Sunday, June 8, 2008

Little Women and the City

(editor's note: no spoilers)

Tonight, I watched Sex and the City.

...and I fucking loved it.

The fashion was impractically fabulous, the comments sharp with wit, and the sex uncomfortably hilarious. And yet, it appealed to me. Personally, I'd choose a Corona over a Cosmo, a new pair of Nike kicks over Manolo Blahnik stilettos, and a novel by William Faulkner over Vogue magazine. However, Sex and the City captures different aspects of femininity that make it possible for all women to relate. Actually, it probably does for feminism what Alcott's Little Women did for feminism in 1868. Believe it.

The comparison between SATC and Little Women was first noted to me by Professor Scottie Parrish at U-M. After showing a clip of SATC in class, we debated and discussed the effects the novel and TV show have had on society.

Both insightfully develop the characters of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha as well as Beth, Meg, Amy, and Jo March. In both, we meet the ambitious intellect, the unoffending mother, the oversexed and unconventional rule breaker, and lastly, the creative and independent protagonist. Both sets of women are beautifully flawed and a cluster of complexities. However, they, as a group, have forced mainstream America to reevaluate their definition of "femininity".

The March sisters represent a diversity of female empowerment. Alcott represented their struggle between domesticity and ambition in a way that's impacted the progress of American women for generations to come. SATC seems to have picked up where Alcott left off. Taking for granted that women have roles outside of domestic duty, it takes us inside the brutally honest sexual anecdotes of four empowered women, without discrediting any one aspect of femininity. Domesticity, ambition, professionalism, child birth, and independence are represented through each set of women.

Both the novel and the film also bring light to a phenomenon that often goes unnoticed: the strong bond and companionship of women, the ability for them to share their stories, talk through their struggles, and expose their true inhibitions.

Activism comes in all forms...through speeches, literature, and as SATC proves, film. Women talk about sex -- sometimes they aren't even emotionally invested. They don't even believe that Mr. Right exists. They attempt to balance their careers with the conventional definition of femininity. Some live for the designer bag, some live for their books, some live for their children, and some live for their independence. The qualities of these four women combined represent and advance different, yet important, aspects of modern femininity.

Editor's note 2: it's ok to disagree. it's just a blog.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

University of Michigan Commencements

On a sunny April 28th morning, 6,500 graduates of the University of Michigan sat in the most beautiful of places, listening to one of the most inspiring men, and reflecting on the most memorable time of their lives.

I, along with my classmates, sat on the field of the only stadium large enough to be called the Big House, listening to the most loved President in recent time, Bill Clinton, deliver an unforgettable commencement speech, at the single most amazing campus in the world.

With 59,000 supporters in the seats, graduation surpassed every expectation I had.

The administration has declared that Commencements will take place at Eastern Michigan University, located 6.5 miles from campus. Students will be shuttled to and from the ceremony. The administration has stated that parking will be better and measures will be taken to give it a "Maize and Blue feel."

Give me a break. Let's not even dive into the logistical nightmare the shuttles will cause. You want to bus thousands of hungover and untimely college students to Ypsilanti in the early morning??

The class of 2008 has every right to be upset at an administration that didn't seem to explore creative options for an on campus alternative to the Big House. Logistically speaking, the administration either knew about the Big House's inability to host Commencements for months, or carelessly overlooked them (which I cannot believe). Regardless of what decision they were bound to make, they should have at least pretended to care what the graduates wanted. A simple survey like THIS could have been sent in an email asking students if they preferred 2 tickets at Crisler Arena or 8 tickets at Eastern's Rynearson Stadium. At least then the University could have said they weighed all options and made a decision that they believed was most appropriate.

To complicate matters, the VP of Student Affairs, Royster Harper, stated in a Michigan Daily article that there is a chance students could overturn the decision and Commencements could be held at Crisler Arena. While I am glad that the administration isn't calling this a done-deal, I am wary. If the administration was seriously considering overturning their decision (which I am not sure they are), why would they send an email stating a decision has already been made, evoking a very aggressive reaction from students? Why would they then allude that the students should wreak havoc in order to get their way? I quote Harper verbatim: "If there was a cry from the folks that are really affected - these current seniors - and it was 80 or 90 percent of them, that would be worth a pause."

Really Harper? 80-90%? Is that a scientific number? And you propose yielding that number how? By adding it to the Michigan Primary on Tuesday? There is no way to prove that "80 or 90 percent" of them want change. However, now you have them organizing on a grass roots level, spamming the hell out of Regents, Administrators, and various University departments, and writing an endless amount of letters to various media outposts bringing negative attention to the U.

I hope for Harper's sake that that the administration is seriously considering overturning their decision and told her to go on record and make that claim. She has given students even more incentive to blow this up. This isn't Proposal 2, Israel, or MSA -- which rile some students up but leave most apathetic. This has struck a cord with Peter who plays video games in South Quad all day just as much as it did with the campus activist who pursues any chance to start a revolution.

This is going to get ugly.