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Senior Year

As I prepare to embark on my senior year voyage, I begin to feel pressure from various angles. My career goal still shines bright but I have never lacked this much confidence in any decision in the past. Becoming a lawyer, and ultimately a judge, has always been my career goal. However, due to monetary constraints I find myself beginning to second-guessing my decision to go to law school. I want to travel and go to law school but my financial hardships begin to take a toll on my freedom and agency once more.

Once again I face real life and the hardships someone in my position normally deals with. Will my Spanish surname influence my law school application negatively? Will my bosses think less of me because I am Latino? How will I compete successfully with others who have more resources and better connections? Will my thoughts be dismissed because of my racial identity?

This year will indeed be a journey for me; it will not be as physical as it will be mental. I will try to balance graduating with a BA in Political Science and a minor in English from UCSB. I will also struggle through LSAT prep courses in addition to my Resident Assistant position. I even have to deal with planning for a year abroad, paying for law school, and what will happen with my girlfriend.

I remain addicted to one of the most dangerous feelings in existence, that feeling is hope. This is the idea that against all odds your wishes and desires will come true even though is is likely that you will be disappointed and hurt. It is a sedative of some sort that keeps one blissful although they are likely to experience unhappiness.

However, I choose to remain hopeful and happy with the possibility of disappointment, rather than living unhappily and with no hope or plan for joy.

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Afterword (Analysis)

This is the beginning of a story I had been planning for a year and a half now. The futuristic society has to adapt to life threatening situations caused by the abuse of nature in the interest of technology in the 21st century. The amount of detail I had planned for the plot of this story was too long and too in depth for the nature of this assignment. The description of the planet Life alone was over a page and a half long. The hierarchy and political parties involved in this future government would have taken another few pages to describe, and several others would be needed to explore it. I had to cut back a lot because of space and time; I wanted to describe new technologies, and the switching of gender roles through out society. I also wanted to explore all aspects of this successful yet abusive futuristic society through its religion, politics, media, jobs, and language. In my revision of this work, in the following months, I will expand these two chapters and follow Omid (Hope) on his quest to become the scientist that will end the plague and save humankind.

The story was purposefully placed several decades in the future to allow enough time to pass to make the role reversal credible. The premise of the story lies with the evil of men. The new religion, Keming, believed the men and everything they created were destructive and evil. They claimed men were biologically built to labor rather than lead, and that’s why they were poor at multitasking. I tried to make a connection between men and technology in order to contrast it with the present. Men and women were at odds as technology and nature were. The argument concludes that a reliance on either nature or technology was detrimental to Life. Likewise, a matriarchy would fail as the patriarchy did. Let us briefly analyze some of the themes in the story.

 

Economics (Socialism v. Capitalism):

The economic structure in the 21st century was focused on selfishness and individuality. It was bases on an individualistic structure that pinned people against one another forcing them to oppress their neighbors to ensure their personal success. This led to the abuse of women, minorities, animals and eventually nature. Ultimately, there is a backlash by women and the oppressed. In the new socialist structure, there is a lot of regulation and control. This managed to keep people alive and in existence but at a cost. There were struggles with a plague that was killing Life. There was little innovation or development of technology, so naturally they were more vulnerable as humans. Although it was easier to maintain the survival of humans, it came as a great loss of agency even with democracy still in practice.

 

Religion (Christianity v. Kiming):

The Kiming church is the most popular church on Life. Its membership consists of 72% of the population. Most of its members are women and it could even be said Kiming was created by women and for women. Mink Zeroni leads this religious institution but she is not present in this story. Rather we see the equivalent of a bishop, Mink Phoebe. The religion preaches male submission and female domination. The church damns anything male related and advocates against technology. It makes invalid claims regarding the biology and psychology of men, which is used as a tool in order to subjugate them. Although its practices are derived from a relatively new text, its followers adhere to its command often without question. The Kiming religion is very similar to Christianity in its subtle oppression of people and hidden agenda, like prohibiting the legality of birth control in Life. It is a tool to maintain men oppressed and to help women justify their socially constructed tyranny. However, it also proves useful in this society by providing general deontological moral guidelines. It advocates for humane treatment and equality among all, but often it contradicts itself in the process, which allows the text to be very malleable.

 

Technology v. Nature:

The central plot of the story lies in the discussion of what is the best solution to the plague. Women are convinced that nature will always prevail and that we should let nature take its course, but others object. People like Victoria and Omid contradict Prime Minister Erica. Rather than one key solution, they advocate for a balance between nature and technology.  However, the church and central government are opposed to technology because it symbolizes male power. It symbolizes years of oppression of women and careless destruction. Women are resentful and will not give up their power. They have built a society where they control everything and they want to keep men oppressed. However, if technology isn’t employed, the human race can potentially be erased from existence.

Technology and Nature were also meant to be representative of female and male rights respectively. Too much of either one or the other would create an unhealthy unbalance, and could possibly lead to oppression.

 

Sources and Inspiration:

“Night Thoughts” by Helen Simpson

Gattaca by Andre Niccol

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

“The Amazons” Greek Mythology

Balance

Agency

The year is 2074 in Life, the planet formerly known as Earth. A new civilization has formed due to life threatening circumstances, and a new hierarchy rules over the present world. After the abuse of technology caused a severe depletion in natural resources, which led to the starvation and death of millions, the women of the world rebelled. Once in power, they employed a democratic form of government with strong environmental protections and a socialist economy. Women have successfully managed to sustain Life longer than anyone would have expected, but now, they are facing another potentially life threatening problem.

The local voting booth was about to close in a few minutes, but Omid managed to make his way to the church just in time to cast his ballot. Luckily, the church was three miles away from his house so he did his online exercises, cooked dinner, and cleaned the house before going. Voting wasn’t a priority on his list. He knew his views were in the minority and the chance of bettering his situation wasn’t likely to happen in his lifetime.

The church was a two story wooden building with large copper doors. The doors were propped open directly over a set of small steps, and above them hung a large sign that read “Vote Here Today!” Normally, the church was the voting location assigned to the local community. As he walked into the building, he recognized some people from the community. Phoebe Abdul, the superior Mink of the Keming Church, was present and eagerly talking to some churchgoers hoping to get votes for Erica Yorke’s reelection to the United Nations. Phoebe had left her husband two years ago because he refused to leave school to raise their kids. As a superior Mink, she had an image to maintain in the community and couldn’t afford to have a rebel as a husband, so she divorced him and started dating another man who was more attractive and half the age of her ex husband.

“Hello Omid! I hope you know whom you’re voting for. Did Sophia tell you who to vote for already?” Phoebe asked Omid in a joking yet condescending manner.

“Well,” Omid stopped for a moment as he thought about his true thoughts on the matter, “she always talks about how great Erica is, but I just wish she found a balance and reconciled her love for nature with our need for technology. The UN could do so much for the prevention of cancer. They would even be able to kill the plague with enough investment in technology.”

“Well that’s great, I’m glad you’re voting for Erica,” She remarked as she slyly walked away with a smirk on her face.

Omid felt a familiar pressure subconsciously telling him how to vote, a feeling he knew all too well. The Keming Church’s conservative teachings and his wife’s political affiliation trumped his desire to vote for Victoria, the technology friendly candidate. The church and Omid’s wife would never approve of Victoria as prime minister of Life. This was because Victoria was an advocate for a symbiotic relationship between nature and science. She recognized the need for a balance in Life. For the past five years, there had been a plague building up and killing both crops and humans. This plague threatened all wildlife it came into contact with and it was spreading surprisingly fast along the coast. It had become a trending topic in the political debates and there were two proposed solutions; they could develop new technology to fight off the plague, or to let nature heal itself over time. Victoria’s advocacy for technology was disregarded because the church had deemed technology evil. The church claimed that technology gave dangerous power to womankind, was only good for destruction, and was the source for all greed. Victoria’s push for newer technology was not welcomed in the slightest. However, those weren’t the most controversial views on her platform. She advocated for gay and male rights but was criticized for it. Since women outnumbered men 3:1 and males were essential for breeding, working, raising children, and tending the homes, it was imperative for women to have and maintain substantial control over their men. They had carefully planned a society on the backs of men and they had no intention of giving that up.

As he submitted his vote, Omid was disgusted with himself because he knew he had voted against his self-interest. He also knew everyone regarded him as a “dumb bro” whose strong body should be used primarily for labor. He knew he had great ideas but they were seen as illegitimate because he was a man. His kind had a chance to rule society once in the past but they failed miserably. Now it was the women’s turn. Women had the power and the numbers. They held the majority of the positions of power in the church, government, and society. Deep inside, Omid saw this election as all the rest; he was giving legitimacy to a power structure that oppressed him on a regular basis. But, he was scared; he was trapped.

That day, after casting his vote, he took the long way back in order to vent with his friend Zang. Zang was a good-looking male model that was empowered by his own experiences and education. These two would often converse about life, art, politics, and relationships among many other topics. Sophia didn’t particularly approve of their friendship because Zang had been categorized as a trouble-making rebel, but she had very little time to keep tabs on him. After a few hours, he left Zang’s and finally arrived home. It was nightfall and yet his house was anything but quiet as expected. He stood outside in the freezing cold; he was caught unprepared for the weather. He remained outside for a moment holding on to the doorknob with fearful intensity as he listened in on the glass breaking and the furniture tumbling inside. He realized his shadow could be seen from the inside through the faded oval shaped glass on the door, and before he could run, he saw someone walking towards him. He froze with fear and a myriad other thoughts coursing through his brain. He finally opened the door to find Sophia with a bottle of Grey Goose on one hand and an electric Taser on the other.

Control

Omid Contreras was an average sized man in Life. He was five feet eleven inches tall and weighed about one hundred and ninety-five pounds. For a Twenty-one year old, he was able as can be. He was a bit on the heavy side and not very tan like most men.

There were an unusual amount of sunrays due to the depletion of the ozone layer by means of pollution in decades past. This caused people to have serious tans and often suffered from skin cancer. Omid’s fair skin was not normal, in comparison to women, for the amount of sunrays penetrating the atmosphere into Life. His skin color was probably a reflection of the amount of time Omid spent inside his home tending the house, cooking, and taking online classes.

It was difficult for Omid to understand why he was repeatedly being beaten. The black eye and his sore Tasered back were nothing new. He would constantly be beaten by Sophia and could only rationalize this by convincing himself it was his own fault. He must have deserved it, that’s what his Mink told him. Even his own father Peter told him so. After his wife Rosa cheated on him multiple times, Peter was devastated emotionally and financially. He was left to care for his son Omid by himself. Peter had no job or High School diploma, which made it even harder for him to survive. Even though years had passed since those days, Peter sometimes analyzed the dark times they lived in and concluded that it was his fault for not pleasing his wife. He was taught his whole life that he must be submissive to the wife, care for the kids and live vicariously through them. Peter was part of the first generations of men who were trained to be as productive in the new society as possible. Without a doubt, this mentality had had some affect on Omid’s perspective of the male gender role.

Omid prepared breakfast as he did every morning because he was taught he always should. Sophia walked down the steps to meet Omid in the kitchen. She kissed him on the cheek.

“Good morning beautiful,” she said innocently.

It was as if she were adding insult to injury. It appeared she had forgotten the night before or simply chose to ignore it; either way Omid was troubled. If there was a reason for that beating, it was likely there would be another one, if there wasn’t, he had endured enough.

“Hey fatty, I’m talking to you. Did you vote?” asked Sophia in a more assertive manner.

“Yes and I saw Mink Phoebe there. I voted for Erica,” answered Omid in a half timid half fearful voice.

“Good. Well, I’m going to work. I’ll see you around five,” She said as she finished her breakfast.

Omid was relieved when Sophia left. She was so abusive verbally and physically and he couldn’t take it anymore. Sophia always found ways to abuse him. She would call him fat and destroy his self-esteem. For instance, she would purposefully make sexually suggestive comments when the attractive male actor, Kyle Stouffers, was parading around in his perfectly sculptured body; as if the media’s pressure wasn’t enough. This made him feel the societal pressures that expected him to look like a model while at the same time he was expected to do housework. He was also expected to be a stay at home dad and live in a submissive state. She would always compare him to other husbands and tell him to be a man. However, not only was he secretly taking dangerous and illegal birth control to prevent getting his wife pregnant, he was also taking his online classes in secret. He found a room of his own to educate himself during the day, while dreaming of being the scientist who ended the plague at night.

One night Sophia returned drunk from a party after work and with the Taser to his neck forced him to have sex. It was after that rape incident when he finally decided to plan an escape. He had some good solutions to the problems presented by the plague backed by years of education and research. He swore if given the opportunity, and if the finances were available, he would go to college and get the education he would need to stop the plague. He decided to pack on Monday morning and head out with only a few hundred yen in his pocket. Suitcase in hand and with a letter sitting on the table explaining the reason for his departure, Omid stood by the door contemplating the ramifications of his actions. By leaving his home, he was losing stability and going into a world that was hostile to him. They may call him a whore, a “dumb bro”, a mascunazi, gay, and endless other comments so he must have been serious about his desires. He decided to take off.

Omid chose to go to the church first for one last prayer. As he sat there he thought to himself.

“I can’t believe my life. I can’t believe we used to treat women like this. It’s wrong. Nobody should oppress people as I have been oppressed. I seek a balance God! Please help me!”

Hoes before Bros

In a futuristic world, approximately 50 years from now, Omid struggles to get through college and become a scientist in a world controlled by women. This isn’t a utopia but rather our current system of patriarchy in reverse. The story focuses on Oimid as the male protagonist. This story is short and meant to criticize our current system. I chose to write this story from the male perspective and turn the hierarchy around in order for men to empathize with women and understand how unjust it is to treat them the way we do. I believe if they saw how men are treated in this story they will be distraught and will hopefully reflect on the consequences of their actions or lack there of.

The lack of agency has serious ramifications.

Speaking from experience, being a person of color sometimes allures poor treatment. As a person of mixed race, I am constantly depicted in a manner that labels me as either defying or embodying a certain stereotype. Often, only one part of me is recognized, my Latino side. My European ancestry is ignored because of my surname and people treat me differently once they learn the truth. In the past, I have struggled to explain this to others, and myself, because I felt threatened and I felt as though I was alone without the proper education to understand my position in life. Gloria Anzaldua has experienced similar situations to mine, and other more serious that have affected her personally and the Chicana population in general. In La Frontera she describes some of these issues very well. She explains the term mestizo (a mixed person) and sheds light on to some their problems in society. She gives clear examples of the rough relationship people near the boarder have with one another. On the second chapter she talks about women being sub human, the “other”.

For this particular assignment I chose letter number Thirty-Five because it relates to a specific passage in Anzaldua’s prose. Anzaldua says, “women is closer to undivine, she must be protected. Protected from herself. Woman is the stranger, the other”. This passage talks about the vulnerability of women. In a patriarch society women lack agency, they are subject to discrimination and control. They are thought to be weak and vulnerable, and even a danger to themselves. As I analyzed letter Thirty-Five, I noticed Alicia’s life resembled many others who suffered from discrimination, sexism, classism, and overall subjugation.

The letter describes Alicia’s sterilization at seventeen. This caught my attention because it shows Alicia’s life being shaped by people and decisions she had no control over. First, she is socialized to want a baby and a family. Next, she struggles to find a way to have an abortion due to her low-income in a society of inequality. Once she finds the means to have an abortion, she is subject discrimination. As a young girl she lacks education and is probably subject to racial discrimination because of her situation. Passing as a Puerto Rican woman with 5 children in order to receive affordable medical care, doctors trick her into sterilization because she was thought to be careless. The decision by the doctors is a clear example of sexism and subjugation. Telling women what to do with their body is wrong whether it is through pro-life laws or forced sterilization.

The opening imagery of the letter is what caught my eye. The love and care of a mother is something only some know and she was stripped of that choice. Her agency was compromised and the decision was made for her. This left me thinking, was it because she was Latina? A woman? Poor? Regardless of the situation, this is unacceptable. I know most rich white men would never allow for a similar thing to happen to them. Why should women? They are treated as the “Other” as Anzaldua would say, and sometimes the damage is irreversible.

On Imagination

“As for Annabel, she was like a child who constructs the world according to its whims and so she chose to populate her home with imaginary animals because she preferred them to the drab fauna of reality.” (Love, 34) This quote is presented to the reader after the first time Lee and Annabel have sex. Lee is described as being in love to the point of infatuation while Annabel, on the other hand, is in her own world.

This passage specifically focuses on the feelings acquired after Annabel loses her virginity. They both have different perspectives on the evolving relationship. Where as Lee falls in love and increasingly becoming more attached, Annabel continues to be herself and losing herself in her thoughts. The quote helps explain Annabel’s indifferent attitude after losing her virginity, and her indifferent, removed attitude towards life. The quote says Annabel was like a child who adapts to the world by creating her own. She creates the world around her into one of her own through unique artifacts, art, and imagination. This is evident in several parts throughout the book. For instance, from the beginning of the book she opted to be around the more unique part of the park because it allowed her imagination to go wild. You could see it in the way she looks at Lee and her art in the bedroom.

Carter mentions Annabel’s creativity throughout the book several times, but this passage is so interesting because of Annabel’s indifference toward an event that is supposed to be so memorable and meaningful; she lost her virginity. The author mostly shows Annabel’s thoughts and interactions occurring within her mind.

This passage shows Annabel’s true colors by presenting the passage from her eyes. For instance, Carter uses the word “populate” to describe the imaginary animals. Most people would not describe imaginary animals as a population but Annabel does because they are actually real to her. Further, I believe this passage shows Annabel’s independence. Her life and happiness depend on her own agency where as Lee’s depends on Annabel. Both Lee and Buzz actually dependant on her. Not only is she independent, she prefers imagination to reality. She “prefers imagination to the drab fauna of reality.” Apparently, Annabel’s imaginary animals are better than the ones in real life. She is happier with the world she creates.

I chose this passage for several reasons. It portrays Annabel’s independence through the use of her imagination and it shows her preference for imagination over reality. It is representative of her attitude in her life. It describes and explains a lot of her actions throughout the book. Although this passage does not describe Annabel completely, it gives some great insight into her persona.

Professional Housewife

Women’s role in society is one of the main criticisms in this week’s readings. From Mary Wollstonecraft “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” to Daria Domitrovich’s “Sad Women.” the reader is exposed to the reality behind how women are treated and educated. The readings try to deconstruct the role of women and challenge the accepted patriarchal perspective.

For this particular assignment I will be focusing on Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” and the criticism on the role of women. Next, I will compare Woolf’s piece to the Poem “Sad Women”. I would like to focus first on “Shakespeare’s Sister” anecdote where Woolf proves that a woman’s “role” in society (i.e. cleaning, cooking, raising kids) is detrimental not only to their agency in career paths, but also to their happiness. Woolf explains how a woman in that period would have likely not be sent to school but rather kept at home away from education, all while being told “to mend the stockings or mind the stew.” (Woolf, 599) If she were to be passionate about a career, it is likely she would get pregnant and not receive training in her craft. (Woolf, 599) Unfortunately, this is the way women lived in that time and many still do today. Their agency is limited by the “duties of the women”. They are told to wash the dishes, cook, clean, get married, and have kids; they are rendered helpless by the stereotypes and gender roles imposed upon then from youth.

“Sad Women” helps expand on this idea of deprivation and oppression. Domitrovich writes about the work of women in society and their dissatisfaction with such gender roles. She writes, “sad women get up…make breakfast for their children…make lunch and sit last” (1,3,5) She describes the typical role of a woman as constructed in society and proclaims that is what sad women do. She explains that women do all of the work their gender is assigned to do so, but do so unhappily. She further ends with “Sad women cry when the lights go out…” (14) In this last stanza she criticizes and challenges our common belief of women’s roles. She is claiming that although we might see women doing this job willingly, in reality they cry at night when nobody is looking. The last periods at the end may signify the author’s personal struggle with her “female duties” and her possibly beginning to cry as she writes this at night. Overall, these two authors criticize the expectations of women. They argue that these gender roles are oppressive to women’s agency and often it deprives them of reaching their true aspirations.

Introduction

This blog originated out of pure necessity. On the summer 0f 2012 at UCSB I will be taking a class on one of my guilty pleasures, Feminist Literature. I will be enrolled in English 114GT, Women in Literature, because I feel as thought it should be a necessity for men, as well as women, to educate themselves on the struggles of the female sex, and help prevent the damage our ancestors have inflicted or continue to inflict indirectly on those we share life with. Like slavery, sexism and other forms of oppression have been left to us to erase. Government, culture, and other socially constructed systems should be challenged if and when they are no longer serving the living. We should not be held to the same oppressive standards practiced through history before our birth. We have the ability and duty as men, women, Latino, Black, White, Asian, gay, and straight HUMANS, to challenge the oppressive norms of the past, because that is exactly what they are, the past. If one person is oppressed then so am I; I live my life for the oppressed. As I continue my education through out life, I fancy the ability to drop ladders over my shoulders for others to climb in hope that I have given them the foundation to reach a better place once I am gone.