Independent Study

Anisa Khan

Professor Shaw

Women’s Studies


                                                            Independent Study Prompt

            For my project I decided to celebrate Princess Diana not only because was she the most loved princess and the “people’s princess” but because many people tend to overlook the fact that she was a feminist and was ahead of her time in many ways. First, she broke a lot of the palace’s tedious rules and over time she learned not let anyone shove her around or tell her how to do her job. Diana was also a dedicated humanitarian. She advocated for and helped women all over the world when she travelled and when she was at home in England. Her impact changed the monarchy for the better. Diana broke down multiple barriers and redefined the meaning of being a princess. She did not let the palace tie her down or forbid her from doing what she loved. Diana helped raised awareness about the dangers of land mines and the AIDS epidemic. She touched people and were up close and personal with leprosy and AIDS patients despite the stigma around them. She had a great relationship with the public and fought for equality for everyone. She offered her royal clothes for auction which raised three million dollars to be donated to charities. To quote “I knew what my job was; it was to go out and meet the people and love them.”                                                                                          For my Princess Diana cereal box, I decided to draw a classic picture of Princess Diana because I wanted to showcase both her inner and her outer beauty. All the adjectives I put on the cereal box describe her perfectly. On the back of the box I drew an English rose because I think it represents Diana blossoming from a timid young girl suffering from a not so perfect childhood, and an unhappy marriage to an older man who she and barely knew, into a radiant confident woman filled with hope and purpose.  The scent of the rose represents her love and passion for her sons, the public, women, and children all over the world.  Another quote from Diana is “I like to be a free spirit; some don’t like that but that’s the way I am”.  I also incorporated international greetings such as “Namaste” which means “I bow to the divine in you” and “Ubuntu” which means “I am because we are”. I included these words because they reflect Diana’s multicultural and inclusive view of the world. Diana loved interacting, learning and being with all people from diverse cultures.                                                                                                 When the public learned about the tragic death of Princess Diana, everyone was in total shock. The entire world entered a period of deep and prolonged mourning. Losing Diana was like losing a beloved family member. An estimated 2.5 billion people tuned in to watch the funeral which made it one of the biggest televised events in history. Elton John performed “Goodbye English Rose” at Princess Diana’s funeral. He was so distraught at her passing that he stated he would never perform the song again. Diana’s legacy and impact still live on to this day. Without her help we would not have made as much progress. She continues to move us in the right direction by the way she raised her sons to help change the world for the better like she did. She took her sons to hospitals to visit the sick and she wanted them to be human and to be warm to others. For example, she paved the way for Harry to feel free to marry anyone he chose. In some ways she helped to bring out and to recognize the divine in all of us.

Sorry the website is not letting me fix the indentations, I had them right before

Blog Post #14

The three posts that were the most impactful to me were posts eight, six and fourteen. It was so fun learning about the histories of our interviewee’s. I learned so many lessons from them such as how they viewed the world at the time, how they overcame their tribulations, and how they grew up to be confident and strong women of today. Reading the ” This Bridge Called My Back” book opened my world a little more because by reading these women’s stories, I learned so much about they overcame their obstacles and gender discrimination. Finally for this post, it gave me a chance to fully think and reflect on this class about what I’ve learned. This class changed me and taught me how I can help change things for the better. My knowledge of other feminist figures and texts has expanded tremendously. I really liked taking this class and would encourage other students to take this class.

Silhouette of six young women, walking hand in hand

Blog Post # 13

I chose to read the ” Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison for my book report. The book is about two girls named Claudia and Frieda. They are living in Ohio in 1941. They become friends with another girl named Pecola and she comes from a troubled family. The problems in the family are that the dad is a alcoholic, her mother is not very nice to her and her brother always tries to run away. Both parents had hard childhoods. Pecola is fascinated with Shirley Temple and she believes that if she had blue eyes and white skin then everyone would be nice to her. She sees herself as ugly and everyone around her treats extremely horribly. For example everyone makes fun of her, Maureen who is a light skin girl becomes her friend at first but only to make fun of her, when Pecola goes to the candy store she is barley seen as a human being by the cashier, she is called a “nasty little black bitch” by a boy’s mother after being wrongly accused of killing his cat. The story progresses and contains chapters of the trio’s journey at school, home etc, flashbacks of Pecola’s parents when they were growing up, and the present. Towards the end Pecola is raped by her father twice, loses the baby, becomes mad and believes she has blue eyes.

The connections in ” The Bluest Eye” and ” Playing in the Dark” are that Morrison gives her characters traumatic back stories, their back stories comes from past traumas in their lives and pains from discrimination. Another connection is Morrison’s give her characters this obsession that white features are better, based on society’s promotion of white beauty while they reject their own inner and outer beauty.

Blog Post #12

Material feminism is understanding the oppression women face from patriarchy. It also tackles the differences of gender roles, what is perceived or what it takes to be a normal man or a woman and what is expected of them.

Blog Post 11

To me Judith Butler is saying that there is already a existing idea or belief of gender roles and how we are supposed to act even before we are born. ” Nobody is really a gender from the start”. Our culture plays a huge role in defining our gender roles . But Butler says our actions determine who we are. According to Butler ” when we say gender is performed we usually mean that we’ve taken on a role or we’re acting in some way and that out acting or our role playing is crucial to the gender that we are and the gender that we present to the world.”

Blog Post #10

To me the culture wars are the clashing of opposing sides of different ideas and beliefs. There is a struggle to cooperate and finding equality. This relates to feminism because Heywood specifies an example of the inequality between some feminists of color and white feminists.

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Oral History Interview

I interviewed my mom because she grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in Trinidad and Tobago and she had a rich and memorable childhood.

Question: What were the early years of your childhood like?

Answer: I was born in the sixties and I started elementary school I think in 1968. Prior to that I guess when I was four it was customary to go to a little local school but it was held at somebody’s home where they would teach little kids. After that I went to what we called “infants”. I guess that would be like pre-k here. I had two brothers and my mom. My mom is from a family of eleven siblings so we had a lot of cousins, aunts, uncles and more or less a lot of the things we did were centered around visiting family members, going to the beach etc. We loved going to the movies. Movies were a big thing in Trinidad. You never saw one movie, you went to see a particular movie, but it would always be paired up with another one so you got to see two movies at a time. I went to Catholic elementary school. In Trinidad the population is very diverse so I had always had classmates of every race and we were from different socio-economic backgrounds. My mom was a nurse my dad was a police officer. Everyone at school got along very well. We would walk together to and from school. We would go home for lunch we always had hot lunch and we would visit each other’s homes sometimes.

Question: How was high school life like?

Answer: I attended high school from 1975-1982 and I got into a very good high school. In Trinidad junior high and high school were combined. We learned to play lawn tennis, netball, field hockey, rounders and we liked to ride bikes. Every school had a school bazaar. So when I entered high school we would all go to the prestige school bazaars. We would be so excited to make and sell artwork for our school. We would make and sell candies and cakes for our school. We would have a horror house and we could pay twenty five cents to pet animals. We had crazy wire where you would have to pass a hoop through a wire without touching the wire. What was big also was sports days. We used to practice a lot for sport day. Everybody had to march and back then I was fairly athletic and I participated in many races and won medals. The entire school was always involved in sports day. Sports day was a huge event for all schools. It was wonderful and your parents would come to see you participate if they could. Also we would have parties where the whole class would attend. Some of my classmates were from more wealthy families so they had pools and large spacious homes and yards. Sometimes the wealthier classmates would host parties at night and our teachers would come to the parties along with us to supervise. When I got to be an upperclassmen which we call sixth form my teacher cooked and invited us over at Christmastime and it was lovely. Now I know how lucky I was. School back home was beautiful. I was on the science track my brother who attended Queens Royal college was in the literature track. We had excellent labs much better than here. Public education was very good back home. The catholic church contributed one third of the expenses and the government contributed the other two thirds. We do not have separation of church and state like here so we prayed at school and during school every morning we would pray and sing. The nuns would play the guitar and we loved singing. Those are some of my best memories in high school. Most schools were divided into different houses. In my school the houses were named after the saints. So we had Saint Dominic, Saint Catherine, Saint Albert and Saint Rose. When we had sports day we would compete against each other. Although we studied chemistry physics and biology we also learned how to sew, cook and bake. We learned music and how to play the flute, guitar, steel pan and other instruments.

Question: What was the political climate like?

Answer: Trinidad became an independent country on August 31, 1962 so I was born into a independent country. Prior to that we were under British rule and prior to me being born people got British passports. Of course I was born into an independent Trinidad so I got a Trinidadian passport. The political climate was very stable, we had a big sense of community and we helped each other. The only time when things got a little bit shaky was in the early 70’s. I remember I was small, I don’t remember the year but there was the black power movement and I remember hearing that the protesters were going into the churches and painting all the statues black. But I don’t think so much that they painted them black I think they covered them in black because all the statues in our churches had like white features and white skin. One of the main protesters right here in the U.S with the Black Panther movement was Stokley Carmichael and he was born in Trinidad and Tobago. Even though our climate was stable we knew what was going on in the U.S and we did have an attempted coup around that time but it wasn’t successful.

Question: What was popular at the time?

Answer: At the time it was popular to go to the beach for recreation, to visit family members, Christmas is huge and on boxing day we would visit friends and family and at Easter time we would fly kites.We always have Carnival and we used to go to kiddies carnival which is held on the Saturday before the big Carnival. We attended panorama which is the steel band competition. We would go Carnival on Monday and Tuesday and we all had a fantastic time.

Question: What were you planning for?

Answer: Although I wanted be a doctor because I was always good at the math and science now I realize I wouldn’t want to be a doctor. I don’t want to be in that sterile cold environment.

Question: What did you wear?

Answer: I remember in the seventies we started wearing hot pants which are very very short pants and bell bottoms and platforms. Then after a while we went to what we call gun mouth pants. Those are what they call skinny jeans today because the mouth of the gun is small. Every student wore uniforms to school in Trinidad. If someone saw you on the street just by your uniform they could automatically tell what school you went to. Each school had their own badge and their own tie. Now books are totally free, meals are totally free it wasn’t in those days. You had to buy the books.

In the Caribbean we had what we called The Common Entrance Eleven Plus Exam. So when you were eleven or twelve everybody in the island had to take the exam on the same day and that was how you would compete to go into the competitive high schools. The process was more equitable than it is here because here there is an special exam for the specialized high schools but not everybody learns what is on that exam. But back home everyone learns the same curriculum.

Question: What was the music like back then?

Answer: The music of course was fantastic we enjoyed the music of the seventies. We had our own local music which we loved like calypso and soca but we were also big into disco music. Every Saturday morning I remember we would look at Soul Train.

Question: What was your community like?

Answer: My community was kind of close knit. When we were small I don’t remember the age maybe five or six my mom moved away from the city. She left us in the city where we stayed with my grandma and my grandfather. We also stayed by a neighbor for a period of time. It wasn’t unusual for a neighbor to keep the children during the week for the parents to go to work. They clothed us and fed us for no money. Even today I am still in contact with many of my classmates. We attended the same elementary school and some of us ended up going to the same high school. We still have alumni associations, and reunions. We feel a great sense of gratitude toward our teachers. That is one of the big things back home like if you would see your teacher at any time in the future you would straighten up. Our teachers really loved us and they put everything into their teaching and we loved them. In the summertime my dad would take us to the countryside. I was born in the city and grew up in the city but we would spend the summers in the countryside. I did not like going to the country. I did not like going to my grandma in the country all the way in what we call the deep south because I’m from the north but you had no choice in those days. In 1979 my mom took us to New York and Maryland for the first time. When we first came to the states in 1979 I was in high school. When we came here it was totally culture shock because at that time I think there was what they call white flight and many whites had moved out of the cities. With them went the taxes so then there were no money to run the cities. When we first came we went to Maryland. It was beautiful it was green and it was just like Trinidad but of course we were bowled over that stores opened twenty four hours and stores were open on Sundays. This never happens at home all the stores are closed. We went to Maryland but then we came into New York and New York was totally different. The trains there were covered with graffiti everywhere. That was also the year I think there was a problem with the oil or a oil shortage with OPEC members and there were long lines to get gas in the states. I came back in ’81 visited again with my family then I came back with my mom in ’83 and then I finally came as a student in ’88 to live. And even in the eighties it was the same situation because of the white flight cities experienced a lot of financial hardship and the cities were not nice. Public transportation was a problem and that is when the dollar cabs started. But when the nineties started things started to pick up a little bit and then whites started returning to the city and things started to pick up from there.

Blog # 5 Response

Hi everyone! I hope you guys are safe and keeping yourselves busy with school, family etc. I’m fine and I adjusted well to being at home. But hearing about the tragedies as a result of the pandemic everyday brings my spirits down. I am very concerned about my grandma because she lives with us and we don’t want her to get sick. Stay strong there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Blog Post #4 Answer

The movie I chose to watch is ” Nappily Ever After”. This movie relates to women’s studies because it is a movie about a woman named Violet who goes on a self discovery journey and learns how not to be perfect all the time, how not to rely solely on her man for her happiness and future , and how to develop self confidence. This movie is about Violet, the main character, who is a professional perfectionist especially with her hair. She is at the top of her game at work, she is in a romantic relationship with a doctor, and is ready for the next step. She wants to be married and have kids, but when a mishap occurs at a salon and causes her hair to fall out, things start to go downhill. Also this is the wake up call of her self journey. Violet expects her fiancee to propose but he doesn’t and she confronts him about it. He complains that he doesn’t really know her that well, and tells her that her perfectionism is holding her back from showing her true self. Violet decides to break up with him. She tries to fix her hair by trying different styles and she begins to do stuff she normally wouldn’t do. At this point she is going through an identity crisis and struggles how to solve everything. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when she decides to see her ex-boyfriend at his job. When she arrives she sees that he has already moved on with one of his co-workers. When she arrives home, she begins to break down and starts throwing his stuff away. She goes in the bathroom and when she sees herself and her hair in the mirror she starts crying . After she spots a razor and decides to shave off her hair. This step shows her emotional growth and that change is needed in order to learn. A stranger sees her bald head and tells her to own it. Violet takes her advice and starts walking without her head scarf in public. You can see that she is building confidence in herself and realizes she doesn’t have to be perfect all of the time. She stands up to her boss and gets what she wants . With this newly acquired self confidence Violet puts her new life lessons into practice by helping a girl who is being raised by her dad and who is unsure of herself and has low self esteem. Violet helps the girl to learn how to love herself and not let anyone affect her negatively. She then forms a romantic relationship with the girl’s dad and in the relationship she truly shows who she is. However towards the end she reunites with her ex and he finally proposes to her. At the reception Violet escapes the crowd and sits by herself. Her family and fiancee find her and ask whats wrong. She explains that she is sad because she doesn’t have the guts to be who she is. She tells her mom about a memory when she and her mom were at a pool and her mom told her not to go in the pool because her hair would frizz. Violet didn’t listen and jumped in but when she resurfaced the kids laughed at her hair. Her mom yanked her out of the pool, put her in the car and drove off. Violet wonders who she would be if her mom would have praised her for being herself and told her that she was still beautiful. There is a pool at the reception and Violet goes and jumps in it. The crowds applauds her jump and Violet invites everyone to jump in. Happily, everyone jumps in. This movie teaches viewers to know their worth and be wary of the monster called perfectionism because it can consume you. You need to love your self and show your true colors. If you are authentic then the world will be authentic to you in return. Also you can’t plan everything on your terms, nothing is guaranteed in real life you have to do what you can do and have faith.