Author: Jefferson Xu

The Overwhelming Power of Men

Both the blurred lines and Aziz Ansari articles deal with the overwhelming power of men, even though we have made huge strides as a society to stray away from it. In the blurred lines article, Gay shows the sexual assault done by Thicke with his disgusting lyrics of having a sex with a girl, when she says no. Thicke is implying that when a girl says no, she really means yes. Because it’s such a catchy song, many people know the lyrics and only reinforces the male dominance in an unacceptable way against women. Even Gay says that she has to lighten up and realize that it’s part of the culture, and that some parts of the pop society have ventured into those jokes.

 

The Aziz Ansari article shows the similar power in a different way. In this article, Ansari shows his power with many people tending to believe him and dismiss the victim’s case as nothing. This case is more complex because it isn’t blatant sexual assault. It seemed that there was fault on both sides, where Ansari seemed to not pick up the signals of the other. However, the power shows when many people discredited Grace’s story and felt it was silly that she couldn’t speak up and leave when she was uncomfortable. They put too much blame on the victim without looking at the other side as carefully, and shows how women and their stories tend to be stooped to a lower level, even though there has been movement to stray away from that for years.

Power

In “The Wolfpack”, the story revolves around a group of girls who go through attacks that leave them powerless. The main character, and other women, were called the “lesbian wolfpack” and go through many episodes of pain. The mood is immediately set with the main character talking about being a single parent living with their mom. The “lesbian wolfpack” were attacked by a man in New York and it left these girls powerless due to the inability to use their words. This attack is so relevant to modern society with many powerless groups not being able to express malicious attacks. The pain that stays with these groups scars them for a long time and it’s crazy to imagine how much pain the lesbian wolfpack felt after the attack.

 

Another interesting aspect I picked up on in the story is how strong the narrator is, even though she has been through so much in her life. When her life is in danger, she is willing to take on the challenge, rather than flee and hide. Despite being powerless, she is powerful at the same time by not giving up. She defies the conventional norm that women are weak in combat situations and how they a need a man to protect them. She shows how a woman can be powerful without even fighting, and how she is more than just a “worthless” woman who is trying to defend themselves against an attacker.

The Antihero

After reading the second half of Fun Home, I feel like the similarity between the father and its surroundings become apparent along with the complex love between him and Bechdel. As the reading goes on, there are huge similarities between Beech Creek and The Wild Wood and Surrounding Country, where Bechdel can relate events that happened in the book to her life. For example, Mr. Toad speeding along the road reminds Bechdel of a similar car accident that killed her cousin. Ultimately, this combined with how Bruce never ventured out of this place leads to believe that he is Beech Creek and is meant to die there. He even had made a recording about Beech Creek and had the deep Pennsylvania accent. You can also see his similarity to his wife when they both express their creativity in different ways and places. The wife is more music and play oriented, but they both end up using the same recording machine to express what they love.

 

You can also see how Bruce used to be in Bechdel’s shoes. While he’s reticent and doesn’t like to approach the topic, he once too dressed in girl’s clothes and suppresses his sexuality. The theme of secret sexuality is present in both of them with Bechdel also defying sexual norms by liking to dress as a man and dance with girls. What’s different is that Bechdel has an opportunity and is more willing to share her sexuality, which creates a weird love between the father and her. For the whole book, it seemed that she hates her father because he is so stern and never was really there for her. But at the end of the book, she expresses how he is always there for her by “catching her when she leapt” and that they both needed each other. This only reinforces the title of the chapter of Bruce being an antihero and the closeness of their relationship. It’s also evident in the closing pictures where, for the first time in the book, they are playing the piano together and actually enjoying each other’s company.

The Complicated Father

After reading the first three chapters of Fun Home, I feel sadness for Alison Bechdel. The three chapters focused on the controlling nature of the father and how she feels she had a play in his death. Bechdel’s family was not the typical one of loving and fun, because she was subjected to following commands. Her father seemed to be always stern and suppressing the mother’s happiness, while treating the children like objects. With his obsession of perfection of the house and having the children to help, it was clear to me that something had troubled the father that no one really knew.

 

This was evident when the mother told Bechdel that he had affairs with other men and boys before. I kind of saw it coming because Bechdel saw parallels between herself and her father, and how well the father handled the news of Bechdel realizing she’s a lesbian. However, while it seems like the endless pain and obsession with Fitzgerald took the father’s life, Bechdel can’t seem to shake off that she had a part in it. I feel like the father loved his children and wife, but never showed it. He had been through too much pain with being molested, and didn’t want his children to be hurt. He was being stern and obsessive to protect them, and when his daughter realized who she was, the father felt a feeling of acceptance and knew it was the right time to end the pain.

 

I really like the usage of graphics because it added an intriguing element to the story. To see Bechdel’s memories and father’s facial expression added to the emotion felt while reading it, it made me feel sadder for Bechdel.

It’s Okay to Be Different

In “Blue Talk and Love”, Sullivan utilizes the character Earnestine beautifully to show her differences from the norm and has you rooting for her in the end. The character Earnestine portrays an internal conflict that many people have regarding race and sexual orientation. During the story, she always compares herself to the pretty white girls, which is considered the norm. She hangs out with Xiomara and constantly wishes she has her attributes. However, she would always be considered different because of her skin color. She tries prying into Xiomara stories about boys and hopes to feel the same connection that she does. Earnestine doesn’t and it’s evident that these differences causes tension within her mood and confusion about who is she supposed to be.

 

Earnestine’s talk with her father was the turning point where Earnestine finally realized it’s okay to be different. I feel like the father told Earnestine what she already knew and his example of a pigeon only reinforced it. Despite being attacked by people and having to constantly deal with annoying children, the pigeon still does its own thing and does what they want and feel. I feel like Earnestine already knew that but to hear it from her father changed her view. It seemed like she always enjoyed her father and her music but never had a deep talk because he was always out. For her to see her father understand and also seeming forever lonely when he just sat there and watched the pigeons, it was impactful and made Earnestine know she wasn’t alone.

 

In the end, I was happy for Earnestine. While she will always have insecurities about her beauty and differences from the norm, it seemed that she was starting to accept it. This was a major change from the beginning and it has you rooting for her, especially when she understands her sexual desires and makes love to Xiomara.

Unfortunate Responsibility

In “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories”, Roxane Gay examines the privacy rights of celebrities and their influence on social issues such as homosexuality. Gay argues that by becoming more famous, there is a tradeoff with less privacy. This is because as humans, we are curious and want to know anything just for the sake of it. Celebrities are easy targets because they are always talked about and they are known to the public. However, Gay feels that it is wrong to strip the boundaries of these individuals because they are humans as well. I agree with her stance on that because some individuals that become famous never intended to. They were just doing what they love, and happened to be put in that position.

Because of their social position, we tend to put tremendous pressure on these celebrities to tackle social issues. A huge one would be “coming out the closet”, where so many individuals are coming out as gay, bisexual, etc. While it is amazing for progress and people are more comfortable now than ever to come out, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of those under the spotlight. We put an unfair amount of responsibility on these celebrities to change the world, but they are human beings as well. They never signed up to change the beliefs about homosexuality, and the first ones who did succumb to the social pressure definitely had to feel uncomfortable. However, as the saying goes “curiosity killed the cat”, someone has to pay for our need for information. As in this case, it is unfortunately the homosexual celebrities.

It’s Okay To Not Be Married

After reading “The Supreme Court’s Lonely Heart Club”, I agree with the annoyed stance Michael Cobb took on the government. The supreme court says marriage is needed to compensate for the loneliness and unhappiness when single. Justice Anthony Kennedy refers to all single people as worthless by saying, “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there”. Immediately, the devil’s advocate plays in my head and Cobb’s as well. There are many people in the world who are just as happy as ones in marriages. Kennedy assumes all single people are lonely, but Cobb counters that by having many close loving relationships such as friendships and “close business partnerships”. The only difference is that they are not engaging in sex to make offspring. Why should sex and marriage dictate if we’re lonely? That seems very close-minded of a Supreme Court Justice to say.

Another idea that seemed very narrow-minded and unthoughtful was that since single people are lonely, they don’t have dignity as well. Their definition of dignity seems to exclude a copious amount of people, because not everyone is going to find their soulmate and be married. Cobb shows a statistic that states “you’ll be misunderstood as living a miserable, lonely life by the other 49.8 percent”. Dignity shouldn’t be defined as being in love, rather than doing something meaningful in the right way. There are many people who have accomplished something, without being married such as John Mayer. Who’s to say that he isn’t dignified in his own accomplishments?

What irks Cobb is that the government think they have the power to set a standard for relationships. I think that’s awful because how is one person going to dictate how another lives their life. There are many people who actively refuse to marry, and yet live a life that is happy to them.

The Power Dynamic of The Repression of Sex

In We “Other Victorians”, Foucault emphasizes the repression of sexuality and the power dynamic it has on humans. He introduces the repression by using historical basis of the Victorian era and how it hasn’t changed much since. During the Victorian era, spending energy on activities that distracted from work were not ideal. Sex was one of them and thus became an activity and discussion confined within a marriage. With the bourgeoisie controlling what and where sex can be discussed, the power dynamic shifted towards them. Foucault then also shows how this repression is relatively new, since it wasn’t common few centuries before the 18th.

However, the interesting part is that Foucault mentions how the repression still exists today. It’s hidden in the way we mention sexuality. In society, we openly talk about how we recognize the repression.  As humans, we have discussed of how we can’t discuss about sex or how we feel restricted. By conversing of these issues, it shows how repression is still controlling and we’re looking for a way to combat it. It seems that humans are revolting against the bourgeoisie that started this repressive practice many years ago. With that, the power dynamic seems to shift towards the other side.

With the many questions at the end, Foucault shows how he is fascinated by the “Why? “of the situation.  Why are interested in conversing about sex or, Why is there this innate rebellion? Foucault doesn’t get to the root of these questions in this chapter, but they are thought provoking. Also, it shows how Foucault is interested in going beyond the scope of the repression and finding out what is the driving force of it.

The Word “Can’t” For Unhappiness in Love?

“Against Love” by Laura Kipnis seems exactly how the title sounds. By attacking marriage and sex for being so laborious, Kipnis shows how love needs a lot of work and effort. She makes love seem worthless and sad by showing how happiness wouldn’t need much work to maintain. Kipnis shows this by explaining how couples that have been with each other for a while, still need to work to regain the exciting sexual passion that was once there in the beginning of the relationship. I like how she compares those people to “assembly-line workers” to show how tiring and redundant it is to “keep the passion alive” year after year.

Kipnis also shows how laborious marriage is by listing the many things one can’t do anymore in the relationship. I found some of the examples reasonable, but some didn’t seem bad enough to make a marriage unhappy. It made me think of personal marriages I know; there have been cases of none of these examples happening and yet, their marriages are failing with a divorce happening. Then, there are other cases where some of these examples do happen, and they’re still madly in love with each other. Does that mean some factors have more of an impact on our happiness with the partner? She says the word that matters is “can’t”, but what about the ones that can and are still unhappy with the love. Can’t the word “can” matter as well? Overall, I enjoyed reading this piece and it’s crazy to realize how love isn’t always as simple as we think it is.