Shamela and Anti-Pamela

As much as I struggled to read Pamela reading Shamela and Anti-Pamela was not that enjoyable either. First of all both stories were written to warn young men of conniving maid-servants who would extort them for money. It totally ignores the abusive relationship, the rape that happens, the rape culture and in fact the authors of Shamela and Anti-Pamela almost seem to be encouraging rape culture. They take the scenes where Mr. B- assaulted Pamela and turn it around so it was Pamela’s idea in the first place. I have read and watched too much about women getting assaulted to just ignore it and be like “Oh, she must have encouraged it” because that is rape culture. Clearly Pamela was bringing that on herself because she was secretly seducing Mr. B- this whole time. It can’t be the man’s fault because in this society and time period it was never the upper class man’s fault.

I laughed at some parts but overall I was angry and disgusted. Not that I really liked Pamela either because it too seemed to be encouraging rape culture by saying Pamela’s reward for defending herself was marrying the man who was assaulting her. However, I feel like Pamela was sending a much different message than Anti-Pamela or Shamela was sending. The story of Shamela basically said Pamela was a farce and it really was a story about a girl who seduced Mr. B- for his money and was sleeping with Parson Williams on the side. It made it out to be Pamela’s fault and so all the sexual assault that went on in Pamela wasn’t real and in fact she was encouraging it because she wanted Mr. B-‘s money. Anti-Pamela is the story of a girl who goes around sleeping with various men for money basically the opposite of the virtuous Pamela but all in all it sending the message that all young servant girls are out to seduce young wealthy men and you must be aware of them. It glossed over all the sexual assault in the book and only addressed it as Pamela’s fault. It is very frustrating to read and not very enjoyable except for when Mr. B- was called Mr. Booby because that is funny.

I can see the critique being made by these authors but as someone in the twenty-first century I can see how these parodies perpetuate rape culture. Not that Richardson was doing a better job but at least he was acknowledging that young women do get assaulted unlike Fielding or strangely Eliza Haywood. I would have thought Haywood, as a woman, would have at least addressed that but she seems more focused on the scandalous tale of a mistress and her “adventures”. There is questions of rape in her novel “Love in Excess” but it is also questionable if those are better defined as rape fantasies. I don’t know what critique Haywood was making because it almost seems as if she is just making fun of Pamela whereas Fielding is making a specific critique which I disagree with wholeheartedly.

Both these parodies bring up really interesting questions about the times they were written in, why they were written and what they are possibly saying about love, rape, seduction, and the overall marriage game.

-A

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#IMWAYR Page by Paige and Ghosts!

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This weekend between readings of Pamela I read Page by Paige and today I read Ghosts! Page by Paige written by Laura Lee Gulledge is literally the graphic novel of my life. Just like Paige I was quite and lived a lot of my youth in my head, writing out stories in my case, and not really branching outside the pages of my notebook. It wasn’t until I got to college that I really started to bloom and it took Paige moving to New York to find herself outside of the pages of her sketchbook.

I love graphic novels because A) they don’t take long to read at all and B) the illustrations are always so beautiful and bring the book to life!

Page by Paige is a powerful coming of age story that uses pictures to tell the story and the  pictures are just beautiful. After Page moves to New York with her parents she finds herself using her sketch notebook as a way to cope. She has a list of rules and as the months go by Paige finds applying those rules to not only her drawings but her life as well.

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I also read Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier just today and I loved it! The drawings are adorable, sincere and might make you cry.

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When Caterina has to move to Northern California for her sister’s health she thinks the world has ended. When she discovers the town where she moved to is full of ghosts she wants to run away and never come back. When Caterina finally meets the ghosts she freaks out, a lot, but her little sister Maya convinces her that maybe there is more to them than just whisps of air.

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What happens though when Maya gets too sick to go the Day of the Dead Party and Caterina must face the ghosts alone?

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This story made me laugh and cry and laugh again. Caterina’s little sister has cystic fibrosis and the way the family dynamic is written is amazing. It’s a great story that deals with loss, death and the fear of losing someone you love. It’s an amazing graphic novel that everyone should read.

-A

 

Art, my first passion

When I was a kid I wanted to be an artist. My mom got me watercolor pencils, I always had a coloring book and a sketchpad. I am terrible at drawing, absolutely terrible as people in my BLOCK class now realize. However, I loved art and I remember setting up an easel and paining and even those weren’t the greatest I still loved doing it. I still love to draw and paint even though I don’t do it as often as I should.

I was homeschooled so I never really did take an elementary art class and the art teacher at my old high school was mean, rude and never gave enough time, so I never wanted to take an art class with her. I moved as a junior and then it never fit in my schedule even though I knew BMac was an awesome teacher. As a freshman in college I was encouraged to take an Art History course by my amazing advisor and it was and still is my favorite course I ever took (there were two parts but I count them as one).

What does this have to do with anything? Well my cousin married an art teacher. She is amazing. She has a FB page where she posts what her students are doing in class and this last week she shared their sewing projects. They drew a picture and then sewed it. How cool is that! She is constantly posting awesome amazing projects that her students are doing and her classroom looks amazing. I wish I had a teacher like her. Someone so passionate about what they are teaching that even kids who probably don’t like art that much do because they get to sew! They get to create their own art and bring it to life! She loves what she does.

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I got my placement the other day for student teaching and my first placement is middle school. I have never observed in a middle school nor really thought about teaching middle school (actually that’s a lie but I lean more toward high school when I picture my future classroom). It makes me nervous because I don’t know what is expected in a middle school classroom. My cousin’s wife teaches K-12. I couldn’t even begin to imagine teaching all grades and keeping them all straight but she has such passion and it shows throughout all aspects of her life. I love looking through her FB page and seeing how proud she is of her students, seeing their art, and seeing how far they have come. I want that passion. I have that passion but I so want it to show through all the time. It should show through for all teachers. As an English teacher everyone assumes I teach grammar and writing but I do so much more. I love reading so much and I want to instill that in my students. I want them to become stronger better writers and I want them to succeed. Every student in my class could get an “A”. It is possible if only I am passionate enough and care enough. My students don’t have to walk out of my classroom remembering proper grammar (I still don’t) but I want them to walk out strong readers and writers who know I care deeply about them and their learning.

-A

Check out Tranda’s FB page: RepCoArtRoom

If only, if only I could rewrite Pamela

If I could rewrite Pamela it would be extremely different. No stories about almost rape, rape, violations of the worst kind, young ladies hiding in dressing rooms crying because they feel like no one is defending them.

Pamela would be the story of a young woman who upon finding herself in a compromising position runs away, finds herself a nicer family to work for, finds a nice man, settles down has some kids and lives happily ever after. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way because Richardson decided that he was going to write a novel about a young woman who is constantly in fear that she will lose her “virtue” and is constantly being assaulted on all sides from men who essentially just want to use her.

Pamela writes “Save then, my Innocence, good God, and preserve my Mind spotless: and happy shall I be to lay down my worthless Life, and see an End to all my Troubles and Anxieties!” Pamela could care less about her own life; all she cares about is preserving her virtue which at this point has it really been preserved? Sure she hasn’t lost her virginity in the sense that her hyman hasn’t been penetrated, she has never had physical intercourse. However, she has been assaulted many times without her consent and so at this point I honestly think some of her virtue has been lost. She resists every time and abstains from participating so she is still pure of heart but in the same way that children who have been sexually abused may never have had physical intercourse but things have been done to them so that they are no longer really that innocent about sex. It leaves marks and honestly I just cannot imagine Pamela wishing to marry this man. The things he says about her and the way he treats her; he kidnapped her! Instead of letting her go he kidnaps her, makes a creepy lady watch her every move, and then calls her terrible names in letters that he writes to the creepy lady. It’s awful and yet somehow through all of this Pamela’s reward for protecting herself from sexual assault is to marry the man who is assaulting her. No wonder people wrote parodies, certainly I would and mine would involve Pamela beating the crap out of Mr. B- and then living a happy contented life with someone who wasn’t trying to rape her.

This whole protecting her virtue idea is perpetuated by her parents who when upon finding out she is safe and who kidnapped all they have to say or more accurately her father has to say is “Persist, my dear Daughter, in the same excellent Course; and we shall not envy the highest Estate, but defy them to produce such a daughter as ours.” The first thing I would do when finding out my child has been kidnapped would be to inform the authorities but in the event that I am poor and the kidnapper is rich I still would not write back “Good for you not getting raped. Surely you will be rewarded in heaven for keeping your virtue intact.” I would be concerned how they were faring and yes I would be upset if they got raped but honestly I would care more about them actually being alive then I would be by the fact that her virtue is still intact. It reminds me of Rapunzel and how mother Gothel was obsessed with Rapunzel’s hair and making sure the hair was safe. She didn’t care about Rapunzel as a person and the same goes for Pamela’s parents. Such an emphasis is placed upon her virtue and not her safety. They are fine with the fact she is kidnapped and in danger as long as she doesn’t get raped; she’ll be fine, she’ll come home, everything will be ok, but if she gets raped and loses her virtue then all hell will break loose. At least this is how I feel about what is happening.

I would never want to be sexually assaulted. Nobody does. But if it happened I am not going to end my life because some sick piece of garbage decided to rape me. I know when this was written such a high emphasis was placed on a woman’s virtue but the real message it is sending is that it is ok to marry your rapist/person who assaulted you because for some sick reason that is your reward for defending yourself against them. This books gives me all the feels and I just want to protect Pamela from Mr. B-.

-A

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya fell down a well and picked up a ghost. So begins the story of a friendship between a girl who never got to live her life and a girl who is just trying to blend in.

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Anya is from Russia and through years of practice she finally feels like a normal American teenager except for when she falls down a well and picks up a new friend. Emily died almost a century ago and she has been stuck in the well ever since. Anya is glad to have a new friend that can sneak answers on tests and get the cute boy in school to notice her but when Emily starts ignoring the fact that Anya’s crush is just a jerk and starts terrorizing Anya’s little brother that Anya decides Emily must go.

This is a great coming of age graphic novel about a girl trying to fit into a high school that makes fun of her Russian roots and learning to find herself. It’s a fun quirky quick read that will make you laugh and make your eyebrows shoot up in surprise.

-A

Stitches by David Small

If you have ever read A Child Called It then the story of Stitches will not come as a shock. It’s the story of David and his childhood, which was messed up. I read this graphic novel in 45 minutes because that’s how much words there are compared to pictures. It’s such a powerful story.

Small’s family doesn’t communicate and when those emotions get bottled up inside they have to come out eventually and not usually in a good way. Small had a messed up childhood and he portrays it beautifully through pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words and in the case of Stitches it’s very true.

Memoirs focus on the memories not the events and in Small’s case they aren’t the happiest of memories but our childhood’s always make or break us. In David Small’s case it made him who he is today.

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Pamela…(insert angry face)

I first encountered Pamela last fall when I took a British Literature Survey course. I didn’t read the selected reading of Pamela and now that I have to for my novels class I am just angry. I am only 54 pages in (and I should be much farther by this point…) but I am so mad because I know how this book ends already and I can’t believe it ends that way.

This particular novel is told in epistolary style, in which a fifteen year old girl is writing letters home to her parents about her life working as a servant for her mistress. Well her mistress dies and her son, who is now Pamela’s master, decides he will keep Pamela on as a servant. That would be ok if he wasn’t secretly keeping her on because he wanted to seduce her. This is the whole premise of the novel. Mr. B- (as he is called) just wants to sleep with Pamela but Pamela wants to protect her virtue so all her letters home to her parents are about Mr. B- attempting to either rape or grope her and all her parents send back is “protect your virtue Pamela”, absolutely no concern about the fact this man is sexually assaulting her as long as her “virtue” in tact. It makes me so angry because she is young, vulnerable, and everyone knows what is happening and yet no one does anything about it because they really can’t. There is another lady/maybe servant in the house, Mrs. Jervis, who is essentially Pamela’s protector but when Pamela writes a letter home to her parents complaining about Mr. B-‘s behavior, he finds the letter and tells Pamela that he can’t have her ruining his reputation. His reputation? What about the fact he almost raped her and she barely got away then curled up in a ball and cried because she was traumatized about what happened?

What really makes me angry is the fact at the end of the book Pamela marries Mr. B-. She essentially marries the man who has been sexually assaulting her this whole time. It’s like someone knowingly marrying their rapist. It’s disgusting and yet for some Samuel Richardson (the author) thinks that this ok because her reward for protecting her virtue is marriage. Except she’s marry the very man who tried to steal her virtue. If she was marrying someone else, anyone else in my opinion, I wouldn’t have minded because at least she was getting away from Mr. B-. Instead she marries him and who knows what he is like now that he has legal access to Pamela.

I just feel so bad for Pamela because being married to the man who tried to sexually assault you for five hundred pages is not a reward.

-A