In my graduate course last week, I spent time discussing various literary theories. One was feminist theory. The class is all women, and many were interested in writing about women in film. What took me by surprise was this was the one class that even those who prefer to text during my class were paying attention. I told them a bit about Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex and my favorite Persian film, The Day I Became A Woman. Both deal with the complex issue of defining gender and identity. What does it mean to be a man or a woman? Who decides for you? When do you decide?
The light went on in many eyes. They talked for the first time this term.
I wish I could reverse the time clock and teach them a course in feminist theory. This was a topic that spoke to them. They told me that gender roles are fairly rigid here, which is something I have noticed. One student told me that yes, we are expected to stay home and be good housekeepers. “We are supposed to be born with housekeeping knowledge.”
We have one more class to go. I need to use it to full effect.
And in another class, we watched Unforgiven, which made me really think about the questions of revenge, retribution, and authority that uses violence to protect itself. I had just walked to the campus past the Frontline past the destroyed buildings. I live next door to two bombed out sites. When you view a film in a new environment, it changes meaning.