Collins begins to describe her anxiety with her upcoming departure to Jordan. She goes back a forth quite a bit in deciding whether or not to wear a veil while visiting the foreign country. She thinks the veil will provide her a certain level of safety and comfort while over seas. She also believes the veil may act as a good disguise to hide her secret identity as a spy for the feminist underground. However, she also wonders whether her choice to veil will be seen as hypocritical and as a mocking gesture. Once boarding onto the plane, she realized that there are many different kinds of women all in planned flight to arrive in Jordan. Some are veiled, some wear fully Western clothing, and some are even barefoot! At once she decides to remove the veil and reveal herself as a Westerner. Immediately, however, she feels the cold draft of the airplane and resorts to the veil for comfort and warmth. From this moment on, she decides to veil for the remainder of her trip. Further in her writing, Collins ponders over the true root of the veil. She begs the question, "what is it about women that is so repellently sexual that she must diminish herself in drab uniformity..." Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all define themselves through disgust for women's bodies. She then begins to consider "I" and the many different forms of a cover worn by all women. She specifically points to the American woman's routine of wearing make up. She considers this to be a "faceveil" structurally similar to the veil worn by the women around her. I found this point to be especially striking to me. In my discussions and further opinions on women and veiling did I truly overlook this fantastic point that "I" myself wear a veil on a daily basis in the form of cosmetics and Cover Girl? I feel ashamed for so harshly judging this cultural comparison to make up. Collins even uses the term "westoxicated" to describe the Western practices of covering up women.
Monday, August 6, 2012
In her article, Marla Del Collins poses the question: to veil or not to veil? She poses this question because she will soon be embarking on a journey to the Middle Eastern country of Jordan. She states very early on that the purpose of her writing is to transcend dualistic thinking and the dualism doctrine. This rejection of dualism was also present within my last post as well. Her paper also introduces the first person singular ( I ) back into scholarship. By doing this, she legitimates the narrative voice as academic writing. I took particular interest in this point that Collins was making. Earlier in this class, we talked about the type of writing that has been widely taught to us young scholars. This style of writing was always taught to be the correct way to write. However, it was apparent from Cixous' article that there are in fact many different forms of writing, and none of them are more correct than the other. Some are perhaps considered lacking legitimacy, but who's judging the legitimacy is the question we must ask. I remember quite vividly in my early years of english classes being taught never to use "I" in formal or academic writing. But why? It was explained that by using "I" one would bring their own subjective opinion into an entirely objective piece of work. I never realized that this meant denying any sign of myself within my writing. "To gain legitimacy, feminists have had to counter it since many academics use the norm of objectivity to denounce the very idea of feminist scholarship," Collins details. Apparently, I was not the only little girl taught never to use "I", my own opinion, background, and beliefs, within academic or 'legitimate' writing. Using I is the only position of political power available to women and minorities, claims Collins. This theme is commonly echoed by feminists from all walks of life; The personal is political. It is in this view, that the Muslim practice of veiling must be examined. We must examine the veil from a multifaceted and holistic view point. Not through ancient dualistic practices of right/wrong. We must consider "I" in our exploration of another culture's practices. We must also consider their "I", or where these women come from, as well.
In conclusion of her writing, Collins again points to the veil as ever changing marker in documenting the social history of the Muslim world. "The tradition of veiling is still winding its way through history-signifying transitions in human social development- ever evolving through time." She would not miss wearing the veil, but it was always there and Collins has a choice whether or not to revive it. The choice to veil or not to veil was there all along. Her right to choose may not have always seemed so apparent, but it was there and allowed her to experience the Jordanian culture in her own way. "I am home now; my hair blows free in the wind and under the sun."
Friday, August 3, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
In La Conciencia da la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness, Gloria Anzaldua proposes an all new way of thinking: a new mestiza consciousness. In her work she defines la mestiza as 'a product of the transfer of the cultural and spiritual values of one group to another.' More specifically, la mestiza is someone of mixed races. Once referred to as a 'cosmic race' which embraced the four major races of the world. In her work, Anzaldua tries to disprove the common belief that these people are inferior. As depicted by much of mass media, I must admit that Anzaldua is correct in her thinking that this stereotype is a widespread belief. These stereotypes do not solely target people of mixed races, but it seems at though Hispanic people as an entire culture of people are targeted as well.
Within her definitions, Anzaldua is very inclusive. She does not limit la mestiza to women of Hispanic decent, but virtually to all people who feel as though they belong to more than one culture. However, this multiplicity of cultures results in a 'state of perpetual transition.' As a direct result of her multiple cultures, the mestiza faces many struggles and difficulties concerning identity and her very being. Anzaldua refers to this struggle as a cultural collision. How does one cope with is constant struggle? Anzaldua urges for a knew collective consciousness altogether. She does not just refer to this new consciousness, she provides a guideline that anyone seeking a new way of thinking could refer to. "Only by remaining flexible is she able to stretch the psyche horizontally and vertically. La mestiza constantly has to shift out of habitual formations..."Anzaldua urges that the work of any mestiza consciousness is to 'break down the subject-object duality' that la mestiza a prisoner. What does she mean by all of this? Through her call for a massive uprooting of dualistic thinking, it is obvious that people should rid themselves of their constant need to categorize. She wants people to get rid of the idea that something is either black or white, or this or that, always categorizing and defining things by dividing them into two.
Besides her remarkable proclamation for a completely new consciousness, it is also important to examine the very way in which Anzaldua writes this text. (I mean it is a writing class after all!) She does not simply write about the multi-cultures consciousness she actually DOES it. She is quite literally writing in a la mestiza way. Throughout her text, Anzaldua is fluctuating between English writing to Spanish writing. The versus in Spanish contribute to the overall authenticity of her work. She is not just telling her readers to practice the la mestiza consciousness, she is doing it herself in the very moment they are reading! This constant changing of languages also emphasizes the struggles of la mestiza in her constant crossing over between cultures. Through her words and her unique style of writing, I believe Anzaldua would accomplish her goal of moving towards a new la mestiza consciousness.
Monday, July 23, 2012
In her Chicago journal entitled The Laugh of the Medusa Helene Cixous urges women to WRITE! She urges women to begin writing and partake in predominately male field. You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with me? In 2012, there are plenty of female writers who have come into success and fortune due to their writing. J.K. Rowling, amidst others, just happens to be the first that comes to my mind! However, when this journal was first published in 1975 the world of Harry Potter was simply unknown. Cixous isn’t simply urging woman to write, but rather to write in a certain, or uncertain, way. She is not referring altogether to the mundane act of writing itself, but is referring to breaking both traditional boundaries and structure. These structures, she believes, have been a round since the very beginning of writing and were emplaced to maintain phallocentric ideals. Why so much passion and advocacy towards writing? Cixous argues that writing is the “springboard for subversive thought.” The problem with writing is that women draw their stories from history. Unfortunately, this history tells of her own oppression and is based on phallocentric tradition. Cixous urges that we must seize the occasion to speak and, therefore, break this tradition and ancient boundaries. We must write from our point of view and allow the Old woman to make a remarkable transition into the New woman.
(Photo of Helene Cixous)
Cixous boldly declares that women have been “kept in the dark.” What is this darkness you may ask? I believe this darkness directly refers to enlightenment. Women have been kept in the dark about enlightening themselves. This enlightenment does not strictly address the area of writing, but all forms of academia and knowledge. “Women have been taught that their territory is black. Because you are Africa,” explains Cixous. Dark, because it is an unknown, often simultaneously frightening, realm. Africa, because is an area for men to invade, conquer and colonize. However, men’s greatest crime against women it teaching them to hate other women, to be their own enemy, and to mobilize their immense strength against themselves. Essentially, phallocentic traditions have taught women a specific kind of “anti-narcissism,” or hatred of oneself. Cixous states that all male writing is “marked writing.” This is because they cannot drop their viewpoint, and inherent privileges, as a male. Cixous also states that although “it is impossible to define a feminine practice of writing, it will always surpass the discourse that regulates the phallocentric system.” This is because as women, we hold a certain intersectionality and vantage point that allows us to see the world in a different way than the dominant most. We need to write as ourselves and give other women the confidence to do the same!