The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian-style cautionary tale set in a radically theocratic America. The Christian fundamentalist regime, called “Gilead,” has divided women based on fertility and obedience. Handmaids are fertile women who serve as surrogate wombs for the Commanders and their aging wives. All women are completely stripped of their rights—everything from reading to purchasing power—and are sorted into classes to divide and control them. The Wives—women married to the powerful Commanders—are relegated to spending their days knitting, gardening, and waiting for their Handmaid to give birth to a child. Handmaids are completely powerless, and everywhere they go, there are Eyes—the military division of the Gilead regime—watching and waiting to kill them for any misbehavior.
One reviewer on The Verge called the story, “1984 for feminists… but a lot scarier.” This theocratic society has based its revolution on a Bible passage in the book of Genesis about Jacob’s wife, Rachel, allowing her handmaid to conceive Jacob’s child on her behalf. This passage is recited during the monthly ceremony in which the Commander attempts to impregnate the Handmaid, all under the Wife’s watchful eye. If a Handmaid cannot reproduce, she is sent to labor internment camps with the Unwomen—old and infertile women who are no longer valuable to the society. Handmaids are containers for babies, and nothing more.
I was surprised when I learned that Anna Nicole Smith’s story had been turned into an opera. Smith was a celebrity most known for being a Playboy model and marrying a man 60 years older than her—I thought there was no way her story would be suited to the high-brow opera stage. However, I soon discovered that Anna’s story is perfect for opera—it is dramatic, full of conflict and disagreement, and Anna’s eccentric personality makes for a perfect starring diva. While her story may seem frivolous and silly, it actually explores much deeper topics relating to women, madness, and relationships with men of power.
The opera, titled Anna Nicole, was written in 2011 by Mark-Anthony Turnage, and the libretto (the words of the opera), was written by Richard Thomas. This dramatic tale is both emotionally hard-hitting and over-the-top and gaudy. This is certainly not an opera to bring your grandma to; it is vulgar and crass, but also full of nuance and tenderness. The premiere of the two-act opera garnered a big publicity stir. Some reviews praised it as “brilliant, dangerous, but exhilarating”, but many had harsh criticism for the opera, saying it was “lacking in real tunes and real drama and a piece of terrible garbage”. Why is the story of a stripper, Playboy model, and sex symbol so disconcerting?
The country of Venezuela is in a state of crisis. People are dying and crime rates have skyrocketed. The country remains on the U.S. no-fly list and Humans Rights Watch list due to the political state in the country and its threat to national security. Severe shortages of medicines, medical supplies, and food have been increasing since 2014, the year after President Chavez passed away. Venezuela used to be rich in oil and was South America’s richest economy. But under the power of Present Nicolás Maduro, inflation has made it difficult to live, causing mass protests in the streets.
Passing is about performance. Passing is about presentation. Passing is about appearance and external markers of identity. Because most of the world only knows each of us through how we look, and we never get to explain our inner nuances to them, then they only see us for what we are the outside. They make assumptions for what our outward selves signify for our inner selves. Our identity and beliefs are assumed from a quick glance. Usually people think of gender or race with the topic of passing, but passing can involve a huge range of personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, religion, disability or ability, job occupation, level of education, intelligence, economic class, and social status. Passing can signify any personal characteristic of identity.
I am a busy girl, I go to school full time, have a job and a husband. I have a routine, a set schedule for what I do most days of the week but it is almost always go, go, go, rush on to the next thing I have to do and then go home and take a nap. I never actually take a minute and think about the things I get to experience in a day or how it makes me feel, so welcome to my journey! I have decided to document a day in my week to actually think about the things I do and feel and I’m bringing you all with me. Welcome to my Thursday complete with pictures and descriptions.
As my time here on the blog dwindles down, I would like to write once again about a topic near and dear to my heart. Girl friendships. This post may sound a lot like a post I wrote earlier about Galantine’s day. But it is not, this time I want to focus on how sometimes the media does not know how to get a girl friendship right.
The friendship between women is something else. I cannot quite encapsulate the feelings that I have for my friends, or how they have helped me in more ways than I can even count. But my girlfriends are my rocks, they are my best friends, I cannot think of life without them. While there can be bad friendships that cause more harm than good, there are also friendships that enrich lives and make life so much better.
I’ve been pondering a theological thought lately about why God is not pictured in any form as a woman. I understand that a lot of this comes from the patriarchal structure of the post-Renaissance church where the degradation of women took root in most Christian churches, but what evidence is there that God doesn’t have a feminine side, or even parts that could be considered a “mother”. If men and women were both created in the likeness of God, then there must be feministic value to the persona of God itself. For women do not come from man, but man comes from woman. Being a Christian myself, I wonder why the God of my churches is not female in any way. One of the reasons that churches deter me is because of the lack of female presence within the elders and other positions important to the church. If I, as a woman, was created in the image of God, then women must be a part of God as well.