Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Female Writers: To love or to hate?

After spending 4 hours on the remaining 200 pages this afternoon, my first reaction was anger and frustration. Firstly, I didnt understand why Tita cheated on the nice Dr Brown. Secondly, I was led to believe that Tita married Dr Brown in the end but as it turns out, despite the nice Dr Brown being such an understanding character, Tita chose her first love Pedro. Serves her right that he died in the end which led to Tita taking her own life in a very dramatic manner.

From a conservative point of view, perhaps Tita should not have gone against tradition - as the youngest daughter, she should have remained unmarried and looked after her mother.

However, considering the point mentioned about how romance novels are forms of discourse often written by women and for a female public, perhaps I can try to see from Laura Esquivel's point of view. Perhaps being a female, she wasnt sure whether to choose Dr Brown or her first love Pedro and ended up deciding using her heart and not her brain - despite knowing that it's the wrong choice (Esquivel kills off Pedro and Tita in the end).

Perhaps too, Esquivel simply wanted to frustrate male readers like me by deliberately choosing Pedro over Dr Brown to emphasize the point that females have the right to choose and do as they please. I must admit that it's a valid point: Tita never let inhuman tradition and her tyranical mother prevent her from being with her first love. She was brave. She did what she wanted to and not what was deemed the right choice based on societal conservative expectations and norms. I can only envy her courage.

In Like Water for Chocolate, I can only find parallels in Dr Brown - the nice guy who ended up with nothing. Perhaps that's why I didnt quite like this book.

However, things weren't all that bad. At the end of class, a question was asked:

Are gender roles determined by nature or by culture?

I knew my answer was nature. I scribbled in my pink notebook that physically and emotionally, guys are more suited to work. Hence naturally, the next best thing for women would be cooking, cleaning and looking after children.

I didnt raise my hands to speak my mind - not after someone told me that I'd be booed if I said what I wanted to say. However, someone else did and I noted in my pink notebook how funny, but nice, it was for a lady herself to raise her hand and choose nature over culture. I missed what she said and i wished i didnt. Nevertheless, it was a nice new detail to my fairy tale.

I'll also add that while nature could have played a significant role in determining gender roles in the beginning of time, culture takes most of the blame later on. Perhaps back then, us guys were made stronger than women. However, I'm of the view that if a lady thinks she's capable of moving mountains, why not? Why should one foolishly follow silly traditions and practices? Why restrict her to the kitchen?

I should have raised my hand.


floreta said...

it's probably a little of both. but i think nature has more to do with it also. there's an interesting study by scott money (i think thats his name) where he tried to successfully experiment w/ a group of twin boys. one raised as a boy and the other as a girl (he had a botched circumcision so his parents decided to castrate as a baby and raise him as a girl!)... this 'girl' twin was SO unlike a girl. rough and tumble always preferring boy toys etc. because he IS. he wasn't even transgendered.. just some kid who had an unfortunate circumstance, then have authorities before he could speak decide it was a good idea to raise him as a different gender O_o

marzuki said...

that's O_o indeed.

Interesting though. This experiment of his (dun think it's scott money coz google gave me nothing) pretty much shows how we're born with certain traits. And I believe subsequently, one's experiences and circumstances will influence the person one will be in future.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

I think it's a mix, but like you said, at the beginning it was probably mostly nature whereas now it's mostly culture.

"However, I'm of the view that if a lady thinks she's capable of moving mountains, why not? Why should one foolishly follow silly traditions and practices? Why restrict her to the kitchen?"

Love this!

marzuki said...

Haha! I had a feeling you would.

Not all guys fear "the loss of power that we as males exercise over women". And I dun think that "our own sense of masculinity that is being threatened?"

I guess it's all about balance.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

True, true! That's why when I meet guys who don't fit the above criteria, I get very giddy and excited. Nothing makes me happier than a male feminist!

marzuki said...

Some feminists will argue that men cant be feminist because they arent female. Male feminist? Giddy? Excited? Hahaha! U just made my day!

But just so you know, this male feminist may not always agree with the things u raise and am never afraid to offer a different take - in as polite a manner as I can be, of course.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

I think that's my favourite thing about you, that you argue with me :) And very's great! I always look forward to your comments.

marzuki said...

Perhaps I'm doing everything I can to show you that not all guys are as bad as you think them to be. That by nature, guys are nice and understanding people. However, culture makes us the idiots that most of us are.

Perhaps too, Im trying to counter the negativity and emotions that might affect your thoughts and writing with a dose of positivity and thoughts. You can only imagine how happy i was when u switched ur approach.

I hope you can one day introduce to your readers a different perspective - and let them decide for themselves the better approach. Insyaallah. You have that ability to connect with people.

Perhaps. (:

Fine Life Folk said...

same thing why i'm blogging about food. why?

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Wow, that comment made my day :)

I do have the (wrong) tendency to view all men as "bad" or "sexist" when of course that isn't the case. It's always good to see men who aren't like that, since it completely disproves my stereotype.

The day I present another approach to my readers is the day I know I've become a much better person. I'A that will happen!

marzuki said...

Hey Fine Life Folk,

Nice food blog you have there. I believe it simply shows that we're beginning to change. Perhaps in time, we'll see more guys in the kitchen and let the ladies out working. Haha.

marzuki said...

Hi Cairo,

Considering your circumstances based on what i can gather, I think that im able to see where you're coming from. Am glad to know i came across as good ... although, i think there's lots of flaws underneath that im trying to work on. I can be an idiot some times too. haha!

Most of your readers are receptive to your new approach. Some arent but i believe tt's normal - Im one of those that arent receptive to changes. But it's these changes that make us grow as individuals: both u as well as us readers.