Author: Mika N. Burgess

Blurred Lines in Society

After the allegations against Aziz Ansari came out, it blurred lines in the #MeToo Movement. Though most people believe Grace’s story, it was unlike much of the rest of the #MeToo movement, which Framke points out in her explanation. From less extensive journalism procedures, to the history of Ansari, to the situation Grace expressed, more fervent critics arose and the movement became divided. Expressing the movement had moved to  “too much”, critics began wanting to the end the unique movement as it crossed a line. This line, essentially, is that incidents like this are far too common. By crossing this line arises a huge question for all of society- what should these consequences be? Should there be any?

This question remains a suppressed one. In a male dominated society of “Men want[ing] what they want”, they don’t want consequences. Gay analyzes this in “Blurred Lines, Indeed”. Men dominate, and those who question this need to “lighten up”. Pop Culture and government are just two examples of this, but it describes society as a whole- viewable in the #TimesUp Movement and Hollywood. Though we finally are questioning it, some people are going through the same dilemma Gay faced. Unsure of the blurred line between lightening up and taking action, this is what drove the #MeToo Movement to be long overdue.

Empathy in Wolfpack

“Wolfpack” is a contrast to the other pieces we have read thus far, but offers new insight to how ones race and sexuality affect ones life. For the women in the story, these uncontrollable characteristics were practically their downfall, as they were sentenced to intense charges and media due to their homosexuality. Upon first skim, I was confused by the alignment to our course and past reading. However, a more in depth read proved that Sullivan wrote the store to prove a complex side and forgotten of sexuality.

I really enjoyed Sullivan’s writing and techniques in Wolfpack. Her use of imagery and narration is realistic and rich, making the short story more impactful and real. Additionally, this writing helps one understand and connect with the characters, understanding their tough positions as unjust incarcerated women. Through the three different perspectives, the first-person perspective helps to tell the story in a unique and expansive way. The audience is able to better empathize with the characters. Though one may know the report of the incident of the New Jersey Four, one cannot understand the point of view, position, or feelings until empathizing. Sullivan uses this short story as a vehicle to do so.

Although I enjoyed and understood “Wolfpack”, I am not completely sure on the message and themes of the story. I look forward to discussing and understanding this themes in class today.

Intersections and Intentions in “Fun Home”

In the first half of “Fun Home”, we saw frequent revisitations of mentions and ideas explored. This technique of Bechdel’s is only amplified in the later half of her graphic novel, as she exquisitely ties up her and her father’s intertwining complex relationship. Through her use of graphics, light images can be revisited and easily remembered, as we saw on page 210 when the similar image is used to recall a brief mention she made in chapter 2. The memoir is not able to be fully grasped in a singular image or quote- the full power and notability derives from her involved and intricate symbols, allusions, and images that reflect the “entwined stories” of their unique father-daughter connection. As a closeted and repressed “gay” man (we only assume he’s gay- Bechel states herself he may have been bisexual or had a different orientation) and open lesbian woman, they live as inverses- mirroring the self-doubt and repression, attraction to literature, and homosexual preference. To me, the most distinct aspect of their relationship is Bruce (the father) tendency to live vicariously through her, even if subconscious. In her coming out, both in the first half of the story and later chapters, her father is decently accepting of her coming out- recommending to her that self exploration is good and necessarily. He “almost” comes out to her- his note is very ambiguous and hard to decipher. Nevertheless, the last chapter of “Fun Home” explores an evolving attention and bond, both in English and personal acceptance.

This last chapter is also my favorite, as I pieced and united together every literary device Bechdel employed to envision the tying of the final moments of their relationship. The story makes you forget it is in fact a memoir and true story- it is almost too interconnected and fitting. The final few months/years of the relationship provides you with hope, as Alison comes out to her father and met with acceptance, their bonds over English, his own opening up and admission of sexuality, and new attention and ties they make. One interesting image in Chapter seven was on page, 218 when Alison attempts to bring up the topic of homosexuality with her father yet is met with “derision… and fear in his eyes”. His mockery is almost apparent- he has a small grin, which is especially unique because he is frowning through out the entire book. In addition, the tiny smile is eerily similar to the uncontrollable grin Alison has at her own father’s funeral. However, we kind of know this one is controlled and forced- in hopes to hid the fear in his eyes, which we can’t quite see or know. But through Alison’s words and descriptions, and revisitation of “fear in [ones] eyes”, we know that this exists. Her combination of images and words, I believe, play an equally important parts- the graphic novel distinction helps us explore the relation between words, literature, meaning, appearances, and passions, more than may have been able to with just a novel. It is truly emphasized that every aspect she includes is intentional, taking the time to draw and include it.

Appearances and Visuals in “Fun Home”

“Fun Home”, by Alison Bechdel, poses a starch contrast to our other readings and pieces studied. Bechdel examines her personal past in this visual memoir, constructing a introspective look into her experiences with love, family and sexuality. She begins her memoir examining her home and her father’s obsession with it. I thought that the first chapter was the basics of the entire title and book itself, but as I read further, I discovered it is further extended to the funeral home, her father’s death, her relationship with her family, and her own sexuality and place in her body. The piece contains hidden or briefly mentions of points she furthers on through out “Fun Home”, but through Bechel’s imagery in the visual pictures and comics, she is able to convey a multitude of points persistently  throughout her piece.

In her first chapter, she examines her father’s obsession with appearances. Her focus on this is almost ironic due to her use of graphics to display the preoccupation. We are able to visualize preoccupation, but the form makes an interesting relationship as the graphics fixate on appearances too.  In sexuality in general, there is an emphasis on the appearance of one- whether that is focused in ones’ gender, beauty, or sexual attraction. In “Fun Home”,  Ashley’s father has an obsession with appearances that is apparent in his own physical looks, home, and presence in society. Even in his death, the symbolic nature of his tombstone is based in appearance. One thing I found interesting through Bechel’s pictures was on page 29, when she creates a mirror of her father’s own appearance to the obelisk. A major theme through out the three chapters, and I hypothesize through the entire piece, is symbolic nature and thematic presence on looks.

While there are a plethora of other interesting symbols and devices throughout the piece, one of the most intriguing I found was the stark juxtaposition of images throughout her graphics. On page 65, her father is writing a love letter to her mother during his time in Germany, while other men in the background wrestling. This intention juxtaposition serves many purposes, but primarily, it visible shows the difference of her father to the typical males.

 

The Appearance of Blue Talk and Love

“Blue Talk and Love”, the short story by Mecca Sullivan, explores the complex interworking and relationships of a coming of age girl named Earnestine. This story is very unlike other pieces we’ve read- both in format and subject matter.  explores the relations of race, class, body issues, early sexualization, marriage, and urbanization all in one piece. In addition, she also addresses the ideas of loneliness and love.

Mecca Sullivan begins her piece discussing Earnestine relationship and friendship with Xiomara. Xiomara is the more idealized view of beauty in American Society, and E seems to be both jealous and crave her. Yet at the same time, she has an amount of hatred for her- their relationship is complicated, and reflects the complications of most relationships. Throughout the piece, there is attention to appearance and the way things look. She begins the piece describing what Xiomara and Earnestine look like and the implications of their appearance, raising discussion of body image. Often in her writing, Sullivan describes things and events as the way the look. For example, when Earnestine accidentally comes across pornographic movie, she describes and introduces the situation with, “Earnestine was looking at a naked man” (pg. 38).  Sullivan’s emphasis on their appearance also raises the issue of sexualization of young girls- from her story, you may think the girls were in their later teenage years or into adulthood. However, in reality, the girls are only in sixth grade.

Sullivan also writes about the complicated marriage of Earnestine’s parents. Confusing mostly on her father, the third person emphasizes the worry Earnestine has about her father, as she sees him as being very lonely and emasculated. This is contradictory and in juxtaposition of the dreamt about marriage of stereotypical America.

Trevor and Mika

One of Gay’s main points in “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories” is that there are unrealistic social pressures for LGBTQ community members with noteriety. At the same time as she is passionately expressing this, she is unknowingly pressuring a gay celebrity who at the time was closeted. Gay writes “I do not know the man. Maybe he is homophobic, maybe he isn’t. I do know that he doesn’t think about language very carefully” when discussing rapper Tyler the Creator’s use of homophobic slurs. Her assumption that Tyler is a heterosexual man is in direct contrast to her point that celebrities shouldn’t feel obligated to discuss their sexuality publicly. The use of slurs in his songs is likely a reflection and commentary of his life experiences as a homosexual man, for Gay to assume his sexuality is somewhat a contradiction. While Gay points out an important point of the continuing deep rooted culture prejudice and injustice, she is forgetting her main argument and perpetuating the assumption and lack of privacy. Tyler, The Creator, who also does not come from a place of privilege alike to Frank Ocean, has important perspective that is forgotten in this piece: that it is difficult to give up these privacy, and all public figures still struggle with the issues of injustice. Privacy and publicity is a complicated balance, and the assumptions we make with it persist to perpetuate injustice though we may try and fight it.

Privacy of Sexuality vs Publicity of Coming Out

Roxanne Gay begins her piece “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories” analyzing the increasing lack of privacy, especially for public figures, in today’s culture. We desire to know everything in their lives’, from their sexuality to intimate details of their relationships, despite not quite having the authority. Gay associates the public as “we”, creating a common and more subjective critique of this crave of knowledge We assume its the sacrifice they make for fame and fortune. However, we forget that these public figures are still human, and often just figuring it out for themselves too.

Gay analyzes the three coming out stories of Anderson Cooper, Frank Ocean, and Sally Rider. All different types of celebrities, with different stories, in different places. However, with their publicity of their sexuality, they were able to “stand up and be counted”. This is an integral part of the quest for LGBTQ rights. Often we already love the celebrity, and thus, their sexuality brings more to light and has helped to normalize the issues. Their fame creates a responsibility- they are in a place where they can come out and help the issues, but not all are so lucky. Between hate crimes and hatred, depending on where you are, it can be literally dangerous to come out. While the privacy is an important right, the publicity of coming out can change lives and help with the civil rights of the entire movement

However, in order to complete address the movement, society as a whole must do more. We should no longer be allowed to normalize and be okay with anything but acceptance.

The Club for Values Beyond Sexual Attraction

 

If you surveyed average adults and asked what they want most in life and what they fear the most, a large number of those results would be “love” and “loneliness”. Love is undoubtedly a centerpiece of society, and the distinguishment between platonic love and romantic love makes a difference. As Michael Cobb argues in “The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts Club”, the sexual attraction and lust ultimately plays a piece in this. It orders society, thus people’s aspirations, ultimately alienating even the happiest and loved single individual. With the Supreme Court’s distinction of marriage to equate lack of loneliness, one must ponder the implications of this argument. Although all good-hearted people would agree that same-sex marriage and marriage equality should protected, why must this be justified by designating people “equal dignity in the eyes of the the law? (page 3)

Every human spends at least some portion of their life as single, and this is an inescapable fact. Even if it is not their fault (due to death or betrayal by the partner), one eventually falls into the 50.2% of American adults. Yet, when one is included in this grouping, the rest of society seems to inflict a form of pity on them. Cobb mentions a time when his grandmother, on her deathbed, begged him to get married (page 4). The insecurity derived from this makes one insecure, despite how happy they might be. Even if the solidarity is by their own happy choosing (asexuality, focusing on other aspects, wanting to avoid heartbreak, happy with familial love), from Justice Kennedy to marriage benefits to deep down emotions, seem to pressure us to crave mutual attraction.

Marriage certainly comes with numerous material and emotional benefits. And with Justice Kennedy’s new designation that Cobb is critiquing and outlook on marriage, we are only more desperate and reliant on love. But Michael Cobb utilizes personal evidence and anecdotes to question this as a happy single person. It is trivial to depend your life and maximum happiness and fulfillment on one person. Cobb argues that “simply being yourself- your single self- is already the fundamental form of dignity”, and I agree that we should hold our own individuality and autonomy to a higher esteem. No one would argue that sexual attraction is not the most important aspect of a person, and thus, we should not act and govern ourselves and society as though it is.

“In Favor of Love”

“Against Love: A Polemic”, by Laura Kipnis, explores a cynical and controversial view of modern love. She points out that throughout history, the everlasting, dreamt-about love seems to be a misconception and unreliable. Through her employment of the word “you”, irony, and comedic relief, her critical view become more relatable, and thus, more persuasive. Although her dark beliefs are unappealing to most, her rhetoric devices help to recognize that they are not quite wrong. As she points out, there are aspects to love and relationships that simply are enological and unsustainable in the long term. Infidelity, lack of passion, mutuality, rebellious midlife crosses, and complete vulnerability seem like easy sacrifices in modern society and relationships; yet on closer inspection, they are challenges for most people in some degree, leading us to chastise the victims.
An interesting and intriguing evidence Kipnis provides is her twenty-eighth paragraph, in which she repeatedly uses “you” tense and relatable relationship experience to prove that love is hard. It is dictated by what one “can’t” do, instead of can. She believes modern love is reliant on domesticity, and thus, it is a power structure at play. Love in Kipnis’s eyes is full of flaws, and these flaws outweigh the benefits any relationship may have. However, it would be foolish to discount the full value of love. Love is complicated, but it gives people purpose and satisfaction that is crucial to the human experience. It is crucial to ones’ emotional life, although it should be reevaluated. While the contemporary love story may have faults and unfortunate intricacies, many of the same writing techniques could be used to support “In Favor of Love”.