Alice Walker, attraction, beauty, black women's struggle, dolls, fad lesbianism, feminism, gender, Jackie Kay, labels, love, male gaze, passing, penis power, reproductive labor, sexual orientation, sexuality, Toni Morrinson, Trumpet, womanism, women's studies notes
These are parts of my notes from the last two weeks. Conversation topics I find worth mentioning and putting into people’s heads. Being in this class has been so much fun.
[reading Trumpet by Jackie Kay]
[Jackie Kay’s novel Trumpet is largely a retrospective of Joss Moody’s life—that of a black, transgendered and transsexual jazz trumpeter who married a white woman with whom he adopted a son. The plot centers on the growing tension between Millie, Joss’ widow, and Coleman, the adopted son. Coleman, angered by his discovery of his father’s biological sex, threatens to sell Joss’s story to a tabloid reporter. The story is told from various points of view, including those of Millie, Coleman, the doctor, the town registrar, the funeral director, Joss’ mother, friends, and the tabloid reporter.] [web link to summary]
*labels >> how they identify themselves; sex, gender…
* physical characteristics versus personal preference
largely discusses: sexuality, death, adoption
What constitutes manhood? What threatens it?
book references: “hurt manhood” (39), “homosexual” (57). Furthermore, how is masculinity and homosexuality related?
* FAD LESBIANISM – entertainment to serve the male gaze; exciting action; performance and pleasure for men; fake sexuality but “cool”
– female-to-female sex not “threatening” (not real); cheat pass; men typically don’t feel insecure when their girlfriend/wife cheats on them with a woman due to PENIS POWER (aka “birth privilege”)
* MALE GAZE – contradict of patriarchy (seen in entertainment, marketing, ect.; solely catering to men not women)
example: rape scenes on TV are shot from the rapists point of view (you’re the rapist, you’re the man, you’re the one in control, never the victim—the one being raped… [fun fact: only 15% of the television programs are directed by women >> check missrepresentation.org]
manhood = rejection of femininity? (FEMMAPHOBIA)
* examples from book Dude, You’re a Fag by Elizabeth Chin: psychological study of high school students
– policing manhood (=bragging about hot totties; degrading women; empathizing their importance)
– female leadership = BITCH (Hillary Clinton spectacle) (must be beautiful in order to have power; Sarah Palin example)
What role does race place in Trumpet?
* biracial marriage – othered by “your” race group (removing yourself out of a norm, but therefore… also losing identity?) IDENTITY >> assumption that everyone has roots, extended family, history… or that the “truth” has to be public (Joss’ sexuality for example)
attraction towards someone doesn’t always define sexual orientation (=pure love); it’s devotion… [need to look up forms of attraction, there are six…]
Sophie Stone – wrong assessment of Joss’ motives to present himself as a man; she polices her own sexuality through looks (buying brand clothing for instance)
* common misconception – trans people “change into” male in order to gain the masculine privilege (“passing”)
[our discussion before we turned to The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison]
WOMANISM – feminism taken on a black woman’s (any woman of color) point of view; “Black Feminism”; they were left out during both movements
* appreciate women’s culture and power
* oppose separatist ideologies
* racist and classist aspect
* doesn’t imply political position or value system
* acknowledge sexual violence
* survivors of multiple platforms
– celebrate out culture and qualities instead of dismissing them, under the impression and fear that misogynistic beliefs will carry on through those actions
“Womanism is to feminist as purple is to lavender.” ~Alice Walker
reproductive labor – Marxist feminist idea; women have helped producing next generation of workers; it’s an unpaid job (socially dismissed); it’s invisible and forgotten (no paper work)
– example: my classmate’s grandmother would grow fruit (huckleberries, cherries, pears, etc.) that she would can and sell to the stores; she would sew clothes, too, and sell it –> family survived largely due to her efforts (they were poor)
Mother: (1) backbone of the family, (2) carrier of culture; tells both sides of the family story/ decorates house and creates ownership
“In Search of our Mother’s Garden” – essay by Alice Walker
Questions: What do the labels mentioned in the essay represent in (black) women’s lives?
Saint: no struggle, “you’re special,” diminishes the hard work put into the problem, meant as compliment but overall demeaning
Superwoman: dehumanized, put above it; men not held accountable for the household and never asked, “How do you do it all?” (same goes for Matriarch)
Mule: carries the burden; relateable; have to do it all (not CAN do it all)
Mean & Evil Bitches: women so powerful and independent, they have lost their femininity, their ability to love men, and the capability to be good mothers (same goes for Castraters)
OTHER ISSUES RAISED:
* not owning their own bodies as properties
* cannot or do not look for a way to define themselves; find self-worth
* art: separation from body and mind
[discussed Phyllis Wheatley in detail; a slave poet who died at a young age due to malnutrition and neglect]
[discussed art and spirituality]
Mentioned 9/19 during our discussion of The Bluest Eye. Narrator says that “black women take orders from… white women, white men, white children, black men… all except black children and themselves.
I could write an entire entry on Morrison’s novel alone so I’ll leave it here for now.