American Horror Story has been a series I’ve always loved to watch. It incorporates different aspects of horror, spine-chilling and macabre scenes throughout the whole season. This famous television series has a different storyline for each season which I find truly unique. This show was created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, back in 2011. The eighth season of the series was named “the apocalypse” (my ultimate fav!) and I believe it contains many underlying feminist aspects to it that viewers might have not realized. The Apocalypse is a season that represents strong feminism in a patriarchy dominated era.
The story starts off with the main characters who are 7 powerful witches from a line of descent of the Salem witches back in 1692. There’s even a flashback period to this time era, where they made a reference to the Salem Witch Trial at some point throughout the show, which displays aspects of feminism. In a society where everybody (mostly men at power) wanted all the witches to suffer and burn at stake, they portrayed true feminine strength by standing big and tall at the end of their lives, while screaming “mark my words, my bloodline will never go extinct!” I believe that this is a true feminist movement. Back in those days, males dominated almost every aspect and women didn’t have much say, notably in governmental institutions.
The apocalypse was a series emphasizing a young man named Michael Langdon that grows up to be the antichrist and wants to take over the world. However, a group of powerful female witches join forces in order to beat the antichrist. Satan himself is represented as a man which shows male dominance and extreme masculinity. He is portrayed as the most powerful person in the world and even the witches alone won’t be able to stop him. The women had to learn to work together in order to overcome the antichrist and they learnt that in order to survive they needed to work together. An important aspect that I want to emphasize on would be how they portrayed ultimate girl power and how female relationships are important. For the female witches to survive they needed to unite as one, and that’s when they realized how powerful they are. This was absolutely empowering knowing that women coming together could conquer the impossible.
Moreover, throughout the series the viewers figure out that the supreme witch (the term for the ultimate witch leader) was dying due to old age and they needed to figure out who would be the next supreme. However, the criteria of becoming the next supreme witch was based on how well you can manipulate the seven wonders of the world. Which consists of different magic abilities such as mortis, vitalis, concilium, clairvoyance and transferal. Here I’ve inserted a clip of the movie to show you how the antichrist was able to manipulate all these perfectly whereas the female witches were only able to do one type of magic. The next supreme witch was about to be the antichrist until the female witches realized that they needed to work together in order to defeat him once and for all.
To conclude, I enjoyed watching that season of American horror story since it uncovers many underlying feminine and masculine aspects. It also portrays how women are being perceived in the 21st century with a little twist of comedy and gruesomeness, this is why I enjoy the show. I also love seeing women coming together in order to fight off the “bad guy” which is usually portrayed as a man in this case, Satan himself. Patriarchy is still present in our society today however much less compared to back in the days. Even though this is a fictitious serie I think thats its amazing that women back in the 1600’s had already begun the feminist movements starting with the Salem witch trials.
Masculinity is a concept that has been around for quite some time and is a term used in order to define what a man should be. As we all know by now, society has portrayed men as strong, in control and more “superior” to women. For many decades these ideals have actually affected men in certain ways, as Kimmel explains in his text of “Masculinity as Homophobia”.
Patriarchy in fact holds these concepts that men are more superior to women. Kimmel explains how homophobia is a term used to define the concepts of manhood and masculinity. The sad truth is that men do not want to be called “gay”, “faggot” or “sissy”. “The fear of being seen as a sissy dominates the cultural definitions of manhood. It starts so early” says Kimmel. Boys at a young age will already grasp upon the concept of masculinity. Don’t run like a girl they say. Oh c’mon throw like a real man! Don’t be a sissy just jump! Young boys have already understood that being lowered to a girls level is an insult, boys should always be superior. These ideals have been around for decades and they have been embedded in our culture, the way we think and how we act. In consequence, these acts can lead to men bottling up their emotion and not being able to express themselves as well. “…we have constructed on the perimeter, making sure that nothing even remotely feminine might show through” (Kimmel, p.148)
Moreover, Hooks and Kimmel are quite similar when it comes to explaining masculinity. Hooks exlpains that masculinity restricts men from expressing their true emotions and that there are in fact different types of masculinity. Hooks gives the example of Terrence’s son and how he enjoyed playing with Barbie’s. When his friends found out about this, they started to neglect him because he wasn’t “manly” enough. His son quickly dropped the “feminine” persona and followed a more “masculine” behaviour in order to be accepted by his friends. The situation links patriarchy and sexism and how masculinity can be derived from psychological trauma pressured by men and transmitted to another. This can put men under a lot of pressure and psychological distress. “Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation” says Hooks. However, the author doesn’t put the blame on men in fact she says women and men are both equally at fault when it comes to society’s perspective on masculinity. To break societal norms both genders have to be responsible.
The term of masculinity shouldn’t even be used since it is something men slowly become entitled to. The word itself holds a gender bias when in reality it does not mean anything. One night, I was talking to my male friend and we were discussing about this subject. We both came to the conclusion that our sexe shouldn’t carry specific characteristics and the only thing that should differentiate women and men are our reproductive systems. With that said no matter the gender, all we need is to educate the population in order to overcome and redefine the definition of masculinity. Both genders should be equivalent and certain words like success and power should not be linked to one gender only. Both men and women are strong, powerful and successful, if they choose to be. With this mindset, we as a society can redefine the definition of masculinity. As a result, gender roles wouldn’t exist and societal standards will be abolished. Only then, we will truly be free.
The event that I attended for the international Women’s week was the “Sex, Lies, and Evolution: Debunking the “Human Nature” by Jacky Vallée. Who is a teacher at Vanier college in anthropology. The talk was focused on the misconceptions of men and women evolution and their “respective” roles. Vallée used the anthropological perspective to explain that these gender roles are created by society and aren’t based on human nature. It is not written in our genes that men are more dominant or powerful than women, for instance. He explains that these are “just so” stories that are based on a culture humans have created for themselves over the years.
Vallé, explained the backlash feminists are receiving for wanting the termination of gender roles and the claims for human nature. He explained the misconceptions that we have when it comes to gender roles. For instance, back in the olden days, men were portrayed as the ones who were hunting for food, creating the tools, making fire, etc. While, women would be portrayed as cleaning their caves, taking care of the children or doing lightwork such as picking berries and fruits. Which is in fact a misconception. Through the anthropological way of thinking, Vallé, tried to debunk these ideologies through stories and making his listeners understand that men aren’t in fact the more dominant ones, they are just portrayed as so.
Unfortunately, we still live in a “men dominating” society. For instance, gender roles are still present nowadays. Vallé, asked his audience to raise their hands if their mothers are still the ones doing the chores, cleaning and cooking food for the family and almost everyone raised their hands. He also gave the example of the human evolution picture that goes from an ape to a man. Which makes you realize how imprinted this ideology where men are “more superior” to women is, even to this day.
Some of my friends who have attended the conference with me all had the same response afterwards. We all agreed that we have learnt that gender roles aren’t biological but all made up by society. Which definitely makes me think about gender roles differently. This event made me realize certain things I haven’t necessarily thought about before (which is also sad how were so used to living in a society like this) for instance, the underrepresentation of women in photographs (like the human evolution). Which makes it seem like the men has been the one conducting the human evolution by creating new tools, coming up with new ideas, rational thinking, etc. And that is not necessarily factual. Moreover, this is an event I would recommend to others since it makes you think out of the box. Making you question things about human evolution, culture, society, etc. That we wouldn’t necessarily think about on a normal day basis, because of such strong influences that have built our community. Jacky Vallé, did a great job at explaining these misconceptions we have about gender by introducing us to an anthropological way of thinking.
The inspirational women that I have chosen is named Katharine Wilkinson, she was born on January 5th, 1983 which, makes her 37 years old today. There isn’t much information about her personal life since she isn’t very well known however, she is an author of a book called “Between God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change” which makes a link between spirituality and climate change. She is also the Vice President of Communication & Engagement at the nonprofit Project Drawdown and was the lead writer of Drawdown, the New York Times bestseller on climate solutions. Katharine holds a doctorate in Geography & Environment from Oxford University. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, and is happiest on a mountain or a horse.
This women is like me in the way that she is very in tune with nature and her surroundings, she has a famous quote saying “My purpose here is to be part of earth’s healing. As a member in the community of life, yours is too.” Which is very inspirational to me since, its quite refreshing seeing someone so passionate about nature and the earth we live in because we tend to take these little things for granted. What I find inspirational about her is that when she does her talks or conferences she always tries to bring humanity together by inviting us to be more aware of our surroundings and to be more educated about the world we live in.
Katharine is different from me in a sense where we come from different ethical backgrounds for instance, I’m half Armenian and Filipino from Canada, while she was born and raised in the United States. Therefore, we do have some difference regarding background however, our ideals and the way we look at life is quite similar which I also find very inspiring. I still decided I would pick her as my inspirational women because of such differences yet similarities when it comes to views and it also makes you realize that no matter where a person comes from for instance different ethical backgrounds that doesn’t stop them from having a similar outlook in life or in this case on climate change and women empowerment.
Moreover, what I find the most inspirational about this women is that she tends to relate science and spirituality which is quite rare when it comes to climate change. I love the way she brings something new to the table when it comes to fighting the issues of climate change. In this video, which I find truly inspiring she relates the subjects of if we help empower women we could stop climate change. Furthermore, when it comes to defining inspirational, for someone to inspire me they would have to be someone I aspire to be one day or someone that I could take an example off of. In this case, Wilkinson would be someone that I definitely aspire to be one day, spreading awareness about a certain cause and always relating it back to our human nature and to not forget that we are one with nature.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Indigenous culture were mainly matriarchal societies. When their population continued to grow, they started to develop certain political systems and social hierarchies that were mainly consisted of men, however, those men were almost always chosen by the senior women depending on certain indigenous groups. Essentially, both men and women were seen as equivalent and were both respected for their physical and mental abilities. Nobody was discriminated based on their skills and everyone had their own responsibilities and roles in society. For instance, men were seen as the hunters, the protectors and the chiefs of the community, while women also had fairly high authority and status and were equally taking into consideration.
European and Indigenous cultures are quite different in many aspects including, politics, economics, gender roles, etc. Back in the days, when France and England colonized the indigenous lands they started to make changes in their world views and forced the indigenous community to adopt a new mindset politically, economically and gender role wise. In the western culture, masculinity is greatly admired while, femininity is portrayed as weak and naive. For the french European newcomers, implementing their own patriarchal Christian cultures were based on a mindset were women back in their countries would have no say in an important decision making situation and were expected to play their “women role” in society which was cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children. Fundamentally, both the french and the english colonized the aboriginals and enforced a new regime where women were treated as inferior.
Moreover, the westernized culture is still quite similar today, not as severe as before. However, their are definite injustices between men and women in society. For instance, many of the political leaders of the country are men and most of the people in leadership positions whether its economically or politically tends to usually be men. One aspect that struck me in the Indigenous community is that it was mainly matriarchal, it is something quite surprising and to some extent refreshing to hear since we are so caught up in a world run by men that we tend to easily disconnect from our feminine energies at times. In the indigenous community, they treasured both male and female and regarded them as equivalent to society.
Speaking upon the subject of porn may be a category not many are comfortable to talk about, especially when it comes to women. However, many of us frequently hold a gender bias when we ponder about porn. For instance, when we think about the actors in the “film” many of us automatically think about women. On the other hand, when we think about the “viewers” we are more likely to think about men. Many studies have shown, including Dr. Brenner Grant (FAPA) researches, that men view pornography more often than women, which is usually no surprise. Studies have also shown, that the age group of men who view porn the most are between the ages of 18-25 year old. However, it is sill fairly common that women report watching porn, sometimes it could be due to social standards that not many women are open to talk abut their use of porn.
It is often no surprise that porn exposes naked bodies to the viewers and especially for women the bodies of the porn stars can have an effect on how they feel about their own bodies. There is sort of a subconscious pressure on women to have such a “perfect body” in order to “please” the men. When it comes to porn women have always been regarded as sexual beings, which is quite frustrating to see a whole website based on the sexualizing of a women. Surely, when it comes to pornography women performers tend to be younger-looking, having larger breasts, perfectly groomed pubic hair, etc. Moreover, based on dozens of researches the most viewed categories on porn for men are large breasts, young, and MILF which stands for “Mother I’d like to f*” and a MILF’s are usually defined as sexually attractive older women.
In a society, that already puts a lot of pressure on women to be physically attractive based on the beauty standards of society, pornography plays a huge role in it as well that not many or aware of. The more concerning part would be that porn websites such as PornHub is 4th on the list of the most viewed websites, right after Wikipedia, Netflix and Amazon (excluding all social medias). Also, the fact that there are so many young viewers on pornography websites, can have a great effect on shaping the views of society when it comes to sexuality and relationships.