30
Oct 14

Why Men Should Dress Like Sluts For Halloween

‘Tis the season… 😉

I thought I’d take a break from my normal informative style of blogging in favor of an opinion piece this week. I’m sure you’re all aware of the controversy surrounding women’s “sexy” Halloween costumes each year. It’s somewhat difficult for women to find costumes which aren’t revealing and suggestive. This goes especially young women, who unfortunately feel compelled at times to dress like a sex pot in order to fit in. Some women, however, feel quite empowered by dressing this way, saying it allows them to publicly express their sexuality without being judged. The problem is that there really aren’t too many “sexy” costumes for boys out there–a mere smidgen compared to what is available for girls. In fact, to the average buyer, it’s quite difficult to find any sexy costumes for men at all, and even more difficult to find any which are not sexy for women.

Feminists have been arguing for years: Does this push for sexy costumes for girls objectify and degrade women? Or is empowering them to throw out societal taboos for one night each year and show off their sexuality? I happen to feel that, if you’re comfortable with it, being daring and showing off your body is quite liberating. We shouldn’t be shaming women who are comfortable enough with their bodies to strut their stuff and become a sex kitten for a night… Sometimes literally. What makes it sexist, I would argue, is that men are not given the same freedom to do the same.

I like to explain this opinion by making a reference to the queer community. Most of us don’t remember, but for a while, Halloween was a precious holiday to LGBT individuals. It was the one night where they could dress however they wanted–as their true, sexy selves–and not be judged. It was a night where they were able to embrace their sexuality, and it was healthy. Freeing. Now, while LGBT kids still love Halloween, they have many more opportunities to express themselves, such as pride parades and other new, LGBT holidays. But for a while, it was all they had. And now, it might be the only official night that straight people have. Straight women, anyway.

Here’s what I think: It is sexist that only women are encouraged to dress provocatively on Halloween. However, taking the option for us to dress this way away is only denying us ability to express ourselves, which is repressive and unhealthy. What we should be doing is inviting straight boys to join in. Nobody should feel uncomfortable about what they’re wearing on Halloween–it’s Halloween! If you’re proud of your body, why not show it off? And men, trust me, straight girls would not be unappreciative. You guys have so few opportunities to show off your crazy, sexy side, why not do it on the one night of the year where there are no rules, and no fashion faux pas–just awesome, glitter rock wildness. Be brave and join us girls for one night. You might find it brings out a side of you you didn’t know you had.

Happy Halloween everyone.


30
Oct 14

Outline for “The First Movement to Combat Domestic Violence (Happening Now)”

Intro:

Domestic violence, as we see it today, is completely despicable. The police have a no tolerance policy when they get a call. But domestic violence is nothing new. In fact, fathers have beat their wives and children for thousands of years, and for nearly as long as history has been documented, this was normal. Condoned, even.

-Purposes of domestic abuse:

-keeps father in charge

-makes wives and children more obedient

-considered masculine

-Explain where “rule of thumb” comes from

(at some point mention I’m using the pronoun “he” for the aggressor and “she” for the victim because that is generally how things play out. It doesn’t always happen this way, but for our purposes and lack of confusion, these are the pronouns I’ll by applying)

Transition: When did it all change?

Policy change: 1980s

-Ronald Reagan, policy crackdown, zero tolerance with drugs, reform for policy policy

-Equal Protection Policy: Police must protect everyone equally under the law

But police could be called to break up a bar fight–they’d immediately arrest those who participated. But if they were called to investigate a domestic, they’d just check to see if beating was in progress (if they came at all), the leave. Usually, the husband would then get mad and continue to beat the wife when they left.

-Story (name pending): A woman calls the police multiple times over the course of six months. They never do anything. When they’re finally called for the last time, husband has shot the woman, dragged her outside and is kicking her. Police watch the woman get kicked twice more before arresting the man after the third kick.

-Woman sues under the equal protection policy and wins. Several more women then sue for similar problems with policy and continually win.

-Reagan calls for police policy change. Police also get paranoid–they don’t want to get sued. They start a zero tolerance policy: If there’s evidence of abuse, perpetrator gets arrested on the spot, whether the victim wants them to or not.

Attitudes:

-Since women were talking about it now, people were beginning to think of domestic abuse as something bad, and no longer the norm. It became a huge issue within the feminist movement, especially in Western society.

-More domestic abuse reported than ever–became apparent that it was the most common form of violence perpetrated.

-Definition of “violence” changes: emotional and psychological abuse also considered violent (see Duluth Model of Power and Control)

-Talk about new punishments and their severity: Are they severe enough? Feminists would argue no=> goes along with lack in severity in rape penalization.

Considering Rape Culture:

-Explain what rape culture is (find suitable definition, then elaborate with a ton of examples + some personal experiences–i.e. cat-calling, slut-shaming, people expecting me to “prevent” myself from being raped)

-What this implies for the issue of domestic violence:

-It’s expected that domestic violence will happen, because sex is often portrayed violently in our culture and men just can’t help themselves. (“Boys will be boys”)

-Marital rape is only just becoming an “real thing”

-People are quick to victim-blame: “She threw a cup at him first–he was just defending himself by punching her in the face!”

-Personal example: Guy I know defends Ray Rice, saying it might have been self defense because his girlfriend hit him first.

Explain why women might start fights:

-women may be violent in a relationship, but when asked why, it’s typically for different reasons than men. Remember, men tend to domestically abuse people in order to control their partner within a relationship. But normally, that’s the last thing on a woman’s mind…

  1. She’s just so angry or upset–she acts on her emotions, but it’s not calculated
  2. She wants to start the fight because she can feel it coming, and she just wants some control over when it happens

Conclusion: What can be done now?

  1. Feminist movements need to keep going–women know what’s best for women, and we need to trust victims when they say something is going on.
  2. Men need to confront other men who are abusers–these people tend to listen more to men anyway.
  3. More education for everyone: what is abuse, how to deal with it. It’s not always like in movies.

23
Oct 14

Rape Culture On Campus

This week I decided to go into a heavier topic in preparation for my paradigm shift paper. I’m not sure whether everyone’s been getting the alerts about sexual assault at PSU, but there’s a lot of them. And the thing is, there’s definitely more going on than what we hear about. And I believe rape culture is responsible.

For those of you who don’t know what rape culture is, I can’t blame you. It’s hard to notice something when it’s been so fully ingrained into our society since… forever. Let me give you a run-down.

Rape culture is the idea that men rape, because that’s just what men do, and we just can’t stop it from happening. Rape culture is how sexuality is regarded as violent, and that violent sexuality is normal. It’s women being afraid to go out alone at night, for fear of being rape. It’s people blaming the victim for allowing themselves to be raped. It’s judges banning the use of the word “rape” from the courtroom. It’s the assertion that only “certain people” get raped. It’s 10-year old boys knowing how to rape. It’s the idea that straight sexuality is the norm, and so is the male inability to control themselves around attractive women. It’s the notion that cat-calling and wolf whistling is “flattering.” It’s the fact that most rapes go unreported. It’s the objectification of women and girls. It’s 1 out of 31 men and 1 out of 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetime. It’s “the myriad of ways in which rape is tacitly and overtly abetted and encouraged having saturated every corner of our culture so thoroughly that people can’t easily wrap their heads around what the rape culture actually is” (McEwan 2009).

Now let’s put this in context.

There’s a period of time on college campuses, called the “Red Zone.” It refers to the first six weeks of the fall semester, during which more rapes and indecent assaults occur more than any other time of year. That’s right–this is so consistent that they even have a name for it. And who are most often the victims of these crimes? Freshmen women. The youngest, least experienced people on campus. Which implies that as college women get older, they learn to be self-protective on campus. And they have to be, if rape culture remains as rampant as it is.

What I find really aggravating is that it’s so easy for women to find information or “support” in order to avoid being raped, and there’s plenty of resources to help them cope after they’ve been raped on campus… But you’d be hard-pressed to find any info sessions for men, teaching them to not rape in the first place. It’s as though it’s become a fact of life that men will rape people, and there’s nothing we can do about it except try to avoid it.

Here’s the problem with that logic: There is no way for someone to avoid rape, especially since no one ever deserves it. If you are in the presence of someone who wants to rape, they will rape. It doesn’t matter what you wear, who you hang out with, or how much you drink. And you can’t stay away from these people because rapists don’t do things like hold signs saying “I Am A Rapist” or glow purple or anything. There’s no way to see it coming. It could happen to anyone. Which means the only way to actually handle sexual assault is to simply try to deal with the repercussions of being violated after it’s already happened. And maybe, if you report it, that person will be brought to “justice.” But it doesn’t change the fact that you were raped.

Isn’t our society better than this? It’s 2014, we live in one of the wealthiest, most highly educated and technologically advanced countries in the world. If we can find a way to put a man on the moon, we can find a way to end rape culture. And I think the first steps should be to start educating kids earlier about what rape is, and the concept of consent. Most high schools breeze over the subject, saying students are too young to have sex in the first place, which basically brushes the entire problem under the rug. We need to encourage the media to not pair violence and sexuality so easily. We need stricter and more consistent punishments for people who do commit sexual crimes. We need to encourage this and more in our society, if we ever want our rape culture to be something other than the norm.

Sources:

McEwan, Melissa. FAQ: Rape Culture 101, Oct. 19, 2009.


23
Oct 14

TED Talk Thoughts

There were little things Chimamanda Adiche did throughout her TED talks which I felt subtly but effectively engaged her audience and made them like her, which in turn made them more receptive to what she was saying to them. First, she used humor, but only sparingly. In essence, she added enough clever and tasteful wit to perk the interest of her audience–but she didn’t use humor so often that her entire presentation became a joke. I think a happy medium is important, especially when you talk about the things she did, such as feminism and stereotypes. Taking a light-hearted approach to a heavy issue is a lot less intimidating to those listening. It encourages conversation and thought, rather than fear, anger, or guilt. Of course you can’t use so much humor that the audience stops taking the issue seriously. But if you want your audience to listen to you, you have to make them comfortable.

Another important part of making your audience comfortable is not singling out people or seeming accusatory. In her humor, Adiche often made jokes out of experiences she had involving other people acting bigoted or ignorant. But she made an equal amount of cracks at herself, proving that no one is perfect, and she is not unaware of herself also making mistakes. As an activist, I know a large part of progress is calling out others and yourself when you do something insensitive or prejudice. Adiche proves that she’s self aware, as well as a good person, by acknowledging her faults throughout her speeches.

Last but not least, she uses plenty of personal examples in order to illustrate her point along side her physical evidence. This paints a more vivid picture of a situation, and also makes the audience relate more to Adiche–which ultimately leads to them caring more about her argument. If you can’t relate to someone, why would you care about what they have to say, really? I think this is an important idea to keep in mind when we write papers and give speeches. Before we can convince our audience of anything, we need to win them over. Whether that’s through humor, passion, or simple pragmatic thinking, we all need something like this in our presentations.


20
Oct 14

Intersectionality and What It’s Done For Feminism

In December of 1851, Sojourner Truth gave feminism’s first speech regarding intersectionality:

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?        (Truth 1851)

What she means by “Ain’t I a woman” is that sure, she may be black, but that’s not the only thing which defines her. She’s a woman too, and she’s a mother and former slave as well. This is what intersectionality is: A theory about the ways all people’s experiences of life are created by the intersection or coming together of multiple identities, including race, ethnicities, social class, familial background, and so on (Shaw & Lee 2010). Feminism has thoroughly embraced this concept, as is evidenced by how often the above poem, Ain’t I A Woman, is still referenced today. In fact, every form of social justice has learned to intensely value intersectionality, because by it’s very definition, it connects all of them together. Feminism is connected to the LGBTQ movement, because many women aren’t straight, and the LGBTQ movement is connected to the movement against racism, because LGBTQ people come from different ethnic background. And that movement is connected to the movement against domestic abuse, which is connected to women’s birth control rights, and so forth. It’s all connected, and it’s all because of the concept of intersectionality.

Beyond integrating all the movements into one another, intersectionality can be used as a tool for social justice in several different ways. First, it makes it easy to recognize that all identities are multifaceted. It’s like Sojourner Truth was saying. Yes she is black, but that’s not the full extent of what makes her who she is. I, for example, am white, but I’m also female, straight, and cisgender. I’m American and I grew up in a highly educated, middle-class family in a college town. Basing my identity off of only one of those traits would greatly degrade who I am as a person, and would also open the door for stereotypes about the single trait.

This is another way intersectionality helps social justice: by discouraging stereotypes and discrimination. If you were considering nothing about my identity except that I am a young white woman, you might assume I like to wear Ugg boots. But in reality, I would never wear Ugg boots because I grew up around a lot of artistic people who taught me how to express myself through my clothes, and there’s simply no message I want to send to the world by wearing them (No offense to people who like Ugg boots. They’re really comfy. But we both know they’re basically the least attractive and least interesting form of women’s footwear available). You might also assume that, since I’m young, that I’m not very cultured–even though I’ve traveled out of the country six times and speak three languages.

This is what intersectionality is used for–understanding that one trait does not define a person. And this is why feminists love the term so much. According to intersectionality, being a woman doesn’t mean you’re delicate. It doesn’t mean like you to wear dresses, or think Ryan Gosling is sexy, or enjoy pumpkin spice lattes. All those things might be true, but it could be true for thousands of different reasons. In essence, being a woman is no more significant to your identity than anything else that makes you you. Which means a woman can be or do anything that a man can be or do, and vice versa. Intersectionality is a way of embracing how everyone is different, and at the same time, have to potential to be the same. Which certainly goes well with social justice, doesn’t it?

Sources:

Lee, Janet and Shaw, Susan. Women’s Voices, 2010.

Truth, Sojourner. Ain’t I A Woman, 1851.

 


16
Oct 14

Super Rough Draft of Rhetorical Analysis

How does a president advocate an idea to the general public, when a faction of his Congress is rallying against him? Barack Obama had to do just that on October 1st, 2013, the day the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” came into being. On that same day, a faction of Congress known as the Tea Party initiated a movement within the Republican party in protest of the new law–by voting to defund the government and in essence “shut down” the entire system.  In this speech, President Obama attempts to both reiterate the value of his health care plan and to denounce the actions of the Republican Party.

The Affordable Care Act has been a trademark of the Obama administration since the time the president first campaigned. He has always been a strong advocate for universal healthcare, and it was one of his main goals and projects upon becoming president. During the first four years of his presidency, Obama had been working to finalize this plan, and after he was reelected, it was finally time to instate it. Republicans have shown outward hostility toward what they termed “Obamacare,” ever since Obama suggested it as a democratic candidate. They’ve accused him of being a “socialist,” and have remained convinced that the health care plan was bound to fail. For many, Republican and Democrat, the Affordable Care Act has become intrinsically linked to Obama’s presidency, for better or worse. And this why, strategically, the Republicans targeted the Affordable Care Act. In doing so, they not only attack one of the least popular policies among Republicans, but they degrade the entirety of the Obama administration in the process.

The speech Obama had planned to make on October 1st was one originally meant to acknowledge and celebrate the commencement of the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he learned that the Republicans were planning to shut down the government on the same day, and as the president, he would naturally need to address this issue. However, the Affordable Care Act was still going to be launched, which meant that during his speech, Obama now had to focus on acclaiming it and addressing the government shutdown. The speech begins on the topic of the problem of the government shutdown, then switches into a passage about the value of the Affordable Care Act, before circling back to reiterate the unnecessariness of the shutdown once again. In this rhetorical analysis I will focus first on the president’s use of language first as he addresses the government shutdown, and then later as he reaffirms the advantages of the Affordable Care Act.

Obama opens his speech up by immediately diving straight into the problem of the government shutdown. After a very brief descriptions of what the Republicans in Congress had done that morning, he states that “This Republican shut down did not have to happen, but I want every American to understand why it did happen.” The use of the word “Republican” as the description of “shutdown” is significant, as it emphasizes the fact that the shutdown was caused by the Republican party. This is a very strategic use of language, especially since this speech is one of the first to address the issue of the shutdown. Immediately, the people listening to the speech are learning to associate it with the Republican party, and later we’ll see, with economic disfunction.

The main rhetorical device Obama uses to incriminate the Republican party is logos. In other words, he uses logic to point out the lack of logic in the Tea Party’s actions. As he states, “the irony that the House Republicans have to contend with is they’ve shut down a whole bunch of parts of the government, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business. And this may be why you’ve got many Republican governors and senators and even a growing number of reasonable Republican congressmen who are telling the extreme right of their party to knock it off, pass a budget, move on.” Pointing out that there are Republicans who are against what their own party is doing really makes the faction causing the shutdown seem ridiculous. It also makes Republican citizens question their own party, because if the people who they support aren’t supporting each other, who’s to say if the Tea Party is doing the right thing? President Obama goes on to list the ways in which shutting the government down endangers the US economy, puts millions of people out of work, and puts government institutions meant to improve the lives of its citizens on hold. He mentions how the Republicans’ stated “goal” of the shutdown was to do away with the Affordable Care Act, but that shutting down the government doesn’t actually do anything to accomplish this. And this leaves Americans to wonder: Why didn’t Congress simply reject the Affordable Care Act when it was still a bill which needed their approval? Isn’t that their job? In essence, what Obama is trying to prove through facts is what the Tea Party has done does not make sense, and citizens should not support it.

In this segment in particular, Obama’s audience consists of more than the American people, even if that is who he is addressing directly. It’s also targeted at those watching in different countries, and to Congress as well. Obama stresses in the beginning of his speech that it is a faction that is causing this huge commotion. A faction. In other words, if someone is watching from another country, he wants them to know that most Americans support a reaction such as this. He makes it clear towards the closing that it’s not responsible or mature for the Republican Congressmen to act this way: “That’s not how adults operate. Certainly, that’s not how our government should operate.” To the Republican Congressmen, he states that he will not negotiate with them because of how absurd they’re being, saying “I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands. Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families over a law you don’t like.” He wants the Republicans to understand that this is their mess that they’ve created, and now they have to clean it up. He knows that many of them don’t agree with him, which is why he used logos more than pathos or ethos. Facts and logic are hard to argue, and using them in the way Obama has makes it easy to expose the lack of logic behind the Tea Party’s actions. Throughout this section of the speech, Obama talks in a professional, even tone, which contrasts once again with the implied ridiculousness of Congress Republicans. It makes him easier to believe when he is reacting so calmly and confidently–almost like a teacher making an example of a misbehaving student.

In the second part of his speech, the president uses pathos and logos in order to stress the value of the Affordable Care Act. He tells three stories about women who haven’t been able to get health insurance, and how it’s been negatively affecting their life. He then broadens this statement to include all Americans who have struggled without health insurance, and will now be able to get health insurance. This is an emotional appeal to anyone who has ever been without health insurance or cared about who doesn’t have health insurance. The stories he tells of those who struggled are meant to tug on the audience’s heart strings, making us feel sympathy for those who live in poverty and can’t keep themselves healthy because of it. In contrast, it invokes relief, knowing that anyone who needs health insurance is able to have it. He then uses logic in the form of statistics to rebut negative assertions about the Affordable Care Act made by Republicans. And throughout this section of his speech, President Obama puts more emotion into his voice, implying that he is excited about the new law, and that his audience should be as well.

No conclusion yet.


09
Oct 14

The Politics of Feminism

I’ve been reluctant to post a blog like this since I began, but I think we all know each other in this class by now, and we’re mature to handle some controversial topics.

I’ll begin by stating the obvious: Feminism is an extremely political issue. And while different people capitalize on different values of the movement, on a political front, this can only occur to a certain extent. The idea or version feminism is not rigid is called “lifestyle feminism.” For example, a woman may call herself a feminist, but insist that she has the right to fill a role in a typical patriarchal society by becoming a housewife instead of attending college. Some more radical feminists might condemn such an idea, asserting that not everyone can be a feminist just because they feel like it; one has to stand for certain things. It’s true that not everyone who calls themselves a feminist is actually a feminist. But there’s nothing explicitly anti-feminist about becoming a housewife. What’s important is that the housewife supports feminist values and female empowerment–even if she chooses not to participate in it. And this is where politics comes in.

Let’s keep going with our housewife example and consider the movement for equal pay in America. A housewife might not have or want a job, but she must support equal pay and equal opportunity for women if she is to be a feminist. Not supporting equal pay or the deconstruction of the glass ceiling goes against the entire definition of feminism, which describes a movement against sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. If you are not in political support of equal pay for everyone, you are contributing to a system of oppression and exploitation, and you are keeping women from fair wages and empowerment in the workforce. You are not a feminist. Period.

Let me move to one more topic, probably the most controversial of all:  Pro-life or pro-choice. Hear me out guys, you might find this isn’t as radical as you think. Here’s the thing. Feminism is all about empowering women to make their own choices and in control of their own body. That means a feminist will support a woman who chooses to get an abortion, or chooses not to get an abortion. And a person can support a woman’s right to choose, even if they themselves would never consider abortion to be an option for them. In short, a feminist can be pro-life!… They simply cannot be anti-choice. Taking away a woman’s right to choose takes power away from women, further oppressing them, and this goes the very definition of feminism.

Listen now: I know a lot of you may not agree with this, and that’s ok. The point is,  a woman deserves the ability to choose, and have control over their own body. But remember: the issue of abortion isn’t necessarily the end-all-be-all of female reproductive rights. A feminist might support a woman’s right to ultimately choose what to do with her body, without personally condoning abortion. What can they do? Well, while abortion should be an option for those who choose it, a feminist can also promote things that prevent the need for abortion in the first place. This is why many feminists support a woman’s right to choose and discussion about things like birth control and safe sex.

I understand I’ve said a few controversial things here, and I can understand if anyone doesn’t agree. But I hope you’re beginning to see what I mean. If you don’t agree with anything I said, or have another idea of what a feminist should be doing poltiically, I encourage you to post it in the comments. Just be polite, please!

Sources:

Bell Hooks. Feminist Politics: Where We Stand, 2000.


02
Oct 14

Analyzing Lily King

Step 2: Context

Lily King is an author of the opinion column for the New York Times and author of the novel, Euphoria. She grew up in a family full of divorces and thus learned to fear marriage itself. In Euphoria, these fears about failing at her marriage are depicted in her female protagonists, who ends up making impulsive, stupid decisions and ends up ruining her marriage. However, King’s own marriage is happy and healthy, contrasting her former beliefs. She wants to tell the reader that, despite the fears they may have about marriage, it doesn’t always fail, and it can actually be really happy.

The New York Times is a newspaper read by a very large audience, both in the U.S. and abroad. It’s hard to accurately categorize the type of people who read it, considering how huge and diverse this audience is. However because of its modern, intellectual articles and authors, some might say it takes a slightly liberal stance, and therefore attracts more liberal readers than conservative. We can assume that its readers are up-to-date with current events, or at least have an interest in current events. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t care to take the time to read a news article. The forum for this piece–an opinion column–gives King an opportunity to speak her mind about something, rather than speak objectively as traditional journalists expected to do. It also allows her to talk about her personal life, which is the basis for her argument and evidence.

This argument is one of many which reevaluates the value of marriage in our society. Marriage as it’s been traditionally seen is going out of fashion, largely because the rate of divorce is going up. Right now, about 1 out of 2 marriages fail on average. It’s not surprising that King would be afraid of marrying, especially in light of her family history. But this fear is something almost anyone in her audience can relate to, because almost everyone has known a couple who has gotten a divorce. And divorce itself is a highly discussed topic: sometimes it’s freeing, but most of the time it’s described as a drawn out, legal battle with both parties hating each other and feeling exhausted by their own decisions. Another common notion is that love starts to diminish and become less exciting once you get married, and King even voices this belief in her article. So there aren’t many people who wouldn’t be concerned with the prospect of a failed marriage nowadays.

Step 3: Text

The main argument King makes is that, despite a person’s fears about marriage, it won’t always turn out badly. So if you are ready and truly love the person, it’s not a bad thing to give it a try. She supports this by referencing personal experience. King had plenty of reason to fear divorce and marital unrest, but she loved her fiancé, and now they’re happily married. King’s argument is not laid out explicitly. Instead she tells you the story of her engagement and marriage, and then summarizes how it turned out. It’s structured as if her life is the argument, and how she’s living now is the evidence that marriage is not always a bad thing.

The fact that this article is published on the web increases the audience even more, particularly when it comes to young people. Most young people would rather get their news from the internet, rather than a newspaper. King probably had this in mind, especially since she is writing about decisions she made while she was still relatively young. She may want to pass her experience down to younger generations.

King’s ethos is in her having lived through a life surrounded by people who got divorced, and not being certain about her own marriage. She also speaks in a tone which is objective, recognizing her and her family’s own mistakes. The pathos she uses appeals to those who are afraid of marriage and commitment. She makes references to anxieties which many people have about marriage, which makes the argument relatable and therefore more believable.


02
Oct 14

The Difference Between Falling in Love and Choosing to Love

One of my favorite feminist authors, Gloria Jean Watkins–more commonly known by her pen name, Bell Hooks–once wrote a piece which completely changed the way I think about love and emotion. The piece was entitled, Romance: Sweet Love. In it, Hooks condemns the notion of “falling” in love–a process in which we feel utterly out of control, and yet crave all the same.

In our culture, love is something of a deity. It is an omniscient force, inevitable as it descends over you, untemperable like an ocean wave. Many of have spent our lives hoping that love will “find” us–as though love is the sentient being, and not ourselves. Catching the “love bug” rends the afflicted unable to speak properly, unable to eat or sleep. They have no control over their thoughts or actions, hijacked as they have been by Cupid and his tricky heart-shaped arrows. And it doesn’t matter what direction this cherub points you in; you could “fall in love” with someone who mocks you, who doesn’t understand your needs, who beats you–but what’s to be done? You’ve fallen in love, you couldn’t control it. It’s not your fault, and you couldn’t have stopped it if you tried. You are merely a victim of the cards of fate and love’s wily game.

Step back and consider for a moment, how everything I’ve just asserted–some of which you may have been able to relate to–is bullshit.

Love is an emotion. It can be a powerful, breathtaking, blindsiding emotion, but it a product of your own body and mind. We don’t “fall in love” with people love wants us to, we fall in love with people we want to. Which means that, logically, we are able to choose who we love. It means we can avoid relationships we know will be bad for us. It means we can let the well of feelings for a person grow inside us at our own pace. It means that if we choose to love someone, we have control over the situation. This is the second part of Bell Hook’s assertion.

Now, choosing to love instead of falling in love–doesn’t that kill the idea of romance? I would argue the contrary. As someone who has both fallen blindly into relationships and eventually into abusive situations, and who later began cautiously building a relationship around someone I chose–someone I know will be there when I need them–I can tell you: Intimacy and attraction are always so much better–so much deeper–when you know the person cares for you and respects you. And when you decide to love that person, you do it with the knowledge that this will be something good for both of you, not a dicey guessing game full of uncertainties and insecurities. The sex, which will carry so much more significance, is nothing to sneeze at either. You’ll see.

This is the difference between falling in love and choosing to love, and I can understand why Bell Hooks included this as a chapter in one of her books on feminism. “Choosing” is certainly more empowering than “falling,” and it’s better for you too. Knowing you are taking steps towards love which you have control over is much less nerve-wracking than the sensation of tumbling towards or being held down by something unavoidable. Love should be something you and your partner mutually decide on, not something to be held in fear and awe to the extent where the very idea becomes untouchable. So readers, what I think what Romance: Sweet Love is trying to say, and what I hope you’re beginning to understand, is that love is both an action which you can decide to do, and a force which you can mold and strengthen–if you choose to do it. You are nobody’s slave. Not even your own.

Sources:

Bell Hooks. Romance: Sweet Love. 2000.


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