Saturday, January 19, 2013

Portfolio Essay


There are various forms of oppression and in this Women’s Studies class we were presented with forms specifically affecting women. While my four papers appear to be diverse: Captivity Narratives as Political Propaganda, Continued Militarization, Religious Persecution in Salem, and Sexuality in Caramelo, they each contain the underlying theme of oppression.

The two captivity narratives I showed to be political propaganda were Mary Rowlandson’s and Evangelina Cisneros’s. The victimization of these two females in their narratives was intended to incite hatred and anger against an enemy. This feminization of the situation further encouraged the belief of women as fragile creatures in need of being protected.

Continued Militarization drew from the work of Cynthia Enloe. I agreed with and drew on her stance toward America’s indoctrination toward militarization. This paper along with the Enloe readings helped me to realize the concept of military in everyday life. The lack of acknowledgement and indifferent acceptance of military ideals perpetuates a cycle of violence being seen as the answer. Especially women are indoctrinated into these beliefs when they are the told to be “good” wives, girlfriends, etc. and support their husbands, boyfriends, etc. serving in the military.

My third paper was my favorite because the general topic of the Salem witch trials has always fascinated me. The focus on I, Tituba gave a new lens to what I previously only thought was a hunt for white women in Salem. I was most troubled by the paradox of her religious persecution by people who were themselves persecuted for their religion. Tituba’s oppression was especially troubling because not only was she oppressed by her “masters” but because she went into slavery willingly.

Finally, with my paper Sexuality in Caramelo, I found that I most related to this text. The complexities of the sexuality within the family, community, and within each character made the book into a series of microcosms and macrocosms. The oppression trickled down from society to family and then from family to each character individually.

While at first glance my papers may not appear to have a linking theme, the fact that each character and situation I address is unable to fully express him/her/itself. The oppressive forces cause internalization of what is deemed “right” and “wrong” by society. The fact that each of these oppressions is also regarding women specifically shows the larger issue of gender in regards to oppression.

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