Elections with Two Female Candidates

I’m reading about the upcoming Taiwanese presidential election, pitting two women against each other from the two largest parties in the Republic of China and ensuring that Taiwan’s next president will be a woman. Given that we have two presidential candidates running for their respective parties’ nomination (Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina), I’m trying to build a list of women who have ran against each other in U.S. elections. The list is in its early stages:

  • Dianne Feinstein (D) vs. Elizabeth Emken (R) (U.S. Senate for California, 2012)
  • Barbara Boxer (D) vs. Carly Fiorina (R) (U.S. Senate for California, 2010; also with women from Libertarian and Peace & Freedom parties)
  • Bonnie Watson Coleman (D) vs. Alieta Eck (R) (U.S. House for New Jersey, 2014)
  • Patty Murray (D) vs. Linda Smith (R) (U.S. Senate for Washington, 1998
  • Margaret Chase Smith (R) vs. Lucia Cormier (D) (U.S. Senate for Maine, 1960)

A Racial “Crystal Gems test”

I was reading locuas642′s Crystal Gems omnibus test for representation of women, and thought back to proposals for Racial Bechdel(-Wallace) tests.

Deggans’ rule recommends the following:

  1. At least two non-white human characters in the main cast…
  2. …in a show that’s not about race.

Alaya Dawn Johnson’s test goes like this:

  1. It has to have two POC in it,
  2. Who talk to each other,
  3. About something other than a white person.

Ars Marginal posted the following test:

  1. At least one named character of color,
  2. Whose primary trait is not their race,
  3. Who does something important besides help a White person.

I also have an interest in whether such a character has a narrative arc of their own, as well as pushing the discussion beyond just 1 or two POC characters in a cast. Some who have discussed the Mako Mori test have criticized how the test is not usually utilized in relation to Mako Mori being a POC character as well as a woman. Basically, I would like to see the conversation about POC in fiction be elevated beyond mere quantity of representation to include the quality of representation.

So here’s my draft of a Racial Crystal Gems test:

  1. A work must have at least four POC characters.
  2. It must pass Deggans’ Rule;
  3. It must pass Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Racial Bechdel-Wallace test;
  4. It must pass the Ars Marginal test;
  5. At least one POC must have a narrative arc of their own, which is not about supporting a white person (literally the racial Mako Mori test);
  6. At least one POC must be meaningful enough to the plot that removing the character would have a significant effect.
  7. Each [major POC] character must pass at least one of these tests, and each test must be passed by at least one [major POC] character; the more times you can repeat the previous step, the better.

Oregon: A State for Women

Two things I noticed today:

I find it gratifying that women in Oregon are making such strides, particularly to enshrine such “equality under the law” on the basis of sex into their constitution.

Unfortunately, even after the unsuccessful fight for the federal ERA in the 1970s and after so long since the Nineteenth Amendment’s passage in 1920, these 22 states (and their various extensions of protection from mere employment to full equality under the law) stand alone out of so many states which have not constitutionally-enshrined gender anti-discrimination law. We don’t have such protection which could greatly benefit the future of half the U.S. population enshrined into the majority of constitutional documents in this country.

Why can’t we in the other 28 states spell out equality in the sexes to our states’ residents through the second highest laws of our states? Why are we so reticent to spell out gender equality? Do we even believe in the government recognizing our equality, or are we still ruled by people who represent the interests and privileges of half the population of our states?

And then we wonder why New Hampshire can’t bring forward a constitutional amendment to define equality for all sexual orientations?

Our collective mindset is our most potent enemy. We must change that mindset at all levels.

Congrats to Oregon and Gov. Kate Brown!

Critique on “Becoming a Woman Through Wicca: Witches and Wiccans in Contemporary Teen Fiction”

Harry Underwood

Journal Article Critique 2

COMM 3010

4/6/2013

 

Jarvis, C. (2008), Becoming a Woman Through Wicca: Witches and Wiccans in Contemporary Teen Fiction. Children’s Literature in Education, 39: pp. 43–52. doi:10.1007/s10583-007-9058-0

 

Summary

Religion, spirituality and ethics have all held a large role in both human self-perception and interpersonal relations throughout much of human history, especially for classes such as gender and sexual orientation. One religion, Wicca, has been notably differentiated from this history by its long-standing embrace of the “witch” as a foundational, individualized participant in the religion, its organizational default to individual or small-group observance, its lack of any central work of scripture, and its semi-amorphic adaptation to backgrounds and ideals as diverse as the witches who observe it. The history of the “craft” during the social upheavals and reforms of the 20th century, particularly those which affected women, provides a rich background for its purposing in genre fiction as a plot device. Jarvis’ analysis of Cate Tiernan’s Wicca series, among similar works, is largely an analysis of the series’ impact upon “the intersection between fantasy and the socially and historically grounded portrayal of spiritual/religious experience and practice” for an audience – young adults – who are most impacted by interests, life events and figures who play a role in shaping their future personal identities and worldviews as adults (45).

 

Rationale and theoretical scope

Jarvis intends to use this study to analyze the social value of a genre of teen fiction which presents “witchcraft as a religious choice for human beings”, namely teenagers (43). From the series, Jarvis derives insights into how the series portrays the impact of religion upon or within “the family, learning and self-discipline, and sex and sexuality” (46), which works with the analysis’ theoretical scope of this intersection between gender, identity and religion. She provides a historical background of the Wiccan religion, including its origin in the United Kingdom, its importation to countries like the United States, and its emancipatory relationship with the women’s liberation movement, with female witches creating observances which explicitly shunned the gender stratification which they had seen in Abrahamic religions.

From this point, Jarvis explores the impact of the Wiccan religion upon the characters in the series in the areas of “the family, learning and self-discipline, and sex and sexuality” with summarization of key events in many of the series’ books. The main character, Morgan, develops throughout the series from her role as a daughter of a devout Roman Catholic family to being introduced by a friend to a Wiccan observance to later strains with her family, with her abilities as a practitioner of the craft, and finally with divisive passions among elements of her own Wiccan community, all the while coming into her own as a young woman, an exceptionally-powerful and adept “blood witch” and an autonomous individual who bucks the determinations of others. This evolution, and the periodic comparison of key events in the evolution with cited commentary on the ethics and practice of the Wiccan religion, drive home Jarvis’ theory of the series as a work which redeems, in a utilitarian sense, religion (like Wicca) as a personal and empowering force in human experience, a force which is both ethical and embracing of individuation.

 

Implications

Jarvis further explores how fantasy and romance, major tropes in popular teen fiction, provide the proper “couch” for the presence of religion and personal maturation in the series, as the tropes of fantasy and romance in the novel are heavily “entwined with the theme of religious awakening” (49). Jarvis concludes that Wicca and similar works (such as the character Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Annie from the Circle of Three series), “without imposing the rigid morality and intolerance about other religions, women and sexuality that characterise many religions,” offer readers the fiction-based embrace of a more “liberal”, individuative, feminine-inclusive spirituality and resulting ethical and personal experiences which place the onus of fulfilling the Wiccan Rede – ‘Do what you will an it harm none’ – upon the characters as individuals (51).

 

Evaluation

The arguments made in the analysis are valid in that the numerous examples of key behaviors and statements by the characters are backed with citations of both the book and past writings on the Wiccan religion from both self-identified Wiccans and non-Wiccans. The arguments in the study are also consistent with each other in how they follow the character’s development and connote key stages as being reflective of both Wiccan practice and teenage female life, building to the conclusion of an interconnectivity between the two. The heuristic value of the study is that it provides opportunities for readers and writers to reappraise the intersection between fantastic cognitive constructs, both in religion and in more secular fiction, and real-world ethical observance, and also provides an interpretation of this intersection as one which can liberalize and individuate, rather than cloister and impress, prevalent societal identities and behaviors. The parsimony of the article is that the article’s main communicative theory can be broken down as four axioms: “Religion and spirituality are ethical frameworks for social and cognitive growth”, “Fantasy fiction presents observance of religion, magic and spirituality as integrable with teenage female life,” “Religion can emphasize ‘right behavior’ over ‘right belief,’” and that “Gender diversity and self-empowerment can be affirmed by religious belief and societal behavior.”

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the analysis by Jarvis makes a solid attempt to engage the broader importance and popularity of religion and fantasy to teen girls. It reviews the history of Wicca and relationship with women’s history, compares the development of the main character of Wicca through life stages which mark her growth in all aspects to the ethical practices most identified in scholarly literature with Wicca, and the utility of fantasy and romance fiction as vehicles for ethical and spiritual tropes. It also pushes strongly for Wicca as both a feminine-inclusive, individuating religion and, as a result, a suitable plot device for engaging the minds of young adult women with advocacy of self-awareness and right behavior. The analysis of Wicca by Jarvis does a suitable job of appraising the series for its social and interpersonal relevance.