The novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a ground-breaking work in American fiction. The topic of emotional/physical abuse, especially that endured by black American women of earlier generations is not openly spoken about or documented in history books. By bringing focus to this sensitive, yet saddening, experience of black women, the novel attracted criticism, censorship and controversy. A careful analysis of the novel will reveal several themes, symbols and motifs woven-in by the author. This essay will confine itself to highlighting some of the major themes such as the representation (or lack thereof) of God, the interpretation of the color purple that is the title of the work, the symbolic value of the epistolary element in the novel, etc.
One of the prominent themes of the novel is the degree of suppression of the female African voice in early twentieth century American society. This is most evident from the events and circumstances in the life of the protagonist of . . . Read More
Shere Hite is one of the most influential and controversial figures in sociology scholarship of the last half century. It won’t be an exaggeration to suggest that she is one of the most quoted authors in feminist scholarship; and her most famous work The Hite Report is even popular among lay readers. The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality was published in 1976. This was followed by The Hite Report on Male Sexuality in 1981 and The Hite Report on the Family in 1994. She is seen as an inspiration and role model for many feminist activists and writers for offering them radical new insights into female sexuality in western society. It is for the same reason that she is ostracized and attacked by conservative sections of western society, especially within the United States. Yet, there is no doubt that her contribution is quite significant in the context of the growth of sociology as a field.
A prominent feature of the report is its sprawling style of . . . Read More
The movie Freedom Writers is one of the most touching to have come out of Hollywood in recent years. Starring Hilary Swank in a lead role, the movie takes up a subject that is at the heart of American culture, namely juvenile delinquency and ways of dealing with it. It also touches upon the economics of race and gender. On a cursory viewing the story looks deceptively simple. But when the storyline, screenplay and other nuances in the film are observed, numerous interpretations are made available. Embedded within it are themes of economics, especially that applying to race and gender. Moreover, what comes through the narrative is the strength of character and commitment shown by Erin Gruwell as she undertakes to set right a challenging group of students. For example,
“She encounters a diverse but segregated community so racially charged, hostile and potentially combustible that she likens it to Nazi Germany. Without the support of her administrators . . . Read More
The two characters chosen for this essay are those played by Judie Dench (Kate Winslet plays the younger Iris Murdoch) from the movie Iris and Rachel McAdams from The Notebook. The movie Iris, starring Judie Dench and Jim Broadbent is a masterpiece of the drama genre. The movie is a biographical account of British novelist Iris Murdoch, as it traces her life from early adulthood till her old age and ultimate demise. The film The Notebook, on the other hand is a conventional romantic drama presented in typical Hollywood format. But the two characters in question do display some striking similarities and obvious differences.
First, the most striking similarity between them is their enthusiasm and passion for life. In the case of Murdoch, her passions cover the two domains of love and literature. She was as adventurous and bold in her relationships as she was in the themes and plots of her novels. When it came to her personal life, not only was Iris unfaithful to her . . . Read More
In the article titled Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley, written by Claire Cain Miller for the New York Times, some relevant issues pertaining to gender equality in the technology industry is raised. The high-tech industry, represented by the Silicon Valley in California, is a progressive place with ‘innovation’, ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘creativity’ being the buzzwords. So many start-up tech companies are set up in the region annually, but nearly all of them are led by men. Those exceptional ones that are founded by women face difficulties in getting funding for projects. So, despite being progressive in many respects, there is yet no complete acceptance of women in top managerial roles. Another issue raised by the article is the stereotyping of women’s possible career paths right from high-school. It is partly true that many girls do not have a natural inclination toward subjects such as math and science. But even those who show interests in these subjects are either . . . Read More
Egyptian Empress Cleopatra is not purely a historical figure, for her life has been much romanticized and made mythical in popular culture. Known for her seductive allure and great powers of will and conquest, she came to represent the empowered woman of historic times. In the two millennia since her demise, the aura around her has remained undiminished, as she continues to remain an iconic figure in historical scholarship as well as cultural discourse. It is then apt to summarize her effect on the world thus: “Cleopatra keeps on changing, and will continue to do so until her name is forgotten, but the forces that shaped her life and which have shaped her legend–the forces of fear and fantasy and covert desire–are still at their lethal work in the world.” (Hughes-Hallett, 2006, p.70) The rest of this essay will provide evidence in support of this thesis.
What make Cleopatra’s influence on the world so strong are the remarkable facts of her life. . . . Read More
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an ongoing practice among many primitive peoples of the world. Rooted in religious doctrine and mysticism, this practice is a form of abuse against women, for it deprives them of attaining full sexual pleasure. Both the United States and the United Nations are powerful political entities that can do something about this problem. The United Nations, as part of its pledge to uphold principles stated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) document, has been at the forefront of efforts to curb this practice. The United States, on the other hand, has also chipped in with funding and lobbying efforts to eradicate FGM. But these efforts have not been sufficient to significantly reduce the occurrence of FGM. The rest of this essay will foray into the successes and failures of the US and the UN in protecting victims of FGM and also in preventing it.
The United Nations has brought up the issue of FGM under its broader program for . . . Read More
Despite gaining no legal or religious sanction, the adult movie industry is one of the biggest and thriving contributors to culture and economy. Here, adult movie is defined as that whose content is majorly comprised of implicit or explicit sexual acts (of various orientations) and action movies that are adult certified due to excessive violence or profanity. In other words, the term ‘adult movie’ is interpreted in this essay to include hardcore and soft-core pornography, as well as those that are legally permitted but contain sexual content, violence or profanity. In polite societies and in family environments mere mention of pornography can elicit embarrassment, shock or disgust from people. But interestingly, such reactions are not pronounced in response to violence and profanity, although these are equally harmful influences. Nevertheless, while people hesitate to talk about indulgence in pornography in the public space, it continues to be a part of their . . . Read More
Mid-life crisis refers to the observed phenomenon of depression, low motivation and lack of purpose seen in the middle of adult lives. This crisis is seen by psychologists as a product of several factors, including complacency, boredom, hormonal changes and natural ageing process. This is especially more pronounced in men than women, as the former’s social and family roles and responsibilities start to alter at mid-life. There is incentive for both psychologists and the general public to understand this phenomenon, as it affects a sizeable portion of any given population. Lifestyles adopted by people, especially in modern urban centers, as well as sedentary working styles are also said to contribute to the onset of mid-life crisis. Stress, either work related or due to strained relationships, also plays a role.(Bishop, 1999, p.417)
In popular culture, mid-life crisis is often associated with break-up of relationships, divorces, etc, especially when it happens . . . Read More
The author duo of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have made economics accessible to the general reader through their popular work Freakonomics and its sequel. Continuing on with the spirit of scholarly adventure, they yet again unfold unexpected correlations in understanding odd phenomenon. In the article in question, originally published in Slate magazine in May of 2005, the authors connect the dots and explain the skewed sex ratio in some parts of the Third World.
Amartya Sen, who has done extensive research on the problems of the Third World, especially his native India, originally attributed the skewed sex ratio to a list of social ills. This includes preference for boy babies in a patriarchal society, leading to female infanticide; neglect of baby girls in terms of care, nutrition and education; trafficking of adolescent girls through prostitution. Sen argued that all these factors combined to create a disparity of 100 million missing women in Asia. . . . Read More