I love browsing through fashion advice books, but it’s always out of curiosity. I like to see a different interpretation of what women should look like – and how that changes through time . I never follow the advice contained in those books because I forget the specificities. And they are so different in every book. I just enjoy the visual imagery and the interpretation of the role of women in society expressed through that advice: do they have to make themselves attractive, do they have to learn to be practical or conform to some rigit etiquette?
I never thought such a book would be liberating, feminist or useful for me, for what it is worth. After all, they all imply that women undeniably have to change something about themselves or to adhere to rules on how to conceal problems and boost merits. That’s hardly liberating. It is more a constriction than freedom, just as a sculptor friend of mine expressed it through her metal corset creations. Continue reading
March 8, the International Women’s Day, is important in a great part of the world. I like it for what it is: a reminder that women still don’t have equal rights and opportunities in a large part of the world and are even second-class citizens by law in many places. A way to remember how far we have come from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, even with so many similar factories around the world today whose shirts we buy and wear. An occasion to decide to abandon stereotypes about what it means to be feminine and follow the paths we choose, bravely: motherhood and public influence, discovering the beauty and exploring the darkness of the universe, and the right to be tired sometimes 🙂 .
I also get cards and lots of wishes for this day. Sometimes they are related to the celebration of womanness. Other times they try to remind me of why this day is still necessary. And still other times, the person who writes or calls feels that the day is important, but then makes it to be a holiday just as any other, similar to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or a birthday. And it is not. Continue reading
This witty list of terms in Spanish in their feminine and masculine forms and their related meanings has provided my students with lots of fun – and insights about language. The fun works if you know Spanish, though…
El idioma castellano es machista? Continue reading
In July, I had the chance to visit an interesting store in New Orleans, Oh Susannah Doll Shop – all things doll, but, alas, with little time to peruse thoroughly and decide which of the precious items I was most in love with so that I would purchase it. The collection was outrageously varied, ranging from tiny plastic babies in a carriage to large, upsettingly realistic representations of girls as dolls in poses totally incompatible with what normally is perceived as “dollness”: dolls that express emotions (of fear or boredom), in awkward positions, in highly personalized clothing. These dolls can’t be really dolls in the traditional sense, because they are not blank, they are not the tabula rasa a girl wants to project onto it her own self-representation. They are an individual artist’s rendition of a girl idea, a sculpture to be admired rather than a toy to be handled and integrated into someone’s life. And that brings the question of what a doll really is and what dolls do. Are they age-limited, in terms of representation and user? Are Grandma Claus real dolls, if they do not reflect any girl’s identity, the way a Barbie may do? What about a boy-doll? Dolls are also a fertile terrain for feminist inquiry. What do men mean when they call a woman “doll”? Continue reading
Yesterday, I got a surprise amazon.com package in the mail. It wasn’t a mistaken order sent by amazon.com, it was a recycled box in which a dear friend was sending me some old books from a local antiquarian she thought I would find “fun.” They were three fiction books published in the early XX century in the US, by Spanish authors nobody is interested in today. And a fourth one, First Spanish Course from 1917, essentially a Spanish textbook for US college students. Wow! We’ve gone a long way in teaching languages since then. Continue reading