Semicolon Fall 2021

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SEMICOLON AN Arts and Humanities Students’ Council Publication Volume 9 Issue 1 Fall 2021

Arts and Humanities Students’ Council Publication


Volume 9 Issue 1 Fall 2021 Copyrights remain with the artists and authors. The responsibility for the content in this publication remains with the artist and authors. The content does not reflect the opinions of the Art and Humanities Students’ Council (AHSC) or the University Students’ Council (USC). The AHSC and USC assume no liability for any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions contained in this publication.

letter from the editor To our valued readers and contributors, I want to take the time to thank you for supporting our publication. Whether it be by reposting a social media post, reading this publication, or sending your amazing submissions to our talented editing team— we would not be here without you. For our fall publications, I have chosen the theme Evolve. This year has been one of immense growth for the students, faculty, and community members of Western University, and I wanted to reflect that in the undergraduate works we showcase this term. Evolve proves that we can be our best today, but always work to be better. Evolve shows us the many ways that we can reach higher, dream bigger, and live each day knowing we have tried our absolute best. Evolve is a representation of the Arts and Humanities Faculty: it is a place to come as we are, and thrive the way we choose. Evolve validates us and proves our resilience. And even when we think we can handle no more… We Evolve. Erin Paschos Editor-in-Chief

what we’re about Semicolon is the academic journal for the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council at Western University and is published bi-annually. Semicolon accepts submissions of A-level essays from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities undergraduate courses at Western University. Composed of students’ superior academic works, it covers a diverse range of topics—from Philosophy to English. Artwork from submissions to Symposium, the AHSC’s creative journal, have also been included. We thank those artists for their contributions. Essay writing comprises a substantial component of the university experience — especially in the Arts and Humanities faculty. These accomplished authors have dedicated a significant amount of time and effort to these papers and are commended on their diligence. Being published during one’s undergraduate degree is a noteworthy achievement.

VP Communications: Bridget Koza Editor-in-Chief: Erin Paschos Copy Editor: Sydney Force Copy Editor: Demitra Marsillo Layout Designer: Stephanie Fattori Creative Managing Editor: Kaitlyn Lonnee Academic Managing Editor: Samar El Masri Cover Photo by Stephanie Fattori

Table of contents Nihilism: Existing Through 30 Moral Reason to Refuse Leftovers 1 Positive Consciousness By Margaret Gleed By Amber Carroll

Miss Chief: A Practitioner of

3 Resurgence Theory By Diyasha Sen

A Catalyst for Character Develop7 ment: The Significance of the Quest in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness By Gray Brogden “I’m a Homosexual!”: Binary Gen11 der Division and Heteronormativity in But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) By Sydney Dawson Critical Analysis of House, M.D.:

14 Power, Privilege, Oppression, and Medicine By Gabrielle Alimorad

19 The Hero of Her Own Life: Mary

Use: It Starts in the 32 Pronoun Classroom By Mary Hamilton

Courtrooms and Kitchens: On

37 Private, Public, and Gendered

Spaces in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles By B. Pick

40 Lean In Feminism Versus Lorde’s Feminism By Diyasha Sen

43 Reading Beyond a Post-Colonial Lens By Margaret Gleed

Two Acts for Action

44 By Sarah Tiller

Representations of Trans48 Violent gressive Women: Sandro Botticelli’s Nastagio Scenes and Dario Argento’s Tenebre By Sarah Fletcher

Seacole’s Heroism in Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands By Michael Schmidt 53 Defending Harley Quinn: The Male Gaze in Film Power, Punishment, and Body By Carly Pews 22 Politics By Sara-Emilie Clark Balancing Rights, Freedoms, and 57 Consequence Using Utilitarian Chaos and Meaning in T.S. Eliot’s Quantifiers 26 The Waste Land By Margaret Gleed By Faith Caswell

Positive Nihilism: Existing Through Consciousness By Amber Carroll Though nihilism is often concerned with negative concepts regarding the meaninglessness of the universe, it also proves how meaning can be created through consciousness. By evaluating nihilistic views, the infinite universe can become an object of our cognition. The theories of quantum physics and infinite realities cause humans to question their purpose; however, within the scope of absurdism, these findings can be viewed positively. In his essays “Absurdity and Suicide” and “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Camus explains that coming to terms with absurdity can lead to liberation. Through absurdism, individuals can acknowledge the incomprehensible expanse of the universe while choosing to find satisfaction in their independent conscious existence. By directing nihilistic views through a positive lens, Camus proves that meaning is self-created. Observing the proposals of Greene and Borges through an absurdist lens shows that fulfilment can be found whilst acknowledging the insignificance of human existence. Similar to how Sisyphus makes the stone his own world, we can make our conscious lives our worlds. Camus argues for the transcendence of nihilism with “The Myth of Sisyphus.” A nihilist is described as someone who believes “that God or a soul is necessary for meaning in life, and... that neither exists;” a nihilist is “someone who denies that life has meaning” (Metz, “The Meaning of Life”). Albert Camus is famous for expressing this kind of perspective (Metz, “The Meaning of Life”). Camus expresses his understanding and acceptance of a Godless universe; a universe without purpose. Simultaneously, he proposes that it is possible for man to thrive by creating individual meaning. Camus also states that, “the mind should live with its negations and make them the principle of progress” (Woodward, 545). Through this statement, the very aspects that define nihilism can be re-evaluated in a manner that allows humans to exist with fulfilment. While life has no inherent meaning according to existentialist theories, it can be given meaning through consciousness. Using this framework, individuals “can only consider [Camus’s essay] as a clarification, the preliminary definition of a ‘good nihilism’” (Woodward, 545). Camus aims to propose ‘good nihilism’. This is expressed through Sisyphus making the stone ‘his thing’ (Camus, 78). He walks down the hill in reflection, deciding to integrate meaning into his life in rebellion against the absurd (Camus, 78). By the same token, evidence which may be used to support a negative nihilistic view can also be used to inform a positive self-prescribed existence. In “The Library of Babel,” the enormity of the universe is expressed, emphasizing the need for a self-conceptualized view of life. Borges describes “the Library [as] so enormous that any reduction of human origin is infinitesimal” (Borges, “The Library of Babel,” 6). There is a slim chance of discovering an infallible meaning of life: yet, individuals still decide to search for such meaning. This search is illustrated by what Borges calls ‘inquisitors’, who consistently return from their searches worse off than they began (Borges, “The Library of Babel,” 5). “The Library of Babel” emphasizes that scavenging beyond oneself for meaning yields negative outcomes, resulting in a lack of life-satisfaction. Contrastingly, when the librarians stay within their respective hexagons, the range of their independent existence, they remain content. By evaluating these two approaches, individuals can revolt against the absurd and create meaning in an inherently meaningless world. There is an “infinitesimal point of optimistic faith within Borges’s understanding of our generally bleak epistemological situation” (Wicks, 83). Rather than spiralling into despair like ‘inquisitors’ and those who abandoned their own hexagons, individuals can acknowledge that there will never be a known meaning of life and choose to rebel against this notion by finding meaning within their consciousness. Borges’s “The Garden of Forking Paths” considers the belief that “reality is constituted by irreducible states of mind” (Fraser, 183). “The Garden of Forking Paths” justifies the views of Camus, demonstrating that coming to terms with absurdity and choosing to exist in individual consciousness is critical. If we exist through what Borges describes as the “undivided divinity that operates within us” (Wicks, 84), we can avoid feeling that life is worthless. Yu Tsun expresses “that everything happens to a man precisely, precisely now.


Centuries of centuries and only in the present do things happen...all that really is happening is happening to [him]” (Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths,” 2). He comes to terms with the innumerable timelines that may exist and chooses to own his situation; he accepts his fate and conquers it. Yu Tsun is able to exist as an independent entity even as he acknowledges his insignificance. Further, Brian Greene’s discussion of multi-universes demonstrates our inability to truly calculate all that exists. Greene suggests that humans are simply “particles acting out the laws of physics” (“The (Multi) Universe(s),” 7:43). The notion of multi-universes “supports that the uniqueness of our world is limited’’ (“The (Multi) Universe(s),” 11:10). A traditional nihilistic perspective expresses that this information supports that there is no reason to live; however, evaluating this same evidence through an absurdist lens shows how meaning can be created through consciousness. It is hypothesized that individuals are not special, that humans are simply existing by chance (“The (Multi) Universe(s),” 18:10). The multi-universe theory indicates that every decision is inconsequential; however, de se concerns prevent existential crises (Knobe, 58). Thinking can be shifted to regard situations that only pertain to oneself rather than the entirety of the cosmos. Similar to how Sisyphus makes “each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain in itself [forms] a world” (Camus, 78), humans can turn conscious existence into their worlds. Sisyphus’s view can be adopted to concern internal circumstances rather than feeling as though we are “condemned to eternal punishment” (Aquilina, 1099) and to ignore “the eternal repetition [of life] in favour of a fulfilling and unmitigated focus on the literal task at hand” (Aquilina, 1100). The proposition of the multiverse suggests that human life lacks significance, as though it has no purpose, but these assumptions do not need to be interpreted as negative. The nihilistic views of human meaninglessness can transcend cynical existentialism and allow individuals to find meaning in the face of absurdity. The assumption that there is no greater force bestowing meaning upon life can illuminate the importance of having values that are not limited by external sources. As there is no known significant purpose for our individual existence according to existentialism, we must generate our own cognitive purpose, believing that everything we do pertains to it. If the universe is undirected, we can assert conscious control. Works Cited Aquilina, Aaron. “Etcetera: Scale and Indifference.” Textual Practice, vol. 33, no. 7, 2018, pp. 1087–1105., doi:10. 1080/0950236x.2017.1422795. Borges, Jorge Luis. “The Garden of Forking Paths,” 1941, pp. 1-10., 7de14cf9-db75-40b7-b945-1cfef173fc45/Week%2010%3A%2017%20November/Borges%2B Garden%2Bof%2BForking%2BPaths.pdf. Borges, Jorge Luis. “The Library of Babel,” 1941, pp.1-9., db75-40b7-b945-1cfef173fc45/Week%2010%3A%2017%20November/Borges%20Library%20of%20Ba bel.pdf. Camus, Albert, and Justin O’Brien. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. Vintage Books, 1955. Krulwich, Robert, and Brian Greene. “The (Multi) Universe(s),” RadioLab, 12 August 2008, https://www.wnyc Knobe, J. “Philosophical Implications of Inflationary Cosmology.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, vol. 57, no. 1, 2006, pp. 47–67., doi:10.1093/bjps/axi155. Metz, Thaddeus. “The Meaning of Life.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 3 June 2013, Wicks, Robert. “Literary Truth as Dreamlike Expression in Foucault’s and Borges’s ‘Chinese Encyclopedia.’” Philosophy and Literature, vol. 27, no. 1, 2003, pp. 80–97., doi:10.1353/phl.2003.0032. Woodward, Ashley. “Camus and Nihilism.” Sophia, vol. 50, no. 4, 2011, pp. 543–559., doi:10.1007/s11841-0110274-0.


Miss Chief: A Practitioner of Resurgence Theory By Diyasha Sen As our society continues to understand decolonization through a post-colonial lens, it is important to recognize that effective decolonization can only occur when dominant institutions (like academia or artistic media) implement indigenization within the existing hierarchies that marginalize Indigenous peoples. The centralization of Indigenous epistemologies can dismantle the imprints of settler colonialism precisely because it is informed by the various realities rooted in the Indigenous experience. This particular practice of indigenization is an overarching narrative explored within Kent Monkman’s artistry as he seeks to reclaim previously colonized spaces. These subversive takes on Euro-American art challenge racial mythologies with great subtlety and wit. Monkman’s creativity redefines the settler-colonialist narrative and generates an ‘alternative’ and authentic history representative of the Indigenous community’s resilience and diversity. Kent Monkman’s postmodernist representation of his Two-Spirit alter-ego, Miss Chief, resists the heteropatriarchal structures of settler colonialism through the resilience-based practice of Indigenous resurgence. The resistance inherent in Miss Chief ’s characterization is demonstrated through her displays of survival, opposition of Eurocentric histories, and embodiment of Indigenous ways of knowing. Miss Chief defies both Eurocentric and heteropatriarchal norms through her carefree and powerful portrayals as an Indigenous figure playing with the parameters of gender. It is important to distinguish that Miss Chief is not Monkman’s drag persona, but a Two-Spirit individual — an identity that exists beyond the terms found in whitestream queer culture. Miss Chief ’s Two-Spirit identity is rooted in resurgence theory because this gender expression has strong ties to ancestral Indigenous teachings regarding gender and the role that gender divergence plays in the construction of Indigenous communities. Monkman’s centralization of Two-Spirit figures positions Miss Chief as a fearless (and sexy) protagonist who is prepared to abolish the patriarchy and post-colonial naivety. Miss Chief ’s presence within Monkman’s artwork demands the exorcism of the colonial lens and the adoption of a framework based on Indigenous intelligence — which then fulfills the aspirations of Indigenous resurgence. By prioritizing the marginalized perspectives of Indigenous peoples, Indigenous resurgence facilitates the “regeneration of Indigenous nations” (Simpson 16). It is important to understand that the centralization of these voices cannot occur with mere intellectual debate and theorization, but with the constant indigenization of “thought systems [and] intelligence systems that are continually generated in relationship to place” (Simpson 16). It is important to note that Simpson’s theories regarding radical resurgence are specific to the Nishnaabeg community. Despite the fact that Simpson’s analyses and observations regarding the Nishnaabeg community cannot broadly apply to all Indigenous nations, her learnings can be used to bolster the understanding of resurgence theory in re-framing cultural narratives. Simpson speaks to the experiences of the Nishnaabeg community, stating that they cannot “survive as a people without creating a generation of artists, thinkers, makers, and doers”, but she also expands her ideas to explain that this ideology extends to other Indigenous nations who aim to “live deliberately and with meaning” (Simpson 16). Resurgence theory serves as a reminder that Indigenous epistemologies are the only systems of knowledge that can effectively dismantle the colonial perspective that Western theorization has subconsciously propagated. This is largely due to the fact that resurgence theory challenges the assumption that colonial structures are a permanent fixture in our contemporary society. Instead, resurgence theorization considers “social structures that do not rely on the maintenance of a nation-state” (Arvin et al 16). Simpson’s ideology questions the systemic ‘ascendancy of whiteness’ and reclaims space — in political, academic, and artistic fields — as independent of the colonial lens (Arvin et al 10). Miss Chief exists as the embodiment of resurgence theory within Monkman’s art because she refuses white dominance, and acts as an agent of change who indigenizes the present; though her intervention is in the past.

Monkman’s portfolio disrupts this Eurocentric history by infusing said history with the presence


and perspective of Indigenous bodies. His subversive commentary ranges from landscape painting to Hollywood Westerns to neoclassical art, and he then reconfigures these images with figures like Miss Chief in order to introduce an untold history. In line with resurgent theory, Monkman challenges the established narrative of Western ‘settlement’ by producing an authentic history (of resistance and resilience) whilst positing the potential for a present that makes space for Indigenous bodies (Elston 181). What revolutionizes Monkman’s work — and gives his artistry a cheeky flair — are his depictions of Two-Spirit figure ‘Miss Chief Eagle Testickle’; she is glamorous, she is confident, and she does not prescribe to the restrictive gender binaries attributed to Eurocentric systems of thought. Following the structures of traditional storytelling, Miss Chief frequently plays the role of the ‘trickster’ throughout Monkman’s pieces because she is the “mischief maker”; that is, “interven[ing] and rewrit[ing] history” (Scudeler 25). The image of Miss Chief — in hot pink heels and all her gender non-conforming glory — feels anachronistic within artwork that has stifled Indigenous representation and queer representation; and certainly Two-Spirit bodies. When Miss Chief ’s alluring ‘erotic’ attracts the readers’ attention, she “steadily erode[s] the authority of the ‘originals’”, and restructures the imagery to spotlight her narrative (Morris and Morris 270). Miss Chief is unapologetic in every single artistic representation, and her refusal to cede space or authority automatically “underscore[s] and combat[s] the ways in which patriarchal and colonial ideologies have historically intersected” (Elston 185). Miss Chief is not a witness to the oppressive regime of colonialism -- but a warrior and a survivor who interrogates the history that is forced upon Indigenous peoples. The fact that Miss Chief takes up space (quite literally on a canvas) and displays her Two-Spirit identity with pride is an act of revolution. The indigenization and queering of a medium that has repeatedly ignored and excluded the presence of individuals like Miss Chief is also an act of survival. Rather than falling prey to the narratives of victimhood and extinction that colonial histories espouse, survival entails that the Indigenous community continues to assert its presence in the very spaces that they have been erased from. The survival tactic is simply defined as the “ongoing practice of continued indigeneity within supposedly conquered landscapes” (Elston 181). In many ways, resurgence theory is a form of survival because it emphasizes the “persistence of Indigenous concepts and epistemologies” in mainstream discourse (Arvin et al 19). Miss Chief exists as a form of ‘disruption’ within the art world — proudly representing the perseverance of Indigenous and gender non-conforming bodies. She challenges tropes such as generalized grief or the ‘vanishing Indian’ which fail to see Indigenous systems of knowledge as “contemporary [and] complex” (Arvin et al 19, Elston 188). Whereas Eurocentric modes of gender have frequently been imposed upon the Indigenous community, Miss Chief represents a “prosopopoeiac stand-in” as a “queer, indigenous body… into otherwise conventionally arranged European landscapes” (Arvin et al 22, Elston 188). The comfort that Miss Chief displays within these images is also indicative of resurgence theory when understood through Driskill’s conceptualization of the ‘Sovereign Erotic’. The Sovereign Erotic is grounded in methods of healing tied to Indigenous ways of knowing — the ability to derive strength from eroticism is important when audiences acknowledge the generational trauma that Indigenous women and queer bodies have frequently survived (Scudeler 20). The powerful representation of Miss Chief represents the survival of the Indigenous community as they “wrest history from the iron grip” of the settler colonialist narrative and continue to pave their own paths of self-determination (Morris and Morris 283). The resilience of the Indigenous community can only flourish alongside the complete rejection of colonialist ideals. Although Monkman challenges the questionable themes often put forward through ‘pioneer painting’ and discards numerous colonial narratives, his denouncement of colonialist ideology primarily exists through his artwork’s protagonist: Miss Chief. As a Two-Spirit woman, her


racial and sexual identity are a playful dismissal of colonial sexuality and parodically engage with “imperial systems of discourse” (Elston 181). Seemingly progressive stances on queer theory are overwhelmed by white perspectives, but Native feminist theories — or Indigenous intelligences — have historically “subverted heteropatriarchal gender norms” and questioned the genesis of the gender binary in relation to settler colonialism (Arvin et al 18). In Monkman’s artistry, as well as in Indigenous systems of knowledge,gender holds no restrictions, so Miss Chief disrupts the regulation that the heteropatriarchy often enforces. This includes the heteropaternal perspective concerning ‘normal’ or colonial sexuality through the framework of “nuclear families”, which are “a cornerstone in the production of citizenry” (Arvin et al 14). This is clearly a restrictive lens regarding sexuality, so Monkman’s artwork then reassures the audience that the ‘unenlightened’ participants in history were not the Indigenous community. Instead, it is “Western culture and history” that exists as the “true spectacle” with its “legacy of colonial heteronormativity” (Elston 186, 188). Resurgence theorization separates these acts of indigenization, such as Monkman’s Miss Chief, from post-colonial ideologies; while simultaneously establishing that colonialism cannot be addressed as a distant point in history. The mythology of ‘Cowboys versus Indians’ affords no nuance to the Indigenous community because it perpetuates tired and racist narratives concerning the hypersexuality and sociality of the aforementioned community (Morris and Morris 268). Monkman ignores the romanticization of cowboys and he “stake[s] a claim to Native resistance” and “underscores… stereotypes [that] have been historically perpetuated through visual arts” by producing regenerative work — the captivating Miss Chief. Resurgence theory is predicated on the idea that “doing produces more knowledge”; this is best proven through Monkman’s artistic forms of resistance (Simpson 20). The production of knowledge through Miss Chief ’s representations is especially empowering because it reverses cultural roles where Indigenous peoples are typically “cast… [as] the documenters/appropriators” (Elston 186). Capitalizing on the rare opportunity to share the Indigenous perspective, Monkman’s work explores Indigenous systems of knowledge founded on the “making and remaking of the world in a generative fashion” (Simpson 21). A prime example is how Miss Chief repeatedly transforms,and subsequently queers, landscapes that have traditionally only been defined by settler colonialism/heteronormativity. She creates structures that indigenize the very hierarchies that have historically marginalized countless racialized and gender non-conforming bodies. By centralizing Indigenous epistemologies, Miss Chief changes viewers’ preconceived notions regarding the gender binary and develops a spectrum that encapsulates identities, such as Two-Spirit. Monkman’s perspective weaves a “tapestry of ideology, history, sexuality, temporal rifts (and riffs), and cultural collision” that is shaped by the designs of “Two-Spirit tradition[s] in [Indigenous] societies” (Morris and Morris 275). By centring these narratives around Indigenous bodies and queer bodies, Monkman instigates a successful “decolonization movement” that aims to “eradicate[e]… both heteropatriarchy and settler colonialism” (Arvin et al 17). The effective power of Indigenous resurgence theory is that it is self-informed and builds on the lived realities of Indigenous communities and individuals. This particular aspect within resurgence theory is articulated by the term ‘Biiskabiyang’, which emphasizes “the process of returning to ourselves, a re-engagement with the things we have left behind, [and] an unfolding from the inside out” (Simpson 17). Monkman’s art achieves Biiskabiyang, as he addresses his Cree roots and his queer identity through the manifestation of Miss Chief in his work. She is presented as the “amalgamation of the historical and the urban” because Indigenous systems of knowledge are never fixed; Monkman depicts Cree culture through an evolutionary process, as “Cree worldviews encourage shifts in history and gender” (Scudeler 19). This process of self-reflexivity throughout resurgent theory is an integral aspect of the subject-audience relationship that viewers must develop with Miss Chief. She represents the “embodied… flight out of the structure of settler colonialism and into the… relationships of freedom” (Simpson 17). Miss Chief illuminates Monkman’s learned epis-


temologies through his Swampy Cree ancestry and his sexuality — revealing a discursive history while simultaneously producing new histories. Resurgence is a tactic of resilience practiced by the Indigenous community in order to reclaim the land and narratives that were stolen by settler colonialism. Superficially, Miss Chief represents a flirtatious and erotic figure; but she also serves as an idol for the Indigenous community and a representation of the integral process of healing. She occupies space with great confidence and power, and exists as the first major representation of Two-Spirit folx within dominant media. Whereas artwork depicting the Indigenous community has historically justified mythologies regarding settler colonialism, Miss Chief disrupts this medium and defies the conventions that Eurocentrism has repeatedly imposed upon Indigenous and queer bodies. In a history that has dismissed the valuable systems of knowledge cultivated by and disseminated within the Indigenous community, Miss Chief exists as a “queer counternarrative” that puts the Indigenous peoples ‘on top’ “both sexually and politically” (Scudeler 21). Miss Chief nurtures the tenets of resurgence theory and introduces viewers to a new narrative of revitalization and reconstruction — only found amongst Indigenous frames of knowledge. Works Cited Arvin, Maile, et al. “Decolonizing Feminism: Challenging Connections between Settler Colonialism and Heteropatriarchy.” Feminist Formations, vol. 25 no. 1, 2013, p. 8-34. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/ff.2013.0006. Elston, M. Melissa. “Subverting Visual Discourses of Gender and Geography: Kent Monkman’s Revised Iconography of the American West.” The Journal of American Culture, vol. 35, no. 2, 2012, pp. 181–190., doi:10.1111/j.1542-734x.2012.00806.x. Morris, Kate, and Linda Morris. “Camping Out with Miss Chief: Kent Monkman’s Ironic Journey.” Studies in American Humor, vol. 6, no. 2, 2020, pp. 265–284., doi:10.5325/stu damerhumor.6.2.0265. Scudeler, June. “‘Indians on Top’: Kent Monkman’s Sovereign Erotics.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, vol. 39, no. 4, 2015, pp. 19–32.,doi:10.17953/aicrj.39.4.scudeler. Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. “One Nishnaabeg Brilliance As Radical Resurgence Theory.” As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance, University of Minnesota Press, 2017, pp. 11–25.


A Catalyst for Character Development: The Significance of the Quest in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness By Gray Brogden “Paradise Lost,” by John Milton, tracks Satan’s journey on his mission to corrupt humankind. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, follows Christopher Marlow as he recounts his journey into the depths of the African jungle. Both of these excursions provide the reader with insight into the character who takes them. Satan’s quest to corrupt humans allows the reader to witness Satan’s moral deterioration into the apotheosis of evil, as he is presented with a kind of backwards development, becoming more immoral as the poem continues. Marlow’s journey up the Congo culminates in a loss of innocence, depicted by his interactions with Mr. Kurtz and Mr. Kurtz’s Intended. In both cases, the quest serves as the catalyst for character transformation. In “Paradise Lost,” Satan embarks on his journey to corrupt humankind alone, stating: “[n]one shall partake with me” (Milton 2.466). He believes he must go on this quest because he is the king of Hell and, as such, needs to be worthy of this title. As a ruler, he asserts that he must “accept as great a share / Of hazard, as of honour” (2.452-453) and that the completion of this task will solidify his place that the rightful leader of Hell. A position he covets as it is the exact opposite of everything he hated as an angel, considering his declaration in book one: “[b]etter to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n” (1.263). Satan believes that no cost is too high to pay if it means he will no longer be subjugated to God. As the poem continues, this attitude is reinforced by the lengths to which he is willing to go to achieve his goal of corrupting humans. The goal of Satan’s quest is simple: find humankind and devastate them, as suggested by Beelzebub during the assembly in book two. Beelzebub points out that the powers of Hell do not stand much of a chance against Heaven but that they could instead find humans and either destroy or “seduce them to [the devils’] party” (2.368). This corruption, he claims, “would surpass / Common revenge” (2.370-371) as they would be turning God’s beloved creations against Him. Beelzebub’s suggestion mirrors Satan’s earlier thoughts expressed while chained to the burning lake: “[t]o do aught good never will be our task / But ever to do ill our sole delight” (1.159-160). This endorsement of ill will is the first step in his downward spiral that progresses throughout the story. Satan does experience a moment of doubt regarding his mission after landing on Mt. Niphates on his way to Eden. However, in the end, he knows he has no choice but to continue on his quest to ruin humankind. He contemplates the idea of simply waiting until God forgives him and his fellow fallen angels, suggested during the assembly by Belial, but concludes that this is not a viable option, reasoning: is there no place Left for repentance, none for pardon left? None left but by submission; and that word Disdain forbids me (4.79-83). Satan knows that the only way he could ever get back into God’s good graces would be to submit to him, which he is unwilling to do. Having forsaken the idea of trying to regain God’s favour, he has already passed the point of no return, as Steadman states: “[u]nable to elect the good, the devil has little freedom of action even in evil” (292). Unwilling to “serve in Heav’n” (Milton 1.263), the only choice Satan has is to continue down a path of evil, essentially making his entire journey a continuation of his initial fall as “he is not merely an archangel ruined, but an archangel ruining” (Steadman, 291). This degeneration is perhaps seen most clearly in book nine, when Satan returns to the garden of Eden, this time disguising himself as a snake to pass unnoticed into the garden and eventually tempt Eve. He pauses once again, as he did on Mt. Niphates, on the edge of Eden. However, this time it is not in doubt but rather a cold expression of regret for things that could have been, musing:


With what delight could I have walked thee round If I could join in aught, sweet interchange Of hill and valley, rivers, woods and Plains, New now land, now sea, and shores with forest crowned, Rocks, dens, and caves; but I in none of these Find place or refuge; And the more I see Pleasures about me, so much more I feel Torment within me (Milton 9.114-121). Unlike his pause in book four, this hiatus features no soul searching, as Satan is irreversible in his decision to corrupt humankind. Thus he descends deeper and deeper into evil, of which even he seems to be aware of, as he exclaims: “[o] foul descent! That I, who erst contended / With Gods to sit the highest, and now constrained / Into a beast” (9.163-165). “Satan’s character does not “develop” (in the literal sense of the word) ; the changes we recognize are symptoms not of moral growth but of decay” (Steadman 291), making his transformation into a snake illustrative of the depths to which Satan has sunk in his quest. Upon his success in the temptation and corruption of humankind, Satan’s return to Pandemonium is marred when he finds the entire assembly unable to applaud for his success. They can only hiss, as God had turned them into snakes for their transgression, and soon Satan too finds himself “punished in the shape he sinned” (Milton 10.516). This final image of thousands of snakes solidify the moral basement to which Satan has traversed. As Steadman points out: “his way downward [was] accelerated by the very power that, at the moment of apparent triumph, suddenly degrade[d] him” (291), illustrating the never-ending spiral into darkness that has become Satan’s existence. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow recounts the story of his journey into the African jungle years after the fact, and it is clear that this journey had altered him greatly. Like in “Paradise Lost,” the quest serves as a catalyst for character transformation. However, where Satan causes the loss of innocence, Marlow experiences it. Marlow’s initial motivation behind his journey into Africa lies in a childhood obsession with the unexplored areas. As he grew up, the blank areas of the map started to fill in, leaving his attention to be captured by a river: “a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land” (Conrad 1064). Describing the river as a snake, along with the mentions of a childhood obsession, foreshadow the loss of innocence arc Marlow’s story will take. His youthful adoration of maps represents innocence in the most fundamental way, while the snake represents temptation, just as it does in “Paradise Lost” when Satan transforms himself into a snake to tempt Eve. And just like “Paradise Lost,” as Satan successfully tempts Eve, Marlow admits: “the snake had charmed me” (1064). As well as temptation, the snake also represents wisdom, and “the hero who travels along the snake-like river should gain wisdom which is a part of individuation and an outcome of his journey” (Keūminienè and Cechanovičius 109-110). Like Adam and Eve gain knowledge from the fruit the snake convinces them to eat, the snake-like description of the river aims to promise some type of personal transformation or accumulation of knowledge. Marlow’s development begins as he sets out for Africa and is confronted with the unfamiliar land and people. By the time he commences his trek from the Outer to Central Station, he is already aware of the intense, most likely life-altering, journey in front of him. He expressed how he felt as though he “was becoming scientifically interesting” (Conrad 1074). He was changing from just a sailor


to someone of interest, maybe even importance. However, the “scientific” aspect does add a sort of dark connotation, as the reader gets the impression that Marlow feels as though he is being reduced to a specimen, something to be observed and studied, something inhuman. The theme of dehumanization grows as his journey on foot progresses, and he starts to feel like he is losing his humanity. When he finally reaches the Central Station, he even snaps at the manager because “[b]eing hungry…and kept on [his] feet too, [he] was getting savage” (1075). This instance of Marlow’s own perceived “savagery” brought on by the conditions of the jungle foreshadows his later experiences with the infamous Mr. Kurtz. Marlow’s loss of innocence is embodied by his meeting with—and the character of— Mr. Kurtz. Throughout his journey up the river, people have told Marlow of Kurtz’s eloquence and genius, with Kurtz being called “a first class agent” and “very remarkable person” (1072). However, the Kurtz Marlow encounters appears to have been driven mad by his ambition and greed, which, in the jungle, flourished out of control. “At the end of his quest Marlow does not find what he had expected all along, a good man in the midst of darkness and corruption. Instead he receives a terrible illumination” (Thale 352), as he does not encounter the remarkable man promised to him, but rather the living embodiment of “an impenetrable darkness” (Conrad 1110). Marlow believes that “the wilderness had found [Kurtz] out early, and…whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude—and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating” (1102). Just as the 200-mile trek through the jungle pushed Marlowe to become “savage” (1075), the wilderness had allowed Kurtz’s worse attributes to run rampant, driving him into madness. When Marlow returns to Europe, his loss of innocence concludes in his visit to Kurtz’s Intended. Earlier in the story, Marlow informs the listeners of his tale “[y]ou know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie, not because I’m straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies—which is exactly what I hate in the detest in the world—what I want to forget.” (1078-1079), yet he admits at the of his story to lying to Kurtz’s Intended. When she asks him for Kurtz’s last words, Marlow cannot bring himself to tell her his true words (“The horror! The horror!” (1111)), but instead tells her that Kurtz’s last words were her name. He explains his refusal to share with her Kurtz’s true last words with the very last words of his story: “[i]t would have been too dark— too dark altogether” (1117), making his loss of innocence evident in an effort to preserve hers. Unlike Satan, who’s final moment is one of complete degeneration after a quest to do nothing but evil, Marlow seeks, at the end of his tale, to allow one glimmer of light to remain in an otherwise unfathomable darkness, even at the personal cost of lying. In both “Paradise Lost” and Heart of Darkness, the quest provides the framework against which the protagonist develops. Satan’s moral decay is evident throughout his journey to Eden, specifically in the two moments of reflection on the edge of the garden. Marlow’s trip into the heart of Africa marks a loss of innocence as he discovers what can become of a man when removed from “civil” society. Where Satan spirals uncontrollably, committing one heinous act after another, Marlow attempts to keep some piece of his humanity by preserving the innocence he lost in Kurtz’s Intended.


Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. “Heart of Darkness.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: the Major Authors, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, 10th ed., vol. 2, W.W. Norton & Company, 2019, pp. 1060-1117. Milton, John. “Paradise Lost.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: the Major Authors, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, 10th ed., vol. 1, W.W. Norton & Company, 2019, pp. 822-953. Krūminienė, Jadvyga, and Artūras Cechanovičius. “On Some Jungian Archetypes in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.” Respectus Philologicus, vol. 20, no. 25, 2011, pp. 107–121. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost. com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mzh&AN=2011752893&site=ehost-live. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021. Steadman, John M. “The Idea of Satan as the Hero of ‘Paradise Lost.’” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 120, no. 4, 1976, pp. 253–294. JSTOR, Accessed 18 Mar. 2021. Thale, Jerome. “Marlow’s Quest.” University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 4, July 1955, pp. 351–358, doi:10.3138/utq.24.4.351. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021.

Times Staring Contest By Jack Bradley


“I’m a Homosexual!”: Binary Gender Division and Heteronormativity in But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) By Sydney Dawson The construction of sexual and social dissidence has long been intertwined with media representation; particularly, when conformity is used as a tool to measure the queering of these norms. However, some media pieces subjugate normative gendered sexuality in a way that serves to both highlight and normalize the social and sexual dissidence of female subjects. Jamie Babbit’s film But I’m A Cheerleader (1999) serves as an excellent example of how gendered subjects can be portrayed in ways that construct social and sexual dissidence through purposeful stereotype mobilization and dysfunction. Within the context of the True Directions conversion therapy camp, the protagonist, Megan, the female love interest, Graham, and the program facilitator, Mary, paint a vivid and campy picture of what sexual dissidence can look like in queer media. Through the lens of Sharon Lamb’s research into the functions of binary gender division and the heteronormative construction of sexuality (2001), as well as through the analysis of Didi Herman’s theory of homonormativity (2003), But I’m A Cheerleader (Babbit, 1999) can be framed as a piece of media which tactfully portrays social and sexual dissidence through subversive representations of heterosexuality within a lesbian-centred construction of sexuality. Sharon Lamb’s book “The Secret Lives Of Girls: What Good Girls Really Do - Sex Play, Aggression, And Their Guilt” (2001) is an excellent place to start when examining But I’m A Cheerleader (Babbit, 1999), namely through the mechanism of binary gender division. Firstly, the film magnifies Lamb’s binary gender division theory in a hyperbolic fashion. True Directions’ teenage participants are divided into groups based on their sex, and remain largely separate throughout the course of the film. This is visually represented through binarism in colour symbolism, marking male and female spaces and activities as blue or pink. However, by exploring this separation, one can see that the film actively interacts with Lamb’s theorization of the Birthday Party Effect (2001) and the role that adults play in constructing sexual meaning in co-ed friendships. Through this gendered separation, Mary places social pressure on opposite-sex interactions of any capacity, marking them with sexuality and complementarianism. As Lamb discussed, children internalize this projection of sexuality and self-monitor their behaviour with peers (2001), and although conversion therapy’s ineffectiveness is the underlying theme of the film, the True Directions participants demonstrate this internalization through performative yet transgressive displays of co-ed friendships. Using their awareness of the sexual connotations being placed on their interactions, they avoid punishment, manipulate Mary, and demonstrate their understanding of society’s heteronormative expectations. The group makes tactical use of Lamb’s observation of this phenomenon: “their wish to [interact] with someone of the other gender is interpreted as a sexual wish” (2001, p.33). However, the authentic, sexually-fueled interactions between female characters marks a departure from Lamb’s conceptualization of practice kissing. She posits that same-sex sexual activity is often discounted as juvenile and unserious, simply preparation for “...”adult,” “real,” and heterosexual sex” (Lamb, 2001, p.38). Nevertheless, the viewers are distinctly aware that the sexual relationships in the film reverse this dynamic. The lesbian sexual relationships are depicted as authentic and serious, and pairings that are constructed out of this tactical awareness of gender segregation demonstrate heterosexuality in a “safe and limited way” (Lamb, 2001, p.33). This uncommonly favourable depiction of lesbian relationships is notable for the next aspect of the analysis: applying Didi Herman’s framework of homonormativity in “Bad Girls Changed My Life: Homonormativity in a Women’s Prison Drama” (2003) to Megan, the protagonist of But I’m A Cheerleader (Babbit, 1999). Herman describes homonormativity as the construction of a “lesbian identity as normal, natural, good, and unremarkable in and of itself… and may also construct other


sexualities as aberrant or distinctive in some way” (2003, p.114). Therefore, it is essential to consider the construction of heterosexuality, both in But I’m A Cheerleader (Babbit, 1999) and within Herman’s framework. One example of heterosexuality in the film is Megan’s relationship with her boyfriend, Jared, before being sent to True Directions. Megan’s response to heterosexual activity is ambivalent, at best. Jared and Megan have only one scene of heterosexual intimacy, in which Megan is passively allowing Jared to French kiss her. This scene’s shock value is produced by Megan’s obvious disinterest in the activity, as she pictures her cheerleading teammates to make the experience tolerable. This one-sided encounter clearly represents the “lurid, groping, unerotic depictions…” (2003, p.150) that define heterosexuality in Herman’s framework. Graham later draws attention to the dissonance between Megan’s supposed heterosexuality and her dysfunctional performance as a heterosexual subject: “It’s really easy to be a prude when you’re not attracted to him, isn’t it?” (Babbit, 1999). This thread continues to weave itself through the film’s narrative as Mary forces the True Directions participants to simulate heterosexual intimacy in Step Five of her program. Her intensity as she orchestrates the simulation is off-putting to the audience and positions her (and her role as the synecdochical heterosexual) as a “…site for out of control, dangerous, excessive behaviour” (2003, p.154). The film’s portrayal of simulated heterosexual intercourse is utterly uncomfortable, both for the characters and the viewers, solidifying the film’s narrative of heterosexuality as toxic and maladjusted. The depictions of homosexuality in the film are well-represented by Herman’s idea of a common-sense narrative. Throughout the movie, Megan discusses how her lesbian identity came as a surprise to her because she had never considered that heterosexual women did not share her same-sex desires. When she is discussing her natural attraction to women with her peers, this common-sense narrative is made clear: Megan: “Everyone looks at other girls. All the time.” Dolph: “You only assume that they’re thinking what you’re thinking when they look. But they’re not.” (Babbit, 1999) This, along with the film’s association of homosexual “roots” with mundane behaviours, such as same-sex study groups, vegetarianism, playing softball, or working in retail (Babbit, 1999), decidedly affirm that the common-sense path to take is a lesbian one. Similarly, the film’s extreme depictions of Mary’s homophobia further support Herman’s framework: homophobic comments and verbal violence are rendered harmless by the high degree of camp in which they are portrayed. Megan’s arc of understanding her lesbian identity comes through her retrospective realization that her heterosexual relationship was unfulfilling, and from her newfound ability to engage in an erotically charged relationship with Graham. Out of all of the True Directions participants, it is evident that Megan worked the hardest to repress her sexuality to reconcile with the expectations of her family; yet, she is the only female participant to willingly flunk out of the program to avoid having her sexual agency expropriated. Her ultimate choice to publicly commit to Graham as her “mate” (Babbit, 1999) at the expense of rejection from her family allows the viewer to sympathize with Megan and understand her as a profoundly moral character, fitting Herman’s description of the lesbian heroine: “thoroughly decent, caring, committed, and in many respects, selfless person.” (2003, p.145). However, Mary’s homophobic slurs, rants, and misinformative teachings create a dissonance in the viewer, who knows Megan to be a positive and common-sense depiction of an ethical character. The representation of Megan that Mary constructs, in Herman’s terms, is “so untrue


to the [character] viewers know, and so patently absurd, that it is far more likely to be read as funny than offensive...” (2003, p.151). Mary’s creative use of language towards the homosexual characters in the film, such as, “smut peddling recruiters,” “inverts,” and “raging bull-dyke,” (Babbit, 1999) exemplifies this sentiment. She largely misrepresents the characters, to the point where the viewers have come to recognize that her insults seem outlandish, and are instead received comedically. Mary’s own performance of heterosexuality is so rooted in stereotypes and polarizing binaries that it is impossible to take seriously. Therefore, the film’s erotically charged lesbian relationship, common-sense narrative, sexual agency, and the film’s utilization of highcamp homophobia identify Megan as the prototypical lesbian protagonist that Herman conceptualized, and distinctly mark homonormativity as the primary narrative of the film’s scripts of sexuality. Through purposeful stereotype mobilization, depictions of dysfunctional sexuality, and high camp portrayals of gender and heteronormativity, But I’m A Cheerleader (Babbit, 1999) excels in constructing socially and sexually dissident subjects through transgression and subversion of norms. In an examination of this film, one can see that Sharon Lamb’s (2001) ideas of heterosexualized binary gender division, step-by-step sexuality socialization, and sexual ownership narratives are brought to life through the True Directions program and the ways that it functions to construct an unfavourable depiction of heterosexuality. With this off-beat and overthe-top representation of heterosexuality, Didi Herman’s (2003) framework of homonormativity in the lesbian heroine, Megan, can be seen through the mechanisms of dysfunctional heterosexuality, common-sense narratives, high-camp homophobia, sexual agency, a coming-out life choice, and an erotically charged relationship with a happy ending. For these reasons, But I’m A Cheerleader (Babbit, 1999) is an excellent example of how social and sexual dissidence can be constructed in transgressive ways, which ultimately allows for lesbian sexuality to receive a normalized and positive depiction in media. Works Cited Babbit, J. (Director), Creel, L. & Sperling, A. (Producers). (1999). But I’m A Cheerleader [Motion Picture]. USA: Ignite Entertainment Herman, D. (2003) “Bad Girls Changed My Life”: Homonormativity in a Women’s Prison Drama, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 20:2, 141-159, DOI: 10.1080/07393180302779 Lamb, S. (2001). Just Practicing: It’s In Her Kiss. In The Secret Lives of Girls (pp. 27-38). New York, NY: Free Press. Peterson, B. (2018, August 5). But I’m a Cheerleader. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.scripts. com/script.php?id=but_i’m_a_cheerleader_4871&p=19


Critical Analysis of House, M.D.: Power, Privilege, Oppression, and Medicine By Gabrielle Alimorad As stated by Atul Gawande, “[w]e look for medicine to be an orderly field of knowledge and procedure. But it is not. It is an imperfect science, an enterprise of constantly changing knowledge, uncertain information, fallible individuals, and at the same time lives on the line.” Gawande highlights the sanctification of the medical profession as a field of fact and structure, while the reality is far from this. Time and time again, the misconception of medicine as the embodiment of objective truth has led to the minimization of its past atrocities, and has facilitated its use as a tool to oppress and constrain individuals’ worth and identity to their physical being. Despite its imperfect nature, medicine is used and expected to “perfect” and correct non-normative bodies and pathologized conditions of disabled people and sexual minorities. This is apparent in medicine’s form in life and media. In the medical drama House M.D., Dr. Gregory House is a cruel and arrogant yet brilliant doctor that suffers from severe pain in his leg. This pain is caused by necrotic muscle in his quadricep, forcing him to use a cane. To cope with his physical and emotional pain, House finds refuge in the dopamine highs of Vicodin and the thrill of solving puzzling medical cases. As a highly regarded diagnostician, House only solves cases that are of interest to him, and works with a handpicked team of ambitious young doctors on fellowship. When solving cases, House often takes the ‘by all means’ approach to getting an answer, regardless of the number of ethical regulations violated in the process. House M.D. illustrates how unregulated power and lack of accountability in medicine leads to the pathologization and mistreatment of women, and those of deviant sexualities, bodies, and genders. This is demonstrated with various misogynistic and discriminatory encounters and dialogues throughout the series. Firstly, across the series, House constantly expresses misogyny through his remarks and actions. Interestingly, House’s unchecked power to do as he pleases is obtained through his blatant disregard of the female authority of Dr. Lisa Cuddy. Cuddy is the Dean of Medicine and Chief Hospital Administrator at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, and thus, she is House’s boss. Despite her rank over House, Cuddy is regularly objectified, disrespected, and disobeyed by both House and his fellows. On a near-episode basis, House makes sexual comments about Cuddy’s attire and figure. Sometimes, these comments are simply House keeping up his unlikeable persona; other times, House uses Cuddy’s clothing and body as a reason to ignore her. For example, in Season 4 Episode 3, when House makes a patient’s case into a competition against the new fellows looking to be hired, he is completely aware that Cuddy would disapprove. However, unlike his normal non-disclosure routine, he goes directly to Cuddy’s office and exposes himself by saying, “I wanted to deal with the yelling today because I noticed what you were wearing and wouldn’t have to listen to the yelling all that closely” (Lerner et al., 2007). In this statement, House is admitting to not caring about listening to his boss; and additionally, only pretending to listen when he has the luxury of focusing on her breasts. House never faces any consequences for his disobedience and disrespectful behaviour, which allows him to carry on with his inappropriate and misogynistic attitudes. House goes on to hire young female doctors simply because they “look good”, and by doing this, perpetrates the stereotype of female incompetence by suggesting that these doctors did not get their positions based on their skills - but merely by being nice to look at. In Season 4, when Thirteen is correct about a patient’s diagnosis and proves House wrong, House comments that, “she’s getting uglier already” (Whitesell, 2007). His attitudes toward the female doctors, particularly Cuddy, are attitudes that his fellows adopt in milder ways. Omitting the objectifying remarks, House’s fellows fear House more than Cuddy, resulting in their defiance of her orders on multiple occasions. A rearranged hierarchy of power, privilege, and oppression exists with another dimension: medicine (Almeida et al, 2015). Normally, society would hold able-bodied, white, heterosexual males at the top of the hierarchy; and able-bodied, white, heterosexual females following directly beneath. As the hierarchy descends, white, marginalized populations would appear above able-bodied, heterosexual people of colour. In theory,


white, disabled men, like House, would find their place somewhere below the able-bodied, white, heterosexual females; but above people of colour. Yet, this is not the case. Wilkerson believes that experiencing any of the factors of exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence is enough to name oppression (Wilkerson, 2012, p. 197). House does not experience oppression as one would expect. Rather, he seems to have the control and power of a white, heterosexual, non-disabled male. As pointed out by Oliver, “[a]s society’s experts, [doctors] have a great deal of power and this gives them control over fundamental aspects of people’s lives’’ (Oliver, 1996, p.36). Due to the power that medicine is granted by society, House’s status changes so that he is ‘privileged’ in a manner that allows him the freedom to do and say as he pleases, without any real consequences. His brilliance as a doctor is the reason he is exempt from his crudeness and caustic nature as a person. House’s privilege results in the oppression and abuse of those with lesser power than him, particularly women and minorities. Throughout the series, the mistreatment of disabled patients is a recurrent theme. Patients with disabilities are given treatments with little to no information about the procedure and implications, and with just as little say. Moreover, the diagnostic process follows the common plot of the doctors believing that the patient’s ailment is due to their impairment or must have some relationship to it, only to realize that the pathology is in fact novel and lies elsewhere in the body. In effect, this forces the doctors to come up with new diagnoses from a new course of diagnostic tests and treatments. With the essentialist and pathologizing stances of the medical model creating bias and clouding the judgement of the doctors, recklessness in the health care of their disabled patients is persistent. More often than not, time is of the essence as patients have numerous neardeath encounters while waiting for a diagnosis. This bias wastes the precious time that these patients have, as the doctors move on to diagnostic tests they should have done in the beginning. In the majority of the instances in which House, M.D. portrays disability, the patients tend to be male and suffer from visible impairments. In Season 3, a morbidly obese man is classified as disabled by the doctors and has multiple tests forced upon him, despite his protests. The doctors are convinced that the condition is related to his weight and are against discharging the patient. It escalates to the point that, upon the patients’ initial discharge, one of House’s fellows drugs the man, causing him to collapse and require readmittance, so that testing could be continued. These actions show a complete violation of the wishes and rights of disabled people, disregarding informed consent and engaging in illegal behaviour. This case also demonstrates the diagnostic cycle and bias of the doctors, having been convinced it was the mans’ weight creating his health complications when the ailment lay elsewhere in the body. Since this is a recurrent cycle on the show, it is clear that the doctors do not learn from their mistakes. Their lack of accountability and the praise that Princeton-Plainsboro gives them creates an environment that facilitates unacceptable and unprofessional behaviour. The doctors never learn to deconstruct their bias, or improve patient care and attitudes towards those with deviant bodies. As long as a ‘result’, whether it be normalization or stabilization, is obtained, then they feel as though their job has been done. This leaves disabled patients to deal with picking up the pieces of the collateral; the psychological and physical abuse they are subjected to. Additionally, House M.D. illustrates that the general approach of the medical model, pathologizing disability, feeds common stereotypes and stigmas surrounding disability. This includes the portrayal of disabled people as the seraphic idiot, innocent and asexual, and highlights the goal of normalization and the ways in which masculinity and disability conflict. This is seen in the case of a young, musically-inclined savant, Patrick, who suffers from seizures. He is depicted as a seraphic idiot, unaware of anything other than contentment and unable to feel any desire except for that of the piano. Further, when House decides to take Patrick off of his seizure medication, which was questioned for the danger of Patrick’s condition worsening, House says, “dude can’t button his shirt, how much worse are we talking about?” (Lerner et al, 2007).


In both of the described episodes above, the medical model is used to justify the abuse of power and promote the mistreatment of disabled patients. The power given to these doctors, particularly House and his fellows, is unregulated, and therefore, the most abrasive. In the words of Oliver, “whatever it costs, in terms of pain and suffering of disabled individuals, is always justified and justifiable - the ideology of normality rules” (Oliver, 1996, 37). Seeing the quality of a disabled person’s life, determining all that’s “wrong” with it for deviating from the conventional ideas of what life should entail, and then justifying abnormality to use any means to obtain normalcy is unacceptable. In House M.D., the diagnosis begins with a way to try and treat disability, restore normalcy, and ends with a close call save and the patient’s life being forever changed. Lastly, House is frequently disrespectful towards those with deviant sexualities and genders. House lacks bedside manner and often mocks and disregards patients’ identifications. With his colleagues, House uses the “Cuddy is a transsexual” joke frequently as an insult and a reason as to why she does not have a romantic partner. A more specific example is in Season 2’s episode Skin Deep, when House treats a beautiful fifteen-year-old runway model, Alex, who was admitted for a violent outburst, followed by a loss of consciousness, during a show. By the end of the episode, House and his team reveal the cause of Alex’s worsening condition is testicular cancer on her internal testicles. Upon learning that Alex is intersex, House uses ‘him’ pronouns to refer to her, despite her identification and clear distress. He then goes on to make light of the fact her father will no longer sexually abuse her because that would be “gross” since that would make him “homo”. This leads to a frenzy of tears and yelling, with Alex insisting that she is a girl, claiming her beauty is evidence of that. House responds by telling her to relax because, “[he’s] going to cut [her] balls off. Then [she’ll] be fine” (Kaplow, 2006). In a matter of minutes, House manages to tactlessly open the wound of deep shame surrounding intersex individuals, making sexual abuse seem inconsequential and homophobia seem ‘normal’. The treatment that Alex recieves changes when she is identified as deviating from the normative sex. This is on par with Wilkerson’s beliefs. Instead of the focus being on the cancer on Alex’s internal gonads, she is pathologized for having male gonads in the first place and defying the dichotomy of sex. By appearing and identifying as female, but having testicles, inhibits her from abiding by society’s heteronormative narratives. Consequently, this exposes her to harmful psychological treatment, with House insisting her gender must be aligned with her biological sex (Wilkerson, 2002). Beyond the binarization of sex, the shame and upset that Alex expresses at the notice of her being intersex is demonstrative of how society imposes a desire/disgust dichotomy upon those with deviant sexualities, similar to that of amputees (Kafer, 2012). The suggestion of the incongruity between intersexuality and beauty is indicative of this. As a woman, Alex remains beautiful and sexually attractive on the surface; but as an intersex woman, society sees the sexual attraction as “gross” and falling outside of the charmed circle. The way that House addresses Alex only triggers and deepens this shame and recognition of the ‘bad’ associated with deviance. All in all, House, M.D. is representative of the ways in which medicine intersects with sexuality, gender, and disability. The show clearly demonstrates how the consequences of unregulated power and lack of responsibility in medicine result in the ill-treatment of women, sexual minorities, and disabled people. This mistreatment is visible throughout the series with inappropriate commentaries and actions that are misogynistic and objectify women, that are inherently ableist, and that are insulting to sexual minorities. The power granted to the doctors at Princeton-Plainsboro, along with little to no authority to force them to answer to their mistakes, becomes a dangerous device to privilege and oppress. As the privilege of one group is consequently the oppression of another, medicine always remains entitled and excused.


Works Cited

Almeida, R. Melendez,D., & Paez,J. (2015). Liberation-Based Practice. Encyclopedia of Social Work. https://doi. org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.1159 Kafer, A. (2012). Desire and Disgust: My Ambivalent Adventures in Devoteeism. Sex and Disability, 331-354. Kaplow,L. (Writer) & Platt, D. (Director). (2007). Half-Wit. (Season 3, Episode 15) [TV series episode]. In P. Attanasio. (Executive Producer), House, M.D. Los Angeles, CA: Fox Broadcasting. Lerner,G., Friend,R. (Writers) & Platt, D. (Director). (2007). 97 Seconds. (Season 4, Episode 3) [TV series episode]. In P. Attanasio. (Executive Producer), House, M.D. Los Angeles, CA: Fox Broadcasting. Lerner,G., Friend,R. Shore, D., Hess, S. (Writers) & Platt, D. (Director). (2006). Skin Deep. (Season 2, Episode 13) [TV series episode]. In P. Attanasio. (Executive Producer), House, M.D. Los Angeles, CA: Fox Broadcasting. Oliver, M. (1996). The Social Model in Context. In: Understanding Disability, 30-42. Palgrave, London. https:// Whitesell, S. (Writer) & Straiton, D. (Director). (2007). Ugly. (Season 4, Episode 7) [TV series episode]. In P. Attanasio. (Executive Producer), House, M.D. Los Angeles, CA: Fox Broadcasting. Wilkerson, A. L. (2012). Normate Sex and Its Discontents. In R. McRuer & A. Mollow (Ed.), Sex and Disability, 183-207. New York, USA: Duke University Press.


Twisted Rush By Zaynab Almayahi


The Hero of Her Own Life: Mary Seacole’s Heroism in Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands By Michael Schmidt In her autobiography Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, Mary Seacole is able to achieve heroic status as a woman of colour in Victorian society because of her work in the Crimean War, suggesting that in a period when heroism was largely exclusive to men, women could also be considered heroic, helping to break down gender barriers. This is not to say that women were regarded as equal to men in the Victorian era, even if they did achieve ‘heroine’ status; but, it represents the beginning of a change surrounding restrictive gender norms by suggesting that if women like Mrs. Seacole could become heroes, then gender inequality could be eroded in other areas of society. Indeed, in his book on Victorian heroism, John Price concludes that there were Victorian women who became heroic and were recognized as such: “this is a period for which historians, by tending to focus on the military or the empire, have given the impression or generally concluded that performing acts of heroism was the exclusive domain of men, […] this was purely and simply not the case” (Price 170). Mary Seacole focuses on her deeds in the Crimean War to prove that she achieves heroic status, which is corroborated by the support she receives from military men who greatly respect her. Additionally,through her independent travels in dangerous places, she sets an example of self-reliance for others to follow. First off, Mrs. Seacole spends much of her autobiography recounting the time she aids English soldiers in the Crimean War, where she garners respect from those around her because of her actions. In this way, she aligns herself with the Victorian notion that military valour is the highest form of heroism, and by doing so, she sets herself within this ideal and becomes heroic according to the definition of the era. Seacole provides several examples of her service to the wounded soldiers at Sebastopol that demonstrate her heroism in action and prove that she is worthy of such status. The fact that she saves many lives from illness throughout her travels is no less important than her time during the war, but given the elevated risk of helping wounded soldiers in a war setting, these acts become far more notable as she is facing the same dangers that men are facing. In one example when she is near the battlefield, Seacole says, “Upon the way, and even here, I was ‘under fire.’ More frequently than was agreeable, a shot would come ploughing up the ground and raising clouds of dust, or a shell whizz above us” (Seacole 136). In addition to these instances of danger in her narrative, Seacole provides the opinions of soldiers as secondary proof of her heroism. One letter she includes is written by the Adjutant-General of the British Army, and it acknowledges her service by saying, “This excellent woman has frequently exerted herself in the most praiseworthy manner in attending wounded men, even in positions of great danger, and in assisting sick soldiers by all means in her power” (116). Not only does this testimonial show Seacole achieving heroic status, but it also proves that she earns important allies who think she is deserving of it, despite her social standing as a mixed-race woman. However, it must be noted that Seacole has an obvious aim in writing about her adventures: she seeks to escape a bad financial situation and support herself for the rest of her life. In this pursuit, she frames the narrative in a certain way, using key strategies to win over the British public and convince them to focus on her service in the Crimea rather than her identity. Seacole occupies a complicated position in society as a ‘Creole’ woman, and in order to gain favour with the public, she crafts an image of herself as a healer, a Mother to the soldiers of the army, and a proper ‘lady’. This helps to justify her status as a heroine in readers’ eyes. As Lorraine Mercer points out in her discussion of the narrative strategies Seacole employs, “Because Seacole could point to altruistic reasons for her adventures in the Crimea, i.e. nursing English soldiers, while assuming the mantle of motherhood to the army, she succeeds in turning this masculine sphere of action into the feminine space […] To achieve this status Seacole establishes herself firmly within The Cult of True Womanhood” (Mercer 5-6). By constructing herself in this way, Seacole shows readers that she is not out of place in the male-exclusive domain of war. This could potentially lead to other forms of social change because this specific gender barrier is undermined, albeit only in her case. The strategies Seacole uses to construct herself


as a figure that Victorian readers approve of therefore demonstrates how she breaks down Victorian ideals of heroism, and suggests that women like her could also be heroic without seeming out of place. Another important example of how Mrs. Seacole’s heroic status is earned in the eyes of those around her is demonstrated by the privileges afforded to her when she’s in Sebastopol. While talking about her journey to Sebastopol to set up shop near the fighting, Seacole says, “A line of sentries forbade all strangers passing through without orders, even to Cathcart’s Hill; but once more I found that my reputation served as a permit, and the officers relaxed the rule in my favour everywhere” (146). The privilege given to Seacole by the men in charge in this instance, which allows her to come near the warzone, is not afforded to anyone else who is not a member of the army - showing how highly the officers of the English army think of her. Their appreciation for Seacole continues after the war is over, which suggests that they seemingly overlook her social status as a mixed-race woman and recognize her solely as a hero, and this is true even among the Victorian public as she becomes a celebrity. Furthermore, the testimonials of respected men who served in the Crimean War illustrates how Seacole becomes heroic in their eyes. Following the war, when Seacole is struggling financially, she receives support from many officers of the English army who advocate on her behalf in the form of letters appealing to English newspapers. One of these letters clearly reveals the respect these men have for Seacole and how they strive to support her because of her heroic actions in the Crimean War. Written in 1857 to The Times, this letter urges the public to save Seacole from destitution and explains why she deserves aid: “For courage, devotion, goodness of heart, public service, great losses undeservedly incurred. I have seen her go down under fire with her little store of creature comforts for our wounded men, and a more tender or skilful hand about a wound or a broken limb could not be found among our best surgeons” (175-76). As with the earlier testimonial from an officer during the war, Seacole’s bravery and service is corroborated by an additional perspective after its conclusion, and seen as no less heroic than the soldiers fighting for the Empire as it literally describes her in the thick of danger. The letter goes on to say: “I saw her […] at the Battle of the Tchernaya, at the fall of Sebastopol, laden […] with wine, bandages, and food for the wounded or the prisoners. Her hands, too, performed the last offices for some of the noblest of our slain” (176). Letters such as this, which are not included in Seacole’s autobiography, demonstrate how respected she becomes among the leaders of the military - even after the Crimean War has ended. An additional point to note is that Seacole’s accomplishments and adventures are mostly individualistic, and it could therefore be argued that she is not concerned with improving the situation of all women, only her own. Sandra Paquet argues this point in her discussion of Mrs. Seacole’s book, and says that, “[Seacole’s] achievements are represented as individual accomplishments that celebrate service and devotion to patriarchal authority and Empire, as embodied in the British military. There is nothing in her narrative to suggest that her work in the Crimea alters the status of women, or black West Indians generally” (Paquet 868). While this may be true in the short-term, Seacole does in fact spur a movement towards breaking down gender inequality by setting an example through the adventures and heroic feats that make up her narrative. Her journey is largely one of self-reliance where she forges a path of her own, seen with the fact that she owns and organizes several businesses, including the British Hotel in the Crimea, and commands the respect of the officers of the British army. Whether Seacole is concerned with advocating for other women or instead focused solely on fitting in with the Empire, she sets an example of an independent woman nonetheless, which helps to undermine the barriers surrounding gender roles.


In conclusion, Mary Seacole’s travels in Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, where she describes her service towards the soldiers in the Crimean War and receives the respect of distinguished officers, demonstrates how she achieves heroic status and proves that women could be and were considered heroic in the Victorian era. The examples of her heroic actions on the battlefield tending to the wounded and administering help for illnesses, the secondary opinions from others about her conduct, and the image she creates of a model English female figure all illustrate the way Seacole transcends the limits of Victorian society regarding her race and gender. And in depicting her rise to heroic status despite these factors, she serves as an example for others to follow and provides a starting place for changing the restrictive attitudes around gender roles, both in the Victorian period and moving forward. Works Cited Mercer, Lorraine. “I Shall Make No Excuse: The Narrative Odyssey of Mary Seacole.” Journal of Narrative Theory, vol. 35, no. 1, 2005, pp. 1–24. JSTOR, Paquet, Sandra Pouchet. “The Enigma of Arrival: The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands.” African American Review, vol. 50, no. 4, 2017, pp. 864–876. JSTOR, Price, John. Everyday Heroism: Victorian Constructions of the Heroic Civilian. E-book, Bloomsbury, 2018. Seacole, Mary. Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, edited by Sara Salih, Penguin Classics, 2005. --. Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, edited by Sara Salih. Appendix: “The Seacole Fund.” Letter. The Times, 11 Apr. 1857, pp. 175-76. Penguin Classics, 2005.


Power, Punishment, and Body Politics By Sara-Emilie Clark

The power dynamic between men and women is a relationship explored not just by feminist and social theorists, but by economists, philosophers, and literary critics alike. Michel Foucault and Monique Wittig are two such scholars whose theories and ideas can be applied to the context of female oppression. Foucault’s thought-provoking work Discipline and Punish explores notions of systemic domination and punishment within the carceral, or penal, system, extrapolating these to better understand their effects on society as a whole. Monique Wittig, a renowned feminist and queer theorist, primarily studied the role of gender in social structures. Her controversial claims regarding the agency of the female body in her essay ‘One is Not Born a Woman’ and her tendency towards radicalism quickly earned her notoriety amongst scholarly circles. Despite appearing relatively distinct from one another, Foucault and Wittig’s writings overlap in two key areas: the exercise of power, and the unique experiences of those who either suffer or wield it. Foucault’s conception of the carceral order is representative of both the class system and the complex power relations between men and women as initially theorized by Wittig. The systematic oppression of women as a class and the importance of the body within the sociopolitical structure can be analyzed through three perspectives: structuralism, material feminism, and biopolitics. This multi-pronged approach allows for a more thorough evaluation of the material effects of power on the bodies, consciousness, and place of women in society. Prior to further analysis, it is important to note that Foucault did not identify as a structuralist, and adamantly denied the influence of the theory in any of his works. He rejected many of the Marxist themes with which structuralism was commonly associated, such as the mode of production, dialectalism, and the idea of the superstructure. He condemned Marx’s habit of hyper-fixating on the economy without considering other affective factors (Olssen). Although Foucault was an avid critic of Marx and Marxism, Discipline and Punish nonetheless still bears the clear influence of Marx and possesses both Marxist and structuralist threads. The work views the action of domination as similar to the Marxist concept of historical materialism, in that power and social relations are undisputedly connected and are therefore subject to analysis. This enabled Foucault to acknowledge and study the existence of patterns of domination within society, which thus allowed him to utilize structuralist logic without strictly adhering to it as a primary philosophy (Olssen). Recognition of the structuralist elements present within Foucault’s writings is particularly significant to the textual interpretation of Discipline and Punish, the main focus of which is the carceral system: an archipelago of prisons and other penal structures (“Carceral”). By employing aspects of structuralist thought, Foucault is able to use the carceral system and its effects on the persons inside of it as a metaphor to understand other social and economic mechanisms, such as the class system, without necessarily privileging one above another as Marx does. Two main areas of discipline explored in Discipline and Punish are hierarchical observation and examination (Talcott). These concepts reflect the nature and inherent characteristics of the class system. Hierarchical observation, according to Foucault, refers to the implementation of roles that are responsible for the governance and discipline of others. In the class system, this is typically understood to be the bourgeoisie, who occupy a more advantageous position than the proletariat by virtue of their control of the means of production. The bourgeoisie is thus a dominant figure that holds power and influence over the proletariat (Hollander). Foucault references a similar idea in the context of the Mettray prison, but utilizes terminology related to occupations that normally exist outside of the carceral, such as chiefs, deputies, engineers, and orthopaedists. These people were responsible for implementing disciplinary tactics over incarcerated individuals, effectively taming them so that they were suited better for their assigned expectations. Foucault describes Mettray as a kind of “colony of discipline”, whose responsibility was simply to “produce bodies that were both docile and capable”, and reinforce the power relations between those who possessed authority and those who did not (Foucault 1410). The carceral further assured constant examination through “the real capture of the


body and its perpetual observation” (Foucault 1418). Foucault’s delinquent, similar to Marx’s conception of the proletariat, is merely a product of an institution whose leaders have successfully reduced the individual from a person to a regulated body (Hollander). This notion of domination to the point of objectification by an oppressive force also appears in Monique Wittig’s essay ‘One is Not Born a Woman’, and is applied specifically to women. Wittig, like Foucault, rejects the Marxist idea that classes are limited to economic groups, and instead posits that women represent a class entirely of their own. Wittig is a material feminist, an approach she believes shows, “that what we take for the cause or origin of oppression is in fact only the mark imposed by the oppressor: the ‘myth of woman’, plus its material effects and manifestations in the appropriated consciousness and bodies of women” (Wittig 1824). Material feminism draws much of its inspiration from socialist and Marxist feminism in that it acknowledges that income inequality and financial disparities have been historically used to hegemonize women (Haug). It also appreciates, however, the importance of language, culture, and social conditions in understanding and overcoming gender inequality. Material feminism is primarily concerned with connecting the ways in which female identities, bodies, and needs relate to theories of class (Sullivan). Wittig proclaims this as a historical task “to define what [women] call oppression in materialist terms, to make it evident that women are a class, which is to say that the category ‘woman’ as well as the category ‘man’ are political and economic categories not eternal ones” (Wittig 1827). Class is perceived by Wittig and others to be that which simultaneously unites and divides women; the dialectic of gender as class is thus fundamental to material feminist thought (Sullivan). Wittig conceptualizes women as a class in two ways: by refuting the classical biological justification for oppression; and by defining the individual subject using materialist terms. Feminists who perpetuate the view of female oppression to be wholly biological in nature are dismissed by Wittig, who argues that this “naturalized” the distinction between men and women and inhibited any future attempts at equality (Wittig 1824). These perceptions are further reflective of the Foucauldian idea of normalization. Otherwise known as the normalizing of judgement, Foucault expresses the concept in relation to the carceral as “[t]he perpetual penalty that traverses all points and supervises every instant in the disciplinary institutions compares, differentiates, hierarchizes, homogenizes, excludes. In short, it normalizes” (qtd. in Talcott). In simpler terms, the hierarchy of authority and punishment is fundamentalized, naturalized, and legitimized by way of its becoming a social norm. This effectively prevents any sort of positive systemic change or alteration that may be liable to occur at a later point in time. The continued belief that the basis of injustice and cruelty against women is purely biological is an example of normalization at work in a gendered context. Wittig and Foucault’s theories overlap once more in Wittig’s comparison of the relationship between men and women to that of a master and their slave, where the man exercises total control over the woman. Similarly to the duties of the chiefs and deputies within the carceral system, as described by Foucault, men were also responsible for disciplining women. Women as individual subjects were then “objects of oppression and appropriation” experiencing a state of total servitude, “a relation which implies personal and physical obligation, as well as economic obligation” (Wittig 1828-29). Women were thus completely at the mercy of their male counterparts, just as the existence of the prisoners within Foucault’s carceral system was determined wholly by the whims of their disciplinarians. Recognizing this oppression, however, is key in refuting it. Wittig believes “consciousness of oppression” to be not only a reaction that strives to fight against subjugation, but also a “whole conceptual reevaluation of the social world, its whole reorganization with new concepts, from the point of view of oppression” (Wittig 1828). For women to reject the negative power that has been imposed upon them by men, they must


first be conscious of the fact that they are being impacted in ways that are harmful to the agency and autonomy of their bodies and minds. The intersection of Wittig and Foucault’s principle theories comes in the form of the Foucauldian notion of biopolitics. Biopolitics is the examination of the ways in which authority affects human processes and is a descendant of Foucault’s original area of study: technologies of power. Biopolitics views the population as made up of distinct groups, just as Wittig believes men and women constituted their own separate categories. Perceived by some as “the governmentalization of social life”, biopolitics is in fact a byproduct of neoliberalism, which has been further theorized to relate to second-wave feminism (Esposito). Feminist scholar and political scientist, Nancy Fraser, claims that many of the central tenants of neoliberalism are directly in line with those of second-wave feminism. These include, but are not limited to: the identification of class maldistribution as the source of the majority of injustice in society; the problematic position of the man as the sole breadwinner and natural head of the household; and criticisms of state-organised capitalism as a whole. Fraser likens the concept of second-wave feminism to that of a handmaiden for neoliberalism, working to support governments in addressing the issues common to both ideologies (Loveland). This relationship is in itself representative of the connection between both Wittig and Foucault’s schools of thought. Second-wave feminism corresponds closely with Wittig’s works and interpretation of women as a distinct class, while neoliberalism and neoliberal governance has typically been associated with Foucault. Biopolitics thus unites the ideas of both Wittig and Foucault, despite being an originally Foucauldian thought. Biopolitics can be distinguished from other technologies of power and philosophies of politics by its hyperfixation on the importance of the body within the collective, and its concern with the ways in which power is exercised over the lives of those present in this collective. The discourse of biopolitics comes as a result of individuals within larger groups struggling to resolve their identity in the face of a dominant authority (Haines). For Foucault, this is represented by prisoners and their deputies; for Wittig, this is characterized by the problematically uneven power dynamics between men and women. The real-world application of biopolitics in the 1960s allowed for a reaffirmation of the place of women, a historically marginalized group, in society. It reversed the phrase “the personal is the political” to become instead “the political is the personal” (Haines). This changed an otherwise commonly recognized phrase to shine a new light on the concept of female emancipation. The significance of gender equality was stressed as something that was inherently political and related to the ways in which authorities, like men, and political structures, like government — usually controlled by men or otherwise dominated by a male presence — tended to encroach upon the personal life, bodies, and minds of women (Haines). When interpreted through a feminist lens, biopolitics aims to enable women to take back control over their bodies, reestablishing a sense of self-hood that was otherwise lost. In contrast to another Foucauldian term, ‘anatomo-politics’, biopolitics targets women not only as individuals, but as a population capable of demonstrating personal and physical sovereignty over themselves, and reclaiming the power that was once used against them by men (Cheney-Lippold). Biopolitical technologies of power allow for a reconfiguration of power distribution in society that shifts the control of discipline and punishment from the oppressor to the oppressed. The reallocation of authority and biopolitical management paves the way for the implementation of laws, legislation, and renewed civic norms that positively affect women and other typically alienated groups, such as the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Biopolitics is unique in its ability to create a space for a political, economic, and social revolution that celebrates women and female-identifying individuals reclaiming the agency and autonomy of their bodies (Quinan).


Wittig and Foucault’s theories, although perhaps an unlikely scholarly pairing at first glance, have offered a new perspective through which to view and analyze the oppression of women. Michel Foucault’s carceral structure, despite appearing to be limited only to the penal system, provides a unique framework for the assessment of Monique Wittig’s conception of women as a distinct class. Ultimately, the unifying factor between both Wittig and Foucault is the notion of power. Power cannot be separated from the study of control, nor from the study of gender. The application of power to the analysis of the relationships that are held between men and women allows for a better understanding of the ways in which gender overlaps with the class system and the natural distribution of authority in society. The historic utilization of discipline and punishment to hegemonize and marginalize women has had lasting effects on female bodies and minds, and shaped new theories and ideologies surrounding equality of the sexes. Works Cited Cheney-Lippold, John. “A New Algorithmic Identity.” Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 28, no. 6, 2011, pp. 164–181., doi:10.1177/0263276411424420. Esposito, Roberto. “Postdemocracy and Biopolitics.” European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 22, no. 3, 2019, pp. 317–324., doi:10.1177/1368431019850234. Haines, Christian. “The Impersonal Is Political: Adrienne Rich’s the Dream of a Common Language, Feminism, and the Art of Biopolitics.” Cultural Critique, vol. 96, 2017, doi: do?p=AONE&u=lond95336&id=GALE%7CA503295691&v=2.1&it=r. Haug, Frigga. “Marxism-Feminism.” Historical Materialism, vol. 24, no. 4, 2016, pp.257–270.,doi:1569206X%2 %2Historical%20Materialism]%20Marxism-Feminism.pdf. Hollander, Paul. Decline and Discontent Communism and the West Today. TPB, 1998. Loveland, Kristen. “Feminism Against Neoliberalism: Theorising Biopolitics in Germany, 1978-1993.” Gender & History, vol. 29, no. 1, 2017, pp. 67–86., doi:10.1111/1468-0424.12282. Olssen, Mark. “Foucault and Marxism: Rewriting the Theory of Historical Materialism.” Policy Futures in Education, vol. 2, no. 3-4, 2004, pp. 454–482., doi:10.2304/pfie.2004.2.3.3. Quinan, Christine, and Kathrin Thiele. “Biopolitics, Necropolitics, Cosmopolitics – Feminist and Queer Interventions: an Introduction.” Journal of Gender Studies, vol. 29, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1–8., doi:10.1080/09 589236.2020.1693173. Sullivan, Rebecca. “Materialist Feminism: a Reader in Class, Difference & Women’s Lives.” Canadian Journal of Communication, vol. 24, no. 3, 1999, doi:DOI:10.22230/cjc.1999v24n3a1118. Talcott, Samuel. “The Education of Philosophy: From Canguilhem and The Teaching of Philosophy to Foucault’s Discipline and Punish.” Philosophy Today, vol. 61, no. 3, 2017, pp. 503–521., doi:10.5840/ philtoday2017918168. Wittig, Monique, and Michel Foucault. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, by Vincent B. Leitch et al., W.W. Norton & Company, 2018, pp. 1409–1823. “‘Carceral.’” Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, From=carceral#eid.


Chaos and Meaning in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land By Faith Caswell T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land, seeks to establish meaning in the disorder of the world. Eliot composed this piece in the devastated landscape of post-World War II Europe. For him, the true wasteland was not far from reality or home. While Eliot does make himself an explicit narrator in the poem, the themes of fear and hopelessness present in the text were almost certainly a reflection of Europe’s collective sense of desolation. The poem requires readers to be conscious of numerous cultural references, fragmented images and motifs, and a range of narration styles, in order to maintain comprehension. The dislocation of scenes support the non-linear narrative, perpetuating a sense of confusion that requires unpacking and reframing to find meaning. The poem also utilizes a range of voices, which represents the refusal to accept singular meaning or truth. There are many allusions to drowning, including section IV of the text, “Death by Water,” which play a significant role in reflecting the fear of losing meaning entirely. In The Waste Land, chaos is a tool for understanding and organizing meaning in the world order. The fragmentation of images and lack of linear narrative structure represents the chaos of the world as depicted by The Waste Land. The vast expanse of knowledge and perspectives that exist is overwhelming, and at the centre of the poem is an attempt to understand how to categorize and find patterns of meaning. Eliot’s use of various historical and literary references constructs the poem in fragments, which forces the reader to individually resolve and connect the pieces. The disjointed nature of the text is uncomfortable and difficult to absorb, perhaps reflecting Eliot’s own struggle to put together infinite knowledge and belief systems. Although the poem’s imagery and cultural references overlap, interact, and interrupt each other, Eliot provides an extensive body of footnotes. His note to line 135 in “A Game of Chess” reveals a connection that readers may not have drawn independently. The phrase, “Do you remember / Nothing? / I remember / Those are pearls that were in his eyes” (Eliot 1330) refers to the Hyacinth garden (I.37) and the pearls in the eyes of the Phoenician sailor tarot card (I.48). In another draft of the poem, line 124 read, “I remember the hyacinth garden,” clarifying Eliot’s note and confirming the fragmented unity of the text (Kinney 279). Eliot’s extensive use of footnotes can be read as a personal attempt to organize the poem’s meaning. They reflect an intrinsic need to reveal patterns and connections in order to make sense of the chaos of the world. The lack of linear narrative, paralleled with the perpetual historical references, can be read as a commentary on the interconnectedness of human history. The poem dissolves the notion that time is linear, claiming that history is not locked in the past, but is present and authoritative. The constant interweaving of historical and literary references is chaotic and, at times, disrupting; but simultaneously creates a sense of unity, in that all the pieces of shared human memory and identity are forced to coagulate and work together in a single text. The Waste Land’s, “visionary quest to order chaos is concealed within the very act of rendering chaos” (Kinney 275), which is the poem’s primary tool to establish order in the world. The Waste Land features numerous voices and narrators, which can be read as a resistance to singular meaning. The poem features characters such as the Fisher King, Madame Sosostris, Phlebas the Phoenician, and Tiesias. The poem also contains references to figures of pre-existing literature, such as Ophelia,Tristan, and Isolde. Bringing together characters that readers may already know with new personalities provides the reader with a range of perspectives and experiences, all existing within one text. This may be understood as commentary on the world’s diversity and the wide range of knowledge systems, opinions, and voices that equally deserve to be heard. While the narrators often speak with the personal pronouns, “I,” and “you,” they also shift into other characters and perspectives without a clear transition. According to Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, this suggests that the “I” is “more than one, diverse, capable of being all those it will at one time be, a group acting together” (Zhang 1150). The chaos of trying to separate the various merging personas is reflected in the difficulty in establishing meaning in a world order. It asserts that there is no singular meaning,


but rather, infinite meanings that one must attempt to distinguish and understand. The fragmentary nature of the text would not be suited to a single narrator; rather, the polyphony of voices creates a space for chaos. Eliot gave a speech to the National Book League where he described three voices present in poetry: The poet engaging with themselves or to no one; the poet addressing readers; and the poet speaking through a character in verse (Zhang 1149). In The Waste Land, Eliot utilizes all three. At the end of “The Burial of the Dead,” the narrator breaks the fourth wall saying, “Hypocrite reader!—my likeness—my brother!” (Eliot 1328). While other speakers in the poem utilize personal pronouns, this is the only time the narrator explicitly addresses the reader. In contrast, there are numerous sections where narrators speak to no one in particular, passively describing a scene or event. The poem also contains phrases and words in seven languages (Zhang 1148), offering a broader inclusion of humanity, but also contributing to the chaos. The poem resists singularity simply because the world is too vast for one truth. It is likely that Eliot’s own experiences of the war revealed that everyone lost and found hope in different ways, though they suffered the same war. While every narrator exists in the wasteland, each experiences life differently. The poem itself is so overwhelmed and crowded with various meanings, that singular meaning does not have grounds to exist. The Waste Land contains many references to water and death by drowning, including section IV titled “Death by Water,” which reveals the fear of losing any sense of meaning at all. In section I, the narrator reflects on returning from the Hyacinth garden: “I was neither / Living nor dead, and I know nothing / Looking into the heart of light, the silence / Oed’ und leer das meer” (“waste and empty is the sea”) (Eliot 1327). The narrator feels as though they were neither living nor dead, which situates their existence in a state of suspension. This implies a lack of clarity, and a consequent inability to find meaning in either life or death. This absence of meaning is associated with images of drowning and the sea, which is described as empty or a void. Identifying the silence suggests the overwhelming intensity of the quiet. This may be interpreted through the lens of drowning, in that one is alone with one’s final thoughts; isolated in one mind until the end. Drowning is not outwardly chaotic, but there is a powerful sense of disorder and vastness in the gradual loss of consciousness. Being submerged in water is at once calm in the silence of being underwater, but chaotic in the entrapment of the self. In this poem, the sea is represented as “the place of no return,” or a looming figure of impending death. This experience of trying to categorize meaning in the chaos of the world may be associated with a perpetual state of drowning, or existing in the state of being “neither / Living nor dead.” This leads to the fear that one will never be able to find meaning in the world, or in one’s own sense of the world. The slow fade of consciousness caused by drowning reflects a loss of meaning, reflected as section IV, “Death by Water,” which represents death as the final end to one’s life. After the drowned sailor Phlebas’ body is taken away by the whirlpool, he becomes immersed in the sea; ultimately dissolving into the chaos himself. The whirlpool represents the heart of the sea or the wasteland, breaking down all meaning and pulling life into its cataclysmic centre. This sense of being absorbed by the chaos and, consequently, losing all capacity for meaning is a fear that underpins “Death by Water.” When the narrator addresses other sailors, he regards them as “Gentile or Jew” (Eliot 1336). Read according to the biblical narrative, “Gentile and Jew” can refer to people of either good or bad morals. Gentile refers to someone who is not Jewish and, throughout history, the term was sometimes interchangeable with “pagan”; in contrast,the term “Jew” traditionally referred to God’s chosen people. This biblical reference effectively claims that it makes no difference whether a sailor is a person of God or not; everyone is subjected to the same fate. The sea in The Waste Land is represented as death without resurrection, juxtaposing the


religious image of immersion baptism to symbolize rebirth. Eliot plays with the widely accepted view that water is not the metaphorical giver of life, but in reality, is the cause of final death. In the original draft of The Waste Land, “Death by Water” was a longer section composed of roughly ninety lines and focused on a shipwreck and the inevitable drowning of the sailors. While the decision to include only the last ten lines in the revised draft evidently shows what Pound and Eliot believed to be most significant about the section, it is still worthy to investigate the sea as a version of the wasteland in the original version of the text. There is a darkness present in the original draft that was later rejected, but this darkness provides a greater sense of terror regarding the loss of meaning. The storm overwhelms the sailors as “no one dared / To look into anothers [sic] face, or speak / In the horror of the illimitable scream / Of a whole world about us” (IV.62-65). There is a sense that the world is loud and overpowering, but at least there is meaning in the chaos. The opposite is the experience of drowning, the induced silence and inescapable nothingness. The sailors are faced by a fear of the juxtaposing fates, both inescapable and terrifying in their own ways. T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land uses chaos as a mechanism to organize and understand meaning in a world order. Written on the doorstep of World War II, the poem explores themes of fear and ruin through the lens of a devastated Europe. This sense of the collective unconscious of humanity is perpetuated through a variety of narrators and voices, while simultaneously rejecting singular truth. Images and scenes are presented in fragments, resisting a clear storyline or linear narrative. This has the effect of reflecting the chaotic world order as the reader imagines it. The overall sense of disconnectedness makes it necessary for readers to be attuned to numerous cultural, historical, and literary references in order to establish meaning in the poem. The text also contains many allusions to drowning and the sea, as well as section IV, “Death by Water.” These imageries are especially poignant in reflecting the fear of losing meaning entirely. Readers must journey through the perpetual allusions and fragments in the poem, but the text itself also endures a journey of sorting through the world’s chaos to find meaning. Works Cited

Eliot, T.S.. “Death by Water.” The Waste Land: a facsimile and transcript of the original drafts including the annotations of Ezra Pound. London, Faber and Faber, 1971. pp. 1-13. Eliot, T.S.. The Waste Land. The Norton Anthology of Major Authors Tenth Edition, Volume Two, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, pp. 1326-1339. Kinney, Clare. “Fragmentary Excess, Copious Dearth: ‘The Waste Land’ as Anti-Narrative.” The Journal of Narrative Technique, vol. 17, no. 3, 1987, pp. 273–285. JSTOR, Zhang, Feiyue. “The Narrative Style and Voices in The Waste Land.” Theory and Practice in Language Studies, vol. 10, no. 9, 2020, pp. 1148–52. doi:10.17507/tpls.1009.20.


Looking Up By Jack Bradley


Moral Reason to Refuse Leftovers By Margaret Gleed In her essay “Consumer Choice and Collective Impact,” Julia Nefsky poses an example to draw out other reasoning for vegetarianism and veganism beyond non-instrumental moral reasoning. The “Leftovers” example poses a scenario where there are leftovers in a fridge. These leftovers are perfectly safe to eat and will go bad if not eaten soon. In response to this scenario, there is no moral reason, specific to the collective impact on animals’ treatment and well-being, for a “moral vegetarian” to refuse leftover meat products that would otherwise go to waste. In dialogue with Nefsky’s essay, the opinion that there is no moral reason for a “moral vegetarian” to waste the leftover chicken can be rationalized through the analysis of two possible reasons which oppose this opinion, and ultimately, prove these reasons to be unsuitable in this instance. The first is the benefit that the consumer of the leftovers gains from the wrongdoing of factory farms, and t is the significance of food choices and their symbolism in society; both of which are outlined in Nefsky’s work. For this argument, several assumptions have been made. First, the “moral vegetarian” discussed would not consume any meat products under normal circumstances, yet has no health adversities to meat consumption. Second, the phrase “moral reasons,” as mentioned by Nefsky, is short for, “moral reason that has to do with the outcome of concern” (Nefsky 270). Finally, the outcome of concern relates to animals’ treatment and well-being before slaughter and consumption. In addition, important terms to understand include: ‘collective impact’, meaning that, “by acting any certain way, we collectively can have a major impact, but in which no individual seems to make a difference” (Nefsky 269); and ‘expressive impact’, referring to the impact of an opinion that a choice conveys to the public regarding support or opposition to specific companies or practices. For the “Leftovers” scenario, the avoidance of benefiting from wrongdoing is a possible moral reason for not eating the leftovers. This reason dictates that the leftovers would not be eaten because, “you would be voluntarily enjoying a product of [factory farm’s] morally abhorrent behaviour” (Nefsky 276). Theoretically, this point supports moral reasoning. Understandably, an individual would not wish to support a business or practice with a bad moral reason for the animals’ treatment and well-being. There would be a collective impact if multiple people were to make the same decision, which could impact the morally wrong businesses; making this decision morally reasonable. However, Nefsky points out that whoever benefits from the wrongdoings should not be deemed as “wrong” if they indirectly benefit from factory farms’ wrongdoing. She goes further to say that to benefit from wrongdoings, “there must be a non-incidental connection between the wrongdoing and the benefiting” (Nefsky 277), and that if the extent of the benefit outweighs the wrongdoing, then the “benefit from wrongdoing” proposal cannot be a moral reason to refuse the leftovers since the individual would then be contributing to food waste. Based on Nefsky’s “Leftovers” parameters, “benefit from wrongdoing” is not a sufficient moral reason to refuse the leftovers. There is no provable contribution to collective impact if the individual were to eat or not eat the leftovers privately, nor would the individual be directly supporting any morally abhorrent business since they would not be directly purchasing their product. The consumption of the leftover chicken would also be incidental, as the consumer had no role in the action of the wrongdoing, and consuming the “waste” would reduce food waste. Thus, the benefit of eating the leftover chicken would outweigh the wrongdoings which have already occurred. A second possible moral reason to refuse the leftovers would be to express one’s opinions about animals’ treatment and well-being in factory farming, as their reasoning can influence others’ opinions towards the cause. For the “Leftovers” scenario, this reason dictates that the leftovers should be refused in order to display commitment to the well-being and treatment of animals; even if only refused in private. Theoretically, like the previous moral reason, this point supports moral reason as this decision to refuse the leftovers could influence the collective impact. Additionally, the prolonged decision to continually refuse any meat products


would have an impact over time. However, as Nefsky states, “for this proposal here to be distinct, the idea has to be that what your act expresses matters morally in itself ” (Nefsky 79), meaning that in refusing the leftovers, the action must clearly relate to acting against the inhumane treatment of animals in factory farming. However, there is no way to know the actual impact or social consideration of not eating the leftovers. Although the choice to either eat or not eat meat products could convey opinions about animals’ well-being and treatment to the public, there isno way of knowing exactly what these actions communicate to society.. In choosing not to eat the leftovers, an individual’s actions could convey multiple messages: (1) they hate the treatment of animals in factory farms, so they are boycotting all factory farm products; (2) they think that eating animal products directly contributes to their continued poor treatment; or (3) they simply do not think that meat products provide as many health benefits as other alternatives. For this expressive possibility to have moral reason, it must contribute to collective impact in an intentional way. As the action of not eating the leftovers does not convey any message to the public, there is no moral reason for them not to be eaten. Therefore, to refuse to eat the leftovers in order to portray one’s position on animals’ treatment and well-being in factory farms is not a strong moral reason to refuse the leftovers. Dialoguing with Nefsky’s essay, it can be concluded that while the two possible moral reasons provide theoretical support for not eating the leftovers, neither reasoning provides a meaningful contribution to collective impact unless advertised to the public, and the choice to not eat meat is prolonged for an extended period of time. Therefore, neither option is a moral reason, specific to the collective impact on animals’ treatment and well-being, for a “moral vegetarian” to refuse leftover meat products that would otherwise go to waste.

Works Cited Nefsky, Julia. “Consumer Choice and the Problem of Collective Impact.” In The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics, edited by Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson, and Tyler Doggett, 267-286. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.


Pronoun Use: It Starts in the Classroom By Mary Hamilton Over the past five years, we have seen a dramatic, dynamic shift in the understanding of pronoun use and gendered language. In 2018, Canada changed the word “sons” in the country’s National Anthem to the word “us”, for the ungendered phrase, “in all of us command” that acknowledges female, trans, and non-conforming members of the military. As recent as this year, Canada has moved to make the gender “X” available alongside “M” and “F” as an option on legal documents, such as passports, for non-conforming individuals. In social and academic settings, it is not uncommon for a person to introduce themselves alongside their preferred pronouns, nor is it odd for a person to include their pronouns in their personal information on social media. With each of these decisions and developments comes a certain degree of pushback, controversy, and debate. It begs the question: will these decisions ever be uncontroversial? Is there a way to normalize the use of gender-neutral language? The solution might lie in education. As we move towards a society that is more willing to accept non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals, it is only fitting that we move towards normalizing the use of gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them” as singular pronouns. The easiest way to normalize this pronoun use from a grammatical standpoint is for students to be taught how to use “they” and “them” singular pronouns in the classroom. They/them pronouns should be taught as acceptable singular pronouns in schools, so as to move with the current upward trend in the inclusion of gender non-conforming individuals. Historical precedence, linguistic proof, and political debate points all serve to prove that genderless pronouns are not controversial or radical; and should, in fact, be taught in schools if the English language hopes to stay at level with society’s changing understanding of the gender binary. As a prefacing note, there are many different labels and identities within the gender non-conforming community. Identities include: pangender, genderqueer, asexual, demiboy, and demigirl, among others. This essay will alternate between “non-binary” and “gender non-conforming”, on the basis that they are the most all-encompassing of the established labels. Moreover, there are many options that a non-conforming individual may choose as their pronouns. Some options include ae/aeself, xe/xemself, per/perself, and fae/faerself. As well, some individuals choose combined pronouns (such as she/they or he/they). As with non-conforming labels, this essay will refer specifically to they/them, as it is the most commonly exercised non-conforming pronoun variation. First, it is important to explain the main grammatical argument against using “they” and “them” as personal pronouns. Pronouns are often used in the place of a singular noun (a name, typically). It is typical to be taught to use singular personal pronouns she/her(s) and he/him/his in the place of a person’s name. Along that same vein, it is often taught that the pronouns they/them, or theirs, were to be used in the case of a grouping of people, as a pronoun for a collective noun —and only as a collective pronoun. The argument for this is that the pronoun “they” simply cannot be used as a singular nominative pronoun in the way that “he” or “she” is casually used in that capacity, in either spoken or written English. However, history shows that using they/them as a singular pronoun is not part of some new movement, as so many people claim. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the use of the singular“they” dates back to as early as the 1300s, only falling out of favour towards the end of the eighteenth century at the behest of a few overconcerned grammarians (Thesaurus). Lindley Murray, for example, wrote a style guide in the eighteenth century that decried the uses of they or them as singular nominative pronouns, as had been previously acceptable in verbal and written communications, which will be further dissected later in this essay (Curzan 872). Furthermore, by all historic estimations, English in its first form came into being somewhere between the fifth and seventh centuries (Britannica). If, as lexicologists have estimated, the use of they/ them as singular pronouns came to be in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, it can be assumed that “they” as a singular, indefinite pronoun is closer to the original and intended form of they/them pronouns. That is,


the argument against they/them as being the product of an overly politically-correct society is baseless, since singular they/them is rooted in original English. Further, the changing of they/them pronouns in the eighteenth century acts as proof of the English language’s tendency to change with time. As established, it was the word of two grammarians which led to they/them becoming collective. As it is, more and more style guides across the Western world have moved to make official their acceptance of they/them as singular; suggesting that some of the top linguistic and grammatical minds in the English language see no basis by which to rule against the singular use, which could potentially lead to the same kind of impact as Murray’s edict had back in the 1800s. Yet, there comes a point when the argument ceases being solely concerned with grammaticality; and instead, is about representation and the profound effects of seeing oneself represented in constructs such as language, and by extension, institutions, popular culture, and the broader population. Though most major developments in terms of non-binary and transgender inclusion have unfurled in the last five years by any rough estimation, the concept is by no means a fad or trend, with gender philosopher Judith Butler delving into the plight of gender binaries in the 1990s. She coins the idea of a theory called cultural intelligibility (869). This is the process by which a person’s identity is made “intelligible” by cultural norms—say, pronoun use or binary bathroom options—and the lack of a suitable option or clear representation leaves an individual unintelligible, and by Butler’s explanation, “less-than human” (869). In the “Gender Binary Washrooms” article, its authors note the supreme discomfort that transgender and non-conforming individuals feel in public and institutional spaces, as a result of insufficient representation (871). They state that it is important for educational institutions “to create spaces where students are affirmed in their gender identities” as an antidote to the intelligibility Butler theorizes (871). Though the article is speaking of physical spaces (washrooms, specifically), there is an argument to be made for an academic affirmation—in this case, seeing oneself represented in a grammar lesson, or in a book that is being studied. Just as not having a comfortable bathroom option can be dehumanizing, learning that there are only two options to describe personal pronouns is undoubtedly dehumanizing as well; it essentially delegitimizes the existence and identities of non-conforming individuals (and in a very public way, as it delegitimizes this existence to an entire class of people). This more emotional argument goes hand-in-hand with the grammatical argument in favour of teaching “they” and “them” as acceptable pronouns. For instance, it is often argued that “they” and “them” cannot be used as singular pronouns because it would be grammatically incorrect by the prescriptions of Standard English. These arguments are often trotted out to conceal a person’s true discomfort with non-conforming and non-binary individuals, and by proxy, their representation. In an article written for the Modern Language Association, professor of English, Ann Curzan, writes that she encourages her students to question the confines of Standard English and such prescriptions as pronoun use (870). More specifically, she tells them to question who it is that dictates these rules. In this case, Curzan traces the they/them restriction to aforementioned grammarian, Lindley Murray (872). She traces the acceptance of “he” as the default ungendered option to a sentence he wrote in his style guide. This sentence, by Curzan’s account, used a “singular, generic, they” which Murray marked as an error, and replaced with the male pronoun “he” (872). As Curzan notes, these so-called rules of grammar are more based in “social and political” reasoning than they are in “logical and grammatical” reasoning (872). Moreover, this provides some concrete proof that teaching about the use of non-binary pronouns works towards the acceptance of their use, and hopefully, by proxy, the acceptance of the people who use them. Referring back to Curzan’s article, it becomes clear that she has already made headway in terms of creating an acceptance around the use of they/them as personal pronouns; even if she does not


explicitly state this fact. She details how another professor in her department approached her about one of her students who used they/them at Curzan’s allowance (870). It is evident that the student in question took Curzan’s allowance to heart in daring to use the much-questioned pronouns in their paper. In fact, this student acts as proof that when they/them are taught as acceptable pronouns, students feel emboldened to use them. Bear in mind that in this case, Curzan is a university professor, and therefore, her students are much older than the age of the students in which this essay proposes should be taught the acceptable use of they/them. Regardless, it proves that students are susceptible to the instruction of their teachers. If Curzan was able to make a young adult comfortable with using “they” and “them” as singular pronouns, it can be assumed that an elementary school teacher can instill in her young, more impressionable students that they/them is perfectly acceptable in the same capacity as “he” or “she”. Moreover, it is indicative of an individual’s ability to conform to new exceptions and rules. As this student is roughly adult-aged, and was likely taught that the binary “he” and “she” are the only acceptable pronouns, this eradicates the argument that teachers cannot teach this since they were brought up with the binary (and the less educationally-specific argument: that a person raised with the binary could not possibly accept they/them as correct). Curzan’s student acts as proof that educating people on the non-binary rules of grammar is effective, and that teaching this same principle to younger students is an efficient way of normalizing the use of they/them; and hopefully, paving the way for a more accepting society. There is a key argument, not related specifically to grammar, as to why they/them pronouns, and other gender nonconforming deviations, should not be taught to young school-age children. In her thorough evaluation of non-binary representation, Jessica A. Clarke notes that “bias against nonbinary is often rooted in paternalism”— rather, the overarching belief that non-binary individuals “must be protected from themselves” (911). There is a belief that merely presenting the option of a non-binary existence will send young and impressionable students clamouring for irreversible medical procedures, or as Clarke says: “social consequences” (911). These arguments seem to overlook many accounts from non-binary or otherwise non-conforming individuals place them as realizing their nonconformities at as young as three and four — pre-dating their school-age days, as well as any meaningful social or media influence. That is to say that there is no evidence that knowledge of gender non-conforming individuals sways young children to suddenly become LGBTQ+ in any way. Rather, evidence suggests that their difference is something they are often aware of without prompting (though, invariably, having the language to express themselves or explore their identity could aid in coming to terms with or expressing a non-conformity). For example, Bobbi Ullinger, speaking as part of a Vox photo series on the gender binary and who identifies as bi-gendered, notes that they used to “say a prayer” each night that they wake up female, but having moments of equal despair realizing they did not entirely want that either (Tritt). In an essay for Medium, one unnamed individual describes their genderqueer journey, noting that they remember a “toxic” friendship with a girl who not only remarked on their physical appearance, but alternated between “bullying and befriending [them]” (Medium). Bullying is a common recurrence in the stories of young non-conforming individuals, and while many attribute this bullying to youthful indiscretion, or as though it is somehow the fault of the nonconformist, there is a clear and present antidote to this bullying: integrating the use of the non-conforming they/them into school curriculums, and having a trusted adult confirming that to be non-conforming is wholly acceptable. This could have a lasting impact on how cisgender students view any non-conforming classmates that they may encounter in their educational journey. Moreover, Butler’s theory of cultural intelligibility addresses this in some respects as well. Just as representation—even if it is only grammatical—is vital for an individual to see themselves as human, it is equally important for others to have this representation as well. Representation is not only important for the person being represented, but for others to see


them as human, and not subhuman, as Butler theorizes that the lack of representation will do. This contributes to the reasoning behind teaching “they” and “them” alongside binary pronouns in school—it educates the masses in a swift, and hopefully, safe environment. Though we continue to make progress in leaps and bounds, society still has a way to go before non-binary and non-conforming individuals are as integrated into societal norms;which they undoubtedly deserve. We have an equally long way to go before the use of they/them as singular pronouns are as natural to the masses as he/she. Teaching they/them as grammatically acceptable in schools—based on historical precedence and philosophical teachings—is just one step towards making the inclusion of gender non-conforming and non-binary gendered individuals better supported by the institutions and binaries that so often exclude them. In educating children—society’s future leaders, lawmakers, parents, and educators—to understand and accept non-conforming individuals as a part of their everyday language and to be included within their institutions, we move towards a culture which is more accepting of all gender identities and persons. Works Cited

“A Brief History of Singular They.” Oxford English Dictionary, 29 Mar. 2019, history-of-singular-they. Clarke, Jessica A. “THEY, THEM, AND THEIRS.” Harvard Law Review, vol. 132, no. 3, Harvard Law Review Association, 2019, pp. 894-911. Curzan, Anne. “Says Who? Teaching and Questioning the Rules of Grammar.” PMLA : Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, vol. 124, no. 3, Modern Language Association of America, 2009, pp. 870–79, doi:10.1632/pmla.2009.124.3.870. Davies, Adam W. J., et al. “Gender Binary Washrooms as a Means of Gender Policing in Schools: a Canadian Perspective.” Gender and Education, vol. 31, no. 7, Routledge, 2019, pp. 866–85, doi:10.1080/09540253. 2017.1354124. “Does Traditional Grammar Matter When It Comes To Singular ‘They’ And ‘Themself ’?” Thesaurus.Com, 2 Oct. 2020, “English Language - Characteristics of Modern English.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2021, topic/English-language/Characteristics-of-Modern-English. “How I Realised I Am Nonbinary - Queer Quill.” Medium, 8 Mar. 2019, ised-i-was-nonbinary-d22695f18462. Tritt, Annie. “Nonbinary Adults on Finding the Words — and the Strength — to Be Themselves.” Vox, 19 Feb. 2020,


Angel’s Dusk By Jack Bradley


Courtrooms and Kitchens: On Private, Public, and Gendered Spaces in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles By B. Pick In the seminal A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf hypothesized that, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” (7). Susan Glaspell’s Trifles similarly explores concepts of public, private, and gendered spaces; only this time, in the context of logic, rather than art or literature. However, whilst using this particular setting, Glaspell’s feminine characters also explore storytelling. By extending the focus of a crime scene from simple facts to a story and emotive approach, one which sympathizes with the perpetrator, Trifles atones for Glaspell’s own missteps in her crime reporting (Ben-Zvi 143). Glaspell’s work examines these constructs in perhaps the most famously gendered locale: the kitchen, and the ways in which women are able to better examine the domestic sphere. In Trifles, the female characters return autonomy to Minnie Wright through storytelling and logic in a traditionally feminine space; their reconstruction of the crime scene is built through a combination of compassion and logic -- one that could only take place in a semi-private and feminized space. From the outset of the play, the men involved in the investigation do not seem to notice the kitchen beyond its face value appearance. When the Sheriff notes that, “There’s nothing here but kitchen things” (Glaspell 12), and the County Attorney sees nothing but, “a nice mess” (12), it is relatively clear that the characters fail to critically examine the space and its implications. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, however, assign a personal story to each of the astrew items in the scene, which allows for the investigators to offer a compassionate ear to their storytelling. For example, in moving beyond seeing the kitchen simply as a mess, the women examine further. They note stories about how Minnie had planned to bake bread, or her fruit, which she had laboured extensively for, and how it might spoil. This ultimately leads the pair to explicitly ask the question, “Do you think she did it?” (Glaspell 16), a question that the male investigators seemingly never ask, and immediately begin to consider the motive of the crime. With this humanization, Mrs. Hale comes to the conclusion that, “[she doesn’t] think that she did it. Asking for an apron and her little shawl. Worrying about her fruit” (Glaspell 16). By telling Minnie’s story in a compassionate light, congruent with the semi-private and feminine space that they were in, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters offered an alternative story -- one where Minnie was not a cold blooded killer, but rather, a woman living through oppressive gender roles; roles which she could only perform for so long. Evidently, the women assigning compassion to their own logic around the events of George Wright’s murder was only possible with the understanding provided by Minnie’s desire for feminized objects that ultimately resided in the kitchen. The ultimate conclusion of the play, Mrs. Hale’s short monologue that, “I know how things can be— for women. I tell you, it’s queer, Mrs. Peters. We live close together and we live far apart. We all go through the same things—it’s all just a different kind of the same thing” (Glaspell 22-23) suggests that the feminized experiences that Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Peters, and Minnie Wright have all had in their own feminized spaces is one incomprehensible by men, and especially, one that the justice system of the time was incapable of accounting for. This combination of logic and compassion offers an alternative conclusion, and might plant a seed of doubt in both readers’ minds about the true nature of the crime at hand. By having women investigate the story of another woman through feminized space and objects, rather than accept an assigned masculine story through the official accounts of the investigators, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale are ultimately capable of applying their own feminized knowledge attained through patriarchal systems in order to solve a crime that their male counterparts could not. Perhaps when Mrs. Hale noted that, “[she]’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticizing” (Glaspell 14), the kitchen simply acts as a metaphor for marriage and domestic tasks. The men of the play often criticize the anger -- or lack thereof -- in the Wright household in order to justify painting Minnie as a murderer, rather than consider the true reasons as to why the family structure that she


had clearly worked so hard to build was crumbling before her. Carme Manuel suggests that: “Minnie Wright is a nineteenth-century American woman living in a rural enclave isolated from the mainstream currents of twentieth-century life, from progress and technological communication. Glaspell dramatizes how the Victorian domestic mystique intersected and collaborated with patriarchal power to delegitimize women’s claims to financial, social, and political autonomy” (59). Much like Woolf ’s suggestion that spatial autonomy was necessary for crafting art of any kind, Manuel suggests that the alienation caused by the highly patriarchal structures upheld by and within the farmhouse was ultimately responsible for Minnie’s fall into hysteria. The reader consequently notes that this hysteria is characterized through the depreciating and half-finished nature of many of the domestic crafts in the home -- like the unfinished quilt and the messy kitchen. Ultimately, the women of the play attempt to legitimize Minnie’s story through their own compassionate accounts, which focus on the domestic tasks in the kitchen that are utilized to strip Minnie of her autonomy. An interesting parallel between Woolf ’s A Room of One’s Own and Trifles comes when men re-enter women’s spaces. At the outset of the women’s discussion about the quilt that Minnie was working on prior to her arrest, the two men re-enter the kitchen, and immediately remark that, “They wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it!” (Glaspell 17). The women do not speak on the topic again until the men have left the space, and further consider the implications of the quilt and the fact that it was poorly sewn. In her work, Woolf recounts Jane Austen’s experiences with novel-writing, hypothesizing that when experiencing male intrusion, “Jane Austen was glad that a hinge creaked, so that she might hide her manuscript before anyone came in” (187). In both cases, the women were only able to partake in storytelling when they were free from patriarchal influence. Where Trifles pushes further, however, is that the women in the story are capable of utilizing logic to solve the crime, looking beyond the simple mess of the kitchen and towards the travesty of the canary and the fact that, “Somebody-wrung--its--neck” (Glaspell 20). Even after making the initial discovery, the women do not share the information with the investigators -- perhaps because they reiterate the same misogynistic joke upon their return. Moreover, they are only able to hypothesize about the circumstances leading to both the death of the birth and the death of George Wright without the investigators being present -- in the same feminized space that whose demise ultimately led to the crime at hand. Clearly, the male intrusion into a feminized space removes the autonomy from the female characters attempting to reconstruct and rationalize the crime, which was in and of itself caused by the same patriarchal systems that allow for male intrusion of feminine spaces. As important as the setting of the kitchen is to Trifles, it is also important to consider why the courtroom was not selected as a setting for a crime drama. Linda Ben-Zvi broaches the topic, suggesting that Glaspell ironically describes Hale as speaking, “with good natured superiority” when he declares that, “women are used to worrying over trifles” (44). Gender transcends class here, as it did in the original trial, where the farmers, jurors, and lawyers had a common connection: they were male, and as such, they were in control of the court and the direction of the testimony...” (155). If Glaspell had set the show in a courtroom, Minnie would have had no autonomy over the readers’ conclusions regarding the nature and motive of the crime. Instead of her story being told by other women, who evoke compassion and come to logical conclusions in their storytelling, Minnie’s story would have been told by men without the context of living through oppression by patriarchal systems. When Mrs. Hale proclaims, “That was a crime! That was a crime! Who’s going to punish that?” (Glaspell 22), she is ultimately asking the audience to consider whether or not a crime should be punished, or even the very definition of a crime itself. In fact, by returning the narrative to a feminine space, Glaspell ultimately allows the lawyers,


judge, and jury of Minnie’s crime to be women, and reclaim a highly patriarchal system. Furthermore, through allowing the storytellers to be the women that Minnie knew personally, Minnie becomes the author of her own legacy, in spite of not being the one to tell the audience the story in her own right. Ultimately, the choice for the setting of the play, selecting a kitchen rather than a courtroom to play out a trial, allows Minnie to reclaim her own narrative through the compassion and logic intrinsically provided by other women occupying the same space. Putting this information into perspective, the female characters in Trifles return autonomy to Minnie Wright through storytelling and logic in a traditionally feminine space; their reconstruction of the crime scene is built through a combination of compassion and logic, one that could only take place in a semi-private and feminized space. The compassion that the other women of the play provide in their storytelling offers an alternative and feminized approach to justice that takes into account the ways in which a patriarchal system might drive a woman to hysteria or murder. Through allowing the ultimate judgement of the events of the crime to fall onto the women of the neighbourhood, Glaspell offers a reappropriation of the justice system -- one where women are capable of creating their own restorative approach to justice formed only through logic and understanding. Ultimately, had the play taken place in a patriarchal courtroom rather than a matriarchal kitchen, Minnie’s autonomy would only be further stripped from her legacy; the only resolution to her story is to have it written in one of the few spaces that was her own, by women who were capable of sympathizing with her perspective. Works Cited Ben-Zvi, Linda. “‘Murder, She Wrote’: The Genesis of Susan Glaspell’s ‘Trifles.’” Theatre Journal, vol. 44, no. 2, 1992, pp. 141–162. JSTOR, Glaspell, Susan. Trifles: A Critical Edition. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014. Manuel, Carme. “SUSAN GLASPELL’S TRIFLES (1916): WOMEN’ S CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE BEYOND THE MELODRAMA OF BESET WOMANHOOD”. Revista de Estudios Norteamericanos, vol. 7, 2000, pp. 55–65 Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own. New York, Collector’s Library, 2016. EBook.


Lean In Feminism Versus Lorde’s Feminism By Diyasha Sen Throughout feminism’s many stages, the largest criticism levied against the movement is its inability (amongst mainstream representations) to consider and apply the lived experiences of marginalized communities to feminist theory. This oversight ultimately results in mainstream feminism’s failure to confront structural institutions, and its subsequent demand for underprivileged voices to individually combat oppression. This shortcoming is specifically addressed through Audre Lorde’s famous quotation: “for the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” (Lorde 112). Although feminism has continued to evolve since this declaration was first made, Lorde’s message still rings true. To this day, her powerful statement demands a change in action from the feminist movement; a movement cannot march in the name of equity and justice if its practices re-create the oppressive nature of the patriarchy. The validity of Lorde’s assertion is particularly bolstered by the extremely flawed nature of popularized Lean In feminism, as supported by the analyses into trickle-down feminism’s dismissal of collectivist action, its disregard for institutional oppression, and its largely Eurocentric view. In the words of Michelle Obama, this brand of feminism is truly lacking, because, “it’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.” Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist-adjacent manifesto, Lean In, details the author’s journey to professional success – resulting in her esteemed position as Chief Operating Officer for Facebook. The book’s ‘empowering’ message is carefully cultivated; it is earnestly, “nonthreatening, hard-working, and friendly” (Foster). Marketed as a ‘how-to’ guide for hustling women in male-dominated industries, Sandberg implies that job fulfillment is guaranteed in the hegemonic workforce through the use of typically masculine behaviours: assertiveness and confidence. Lean In feminism (or ‘trickle-down’ feminism) reinforces the erroneous edict that, “individual behaviour [is] the sole source of success” and, in doing so, simplifies the legitimate barriers for women in various industries (Foster). Sandberg diminishes the longstanding structural biases inherent to the workforce and promotes a ‘can-do’ attitude, leaving the sole “responsibility for success” on the shoulders of “individual women” rather than the oppressive structures within which they are forced to operate (Gibson). The practices in Sandberg’s memoir frequently recommend self-reliance, as well as reinforce problematic behaviours that the ‘glass ceiling’ nurtures due to its heavy focus on self-preservation. Effective change in the workforce demands greater impact than individual action because the patriarchy (or ‘the master’s house’) cannot be disassembled without community; without collective effort, there can be “no liberation” and “only the most vulnerable armistice” will exist “between an individual and [their] oppression” (Lorde 112). The Lean In ideology should be considered a movement of the past because genuine progress cannot be made until, “women… realiz[e] that looking out for each other is even more powerful than just looking out for [them]selves” (Goldstein). The ‘glass ceiling’ can only be shattered when individual success shifts to collective action – and confronts the structural barriers at play. This individualistic version of feminism becomes further complicated when the movement’s emissaries become ‘double agents’ for the patriarchy and, “define the master’s house as their only source of support” (Lorde 112). This is seen in Sandberg’s individualistic approach, which provides no structural analysis of the existing hegemonic hierarchy that is pervasive throughout the workforce. Assiduous, unrelenting engagement with work can yield results for some women; however, patriarchal culture will never change if feminists do not address the “gender imbalance in senior positions” due to structurally-enforced inequities in policies relating to “maternity and paternity rights, paid leave, [or] protected jobs for women who take time out” (Foster). It should not be the duty of an individual to disprove gender stereotypes – for lasting systemic change, it is necessary to evaluate how the patriarchy produces sexist beliefs within the workplace, and how these biases impact women’s vulnerable working status. By circumventing the structures of power within ‘the master’s house’, Lean In feminism places “no blame” – in the context of “workplace disputes” – on “the attitudes of


the entirely male executives” – implying an ideology of internalized sexism. The capacity to “lean in” and perceive the patriarchal system as an idealistic meritocracy signals to a social location couched in immense privilege and a complete refusal to acknowledge intersectional feminism. At its core, Lean In feminism represents a brand of feminism that exclusively benefits largely white, “well-educated, white-collar… professionals” (Goldstein). Although Sandberg’s intentions are to address the learned behaviour of self-doubt and docility among women, she fails to consider how only certain demographics can subvert “society’s definition of acceptable women” (Lorde 112). For Black women in particular, the workplace is often hostile in its refusal to (literally) acknowledge their worth. The attitudes of Lean In recommend strategies to further prosper as a white career-woman – but for Black women, the prospect of leaning in and being demanding has wildly different implications. Sandberg admits that assertive behaviour is a positive masculine behaviour, but “can be judged as too aggressive” in a woman; in this myopic analysis, she fails to acknowledge the role of racial stereotypes against Black women (Curtis). Within the workforce, Black women are forced to traverse the “awfully thin” path “between leaning in and being perceived as pushy” (Curtis). The dismantling of ‘the master’s house’ requires unionism and the production of diverse and intersectional feminist thought – Lean In feminism falls short of this, as it never considers the existing additional barriers for Black women. Sandberg relies on broader “gender dynamics” that “apply primarily to White men and women”, but creates no space for the circumstances for women of “other racial backgrounds” (Toosi, Negin, et al 8). Ultimately, Lean In’s maxim of assertiveness revolves around the individual mindset which then discounts the larger problem of the “disempowerment of… women of colour… [as] a reflection of the obstacles that exist in their lives” (Crenshaw 3). Trickle-down feminism aspires to free the self-imposed restraints on women, but in its lack of self-reflexivity, it never recognizes the Eurocentric restraints of its own feminism. Contemporary feminism must incorporate Audre Lorde’s teachings into its practices if it hopes to genuinely change the circumstances of current patriarchal structure. In opposition to the simplistic notions of Lean In feminism, intersectional feminism requires extensive collaboration from various marginalized communities and emphasizes the necessity for collective action. Although Lorde’s essay was published nearly four decades ago, she articulates a recurring shortcoming within mainstream feminism; ‘the master’s house’ – or hegemonic hierarchies – will only be abolished when the broader feminist movement abandons its reproduction of these patriarchal structures. Trickle-down feminism should exist as a warning to feminists because it ignores the greatest strengths of its more-intersectional counterparts: solidarity, community, and inclusivity.


Works Cited

Crenshaw, Kimberle. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review, vol. 43, no. 6, 1991, pp. 1241–1299., doi:10.2307/1229039. Curtis, Mary C. “Do Black Women Need Lessons on ‘Leaning in’?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Apr. 2019, lessons-on-leaning-in/. Foster, Dawn. “Sheryl Sandberg’s Trickle-Down Feminism Stands Exposed.” Jacobin, 12 Nov. 2018, www. Gibson, Caitlin. “The End of Leaning in: How Sheryl Sandberg’s Message of Empowerment Fully Unraveled.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 26 Dec. 2018, of-lean-in-how-sheryl-sandbergs-message-of-empowerment-fully-unraveled/2018/12/19/9561eb06 fe2e-11e8-862a-b6a6f3ce8199_story.html. Goldstein, Katherine. “I Was a Sheryl Sandberg Superfan. Then Her ‘Lean In’ Advice Failed Me.” Vox, Vox, 6 Dec. 2018, Lorde, Audre. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” 1984. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Ed. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press. 110- 114. 2007. Print. Toosi, Negin R., et al. “Who Can Lean In? The Intersecting Role of Race and Gender in Negotiations.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 1, 2018, pp. 7–21., doi:10.1177/0361684318800492.


Reading Beyond a Post-Colonial Lens By Margaret Gleed Johannes Megapolensis was a preacher from North Holland who ministered to the settlers of New Netherland. During his time in New Netherland, he sent letters to friends, describing the Mohawk people who were native to the area. Megapolensis wrote his reports, titled, “A Short Account of the Mohawk Indians” with clear Colonial European bias; which influenced his portrayal of the Mohawk’s culture, social normalities, and day-to-day life. However, when reading his reports, acknowledging this bias provides the reader with a tool to expose a more accurate version of the Mohawk within Megapolensis’ report. The reader must understand the factors that influenced Megapolensis in his judgements of the Mohawk in order to acknowledge this bias. Through this acknowledgement, the reader should understand that Megapolensis’ comparisons between the Mohawk and the Dutch are complementary, rather than offensive. From the brief description of Megapolensis at the beginning of the text, the reader must recognize two things. First, Megapolensis originates from a European country, and this cultural background would play a role in influencing his views of newly discovered Indigenous populations. Like most colonial adventurers, Megapolensis believed that the Mohawk were inferior to the Europeans, since they lacked a similar industrial prestige. His European origin would also cloud his view of the Mohawk from a social normalities’ perspective because during the 1600s, social order was indicated through clothing, occupation, and cleanliness. Second, Megapolensis’ occupation indicates that he was steadfast in his beliefs, since he dedicated his life to honouring them. His Protestant beliefs held Megapolensis to a set of standards that would not align with the beliefs of the Mohawk peoples, as they did not believe in the same creation story. Two themes emerge to indicate Megapolensis’ unconscious bias. First, he uses comparison to draw parallels between the Mohawk and the Dutch. He analyzes the Mohawk’s hunter-gatherer methods and their success, responding with surprise when they succeed in their efforts despite their lack of modern day industrial equipment. He compares the fruits of their labour to the fortunes of the Dutch, establishing a baseline for his discoveries. Megapolensis remarks on the success of the Mohawk, despite their rudimentary efforts, rather than the refined processes in Holland. The reader should interpret this as praise and commentary on the sophistication of the Mohawk methods of survival given natural resources, rather than manufactured resources. Second, Megapolensis comments on the complexities of their language, their seasonal fashion (or lack-there-of), their non-committal marital standards, and their religious beliefs with a judgemental tone in his writing. His reporting of their social-cultural intricacies should indicate to the reader how far removed from Megapolensis’ European ideals their practices are. For example, Megapolensis comments on how the Mohawk like to look at themselves in their varying states of dress, as they believe they look “very fine” (Megapolensis 42). Megapolensis interprets their lack of dress in the summer as vanity, which he would interpret as poor behaviour in the views of his religion. However, the Mohawk structured their society to adapt and survive similarly to the continuous development of their language and flexible marital practices to protect the knowledge and reproduction of their peoples. Clothing was not a necessity, other than to keep warm in the winter months. The reader should interpret this section of the text with the understanding that the activities are not wrong or deserving of judgement merely due to the fact that they do not fit the writer’s standards. From Megapolensis’ report on the social-cultural practices of the Mohawk, the reader should identify Megapolensis’ sources of bias and attempt to read beyond them. After doing this, the reader would understand that Megapolensis’ criticisms and comparisons of the Mohawk emphasize their adaptability and survival success. It is possible to read beyond bias to understand the factual content and information that a biased writer offers to the reader. To understand the underlying truth of the text, the reader must not only acknowledge the writer’s biases, but also, understand how those biases will reflect in their reporting of facts.


Two Acts for Action By Sarah Tiller David Daniel Moses’ Almighty Voice and His Wife is a historical play that tells the familiar story of Almighty Voice. Moses takes this story and builds a fully-formed character for the commonly overlooked wife of Almighty Voice — and he names her White Girl. Moses also creates a second act: an interpretive ending that includes White Girl in ‘white face’, a reversed reference to historically racist minstrel shows. Towards the end of the play, the integration of the Cree language is significant because as the two characters stray further away from their culture and the self, they are brought together again by their language. Appearing at the end of the play, Cree is a crucial part of the overarching lesson that Moses intends to get across. The Cree language is what grounds the characters, and reminds them of who they are when all seems lost. The revitalization of Indigenous languages is ultimately encouraged by the contemplation of connection to language and the self, to community, and to tradition. Further, and more specifically, the invocation of the Cree language encourages the consideration of how language can relate to self identity through gender fluidity. Moses’ play incorporates these ideas while exploring the influences and assimilation of colonizers in the community, and community members in residential schools. Through elements seen in the plot, recurring symbolism, and staging choices between act one and two, viewers can grasp the importance of the influence of languages in Almighty Voice and His Wife. To discuss this topic, consultation of Masculindians: conversations about indigenous manhood by Sam McKegney will be relevant. In particular, the chapter titled “Repairing The Circle, A Conversation with Tomson Highway.” While Highway’s ideas may not be completely reflective of the roles and relationships of the current Cree community, Highway and Moses were born in 1951 and 1952, respectively; and so their views and understandings of Cree language and development can be inferred as having been similar. In his chapter, Highway explains the differences between structures of languages — most importantly, monotheism and pantheism. Since language is based on the mythology of gods, men, and nature, different societies are largely impacted by the structure of the language that they follow (Masculindians 22). Highway states that,“In monotheism, there’s only one god and it’s also a phallic superstructure. There’s one god and he’s male. Male with a capital M” (Masculindians 22). This is a direct contrast to the structures of the Cree language, which is, “divided into animate and inanimate”, rather than male and female (Masculindians 22). The understanding of the formation of the Cree language is crucial to understanding the influences that it has on the plot and characters of Almighty Voice and His Wife. Act One opens as White Girl and Almighty Voice chat about how they should be husband and wife. This invites the assumption that their relationship roles would be that of the stereotypical husband/wife of the Cree culture. Almighty Voice already has a wife, and he is an accomplished hunter. Highway claims that, “the role of men in the circle of [Cree] society was to hunt and the role of women was to give birth” (Macsulindians 25). But while White Girl and Almighty Voice seem to be the norm here, it becomes evident that the influence of colonizers plays a role in their situation. The seemingly minor effects on their everyday lives begin to make way for larger impacts — the more they are pushed by colonized beliefs, the more they will lose sight of who they are. White Girl asks to be Almighty Voice’s only wife, which to the viewer may not seem like a wild request; but when she says to him: “I have bad medicine in me. I went to that school” (Moses 183), it suggests that this is Western colonization and its Christianity that are influencing her. The relationship between Almighty Voice and White Girl is then strained by this influence — this is unfamiliar to Almighty Voice, and in trying to prove himself for his wife, he strays from his own culture to make up for it. He seems to be threatened by the presence of the colonizers; although he will continue to act like the tough hunter that he should be in his Cree community, the effects are indisputable. When White Girl feels guilt from being married to the Christian God, Almighty Voice responds:


ALMIGHTY VOICE: Remember who you are. Remember what your mother taught you. WHITE GIRL: Almighty Voice, the husband of White Girl! ALMIGHTY VOICE: I’ll break your glass God for you. (193) The nature of their relationship is threatened and changed by the pressure of Christianization. Further, through the monotheistic language that White Girl is forced to learn and speak, their gender identities are also influenced. The power of the Mounties in their community causes Almighty Voice to be engulfed by his own masculinity. On the idea of toxic masculinity, Highway states: “It’s when you believe that you’re 100 percent male that the trouble starts. That simply doesn’t exist biologically, spiritually, psychologically. We all have elements of both sexes in us. And so men who are scared of that, who are terrified, and who are trying to prove that they are 100 percent male, those are the men that [commit violence]” (Masculindians 27). A man who is supposed to be the hunter, who is supposed to protect his wife and community, is now the one being hunted — Almighty Voice’s role as a man is threatened and influenced by those who hunt him (and whose God is married to his wife). The effects of colonization and the influence of residential schools can only end when Almighty Voice has passed. In showing how this collides with Cree culture and language, Almighty Voice and His Wife suggests that the power behind the male-dominated and inherently violent superstructure of monotheism, Christianity, as well as the English language, is enough to crush one’s spirit. However, Almighty Voice gets his chance to find himself again as a spirit. In severing the ties to his recently Christianized community, he is taken to a realm where he arrives as his true self — he speaks Cree, and he dances. In the first act, the only characters that are present are White Girl and Almighty Voice. The choice of including only these two characters suggests that Moses wants to show the obvious binary that is being created as the tensions and influences magnify throughout the first act. Within the second act — the post-death act — the viewer can see that there has been a sense of transformation of the self, a connection to spirit, and a revitalization of language and tradition. In the inverted minstrel show of Almighty Voice and His Wife’s second act, the idea of colonial ideals intruding on the structure of Cree community, gender roles, and language is present. Michelle Olsen expresses this in her piece “She Begins to Move”, which shows that vulnerability onstage can work towards making a clear point when calling out oppressive systems — especially in the theatre itself, which can be seen as a colonial space. Olsen says that Indigenous theatrical performance, “can seem like a simple enough exchange but the complexity of power, agency, gaze, and transformation always sits just below the surface” (Olsen 271). Therefore, Moses’ strategy of using a minstrel show, but turning it around to be ‘white face’, is a way of controlling some of that power and agency that the typically “settler” audience would normally have. Further, Almighty Voice and His Wife does not specify where the first act would be staged, but it is important to note that Act Two is, “On the auditorium stage of the abandoned industrial school at Duck Lake” (Moses 174, introduction). An auditorium stage is the same setup as a proscenium stage, which, “sets up this dynamic between performer and audience. The audience sits in opposition to the performer, in a place of power and in a place of judgement” (Olsen 273). Although Almighty Voice begins this act by dancing and speaking Cree, he is quickly discouraged by the Interlocutor patronizing him, as if Almighty Voice (now the Ghost) is unintelligent: GHOST: What? Who are you? INTERLOCUTOR: How. You’re supposed to say “How.” (208) Through conversation with the Interlocutor, Almighty Voice returns to English and slips back into disconnection from himself. But as the second act goes on, Almighty Voice starts to realize who he is. The Interlocutor says, “You’re the most spirited ghost I’ve ever met” (Moses 217), which references the spirituality that signifies the state of being between masculinity and femininity. Highway elaborated on the roles of men and women in Cree culture, and says that, “there was also a group who biologically


were assigned neither role. Neither the hunt nor giving birth. So our responsibility became the spirit, to take care of the spirit of the community” (Masculindians 25). This reference to Almighty Voice’s spirit — while he is a spirit (Ghost) — suggests that he is finding his balance of being not 100% masculine; but someone who can reconnect with the community once and for all. Almighty Voice’s realization that the Interlocutor is White Girl in disguise (also signifying that White Girl had lost herself to the influences of colonization), is a moment of clarity. Finally, “The fire rekindles” (Moses 236) connecting the two characters back to nature as they are able to find each other again in spirit, having broken the bonds of settler influence. Pushing aside the white-faced Interlocutor who stops Almighty Voice from speaking Cree, as well as rejecting the culmination of the colonial influence that has t silenced their language in the play, allows the moon to shine on them again and complete the reconnection. This image of the moon appears throughout the play. In the introduction of Almighty Voice and His Wife, it is explained that it is a, “female and transformative moon — a constant presence in the stage directions to all of Moses’ plays” (Moses 174, introduction). In Masculindians, Highway states that, “the pantheistic superstructure god is super-female” (26). With these two ideas together, the female moon is then a divine spirit that seems to be watching over Almighty Voice and White Girl. It appears full at the beginning of the play, then turns bloody as Almighty Voice is dying,, then turns white and then pulses in the sky (Moses 205-6). After Almighty Voice and White Girl reconnect with each other and with nature (through fire), it is evident that they are also reconnecting to mythology, as the femininely divine moon becomes full again on the final page of the play. The rekindling of the fire and the fullness of the moon come when Almighty Voice and White Girl return to their roots and speak Cree to each other, tying in all the elements that are within the superstructure of language -- mythology, gender roles, and spirituality. If language is such a crucial part of this play — both within the complexities that come with the structure of language, and the actual words themselves — then the reader may question why the play is predominantly written in English, with only a few non-English lines. Only, “The play’s last few lines, untranslated in performance, are in Cree” (Moses 174, introduction). In an article by Tomson Highway titled “On Native Mythology”, he discusses the components of Indigenous Theatre and how it relates to mythology. In order to answer why Daniel David Moses may have kept the untranslated Cree to just a few lines, Highway’s article sheds light on the topic: “The difficulty Native writers encounter as writers, however, is that we must use English is our voice is to be heard by the large enough audience: English and not Cree” (Highway 421). This suggests that Almighty Voice and His Wife is not only a story of two people’s reconnection and the exploration of their identities; but also, a play aimed to appeal to the masses -- or to a non-Indigenous audience. In the attempt at revitalization of the Cree language in the play, Moses is also trying to express the importance of all of these aspects to an audience who needs to hear it; to an audience that can possibly take this newfound understanding and support renewal. Further, Highway also explains that the best way to translate a story — whether or not all audience members understand the actual words — is by oral performance (Highway 421). A staged performance in mostly English, therefore, is Moses’ best shot at reaching the largest audience he can; while still tying it all together through Cree. The lines may be in Cree, but an audience that has watched the whole story will know that when White Girl leaves Almighty Voice for the last time, she is saying goodbye — even if all they hear is, “Patima, Kisse-Manitou-Wayou” (Moses 236). The many complexities of the Cree language are present all throughout the story, stage directions, character choices, and ending of Almighty Voice and His Wife. The structure of the language, and also the community, is threatened and languished by the influence of a monothistic language. The English and Christian domination over Almighty Voice’s wife and community leads them astray. Mo-


ses’ play suggests that when Indigenous persons, like Almighty Voice and White Girl, are faced with colonization and attempted assimilation, the key to understanding the self once again coincides with the rediscovery of the native language. With language comes influence of divine power, importance of fluidity and flexibility within gendered roles, and the challenge of contrasting superstructures. Moses’ play introduces the idea of the revitalization of Indigenous language by displaying all of these aspects through the plot of the familiar story of Almighty Voice, and by developing it into a tale of self-discovery and reconnection to language, spirituality, and community.

Works Cited

Highway, Tomson. “On native mythology.” Canadian Theatre History: Selected Readings, edited by Don Rubin, Copp Clark Ltd., 1996, pp. 420-426. McKegney, Sam, et al. Masculindians: conversations about indigenous manhood. Chapter: “Repairing The Circle, A Conversation with Tomson Highway”, pp. 30-38. University of Manitoba Press, 2014. Moses, Daniel David. Almighty Voice and His Wife. Staging Coyote’s Dream: An Anthology of First Nations Drama in English, edited by Monique Mojica and Ric Knowles, Playwrights Canada Press, 2003, pp. 171-236. Olsen, Michelle. “She Begins to Move.” Performing Indigeneity, edited by Yvette Nolan and Ric Knowles, Playwrights Canada Press, 2016, pp. 271-83.

Houseplant #1 By Stephanie Fattori


Violent Representations of Transgressive Women: Sandro Botticelli’s Nastagio Scenes and Dario Argento’s Tenebre By Sarah Fletcher The exploration of the violent mutilation of two fictional women depicted five hundred years apart can be used in support of the argument that both Sandro Botticelli’s Scenes from the Story of Nastagio delgi Onesti and Dario Argento’s 1982 film, Tenebre, use similar visual language as a way for the male artist/spectator to exert control over and punish transgressive women. The tradition of the female nude in Western art history is very rich, and so is the recent study of it. The writer, Maria Loh, draws a connection between the screen that the draftsman looks through in this Dürer woodcut (fig. 1) to the television or movie screen. According to Loh, this work exemplifies, “staging the need for separation in the violent moment of representation.”1 By viewing the nude female body through a protective screen in order to make the figurative drawing, the draftsman and Dürer are attempting to “contain and purify” the “dangerous naked body of the abject other.”2

Figure 1. Albrect Dürer, Draftsman Drawing a Nude3 The historian, Wioleta Polinska, also discusses the tradition of the female nude; pointing out how many artists are given a “godlike” status because of their ability to create something out of nothing.4 This can be seen in the Dürer woodcut because the woman is passive, while the artist is active, literally creating her on paper.5 Polinska continues to connect the idea of Eve with the nude model. In the pre-modern period, Eve was often and increasingly considered as “representative of her sex.”6 Due to this, any naked female body was thought of as sinful, wicked, and dangerous; ultimately seeming “to connote eroticism and lack of sexual control” for the male viewers.7 Thus, the fear that the female nude seems to elicit in the male spectators is confronted in this woodcut through representation. Loh and Polinska’s ideas can be applied to Botticelli’s Nastagio panels (fig. 2 and 3). These panels are Botticelli’s interpretation of a Giovanni Boccaccio story from The Decameron. The events of the story are as follows: in a forest, Nastagio witnesses a phantom knight brutally murder a phantom woman; h brings 1. Maria Loh, “Introduction: Early Modern Horror,” Oxford Art Journal 34, no. 3 (2011): 327. 2. Loh, 327. 3. Albrect Dürer, Draftsman Drawing a Nude, 1525, in Maria H. Loh, “Introduction: Early Modern Horror,” Oxford Art Journal 34, no. 3 (2011): 327. 4. Wioleta Polinska, “Dangerous Bodies: Women’s Nakedness and Theology,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 15, no. 1 (2000): 48. 5. Polinska, 48. 6. Fox, 18. 7. Polinska, “Historical Perspectives,” 52.


the woman he wishes to marry to see the ordeal, who then – out of fear that she will end up like the mutilated woman – agrees to marry Nastagio.8 The moral of the story (women’s compliance to men) is further accentuated by the panels’ original function: they were commissioned by an elite man to give to his son and daughter-in-law as a wedding gift.9 The two panels discussed here are only two of four, but they are the most valuable for supporting this argument, due to the visual imagery depicted on them. They make the violent act of mutilation on the woman the centre focus. In an article about these panels, Christina Olsen says that these works exhibit the idea of “masculine achievement” and the “[vigorous] [negation] of all-consuming female vigour.”10 Nastagio is celebrated as the hero because of the way he was able to conquer a (somewhat) autonomous woman, which is accomplished through an exhibition of the mutilation of a female body.

Figure 2. Sandro Botticelli, Scenes from the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (part one)11

Figure 3. Sandro Botticelli, Scenes from the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (part two)12 8. Giovanni Boccaccio, “Day Eight, Tale Five,” in The Decameron, trans. Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella (New York: Norton, 1982): 419-25. 9. Christina Olsen, “Gross Expenditure: Botticelli’s Nastagio Degli Onesti Panels,” Art History 13, no. 2 (1992): 148. 10. Olsen, 156. 11. Sandro Botticelli, Scenes from the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (part one), 1483, mixed method on panel, 82.3 cm x 139 cm, Museo Nacionel del Prado, Madrid, accessed 12 March, 2021, art-work/scenes-from-the-story-of-nastagio-degli-onesti/6620fb36-c65d-497b-8283-92cef5bc08de. 12. Sandro Botticelli, Scenes from the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (part two), 1483, mixed method on panel, 82.5 cm. x


In this sense, it is easy to connect the theories and ideas surrounding the female nude represented in pre-modern art to films of recent history – especially those of the horror genre. In her article, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Mulvey argues that in cinema, spectatorship exists in accordance with an ‘active’ male versus ‘passive’ female binary. The woman on the screen is pleasurable for the male spectator to look at (as well as for the male on-screen characters), but she also represents a threat: castration, due to her lack of a penis. Thus, the male in question reacts by forcing the woman to admit her guilt and pursuing or investigating her until she is demystified and no longer a threat.13 Further, Mulvey argues that when the ‘gaze’ is not enough (when it does not have enough power to control or demystify the woman), she is punished, and therefore, the castration anxiety she represents is eliminated in that way.14 Though Mulvey’s theory is slightly outdated and does not consider the female gaze, queer gaze, or gazes of colour, it serves as a useful basis when considering the representation of female bodies in film and the violence depicted upon them. The punishment that is inflicted upon the woman when she is uncontrollable, unknowable, or transgressive can come in many forms. In terms of the horror film, it is almost always in the form of dismemberment; and almost always when she is half dressed or nude. This dismemberment often happens to punish the female character “for an ill-timed exhibition of sexual desire.”15 This point is exemplified in Dario Argento’s 1982 film, Tenebre. The film follows a famous author who is staying in Rome, where a serial killer is copying the murders from his book. The author’s critic, Tilde, argues that his book is misogynistic because the victims are women and the heroes are men. She is presented as an angry, irrational feminist stereotype and is laughed at by the men in the film. Later, she is brutally murdered; along with her lover, Marion. In the camerawork that occurs just before Tilde is murdered, it is clear that the film is in the perspective of the killer, and the killer’s hand is seen reaching to undress Tilde (fig. 4). The hand – as with the killer’s hands in all of Argento’s films – is actually Argento’s hand.16 This fits perfectly with Olsen’s argument about the artist (in this case, the director) as a ‘godlike’ figure, and the screen as the thing that separates and enables the artist/spectator to exert control and inflict punishment.

Figure 4. Still from Tenebre, directed by Dario Argento17 138.5 cm., Museo Nacionel del Prado, Madrid, accessed 12 March 2021, art-work/scenes-from-the-story-of-nastagio-degli-onesti/729a99fb-ef2b-41b3-8d81-e3fe3d313240. 13. Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Screen 16, no. 3 (1975): 60-65. 14. Mulvey, 64. 15. Linda Williams, “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess,” Film Quarterly 44, no. 4 (1991): 11. 16. Will Wright, “Dario Argento, Maestro Auteur or Master Misogynist?” Offscreen 10, no. 4 (2006). view/argento_maestro. 17. Tenebre, directed by Dario Argento (1982; Rome, Italy: Sigma Cinematografica Roma).


To conclude, a brief and final comparison of the following two images (fig. 5 and 6) will effectively illustrate these arguments. It is made clear that both Botticelli’s Nastagio and Argento’s Tenebre utilize similar visual language. They use imagery of the violent mutilation of the female nude as a way for the male artist/spectator to exert control over and to punish their respective transgressive female characters. A more thorough investigation of the issues that are discussed here would need to consider the violence depicted on female black and brown bodies in art and film.

Figure 5. Detail from Sandro Botticelli, Scenes from the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (part two)18

Figure 6. Still from Tenebre, directed by Dario Argento19

18. Sandro Botticelli, Scenes from the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (part two), 1483, mixed method on panel, 82.5 cm. x 138.5 cm., Museo Nacionel del Prado, Madrid, accessed 12 March 2021, art-work/scenes-from-the-story-of-nastagio-degli-onesti/729a99fb-ef2b-41b3-8d81-e3fe3d313240. 19. Tenebre, directed by Dario Argento (1982; Rome, Italy: Sigma Cinematografica Roma).


Works Cited

Argento, Dario, dir, Tenebre. 1982; Rome, Italy: Sigma Cinematografica Roma. Boccaccio, Giovanni. “Day Eight, Tale Five,” in The Decameron. Translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella (New York: Norton, 1982), 419-25. Brown, Keith H. “Gothic/Giallo/Genre: Hybrid Images in Italian Horror Cinema, 1956-82.” Ilha do Desterro 62 (2012): 173-194. Dolan, Frances. “Gender and sexuality in early modern England.” In Gender, Power and Privilege in Early Modern Europe. Edited by Jessica Munns and Penny Richards, 7-20. London, UK: Pearson Education Limited, 2003. Fox, Vivian C. “Historical Perspectives on Violence Against Women.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 4, no. 1 (2002): 15-34. Loh, Maria. “Introduction: Early Modern Horror.” Oxford Art Journal 34, no. 3 (2011): 321-333. Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen 16, no. 3 (1975): 6-18. Mulvey-Roberts, Marie. “The Female Gothic Body.” In Women and the Gothic. Edited by Avril Horner and Sue Zlosnik, 106-119. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2016. Museo Nacionel del Prado. Accessed 12 March 2021. work/scenes-from-the-story-of-nastagio-degli-onesti/6620fb36-c65d-497b-8283-92cef5bc08de, https:// onesti/729a99fb-ef2b-41b3-8d81-e3fe3d313240. Olsen, Christina. “Gross Expenditure: Botticelli’s Nastagio Degli Onesti Panels.” Art History 13, no. 2 (1992): 146-166. Pérez-Villanueva, Sonia. “The “Beauty” of Suffering: Representations of Violence against Women in Spain–from María de Zayas to Alicia Luna and Icíar Bollaín.” Hispanic Review 84, no. 2 (2016): 125-146. Polinska, Wioleta. “Dangerous Bodies: Women’s Nakedness and Theology.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 16, no. 1 (2000): 45-62. Williams, Linda. “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess.” Film Quarterly 44, no. 4 (1991): 2-13. Wright, Will. “Dario Argento, Maestro Auteur or Master Misogynist?” Offscreen 10, no. 4 (2006).


Defending Harley Quinn: The Male Gaze in Film By Carly Pews In both Monique Wittig’s “One is Not Born a Woman” and Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, the authors discuss the exploitation of women in patriarchal society. Mulvey writes that film as a work of art is intentionally exploitative to women, even in films which attempt to empower women. Wittig suggests that the concept of womanhood is a socially constructed form of oppression, and argues that women need to recognize this idea before they can free themselves from it. In order to examine these ideas in practice, this paper will analyze the character of Harley Quinn in two films: 2016’s Suicide Squad and 2020’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Suicide Squad uses the male gaze as a tool to curb the castration anxiety which Quinn represents, while Birds of Prey represents Quinn in a more realistic, non-sexualized way. She is therefore allowed to evolve from a sex symbol to a full character in Birds of Prey, with the male gaze deconstructed in order to create a story about Quinn as a person rather than her as an object. In Wittig’s work, the author interrogates gender and oppression. Wittig suggests that the idea of womanhood, and the classification of one half of the homosapien population as women, is the result of the naturalization of a social construct. Women are not a natural group, but rather, the result of social oppression: “We have been compelled in our bodies and in our minds to correspond, feature by feature, with the idea of nature that has been established for us” (Wittig 1823). Women are therefore compelled to reinforce this social construct. The association with gender and body characteristics is upheld by a lack of questioning from both supposed genders, as well as an acceptance of these concepts of gender through biology and history, such as, “By admitting that there is a ‘natural’ division between women and men, we naturalize history, we assume that ‘men’ and ‘women’ have always existed and will always exist… We naturalize the social phenomena which express our oppression, making change impossible” (Wittig 1824). Rejecting womanhood in terms of bodily characteristics removes both the naturalization and mystification of the exploitative social relation between the gender categories. To understand Mulvey’s Male Gaze Theory, one must first understand her views on gender asymmetry as explained throughout “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”. Mulvey suggests that the patriarchy molds the positioning of women in cinema, and uses psychoanalysis as a political tool to investigate the lack of representation in cinema (Fabe 212). Mulvey first considers Freud, writing that phallocentrism “depends on the image of the castrated woman to give order and meaning to its world” (Mulvey 1955). The function of women in the patriarchy is, firstly, to symbolize the threat of castration to men due to her lack of a penis; and secondly, to raise her child into this symbolic threat. As explained by Marilyn Fabe, the male child becomes anxious when he discovers that his mother lacks a penis (Fabe 212). His mother’s lack leads the child to identify himself with his father, and to unconsciously recognize the penis as a symbol of power and privilege in a patriarchal culture. Women signify castration for men, leading women to be seen not only as objects of erotic desire; but objects of scorn, due to their lack, and objects of fear, due to their unconscious threat (Fabe 213). Women, therefore, can only exist “in relation to castration and cannot transcend it” (Mulvey 1955), and stand in patriarchal culture as mothers before all other characteristics. Both Mulvey’s explanation on the castration theory and Wittig’s arguments about the hypersexualization of women by women can be seen in Mulvey’s culminating argument of the male gaze in film. Hollywood, Mulvey argues, is exploitative and is based around voyeurism and exploitation. She explains scopophilia, or the “pleasure in looking” (Mulvey 1957) to suggest that viewers enjoy objectifying others. While she suggests that audiences can feel pleasure due to entertainment or aesthetic, the main source of pleasure in cinema is voyeurism. Films present a separate, private world which the audience is able to observe and project themselves onto. Spectators in the audience are given the illusion of looking into a private world or life, a pleasure


further influenced by gender. She writes, “Mainstream film coded the erotic into the language of the dominant patriarchal order” (Mulvey 1956). The same social construct of gender infiltrates cinema, coding the objectification and fear of women onscreen. In the majority of mainstream films, the point of view, or gaze, is shown through the eyes of a male character. The target audience is male, allowing men to be seen as actors and women to be seen as objects to be voyeuristically desired. The male viewer is able to channel themselves through the active male onscreen. As explained by Fabe, “This eroticizing gaze… gives the male spectator who identifies with the male character on the screen a feeling of power, control, and heightened virility, counteracting male fear of women’s lack” (Fabe 213). The men onscreen and offscreen are, therefore, more relevant and important in the creation of the film - both consciously and subconsciously. This voyeuristic pleasure is aided by the intentional visual objectification and eroticization of the women in the film. Mulvey suggests that the objectification and eroticization of women in the film is twofold. She suggests that women in film are objectified not only by the men onscreen, but by spectators in the male audience. While women on screen may be seen as versed characters in their own rights, Mulvey argues that their objectification and eroticism diminishes all other characteristics. The appearance of the women on the screen, which pleases men onscreen and in the audience under the camera’s gaze, are more important than their plot function.. No matter the narrative plot, the function of women in film is to spur the action of men. They have no real importance in the movie except to disavow the threat of castration to men, and to serve as simultaenous erotic appeal. The disempowerment of women and reassurance against castration anxiety is furthered by plotlines in which “women are dominated, investigated, found guilty, and disempowered” (Fabe 213). In the case of Harley Quinn, the impact of the male gaze and hypersexualization is obvious. Quinn is widely known amongst comic book fans as the hypersexual, psychotic girlfriend of Batman’s famed villain, the Joker. In both Suicide Squad and Cathy Yan’s 2020 film Birds of Prey, the treatment of Quinn can be seen in terms of Mulvey and Wittig’s ideas of feminization and objectification. In both films, the male gaze is used in an intentional way: in Suicide Squad, to curb the castration anxiety which Quinn represents by minimizing her to a sex object; and in the deconstructed male gaze in Birds of Prey, to present Quinn as a person rather than a woman or object. To fully understand the impact that sexualization and objectification have had on Harley Quinn, one must first understand the character’s fictional history. Quinn, created in 1992 by DC Comics, was introduced to the world as the girlfriend of the Joker (Gallardo). As shown in Birds of Prey, Quinn was born as Harleen Quinzel, a young woman passed from an abusive household to an orphanage before becoming a psychiatrist. In Suicide Squad, the film depicts her transformation into Harley Quinn after she jumps into a vat of chemicals with the Joker, depicting not only her fall from grace, but from sanity. Quinn’s abuse at the hands of the Joker is clear — even her name is a play on the word “harlequin”, suggesting that the Joker has created Harley into the character who best suits his purposes (Gallardo). He manipulates her into participating with him in criminal activity until she is as feared and wanted as he is, and is both physically and emotionally abusive (Gallardo). As stated in Birds of Prey by Quinn herself, “A harlequin’s role is to serve. It’s nothing without a master. And no one gives two shits who we are beyond that” (Birds of Prey). Quinn as a victim of manipulation, and the unequal power relationship between herself and the Joker, is made extremely clear throughout her character’s appearances in multiple forms of media. And yet, despite being the victim of emotional trauma, abuse, and mental illness, Quinn is best known throughout society as the sexy, crazy girlfriend of the Joker, with the relationship heavily romanticized throughout modern culture. Rather than being seen as a tragic character, which she is, Quinn is seen as an iconic female character for her physical and criminal traits alone.


Quinn’s societal construction as a one-dimensional sexual character is also arguably a result of the blurring of gender categories as explained by Wittig. As previously explained, Wittig suggests that the social construct of women is the result of feminine body characteristics and societal conditioning which inform acceptable gender-based behaviours. Quinn both supports and rejects these societal categories through her appearance and behaviours. She is at once extremely “female”, fitting into the “woman” category in her appearance — beautiful, feminine, overtly sexual — but rejects naturalized norms of behaviour. She is inarguably a tragic female character — the victim of abuse, mentally ill, and severely traumatized by her upbringing and abuser — but does not act like a victim or rely on men. She is simultaneously sexual and childish, unapologetically over the top in gleeful chaos, and extremely dangerous. Quinn, therefore, deconstructs standing gender roles and expectations in her appearance and behaviours, presenting herself as female but acting in a more fluid way when looking at overt societal norms. The construction of Quinn as an iconic female character has been based in patriarchal unconsciousness, and aided through hypersexualization. Quinn’s presentation as a one-dimensional sex symbol is ultimately a male attempt to subvert Quinn more firmly back into socially constructed gender categories. Furthermore, Mulvey’s argument surrounding the male fear of castration is critical when regarding the case of Harley Quinn. As stated by Fabe, “Men have found a perfect system of representation which allows them both maximum erotic pleasure and the disavowal of their castration anxiety” (Fabe 213). In Suicide Squad, the male gaze is used in order to cement a longstanding tradition in female superhero movies — it matters less what the hero is doing, but how she looks while she is doing it (Cocca 2016). Despite the fact that Quinn is one of the main characters, she is primarily shown as flirting with the various male characters, providing sex appeal and little else. The male gaze is used in this film in order to present Quinn as a threat, but only to the degree that she can still be seen as sexual and likeable. Harley is presented as mentally unstable — however, this is shown as her speaking to the voices in her head, only to pout childishly when she is reprimanded; or as following impulses, such as when she smashes a window, immediately followed up with a focused shot of her backside as she bends to pick up a stolen purse. She is verbally introduced as being not only dangerous, but perhaps, more lethal than the Joker himself --but she is first shown as Quinn in a short dress and high heels, dancing on a pole. While these are only a few examples of the full extent of Quinn’s exploitation under the male gaze, the use of the male gaze as a tool is exceptionally clear. In Birds of Prey, contrarily, the deconstruction of the male gaze is equally as clear. Quinn is a fully formed character, and she is given a full central plot in the movie. She goes through a breakup and then finds herself wrapped up in a new scheme involving an all-female team of allies. Camera angles are typically centered on her face or in a full body wide or medium angle, rather than on her chest or backside, and she is not only the main character of the movie -- but she is also the author and narrator. The continuity of the movie consequently skips around with Quinn’s storytelling, creating a film experience which mirrors the character’s own chaotic mind. The complete deconstruction of the male gaze is, therefore, used in an opposite form to Ayer’s film — rather than using the male gaze to keep Quinn oppressed and objectified, the lack of it is used to further her as a full character. However, the male gaze can most clearly be seen in Quinn’s costuming. In Suicide Squad, Quinn is dressed in booty shorts, a ripped crop top reading “Daddy’s Lil’ Monster” across her chest, high heels, and a collar. Her hair is in long, grabbable pigtails, and on the occasions that her heavy makeup does smear, it is only her lipstick which smears sensually across her mouth. While the costume itself is sexual, the male gaze is used in order to cement Quinn as a sex symbol. The aforementioned crop top debuts


in a scene where the characters’ villain costumes are returned to them. While the male characters are shown examining their weapons, Quinn is shown stripping down in red lingerie and heels in front of an overwhelmingly male crowd in order to dress. A close-up camera shot travels up Quinn’s body, from heels to chest, then cuts to a second wide shot -- displaying a crowd of men blatantly staring, while Quinn is unaware or confused as to why they are watching her. Mulvey’s point on the twofold objectification of female characters is clear — not only is the scene shot intentionally so that the male audience is able to indulge in a voyeuristic view of her body, but the male characters in the scene also objectify her. Quinn is not getting ready in the same way that the male characters are — they are villainous men preparing for a dangerous mission, while Quinn is providing voyeuristic fantasies to men both on and offscreen. Contrarily, the male gaze is deconstructed in Quinn’s Birds of Prey costume. Throughout the film, Quinn moves through multiple costumes — shorts, t-shirts, and pigtails, but with critical differences from the costuming in Suicide Squad. For most of the movie, she wears ripped jean shorts — still short, but significantly longer than the leather booty shorts from Suicide Squad — and an oversized t-shirt branded with her own name; not hiding her figure, but rather, reclaiming her character. Her hair is shorter and choppier, her signature pink and blue pigtails no longer long enough to pull on, and her makeup is shown in various states of distress throughout the movie — smeared, ruined, and obviously imperfect, but fun. Her costume in Birds of Prey is, therefore, similar but dissimilar; it contains the same aesthetic, but without the explicit sexualization that demands attention in Suicide Squad. In both Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey, Harley Quinn is seen either as a victim of the male gaze, in which she is reduced to little more than an object, or as a fully formed character. Her evolution from sex symbol to iconic character can ultimately be linked to the male gaze. Works Cited Ayer, David, director. Suicide Squad. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2016. Cocca, Carolyn. Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation. Bloomsbury Academic & Professional, 2016. Curtis, Neal, and Valentina Cardo. “Superheroes and Third-Wave Feminism.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 18, no. 3, May 2018, pp. 381–396, doi:10.1080/14680777.2017.1351387. Fabe, Marilyn. Closely Watched Films : An Introduction to the Art of Narrative Film Technique . University of California Press,, 2020, doi:10.1525/9780520937291. Gallardo, Michelle Vyoleta Romero, and Nelson Arteaga Botello. “Harley Quinn y la purificacion de la iconicidad femenina rebelde/Harley Quinn and the purification of rebel female iconicity.” Culturales, vol. 1, no. 2, 2017, p. 287+. Gale Academic OneFile, AONE?u=lond95336&sid=AONE&xid=b3a9f23d. Accessed 22 Mar. 2021. Yan, Cathy. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Warner Bros. Pictures, 2020.


Balancing Rights, Freedoms, and Consequence Using Utilitarian Quantifiers By Margaret Gleed Journalists work to inform the public. Their responsibility is to report news and facts to the citizens who seek their information. When the press goes beyond their civic duty to inform, they cause harm -- either purposefully, or accidentally. The common defence for their actions is that the public has the ‘right to know’, despite the possible harm it may cause. However, the ‘right to know’ should not be used as an excuse to publish whatever content that the press sees fit, without thoroughly considering the damage their words can cause. It is critical to determine a balance between the ‘right to know’, the harm principle, and the freedom of the press using a two-pronged approach. To develop the approach, the combination of Jeremy Bentham’s and John Mill’s utilitarian theories will be used to draw on the works of Stephen Ward and Christopher Meyers, in order to formulate guidelines that reduce the harm of the press and their misuse of the public’s ‘right to know’ as a defence for their actions. In combination, Stephen Ward’s chapter on “Media Harm and Offence” from his book Ethics and the Media and Christopher Meyers’ “Justifying Journalistic Harms: Right to Know vs. Interest in Knowing” serve as the building blocks for this proposal. Both works provide the conceptual foundation for the justification of the ‘right to know’ and the harm principle expanded for the media, without jeopardizing the freedom of the press. Ward’s paper expands on John Mill’s harm principle by subdividing Mill’s original principle into three specific restrictions for the press. The phrase “freedom of the press” refers to, “the right of newspapers, magazines, [the press] etc., to report the news without being controlled or restricted by the government.”1 The press is also referred to as the “fourth estate” to emphasize the press’s separation from the government. Mill’s harm principle dictates that one may only restrict another’s liberty in order to prevent the harm of another. In the context of the press, the harm principle implies that if the press were to publish information that would cause harm to others, then their liberty may be restricted by society or the government. The concept of “harm” includes physical harm, emotional trauma, and financial disenfranchisement. The harm principle is a figurative guardrail to prevent the press from inflicting serious and irreversible harm on the public through information dissemination. Ward furthers Mill’s guardrail to recommend three liberty-restricting principles for the media. Specific to the press, Ward creates the following principles: (1) the principle of harm to others, where a journalist can face legal restrictions and ethical condemnation from society if the organization causes harm to others; (2) the principle of minimizing harm, where the press can justify harming others in order to fulfil their societal role, only if there are efforts to minimize harm; and (3) the principle of unjustified profound offence, where society can ethically criticize the press for publishing offensive material which causes unjustified harm.2 Meyers states that the ‘right to know’, “serves to maintain, protect, and promote political structures, structures which [also] serve to maintain, protect, and promote such other basic goods as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”3 His statement equates the importance of relevant information to an individual’s fundamental rights, such as: safety from mortal harm; to be free without harmful interference; and to seek out whatever provides happiness. In this sense, the acquisition of information benefits the learner similarly to the benefits of basic rights. However, by placing limitations on the ‘right to know’, Meyers sets it apart from an ‘interest in knowing’, without disrupting the fundamental purpose of the ‘right to know’. For an individual to have the ‘right to know’, Meyers contends that an individual must have “legitimate entitlement”4 to the information they seek. If an individual looks for information without a justifiable reason or immediate claim, they do not have the ‘right to know’ that information. For example, Meyers poses a scenario where he 1. “Freedom of the Press” Merriam-Webster 2. Ward, 185 3. Meyers, 138 4. Meyers, 139


is curious if his colleague had sexual relations the previous night. Meyers has no ‘right to know’ this information, as there is no apparent, justifiable reason for him to acquire this information. However, Meyers poses that if his colleague had sexual relations with Meyers’ spouse, then Meyers would have the ‘right to know’ because in this specific scenario, Meyers has a legitimate entitlement to the information as it immediately pertains to him.5 In defence of the press, it is implied that impeding on one’s ‘right to know’ also causes harm. Therefore, the press must satisfy the public’s ‘right to know’ before addressing the harm principle because the protection of the public’s basic rights, which Meyers equated to the ‘right to know’, is of higher importance. The harm inflicted from withholding information can also be quickly rectified or avoided entirely by publishing articles that contain this information. However, the rights to life and liberty, in combination, should override the ‘right to know’. For example, Ward discusses the case of Mellissa Fung, who was kidnapped in 2008 by militants while reporting near Kabul, Afghanistan. The CBC, her employer, influenced a media blackout of the story to protect her from further harm, placing her right to life and future liberty over the public’s ‘right to know’ of the danger in Kabul, and the ‘right to know’ when information is being withheld. 6 In this example, the combined importance of the rights to life and liberty trumps the public’s ‘right to know’ and the press’s freedom in uncontrolled reporting. If the kidnapping story were made public, the press would have caused additional harm to Mellissa Fung by antagonizing her kidnappers and exposing any attempt to save her. Therefore, the public’s ‘right to know’ cannot override any other basic rights. However, the ‘right to know’ does supplement the public’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, since it, “serves to maintain, protect, and promote political structures, structures which [also] serve to maintain, protect, and promote such other basic goods as right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 7 To maintain the freedom of the press, protect the public’s ‘right to know,’ and adhere to Mill’s harm principle, a two-pronged analysis of any informative story before publication should be implemented. The first prong addresses whether the public has a legitimate entitlement to know the information that is to be published. As no piece of information can legitimately apply to all citizens, the two-pronged approach would employ both Jeremy Bentham’s quantitative utilitarianism to justify the public’s ‘right to know’ and John Mill’s qualitative utilitarianism to determine the harm caused by releasing or withholding information. For the public to have a ‘right to know’ the information being published, the majority of the population for which it applies must have a legitimate entitlement to know. If it is decided that this is the case, then the second prong, the harm analysis, examines the collective qualitative harm that would result from publishing the article. Once the qualitative amount of harm is determined, the publication should question if immediately releasing the article or withholding the article will increase the qualitative amount of harm posed to the public. For example, there is a new conflict overseas and the press determines the public has a ‘right to know’. In that case, they must then determine if withholding the article will increase the public’s immediate harm or reduce the immediate harm. The same consideration should be made for the immediate release of the article. Once the article goes through the two-pronged analysis -- has been deemed as providing knowledge that the public has a ‘right to know’, and has mitigated or minimized the harm posed to the public --the article may be published. This approach to analyzing information enforces the practice of Mill’s harm principle, acknowledges and addresses the public’s ‘right to know’, and does not restrict the freedom of the press; this effectively balances the protections of all basic rights called into question when defending journalistic harms. In his paper, Meyers argues for a similar system for weighing moral claims to the 5. Meyers, 139 6. Ward, 189 7. Meyers, 138


‘right to know’. He determines that such an analysis requires looking for more than one moral claim in the scenario with a neutral stance, which Meyers believes is impossible to possess. As no journalist has a truly “morally neutral stance”,8 journalists cannot properly weigh moral claims without bias towards one option or another.9 However, in the proposed two-pronged analysis, the employment of utilitarianism to quantify harm removes Meyers’ weighing of moral claims. The utilitarian stance on who has the ‘right to know’ looks away from both sides of the moral claim and considers the fallout that could occur if the claim is true. Therefore, a journalist does not have to claim neutrality when analyzing their story, and instead, may focus on the quantifiable consequences to the public. The public’s basic rights must be protected and maintained; not only through the advocacy for their ‘right to know’, but also through the adherence to the harm principle. However, the ‘right to know’ cannot come between the other basic rights: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, to support the ‘right to know’, protect the other basic rights, and prevent harm wherever possible, journalists must practice a two-pronged utilitarian approach to analyze their articles. Studying the relevance and the fallout from a publication does not restrict the freedom of the press; but rather, allows them to publish information without the worry of great harm or restricting the public’s ‘right to know’. Works Cited “Freedom Of The Press.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://www. Meyers, Christopher. “Justifying Journalistic Harms: Right to Know vs. Interest in Knowing.” Essay. In Media Ethics, edited by Dean Proessel , 136–42, 2021. Ward, Stephen. “Media Harm and Offence.” Essay. In Media Ethics, edited by Dean Proessel, 96–119, 2021.

8. Meyers, 142 9. Meyers, 142