Thoughts on the Documentary... "She's Beautiful When She's Angry"

I am so sorry that I could not find a link for this documentary about the women's right's movement in the 1960's - I did find a link for the trailer here. So I encourage you to find it either by renting it or purchasing it (You can always donate it to your local library it you do not want to keep it and it looks inexpensive to buy. Otherwise, here are some quotes from different people during the documentary that called to me and I have written some thoughts on them and the film. So here we go! :)

To start, I have a love/hate relationship with the emotion of anger. In many instances, even righteous /appropriate anger can be damaging and harmful for all parties involved. In my life, I have rarely been around anger that ends up being useful. Yet I also realize that some of the most meaningful changes in culture and society for all of us have happened because someone - usually several someones- became angry and work together to fight for change. I thought about anger and how so many women used it to make societal changes that have given me more choices/ opportunities in my life.

"To feel that you can have a power in a group to do something that you think needs to be done that you could never do on your own. I think it's what I'd been looking for my whole life" - Vivian Rothstein

I think that this may also be what I have been looking for as well. I want to help people and create positive change in my community but I feel like I am so insufficient on my own and I haven't really found a group to join that inspires the passion in my soul. So maybe I haven't looked hard enough... or maybe I am unclear about what my passion is? A good question...

"How would your life have been different if you had been a boy?... Everything was up for questioning..."

In many ways, I think my life would be similar if I have been a boy but there would be some pretty significant differences. My mother suffers from severe mental illness and hates women/girls/females so I would have had an upbringing more like my male siblings. I would have been much less likely to be severely punished for infractions, had more opportunities and encouragement in areas of interest and would also have been at the top of the list for extra's or wants. As a girl, I was forced to quit playing soccer in 5th grade and the emphasis in my life became focused on preparing for motherhood and homemaking as my only acceptable future choice. College was not only discouraged for me, but when my grandparents left me and my sister a college fund in their will, my parents removed the money and it was used for extras for the family, fun for my brothers and elective surgery for my mother. If I had been a boy I would have had a college fund and leeway as to my degree and could expect to get married and have a partner that would be supportive of what I needed and stay home with the kids. However, I do not think that much of my inner personality would be very different so I think I would still be the neurotic, silly goofball that I am now... I would however, still be playing soccer- I loved doing that! : )

"Problems that you felt were happening to you and you alone were probably your fault, but if its happening to other people then it's a social problem and not just a personal problem."

A really profound quote. What a neat way to think of and understand how much of 'you' is in the problem and how much is culture/society around you. I have spent some time in my life blaming myself for things that upon time and reflection can not honestly be laid at my door. (That said, I am responsible for many wrongs that are clearly mine and I still struggle with many of them.) This quote is the simpliest I have found to really focus and critically pick apart a situation or behavior to determine what aspects of it are caused by you or what is happening based on what you are or society norms, conventions or expectations.

"I was as good as they were and I am not who I sleep with" - Rita Mae Brown

I laughed out loud when I saw Rita Mae Brown in the film - talk about an interdisciplinary cross! I lived in Las Vegas for 13 years before I moved to Maine and I got to go to two different book signings for her books that she 'co-authors' with a cat called "Sneaky Pie" Brown. I love mystery stories- my favorite kind of fun fiction- and I adore cats and she has written at least 20 stories with Sneaky Pie. So I did a double take when I heard her voice and looked up and saw her laughing and chatting. Not only was her quote spot on - after all, no one should be labeled by our lovers - but I found myself laughing because she clearly has a background I knew nothing about and that seems awesome! I realized that I have always judged her on these mystery novels and understanding more of her personal history and struggle gives me a more nuanced few of her that reading her cozy cat novels never gave me. It was wonderful to see her in a totally different context.

The video also mentioned that this country almost had a national child care bill until Richard Nixon vetoed it. I felt quite a few emotions from hearing this. The first was disbelief that we could have come so close to something so wonderful and it yet it was easily scrapped and gone. I watch parents with disabled children who desperately need in-home help and they can't get it and when they can its not consistent as the workers do a hard job for so little pay. I know single mothers who pay a ton for child care so that they can work and so they stay stressed and poor and exhausted. I can't even imagine how much of a different country we would live in if we simply had that one thing.

Another interesting things was the discussion on involuntary sterilization and how it intersects with class and race. This is not a new subject - I wrote a paper on that subject a few semesters ago which you can read here, here and here. I did so much research for that paper and nothing I read about any of it mentioned Puerto Rico and forced sterilization/ eugenics at all in any of the books I used for resources. So I listened and thought about it and realized that as Puerto Rico is considered a territory where its residents do not have full constitutional rights, even these resources that are trying to show how class, racism and gender have hurt 'Americans' seem to have not noticed some of these "Americans" were left out... almost like the minorities in our territories have even less status than the minorities inland. A painful and disgusting acknowledgment.

The last thing about the video that really stuck out for me was a quote by Shirley Chisholm. I recognized her as the first African American women in Congress. Something I heard that she said before was that she had faced more discrimination "as a women than she had by being black". In this documentary she was quoted as saying "Racism and anti-feminism are two of the prime traditions of this country." I would suggest that racism and anti feminism are two of the prime traditions of almost every culture in the world.


photos: https://loftcinema.com/film/shes-beautiful-when-shes-angry/, http://craftknife.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html, http://www.orderofbooks.com/authors/rita-mae-brown/, http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/how-are-you-celebrating-shirley-chisholm-day/?_r=0,


"Miss Representation"- Link and Personal Critique

The film Miss Representation was a pretty powerful documentary and it definitely hit a few nerves in my head. Here is a link to an eight minute trailer of the film. I found a link to the whole movie on youtube - here is the link for those interested!

It hit some personal memories and ways of feeling in my heart that are relevant even now in my life. I think that might say a bit about my insecurities as well. I have always felt - and still do- that my value is pretty much solely in my looks and traditional gender role conformity. Since I do not have the 'looks' I think I should have and I have been fairly unhappy and unsuccessful in my attempts to squash myself into my perceived gender role, I am always trying to make up for that lack by being helpful, generous, and not a burden to those around me. I always subconsciously ask myself if I have done "enough." My answer is always 'no'

"Is it ever going to be enough..."
"When is it ever going to be enough?"

While I do not think that I have ever consciously really asked myself these questions until now, these two questions have continued to pop into my mind over the last few evenings as I head to bed and clear my head for sleep. My last thoughts seem to center on 'being enough'. Whether I developed my lack of self esteem through society or some other path (the perpetual chicken vs egg argument), I am grateful even if a twinge pained to contemplate these thoughts. They will do me good in the long run I suspect.

Learning about media and how it changed how each of us think and how we respond to our environment based on how society and each of use views our culture is pretty powerful, confusing and also a bit depressing. I like to think that I am more than a product of my culture and yet... here I am. I recognize so many of the images they showed on this film even when they were not clearly marked as to where they came from... and I realized I have internalized a lot of the negative messages that the film discussed. I found myself thinking as I watched it of intersectional analysis and how simple I thought the world was when I was a teen when peer pressure and media really did seem to teach me what was important.

Intersectional analysis is such a valuable and important way to look at information because it gives the researcher or interested party a better understanding of the causes, needs, choices, and motives of those being studied.  While simple, looking at pieces of information in small bits doesn't really give us a true and clear image.  A white male moves in his space and makes decisions based not only on color and privilege, but background, environment, family, education, needs and desires, etc...  A female will do the same...  We can not truly separate ourselves from the disparate parts of ourselves that, inadvertently or wonderfully, help us to determine our choices and our life paths.  No matter how much education I get, no matter how well liked I am, I will still find limits to what I can accomplish due to experience biases, gender, environment, etc...  A woman of my age with all similar information who happens to be black has even more limits to struggle against.  To truly understand and try and change a cultural and social problem, if must be truly examined.  For instance, the text mentions how people of different genders and races are more likely to be paid according to these factors and not necessarily on education, experience, etc...  So making a change to standard pay for specific jobs will not really solve the problem even if it appears to temporarily.  Only by understanding the other aspects behind unequal pay and working to change them as well gives us a real shot at true cultural change. Understanding how historical patterns of oppression still live on in our culture today helps us to look at ourselves, our friends and our communities and that steps towards making our communities more equitable are possible for us.  If we cannot recognize how race, gender, sex, etc... create our relationships with ourselves, our families and our communities... we will find ourselves struggling to truly understand what hinders us.  Like the seven blind monks who are touching an elephant and believe that each have something different at hand than the others, the elephant can remain hidden... even when in plain sight.

I highly recommend this documentary. If you have the opportunity, please watch it and report back....

photos from: http://catherineannehawkins.com/good-things-46-miss-representation/, http://juliaview.com/tag/women-in-media/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Representation


History of a Song: April - “He is Risen”

The beautiful words for this hymn were written by Cecil F. Alexander (1818-1895) and the music was written by Joachim Neander (1650-1680). The story of how these two pieces of art were combined to make the beautiful song we enjoy must be unique as the German musical composer and the Irish poet lived more than a century apart. Unable to uncover the details of the merging, I am sharing the biographies of the artists themselves :)

Cecil Francis Humphreys Alexander was born in Dublin in April 1818 to Major John Humphreys and his wife Elizabeth. Cecil Francis, who preferred to be called 'Franny, loved writing from her youngest years. At first, she hid her writing from everyone, but after a notebook of her writing was discovered by her father when she was nine, she shared her poetry every Sunday with her family with the encouragement of her father who would read it out loud to the group and it could be commented on. Franny was deeply religious and in October 1850, she married William Alexander in Strabane where he was an Anglican clergyman. During their marriage, both partners continued to write poetry and Franny also became involved in charity work, giving money to an institution to the 'Deaf and Dumb” that was founded in 1846. During her lifetime, she wrote almost 400 poems with many set to music and four which have made their way into the modern day LDS Church hymnals and Children's Songbook. Her music has also been published in the Church of Ireland hymnals and her book titled “Hymns for Little Children” has had over 69 editions printed of it. She passed away on October 12, 1895.

Joachim Neander was born in 1650 in Bremen to his father Johann Joachim Neader and his wife Catharina Knipping. He was the oldest of several children who ended up being a private tutor at his majority because he could not afford to continue to attend Bremen University after his father's death. In his twenties, he discovered theology and, while he continued for some time to tutor students as the rector of the Latin school of Dusseldorf, he began to write nature studies and hymns. He wrote over 60 hymns and is considered one of the outstanding hymn writers of the German Reformed church with his work published in many Lutheran hymnbooks and embraced by Methodists and Baptists as well in their hymnals. Most of his works have been translated into English and towards the end of his life he became a pastor for St Martin's church in Bremen. He died there of tuberculosis (possibly with complications of plague) on May 31, 1680. He also has the unique distinction of being the only hymn writer to have a valley and cave in Germany named after him as well as the fossil hominid that was found there. (Neanderthal man)

This song is still sung and performed by choirs and church congregations around the world. It has been performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as well as some mainstream Christian music groups. This is my favorite Easter hymn and the holiday isn't the same without it. Do you sing this hymn in your congregation? What are your thoughts?

photos from : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Frances_Alexander, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Neander