Monday, May 01, 2006

The Notorious Bettie Page

I saw this movie last night with Rebecca. It was kind of confusing because there wasn't a traditional plot, but one was expected (a dramatic life and main character were present). Instead it just shows a woman who gets treated badly by men in everyday situations: abused by her dad, gang raped, shitty boyfriends, no respect from any man, etc. She just kind of floats through life, being cheated out of scholarships and being friendly to strangers she meets on the street (regardless of race). The only place she's treated well is by the kinky porn industry where the producers seem much more healthy in their respect for women(they're just doing it for these weird people who pay them money for pictures). They are nice and fun and it is too bad when they get persecuted by Congress. Bettie just smiles and is happy through her whole life, maybe just a little nervous sometimes. She just floats through life, a life that actually does not seem very sexy just powerless and then she returns to the church when all the creeps keep staring at her even more because they recognize her from all the smut they bought.

I wonder if a man would have made this movie differently. That is of course a ridiculous question implying there are 2 ways to tell a story, but I must admit that part of why I decided to see the movie was because it was directed by a woman.


Anonymous Qi said...


I was working on the verbal section of the MCAT (ostensibly instated by men) the other day, and I ran into this passage in the practice test:

Women who write with an overriding consciousness that they write as women are engaged not in aspiration toward writing but chiefly in a politics of sex. A new political term makes its appearance: woman writer, not used descriptively – as one would say “a lanky, brown-haired writer” – but as part of the language of politics.

Now a politics of sex can be very much to the point. No one would deny that the movement for female suffrage was a politics of sex, and obviously any agitation for equality in employment, in the professions, and in government is a politics of sex. But the language of politics is not writers’ language. Politics begins with premises; imagination goes in search of them. The political term woman writer signals in advance a whole set of premises: that, for instance, there are “male” and “female” states of intellect and feeling, hence of prose; that individuality of condition and temperament do not apply, or at least not much, and that all writing women possess – not by virtue of being writers but by virtue of being women – an instantly perceived common ground; that writers who are women can best nourish other writers who are women.

I deny this. There is a human component to literature that does not separate writers by sex but that – on the contrary – engenders sympathies from sex to sex, from condition to condition, from experience to experience, from like to like, and from unlike to unlike. Literature universalizes. Without disparaging particularity or identity, it universalizes; it does not divide.

Does a “woman writer” have a body of separate experience by virtue of being a woman? It was this myth-fed condition of segregation that classical feminism was created to bring to an end. Insofar as some women, and some writers who are women, have separate bodies of experience or separate psychologies, to that degree has the feminism of these women not yet asserted itself. In art, feminism is that idea which opposes segregation; which means to abolish mythological divisions; which declares that the imagination cannot be “set” free, because it is already free.

A writer – I mean now a fiction writer or a poet, an imagining writer – is not a sociologist, nor a social historian, nor a literary critic, nor a journalist, nor a politician. The newspeak term woman writer has the following sociological or political message: “Of course we believe in humanity-as-a-whole. Of course we believe that a writer is a writer, period. But let us for a little while gather together, as women, to become politically strong, strong in morale, a visible, viable social factor; as such, we will separate ourselves only temporarily, during this strengthening period, and then, when we can rejoin the world with power and dignity in our hands, we will rejoin it and declare ourselves for the unity of the human species. This temporary status will be our strategy in our struggle with Society.”

That is the voice of the “woman writer.” But it is a mistaken voice. Only consider: In intellectual life, a new generation comes of age every four or five years. For those who were not present at the inception of this strategy, it will not seem a strategy at all; it will be the only reality. Writers will very soon find themselves born into one of two categories, woman writer or writer, and all the writers will be expected to be male – an uninspiring social and literary atmosphere the world has known before.

Material used in this test passage has been adapted from the following source:
W. Laqueur and B. Rubin, eds., The Human Rights Reader. ©1989 by W. Laqueur and B. Rubin.

9:49 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

Is this all you analyzing the first paragraph? or is it all MCAT? blew me away with twists. I recomend reading Virginia Woolf's -A Room of Ones Own- for the feminist writer perspective, she says that because men have written for so long the sentence is male...and we have to create the female sentence.
Damn we can't even write a sentence?

5:39 PM  

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