Sunday, December 26, 2010

Peggy McIntosh

Hi readers, long time no see.

This past semester I took an American Studies course where I was able to continuously rant about the great inequalities still present in American society. During the course, one of my instructors handed out an article by Peggy McIntosh. Shocked is not the right word to explain my feelings while reading it, amazement is more likely to describe what I felt, due to the fact that I was glad that someone had written something concerning "White Privilege."

I do feel as though a great deal of the time, Americans in general tend to think that there is so much equality nowadays. They then proceed to compare present times to segregation prior to 1964 and then go as far as slavery. This really frustrates me. It's the answer that I would expect from a ten year old about racial equality. This article by Peggy demonstrates the obscured privileges of white over black. There are things that even I  did not recognize prior to reading this article. So before you start calling me a pessimist of black equality and racist against white people, read this article. I'm not saying that this is as horrible as slavery or segregation laws, but I am saying that there is a veil shrouded over these problems, and instead of looking at it as a job well done, look at this issue as continuously evolving problem, one that needs addressing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pride, Prejudice, Zombies and.. Feminism?

Hi everyone, a little odd for me to come out of nowhere with a post that is basically part of a paper for a class. However, I figured it was a good way for me to jump back into blogging, since I really did not have to think of anything write or edit or blah blah blah. SO. This paper is for my American Studies course. Yes, I wrote about Zombies. Duh. But please note that I was completely thrown off about how I really seem to feel about Smith's novel. Also note that I used the words "Zombie" and "Apocalypse" in an academic essay AND capitalized them AND had justifications for doing so. Bad ass? I think so. Oh! I almost forgot, I have not been able to work on it as much as I would have liked to, so please don't judge the little errors too harshly. Thanks guys! Enjoy.

        A contemporary example of how “female” texts are differentiated from “male” texts is through “Pride Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame Smith. By taking the classic novel “Pride and Prejudice,” and flipping the text completely on its side, what was once a seemingly difficult read of feminism in the 19th century, is now completely modernized. The contemporary piece entails a female heroine who uses physical violence over her wits to convey disdain of the distorted society around her. The message of this novel has now become completely obstructed in modern feminist thought. Smith believes he is being constructive by creating what he thinks is a strong female character. However, he is doing the opposite by objectifying women. Smith is devaluing the nature of Jane Austen’s original text by inserting action and masculinity to replace the “light,” “feminine,” “chattiness” and “sentimentality”  (Tompkins). By doing this, Smith is advocating the idea that a woman can not be strong and feminine.
              Both novels depict feminism; the way in which they are depicted to the reader are vastly different. Pride and Prejudice being more indirect with its feminism and as a consequence, conservative. Its underlying tones of satire and irony however proves it to be just that. Austen utilizes the flowery and “light” language to disprove the idea that such language from the mouth of a woman can be intellectual and full of “serious thinking.”  Take for instance the first line of Pride and Prejudice: “It is universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a fortune must be in want of a wife” (Austen 1). Someone interpreting this from a conservative point of view, would say that Austen’s narrator is also complacent in this ideology. Someone interpreting this from a larger understanding of Austen’s style of writing and her own ideology would say the exact opposite. With this first sentence, Austen delivers a general critique of the society she lives in, the position of a wealthy man to pick and choose a wife as if she was an asset of having a fortune, and finally the position of the female to be complacent in this thinking. By the narrator’s ambiguous tone, Austen is conveying her most profound sarcasm and satirical nature.  
                   “Pride Prejudice and Zombies” is a deliberate attempt at feminism. Characters like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Bennet were originally portrayed as strong for their intelligence and wits, in addition to their disdain for society or “town,” make them appear to other characters as having an unpopular and almost outcast nature. Their unprecedented philosophy make them appear radical at times, in comparison to the old-fashioned and outdated ideals that were largely dominating society. This is what makes Elizabeth and her father feminist. It is a more conservative view of feminist characters then what modern society expects. However, Austen’s decision to make these two characters anything but what they are, would have contradicted the point in writing the novel. In “Pride Prejudice and Zombies” Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet take strong stances in their ideas about women and their position in society because of the Zombie Apocalypse, and yet this does not necessarily make them as feminist. Smith’s novel demonstrates that stronger proves to be better because that means the character will survive the Zombie Apocalypse. In a Zombie Apocalypse, this holds a great deal of truth; having said that, it is not necessary for Elizabeth’s character to have “masculine” qualities in order to be so physically strong. In other words, what made her strong in Pride and Prejudice was not her physical strength, but her intelligence, wit and sarcasm. In order to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, she would need to be both physically and mentally fit. Her inner dialogue throughout "Pride Prejudice and Zombies" is fairly minimal in philosophical thought, she thinks more like an assassin, a killer than anything else.
           Under similarly based conclusions, Smith could have incorporated Elizabeth’s wit both Austin readers and Janeites have idealized since publication. The question now becomes, why didn’t he? The answer is obvious to the point of view of a staunchly feminist reader, “smart girls are not strong girls.” Smith is not only devaluing Austen’s texts but her characters. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice’s feminist heroine, is an extension of Austen’s self; using the “light” and “chatty” qualities expected of female writers (and females in general) as a way of delivering sharp criticisms against society. By turning Elizabeth into a purely masculine character, Smith erased all traces of Elizabeth’s intelligence and most importantly, her femininity.  Therefore Smith is not only devaluing Elizabeth’s wit as a character, but what her character is essentially composed of and thus, her critique of society. Similarly, by making her masculine, she is not able to love a man the same way. Although her love for Mr. Darcy is not realized till the later portions of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth tackles Mr. Darcy’s pride with her words rather than anything else. In Pride Prejudice and Zombies, Elizabeth contemplates attacking and even killing him on several occasions, and actually physically attacks Mr. Darcy when he announces his love for her. Smith has turned Elizabeth into what most people would refer to as an “Angelina Jolie” type. This type consists of a woman who’s physical attractiveness is the total basis for her femininity, void of any sentimentality, everything is completely masculine. In other words, she is solely devoted to violence, action and fighting. Although Smith does not portray Elizabeth as “sexy,” he is biting into the modern ideology of what makes a woman strong is being unsentimental, physically strong, and unphilosophical. 
                      The cover of the book also adds a distinguishing element to how Smith feels about Jane Austen and women’s writing. His adaption of Austen’s text exhibits this as well, but by literally defacing her, Smith characterizes her work as outdated and dilapidated. In an interview with Smith, when asked about how was working with Jane Austen, he replies: “Well, she was difficult. She was quite full of herself, actually, and I don't know that I would do it again” (‘Pride and Prejudice’). Although it was said in a jokingly manner, his first reaction to a question on Jane Austen’s character is met with an answer of her being “difficult” and “quite full of herself.” This is a great insight to Smith’s and the public he is reaching out to, opinion on Austen. What Smith seems to not understand, is that it is quite difficult to make a parody out of something that was originally a satire, correctly. He is trying to make fun of the stuffy, conservative environment that Austen’s novel took place in, when Austen was getting at the same thing. His read on Pride and Prejudice must have struck him as exactly what women’s writing is accused of: “light,” “feminine” “chattiness” and “sentimentality” (Tompkins). The starkingly defiant critique of the society Austen lived in and wrote about, in which objectified women and limited everything they did, is completely lost in Smith’s interpretation of Pride and Prejudice.
            “Pride and Prejudice” is differentiated by “Pride Prejudice and Zombies” due to drastic changes in the role of feminism. The addition of zombies is really not as crucial an element to the novel as one might think. Women’s texts are still largely devalued even in modern society, this is clearly evident by the example of Pride Prejudice and Zombies. It undermines the style in which it was written and as a result, undermines the writer for writing in this manner. 

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice
Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs.
'Pride And Prejudice' Heroines Battle The Undead." Weekend All Things Considered 29 Mar. 2009. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 7 Nov. 2010.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New (School) Year, New Problems, New Brains?

Oh dear god. I have not done this in a while. I know my last post was at least a month ago. Maybe even more..

That's a scary thought. Getting back into the swing of things is more then hard. My body apparently rejects the idea of a new year back in the city because I have been sick for over three weeks. Yes, I have been coughing, sneezing, suffering from cold and hot extremes and dealing with mind melding headaches. (I think this was all brought on by a food allergy to an unknown substance but I can't explain the extended period of time thing.)

A few hours ago I gave my dad a ring and everything was going, more or less, the same as usual. Especially when he asked me "Why are you still sick?" To which I responded, "I don't have a clue." But it's the truth! I have no clue why I am still sick and to get more to the point, Does It Really Fucking Matter? You know what I'm more concerned about? Getting better. Yes, that is what I am more concerned with.

You know what I am also concerned with? Books.

Yes, I have yet to get pretty much any of my books. I have had over 5 reading assignments within the past week, so that's about 500 pages of reading that I have to catch up on in addition to the week that lies before me. It's not like Im lazy about the books. I just have yet to find the money to purchase them. It's hard to eat and take care of everyday things in addition to the massive amount of books that I am always in need of.

I always seem to take at least three heavy literature-based classes. Like this semester. I am taking American Studies, Women In Literature,  Israel and Palestine, and a history course in the FDR era (which is my favorite class).

I also find getting back to thinking on a highly analytical level more difficult lately. I am not sure if it is due to the large amount of summer induced comas I experienced, or whether it is just that my brain needs a hiatus.

On second thought, whatever the reason, I am pretty sure I would love for my brain to hiatus.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


So give me all your bad. Give me all the worst ideas imaginable. Now give me all the best. Give me the best ideas ever.. Go ahead, because I really would like to see what you have that could possibly beat what I have. I'll wait..

Ok, that is enough waiting. Today's topic boys and girls: Zombie Sex

Something I never would have thought another human being (other then my sick self) would think of. I recently found a listing on Craigslist in need of a human being wanting sex with another human being with a few minor conditions:

- Must *look* like a zombie and more importantly, an **attractive** zombie.

- Must *act* like a zombie.

- Don't be shy. (This entails growling, blood, etc.)

- In addition, (But not required) *Zombie Experience*

On a further note, this person has given a description of the aforementioned sex. Classic zombie scene, I must say. In which, the "human" is going about their daily life doing human stuff, listening to the news on a miniature radio, hearing about the horrors going on in the streets around them. When all of a sudden, who bursts through the door!? Zombie(s)!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhh. The puny human screams and shouts, begs for mercy with a long winded


The human's clothes are torn off in a frenzy of violence and hunger! "Ahhhhhhhh" Cue the fake blood!

This person certainly knows what they are doing.

Now, after I read the ad once or twice (and being immediately disappointed that said person lives no where near me), I realized that this was not a man. But a woman. For some reason i automatically assumed that this sick individual who made my heart warm and buttery like a fresh cinnamon bun, was a man. This is the part where I take a serious and deeper look into my soul and question, what it truly means to be human.

If the zombie question does one thing, it is to provoke the question of the very existence of the human race. So what am I if not a human? The point is, it doesn't matter. No matter how strongly I believe in equality, women's rights and the like, it was wrong of me to judge the woman as a man. Especially in my case, that since I identified with this person so strongly, why did my braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain automatically go to that place?

In my personal opinion, its a whole matter of braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain-washing and conditioning. We are fed and train to act, think, behave, and solve things differently on purpose. So, on the other hand, being a Zombie must entail a pretty unbiased and carefree life, don't you think? Ponder that for a while.

Women zombies like brains just as much as men zombies. Male humans are just as scared of their brains getting eaten as female humans.

And on that note, I am going to email Miss DD. =P