Incredible shrinking women, or – getting my voice heard

I think this video is very important, I think this young woman is a genius, and I am so glad that this is going viral. It is such an important issue, feminism, and equality, and the fact that many people believe we have achieved this equality that we have been fighting for, for hundreds of years (doing research for a paper I stumbled upon the fact that not all researchers agree as to when feminism begun, the dominant view is that it started at the end of the 19th century, but some argue that it started with the quarrel de femme – “the woman question”, in France, 1450).

So we live with the sense that we are finally equal, men and women, living peacefully. I believed that, until I started to open my eyes over a year ago. I started reading feminist blogs, learning about feminist and post-colonial criticism of literature in university, I started looking around and seeing that actually all is not equal. I watched, and learned, and read about how women are sexually harassed in public spaces, even small things, like strange men commenting on women’s clothes, or shouting sexual remarks, or calling women “baby”, or “sexy” (for example). I experienced it myself, and finally acknowledged that I was experiencing it. I learned that women’s wages are still considerably lower than men’s, a condition which also has a trendy name – “the pay gap“. I learned that most movies do not pass the Bechdel test (does the movie have two female characters, who have names, and converse about something other than men – seriously, try it out, you will be amazed at how many movies fail at this). There are myriad examples, and these are just ones that I managed to fish out of my head right now.

A final example that I would like to talk about is academia (This site has some horror stories about what it is like to be a woman in academia). Going into the academic world requires you to make your voice heard, boldly. And that is a thing that I have always struggled with, and also the thing which touched me the most about this video. Lily Myers talks about women who shrink, so as to make more room for men, women growing thinner and thinner, being silent, being expected to “contain” men. And she also talks about women getting their voices heard, or rather – women being afraid of raising their voices, with a very poignant example: she says that she asked five questions in genetics class today, and all of them started with “sorry”, because as women in academic situations we sometimes feel the need to apologize for getting ourselves heard, almost as if our opinions are somewhat lesser.

Women have been holding back their voices for centuries, in the Renaissance it was not acceptable for a woman to write an original text, and women were actually forcibly held out of the academia and academic pursuits by not being taught Latin and Greek, *the* academic languages of the era, but only the vernacular tongues. But even then, there were a few exceptional and inspirational women, who learned these languages and found themselves a niche in the literature world, beginning with translation (which was somewhat respectable for ladies, since nothing original was written ā€“ although you should give them credit, they did find a way to put their original voice in through introductions and via the way that they translated, emphasizing certain things, while making others seem of less importance), and moving on to writing original pieces. These women inspire me and fill me with awe, like the woman in this slam poetry video, they make me want to go out there and show the world what I can do.

And so I have decided to acknowledge all of this, and make the conscious decision to get my voice heard in academia. I have just been accepted to graduate school, beginning my MA next October, and although I am rather timid and reserved, I have decide to make a change, to be more present, to excel, to stop being afraid that my opinion does not deserve to be heard. So I decided to publish my first article, I already have the basis for it and just need to develop and fine-tune it, perhaps I will elaborate in my next post.

So my plan to get my voice heard is made up of four parts: 1. Start writing more often in this blog, as an exercise in writing, and in getting my voice heard, 2. Work on my article and publish it, 3. Actually participate in my seminars this semester, I am clever, I have things to say, Iā€™m not just a fly on the wall, 4. Speak out more in everyday life, complain if needed, and not just swallow it all and hold it in.

Because it’s my time to grow.

Love,

Leore Joanne

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The San Diego blues

One of the joys of being in a foreign country – discovering all those new birds, that you don’t have in your home country (of course other animals are exciting as well, but birds are much more commonly seen than any other species, except perhaps for insects), being surrounded by unrecognized bird songs feels positively exotic to me. Also the fact that San Diego has hummingbirds (!!) who sometimes come to our garden (we have rented a villa for our family), and that is way beyond exotic for me.

My room has a gigantic window, floor to ceiling, right beside my bed, outside is a tiny stretch of garden, and a small tree with purple flowers right across from me. I sit in my bed, delighting in the grey coolness of the sky outside, and look at the birds and insects (bees, and giant metallic beetles) that find their way into my small piece of sky.

I am on vacation, but have to write two and a half papers during said vacation, so while my family goes out to shop and have fun, I have to stay in the villa and study. Looking out into the garden, seeing all this life going on around me, all these animals I haven’t seen before, soothes my soul a little bit.

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Yesterday we went to San Diego zoo, one of the largest zoos in the world, and one of the zoos most active in preservation and breeding programs. We went with two small children (my nephew, who is one year old, and my five year old niece), so we sped by most of the exhibits, and I didn’t get to just stand and stare at anything to my heart’s content. But I did get something of the gist of the place, and I looked at the keepers, with the geeky khaki shorts they need to wear, and thought how lovely, if I could go back to this zoo someday as a veterinarian.

I find it hard to get into a habit of writing, especially with so many things happening around, but I know I’ll be glad later for documenting some of it, some day in the future, when I shall want to wallow in the memories. Perhaps I’ll write the next post about my library escapades in New York last week.

What I HAVE been good about was updating my instagram! So if you want to check up on me, look me up – www.instagram.com/leorejoanne

And now, my mom and sisters are going to Anthropologie and other exciting shops we simply don’t have in Israel, and I need to go back to reading and writing about the gothic in children’s literature, and the poetics of Charles Dickens in Bleak House. And when I finish both of those (next week), I can start comparing the presentation of hybrids (centaurs/fauns/mermaids etc.) in classical writings (ancient Greece), and in contemporary fiction (Narnia, The Magicians, Harry Potter, etc.). Only thing I can say is – at least I have really interesting subjects.

Have a magical day,

Leore Joanne Green