Demon Mothers & The Pill

I had no clue that this had happened to the women of Puerto Rico! Being half puerto rican myself, I couldn’t believe I never knew about this disgusting use of experimentation of women’s bodies.

I was pretty overwhelmed with the fact that these people looked down on these women and blamed their “demonic” “greed” for having so many children in poor estates. Using people who are not white to experiment with scary medication/harmful bio-medicine studies in order to find a finalized, safe pill for whites to use is a flabbergasting thought.

I also just recently googled more about this birth control trial and on wikipedia (I know – not the best source…) it even says: “The Puerto Rican women did not know they were experimental subjects. Contraceptives were illegal in the United States but not in the occupied territory so experiments were not regulated in the Island as it was in the mainland. The experimental dosages were many times higher than the legal dose today. Puerto Rican women were poor and many illiterate. This made it easier for researchers to conduct the experiment without the subjects understanding the risks.” It’s just so crazy to me that these women had no idea how dangerous this research was – They weren’t informed at all (birth control side effects can be deadly!) and how the US looked at these people as guinea pigs rather than actual human beings is terrible. This was slightly mentioned at the Teach-In and it also reminded me of what was mentioned about Dr. Marion Sim (how does he still have a statue in central park?!).

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“The real kicker? Women of color continued to be used as “guinea pigs” because the FDA, Preciado writes, “felt it threw doubt on the femininity of American women by suppressing their periods altogether.””

^^^^ Great read! 🙂

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(New York Times; May 10, 1960)

Million Dollar Legs

I will be honest: before reading this article, I had no idea who Ann Miller was. But right after looking up youtube videos and reading this article, I instantly saw just how talented she was at everything that she did. It was interesting to read the comparison between her and Eleanor Powell. Eleanor was more gentle and formal in her dancing and Ann was very striking and bold (which was probably why she was so famous). I did agree with Catherine Haworth on how Ann was very energized and less “feminine” than the regular female tap dancers — & I personally think that is what her made her super awesome.

I loved how she looked in the mirror to admire herself in the Too Darn Hot skit because it goes to show just how confident she is, too. With the camera trying to sexualize her body and rhythm, it is just so satisfying to watch her glance at her talented self and see her take control of her own body (and not be controlled by anyone else – everything is under her own command).

She also may have been seen as intimidating (with her exotic fearlessness and strong spirit) – hence why she was put into ridiculous roles, such as the Primitive Man, to keep her in check so that she is “reminded” that she isn’t as powerful as the men directing her every move. For example: her character in this particular movie had a very intelligent career that many women were not able to achieve (which is very empowering) – but then it is diminished to a sexually driven, objectified approach when she states that it’s because she is “obsessed with man” and that she cannot control her desire for them; she doesn’t go into this profession because she wants to study and excel as a liberated female achiever, but because she wanted to shift her unstoppable fascination of men to something more productive. PS… that scene where she is being dragged across the floor by the hair.. uh no…

Ann was casted as supporting roles so that she never took too much attention away from the leading (usually male) roles; hollywood never treated woman as superior, independent or even individually sophisticated way back during this era, and Ann challenged this notion to its very best (making her a threat to the media/movie industry but also making her an inspiration to the female audience).

The Birds, Who Are They?

At first when I was watching The Birds, the only question that really stood strong in my mind was “why?”. Why are the birds attacking the people? Are they hungry? Did we destroy their habitat (Which doesn’t seem likely in this case because this town was fine for years)? These questions were flying at me just as fast as the birds were in the film, but eventually as the class discussion became more and more heated and Mulvey’s work was brought in to help us, our understanding of the birds change. Instead of asking why the birds are attacking, we have to ask who or what are the birds are supposed to represent. I initially thought that the birds represented the mother and her closeness to her son, and the birds were in some way connected to her. Now this all seems a little crazy after the fact because the actual answer doesn’t have to include science fiction rules. From what I’m seeing the birds represent us as society, in the way that they gaze at the characters below, as if what they are doing is against our ideological standards and we must put them in there place. Kind of messed up considering we’re supposed to root for the people.

The Birds and Mulvey

The movie The Birds was a really good movie to watch after reading Laura Mulvey’s essay “Visual Pleasure”. Mulvey mentions the male gaze and how men look at women as objects just because of how they look. An example of this is at the beginning of the film when Melanie gets whistled at by a man. The man sees Melanie as an object and shows that by calling at her as if she was an animal. Another example of a gaze is from Annie to Melanie. There is some sort of tension between the two and you can tell by the way Annie looks at Melanie. This shows that women have been objectified for a very long time from men and from women too.

Laura Mulvey & Three Network of Gazes

In class, we discussed Laura Mulvey’s Visual Measure. Mulvey focused on the fields of cinema, philosophy, and politics. The analysis of how gender is represented in film portrays how gender is represented in real life. Women and men were being treated differently on screen and female characters were similar to objects or the dangerous femme fatale, who always seemed to get punished. We also explored Karl Marx’s commodity feminism, where materialism signified success. Lastly, we mentioned Mulvey’s three different kinds of gazes: character, camera, and audience. There is also the male gaze, in film, men would analyze women and objectify them as sexual objects. In Hitchcock’s The Birds, an example of the male gaze is how a man walking in the street whistles at Melanie Daniels. Melanie replied with a smile.

My Reaction to “Pillow Talk”

Our class was assigned to watch this film called, “Pillow Talk”. I have no words to express the disbelief and awe/disgust of how everything about this movie is catered towards men and the belief that “women are naive/stupid/gullible”.

In the beginning, I initially thought that Jan Morrow was a badass. Her comebacks and the shade/sass that she rightfully gave to anyone, but to especially, B(r)ad Allen was invigorating, refreshing, and quite funny.

However, then the movie decided to do an entire 180 plot twist and character change, when Brad Allen begins to toy with Jan. The whole thing was about him toying with her. Him pretending to be a cowboy, while also calling her on their shared party line, and annoying her about how she’s a single woman who hasn’t had a man in her bed in a while.

And what happened when she found out? There was no in-the-beginning Jan Morrow. She was furious, but as soon as he called off his “womanizer” lifestyle and proposed to her, to Jan, apparently all the barbaric things he did to her was justified, and they lived “happily ever after”. It’s borderline pathetic.

In conclusion, the movie was shocking to say the least. But I guess, unfortunately, in 1959, things were different, and women had pamphlets about how to be a perfect wife, so I’m not surprised a stereotypical movie like this was released.