Men Cast a Real Big Shadow

Five weeks is a very short amount of time. It is also an eternity. Welcome to the post on why men suck.

For the past five weeks, we have been studying one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, The Taming of the Shrew (TOTS). We have been looking at it through the lens of women, feminism in a sense. We read the play, and studied the feminist movement throughout the ages.

Throughout the project, we were also completing weekly reflection posts on what we were learning. These posts were fun to do, because we got chances to reflect on what we were learning. These posts, including Sluts and Women and Tigers, Oh My!, What Am I, a Maid?and Subtext much were a chance to record the process during the process. A lot of what we learned were in these posts, so by all means check them out.

There were three sides to the project; essays, history, and TOTS. The project went in circles between these three, and were a ton of fun to connect!

Lets talk first about the essays, because why not. We were reading a bunch of essays and texts that showed examples of women in history, and we had to answer a bunch of questions on them. At the time, it seemed real annoying and a waste of time. Actually, though, it was really beneficial for the last leg of this project which we’ll get to later. They helped me learn about the structure of an essay, and how different people have different styles for writing essays. It was really interesting to see how people used evidence, broke things up in certain ways, all that jazz. They also served as fantastic proof for that final product.

Now, history. Mostly, we looked at the 20th century. Starting with the suffragette movement, which was the first wave of feminism, we moved through time to see how things changed, and didn’t change, for women.

We had one milestone specifically focused on the history. We were split into groups and assigned a decade to research and present. Now, due to some circumstances, I wasn’t actually at the presentations. That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything. I did a considerable amount of research on the topic, which was quite insightful.

My biggest takeaway from that was one of the research points about women and appearance.

The 70’s were the beginning of the natural makeup idea. Women could still wear makeup, but couldn’t look ‘whorish’ by wearing too much makeup. They had to be slim, and natural looking. It wasn’t just men that pushed this appearance, either, which is sad. its upsetting to think about the expectations for the ideal woman, and how much of that is just their looks.

That would bring us to The Taming of the Shrew. As far as Shakespeare goes, it was well written of course, but kinda rapey. Petruchio is the perfect example of one of those creepy men in todays media that doesn’t listen when someone says no. Looking back now, that’s probably the inspiration for some of those pieces of media. Anyways. It is the perfect form of media to look at when inspecting women throughout history. It portrays exactly the ideal woman, and how to make a shrew that perfect woman. It makes me want to throw up.

Now, I mentioned that final product before. And honestly, you may have figured it out. Regardless, here is the big reveal. We were writing an essay about the continuity and change of women throughout the 20th century, more or less. We used the knowledge from reading all those essays and text, to be able to create the perfect essay. And I say the perfect essay because I have done at least 10 revisions and it is finally approved. Of course I love the challenge, but I liked the first one. Its always good to have feedback though, and I am happy with what I am learning.

One thing that I have struggled with in the past is my conclusions. I always felt that they were weird and rambley. Well, I think a lot of my writing is weird and rambley. Anyways, apparently this was good. I mean, you can take a look at my final essay and see for yourself.

I learned a lot during the course of this project. Of course I am used to feedback, but with the new grading system I am really getting into the grove of things. I learned that what I think is great can always be improved. There is always more to add. It also taught me to really look at the media I consume, and make sure its not super rapey.

Subtext much

Welcome back to another weekly reflection. This week, I think I got the gist of what these are supposed to be. But of course, there has to be a draw back. This week’s is that, due to a series of unfortunate events, I was only at school for one day. But, we learned lots in that one day. The thing that stood out to me most is our study of ‘feminist’ songs, specifically Man, I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain. 

We were looking at the song, analyzing it, to see if it was a female empowerment song. And when we first started it, I thought it was. I remember being a little kid at sleepovers singing karaoke versions of it. But taking a closer look, its debatable. Of course, I can’t make a decision for anyone, but there are a couple key reasons I learned about it that made me take a second look. 

The first was a preconception I had coming to the song. I thought that it was Shania Twain who wrote the song. And that’s true, to a certain extent. She co-wrote the song with her then-husband, Robert John “Mutt” Lange. He is a big time music producer, working with artists like AC/DC and Lady Gaga. So, was it really Twain who wanted to write the song, or was it mostly Lange, using Twain’s image to say these things?

The music video plays on the Lange/Twain idea as well. As the song progresses, Twain takes off more and more clothing. It could be seen as empowering to women, if it was Twain’s idea, or that she was totally on board with the idea. On the other hand, it could just be Lange trying to make more money by putting a scantily-clad woman in a music video. 

The other thing about the music video is that it parodies a music video from the 80’s, Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love. That video shows expressionless female models ‘playing’ instruments in the back. In Twain’s version, they puts blank-eyed male models in tight clothing in the back. It begs the question, for women to become equal do they have to do to men what men do to women?

I honestly don’t know what to think about the song. Its definitely something. But, learning about the subtext in songs makes me pay more attention to what I listen to.

Apparently Petruchio has No Authority

I’d like to preface this post with the fact that I’m still not 100% sure what the teachers want from these posts. Unclear if that’s just me being less than smart, or something else. Regardless, I came up with this idea for my weekly reflection and so were going with it.

One thing that I’ve noticed, that we’ve touched on a wee bit, is the amount of adaptations of The Taming of the Shrew. By adaptations, I mean movies, television shows, plays of course, all that jazz. Believe you me, there are more than enough. The thing is, I guess the themes are timeless or whatever, so people keep making them.

I was curious. So, as one does, I went investigating. Like I mentioned before, there are quite a few adaptations that I could choose from. I decided to look into two of them, and kinda give the low down on them in this post. The ones I’ve chosen are all movies, to be clear, but interesting enough in their own rights.

Just a note, I haven’t actually seen these movies, or not the entire thing. 

The first movie version that we’ll be talking about is the 1929 version of the film, directed by Sam Taylor. This version was in fact talkie*, and the first talkie of The Taming of the Shrew. It starred Mary Pickford as Kate, and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks as Petruchio.

The film is most notable for how Pickford delivered Kate’s last speech of the movie. When Kate goes through the reasons that a wife should obey her husband, she makes a subtle communication with Bianca, which Petruchio does not notice, that shows that Kate has not actually been tamed. This opposes the idea in the original Shakespeare version, where in the end Kate is tamed. In Taylor’s version, Kate knows what’s going on, and responds accordingly. 

The next version is the 1967 adaptation, which I have seen parts of as it is the version we are watching in class. This one, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, is probably the most famous version. Something that is an interesting connection between both this version and the previous version is that in both, Kate and Petruchio are played by real life couples. Zeffirelli’s version starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. 

In this version, there does seem to be a bit more of the idea that Kate and Petruchio actually fall in love. It is also noted that Kate tends to cast longing glances at Petruchio, as we’ve discussed in class a few times. 

The biggest difference in Taylor’s performance then Pickford’s comes again to Kate’s last speech. Taylor chose to deliver the speech with seniority, much to the dismay of Burton and Zeffirelli. However, she continues to undermine Petruchio’s authority by leaving the banquet without him. 

I wanted to compare these two because of the different ideals of women in the time period, and how both Pickford and Taylor play the character of Katherina. I think its interesting how in both versions, the decision was made to show that Kate was never actually tamed. That speaks a lot to the idea of the perfect wife, and something to consider when watching these. 

*talkie: a movie with a soundtrack, as opposed to a silent film

What am I, a Maid?

So, this is our second weekly reflection post. Goodie. 

This week was the week in which we began the actual reading of The Taming of the Shrew. We were partially focusing on the language that depicted women, and this idea of the “ideal wife”. What struck me was some of the language that they used, and how it’s still used today. 

These themes, and words, are also very similar to a CommonLit reading called Advice to the Newly Married Lady, which was an actual book written in the 19th century. It explained to women how they should act in a marriage, and how it is in their best interest to act a certain way. Attributes given to the idea wife are, again, similar to Taming of the Shrew, and again, used today. 

I work in a grocery store, and if you’ve ever worked in customer service, you know how people call you names. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it can be kind of demeaning. One thing I noticed was how some of the names I’m called at work are very similar, and have the same theme as words used in Taming of the Shrew, and in Advice to the Newly Married Lady. 

Words like doll, love, sweetie, darling, and girlie are just some of the things people call female presenting people in the customer service industry. And honestly, I find it very demeaning. It takes me back to a time when “sacred and sweet”( I, i, 171, Taming of the Shrew) was the epitome of femininity. 

Sluts and Women and Tigers, Oh My!

Morning folks, and welcome to my final year of blog posts. It is indeed my last year of high school, and truly an end of an era. So cherish it while it lasts, but boy will you have a lot to cherish. This year, one thing that we’ve been ‘asked’ to do is write a weekly reflection blog post. There are many factors making this year odd, (cough covid cough), but this one is sure to be something to be remembered. So let’s start of the year right and talk about sluts!

Context. Okay, so in this project, not that we’ve actually been given lots of information, we’ve been focusing on two topics, which I’ll talk about in this post, the first being the changing role of women, I think. Not super clear but let’s go with it.

We started off by watching a couple videos from different time periods where they used the word slut. We were supposed to be understanding how the word has changed overtime, though in the videos the word was used in different ways. We had an assignment were we looked at the videos which can explain them more.

In the first example the word slut is used, though in a comical way, as a sort of attack against the women in the argument, as well as the person of who pm they were talking about. ‘Jane you ignorant slut’ is an attack, not a joke. It is also said by a man on public television, which has definitely changed. In the Golden Girls episode, several years after the SNL skit, the word slut is used in a more comical light, and is recognized as such by all the characters. The characters kind of laugh at it, like a joke between friends. The key difference in the golden girls scene, though, is that it is said by a woman. This kind of changes the connotation. Still, in both the first and second examples, it is said as a joke and recognized by the audience as such. The third clip from Sex and the City takes a more philosophical look at the word. Carrie looks at it from a serious standpoint, like is she actually a slut. In the context that she seemed to take it, she looked at the word from a negative standpoint. Today, posing that word in any sort of context on TV would be a much more serious thing. It would really only be used if a woman was taking back the word, or if the character was already looked at in a negative light. The point is, overtime the word and is use has changed quite a bit, and it’s definitely not looked at as it once was.

In all honesty, I am not a fan of that word. At all. I know some people are trying to reclaim it, similar to the way the LGBTQ+ community retook the word queer. It just seems so judgemental. It places an assumption upon women that creates a double standard between female identifying people and male identifying people. Men are expected to have many partners, while when women do it they are called derogatory terms like slut. Times may have changed, but this idea still exists. 

Another thing we talked about in the discussion was how it was different when a woman called another woman a slut. Sure it’s different, but it still stings. In the show Grand Army, based on a play called Slut: The Play, girls still call each other sluts, in a bad way. They act a certain way, so they must be sluts. It really sucks that we still think this way.

On a lighter note, the second thing we were focusing on this week was vocabulary. Yay. 

Remember those spelling packages you would get in elementary school, where you would study a bunch of words, do activities with them, and then have a spelling test on them? Well, this was basically that, sans the test. We were learning some, not new, but very interesting words. Words like imperious, and fervent.

I fully thought these were random words. Turns out, sometimes things have rhyme and reason. These words were then used in a passage we had to thematically analyze. Just gonna say solidly that that was a weird passage. Would you have your lover eaten by a tiger or marry another woman?