I Grew Up On Words

I remember days when I had no one else but you,
an unknown muse reading the words that sprayed from my fingertips like acid.

I shared everything;
every thought that came to mind was transplanted onto a computer screen on the other side of the world.

Strangers helped me understand how to love the world through poetry and kindness,
and I hope to help you do the same.
February 18, 2013

A Feminist Review of “The Little Mermaid”

moviesDisney princess films stereotypically represent innocence. Young audiences can easily misunderstand Disney’s interpretation of “strong female characters” as an authentic portrayal of what strong females are and how they should be represented. By examining the film with a feminist lens, which “examines and seeks to address power inequalities whenever they occur with an emphasis on gender”, it is apparent that Ariel, the lead female character in the movie “The Little Mermaid,” falls short of depicting a strong female.

Ariel manipulates her body and chooses to give up her voice (her most “prized possession”) to pursue what she most wants. However, what she wants is a male character (Prince Eric) whom she has never spoken to.

It is difficult to find any sign of a strong female character in Disney movies with actual reason behind her strength. Many Disney princesses cannot stand up for themselves, however “in ‘The Little Mermaid,’ she does defy her father [which means] there is a sense of a more powerful female” (film “Mickey Mouse Monopoly”). Defying her father is a very big step in a patriarchal society, but the reasons behind defying him are not substantial. Ariel “falls in love” with a picture-perfect prince who she literally knows nothing about. Because “romantic comedies concentrate on courtship, the chase, the first moments of intimacy, rather than the daily realities of long-term heterosexual relationships” (article Kirkland, Romantic Comedy), falling in love without knowing someone at all is often overlooked. Young viewers in the audience get the wrong impression a strong female when a woman falls for a man who she has never spoken to and is willing to give up what matters most to her to be with him.

Ariel goes so far as to sacrifice her voice and her family in order to pursue a man she does not know. Her sacrifice may appear strong in a post-feminist manner, but in reality it is far from going beyond feminism. Because she has no way to communicate with Prince Eric, “the only thing she has left to get him [with] is the body” (film Mickey Mouse Monopoly). Ariel uses her body to get a man, and in turn she is another over sexualized lead female character in a movie. The real difference between “The Little Mermaid” and other Hollywood movies that stereotype women is the target audience for the film. Are children supposed to see a woman use her body to get what she wants before they know what an inaccurate portrayal of a strong female is? “Ultimately, she is willing to give up her voice to get the man” (film Mickey Mouse Monopoly), but what is this voicing to the young viewers? Unfortunately, “The Little Mermaid” only shows children that in order to get what you want, you have to sacrifice what you are and be saved in the process. In the end of the movie, Ariel needs to be rescued by the object of her affection in order to live “happily ever after.” How can a strong female be portrayed if she can never save herself?

Young audiences very easily can misunderstand Disney’s interpretation of a strong female character as something that is true, which can be detrimental to a child’s personal growth. “Cinema is taken by feminists to be a cultural practice representing myths about women and femininity, as well as about men and masculinity” (Smelik 491, Feminist Film Theory). When children are only taught myths at a young age, it is very difficult to teach them the truth. It is inappropriate for myths to be taught to young people without contention. Disney’s stereotype of innocence must be contended in order for the truth to be learned by society and its youth.

Fall 2010

A kind heart always heals.

clothes1Today I heard a story about the simple sweetness of youth.

“Another one for your ‘smile file’-“ my boss said as she tossed me a balloon that had a scribbled I love you in black sharpie.

“My niece gives me a surprise every time I sleep over.   Last week it was a bed full of balloons full of ‘your dog is the best!’ and ‘Phil is so nice!’  I kept my trunk full of them for a week, falling all over the parking lot every time I stopped at the store.”

Kim’s niece is 10 years old.

Two whole hands, double digits; oh to be 10 years old.  My nephew Regan is turning 10 in December and I honestly don’t know where the time has gone.  Only yesterday he was a peanut.  I have watched him grow from a dream.  Today he is so kind, sweet and genuine.  He’s so little but so big.

Sometimes I feel like only yesterday I was 10 myself.  As big as the world but as small as your house.  Eager to grow up but still always struggling to understand.

Though much of my childhood is full of splintered film reel memory clips, I have a very vivid memory of 10.  1998 – the year we lost my father. He passed away suddenly and so I learned how difficult and unfair life could be at a very young age.

Life experiences establish your outlook on life.  In a strange way, I have a connection to the 10th year of my life like many people remember their first car.  You remember the good, the bad and the ugly; you always remember it with a fondness incomparable to something new or something old.  It got you there.  It got you everywhere.

My father traveled for many years for work and spent two weekends at home on a good month.  As fate had it, my entire family had moved to Nicaragua one month before my dad passed away.  We were gifted the opportunity to be closer together for the unknowingly short time we had left as a two parent family.  I was 10 ½ when he passed away, but I had half of a year of wonderful, youthful ideals before that true test of faith came.

For years after, I found myself constantly retracing my hardships, recording my memories and emotions in the written word.  I found solace in my own thoughts.  Even in the shadows of my life, I somehow continued to grow.

I have led a life that has made me the person that I have become and continue to grow into.

December 2012