After weeks of waiting, I finally got to watch the premiere of Sister Wives last night. My first thought when I watched it was “AWKWARD.” Most Reality TV Stars seem to forget after a while that they are on television. The stars of Sister Wives, however, seemed to be cognizant that they were presenting themselves and their lifestyle on TV. As a result, we got a lot of bad jokes about children being “sistas from the same mister” and “brothas from a different motha” as well as a lot of awful banter how about how much they all loved each other and hoped that he was having sex with every one of them.
What I found most problematic about the show, however, was the way that the media and even the characters of the show have treated Kody’s three current wives. At the end of the show, the polygamous father of the group announces that he is planning to marry a fourth wife. One of the women announces that she is happy for her husband because he deserves a “cute girl.” Another replies awkwardly that he already has a cute girl – her.
The media attention around Sister Wives has focused on Kody’s decision to marry a fourth wife. The Huffington Post pointed out that the first three wives are all “blonde” and “round” and worried how they really felt about their husband’s decision to marry a skinny brunette. The Houston Chronicle pointed out that Kody’s taste seems to have changed since he married his first three wives.
Although I too was drawn into the idea of adding a fourth wife into an already burgeoning family, I found myself wondering how the attention will affect the wives already in the marriage. Many Christians criticize polygamy for devaluing women and turning them into nothing more than sex objects. Yet, that is exactly what the media attention surrounding Sister Wives has done. The show itself, and apparently, the family who is featured, tries to focus on each of the women as an autonomous human being. Yet, much of the media attention has focused on the way that women look and the impending addition of a fourth. The Huffington Post is much more to blame here than the Houston Chronicle. It seems to be the outside world rather than Kody himself that has reduced the women to sex.
I wonder how Kody’s three current wives feel about the media’s designation of them as less attractive women.
In her book Landscape for a Good Woman, the historian Carolyn Steedman describes her working class childhood in 1950s England. She does so not to tell another story of deprivation or to impart any great wisdom about what it means to be poor but to disrupt the narratives that labor historians and feminists have typically told about such childhoods.
She was illegitimate – the product of her mother’s attempt to persuade her recalcitrant boyfriend to marry her by providing him with children. It was a gamble that failed. Her mother longed for a different life and stared at the women who wore the “New Look” skirts Christian Dior popularized after World War II. She also resented the children that had failed to provide her with the life that she had desired. She incessantly reminded her two daughters about the long hours that she had spent in labor and told them about the things that she would be able to buy if they hadn’t come along. Continue reading
I just read “Why Standards Night is Substandard,” written by Kathryn Lynard Soper and posted at Patheos.org. It’s a good article. But her experience did not resonate with mine at all. Although I may have fancied myself physically attractive from time to time, I think I have consistently underestimated the power that my attractiveness might have over men. Continue reading
I remember the first time I saw Artemesia Gentileschi’s Judith Beheading Holofernes. It was in my European history class in high school. I was astounded. Should a woman be doing that, I wondered? At the same time, I was intoxicated by her display of female power. In the painting, a woman has seduced a general to help her people, who are besieged by the Assyrians; and she is beheading him. Although Judith grimaces slightly, she and her handmaid seem relatively emotionless as they are going about this brutal task. The general Holofernes, completely drunk, has no time to react, and a cruel spurt of blood ejects from his neck. Judith looks like she’s slicing a large piece of meat. Her cleavage shows, underscoring the power of her sexuality as she exacts revenge and helps to free her people. Continue reading
Today was the first day that I actually taught for the Sport in the Modern World class I am TAing this semester. Although lecture met last week, the discussion sections were delayed to ease students into the semester and to give them something to talk about once we actually got into the section. Continue reading
The series we did on the “pink” issue of Dialogue made me think about why so few men have been involved in discussions of gender. I asked some of my male friends if they might be willing to comment. A few them bravely volunteered to post. This is the first of those posts. Dallin is a PhD student in the English department at Notre Dame. His research focuses on Modern British Literature.
“I study Joyce, twentieth-century British and American lit, and–of course–gender.” This is how one of my classmates finished their introduction in one of my English literature seminars. Need I say that she’s a woman? Continue reading
CALL FOR PAPERS: “INTERIORITY IN EARLY CULTURES”
The Group for the Study of Early Cultures at the University of California, Irvine invites submissions for its Third Annual Graduate Student Conference:
INTERIORITY IN EARLY CULTURES
Friday & Saturday, January 21-22, 2011
Keynote Address by Paul Strohm (Anna Garbedian Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University)
Our contemporary understanding of interiority is tied to a sense of domestic life, personal psychology, and the separation of public and private spheres, all which suggest a model of human existence and interaction that hinges on the delineation of what is ‘inside.’ This conference revitalizes notions of the interior in premodern contexts, ranging from the ancient era, through the medieval and early modern periods, and into the eighteenth century. We define “interiority” loosely as any terrain, such as conscience, mind, psyche, soul, or spirit, that positions itself within a subject. Given this openness, we invite papers across a variety of disciplines that investigate interiority in any of its manifestations literary, historical, visual, dramatic, legal, spiritual, or philosophical in early cultures. Fundamentally, we seek to question and mobilize the borders between the interior and exterior as vital spaces of containment and definition. Continue reading
As promised, this blog would occasionally dabble in the fine art of fashion. Today’s outfit is inspired by the 1984 presidential race and political fashionista Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate from a major political party in America. Continue reading
I recently signed up for a program called Book Sneeze. The Christian publisher Thomas Nelson provides bloggers with free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews of them. The most exciting part for the bloggers is trying to keep the review under 250 words. The most exciting part for readers is that we will offer a few of these books as giveaways every few weeks. Winners will be chosen randomly from the people who comment on the blog post we set up for the giveaway.
Review: Jeremy Lott, Christian Encounters: William F. Buckley
When William F. Buckley died at the age of eighty-two, the New York Times described him as a man who “marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse.” Buckley founded the National Review, hosted the PBS show Firing Line for decades, and published over fifty books, including a popular series of spy novels. What people have tended to gloss over, however, was his deep religious faith and commitment to Catholicism.
In his biography of Buckley, however, Jeremy Lott places religious faith at the center of his retelling of the journalist’s life. The publication of God and Man at Yale dominates the beginning of the book. Lott uses the responses to this book to explore anti-Catholicism at Ivy League institutions and the general distrust of deep religious faith there. The book’s brevity, however, prevents Lott from providing readers with anything more than a cursory examination of Buckley’s life. Although he describes the founding of the National Review, Lott does not explore the magazine’s evolution over the several decades of its existence or any disagreements that occurred within its staff in any depth. Readers who want to know more William Buckley and his place in modern conservatism would do well to look at a more in-depth biography. For those who want a short introduction to Buckley’s life, this biography will do more than suffice.