, as well as the fact of superiority, which her husband sometimes shows, perhaps, unconsciously, yet relentlessly, makes the woman push the envelope of the social norms and morals, therefore, tasting bitter triumph.

Unlike the character from the above-mentioned novel, Amal, the lead heroine of the third Picture, does not wallow in self-pity, but, instead, reconciles with her past and the change that she is forced to undergo. While on the surface, the character in question seems to face no tangible oppression and both her social and personal lives can be deemed as rather successful, Amal clearly suffers from the inability to undergo the change that she considers essential to her personal development, yet which is unacceptable according to the social standards. The novel in question can be viewed as the logical continuation of the second one; though written by different people, they do seem the pieces of the same puzzle, i.e., the conundrum of the social fetters that women are bound to wear.

The reconciliation with the past and the willingness to embrace the future, which the novel ends with, can be considered the answer to the questions asked in the two novels discussed above: “Amal realized that there was a long road ahead of her” (Al-Zayyat, 2005, p. 72). Despite the air of hopelessness, which the entire atmosphere of the ending is shot through with, as well as the relentlessness of the environment that the lead character lives in, there is a glimpse of hope flickering at the horizon, and this dim light of hope allows for assuming that feminist movement does have its effect on the evolution of women’s status and ole in a family, as well as the image of a woman on the contemporary society. The specified dilemma is also touched upon in Mahfouz’s “The answer is no” (Mahfouz, n. d.), though the latter story addresses the problem on a more general level, displaying the dilemma between keeping emotions bottled inside and compromising oneself in the eyes of the society.

Therefore, it can be argued that each of the novels does not merely represent a specific case or a problem that women face in modern society, but also is a cautionary tale of what may happen once the social boundaries are forced onto people, both men, and women. Seemingly having few to no characteristics in common, the three novels incorporate the same concept of liberation and the need to reconsider the current gender roles.

Admittedly having few eminently similar details in common, the three short novels under analysis still provide similar food for thoughts, as they point at the obvious fact of women being subjugated in modern society and provided with comparatively few opportunities. While the authors of the stories resort to different stylistic choices, as well as tell their stories in different manners and from different perspectives, each of the short novels renders the same idea of oppression having a deplorable effect on the lives of women.

Reference List

Al-Saadawi, N. (2005). The picture. Arab women writers: An anthology of short stories (Suny Series, women writers in transition) (pp. 60–64). New York City, NY: State University of New York.

Al-Uthman, L. (2005). The picture. Arab women writers: An anthology of short stories (Suny Series, women writers in transition) (pp. 73–78). New York City, NY: State University of New York.

Al-Zayyat, L. (2005). The picture. Arab women writers: An anthology of short stories (Suny Series, women writers in transition) (pp. 65–72). New York City, NY: State University of New York.

Mahfouz, N. (n. d.). The answer is no. Web.

Paludi, M. A. (2012). Feminism and women’s rights worldwide. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.




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181

“The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” by Kuan-Chung Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 12th, 2020

Chinese masculinity is an issue that has been considerably challenged in time by a variety of cultural, social, and political factors. Many people try to introduce their own ideas and suggestions on how it is necessary to define masculinity in China and to use the concepts of wen and wu like a powerful combination of biology and culture. As soon as the idea of Chinese masculinity is proved to be a binary opposition between mental and physical characteristics with the help of wen and wu ideologies, it is necessary to remember a part of the Javanese ideologies and compare male power and control with female behaviour and expectations.

Current paper aims at discussing masculinity and femininity in Chinese culture on the examples of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Kuan-Chung and Javanese ideologies as a possibility to comprehend the roles of the two genders, their peculiar features, and the impacts on each other in regards to the power, abilities, and control that can be gained within a family.

According to the Chinese paradigm, masculinity may be defined as “the binary opposition between wen, the mental or civil, and wu, the physical or martial” (Louie 2002, p.10). These two notions can be hardly called conflicting. They seem to be more complementary because the masculine ideal is a kind of cultural construction characterised by constant circulation of morals, responsibilities, and duties that have to be performed by a man; still, the role of the mental beginning remains to be more important in comparison to the physical beginning. Of course, such factors like an appropriate physical size, properly developed skills of a warrior, and even the required portion of brutality do define masculinity in China.

However, they are powerless in front of the necessity to be wise, have respect to everything around, and use the power of ancestors and the importance of the past to conquer the present and defend the future. The main characters from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms become good examples of masculinity regarding heroism and respect to the traditions as the main components of an image of a true man. They may not use their power, words, or possibilities, but they demonstrate how crucial their masculinity can be through their knowledge, attitude to the events, and relations with the people of both genders.

In comparison to the Chinese traditions and ideologies, the culture of Java proves that female and male statuses may differ considerably but do not influence society and people’s contributions to its development. Brenner explains that “in most Javanese families today, regardless of social class or occupation, the wife continues to manage household finances” because they perform the function to “voice the opinion that men are incompetent in managing money” (1995, p. 23).

However, even under these conditions, women may lose out a lot because a number of misunderstandings take place and women are not too wise and confident in their own powers to solve family problems and remain to be higher than their men are.

In general, the definition of masculinity and femininity in Java and China is a hard task because it is always difficult to compare physiological and mental characteristics. People have to be strong from all perspectives to become good examples for others. However, female and male roles are impossible to define clearly, and even the attention to the cultural aspect cannot solve the problems, both men and women face, developing interpersonal and social relations.

Reference List

Brenner, SA 1995, ‘Why women rule the roost: Rethinking Javanese ideologies of gender and self-control’, in A Ong & M Peletz (eds.), Bewitching women, pious men gender and body politics in Southeast Asia, University of California Press, Berkley, pp. 19-50. Web.

Louie, K 2002, Theorizing Chinese masculinity: Society and gender in China, Cambridge University Press, New York. Web.




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82

The Woman Warrior, Ode of Mulan and The Mulan Film Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 12th, 2020

Introduction: Feminism in the Chinese Culture and the Role of Art and Literature in It

In the 21st century, social roles of women have changed greatly worldwide. However, in some states, the cultural traditions seem to have been hindering the progress. In Chinese society, the image of a woman is traditionally identified as the one of the keeper of hearth and home. However, under the influence of some works of literature and cinema, the stereotypical portrayal of Chinese women may change.

Thesis statement

Although each of the narrations (The Woman Warrior, The Ode to Mulan and Mulan) are linked to each other with a single theme of Chinese women emancipation and the introduction of feminism into the Chinese society, the time periods, in which the specified pieces of art emerged did not allow them to have an equal impact on and, therefore, significance for the Chinese society and the role of women in it.

The Ode to Mulan as the Starting Point of the Chinese Feminism: A Challenge to the Societal Standards

A seemingly simple poem, The Ode to Mulan, nevertheless, has had a tremendous effect on the representation of women in China. While the poem puts a very strong emphasis on the traditional family values, it outlines the courage and the resourcefulness of the young woman, therefore, offering a new female character to the Chinese society. From a certain perspective, the poem can be viewed as the introduction of the principles of gender equality into the Chinese society. As the first of a kind, the poem has a historic significance.

The Woman Warrior as the Link between Two Interpretations of the Story of Mulan: Repressions, Stone-Cold Traditions and the Related Issues

A nonetheless significant work of literature created in the 20th century, The Woman Warrior is important to the culture of China in its own way. Much like the poem, the novel introduces the reader to the lack of equality in gender relationships in China (Yin 65). However, a more sophisticated manner of storytelling, the creation of three-dimensional characters and an incorporation of a range of social and political issues make the novel even more powerful than the poem. Unlike the author of the poem or the creators of the movie, Kingston renders both the necessity for the social change and, most importantly, the cultural implications of it. The author specifies that changing time-honored traditions in such a close community as the Chinese society is not an easy task, and that the transformation must occur on a personal level for the alterations to occur within the society.

The difficulties in changing the social role of a woman manifest themselves in Kingston’s novel as she creates a virtual world, where Maxine creates an idealistic image for her to mimic: “Kingston illustrates the imaginative side of Maxine’s personality as Maxine speculates about No-Name Woman” (Job 83). Otherwise, the author warns, the Chinese women will never be able to reconcile with the new responsibilities and challenges. The past will haunt the Chinese women until they realize the need for change: “My aunt haunts me – her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her, though not origami into houses and clothes” (Kingston 19).

Disney’s Mulan as a 21st Century Interpretation: Introducing New and More Challenging Ideas to the Chinese Culture and the Image of a Woman in It

Though Mulan the movie did not have a stellar box office success, it did represent a unique interpretation of the Ballad of Mulan through the lens of the American culture. Dismissing the obvious pop-cultural references in the movie, as well as some of the inconsistencies with the actual Chinese culture, one must admit that Disney’s Mulan raises a range of issues other than the role of a woman in the Chinese society. While the latter subject clearly is the focus, Mulan also offers the audience a range of other debatable issues in a rather subtle manner. For example, the line “Your great-granddaughter had to be a crossdresser!” (Mulan 00:22:12) taps on such topical social and cultural issues as gender identity and the acceptance of people, who belong to an alternative sexual orientation. It is remarkable, though, that the specified topic, which became a concern in the late XX century and still remains a major social issue in Europe and the U.S. (Blackwell, Ricks, and Dziegielewski 29), has a long and quite peaceful history in China, with its own tradition of non-heterosexual relationships (Gerkin 57).

Naturally, the focus of the movie remains on what the poem revolves around, i.e., the portrait of a woman in the Chinese society and the changes that the role of a Chinese woman had to undergo under the pressure of new environment and new challenges. However, unlike the poem, the movie also puts a very strong stress onto the family relationships. While in the poem, the author mentions the relationships between Mulan and her parents: “They ask Daughter who’s in her thought, / They ask Daughter who’s on her memory.” (The Ode to Mulan lines 5–6), the movie devotes a lot of attention to the communication between Mulan and her family, particularly, Mulan and her father: “My, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one’s late. But I’ll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all” (Mulan 00:14:00–00:14:03). In a way, the movie represents the relationships between the members of a Chinese American diaspora, as it was created in the United States and, therefore, through the lens of the American culture. Thus, the animated movie seems to have had little effect on the actual portrait of a Chinese woman in the Chinese society, yet has affected the portrayal of the one among the American audience and touched upon a range of topical social issues.

Conclusion: The Tremendous Effect of The Woman Warrior, Mulan and the Disney Interpretation

It would be wrong to claim that each of the works of art mentioned above holds the same value for the Chinese culture and the representation of a woman in the Chinese society, even though the three of them tackle the same topic and address similar social issues. Created in different epochs, they were meant for different types of audience and, therefore, conveyed different messages. Even though the significance of the animated movie can match neither the Ode to Mulan, a “pioneer” in heralding feminism in China, nor The Woman Warrior with its complex plot and a unique perspective on the life in the American Chinese diaspora, each of the three works deserve being mentioned as a step in changing the image of a woman in the Chinese society towards a more democratic and liberating one.

Works Cited

Blackwell, Christopher, Janice L. Ricks, and Sophia F. Dziegielewski. “Discrimination of Gays and Lesbians: A Social Justice Perspective.” Journal of Health and Social Policy 19.4 (2004), 27–43.

Gerkin, Kody. “The One-Child Policy, Gay Rights, and Social Reorganization in China.” Human Rights and Human Welfare. 2014. Web.

Job, Jessica. “The Woman Warrior: A Question of Genre.” Journal of the CAS Writing Program 6.1 (2013–2014), 79–89. Print.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior. New York City, NY: Vintage International. 1975. Print.

Mulan. Ex. Prod. Pam Coats. Burbank, CA: Buena Vista Pictures. 1998. DVD.

The Ode to Mulan. ca. 386. Web.

Yin, Jing. “Popular Culture and Public Imaginary: Disney vs. Chinese Stories of Mulan.” Javnost – The Public 18.1 (2011), 53–74.




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66

Rulers, Gender and Values in the Asian Literary Works Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 9th, 2020

History, as well as literature, usually teaches people how to behave, understand the values, and live in accordance with the expectations and norms set. However, when literature and history are combined, the effects and roles of such sources of information turn out to be more educative and helpful. The current paper focuses on the three Asian literary works: Kuan-Chung’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms about the Chinese values, Narayan’s Ramayana about the Southern morals, and Shikibu’s Tale of Genji about the Japanese style of life.

These three historical novels help to understand better the essence of the role models and ideas of how ideal rulers, men, women, and values should actually be regarding the required standards and obligations: men are destined to be rulers, good or bad, women have to support their men and know exactly their place in a society, and values cannot be broken even if personal wills contradict the social rules.

The readings under consideration have much in common as they are based on Asian history and depict almost the same values and ideals. Still, it is also possible to find out some details that make each work a unique ability to understand the reasons of why men and women were treated the way they were and why it was impossible to change something.

The Japanese values and role models are perfectly presented in The Tale of Genji. A good ruler will never put his own demands over his duties and professional needs. In spite of his personal ambitions, he should never demonstrate his true intentions and wishes in case they can influence his ruling. This is why to be a good leader means to be a good man, who perfectly understands his task to be a guardian for his people. Opposite to men, Japanese women should stay behind their men and support them. The example of Genji’s mother shows how she “survived despite her troubles, with the help of an unprecedented bounty of love” (Shikibu, 2011, p.3) and proves that even if women had to take responsibilities for something, they still cherished the dream to love and be loved, and some women enjoyed their happiness.

The romance of the Three Kingdoms by Kuan-Chung is another example of how “liberal and amiable, albeit a man of few words, hiding all feeling under a calm exterior” a man and a good ruler should be. If women had nothing to do but raise children, look at the house, respect all values and standards, and be obedient wives and members of a society, men got a chance to use their wisdom, knowledge, and experience and try to change the world for better as it was their destiny that could not be neglected.

Finally, “The Interlude” in Narayan’s Ramayana explains how definite and sometimes cruel the relations between men, women, and their duties could be. When Rama said Sita the following words, it became clear that any emotions or feelings do not play a crucial role in gender relations, but the faith and religion do matter: “My task is done. I have now freed you. I have fulfilled my mission. All this effort has been not to attain personal satisfaction for you or me. It was… to honour our ancestors’ codes and values” (Narayan, 2006, p. 161).

In general, the chosen readings help to realise that the human past was not ideal, still, it taught people how to become better regarding personal wishes, ideas, and dreams and respecting social norms and standards that cannot be broken or neglected. As soon as a kind of balance is found, people understand how happy and satisfied they can actually be.

Reference List

Kuan-Chung, L. (2011). Romance of the three kingdoms. Clarendon, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing. Web.

Narayan, R.K. (2006). The Ramayana: A shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic. New York, NY: Penguin Books. Web.

Shikibu, M. (2014). The Tale of Genji. Web.




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171

“The Pearl That Broke Its Shell” by Nadia Hashimi Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 9th, 2020

Introduction

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is one of the most profound works of feminist literature I have read. Although I had a hard time sticking to the plot at the start, I gradually discovered the overwhelming pull of the characters’ struggle and was drawn into their personal narrative.

Plot and Setting

The plot is centered on the lives of two women, Rahib and Shekiba who, despite living in different centuries, appear to suffer identical challenges in a country where women are treated as little more than property. By mirroring characters whose personal tragedies transcend the years, Hashimi is depicting a world that has stood still or even regressed on issues concerning the welfare of women. Indeed, the two “Afghanistans” are curiously similar in terms of political, social and cultural contexts.

Characters

Shekiba is the victim of a society where women are judged almost exclusively on their worth as wives and mothers of sons and she was discriminated alongside her crippled father. “The clan did not want to be associated with them and the village had no interest in a scarred old man or his even more scarred daughter-son” (Hashimi 17). Rahib, on the other hand, suffered the fate of being married off at a young age. These characters are gradually developping as the plot progresses so the reader can appreciate the similarity of their struggles and empathize with each as she tries to hang on to the freedom that men take for granted.

Themes

Cultural and religious conflicts are some of the central thematic concerns addressed in the text since they contextualize many of the two antagonists’ challenges. Afghan culture and religion do not recognize women as independent entities, which explains why they have to be chaperoned by a man or even a boy whenever they go. Rahib’s father is evidently disappointed because he has no son and his sentiments when he is banning the girls from school attest to this. “If I had a son, this would not be happening Goddamn it! Why do we have a house full of girls, not one, not two, but five of them” (Hashimi 5). The existence of Bacha Posh, a cultural practice where girls are allowed to dress as boys is testament to the low position held by women. It appears that being a boy does not entail anything special but looking, talking and dressing like one. The fact that the society is willing to accept girls who dress as boys proves that the gender issue has no logical basis.

Cultural Frame

The culture allows boys to make choices in their lives and even go to school while girls can only do so at the pleasure and convenience of their male relatives (Hashimi 73). In the historical exposition, the reader sees how Shaima was discriminated because of her deformity. “The clan did not want to be associated with them and the village had no interest in a scarred old man or his even more scarred daughter-son” (Hashimi 20). Even worse, Shekiba, who lost her looks in a freak accident as an infant is dehumanized, and regularly insulted, proving that in this particular society, women are only as good as their beauty. “Her cousins came up with twisted names for her. “Shola face,” as her skin resembled lumpy rice” (Hashimi 17).

Conclusion

In summary, I found this book to be a very illuminating depiction of the glaring atrocities that are committed to women all over the world. In my research on the context of the book, I came across background information that gave me a clearer picture of the fate of women in anachronistic and patriarchal societies. According to some men in similar cultures, a woman’s place is limited to the inside of her husband’s home or her grave. These inhuman sentiments may not be universal, but in the content of the novel, they might as well be the personification of the characters’ lives. In my opinion, the book should be used to create awareness on the plight of women in Afghanistan and any other nation where they are forced to live under oppression and subjugation by cultural and religious norms that discriminate them.

Works Cited

Hashimi, Nadia. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. New York: William Morrow, 2014. Print.




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72

“It Takes Two” a Book by Cynthia Enloe Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 30th, 2020

In the last few decades, prostitution has thrived in Asia. Its growth has been enhanced by the rapid growth in hospitality industries, increase in foreign firms, and the presence of foreign military bases in the region. Critics argue that without rest and recreation centers in Asia, the US military could not manage the tedious voyages in the region. Several literatures have been written to reveal the connection between the US military, Asian governments, and the thriving prostitution business in the region. In one of the literatures, It Takes Two by Cynthia Enloe, military prostitution and military masculinity have been analyzed with the aim of revealing how these acts were formed, sustained, and integrated into the military. Enloe asserts that the women who have been bold enough to disclose their stories have revealed that sexuality is a central part of military and civil cultures. This paper highlights several insights on military prostitutions and military masculinity analyzed in the article It Takes Two.

In the article, the author claims that military prostitutions have become rampant in countries allied to the US. In this regard, the author believes that the presence of the US military personnel in Asian countries have given rise to the lucrative rest and recreation centers. Through this article, we realize that the US military have developed and implemented strategies in the Asian countries to enable their male soldiers to be content in a foreign land. On the other hand, the article reveals that the local men are to be blamed for the increasing military prostitution. Local men have created conditions that make their women vulnerable to the greedy disco owners and lustful foreign military male members. The article discloses that increase in neglectful fathering and violent tempers of the local men have enhanced prostitution. Generally, Enloe reveals that several individuals are responsible for the thriving military prostitutions outside the military bases.

In the article, Enloe explains the construction and reconstruction of masculinity by the local military and the US military to maintain the high morale among their soldiers. The author asserts that tourists, foreign military, and businesspersons have internationalized their masculinity. At one incidence, the author reveals that the local Filipino military men have adopted the American militarized masculinity by wearing khaki suits, headbands, open shirts, and camouflaged sunglasses. Through this, the local Filipino prostitutes have been willing to perform with them sexual acts they would not have performed with ordinary Filipinos.

Through this article, Enloe reveals the impacts of military bases to local communities. Enloe reveals that has a result of the establishment of these military bases, several businesspersons took advantage of the presence of foreign military and established brothels around these brothels. Owing to this, military prostitution and cases of women abuses have sky rocketed. It is alleged that the US military male counterparts mistreated the Asian women and treated them like sex objects. Through these sexual acts, children were born out of wedlock. These children were not treated like other children in their communities. It is alleged that the children did not receive any support from the Asian and the American governments.

With regard to the film The Women Outside, this article summarizes most of the details covered in the movie. The film details the effects and history of US military on Korean women. Likewise, Enloe through the article covers on the related topic covered on the film while highlighting on economic and social effects of military prostitution and masculinity.




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155

Audre Lorde’s Biomythography: “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” Essay (Critical Writing)

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 29th, 2020

Audre Lorde’s experience correlates with the paradigms that have shifted in lesbian and feminist movements. In fact, naming and recognizing the difference, as well as acknowledging racial, class, and gender differences, is crucial for accepting the self and positioning in the world. Lorde recognizes herself as a black lesbian woman who has found her own language in which she can express her identity and the self. Acceptance of a newly emerged reality gave rise to differentiation providing the “poet warrior” with visibility of her own freedom and separateness. In this respect, Lorde has managed to find her unique path in life and prioritize the core values in life. I believe that the identity development has created a new, unique lens through which Lorde can view her position in the world. More importantly, a self defined “black, lesbian, feminist, mother, poet warrior” has introduce the theory of difference as the necessity of celebrating the existence of multiple identifies disapproving American equality movements.

While returning to A, development of Lorde’s identities was marked by several notable events, or stages. Her gradual transformation as a personality, as well as realization of the self, provides references to her childhood, student years, and adulthood. From the first pages of the book, I have noticed the author’s reluctance to speak of racial and gender difference. Absence of differences, therefore, exterminates the possibility of racial discrimination and fear of being criticized. Rejecting the fact “that difference did not in fact exist”, the poet found no words for defining this phenomenon as she was maturing (Lorde 204).

However, can ignorance generate the truth? I believe the answer is predicted because invisible differences give rise to blurred identities and lack of separateness. Hence, when Lorde formed love affairs and friendships within the lesbian community, she was forced to deny the parts of the self because “it was easy for even lovers to ignore it, dismiss it, pretend it didn’t exist, believe the fallacy that there was no difference” (Lorde 204). The difficulty of acknowledging difference is closely associated with the necessity to name and highlight new concepts of acceptance.

Possibility to recognize differences is imperative for establishing the positions in the world. I agree with the idea that differentiation and visibility, along with freedom and separation, provides people with an opportunity to make themselves visible. Therefore, Lorde’s longing to self-definition helped her feel visible and accepted. By attributing new definitions and meanings to words, she states, “As I spoke the words, I felt them touch and give life to a new reality within me, some half-known self come of age” (Lorde 167). Apparently, due to the appearance of a new dimension, the poet started searching for a unique way of reinventing her personal story. The re-evaluation of life position can be noticed in the passage when she considers her position “different from the larger society, as well as from any single sub-society-Black or gay” (Lorde 181).

I believe that each person should feel unique through defining life goals and identifying his/her role in the community. Perhaps, Lorde’s transformation was due to her relationships with Eudora, a woman who does not acknowledged the existing boundaries and has made Lorde stop feel disregarded and invisible.

In fact, accepting the self is the core path for creating the image of the self. Developing identities, therefore, provides a new ‘spelling’ for different phenomena and parts of the self. I believe Lorde realizes that new definitions challenge the traditional perception, but uniquely identified path is also the prerogative of human rights and freedoms. Therefore, I can conclude that the poet is the eloquent outsider who can reach people by her unique language.

Referring to B, I should admit that Lorde’s deliberations are not confined only to recognizing differences and defining identities. Problems of breaking traditions stereotypes about dualism of male and female roles performed by members of society are also taken into the writer’s consideration. I believe that a parallel can be drawn with the studies provided by Fausto-Sterling who presented criticism of the traditional distribution of gender roles. In her work called Sexing the Body, she states, “A body’s sex is simply too complex. There is no either/or. Rather, there are shades of difference” (Fausto-Sterling 3).

While thinking over this phrase, I have realized that gender should be regarded at difference angles emphasizing social expression and physical underpinnings. The latter provides the disparity between the concepts of gender and sex. Hence, gender should be considered as a psychological transformation, the conviction that a person is either female or male. Behavioral expressions of inner convictions also define gender identity. In contrast, sex is a biologically constructed definition.

Unlike biological considerations, feminist theories consider the body “…as a bare scaffolding on which discourse and performance build a completely acculturated being” (Fausto-Sterling 6). The writer’s deliberations lead me to the idea that all scientific and social knowledge should be incorporated to embrace the definition of gender, sex, and gender. Perhaps, this solution is congruent with Lorde’s attempts to highlight the influence of social constructs on shaping femininity and developing identities. More than that, biological analysis of sex also implies the necessity to consider cultural and social influences. When I have read the article by Emily Martin, I have agreed with the idea that “cybernetic models have played an important part in the imposition of social control” (Martin 499).

The biological models of sex interaction can have social influences. This is of particular concern to social and natural sciences involved in defining cultural aspects of female and male stereotypes. The presented concept supports the idea that identity development cannot stand part from cultural and social interactions. I guess the necessity to connect the concepts of gender and sex due to the existing ties between physical and psychological representation of the self. The ideas presented by Habbard explain the necessity of considering gender from dualistic perspective (131). Despite external psychological contrast serving as the major aspect for evaluation, biologically based assumption about sex are also connected with emotional representation of gender stereotypes.

Differentiation and intersection of gender roles, as presented in Lorde’s Zami, leads me the assumption that gender culture can undergo significant re-conceptualization. Criticism of the traditionally established roles and definitions is due to the fact that social representation of gender culture is a powerful means of social control. Indeed, from our childhood, we have got used to the idea that women and men should perform certain goals. Certainly, some of the goals are identified by biological and psychological differences. However, should gender ideology be exclusively two-dimensional? I believe it should not. To support my position, I will refer to Ramet’s book in which the author introduces the concept of gender reversal, saying, “much as gender cultures vary over space and change over time, so too do the functions played by gender reversals” (Ramet 3). Judging from the above-presented consideration of gender and sex, I suppose that the priority should be given to the importance of gender as a means of representing the self, but not as a tool of limiting it.

I believe that Lorde’s criticism of existing gender stereotypes, along with other presented studies, challenge the binary perception of gender roles. In case gender and sex are connected, why are the categories of “female” and “male” not applicable to people with unique identity and vision on sexuality? When I have reviewed Suthrell’s book called Unzipping Gender: Sex, Cross-Dressing and Culture, I have noticed that her ideas are identical to Lorde’s ones concerning the connection between gender and sex. Specifically, deliberations on the nature of transvestites and transgender are congruent with Lorde’s theory of difference (Suthrell 14). What is more important, the cross-cultural studies of sex and gender explain the link because scientific and social studies as well.

While referring to C, I should admit that the problem of identity development and gender analysis is now on the cultural and social agenda. The contemporary society is on the edge of total re-evaluation of existing traditional outlook on sexuality, gender, and sex. In this respect, I believe Lorde’s work seeks to break the fixed stereotypes and make people re-conceptualize the importance of creating self-image. Specifically, people should not be limited to the established norms and paradigms of social and cultural lenses. I believe it is important to consider the concept of difference as a priority in self-defining. Gender equality, therefore, is an obsolete notion because attention should be paid to uniqueness and separateness.

While reading the first chapters of Lorde’s Zami, I have realized that the existing problems of our social system lie in existing cultural and stereotypical biases. There is no place for difference because people are accustomed to the fixed norms. When moving beyond those norms, one can encounter rigorous criticism that is predetermined by firmly settled patterns of gender behavior. In this respect, Lorde helped me understand the importance of self-definition that should not be dependent from social approval. Rather, I, but no one else, can decide which path to choose to harmonize my existence and achieve my life goals.

In conclusion, it should be stressed that identity development is closely associated with self-definition and recognition of difference. Lorde has justified the idea of thinking beyond stereotypes and contrary to conventional wisdom. The concept of self-image, therefore, provides an alternative outlook on role of genders and gender cultures. While discussing different ideologies revealing the connection between the concepts of gender and sex, I have discovered evident inconsistencies between the fixed social norms and the one provided by radical feminist theories. At this point, gender and sexuality are biologically connected because physical characteristics have a potent impact on shaping the self and developing identity.

In addition, numerous assumptions drawn from cross-cultural studies have also biased my outlook on binary system of gender differentiation. In fact, I have realized that interrupting this system is imperative for understanding the emergence of deviant gender communities and development of lesbian and feminist movements. In this respect, Lorde’s book has shown the necessity of considering difference at its core.

Works Cited

Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York: Basic Books, 2000. Print.

Habbard, Ruth. “Constructing Sex Difference”. New Literary History 19.1 1987: 129-134. Web.

Lorde, Audre. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – A Biomythography. Australia: The Crossing Press, 2010. Print.

Martin, Emily. “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles.” Signs 16.3 1991: 484-501. Web.

Ramet, Sabrina. Gender Reversals and Gender Cultures: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 1996. Print.

Suthrell, Charlotte, A. Unzipping Gender: Sex, Cross-dressing and Culture. London: Berg Publishers, 2004. Print.




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162

“Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” a Book by Audre Lorde Essay (Critical Writing)

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 28th, 2020

The book Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is an autobiographical narration by Audre Lorde encompasses different approaches to presenting information including fiction, myth, and biography combined. In this respect, I believe it reveals unusual and unconventional representations of female development and professional growth. Lorde has persuaded me that the current society is largely dependent on stereotypical norms and visions, especially when it comes to gender roles consideration. While I was reviewing the first seven chapters, particular attention was paid to the way the author exposes her attitude to family relations, as well as to the circumstances under which those relations were built. Personal analysis and evaluation of other dimensions has led me the assumption that family has a potent impact on the development of the self and female creativity.

The author’s unconventional approach to representing female development provides me with clear understanding of how society and upbringing can influence the development of the self. The new image of female creativity as a black lesbian embraces the connection with “a familial and historical past, community, strength, woman-bonding, rootedness in the world, an ethic of care, and responsibility” (DiBernard 196). My personal experience proves that social and family environment has a significant influence on shaping personal outlooks on society. In this respect, I agree with Lorde’s ideas concerning family: “I have felt the age-old triangle of mother father and child, with the “I” at its eternal core, elongate and flatten into the elegantly strong triad of grandmother, mother, and daughter…” (7). Judging from the assumptions, deep engagement with social, religious, and domestic dimensions allows to understand the demands of the given community.

I understand the reasons why the poet’s attains much importance to the role that family relations play in shaping unique relations within a community. From the first pages of the biography, I can notice Lorde’s obsessions with exploring her concerns with gender, sexuality, and femininity. The narration, therefore, presents the female development through the process of coming of age (Giroux 286). With regard to the above, the pressure of gender discrimination imposed on females, lesbians, and black people has lead to the rise of different movements (Kemp 22).

Do similar concepts matter when current pressure on society occurs? I have found the answer in Lorde’s sayings disclosing that “…women who survived the absence of their sea-faring men easily, because they come to love each other, past the men’s returning” (Lorde 14). Interpreting this, a serious attempt should be made to re-evaluate the traditional outlook on society and create a new one presented with a new ‘spelling’.

In conclusion, different unconventional outlooks are presented concerning the main principles of female development. Therefore, I believe that Lorde’s book accurately reflects the current modes of social perception because female development is closely associated with social and political circumstances. My attention has been specifically attracted by the first chapter that focuses on the way Lorde analyzes the influence of outside relations on the emergence of feminist movements and development of the attitude to gender and race issues. More importantly, the writer’s attempt to a new idea of the society where women acquire the right to build their own reality has inspired me to re-evaluate my perception of societal norms. In fact, the current society is now more disposed to encourage the development of an alternative image of female creativity.

Works Cited

DiBernard, Barbara. Zami: A Portrait of an Artist as a Black Lesbian. US: The Kenyon Review. 1991. Print.

Giroux, Christopher. “Eroding and Eliding, Breaking and Building: Reworking The Landscape in Audre Lorde’s ZAMI”. Explicator 67.4 (2009): 285. Print.

Kemp, Yakini B. “Writing Power: Identity Complexities And The Exotic Erotic In Audre Lorde’s Writing.” Studies In The Literary Imagination 37.2 (2004): 21. Print.

Lorde, Audre. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name – A Biomythography. Australia: The Crossing Press. 2010. Print.




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149

“Eveline” a Book by James Joyce Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 21st, 2020

Traditionally, culture defined roles for men and women. Gender played a significant role in determining the respect that one was accorded in society. It is important to note that this has not been completely eliminated from our society to date. In this regard, it is not peculiar to find that there are certain chores that women only can attend to while others are set aside for men. Gender inequality has been the order of the day in many societies with women being regarded as being inferior whenever they are compared to men. However, despite the obstacles placed in women’s paths to prosperity, there are those women who have outdone men in various aspects. In the article titled Eveline, James Joyce has tried to depict various roles of women in society. These roles contradict or concur with how society has treated women historically.

To begin with, women have been taken as the people who should take care of children and do some other house chores. Women were relegated to be only useful in the kitchen and bearing children. Even in the most modern societies nowadays, women are the ones who take care of every day to day activities of the house. Any mistake done by the children is mostly blamed on women. Society regards moral decay among children as a result of failure in the part of women to play their role of educating the children. In the article, this is depicted when it is Eveline who is left with the task of taking care of her younger siblings when her mother passes away. She has to practically ensure that everything about the young children’s affairs is done as expected. Moreover, the role of women in society is illustrated when the duty of purchasing groceries is left to Eveline yet there are others who could her. In addition, Eveline was the one who dusted the house each week.

Traditionally, society assumed that women would not be able to do any other economic activity that would increase income of the family. As a result, all family income came from men. On the contrary, Eveline is depicted as a hard working lady who besides doing all the house chores has a store where she runs her business. This depicts a woman as being very responsible and hard working. Moreover, contrary to the opinion that women cannot provide for the family, it is seen that Eveline uses all her income in the house while the men of the house only give part of what they earn.

Society also demands that women have to leave their parental houses and get married. This is what makes Eveline contemplate of getting married to Frank. She knows that she has to leave the house one day albeit this might take time. Nevertheless, women are not trusted with making any good decision. In this regard, while men are allowed to make their decisions regarding whom they want to marry, society expects that ladies should get approval from their fathers or other male members of the family.

This gives Eveline’s father powers to restrict her from seeing Frank and having anything to do with him. In order to marry Frank, Eveline has to run away with him. Furthermore, men are taken to be superior to women and anything they say should be taken as final. Both in the traditional and in the contemporary society, women are expected to be obedient to men at all times. This is depicted when Eveline plans to elope with Frank but backs out in the last minute following her father’s instructions that she must stop her relationship with Frank.

Women are also portrayed in the article as being in the center of every family. While the men are always out doing their jobs, Eveline has to balance between her business and family matters. The promise she makes to her mother that she will keep the family together illustrates that women are vital for unity of a family. She is always at the house early enough to ensure that nothing goes wrong. In a nutshell, life of her family revolves around her. This role is in agreement with the way society has defined women since historical periods. Society has always branded women as the source of livelihood in the community.

When the boat that is supposed to take Eveline and Frank away is about to leave, Eveline starts having doubts about the whole issue. She has the young children who will suffer without her. She has to fulfill the promise she made to her late mother of keeping the family together. After weighing the options available to her, she makes a decision of not leaving. Much as this may seem to be influenced by the advice given by her father about the sailors, it depicts that women are capable of making their own decisions contrary to how the traditional society viewed women. Nothing hinders her from leaving with Frank. It is only through her intellectual capacity that she is able to choose the best option taking into consideration all the issues at stake. It is, therefore, depicted that women can be able to participate in activities that require intellectual engagement.

Women are usually restricted in what they do. Men can limit the extent to which a woman can engage in a certain activity. Eveline’s mother was always being instructed by her father. Tradition demands that night fall is not supposed to get women outside their homestead. This is why Eveline is very concerned about time. When she goes out for shopping she has to be quick to avoid getting late. Even when she is seated looking at the road, she is time conscious. Nevertheless, men can do as they please and be out as long as they deem fit. Eveline’s brother goes to work at a far place and stays there yet her father does not ask anything about that. This is contrary to the contemporary society’s view. Nowadays women have engaged in various careers some of which require them to work night shifts. This has changed the limit as to how long women can stay out of the house.

Traditional roles that were given according to the gender of a person have changed over time. Nowadays, both men and women can engage in any activity without much restriction. Though there are some traditional views on women that still persist to date, many views that were retrogressive have been shed off. Women have increased democratic space in the contemporary society compared to traditional one. Nevertheless, still women are expected to handle all domestic chores including taking care of children. They hold their families together and help in providing for the family.




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