Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Summary of “Claiming An Education” and “Fantasies of Power”

“Claiming An Education” by Adrienne Rich

Rich argues for students to not just accept education, but to take it. She is speaking to a group of female students at a women’s college. Rich argues not only to “claim” an education, but to also be responsible. She calls for her audience to be assertive and responsible so that they, together, can change women worldwide.

In “Claiming An Education” there is a focus on education. Rich speaks about how education is dominated by “how men have perceived and organized their experiences, their history, their ideas of social relationships, good and evil, sickness and health, etc.” (2). She wants people to recognize this fact and also to change it. By claiming an education she hopes that women will also make a claim on how education is taught too. She speaks a little about women studies programs at colleges, and stresses their importance, but for the most part she calls for women to take responsibility to take themselves seriously.

Being responsible to yourself means not to just not being afraid of challenges, but to seek them out. Rich tells her audience to become responsible enough to be proud of who they are and what they think and want. By being responsible women, Rich, believes that it will empower other women as well.

In the end Rich calls for her audience to work together to create smart, responsible women who will not allow women’s potentialities to go to waste.

“Fantasies of Power” by Susan J. Douglas

Douglas argues that women have not come as far as we think in today’s society. She (humorously) calls for girls to come together and to recognize that the feminist movement is far from unnecessary.

I found “Fantasies of Power” really interesting. She argues very convincingly for people to recognize that while women have come far, the journey is not finished. For most of the introduction Douglas focuses on the media and how the media effects how we view feminism. At the heart of her argument seems to be a desire to unite women to fight for their rights together.

The media’s role in how women are viewed today is large. Douglas accuses the media of giving women fantasies of power. She points out that the media seems to be sending some mixed signals. On one hand women like Dr. Baily in Grey’s Anatomy, who are powerful and intelligent are shown on the same channel that on the other hand offers viewers the chance to watch twenty-some women fight over one man in The Bachelor. I had never thought that The Bachelor was degrading because I laughed at those women who hit, cry, and scream at each other over a man who, in fact, barely sees them. Yet I agree with Douglas’s argument after reading the introduction that it is hypocritical for the media to portray women so differently. It makes you wonder what message exactly is the media sending? If women are so capable of being brilliant doctors than why should they fight over one man who they do not even know?

Another argument that Douglas makes is that feminism has now become partly about owning your sexual prowess by wearing sexy clothes. Douglas writes, “how much reversion back to the glory days of prefeminism should girls and women accept—even celebrate—given that we new allegedly ‘have it all’” (1). As the introduction continues Douglas shows how women do not “have it all” at all. That women still make less than men I knew, but I did not know that the top jobs for women had not changed from 1999 to 2007. It is definitely thought provoking that women apparently “have it all” when they still do not have as much as men.

Douglas passionately argues for women to recognize the importance of feminism and its need today. She wants women to stop fighting each other and start fighting inequality.


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