Journal Entry #1 – Breaking Gender Expectations

Scout inside a tire, playing with Jem and Dill during summer.

“I was not sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls imagined things, that’s why other people hated them so if I started behaving like one, I could just go off and find some to play with.”   This was said by Jem Finch to his little sister, Scout Finch on page 54, we can see how Scout, main character of Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird struggles to fit in Jem’s expectations.

Scout did not have a female role to follow except for their maid, Calpurnia since when she was young, her mother died.  Scout lived with her brother Jem, her dad Atticus, and Calpurnia, so she spends most of the time playing with Jem.  During summer, Jem’s best friend, Dill, will come over to play with Scout and Jem.  Scout was always playing around boys, which influences her tomboyish personality, which brakes the gender expectation during the 1930’s.

Women were expected to stay at home to look after their children, cook, do laundry, and clean the house.  Women and young girls were also expected to wear dresses, were not allowed to be barefoot since it was a symbol of shabbiness, never use or hear curse words, and they were not allowed to get into fights.  If they had any problem, they were expected to solve it through speaking to each other.  Girls were expected to play with dolls, and attend to parties to drink tea while playing with dolls.

Unlike the typical Southern girl in the 1930’s, Scout played into rough games with the boys, got into fights in school, used an inappropriate language, liked playing with guns, and wore jean overalls.  Scout’s tomboyish personality, challenging the gender expectations of the time period while living in a small town, as she reaches adolescence, could potentially bring her problems related with fitting in with the rest of the community.

 

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The House On Mango Street book review – Sandra Cisneros’ alluring and passionate novel causes commotion

4/5 stars

Sandra Cisneros writes a bildungsroman of a Chicana teenager (women or girl of Mexican origin or descent living in the United States), created on Cisneros’ experiences.  Esperanza, who lives in a low-income neighborhood in Chicago, faces challenges dealing with economic status, language, stereotypes, and fitting into her society.  

Cisneros, is an activist poet, novelist, short story writer, artist, and essayist with many degrees.  By the time Cisneros wrote The House On Mango Street, she was a graduate student, high-school teacher, counselor, and was working toward receiving an NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) fellowship.  Cisneros was born in Chicago, a Chicana who was frequently moving.  According to an interview, she did for AARP in 2015, she explains that her writings, especially on The House On Mango Street, are inspired on the places, and people she met in the different places she lived as a child.  Sandra Cisneros, after more than fifty years writing, and many recognitions, with her illustrious novels consisting of short stories, has been able to sell more than six million copies of The House On Mango Street.

In The House On Mango Street, we see growth, both physically and mentally, and an increase in Esperanza’s sense of maturity.  Cisneros starts the book with Esperanza moving into a new house, but her expectations were too high for what her family’s economic status could afford.  Esperanza, a naive coming-of-age-girl, expected a big, clean, and brand-new house, but those were just dreams that never came true.  Esperanza faces many challenges while living on Mango Street: Social discrimination; a desire of searching for identity; experiences a desire of flight after feeling ashamed by her house; been sexually abused; and towards the end of the book, a striking and shocking epiphany of the real world.  The story ends by Esperanza making the decision of moving off Mango Street, but with the commitment of coming back to help those who can’t, to help those who don’t’ have the same opportunities as she has.  The House On Mango Street revolves around the themes of identity, independence; the role of women in the Latino culture; the power of language; growing-up, and the challenges and responsibilities it requires.

The House On Mango Street is written in a hopeful tone that highlights Esperanza’s dreams and naiveté.  The House On Mango Street is written in vignette form, a compilation of short stories.  At the beginning of the book, Cisneros’ short stories are mainly of Esperanza’s daily experiences, sometimes including flashbacks.  Towards the middle of the book, Cisneros writes more about the people, and/or mentors Esperanza meets while living on Mango Street, and how they affect her life, positively and negatively, and impacts her decisions as she matures.  Cisneros’ finishes her book writing about the decisions Esperanza takes as she has matured.  The House On Mango Street doesn’t have to read in chronological, without the reader struggling to understand the story.  Every single one of her wisely chosen words she uses to write each vignette, allow the readers to in many instances, connect with Esperanza’s experiences, without the need of reading every vignette.

Reaction Paper: “Why did Biloxi pull ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from the 8th-grade lesson plan”

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    Biloxi school district considers that it’s not an appropriate language usage for a book in the eighth grade English Language Arts curriculum.  “Why did Biloxi pull ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from the 8th-grade lesson plan” article written by Karen Nelson on October 12, 2017.  The articles talk about Biloxi school district, in Mississippi banning the book by Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird.  To Kill A Mockingbird is a coming-of-age-novel, a classic in eighth-grade curriculums.  It deals with racism, raping, though a very compassionate, dramatic, novel which causes a sense of commotion to every reader.

    I still haven’t read the novel, but I have heard and read that is a wonderful novel. In my own experience, I have read a banned book, The True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  In the case of The True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian, it was banned because the main character mentions that like masturbation.  The article explains that To Kill A Mockingbird was banned because of the use of the “N” word.  I respectfully disagree with Biloxi’s decision of banning this book.  I am conscious that sometimes the usage of a certain language or books that talk about certain topics are considered as disrespectful to certain cultures, or make people uncomfortable, but I believe that just because of the use of the “N” word, it’s not a reason to ban a book.  

    In the case of To Kill A Mockingbird, Biloxi complains about the type of language used by Harper Lee when writing the novel.  Maybe, they banned the book in the schools believing that their students were going to start using that type of language.  We have to be honest, all of us have heard swearing words, but that doesn’t mean we once hear and/or read them, we add them to our vocabulary.  In my opinion, if children have a good education at home, they are least likely to swear.  Although they might receive a good education at home, sometimes parents do use swearing words, they are conscious that, and don’t mind if their children use them as well.

    Although I can understand Biloxi’s school district concern, I feel they took extreme consequences.  From my point of view, by eighth grade, students are mature enough to handle a book with some obscene language, and with topics such as rapping, and racism, but I’m nobody to judge someone’s decision since in the majority of the cases, their reason go further from what we know.


    In conclusion, the coming-of-age novel by Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird has caused issues in schools of Mississippi, specifically in Biloxi due to the type of language used in the book.  Due to this problem, the book has been pulled out of the English Language Arts eighth grade curriculum.   According to school authorities, the books still can be found in the school library, though it’s no longer part of the eighth-grade curriculum.

Book Banning

1. Is book banning ever acceptable?

  • In my opinion, book banning shouldn’t be acceptable.  I strongly believe that anyone should have the right to publish a book without it been banned or challenged, I believe that writing is a form of expression.

2. Do schools have the right to ban books?

  • In my opinion, schools shouldn’t have the right to ban books.  Many times they are banned due to parents/guardians request, but I believe that it shouldn’t keep others that don’t mind reading a certain book from reading it and learning from it.

3. Do parents as taxpayers and funders of public libraries, have the right to choose what books libraries provide?

  • From my point of view, no, parents as taxpayers and funders of public libraries should have an opinion on what they want and don’t want their kids to read, but shouldn’t control what can a libraries offer to its visitors.  If parents would take control on what a library can offer, that would cause conflicts since every person has different interests, and limits when talking about what is considered appropriate and what not depending on age, culture, and maturity.

4. When do books cross the line and who gets to decide?

  • There’s no line to define when a book “crosses the line” or not.  That “line” is defined by guardians/teachers/government or any authority.  For example, in the video by Rocketboom in May of 2013, they talked about book banning in the 21st century.  They make reference to the a children book: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and how it has been banned because it talks about two male penguins, a transexual couple, who raises a baby.  And Tango Makes Three has appeared on the #1 of the banned books in the United States, while books talking bout how to kill someone with your hands, and how to hack computers haven’t been banned yet.

5. Is there even a line?

  • In my opinion, theres no line.  Wether a book is banned or challenged depends on the person who reads the book, their interests, and their perspective.  For this question, I’ll make reference to the previous question and how the children book was banned, while other books dealing with murder haven’t been banned.

9/19/2017 Word On Wednesday: “Toil”

HOUSE

Seven Months, And I Still Cry Over It

By: Carmen Ureña

 

One more month, another doctor visit

physiotherapy and tears.  

Now, seven months and a half,

seven months and a half without seeing the  light,

the light at the end of the tunnel.

Seven months and a half that to me

seem infinite.

I ask myself with no hopes at all,

I’m I ever going to recover from this?

 

Four doctors,

three radiologists,

50 therapy sessions,

ultrasounds, magnetic resonance.

360 pills, Lidocaine and Corticoid injections.

but my pain is still there,

as a constant reminder of my barriers,

the ones I can’t overcome,

the ones that haunt me everyday.

No changes,

the pain,

is even worst than when all of this started.

 

Seven  months,

and I just keep losing hope.

I toiled,

I have taken care of this injury as I have never done with any of my previous accidents.  

Even though I hate it,

I toiled,

3,000 hours stuck resting in a bed.  

Always the same, hot packs, cold packs,

magnetic waves, electric current.  

3,000 hours stuck in that cabin,

and it still hurts,

even  when I have to stretch the softest of the

strengthening rubber bands.

 

Seven months,

and I still cry over my lost of strength, muscle

and endurance.

Seven months,  and I keep crying about my

tonified calves, thighs, and arms.

 

Seven months,

and I keep crying over the races I had planned for this year.  

My hopes of competing  around the world,

are gone.  

I toiled to reach time limits to compete around the world,

5 years toiling,

just to see all of my efforts vanish before me.

 

My bike, full of dust,

waiting for my recovery,

seven months,

without anyone using it.  

My cycling shoes,

waiting for me in my closet.  

Every morning, afternoon, and night,

I open my closet,

I can hear them calling me;

while I can hardly walk.

Seven months,

without buying any running shoes, energetic

gels, goggles, or trisuits.  

Seven months, that changed my life.

 

Seven months,

and I know there’s at least four more months of

my suffering.  

Ahead of me,

and unusual Christmas,

an unusual New Year.  

No parties or high heels,

instead, a cast,

crutches, and stitches.  

What I thought was a simple ankle twist,

that will recover within  days,

has turned into an unuseful foot,

needing surgery.

My “insignificant” injury, has now destroyed

 

Seasons pass by,

leaves fall,

and they grow back, but I’m still here.

 

The days pass by, and I feel numb,

trying to understand how to live with the pain I feel,

but it just gets worst every day.  

 

Me, the strong woman,

or so I thought,

the Iron Girl,

is now crying,

crying because of her situation.

 

Seven months,

I toil not to,

but I keep crying,

Crying like a three-year-old on their first day of

school.  

Seven months,

and I now understand the importance of taking

care of injuries.  

Seven months,

and I still try everyday to do what I love the most,

triathlon,

my life,

but I fail.

 

For more Word On Wednesday, click here.

Poetry Friday: Women, Who Dress Up, Who Dress Up To Impress

Women, who dress up, who dress up to impress men; like the houses in the magazines my mom buys every month.  Then, there’s me, and my friend, breaking stereotypes.

Why do we get picked-up by men, while we are not interested?

Millions of women, behind make-up, surgeries, and well-dressed; waiting to get picked-up, and no one notices.

There we are, two girls, standing still, all sweaty, in the Panamanian heat. Focused on cadence and time, like elite athletes training for a world championship.  Two girls, with no intention of calling the attention, the attention of older men.  

Two girls, shocked with horror at the thoughts of men who passed us by on Monday afternoons, we were eye candy, just like three-year-olds who are scared of clowns.

Even if we wanted to call their attention, we only receive nasty pick-up lines.  We are seen just as sexual objects, like women in the past. Sitting by the window, with hope, waiting for their man.   Like women in those old stories, we read about in books.

Why do we still suffer from sexual abuse? Like if we were living in those old stories where women were seen as an entertainment.  

Why can’t we be seen as normal people?  Why can’t women walk down the streets without people looking and calling out their body?   Why can’t people focus on emotions and internal beauty, instead of on how your body looks?