Stranger things have happened than authentic women existing on the TV screen, but I might have struggled to realize this until I watched, well, Stranger Things. And I’m not totally living under a rock. I watch a lot of TV – some of it provides moments where I’m proud to be female and some of it makes me cringe at how poorly my fellow women are portrayed. I grew up on TV and movies that didn’t try too hard to fight the system of masculine stereotypes of women. Shows like I Love Lucy or Green Acres – they were funny, had their good moments, but mostly they reminded me that women were irrational, overly emotional, and incapable of basic things like handling a budget or knowing that a pound cake doesn’t weigh just one pound.
Today, in contrast, I’ve watched a fair amount of shows that attempt to be progressive about their representation of women, with varying degrees of success. In high school, I devoured One Tree Hill (I’m team Peyton, in case you’re curious), and I remember things like Brooke starting her own business in high school, Karen Roe rocking her role as a single mother, and Peyton opening her own record label. It’s clear the show was trying and somewhat succeeding at empowering women to be their own agents. But in the moments of tragedy (the school shooting, when Peyton was drugged at a college party), the guys almost always came to the rescue of the helpless women. Now, I’m currently in the midst of the CW’s Riverdale, which can be commended for making women active, not damsels in distress. But I really struggle to take any progressive storylines seriously in theory, when in practice the women are perfectly made up, clad in skin tight clothing, and wearing high heels while doing the dirty work – which can be both objectifying and unrealistic.
Stranger Things is different, and I want to talk about why it inspires me to be a woman. Instead of being caricatures or one-dimensional objects that exist to be looked at or to embellish the plot, each woman is alive. Each woman is her own agent, not a mockery of typical female traits or some idealistic depiction of what men want, but a real, living portrayal of humanity. I’m not saying that the Stranger Things women aren’t cooler than your average Jane, but they aren’t so inhumanely awesome (maybe except Eleven) that a female audience can’t relate to them. They are flawed, natural, beautiful, and powerful. Continue reading “Claiming Humanity in Stranger Things by Autumn Meyer”
hablo lo inglés matao
hablo lo español matao
no sé leer ninguno bien
so it is, spanglish to matao
what i digo
¡ay, virgen, yo no sé hablar!
–Tato Laviera, “my graduation speech”
When I applied for a job at Breakthrough Collaborative in Santa Fe, I thought teaching writing for a nonprofit would be a chance to do what I love and also do some good. After three years of majoring in English at Drake University, I had only completed work in my field of interest during the school year—tutoring college students in my university’s writing workshop and helping elementary and middle school students practice their English while I was in Spain. Perhaps as a consequence, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with an English degree. As I grew closer and closer to graduating, I became increasingly nervous about finding a purpose. It didn’t help that my major seemed to be the butt of every joke. In Spain, when I told a cab driver I was studying English, he said, “Ah,” as if he now understood that I was suffering from a grave predicament. He turned to me confidentially and said, “Estás estudiando tu propia lengua.” Listening to John Mulaney on Netflix, I heard something similar, as he cracked a series of jokes about obtaining a four-year degree “in a language I already spoke.” In the words of Princeton, a singing puppet down on his luck in Avenue Q, “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” I hoped teaching would be my answer, so I could finally have a sense of direction. Continue reading “My Graduation Speech by Abi Grimminger”
When Africans were violently brought over to America and forced under the institution of slavery, the separation from their heritage was far more than physical. Their traditional religions and practices were demonized and punished on a large scale, creating a compulsion to assimilate to the dominant culture and enforcing a more complete rupture from their various cultural pasts. The fictionalized autobiography The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts, a manuscript written in the mid-nineteenth century which tells the story of a slave woman who runs away from her oppressors, deals with the tensions between the Western America and the traditional African cultures under the institution of slavery. Many scholars have noted the manuscript’s blatant appropriation of the urban gothic Bleak House by Charles Dickens in several passages, but the comparison between the Western gothic genre and Crafts’s novel goes deeper than simple copying. Crafts takes many characteristics of the Western gothic novel and incorporates them into her own work, contextualizing them in accordance to experience of slavery. In other words, she African-Americanizes them. Specifically, Crafts African-Americanizes the Western gothic literary tradition in her use of traditional folklore and oral narratives in the African-American communities under slavery. This appropriation illustrating the complicated relationship between the two cultures is furthered by Crafts’s character and persona, Hannah, through her own position within and without the African-American culture of folklore and oral narratives. Continue reading “Transformative Slave Gothic: Hannah Crafts’s African-Americanization of Gothic Literature by Nicole Margheim”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, it is next to impossible to not know who the Kardashians are. Whether you can tell them apart from a single butt selfie or you still struggle to put each “K” name with its contoured, surgically modified face, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the name uttered at least a few dozen times a day in a Snapchat story, on Instagram, or by a housewife flipping through gossip magazines in the checkout line at a grocery store. America seems to be mesmerized by this “famous for nothing” family, but what is it that makes them so enticing and more than just a wealthy group of people strung together by the same genes (or at least we hope so in Khloé’s case)? Continue reading “Kapitalism: A Žižekian Analysis of the Kardashians by Anna Walters”
While the existence of trauma for adults is a major topic of study and accepted as a true issue, adolescents deal with their trauma while enduring the reactions of a society that does not believe in the legitimacy of their feelings. Youth are “more likely to experience impairment than adults” from trauma, and without support from their parents or community, their trauma symptoms intensify. The adolescent mind remains an important but often unacknowledged space, craving understanding. Young adult fiction provides an avenue to understand adolescent mindsets and critique parental behavior. Throughout young adult literature, adolescent narrators deal with trauma, prompting them to isolate from family, friends, and their community. Differing depictions of isolation emphasize nuances in adolescent experience where seclusion is a tool with varying outcomes. Texts, such as Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, showcase isolation’s role in adolescent trauma, magnifying youth’s unacknowledged complexities and adults’ complicity. Adults within young adult fiction and within reality need to be more cognizant of the struggles of adolescents, but these texts also demand that readers view isolating behaviors holistically, realizing the depth of young adult experience. Continue reading “Isolation and Parental Attachment in Adolescence: Young Adult Fiction as a Window by Madison Glennie”
Meet Frank Abagnale Jr., the con artist who tricked the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can (2002, Dir. Steven Spielberg) follows Frank while he is still a teenager in the 1960s as he runs away from his divorcing parents, assuming different identities along the way. Through the application of rational choice crime theory, Frank’s actions can be understood as the reasonable conclusion of cost-benefit analysis.
Continue reading “Catching on to Catch Me If You Can by Madeline Miller”