nIn own personal experiences can reflect the situation
nIn When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision, Adrienne Rich discusses her view on the role of a woman writer by using examples of her own personal experience. As I look at my life, I can begin to understand how my own personal experiences can reflect the situation of many young women.I am tormented by which role I am supposed to play in todays society. Am I to become the traditional mother and housewife? Should I flaunt my sexuality and become the female that the media is constantly portraying? Maybe I should be myself and follow my dreams to become an independent career woman, if that is even what I want. Young women in modern society are searching for the right answers to these questions and are basing these answers on their family, friends, and the media. I can recall a time when the media was influencing my life and actions. The week after I graduated high school, my girlfriends and I took a trip to Cancun, Mexico, where the MTV beach house was located that summer.
As I look back on the week of drunken partying and sexy guys, I can only wonder how I made it home alive. How could any young woman find this behavior acceptable? Every young woman there was flaunting their bodies to the young men around them. They were proud to be sexual objects. Where did they learn such debauchery? This is the kind of woman that is portrayed throughout MTV and various other aspects of the media. They have even coined the term midriffthe highly sexual character pitched at teenage girls that increasingly populates todays television showsin order to hook the teen customer. Teenage women increasingly look to the media to provide them with a ready-made identity predicated on todays version of whats cool. The media is always telling us that we are not thin enough, were not pretty enough, we dont have the right friends, or we have the wrong friends were losers unless were cool.
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We must follow their example and show as much skin as possible. The type of imagery depicted by MTV– as well as people like Howard Stern, the famous Girls Gone Wild videos, and various Hip Hop songsglorifies sex and the provocative woman. Being completely surrounded by the media, I am surprised that I ever realized that this kind of behavior is demeaning and immoral.
As well as once looking to the media for an idea of who I am, I found myself looking to my boyfriend for the answers. Who does he want me to be? He too is influenced by the media and wants me to be thin, sexy, and beautiful. But he also takes a traditional approach.
He is looking for someone who will be a good mother to his children and take care of all the cooking and cleaning, the idea of male domination. According to him, that is the womans job. This way of looking at a womans role has been embraced for centuries, and, even though women have come a long way, is still accepted and expected. If this way has worked for so long then maybe it is the right choice for women.
Or is the traditional approach as demeaning as the midriff? Since the traditional role and the medias midriff are not satisfying models, I find myself, as all young women do, looking to my mother as an example of how and what I should be. My mother is a high school math teacher and a loving wife. She has a career of her own in which she helps others and the community. At the same time, she does the cooking and the cleaning for my father while carpooling my sister around town. She tells me to be myself and to follow my dreams.
Did she follow her dreams? She seems to be happy with her life. Is a woman today supposed to do it all? Her example seems to be the best one so far. She incorporates the traditional role of the housewife with the modern role of career woman, but how does she have time for it all.
This happy medium seems incredibly overwhelming to me. I am still left with doubts about who I am and who I am supposed to be. I am now following in my mothers footsteps and majoring in Elementary Education at Florida Atlantic University. Perhaps she has it figured out. Right now, being a young woman is extremely difficult. With so many conflicting ideas of what a woman should be, it is obvious why there is so much confusion. I still have not determined the right path for myself, but am inspired by a quote from Rich: Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves.
And this drive to self knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society(604). Today women not only have to deal with male domination, but media domination as well. I can only hope that someday I will look back on my life, having completed my search for identity, and know that I made the right decisions. I am a young woman, ready for the challenge of life, and have plenty of time for realization.Bibliography:Citations from Ways of Reading: An Anthology For Writers, Edited by Bartholomae and Petrosky, 5th Edition, refer to Adrienne Richs essay When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision pages 601-619 (may also find her essay in other sources)